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  1. Before anyone gets the wrong idea and accuses me of denigrating Vladimir Guerrero Jr., let’s be clear: He’s great. He is one of the game’s best young stars, and he’s had a sensational season. The Toronto Blue Jays first baseman deserves all the accolades he’s received. But he’s not the American League MVP. Not this year. While some have been inclined to push the narrative that Guerrero is making a run at the MVP award that seemed to be wrapped up by Ohtani over the summer, from my perspective nothing has changed. Guerrero is simply locking up second place. I have voted for the MVP many times, but I am not this year, which is why I’m able to share my opinion now instead of keeping it to myself until the results are announced on Nov. 18. Normally, I pick the player who I believe had the best season. Period. I don’t buy that being “valuable” has anything to do with how good your teammates are, and I’m not sure how the word came to mean that in the eyes of so many. Say you are looking at two piles of cash. One has a bunch of $1 bills and a $20 bill. The other has a pile of $5 bills and a $10 bill. You get to pick the most “valuable” bill from those piles. Which do you want? Is the $20 somehow cheapened because it’s sitting with a bunch of $1s? It’s still the most valuable bill. Does a car become more valuable based on what car is parked next to it? Does a watch become more valuable based on what shirt you’re wearing? Given that, I totally dismiss any idea that Guerrero is more valuable than Ohtani because Guerrero’s teammates have been better than Ohtani’s teammates. I also dismiss the “Triple Crown argument.” The value that Guerrero produced doesn’t change if he ends up with one more home run or one less home run than Salvador Perez. Besides, Perez is 10 RBIs ahead of Guerrero, so he’s not going to win the Triple Crown. He’s also tied with Perez in homers and two points behind Yuli Gurriel in batting average. We can forget the Triple Crown. So now that we’ve eliminated the noise in the debate, the only question is whether Ohtani had a better season than Guerrero. While I don’t believe that WAR is a flawless stat or one that should be blindly used, it is nonetheless a good starting point. According to Baseball-Reference, Ohtani has a WAR of 8.5, well ahead of Guerrero’s 6.8. FanGraphs has Ohtani with a smaller, but still significant, advantage: 7.9 to 6.6. The reason Ohtani has an edge over Guerrero, who has been a slightly better hitter, is that … Ohtani pitches. Yeah, there’s the Captain Obvious point you’ve been waiting to read all this time. The simple fact that Ohtani has done something that no player has done in more than 100 years ought to be enough for him to get the MVP. At the All-Star Game, Ohtani was the primary topic for all of the best players in the world because they all know how incredible it is for him to do what he’s done. It’s not just some gimmick. A guy who is a hitter and can pitch well enough to work an inning here or there is a curiosity. The same goes for a pitcher who finds a way to hit a few homers now and then. That’s not Ohtani. Ohtani is one of the best hitters in the majors. And he’s one of the best pitchers in the majors. If he were mediocre, or even average, at one side or another, there would be a much better case to give the MVP to a player who is simply the best everyday player. But Ohtani is not that. Related Articles Shohei Ohtani pitches well but Angels lose in final home game of the season Jaime Barria’s up and down season with Angels ends with shoulder injury Shohei Ohtani gets plenty of help in Angels’ blowout win Angels’ Mike Trout felt ‘relieved’ after deciding to end his 2021 comeback Shohei Ohtani walks 4 times in Angels’ loss as Mariners avoid slugger He ranks second in the league with a .966 OPS. Guerrero leads with a 1.006 mark. Ohtani has a 3.18 ERA, which was seventh-best in the league for pitchers with at least 130 innings through Sunday. He is 67 innings behind league-leading Robbie Ray, who also leads the league in ERA because the Angels gave Ohtani more rest than other pitchers to accommodate his hitting. It’s fair to count that against him when only comparing him to other pitchers, which is why he was never much of a candidate for the Cy Young Award. But when comparing him to all players, the fact that he pitches and hits at a high level is a huge plus. It’s a plus that no one else has. It’s worth the MVP. UP NEXT Angels (LHP Packy Naughton, 0-3, 5.23 ERA) at Rangers (RHP A.J. Alexy, 2-1, 5.00), Tuesday, 5:05 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM Fans show their support for the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani before Sunday’s game against the Mariners at Angel Stadium. Is the two-way star a slam dunk choice to be voted the American League MVP this season? Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher believes so. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)View the full article
  2. ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani unleashed a 99.2 mph fastball and pumped his fist as Jake Bauers tipped the pitch into the catcher’s glove for a strikeout. Ohtani then strutted off the mound with another strong seven innings in the book, stepping into the Angels dugout as he was greeted with a brief standing ovation. While there was still a game left to be determined — one that the Angels lost 5-1 to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday after the bullpen gave up four runs in the eighth — there was nothing left to see in the story that had so captivated Angels fans throughout 2021. Ohtani’s remarkable season as baseball’s only two-way star came to its’ Angel Stadium close with a 10-strikeout, zero-walk performance. Ohtani gave up only one run, on a seventh-inning homer by Jarred Kelenic, and he left the game in a 1-1 tie. It’s unclear if that was Ohtani’s final start of the season, or just his final home start. He could start the season finale next Sunday in Seattle if he feels strong and wants to pitch again. The Angels could also decide that he’s done more than enough and let him head into the winter with this as the period on his year as a pitcher. Ohtani started 23 games, posting a 9-2 record and a 3.18 ERA. In 130-1/3 innings, Ohtani struck out 156 and walked 44. He became the first Angels pitcher to reach 150 strikeouts since Andrew Heaney in 2018. His outing on Sunday was his eighth of the season without a walk, which is a dramatic turnaround from the 19 walks he issued in 18-2/3 innings in his first four starts. Ohtani only had two tight spots throughout this game. Ohtani gave up a single to Mariners leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford at the end of a 10-pitch duel to start the game, but then he retired the next 12 in a row. With runners at first and second and one out in the fifth, Ohtani got Tom Murphy and Bauers on fly balls to left field. In the sixth, Ohtani hit Ty France with a 1-and-2 pitch and then gave up a single to Kyle Seager. He struck out Mitch Haniger and got Abraham Toro on a flyout to escape the jam on his 98th pitch. At that point Ohtani had a 1-0 lead and it looked like his day may be over, but Manager Joe Maddon sent him back for one more inning. Ohtani gave up a the homer to Kelenic on a hanging slider, then he retired the next two to finish his day on a high note. Unfortunately for the Angels, they couldn’t do the same. Relievers José Quijada and Austin Warren combined to give up four runs in the eighth, breaking open the game. The loss also guaranteed the Angels their sixth straight losing season, which is the franchise’s longest such streak since a run of seven straight losing seasons from 1971-77. More to come on this story. Related Articles Jaime Barria’s up and down season with Angels ends with shoulder injury Shohei Ohtani gets plenty of help in Angels’ blowout win Angels’ Mike Trout felt ‘relieved’ after deciding to end his 2021 comeback Shohei Ohtani walks 4 times in Angels’ loss as Mariners avoid slugger AJ Ramos returns to MLB with Angels after season at Triple-A View the full article
  3. ANAHEIM — Jaime Barria’s season ended as a mixed bag. The Angels’ right-hander was placed on the injured list on Sunday with a right shoulder impingement, although Manager Joe Maddon said he had not gotten any more specific diagnosis about the severity of Barria’s injury. Barria left Saturday’s game after two innings. Assuming the injury is nothing serious enough to impact next season — which is not a given, considering it’s a shoulder issue — Barria figures to go onto the 2022 depth chart as a candidate for the back end of the rotation. He earned at least another look based on flashes of promise he showed during the 56-2/3 innings he pitched in the big leagues this season. “I think he made a really nice rebound,” Maddon said. “He showed some really good things. Other things kind of mediocre but overall I think that the the good outweighs the bad.” Barria, 25, had a 4.61 ERA, but his ERA as a starter was 3.91. He also gave up 11 earned runs in 11 first innings in his starts, so his ERA was 2.50 after the first inning. Maddon said Barria’s future looks somewhat promising because of the way he’s improved the usage of his fastball and incorporated a changeup. “I think he made strides in understanding himself a little bit better, and with that variety of pitches now he can get out both righties and lefties with more certainty or better feel about it,” Maddon said. “I thought he made a lot of progress.” Even if the Angels have no room in the rotation for Barria next year, he still could have a place in the bullpen, because he’ll be out of options. Being out of options could also make Barria a candidate to be a traded. It’s unclear who would take Barria’s spot in the rotation for the final week of the season. The Angels have Packy Naughton, Janson Junk and Alex Cobb scheduled to start the three games in Texas, starting on Tuesday. José Suarez would presumably start on Friday in Seattle, and then the Angels would need a starter for Saturday. It could be Reid Detmers, who is pitching on Monday at Triple-A, or Jhonathan Diaz, who worked seven innings in relief of Barria on Saturday. If Shohei Ohtani does not pitch the season finale next Sunday in Seattle, Detmers or Diaz could be among the options for that game too. The Angels’ choice may hinge at least partly on whether the Mariners have been eliminated from wild card contention. Related Articles Shohei Ohtani gets plenty of help in Angels’ blowout win Angels’ Mike Trout felt ‘relieved’ after deciding to end his 2021 comeback Shohei Ohtani walks 4 times in Angels’ loss as Mariners avoid slugger AJ Ramos returns to MLB with Angels after season at Triple-A Alex Cobb pitches well again in Angels’ victory over Astros NOTES The Angels recalled left-hander Sam Selman to take Barria’s place on the roster. … The Angels currently have 41 players on their 40-man roster because right-hander Hector Yan is on the injured list at Class-A Tri-Cities without a designated injury, so he does not count against the limit. Typically that means a player is on the COVID-related injured list. UP NEXT Angels (LHP Packy Naughton, 0-3, 5.23 ERA) at Rangers (RHP A.J. Alexy, 2-1, 5.00), Tuesday, 5:05 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM View the full article
  4. Hello Certus70,

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  5. Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, center, poses after being presented with the Angels Most Valuable Player award and the Nick Adenhart Pitcher of the Year prior to a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani kneels on second base after advancing from first on a single by Phil Gosselin during the third inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani rounds first on his way to a triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, yells after sliding into third for a an RBI triple ahead of the tag of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, slides into third for a an RBI triple ahead of the tag of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels’ Brandon Marsh, left, collides with home plate umpire Alan Porter, center, as he scores on a triple by Shohei Ohtani during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels’ Luis Rengifo, right gestures while scoring after hitting a solo home run as Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh stands at the plate during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani drops his bat as he hits and RBI triple during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs to first as he hits and RBI triple during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels’ Brandon Marsh, left, collides with home plate umpire Alan Porter, center, as he scores on a triple by Shohei Ohtani while Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh stands at the plate during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits an RBI triple during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels center fielder Brandon Marsh makes a catch on a fly ball at the wall that was hit by Seattle Mariners’ Mitch Haniger during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels center fielder Brandon Marsh, left, tosses the ball to center fielder Juan Lagares after making a catch on a fly ball at the wall that was hit by Seattle Mariners’ Mitch Haniger during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani stands on third after hitting an Rbi triple during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, is safe at third for an RBI triple as Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, right, drops the ball during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, is greeted by Luis Rengifo, center, and Patrick Sandoval prior to a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, center, is presented with the Angels Most Valuable Player award by team owner Artie Moreno, right, prior to a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. Ohtani also received the Nick Adenhart Pitcher of the Year award. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, is greeted by Luis Rengifo prior to a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jaime Barria throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Show Caption of Expand ANAHEIM ― It began in the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Houston Astros. No one was on base when Luis Garcia walked Shohei Ohtani on four pitches, or again when Garcia walked Ohtani on five pitches later in the game. There was a runner on second base when Ohtani batted in the seventh, and again in the 10th, Ohtani drawing an intentional walk each time. By Saturday it had become a running theme ― rather, a walking theme. No one knew when the Angels’ best player would get another good pitch to hit. Ohtani drew two more walks in the Angels’ 14-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners, matching yet another major league record for free passes. This one matched Babe Ruth (1930), Bryce Harper (2016) and Yasmani Grandal (2021) for the most walks in a four-game span, with 13. This time, his teammates brought their bats. Rookie Brandon Marsh, batting one spot ahead of Ohtani in the leadoff hole, collected singles in his first two at-bats against Mariners starter Tyler Anderson. Each time, Ohtani followed with a triple. Neither Marsh nor Ohtani made an out until their fifth plate appearance of the game, in the sixth inning. The player hitting behind Ohtani, Phil Gosselin, went 2 for 3 with four RBIs. The Angels’ number-6 hitter, Jared Walsh, went 4 for 5 with a pair of bases-loaded doubles. That was more than enough offense to overcome an injury shortened start by Angels pitcher Jaime Barría. The right-hander was removed after two efficient, scoreless innings with an injury the team called “arm fatigue.” Barría has thrown 105 2/3 innings this season after throwing 32 1/3 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.Related Articles Angels’ Mike Trout felt ‘relieved’ after deciding to end his 2021 comeback Shohei Ohtani walks 4 times in Angels’ loss as Mariners avoid slugger AJ Ramos returns to MLB with Angels after season at Triple-A Alex Cobb pitches well again in Angels’ victory over Astros Angels catcher Max Stassi confident he can rebound at the plate Rookie left-hander Jhonathan Diaz (1-0) took over in the third inning and, incredibly, finished the game by himself. Diaz allowed only one run over seven innings to earn his first major league victory. He became the 20th different pitcher to earn a win this season, tossing a remarkable 98 pitches in relief. The Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then chased Anderson by scoring eight runs in the third inning. Luis Rengifo hit a solo home run during the onslaught, the Angels’ only home run among their 14 hits. Before an announced crowd of 30,221 at Angel Stadium, the Angels won their second game in nine tries on their final homestand of the season. View the full article
  6. ANAHEIM ― Earlier this month, Mike Trout decided it was time. He was ending his quest to play baseball again in 2021. He had been out of action for too long since straining his right calf muscle in May, and there was not enough time left on the calendar to start a proper minor league rehabilitation assignment. So he rested. A week or two later, Trout started working out again. “I felt great,” he said. “I don’t feel (the calf injury) at all. The doctors say it should be fully healed.” It wasn’t the happy, forward-looking note Trout wanted to end the 2021 season on, but it will have to do. By returning to full health ― albeit too late to help the Angels ― he can get a head start on his off-season training regimen with an eye on spring training in 2022. In his first interview since making the decision to shut down his 2021 comeback, Trout didn’t spend too long indulging various what-ifs Saturday afternoon. He conceded the Angels’ place in the standings made the decision easier. He also acknowledged the risk he faced by coming back prematurely. “I think if I’d have gone out there, I would’ve been playing a game, two games, have off,” he said. “It would’ve been tough for me. The smarter thing for me is to have a full healthy off-season.” Trout said there were times this summer when he targeted a specific date for the beginning of a minor league rehab assignment. But when he went through his workout the day before, his body didn’t respond well enough. Trout had to set a new target date with the Angels’ training staff. That merely added to his frustration ― a mental hurdle to complement the physical ailment. “If I’d have gone out there and something else happened because I’d have been favoring (his right calf), that would’ve been really frustrating,” Trout said. “Once we made that decision as a group, it put my head where it needed to be. It relieved me a bit, because I was putting so much pressure on myself to go out there. Now I’m in a good place. I’m looking forward to a healthy off-season, looking forward to next year.”Related Articles Shohei Ohtani walks 4 times in Angels’ loss as Mariners avoid slugger AJ Ramos returns to MLB with Angels after season at Triple-A Alex Cobb pitches well again in Angels’ victory over Astros Angels catcher Max Stassi confident he can rebound at the plate Angels’ David Fletcher has no answers for uneven performance this season Trout had eight home runs, 18 RBIs and a .333 batting average in 36 games at the time of his injury. Only five Angels entered play Saturday with more home runs this season. OHTANI UNLEASHED Shohei Ohtani has a green light to steal a base “almost 100 percent of the time,” Manager Joe Maddon said. Now that he’s drawing walks at an unprecedented rate, Ohtani figures to add to his total of 24 steals this season. Ohtani drew 11 walks in a three-game span from Wednesday through Friday, tying a record set by Bryce Harper in 2016. He stole one base during the three games. “It’s just a matter of the pitcher’s rating,” Maddon said. “(Friday) night we had some different opportunities. We were trying. But yeah, if they’re going to walk him, let’s take advantage of his speed.” Maddon confirmed that Ohtani will hit for himself when he pitches Sunday against Seattle. UP NEXT Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani (9-2, 3.28 ERA) vs. Seattle LHP Marco Gonzales (9-5, 4.14 ERA), 1:07 p.m. Sunday, Bally Sports West View the full article
  7. ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani stepped to the plate in the seventh and ninth innings representing the tying run as Angel Stadium came to life. Both times, Ohtani walked. The Angels never were able to push home that tying run and they lost, 6-5, to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night, while Ohtani continues his frustrating walk-a-thon. Ohtani walked four times, becoming the first player since Barry Bonds in 2003 to draw at least three walks in three consecutive games. He’s drawn a total of 11 walks, including four intentional free passes, in those games. He was intentionally walked with the bases empty in a one-run game in the ninth, and Phil Gosselin put the Angels in great shape to capitalize when he followed with a double. Jared Walsh was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but Jack Mayfield struck out and Jose Rojas grounded out to end it. “That’s what’s gonna happen,” Manager Joe Maddon said of the walks to Ohtani. “That team’s in a playoff hunt and they’re not going to permit him to beat him. When we get back to full complement (of players) it’ll be different, but until that happens, that’s going to be the case, unless the (opponent) is not in the playoffs.” With the Angels out of playoff contention and Ohtani as the main player of interest, it’s obviously disappointing for fans when teams refuse to throw him strikes. The recent increase in walks is probably less about opponents throwing him fewer strikes and more about Ohtani finally letting them go. “I love that he’s taking the walks,” Maddon said before the game. “It’s much better than swinging at bad pitches, striking out, making bad outs. He can contribute in other ways, just by scoring runs getting on base, stealing bases. He needs to do that.” Ohtani has been without protection in the lineup for much of the season, without Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon to hit behind him. Walsh, who was an All-Star, could hit behind Ohtani, but Maddon has been reluctant to stack left-handed hitters together like that. Because Maddon lately has put Brandon Marsh ahead of Ohtani in the leadoff spot, if he put Walsh behind Ohtani that would be three straight lefties. Right-handed hitting Gosselin has hit behind Ohtani lately. “I’m not denigrating Goose by any means; Goose has done a wonderful job in this role,” Maddon said. “But if you’re on the other side, and you see how we stack up after (Ohtani), you’re not going to pitch to him. And that’s what’s going on.” The Angels trailed 6-4 in the seventh when Brandon Marsh led off with a single, bringing Ohtani to the plate representing the tying run. Left-hander Anthony Misiewicz threw him five consecutive curveballs. Only one was even close to the strike zone, and Ohtani fouled it off. After the walk, the Angels still managed to get one run, on a two-out hit by Jack Mayfield, but it wasn’t enough to tie the score. They couldn’t capitalize in the ninth either, although the bottom half of the Angels order had been productive. Related Articles AJ Ramos returns to MLB with Angels after season at Triple-A Alex Cobb pitches well again in Angels’ victory over Astros Angels catcher Max Stassi confident he can rebound at the plate Angels’ David Fletcher has no answers for uneven performance this season Joe Maddon calls for Angels to upgrade roster for 2022; Astros hand them 12-inning loss Mayfield, who hit fifth, had two hits. Rojas had a double and an 11-pitch walk to set up the Angels’ two-run sixth. No. 7 hitter Max Stassi hit a two-run homer, his 12th of the season, and he drove in a run with a single. Stassi started the season as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, but he had been slumping throughout most of the second half. The Angels offense took José Suarez off the hook for a loss on a night that he was charged with four runs in five-plus innings. Suarez has not allowed more than four earned runs in any start this year, allowing him to maintain a solid 3.86 ERA. He allowed five or more in six of his 21 big league games before this season. View the full article
  8. ANAHEIM — AJ Ramos, a former All-Star closer and veteran of 377 major league games, figured he’d be up with the Angels early this season. As the weeks passed and he continued to pitch for Triple-A Salt Lake, he eventually adjusted his expectations. “When you don’t accomplish something in the timeframe that you think it should be accomplished, you can kind of mess up your mental state a little bit,” Ramos said. “I had to adjust that, and work from there, and then just try to get up here as quick as possible whenever I had the opportunity.” It took until Thursday, just a few days past his 35th birthday, for Ramos to finally get the long-awaited chance to return to the majors. “Man, it feels good,” he said. “Everyone’s working to get to this level. No matter how long you’ve been up here or if you’ve never been up here, you’re still trying to get up, so it feels good to accomplish that.” Ramos had been flourishing as a reliever with the Miami Marlins, capped by a 40-save season in which he made the All-Star team in 2016. The next year he was traded to the New York Mets. And in 2018, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. Shoulder operations are much more risky than elbow operations, so anytime a pitcher has shoulder surgery his career is in jeopardy. Ramos missed all of the 2019 season and he pitched just three games with the Colorado Rockies in 2020. That’s why he was still unsigned until the Angels inked him to a minor league deal during spring training. Ramos said one of the reasons he didn’t sign earlier was because teams were unsure if he could last the whole season with his surgically repaired shoulder. Once Ramos got over the disappointment of not getting called up to the Angels, he set his sights on simply getting through the entire season to prove himself for next year. Ramos did that, pitching 53 innings in 55 games with Salt Lake. He struck out 76 and walked 26. He had a 5.26 ERA, which was better than the 5.82 ERA for the entire hitter-friendly Triple-A West (formerly known as the Pacific Coast League). “I’m eager to see him play,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “He was really good when I saw him in Miami. Both times – I was in Tampa Bay, and even with the Cubs – I saw him, and he pitched a lot. He pitched in tight situations. And he was always very good. So I’m curious.” FIRST-INNING ISSUES Jaime Barria, who will start for the Angels on Saturday, has allowed 11 earned runs in 10 first innings in his starts. In all other innings as a starter, he has a 2.56 ERA. Maddon said he’s been around pitchers with this issue before, and it’s difficult to find any sort of external solution. “You try multiple different things, and it never really seems to matter,” Maddon said. “A different bullpen (routine). Put hitters standing in there. Talk about who’s coming up the first inning. Going out there earlier and throwing more. All the different things that you think makes sense logically, in order to get better at this and it really comes down to the player. They just have to do something internally different to get through that first inning. And then once he does, and he knows that he can, I think it’ll continue.” NOTES The Angels placed right-hander Kyle Tyler on the injured list with a right toe strain, likely ending his season. Tyler, who started the year in Double-A, gave up four earned runs in 12-1/3 innings over five games. … Related Articles Alex Cobb pitches well again in Angels’ victory over Astros Angels catcher Max Stassi confident he can rebound at the plate Angels’ David Fletcher has no answers for uneven performance this season Joe Maddon calls for Angels to upgrade roster for 2022; Astros hand them 12-inning loss Hoornstra: The numbers that tell the story of MLB’s 2021 season Jhonathan Diaz was recalled to take Tyler’s spot. Diaz had been optioned after making his major league debut last Friday. … The Angel Stadium infield was covered by the tarp because of a rare sprinkling during the time batting practice was scheduled. The tarp was removed about 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. UP NEXT Angels (RHP Jaime Barria, 2-4, 4.77 ERA) vs. Mariners (LHP Tyler Anderson, 2-1, 3.38), Saturday, 6:07 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM View the full article
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  10. ANAHEIM — While most of September has been about sifting through the Angels’ young pitchers to see which ones have a place on the team in 2022, there’s one guy at the other end of the age spectrum who is also auditioning. Except Alex Cobb is auditioning for all 30 teams. Cobb gave up one run in 5-2/3 innings in the Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night. Jack Mayfield, who has become a thorn in the side of his former team, snapped a tie with a sixth-inning two-run double. It came too late for Cobb to get the victory, but he nonetheless continued his strong finish as he heads to the free agent market. Cobb has allowed one run in 10-2/3 innings in his two starts since coming back from a wrist injury that cost him nearly two months. For the season, he has a 3.46 ERA. Cobb is certainly upping his value for the winter. Because he’ll be 36 on Oct. 7, he’s not likely to be near the top of the starter class, but he might be working his way up to a multiyear deal, or at least a more lucrative one-year deal. When the Angels got him from the Baltimore Orioles in December, it was essentially a salary dump. The Orioles signed him to a four-year, $57 million deal and he pitched poorly enough – and was injured enough – that they were willing to pay $10 million of the $15 million Cobb was owed in 2021. The Angels sent the Orioles utility infielder Jahmai Jones, who has hit .164 with a .439 OPS in 59 plate appearances this year with Baltimore. Although Cobb had a 5.10 ERA with the Orioles, including a 4.30 mark last year, the Angels were betting on him performing better in a more pitcher-friendly environment and being a good clubhouse presence. He’s delivered in all respects except for volume, with two injured list stints limiting him to 17 starts and 88-1/3 innings. Certainly, the Angels would have some interest in bringing Cobb back in 2022, but they’ll have to decide on how much they want to spend on him, knowing they also need a frontline starter. Cobb’s September statement so far has come against two playoff-bound teams, the Chicago White Sox and Astros. He retired the first 10 hitters before an infield hit, a clean single and a walk got him into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Related Articles Angels catcher Max Stassi confident he can rebound at the plate Angels’ David Fletcher has no answers for uneven performance this season Joe Maddon calls for Angels to upgrade roster for 2022; Astros hand them 12-inning loss Hoornstra: The numbers that tell the story of MLB’s 2021 season Shohei Ohtani hits 45th homer, but Angels’ young pitchers struggle in another loss Cobb struck out Yuli Gurriel and got Carlos Correa on a groundout to escape. Although the Astros scored a run against him in the sixth to tie the game, the Angels re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning on Mayfield’s double. Mayfield, who played for the Astros in 2019 and 2020, hit a homer on Tuesday and had a three-run double on Wednesday. He added another double in the eighth inning on Thursday night. Jason Castro hit a two-out solo home run in the ninth, but Raisel Iglesias struck out the side for his 33rd save, putting an end to the Angels’ six-game losing streak and eight-game home losing streak. More to come on this story. View the full article
  11. ANAHEIM — Max Stassi has come far enough in his career that he’s confident he can do it again. Stassi rose from life as a career backup to being one of the better hitting catchers in the majors, so his slow finish to this season doesn’t concern him. “I’ve had a lot of failures and I’ve been able to look at myself and make adjustments going forward,” Stassi said. “Sometimes they show up. Sometimes they don’t. I’m gonna find a way eventually.” Stassi, 30, was one of the feel-good stories in an otherwise disappointing season for the Angels. After a breakthrough 2020 season in which he hit .278 with an .886 OPS and seven home runs in just 31 games, Stassi got off to another hot start this season. Although Stassi had two separate stints on the injured list in the first half, he still produced a .307 average with a .919 OPS and 10 homers in his first 52 games. The major league average OPS for a catcher is .696. Since then, though, Stassi has hit .146 with a .477 OPS and one homer in his last 29 games. His OPS for the season is still .757, even after the slump. Manager Joe Maddon said he sees Stassi’s swing has changed slightly, so he’s not as “direct to the ball” now. Stassi reworked his swing dramatically after hitting .167 with a .446 OPS in 2019, and it clearly made a difference. Now, he said he knows the keys to getting back there. “It’s just getting back to that foundation,” Stassi said. “I’ve changed up my drill work to hopefully fix some of my flaws. But I feel like the foundation is there. It’s just getting it to show up consistently night in and night out.” Maddon also suggested that fatigue could be an issue for a catcher, especially one who only played 31 games last year, but Stassi doesn’t buy that. “Catching takes a toll on you, but you still have to find a way,” Stassi said. “There’s other catchers who are hitting the last couple months. I don’t use it as an excuse. It’s just part of the job.” Stassi is arbitration-eligible for one more season, and then due to become a free agent after the 2022 season. PLAN FOR DETMERS Left-hander Reid Detmers was activated from the COVID list and optioned to Triple-A on Thursday. Detmers is scheduled to pitch on Monday or Tuesday for Triple-A Salt Lake, and the Angels will then decide if he will pitch in the majors next weekend in Seattle. The decision could hinge on whether Shohei Ohtani is going to make a final start on the final day of the season. “If the opportunity presents itself at the very end (to have Detmers pitch in the majors), we’ll do that,” Maddon said. “And if it doesn’t, we’re kind of satisfied with what we see.” Detmers, 22, was the Angels’ first-round draft pick in 2020. He has made four major-league starts, allowing 15 earned runs in 19 innings. RAMOS GETS THE CALL Right-hander AJ Ramos was called up from Triple-A, allowing the former All-Star closer to return to the big leagues for the first time this season. Ramos had only pitched three games since 2018. Related Articles Angels’ David Fletcher has no answers for uneven performance this season Joe Maddon calls for Angels to upgrade roster for 2022; Astros hand them 12-inning loss Hoornstra: The numbers that tell the story of MLB’s 2021 season Shohei Ohtani hits 45th homer, but Angels’ young pitchers struggle in another loss Could the Angels have Shohei Ohtani pitch more often in 2022? From 2012-17, Ramos had a 2.88 ERA, pitching mostly with the Miami Marlins. He was an All-Star in 2016, when he recorded 40 saves. The Angels signed Ramos to a minor league deal just before the season started, and he had a 5.26 ERA in 52 innings at Triple-A. OTHER MOVES The Angels optioned left-hander Sam Selman and right-hander José Marte, which created spots for Ramos and right-hander James Hoyt, who returned to the majors. In order to create 40-man spots for Detmers and Ramos, the Angels moved Dylan Bundy and Justin Upton to the 60-day injured list. That officially ends the season for both players. UP NEXT Angels (LHP José Suarez, 7-8, 3.67 ERA) vs. Mariners (RHP Logan Gilbert, 6-5, 4.74), Friday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM View the full article
  12. ANAHEIM — The rollercoaster ride is almost over for David Fletcher. The Angels’ second baseman has gone through a wild season, in which he started slowly, got sizzling hot in the middle and is now finishing with another prolonged slump. Don’t ask him for an explanation, though. “Every season is going to have ups and downs,” Fletcher said on Wednesday. “Probably more ups and downs for me this year, but I haven’t really changed much throughout the year.” Fletcher hit .250 with a .546 OPS through his first 37 games, then he missed three games with a minor hip issue. After he returned, he hit .354 with an .851 OPS over his next 59 games, including a 26-game hitting streak. Over his last 50 games, though, he hit .196 with a .470 OPS. Despite the numbers, Fletcher said that “lately I feel pretty good, just grinding out the rest of the season.” Fletcher, who is in the first year of a five-year, $26 million deal he signed on Opening Day, still got an endorsement from Manager Joe Maddon. Maddon, who gave Fletcher a day off on Wednesday, pointed out that Fletcher has hit some balls hard without getting hits lately. “Overall, probably not as lucky as he had been maybe a little bit earlier,” Maddon said. “They were pitching him a certain way and playing him a certain way, and it was working, but he’ll figure it out. I have a lot of faith in this guy.” Maddon also has said at every opportunity that Fletcher’s defense at second has been the best in baseball, and that has made up for some of what’s happened at the plate. “I don’t just look at the game as it comes to just hitting only, especially when you’ve got a guy like that that could save you runs and make plays,” Maddon said. “And he’s still gonna come up with a lot of big hits for us. So I don’t see it the same way. I know the numbers aren’t what they’re supposed to be, but this guy’s winning baseball player.” UP NEXT FOR OHTANI Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to start on Sunday, which is the Angels’ final home game of the season. It will be exactly a week since his previous outing, an eight-inning performance against the Oakland A’s. Ohtani (9-2) is trying to get to 10 victories and also to finish the season healthy. Sunday will be his 23rd start, and he could conceivably make one more on the final day of the season, Oct. 3 in Seattle. Whether Ohtani makes one or two more starts on the mound, Maddon said he expects him to hit every day. “If he’s feeling it, he’ll hit,” Maddon said. “We’re not going to hold him back because we’re worried about anything right now.” NOTES Left-hander Reid Detmers threw 53 pitches in a three-inning simulated game on Wednesday. If he has no issues in the coming days, he could rejoin the rotation. Detmers, who has missed more than a month on the COVID list, likely would only be stretched out to pitch a few innings. … Related Articles Joe Maddon calls for Angels to make upgrades to return to playoffs next year Hoornstra: The numbers that tell the story of MLB’s 2021 season Shohei Ohtani hits 45th homer, but Angels’ young pitchers struggle in another loss Could the Angels have Shohei Ohtani pitch more often in 2022? Angels let close game get away late, suffer 4th straight loss Right-hander Dylan Bundy, who was said to be out for the season after he had to cut a simulated game short last week, threw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday, so Maddon said there’s still a chance he pitches for the Angels again. … José Suarez will start for the Angels on Friday, and they’re undecided for Saturday, but it could be Jaime Barria. UP NEXT Angels (RHP Alex Cobb, 8-3, 3.59 ERA) vs. Astros (RHP Lance McCullers Jr., 12-4, 3.11), Thursday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM View the full article
  13. ANAHEIM — Joe Maddon is just as frustrated as you. Just before the Angels faced the playoff-bound Houston Astros on Wednesday night, Maddon said he’s tired of being left out of baseball’s October party. And Maddon has only been around for two of the seven seasons in the Angels’ playoff drought. “This can’t continue to go on,” Maddon said. “We can’t annually be in this position. This organization is better than that. We deserve better than that. We have to go out and earn it.” Maddon also suggested exactly what so many others have said for years, that the Angels need to acquire premium starting pitching in order to take the next step. Responding to a question about whether Reid Detmers – the Angels’ top pitching prospect – has shown enough to be a candidate for next year’s rotation, Maddon said the organization should aim higher. “What’s your agenda next year? Is it to participate in the American League West and hopefully, possibly make it to the end and play a game in October?” Maddon said. “That should never be the situation. My point is, we have to get guys that we think are ready to win right now, in that rotation, in order to get to where you want to be. Otherwise, you’re going to keep perpetuating this.” The free agent starting pitcher class is full of big names who are at the tail end of their careers, most notably Max Scherzer. The group also includes accomplished pitchers like Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander (coming off Tommy John surgery) and Corey Kluber. The list of frontline starters in their prime is short: perhaps just Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman and Robbie Ray. Related Articles Hoornstra: The numbers that tell the story of MLB’s 2021 season Shohei Ohtani hits 45th homer, but Angels’ young pitchers struggle in another loss Could the Angels have Shohei Ohtani pitch more often in 2022? Angels let close game get away late, suffer 4th straight loss What’s next for Angels’ Justin Upton after a rollercoaster 2021 season? While waiting to get their crack at new pitchers over the winter, the Angels are playing out the string this season with a rotation full of young, inexperienced pitchers. “You want to put yourself in position that these games matter, and instead you’re doing this casting call, giving all kind of opportunities,” Maddon said. “It’s wonderful. It’s necessary. But we’ve got to get beyond that. And we’ve got to get beyond it next year.” More to come on this story. View the full article
  14. Some records have already been broken. Others are teetering on the brink. Still others are eliciting some strange rooting interests. Playoff spots aren’t the only thing at stake as the Major League Baseball season enters its final week. This season has seen enough weirdness to tell a vivid story through numbers alone. Here are a few of the most extreme: THEY’RE ALL BIG LEAGUERS NOW As of Tuesday, 253 players have made their major league debuts this year. That’s nearly enough to fill the rosters of 10 teams by themselves! Thanks to the rash of rookies, the 2021 season has seen 1,339 players appear in a game through Tuesday, breaking a record (1,287) established in 2019. COVID-19 has helped push the number higher. The abrupt shift from 60 games to 162 likely contributed to the need for more rest among more players, too. Relief pitchers, in particular, have been shuttled to and from the minors at a breakneck pace, contributing to the record 886 hurlers to appear in a game this year. At least the rhythm of roster changes has slowed since 2020. As I wrote last summer, we can only change the definition of what it means to be a major league ballplayer so much before the game becomes substantively different. Watering down the talent level of a pro sports league isn’t the worst symptom of a global pandemic, but it’ll be nice to see the number of players return to something resembling “normal” in 2022. HIT BATTERS AND WILD PITCHES So you’ve reached the major leagues. Heads up! With 1,977 batters hit through Tuesday, the all-time record (1,984 set in 2019) could fall any day now. Meanwhile, the rate of wild pitches thrown is higher this year than any in the modern era. They’ve featured in 1.03 percent of all plate appearances, the first time the rate has eclipsed 1 percent since the 19th century. The single-season wild pitch record set in 2018 (1,847) is likely safe. Seven-inning doubleheaders, and the extra-inning runner on second base rule, have done their part to suppress the number of innings needed to complete an average game. That’s elicited fewer pitches overall, wild or otherwise. Back in 2018, I asked a handful of players and coaches why wild pitches were on the rise. They pointed to some trends that have continued to the present day, like faster fastballs and more breaking pitches thrown below the strike zone. These trends help explain hit batters, too. All told, it might motivate Major League Baseball to move the mound further back than the traditional 60 feet and 6 inches, potentially giving catchers and hitters more time to react to each pitch. MLB already began toying with the idea in the Atlantic League this year. MAX SCHERZER, AUTOMATIC OUT You might not hear Wei-Yin Chen brag about it, but his place in baseball’s record book seemed secure. In 2016, the former Marlins pitcher made 49 plate appearances and never reached base. Now, Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer is threatening to take down the all-time record for batting ineptitude. Scherzer’s season-long 0-for reached 59 plate appearances Saturday. Assuming he makes two more starts of typical length, the Dodgers pitcher might get six chances to reach base for the first time since Sept. 8, 2019. Don’t feel too bad about rooting for Scherzer to go 0 for 6. In lieu of a hit, he might have to settle for the National League Cy Young Award. MISCELLANEOUS (SHOHEI OHTANI DIVISION) Shohei Ohtani’s American League MVP case is simple. The Angels’ star is the most valuable player in baseball in terms of Wins Above Replacement (any version) when his hitting and pitching stats are taken into consideration. It’s the most unique season by a baseball player in most of our lifetimes. If more players could simultaneously pitch and hit at Ohtani’s level, he wouldn’t be the best two-way player since Babe Ruth a century ago. But wait, there’s more. Ohtani is one of four players in American League history with 45 home runs and 23 stolen bases in a season, joining Jose Canseco (1998), Ken Griffey Jr. (1999) and Alex Rodriguez (2007). He’s the first player to steal home and earn a pitching win in the same game since Darren Dreifort in 2001. In the All-Star Game, Ohtani became the first player ever to start at pitcher, start in the leadoff spot and earn the win all in the same game (regular season, All-Star or postseason). He joined Jim Rice (1978) and Mickey Mantle (1955) as the only players to lead the AL in homers and triples at the All-Star break. He’s the first player to hit a leadoff home run and record a win as a pitcher in the same season since 1891. Ohtani is also one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. I don’t believe WAR takes that into account. MISCELLANEOUS (NON-SHOHEI OHTANI DIVISION) Aug. 10 marked the first day in major league history that every MLB team played a game and no starter pitched more than six innings (Stats Perform). … A question I received via email this week: Are the Dodgers a dynasty? The answer is yes, and here’s why: The Dodgers have scored the most runs in the NL this year while allowing the fewest. They also did that in 2020, 2019 and 2018. The only team to score the most runs in their league while allowing the fewest in four consecutive seasons was the Yankees from 1936-39 (Stats Perform). … One game, in particular, helped when the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 22-1, on July 10. That game marked the first time a team had eight home runs, two grand slams, and two separate sets of back-to-back home runs in a single season, let alone in one game (Stats Perform). View the full article
  15. ANAHEIM — The Angels are limping to the finish line. Although they had perhaps overachieved for much of the second half by flirting with .500 despite a skeleton roster, the Angels’ 10-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Tuesday night was their fifth in a row. The Angels scored all of their runs on three home runs, including the 45th homer of the season for Shohei Ohtani, who had not hit one since Sept. 10. Ohtani’s eighth-inning blast pulled him within one of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez, who are tied for the major league lead with 46. The Angels (72-79) are now seven games under .500 for the first time since May 28, which was so long ago that Mike Trout had not even yet missed two weeks. After three consecutive tight losses to the Oakland A’s over the weekend, the Angels have been outscored 20-5 in the first two games of this four-game series against the AL West-leading Astros. Their latest defeat induced poor performances by the first three pitchers who took the mound, each of whom had shown some encouraging signs in previous games. Starter Packy Naughton carried a 4.32 ERA into the game, and he’d had thrown five scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres earlier this month. The Astros tagged him for three runs in the second on back-to-back homers by Kyle Tucker and Aledmys Diaz. He tacked on a couple more scoreless innings before getting pulled after a leadoff walk in the fifth. Oliver Ortega, who had allowed two runs in his first six innings, then gave up a two-run homer to José Altuve. Ortega allowed three of the next four hitters to reach and he was charged with three runs. Finally, Kyle Tyler gave up three runs in the sixth, including a homer to Martin Maldonado. Tyler bounced back with a scoreless seventh, looking more like the pitcher who had allowed just one run in his first 9-2/3 big league innings. Related Articles Could the Angels have Shohei Ohtani pitch more often in 2022? Angels let close game get away late, suffer 4th straight loss What’s next for Angels’ Justin Upton after a rollercoaster 2021 season? Angels’ Shohei Ohtani finds motivation where he can as 2021 winds down Angels rally in ninth inning, lose to A’s in 10th While those pitchers had pitched better previously, it’s worth noting that all three began the season at Double-A, and none of them had been in the majors before August. None of them are considered among the Angels’ top pitching prospects. Austin Warren, who began the year in Triple-A, pitched a scoreless eighth in his first outing after missing a month following a positive COVID test. The Angels trailed 10-1 in the sixth before Phil Gosselin blasted a three-run homer, his second hit of the night. It was the seventh homer of the season for Gosselin. Earlier Jack Mayfield had hit his 10th homer, this one against the team that brought him to the big leagues. Mayfield reached double-digits in homers after hitting just two in his 112 plate appearances with the Astros in 2019-20. More to come on this story. View the full article
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