The 2022 MLB season is two months old, and managers are starting to pay the price for losing records. The Philadelphia Phillies made the first change by firing Joe Girardi, and the Los Angeles Angels relieved Joe Maddon of his duties amid a long losing streak. Now, there are questions about Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa’s job security.
The White Sox have arguably been MLB’s most disappointing team. Expected by many to run away with the AL Central, Chicago has fallen to third place in the division standings. The White Sox are five games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins. Their record dropped to 26-29 with a loss Thursday, highlighted by a curious decision from La Russa.
After blowing a 4-0 lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the White Sox trailed 7-5 in the top of the sixth inning. When Dodgers’ first baseman Freddie Freeman moved to second base on a wild pitch, La Russa called for reliever Bennett Sousa to intentionally walk Trea Turner, despite a 1-2 count. Max Muncy came up to the plate and launched a three-run home run, which was ultimately the difference in Chicago’s 11-9 loss.
The guy screaming "He has two strikes, Tony!" after Tony La Russa intentionally walked Trea Turner on a 1-2 count to pitch to Max Muncy who proceeded to hit a three-run homer is peak chef's kiss. (via @NBCSWhiteSox)pic.twitter.com/C9yaR0ZdBU
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 9, 2022
La Russa won’t be fired because of one game in June, but there’s speculation that his job won’t be safe if the team continues to underperform.
Chicago entered the season with championship aspirations after winning the AL Central by 13 games in 2021. With one-third of the 2022 campaign complete, the White Sox are 2.5 games out of the AL wild-card standings, despite the addition of another playoff spot.
The White Sox have been outscored by 57 runs. Chicago ranks in the bottom third of the AL in both ERAs and runs scored.
Injuries have been a factor in Chicago’s struggles. Ace Lance Lynn has been out all season. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez has been limited to 11 games.
The Angels are only percentage points ahead of the White Sox in the wild-card race, in the midst of their own disappointing season. Los Angeles snapped a 14-game losing streak Thursday in Shohei Ohtani’s seven-inning, one-run outing against the Boston Red Sox. Ohtani also hit a two-run home run that gave the Angels the lead.
Shohei Ohtani did it all for the Angels tonight. ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/5GUATNflEH
— theScore Bet (@theScoreBet) June 10, 2022
The victory gave the Angels a 28-31 record, putting the team nine games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West. Los Angeles fired Maddon Tuesday when the losing streak hit 12 games.
Through the season’s first month and a half, it looked like the Angels were finally putting it together. A star-studded lineup led by Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Redon produced the most runs in the American League. L.A. was 10 games over .500 on May 24, primed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
The wheels have come off for the Angels with a 5.35 ERA over the last 15 days. Only two AL teams have scored fewer runs than Los Angeles during that stretch.
Trout was hitting .284/.388/.601 before leaving Tuesday’s game with a groin injury. Taylor Ward, who leads the Angels with a .333 batting average and a 1.087 OPS in 38 games, is on the IL with a hamstring injury.
Ohtani is a threat to win his second straight AL MVP award. The two-way star has 12 home runs and a 3.64 ERA in 10 starts.
Phil Nevin has taken over as the Angels interim manager.