Angels’ bullpen falters as they fall to Rangers, 6-3

Jimmy Herget and Tucker Davidson couldn't get the job done after a stellar start from Reid Detmers.

At some point, a loss to the team with the second best record in baseball was inevitable. After their two most impressive wins of the season, the Angels fell to the Rangers and their incredibly talented lineup, 6-3.

After a 12th inning victory on Monday, and a win Tuesday where they had to use some of their top relievers again, the Angels bullpen was severely diminished, down to just Jimmy Herget and Tucker Davidson respectively (unless they were to boast a lead, then perhaps Sam Bachman could have come in for the save, but even that would have been a stretch).

Regardless of the hypotheticals, the Angels threw their best punches Monday and Tuesday night and fell victim to a lack of depth on Wednesday night. One of the hottest hitters in the league, Zach Neto, left the game in the 2nd inning due to cramping and is set to have an MRI on his leg tomorrow, and Gio Urshela is recovering from an injury and was unable to play even if in an emergency.

The Angels had to turn to Jared Walsh (who is barely hitting .100 and struggling immensely this season so far in limited games) to face LHP Andrew Heaney and it didn’t go that well (Walsh went 0-4). Not only were most of their relief pitchers unavailable, but their bench depth was limited as well, in large part leading to a 6-3 loss to the Rangers.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Detmers gets his first quality start of the season

If you have been following the Angels season, you were probably aware of Reid Detmers‘ inability to get through the 6th inning, or in other words the third time through the lineup. Because of the lack of relievers available in the bullpen, the Angels needed Detmers to get over the hump and toss 6 quality innings for them to have a chance. Detmers did just that, and followed up an impressive 8 strikeout 5.2 innings pitched outing against the Cubs last week with an even more impressive 8 strikeout 6 innings pitched performance Wednesday where he only gave up 3 hits and 1 run.

Despite walking two guys and giving up a hit in the 6th inning, Detmers struck out the side and looked dominant from start to finish (albeit a few batters there in the 6th). Regardless of the outcome of the game, Detmers getting through the 6th inning and providing a quality start is an excellent sign for the Angels moving forward as they need him to perform for a sustainable playoff push.

Angels bullpen still has its weaknesses despite recent epic performances

The Angels have had one of the best bullpens in the MLB this season and were 1st in ERA entering Wednesday nights contest, but this game proved the pen is spread to thin. Matt Moore (who has been the dominant setup man for the Halos) is still hurt and probably won’t return until close to July, Ben Joyce is on the IL and likely won’t return for another week and a half at the earliest, and last season’s closer, Jimmy Herget, looks like a fragment of himself this year. I will get into Herget’s performance in a second but despite all of that, the Angels still have three elite healthy relievers in Carlos Estevez, Chris Devenski, and Sam Bachman, and Jacob Webb hasn’t been bad either.

However, until Moore and Joyce are healthy, the top 3 guys can’t pitch everyday and that was evident in Wednesday’s loss as Detmers left the game going into the 7th tied 1-1 and the Rangers ended up scoring 5 more runs in the 7th and 8th innings. Herget, who had an ERA of 2.48 in 69 innings last season, boasts an ERA of just 5.17 in 15.2 innings pitched and simply hasn’t looked like himself this season. Though Herget pitched well Tuesday night, he had to throw over 1 inning again and gave up 2 home-runs on Wednesday night, and it helped cost the Angels a win.

The loss wasn’t on Herget, who hasn’t thrown enough this season to get into pitching shape yet and was thrusted out into action in back-to-back days because of the limited arms available in the pen. Herget obviously looked exhausted, but he will have to perform better until Moore and Joyce are back to give the Angels some leeway in later innings. Tucker Davidson, who gave up 2 runs in the 8th inning, has yet to show consistency or effectiveness in his big league career, unlike Herget, which is why it isn’t surprising to see him continue to struggle. The Angels would love Davidson to turn into a long-reliever that can be relied upon (similar to Jaime Barria the last few seasons) but he simply isn’t missing enough bats to be relied upon.

Shohei Ohtani continues to crush the baseball

At this point, it is unfair how good Shohei Ohtani has been at the plate. Despite striking out and grounding out on a few of his at-bats today, he launched a 456 foot home-run in the 9th inning off of Will Smith to get the Angels within 3 runs. Though it may have been too late in tonights contest, Ohtani’s hot streak has been one of the driving factors in the Angels winning 8 out of their last 10 games. During that stretch Ohtani has 17 hits and 6 home-runs, and has raised his average to .299 now with an OPS of .987, 21 home-runs, 52 RBI’s, and 10 stolen bases. Aside from being the best hitter in baseball right now, Ohtani will look to have a bounce-back game Thursday on the mound in a pivotal game that will decide the series (the Angels have already split, but will win series 3-1 with a win Thursday).

The Angels will look to win this pivotal series Thursday as Shohei Ohtani is pitching against Nathan Eovaldi in what should be a pitching duel. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 PST.