ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels were just 4.5 games back of the division (not just the AL WC) just 6 days ago after winning the first game of the series against the Braves. After going 0-6 since culminating with being swept by their division rival Mariners, the Halos are now 10.5 games back of the division and 7 games back of the 3rd WC with just 49 games to go in the season. Despite buying at the trade deadline, the Angels have lost 6 straight games following last Tuesday’s deadline and their playoff hopes are severely dwindling as a result.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Chase Silseth dominates yet again
As the Braves put it last week, 23-year old Chase Silseth “should be a part of the Angels rotation”. He beat the best team in the league last week, in fact that was the last time the Angels have won a game. With Griffin Canning going on the IL, it opened up a spot in the rotation so the Angels didn’t have to make a decision on keeping Silseth in long relief or having him in the rotation. On Sunday, Silseth put together the best performance of his young career, giving up just two runs (both of which were solo home runs) through 7 innings pitched. Silseth had 12 K’s and gave up just 4 hits overall. Angels Manager Phil Nevin was impressed with Silseth’s performance, saying “His secondary pitches were really good, he was battling some leg cramps but knew we needed 7 innings out of him and got it done”. Unfortunately, like what happened with Tyler Anderson on Saturday night, the Angels simply didn’t give their starters enough run support and lost another close game.
In fact, the Angels could have won every single game in this series (all 4 games were decided by 2 runs or less) but simply didn’t produce when it mattered most. Silseth only registered one walk and was in control of almost every hitter in the Mariners lineup his entire performance. After another excellent performance, Silseth now boasts an ERA of 3.72 with 41 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 36.1 innings pitched this season. Over his last 3 appearances he has been otherworldly throwing 17.2 innings with 26 K’s, 3 walks, and just 4 runs given up over that span. If Silseth continues to dominate like he has been doing, the Halos will have to make a decision on who to kick out of the rotation when Canning returns so that Silseth can be in it. Out of all of the Angels pitchers over the last three weeks, Silseth has been the most reliable and has asserted himself as a core piece of the team’s future.
Carlos Estevez has bounce back performance
It wasn’t pretty, but Carlos Estevez managed to pitch a scoreless 9th inning in a tied game against the same team that scored 4 runs off of him last Thursday night. In fact, with 2 guys on and 1 out, Cade Marlowe (who hit the big grand slam off of Estevez on Thursday) came up to the plate and Estevez got him to pop up. Overall, Estevez gave up just 1 hit and 1 walk and kept the Angels in the game despite them not being able to score in the bottom of the 9th. Estevez now boasts and ERA of 2.60 with 23 saves and 56 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched this season.
Overall, it wasn’t a dominant effort but Sundays performance at the very least got out the bad mojo out of the way following Thursdays performance. With Reynaldo Lopez on the bereavement list, there isn’t any competition for Estevez’s closer role right now and Estevez could throw a lot more in the coming days with Lopez out. Moving forward, Estevez should continue to be a reliable arm in high leverage situations.
Angels continue to struggle with runners in scoring position
Mike Moustakas drove in Shohei Ohtani (who was on second base) with an RBI double in the bottom of the 1st inning to tie the game up 1-1 but after that, the Angels went 0-6 the rest of the game with runners in scoring position. Just last weekend, the Angels went 1-34 with runners in scoring position in their series against the Blue Jays and on Sunday they were back to that lackluster production when they needed it most. In fact, RISP is the biggest reason the Halos are one game under instead of 10 games over .500. All year they simply haven’t produced with runners on despite being ranked 11th in team batting average, 4th in OPS, and 3rd in home runs.
Angels outfielder Mickey Moniak spoke on the Angels struggles with RISP, “Not getting it going with runners in scoring position is always gonna be tough when we’re trying to put wins in the win column”. Moniak added that the Halos just have to move past this and go out and compete against the Giants starting Monday, “Everyone knows what we need to do…as bad as a 4 game sweep sucks, it’s baseball, it’s done with, just gotta wake up tomorrow and win against the Giants”.
The Angels are 56-57, 7 games back of the AL’s 3rd WC, and have lost 6 games in a row following the trade deadline. All odds are against them, no one is giving them a chance anymore and Nevin spoke on that, “Everyone has counted us out now, that’s fine, we’re gonna keep fighting”. Though statistically very difficult, Nevin remains confident in this group regardless of the situation they are in. The Angels will get their next chance to get back on track against the Giants who are coming to town for a 3 game series.