Despite their starting pitchers enjoying a 2.25 ERA in the series, the Angels dropped two out of three in Oakland over the weekend. They will now head back home for a two-game interleague matchup with the Diamondbacks.
Here’s a look at the series, by the numbers.
Head to Head
The Angels lost five out six games last week and watched their record fall to 38-34 and their deficit in the American League West balloon to 9.5 games, as the Astros continued their winning ways. Houston took a 1.5 game lead over the Mariners, who split a four-game series with the Red Sox after sweeping the Angels at the beginning of the week. The Angels are eight games behind Seattle for the second Wild Card spot.
The Diamondbacks are currently 39-32 and own a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for first place in the National League West. The Angels and Diamondbacks have not played each other since 2015, when they split four games. Arizona has won three out of six games against the AL West this year, and the Angels have lost three out of five against the NL West.
Here’s how the two teams match up heading into their first of a pair of two-game series in 2018:
The Diamondbacks finished April with a 20-8 record, the best mark in the National League. They then proceeded to win just eight games in May, finding themselves only one game over .500 at the end of the month.
They have turned it around in June, however, thanks mainly to their star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. Just like his team, Goldschmidt, who is one of baseball’s best players, got off to a good start in April (though his power numbers were down). He then went ice cold in May, hitting an uncharacteristically poor .144/.252/.278 (48 wRC+, where 100 is average). This month, he has been on another level, batting a scorching .438/.514/.891 (272 wRC+) with seven homers, the same number that he hit in the first two months combined.
Arizona has been dealing with injuries to their position players all season, so its offense has not been what it was last year, though, with Goldschmidt returning to his normal self and third baseman Jake Lamb coming off of the disabled list, it is looking better of late. The Diamondbacks have also been without a couple of their starting pitchers due to injuries, including 2017 breakout star Robbie Ray, for much of the season, so their rotation, which was one of baseball’s best a year ago, has not been nearly as formidable. Their bullpen and defense, however, have been among the best in the majors, keeping them at the top of a tough division.
Arizona’s Starting Pitchers
In the series opener, the Angels will face Zack Greinke, who pitched for them for a couple of months in 2012. Greinke had a rough first year in Arizona in 2016, but he bounced back last year to post a 3.20 ERA and 5.1 Wins Above Replacement. In 2018, however, he has taken a slight step back. In 14 starts, he owns a 3.87 ERA, and his fastball velocity is at a career-low level.
However, he is still striking out an above-average amount of batters (26.2%), and he has only walked 4.9% of the batters that he has faced, tied for the seventh-lowest mark in the majors. In his last two starts, Greinke has allowed eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings, though one of those was in Coors Field, Colorado’s hitters’ paradise.
In game two, Arizona will send Matt Koch to the mound. Prior to this year, the 27-year-old had appeared in just eight big-league games. He was thrust into a full-time role in the rotation this year due to those aforementioned injuries, however, and has been its weakest link. Koch has started 11 games and posted a 4.22 ERA and 5.73 FIP. He has also been worth -0.3 WAR.
He has generated a very low 6.7% swinging strike rate and 14.2% strikeout rate, and he has allowed 14 homers. The right-hander has oddly held lefties to a .187 batting average. The Angels have a right-handed-heavy lineup, however, and righties are hitting .310 with a .953 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against Koch. For reference, Goldschmidt has a .947 OPS since 2015, the eighth-best mark in the majors in that span.
Jaime Barria is set to start game one for the Angels, and Felix Pena will make his first big-league start on Tuesday. In nine starts with Triple-A Salt Lake this season, Pena owns a 3.37 ERA and has struck out 27% of the batters that he has faced and walked 10.2%. He threw six shutout innings in his most recent minor-league start.
Andrelton Simmons, who returned from the disabled list over the weekend, is in the midst of his best offensive season yet. He is hitting .318/.389/.444 (135 wRC+), and he has cut his already-low strikeout rate to a remarkable 4%. That is the lowest strikeout rate in a single season since Tony Gwynn‘s 1999 campaign.
Mike Trout started last week with back-to-back two-homer games on Monday and Tuesday. He followed that up with a 19-plate-appearance stretch that spanned from Wednesday to Sunday and looked like this: Groundout, single, double, intentional walk, intentional walk, single, single, single, sacrifice fly, walk, strikeout, strikeout, single, walk, hit-by-pitch, walk, single, intentional walk, single.
Overall, he hit .684/.750/1.368 (438 wRC+) last week, which doesn’t seem like it should be allowed. On the season, Trout is batting .328/.459/.688 (209 wRC+) with 23 home runs and 13 stolen bases, and he is on pace for 13.7 WAR, which would be the third-best season ever.
News & Notes
The Angels placed four players on the 10-day DL before Friday’s game in Oakland. Nick Tropeano has right-shoulder inflammation, Garrett Richards has a left-hamstring strain, Jim Johnson has a lumbar strain, and Zack Cozart has left-shoulder subluxation.
When & Where to Watch
Monday June 18, 2018 (Barria vs. Greinke): 7:07 PM PT, FOX Sports West and ESPN
Tuesday June 19, 2018 (TBD vs. Koch): 7:07 PM PT, FOX Sports West
With both the Astros and Mariners surging and the Angels’ injuries mounting, the Angels are fading from the postseason picture quickly. But those two teams will (probably) start losing games again at some point, and the only thing that the Angels can do is take care of the teams on their schedule to put pressure on the Astros and, more realistically, the Mariners in the standings. The Diamondbacks are a tough matchup, but, alas, they are the next team on the Angels’ schedule.
Featured image via MLB.com.