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2019 Series Preview #42: Los Angeles Angels @ Houston Astros

The Astros (82-47, 1st in AL West) will play three against the Angels (63-67, 4th in AL West) for MLB’s annual Players’ Weekend

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Recency Bias


The Angels will head to Houston after a pretty rough week, having played 8 games in 7 days before a day off yesterday. That stretch featured 4 games against both the Sox and Rangers and included a doubleheader on Tuesday to make up for a postponed game from July. Though they won the series against Chicago, they would drop 3 of 4 to South Oklahoma. While they did win the opening game of the doubleheader, they dropped all three night games of the series, getting walked off in all of them. Brutal. The team will try and take a breath before heading to face an even bigger test in the form of the 1st place Astros.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers - Game One Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Mike Trout has easily been the Angels’ best player for the 2019 season. In 122 games he’s slashed a ridiculous-for-anyone-other-than-Mike-Trout .296/.440/.660 with 42 homers and 27 doubles. The past 7 games haven’t been quite as nice to him, but I’m sure no one’s complaining about a .944 OPS. He is definitely on a trajectory for yet another MVP-caliber season.

In the short term however, the Angels have seen the most contribution from the young Brian Goodwin, who they picked up off the trash heap during the offseason after the Royals cut him. Goodwin’s been good all season, proving to be an excellent and cheap pickup. He has been hot in the last 7 games with an 8-for-22 performance along with two homers and 3 doubles to lead the club in extra base hits.

The top of the class for the Angels has been the usual suspects this week after Goodwin. Ohtani, Pujols, Trout and Upton are 2 through 5, in that order, so far as OPS goes for the Angels. Ohtani in particular has really been swinging it, hitting .450 in 20 AB, though he did get a day off in there. As for Pujols, he recently passed Adrian Beltre on the all-time hits leader board for foreign-born players, planting another feather in the cap of his HOF career.

The Angels also have a couple of players who have been trending upward after slow starts in the form of Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun. Upton started the season injured but has made a bit of a push as the season gets on, even though his numbers aren’t particularly exciting across the entire year. Calhoun is the same, but with how awful his start to 2019 was, it’s pretty impressive that he’s brought his OPS all the way back up to league average.

Speaking of average, the offense for the Angels as a whole has pretty much been right about at par or just slightly above. The only exception to that seems to be their OBP, which is within the top ten of the league, but after that things fall off a bit. And all of that comes after the best player in the league helps to raise the curve.

MLB: AUG 17 White Sox at Angels Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Angels have had a surprising stable hierarchy in their bullpen for a team under .500, having stuck with Hansel Robles as their ninth-inning guy pretty much all year. He’s rewarded their faith with one of the best seasons of any of the relievers in the Angels’ pen. He’s 18-for-21 in save opportunities with a 2.83 ERA in 57.1 innings so far this season.

He’s joined by Cam Bedrosian and Ty Buttrey to complete a very strong back end of the bullpen for the Angels. Bedrosian has had an excellent 2019, possibly the strongest out of the pen. He’s sporting a .200 BAA and a WHIP of 1.12 and has only surrendered 39 hits in 52 innings of work. Meanwhile, Buttrey has probably been a the weakest link out of the Angels’ back three. He had been rolling through the middle of July but has had a few bad outings in that time, giving up 11 ER in his last 11.1 innings since July 25th.

The Angels bullpen is part of the opener crowd these days with three separate relievers seeing work in the first inning this season. Noe Ramirez, Taylor Cole, and Luis Bard all have starts under their belts. Of those three, Ramirez has been the best reliever on the year and has seen the second most starts for pure relievers at 5. Taylor Cole has seen the most at 6, but his 5.48 ERA isn’t much to get excited about.

Former starter Trevor Cahill is also banging around in the bullpen, but he’s been fairly awful as both a starter and reliever for the Angels in 2019.

Astros Snapshot

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Due to the Astros playing a night game on a getaway day for some strange reason I won’t be able to do a full write up on their most recent series. However, I will do a quick snapshot so that we’re all up to date here.

Houston will face the Angels after a series against the Tigers where one of the worst teams in baseball absolutely refused to roll over. Houston was able to take 3 of 4, but the Tigers managed to make it interesting and even stole one from the Astros after Verlander pitched a 9 inning 2-run gem.

The offense showed up for the most part except for the 1-run performance against the Tigers, but it was really pitching that had difficulty keeping the Tigers in check and made too many of the games close. Even so, the boys were able to score 18 runs over the past 4 games, so not too shabby. The bullpen in particular has had issues in recent games and will need to get itself together as the team heads into the final month of the season.

They’ll have to do it without some key components however as Carlos Correa, Ryan Pressly, Aaron Sanchez, and Aledmys Diaz all currently sit on the IL. It’s hoped that they can all return in September, but the Astros don’t have the best track record when it comes to accurately conveying injury status and length.

While Houston did take 3 of 4 to stay ahead of the A’s, Oakland is definitely knocking hard on the door. They’re currently threatening to sweep the Yankees as of this writing and will be 7 games behind the Astros if they’re able to hold on and make that happen. The other side of the coin there is that that will also allow Houston to creep to within one game of the Yankees for best record in the AL if that happens.

Update: The A’s completed the sweep as I was editing this and I’m too tired to rewrite that paragraph.

Pitching Match Ups

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Game 1: TBD vs Zack Greinke, RHP (13-4, 2.84 ERA)

The starter in this game will be up in the air after Angels starter Griffin Canning, who would normally go in this spot in the rotation, was shut down for the season due to an elbow injury. The team has not announced any corresponding moves as of yet, but if they don’t call up a replacement starter they could easily go with one of their openers. Who would get the ball after that is not clear as their normal pitcher to follow an opener, Felix Pena, is also on the IL.

Gerinke makes this start after an excellent outing in Oakland where he tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball to pick up his third straight win as an Astro. He also got some good news after that game when it was announced that a hit from his first start as an Astro was actually an error, lowering his ERA back below 3. Greinke has now gone at least 6 innings in all three of his AL starts and, thanks to the change from hit to error, has yet to give up more than 2 earned runs. This will be his first time facing the Angels in 2019.

Game 2: Dillon Peters, LHP (3-1, 3.92 ERA) vs Wade Miley, LHP (12-4, 3.18 ERA)

Dillon Peters will take the ball for the Angels after a rather forgettable 4-inning performance against the Rangers where he gave up 5 runs, 4 earned. He also struggled with his command in that match, giving out 4 free passes and only striking out 3. He began the year in the pen for the Angels before becoming a mainstay in the rotation starting in late July. He’s bounced back and forth to the minors a couple of times this season, where his numbers have been even worse than in the majors. This will be his first time ever facing the Astros.

Houston counters with Wade Miley after a game against Detroit where he was able to get through 5.2 innings before being pulled. Miley had looked a little shaky going into that start, especially when you look at the game he had in Chicago, but was able to bounce back nicely with an 8-strikeout outing. He would give up 3 runs during that game though, which marked the 24th time this season that he’s given up 3 or less during a start. Two of those include starts against the Angels, where he would get into the 6th inning in both and give up 2 or less runs.

Game 3: Jaime Barria, RHP (4-6, 6.35 ERA) vs TBD

Jaime Barria will take the mound for the Angels in this game after making a spot start in the doubleheader on Tuesday. He joins the rotation in place of the injured Griffin Canning after a season that’s been decent except for a 4 really craptastic games that upended his ERA. That wasn’t the way in his last start against the Rangers though, where he went 5 innings of 2-run ball while striking out 4. Barria looked to be a lock for the rotation last season but faded somewhat down the stretch and hasn’t been quite on the same level in 2019. This will be his first start of 2019 against the Astros, who he had mostly good luck against in four 2018 starts.

This spot would normally belong to Aaron Sanchez but he’s currently on the IL with a pectoral muscle issue. It’s unclear what the plan is for the moment here, if the Astros will call up a fresh arm for a spot start or simply run with a bullpen game. With Cy Sneed in the pen and stretched out as a starter in AAA, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to see him get the ball.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, August 23rd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Angels FS-W / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Saturday, August 24th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Angels - KLAA 830, KTMZ 1220 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Angels FS-W / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Sunday, August 25th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Angels FS-W / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (45 votes)
  • 60%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (75 votes)
  • 4%
    Angels Win 2-1
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Angels Sweep 3-0
    (0 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now