Suarez, though, has scuffled early in the season, while Detmers has started to show some promise over his last two starts. But Sandoval has been a revelation, as he’s yet to allow an earned run through his first three starts of the year, totaling 15 innings. He became the first Angels starting pitcher to open a season with three straight scoreless outings. The previous best for an Angels pitcher through three starts was Kirk McCaskill’s 0.44 ERA in 1989.
Sandoval’s latest start Tuesday against the Guardians was one of the best of his young career, as the 25-year-old struck out nine over seven scoreless frames.
But what’s been the key to Sandoval’s success?
Sandoval does it despite not having above-average velocity or a high spin rate on his fastball, which he locates well, and when he gets ahead, he can put hitters away with his plus-plus changeup, slider or occasional curveball. He’s simply hard to square up, as he induces low exit velocities and strikes out more than his fair share of hitters.
“He’s got a lot of confidence,” Maddon said. “He’s good, and I mean this in the right way, but he knows he’s good. And he’s always working to get better. You can see his confidence out there. It’s all about if he knows where the fastball is going, because the other stuff is always there.”
Sandoval said he’s getting more comfortable repeating his mechanics, but he added he’s still building up his stuff and velocity after the shortened Spring Training. So he believes he can be even better going forward and continue to turn in longer outings like his start against Cleveland.
“I think I was just more under control with my delivery,” Sandoval said. “Definitely better than my last two starts. I think there’s still room to improve but it’s a good step in the right direction.”