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Series Preview: Athletics @ Angels (Pick on someone your own size)

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After being swept by the Astros, the Angels invite one of the few teams they can actually beat into Anaheim

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

Let's all forgot about that Astros sweep and move on shall we?  Hey!  The A's are in town for 4 games starting Thursday and the Halos are 5-1 against them so far in 2016.  The Twins, Red, and Braves are the only teams this year who have a worse record than the A's.  This is great for the Angels and Angel's fans who could use some good news, as well as a win or three. The bad news, is we get to face the Astros again soon, but this time at home on Monday.  That will be better, right?  Right?

The A's are having an abysmal year, but sadly, the Angels haven't fared much better.  Pretty much across the board in offensive and pitching stats, the two teams are nearly interchangeable.  In regards to defense, the A's rank last in the American League, while the Angels sit in 6th place.  Oakland's bullpen has also been a bit more consistent (and good) then the Angels this year.

This past series was a mess with weak offense, blown saves, and more (act now and we'll throw in a bad week by Mike Trout!).  However, this 4 game set with division rivals Oakland, is certainly something to look forward to.  Plus - Angels fans will get a chance to see the Freak pitch in Anaheim!

Bonus:  If you head to the Big A on Friday, you get this hideous "Ugly Sweater" cap.

Biggest question: Can the Angels avoid more embarrassment and at least win the series?

Game 1

Tim Lincecum vs. Kendall Graveman
Thursday, June 23, 2016 @ 7:05PM

The Freak makes his first start in Anaheim.

Tim Lincecum v. Oakland Athletics (2016)
G IP BAA K HR ERA
1 6 .190 2 0 1.50
Kendall Graveman v. Anaheim Angels (2016)
G IP BAA K HR ERA
2 13 .152 7 1 1.38
Players/Stats to watch:
Albert Pujols v. Kendall Graveman (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
10 5 2 1 .500
Kole Calhoun v. Kendall Graveman (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
11 4 1 1 .364
Khris Davis v. Tim Lincecum (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
6 3 3 2 .500

Lincecum made his debut just last week against the A's in Oakland.  He pitched a pretty strong 6 innings, notched his first win as a Halo, and allowed only one run.  Now 30,000 or so fans will be able to see him throw at the Big A. Lincecum has pitched in 24 ballparks throughout his career, but he's never thrown off the mound in Anaheim.  Lincecum has a little bit of experience with the current roster, most notably Yonder Alonso who has a .120 AVG in 25 AB and Coco Crisp who is hitting .200 in 15 AB.
Graveman has owned the Angels this year and has given up only 7 hits and 2 runs in two starts against them this season.  Calhoun scored the only run allowed by Graveman last Friday with a solo HR in the 3rd inning.  Graveman went through a rough winless stretch in May, but has won 3 of his last 4 starts.
VERDICT: This is the best pitching matchup of the series, and the toughest for either team.  Anything can happen in this one, and it could be a fast game.
Game 2
Jered Weaver vs. TBD
Friday, June 24, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Oakland still doesn't have a starter listed for Friday's game.

Jered Weaver v. Oakland Athletics (2015-2016)
G IP BAA K HR ERA
4 27.2 .219 9 2 3.64
Players/Stats to watch:
Coco Crisp v. Jered Weaver (Career)
AB H RBI K BA
63 11 1 11 .175
Josh Reddick v. Jered Weaver (Career)
AB H RBI HR BA
32 10 4 1 .313
Not sure who the A's are going to put up against Weaver, but they don't have a lot of good options which bodes well for the Angels.
As you can see above, Crisp has a horrible time hitting against Weaver, while Reddick has done pretty good.  Reddick is currently on a rehab assignment, however, and Weaver won't have to face him.  Crisp will probably be in the lineup, but he had a day off last time Weaver faced the A's.  Speaking of that last time, Weaver dominated the A's last week, allowing only 3 hits total to Billy Butler and Yonder Alonso.  He has a lot of prove Friday night - like last week was not a complete fluke and he still has gas in his career tank.
VERDICT: The A's don't have starting pitching and Weaver has a chip on his shoulder.  Weaver is a fighter and I expect him to come out with a win on this one.

Game 3
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Eric Surkamp
Saturday, June 25, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Chacin is looking for his stuff.  Have you seen it?  Or maybe Shoemaker's curse jumped to a new pitcher.

Jhoulys Chacin v. Athletics Current Roster (Career)
H AB AVG FIP K% HR
14 43 .326 4.72 8.5 1
Eric Surkamp v. Anaheim Angels (2016)
G IP BAA HR K ERA
2 10.2 2.68 1 6 3.38
Players/Stats to watch:
Stephen Vogt v. Jhoulys Chacin (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
2 2 2 1 1.000
Kole Calhoun v. Eric Surkamp (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
5 3 2 0 .600
Chacin is taking the mound again.  As I said in my last series preview, Chacin hasn't pitched well at all since his complete game almost one month ago.  His longest outing since May 30th has been 5.1 innings and he's given up 17 ER in 17.1 IP during the month of June.  He's now on the down side of his Halo career in that he's had more mediocre-bad games (5) than good games (3).  Looks like he came out of the gate strong and has fallen flat. Can he bounce back?

The Angels have faced Surkamp twice already this year and have beaten him both times.  The most recent victory was only 2-0, thanks to Weaver's pitching gem.  Carlos Perez has homered off Surkamp this year, and Trout & Escobar both have doubles off him in 2016.  In fact, Mike Trout is 4 for 9 in the two games vs. Surkamp.  Surkamp's best game of 2016 came in that game vs. Weaver last week, when he gave up only 2 ER and threw 102 pitches over 6 innings.

VERDICT: This one could be messy and the bullpens may take over by the 5th inning.  A's have a better bullpen unless the Angel's pen is having one of their good days.  I'd expect at least 6-8 combined runs in this game with the winner tough to call.

Game 4

Hector Santiago vs. Sony Gray
Sunday, June 26, 2016 @ 12:35PM

Is Santiago good again?

Hector Santiago v. Oakland Athletics (2015-2016)
G IP BAA K ERA
5 27.2 .226 25 4.96
Sonny Gray v. Anaheim Angels (2015-2016)
G IP BAA K ERA
6 40 .215 32 3.83
Players/Stats to watch:
Billy Burns v. Hector Santiago (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
5 10 0 0 .500
Coco Crisp v. Hector Santiago (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 3 2 2 .375
Jake Smolinski v. Hector Santiago (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
11 5 8 1 .455
Danny Valencia v. Hector Santiago (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
17 7 2 0 .412
Yunel Escobar v. Sonny Gray (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
12 4 1 0 .333
Mike Trout v. Sonny Gray (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
30 6 4 3 .200

Santiago had a no decision vs. the A's back on April 12th.  He pitched 7.2 innings but gave up 4 ER, including 2 solo dingers to Marcus Semien.  In the past two years, Santiago hasn't pitched all that well against the A's with nearly a 5 ERA, and 6 home runs allowed.  He's finally coming off a good start, and since he already pitched well against the A's this year, can hopefully continue that.  However, as you can see above, a significant portion of the A's roster has hit him really well in the past 5 years.

Gray has done a decent job vs. the Angels the past two years.  He's struggling a bit in 2016, but has allowed 2 runs or less in 3 of his last 4 starts.  He'll probably be good for 6-7 innings against the Halos on Sunday until the A's pen can take over.

VERDICT: The only way I see the Angels pulling this one off is with a strong performance by Santiago. Gray has been decent against the Angels and is pitching well lately.

OVERALL VERDICT: Angels should win at least 2 of these game, maybe 3.  I think a 4 game sweep will be a tall order.