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Freeway Series Preview: Angels vs. Dodgers (Freeway series part 312)

Inter-league play has lost a bit of luster. Time once again for that bitter SoCal rivalry.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

You take the 5 to Broadway to Bishops Road unless there is traffic.  Then you might take the 5 to the 60 to the 805 to the 101 and turn left at the homeless dude with a hollywood shirt, selling Dodgers tickets so he can eat.  Either way, the Freeway series is back, and it's lost it's luster.  The Angels and Dodgers have been facing off for what seems like - forever.  Currently the Angels lead the rivalry 58-48, but we are 2-8 the last two years.

Do we really need to see the Dodgers all that much?  What about the Padres?  Sure a bit longer drive, but the Angels only face the Padres every three years (lately), and it would be much more exciting to break up the monotony a bit and maybe face each team every other year - freeway series north and freeway series north.  It could work - get on it Manfred.  Also, I live about 2 miles from Petco Park, so I may be a bit biased (full disclosure).

The Angels are on a roll right?  So this will be an awesome series?  Well, the Angels weak offense DID beat one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but I wouldn't get too excited just yet.  Some great things happened over the weekend, but we could also quickly go back to being the sweepee instead of the sweeper.  This series will be a challenge and starting it off with Shoemaker doesn't exactly bring mountains of confidence.

One thing the Angels have already won?  We don't have a Justin Bieber billboard:

Biggest question:  Are the Angels good now or will we go back to getting whooped?

Game 1
Matt Shoemaker vs. Kenta Maeda
Monday, May 16, 2016 @ 7:10PM

Matt Shoemaker is still pretending to be a major league pitcher.  Or he has been cursed.

Matt Shoemaker v. Dodgers current lineup (last 5 years)
44 10 1 .227
Players/Stats to watch:
Maeda is off to a good MLB start with a 2.30ERA, however, he has earned 10 runs in his last 3 starts.  Since he has been pitching in Japan the past 8 years, Maeda hasn't faced any of the current Angels.  For his part, Shoemaker has barely seen any of the Dodgers, though Carl Crawford is 2-3 off him.
The Matt Shoemaker of 2014 seems to be a distant memory and his performance has pretty much gone downhill each year since then, making 2014 look more like a rookie fluke than the norm.  He has pitched only 9.1 innings in his last 3 starts, giving up 18 runs.  Too bad he can't pitch like this:

Of course in this scenario, he's been traded to the Cubs - and this is on MLB The Show.  Even in video games our traded players do better when they leave Anaheim.  Sigh....
VERDICT: Dodger stadium is not an overwhelming HR park so Shoemaker may do ok here.  Homeruns tend to hurt him, though overall he is just not that good this year.  We will have a tough time winning this game if our offense doesn't get to Maeda quickly.

Game 2
Jered Weaver vs. Clayton Kershaw
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 @ 7:10PM

Ace vs. Ace matchup, but only if you are talking about the 2016 Kershaw and 2011 Weaver.

Jered Weaver v. Dodgers Current Lineup (Career)
43 0 14.0 .289
Clayton Kershaw v. Anaheim Angels (2015)
2 15 51 1 0.60 .118

Players/Stats to watch:
Adrian Gonzalez v. Jered Weaver (last 5 years)
17 1 1 .647
Kole Calhoun v. Clayton Kershaw (last 5 years)
4 1 1 .500
Things could get ugly here.  Kershaw is in his prime and Weaver is one step away from retirement.  Weaver waltzes into Dodger stadium with a 1.53 career ERA there, which is about the only thing going for him in this matchup.  Kershaw has been Kershaw this year and is tough to beat.  I expect a lot of weak contact by Angels hitters against him.
Weaver would appear to be difficult for Gonzalez to hit, but he's yet to face the 2016 version of Weaver.  Kole Calhoun went 2 for 4 off Kershaw with a first inning home run back in September.  Calhoun has been hot, so it would be great to see him get some wood on Kershaw's pitches early in this game.
The Trout vs. Kershaw matchup has been pretty uneventful with Trout striking out 3 times and hitting .250 over the past two season.  It's time for Trout to show Kershaw who the boss is down in Souther California.
VERDICT: The Dodgers should win this game, but the Angels don't understand the word "should" and usually do the opposite of what is supposed to happen.  But if I were Pete Rose, I'd bet on the Dodgers.

Game 3
Nick Tropeano vs. Ross Stripling (probable)
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 7:05PM

MLB currently lists the Dodgers starter as TBD, but it will probably be Stripling in this battle of the rookies.

Players/Stats to watch:
Tropeano is perhaps getting lucky this season.  He needed 30 pitches twice to get out of innings against the Mariners on Friday yet came away with only 2 ER allowed.  His ERA sits at 3.68 but his FIP is 5.15.  For those of you who don't know what FIP is, it's basically what the pitcher's ERA could be expected to be if he experienced league average results on balls that have been put in play. In short, he's kinda getting lucky.  Not to mention, but last year Tropeano was rocked by the Dodgers and gave up 8 hits and a walk in 4.1 innings.  It sure would be nice to see him pitch into the 6th inning on Wednesday, but that will probably not be reality.

Stripling has had an unremarkable season to date with a 4.26 ERA and 1.316 WHIP over 7 games.
VERDICT: Neither pitcher has been going deep in to games, so this game may be won or lost by the bullpen.

Game 4
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Scott Kazmir (Probable)
Thursday, May 19, 2016 @ 7:05PM

MLB currently lists the Dodgers starter as TBD, but it will probably be Kazmir

Jhoulys Chacin v. Dodgers Current Lineup (Career)
198 0 15.5 .232
Scott Kazmir v. Anaheim Angels (2015)
2 15 51 11 0.60 .176
Players/Stats to watch:
Carl Crawford  v. Jhoulys Chacin (Last 5 years)
9 0 2 .667
Kazmir and Kershaw were both Angel killers last year.  During his July outing, Kazmit shut out the Angels for 7.2 innings and only gave up 3 hits while striking out 5.  He got the win both times he faced us in 2015.  Chacin has faced the Dodgers quite a bit over his career and has been less than dominate, but also not horrible.  He is coming off a very strong first start for the Angels so hopefully he can keep that rolling.
VERDICT: Angels need Chacin to keep the game close if they want to pull this one off.
OVERALL VERDICT: I think a split is likely and probably a best case scenario for this series.