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2022 Series Preview 1: Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels

The Astros begin their 2022 campaign with some West Coast baseball, starting with four games against the Angels

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Narrative

As the season turns and once again we are treated to the cracks of bats and pops of mitts, a familiar refrain returns to southern California: Angels fans looking at a top-heavy lineup featuring two of the greatest players in the sport, a stacked bullpen, some new flashy offseason signings, and wondering if this is the year that Mike Trout’s talent finally stops getting wasted.

Unfortunately for those fans, and fortunately for their Houston contemporaries, things don’t look any easier than they have been at the beginning of other recent seasons in Anaheim. Even with Trout and Shohei Ohtani featuring one of the most feared one-two punches in any lineup, there’s not a whole lot of confidence among the galaxy brains of baseball that the Angels can finally get over the hump and into October greatness. Though their chances are certainly better than they’ve been in a while though, mainly thanks to the expanded playoff format.

Once again their offense will rely on their big stars, with Jared Walsh breaking out last year to join the top of the order. Angels faithful will also hope to see Anthony Rendon finally step into the role he was signed for a couple of seasons ago as well. A shortened 2020 and an injury plagued 2021 have kept him from paying dividends on his contract, so it remains to be seen what he can do when healthy across a full, 162 game season.

One big move on the offense that left some scratching their heads was the release of Justin Upton, who had a decent Spring and is still owed $28 million on the final year of his contract. This will put pressure on their young corner outfielders to perform, but luckily they’ll have some cover behind the Angels’ superstars.

However, as has been the case since seemingly time immemorial, the Angels’ rotation will need to take a big step forward if Anaheim is going to sniff a pennant this season. Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen have joined a pitching staff anchored by MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani, but it remains to be seen whether they have the much-needed oomph.

While Syndergaard has certainly turned heads in the past, his injury history has made him spotty at best in recent seasons. If he can stay healthy though, he and Ohtani will be a scary combo for any Angels opponent. Meanwhile, Michael Lorenzen isn’t exactly a name to inspire fear but is still more than the nothing that the Angels’ rotation has been dealing with in recent seasons after Ohtani’s spot.

The Angels did a good job of boosting an already solid bullpen by signing Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, and Archie Bradley while also re-signing Raisel Iglesias. However, considering that they haven’t really struggled in that department it, this probably won’t move the needle all that much in 2022.

Spring Training and Projected Lineup

I don’t want to linger too long on Spring Training because it usually doesn’t amount to much in comparison to the regular season, but some things do warrant mentioning.

The Angels won 11 of their 18 games but the biggest takeaways are that the Angels’ offense had an excellent showing in their exhibition games. The team as a whole sported a .283/.358/.507 slash line during that time.

However, Trout showed a distinct lack of power, without a single extra base hit during the entire preseason.

Syndergaard was probably the best rotation piece that the Angels fielded during ST, but nobody had more than 10 innings so it’s hard to really assign any meaning to that.

After the completion of Spring Training it looks as though the Angels lineup will shake out as follows (with Spring Training slash line included just for fun):

1. Shohei Ohtani, DH (.280/.471/.720)
2. Mike Trout, CF (.222/.375/.222)
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B (.320/.346/.560)
4. Jared Walsh, 1B (.313/.421/.438)
5. Jo Adell, LF (.286/.311/.595)
6. Taylor Ward, RF (.289/.341/.579)
7. Matt Duffy, 2B (.389/.476/.611)
8. Max Stassi, C (.222/.222/.389)
9. David Fletcher, SS (.318/.304/.455)

Pitching Matchups

As I said earlier, Spring Training numbers don’t mean a whole hell of a lot, especially since pitchers got much less experience than they’re used to, and the Astros had to start some guys on the back fields thanks to weather. But I’ll go ahead and include the stats here just for comparison’s sake.

Game 1: Framber Valdez (LHP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K’s, 3.0 IP) vs Shohei Ohtani (RHP, 1-0, 4.76 ERA, 9 K’s, 5.2 IP)

Game 2: Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 K, 2.0 IP) vs TBD, Probably Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 2-0, 1.04 ERA, 11 K’s, 8.2 IP)

Game 3: Justin Verlander (RHP, 2-0, 1.32 ERA, 15 K’s, 13.2 IP) vs TBD, Probably Patrick Sandoval (LHP, 0-1, 5.87 ERA, 9 K’s, 7.2 IP)

Game 4: Jose Urquidy (RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 K, 8.0 IP) vs TBD, Probably Michael Lorenzen, (RHP, 0-1, 4.66 ERA, 8 K’s, 9.2 IP)

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, April 7th @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Angels - KLAA 830
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West


Game 2: Friday, April 8th @ 8:38 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Angels - KLAA 830
Watch: Apple TV+

Game 3: Saturday, August 9th @ 8:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Angels - KLAA 830
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West

Game 4: Sunday, April 10th @ 3:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Angels - KLAA 830
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW+, ATT Sportsnet-SW / Angels - Bally Sports West


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (11 votes)
  • 48%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (76 votes)
  • 37%
    Series Split 2-2
    (59 votes)
  • 5%
    Angels Win 3-1
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Angels Sweep 4-0
    (3 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now