Postmortems are for the dead. While someone ought to look into one for stiff body once known as Kole Calhoun, no one should overreact to the Angels going 14-15 in May.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t concerns, but one bad month does not a season make, just as one good April didn’t mean you should have started saving up for playoff tickets. There definite areas of concern, but there are also definite areas of improvement. Before throwing your hands up, let’s take a few beats and consider what the Angels have done, and where that leaves them.
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First off, the starting pitching’s come around in a big fat way. In 167 May innings, the starting rotation posted a spectacular 2.86 ERA. Despite the bad start on Thursday, Andrew Heaney still posted a 2.41 ERA for the month, and rookies Shohei Ohtani and Jaime Barria combined for 48 2/3 innings and a 2.42 ERA. The six-man rotation that was so problematic at the beginning of the season is shaping up to be one of the most formidable staffs in the major leagues.
The problem, of course, is that they’re the opening act for a bullpen that has yet to show any consistency at all. A 4.63 ERA and six blown late-game leads in May contributed mightily to the rough month; if even three of those games had gone different, everyone would be looking at a 17-12 month and no one would be freaking out. With Blake Wood joining Keynan Middleton on the Tommy John surgery table, help is going to have to come from outside the organization. Bullpen help is out there, and just this past week, the Seattle Mariners showed how it’s done by acquiring Alex Colomé from the Tampa Bay Rays for not much more than some used books.
Slightly less worrisome that the offense isn’t all that great right now. 4.5 runs a game during the month of May might not sound so bad, but the dead spots in the lineup are offsetting some stellar performances. Having perhaps his best season in a career of best seasons, Mike Trout posted a 1.205 OPS in May, and Andrelton Simmons hit .352/.413/.472 as he continues to push for top slot as the best shortstop in the American League.
As good as those guys are, they can’t compete with how bad Kole Calhoun is, because Kole Calhoun is HISTORICALLY BAD. His .108 batting average (8-74) came with exactly one extra-base hit, and he tallied one whole RBI the entire month. Ian Kinsler and Albert Pujols pitched in with soft May production as well. Sprinkling in weak spots throughout the lineup mitigated a lot of what Trout, Simmons, and Ohtani did that were good.
What does all this mean for June? About as much as April meant to May: in other words, nothing. Instead of a schedule that includes Seattle, Colorado, Houston and the Yankees, the Angels will start June with a stretch of games against the Rangers, Royals, and Twins, all sub-.500 teams. It’s a chance to get straight, get healthy, and get back on track. Postmortems are for the dead, and this season has only just begun.