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Do the Angels have enough to worry the Astros?

The Angels have strengthened their pitching, but they need more moves to shrink the gap with the Astros.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back to the 2021 season, the Astros defeated the Angels 13 times out of 19 games (68%), outscoring them 118 to 57.

But at this time, just months later, things have changed. After Carlos Correa hit the open market, the Astros are spending their days with a big question mark at shortstop while the Halos have brought some big arms aboard to strengthen their pitching staff.

But do the Angels have enough to beat the Astros and actually compete for the AL West Division? Let’s take a look…

From an objective perspective, the Astros are still the team to beat in their division. Yes, they’re lacking a shortstop and probably a reliever and another good starter. But neither the Mariners nor the Angels are ready to take the AL West crown. The Rangers are improving thanks to big-time signings and, lastly, the Athletics are in rebooting mode.

But the paragraph above doesn’t answer our question. The fact that I don’t think the Angels will be better than the Stros doesn’t mean they won’t be better than their 2021 version (77-85 record). Think about it: they will have Mike Trout and Anthony Rendón back again —Trout played in only 36 games while Rendón appeared only 58 times due to injury last year—. Plus, if Shohei Ohtani can have a similar performance, they’ll have a star hitter and a frontline starter, all in one player. Then, you have to assume highly-touted prospects such as Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh should do better in 2022 when their time comes.

They also made big strides before the MLB lockout by signing starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen, bringing back star closer Raisel Iglesias, and also adding efficient, veteran lefty Aaron Loup to their bullpen. It seems they have finally understood their eternal pitching needs.

With Trout being 30 years old already, the Angels are long overdue putting a good team around him. The best player in baseball only has one playoff appearance (it was the ALDS against the Royals in 2014) and they have failed to compile winning seasons again and again. In fact, their last season above .500 was 2015 — those are six campaigns in a row with a losing record, bad enough for a team that has spent consistently over the last years.

Those factors tell me they’re not done. With lots of good free agents still available and a few holes to cover, they might remain pretty active once the MLB activities resume. Right now, Anaheim still needs a shortstop and even another starting pitcher, especially after losing Alex Cobb and having a lousy Dylan Bundy in 2021.

Taking a look at how their roster is built until now makes me think they wouldn’t be better than the Astros when it’s all said and done in the 162-game regular season. But a couple of moves before the start of the campaign can push them closer to Houston in the race for the AL West Division.