The starting rotation was supposed to be a strength for the Los Angeles Angels in 2023. They had shown tremendous signs of progress in the second half of the season prior and had a bunch of young pitchers seemingly ready to take the next step.
One of those pitchers Angels fans were so excited about was Patrick Sandoval, and they had every reason to be excited. The southpaw finished his 2022 season with a 2.91 ERA in 27 starts and looked even better in the World Baseball Classic.
All signs pointed to Sandoval taking that next step into a potential all-star, but it just didn't happen. Nothing seemed to click all year for Sandoval whose frustrating year contributed to this team winding up finishing the way it did.
Patrick Sandoval deserves a C- grade for his 2023 season
Patrick Sandoval's season was beyond frustrating. Sure, a 4.11 ERA in 28 starts on the surface isn't all that bad. He pitched like a decent mid-rotation arm for most of the year for the Angels. First, the team expected him to develop into that second starter behind Shohei Ohtani. Second, his ERA rose by almost a full run and a half from his 2022 mark. Third, he seemed to just get in his own way a lot.
Instead of attacking the zone, it looked like Sandoval would often get in his own head and not trust his stuff. It looked like he'd start nibbling which led to the highest walk rate of his career (11.4%). He'd try too hard to make the perfect pitch instead of the right one. Hitters didn't chase and his strikeout rate took a huge hit.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Sandoval's season was his inability to bounce back after literally anything went wrong. The Angels made a ton of errors behind him which is not a good thing, but Sandoval allowed a whopping 23 unearned runs to score. Jaime Barria ranked second on the Angels with 11 unearned runs allowed. That is just completely inexplicable.
Again, it's not all his fault. That's why they're unearned. However, he'd simply fold after the team committed a two-out error behind him. He had a start in Seattle in September in which he allowed just one earned run but seven unearned. He had another rough start in Tampa Bay in August in which he allowed two earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched but four more unearned runs.
The team did not play well behind him, but Sandoval often blew games up to the point where the Angels were out of it in an eye blink. There are reasons the team went 8-20 in his starts, and it wasn't all run support.
Sandoval had some impressive outings, but left a lot to be desired. The Angels hoped for a jump, but instead saw regression from their 26-year-old. Hopefully Sandoval can bounce back in 2024.