Following a disappointing series in Seattle, the Angels will move on to Oakland, where they will face another division rival, the Athletics.
Here’s a look at the series, by the numbers.
Head to Head
Getting swept in Seattle dropped the Angels’ record to 37-32, and they are now 7.5 games back of first place in the American League West, which is currently occupied by the Astros. The Mariners are 0.5 games behind Houston and thus, the Angels are seven games back of the second Wild Card spot. The A’s were just swept by the Astros, being outscored 26 to 11. They are now 34-35 on the season and in fourth place in the AL West.
This will be the third time that the Angels and A’s meet this season and the first time since April. The Angels won five of the first seven games and outscored Oakland by 13 runs. The Angels are not the only divisional opponent that Oakland has struggled against in 2018. After this most recent sweep by Houston, the A’s are 10-24 against the AL West and 24-11 versus everyone else.
Here’s how the Angels and A’s match up heading into their third meeting of the year:
With a lineup led by Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman, the A’s have one of baseball’s most powerful offenses. While the Angels have hit the fourth-most homers in the majors, Oakland has hit the fifth-most. The A’s also have a solid bullpen, but their unreliable starting rotation often takes them out of games early. Angels pitchers will have their work cut out for them in this series, but their bats should be able to hang with Oakland’s.
Side note: The Angels bullpen and starting rotation have identical ERAs, which is… odd.
Oakland’s Starting Pitchers
In game one, the A’s will send Chris Bassitt, who is one of the players they netted in the Jeff Samardzija deal a couple of years ago, to the mound. Bassitt does not have overpowering stuff, but the Angels will have to contend with a sinker that helps him generate an above-average amount of grounders.
Bassitt’s most extended look in the majors came in 2015, when he pitched to a solid 3.56 ERA in 86 innings. He did not pitch in the big leagues in 2017, and, last week, he made his first big-league start since April 2016. In that outing, he held the Royals to one run across seven innings, struck out six, and walked one. The 29-year-old had a 6.10 ERA in 38 1/3 Triple-A frames this year, though his FIP was a more respectable 3.95.
In the second game, the Angels will face Oakland’s best pitcher, Sean Manaea, who threw a no-hitter in April. On the season, Manaea owns a 3.49 ERA. He has a hittable fastball that sits in the low 90s, but he has two deadly off-speed pitches–a slider and changeup–that have whiff rates near 30%.
The left-hander has been effective against hitters from both sides of the plate, with righties hitting .205 with a .652 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and lefties batting .215 with a .611 OPS. And at just 5%, Manaea has the ninth-lowest walk rate among starting pitchers this year.
In his first six starts of the season, Manaea enjoyed a 1.03 ERA and averaged over seven innings per start. In nine starts since then, however, he has a 5.12 ERA and is averaging just 5 2/3 innings per start. Manaea’s first outing against the Angels this year came during that first stretch. On Opening Day, he shut them down, going 7 2/3 frames and allowing only one run while striking out seven and walking zero.
On Sunday, the Angels will face Daniel Mengden. The 25-year-old has a 3.90 ERA in 83 frames this year. He has an even lower walk rate than Manaea; it (4.4%) ranks fifth among starting pitchers. He pairs that with the fourth-lowest strikeout rate, however, and is prone to the long ball, as he has served up 12 homers in 14 starts.
Mengden has permitted six runs and failed to complete five innings in back-to-back starts. Although, those two starts directly followed a three-start stretch that saw him toss 24 frames and allow just three runs. In his only start against the Angels this year, they tagged him for six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings.
In this week’s series in Seattle, Mike Trout went 7-for-11 (.636) with a double, four homers, six RBI, and four runs scored. However, the Angels did not win a game because the rest of the team combined to hit .200 with seven extra-base hits, six RBI, and eight runs scored.
On another note, Trout is now hitting .640 in six games against the Mariners this year, and he has 20 home runs in 66 career games at Safeco Field.
News & Notes
Two Angels left Wednesday’s game early due to injuries. First it was Garrett Richards, who exited after his second inning of work (he gave up two runs) with a hamstring injury that he hopes is “something minor.”
And, after diving for a ball in the third inning, Zack Cozart exited the contest with a left shoulder strain. After the game, Cozart said that he felt “not great,” which is not great for an Angels team that is already down one everyday infielder in Andrelton Simmons. No further updates have been given about either.
To add to the injury news, the Angels’ ever-expanding disabled list found its newest member on Tuesday in the form of Jefry Marte, who sprained his left wrist. David Fletcher was called up to take his spot on the roster. Fletcher was tearing up Triple-A competition, and he made his major-league debut at third base on Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with a triple, a pair of RBI, and a heads-up defensive play that saved a run.
And finally, Simmons, who is on the DL with a sprained ankle, started swinging a bat and throwing a ball again a few days ago, but he has yet to begin running.
When & Where to Watch
Friday June 15, 2018 (Skaggs vs. Bassitt): 6:35 PM PT, FOX Sports West
Saturday June 16, 2018 (Tropeano vs. Manaea): 1:05 PM PT, FOX Sports West
Sunday June 17, 2018 (Heaney vs. Mengden): 1:05 PM PT, FOX Sports West
The A’s are far from a pushover, but the Angels can certainly handle them. And, with their deficit in the postseason race growing to seven games this week, they need to do just that because that gap could very quickly become insurmountable, if it is not already.
Featured image via MLB.com.