Baseball

The Los Angeles Angels’ Pitching Is Actually A Joke

Note: Statistics as of June 17, 2021

Look at the Opening Week starting five pitchers for the Los Angeles Angels. The arms that threw the first five games were Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Alex Cobb, Shohei Ohtani, and José Quintana. Most recognize Quintana, Ohtani (mainly for hitting), and maybe one other pitcher. With Quintana, who was an All-Star as recently as 2016, as the 5th pitcher, the other four pitchers should be pretty solid.

That is where fans turn to the stats to notice their fault. They assumed incorrectly.

In the first showing of the rotation, only one starter notched a decision. Andrew Heaney, who pitched the game following Opening Day vs. the Chicago White Sox, allowed seven runs on five hits over three innings, receiving a well-earned loss. Ace pitcher Dylan Bundy, who didn’t pick up a decision in the Opening Day victory over Chicago, went six innings and earned only three runs while striking out six and walking one.

Bundy’s day seemed relatively solid for any average pitcher, but this was their ace. That is as far as it went.

Alex Cobb came up empty after six innings of 8 hit baseball where he struck out 7, walked one, and earned three runs. Shohei Ohtani started his legendary hitting season on Opening Day, but finished the final game of the series vs. the White Sox with a no-decision. He threw 4.2 innings while watching three runs come in (one earned run), allowing eight hits, striking out seven, and walking five. Finally, SP5 Jose Quintana came to the mound to open up the Astros series, coming up with the 4th no-decision in 5 games from the starters. He went 3.1 innings, earning four runs on five hits, striking out 5, and walking 3. All of the games that resulted in a no-decision for the starters wound up being a win for the Angels.

This only signaled the start of another disastrous season on the mound for the Angels.

Go onto ESPN and look up the LA Angels. The page features the batting and pitching leaders of the team on the right. On the pitching tab, most teams have pitchers with the most wins, most strikeouts, and lowest ERA. For the past two weeks, the Halos have not had an ERA leader listed on the page. Looking at the statistics page on the same website, three pitchers have more than ten starts on the squad: Bundy (12), Heaney (12), and Griffin Canning (11). The lowest ERA of the three is owned by Andrew Heaney, who holds a 4.45 ERA over 62.2 innings this 2021 season. Canning comes in second with a 5.07 ERA over 59.1 innings, with ace pitcher Bundy following with a 6.98 ERA over 55 innings. None of these starters have a qualified ERA, as a pitcher seems to need 66 innings to qualify for an official ERA. This explains not only the average-looking Angels organization but also the inconsistent rotation of starting pitchers and their individual production.

Luckily, the Angels are somehow lifted from terrible to average by arguably the greatest offensive talent and power hitter of our generation in Mike Trout and the Japanese slugging phenom/DH/pitcher/utility player Shohei Ohtani. As a result, the Angels do not need to go into a complete rebuild simply because they simply cannot, nor do they desire to either.

Is the entire pitching staff a disaster for the team in the shadows of the Dodgers? Not exactly. As mentioned earlier, all four of the no-decisions by starters turned into wins for the Angels. This is likely due to the solid bullpen they somehow threw together to sweep up the starters’ messes. Three of the Angels’ relievers have pitched in 30 or more games this season, and despite this trio of Steve Cishek, Mike Mayers, and Alex Claudio all having an ERA a tick above 4.00, they have simply been placed into an excessive amount of games.

Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias celebrates after striking out the Mariners’ Ty France with the bases loaded (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Their closer, which the stats seem to point at Raisel Iglesias as the closer by the look of his 11 saves on the season, holds nearly the same record as most of the Angels’ starters. His 4-2 record in 25 games played provides him with decisions in 17 games, earning them at a 68% rate. Out of the pitchers on the Halos’ roster, Iglesias is statistically the most thorough and consistent pitcher. Outside of his 4.15 ERA leaving him with a mark on his record, his 13.5 K/9 would place second in the league, falling short of the historic season Mets SP Jacob DeGrom is having.

Looking at the historic offensive production and wins above replacement numbers Mike Trout alone has provided to the Los Angeles Angels organization, it is difficult to imagine how they have reached the playoffs only once in Trout’s ten seasons in Southern California. However, the starting pitching rotation is horrendous, putting the bullpen under more pressure. Adding skipper Joe Maddon to the mix might have brought back good memories of the organization’s past; however, he has a history of struggling to manage pitching substitutions and evaluating the talent he has. All baseball fans hope that the Angels can become a winning team for the sake of Mike Trout’s legacy, but that will take an overhaul of the other half of the team.

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