The Los Angeles Angels have one of the most potent hitting lineups in major league baseball. It consists of two former MVPs in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Owner Arte Moreno spared no expense to sign them the past two winters.
The halos also boast two of the youngest stars in baseball in Mark Trumbo and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout. Mix in a few productive everyday players like Howie Kendrick, Eric Aybar and J.B. Shuck, and the Angels become a threat to win against any opposing pitcher.
Only recently has that offensive potential begun to take hold.
The Angels’ poor start this season has had as much to do with their lack of hitting as with their starting pitching. Going into the 2013 campaign, it was well known in pro baseball circles that if the Angels were to contend for a pennant they would need a few small miracles out of a mostly patched together starting rotation.
The L.A. bats have gotten hot recently, leading them in winning 10 of their last 12 games. The team still has its work cut out for it, however, as the Angels' rough beginning has them buried in third place in the AL West four games under .500 and eight and a half games behind the Texas Rangers.
Hope springs eternal in Anaheim, though, as one of the biggest pieces in its championship aspirations has returned to the team. Ace right hander Jered Weaver, the Angels’ 2004 No. 1 draft choice, is back from a fractured left elbow that put him on the disabled list on April 7.
Weaver’s first start back since being activated was Wednesday night against cross-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers. And while Weaver showed moments of being a bit rusty, he was mostly commanding, surrendering only one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out seven Dodgers in the appearance, which was a good sign to Angels fans that their ace will be back to 100 percent sooner than later.
Weaver represents much more to L.A. than just being the Angels' best starting pitcher. The lanky 6-foot-7, 210-pound native Californian has a swagger that the team feeds off of whenever he takes the ball.
When Weaver went down with the injury that came in an awkward fall off the mound on April 7 against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, the season was young and the Angels were 2-3. After the loss of their ace, the Angels went into a 13-23 tailspin until getting hot at the plate and starting an eight-game winning streak on May 18.
Weaver’s return can be looked at as just in time now that the offense in Anaheim has seemed to find its legs.
Last season, Weaver won 20 games for the first time in his career and was for most of the season in the conversation for the Cy Young Award. He also tossed a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins last May. In 2012, he won 18 games for the halos and shook off any talk of being overrated after a 13-12 2010.
After following in his older brother Jeff’s footsteps and becoming a top-pitching prospect out of Long Beach State, Weaver began the 2006 season as a member of the Salt Lake Bees.
It was obvious to local baseball fans that Weaver was not going to be around long as he went 6-1 in 11 starts and established an impressive 2.10 ERA. The Angels were going through some injuries on their pitching staff, so the time was right for Weaver to get the call.
Since joining the parent club in Southern California, Weaver has a personal record of 103-53 and has a career ERA of 3.24. His presence as the staff ace is paramount to the remaining two-thirds of the season if the Angels are to get back into contention.
L.A. begins a three game series with the last-place Houston Astros, a team the Angels should be able to beat and continue their move up in the standings. Weaver will get his second start since coming back from the disabled list on Tuesday when the Chicago Cubs pay a rare visit to Anaheim.
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to preps for your area, inquire at 801.237.2143.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company