The Los Angeles Angels had a chance to face Mike Trout and Team USA at Tempe Diablo Stadium yesterday. The result wasn't what Angels fans wanted to see as the team lost 6-0, but there were some positives to take from it.
Focusing on the negatives first, no runs on five hits isn't great. Trout and Ohtani are at the WBC along with many other Angels but there were plenty of notable names in the lineup like Taylor Ward, Anthony Rendon, Jared Walsh, and Hunter Renfroe just to name some. Not scoring a single run especially when the last three innings were thrown by Angels NRI's isn't ideal.
Tyler Anderson was able to navigate through the Team USA star-studded lineup once, but gave up a Nolan Arenado grand slam in the third. I didn't think he looked awful especially considering the talent he was facing, but he wasn't great either. The positives from this game other than a two-hit day from Taylor Ward was the performance of the bullpen.
Ben Joyce, Angels bullpen shines in otherwise disappointing day
Tyler Anderson allowed the Arenado Grand Slam and then proceeded to give up back-to-back hits before being pulled after just 2.1 innings of work. The Angels brought Jacob Webb in to try and finish the inning, and he was able to get Will Smith and Cedric Mullins to fly out to end the inning without allowing another run. Webb now has 4.2 scoreless innings this spring and has made a good first impression.
Aaron Loup turned in his third scoreless inning of the spring with a hitless fourth inning. Carlos Estevez had his first dominant outing as an Angel, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning.
The big bright spot once again out of the bullpen was Ben Joyce. He was tasked with facing Jordyn Adams and struck him out. He then faced NL home run leader Kyle Schwarber who reached on an error. Impressive 22-year-old rookie Bobby Witt Jr. flew out, and then NL RBI leader Pete Alonso struck out to end the inning. Joyce basically recorded four outs in an inning which saw him face two of the most feared power hitters in baseball as well as a future star in Witt.
Joyce now has four scoreless innings this spring with six strikeouts. It's becoming increasingly harder to come up with an argument for this guy to not be on the Opening Day roster with how good his stuff is and how well he's commanded it.
Overall, the Angels bullpen threw 6.1 innings against a Team USA lineup that had a top-five center fielder in Cedric Mullins batting ninth, and allowed one earned run. The defense was sloppy as there was an unearned run allowed as well, but the bullpen really impressed against such a good lineup.
The Angels have struggled for so long to field a good bullpen, and seem to have the pieces towards building one that is at least competent. Every reliever used yesterday has a chance at making an appearance for the Halos at some point this season. Most of them will be on the Opening Day roster.
The day as a whole wasn't great. Losing 6-0 is never fun. However, even though it was just a random Spring Training game, the bullpen was and really has been a real positive for the Angels.