Dexter Fowler’s season-ending injury was the first crack in the Angels’ windshield this season. The crack grew with each additional injury until it completely derailed the season. This disfunction was on full display this week and there isn’t a ton of relief in sight.
Even in the worst-case scenario most people had in their heads regarding the Angels, I doubt few pictured the roster turning into what it’s currently become. The Angels have been forced to use minor league resources that either aren’t ready, will never be ready or are passed their prime. The lineup is decimated by injury, resulting in a lack of consistent offensive efficiency. The budding young rotation we saw in July is finding itself on the IL and in flux. The bullpen has blown up, with the steady pieces missing time and the remaining ones consistently giving away games in epic fashion.
In all honesty, the roster is undergoing a stretch that would make baseball fiction like Major League (1989) blush. It’s rough folks, there are no two ways about it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, even with the Angels’ history of untimely injury. With guys landing on the IL seemingly every day and concerns of a COVID-19 spread in the clubhouse, the Angels are performing as to be expected. That’s not to say the roster was always complete (the bullpen has been a glaring issue all season and the Quintana-Bundy duo failed miserably in the rotation), but it’s hard to gauge where this team might be with a mostly healthy lineup and a full season of the July-early August rotation.
We’ll save the speculation for the offseason and analyze what we can in the present. A lot happened this week, not much of it good.
A Rough End to the Road Trip
- Williamsport: The Angels exercised futility on offense during the Cleveland series and in the series finale in Williamsport, Pa. on Sunday. The Halos lost 3-0 to the Tribe on Sunday Night Baseball in a game that was ugly for the Angels from start to finish. The offense was awful over the weekend, scoring only two runs in 27 innings. There have been spurts where the lineup comes alive, but since the All-Star Break, it’s definitely not the norm. In fact, since the ASB, the Halos rank 29th in the MLB with a .661 OPS and 28th with a .233 collective batting average.
- Baltimore: Things started out great for the Halos against Baltimore. In the first game on Tuesday, the Angels dominated in a 14-8 victory, running the Orioles’ losing streak to 19 games. It would be the Angels, however, who would leave Maryland with a losing streak of their own. They blew a 6-2 lead the next night in a 10-6 loss and the pitching and hitting combined to get smacked again 13-1 on Thursday. Baltimore entered the series 38-85, the worst record in baseball, and ended up outscoring the Angels 31-21 in the three-game series. For a lot of fans, this series was rock bottom. Joe Maddon said after Thursday’s game to throw it away, but the inconsistency of the offense and the inability to get outs from the bullpen are things that need to be addressed as the season winds down.
Some notables: Brandon Marsh hit his first MLB home run on Wednesday and Shohei Ohtani hit his MLB-leading 41st home run on Thursday. The Angels finished the road trip 4-6.
The first Major League career home run for Brandon Marsh! pic.twitter.com/ZOYYxpYDmr— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 26, 2021
San Diego Looks for a Lift
- The Angels enter the two-game series against the San Diego Padres at 63-66, not exactly where they wanted to be at this point in the season. The Padres, however, are probably even more shell-shocked, limping into the series at 68-61, but 8-14 in the month of August, 16 games back of the NL West lead, two games back of the NL Wild Card and fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the L.A. Dodgers. The Padres have spent big money the last few offseasons, acquired top-notch pitching and were considered one of the most complete teams coming into this season. Being a fringe playoff team was never supposed to be in the cards. This series is an opportunity for the Padres to get back on track or for the Angels to play spoiler.
Friday night’s matchup features the ever-popular TBD going for the Angels (thanks injuries/COVID!) versus RHP Joe Musgrove. Musgrove, who threw the first no-hitter in Padres franchise history earlier this season, is 8-8 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 160 strikeouts in 139.1 IP. He’s coming off an outing against the Phillies where he went 6.0 innings with only one earned run and nine strikeouts.
IT HAS HAPPENED ‼️— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 10, 2021
JOE MUSGROVE HAS THROWN THE FIRST NO-HITTER IN PADRES HISTORY pic.twitter.com/zCWHtlG5Pk
On Saturday, the Padres will get a crack at starting TBD while the Angels will rely on LHP José Suárez (5-7, 4.06 ERA).
San Diego currently ranks ninth in MLB in team ERA, which is disappointing for them because they arguably had a top-three rotation coming into the season. Injuries and unmet expectations have obviously held them back and the inability to land Dodgers’ RHP Max Scherzer has stung. On the offensive side, the Angels have actually had a slightly better season at the plate. The Padres have a collective .726 OPS (LAA has .729) and a .241 batting average (LAA has .250). San Diego has also been slumping in the second half of the season, albeit not as poorly as the Angels.
As made evident by their 16-inning loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday, the Padres have also recently struggled hitting with RISP. Again, the Angels share some common ground as they rank 27th in MLB this month with hits with RISP. Topping off the similarities, the Padres feature one of the faces of baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr. The NL MVP candidate is batting .281 with 35 HR, 78 RBIs and 24 SB, but is in the middle of a slump. He is two for his last 28 with a HR, three RBIs and 13 strikeouts. In the last series against the Dodgers, he went 1-14 with seven strikeouts.
Nevertheless, the Tatis-Ohtani narrative will likely be on full display this weekend. Expect a healthy amount of Padres fans at the Big A and a national media spotlight on the games.
- RHP Elvis Peguero made his MLB debut on Thursday and it didn’t go well. He gave up five earned runs, issued three walks and struck out none in 0.2 innings of work. He was ultimately charged with the loss. The Angels acquired Peguero from the Yankees in the Andrew Heaney deal.
- RHP Jake Petricka was called up on August 25 and has been less-than-steller. The seven-year veteran is sporting a 45.00 ERA with five earned runs, 1 HR, 3 H, 2 BB and a loss in 1 IP.
- OF Keon Wong was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. With the Bees, Wong is hitting .335 and has 22 RBIs.
- RHP Dylan Bundy was placed on the 10-day IL with a shoulder strain. Bundy has a 6.06 ERA on the season and pitched only 1.1 innings in his last start against Baltimore before getting the hook.
- RHPs Reid Detmers and Austin Warren were placed on the IL on Wednesday for undisclosed reasons. However, Joe Maddon has acknowledged that the Angels are dealing with COVID-19 right now and that could be the cause for the pitchers’ absences. The Halos currently have three players on the IL without any designated injuries.
A lot of #Angels roster moves...— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) August 25, 2021
Note that Detmers and Warren are on the IL, but not the 10-day IL, and there is no injury designated. That usually means it's COVID related. https://t.co/RUMLmT5yBp
- It seems that whenever the Angels go to Baltimore, their players come away with more fans. Such is the case with Jo Adell during Tuesday’s game:
Jo Adell accidentally knocked a kid's drink out of his hand the previous inning when trying to throw him a ball.— MLB (@MLB) August 26, 2021
He made it up to the kid next inning. #BiggerThanBaseball
Thanks @Angels and Jo Adell for the bat! New favorite player pic.twitter.com/auk8DJ8ltN— BBP34 (@bbp34_) August 26, 2021
- Jack Mayfield changed his number from 59 to his usual 9 on Thursday.