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OC Register: Angels post-All-Star Game 2018 breakdown

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HOW THEY GOT HERE: Injuries have scuttled the Angels’ season once again. They began the year with nine starting pitchers on their depth chart, and eight of them have been hurt so far. At least two, Garrett Richards and JC Ramírez, are already out for the season. Two of their relievers, Keynan Middleton and Blake Wood, are also out for the year. The Angels have gotten passable work from the pitching despite the injuries, but they’ve been under pressure by an offense that has performed inconsistently.


KEY TO THE SECOND HALF: The bad news for the Angels is they are in arguably the toughest division in baseball, so simply hanging around .500 isn’t good enough to stay reasonably close to the leaders — as it would be in the National League or the American League Central. The good news is that means the Angels still have plenty of head-to-head games against not only the division-leading Astros, but also the Mariners and A’s, who are ahead of them in the wild-card race. They will have to play well against everybody in the second half, but beating the teams in their division will help them make up ground faster.

TRADE POSSIBILITIES: The Angels need some help in just about all areas, most acutely the rotation and the bullpen. They could also use a big bat at third base. However, their position in the standings means it’s unlikely the Angels would want to give up much to get a rental player, and those players are the ones who are most readily available. If they aim for someone who will be under control beyond this year, it will require them to deplete a farm system that is finally back to being in the middle of the pack. The Angels also could opt to trade away major leaguers for prospects, although their most attractive players are all under control beyond this year, so they’d probably like to hold on to them. Ian Kinsler is the best trade chip among their impending free agents.

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BIGGEST CONCERN: The pitching could get worse. While their starting pitching was fighting injuries for most of the first half, they still had enough depth that they had a quality starter almost all the time. With Nick Tropeano’s return from the disabled list Friday, the Angels will have four healthy starters among the nine from the start of the season. If they have any more injuries — or if a pleasant surprise like Felix Peña falters — they could be in big trouble.

SCHEDULE: Two of the first three series after the break are against the Astros and Mariners, with the rebuilding Chicago White Sox in between. It’s a 10-game homestand right before the trading deadline. After that, they play the surprisingly improved Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians. If the Angels are to vault themselves back into the race, they’ll need to play well against some good teams. Their margin for error is gone.

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