The LA Angels lost 90 games, don’t have a manager, and had their arguably three best hitters end the season on the Injured List.
I mean, the LA Angels don’t even have a MANAGER right now. Or a pitching coach! Or a bench coach! And I’m out here writing an article about how the team would attack a Wild Card Game??
Why yes, yes I am. Why you ask? Because I am obsessed with the pain of being an Angels fan. So, here we go.
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There’s a lot of factors that go into the coaching of a Wild Card Game, and since Brad Ausmus can’t do it anymore, I’m going to be making the decision.
First off, the starter. In this fake scenario, we’re going to pretend that everyone on the Angels is healthy since that has the same probability of happening as the Angels actually making the playoffs (I’m not crying).
In the case of everyone being healthy, I’d be a big fan of the duo who brought Angels fans the best moment of their season. Taylor Cole proved efficient as an opener, so having him pitch the first two innings would be minimal risk. Felix Peña was arguably the best Angels’ “starter” this season, and was electric when following an opener.
After them, if you have a lead, bringing in Andrew Heaney for multiple innings of relief would be the best move for the team. He finished the season with a phenomenal hot streak, and was absolutely filthy on the mound.
In terms of relievers used, the first out of the bullpen for me would be Keynan Middleton. Despite coming back from Tommy John surgery towards the end of the season, he showed flashes of his old self as he allowed one run in 7.2 innings of work. If Ty Buttrey didn’t break down to end the season, he’d be in the conversation as well, but I think Cam Bedrosian would have to be the second pitcher out of the bullpen, followed by Hansel Robles whether its a save opportunity or he’s trying to prevent a lead from growing.
I’m a big believer in using your best pitchers in a one game playoff, even if it’s not in their traditional roles. These five were the best for the Angels this season, and this plan would give them a good chance of moving onto the divisional round of the playoffs.
On offense, things get much simpler. A combination of David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, Andrelton Simmons, and Albert Pujols in the infield would be optimal. In the outfield, the trio of Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Kole Calhoun is obvious. If the Angels were to get an early lead, Brian Goodwin subbing in for Justin Upton would be a logical choice.
The only real question for the lineup would be catcher, as the designated hitter spot would be Shohei Ohtani’s. Kevan Smith and Max Stassi would likely be the catchers on the roster, so it would come down to whether the Angels want a defensive wiz in Stassi or a slugger in Smith. For me, starting Stassi makes sense considering how many pitchers the Angels would likely use and the fact that their offense was exceptional this season when this group was healthy.
So there it is Halo fans. That’s how I’d coach a Wild Card Game for the team, assuming health for everyone.