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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels

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The Astros (88-61, 1st in AL West) head out on what could be a decisive road trip starting with four against the Angels (72-77, 4th in AL West)

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

The Angels welcome the Astros to town as they begin to wind down yet another disappointing season. In spite of the fact that they have two of the best players in the world on their team, Anaheim has not been able to put together more than one successful season in over a decade.

A lot of that comes from the fact that the team has not really been able to assemble a winning pitching staff for a while. This year has seen some improvement in the rotation at least, especially while anchored by Ohtani, but the bullpen has pulled the average down.

That assemblage of high octane offense and low energy pitching has made for a team that’s fun to pick as a dark horse candidate, but can never really get too far past .500. Presently the Angels aren’t even all that close to .500 and the loss of Trout for 3 quarters of the season really put a damper on their hopes to challenge for at least a WC spot.

On top of that they lost Rendon to season-ending hip surgery, really leaving just Ohtani as their only elite-tier player. And while Ohtani has delivered on his promises this season, most likely to the tune of an AL MVP, he just couldn’t carry this team to the promised land by himself.

Last 10 Games: 3-7 Record, 1 Series Win, 1 Series Lost, 1 Series Swept, -11 Run Differential (37 Scored, 48 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 38-37 at home, 34-40 on the road, 37-58 against teams over .500


On the Field

While I may have used the term “high octane offense” to describe the Angels earlier, that doesn’t really describe them when they’re missing some of their best players. Their collective .246/.309/.410 slash line is better than the Mariners and comparable to the A’s, but their pitching has proven the difference in the division.

Nothing about the Angels’ offense screams elite when viewed as a whole, even with the likes of Shohei Ohtani hitting in the middle of their lineup. Their best traditional stat is total hits, where they are 9th in the league with 1,230, but they don’t crack the top ten anywhere else.

Of course that’s not to say that the bats are completely absent. Aside for the formidable Ohtani, Jared Walsh has quietly put together a superb season. The Angels’ 1B has slashed a collective .271/.335/.504 so far in 2021, and his 29 doubles lead the team.

As for pitching, well, it’s pretty much the same story as the offense. Overall the team has turned in a below-average performance collectively, though not basement dwelling. There are a few bright spots, such as the player I have named approximately 10 times already, but a couple of the other starters have turned in good performances this season.

Raisel Iglesias, Mike Mayers, and Steve Cishek have all been excellent in relief, but they’re about the only ones. Iglesias, who came over from the Reds in the offseason to settle in as the Angels’ closer, has lived up to the hype. His 2.63 ERA is best among Angels relievers with at least 30 innings (he has 65 himself) and he has successfully converted 32 of 37 save opportunities this season.


Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Framber Valdez (LHP, 10-5, 3.26 ERA, 109 K’s) vs Jaime Barria (LHP, 2-3, 4.93 ERA, 30 K’s)

Barria has a rather deceptive ERA that stems from a few clunkers and the fact that he’s spent about half the season in AAA. He has surrendered more than three runs just once in his last 7 starts though, but has struggled with going deep after only pushing past 5 IP once in that same timeframe. He was chased after 3 innings and 3 earned runs the one other time he’s faced the Astros this season.

Game 2: TBD vs Packy Naughton (LHP, 0-2, 4.32 ERA, 11 K’s)

This game with be Naughton’s 6th MLB appearance and just his 4th career start after making his debut in mid-August. While he had his clock cleaned by the White Sox his last time out with 4 runs in 2.2 IP, he’s done a serviceable if not great job for the Angels so far. That does include 5 innings of shutout ball against the Padres just two starts ago as well.

Game 3: TBD vs Janson Junk (RHP, 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 4 K’s)

Like Naughton, Junk is trying to show the Angels what he’s got before the season peters out and everyone in Anaheim heads to their couches. This will be just his third career appearance / start, and the first two went... ok. He tossed 4.1 innings of 1-run ball against the White Sox, which is good. He also gave up just 5 runs against the Rangers before that but just one of those was earned, which is why his ERA is below 3.

Game 4: TBD vs Alex Cobb (RHP, 8-3, 3.59 ERA, 89 K’s)

Alex Cobb has been surprisingly decent for the Angels after signing with them in the offseason, though he is just coming off of a significant trip to the IL. His one start since that return was a 5 inning shutout affair against the White Sox. He has faced the Astros once this year way back in April when they chased him after scoring 5 runs (4 earned) in 2.2 innings.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, September 20th @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West

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Game 2: Tuesday, September 21st @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West

Game 3: Wednesday, September 22nd @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Angels - KLAA 830, KWKW 1330
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West

Game 4: Thursday, September 23rd @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Angels - KLAA 830
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West, MLB Network (out-of-market only)


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (10 votes)
  • 62%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (99 votes)
  • 25%
    Series Split 2-2
    (41 votes)
  • 2%
    Angels Win 3-1
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    Angels Sweep 4-0
    (5 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now