Commentary: What’s coming up for the Angels!

I understand the compulsion to want to know now, but of course the Angels don’t have to know now, and thus there’s no way to predict what they will do. Twenty games over four weeks remain from today until the trade deadline. They’re probably going to have the world’s best ballplayer, Mike Trout, available for 14 of those games.

If they go 14-6 and sit at 57-49, they can’t really sell. If they go 6-14 and sit at 49-57, they can’t really buy. This stretch of games contains a high probability to define their season, and they’re not going to play a bad team amid it, unless you count Toronto.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Angels’ increased aggressiveness on the base paths has been a primary driver of their performance since Memorial Day. I asked their manager, Mike Scioscia, about this in New York recently.

He said his team will continue to play the same way. It’s worth noting, of course, that they upped the aggression when Mike Trout went out, but I don’t see why they would stop now. It has been too effective to ignore.

Still, it’s unlikely we are going to see Trout sliding head-first into second base on nightly steal attempts right away. He is too valuable to risk further injury. So, maybe a bit less aggressive?

If you know me, you know I’m not of the belief that managers make enormous impacts on the outcomes of baseball games and seasons. Further, I believe most of the impact they do create is immeasurable — the clubhouse environment, chemistry and fun stuff like that.

That written, it would be trivial to criticize Scioscia for the club’s performance this season. He has been increasingly willing to utilize his best relievers in the most important situations, a key component of adept managing. He has sometimes had his relievers warm and not called them into his game, but every manager does that on occasion.

One thing to monitor is his reliance on starting pitchers during their third time traversing a lineup. Far too often, managers leave their starters in for another inning and then pull them after a batter or two reach base. Boston’s John Farrell did that to terrible effect during the recent series against the Angels. Scioscia has at times left veterans Jesse Chavez and Ricky Nolasco on the mound a bit long for my taste, but then you sometimes get games like Nolasco’s shutout on Saturday. So, yeah.

The Angels and Mariners could be a compelling matchup in the season’s second half. The teams are about equal in the standings, both have suffered significant injuries, and there are significant ties between the two clubs.

Seattle’s general manager, manager and other executives all chose to depart Anaheim to move to the Pacific Northwest. Jerry Dipoto, that GM, has not been spotted at Angel Stadium since his abrupt departure two years ago this week. Seattle ends its season in Anaheim. If the wild-card race comes down to that series, will he return?

More broadly, the Angels are not going to win the American League West, so there’s no reason for them to be focused on West teams. Texas is interesting, sure, but if the Angels stick around in the wild-card race, their chief competition could come from the AL East.

Tyler Skaggs is likely to pitch this season, yes. The oblique soreness that held him from his scheduled rehab start late last month in Arizona is not going to set him back for months. He’s going to throw bullpen sessions again this week.

The Angels will have a better idea of Garrett Richards’ status after he visits the doctor this week and undergoes an electromyogram. It will inform them if the strength in his biceps is progressing as hoped. If it is, he can start a throwing program that could have him back in the majors by the end of August or start of September.

Stabilization will depend on trades. Cameron Maybin remains a candidate to be traded if the Angels fall out of the race, and perhaps even if they do not. That would of course change the space available for Eric Young Jr. and Ben Revere.

Assuming no trades, though, the Angels will have a difficult decision to make between Young and Revere. Since June 15, Revere has a .333 average and .715 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Young is at .189 and .447. But it’s difficult to deny what Young provided before that as an improbable spark in Trout’s absence.

About second base, I expect the Angels to continue to piece it together. They like Danny Espinosa there against left-handed pitching, though his right-left splits are essentially equal this season. If Nick Franklin proves he can play the position OK, his bat against right-handers might be good enough to win regular time.

Source: los angeles times

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Commentary: What’s coming up for the Angels!
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