With Angels on rise, Mariners dealing with more than Astros in AL West

May 2, 2022, 9:31 AM

Mariners Ty France Shohei Ohtani...

Shohei Ohtani and Ty France stand at first base during a Sept. 26, 2021 game in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

The Mariners have a big series to start this week, facing the Astros in Houston for three games between two of the favorites in the American League West this year. But while the Astros have been the top dog in the division for the past six seasons, Houston may not be Seattle’s biggest competition in 2022.

Enter the Los Angeles Angels.

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The Mariners are off to a good start, sitting at 12-10 after their 7-3 win Sunday over Miami. The Astros are close behind at 11-11. But it’s the Angels who have been the most impressive team in the West so far at 15-8 thanks to a healthy Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, an improved pitching staff and the emergence of Taylor Ward.

“The Angels to me are a really interesting team,” said Jon Morosi, an insider for MLB Network, last week in a conversation with Seattle Sports Station’s Jake and Stacy. “… I’m saying this – if I’m a Mariner fan, I am at least as nervous about the Angels as I am about the Astros.”

Pitching has long held back the Angels, whose last winning season was all the way back in 2015, but they’re seeing strong results from some intriguing additions to their rotation in Noah Syndergaard (2.12 ERA) and Michael Lorenzen (3.04), and 25-year-old left-hander Patrick Sandoval has yet to allow a run over three starts and 15 innings. Those three plus reigning AL MVP Ohtani certainly is a different look for the Los Angeles staff.

“If these three pitchers are going to continue to be reliable, dependable guys for the Angels going forward, they’re going to be a tough out in the AL West – maybe even tougher than the Astros,” Morosi said.

Morosi wasn’t done there, going on to explain how the Angels’ lineup could be just as formidable as Houston’s. After missing most of last year with a calf injury, Trout is back and hasn’t missed a step, hitting .344 with six homers and a 1.247 OPS. Ohtani has four homers himself, but the really big development is the 28-year-old Ward. A first-round pick in 2015, it appears the right fielder is finally unlocking his full potential with a .400 average, five homers and 1.271 OPS so far.

“When you look at the Angels’ lineup, of course they’ve got Ohtani, they also have a healthy trout, Taylor Ward’s … playing great. Taylor Ward right now looks like an All-Star – he’s playing almost Mike Trout-esque at the moment,” Morosi said.

It will be a while until the Mariners and Angels are face to face, but that first meeting is a series worth circling on the calendar: June 16-19 at T-Mobile Park, which will include a rare traditional doubleheader at Seattle’s home ballpark on Saturday, June 18.

For now, the M’s begin their series in Houston at 5:10 p.m. Monday. Radio coverage will start with the pregame show at 4 p.m. on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM, SeattleSports.com and the Seattle Sports app.

Listen to the full conversation with Morosi from Jake and Stacy in the player below.

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With Angels on rise, Mariners dealing with more than Astros in AL West