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Series Preview: Indians @ Angels (627th time is the charm)

The sleepy Angels take on the first place Indians this weekend

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the 627th time these two times have faced each other since 1961.  Over the past 5 years, these two teams are 19-19.  In 2015, the Angels won the series in Anaheim 2 games to 1.

The Angels hope to turn things around (again) after a series of really bad days in New York in which they were swept by the Yankees and were outscored 29-14.  Talk about a bad trip.  Mike Scioscia and his team now find themselves 11 games out of first place, and are bailing water with no buckets.

Stop me if you've heard this one before... A first place team (Indians) heads to Anaheim to take on the nearly last place Angels.  The last time this happened, the Orioles rode into town and rode out with a 2-1 series win.  Do we have what it takes to end up with a different result this time?  The Indians dropped 2 to the Mariner's in Seattle, but before that were coming off a 6-game winning streak.  Must be nice to know what it feels like to win more than 4 games in a row - right Cleveland fans?  Let alone, being anywhere near the .500 mark.

The Angels flew in from NY for a fairly quick turn around.  There have been worse schedules, but it is kinda rough to land in California around 2-3AM after a 5 hour flight and have a game the next night (or the same night, depending on how you look at it).  At least the Indians were already on the West Coast.

The Indians have some HR power all around their lineup, especially in Santana and Napoli, but overall they sit about in the middle in the AL for HRs.  In fact, they sit around the middle in the AL for most batting stats.  They aren't afraid of the running game, and are 4th in the AL in SB - led by Rajai Davis (14) and Francisco Lindor (10).

Biggest question(s):  Can the Angels bounce back from their trouncing in the Bronx?

Game 1
Hector Santiago vs. Corey Kluber
Friday, June 10th, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Shoemaker was broken to start the year, now it's apparently Santiago's turn to need fixing.

Corey Kluber v. Angels Current Lineup (Career)
39 1 14.0 .282
Hector Santiago v. Indians Current Lineup (Career)
88 4 22.9 .273
Players/Stats to watch:

Kole Calhoun v. Corey Kluber (2015)
9 3 2 1 .333
Santiago has pitched 4.1 or less innings in 4 of his last 6 starts.  In his last 4 starts, he's given up 18 ER and allowed 11 walks over 15.2 IP for a 10.34 ERA in that stretch.  In his career, he's served up HRs to Mike Napoli, Jose Ramirez, Juan Uribe, and Lonnie Chisenhall.  That's 4 HRs for those guys in 23 ABs.  None of the current roster has really hit Santiago all that well Average-wise, but Napoli has managed to draw a .467 OBP in 12 AB with 7 walks and 2 hits.  Jered Weaver and Chris Young recently passed up Hector Santiago in HRs allowed, but Santiago currently sits at 14, tied with a few others in 3rd place.  Batters are slugging .451 against him this year.  Santiago has yet to pitch a game in Anaheim where he has not given up a HR, so I'd expect at least one Indians long ball.
Kluber has been okay this year with a 3.84 ERA, though a far cry from his 2014 Cy Young season.  He's allowed 4+ runs in 5 of his 12 starts, but is coming off 6 innings of 2-hit shutout ball against the Royals, though KC does kinda stink this year.  Kluber has also won 3 of his last 4 games.  There aren't a lot of current Angel's stats against Kluber, but Calhoun has done well in his small number of at bats.  Kluber faced the Angels twice last August, notching a loss and a no-decision, allowing a combined 7 ER in 11.2 IP.  His no-decision came at Progressive Field, while his loss came in Anaheim.
VERDICT: The Indians have the best shot of winning this game unless we can see the version of Santiago who pitched in April.

Game 2
Matt Shoemaker vs. Trevor Bauer
Saturday, June 11th, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Shoemaker has a splitter and it's good stuff.

Matt Shoemaker v. Indians Current Lineup (Career)
34 1 27.5% .176
Trevor Bauer v. Angels Current Lineup (Career)
56 0 20.3% .321
Players/Stats to watch:

Calhoun, Perez, Escobar v. Trevor Bauer (last 5 years)
11 1 0 0 .090
Lonnie Chisenhall v. Matt Shoemaker (last 5 years)
5 2 1 1 .400
Shoemaker is only 1-2 his last 4 starts despite some amazing stats.  Over those 4 games: 0 walks,  30.1 IP, 7+ IP each start, 37 K, 8ER, 28 Hits allowed, and a 2.39 ERA.  Shoemaker had a no-decision against the Indians last August when he struck out 10 over 6 innings and allowed zero runs.  Cleveland strikes out a fair amount (5th in the AL), so we could see Shoey rack up some Ks if he keeps working that splitter.

Trevor Bauer has been pretty solid this year.  Since he progressed from the pen to a starting role on April 30th, he hasn't given up more than 4 runs (and that was just once).  The good news is, he gives up runs most games, and has only had one scoreless start out of his 8 games.  He consistently has allowed 3 ER, in fact, he's allowed exactly 3 ER in 5 of his 8 starts.  Bauer has gone 7+ innings in back to back starts now, striking out 16 and allowing 4 ER.  In 2015, Bauer pitched 8 strong innings against the Halos, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits.
VERDICT: You have to give the edge to Shoemaker the way he has been pitching lately, but Bauer has been good his last few games as well.  This could end up a pitching duel.

Game 3
TBD vs. Danny Salazar
Sunday, June 12, 2016 @ 12:35PM

Angels don't have a starter listed yet for Sunday

TBD v. Cleveland Indians (Career)
? ? ? ? ?
Danny Salazar v. Anaheim Angels (Career)
31 6.67 2 22.2 .258

Players/Stats to watch:
Kole Calhoun v. Danny Salazar (last 5 yaers)
6 3 3 2 .500
The Angels have yet to announce Sunday's starter, but the schedule would put David Huff in that spot.  Huff had a rough outing against the Yankees when he gave up 5 ER in just 3.2 innings.  Huff was a dumpster diving find for Billy Eppler as he hasn't really even been a starter since 2011 with Cleveland, and has spent most of the past two years in the minors.
Danny Salazar skipped his last start due to shoulder fatigue after throwing 113 pitches over 8 innings on June 3rd.  Salazar gives up a fair amount of walks, but has arguably been Cleveland's ace so far this year.  He has a .183 BAA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.24 ERA and has only given up 4 HR over 11 starts.  He also leads the team in Ks with 81.  In 9 of his 11 starts, he's only allowed 2 runs or less.
VERDICT: Unless the Angels pull a magical pitcher out from somewhere, this game leans heavily toward the Indians with Salazar on the mound.
OVERALL VERDICT: I tend to agree with the FiveThirtyEight prediction that the Angels will lose this series and their best shot at a win comes on Saturday.