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Series Preview: Angels @ Athletics (Freak on Tap)

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The Angels bounce from the worst team in the AL Central to the worst team in the AL West.

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Hello old friends, it's a been a while!  The Halos haven't see their division rivals since April 11-13 when they swept them out of Anaheim.  The Angels were 5-4 after that series - one game above .500.  Ah, the good ole days.  Before the dark times, before the empire.  The Angels haven't been above .500 since, and may not get above the water line at all this year.

The good news is that the A's are worse!  The Angels may be sitting 8 games under .500, but being 5 games under after this series is not that unrealistic.  We're talking about a team that's been swept by the Astros and Brewers in June, AND lost a series to the Reds and Rangers.  But these Billy Beaners are an odd bunch, because they also swept the Yankees, a feat which we seemed to have recently completed backwards.

Oakland has the worst OBP in the American League.  The are pretty average when it comes to most other offensive stats and are 8 HRs ahead of the Angels.  Seems strange that a team who has Mike Trout and Albert Pujols is nearly last in the league in total home runs. Okay, maybe it's not that strange since Pujols is declining and no one else really has that power on the team (except maybe Marte).  The A's also don't strike out a lot.  They are #3 when it comes to fewest strikeouts, and of course the Angels are #1 in this category by a landslide.  If there is one thing Billy Eppler is good at, it's finding low K players to add to the roster.

In terms of pitching, the A's have the 2nd worst ERA and BAA in the American league (though the Angels are #3 in both of those categories).  Oakland also has the worst fielding percentage in the American League, but the Halos are only two spots behind them. Both bullpens are fairly equal, however the A's have Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle, and Fernando Rodriguez in the pen, and all these guys have a WHIP below 1.00 and BAA before .180.  Bullpen edge has to go to the A's because of these 3 guys.

Did you know the A's stadium is no longer called O.co?  Since Overstock.com bailed on the naming rights (can you blame them?), the stadium can now be referred to as "Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum".  Or if you are Arte Moreno, you'd call it "The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum of San Francisco".

Did you also know that 36-year-old Rich Hill, who's been with 5 teams in the past 5 years, is one of the only A's starting pitchers with an ERA under 5.50?  He's on the DL right now with a groin injury, so lucky us - not so lucky for him.  The other dude is rookie Daniel Mengden who has two big league starts.  Both these guys have exactly a 2.25 ERA.

Biggest question(s): Will the freak get his freak on and give some hope on his resurgence?

Game 1
Matt Shoemaker vs. Kendall Graveman
Friday, June 17th, 2016 @ 6:35PM

No one messes with da splitter.

Matt Shoemaker v. Oakland Athletics (2015-2016)
G IP ER HR SO BA ERA
6 31.1 17 5 22 .260 4.91
Kendall Graveman v. Anaheim Angels (2015-2016)
G IP ER HR SO BA ERA
3 17 4 1 12 .250 2.11
Players/Stats to watch:
Billy Butler v. Matt Shoemaker (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
14 5 2 0 .357
Marcus Semien v. Matt Shoemaker (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
13 5 1 1 .385
Albert Pujols v. Kendall Graveman (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 4 2 2 .500
Kole Calhoun v. Kendall Graveman (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 3 0 0 .375
Graveman pitched against the Angels back on April 12th and came out with a no-decision.  He only allowed 1 ER on 4 hits with 2 walks.  He faced the Angels twice last year and walked away with a win and a loss. Although in that loss, he came out on the really raw end of a 0-1 score when C.J. Wilson pitched a 7 inning gem that was closed out by Smith and Street.  The only run Graveman gave up that game was a 1st inning HR to Albert Pujols.  Graveman has pitched well against the Angels the past two years, but Pujols and Calhoun can hit off him.  Graveman has had some good games this year but is struggling to go deep.  He's yet to last more than 6.1 IP and has gone less than 4.2 in 5 of his 12 games.
Shoemaker had a rough time against the A's in 2015.  His ERA was 6.04 and he gave up 5 HR in 5 games.  The tables turned in 2016, way back on April 13th - before Shoemaker went on his recent fantastic run.  He 1-hit the A's in that game over 6 IP, striking out 5.  Bulter and Semien have hit well off Shoemaker, and Stephen Vogt only has 2 hits - but both of them are home runs.  Shoemaker continues to be hot and threw 8 scoreless innings against the Indians last Saturday.

VERDICT: Gonna have to go with the Cobbler on this one for two reasons:  He is awesome & the A's suck.


Game 2
Tim Lincecum vs. Sean Manaea 
Saturday, June 18, 2016 @ 1:05PM

Get your freak on.

Tim Lincecum AAA Stats (2016)
G IP ER HR SO BA ERA
3 17 5 0 18 .119 2.65

Players/Stats to watch:
Yonder Alonso v. Tim Lincecum (Career)
AB H RBI HR BA
23 3 1 0 .130
Sam Fuld v. Tim Lincecum (Career)
AB H RBI HR BA
3 2 2 2 .667

Lincecum has faced much of the A's lineup in the past, but only with a few at bats.  Yonder Alonso and Coco Crisp have faced him the most for a combined 35 AB and only 6 hits.  Fuld has only seen Lincecum in 3 at bats, and hit the ball out of the park in two of them.  In total, Lincecum has a .263 BAA, 8 walks, and 2 HR allowed in 57 combined at bats from the current A's roster.  The Freak pitched well in AAA, but he hasn't pitched an MLB game in over a year, so this is a big game for him.  Since he is still loved by many Giants fans, I'm sure those who are not scared of getting shot in Oakland will probably cross the bay to check out this game which could bring up some good support.

The A's have yet to announce the official starter for this game, but it's Sean Manaea's turn to pitch.  Either Manaea or some other poor fool will get to pitch against the Freak in his comeback game.  Manaea is a rookie with a whole 49.1 IP in his MLB career.  He has a 6.02 ERA and has given up 8 HR in 49 IP.

You thought the Angels have pitching rotation problems?  Look at this depth chart of the A's and take a look at their starting rotation.  I'm no expert, but I think you need more than 2 guys who are official starters:

VERDICT: How can you not go with the Freak in this game?  Plus, the A's have a horrible pitching staff, so even if it's not Manaea, the pitching matchup leans heavily toward Lincecum.


Game 3
Jered Weaver vs.  Eric Surkamp
Saturday, June 18th, 2016 @ 1:05PM

Weaver is sporting the highest ERA of his career this year.

Jered Weaver v. Oakland Athletics (2015)
G IP ER HR SO BA ERA
3 28.2 1 2 8 .260 5.30
Eric Surkamp v. Anaheim Angels (2016)
G IP ER HR SO BB ERA
1 4.2 2 0 1 4 4.00

Players/Stats to watch:
Marcus Semien v. Jered Weaver (last 5 years)
AB H RBI 2B BA
9 5 0 0 .444
Stephen Vogt v. Jered Weaver (Career)
AB H RBI HR BA
23 7 3 1 .304
Coco Crisp v. Jered Weaver (Career)
AB H RBI HR BA
46 10 1 0 .217
Weaver got knocked around pretty good in 2 of his 3 appearances vs. the A's in 2015.  He's yet to pitch against them this year, but he's been good at being knocked around by other teams in their place.  Good news!  The Weaver should pitch at least 5 innings (take that Santiago), since he's only gone less than 5 innings once this year when the Cardinals shelled him on May 12th.  Weaver is coming off back to back losses, giving up 11 ER in his last 11 IP.  He also has the dubious stat of most home runs allowed this season.  His unpredictability makes this a tough one for the Angels.
Surkamp lost to the Angels back on April 13th.  He threw 96 pitches and only lasted 4.2 innings.  He did only give up 5 hits and 2 ER, but was wasting a LOT of pitches.  He's been a bit of a disaster this year with a 8.07 ERA.  In 7 starts, he's only last 5+ innings once.  On June 14th he gave up 7 ER in just 2.1 IP.

VERDICT:Weaver has been not so great this year, but with flashes of his old brilliance.  Surkamp on the other hand, has just been horrible.  This game has to lean Angels.

OVERALL VERDICT: Angels "should" come out of this with a series win, and they do have a serious shot at another sweep.