The LA Angels, who sit at a record of 65-76, rolled out a lineup full of veterans yesterday. With their season over, it’s time to let the kids play.
“Let The Kids Play” wasn’t the LA Angels’ slogan this year, but the entire MLB’s. Now, in a different way, the Angels need to embrace the idea.
No, I’m not saying sit the regular guys. Obviously you still want to contend and try to win each game. However, there’s a lot of ways for us to see if these younger players can handle the MLB.
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For instance, Jared Walsh needs to play every game. Whether it’s an inning out of the bullpen, playing first base, or being the designated hitter, Walsh needs to play. He is the best two-way player in the MLB until Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound. On top of that, he has the makeup and potential to become an elite weapon for the Angels if he can reach his potential as both a pitcher and hitter. The Angels called him up for a reason, and with the bullpen so overworked there’s no reason he shouldn’t be pitching consistently the rest of the year.
And if it’s an off day for Walsh as a pitcher, have him start at first base. I understand that Albert Pujols is having somewhat of a comeback this year, but Walsh needs as many big league at-bats as he can find. He showed legitimate power in AAA, and his swing needs to evolve over the final month of the season and into the offseason.
Besides Walsh, Michael Hermosillo needs to be seeing time as well. With the likely departure of Kole Calhoun this winter, there will be an opening in right field until Jo Adell is ready for the MLB. Brian Goodwin probably gets the majority of starts, but in terms of a platoon/fourth outfielder, Hermosillo is a lead candidate for next year. A plus defender with potential at the plate, Hermosillo is just another guy who needs as many at-bats as possible in September.
Without going in-depth on them, obviously the youngsters Matt Thaiss, Taylor Ward, and Luis Rengifo need to be playing regularly as well. Rengifo and Thaiss seem entrenched into somewhat regular roles, and Ward is developing into a super-utility of sorts, so could see time in a handful of different positions.
The Angels don’t have hope for 2019. They may just be eliminated from playoff contention later today. What they do the rest of the season is quite simple: let the kids play.