The Angels relied on pitchers during this stretch that they wouldn’t have used this season if free-agent signees Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey had performed to their capabilities.
- Rookie Jose Suarez went 4.1 and gave up two runs and threw 80 pitches in a 10-8 16-inning marathon loss to Baltimore on July 25.
- Unproven Nick Tropeano gave up seven runs in five innings in a 9-3 loss to Baltimore on July 26.
- Rookie Dillon Peters went 4 innings, gave up seven hits, and five runs (two earned) in an 8-7 loss to Baltimore on July 27.
- Jose Suarez had another outing and went 4.1 and gave up four runs in a 9-1 loss to Detroit on July 31.
To be fair, Jaime Barria and Félix Peña had decent outings, but they could only last five innings in their starts. The only major bright spot was Griffin Canning’s “bounce back” outing as he went six shutout innings in a 6-1 win over Detroit on July 30.
Due to the fact that the starters haven’t been reliable all season long, it has made Brad Ausmus use normally reliable Ty Buttrey way too often since he has already appeared in 49 games. As a result, Buttrey, has been off his game lately. In his last three outings, he has given up seven runs and seven hits in 2.1 innings resulting in his ERA jumping up by over one more run than it had been. On July 24 his ERA was at 2.54. As of July 30, his ERA ended up at 3.60.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Angels flopped big time at the trade deadline by not addressing their most important issue (pitching) and ended up trading for the Astros third-string catcher as their AL West counterparts addressed…*insert drum roll*…their pitching. The Houston Astros shocked the baseball world by trading for starter Zack Greinke while also getting another starter Aaron Sanchez, a solid reliever in the name of Joe Biagini, and backup catcher Martin Maldonado. Let’s add more insult to injury.
The Oakland Athletics once again helped improve their ballclub to make yet another improbable run at the playoffs by trading for starters Jake Diekman and Tanner Roark after already acquiring starter Homer Bailey from the Royals on July 14. The A’s have always taken pride in their pitching and this season is no exception.
So who did the Angels get? They got Max Stassi in exchange for minor leaguers Rainer Rivas and Raider Uceta. Stassi, 28, is hitting .167/.235/.211 with one homer and three RBIs in 31 games this season. He’s played in parts of seven seasons with the Astros, batting .218/.298/.354 with 12 homers, 17 doubles, and 41 RBIs in 163 games. The Astros felt he was expendable after they acquired Martin Maldonado, which makes sense. The Angels like what he brings defensively, and he remains under team control through 2022.
However, do the Angels need another Jeff Mathis or Drew Butera to their team?
They apparently think so. As a result of picking up Stassi, they designated Justin Garneau for assignment to make room for Stassi. And now that Jonathan Lucroy is back from the injured list, Kevan Smith might be gone as well.
Angels fans are understandably upset that they couldn’t address their starting pitching issues even in the slightest way. Fans already understood that the front office wasn’t shooting for a championship with one-year contracts to failed experiments in the likes of Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, and Cody Allen. However, they also want to see the team make a larger step to a playoff run in 2020 by addressing their most desperate need.
Jo Adell just got promoted to AAA, so one question remains: “Why didn’t the Angels trade Kole Calhoun since he has a $14 million option for next season?” The Halos are probably going to end him buying him out for $1 million, but they could have even gotten a solid bullpen piece for Calhoun (at the very least) and then focus on Gerit Cole in the offseason.
Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said he tried to acquire pitchers under control beyond this season, but that he simply never found a match.
“We were pretty aggressive,” Eppler said. “I think with the National League having a lot of teams that can make a case for making a run or potentially getting in the playoffs, I think some of that supply dried up a little bit. We were in on a lot of arms, some that never got moved, some that did get moved. We were also in on some arms that nobody thought was going to get moved, and a couple of them actually did. Some really young ones.”
Close but no cigar only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades and Angels fans want results. The Halos have finished the last two seasons at 80-82 and with a tough schedule in August and September, they could be on their way to repeating that same mediocre result.
With Billy Eppler’s contract about to expire at the end of the season, he will have to promise Arte Moreno that he will come up big this winter, or Moreno might just let him go. This winter should be an interesting one, to say the least and Halos fans will be bringing the popcorn in anticipation of seeing what happens.
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