Grading the Angels rotation after their first starts

DH  Shohei Ohtani (17) high-fives Los Angeles Angels starter Patrick Sandoval (43) after his
DH Shohei Ohtani (17) high-fives Los Angeles Angels starter Patrick Sandoval (43) after his / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Los Angeles Angels starting rotation was one of the best units in all of baseball last season, ranking sixth in ERA and sixth in fWAR. This rotation got even better by adding Tyler Anderson to replace Michael Lorenzen. The Angels can say their top-four matches up with just about anyone, especially if Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval take another leap.

Despite the pressure of having to win now and not having the best bullpen to back them up, this Angels rotation showed how good it can be the first time through. We only saw five of the starters pitch, but with how the Angels plan on using the sixth starter, that player won't be starting games very consistently.

If the Angels want to get back to the postseason, their starting pitching will have to be among the league's best like it was in 2022. Considering the fact that they're seventh in rotation ERA currently, I'd say that's gotten off to a good start.

LA Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani first start grade: A

Shohei Ohtani took the ball for the second consecutive season on Opening Day and was quite good. His day got off to a rough start as he walked Tony Kemp to begin the season, but worked his way through some first inning command issues and was mostly dominant.

It felt like he didn't have his best stuff, but even without that, he's still one of the best pitchers on planet earth. He carved through a weak Oakland lineup and gave the Angels every opportunity to win the game.

Ohtani allowed just two hits over six shutout innings, striking out 10 in the victory. He did walk three which is a bit uncharacteristic, but there's nothing to complain about with a double-digit strikeout performance and six scoreless frames.

LA Angels pitcher Patrick Sandoval first start grade: B

Patrick Sandoval took the ball for the second game of the season and like Ohtani, didn't have his best stuff. Sandoval walked two in five innings but only gave up one run on two hits. He was the beneficiary of the Angels' 11-run inning, so he was pulled after just 86 pitches and gave way to Tucker Davidson who got the four-inning save.

Sandoval had some difficulty putting hitters away, and that drove up his pitch count a lot. 86 pitches in five innings isn't incredibly efficient. This was an issue for the southpaw at times last season as well, so hopefully he can be a little more economical with his pitches and get through six in his next start, the home opener.

LA Angels pitcher Tyler Anderson first start grade: A

Tyler Anderson matched Ohtani's output with six scoreless innings. He's not the strikeout pitcher Ohtani is, and only struck out four Athletics hitters, but six scoreless is six scoreless. I don't care who you're facing or how you do it.

Anderson was in control all afternoon in the Angels 6-0 victory. He allowed a runner to reach third base just once, and that came in the first inning. He did walk two and hit a batter which is uncharacteristic for a guy known for his command, but he was able to battle through unscathed.

The Angels couldn't have asked for much more from the veteran in his first start with the club.

LA Angels pitcher Reid Detmers first start grade: C+

Expectations were sky-high for Reid Detmers heading into his first start of the 2023 season. He finished last season so strongly and had a major velocity uptick this spring. Detmers wasn't bad in his first start, but could've been better.

The southpaw went 4.2 innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits, walking three and striking out seven. The seven strikeouts are very good, and the four hits isn't bad either. Three walks is quite high for 4.2 innings, and that fact that he couldn't even qualify for a win bumps the grade down.

Detmers dealt with a ton of trouble in three of the five innings he pitched in, and really had to labor. I'm glad he pushed through and only allowed two earned runs, but the Angels will need more length from him.

LA Angels pitcher Jose Suarez first start grade: D

Jose Suarez had a tough assignment facing a good Seattle team on the road for his first start of the season, but he just has to be better than he was.

He looked just fine pitching against them for the first time through the order, but Suarez got pummeled the second time and especially third time through. He'd allow seven runs (six earned) on eight hits. He didn't walk a batter which is good, but he gave up two longballs to Teoscar Hernandez.

Suarez couldn't give the Angels length just like Detmers, but he also couldn't keep them in the game. I don't expect him to give the output the top four will give, but the Angels need more than this. A lot more.

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