Los Angeles Angels
The Angels saw their postseason hopes crash hard recently when they lost superstar pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani for an undetermined length of time. The Japanese phenom complained of stiffness in his elbow when being treated for a blister; one MRI later and it was discovered Ohtani had sprained his ulnar collateral ligament, not a small deal. It's not the first time he's had that injury, though the previous time it was less severe—Ohtani was treated for a grade one UCL sprain last October following his final season with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. (A grade one sprain indicates a stretched ligament, grade two a tear or other damage in the ligament, and grade three means the ligament is heavily or completely torn.) This time, the sprain is a grade two, and Ohtani was treated with plasma-rich-platelet and stem-cell injections and is currently awaiting reevaluation in the coming weeks. Worst case is that Ohtani will require Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him for not only the remainder of this year but next year as well; the Angels say they're optimistic that surgery won't be needed, but four other Angels pitchers have had UCL sprains in recent years and were treated with the same injections and three of them ended up under the knife. If he does need surgery, the injury could threaten Ohtani's future as a two-way player—he could conceivably forego surgery and continue as a hitter; or he could have the Tommy John and have to spend his rehab time on his arm, allowing his batting mechanics and skills to atrophy. Hopefully Ohtani will fully recover, surgery or no.
Meanwhile, the Angels get this news on top of also losing right fielder Kole Calhoun (oblique strain) and star shortstop Andrelton Simmons (sprained ankle) to the disabled list, not to mention closer Keynan Middleton to TJ surgery. At this writing, there are ten Angels on the DL, with only Simmons on a predictable timetable for quick return.
Of course, they still have Mike Trout. But beyond the fishman there's little to fear in the Angel lineup with Ohtani and Simmons out, and though more than serviceable, the remaining pitchers aren't especially intimidating. In their first trip to Seattle this year, the Angels won two out of three, though, riding the pitching of Garret Richards and Ohtani to victories.
Players to Watch
Mike Trout: 2012 Rookie of the Year. Six-time All-Star. Five Silver Slugger awards. Two-time MVP and three-time runner-up. His career slash line is out of a video game: .306/.412/.571. The guy is pretty good with the stick. He doesn't have a Gold Glove (yet), but he's no slouch in center field, either; he currently leads the AL in Defensive WAR, for whatever that's worth.
Zack Cozart: Once a Mariner trade target, Cozart never found his way to Seattle but this year has found himself in the AL West, signing as a free agent with the Angels after seven years as a Cincinnati Red. Last year was the first of his career in which he lived up to his offensive promise, delivering a .297/.385/.548 line and his first All-Star selection.
Ian Kinsler: Once a star with Texas and Detroit, Kinsler has been a shadow of his former self the last couple of years. He went from being traded straight up to the Tigers for Prince Fielder (and cash) to being dealt to the Angels for a couple of low-level prospects after a .236 season in 2017. His numbers are even worse this year, and at 36 he doesn't figure to rebound much.
Mike Scioscia: The longest-tenured manager in the big leagues, Scoscia has helmed the Angels since 2000, making the playoffs seven times. The two-time AL Manager of the Year is in the final year of his contract, and it remains to be seen if this is the end of the Scoscia era in Orange County or not; with the Halos off to a hot start, his job prospects seem pretty solid whether or not he's offered an extension from the Angels.
Luis Valbuena: Valbuena played 18 games with the M's in 2008 before finding himself in the middle of one of the most complicated trades the Mariners have ever made. Valbuena was dealt to the Cleveland Indians in a three-team deal that involved 12 players shuffling between the M's, the Indians, and the New York Mets. Since then, he's made a career for himself as a competent journeyman infielder with enough power and defensive versatility to keep him employed as a big-leaguer.
|Los Angeles Angels||(2016 - present)|
|Division Titles:||1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014|
Mike Trout hit nine homers in April, matching an Angels club record held by Albert Pujols (2014) and Brian Downing (1987).
Garrett Richards: The average velocity on Richards’ fastball since the start of the 2014 season is 95.8mph, tops among all Major Leaguers during that time span.
Ian Kinsler: On April 12th Kinsler hit his 47th career leadoff home run, fourth-most all-time and most among active players. Rickey Henderson (81), Alfonso Soriano (54), and Craig Biggio (53) are the top three.
Martin Maldonado: When Maldonado won Gold Glove honors last year, he became just the third Angels catcher to do so. Bob Boone (1982, 1986-88) and Bengie Molina (2002-03) are the others.
Luis Valbuena has hit 108 home runs in an eleven-year career that began with Seattle in the Mariners’ ill-fated 2008 season, but didn’t hit a single dinger with the M’s. He batted just 54 times with Seattle, all in ’08, batting .245.