Could it be? Are the Los Angeles Angels finally turning things around… righting the Ship… on an even keel? Sorry, I’ve been listening to a lot of yacht rock lately.
But are they???
Are they finally ready to play the kind of baseball we all expected to see when the team signed Josh Hamilton? I’m not sure yet, but it sure is starting to look that way.
The argument that they can’t replace Joe Blanton because they just have no other options at the moment no longer works for me. Besides… that argument, quite frankly, was stupid to begin with. In fact, the Angels have lost 8 of his 9 starts this season. There was no one to replace him with that was any better??? Really??? Really? The truth is… there is no one available who would have been any worse. Now you might say, “but Dave… the bullpen was also thin and we needed Jerome there.” Nope… we didn’t. What the Angels needed most was starting pitching in the rotation capable of giving the team a quality start. With every short outing, every blowout loss, our pen was getting more and more overworked. And Blanton has been the absolute worst pitcher on this team… that’s still on the team anyway. Sorry Barry Enright.
Counter argument, Jerome Williams, 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP this season. And over his last two starts those numbers are even better.
Excluding Blanton, the Angels pitching staff seems to be stabilizing. The starters are all going deeper into games now. That should have a trickle-down effect to the bullpen as well. Relievers are funny creatures… if you give them enough outings… but don’t overwork them… you should see better consistency form them.
Losing and pressing creates pressure and doubt. Pressure and doubt causes too much overthinking while playing defense. During the worst parts of this slow start there are moments… innings… games… where the Angel’s defense and base-running, which historically have been one of the Angels strengths, have been embarrassing. But you know… the last few games they’re starting to look more like their old selves. Veteran players no longer seem to be making bone-headed decisions on the base paths. Tuesday night’s win over the Marinaters, there were a few moments where the Angels could have run themselves out of a few big innings, just as they had all season. In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Hamilton lines to right and legs out a triple with a great slide. Following that, professional hit man Howie Kendrick blasts a 2 run shot to center. Next batter, Alberto Callaspo hits a long line drive where typically he may try to push it and go for a triple… but no, he sees the play and smartly decides to stay at second. And he was right as he’d have most likely been thrown out at third. Long story short, the Angels score two more runs there.
I’m not going to say “don’t look now…” but if I was… I’d follow that up with “…but the Angels bats are heating up, and it’s looking like a consistent heat-wave.” I hope it is anyway… but I’m no weather man.
What I’m seeing besides just the stats improving across the board are the swings. The Angels hitters are looking more confident, decisive at the plate. The approaches have been much better. There’s a whole lot less guessing and looking really bad on strikeouts. Even for Josh Hamilton. The last few games that sweet left-handed swing Hamilton used to have seems to be on its way back. And that swing is the type that can carry a ball club along, long way. But if you combine that with Howie Kendrick, hitting .500+ with power over the last 8 games, baseball destroyer Mark Trumbo, Albert Pujols and his little brother Alberto, all heating up… I feel very sorry for all the Aaron Harangs of the baseball world. That poor, poor man!
And Michael Nelson “ihitforthecycle” Trout. Wow! Just wow!
After beating Aaron Harang in the 30 yard dash to first… with a 10 yard lead for Harang no less… he hits a triple, a bases-clearing double, and finally decides that he’s just going to hit a homer for the cycle in the 8th. What was most impressive about that homer for me… he hit it to right-center. A guy who was obviously trying to hit a home run for the cycle stayed within his approach and didn’t pull the ball; he blasted it to right-center.
Buster Olney, who absolutely has the best name of all time for a baseball writer, is now projecting a two horse race for the AL MVP this season, and it’s the same two horses as last season. Click his pic to see his comments on Trout.
He very much looks like he’s in Awe of Mike Trout. I hear ya Buster… and dang it… I’m right there with you, man.