So, we know that the no-hitter the Angels put up yesterday doesn’t really mean a whole lot. The game didn’t count, the Seattle Mariners basically had no starters playing, and almost half the pitchers who contributed last night won’t be on the opening day roster. What can be taken from that game, though, that has meaning once the games start to count? Obviously, there have to be positive highlights for a team that throws a no-hitter, regardless of the circumstances, and there were more than a few last night. Here are some of the relevant takeaways from the game:
First of All, it’s Just Cool! – It had been more than twenty years since a team had no-hit another team in the Cactus League, and just because the game didn’t count or because none of the players playing for the Mariners were regulars doesn’t make it any less cool that it happened. You’d rather be the team throwing the no-hitter than getting no-hit! The Angels had eight pitchers combine for the no-hitter: Bud Norris, Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon, Justin Anderson, and Abel De Los Santos. For the young pitchers like Gagnon and De Los Santos, this is a good, positive boost to take into their minor league season as they continue their development, and for Norris and Adams, it’s especially important as they’re still up for roles on the major league roster.
Solid Defense – The Halos have been sporting an obviously improved defense all Spring Training long, and all three outs in the ninth were impressive defensive plays to close out the no-hit bid. The Angels’ defense is going to be a huge key for them this season; for a team with so many question marks in the pitching staff, having a strong defense is going to go a long way towards helping out whoever ends up taking the mound. A consistently solid defense is a necessity for a contending team, and the Angels appear to have one of the better ones in the league.
Bullpen Looks to be Solid – Bedrosian and Alvarez continued their strong springs, and Bedrosian in particular has looked unhittable. Bailey looked strong in his inning, striking out the side, and Gagnon, Adams, and De Los Santos look to add quality relief depth in the minors. Norris appears to be on track for the bullpen, which looks to be long and versatile with pitchers like Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, and J.C. Ramirez capable of pitching multiple innings at a time. The Angels have a plethora of quality relief arms all over the organization, and last night was a good showcase for some of that talent.
The Bottom Line – Yes, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a meaningless game, and no one will remember it for very long, especially if the Angels pitching struggles to start the season. If the their pitching is stellar from the outset, then we might be able to look back on this game as a sign of how things would be. Either way, it’s still a cool thing for the Halos to have done, and you can bet it meant something to the pitchers involved. More importantly, it highlighted some of the areas the Angels seem to have improved, and that does have meaning for the regular season. We won’t truly know how much they’ve improved until the games start to matter, but until then these Spring games are what we have as a barometer for how the team will fare. If last night is any indication, the Angels should be pretty good.