Giolito struggles as the Angels fall to the Braves, 12-5

Lucas Giolito gave up 9 runs over 3.2 innings and even though Jaime Barria came in and pitched well the game was already out of reach.

The Angels stole a game from the World Series favorite Braves on Monday, but they reverted to the mean on Tuesday and Wednesday getting completely outplayed on offense and defense. Lucas Giolito continued to be plagued by the long ball, Jordyn Adams looked nervous and made a few mistakes in the field in his MLB debut, and the Angels were behind by 8 runs in the 4th inning which effectively put the game out of reach.

There were some positives, like long reliever Jaime Barria pitching the rest of the game following Giolito’s horrendous outing and limiting the Braves to just 3 more runs, but overall it was a lackluster final two games for the Halos against a far superior team. The Angles are now just 3 games over .500 with a 56-53 record and will now head home to face the Mariners in a pivotal 4-game series starting Thursday night.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Lucas Giolito has atrocious outing

Lucas Giolito pitched on 4 days rest (which he is used to doing from his time on the White Sox) and looked abysmal in his second start with the Angels, giving up 9 earned runs, three of which were home runs to Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, and Matt Olson. Giolito was going up against the best lineup in baseball and perhaps the best lineup over the last decade in the MLB, but there is no excuse for giving up 9 runs in just over 3 innings pitched. Factoring in the Braves combined for just 6 runs over the first two games of this series and then exploded for 9 on Wednesday afternoon shows that Giolito simply didn’t have his stuff working for him.

The Angels gave up a lot for Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez (who has been excellent so far) including Edgar Quero (top 50 prospect in baseball) and Ky Bush (Angels #3 prospect prior to the trade) and early on it is looking like the White Sox won that trade. This isn’t to say that Giolito is not a great pitcher, because he absolutely is a solid #3 starter on a playoff team. However, they gave up two of their top prospects for an incremental improvement on the mound (who is also going to be a free agent at the end of the season) and some bullpen help. Despite a lot of advanced metrics favoring Giolito to improve his ERA of 4.36 by a large margin over the rest of the year, he is still on pace to give up the most home runs of his career with 25 already this season (his career high is 27). Giolito’s success is contingent on him limiting the long ball, and if he can accomplish that, then the Angels will become a much better team.

Jordyn Adams struggles immensely in debut 

There was a lot of hype for Jordyn Adams to make his long-awaited MLB debut for the Angels. Adams was the 17th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and is having an excellent year in the minors with a .263 average, 13 home runs, 60 RBI’s, 37 stolen bases, and an OPS of .816 the AAA Salt Lake City Bees. With Mike Trout and Jo Adell still on the injured list and Mickey Moniak needing a day off on Wednesday, Adams made his big league debut for the Angels and went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts and a few miscues in the outfield. On multiple occasions Adams threw it to the wrong base and airmailed the ball over his cutoff man’s head allowing base runners to advance and eventually score.

Adams also misplayed a single allowing it to turn into a double and put a runner in scoring position. All of this was unconventional for Adams, who is known to be an elite defensive center fielder (part of the reason why he was brought up) and the only explanation for these miscues is nerves. Furthermore, as talented as Adams is, he didn’t leave the best impression on the front office in his MLB debut and it remains to be seen if he will be sent back down to Salt Lake City or not.

Jaime Barria pitches well in relief

Coming in for Giolito in the 4th inning down 9-1, Jaime Barria got an opportunity to minimize damage in a game already way out of reach. He did just that, getting Travis d’Arnaud to ground out to end the 4th and proceeding to pitch 4.1 innings total innings of 3 run ball overall. Barria did get into a little bit of trouble in the 6th and 8th inning giving up a few doubles and 3 runs combined in those two innings, but for the most part he pitched well. Barria’s 4.1 innings pitched was instrumental to the Halos success this weekend as it allowed the rest of the Angels pen to have much needed rest to prepare for an upcoming 4-game pivotal series against the Mariners.

Considering the Angels scored 4 runs through 6 innings and Barria only gave up 3 runs through almost 5 innings, it raises the question whether the Angels would have won this game had Barria instead of Giolito started? I can guarantee that it would have been a much closer game going into the 5th or 6th inning, that is for sure. Regardless, it is unlikely Giolito will lose a spot in the rotation despite his atrocious outing on Wednesday, so Barria will need to continue to capitalize on long-relief opportunities to make the Angels question whether he should be in the rotation moving forward.

The Angels will be in Anaheim to face the Mariners Thursday with Shohei Ohtani set to take the mound. The Mariners pitcher is still TBD, but first pitch is scheduled for 6:38 PM PST.