LA Angels Spring Training Recap: Angels 9, Cubs 2

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts after hitting a fly ball to center field during the first inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The result was a flyball out. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts after hitting a fly ball to center field during the first inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The result was a flyball out. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

The LA Angels starting staff has taken a little bit more time than the rest of the team to catch up to Spring Training, but after days like today it’s beginning to feel as if things are trending in the right direction for the starters.Tyler Skaggs took the mound in today’s contest and came away with a win after 3 innings of solid work. 

The LA Angels had a fantastic day all around, from the performance of their pitching to the 15 hit parade that took place, everything is looking like it’s falling into order. It’s a great sign that the Angels are leading the Cactus League in Runs Scored, the Angels really haven’t felt like this united of team this early on in a long time.

The starting pitching has come around a bit slower than the hitting but that’s to be expected with Spring Training. The most positive thing to take away from the Spring so far is how well put together this team is looking.

LA Angels new manager Brad Ausmus is already looking great; the Angels are loose and having fun while they prepare for their games and it’s showing in their performances. When was the last time you heard the Angels talking about “staying loose and having fun” under Scioscia’s tenure?

Oh, never? This isn’t just looking like a completely different team, this is looking like a completely different franchise all together. There hasn’t been a more exciting time with the Angels franchise in the last decade than now.

Angels 9, Cubs 2

Winning Pitcher: Tyler Skaggs (LHP): 3 IP, 4 Hits, 2 Runs (1 Earned), 2 Walks, 4 K’s

Losing Pitcher: Mario Meza (RHP): 1 Hit, 1 Run, 1 HR

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Well, Mike Trout is playing like Mike Trout and that’s no surprise to anyone. Today he came away with a big 3-run home run early on that put the Angels ahead 3-2 after being down up to that point. What’s even better about this is the fact that the Angels offense took over the game and won it with Trout, not because of him.

Trout isn’t carrying the team on his back, and yes I understand it’s Spring Training, but we’re still seeing a team that is very unified and plays as one instead of a collection of individuals plus Mike Trout. Overall the Angels had 15 hits in this game and just two of them came from Trout.

The offense was great, but the pitching might have been even better. All in all the team came away with nine strikeouts from 5 different pitchers. The only pitcher in this game that didn’t collect a strikeout was the brand new Angels bullpen hand Cody Allen. Allen still pitched a strong inning with only one walk allowed, in fact the only other walk allowed in this game came from Tyler Skaggs.

Seeing the bullpen come together to maintain a starters strong start is both impressive and a heavy shot of confidence for the fan base and the team. The Angels bullpen has always been a bit of a sore spot, though not as sore as the starting pitching. A lot of the bad bullpen work came from mismanagement from former manager Mike Scioscia as there has been plenty of talent on this roster that he never really utilized.

Luke Bard is looking like a strong option after pitching 11.1 up and down innings with the 2018 Angels. Dillon Peters is looking like a great pick up after the Angels received Peters in a 2018 off-season trade that sent Angels prospect Tyler Stevens to the Marlins for Peters.

Things are looking up big time for this team, if they can translate this chemistry and skill into the regular season we may very well see the Angels pull off a strong playoff run in 2019.

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Stand-out Performers

Mike Trout came away with 3 RBI’s off two hits, one being a 3-RBI HR, but he did strike out once. In previous seasons this might have been all the offense the Angels could muster, but now with this beefed up offense we’re seeing a lot of support around Trout. That probably makes it easier for him to relax at the plate, but then again he’s Trout and I’m sure he’s always in some kind of comfort zone.

However, with a full team around him we may see a better Trout than we’ve ever seen before. Crazy, right? Trout is always finding some way to get better and if he has a team that supports him on the field fully we might see him find even more breakthroughs to his game. If this Angels team truly is as pressure-free as it’s appearing this Spring then we may be in line for a bigger season than we’ve ever seen from Trout.

Kole Calhoun is starting to look locked in with his new approach at the plate. Calhoun is rocking an entirely new batting stance with hopes that his 2019 will be far smoother than his (unfortunately) horrid 2018 season. Calhoun has always been one of the bright spots on the team, even through his offensive struggles he finds ways to contribute to the Angels in big ways.

Usually it’s with his game-changing defense in right field. Today we saw Calhoun come away with three hits, one being a solo-home run that brought in his sole RBI for the day as well as two runs scored. If Calhoun can take this kind of impact offense into the season we may be looking at the comeback season of all players in the MLB. If Calhoun can manage a comeback, which is really just a return to form, the Angels will be a huge threat in 2019

Luke Bard is looking great and I’m convinced that his 2018 season with the Angels was rocky because of poor utilization on Mike Scioscia’s part. After Bard was picked up by the Angels in 2018 I wrote about how he had a big opportunity to impact the bullpen going into the 2018 season. It didn’t work out as well as I expected and the Angels sent him away after just eight games.

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His analytics show a much more prime talent that we saw in 2018; Bard is noted for having the 2nd highest spin rate on his fastball in the entire MLB as well as a top ranking spin rate on his sinker. Today we saw just how impeccable he can be as he pulled off 2 K’s in just 1 IP. There’s a great chance we’ll see him pitch in an effective and impactful role in 2019 with new management that understands his true talents and how to utilize him.

Dillon Peters is showing off exactly why Angels GM decided to pull the trigger in a super under-the-radar, overlooked trade. The Angels traded young farm hand Tyler Stevens, who had a very strong 2018 season in the MiLB before hitting a learning curve in 28 Triple A innings pitched (10.93 ERA).

Stevens is very much a real prospect, but what Eppler did here was trade someone who can be effective in a couple of years for someone who can contribute now. What made this such an overlooked trade was Peters two rough years with the Marlins that saw him pitch 59 innings of 6.10 ERA baseball. Eppler saw Peters as another diamond-in-the-rough, a mismanaged athlete who could perform at an impactful level with the right environment/coaching.

Peters came away with a strikeout and two hits in 2 IP in a performance that showed exactly why he can provide impact value to this team. With the right coaching approach and proper management we could very well see Peters contribute regularly, and positively, to the Angels 2019 club.

Peter Bourjos is really making a case for being a 2019 outfield reserve option. Each day it seems as if we’re in the middle of an intense back-and-forth with fellow competing outfielder Jarrett Parker. Bourjos brings the skillful defense, but his offense has been pretty lacking throughout his career. However, Bourjos is looking incredibly locked in this Spring as he’s collected over 10 hits in just 19 Plate Appearances with five extra base hits.

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Today he collected 2 RBI’s off a triple that push his Spring RBI total to 10. Let’s not forget that his defense has been fantastic as always. At this point Bourjos is looking like a strong favorite for a reserve spot going into the 2019, let’s just hope he can continue this pace going into 2019.

Tyler Skaggs is on his way to posting a strong 2019 after showing a more put-together approach in todays outing. In 3 innings pitched Skaggs allowed just one earned run (two overall) while striking out four, though there was still a little left to be desired after this start.

There still some efficiency needed out of Skaggs after he took 50 pitches to get through just 3 innings, but at the same time the bullpen really showed up today and that takes a big pressure of the starters to go deep. I’m not excusing Skaggs inefficiency, it’s simply that seeing the team come together to push through a short start is highly encouraging.

Skaggs next outing will be an important one to watch as we do still need to see greater efficiency out of him, but from what we’ve seen today we can be confident that Skaggs is on a solid path to a strong 2019 season.

The Angels will return to the playing field tomorrow at 12:10 PM PT against the Colorado Rockies. This contest will can be viewed on Fox Sports West.