LA Angels News

In Harrowing Blowout, LA Angels Begin Jared Walsh Era in Earnest

By Mark Wilkens
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 15: Jared Walsh #25 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a single against the Minnesota Twins in his major league debut during the sixth inning of the game on May 15, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Angels 8-7. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 15: Jared Walsh #25 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a single against the Minnesota Twins in his major league debut during the sixth inning of the game on May 15, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Angels 8-7. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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In a depressing 16-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the LA Angels turned to Jared Walsh for the first time as a pitcher.

It was as bleak a game as the Angels have played all year, one in which the weather matched the mood, as few fans turned out to a gloomy Big A to watch Matt Harvey allow eight runs on seven hits in two and two-thirds innings.  The bullpen wasn’t much better, especially Noe Ramirez, who allowed five runs in an inning and change.

It was a blowout nearly completely bereft of highlights, unless you stayed late enough to see a Tommy La Stella grand slam, another milestone in the incredibly breakout season of the former Cubs pinch hit specialist, or the pitching debut of Jared Walsh.

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The line wasn’t by any means glamorous, as Walsh pitched the ninth inning of what is hopefully the low water mark of the season, allowing one run on two hits, walking one, and striking out none.  To the casual observer, it would be just another instance of a position player pitching, which, in a sense, it is.  Walsh is, after all, the club’s newest first baseman, replacing the disappointing Justin Bour on the roster, and providing a lefty counterpart for Albert Pujols.

But what those observers would not realize is Walsh’s debut as a pitcher was the premiere act of Anaheim’s second two-way player, and a preview of a future in which the Angels will have the roster flexibility to DH one starting pitcher, Shohei Ohtani, when he recovers from Tommy John surgery enough to pitch again, and to use a first baseman, Walsh, as an extra bullpen arm.

That’s not to say Walsh is a gimmick.  Upon his callup from AAA Salt Lake, Walsh was batting .302 with 10 home runs and a 1.002 OPS for Salt Lake, and had made 5 relief appearances, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.   In his career, he’s made 15 appearances on the mound, going 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA over 13 innings.

While it’s assumed Walsh will be more important as a position player, his value as a pitcher must be appreciated.  On a club which carries Shohei Ohtani as a full-time DH, and Albert Pujols as a first baseman only, the roster suffers from a lack of flexibility.

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With Walsh showing he’s capable of getting outs, in low leverage situations to start with, greatly enhances a weakness for the Angels’ roster construction, and can give the Angels bullpen much-needed rest, especially when its league-worst starting rotation has another extremely short outing.

Jared Walsh is definitely worth keeping an eye on for the Angels as a skilled left-handed bat who can also give a beleaguered bullpen some quality innings.  The future is now in Anaheim.

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