The Los Angeles Angels just took two of three against the Pittsburgh Pirates to improve to 51-49 on the season. After playing abysmal baseball prior to the all-star break and losing two of three to the Astros right after, the Halos have played much better of late, winning six of their last eight to get back in the postseason race.
The Angels still trail the third Wild Card spot by four games heading into a big three-game series in Detroit. The Angels are sending Griffin Canning and Patrick Sandoval to the mound for the first two games as they look to follow impressive outings their last times out.
Based on how the Angels have operated this season, Shohei Ohtani was supposed to start the third game of that series. He had been pitching every sixth day instead of game, and with the Angels being off today, that would've been his day. Instead of Ohtani pitching the finale of the Detroit series, the Angels pushed him back to pitch the following day in Toronto. Chase Silseth will now face the Tigers. It's absolutely the right move.
Pushing Shohei Ohtani's start back was a smart move made by the LA Angels
Despite not looking quite like his ace self this season, Shohei Ohtani is without a doubt the ace of this staff. The Angels should want him to start every big game while he's here, and this series against the Blue Jays will be one of the Angels biggest in a decade.
Everything is on the line for the Halos in the next week. At four games back they're probably in position to be buyers, but a slip up in Detroit or Toronto could have the Angels completely change course.
The Tigers, despite some better play of late, are still eight games under .500. They're still alive in the weak AL Central, but their chances of stealing a Wild Card spot from the Angels feel nonexistent. The Blue Jays on the other hand, might be the Angels biggest threat.
It feels like one of the Orioles or Rays will be the holder of the first Wild Card spot. That leaves two spots open for the Astros, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Mariners, and Guardians to grab.
The Angels have won season series against both Boston and New York giving them the tiebreaker there, and they're leading the season series against the Mariners. They lost to Houston and are down 2-1 to Toronto as the Jays took two of three in Anaheim in April. I cite this because there are no Game 163's anymore. Head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker in determining who advances.
Ohtani starting a game against a much tougher Jays team in a far more important game makes all the sense in the world even if the Angels have to push him back a start. You want your best pitcher to pitch as much as possible, but now is a time that the Angels should be picking and choosing if they can.
Hopefully the Angels can find a way to take two or three games from the Tigers before this crucial Jays series. If they fail to do so, Ohtani might not even be making that start in Toronto.