The Los Angeles Angels started the season strong, raising hopes that the world might finally get to see Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the playoffs. Now, the Angels have fired manager Joe Maddon after suffering through a 12-game losing streak.
The Red Sox shut out the Angels 1-0 on Monday night, extending a losing streak that began on May 24.
Angels stars failing to produce
Los Angeles came into that date with a 27-17 record. The Angels were fighting the Houston Astros for the AL West lead and appeared well on their way to at least snagging a wild-card berth.
Now, the Halos sit 8.5 games behind the Astros with a 27-29 record. Los Angeles is 1.5 games outside of a wild-card spot after losing to Boston, which currently holds the final playoff position in the American League.
“I understand, if you’re an Angels fan, nobody’s happy,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon told reporters. “But it’s early enough in here to do something different about this, and we intend to.”
The Angels decided to do something different by firing Maddon. He managed the team for three seasons, compiling a disappointing 157-172 record over that period.
Both Trout and Ohtani have struggled during the losing streak. Trout, in particular, has been ice cold: a hit off of Michael Wacha on Monday ended an 0-for-26 hitless streak, the longest of his career. Ohtani is hitting .242 with 11 home runs and is 3-4 with a 3.99 ERA on the mound – well off his MVP performance in 2022.
The Angels have had chances to end the streak. On Sunday, Los Angeles led the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. But the Phillies staged a furious rally, winning 9-7 on a Bryson Stott walk-off three-run homer.
The Phillies were down 6-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning.
They just beat the Angels 9-7 after Bryson Stott's walk-off HR 🔔
🎥 @Phillies pic.twitter.com/WQoLMapFE5
— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) June 5, 2022
“We’ve lost a lot of tough ones. It really makes no sense,” Maddon told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “We’ve got the right guys out there at the right time. And again, we gave it up late. We have to get that fixed. I love the fight all day, we did it again. But we’ve got to finish these games off.”
Maddon bemoans bullpen woes
FanDuel Sportsbook now lists the Angels as a slight +125 underdog to make the playoffs. In other words, while Los Angeles is still in the race – it still has over 100 games on its schedule, after all – it has gone from easily in the postseason picture to squarely on the bubble.
Ohtani and Trout will likely find their strides as the season wears on. They remain the second and third choices to win AL MVP – Ohtani at +350, Trout at +450 – behind only Yankees slugger Aaron Judge (+210).
But even if they start performing up to expectations, Maddon sees a more pressing problem. The Angels’ bullpen has put up a 4.30 ERA this season, the seventh-worst mark in the majors.
“It’s not easy, but you don’t quit, and you go back home to try to fix it,” Maddon said after Sunday’s loss. “But we have to get our bullpen in shape because that’s where the primary concern is.”