After a promising May, June has been a fall from grace for the Angels. The Halos went from competing for first in the American League West to falling into third. They currently sit at 35-40 and are 8-17 in June (a .320 winning percentage). During all of this, the front office fired head coach Joe Maddon and hired Phil Nevins. In addition, Anthony Rendon got hurt again and is done for the rest of the year. It will be interesting to see what happens with the team as we enter the heart of the season with July just around the corner.
Positive Take-aways from June
Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani have shown they are two of the best players in the world. Trout’s power numbers have started to come back, with 11 home runs and 21 runs batted in and a slash line of .259/360/.630. Not the greatest of batting averages, but the 11 home runs have been a plus for him this past month.
Ohtani has been on a similar power surge with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in with a slash of .260/.378/.529. His pitching has been outstanding as well, with a 2.90 earned run average and 90 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.
Jared Walsh and starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval have also had a solid month of June. In the past 30 games, Walsh has four home runs, 13 runs batted in, with a .283 batting average. Meanwhile, Sandoval has posted a solid 3.05 earned run average with 38 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched. He has been the one bright spot for the pitching staff.
With only winning eight games in June, it is increasingly difficult to picture the Angels as a playoff team even with their plethora of stars.
Is a Rebound Possible?
A lot will have to be done for the Angels to dig themselves out of the hole they have created. One of the players who has fallen to earth has been Taylor Ward. In his last 30 games, he has five home runs, 14 runs batted in, and a .281 batting average. That is a huge drop off from his production in April and May.
The main issue with the Angels is pitching. This problem has been chronic throughout the tenures of Trout and Ohtani. Noah Syndergaard has had an average season coming back from injuries, but it has not been enough. The relief pitching also has been a problem, with the staff blowing multiple leads in late-inning situations. The bullpen needs to show that there is life in this team before the the trade deadline.
Yesterday’s brawl with the Seattle Mariners could be a fire starter for the Angels as they get into July’s schedule facing the White Sox, Astros, and Marlins in their next three series.
Could the Trade Deadline Be an Answer to their Woes?
The Angels stand 11.5 games back of first place in the AL West and 6.5 games back of the third wild card position. So, these next three to four weeks of baseball will be pivotal to see what general manager Perry Minasian does.
If the Angels close the gap for the third wild card spot by 3.5 games, they should be buyers at the deadline to make a playoff run. There are plenty of pitchers on the trade market that would make the starting rotation and bullpen better. Some of the starters out there include Zach Davies of the Diamondbacks, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo of the Reds, Frankie Montas of the Athletics, and Martin Perez from the Rangers. These starters would have an impact on the rotation right away and give them a chance to win more games. Montas and Castillo are two targets they should go after because they can try and re-sign them in the offseason.
The two best relievers on the market would be David Robertson of the Cubs and Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles. Both pitchers can make an impact on a struggling back end of the bullpen. For all of these pitchers that market will be competitive with teams like the Mets, Yankees, Astros, and other top contenders looking to bulk up their teams.
The flip side is if the Angels keep sliding and fall completely out of the playoff, they must consider trading pieces off to have a future for this team. There will be a lot of hard decisions that will have to be made because of Shohei Ohtani being up for a new contract in the next year. It will be interesting to see what pieces they could sell off to make this team good in the future.
So is it possible they field calls for Mike Trout to try and get a massive haul for the star? Or do they consider trading Ohtani to get a massive return and start building a new core? This sounds like a drastic change to the Angels but to be able to have a chance to be relevant in a stacked American League drastic changes need to be made to start a new core for the Angels.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images