AL WestAnalysis

Angels to storm AL West with elite young pitching

The Angels are barreling into 2023 hotter than they’ve been in nearly a decade. Shohei Ohtani is entering the primal apex of his career while Mike Trout’s WBC reinvigoration has many believing he will tear through a career year.

Not only are these two superstars penciled in for big years, the Angels’ high-end talent projects all the way down the roster. Taylor Ward aims to put himself in MVP conversation and newcomers Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Drury stand ready to provide pop deep into the lineup. The biggest beneficiaries of this revamped offense won’t just be the offense itself, but the starting staff heading into this season loaded with elite young talent ready to step into form.

Full of All-Star candidates, the Angels’ elite starting youth head into 2023 firing on all cylinders.

MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Angels ranked 6th in starting pitcher ERA (3.67) throughout 2022, featuring an Ohtani/Sandoval tandem at the head alongside a revolving door that featured mostly Reid Detmers and Jose Suarez maintaining the remaining bulk of pitching production. The addition of Tyler Anderson brings this rotation a much-needed sense of depth, as he’s provided his teams with over 160 IP each of the last two years. With Suarez tapping into his better form in the second half of last year (64 IP, 2.81 ERA), the Angels will, at the least, receiving innings from the bottom end of the rotation that can keep them in games. Jose Suarez remains a major X-factor within this rotation, should he continue with last years form the Angels will could potentially carry five potential All-Stars in the starting rotation.

Of course, Shohei Ohtani’s elite level of play goes without saying – he’s in line for MVP from Opening Day onwards. Patrick Sandoval, a supreme entity last season with his 2.91 ERA across 148.2 innings, received mass recognition after lighting the baseball world on fire during the World Baseball Classic. His first outing saw him limit Team USA’s All-Star lineup to 1 run over 3 IP before continuing forth into pure dominance against Japan in the semi-finals. Tossing close to 5 innings versus Japanese phenom Roki Sasaki, Sandoval proved himself a world-class arm with this instant classic performance. It appears reasonable to say he will carry this hot hand through 2023.

Sandoval’s prevailing quality is his ability to apply his best stuff in the deepest of situations, a roster-wide quality that has been long absent from the Angels. When pitching with runners on base, Sandoval limited opposing bats to a measly .667 OPS. Hitters did even worse in RISP situations, as their overall OPS fell to .590 in these situations. Best of all, when a runner stood at 3rd with two outs, Sandoval allowed zero extra-base hits with a meager five hits allowed (over 26 plate appearances). Patrick Sandoval’s performance across 2022 as well as the WBC speaks for itself as an All-Star talent.

Alongside Sandoval is Reid Detmers, a well-known pitcher amongst Angels fans and well-read pundits, though otherwise a dark horse in the national eye. Despite throwing a largely celebrated no-hitter in the first half of 2022, Detmers struggled to gain solid footing in the Majors, finding himself sent to the Minors after six consecutive winless starts. Detmers embraced renewed form as he returned from the Minors, throwing 59 innings with 69 K on a 3.11 ERA after a call-back up to the Majors.

Through the first half of 2022, Detmers held a K/9 of 7.3 while the second half saw him maintain a 9.9 K/9 rate. His biggest improvement came off his ability to limit the home run, as Detmers allowed only two HRs post-All-Star Break. Prior to that? Eleven home runs across 70 innings of work. Detmers’ velocity has bulked up yet again coming into 2023, with his fastball topping out at 98mph and his slider hitting the low 90s. It’s easier said than done, but should he apply his enhanced repertoire with proper form the Angels will be in line to sweep the All-Stars off the talent of their elite youth in the rotation.

A top of the rotation that can be penciled in for 400-500+ strikeouts is not to be taken lightly, especially alongside an offense littered with such power potential. Shohei Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval, should they continue their 2022 form, are All-Star shoe-ins as well as Cy Young contenders (Sandoval in line to collect a few votes at least). Reid Detmers’ path to recognition is less established than the former two, though should he perform up to standards, it will be quick work nonetheless. Jose Suarez is not expected to do more than provide league average innings, though should he continue his hot streak he could easily sneak his way into the All-Star conversation.

No matter what way you cut it, the Angels’ rotation features some more talented starters in the AL. All that’s left is to take what’s on paper and apply it to the moment. This is something the Angels have struggled with in recent years, but with fresh management and a new outlook, anything can happen in 2023.

Follow us @Diamond_Digest for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: @Angels / Twitter

Ryan Falla

Ryan began his work covering the Angels in 2011 for Monkey With A Halo before moving on the Halo Hangout where he began covering the Minor League Inland Empire 66ers, working with athletes such as Jared Walsh and Patrick Sandoval. In 2019 Ryan was credited by the Athletic for being the first to report on the Patrick Sandoval call-up, this news break being possible thanks to an inside source who gave Ryan the break on the story. In addition to writing with Diamond Digest, Ryan Falla also covers the Dodgers Low A team, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, for Dodgers2080

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button