Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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(Photo Credit: Flickr user redheaded_pirate via Creative Commons license)

These September west coast trips are always the worst. It sucks having to stay up late for games, it sucks that the Yankees have to make two cross country flights so late in the season, and it really sucks having to stay up late for games. I think I said that already. The Yankees are in the Pacific time zone for the next six games, starting with three in SoCal against the Angels.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

Life in the AL West means the Halos have played seven of their last ten games against the Mariners. In between the four-gamer and a three-gamer with Seattle was a three-game set with the Twins, and Angels went 6-4 during that ten game stretch. They have won four of their last five though, and remain 2.5 games back of the Rangers in the division. They’re seven games back for the wildcard, so that’s not really an option.

Angels On Offense

First Tim Salmon, now Mike Trout. Something fishy is going on in the Angels outfield. (Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Despite having some pretty big names in the lineup, the Angels are a slightly below-average offense with a .313 wOBA. Bobby Abreu has essentially been reduced to platoon status of late, even though he’s the team’s top OBP (.356) threat. His power (.110 ISO) is gone, though. Torii Hunter (.330 wOBA) still plays everyday, and Vernon Wells (.282 wOBA) is out there most days as well. Mark Trumbo is the Angels’ top power threat (26 homers and a .225 ISO), but that .295 OBP is atrocious. Howie Kendrick (.353 wOBA) has probably been their best hitter all year.

The rest of the lineup is subject to change by the day. Maicer Izturis (.322 wOBA) and Erick Aybar (.315 wOBA) have been tag teaming the leadoff spot, though the speedy Peter Bourjos (.339 wOBA) has seen time atop the order as well. Megaprospect Mike Trout (.328 wOBA in limited time) has been forcing his way into the lineup more and more each day, and if you think Brett Gardner is fast, wait until you see this kid run. Alberto Callaspo (.322 wOBA) and Russell Branyan (.328 wOBA) might show their faces as well. The catching trio of Jeff Mathis (.211 wOBA), Bobby Wilson (.239 wOBA), and Hank Conger (.277 wOBA) is just awful.

Overall, the Angels can do a little bit of everything but nothing outstandingly well. They’re top ten in steals (116 with Aybar, Bourjos, Abreu and Trout being the biggest threats) and middle of the road in power (.146), but they’re not very patient (just 7.4% walks) and aren’t great at avoiding strike three (17.8%). Not a scary offense, but not a total pushover either.

Angels On The Mound

Friday, RHP Jered Weaver (vs. Bartolo Colon): The Yankees missed Weaver the last time these two clubs faced because the right-hander was serving a suspension for throwing at Carlos Guillen. He’s having a great season (2.49 ERA and 3.02 FIP), but he’s also got a 6.67 ERA over his last five starts, including three absolute disasters. The recent death of his grandfather surely has to be considered a factor. Weaver legitimately throws five pitches, including two high-80’s fastballs (both two and four-seamers), a high-70’s slider, a high-80’s changeup, and low-70’s curveball. He excels at limiting walks (2.22 BB/9) and gets plenty of strikeouts (7.68 K/9), but he is an extreme fly ball pitcher (just 32.6% ground balls). The Yankees have seen Weaver once before this year, when he held them to two runs in seven innings back in early-June.

Saturday, RHP Dan Haren (vs. CC Sabathia): As good as Jeff’s kid brother has been this year, Haren has been even better. He doesn’t walk anyone (1.21 BB/9) and gets a decent amount of grounders (42.1%), and his strikeout rate (7.20 K/9) is tolerable. The 2.93 FIP and 3.20 ERA are pretty good representations of his true talent level. Haren features four different fastballs: a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a cutter, and a split-finger. All of them reside in the mid-to-high-80’s. A high-70’s curve and a mid-80’s change will also make an appearance. In his only start against the Yankees this year, Haren gave up four runs in six innings.

"I'll give you the ball as soon as you tell me why skip keeps putting you in the lineup." (Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Sunday, RHP Ervin Santana (vs. Freddy Garcia): Another low walk (2.58 BB/9) starter, Santana lags behind Weaver and Haren in the strikeout (6.95 HR/9) department. A 3.18 ERA and 3.72 FIP certainly indicate quality though. Amazingly enough, Santana’s basically a two-pitch pitcher, relying on his low-to-mid-90’s heat and low-80’s slider while throwing a mid-80’s changeup about once every 33 pitches. You’d expect a big platoon split with that repertoire, but Santana doesn’t have one this year. He does have one over the course of his career, however. The Yankees scored three runs in seven innings off him earlier this year.

Bullpen: Every team’s bullpen is packed to the gills with call-ups this time of year, but Mike Scioscia’s three primary bullpen guys are closer Jordan Walden (2.34 FIP), righty setup guy Fernando Rodney (4.55 FIP), and lefty setup guy Scott Downs (3.39 FIP). The versatile Hisanori Takahashi (4.06 FIP) and underrated Rich Thompson (3.28 FIP) are the next tier of relievers. A bunch of call-ups like Trevor Bell (3.48 FIP), Bobby Cassevah (3.61 FIP), and Horacio Ramirez (5.31 FIP) fill out the rest of the relief corps. Oh, and there’s Joel Pineiro (4.64 FIP). Here’s their long reliever after pitching his way out of the rotation.

Recommended Angels Reading: True Grich.

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  • seimiya

    For us west coasters, this means games that don’t go on during business hours. WOOOHOO!

    • vin

      Yeah, but it means I’m forced to watch the Angels’ broadcast. MLB has decided that Las Vegas is “home” to the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, A’s, and Giants. All visiting teams’ broadcasts are blacked out.

    • radnom

      I kinda like being able to follow these (mostly) meaningless games during business hours.

      That being said, I’m pumped to actually get to see them in person this weekend.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    Anaheim always scares me, the actual ballpark and the team. I think a-rod tears it up here though, and i’m predicting a big weekend for him

    • FIPster Doofus

      You’re right. In 373 ABs at Angel Stadium, A-Rod has a 1.087 OPS.

  • LA Sean

    I live 30 minutes from “The Big A” as they call it. I’ll be at all 3 games. I’m actually most looking forward to getting an opportunity to see Jesus Montero. Hopefully he sneaks his way into the lineup.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      (looks at sign posted over stadium entrance in the above picture)

      Yeah, that sign clearly says “Angela Stadium of Anaheim”. I will never, ever, call it “The Big A” ever again. That building is named “Angela Stadium”.

      You can call it “The Big Angela” if you like, whatever floats your boat.

      • CBean

        that’s how I read it as well. Who’s going to be afraid of a team called the Angelas?

        • ROBTEN

          Tony Micelli?

      • Urban

        Nyjer Morgan’d?

  • Paul Proteus

    Win the series. We don’t want to see Weaver and Haren again in a 5 game series. Boston is in shambles right now and we need to get a 4-5 game lead so we can coast into the last week with nothing to play for.

  • gc

    Anaheim Stadium….where the legends play. Troy Percival? Darren Erstad?? And look, it’s Bartolo Colon! Hilarious.

    • mattdamonwayans

      Hey man, Air Bud used to play for the Angels. That dog was a legend.

  • Cy Pettitte

    I’ll be interested to see if they DH Jesus one of the next 4 days with Weaver, Haren, Santana and Felix starting.

  • Mickey Scheister

    I know it’s not this series, but I can’t wait to see Jesus Montero against the M’s. Take that Jack Z!

  • JimIsBored (Jim S)

    I’m just happy we’re no longer playing the Orioles, even if it is Camden Yards West.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect to drop 2 of 3 here. The team is tired, as far from home as possible, and LA need wins wayyy worse than we do right now. Plus, they have their version of a “big three” going.

    Either way, we should still have some kind of lead in the division when we head to Seattle. Hopefully we continue to stay healthy and find a way to take the series.

    Here’s to Bart re-discovering his mid-season magic.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Maybe but at least we know the Sox AND Rays cannot both sweep this weekend.

  • Dan

    Just out of curiosity to see where most fans opinions are…

    Which team would most Yankee fans want to face in the first round? As of right now it appears that Texas, Detroit, and the Angels are all about equally possible. Each teams pose their problems. I would vote for Texas just because I wouldn’t be scared of anyone in that rotation and with Martin catching I would have confidence in the Yankees ability to hold the running game in check. Detroit and the Angels would scare me because I wouldn’t want to face Verlander twice in a short series and facing Weaver and Haren twice each could be tough as well.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Cervelli and Jeter (twice!!!) homered in the same game against Texas pitching.

      Easy answer….

  • http://- JFish

    Agreed, I think I’d prefer to see the Rangers in the ALDS

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I prefer the team that isn’t hot at that time.

      • Dave B

        Right on JFish. They are all equally dangerous, but for whatever reason I fear the Angels over the others. Maybe it’s Scioscia, who I think is the best manager in the game today. They also have a blend of youth and experience that reminds me of the 1996 Yankees. Decent, but not great, starting pitching; good bullpen; solid defense and an equally solid lineup.

        • CS Yankee

          You lost me when you ended with “…an equally solid lineup”

          The pitching from start to close (mixed in with the defense) is great, but unless they get “2010 Giants” lucky with the bat, they don’t equate to much.

          • Monteroisdinero

            I think they could get “2010 Giants” lucky with the bat this weekend very easily.

          • Dave B

            I hear you, but those young guys in the lineup are clutch and lengthens it. Holes for sure, but if you look at even the 2010 Giants they had guys come out of the woodwork and over-perform. Howie Kendrick by himself could screw us in a short series.

  • Alfredo

    Will Montero play in any of these 3 games?