Baseball

2021 Los Angeles Angels: First Month in the Books

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With the first month of the regular season done, the 2021 Los Angeles Angels are 4th in the American League West at 13-12.

Weโ€™ve seen some very positive signs and some glaring holes that still need to be addressed in a team that has the potential to be a contender.

2021 Los Angeles Angels: Trout and Ohtani Hot Starts

To say that Mike Trout is having a strong start to the season would be an understatement. After finishing 5th in 2020 in MVP voting, Trout has put together an April hitting .431/.538/.815 (277 OPS+) with six homers, 14 RBIs, and 15 runs scored in 19 games.

To top it off, his April OPS this year is 1.306. Trout has a lifetime 1.004 OPS. He is slugging like a monster yet again and with that kind of ability to get on base and to hit for power, Trout is proving once again to be one if not the best player in baseball.

Shohei Ohtani seems to have finally put his injury issues behind him and has shown how dynamic he can be with the bat and on the mound. Last Monday Ohtani becomes 1st pitcher since Babe Ruth start the game while leading MLB in homers.

Against the Texas Rangers, he took to the mound and pitched five innings versus the Rangers, collecting nine strikeouts while allowing four earned runs for his first win. At the plate, Ohtani was 2-3 with two RBI’s and three runs scored as the Angels earned a 9-4 victory.

Injury Bug

The injury bug hit the Angels in April and at one point there were several regulars out of the lineup. Third baseman Anthony Rendon was on the 10-day IL because of a strained groin. Shohei Ohtani also experienced blisters on one of his fingers delaying a pitching start while catcher Max Stassi suffered a left thumb irritation.

The biggest one for the 2021 Los Angeles Angels in April had to be the loss of Dexter Fowler for the season. Fowler tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while sliding into second base in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Fowler is on the 60-day IL and will require season-ending surgery.

Fowler cost the 2021 Los Angeles Angels little in the off-season as the St. Louis Cardinals ate $12.75 million of his salary in his move to the Angels. It was a deal that really made sense for both clubs.

Angels Manager Joe Maddon also trusts him to provide a much-needed boost in the clubhouse in terms of culture. Maddon and Fowler won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 so the 2021 Los Angeles Angels manager knows that Fowler knows how to win. That’s big for a club without a post-season berth since 2014.

Pitching Issues

You knew this one was coming and if you have followed the Angels for a while you knew that it was going to continue to be. Now in defense of GM Perry Minasian, he has only had a short time to address the team’s pitching needs and this kind of overhaul will likely take some time.

With the worst collective ERA in baseball at 5.82, that isn’t a good sign for a team that we knew doesn’t have the staff that it should playoff games in October be expected. The 2021 Los Angeles Angels do have the 12th-lowest FIP (3.87) in the majors this season.

According to Fangraphs, FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching and looks at the events in a game that pitchers have control over while on the mound. This would suggest that the Angels pitching isn’t as bad as ERA suggests but they certainly don’t deserve to be let off the hook.

Off-season acquisitions Alex Cobb and Jose Quintana haven’t got the job done. Cobb’s line is four starts, 16.1 IP 7.16 ERA 1.776 WHIP (10.2 FIP) while Quintana has three starts, 13.1 IP, 10.13 ERA 2.325 WHIP (5.11 FIP). If it leaves you as an Angels fan pining for Julio Teheran, it shouldn’t.

Dylan Bundy is the ace of the Angels staff and while he impressed in the shortened 2020 season, he has seen his ERA creep above four so far this season while maintaining a 1.100 and a FIP of 3.99. Andrew Heaney has a 0.919 WHIP and a 2.07 FIP. Griffin Canning, in his third year on the Angels staff, has an 8.40 ERA to go with a 1.467 WHIP and 7.02 FIP.

We wonder how Chris Rodriguez and Reid Detmers figure into the Angels pitching staff at some point this season and Detmers will, according to The Athletic, start the season with the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas, The Angels Double-A affiliate.

Rodriguez has a 2-0 record with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.159 WHiP in 14.2 innings. He has struck out 17 batters while issuing eight walks for the Angels so far from the bullpen, a role Joe Maddon says he is suited to. The question remains whether he will see time in the starting rotation either this season or next.

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Ben has been closely following sports since the late 1980s and began writing about them in the 90s. Armed with a BA, an associate certificate, and a diploma, he brings a highly educated perspective to sports betting. Specializing in hockey, baseball, and tech, Ben has contributed many outlets and is a frequent contributor to the CKNW radio station.