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Winless starters square off for Angels, Guardians

Sportsnaut
Apr 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie (24) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels will host the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night in Anaheim, Calif., likely without outfielder Jo Adell in the starting lineup.

Adell essentially is the Angels’ No. 4 outfielder on the depth chart, behind center fielder Mike Trout and corner outfielders Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh.

Adell started the series opener against Cleveland on Monday, a 3-0 Angels win, because Marsh was out with a stomach bug. However, the right-handed-hitting Adell will get most of his starts against left-handed pitchers, sending left-handed-hitting Marsh to the bench.

The Guardians will start right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-1, 2.38 ERA) on Tuesday, and are scheduled to throw right-handers in the final two games of the series Wednesday and Thursday.

Such is the plight for Adell, who was Baseball America’s No. 3-ranked prospect heading into the 2020 season. He struggled in the majors in 2020, batting .161 and striking out in 41.7 percent of his plate appearances.

Adell, 23, hit a grand slam in the first inning of the Angels’ 7-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, then came to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth. Even though two of the previous three Los Angeles hitters reached base via walk, Adell swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a double play.

In the seventh, he was due up and the Angels again had the bases loaded, but manager Joe Maddon sent up pinch hitter Matt Duffy instead. Adell, though, said he was not upset about Maddon’s decision.

“No, no, no, we have a manager, I trust his moves,” Adell said “He’s been doing this, been in baseball forever. There is no questioning anything that he does. We’re all here to win. We’re all here ready to do what we need to do, whether it’s me hitting or Duffy or whoever else, that’s who it’s going to be. And I’m all in for that.”

Marsh is hitting .306 with a .956 OPS and leads the team with 13 RBIs. Ward missed the first week of the season with a strained groin but has hit well since returning, batting .367 with a 1.225 OPS. He homered twice on Monday against the Guardians.

Adell is hitting .250 with a .745 OPS.

Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season Tuesday, opposing McKenzie.

Sandoval is 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in two career starts vs. Cleveland. McKenzie won his only career start against the Angels last Aug. 21, earning the win after giving up one run and striking out eight in seven innings.

McKenzie, 24, is still establishing himself as a big-leaguer. He made his debut in 2020 and appeared to solidify his place in the rotation. However, he struggled in 2021, and it resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Columbus, for which he made five minor league starts.

McKenzie said he feels he has turned the corner, that it was simply a matter of convincing himself he belonged in the majors.

“I think early on, I struggled a lot with just trying to find my place almost,” McKenzie said of last season. “And I felt like there was a lot of up and down, and I think middle of the year, I was kind of figuring out and telling myself, ‘I’m a big-leaguer, these guys respect me, the other team respects me,’ and going out there and kind of proving it to myself.”

He has pitched relatively well in his three starts this season, giving up three runs in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 11 and walking six. However, McKenzie has failed to last at least five innings in any start.

–Field Level Media