The Los Angeles Angels hit rock bottom. Last night in the first game of a three-game series in Arlington, the Angels struck out 11 times while mustering a single hit against the Rangers. Multiple mental as well as actual errors littered the field last night. The play was so bad Manager Phil Nevin was seen yelling at the team in the dugout. It has been a pitiful showing from this team for the past two weeks.
Issues on the Mound
One thing has been a recurring theme in the recent history of the Angels’ lack of quality pitching. Going into the 2023 season, the consensus was the Angels were in a better situation with the rotation. Now in August, it has hit rock bottom. Tyler Anderson, the significant addition to the process, has been a complete bust this year. In his first year in Anaheim, Anderson posted an era of 5.28. He is coming off a career-low-era 2.57 with the Dodgers in 2022. He has had flashes during his first year of the deal, but it hasn’t been good.
Two guys who were considered ready to take that step forward have failed. Both Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval have regressed this season. December looked great in the spring. His slider looked like it had improved, and he was attacking the zone. His first full year in the majors was alright. A 3.77 era and a 1.21 WHIP are not wrong at all. This year he has an inflated era of 5.27 and a 1.41 WHIP. Last month it looked like Sandoval had turned the corner. He posted a period of 1.04 to go along with a .098 WHIP. So far, that seems like a flash in the pan.
The bullpen has been up and down all season. Guys are coming and going between Anaheim and Salt Lake and being overused, underused, and staying too long. On the surface, the stats and the Angels’ bullpen have been okay overall. Then the floodgates opened, and they now sit 21st in the bullpen era at 4.41. The play overall as a staff could have been more impressive.
Lack of Effort
In the video clip circulated on X (Twitter) last night, the lip reading from Nevin was “Get your heads back in the game.” Many fans have seen the mundane nature and lazy play on the field as a lack of effort. Whether or not this is the case depends on the fan’s views. Could the Angels hitting rock bottom cause this? Sure bad play and losing can seep into everything else. If Nevin felt that the team needed more focus and effort, why did he wait until now to do anything?
The real issue is the effort of its leadership. For years, the Angels lacked someone to say what needed to be said. Many thought this was Albert Pujols, but as years passed, that seemed not to be the case. His final year in Anaheim was a turbulent one. He was ultimately released as the Dodgers got him for the remainder of the year. Mike Moustakas has become the unofficial captain since coming over, but it might have been too late.
Generally speaking, there isn’t much reason for players to give up. Many have performance bonuses as part of their contracts. Fans will blame the players naturally since they want the team to play better. This is a simple leadership issue. Ownership and executive offices shield coaches from questions from the media and prevent ‘negative’ speech on the team. All of this can be changed. However, the question is will they change course next season? Nothing will change on the field if things remain the same, and the cycle will repeat in 2024.
A Positive Note
While things could be better with the Angels regarding leadership roles, hope is on the horizon. Guys like Zach Neto and Logan O’Hoppe look to have that factor about them. Neto had already impacted on the field before back spasms slowed him down. Having a guy, Neto, a young, hungry player who wants to win, is something the team last had in years. With O’Hoppe, he has built a rapport with the staff before getting hurt. Both can and will help to change the culture of this team as the years go on.