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OC Register: Angels’ Reid Detmers aims to be a 20-game winner


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TEMPE, Ariz. — Although Reid Detmers has dived into the analytics of pitching that are now mandatory for any big-leaguer, he is also somewhat of a throwback.

The Angels’ 23-year-old left-hander has set a simple goal for himself this year.

“I just want to get 20 wins, honestly,” Detmers said. “That’s always a goal. … That should always be the goal for a pitcher. You see the top guys get 19, 20, 21 wins every year. You want to be that guy.”

The Atlanta Braves’ Kyle Wright was baseball’s only 20-game winner in 2022. In the previous four full seasons, excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020, there have been a total of five pitchers to win 20 games.

Detmers won seven games last year, including a no-hitter, in 25 starts. His 3.77 ERA suggested he could have won more with better support from the offense or bullpen, both of which the Angels expect to be improved this year. There is also reason to believe Detmers could make a significant jump in what he can control.

And it starts with numbers on a radar gun.

“I got to catch him a few times last year, and he was outstanding,” Angels catcher Matt Thaiss said. “And I’ve caught him this spring, and the stuff just jumped from last year to this year.”

Detmers’ fastball averaged 93.2 mph last season. When he started Friday in a Cactus League game against the Dodgers, his fastball was consistently at 95-97 mph.

Last season, the evolution of his slider was well chronicled. He was throwing it 82-84 mph early in the season. After he was sent to Triple-A, he made an adjustment and returned throwing the pitch 86-88 mph.

Last week against the Dodgers, his slider was 89-91 mph.

“It’s a pretty big difference,” Angels pitching coach Matt Wise said. “With all the guys, if you can increase the stuff, it gives you more margin for error.”

Detmers’ slider is particularly effective because of the way it spins. Many sliders have more of a diagonal spin, which makes the ball go down and toward the pitcher’s glove side. Detmers’ slider has a gyro spin, like a quarterback throwing a spiral, so it drops straight down.

“It’s extremely tough,” Thaiss said. “It comes out looking just like his fastball. As a hitter, as a lefty I wouldn’t want to face that. It’s probably his best weapon. It’s a really good pitch.”

It became a much better weapon when he increased the velocity last season, so now that it’s increased even more, there is reason to believe Detmers could have a breakout season.

“It will definitely make a difference,” Detmers said of the extra velocity. “Obviously it’s good to have, but I’m not out there thinking I want to throw this hard, because then your mind is not in the right spot. You’ve still gotta make pitches.”

Detmers said he didn’t set out to increase his velocity. He did spend some time last winter working with Driveline. He also worked out with Eric Cressy, the well-known training guru who runs a facility in Florida.

“I said I just want to get stronger and more explosive,” Detmers said. “We made up a program for the whole offseason and I just stuck to that. And the velo came.”

FIGHTING FOR A JOB

Non-roster invitees Jake Lamb and Kevin Padlo have made impressions on manager Phil Nevin this spring. Lamb is hitting .333 with a .941 OPS in 24 plate appearances, and Padlo is hitting .321 with a .976 OPS in 30 plate appearances.

Lamb, 32, is a left-handed hitter who plays primarily first and third. He’s played parts of nine years in the big leagues. Padlo, 26, is a right-handed hitter who also plays the corner infield spots. He’s been up and down with four organizations in the majors over the past two years.

The Angels seemed to be set with six infielders: Anthony Rendon, David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo, Brandon Drury, Jared Walsh and Gio Urshela. Barring an injury, it would be surprising for the Angels to keep Lamb or Padlo over any of those players, and the Angels would need to be creative with their roster to keep a seventh infielder.

Nevin is not closing any doors, though.

“We’re gonna take our best players,” Nevin said. “Jake has a history of doing a lot of good things at the big-league level. Padlo’s had a lot of great seasons in Triple-A. People don’t realize he’s 26 years old. He’s still got a lot of baseball in front of him. I’d be surprised if both of them didn’t help us at some point this year.”

NOTES

Jaime Barría rejoined the Angels on Tuesday after pitching for Panama in the World Baseball Classic in Taichung, Taiwan. Barria pitched one game for Panama, allowing one run in 2 2/3 innings. He also pitched an inning in an exhibition game. Barria said he’s expecting to return to Cactus League action sometime this weekend. The Angels are trying to decide if Barria will be strictly a reliever or bounce between the rotation and bullpen. …

Angels’ 19-year-old catcher Edgar Quero, one of the organization’s top prospects, has caught 18 innings in seven big-league exhibition games this spring. He’s come to the plate seven times, going hitless with three walks. “He’s caught a lot of our guys and we’ve been impressed with what he’s been able to do,” Nevin said. “As far as game-planning and sticking to what our game plans are, that’s what’s impressed me the most. I know he’s gonna hit. I know he can catch. It’s the game-planning, the mental side of getting behind the plate that impressed me this spring for a 19-year-old guy. …  He’s gonna be a good big-leaguer some day.”

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This is going to be an excellent rotation, Detmers looks like he’s ready to go and Sandoval too.  Ohtani hopefully making a few more starts than last year.  Anderson will likely regress but should be fine.  Suarez as the #5 is not bad at all.  The swing man or 6th starter will be different guys over the course of the year which will be kind of fun.  

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19 minutes ago, oldguy said:

I'd love to know who did it (not counting wins in relief.)  

Well, you didn't say not counting wins in relief earlier. Ha. I don't think anyone has done it in under 30 starts with no relief appearances. Josh Beckett and Pedro Martinez both did it with exactly 30 starts. 

EDIT: ... as did Kyle Wright just this past season and Jered Weaver in 2012.

Edited by jsnpritchett
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2 minutes ago, oldguy said:

Wow!  I guess it helps if you have a 1.77 ERA and 0.85 whip.

My research shows Pedro with 23 wins in 1999 with 29 starts.  He DID appear in 31 games.  

Oh, right on Pedro. The funny thing is, I was looking at his 2002 season, not 1999! Skipped right over that one.  He was so incredibly dominant during that period. 

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25 minutes ago, jsnpritchett said:

Well, you didn't say not counting wins in relief earlier. Ha. I don't think anyone has done it in under 30 starts with no relief appearances. Josh Beckett and Pedro Martinez both did it with exactly 30 starts. 

EDIT: ... as did Kyle Wright just this past season and Jered Weaver in 2012.

Weaver had about as good a 5-6 year run as any Angel pitcher in history.  Why won't we invite him to camp?

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I'm a big nerd:

 

image.png

A couple notes. The four-man rotation was the norm into the 70s, then gradually faded away - as you can see by the downward slope of number of 20-game winners. Even after that, starters often started close to 40 games - with the last 40 GS season being Charlie Hough in 1987. After that, teams still expected their best starters to start ~35 games, which has happened as recently as 2018. 

Anyhow, since 2004, there have been between 0 and 4 20-game winners. From 2006 to 2022, there has been at least one 20 game winner in 13 out of 16 full seasons. So chances are, even in today's era, there will be one or two 20-game winners per season. Not sure if that will change going forward, though.

Edited by Angelsjunky
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