Three Questions for the Los Angeles Angels After 2024’s First Road Trip

With the Los Angeles Angels finishing 4-2 on a road trip through Baltimore and Miami, what could that mean for the early season?

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 31: Manager Ron Washington #37 of Los Angeles Angels celebrates a win with Luis Rengifo #2 of the Los Angeles Angels during a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on March 31, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

After an off day on Thursday, the Los Angeles Angels will open the home portion of their 2024 schedule by hosting the Boston Red Sox on Friday afternoon. With a 4-2 mark after completing the first road trip of the campaign through Baltimore and Miami, the Halos will check the home opener off the list before settling into the grind of a campaign that most experts believe will finish with yet another postseason miss for Mike Trout and company.

However, that prognostication is still 156 or so games away. Let’s focus on the present with the Angels and look at three questions that are worth asking after the first six contests of the season.

Does Ron Washington already know the right buttons to push?

When Washington was hired back in November, many applauded the Angels for bringing in a veteran manager who had the skills necessary to change the mediocrity mindset in Anaheim. Atlanta Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Washington was “everything you could want” in a manager, and Washington has perhaps already shown those words to be prophetic.

After the Angels were blasted by a combined score of 24-7 in the first two games of the season in Baltimore, Washington called a team meeting, reminding the Angels, “we just got to make certain that we come to the ballpark ready to go.”

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Washington’s words seemed to have an effect on the Angels, who have won four straight since that team meeting. Granted, better pitching has helped Los Angeles (as only eight runs were scored against the Halos in those four wins), but it’s clear that Washington felt it was the right time to bring the team together, despite it being just two games into the young season.

That decision is one of many that Washington will have to make as the season grinds along. However, if Washington already has a feel for what the Angels might need to keep them on track, that’s a good sign for a franchise that imploded in the second half of last season.

Are the Angels the team in Baltimore or Miami?

While it might be easy to get excited about the four-game winning streak, it’s also worth noting that three of those victories came in Miami against the Marlins, a team that is winless on the season and taking its seven-game losing streak into St. Louis for the Cardinals’ home opener on Thursday.

To put it bluntly, Miami hasn’t been very good this season, despite starting the campaign with back-to-back home series.

So here’s the question … did the Angels win those games because Miami was in a funk or are the Angels really the team that was good enough to sweep Miami in south Florida? After all, Baltimore looked like the best team in baseball when they were peppering Angels pitchers in the first two games of the season. Then Los Angeles won 4-1 on Sunday before heading to Miami for what would be a three-game sweep.

At 5-2, the Red Sox have gotten off to a hot start as well, splitting a four-game series in Seattle before sweeping the A’s in Oakland. Boston stays on the West Coast to meet the Angels, so this could be an early measuring stick in Anaheim, especially with Griffin Canning opening the series on the mound for the Angels after getting tagged (seven hits and five runs in 5.0 innings in Baltimore) in his opening outing of the season.

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After an off day, can the Angels keep the mojo going?

What can the Angels do about Anthony Rendon?

Starting the season 0-for-19, Anthony Rendon is off to another cold start to begin a season. Last year, Rendon was suspended and fined for getting into an altercation with a fan in Oakland on Opening Night. It was the start of yet another season where Rendon had less than 250 plate appearances (his third consecutive non-COVID season of that happening).

So what will the rest of this year hold for Rendon? Well, it’s possible that the home opener could hold a standing ovation for Rendon as Angels fans contemplate a strategy that worked well in Philadelphia for Trea Turner last season, busting him out of an early-season slump.

But what if that doesn’t work? What if Rendon continues to scuffle? How long will Washington feel like he has to keep him in the lineup? Washington has said he isn’t worried about Rendon’s ability to produce at the plate, but will that continue if Rendon continues to struggle?

Knowing Rendon is making $38 million per year through the 2026 season (and that that money is guaranteed), there is little the Angels can do except hope that Rendon does find his swing and stays healthy as well.

Sure, a benching is possible. However, the Angels are unlikely to cut ties with Rendon with so much money invested in his potential for success. With that in mind, Angels fans will have to hope for the best with Rendon, a player who hasn’t had a hit (because of injuries and batting slumps) since July 3 of last season.

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