Just six games into the 2023 regular season for the Los Angeles Angels and early impressions are where general manager Perry Minasian hoped to be. Their 4-2 record has them atop the American League West with the Texas Rangers, and as they head to Angel Stadium for their home opener they hand the ball to Patrick Sandoval.
Picking up where he left off last year, Sandoval’s first start this past Saturday yielded solid results. He lasted five innings, allowing two hits, one run via a solo homer and two walks. Although his strikeout numbers weren’t there with only two punchouts, he missed barrels, yielding an 18.8% hard-hit rate, the 12th best mark in Major League Baseball.
According to Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register, Sandoval making his second start of the year at Angel Stadium feels like a homecoming for the 26-year-old:
“It’s the stadium I grew up going to,” said Sandoval, a product of Mission Viejo High. “To be able to pitch the home opener is pretty cool. It’s awesome.”
He faces off against a Toronto Blue Jays lineup that is capable of putting up runs in a hurry. Anchored by right-handers Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, and George Springer, Sandoval has to limit the damage by missing some bats.
Manager Phil Nevin received very solid production from his starting rotation the first time through, outside of José Suarez’s blow-up outing in which he allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. But outside of Shohei Ohtani and Tyler Anderson at the front end, Sandoval is the next largest key in their crop of starters.
On Friday, the Angels and their +13 run differential square off against right-hander Chris Bassitt who signed with the Blue Jays in the offseason on a three-year, $63 million contract. However, in his first start, he allowed nine earned runs in 3.1 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.
His nine earned were the worst among all starters in MLB after one start, and was about as forgettable as could be, allowing 10 hits with no strikeouts.
The Angels have a rapport with Bassitt for his time with the Oakland Athletics. Mike Trout is the one to look out for during Friday’s matchup as he’s logged a .412 batting average in 17 at-bats with five runs batted in against the righty. But after receiving solid run production during their opening week, Nevin should feel confident about his lineup’s success.
Mike Trout has ‘sour taste’ because of missed playoff appearances with Angels
Trout is now in his 13th year with the Angels, and in that time he’s made the playoffs just one time back in 2014, a fact which doesn’t sit well with the three-time MVP.
Heading into the season, the 31-year-old has amassed an 82.4 WAR in 12 seasons, good for 60th all-time. The Angels have largely failed the model player in Major League Baseball in putting a team around him built to withstand a 162-game schedule and to perform at a level that can compete.
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