The Los Angeles Angels are set to face off against the Chicago White Sox in the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game of the season.
ESPN has released their first half of Sunday night baseball games for the 2021 season. To nobody’s surprise, a Los Angeles team is opening up their schedule against a Chicago team. To everyone’s surprise, it’s the White Sox and Angels.
This should be set up to be a highly entertaining first Sunday Night game. The Angels just missed the wild card spot to the Astros by three games in the 2020 campaign. The White Sox got bounced in the first round to Oakland after going 35-25 on the year. This will be a tale of two teams that could very well take charge of their divisions in 2021 and on given the talent they already have.
For the Angels, this is a big opportunity. If they are able to pick up another pitcher or two then they could be in a real spot to compete for the AL West and put the world on watch early. Unless something happens between then and now, they should be at full strength come April 4th and be able to show the world that they are for real. If they don’t make any more moves, then it will be the same old story of them needing more pitching.
Los Angeles struggled last year primarily because of pitching. They finished ninth in runs scored with 294 and gave up 297 earned runs which was fourth-worst in baseball. The Angels also finished 12th in OPS and 10th in home runs. This was likely a playoff team had they had anyone besides Dylan Bundy being consistent every fifth day.
The White Sox are loaded with young talent and a new manager with a resume of winning in Tony LaRussa. The power trio of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and reigning American League MVP Jose Abreu will be a tough bout for the Angels but hopefully, there will be a new ace in Los Angeles ready for the challenge.
The Angels will likely face off against rising star, Lucas Giolito who had nearly 100 strikeouts through 72 innings and added a no-hitter to his resume last year. The unlucky thing about this for Giolito is that the Angels are not the Pirates. The Angels lineup primarily consisting of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani will be a tough task to handle for Giolito or anyone LaRussa decides to put out there.
The biggest question for the Angels on April 4th will be who they decide to throw out on the mound. Will it be a free agent like Trevor Bauer? Could they trade for Blake Snell who has been reported the Rays are shopping? Or could it be last year’s surprise ace Dylan Bundy who tallied a 6-3 record over 11 starts and a career-best 2.95 FIP and 3.29 ERA? Maybe it will be someone we do not expect. That question will likely be answered by the time pitchers and catchers report in February.
While this is a team sport, Mike Trout being on national television is good for baseball. Given the Angels recent struggles, a lot of baseball fans on the east coast don’t get to see Trout that often. He’s a five-tool player and arguably the best in the game. The Angels have to earn their way to being broadcasted nationally, but this could be the year they do just that. It really just comes down to what the front office puts around him. It’s been a good offseason so far for the Halo’s, but there is still plenty of work to be done.