Hope for the Halos
The Angels 2021 season was derailed by injuries to make it short and simple. Trout went down with a strange calf injury, Rendon, who hasn’t had a whole season yet, only played 58 games before having hip surgery. Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani only had 17 games together in the lineup. We saw Justin Upton take huge steps back to the point where he was shut down for the rest of the season due to “back injury”. With the middle of the order banged up, we saw the emergence of Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh. But, with the lack of depth, Walsh, Ohtani, and even David Fletcher, struggled at the plate in the end. For years, the Angels’ issue has always been the rotation. Patrick Sandoval and Griffin Canning were shut down with back issues. Heaney, who didn’t have a good season, was dealt at the deadline to the Yankees. Jose Suarez honestly picked up the slack. He and Ohtani were the two outliers in the rotation. Shohei Ohtani was the one bright spot on the mound and in the lineup. The team revolved around him. Sho made the season watchable. He had a historic season that saw him crowned the unanimous American League MVP.
The off season found the Angels with money to spend. Albert Pujols finally came off the books and the front office was able to open up their pockets a bit. They dropped a year and $21 million to bring Noah Syndergaard to Anaheim. Although he had Tommy John in 2020, reports say he has no limits this season. So far, his stuff looks electric in Spring Training. However, the front office did not bring in who we all wanted them to bring in. Fans saw frontline starters go to rival teams or another league. It has been the same story: one year deals. The GM brought Anaheim native, Michael Lorenzen over on a one year contract. Lorenzen is notably a reliever, but the Angels see him as a starter. Even though the Angels missed on big name starters like Ray and Stroman, they brought in great bullpen arms. Aaron Loup was a sneaky pick up who had 0.95 ERA in 65 games for the Mets last season. They inked Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley who are solid arms in the pen. Not to mention, they brought back the most underrated closer in baseball in Raisel Iglesias. The team is looking to shorten games with amping up the bullpen. Pitching wins ball games, and although they didn’t bring in the frontline starter, they did address an arms issue and sign strong bullpen pieces. They are going to run a 6-man rotation this season. Ohtani, Thor, Sandoval, Suarez, Lorenzen, and top prospect Reid Detmers in the six spot will be a solid rotation.
The lineup and the depth chart look very similar to last season. The Angels’ lineup is deadly if everyone in it stays healthy. I am calling this Mike Trout revenge season. Trout missed most of last year, and many are deeming him, “injury prone”. The guy hasn’t missed much time in his career, so I think he is going to shut many people up this season. Same goes for Anthony Rendon. With those two healthy, it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the lineup. Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, and Taylor Ward are all fighting to man a corner outfield spot. Good problem to have when you have a multitude of guys to choose from.
Shortstop was a hole last season. The team was rumored for the Correa and Story sweepstakes, but opted to pick up Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez from the Yankees. Wade can play anywhere and Velazquez has shown he has a great glove manning short. Reports are indicating that David Fletcher is being moved to short, and now, second base is up for grabs. Look for Wade to win that spot, or depth pickup, Matt Duffy.
What I like about this offseason for the Angels is that GM Perry Pinasian picked up a lot of role players and depth that the team desperately needed last season after the injuries. They have super utility guys that can play multiple positions. My favorite part is that they brought in Thor and Archie. Those guys show a lot of emotion coming off the mound and I believe that is key to pick up some momentum to bring in for the offense at the start of the next inning. This team is hungry for the playoffs. Players who aren’t known to speak up, have as of late and they have expressed how people are counting them out. They are looking to silence the people that say, “The Angels are wasting Trout and Ohtani”. The team and the fans are over it. I do believe that if this team stays healthy, they are in the playoffs.
Article submitted by Top Fan Rivalry contributor Brian Caprino.