The Angels Future Is Fast Approaching for All the Right Reasons

The Los Angeles Angels future is on display as we enter July. Baseball writers were surprised that Angels GM Perry Minasian did so little at last week’s trade deadline, given the Angels’ unlikelihood of making the playoffs. Yet, the Angels made a flurry of internal moves that should bring a smile to the face of every Angels fan alive. Why? Because the Angels called up the future. Since Brandon Marsh made his debut on July 18, the team has called up four top prospects. More importantly, they called up their top two pitching prospects. Reid Detmers hit the majors for his first start on August 1. Chris Rodriguez, who started the year in the big league bullpen, made his first career start the next day. And last but not least, Jo Adell played in his first Angels game of the season yesterday. The Angels future is here.

Angels Future Pitching Staff on Display

After their win against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, the Angels are 53-54 on the season. They are fourth in the AL West, 12 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros. And, they are 6 1/2 games back for the second AL Wild Card with five teams ahead of them. Because of this, the playoffs look unlikely (but not impossible). If you think the team is giving up by calling up their top prospects, then look a little closer. The Angels young pitchers have saved their season thus far.

Opening Day Rotation

Starts W-L ERA Innings Strikeouts WHIP Currently
Dylan Bundy 15 1-8 6.75 69.1 62 1.41 Bullpen
Andrew Heaney 18 6-7 5.27 94 113 1.31 Trade to NYY
Alex Cobb 15 7-3 3.82 77.2 84 1.26 Injured List
Shohei Ohtani 15 5-1 3.04 80 100 1.13 SUPERSTAR
Jose Quintana 9 0-3 7.22 33.2 50 1.93 Bullpen
Griffin Canning 13 4-4 5.52 60.1 60 1.51 Triple-A IL

Overall, the opening day starting rotation clocks a 5.01 ERA over 415 1/3 innings. If we look at the four who are no longer in the rotation, not counting the injured Alex Cobb, the numbers are even more drastic: a 5.97 ERA over 257 2/3 innings. The promotions of young pitchers Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, and Jaime Barria have righted the ship.

Starts W-L ERA Innings Strikeouts WHIP Currently
Patrick Sandoval 12 3-5 3.09 70 79 1.17 Starter
Jose Suarez 5 2-3 5.56 22.2 21 1.41 Starter
9 (relief) 3-1 1.98 27.1 26 1.10
Jaime Barria 2 2-0 1.32 13.2 7 0.88 Starter?

Patrick Sandoval has been a revelation since moving into the rotation on May 17. As a result of poor run support, Sandoval is 3-5 despite his excellent ERA. Jose Suarez has also pitched incredibly well, including multiple four-inning relief appearances. His 5.56 ERA as a starter is weighted down by the bullpen allowing all four inherited runners to score. His ERA would be 3.97 otherwise. Not to be forgotten, Jaime Barria has broken through with two excellent starts. While Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez are certain to be in the rotation given their call-ups, Barria should also be included.

Injuries in the Outfield

Injuries have decimated the Angels roster this season. First, Dexter Fowler tore his ACL after just seven games. The longtime St. Louis Cardinals outfielder was traded for to give Marsh and Adell more time. But worst of all, third baseman Anthony Rendon will miss the remainder of the season. Rendon has missed nearly fifty games on the season. Yet, the biggest injury concern has come from the star himself,  Mike Trout. He has been out nearly three months with a calf strain after the initial prognosis was six to eight weeks. Lastly, Justin Upton has also missed a chunk of time with ongoing back issues. This brings us to the young guns in the outfield.

Brandon Marsh has had some difficulty staying healthy throughout his young career. Yet, when he plays, he shines. His first look in the majors has shown his keen eye and excellent defense, making him a top prospect. Marsh usually takes a few weeks to settle in at each level, so you can bet that he will fare far better in August than he did his first two weeks. His outfield mate, Jo Adell, knows all about struggling in the big leagues. Adell’s 2020 season was a difficult one for the young slugger. But, Adell has bounced back in a big way in 2021. His 23 home runs are second in all of Triple-A, and his scorching July help nudges the team to recall him. And, he started his big league season with a bang—the Angels’ amazing future outfield featuring Trout. Marsh and Adell are mere weeks away.

2021 and Beyond

The Angels future is here, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t playing to win. Angels GM Perry Minasian had repeatedly said that players would be called up when ready to help the team. And manager Joe Maddon has been adamant that top prospects would only be called up when the team knew they wouldn’t have to go back down. Both outlooks speak not only of an optimistic Angels future but also for the chances of the 2021 team down the stretch. Simply put, Marsh and Adell are improvements over Juan Lagares and Adam Eaton. Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez are improvements over Dylan Bundy and Jose Quintana. Furthermore, the team can use this time to analyze better what these players need to focus on moving forward.

Despite multiple injuries to the roster, the Angels continue to improve. Five days after Trout went on the injured list, the team sunk to a season-low eight games under .500. Since then, the Angels are tied with Boston for the fifth-best record in the American League at 34-27. Starters have a league average ERA. Shohei Ohtani has won back-to-back player of the month awards. And high-level home-grown talent has made its way up the ladder. Things are looking up in Anaheim.