Whether he is used as a reliever or a starter, Patrick Sandoval could play a crucial role for the Angels this season.
In his most recent outing, Sandoval allowed two hits while walking one and striking out four batters in a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Wednesday. The left-hander has totaled six innings while giving up two hits with five walks and nine strikeouts in three spring training games.
Angels: Patrick Sandoval is making a case for the Opening Day roster.
Sandoval, 24, appeared in 19 games over the past two seasons. There have been flashes of impressive stuff, but the overall struggles have led reason to believe Sandoval needs more development to become a permanent arm in the big leagues.
Patrick Sandoval Career Statistics (2 seasons):
- 2019 (10 games, 9 starts): (0-4, 5.03 ERA) 39.1 IP 1.373 WHIP
- 2020 (9 games, 6 starts): (1-5, 5.65 ERA) 36.2 IP 1.336 WHIP
Manager Joe Maddon has stated the Angels will use a six-man rotation this season. Heading into camp, it appeared Sandoval was on the outside looking in. His recent performances and any struggles for the current pitchers will have Sandoval forcing his way into the rotation or making the big-league roster as a reliever. Though Maddon believes it’s still too early in Sandoval’s career to end his development as a starter.
I don’t think using Sandoval out of the bullpen is the worst thing, and there’s a chance he could benefit from a role as a reliever. The Dodgers used left-hander Julio Urias out of their bullpen before easing him back into his role as a starter. Now it appears Urias is ready to take the next steps in his career as a dominant left-handed pitcher.
Sandoval prefers to continue developing as a starting pitcher, but Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register reports he would be willing to pitch in any role if it benefits the team.
"“I’ve been brought up as a starter and I want to remain a starter,” Sandoval said. “But at the same time, if I can help the team out of the bullpen, and there’s no place for me in the rotation, I just want to help the team however I can.”"
When he’s been at his best, Sandoval attributes his success to controlling his emotions on the mound. This mindset is something the lefty believes went away in recent years, so he has been working with Angels mental skills coach Will Lenzner to improve this.
"“The most important thing is to get my breath,” Sandoval said. “When I’m on the mound, it settles me down. When things go wrong and you’re already excited, things don’t tend to go any better.”"
At some point, the Angels will need to see if Sandoval fits in the future plans with the team’s pitching. The only starting pitchers under contract following the 2021 season are Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning.
Next season’s Halos rotation will likely consist of either Ohtani and Canning, mixed with pitching acquisitions, plus one or two of the young arms currently on the team if they are ready to pitch at the big-league level. Not much is guaranteed beyond this season, and there seem to be more questions than answers right now.
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He’s still got a ways to go, but Sandoval can keep his name in the discussion and improve his odds to become a starter if he continues his strong spring camp.