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Mar 26, 2024 8:03 pm

Angels move on without Shohei Ohtani, open season vs. Orioles

mike trout

The Los Angeles Angels begin the post-Shohei Ohtani era on Thursday when they visit the Baltimore Orioles to open the 2024 season.

While the Angels will be without their former two-way ace, the Orioles went out and added one as right-hander Corbin Burnes will get the Opening Day assignment for Baltimore.

Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner, went 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA and league-best 1.069 WHIP (walks and hits to innings pitched ratio) last season.

The 29-year-old was acquired in a February trade after Baltimore won the American League East in 2023 but was roughed up by Texas hitters in a three-game AL Division Series sweep.

Burnes allowed two runs, one unearned, in 5 1/3 innings in his final spring training start. He gave up five hits and struck out four in 57 pitches and then turned his attention to the Angels.

“I’ve faced them a couple of times in my career,” Burnes told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “It’s a group that’s got some veteran guys that are good players and some young guys that I haven’t faced before. Looking forward to digging in and doing my homework and being ready for them.”

The Orioles will also have a new closer, 35-year-old Craig Kimbrel, signed as a free agent this past winter. Kimbrel, owner of 417 career saves, fills in for All-Star right-hander Felix Bautista, who will miss 2024 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Top prospect Jackson Holliday will begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk, and Baltimore’s day-to-day lineup will greatly resemble 2023 as it looks to replicate a 101-61 regular season and go deeper in the playoffs.

“I think we’re just as talented,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde told MLB.com. “But I think we need to have a lot of things go right, also, like everybody does, and stay healthy.”

Los Angeles will try to improve on last season’s 73-89 finish without Ohtani, but hopefully with more production from stars Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Trout was limited to 82 games in 2023, while Rendon appeared in just 43 and has made more news of late for his comments about baseball than actually playing it.

Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington takes over, and during spring training the team focused heavily on fundamentals.

“We want to be better at the whole game of baseball,” Washington told MLB.com. “We don’t pick and choose when it comes to baseball. There’s nothing that’s under the game of baseball that we’re not going to address. We’re going to do the fundamentals. And we’re going to do it until it’s consistent and sustainable.”

Another possible area of improvement is starting pitching. The Angels will want to see bounce-back efforts from several starters, including Opening Day pitcher Patrick Sandoval.

After pitching to a 2.91 ERA in 27 starts in 2022, the left-handed Sandoval finished 7-13 with a 4.11 mark a year ago. He allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings in his final spring start, March 17 versus Arizona.

The 27-year-old has a 3.86 ERA in three career starts against Baltimore.

“They have a good lineup and a good pitching staff as well,” Sandoval told MLB.com regarding the Orioles. “Just a great overall team. They swing the bat well and they don’t really chase much, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

–Field Level Media

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