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LA Angels: What to look for in the 2nd half of the season

Now that we are on the “break” it’s time to look ahead to 2019 part 2

MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Breakout Candidates

Luis Rengifo was a huge get for Billy Eppler. The so called PTBNL came in the CJ Cron to Tampa Bay trade. Sure, Cron has twice the bWAR of Rengifo currently, but Cron is a bit of a one trick pony. In Rengifo, the Angels have a versatile and quick player who is only 22 years old. Rengifo is definitely warming up - just look at his month by month splits:

May: .208 AVG, .306 OBP
June: 278 AVG, .327 OBP
July: .333 AVG, .455 OBP

August and September could be huge for Rengifo as he get more comfortable hitting big league pitching.

There are certain defining moments that make people who they are. In the case of Andrew Heaney, it could be the loss of his best friend and teammate, Tyler Skaggs. Heaney has been one start away from turning it around for a few months now. In his last 6 starts, he’s given up 5, 1, 5, 1, 5, 2 earned runs. He’s had glimpses of being great this year and has the chances to really turn it around in the second half.

Pitching Reinforcements

Angels starters have the fewest innings pitched in MLB and it’s not really even closed. Starters have tossed only 389.2 innings over 91 games which equates to 4.3 innings per starts. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, the Angels have the 2nd most relief innings of all teams, just 6 innings behind the Tampa Bay Rays and 35 innings more than the 3rd place Mariners.

Keynan Middleton is one piece that will help the tired bullpen arms, though he’ll likely be used sparingly after coming back from TJ surgery. Middleton has already thrown 2 rehab innings in the rookie and High A leagues with no walks or hits and 4 Ks. He should be back in the next week or two.

JC Ramírez is another arm that may be back soon as well but he’s been lit up in this 28 minor league rehab innings so far.

Rookie Debuts

A the rate the Angels are burning through outfielders this year, Brennon Lund has a small chance of making his debut. Lund isn’t a blow you away type of guy and profile more as a 4th outfielder, but he has made waves through his minor league career and IS on the Angels top prospect list (#25). Lund started out slow but has hit .337 and .348 in June and July.

The Angels snagged Patrick Sandoval (#10 prospect) from the Astros for Martín Maldonado last July. He could be a key bullpen piece in 2020 and the Angels may wish to see what he has this year. After a stellar 2018 campaign, he’s come down to earth quite a bit in 2019, and playing in the PCL has not helped.

A complete long shot, and perhaps wishful thinking, it sure would be nice to see a Jo Adell debut this year. He has been tearing up the minor and is the #4 overall MLB prospect. We may not see him until late April 2020, but the sooner the better IMO.

Incentive Watch

Matt Harvey will earn a guaranteed 11 million dollar salary this year. However, beginning with start #15, he can earn extra money for every start. Harvey currently sits at 10 starts so it will be interesting to see if he even makes it to 15. He certainly won’t make it to 26 which is where his incentive is capped.

Another incentive laced deal is for Trevor Cahill. Cahill is set to earn $250K for reaching each of 100, 110, 120 and 130 innings, and he’d notch another $500K upon reaching 170 innings. Cahill has only reach 66.1 innings so it seems unlikely he’d achieve much of that bonus money. The question is, will the Angels cut him off before he reaches 100?

Wild Card Chase

There are a lot of teams in the mix, including the Rays, Indians, A’s, Red Sox, and Rangers. the White Sox are even hot on the chase a few games behind the Angels. One problem for the Angels is their strength of schedule. They face a lot of difficult teams including the Astros 14 more times, Yankees 3, Red Sox 6, and two more agains the Dodgers up in LA. Will they be in the mix? Probably. Will it be easy? Definitely not.

Mike Trout Best Year Ever

This is a phrase that never gets old. Trout is only 13 home runs away from his career high and may likely hit 50+ bombs. He is on pace for career highs in home runs, runs, RBIs, walks, slugging, and OPS. The MVP race isn’t even close right now. Trout only has 8 stolen bases, but he often steps up toward the end of the year so it wouldn’t be crazy for him to swipe 20+ bags.

Milestone Watch

Albert Pujols is a mere 14 home runs away from from passing Willie Mays at #5 on the all-time list. He’d need to go on a power surge, however, since he only has 13 so far this year. It’s likely he reaches that mark early in 2020. Pujols also has 11 doubles and is 7 short of passing Nap Lajoie for 7th on the all time double list.

Mike Trout is 4 home runs away form tying Garrett Anderson for the 2 spot on the Angels all time dinger list. He’s 31 away from Tim Salmon which may have to wait until next year. Trout is also only 4 IBB from 2nd place and 15 from tying Vladdy for the most IBB in franchise history. He has 11 IBB so far this year.