(CBSLA)- It’s been five years since the Angels made the postseason and four since they finished with a record above .500. Entering 2020, the team added big ticket free agent Anthony Rendon in hopes of providing superstar Mike Trout with the help needed to get back to playing late into the fall.
Now, more than four months after spring training began with hopes abound, the 2020 MLB season is about to throw its first pitches later this week. With that, the Angels face a 60-game schedule that pits them not only against their divisional foes but also against the NL West and the crosstown rival Dodgers. That schedule puts the Angels in a tough spot when trying to break the postseason drought.
“You have other safety concerns of course you know, cutting the traveling so the competition is regionally and the changes affect the Angels in a way that now they have arguably the hardest schedule in the league based on last year’s winning percentages,” said CBSLA sports anchor Kristin Smith in an interview with CBS Local’s Katie Johnston. “If you think of, they have to play 26 games, 26 of their 60 games against the Astros, A’s and Dodgers. The Astros and Dodgers have the two best records in baseball last year so that’s going to be tough.”
The schedule isn’t easy, but the good news is, the Angels do have plenty of talent at their disposal. Along with the aforementioned Trout and Rendon, the Angels get a theoretically fully healthy Shohei Otani back. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be joined up the middle by either veteran Tommy LaStella or youngsters Luis Rengifo/Jahmai Jones. And in the outfield, there may be more help on the way for Trout with rising prospect Jo Adell part of the team’s 60-player pool. And, of course, the seemingly ageless Albert Pujols will be back for another year with a shorter season to battle through.
There is one big question still looming. Trout and his wife Jessica, are expecting their first child. When the child is born, one would expect Trout to take some time away to be with his newborn. In a normal year, that time missed might not mean much. But, in a compressed season, it could be.
“The Angels are not to be underestimated. They’re a very talented team they could get very hot, across just 60 games, but we do have to see what happens with Mike Trout,” said Smith. “About to have his first child the baby boy and will naturally take some time off but he’s the best player in baseball so if he misses three games, not a huge deal. But, if he misses 15 games, with the changes, that’s a quarter of the season. In spite of all that, the team looks good. Anthony Rendon joining Mike Trout they’ll make some noise.”
How much noise is to be determined. Heading into this week’s Opening Day, the Angels are 18th in odds to win the World Series. Getting out of the division, featuring last year’s A.L. champion Houston Astros, and a strong Oakland squad will be difficult.
“Houston won the division last year but they lost Gerritt Cole to the Yankees, so that might open the door for Oakland to win the division,” said Smith. “We’ll see the Angels though, do have a lot of talent. I think the question for them will be pitching depth, they’ll need some guys to step up and whether or not Otani will be able to pitch the whole season. I think will make a really big difference. So we’ll see how that plays out.”
The questions will begin to be answered this Friday, July 24 when the Angels face the A’s in Oakland with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. PDT.