AL Wild-Card Race: What LA Angels Must Do If Playoff Chase Falls Short

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2012

September 3, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) sits in the dugout next to outfielder Mike Trout (27) before the start of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

After signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason, the Los Angeles Angels were tabbed by many to make the playoffs.

But with just 15 games to go, the Angels find themselves trailing in the AL West and the wild-card picture.

This is despite scoring the fourth most runs in baseball (698) and having the fifth-best starters' ERA in the American League.

So what has happened to the Angels, and what must they improve in the offseason if they miss out on the playoffs this year?

Let's take a look.


Re-Sign Zack Greinke in Free Agency

Since being acquired at the trade deadline from Milwaukee, Zack Greinke has performed well for the Angels, particularly down the stretch.

In 10 starts, he's gone 5-2 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, but he's pitched even better in September, compiling a 1.61 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in his last three starts (22.1 innings).

This included giving up just one run in seven innings on Sept. 4 against the Oakland Athletics, who currently lead the AL wild-card race.

Re-signing Greinke in free agency would give the Angels a formidable rotation next season.


Improve Bullpen

The bullpen has perhaps been the biggest issue for the Angels this season. While they rank fifth in the AL in starters' ERA, they rank 11th out of 14 teams in bullpen ERA (3.80).

This includes the most blown saves in the AL (22), most recently evident against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday when Ernesto Frieri gave up two home runs in the bottom of the ninth at Kauffman Stadium.

Manager Mike Scioscia has had to mix and match all season long.


Grind in Close Games

The Angels have gone 15-17 this season in one-run games, hardly the mark of a powerhouse.

Yes, part of this is because they don't have a good bullpen, but they've also gone 9-of-57 pinch hitting this season, the second-worst mark in the AL.

You can say the Angels haven't grabbed a wild-card spot this season because the Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have simply played above expectations, but there are certainly some areas for improvement in Los Angeles.


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