Left-hander Patrick Sandoval appears headed for the sixth spot in the rotation after making his final tuneup in a 5-4 loss to the Padres in the club’s final exhibition game on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium
With two days until Opening Day in Oakland, the Angels haven’t officially announced how the back of their rotation will look this year. But manager Joe Maddon hinted that Sandoval is likely to be the sixth starter ahead of Felix Peña and Jaime Barria, who both pitched on Tuesday against the Dodgers. It means the Angels would have a rotation of Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning, Matt Andriese and Sandoval to join two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who will pitch once a week on Sundays.
"He's got a good shot at all that," Maddon said via Zoom postgame. "I'm a big fan. I like his stuff. You saw fastball, curveball, slider and a really good changeup. He's a little bit behind and he's trying to play catch up and try to impress and all those different kinds of things. But from a talent-wise as a scout, you're looking for guys like that all the time. I like him. I like his stuff.”
None of the three candidates were particularly effective in exhibition play, and Sandoval was charged with five runs on six hits and two walks with one strikeout over three innings. Sandoval, who was a late arrival to camp after testing positive for COVID-19 in June, threw 51 pitches and could get up to roughly 75 pitches in his next outing if he continues to get stretched out.
Sandoval was hurt by a five-run third inning keyed by a leadoff walk, a bunt single that he misplayed with an errant throw, and a slow roller down the first-base line that Fernando Tatis Jr. beat out after a review. Manny Machado brought home a run with a soft line drive to left, Tommy Pham singled to right and Eric Hosmer added a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring that frame. Sandoval gave up five hits in the inning and the exit velocities were 97.3 mph, 32.7 mph, 44.5 mph, 81.3 mph and 70.8 mph, per Statcast. Anything over 90 mph is generally considered hit hard.
"The walk really hurt him and then the catcher bunts and we don't complete the play and he throws it away," Maddon said. "The thing I just want to emphasize to him is you really gotta do whatever you can to avoid a big inning. You have to slow it down a little bit more. His stuff was fine. Stuff was outstanding. Couple soft hits after the walk and the error.”
With Sandoval now likely to be the club’s sixth starter, Peña will head to the bullpen as a long reliever in a role he’ll share with Noé Ramirez. Peña can go multiple innings and give the Angels length out of the bullpen. Barria’s status is more up in the air, as he’s more likely to head to the club’s alternate training site in Long Beach to stay stretched out and serve as rotation depth. The Angels will also add Julio Teheran to the rotation once he’s stretched out, as he’s roughly a week behind the other pitchers after contracting COVID-19 in late June.
The Angels will also have more clarity on the pitching staff and how it’ll look by Thursday, when the 30-man rosters are due at 9 a.m. PT.
Summer camp is over and the Angels head to Oakland for Opening Day against the A’s on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Heaney is set to make his first Opening Day start but could be on a limited pitch count after experiencing some back soreness last week. Third baseman Anthony Rendon also won’t be in the lineup because of oblique soreness and David Fletcher is slated to start in his place.