Luke’s Look at All Things L.A.- Week of: 6/26/22-7/2/22

Angels: 

6/26: Well, the Angels certainly started the week off spicy against the Mariners. The first game of this week on Sunday, Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz beaned the Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker in the leg with a pitch in the second inning which lead to a brawl that cleared both dugouts and even the bullpens. After it was all said and done there were four ejections on each side and, since then, there have been 12 suspensions dealt out, 9 of which are against the Angels. On top of the mounting losses of the day, pitcher Archie Bradley broke his elbow after falling while leaving the dugout to fight. The Angels then scraped out their only win of the day, picking up a 2-1 victory to close the series with Seattle at 1-2. Tensions were already high on both sides at this point in time, but Wantz absolutely took it to the next level too far with that pitch. His 3 game suspension is modest at best.

6/27: Immediately following the madness of the previous day the Angels pulled off an equally close, although less heated, game against the Chicago White Sox 4-3. This win was secured with a clutch 2-run double off of the wall in right center field from Taylor Ward. The Angels’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard also had a solid game, pitching seven strikeouts in seven innings, although he did give up three runs in his last two innings of pitching, which suggests that the Angels should have subbed him out just a bit sooner.

6/28: I knew it was getting just a little too good to be true. Just as the Angels began picking up some momentum with back to back wins and three solo home runs in the third inning to get out to a 3-0 lead, it all started to fall apart. The White Sox responded with big scoring innings of their own, scoring five runs in both the fifth and seventh innings. The only real bright spot for the Angels was the batting of designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who went 3-3 with two doubles, a homer and a walk. Final score: White Sox win 11-4.

6/29: Game three of the series against the White Sox was a pitching battle, a total of only 12 hits being had in the entirety of the game. Last night’s heavy hitter Shohei Ohtani put on a clinic from the mound today, allowing only five hits in 5.2 innings, walking one, and striking out eleven. Altogether, there were 15 strikeouts from Angels pitchers in this game and the White Sox even put up 10 of their own. At the end of the game it was making the limited amount of hits count as the Angels secure the series 2-1 with a 4-1 victory.

7/1: After starting the week 3-1 I had nothing but high hopes for the Angels this week, especially after how the month of June went (10-18 with an 0-8 start). Game one of the series against the Houston Astros was not the start to the month I, or many Angels fans, were hoping to see. After Shohei Ohtani’s solo home run in the first inning, continuing his last couple games of impressive play, the bats were entirely silenced, with only two hits in the entirety of the game on the Angels side. Angels batters struck out SIXTEEN times and three Angels batters struck out every time they came up to the plate. Cristian Javier put Angels batters to shame in the brutal stomp that ended 8-1 Astros.

7/2: I thought after yesterday that the Angels could only go up- that was not the case. On the plus side the Angels netted one more hit than yesterday, putting them at the whopping total of three. That being said, the Angels gave up an extra run as opposed to yesterday, so you win some and you lose some. Taylor Ward had the only run of the night for the Angels with a solo homer and that was about all she wrote. Angels pitchers gave up five home runs on the night (although I’ll give them credit for striking out 14 batters). On the other hand the Astros pitchers put on yet another clinic, striking out 12. Angels lose 9-1.

Week Review: This week is cause for concern for Angels fans, not only because the hits have been non-existent in these last few games (10 total hits in the last three games), but also because Angels batters are striking out at an incredibly high rate (10 or more strikeouts in each of their last three games). That being said, the week went 3-3, given how dramatically things began on Sunday, we’re lucky this is only a breaking even week. Looking for some improvements next week closing out the series with the Astros and then looking towards a short series against the Marlins and a four game series versus the Orioles.

Dodgers: 

6/26: The Dodgers started the week with a fun extra innings game to close out their series with the Atlanta Braves. Bats were getting hot late into the game with six of the game’s eight runs being scored in the final three innings of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win. Dodgers win a good one to take the series 2-1.

6/27: Following the close game the Dodgers had a not-so-close one against the Rockies. Bats were silent on the Dodgers’ side with only three hits all game as compared to the Rockies’ four runs. The Rockies’ Chad Kuhl had a great game, pitching all nine innings, striking out five and walking none. Rockies win 4-0 in a disappointing game from the Dodgers.

6/28: Game two of the series against the Rockies and the Dodgers came up short once again. Los Angeles held the lead twice in this game, once off of a Justin Turner first inning single and again on a Hanser Alberto solo homer. That being said, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the second and never looked back. Overall, it was a disappointing showing for pitcher Clayton Kershaw as he threw 77 pitches in four innings, giving up nine hits, six runs, and walking as many as he struck out (four). By the time he left the game the damage had been done and the Dodgers were unable to rally back. Rockies take game two 7-4.

6/29: Finally, the Dodgers were able to claim a win over the last place team in the NL West. No single batter or pitcher was too stunning in the victory, but rather, this game was a dominant team victory, secured by everyone contributing something. Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers put up a good fight going 3-4 with three RBIs on the night, but ultimately he was unable to undo the damage largely caused by three Dodgers home runs off of the bats of Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Cody Bellinger. 8-4 Dodgers win with the Rockies taking the series 2-1.

6/30: After losing the series to a team many thought they should have easily won against, it was time to shake off the rust and move on to the next game, this time against both Southern California and NL West rival, the San Diego Padres. It wasn’t particularly pretty from either side as far as hitting was concerned, but both sides’ pitching showed out today. Padres pitchers struck out 12 and the Dodgers struck out 8, but at the end of the day it was the number of runners stranded on base that sealed the game. In the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory the Padres actually lead on hits, but had nine runners stranded, whereas made scores out of their times on base, only stranding three off of two Justin Turner home runs. This was a good way to start the series and end an otherwise mediocre month of June (14-12).

7/1: After yesterday’s delivery of a win over the team on the Dodgers’ heels for the NL West crown, the Dodgers looked to put even more space between themselves and their division rival. This 5-1 victory was secured in the later stages of the game, with Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman, and Austin Barnes all batting in runs in the Dodgers’ last three innings at the plate. This game did raise a concern for me, though, that maybe the Dodgers are getting away from what they do best, which is securing hits and getting on base. Currently the Dodgers are first in the league in on base percentage and seventh in batting average, but in these last two games we have seen a total of 29 strikeouts from Dodgers batters in 68 at bats, that is just over 42.6% of at bats ending in a strikeout, which is definitely not the best look. Let’s hope they can turn that trend around in game three of the series.

7/2: Unlike the story of yesterday’s game, the Dodgers got the majority of their runs early on today off the back of three solo home runs in the first inning. This helped the boys in blue put even more distance between themselves and their closest divisional competition, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for this team. This 7-2 win is just what this team needed to boost them into the new month and into next week.

Week Review: The Dodgers close out this week at 5-2, which is a solid performance. The losses felt sloppy and surprising, but the wins felt really strong. I’d like to see the rough spots cleaned up, but this team is still looking absolutely dangerous. I want to see them get even better going into next week against the Padres, in the rematch with the Rockies, and closing out the week versus the Cubs.

Clippers: 

With the 43rd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft the Clippers selected Moussa Diabate, who should be able to help fix the only major issues I have seen with the team in the 2021-22 season, which is rebounding and scoring. The Clippers ranked 20th in total rebounds per game last season and 24th in opponent rebounds allowed per game. While their defense finished 11th in points allowed per game the offensive performance finished 23rd in points scored per game. Having Diabate added to the lineup should help the Clippers control the ball better and pose a bigger threat in the paint.

The Clippers have also made the decision to extend center Ivica Zubac to a three year deal. This goes hand in hand with the points I made about the acquisition of Moussa Diabate, leading me to believe that the Clippers are trying to build their presence in the paint before the upcoming season.

Rumor has it that John Wall is looking to join the Clippers as well in the upcoming season. While I have no confirmation that this report is accurate, it would be an impressive addition for the Clippers roster, one that may be exactly what they need to be a contender for the Finals Championship.

Lakers: 

The Lakers have a lot of free agents at the moment, which tells me that they have a number of ways they could choose to build around how they feel this team should play. With the acquisition of Max Christie in the 2022 NBA Draft, it seems to me that the Lakers want to add to their shooters, which makes sense since the Lakers ended the 2021-22 season 21st in 3-point percentage. Seeing how the Golden State Warriors (the bane of Lebron James’ career) have been winning consistently, taking four of the last eight championship trophies home across six finals appearances, every team in the league should view them as the model of success in modern basketball history. I wonder if that is what the Lakers are trying to imitate this season.

Also, like with the Clippers and John Wall, this is just a bunch of talk right now, but the Lakers may be trying to work out a trade to send Russell Westbrook out and bring Kyrie Irving in. If true, I think this would be a huge win for the Lakers, who would be receiving, what I would argue, is the better of the two players, as well as getting Westbrook’s massive contract off of their hands for a slightly more manageable one. I’ll update as I learn more.

Chargers: 

It has been an almost silent week for the Chargers, which means I get to do my favorite thing and pick my own talking points rather than recapping. This week I am going to defend my position as to why I believe that the Chargers are taking the AFC West in what will undoubtedly be the best division in the NFL this season. Earlier this season I had the Chargers winning the division with a record of 14-3 (see “2022-2023 NFL Win-Loss Predictions: How will your team fare this season?“). I very briefly skimmed in that article why I thought that the Chargers would win the division, but I am now prepared to give a more detailed defense of my reasoning there.

First, I am a huge believer in the school of thought that “defense wins championships” and oh man do the Chargers have defense. Unlike other teams in the division, the Chargers have incredible talent across multiple positions on the defensive side, boasting such notable names as Derwin James Jr., Kyle Van Noy, Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., and Joey Bosa. I do not see any other team in the league that is able to deal with such an overpowered defensive squad. The main thing I see this team doing well this season is pressuring the quarterback, forcing ill-advised throws, and making the game all to easy for the ball hawks in the secondary.

Secondly, while I may hype up this defense a lot, this offense is nothing to mess with either. Justin Herbert is, in my opinion, the hottest young quarterback in the league right now and poised to wreck the league in his third NFL season. With Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and co. to make plays on the ball, I expect that we can expect to see a team that thrives in the way that Philip Rivers’ Chargers were never able to.

Finally, this team has the perfect ratio of experience and fresh blood on both offense and defense, this puts the Chargers in a very dangerous position within the league to continue to make success year after year. Keep your eyes out for this future dynasty in the NFL.

Rams: 

As with the Chargers, the reigning champs have had a pretty quiet week, although some Rams rookies did take time this week to help build homes in the L.A. area, which I think is a really awesome thing deserving of notice.

Aside from that, I am going to take a different talking point as it pertains to the Rams this week, one that I had briefly skimmed over in a player spotlight on Aaron Donald a couple weeks back. I said, “the Rams are getting too greedy with all of their big payouts and eventually these star players will not be able to afford to continue playing together.” Let’s break down what I mean by that.

Matthew Stafford’s contract: 4 years, $160 million.

Jalen Ramsey’s contract: 5 years, $100 million.

Aaron Donald’s contract: 3 years, $95 million.

Cooper Kupp’s contract: 3 years, $78.5 million.

On these four contracts alone the Rams are paying over $117.7 million per year. PER YEAR. The salary cap of the NFL right now is $208.2 million, which means that over 56.5% of the Rams’ allotted budget is being spent on four players.

I agree that the players deserve the big payouts, but in my heart of hearts I can not say that this is worth it or smart for the Rams. When you pay big players big money there is less to go around for everyone else and there are 53 roster spots on each team. This may work for a year or two, but expect a big fall off from the Rams if they do not amend this error soon.

Author

  • Luke Nelson

    Luke Nelson (he/him) is an article writer for Mental Dimes, specializing in NFL related news and analysis. He currently is going through college to obtain his bachelors in Creative Writing.

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