6/14-6/16 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

RAB Live Chat
King: Yankees will call up Chris Bootcheck
(Photo Credit: Flickr user redheaded_pirate via Creative Commons license)
(Photo Credit: Flickr user redheaded_pirate via Creative Commons license)

Ten-game West Coast trips are hard enough, but as an added bonus, the Yankees will wrap this trip up with three games in the house of horrors known as Angel Stadium. They actually won a three-game series in Anaheim back in 2011, but they’ve still only won two of 12 series at the ballpark since the Angels traded in Anaheim for Los Angeles in their name in 2005. That includes three sweeps. Thankfully, this is the only time the Bombers will play the Halos in Southern California this year.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Halos put together a come from behind win against the Orioles on Wednesday, but otherwise they’ve lost four of their last five and nine of their last 12 games. Yeah, they’re bad. The Angels are comfortably in fourth place in the AL West at 28-38 with a -20 run differential. They’ve been one of the five or six worst teams in baseball pretty much all year.

At 3.76 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+, Mike Scioscia’s team somehow manages to score runs at a rate below the league average despite doing an above-average amount of damage at the plate. They’re essentially league average with runners in scoring position too (98 wRC+), so it’s not like they’ve stranded a ton of runners either. Very weird. Kinda glad I don’t have to watch everyday. They’re perfectly healthy on offense, no position players on the DL at all.

(Harry How/Getty)
Trout. (Harry How/Getty)

In an effort to get RF Josh Hamilton (81 wRC+) going, Scioscia recently started batting him second behind OF Mike Trout (152 wRC+) and 1B/DH Albert Pujols (103 wRC+). Pujols is a physical wreck due to offseason knee surgery and lingering plantar fasciitis, so much so that he’s started more games at DH (35) than at first base (29). He’s in year two of a ten-year contract. Yikes. 1B/RF Mark Trumbo (132 wRC+) cleans up and 2B Howie Kendrick typically bats fifth (132 wRC+). He’s having an awesome year and he tends to crush the Yankees (all AL East teams, really), as you surely remember.

C Chris Iannetta (109 wRC+) has been his typically solid self and both CF Peter Bourjos (124 wRC+) and SS Erick Aybar (77 wRC+) recently returned from lengthy DL stints. 3B Alberto Callaspo (84 wRC+) has been disappointing. The Angels have a pretty weak bench headlined by backup C Hank Conger (119 wRC+). IF Brendan Harris (75 wRC+) and OF J.B. Shuck (89 wRC+) have been tolerable at best, and OF Brad Hawpe (20 wRC+ in very, very limited time) recently resurfaced after spending last season in Double-A (!). The Angels can hit, but they haven’t gotten nearly enough from Hamilton and Pujols.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Tommy Hanson
It wasn’t too long ago that Hanson was one of the very best young pitchers in baseball, but injuries have made him a shell of his former self. The 26-year-old owns a 4.12 ERA (5.68 FIP) in seven starts this year — he missed more than a month following the death of his stepbrother — which include some very ugly peripherals: 5.26 K/9 (13.1 K%), 3.20 BB/9 (8.0 BB%), 1.83 HR/9 (12.7% HR/FB) and 34.8% grounders. Ugly. Hanson now sits in the upper-80s with his fastball and has been trending in the wrong direction velocity-wise for several years now. He throws his upper-70s slider almost 40% of the time, and still throws his low-80s changeup and low-70s curveball about a quarter of the time. The fastball is almost a show-me pitch at this point. The Yankees have faced Hanson twice before, once when he was good (2009) and once when he was very bad (2012).

Wilson. (Scott Halleran/Getty)
Wilson. (Scott Halleran/Getty)

Saturday: RHP David Phelps vs. LHP C.J. Wilson
Wilson, 32, is in the middle of his worst year since becoming a full-time starter, pitching to a 4.02 ERA (3.83 FIP) with very good strikeout (8.70 K/9 and 21.7 K%) and ground ball (45.6%) rates. He does walk a few too many (3.90 BB/9 and 9.8 BB%) and will give up some homers (0.89 HR/9 and 10.4% HR/FB). Wilson uses three 88-92 mph fastballs (two-seamer, four-seamer, cutter) regularly to setup his mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and upper-70s curveball. He’s a true six-pitch pitcher and that’s why he has no platoon split. The Yankees have seen Wilson as a starter plenty of times over the years with the Rangers, both the good and bad versions.

Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Jered Weaver
This was supposed to be Joe Blanton’s spot, but the Angels are wisely taking advantage of yesterday’s off-day to skip the portly right-hander and his 5.87 ERA (4.42 FIP). The 30-year-old Weaver missed six weeks with a fractured non-pitching elbow earlier this year and is currently sitting on a 3.77 ERA (4.00 FIP) in just five starts. His peripheral stats — 6.59 K/9 (17.4 K%), 2.51 BB/9 (6.6 BB%), 0.94 HR/9 (7.3% HR/FB), and 34.1% grounders — are right in line with where they’ve been for the last several years. Weaver’s established himself as a guy who outpitches who peripherals and gets by with a ton of weakly hit fly balls and pop-ups, the kind that easily turn into outs — his .264 BABIP is his highest in three years. Like Hanson, Weaver’s fastball velocity is trending the wrong way and has him in the mid-to-upper-80s most nights. He uses two-seamers, four-seamers, and cutters to setup low-80s sliders, upper-70s changeups, and low-70s curveballs. So the kitchen sink, basically. The Bombers have seen Weaver plenty of the years and generally hit him pretty hard (4.97 ERA in 63.1 innings). Harder than most, anyway.

Downs. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)
Downs. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Halos were off yesterday, so Scioscia’s bullpen is nice and fresh. RHP Ernesto Frieri (4.84 FIP) is closing since RHP Ryan Madson continues to have setbacks following Tommy John surgery. LHP Scott Downs (2.78 FIP) does most of the setup work along with former Yankees farmhand RHP Dane De La Rosa (2.99 FIP). RHP Garrett Richards (3.64 FIP) and RHP Kevin Jepsen (3.50 FIP) get the bulk of the middle innings work along with RHP Michael Kohn (3.40 FIP). Blanton might be available in long relief this weekend as well.

The Yankees, on the other hand, have a tired and worn out bullpen following yesterday’s 18-inning marathon loss. Joe Girardi indicated they will call up a fresh arm(s) today, meaning Preston Claiborne and Adam Warren are likely to get the shaft after pitching so well this year. They’ve been worked hard of late and have options though, and that’s the life of a rookie. Both Ivan Nova and Brett Marshall pitched recently, so they’re not going to be options. Dellin Betances could be though, maybe even Cesar Cabral. We’ll see. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page and here is True Grich, the best Angels blog on the web.

RAB Live Chat
King: Yankees will call up Chris Bootcheck
  • Petebest

    I like the pitching matchups especially considering the past success against Weaver. Only it wasn’t this lineup that did the damage. It’s all good though, new series so hopefully more production. Let’s go Yanks!!

  • pat

    We are so f*cked if one of our pitchers bombs. Like position player pitching for 3 or 4 innings f*cked.

  • Gonzo

    I think they will beat these guys in this series. On a side note, does Trumbo fall off a cliff after June like he did last year? June 22 to be exact.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Mike is it possible you mixed up the order of the Angel’s pitchers? According to Yahoo Fantasy, Wilson is starting for me tonight, not tomorrow.

    • vicki

      wilson goes tonight.

  • RetroRob

    Understand the thought, but they’re not getting the shaft. They did their job, they can’t be used right now, they will be back in short order. That is what happens to bullpen arms in today’s game.

  • Nick

    I thought Wilson was going tonight?

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    I’m going here for a game in August against the Blue jays. Anything I have to do/see/eat?

    • John

      Not much to the place, really. My favorite place to watch is the concourse behind the bullpens in LF. The entire outfield walk is nice, really.

  • Eddard

    I think they have a real shot to take 2/3 and that would mean they’d finish the road trip at .500. All of the rats jumped ship yesterday, including Mike, but I think a .500 road trip is all you can ask for out West.

    • vicki

      knock it off. feeling things strongly isn’t jumping ship; NOT feeling things strongly is jumping ship.

  • Gonzo

    Is questioning or defending Mike’s fandom the new “bro, do you even lift?”

  • trr

    Thanks for the perspective Matt. Other than my knee jerk reactions posted in the Game Thread, I haven’t said anything about last night’s game. Everyone here knows exatcly what the issues are, both short term
    (this year) and long term (2014, 15,…) For myself, I am more concerned with the overall direction of the team, and the success of the farm system in supplying MLB ready players. Adams and Romaine look overmatched at this level. Time will tell about some of the others. As far as Wells, Youkilis, Hafner, et al; These are honorable, once productive players now at the end of their careers. The lesson here would be the folly in giving multi-year contracts to players in their mid-30’s; If Wells is really as cooked as he looked in last night’s game, then he’s through, should be DFA’d and we eat the contract and blow the salary cap for next year. If team mgmt doesn’t like that, they have only themselves to blame. It may be that we cannot “fix” our current issues. But – as of right now, we’re still in contention, I believe tied for the last playoff spot, so we should act like contenders and try to improve this year’s model without compromising the future. Getting back the injured should help; and Texeira, though clearly in decline, should be more of a force as the season unwinds.

    Lastly, I must comment on the nasty personal tone some of the posts have taken on lately; I understand perfectly that as fans our emotions run high and we need to vent, plus the fact that last night’s game was truly beyond the pale, but some of what I read goes over the line, and adds nothing to our understanding and enjoyment of the game. I’m not advocating that RAB becomes a stodgy, vanilla stew of bland comments, statistics, and mundane observations. After all, if we can’t have fun here, what’s the point? But there is a point where we begin to denigrate the whole process with this pointless juvenalia, to the detriment of all.

    I said my piece; I know some of you will want to tell me to STFU.
    Go ahead. It won’t bother me in the least.

    • Gonzo

      I think people got carried away with carrying their flag yesterday. I don’t think anyone is going to tell you to STFU right now. I mostly agree with you. I think most people will agree with you.

    • smerdikov


    • Brian S.

      This comment is way too reasonable for RAB. Get outta here!

      • Gonzo

        Bro, do you even lift?

    • Get Phelps Up

      Yeah this, especially that 2nd paragraph.
      I don’t think we’re going to see the stuff we saw last night on a regular basis, but there’s defiantly been a constant slew of people this season who seemingly do nothing but attack regulars or relentlessly complain. It’s certainly made me a reluctant to comment at times.

      • vicki

        there seems to be an idea that attacking regulars is a more severe crime than attacking non-regulars.

        • Get Phelps Up

          They’re both equally bad, but usually we see those certain folks go after the “big names” so to speak.

          • vicki

            i’m not passing judgement on anybody or anything here, except the frantic passing of judgement, but most of those big names have done their share of slamming people too. including your humble correspondent.

            • Gonzo

              I gotta admit, I’ve thought about what you’ve written in this specific thread myself.

            • forensic

              Yup, definitely need more Switzerland’s around here and less… Prussia’s?

              • trr

                It’s wrong to attack any poster, whether it’s his first time here, or he’s been here for years.
                Of course, it’s OK to disagree, argue and banter back and forth. Some of can be pretty witty at times too. But when the attacks become personal, then I take issue. I used to be an active political blogger – I won’t bore you with my politics, but there was so much name calling and acrimony between people that I stopped doing it. I’d hate to see that happen here at RAB. This is an intelligent, informed group of passionate fans, and I hope it stays that way.

  • Kosmo

    Kelly Shoppach or Ramon Hernandez anyone ? Both DFA´d

    • vicki

      shoppach would fit right in with his hot-april/tumble-over-the-cliff act.

  • forensic

    Please, please, please don’t let this series ratchet up the frustration meter another level.

  • Get Phelps Up

    All those pervious series losses came against Angels teams that weren’t total garbage so hopefully we can do some damage here.

  • Wheels

    Watch us sweep the Angels, with someone like Hafner going on a tear. Nothing really surprises me anymore.

  • Get Phelps Up

    Also I’d rather have Ichiro for 2 years than Joe Blanton for 2 years so there’s that.

    • vicki

      saddest game of ‘would you rather’ ever.

  • Nathan

    Prediction: Pain.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    What the over/under for runs scored by the Yanks this series? I’d say 10 and I’d bet the under.

    • Gonzo

      I’m going to bet they put the beat down on Tommy Hanson. Just a hunch.