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Series Preview: Angels @ Astros (Don't blow it)

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Angels lost this last series thanks to Mike Morin giving up a walk-off HR in the 13th inning of game 3

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last time these two teams met, the Angels dropped 2 games of that 3 game series.  Matt Shoemaker pitched the Angels to their only win of that series when he threw 8.1 innings of 2 run ball and struck out 11 Astros in the process.  Fortunately, Shoemaker gets to face the Astros again, though this time in Texas.

Yes, the Angels are coming off back to back series wins, but so too are the Astros who took down the Cardinals in two games and Reds in 2 out of 3.  The Astros are still under .500, but are 2.5 games ahead of the Angels who are 13.5 games out of first place.

The Astros pitching staff edges out the Angels in ERA, walks allowed, BAA, and pretty much all other pitching stats -which comes as no surprise to anyone watching Angels games lately.  Houston's offense has been pretty bad this year, although they do excel at home runs and stolen bases.  The Astros continue to be tops in the league in striking out which is good for high K rate pitchers like Shoemaker and sometimes, Santiago.

Biggest question(s): Is Santiago fixed again or will he blow up in Houston?

Game 1

Jhoulys Chacin vs. Doug Fister
Monday, June 20th, 2016 @ 5:10PM

Chacin is still around.  Will he be when Tropeano comes back in a week or so?

Doug Fister v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB HR K% BA
85 2 21.3 .247
Jhoulys Chacin v. Astros Current Roster (Career)
AB HR K% BA
36 2 8.1 .306
Players/Stats to watch:
Mike Trout v. Doug Fister (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
13 5 1 0 .385
Jose Altuve v. Jhoulys Chacin (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
7 3 0 0 .429
Fister pitched 6 innings against the Halos back on May 29th, allowing 3 runs, 4 walks, and a home run (to Kole Calhoun), while striking out 6.  He has allowed two home runs to current Angels over his career, and those would be Calhoun and Pujols. Kole Calhoun has a 1.000 OBP against Fister in 3 plate appearances, while Albert Pujols has only 1 hit and 6Ks in 11 AB vs. Fister.  Fister will be a tough first matchup for the Angels since he's really only had one bad outing this year, way back on April 14th.  In this last 3 starts he's only allowed 3 total runs in 19.1 IP.
Since his complete game on May 30th, Chacin has yet to last more than 5.1 innings over his last 3 games.  He now has a 4.75 ERA with the Angels on the season and has allowed 12 ER through his last 15.1 IP.  He had a 1.19 WHIP in May, but that skyrocketed to 1.83 in June so far.  It seems his wheels have fallen off a bit, so hopefully they can be re-attached.
VERDICT: This game leans heavily toward the Astros with the way both these pitchers have been throwing as of late.  Fister also hasn't lost a game in his last 9 starts.

Game 2
Hector Santiago vs. Collin McHugh
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 @ 5:10PM

Santiago pitched well his last start.  Can we have a repeat?

Collin McHugh v. Anaheim Angels (2015)
G IP BAA HR K ERA
3 20.1 .269 4 16 3.98
Hector Santiago v. Houston Astros (2015)
G IP BAA HR K ERA
4 24.1 .143 5 16 1.85
Players/Stats to watch:
Albert Pujols v. Collin McHugh (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
17 6 4 1 .353
Hector Santiago's last time out was his first good start since May 16th.  Granted it was against the Twins, but hopefully that gives him some mojo to go mow down those free swinging Astros.  Santiago hasn't faced the Astros yet in 2016 but he fared pretty well against them in 2015, despite giving up 5 home runs in 4 games.  Two of those home runs were knocked out at Minute Maid Park, where he'll be throwing this week.
Collin McHugh is having a bit of a worse year than 2015, like many of the Astros pitchers.  He has a 5-5 record and 4.89 ERA on the season.  His home/away stats are pretty comparable, though he does give up a few more hits in Houston.  Despite a rough year, McHugh is 4-1 his last 5 starts with a complete game under his belt on May 30th against the Diamondbacks.  That Rangers tore him up on June 9th, and knocked him out after just 3.2 IP for his only loss in his last 5 games.
VERDICT: Tough one to call.  Santiago is going to have to pitch like his last time on the mound, or this may be a hard game to win.  Hopefully Pujols can keep hitting well off McHugh.

Game 3
Matt Shoemaker vs. Lance McCullers
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 @ 11:10AM

Shoemaker's recent run has been historic.

Matt Shoemaker v. Houston Astros (2015-2016)
G IP BAA HR K ERA
3 18.1 .238 3 22 3.98
Lance McCullers v. Anaheim Angels (2015)
G IP BAA HR K ERA
4 25 .215 2 21 2.52
Players/Stats to watch:
Jose Altuve v. Matt Shoemaker (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
12 5 1 1 .417
Colby Rasmus v. Matt Shoemaker (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
10 4 2 1 .400
Albert Pujols v. Lance McCullers (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
22 8 2 1 .364
Kole Calhoun v. Lance McCullers (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
11 1 0 0 .091
Shoemaker didn't pitch that well against the Astros in 2015, but he blew them away about  three weeks ago.  The bearded wonder is on a roll that shows no signs of stopping (hopefully) as he keeps on rolling right into Houston.  He will have to watch out for Altuve and Rasmus who have hit him well in their careers and racked up 3 of the 8 hits he allowed in that great start on May 27th.
McCullers lost 3 of the 4 games he pitched against the Angels in 2015, but all 3 of those losses were in tight, low-scoring games.  He has yet to face them this year.  McCullers is 4-3 in his 7 starts of 2016 and has gone 6+ innings his last 3 starts, allowing 8 runs in those 19.2 innings.  McCullers has walked a ton in 2016, giving up 26 free passes over 40.1 IP.  He has only allowed 1 home run all season.
VERDICT: This game is probably our best shot at a win the whole series.
OVERALL VERDICT: It's going to be another tough series and I think some things will have to break the Angels way to pull of a series win, including a good performance by Santiago.