After a disappointing road trip that saw the Angels drop six out of 10 games, the team comes back home to square off with the Texas Rangers for three games.
Here’s a look at the series, by the numbers.
Head to Head
The Angels’ record now stands at 30-27, which is good for third place in the American League West. They are 5.5 games back of the Astros for first place and 4.5 games behind the Mariners for second place and the second Wild Card. The fourth-place Athletics are also creeping up on the Angels, sitting just one game behind them.
Texas’ last two series were of the four game variety, and they split both, the first against Kansas City and the second in Seattle. They have won six of their last 10, and, at 24-35, the Rangers are in a distant last place in the AL West. The Angels and Rangers played each other once already this year. The Angels swept the three-game series in Texas and outscored the Rangers by 20 runs.
Here’s how the two teams match up heading into their second meeting of the year:
The Rangers’ offense has been pretty good, but they have one of baseball’s worst starting rotations, which holds most of the responsibility for that haunting run differential. At -63, Texas holds the worst run differential in the division by a wide margin (Oakland is next closest at -7) and the fourth-worst mark in the AL. In Detroit, the Angels faced a team that is not trying to win this year. The Rangers are not in the same category, as they are trying to win; they’re just not doing a very good job.
Texas’ Starting Pitchers
On Friday, the Rangers will send former Angel Bartolo Colon to the mound. It has now been almost 13 years since Colon won the Cy Young award with the Angels, but the right-hander has found a way to stick around. Despite topping out in the low 90s, he throws about 80% fastballs, relying on expert command.
Colon has logged a 3.70 ERA in nine starts this year. That is the best mark in Texas’ rotation, but he has a 5.32 FIP in those starts, the worst among the team’s starting pitchers, meaning that he has not deserved the results that he has received. He has a very low walk rate, but he has served up 13 home runs, the sixth-most in the majors. When he was with Atlanta last year, Colon started a game against the Angels. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and surrendered nine runs, though only two were earned.
In game two, the Angels will face lefty Cole Hamels. The four-time All-Star is not what he once was, but he has still managed to be somewhat effective over the last couple of seasons. In 2018, he has posted a 3.74 ERA. However, like Colon, Hamels has a high FIP (5.26) and has given up 13 home runs. He has seen his strikeout rate rebound from a career-low 17.2% in 2017 to a respectable 23.2%, which is more in line with his career mark. But he has paired that increase in strikeouts with a career-high walk rate.
Hamels started five games against the Angels last year, posting a 2.38 ERA and 0.97 WHIP across 34 frames. The Angels could see those struggles continue this weekend, as they have yet to find consistent production against left-handed pitching this year. In Detroit, the Angels saw two left-handed starters, Matthew Boyd and Ryan Carpenter, and were only able to push across one run on seven hits in nine combined innings. In 2018, the Angels’ right-handed heavy lineup ranks 26th in batting average (.227), 19th in on-base percentage (.311), and 25th in slugging percentage (.378) against lefties.
On Sunday, Doug Fister will start for the Rangers. The 34-year-old has bounced around the majors over the last few years, and he actually made a few starts for the Angels’ Triple-A team last year. In his first year with Texas, Fister has a 4.09 ERA and 5.16 FIP. Fister is the only Rangers’ pitcher who the Angels will be seeing for the second time this year. In April, the Angels scored three runs in five innings against the right-hander.
Just a Number
In the series opener, Colon and Barria will face off. Colon just turned 45 years old and is the oldest player in the majors. Barria, on the other hand, is 21 years old and one of the sport’s youngest players. For reference, Colon made his MLB debut in 1997. Barria was born the year before.
In this series, Colon will be making his 538th career start, and Barria will be making his seventh. And when Colon was Barria’s age, he was pitching to the tune of a 3.14 ERA in Rookie ball. The point is: Colon is really old for an MLB player and Barria is really young for an MLB player yet they’ll be pitching on the same mound on Friday.
Anyone but the Yankees
After another short outing against the Yankees in his last start, Richards will be happy to see the Rangers. In two starts versus New York, Richards has logged four innings and allowed eight earned runs on eight hits while walking eight batters (What is it with number eight?) and throwing just 52% strikes.
In his other nine starts, Richards owns a 2.52 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 50 frames, and 61% of his pitches have been strikes. In his earlier start against Texas, Richards was not sharp; he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, walked five, and threw 94 pitches. But for Richards, any opponent is better than the Yankees.
All or Nothing
The Angels have won just two of their last seven games, despite only being outscored by four runs in the stretch. This is partly because of how inconsistent the team’s offense has been. This is what their run totals from each game over the last week look like, respectively: 1, 11, 1, 3, 9, 1, 2. In Texas earlier this season, the Angels did not have this problem, scoring eight, 11, and seven runs in the three games, respectively.
News & Notes
Zack Cozart was a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup in Detroit due to forearm tightness. He also missed Thursday’s game, but he is hoping to play in Friday’s game. The third baseman is hitting .232/.310/.395 (96 wRC+, where 100 is average) on the season.
Two Angels pitchers, Blake Wood and Matt Shoemaker, underwent surgery this week. Wood had Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career and will be out for 12-14 months. Shoemaker had forearm surgery, and the Angels have yet to publicize a timetable for his return.
On Thursday, the Angels claimed a right-handed reliever named Oliver Drake off waivers from Cleveland. The Angels will be Drake’s third team of the season. The 31-year-old has an ERA near eight in 17 innings this year, but his FIP is below three, indicating that better results could be in his future.
When & Where to Watch
Friday June 1, 2018 (Barria vs. Colon): 7:07 PM PT, FOX Sports West
Saturday June 2, 2018 (Richards vs. Hamels): 6:07 PM PT, FOX Sports West
Sunday June 3, 2018 (Skaggs vs. Fister): 1:07 PM PT, FOX Sports West
Just like the last one, this is a winnable series for the Angels. The Angels should not have a problem scoring runs in this series, so as long as the team’s pitching staff holds up as well as it did in May, they should also not have a problem winning the series.
Featured image via MLB.com.