Team Effort has Led to Los Angeles Angels Losing Streak

Aug 3, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) looks on from the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 3, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) looks on from the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels have been on a historic losing streak, dropping the past 11 games, until finally breaking through last night with a late rally against Seattle. Low-scoring games, high-scoring games, extra inning heartbreak, the Angels have found a way to lose in every way they possibly can.

If the Los Angeles Angels hadn’t rallied to win last night behind reliever-turned-starter Jhoulys Chacin, they would have set a new franchise losing streak record. This miserable run has been a team effort, with not just one unit under performing, but the entire organization having a lackluster run. Some parts of the team, however, have been totally awful.

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Pitching Staff

Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, CJ Wilson, and Hector Santiago were all hopeful starting pitchers for the Halos at the beginning of the year. However, through injuries and trades, the starting rotation during this streak includes the likes of Ricky Nolasco, Tim Lincecum, and Chacin. Trading away Santiago was the definitive moment that the Angels gave up on this season, as he had just come off a month where he went 6-0 in his starts. The starting pitching staff during this streak has an astonishing 6.95 ERA. They have also pitched a grand total of 55.2 innings, slightly over 5 innings a start on average.

While the bullpen has been below average, that can be due to fatigue and pitching nearly four innings per game. They also lost set-up man Joe Smith at the trade deadline, pushing players into new roles. Couple this with closer Huston Street and set-up man Cam Bedrosian being put on the DL. There has been an obvious lack of talent when it comes to closing out games, as the Halos have been victim to many late-game lead changes during this stretch. Overall, the pitching staff has made it nearly impossible for a below average offense to keep up with the plethora of runs opposing teams have been scoring.

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Strength of Schedule

While Angels are going through a slump, they are also going through one of the toughest parts of their 2016 schedule. According to ESPN’s latest power rankings, the Angels have played five games against the #12 team (Mariners), four against the #4 team (Indians), two against the #1 team (Cubs), and one against the Athletics (#22). All three teams the Angels played more than once are fighting for either a playoff spot or home-field advantage. This is where pure talent comes into play. With each of those three teams having complete teams of stars such as Kris Bryant, Anthony RizzoCorey Kluber, Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, and Nelson Cruz they can simply manhandle and overpower a team with one superstar in Mike Trout and an aging/unproductive team. The fact that the Angels are going through the toughest portion of their year is reason enough to lose a lot of games, but losing 11 games in a row takes more than just insufficient talent.

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Desire to Win?

Put yourself in Mike Scioscia‘s shoes. You and your team are on a nine game losing streak, and hoping to end it. One would obviously want to field the best possible lineup, in sheer hope that a miracle could happen and your pitching staff only gives up three runs and your offense can squeeze out four. But no, Scioscia decided against that. He decided in the midst of what could have  possibly become the Halos’ longest losing streak in history, he benched Trout for rest.

Now if Trout had been  nursing an injury, or his illness from a week ago had resurfaced, then one could justify benching him. However, benching the best player in baseball so he can have a day off is ludicrous at this point. Fans no longer watch games to see the Angels contend, they watch to see Mike Trout do the seemingly impossible. This is especially bad considering the Angels play in the American League and have the luxury of giving Trout a half-day off by just having him go to the plate four times in a game.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems from watching games that the players, coaches, announcers, and fans have given up on this season. Half the team is either past its prime or are career journeymen, and they are just playing for a contract next year.  While this losing streak makes this once promising season hurt that much more, it does not look like the losing atmosphere will be changing anytime soon even with series against New York (AL), Toronto, and Detroit coming up. This historic streak of games all but confirms one thing; 2017 will be more of the same.