After weeks of what felt like only bad news, the Los Angeles Angels finally got some good news on the injury front. Both Zach Neto and Matt Moore make their returns from long stints on the Injured List as the Angels look to climb back into the playoff race.
Of course, the good news the Angels get is rarely ever only good. Anthony Rendon, Sam Bachman, and Jo Adell were all placed on the IL. Hopefully Rendon will be back pretty soon, I'd guess Bachman and Adell will be out for longer periods of time.
In addition to the injured players, Michael Stefanic is back up from AAA and Trey Cabbage earned a well-deserved first call-up to the majors. I'd expect both to play a good amount with all of the injuries the Angels have in their infield.
The Angels are set to open a crucial homestand as they attempt to get back into the playoff hunt. Losing Rendon, Bachman, and Adell definitely hurts, but the returns of Neto and Moore mean even more, in my opinion.
Zach Neto and Matt Moore could give LA Angels the spark they've been missing
The Angels limped to the all-star break losers in five straight games and nine of their last ten. They were humiliated against three straight NL West opponents, and have their season record under .500 on the season. While it's been hard to watch of late, getting two key players back should definitely help.
Zach Neto has been a huge piece for the Angels this season. He's swung a great bat, and his defense has been much better than advertised. Prior to his injury, Neto was as hot as he had ever been in an Angels uniform, recording seven hits in his last 15 at-bats with three home runs and four RBI in his last four games before the oblique injury knocked him out of action for a month.
He might have hit ninth a lot, but the Angels record with and without Neto in the lineup is startling. They're 31-24 with him and are 14-22 without him. With him, they've been a playoff contender, without him they've been among the worst teams in the American League. Small-ish sample sure, but having a steady shortstop who can both hit and defend at high levels is a huge deal.
The loss of Matt Moore was huge at the time, and the Angels have desperately needed him. For the first two months of the season when he was healthy, the southpaw was lights out late in games in front of Carlos Estevez. He had a 1.44 ERA in 22 appearances and 25 innings pitched. The Angels went 17-5 in games he appeared in, and it's not hard to see why. Losing Bachman is unfortunate, but Moore is certainly a better arm for 2023.
The odds are stacked against the Angels, but getting two key pieces back should help. Hopefully they can start to win tonight and make their push toward the postseason. It's really now or never.