Angels’ flawed postseason roster costs them in Game 2 loss

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The Angels made the choice to carry 12 pitchers on the ALDS roster against the Royals, which might not look remarkable at first glance. After all, most teams carry 12 pitchers all season long these days.

Mike Scioscia’s Angels, though, are carrying 12 pitchers against the Royals even though the plan calls for them to use just three starters in the five games. Ace Jered Weaver is slated to go on short rest in Game 4, and with the two off days, Game 2 starter Matt Shoemaker can go on normal rest in Game 5.

That leaves the Halos with an utterly unnecessary nine-man bullpen for five games in seven days. Even having played a pair of 11-inning games against the Royals, they’ve used only six of their relievers and they wouldn’t have chosen to dig that deep except for the fact that they gave themselves so many options to start with.

Those extra pitchers came at the expense of useful role players. Most notably absent is speedy outfielder Tony Campana, a great September and October kind of bit player with his ability to pinch-run and play excellent outfield defense.

Without Campana available, the Angels’ top pinch-running option in Friday’s Game 2 loss to the Royals was Collin Cowgill, an above average runner but by no means a burner. He stole four bases in 260 at-bats for the Angels this year. He’s 12-for-18 stealing bases in 253 career major league games. Campana is 66-for-75 stealing bases in 257 games.

Cowgill ran for C.J. Cron after a leadoff double in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game tonight. He then tried for third on Chris Iannetta’s flyout to center, only to be gunned down on a great throw from Jarrod Dyson. It was a worthy attempt by Cowgill, but there’s little doubt that Campana, in his place, would have made it to third. The next batter, Kole Calhoun, hit a grounder to second that most likely would have scored Campana, though, of course, things might have gone differently had Wade Davis been pitching with a man on base.

Having Cowgill pinch-run also denied the Angels of their best pinch-hitting option for Josh Hamilton, had they elected to go that route. As bad as Hamilton had looked, I imagine Scioscia would have pulled the trigger and had Cowgill bat in his place against left-hander Brandon Finnegan with a man on and one out in the bottom of the 10th. Hamilton went on to hit into a double play, leaving him 0-for-9 in the series. The Angels went on to surrender three runs in the 11th and lose 4-1.

Instead of giving themselves more offensive options, the Angels prepared for the worst-case scenario with their pitching staff, even though they were facing a rather low scoring offense. The truth is that if the Angels were really in a position in which they needed nine relievers to get through the series against the Royals, they were doomed anyway.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.