Los Angeles Angels: What’s on their post-lockout to-do list

Apr 15, 2020; Anaheim, California, USA; General overall view of the Los Angeles Angels logo at Angel Stadium of Anaheim amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY NETWORK
Apr 15, 2020; Anaheim, California, USA; General overall view of the Los Angeles Angels logo at Angel Stadium of Anaheim amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY NETWORK /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 12: Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox pitches during the 1st inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 12: Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox pitches during the 1st inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Angels should look to sign (at least) one more starting pitcher

The Angels always seem to be lacking pitching. Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani (the DH version), Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and Mark Trumbo are just a few names they’ve had on the offensive side of the ball over the past 10 years or so. They have never quite had the staff to make it deep into October.

That is exactly why they should look to bring in (at least) one more starting pitcher, and who better than one of baseball’s most improved arms of 2021, Carlos Rodón?

A first-time All-Star with his first career no-hitter under his belt as well, Carlos Rodón improved all across the board in 2021. Each year from 2015 to 2019, Rodón showed glimpses of stardom but could not translate that into any sort of recognition as one of the better lefties in the game. A Tommy John surgery in 2019 led him to miss the rest of that season and most of 2020. When he returned to the mound in 2020, he looked awful, pitching in just 7.2 innings across four starts, putting up an 8.22 ERA and just six strikeouts, ultimately giving up more earned runs than strikeouts.

At the conclusion of the 2020 season, the Chicago White Sox elected to non-tender the struggling southpaw, a surprise given his slowly improving track record but not a huge shock given his recent injury problems and poor performances. Just under two months later, right before the start of Spring Training, the White Sox re-signed Rodón to a one-year, $3 million contract and then just four months after that, he’s throwing a seven strikeout, no-hit performance against Cleveland.

Carlos Rodón’s newfound ace status has been credited to first-year pitching coach Ethan Katz, who helped Rodón fix his mechanics coming off of Tommy John surgery. Here is a little bit of the behind the scenes of it all thanks to Michael Baumann of The Ringer.

"“When I knew I was going to sign back with the Sox, Ethan and I jumped on the phone,” Rodón says. “We talked about certain adjustments I needed to make, and he said the first part would be the lower half. That was the main focus.” “The first time we talked on the phone, he was pretty much all ears,” Katz said. “So I just threw him all the information that I thought could help him, and obviously he put in the work.” The key, Katz says, was changing how Rodón pushed off the rubber. Before, he’d been driving with just his toe, which was sending him toward first base and setting into motion all the mechanical messiness that had plagued him over the previous few years. Katz’s goal was to get Rodón to drive more off his back leg and use his entire foot to explode off the rubber. “When you keep a better direct path toward home plate, that also keeps him healthier instead of battling across himself all the time,” Katz says."

All of the changes Rodón and Katz were able to make clearly worked wonders for the lefty. He wrapped up 2021 with 5.0 WAR per Baseball-Reference and was ultimately the proud owner of a 13-5 record, 2.37 ERA, and a career-high 12.6 SO/9 rate and a career low 2.4 BB/9 rate (185 strikeouts against 36 walks in just 132.2 innings). With essentially every number on his pitching line is a new career high for the big southpaw, 2021 was a successful year for him in all meanings of the word.

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The Los Angeles Angels have already added Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen to their starting rotation, but there is a clear need for at least one more and Carlos Rodón would be the perfect fit for an Angels club eyeing contention.