When the LA Angels traded away Martin Maldonado, not many expected to have a huge return for the defensive-minded catcher. However, Patrick Sandoval flashed major potential in his first year, so where does he go from there?
Looking at the stats, it doesn’t appear that the LA Angels rookie had a great debut season. A 5.03 ERA in 10 appearances doesn’t exactly make one’s jaw drop, after all.
However, if you know anything about Patrick Sandoval, it’s that his grit is uncontested. Throughout his entire minor league career, Sandoval has been able to bounce back from a rough first appearance at each minor league level. He has been open to changing his philosophy on the mound, and is obviously still a work in progress.
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Sandoval’s goal for the 2020 season is simple: he should be aiming to crack the Opening Day roster for the Angels. Right now, he’d be a shoe in for the second half of the rotation. Even after the LA Angels traded for Dylan Bundy, Sandoval is still slated to be the fourth or fifth starter as it stands right now.
However, with the Angels already meeting with Gerrit Cole and figure to be in on adding another high-level pitcher alongside the Cy Young runner-up, Sandoval may find himself in a competition to make what should be a six-man rotation in 2020.
Sandoval did finish his season strong, which is a great sign going forward. Over his final six starts, Sandoval settled into himself and posted a solid 3.68 ERA in those starts. What makes that stretch of games even more impressive is who he faced in those games. Sandoval took the mound against Houston twice (once in the trash can laden Minute Maid Park), the Tampa Bay Rays once, and the Oakland A’s once. The other two opponents were Cleveland and Texas, who boasted solid lineups as well.
That six game stretch of pitching is what makes me truly believe in Sandoval’s ability. If he can have the talent and skillset to be a rock solid pitcher against that group of teams, he has the talent to last in the major leagues. Maybe he lacks the top end velocity, physics defying breaking balls, and pinpoint command, and that will keep him from being an ace in the league.
When he was first traded for, Halo Hangout’s own Ryan Falla compared Sandoval to Jered Weaver. That comparison made so much sense watching Sandoval pitch last year. Neither had the elite skills most pitchers dream of, but they found a way to get the job done.