The Los Angeles Angels begin the second half of the season Friday when they take on the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three-game series at Truist Park.
At 39-53, the Angels find themselves in fourth place in the American League West and 20.5 games behind the first-place Houston Astros. That is nothing short of disappointing as L.A. was 27-17 on May 25 and looked poised to end their playoff drought.
Since then, the Angels have gone just 12-36. Perhaps not coincidentally, the team ranks near the bottom in several offensive categories during that span.
The Angels specifically have struggled against the fastball, and interim manager Phil Nevin believes the team must be more aggressive coming out of the All-Star break, via Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“I think the dialogue in some of our meetings has changed a little bit, focusing on hitting off the fastball,” Nevin said. “That’s something I prefer to talk about, really. Breaking balls, offspeed pitches, the ones you hit are mistakes. But if you’re not ready to hit a fastball, you’re not going to hit any of those pitches, and we haven’t. The focus is becoming more strong on hitting off the fastball.”
Jared Walsh agreed with Nevin and opined that his teammates need to swing earlier in the count:
“We need to pull the trigger on the fastball earlier in the count, team-wide,” Jared Walsh said. “We’ve all spoken about that.”
Ward added: “Being on the heater would help with the aggressiveness, but I’m not the hitting coach. I think being more aggressive in the zone would help. … We need to get to fastballs. When we get them, we need to get them.”
According to FanGraphs, the Angels rank dead last in production against fastballs since May 25. Over that span, the team has swung and missed on 23.1% of their cuts against fastballs, which is the fourth-worst mark in the majors.
The Angels also have taken called strikes on 17.5% of the fastballs they’ve seen, which is the 10th lowest percentage in the Majors.
Trout commits to play for Team USA in 2023 World Baseball Classic
Despite not playing in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, Mike Trout made an exciting announcement at Media Day that he will be competing and serving as the captain for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
“I was excited when [Team USA GM Tony Reagins] first came up and talked to me,” Trout said. “It means a lot. I missed the opportunity the first time and I knew this was a chance I can’t miss. It’ll be fun for the team that we put together, and I’m looking forward to it in March.”