Series Preview: Angels Close Out 2022 Season Facing Athletics, Anthony Rendon Returns
Taylor Ward, Anthony Rendon
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying that the 2022 MLB season was a frustrating one for the Los Angeles Angels. After making some hefty investments in the offseason and beginning the season with a 27-17 record, it felt unthinkable that the Angels would be 13 games below .500 as they head into their final series against the Oakland Athletics.

Injuries to Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, David Fletcher, and others derailed an Angels lineup. The team went on a roster-wide cold spell at the plate, leading to a 25-56 record over an 81-game stretch. With the playoffs well out of reach, the Angels easily could have waved the white flag on the season.

Instead, Trout fought to return from a back injury that revealed a chronic back condition. Fletcher returned, young pitchers and batters began making serious contributions, and Shohei Ohtani looked the part of an MVP and Cy Young winner.

Now, with just one series remaining, the Angels have won seven straight and are 21-13 in their last 34 games. And with the Athletics holding the worst record in the AL and the second-worst record in baseball, the Angels have a chance to leave 2022 on a particularly high note.

The Angels are 12-4 against the Athletics this season, having just swept them in Anaheim last week. Not only that, they’ll get Rendon back in the lineup for three games after he completed his wrist surgery rehab and his five-game suspension on Sunday.

Game 1: Monday, Oct. 3, 6:40 p.m. PT

Patrick Sandoval takes the mound in the opener, hoping to bounce back from his last start against the Athletics. Last week, he allowed three runs on six hits, bringing his season ERA above 3.00. He could reverse that — and reach 150 innings — with a quality start in his 2022 finale.

Sandoval’s struggles in 2022 have been well-documented, as he often vented his frustration towards high walk and hit totals. Evidenced by his 1.353 WHIP, Sandoval does have some work to do in the offseason. But he can begin the process on Monday against a paltry offensive unit.

The Angels, meanwhile, hope to find success yet again on Adrian Martinez. He gave up three runs on five hits in 4.1 innings last week, but holds season totals of a 6.08 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 53.1 innings.

Trout, Livan Soto, Ohtani, Taylor Ward, and Luis Rengifo have all been on fire at the plate in recent weeks, making up the bulk of the Halos offensive production.

Game 2: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 6:40 p.m. PT

Michael Lorenzen has much more than pride on the line in his final start of the season. After a hot start to the year, followed by a cold stretch and an injury, Lorenzen has done everything in his power to restore his value ahead of free agency.

In four starts since returning from the IL, Lorenzen has a 3.05 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. Although he has stated on multiple occasions that he wants to return to the Angels, he perhaps has more to play for in this series than any other Halos player.

The Angels have to answer several internal questions before they fill out their 2023 pitching rotation behind Ohtani, Sandoval, Reid Detmers, and Jose Suarez. Lorenzen would be wise to keep his options — and his value — as high as possible.

On the bump for the Athletics is Cole Irvin, who has a 4.11 ERA and 1.177 WHIP in 175 innings this season. He has arguably been the ace in Oakland this season, and has a 3.38 ERA against the Angels this season.

Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 1:00 p.m. PT

The final game of the 2022 season sees Ohtani on the mound for the Angels, hoping to cap off a Cy Young/MVP-caliber season with one last elite start. By recording just three outs on Wednesday, he’ll become eligible for ERA, WHIP, and other major leaderboards, which should enhance his award cases.

In his first 161 innings, Ohtani has an absurd 2.35 ERA, 1.031 WHIP, and 213 strikeouts. He also has a 15-8 record despite the Angels being just 73-86. He has carried the Angels in many ways, and could be in the midst of a 19-game hitting streak by the time this start rolls around. He currently sits at 17 prior to Monday.

He’ll face off against Ken Waldichuk, the 24-year old rookie who has started just six games this season. In that time — 27.2 innings — Waldichuk has amassed a 6.18 ERA, 1.373 WHIP, and five home runs allowed. If the Angels lineup continues to produce the way it has recently, it could be a long day for the young starter.

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