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Series preview: Angels @ Yankees (Bronx Revenge)

The Angels will be looking for revenge from their last trip to the Bronx which ended in a sweep

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off back-to-back series wins, the scrappy Angels will be looking for revenge against those Damn Yankees.  Last June in the Bronx, the Yanks swept the Angels in 3 games.  In the past 5 years, the Angels are 5-14 against the Yankees in New York.  The Angels haven't won a series in the Bronx since 2007.  Going into this series, both the Yankees and Angels are sitting 4 games under .500 at 26-30.

The Yankees have the worst batting average in the AL this year and the fewest extra base hits (though the Angels only have a few more).  Both teams are pretty evenly matched in ERA and BAA.  When it comes to the bullpen, the Yankee pen has been pretty solid, which is not something you can always say about the Angels.

While the Angels are coming off a couple of series wins, the Yankees have lost back to back series, including being swept by the Blue Jays.

Johnny Giavotella, Mike Trout, Carlos Perez, and Rafael Ortega didn't have the best week last week so will hopefully rebound in New York.  Albert Pujols tweaked his ankle in the last play of the game on Sunday and it's unknown if he will miss any games.  If he does, it may just be a game or two or we may see him as a DH only this week until his ankle feels better.

Biggest question(s): Can the Angels win a series in the Bronx for the first time in almost 10 years?

Game 1
Matt Shoemaker vs. Masahiro Tanaka
Monday, June 6th, 2016 @ 4:05PM

Shoey has a tough matchup in game 1.

Matt Shoemaker v. New York  Yankees (Career)
21 8 23.8 .381 0.76
Masahiro Tanaka v. Anaheim Angels (Career)
6 4 27.3 .400 1.70
Players/Stats to watch:
Chase Headley & Aaron Hicks v. Matt Shoemaker (last 5 years)
10 5 3 0 .500

The current Angels roster has very few at bats in their career against Tanaka, so he is a bit of an unknown.  Trout, Escobar, and Pujols all have seem him for about 3 plate appearances.  Tanaka has been tough this year and is coming off his first loss of the season, however, he only gave up 1 earned run.  In fact, in 8 of his 10 outings, he has given up 2 earned runs or less, which makes him the toughest pitcher we face in this series.

Shoemaker has been spectacular his last 3 starts after having a craptastic start to the season.  It appears he has regained mastery of his split finger fastball which has been a big part of his success.  In his last 4 games, his split finger usage climbed dramatically (2-4x the rate he had thrown it to start the season).  If Shoemaker can continue throwing his split finger well and keep Headley and Hicks in check, he should keep the Angels in this game.

VERDICT: I think both starting pitchers will keep the runs down.  The Angels offense is going to need to back up Shoemaker, especially against Tanaka, since the Yankees have a pretty solid pen.  If we go to late innings tied or behind, it will be a tough game to win.

Game 2
TBD vs. Michael Pineda
Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 @ 4:05PM

I hear that TBD guy has a killer curve.

Micahel Pineda v. Anaheim Angels (Career)
16 8 5.3 .500 18.20

Players/Stats to watch:
Yunel Escobar v. Michael Pineda (last 5 years)
15 7 6 2 .467
UPDATE (6/6 @ 2PM): Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to start for the Salt Lake Bees tonight and according to Alden Gonzalez, 31-year-old lefty David Huff will pitch this game.  Huff was signed by the Angels on May 17th after being released by KC's minor league team.  Huff has pitched 7.2 innings for the Salt Lake Bees and gave up 3 ER in those 2 games with 6Ks and only 1 walk.  Huff hasn't been a starter for years, but did start one game for the Dodgers last year and the Angels stretched him out to 4.2 innings his last game in Salt Lake.  I wouldn't expect him to go more than 4-5 innings which would make this a semi-bullpen game.
Nick Tropeano was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but ended up the 5th Angels starter to hit the DL.  I'm still baffled that you can have 5 starters hit the DL and still be only 4 game sunder .500.  Billy Eppler is sure earning his paycheck this year.
Given that we only have 4 starters left on our depth chart, game 2's starter will have to come from somewhere.   The only options are 1) A call-up from AAA or 2) A bullpen game.
If the Angels go with a bullpen game, it will likely depend on how much the bullpen is used in Monday's game.  If Shoemaker pitches deep, it gives Scioscia the option of a bullpen start if he so desires.  However, who starts that game?  The usual suspect would be Cory Rasmus, who is (surprise) on the DL.  Scioscia could hand the ball over to Deolis Guerra, who has never started a big league game, but was a starter for the first 6 years of his minor league career.  He hasn't been a regular starter since 2011, but he did start one AAA game in 2014.  In his last two appearances, Guerra has thrown 34 pitches.  I think if he started, we couldn't expect more than 50 or so out of him which can be anywhere from 2-4 innings.  I'd be surprised if he started and went 5.
A better scenario would be to call up a AAA arm.  But who could that be?  Scioscia has said that Tim Lincecum is not an option since apparently they want him to throw one more game in AAA (he may start as early as next week for the Angels).  Nate Smith pitched on Friday so would be on 4 days rest and that takes him out of the mix.  Kyle McGowin and Chris Jones both pitched over the weekend so they are out as well.  Kyle Kendrick was supposed to pitch on Sunday but he was scratched.  Presumably, he'd be the one to get the nod on Tuesday if the Angels don't go with a bullpen game.
Kendrick has a 5.21 ERA for Salt Lake this year.  He's pitched 6 or more innings in 5 of his 9 starts so he can eat up innings.  Kendrick has big league experience and he has faced a few of the Yankees before.  Against McCann, Beltran, and Castro, he has a .259 BAA and has given up 3 HR in his career (one to each of them).  He hasn't faced rest of the current Yankee roster.
Yunel Escovar has about the only experience against Michael Pineda and he has owned him.  Mike Trout is also 1 for 1 with a walk against Pineda.  None of the rest of our current roster has faced him, which is not surprising since we are mostly a AAA team this year.  Pineda has been bad this year with a .320 BAA and 6.41 ERA.  He does rack up a LOT of Ks, but this is a new-look low K type Angels team.  Pineda hasn't pitched more than 6 innings all year, and has given up 5 or more ER in 5 of his 11 starts.

VERDICT: Despite not having a clear starter, the Angels probably have a slight edge just because Pineda is having a rough season.  I'd rather see Kendrick start over David Huff, but I'm not professional GM or manager.

Game 3
Jered Weaver vs. Nathan Eovaldi
Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 @ 4:05PM

Believe in the Weave.

Jered Weaver v. New York Yankees (Career)
121 34 20.3 .281 5.96
Nathan Eovaldi v. Anaheim Angels (2015)
51 20 12.3 .392 4.88

Players/Stats to watch:
Alex Rodriguez v. Jered Weaver (last 5 years)
14 6 3 1 .429
Mike Trout & Albert Pujols v. Nathan Eovaldi (last 5 years)
20 8 1 0 .400
Yunel Escobar v. Nathan Eovaldi (last 5 years)
7 3 4 0 .429
Johnny G & Kole Calhoun v. Nathan Eovaldi (last 5 years)
31 10 4 1 .323

Eovaldi has been decent this year with a 4.09 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and .252 BAA.  More importantly, he has an 8 game unbeaten streak rolling and has a 6-2 record.  Despite this info, he's bound to get a loss eventually, and a good portion of the Angels roster has hit well off him as you can see above.  There may not be a lot of homeruns (and he doesn't give up too many), but the 5 core Halo players above have a combined .375 AVG against him.

Yankee stadium is a HR ballpark which is not a great thing for Jered Weaver who has given up 14 so far this year.   Weaver also gave up 3 long balls in his last start at Yankee stadium but those were to Stephen Drew (now on the Nationals) and Mark Teixeira (on the DL) and has a 5.63 career ERA there.  You can never could him out, but the HR factor could be a problem in this game.

Despite his struggles and lagging "fastball", Weaver has pitched 6+ innings in 8 of his 11 starts and has averaged 2.5 ER in those games.  It's the three games when he did not last 6 innings that have jacked up his ERA since he gave up 19 ER in those 3 starts.  There is good news here in that we've seen much more a solid Weaver  than a washed up one, and if he can last 6+ innings, that bodes well for a win.

VERDICT: If Weaver can last at least 6 innings he's probably done so by not giving up two many runs, and that gives the Angels a good shot - especially against Eovaldi.  I'm going to believe in the Weave for this game, even though he doesn't have a great record in the Bronx.

Game 4
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Ivan Nova
Thursday, June 9th, 2016 @ 4:05PM

Chacin is coming off a complete game win last week.

Jhoulys Chacin v. New York Yankees (Career)
56 10 14.9 .179 4.06
Ivan Nova v. Anaheim Angels (Career)
68 15 12.8 .221 4.42

Players/Stats to watch:
Yunel Escobar v. Ivan Nova (Career)
23 2 2 3 .087
Mike Trout v. Ivan Nova (Career)
14 6 4 2 .429
Chacin has been pretty solid for the Angels thus far, and is proving to be a savvy move by Billy Eppler.  Of course he's coming off a complete game win last week that was followed up by a decent outing of only 3 ER allowed.  He has a 3.75 ERA with the Angels and a 1.15 WHIP.   He's also faced some of these Yanks before and has done pretty well against them.  He has shut down Beltran, Gregorius, Headley, and McCann, allowing them a combined 4 hits in 36 at bats.
Ivan Nova hasn't done much that impressive in his career, but he's pitched well enough to stick around since 2010.  He has a 4.41 ERA this year with a 1.22 WHIP.  Throughout April he was used in the pen and has notched 6 starts since the beginning of May in which he's given up 16 ER in 35 IP.  He's also given up 1 HR per game, except for his last time out when he gave up 2 to Baltimore.  In his first 3 starts, he only gave up 1 ER, but has given up 4 or 5 ER per game in his last 3 starts.  Escobar hasn't been able to hit at all against Nova, so it'd be great to see him buck that trend here.

VERDICT: I like the pitching matchup here and how well Chacin has been throwing the ball.  Nova is giving up more runs the more he starts which is a trend that hopefully continue into this week.

OVERALL VERDICT: The Angels have a good shot at their first series win here since 2007.  I wouldn't expect a sweep though.