The Angels entered Monday’s 3-game series against the Rangers just 6.5 games back of the American League’s 3rd Wild Card spot, but no one would have guessed that by watching their performance on Monday night. To get back into the playoff race the Halos need to go on a win streak, but it seems like every time they take a step forward they then take two steps back. That has been the moral of the story for this Angels ball-club and their 12-0 loss on Monday night following an impressive 2-1 victory over the Astros the day before is indicative of that.
The Halos only registered one hit in the game overall which was an infield single by Mike Moustakas in the top of the 2nd inning. If it wasn’t for Moustakas legging out that infield single, the Angels would have been no-hit. Every player in the Angels lineup looked lackadaisical and impatient at the plate and Max Scherzer put together his most dominant performance of the year, striking out 11 and giving up just 1 hit over 7 innings pitched. Patrick Sandoval walked 6 guys in just 2.2 innings, Griffin Canning was knocked around in the 7th inning, and the Halos gave up 11+ runs for the third time in their last four games. In fact, the only pitcher that didn’t give up an earned run for the Angels was Eduardo Escobar, the team’s middle-infielder, who came into pitch in the bottom of the 8th inning down 11-0.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Patrick Sandoval struggles with control
As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Patrick Sandoval walked 6 batters in just 2.2 innings of work. He also struck out 6 batters in the outing, which is almost equally as impressive, but Sandoval just didn’t know where his pitches were going on Monday. Walks have been a serious issue for Sandoval all season long as he’s already walked 52 batters this season, just 8 away from his career high of 60 last season. Before Monday, Sandoval had been in a groove recently giving up just 4 runs over his last 29.1 innings pitched.
Last Monday against the Giants he put together one of his better performances of the season striking out 8 guys and giving up just 2 runs and 1 walk in 6.2 innings pitched overall. When Sandoval doesn’t walk batters, he’s one of the Angels most reliable and dominant pitchers and he has the stuff to become the team’s #1 pitcher next season if Shohei Ohtani is not on the roster. Talent is not an issue for Sandoval, it’s control and whether that is on Angels Pitching Coach Matt Wise (who is calling the pitches) or Sandoval himself, something needs to be done this offseason to fix that.
Griffin Canning struggles in return from IL
Griffin Canning had been great in the two starts leading up to his IL stint striking out 20 batters and giving up just 4 runs in total. However, on Monday night it was obvious that Canning was easily exhausted and needs to build up stamina to get back to performing at the high level he was a few weeks ago. Canning came in with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd inning and was able to minimize the damage inherited from Sandoval.
Over the next 3.1 innings Canning looked dominant, cruising through a very capable Rangers lineup, but he got tired in the 7th inning and it showed. He gave up 3 hits in the bottom of the 7th inning, including a 3-run home-run to Marcus Semien, before Aaron Loup came into the game and also gave up a home run. Nonetheless, Canning will need a few starts to get back into pitching shape and fans shouldn’t overreact to his abysmal 7th inning performance considering he was exhausted and had a pitch limit of 70 pitches.
Mickey Moniak’s struggles continue
Though Mickey Moniak had an RBI double in Sunday’s win over the Astros, he has been on a huge cold streak recently and it showed in Monday’s game. Moniak went 0-4 and has now gotten just 9 hits over his last 64 at bats (an average of .140). Moniak also made a pivotal error in the 2nd inning of Monday’s game that led to a run, but overall his defense is far from the main concern. Moniak’s production has incrementally gone down since his MLB-Leading 17 game hit streak was broken on July 28th as he has one of the highest chase rates in all of baseball, indicative of him striking out 50 percent of the time since his hit streak.
It wasn’t too long ago that Moniak was hitting over .330 with an OPS of over 1.000, but it seems like pitchers are adjusting to him now figuring he will swing at a lot of balls. As a result, pitchers simply aren’t giving Moniak anything good to hit, and he hasn’t been able to make adjustments to lay off of pitches out of the zone. Despite the cold streak that has now brought Moniak’s once 1.000 OPS to just .830, Moniak has flashed star potential and is still just 25 years old. He is a big part of the Angels future, but will need to make a lot of adjustments at the plate this offseason to start off scorching hot again next season.