In Defense of Patrick Sandoval’s start in LA Angels 9-2 loss

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 22: Owner Arte Moreno and general manager Billy Eppler look on as Brad Ausmus, new manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim answers questions during a press conference at Angel Stadium on October 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 22: Owner Arte Moreno and general manager Billy Eppler look on as Brad Ausmus, new manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim answers questions during a press conference at Angel Stadium on October 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The LA Angels closed out both Spring Training and the three game set against the Dodgers in particularly ugly fashion. LA Angels Top Prospect Patrick Sandoval got the start in his Spring Training debut against a fully-primed Dodgers lineup and struggled to keep himself under control en route to allowing 7 runs in 1.1 IP.

Maybe it wasn’t the LA Angels’ best idea giving Patrick Sandoval a Spring Training debut on the last day of Spring Training against a full-on MLB lineup after all. The final game of the three game set, taking place in Dodgers stadium, saw Patrick Sandoval take on the likes of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson etc.

It was probably the most difficult situation you could put a young prospect in and it went about as you’d expect. Sandoval had a hard time keeping himself under control and walked five batters all throughout his appearance as he struggled to to locate his pitches properly He allowed a huge 3-run shot to Cody Bellinger and overall gave up seven runs off of three hits (and 5 BB’s) in this painfully short stint.

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As bad as it all sounds, none of this is as bad as you’d think.

Patrick Sandoval showed fine control last year as he walked just 29 batters to his 145 K’s in 122.1 IP in both the Angels and Astros MiLB systems. Unfortunately throughout this start you could see how uncomfortable he was; his mechanics were loose, he was overthrowing pitches, he generally was just too amped up for his own good. The adrenaline was flowing far too hard for the young prospect to be able to calm down and collect himself on the mound and it showed very clearly.

None of these are excuses as to his performance, only insights into the greater context of the situation as it is.

Angels 2, Dodgers 9

Losing Pitcher: Patrick Sandoval (LHP) – 1.1 IP, 3 Hits, 5 Walks, 7 Runs, 1 HR, 1 K

Winning Pitcher: Julio Urias (LHP) – 4 IP, 4 K’s

It was a very emotional night for Sandoval, growing up he loved the Dodgers and in his Spring debut he got the opportunity to pitch in the stadium of his childhood team. It’s an emotionally over-whelming situation for anyone to be in and when you add in the full-strength Dodgers lineup to the mix it’s easy to understand why his adrenaline took him the way he did.

The positives we can take away from this appearance for Sandoval is the fact that he got 4 outs off Major League hitters in a big league environment. For being just 22 and facing your first real big league experience getting 4 MLB hitters out is a very tangible and optimistic building point

When Sandoval was able to locate his pitches there was no doubt that he had lethality in his repertoire. His curveball showed off a nasty break that was clearly affecting hitters when he was able to place it in or near the zone, in fact his lone K of the game came off a sharply dropping dirt-curveball on Corey Seager. Following that AB we saw Justin Turner ground into a double play to end the inning, despite Sandovals troubles he was able to work past them well enough in the first.

His troubles were too much to sneak away with however as he ended up unraveling for 7 runs in the next inning. The only out he got in that 2nd was a groundout to Kike Hernandez that came after two walks and a home run. It was only after four more batters (BB, H, RBI-2B, BB) that Sandoval was taken out of the game; a point which seemed quite a few batters too many.

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Matt Thaiss collected three hits in this game after being named the Angels most impressive rookie in Spring Training. Of those three hits two went for doubles which effectively pumped his OPS through Spring to 1.807. As easy as it is to see the future in our hands it’s just as plain how burdensome of a contract Albert Pujols holds.

If it weren’t for Pujols we’d have Matt Thaiss riding the Opening Day Roster free and easy as the starting first-baseman. Unfortunately he’s going to have to stay in Triple A for much longer than necessary, but it is practically guaranteed that Thaiss is going to be the first to see Spring Training time.

His impact was undeniable and to leave that stashed away for too long will only hurt the Major League club, in fact you could argue that it is already is hurting the MLB team. The Angels would be much better off with Thaiss manning 1B to open the season, but for now we’ll just have to wait until injury opens up a spot for him on the roster.

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Jose Rodriguez pitched tremendously in his appearance by collecting 3 K’s in 2 IP and allowing no hits or walks. Rodriguez hasn’t had the smoothest ride throughout the Angels farm system (6 seasons; 4.52 ERA, 527.2 IP) and in his time at Double A last year, at the age of 22, he pitched 114.2 innings of 6.12 ERA baseball.

However, he made the most of the time he had by showing off a fastball that sat 92-93mph as well as a strong curveball/change-up combo. Rodriguez isn’t really a prospect earmarked for much, but it was great to see him contribute nonetheless. It would really be something special if he can find a way to take this back with him to the Minors and build upon it.

The Angels will return to your televisions on March 28th for Opening Day at 1:07 PM PT. The contest will see the Angels open the season in Oakland against the Athletics, viewable on Fox Sports West