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Series Preview #31: Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels

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The Astros (59-35, 1st in AL West) head to Anaheim for four against the Angels (48-46, 4th in AL West)

Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Hey everyone, so I had a bit of a personal emergency yesterday and wasn’t able to start writing this until late. Because of that I’m going to do something unusual and cut out most, but not all, of the Astros coverage. I’m sure most of you are up to date on them. Anyways, let’s get down to the preview.

Astros Snap Shot

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Houston arrives in California for their second straight four-game series. This time they’ll take on the Angels, who we just saw in Houston prior to the All Star break. Though the Astros did manage to win that one, the series ended on a down note with the injury to Jonathan Lucroy. Expect Jake to be booed quite lustily should he come to bat or touch the ball in any form this week.

The offense was a little flat to start the second half, dropping the first couple of games of the series against the Rangers before storming back to take the final two. Yuli remains red-hot while Altuve suddenly seems to be finding his bat stroke as well.

Pitching wasn’t as dominant as we’ve come to expect from Houston thanks to a Rangers team that was popping home runs like they were going out of style. Osuna in particular has looked shaky in his two appearances, including a loss in the second game against Arlington.

The Astros would like to turn the last couple of victories into another winning streak thanks to a suddenly hard-charging Oakland team. It would certainly be nice to stretch the division lead back out again.

Angels

Recency Bias

The Angels come into this series riding high after a sweep of the Mariners. The opening game of that series in particular stood out as the Angels honored fallen pitcher Tyler Skaggs before the game. The team then further honored him by pitching a combined no-hitter after scoring 7 runs in the first inning. It was smooth sailing after that as the Angels rolled right over the M’s the rest of the weekend. However, I’m sure all of southern California is holding its breath as Trout left their last game with groin tightness.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Even a short-term loss of Trout hurts the Angels hard as he continues to easily be their, and anyone’s, best hitter in 2019. Not only did he smack a pair of doubles and homers this weekend, he also drove in 8. Oh, and he only had 1 AB in the third game, so he did most of that in just two games.

Of course, if you’re talking about just this most recent series, there are a lot of heroes to choose from with the Angels. The offense absolutely annihilated Mariners pitching over the weekend, scoring 13, 9, and 6 runs. In the past three games they have five players other than Trout who have an OPS at or over 1.000.

That includes rookie Matt Thaiss, who hit a three-run go-ahead homer in yesterday’s game, which was also his first ever MLB home run. Unfortunately for Thaiss, that’s about the most memorable thing that’s happened in his young career.

Shohei Ohtani has remained the team’s second most dangerous hitter in the lineup. Though he got a late start, he has managed to slash .300/.355/.556 in 56 games. Anaheim is also being uplifted by Tommy La Stella and Kevan Smith, who are both having career seasons. La Stella is currently on the IL though, and doesn’t look to factor back in until at least September.

Expect to see power out of Kole Calhoun, who is currently in the middle of one of his best home run seasons ever. His .238 average leaves something to be desired, but I’m sure the Angels are more than pleased with his 21 bombs.

After that things kind of calm down. The highlights of the remaining players include Justin Upton being decidedly average in 17 games since returning from the IL, Albert Pujols continuing to plod along with his usual style of play, and Andrelton Simmons having a bit of a down year at the plate.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

There’s not a whole lot of news to report when it comes to the Angels’ bullpen. It consists of the exact same makeup as the previous series, with Hansel Robles leading the group as the closer. Robles has fit in well since taking over the closer role from Cody Allen, and has pitched to a 2.74 ERA with a .234 BAA and 1.13 WHIP in 42.2 innings.

Ty Buttrey and Cam Bedrosian handle the high leverage stuff, with Justin Anderson coming in right behind them. There’s also Noe Ramirez, who sees regular work in relief and is having a pretty decent season. He’s occasionally employed as an opener as well.

The biggest name left in the pen after that is Trevor Cahill, who was converted from a starter after really stinking up the rotation. He hasn’t done much better in relief, and now owns a 6.82 ERA on the season.

The Angels’ bullpen had an emotional high during the tribute game for Tyler Skaggs. The team employed an opener in the form of Taylor Cole, who went two innings of no-hit ball. Felix Pena then came into the game and finished it out with seven innings to secure the no-hitter.

Angels Starters

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images

Game 1: Griffin Canning, RHP (3-5, 4.43 ERA)

Canning makes his first career start against the Astros after what has been a pretty decent 2019 campaign. He did get punched in the mouth his last time out though, giving up 6 runs to the Rangers just before the All Star Break. That last start was back on July 4th, so he hasn’t seen any live action in a while. Canning has had a couple of decent stretches so far this season, and there are times where he looks utterly dominant, but he has yet to appear so for a consistent stretch.

Game 2: Andrew Heaney, LHP (1-3, 5.18 ERA)

Heaney’s last start was in Houston where he would open the game with a slow curveball in honor of his late friend Tyler Skaggs. Heaney pitched well in that game but did not go very deep, allowing two runs across 5 innings. It was one of the better performances during a season where he’s oscillated back and forth between good and atrocious. Heaney has proven to be much less impressive in his sophomore year than he was last season, but there are still flashes of talent for the young southpaw.

Game 3: Félix Peña, RHP (7-2, 4.32 ERA)

Peña makes this start after his 7-inning no-hit performance during the recent Skaggs memorial game. This will be just his 5th start of the season, but Peña normally sees work in relief after the Angels use an opener. He’s having a decent season with a 4.32 ERA in 81.1 innings, and seems to be proving the opener strategy to be solid. Peña usually pitches anywhere from 4 to 7 innings during an outing, even when he’s starting, so he’ll probably go for as long as he’s effective.

Game 4: TBD

The Angels have not named a starter for this match but this spot last went to Matt Harvey, who tossed a pretty solid 5.2 innings of 1-run ball. His outing before that was decidedly less impressive as he surrendered 8 runs in just 2.2 innings. Harvey has had some pretty good games this year, but is equally prone to getting crushed by opposing offenses. His 6.88 ERA has been pretty spot on so far, and Houston contributed to that by slapping him with 5 runs in 4.2 innings the last time they saw him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an opener in this game, which may be why the Angels haven’t announced a starter yet.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, July 15th @ 9:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - FS-W / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Game 2: Tuesday, July 16th @ 9:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - FS-W

Game 3: Wednesday, July 17th @ 9:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - FS-W / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Game 4: Thursday, July 18th @ 8:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - FS-W

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (23 votes)
  • 49%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (88 votes)
  • 28%
    Series Split 2-2
    (51 votes)
  • 5%
    Angels Win 3-1
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    Angels Sweep 4-0
    (7 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now