Detmers undeterred by up-and-down spring debut

Angels aim to stretch reliever Soriano out as a starting pitcher during Cactus League games

March 1st, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Angels believe left-hander has some of the best stuff in the Majors, but now it’s about harnessing it and becoming a more consistent pitcher.

The 24-year-old has shown flashes of his potential, including throwing a no-hitter against the Rays on May 10 of his 2022 rookie season and posting a 1.82 ERA in four September starts to end last year. But he finished 2023 with a 4.48 ERA in 148 2/3 innings after posting a 3.77 ERA in 129 innings in '22.

That inconsistency was on display in his first start of the spring on Friday during a 5-3 win against the Padres at Peoria Stadium, as he allowed two runs on two hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings. But Detmers chalked it up to first-game jitters and believes he’s on the right track after working with pitching coaches Barry Enright and Steve Karsay this spring.

“It wasn’t an ideal way to start spring, but you live and you learn and I learned a lot from that start,” Detmers said. “I went over some things in the dugout. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. Whether it’s on the back fields with the new staff or just understanding more about the game and learning from my mistakes.”

Detmers has the stuff to miss bats, as evidenced by his 168 strikeouts last year. He showed that off by ending his outing on a positive note -- striking out Fernando Tatis Jr. looking with two runners in scoring position. He said the new pitching coaches have been stressing getting ahead of hitters and commanding the fastball this spring, but he had trouble locating all of his pitches against the Padres. But he said he started to feel locked in against Tatis and was pleased to finish strong.

“I hardly had command of anything, but in that last at-bat against Tatis I started to get a little bit into a rhythm,” Detmers said. “But with short outings, it's either really good or really bad.”

Angels manager Ron Washington said he believes Detmers has what it takes to bounce back from last year and that it’s all about learning from his mistakes, much like he did on Friday.

“I've been impressed with him, and even last year I was impressed from afar when he wasn't doing very well because you can look at him and see he’s got the potential,” Washington said. “He’s just got to put some stuff together.”

Soriano to be stretched out this spring
Right-hander José Soriano, who had a strong rookie year in relief that saw him post a 3.64 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 42 innings last season, will be stretched out as a starting pitcher this spring. Soriano will make his spring debut against the D-backs on Saturday and is scheduled to throw three innings.

Washington said the Angels already know what Soriano can do as a reliever and they think he has the stuff to start, so they’re giving him the chance to try his hand at starting again. He was considered a top starting pitching prospect in the Minors but underwent Tommy John surgery twice and was converted to relief last year.

Soriano, 25, used a four-pitch mix last year, throwing his curveball 41.2 percent of the time, his sinker 28.2 percent, his four-seamer 25.7 percent and his slider 4.9 percent.

“Because of the stuff he has, how strong he is, he's going to get a chance to start,” Washington said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

Angels tidbits
• Washington has been working one-one-one with infielder Miguel Sanó on his defense before team workouts begin each morning. Sanó was a late arrival because of visa issues, so he’s been getting a crash course in how Washington teaches defense. Washington said he believes Sanó can play first and third base, where Sanó started against the Padres on Friday. He crushed a solo homer in the sixth inning, giving the Angels back-to-back blasts, as it followed a solo shot from Logan O’Hoppe.

• Left-hander José Suarez is behind the other pitchers in camp but faced hitters in a live bullpen session on Friday. Suarez isn’t hurt, but came in after pitching in winter ball with “dead arm,” according to Washington. He’s still expected to have time to get ready for the start of the season and remains the favorite to be the club’s long reliever.