It was a bit surprising to see Patrick Sandoval start the second game of the Los Angeles Angels' 2023 season over Tyler Anderson who had a better year than Sandoval last season while also being the veteran, but Sandoval absolutely deserves it. He had a sub-3.00 ERA last season and deserves to pitch the Home Opener as an Angels veteran which starting this game allows him to do.
Sandoval is making the start in Oakland with the Angels searching for their first win of 2023. Here are three things to look out for.
1) Can LA Angels SP Patrick Sandoval limit the walks?
Patrick Sandoval had a really nice season in 2022 and has been effective for most of his MLB career, but has struggled with walks. There're times when it feels that Sandoval is trying too hard to paint corners instead of just staying in attack mode. He walked 3.6 batters per nine last season and has walked 3.7/9 in his career.
Facing a poor Oakland lineup I hope Sandoval attacks the zone and has success limiting walks. He walked three batters in his 12.1 innings pitched this spring combining the WBC and Spring Training stats so that's certainly an improvement.
2) Can Patrick Sandoval give the Angels length?
The walks certainly are a reason why, but Sandoval wasn't the best pitcher in the world giving the Angels consistent length. He'd have games he was really on but other games he'd have to battle through. The walks were a big reason for this.
Sandoval was outstanding at getting out of jams and limiting damage as opponents hit just .220 against him with runners in scoring position, but it'd be even better if he limited these opportunities and was able to give them six innings more consistently.
Sandoval completed six innings or more 11 times in the 27 starts he made last season. Not horrible, but certainly something to be improved upon. Everyone remembers the complete game shutout in Detroit but other than that, Sandoval often would record only around 15 outs. With the Angels bullpen not being the best in baseball, they'll need Sandoval to give them length more often than not, Starting with that tonight would be great.
3) Can LA Angels SP Patrick Sandoval remain dominant in Oakland?
Patrick Sandoval has made four starts in Oakland, that's tied for the most starts he's made at a visiting stadium. In those starts he's been absolutely dominant, allowing just two runs in 20.2 innings pitched (0.87 ERA). Last season he made two starts at the Collesium, pitching 6.1 innings of one-run ball in May followed by six shutout innings in the final start of his season in October.
Pitching in pitcher-friendly conditions against poor lineups definitely helps, but allowing two runs in 20.2 innings pitched over four starts is good no matter who the opponent is.
Sandoval against a weak Oakland lineup should pitch pretty well tonight. Hopefully he can give the Angels six or seven quality innings by limiting the walks.