I really didn't know what to expect out of Patrick Sandoval heading into the 2022 campaign. The Los Angeles Angels haven't had much promise in their rotation for years outside of Shohei Ohtani, so they desperately needed one or more of their young starters to step up.
While the trio of Sandoval, Reid Detmers, and Jose Suarez all had promising moments, Sandoval was by far the best of the three.
Reviewing Patrick Sandoval's first full season with the Angels.
Heading into the season, Sandoval had never made more than 14 starts in a season. He had 17 appearances with 14 starts in 2021 and pitched pretty well.
After dealing with a stress fracture in his back which ended his season, Sandoval was fine by Opening Day. He was the sixth starter and made his season debut against the Marlins. He only threw four innings in each of his first two starts but only allowed one unearned run in each.
He then had one of the best performances in his career in his third start going seven scoreless allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts against the Guardians. The key for that start was he only walked one after walking five in his first eight innings.
Walks have always been and continued to be the issue for this left-hander for much of 2022. The walks forced him to work with elevated pitch counts and limited his innings. He improved on it toward the end of the season as in his final eight starts he walked just 11 batters in 48.2 innings pitched. There's no coincidence behind the fact that he averaged over 6 innings per start with a 1.85 ERA in those starts. That stretch also included a complete game shutout in Detroit without issuing a single walk. I get that it was against mostly weaker competition, but it's still something to build off of.
Sandoval figured out that his slider is his best pitch in 2022 and he never shied away from using it. Opponents hit .188 against that pitch in 2021 but it was just his fourth pitch, as he used his changeup, four-seamer, and sinker more. This season, it was his most-used pitch and opponents hit just .201 with two home runs against it. He kept generating weak contact with it as opponents had a .212 XBA.
If he continues to use his slider and changeup the most, his two best pitches, the results will be there. It's all about throwing strikes and hitting your spots. Sandoval has proven he has the stuff to get outs in the big leagues.
If he can throw strikes consistently, he'd become a legitimate front-line starter. He showed an ability to get out of jams which is important, but something he should be able to avoid by throwing more strikes. By doing this he will also give more length which is critical for this young Angels rotation.
Sandoval is only 26 years old. I'm excited to see what this season brings from him.