6/29 to 7/1 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angeles

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Time for the final West Coast trip of the season. That’s right, after this three-game series with the Angels, the Yankees are completely done with the West Coast. Heck, just ten of their final 83 games of 2015 are in the Central Time Zone. Travel gets much easier from here on out. The Yankees swept three from the Halos in the Bronx earlier this month, by the way.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

The Angels beat the Mariners yesterday thanks to a walk-off wild pitch, which is always wacky. They took two of three from Seattle and are 7-7 in their last 14 games. Anaheim is 39-37 with a -4 run differential overall, good for second place in the AL West.

Offense & Defense

Last season manager Mike Scioscia’s team had the best offense in baseball, one which averaged 4.77 runs per game. This year they’re one of the lowest scoring teams in MLB. The Angels are averaging just 3.89 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. SS Erick Aybar (78 wRC+) is day-to-day with a hamstring problem and OF Collin Cowgill is out for a while with a wrist injury.

Pujols. (Presswire)
Pujols. (Presswire)

As always, Scioscia’s offense is led by OF Mike Trout (167 wRC+), the best all-around player in baseball. He is quietly on pace for 41 homers this season. 1B Albert Pujols (147 wRC+) leads the league with 23 homers but doesn’t hit for average (.265) or get on base (.334) like he did in his prime. Still, he’s really dangerous. Personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (101 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last season’s success (125 wRC+).

3B David Freese (103 wRC+), 2B Johnny Giavotella (94 wRC+), OF Matt Joyce (67 wRC+), and C Chris Iannetta (64 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars. OF Daniel Robertson (48 wRC+ in limited time) and UTIL Efren Navarro (82 wRC+ in limited time) are splitting time in left with Joyce at DH for the most part. C Carlos Perez (68 wRC+), IF Taylor Featherston (7 wRC+), and IF Kyle Kubitza (36 wRC+) round out the bench with their small sample size stats.

Overall, the Angels have a good defensive club led by Trout and Iannetta. They’re studs with the glove. Pujols is good around the bag — his range is nonexistent at this point — and Calhoun is fine in right. So is Giavotella at second. Freese and Joyce are disasters in the field. Aybar is good when healthy and Robertson can really go get it in left.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY)
The Angels tried to trade the 34-year-old Wilson this offseason but had no luck. Now he is arguably their most consistent starting pitcher, pitching to a 3.92 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 15 starts and 96.1 innings with strikeout (21.1%) and walk (7.3%) rates in line with his career norms. He is getting fewer ground balls (43.1%) than usual and is giving up more home runs as well (0.93 HR/9). Go figure. Wilson has close to no platoon split this season (.301 vs. .295 wOBA in favor of lefties) but has historically been much more effective against same-side hitters. Wilson throws six pitches, including five at least 10% of the time. He offers low-90s two and four-seamers, an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter is the sixth pitch. That one he’s thrown only 7% of the time this year. The Yankees roughed Wilson up for six runs in seven innings earlier this month.

Tuesday (10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. LAA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (vs. NYY)
Heaney, 24, was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was traded twice in one day this offseason — first from the Marlins to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, then from the Dodgers to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. So Heaney was teammates with Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, and Trout all in one day. Cool. Anyway, he was just called up, and he limited the Astros to one run in six innings last time out. Heaney had a 4.71 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 78.1 Triple-A innings this season with okay strikeout (20.9%) and walk (7.1%) rates. He’s a three-pitch command lefty with a low-90s fastball, a sweepy upper-70s slider, and a sinking low-80s changeup. Heaney’s not a blow-you-away type. He just locates well and keeps everyone off balance.

Heaney. (Presswire)
Heaney. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Shoemaker finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season — narrowly edging out Dellin Betances! — but man, he crashed back to Earth and hard this season. I guess that’s not surprising considering his Triple-A performance was never all that good to start with. Shoemaker has a 5.03 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 14 starts and 78.2 innings this year — to be fair, his last six starts have been much better (3.41 ERA and 3.13 FIP) — with an average strikeout rate (20.5%), a good walk rate (5.4%), a below-average ground ball rate (38.7%), and an awful home run rate (1.72 HR/9). He also has no platoon split (.337 vs. .332 wOBA in favor of righties) this year after getting hit around a bit by lefties last year. Shoemaker has upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs, and he backs them up with mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and a slow mid-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees didn’t see Shoemaker earlier this month. In fact, the Angels used some off-days to skip his start that series because they didn’t want to run him out there in Yankee Stadium with his homer problems.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners did the Yankees a solid and forced Scioscia to use both closer RHP Huston Street (3.10 FIP) and setup man RHP Joe Smith (2.18 FIP) each of the last two days. Street blew the save yesterday. RHP Trevor Gott (1.96 FIP in very limited time) also pitched yesterday. He is their Nick Rumbelow. The 2013 mid-round pick who flew through the minors with great numbers.

LHP Cesar Ramos (3.33 FIP) and LHP Jose Alvarez (3.71 FIP) are Scioscia’s two lefties but neither is a matchup guy. They’re both starters by trade who can pitch full innings if necessary. RHP Cam Bedrosian (4.38 FIP) and RHP Fernando Salas (3.07 FIP) fill out the relief crew. Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is in good shape thanks to Michael Pineda‘s eight-inning complete game yesterday. Still make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent workloads. Then head over to Halo Hangout for updates on the Angels.

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Yankeemetrics: Heavenly sweep! (June 5-7)

This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning (USA TODAY Sports).
This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning. (USA TODAY Sports)

Is it okay to breathe yet?
Yes … but it wasn’t okay for about 30 minutes on Friday night when it looked like the Yankees might do the impossible and blow an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances combined to allow six runs in the final frame before the Yankees were able to escape with a 8-7 win in the series opener.

How rare was this near-loss? The last time the Yankees gave up six-or-more runs in the ninth inning and still won the game was June 20, 1986 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before Friday, the Yankees had allowed a total of four runs in the ninth inning in their first 54 games combined, the fewest of any AL team.

Rogers let the first five baserunners he faced to reach base and was pulled before retiring a batter. He was charged with five runs, becoming the first Yankee to allow at least five earned runs without recording an out in a game since Steve Howe on April 8, 1993 vs. the Indians. The last Yankee to manage that feat without allowing a home run was Tom Underwood on July 11, 1980 against the Rangers.

Dellin Betances finally has a non-zero number next to his ERA after allowing an earned run for the first time in 2015. His streak of 26 straight appearances to begin a season without giving up an earned run was the third-longest by any major-league pitcher in the last 100 years. Only Mike Myers (33 appearances in 2000) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008) had longer streaks.

First things first
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to erase the bad memories from Friday’s ninth inning debacle, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruising to a stress-free 8-2 win on Saturday night.

It was the fourth time they plated six-or-more runs in the first inning, something that the Yankees hadn’t done in a season since 1948, according to STATS, Inc.

Adam Warren continued to state his case to remain in the rotation, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth straight time and allowing just two runs on four hits. He’s the only Yankee pitcher this season with five consecutive quality starts and his ERA during this stretch — 2.70 since May 13 — is easily the best among the starters on the team.

Chris Capuano pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win, but he had to work hard for the final out as Carlos Perez fouled off seven pitches before Capuano got him swinging on the 13th pitch. It was the longest game-ending strikeout by any major-league pitcher since Billy Wagner on June 13, 2004 against the Twins’ Matt LeCroy.

Bronx broom-ers?
The Yankees finished off their second sweep in a row with Sunday’s 6-2 win at the Stadium. It was the first time the Yankees swept the Angels in New York since August 1995. How long ago was that? The winning pitcher for the third and final game in that series was Sterling Hitchcock!

CC Sabathia won his first game at home in nearly two years, despite getting ejected at the end of the sixth frame. His six-start losing streak in the Bronx was tied for the longest by any Yankee over the last 100 seasons.

It was the third time Sabathia had been ejected in his career. The others came with the Indians, on July 21, 2006 and July 4, 2003. Before Sabathia, the last Yankee starting pitcher to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes was Randy Johnson on Sept. 16, 2005 against the Blue Jays.

Jose Pirela hit his first career homer in the seventh inning off C.J. Wilson, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) vs. left-handed pitchers as a major-leaguer. That’s the best batting average against lefties by any player since Pirela’s debut last season on September 22 (min. 10 PA).

6/7 to 6/9 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

The Yankees are back home after their seven-game West Coast swing, and now a West Coast team is coming to visit the Bronx. The Angels will be in Yankee Stadium for three games this weekend. This will be the first meeting of the season between these two clubs, which have quite a bit of head-to-head history in the 2000s.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

Like the Yankees, the Halos had an off-day yesterday as they traveled to New York. They lost their last two games to the Rays and two of three in the series overall earlier this week. Prior to that, manager Mike Scioscia’s team won six straight, including sweeping a four-game series from the reeling Tigers. The Angels are 28-26 with a +6 run differential overall. They’re a distant second to the Astros in the AL West. What a world.

Offense & Defense

After leading all of MLB in runs per game last season (4.77), the Angels are averaging just 3.96 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+ in 2015. That’s quite a step back. The Angels are healthy too. Their only injured position player is fourth OF Collin Cowgill (50 wRC+), who is on the DL with a wrist issue. He won’t return this series.

Trout. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Trout. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

As always, Scioscia’s offense is led by OF Mike Trout (160 wRC+), who continues to be baseball’s best all-around player. 1B Albert Pujols (129 wRC+) has gotten hot of late — Pujols has hit six homers in his last seven games — and personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (108 wRC+) is having a solid year. Same with 3B David Freese (105 wRC+), who’s already hit nine home runs after hitting ten all of last season.

2B Johnny Giavotella (109 wRC+) replaced Howie Kendrick and is making the most of his first extended taste of MLB, specifically with a bunch of big hits late in games and extra innings. Every time I turn on MLB.tv he’s driving in a run in the eighth or ninth it seems. SS Erick Aybar (89 wRC+) has been okay-ish but OF Matt Joyce (62 wRC+) has really struggled. C Chris Iannetta (68 wRC+) and C Carlos Perez (128 wRC+) are the catching tandem while Rule 5 Draft pick IF Taylor Featherston (-64 wRC+), UTIL Grant Green (17 wRC+), UTIL Efren Navarro (67 wRC+), and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (12 wRC+) are on the bench.

The Angels are a sound defensive club overall. Trout is a stud in center and Iannetta has graded out as a top notch pitch-framer this season, given them two great glove guys. Pujols is very good around the bag but doesn’t move as well as he once did, and Aybar is still very good at short. Calhoun and Giavotella are solid defenders but Joyce and Freese are pretty terrible. Nieuwenhuis is quite good in the field and he’s been playing regularly of late. The left side of the field is the place to hit it, towards Freese and Joyce.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (Career vs. NYY)
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the 32-year-old Weaver. He had a 6.29 ERA (5.80 FIP) in his first six starts and now has a 1.98 ERA (3.06 FIP) in his last five starts. It all works out to a 4.08 ERA (4.39 FIP) in 70.2 innings. Weaver doesn’t strike out (13.2%) or walk (3.5%) anyone, and his 40.0% ground ball rate is actually a career high. He’s always been an extreme fly ball/pop-up pitcher. His 1.27 HR/9 is also a career high, and lefties (.331 wOBA) are hitting him harder than righties (.298 wOBA). Weaver’s fastball legitimately sits in the mid-80s these days (look!), and he will throw the kitchen sink at you. Four-seamers, two-seamers, low-80s cutters, upper-70s sliders, upper-70s changeups, upper-60s curveballs … he throws everything like seven miles an hour slower than the average pitcher. Crazy.

Saturday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. LAA) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (Career vs. NYY)
Richards, 27, was a bonafide Cy Young candidate last season before he slipped covering his first base and shredded his knee in late-August, ending his year. He had surgery and missed the first few weeks of this season rehabbing. Richards has a 3.26 ERA (3.79 FIP) in nine starts and 58 innings since returning, though his strikeout (19.3%), walk (9.9%), and homer (0.62 HR/9) rates are all slightly worse than a year ago. He’s still getting a ton of grounders (54.5%) and is doing better against lefties (.242 wOBA) than righties (.308 wOBA), which was true last season as well. Richards throws very hard, sitting in the mid-90s with all three of his fastballs (four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter) and complementing them with an upper-80s slider and a handful of upper-70s curves. He doesn’t throw a changeup at all.

Richards. (Maddie Meyer/Getty)
Richards. (Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (Career vs. NYY)
The Angels were willing to give Wilson away in the offseason, and now he’s arguably their most consistent pitcher, posting a 3.55 ERA (3.64 FIP) in eleven starts and 71 innings. His strikeout rate (19.1 K%), walk rate (8.2%), grounder rate (44.7%), homer rate (0.63 HR/9), and left/right splits (.244/.292 wOBA) are right in line with his career norms. Typical year for the 34-year-old southpaw. Wilson throws six pitches, including five at least 10% of the time. He offers low-90s two and four-seamers, an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter is the sixth pitch. That one he’s thrown only 7% of the time this year.

Bullpen Status
The Angels had a solid bullpen last year (3.52 ERA and 3.40 FIP) when they had the best record in baseball, and Scioscia’s relievers are repeating that performance almost exactly (3.53 ERA and 3.41 FIP). Freaky. Setup man RHP Joe Smith (1.98 FIP) and closer RHP Huston Street (2.73 FIP) are a formidable duo at the end of games, and RHP Fernando Salas (2.44 FIP) has been a fine third wheel.

LHP Jose Alvarez (4.49 FIP) and LHP Cesar Ramos (3.69 FIP) are Scioscia’s two primary lefties, though neither is a true specialist. Both are starters by trade and can pitch full innings. LHP Edgar Ibarra (2.62 FIP) has two MLB innings under his belt and is currently in the “last man in the bullpen” role. RHP Cam Bedrosian (3.53 FIP) and RHP Matt Shoemaker (5.08 FIP) are the other two guys in the ‘pen. Shoemaker is actually in their rotation, but he’s really struggled this year (2.06 HR/9!) and the Halos are going to take advantage of some off-days to skip his spot. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers, then check out Halo Hangout for updates on the Angels.

A Haiku for the Rest of MLB [2015 Season Preview]

Does Donnie like Haikus? Of course. (Presswire)
Does Donnie like haikus? Of course. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only three days away. We’ve spent the last four weeks previewing the Yankees and the upcoming season, and yesterday we broke down the rest of the AL East. Today we’re going to wrap up our 2015 Season Preview series with a quick preview of the other 25 teams in baseball. After all, the Yankees are going to have to try to beat those teams this season too.

If you’ve come here looking for a serious preview post, you’re not going to get it. It’s Friday afternoon, Opening Day is right around the corner, and this year’s preview series is over. Instead, we’re going to have some fun and preview those other 25 teams in Haiku form. I encourage you to tell me how much my haikus suck and to make some of your own — pro tip: use the Haiku Counter to make sure you have the right number of syllables — and leave ’em in the comments. Enjoy.

Atlanta Braves
Traded their best bats
For a whole bunch of pitchers
They know scoring’s down?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Nuno their ace?
The answer just might be yes
Payback for ’01!

Chicago Cubs
Bleachers aren’t ready?
No prob, Bryant won’t notice
He’s in Iowa

Chicago White Sox
D-Rob and Melky
Back together in ChiTown
Growing ugly beards

Cincinnati Reds
Good enough to win?
Nah, not in that division
Can we have Cueto?

Cleveland Indians
Brantley is awesome
Kluber is really great
World Series pick? Eh

Colorado Rockies
Troy’s still a Rockie
Kyle Kendrick, OD SP?
Wait for ski season

Detroit Tigers
Miggy, Price, V-Mart
Lots of stars and real big names
Bullpen still a mess

Houston Astros
I don’t understand
You won “process World Series?”
That doesn’t exist

Kansas City Royals
Pennant last season
Volquez is replacing Shields?
For real? Yeah, for real

Los Angeles Angels
They have that Trout guy
I wish the Yankees had him
It’s Teixeira’s fault!

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is the best
Donnie Baseball gets his ring?
If not, just blame Puig

Miami Marlins
Paid Giancarlo
They’re going for it again
When’s next fire sale?

Milwaukee Brewers
They all hate Ryan Braun
But not as much as A-Rod
This team is boring

Minnesota Twins
Phil’s still homer prone
Nunez’s helmet still falls off
Just like the old days

New York Mets
Take back New York, huh?
Orange and blue like the Knicks
But with fewer fans

Oakland Athletics
Ballpark is ugly
Beane traded everyone again
What’s a Stephen Vogt?

Philadelphia Phillies
Rebuild? Finally!
Cole will be traded real soon
Then skip to next year

Pittsburgh Pirates
Cervelli pumps fist
McCutchen cut his dreads
A World Series team?

St. Louis Cardinals
Contender again
Such a boringly good team
Gets boring haiku

San Diego Padres
Kemp, Upton, Myers, Shields
But what about Yangervis?
Solarte Partay!

San Francisco Giants
The World Series champs
But it’s an odd number year
So no repeat then

Seattle Mariners
You can have Robbie
You are still stuck with Jack Z.
Yankees win the trade

Texas Rangers
Could this be the year
That Elvis Andrus will hit?
Hah, made myself laugh

Washington Nationals
Awesome rotation!
Future Yankee Bryce Harper
Has nice ring to it

5/5-5/7 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Mike Scioscia

The Yankees are out on the West Coast for the first time this season, though they’re only there for three games. They open a three-game series with the Angels tonight before heading to the Midwest. Angel Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Yankees, who have lost each of their last three series and five of their last seven series in Anaheim.

What Have They Done Lately?
Since these clubs met last week, the Angels swept the Indians and lost two of three to the Rangers. They are 15-15 with a +28 run differential overall. That’s actually the second best run differential in the AL. Only four AL teams have a positive run differential this year. April and May are weird.

Offense
As you probably remember from last weekend, the Angels can really hit. Their team 115 wRC+ is the best in baseball and their average of 5.30 runs per game is the second best. That’s without OF Josh Hamilton, who suffered a thumb injury (sliding into first base!) about a week into the season and has yet to return. OF Kole Calhoun has an ankle problem and 3B David Freese just had his finger broken by a errant pitch. Those are three pretty important players are none are due back until the end of the month at the earliest.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Manager Mike Scioscia’s lineup is anchored by OF Mike Trout (161 wRC+) and 1B Albert Pujols (160 wRC+), both of whom are just tearing the cover off the ball. Trout does everything and while Pujols doesn’t hit for average or get on base like he did a few years, his ten homers are the second most in the league. 2B Howie Kendrick (130 wRC+) always kills the Yankees and SS Erick Aybar (106 wRC+) is having a nice year. He always seems to be annoying.

With Freese hurt, 3B Ian Stewart (90 wRC+) has taken over at the hot corner full-time. The catching platoon of C Chris Iannetta (122 wRC+) and C Hank Conger (147 wRC+) has been very productive. OF Raul Ibanez (45 wRC+) and OF Collin Cowgill (160 wRC+ in limited time) are stuck playing the outfield regularly with Hamilton and Calhoun hurt. UTIL Grant Green (6 PA), IF Luis Jimenez (4 PA), and IF John McDonald (16 PA) fill out the bench. Top prospect 1B/DH C.J. Cron has five hits in two games since coming up to replace Freese.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP David Phelps (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Weaver, 31, has always been an unconventional ace because he’s a kitchen sink guy, not a power pitcher. He’s off to an alright start (4.00 ERA and 4.83 FIP) in six starts and 36 innings so far, with just okay strikeout (7.00 K/9 and 18.8 K%) and walk (3.00 BB/9 and 8.1 BB%) rates. Weaver has given up an inordinate number of homers (1.50 HR/9 and 11.3 HR/FB%) so far in 2014. He doesn’t get grounders (35.3%). Never has and never will. He’s always been a high pop-up rate/weak contact guy that defies the usual ERA/FIP relationship. Lefties (.327 wOBA) are hitting him harder than righties (.290 wOBA). Weaver throws four pitches and he throws them almost interchangeably: mid-80s fastballs, low-80s slider, upper-70s changeup, and low-70s curveball. Yes, his fastball sits in the mid-80s. He cuts and sinks it on occasion too. The Yankees didn’t see Weaver during their series with the Angels last weekend.

Wilson. (Presswire)
Wilson. (Presswire)

Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Wilson, 33, has gotten better and better in each of his three seasons with the Halos. He’s pitching to a 3.18 ERA (3.43 FIP) in six starts and 39.2 innings this year thanks to stellar strikeout (9.30 K/9 and 26.1 K%) and ground ball (50.0 K%) rates. His walk rate is good (2.95 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) and his homer rate (0.91 HR/9 and 11.8 HR/FB%) is fine. Lefties (.252 wOBA) haven’t have much luck against him, but neither have righties (.297 wOBA). Wilson throws five pitches — low-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, upper-70s curveball — and he uses all of them a lot, so it’s a bunch of different looks. He held the Yankees to one run in six innings last weekend.

Wednesday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. LAA) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
This is a rematch of last Saturday’s game. The 26-year-old Newark native is off to a rough start (5.01 ERA and 4.99 FIP) even though he’s missing bats (7.79 K/9 and 19.7 K%). He walks too many (4.18 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%), doesn’t get grounders (30.2%), and gives up homers (1.39 HR/9 and 10.2 HR/FB%), which isn’t any way to live. Santiago doesn’t have a platoon split even though he’s a two fastball (low-90s four and two-seamer), one changeup (low-80s) pitcher. He will mix in the occasional mid-70s screwball but that’s really it. Three and a half pitches, basically. The Yankees roughed Santiago up for four runs in 4.1 innings in their previous series.

Smith. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)
Smith. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Scioscia’s bullpen hasn’t been very good this season — 19th in ERA (4.07) and 26th in FIP (4.46) — and he’s already replaced RHP Ernesto Frieri (7.11 FIP) with RHP Joe Smith (2.29 FIP) at closer. LHP Nick Maronde (4.24 FIP) is the only lefty and both RHP Michael Kohn (3.64 FIP) and RHP Kevin Jepsen (4.28 FIP) tend to see the higher leverage work.

Right now, the rest of the relief unit includes RHP Fernando Salas (4.45 FIP) and RHP Michael Morin (1.77 FIP in very limited time). Kohn, Jepsen, Maronde, Morin, and Salas all pitched in yesterday’s blowout loss, and after the game Scioscia hinted that a fresh arm or two could be called up before tonight’s game. There’s no word on those moves just yet. Al Aceves will be unavailable for a few days following yesterday’s long relief outing, but otherwise the Yankees’ key relievers are rested. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for details and Halos Daily for the latest and greatest on the Angels.

4/25-4/27 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Mike Scioscia

Following a successful seven-game road trip, the Yankees return home to the Bronx to kick off a nine-game homestand tonight. The first of three teams to visit is the Angels, who have won just seven of 22 games at the new Yankee Stadium. The Halos used to give the Yankees fits but that really isn’t the case these days.

What Have They Done Lately?
Mike Scioscia’s team has split the first six games of their nine-game trip to the East Coast. They just took two of three from the Nationals in Washington and were a spectacular blown save away from a sweep (four-run ninth!). The Angels are 10-11 with a +17 run differential overall. That’s actually the second best run differential in the league.

Offense
At 5.3 runs per games with a team 111 wRC+, Scioscia’s club has been one of the very best offensive teams in baseball so far this season. They are without two key players in OF Josh Hamilton (thumb) and OF Kole Calhoun (ankle) right now. That’s their cleanup and leadoff hitters, respectively. Both were off to strong starts and will be out for several weeks. They aren’t returning this weekend.

Trout. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Trout. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The Angels are led by the best player in baseball. New Jersey kid OF Mike Trout (172 wRC+) is still amazing and not in anyway underperforming this year. He’s amazing. 1B Albert Pujols (171 wRC+) leads the league with eight homers and is having a great year, but he isn’t all the way back to being his old self. This version is hitting .284 with a .351 OBP. The old Pujols hit like .330 with a .440-something OBP. He’s still super dangerous though. These two bat second and third in the lineup and will be scary as hell all weekend.

Yankees killer 2B Howie Kendrick (121 wRC+) is off to a nice start, as is the catching tandem of C Chris Iannetta (114 wRC+) And C Hank Conger (97 wRC+). OF Collin Cowgill (178 wRC+ in limited time) has done a fine job filling in during the injuries. Former Yankees OF/DH Raul Ibanez (46 wRC+) and OF Brennan Boesch (61 wRC+ in very limited time) have had poor starts, ditto SS Erick Aybar (71 wRC+) and 3B David Freese (21 wRC+). Freese has been losing playing time to 3B Ian Stewart (102 wRC+ in limited time) lately. OF J.B. Shuck (44 wRC+) and IF John McDonald (160 wRC+) fill out the bench and have played sparingly.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Of all the big money pitching contracts handed out in recent years, I think Wilson’s get the most undeserved crap. He has been a steady and reliable horse for the Halos. The 33-year-old comes into tonight’s start with a 4.21 ERA (3.92 FIP) in four starts this year, pairing an excellent strikeout rate (9.82 K/9 and 26.4 K%) with good ground ball (46.4%) and walk (3.16 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) totals. Righties (.344 wOBA) has roughed him up a bit this year, but not lefties (.294 wOBA). Wilson throws five pitches pretty frequently: low-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and upper-70s curveball. That’s a lot of different looks at different velocities. He took a pounding in his first start but has been solid since.

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Saturday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. LAA) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Santiago, 26, is a local guy from Newark. He has a 3.68 ERA (4.17 FIP) in four starts this year after being acquired from the White Sox in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade over the winter. As usual, his strikeout (8.18 K/9 and 21.1 K%) and walk (4.91 BB/9 and 12.6 BB%) rates are high while his ground ball rate (29.5%) is low. Righties (.321 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.285 wOBA). Santiago is best described as a three and a half pitch pitcher. He uses low-90s four and two-seam fastballs to set up his low-80s changeup, and every once in a while he’ll bust out a mid-70s screwball. Click the link for the requisite GIF. Santiago’s first two starts were rough, but the last two have been very good.

Sunday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. LAA) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
The Angels have a young back of the rotation and Richards has been the standout so far. The 25-year-old has pitched to a 2.52 ERA (2.91 FIP) in his first four starts with very good strikeout (8.64 K/9 and 24.2 K%) and grounder (51.7%) rates. He does walk too many (5.04 BB/9 and 14.1 BB%), which has been an issue in his previous three big league seasons. Richards has a reverse split early this year — righties have a .301 wOBA, lefties a .201 wOBA — and he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher, relying on a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He’s throw a handful of upper-70s curveballs per start, but that’s it. No changeup to speak of. The Athletics roughed Richards up two starts ago, but otherwise he’s allowed two runs in his other three starts combined.

Frieri. (Harry How/Getty)
Frieri. (Harry How/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The Angels were off yesterday, so Scioscia’s bullpen is as rested as can be right now. RHP Ernesto Frieri (8.80 FIP) melted down big time on Wednesday but remains the closer. RHP Joe Smith (2.33 FIP) and RHP Kevin Jepsen (3.57 FIP) have been the primary setup guys. LHP Nick Maronde (0.69 FIP in very limited time) is Scioscia’s only lefty reliever.

The rest of the team’s bullpen is … an interesting mix. RHP Yoslan Herrera (4.03 FIP) last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 before being called up a few weeks ago. RHP Fernando Salas (4.58 FIP) closed for the Cardinals for a few months back in 2011 but has been derailed by control problems. RHP Michael Kohn (3.71 FIP) is just a guy named Michael Kohn. Can’t find anything interesting about him. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees bullpen, then check out Monkey with a Halo for some Angels analysis. The Angels blogosphere really leaves something to be desired now that True Grich seems to be dead.

The Latest on Masahiro Tanaka

(Koji Watanabe/Getty)
(Koji Watanabe/Getty)

Today is the halfway point of Masahiro Tanaka‘s 30-day negotiating window. He has 15 days left to work out a contract before the 5pm ET deadline on January 24th, and the entire deal must be complete by that time. Tanaka needs to pass a physical and sign on the dotted line by then. There won’t be any of this “agree to a deal and three weeks later it’s official” nonsense. Only 15 days until he is on some team’s roster. Love the hard deadline.

Anyway, we know the Yankees have already contacted with Tanaka’s agent Casey Close, but there haven’t been any real updates since. That doesn’t mean talks have stalled or anything like that, just that no updates have leaked. The whole process has been very tight-lipped, it seems. I’m guessing that’s by design. Here are some Tanaka-related notes from around the league in what I suspect is the first of many update posts:

  • Tanaka flew to the Los Angeles yesterday to begin face-to-face meetings with teams. He is slated to meet with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, and Angels this week and he will also be seen by a doctor to get the physical process going. [David Waldstein, Bill Plunkett & Jon Heyman]
  • D’Backs GM Kevin Towers said Close “pretty much asked those clubs that are involved that just less is better and not to really say anything or divulge the process or what’s happening.” That explains the lack of updates. [Steve Gilbert]
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti confirmed he has touched base with Tanaka’s camp but the two sides are in the “feeling out” stage. Negotiations with various clubs are “still in a very preliminary phase” and things might not heat up until next week. [Dylan Hernandez & Andy Martino]
  • If you missed it earlier this week, here is our massive Scouting The Market post on Tanaka. Pretty much everything you need to know about the guy is in there.