2023 Angels Season Preview

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Is 2023 the most pivotal season in Angels franchise history?

Shohei Ohtani is a free agent at the end of the season, with open comments about his desire to play for a winner. They’re coming off their seventh consecutive losing season – the longest active streak in Major League Baseball and have not seen the postseason in eight years – tied for the longest active streak in Major League Baseball. They have two generational talents who have not competed in a playoff game together. The team was for sale just a few months ago, before Arte Moreno pulled the plug on the potential sale.

These aren’t things that are out of the realm of standard knowledge. The Angels need to win in 2023.

Shohei Ohtani, who could be argued as the best player on the planet, could opt to not sign an extension if offered or re-sign with the club following the season if he doesn’t see a winning organization. In turn, it could not only leave the Angels with a hole at the front of their rotation, but also one of their biggest bats in the order.

Making moves over the winter to improve their offense, and seeing internal growth in their pitching staff, did the Angels do enough? With an urgency on winning to not only retain Ohtani, but show that they finally can reach the postseason with two of the best players on the planet, can the Angels finally continue playing baseball in mid-October and make a push for the postseason, division title, or even World Series contention?

With the season on the horizon, The Sporting Tribune offers a look into each position for the Angels and whether the questions attached to the franchise in this pivotal season will be answered.

This preview is a collective effort from the Angels writing staff from The Sporting Tribune – Taylor Arrey, Taylor Blake Ward, Joey Linn, Marisa Flores.


In recent history, the Angels rotation has seen its ups and downs, plagued by frequent visits to the injured list and a severe lack of depth. However, this season’s starting six looks more promising than it has in years past. Here’s a preview into the 2023 starting six:

Shohei Ohtani: Returning to the Angels after his run with Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic, Shohei Ohtani will open up the 2023 season March 30 in Oakland after closing out last season with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 28 starts. Add on a myriad of historic accomplishments like becoming the only player in Major League Baseball history to have over 10 pitching wins and over 30 home runs in the same season, and 2022 was easily the brightest season of Ohtani’s career. The biggest question surrounding the newly-minted World Baseball Classic MVP – aside from whether he’ll stay with the Angels – is whether he’ll be able to top his pitching accolades this year. The two-way star walked away from the WBC with a 1.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts after pitching 9 ⅔ innings. He’s had one outing since the classic, throwing 81 pitches in a minor league game on March 24, striking out eight batters and playing well into the fifth inning. Judging off his improvements from last season as well his offseason outings during spring training and the WBC, it’s safe to say that he’s heading for another season similar to 2022.

Tyler Anderson: Behind Shohei Ohtani, lefty Tyler Anderson joins the team from the Los Angeles Dodgers where he ended the 2022 season as an All-Star with a 15-5 record, putting up a career-high 2.57 ERA after 28 starts. Striking out 138 batters last season, Anderson had the best season of his career in 2022, showing tremendous growth and improvement from his first six seasons, in which he struggled to find consistency on the mound. A first-round draft pick for the Colorado Rockies in 2011, Anderson is one of the more experienced arms in the starting rotation this season. If he can stay healthy like he did last year and continue to rely on his changeup, he has the potential for another strong run this season.

Patrick Sandoval: Fresh off his run with Team Mexico at the WBC, Patrick Sandoval will bring a diverse repertoire of pitches to the starting rotation along with a mean changeup that he plans to use more frequently this season. Sandoval – like Anderson – had a much improved 2022 season compared to his previous record with the Angels, posting a 2.91 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 27 starts. Starting two games during spring training, the lefty posted a 1.80 ERA before leaving to join Team Mexico, where he took on the Team USA lineup, leaving them with only one run on two hits in the three innings he pitched.

Reid Detmers: The youngest arm in the starting lineup, left-handed pitcher Reid Detmers first made an impression with the Angels last season when he threw his first no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. Just 22 years old then, he became the youngest pitcher to throw a no-hitter since righty Anibal Sanchez did it for the Marlins in 2006. Despite his historic moment in May last year, Detmers struggled to find his rhythm, eventually landing back in the minors. After some work with the Salt Lake Bees, Detmers returned to Anaheim to wrap up the season with an overall 3.77 ERA in 25 starts. During Cactus League play, he put up a significantly improved 2.60 ERA, starting five games and striking out 23 batters. Though he lacks the veteran experience of Sandoval and Anderson, the success of his slider and its newfound shape and velocity, which made up 25.5% of his pitches last year, and a vast improvement to his changeup could make all the difference in keeping his repertoire competitive.

José Suarez: The 25-year-old lefty secured a spot in the starting rotation after closing out last season with a 3.96 ERA in 20 starts, a finish only slightly worse than his 3.75 ERA in 2021. His toughest patch last season came just after the All-Star break where he put up a 5.60 ERA after 45 IP. His introduction of a new slider toward the end of the 2022 season proved to be a bright spot in his pitching cabinet. In his last start, he pitched a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers, previewing his potential for this season. Working this offseason on his slider and four-seam fastball – which put away about 17% of batters each – Suarez’s next challenge will be continuously pitching later into games and maintaining his velocity throughout.

Sixth Starter: With five names etched into the six-man rotation, the last spot remained open until the conclusion of Cactus League play. Tucker Davidson won the spot from fellow contender, Griffin Canning, backed by solid Cactus League play and Canning showing groin discomfort at the end of spring. Depth options include Canning, Chase Silseth, Chris Rodriguez, and non 40-man options and prospects such as Jhonathan Diaz, Jake Kalish, Kenny Rosenberg, Cesar Valdez, Sam Bachman, and Ky Bush. – Taylor Arrey, Angels Lead Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune


If there is a glaring hole in the Angels roster, it would appear to be from the bullpen. In 2022, the Angels relief core was serviceable but still remained in the middle in terms of limiting runs, 13th worst in the Majors or 18th best pending your opinion of cup half full or cup half empty.

Based on ZIPs projections, the Angels relief group for Opening Day would post a 4.22 ERA (I know, it’s an imperfect science of projections), but that would be worse than what they did in 2022, and based on 2022 results, be ninth worst in the Majors, and fourth worst in the American League.

There will be many returning faces in the forms of Jaime Barría, Jimmy Herget, Aaron Loup, José Quijada, Ryan Tepera, and Andrew Wantz — and that does not include the bevy of depth arms sitting in Salt Lake. The additions of Matt Moore and Carlos Estévez give hopes to improvements, as do the depth moves of Justin Garza and Jonathan Holder among others.

Possibly their biggest flaw from the bullpen is the lack of a closing pitcher, and despite the role going away in recent years and falling to high-leverage relievers, the combined Opening Day relief core has 68 career saves, with 25 coming from Estévez who is expected to be the primary closer from the group.

The Angels may be hopeful that internal options could be the saving grace to the bullpen in the likes of hard-throwing Ben Joyce who hit upwards of 104 in Spring Training, as well as fellow prospect Sam Bachman and two pitchers coming off injured years in Griffin Canning and Chris Rodriguez. – Taylor Blake Ward, Senior Editor/Affiliate Manager for The Sporting Tribune


The Angels had the third worst offensive production from the catching position in the American League in 2022. It seems now they can afford the luxury of having a defense-first catching staff with limited offense, though you could expect the offense to pick up. Max Stassi will start the season on the injured list, but that is where top prospect Logan O’Hoppe can come in and show whether his rookie skillset is ready for a bulk load in the Majors. He’s a fine defender and the bat shows promise, so there could be a solid rise in production from the position if the reigns are handed over to him. Matt Thaiss is back to catching, and scouts agree with the analytics that he is at least serviceable behind the plate, with hopes his offense can carry from Triple-A. – Taylor Blake Ward, Senior Editor/Affiliate Manager for The Sporting Tribune


The Angels added some much needed Major League quality depth to their infield after last season, especially with new acquisitions Gio Urshela and Brandon Drury. Both Urshela and Drury are versatile players that provide the team support at multiple positions.

Urshela, who was traded from the Minnesota Twins during the offseason, hit .285/.338/.429 with 13 home runs and 27 doubles in 2022. Although primarily a third baseman, Urshela has found his spot in the Angels starting lineup as shortstop and is also the first option to relieve Anthony Rendon at third.

As part of the depth growth, the Angels added multiple platoon options such as Taylor Jones, Kevin Padlo, and Jake Lamb (who made the Opening Day roster). This doesn’t include the already internal options of Michael Stefanic, Livan Soto, and Andrew Velazquez, as well as prospects like Zach Neto, Trey Cabbage and Jeremiah Jackson.

Drury had one of his best offensive seasons with the San Diego Padres in 2022 in which he hit .263/.320/.492 with 28 home runs and 87 runs batted in. Last season, Drury played 62 games at third base, 30 at first base, and 27 at second base. This season he will get most of his action at either first or second base as the first reliever to both returnees, Jared Walsh and Luis Rengifo.

Walsh, who recently had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, is fixed at first along with Rendon at third. Rendon also missed most of last season to a wrist injury that required surgery.

Rengifo returns to the Angels roster for his fourth season at second base after a breakout 2022 season that saw 17 home runs and .724 OPS. – Marisa Flores, Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune


With Mike Trout holding down center field for more than a decade, it’s been a long time since the Angels have wondered who was going to be their Opening Day center fielder. With Trout healthy and ready for the season, he will once again anchor the Angels outfield.

With Trout being the mainstay out in center, the Angels have had a revolving door of corner outfielders around him the last several season. With Jo Adell still looking to find himself at the Major League level, he has not shown the ability to become an everyday player just yet. The Angels are still hopeful that Adell is a long-term piece in the outfield, but he will not open the season in their immediate plans.

The emergency of Taylor Ward last season has given the Angels another secure outfield spot, as the power hitting right hander showed real makings of a middle of the order bat last year. With Ward and Trout holding down two of the outfield spots, this left just one question mark for the Angels outfield in the off-season. That question was answered by the acquisition of Hunter Renfroe, as the Angels traded the power hitting outfielder in exchange for three fringe prospects. Renfroe is coming off a season where he hit 29 bombs and drove in 72 runs. This came on the heels of hitting 31 home runs with 96 RBI in 2021. The addition of Renfroe fills a major corner outfield hole the Angels have had for several seasons, and he projects to not only slide into a starting outfield spot, but also the middle of the batting order.

The Angels starting outfield on Opening Day will be Trout, Ward, Renfroe and Brett Phillips holding down the fourth outfield position. Phillips has the most big league friendly skillset among the fourth outfield candidates and is the player the Angels would be more comfortable utilizing strictly as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. With players like Adell and Mickey Moniak – both of which had strong Cactus League performances – on the verge of replacing Phillips for the fourth outfield position, the Angels will give them regular everyday at bats with Triple-A Salt Lake, as opposed to sporadic appearances at the big league level. Phillips is what he is at this point in his career, and his speed and defensive skillset make him a serviceable fourth outfielder without the need for regular at bats.

For a team that has had so many questions in the outfield over the last several seasons, the Angels will enter the 2023 season with the best outfield they’ve had in years. – Joey Linn, Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune


“Fresh off the WBC, several players including Sandoval, Trout and Ohtani have been vocal about their desire to make it to the playoffs after experiencing the charisma and passion of competitive baseball. Whether that’s possible is too hard to say, but at the very least, the Angels are poised to have a better season than they did last year.

“With a stronger starting six, the defense has the potential to move up from the ninth best in the league, where they ranked in 2022. Major changes to the offense, including the addition of infielders Gio Urshela and Brandon Drury and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Brett Phillips, also provide hope that the team will no longer rank at the bottom of MLB in runs scored.

“A more optimistic prediction: If the team can stay healthy – a goal that’s already proving a challenge given that Jared Walsh and Max Stassi will start the season in the IL – the Angels have a shot at the postseason. Combine the excitement of the WBC with fresh faces on the 40-man roster and the hunger of a team that hasn’t seen postseason ball since 2014, and this year could be the year they make it.” – Taylor Arrey, Lead Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune

“The Angels are a very intriguing team this season. They filled some major holes in their lineup, but their success will once again be determined by the reliability of their starting pitching. Shohei Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval project to be a legitimate 1-2 punch, and Tyler Anderson was a very underrated signing, but the back end of the rotation gets questionable after that. José Suarez and Reid Detmers have both shown flashes of reliability, but they will need to put that together for a whole season to round out an Angels rotation that has been a weak point for years. If the Angels can get consistent production and health from their pitching staff, they look to have what it takes to compete for a wildcard spot. Dethroning the Houston Astros in the AL West feels unlikely, but a wildcard finish is a realistic goal.” – Joey Linn, Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune

“For a team with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, there are too many variables that make me worried it may be another unfortunate season in Anaheim. Newcomers Urshela and Drury somewhat solve the lack of infield depth from last year, but of course, injuries can tarnish a team’s season plans. Walsh will have to make a major comeback after his surgery from his 2022 performance. If he can remain in peak form, a healthy Rendon would certainly help Trout and Ohtani on the offensive front. The Angels haven’t finished with a winning record since Ohtani’s debut in 2018, and last season the team ranked 28th in MLB in OPS from their infielders and 25th in runs scored. With two of the biggest players in the league and some promising new acquisitions, the year still looks promising. It seems the Angels have built the competitive roster they needed to stand a playing chance this season – that is, if injuries and all other variables can be controlled.” – Marisa Flores, Staff Writer for The Sporting Tribune

“Once again, on paper the Angels look like a playoff caliber team. Mike Trout is healthy. Anthony Rendon is healthy. Shohei Ohtani is healthy. All those things have to collectively stay that way for the Angels to contend. Perry Minasian and group did a solid job of building depth beyond the Major League roster which will help if certain impact or role players go down to injuries, and speaking of those role players, Gio Urshela, Brandon Drury, and Hunter Renfroe all look like impactful guys for 2023. The starting pitching is probably the least of concerns for the first time in a long time, and look for breakout seasons from Patrick Sandoval (if he hasn’t broken out already in your mind), Reid Detmers, and Taylor Ward, who if he performs like he does from early and late last year could be an All-Star candidate. If the bullpen can hold leads, this Angels team looks like they could challenge teams in similar spots for a wildcard position, though I doubt they’ll match the Astros who I still think are World Series favorites. All you have to do is get the postseason and you have a shot, and if you could matchup Ohtani, Sandoval, and Detmers in some order, I think they could make a push for a late postseason run as long as they make it.” – Taylor Blake Ward, Senior Editor/Affiliate Manager for The Sporting Tribune

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