In Anthony Rendon’s last game with his last team, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros to win the World Series. The Angels spent $245 million on Rendon so he could help them beat the Astros, who have won the American League West three years running.
“I think we’re going to be really good,” Rendon said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Rendon last won a postseason game on Oct. 30, 2019. The Angels last won a postseason game on Oct. 22, 2009.
Rendon hit the first home run for his new team on Sunday, and the third baseman has four hits in his first six at-bats for the Angels. But one man does not make for a successful team, as the Angels well know. They employ Mike Trout.
They also employ Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton, and Fangraphs projects the Angels with the third-best offense in the AL, in terms of WAR. The website also projects the Angels with pitching that ranks in the bottom half of the league.
Rendon’s Nationals won with a pitching staff fronted by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, with a combined 12 All-Star appearances. Rendon’s Angels will try to win with a staff fronted by Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran, with a combined two All-Star appearances (both by Teheran, the last in 2016). The other two spots in the rotation are vacant.
Can the Angels hope to keep up with the Astros?
“I don’t know,” Rendon said. “We’ll see.”
In last year’s World Series, the Nationals scored a combined 19 runs in the two games started by Justin Verlander, and the Astros scored eight runs in the game started by Corbin.
“That’s not really unheard of, right?” Rendon said. “Sometimes offense wins. Sometimes pitching wins. We’ll see how the season turns out.”
What expectations should Angels fans have for how their team might do this season?
“Take it one day at a time,” he said. “Just sit back on your couch and just watch.”
Canning likely to IL
Griffin Canning, one of the projected anchors of the Angels’ starting rotation, is expected to start the season on the injured list, manager Joe Maddon said.
Canning complained of elbow stiffness after his lone Cactus League start on Wednesday. Five days later, Maddon said, the Angels’ medical staff has been unable to determine the source of the discomfort. He said the issue could be centered on a ligament within the elbow or on the joint itself.
Canning was scheduled to throw Saturday to help provide information that could determine a diagnosis, but Maddon said Canning “wasn’t feeling up to speed.” As a result, Maddon said, testing and consultation with specialists will continue this week.
The injury leaves the Angels needing to identify two starters to complete a rotation beyond Heaney, Bundy and Teheran. Ohtani is expected to rejoin the rotation in mid-May. Until then, the Angels can minimize the use of a fifth starter because they have seven days off in the first seven weeks of the season.
Maddon identified Matt Andriese, Jaime Barria, Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez as candidates. Andriese, 30, is a veteran swingman that nonetheless did not make a start for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
Barria and Sandoval are 23, and Suarez is 22.
“These are really good names,” Maddon said. “These are definitely, absolutely, major league pitcher names. It’s just a matter of is this the right time.”
None fared well as replacements in the Angels’ injury-riddled rotation last season: Barria posted an earned-run average of 6.42, with Sandoval at 5.03 and Suarez at 7.11.
“Obviously, they had a hard time,” Maddon said. “But that moment where they got their butts kicked a little bit may benefit them a lot going into this season.”