On May 12th, Dylan Hernandez, journalism's version of Eeyore, had this to say about the two teams that play in the (sort of) greater Los Angeles area.
"The Angels aren’t the area’s best team — that’s the Dodgers. The Angels aren’t the most popular team — that’s the Dodgers. What the Angels are is Southern California’s most fun team to watch."
That's quite the hot take. It's also an opinion that has aged like fruit in the sun. The Angels have lost a franchise-record 13 games in a row. The world-class manager Joe Maddon has been shown the door, and the Angels are now tied with the Texas Rangers in the AL West. In Tuesday night's game, Mike Trout also left the game with groin discomfort. If that isn't poetic...
The turn-around is what has made this so painful for Angels fans. A month ago, Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter. That game included two home runs from Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon hitting a home run left-handed. In just a few short weeks the Angels were having the time of their lives to having time eroded from their lives. How?
Surprise, surprise. The Angels pitching staff is terrible. This comes from Keith Law at The Athletic.
"Angels’ relief corps is among the worst in baseball, fifth-worst among all bullpens by FIP with just a 0.2 aggregate fWAR for the season."
Yuck. The Angels are also 18th in the majors in ERA, 22nd in home runs allowed, 20th in strikeouts, and have only one pitcher in the bullpen with an ERA+ that could be considered "good." As for their starting pitching, Patrick Sandoval is having a great year. His 2.81 ERA is the best of his career. Michael Lorenzen and Noah Syndergaard have been slightly above average, both posting a 106 ERA+. I suspect the Angels' front office was hoping for better from these two quality arms. Detmer's ERA has slid down to 4.20. Shohei Ohtani's ERA is just under 4, and he's gotten beaten up lately. The pitching just hasn't gotten the job done.
Dylan Hernandez's love affair with the Angels hitting doesn't hold as much water anymore, either. The Angels do still crack the top 10 in runs scored and home runs, but the Dodgers have scored more runs than the Angels. The Dodgers get on base at a far-higher clip than the Angels do. I'm not out to crush Hernandez's narrative here, but facts tend to do that.
Two high-profile MLB managers named Joe have already been fired this year. First Joe Girardi was let go as the Phillies manager, and then now Joe Maddon. Coaches tend to be the GOAT or the scape-GOAT. Did Maddon deserve his canning? Back in April, Maddon chose to walk a batter with the bases loaded to force in a run. That goes filed under blunders: fireable offenses. Does this, along with a 12-game losing streak, deserve a change? It's difficult to say without knowledge of the clubhouse. Managers are often seen as a cog in the machine instead of the alpha dogs they once were.
There is plenty to say about Angels owner Arte Moreno, a lot of it bad. One thing Moreno has done has shown a willingness to let his GM spend money on the roster. The Angels just still haven't found the formula with pitching. The hitting is mostly there for this Angels squad. Until the pitching can be fixed, the Angels won't contend for the AL West title.
When a 13-game losing streak happens, everything is questioned.