LA Angels News

LA Angels Series Preview: Angels Need to Capitalize vs. Albatross of the Mariners

By Ryan Falla
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 11: Martin Maldonado #12 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is unable to apply the tag on Mitch Haniger #17 at home as he scores on a two-run RBI hit by Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning of a game at Angel Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 11: Martin Maldonado #12 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is unable to apply the tag on Mitch Haniger #17 at home as he scores on a two-run RBI hit by Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning of a game at Angel Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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The “Real” Comeback Player of the Year

Alright Chris Stratton, this it is, this is the time to log your longest start of the season. We still didn’t see him go through 5 innings against the Cubs, though he did perform admirably by allowing just two starts over 4.2 IP.

The improvements we’ve been seeing from Stratton have been steady and consistent, even though he isn’t getting through 5 innings he’s still getting closer and closer start by start. This would be the time for a big start from Stratton given the bullpen abuse the Angels just received over the Rangers series.

It will be an uphill battle for Stratton as he was beaten up by the Mariners just a couple of weeks ago for four runs in one inning, yet the silver lining does exist nonetheless and I can show it to you.

In that start against the Mariners Stratton did not give up another run for the next 3.1 innings before the bullpen came into the game. The one thing keeping Stratton from going far deeper than he has done so far is his pitch efficiency. His last two starts saw 4 BB’s in each outing, although his last outing saw him collect 5 K’s as well. That was his highest strikeout total of the season, he’s only had 1 K in each of his other starts so the improvements are all there, or at least the opportunity is.

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If Stratton can pitch with more aggression and limit his walks he could easily do 6-7 innings against the Mariners. His stuff is really good, good enough generate soft contact and weak outs as well as the strikeout. His stuff is good enough to generate swings and misses and generate bad contact, he just has to trust it.

It looks like he’s trusting his stuff more and more as the season goes on and his 5 Ks against the Cubs highlight that fact. All Stratton needs to do is continue to trust that his stuff will do the job for him, he doesn’t need to be piercing the corners or tickling the black of the strike zone. He just needs to challenge hitters to start the at-bats and once the count becomes favorable that’s when he starts expanding the zone.

What Stratton has to do is very simple and I believe he knows this too, at the very least he started figuring it out against the Cubs. Let your stuff do the talking, let the hitters expand their own zone and stop trying to force expansion, overall just trust yourself and don’t be afraid to challenge. If he can do that against the Mariners he will not only find great success in this lone start, he’ll set the foundation for a true comeback season.

Sorry Matt Harvey, but right now Chris Stratton is the one gunning for Comeback Player of the Year and he’s looking better and better everyday.

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