The Los Angeles Angels entered the offseason with four established starting pitchers. Three of them we felt very comfortable in, with Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and Reid Detmers etched into the rotation. That fourth starter who we knew would be in the rotation but didn't feel quite as comfortable with was Jose Suarez.
Suarez entered the regular season as the team's fifth starter. He finished the 2022 season on a good note but I think most Angels fans would've preferred he be in the role Tucker Davidson is now in and have the Angels sign or trade for another arm. Regardless, Suarez was the fifth starter looking to get off to a good start in 2023.
He faced a Mariners team which he pitched pretty well against last season (3.92 ERA in 4 appearances). Unfortunately, this one didn't go so well.
2022 struggles re-surface for LA Angels SP Jose Suarez
Last season, it felt like most of Jose Suarez's starts were very similar. He'd get off to a very strong start, then progressively get worse as the game went on.
Last season, opponents facing Suarez for the first time in a given game slashed .174/.233/.281 with just two home runs in 180 plate appearances. For reference, opponents hit .198 with eight home runs in their first time facing Shohei Ohtani in 2022. Ohtani's numbers were obviously elite, but Suarez was more effective first time through! The issue is the rest of the game.
When opponents faced Suarez for a second time they slashed .248/.311/.422 with six home runs in 178 at-bats. Not as great. When facing Suarez for a third time, they slashed a ridiculous .391/.455/.667 with five home runs in just 77 plate appearances. He was practically unusable after facing hitters for a second time.
In his first start of this season, Suarez looked quite good first time through the order. He allowed a leadoff double to Julio Rodriguez, but that run wouldn't have scored without a Luis Rengifo throwing error. That was the only hit he allowed first time through.
The second time through was when Teoscar Hernandez hit his first home run of the game. He allowed three hits facing the Mariners hitters for a second time which isn't great, but also shouldn't cost the Angels any games.
With the Angels down 3-0, Phil Nevin opted to keep Suarez in the game to start the bottom of the fifth and face Mariners hitters for a third time. Julio Rodriguez doubled, Ty France singled, Teoscar Hernandez hit his second home run of the game, Eugenio Suarez singled, and that was that. The game went from 3-0 to 6-0 in an eyeblink.
Suarez let the game get from a manageable deficit to one that was pretty much out of hand with his inability to retire a single batter when facing them for a third time.
I like Suarez and think he can be a fine back-end of the rotation guy, but if he can only pitch three or four effective innings before things blow up in his face he can't be trusted to go beyond that.