Friday, June 2 2023
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jose Suarez (54) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, April 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

José Suarez did not make it easy for the Angels in the opener of a four-game homestand against the Oakland Athletics, putting his team in a six-run deficit. In the first three innings, he gave up five home runs, a result of tipping pitches, it was explained to him, Suarez said after.

Suarez left after the fifth inning, and the Angels rallied from a 7-1 deficit to take an 8-7 lead into the ninth. With Jaime Barría in relief for the Angels, the A’s tied it in the ninth inning and scored three times in the 10th. The Angels scored two runs in the bottom of the 10th, but Mike Trout grounded into a forceout with two runners on to end the game, an 11-10 loss.

It is reasonable to question whether Suarez still fits in the Angels’ rotation this season. After Monday’s game, manager Phil Nevin was asked where the Angels go from here with Suarez.

“That’s a conversation we’re gonna have to have to be quite honest,” Nevin said. “We were thin [in the bullpen tonight], I had to run [Suarez] as long as I could.”

Coming off his last few starts, the matchup against the A’s — with the worst record in the majors — should have been Suarez’s welcome reprieve. The Angels have seen what a successful Suarez outing can be. Toward the end of last season, he started to look sharper and could pitch through the seventh inning of games.

He has not been able to pick up where he had left off. Monday, he managed to pitch his deepest into a game, five full innings. He also gave up seven runs on eight hits, walked two batters, struck out five, and ended his night with an earned-run average of 10.26.

“I’ve been working on all my pitches,” Suarez said in Spanish after the game. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s happening.”

The Angels are still overall confident in Suarez, and Nevin reiterated that confidence.

“He’s too talented. He works too hard, and he’s come so far,” Nevin said. “I’ve gone on and on about how we feel about him and the things he’s done. It’s just right now it’s gotta get better.”

Angels' Mike Trout high-fives designated hitter Shohei Ohtani after they both scored off of a double hit by Anthony Rendon.Angels' Mike Trout high-fives designated hitter Shohei Ohtani after they both scored off of a double hit by Anthony Rendon.
The Angels’ Mike Trout high-fives designated hitter Shohei Ohtani after they both scored off of a double hit by Anthony Rendon during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on Monday. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Angels would lose more than they would gain if they designated Suarez for assignment — he is out of options and at just 25 years old and with the potential he has shown, it’s plausible another team would pick him up. But based on his performances of late, he does not seem, at least for now, a good trade candidate.

The Angels could also move Suarez into the bullpen and shift Tucker Davidson (who has been a middle/bulk reliever this season) into the rotation — Davidson pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief after Suarez on Monday, scattering two hits and striking out three.

Asked about what he thinks of Davidson as an alternative, Nevin said: “That discussion’s gonna be had, I’m sure, when we get back in. He was really good his last few times.”

Nevin also said that they noticed a slight dip in Davidson’s velocity Monday. “We’ve been asking a lot of him his last few times out, the bulk of the innings and when the velocity drops like that, I worry a little bit. I don’t want to hurt him, for one. And he’s pitched so well for us, that was a big outing tonight.”

The Angels, unlike most teams, need a six-person rotation, or at least a swing sixth pitcher who can slot into the rotation to ensure Shohei Ohtani can stick to his regular five days’ worth of rest. Based on the schedule, the Angels don’t need a sixth starter every turn through the rotation.

The A’s got out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first after Suarez gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Brent Rooker and Jesús Aguilar.

In the second inning, after walking the leadoff batter and giving up a double to the next hitter, Suarez gave up a three-run home run to Kevin Smith.

Suarez allowed Rooker and Aguilar to go back to back once more in the third. After that inning, Nevin stopped Suarez at the top of the dugout steps to chat with him. Suarez was able to get through his final two innings without giving up any more runs.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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