This rookie reliever is trying to force his way on the Angels Opening Day roster
Los Angeles Angels reliever Ben Joyce has multiple factors against him in his pursuit of an Opening Day roster spot. First, he's not on the 40-man roster. If a competition is close at all, it's much easier to just go with the guy on the 40-man than DFA him or someone else and use a player off of it. Second, Joyce has only 13 innings of professional experience.
Despite these factors, the Angels appear to be giving Joyce a very serious look in the spring. I still would guess an Opening Day spot is unlikely, but he's making it hard to think that way. Even if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, an early call-up could be on the horizon.
LA Angels pitcher Ben Joyce making his Opening Day decision a very difficult one with an excellent start to the spring
Phil Nevin said before games kicked off that he's committed to taking the best 26 players no matter what. We obviously know managers say things they don't necessarily mean all the time, but the Angels have shown a willingness, for better or for worse, to stick by that. They've brought up players like Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh up when they feel they're part of the best 26, but those moves didn't exactly play out the way Angels management might've hoped.
With what Nevin said in mind, the Angels appear to be giving Joyce a very serious look in the spring. In two of the three games he's pitched in, he's been the first reliever to enter the game after the starter departs. This has given Joyce the opportunity to face hitters who started that game instead of minor leaguers who likely won't see an MLB field in 2023.
Joyce's second outing of the spring saw him face the Royals. He didn't have the best command I've ever seen as he walked two, but was able to get Bobby Witt to pop out and struck out Salvador Perez looking. Those are two really great players.
In his most recent outing, he faced the Reds and got Wil Myers, Chad Pinder, and Jason Vosler, the heart of the Reds lineup, in order. They're not superstars by any means but all three have legitimate MLB experience.
In his three innings of work this spring he's allowed one hit, walked two, and has struck out four while not giving up a run. If the Angels continue to use him against MLB hitters and he keeps having success, the chants of fans clamoring for the young right hander will only get louder.