Angels won’t be sorry to see Luis Robert Jr. leave town

Jun 28, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. (88) crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the first inning as Los Angeles Angels catcher Matt Thaiss (21) watches at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the best center fielders in the major leagues will be on the field Thursday afternoon when the Los Angeles Angels face the Chicago White Sox for the fourth and final game of their series in Anaheim, Calif.

While the Angels’ Mike Trout is recognized as one of the best players in the game, the White Sox’s Luis Robert Jr. is swiftly making his mark, as well. In fact, more than one baseball analyst has called him the “Cuban Mike Trout” in recent times.

And one of Robert’s teammates — designated hitter Eloy Jimenez — called Robert the “next Mike Trout” three years ago.

“I just told him I feel honored that he compared me with him, but (Trout’s) on a different level,” Robert said. “If I’m able to keep playing for a very long time and sustain the level of success that I’m having now, then maybe at some point we can talk about that comparison. But in the meantime, I just have to keep working hard.”

Robert’s numbers compare favorably to Trout so far this season, thanks in part to Robert’s recent surge at the plate. Robert went 2-for-6 with a home run on Wednesday in Chicago’s 11-5 win over the Angels, hitting his 23rd home run of the season. Robert is batting .364 (8-for-22) with five homers and seven RBIs in the past five games.

Overall, Robert is hitting .270 with 23 homers, 45 RBIs and an .891 OPS. Trout, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI triple on Wednesday, is hitting .254 with 17 homers, 42 RBIs and an .849 OPS.

“It’s always good to see and follow players like Mike Trout, the kind of players that are one in a generation,” Robert said. “It’s always good to compete against one of the best in the game.”

Right-hander Lance Lynn (4-8, 6.40 ERA) will make his 17th start of the season for the White Sox on Thursday. Lynn is winless in his past five starts, though he did have 16 strikeouts on June 18 against the Seattle Mariners.

Lynn is 4-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 11 career starts against the Angels.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (4-6, 4.16 ERA) will make his 15th start of the season for Los Angeles. He is coming off a no-decision against the Colorado Rockies on Friday, when he matched a season worst by giving up 10 hits in five-plus innings. He is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox.

Unlike much of this season, Sandoval will have David Fletcher behind him playing shortstop. Fletcher rejoined the Angels on Saturday after a demotion in mid-April that had him playing in Triple-A for more than two months.

Fletcher got off to a slow start this season and was sent to Salt Lake on April 15 in favor of Zach Neto, who was called up from Double-A Rocket City (Madison, Ala.).

Neto has played well but is out with an oblique strain, and Fletcher has started at shortstop the past five games. Fletcher went 2-for-4 on Wednesday and is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a homer and six RBIs since his call-up.

“He looked like Fletch,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said of the decision to bring Fletcher back to the major league club. “The way he was moving around, the way he was swinging the bat, using the entire field. He made some adjustments. I thought he looked more like the old Fletch.”

Fletcher hit .383 (69-for-180) with a .432 on-base percentage and .909 OPS in 43 games for Salt Lake.

–Field Level Media

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