Jul 6, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws a pitch against the Houston Astros during the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels: June Progress Report

Los Angeles Angels: Raking In June

July 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) is doused by center fielder Mike Trout (27) following the 11-5 victory against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Angels Giving Us A Good Reminder

The Angels are having their best season since 2009. In fact, this team resembles that ’09 team quite a bit. They hit, they run, they field, they’re deep, they have good starting pitching, but they just need to make sure the bullpen has consistency. Overall, the 2014 squad has better pitching and defense. This Angels team also took off at just about the same time as the ’09 Angels.

So one could say that on paper this Halos club has an even better chance at a division title, pennant, and a World Series than that ’09 team that plowed through the regular season and ALDS, but then was shut down by the eventual World Champion Yankees.

One could even put it into perspective by pointing out how much more talented this current Halos club is than their World Championship 2002 team. That season, the Angels had a ‘lights out’ bullpen all season long. But they also had a lineup and rotation filled with players who weren’t national draws, but still had a lot of great seasons all at the same time. The 2014 Angels, however, are doing exactly what many expected them to do.

After struggling to stay above .500 over the first six weeks of the season, the Angels took off and have not looked back. Right now they hold a 41-20 record since May 9th–the last time they were at .500. They’re healthy, their deep, they’re full of stars, and now they are in the middle of fixing their bullpen, which could be the push the team needs to overtake the A’s for first place, and then cruise into October.

This could be one of those teams that is special.

 

Jul 10, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) reacts after hitting a three run home run during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s On Fire?

This team is so fun to watch right now that we should just cut to the chase! Here are some of the guys who sizzled in June, and contributed to a great month of Angels Baseball:

Mike Trout: .361 BA / .417 OBP / .759 SLG / 10 2B / 7 HR / 21 RBI / 1.230 OPS

Kole Calhoun: .346 BA / .386 OBP / .568 SLG / 6 2B / 4 HR / 13 RBI / .954 OPS

Erick Aybar: .315 BA / .370 OBP / .461 SLG / 10 2B / 13 RBI / .831 OPS

David Freese: .280 BA / .372 OBP / 10 BB

Collin Cowgill: .297 BA / .541 SLG / .856 OPS

Garrett Richards: 4-0 / 1.05 ERA / 34.1 IP / 35 SO / 11 BB / .161 BAA / 0.90 WHIP

Kevin Jepsen: 0.61 ERA / 14.2 IP / 14 SO / 1.16 WHIP

Mike Morin: 2.30 ERA / 15.2 IP / 16 SO / .200 BAA / 1.16 WHIP

Hector Santiago: 2.30 ERA / 15.2 IP / 16 SO / .207 BAA / 0.96 WHIP

Cory Rasmus: 2.61 ERA / 10.1 IP / 1.16 WHIP

The Halos had a lot of contributors yet again, and are continuing to prove how much deeper they are as a club than many who rely too much on national top prospect lists thought they were. There were some dominant performances and very few slumps. Albert Pujols had a slow first week, but picked it up and hasn’t stopped. Josh Hamilton returned from the disabled list after missing two months, and had a steady flow of production. For the most part, the team was productive from top to bottom.

 

Jul 9, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) bats as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz (31) watches at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Angels defeated the Blue Jays 8-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

How About Some Team Numbers For June?

At the start of the month, the Angels were 30-26 and and 4.5 games back of the Oakland Athletics. At the end of the month, the Halos were 45-35 but lost a game in the standings, at 5.5 games back. Still, it was a good month:

W-L: 15-10

Runs: 122

BA: .274

OBP: .333

SLG: .416

OPS: .749

H: 241

2B: 50

HR: 24

BB: 72

SB: 16

ERA: 3.91

WHIP: 1.31

SPERA: 3.86

BPERA: 4.00

BAA: .254

The offense did regress a little bit, but that was mostly in the first week or so of the month. Since then, the Angels have been raking. But the one thing that really stands out is the improvement of the bullpen. That 4.00 ERA is way down from the previous two months. And it continues to fall. There’s a good reason why.

 

Welcome To The Club!

At the end of June, the Angels made three trades. Two of which have paid dividends, and have thrust the Halos’ bullpen closer to the dominance we were so accustomed to seeing for so many years.

First, they acquired Jason Grilli from the Pittsburgh Pirates for struggling closer Ernesto Frieri. It wasn’t until today, Sunday July 13, that Grilli gave up his first earned run in 7 innings.

The second move was purchasing lefty reliever Rich Hill from the Boston Red Sox. That one didn’t work so well. Hill didn’t record an out in two the two games he pitched. He was designated for assignment right away. It wasn’t a big loss, however, as the Angels gave up nothing to get Hill.

The third and final move, was landing lefty hurler Joe Thatcher, along with minor league outfielder Tony Campana from the Arizona Diamondbacks. This trade has worked as well, as Thatcher has been effective in the limited lefty specialist role he has taken over in the Angels’ bullpen.

These moves show the urgency in the Angels’ front office, and the need to get that bullpen straightened out if the club expects to exorcise whatever demons have existed since 2010, and get into the playoffs.

 

Looking Forward To July

We’re already there, and the Angels are still rolling with a 12-2 record, and their first 4-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in franchise history. The big question now revolves around what moves they will make between now and the trade deadline. Will they get a starting pitcher? Will they acquire another reliever? Will they get both? We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, this team rocks! They are fun to watch again. And this is the way Angels Baseball should be.

Tags: Jason Grilli Joe Smith Joe Thatcher Kole Calhoun Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout MLB

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