Speaking with former Angel and current LA Angels color commentator Mark Gubicza recently, I found that he's feeling confident about a lot of pieces around the Halos' roster.
He still came back to what all of us Angel fans have been saying for the last seven years, and that's the fact that the Angels need more reliable pitching to get our elite hitters/position players to the big stage. He did add, however, that he likes what the Halos have done when they've had the chance this offseason.
""Bottom line is the team needs to be more consistent on the mound. And Perry Minasian’s worked very hard already before the lockout hit. He’s added some pretty good arms to this rotation and the bullpen. So, there’s still work to be done, but who would’ve thought the Braves would’ve won the World Series last year? Actually, there’s no one.""- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels color analyst
He's right, as the Halos have what will be one of the best lineups in baseball even if Anthony Rendon doesn't bounce back, and hands-down the two best players in the game. And while they do need pitching to make the dream happen, you never know what can happen when the season comes around, and the Braves proved that this year. The Halos have many of the right pieces in place, and it just comes down to making that final offseason push to really give ourselves a shot to make a run at this thing.
Mark Gubicza actually thinks that the LA Angels aren't too far off after all.
According to Mark Gubicza, the LA Angels are just "one or two starters away." It's hard to disagree with him, and if you're bullish on the moves that the Halos have made so far, like Gubicza, you're more excited heading into an Angels season than you have been in a long time.
"I think the team is in the right direction, I really loved the Syndergaard deal. I really do. Everyone says, ‘Well he only pitched two innings in the last two years.’ Well Shohei Ohtani only pitched two innings in two years and look what he did. He’s got great upside, and there’s something about him. He’s got a good little edge to him."- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels color analyst
I like that he responded to the Syndergaard doubters, as the Angels just dealt with a player coming off of the same surgery and managed him perfectly. He didn't stop at Syndergaard, however, as he is a huge fan of the Michael Lorenzen signing as well.
"Lorenzen–I love that kid. I’ve always been a big fan of his too, and he just hasn’t had many chances to start. But also he can pitch out of your bullpen and throw 100+, so you need arms, you need power arms like they brought in, and guys that love to compete."- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels color analyst
His versatility in being able to also head to the bullpen and do a good job is indeed very valuable. Posting fine numbers as a reliever; Lorenzen comes into this season with a 3.74 bullpen ERA and 17-13 record out of the pen.
Gubicza likes Minasian's aggression so far, and believes in what he's going after for this team. He reminds us that this is the same guy who literally drafted zero non-pitchers in this past MLB Draft.
"You just need to build around the pitching staff, and Perry knows that," said Gubicza. "He communicated that with everybody for a period of time–that’s why they drafted all the pitchers they did last year."
Offering a sigh of relief to all Angels fans, Gubicza let us know what the deal is with the pitchers we took last year.
"From everybody I’ve talked to from both in the organization and outside the organization, they’re very high on the pitchers the Angels drafted in 2021," said Gubicza.
Gubi, who's around the team every day, saying this means something to me. If the vibes around the team are this high, regardless of whether they're in our building or not, the only-pitchers draft strategy clearly seems to be paying off early.
And don't sleep on some of the guys we already have on our roster in case we don't acquire any more starters this offseason. I asked Gubicza who he likes the most currently on the roster to take our No. 6 starting spot right now, with the top five seemingly full (Shohei Ohtani, Noah Syndergaard, Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, Michael Lorenzen). His answer was pretty encouraging towards one of the guys on this team who's shown so much potential in the past and is a huge breakout candidate for the Angels in 2022.
“I love what I saw at times with Jaime Barria because I think he figured out how to get right-handed batters out," said Gubicza. "He’s always had that good changeup to be able to neutralize left-handed batters, so I would think he would be a strong candidate."
I agree, and firmly believe what he had to say about the team being just one or two starting arms away. The Halos have already improved the bullpen, and just need to add another reliable arm or two to the starting six. If they can get that done, they are absolutely contenders for the pennant with the offensive firepower they already have.