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Series Preview: Rangers @ Angels (First @ Last)

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Big series kicks off in Anaheim on Monday against the first place Rangers

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This next week is big one for the Angels who face the (struggling) first place Rangers at home, then head to Houston to take on the second place Astros over the weekend.  While the Angels are coming off a sweep of the White Sox, the Rangers are coming off a series loss to the Cubs at Wrigley and have lost 9 of their 13 games in July.

During July, the Angels have been playing some hot baseball and are 2nd in the American League with runs scores (78).  Surprisingly, the Twins lead the pack at 85 and the Rangers are in 10th place with only 49 runs scored.  Offensively, the Angels have pretty much bested the Rangers in every category since July 1st.

In this series, the Angels won't be facing Yu Darvish, who pitched Saturday, Cole Hammels who bested the Cubs on Sunday, or Colby Lewis who is out on the DL. This takes the top 3 Rangers pitchers out of the mix for this series, which hopefully will be beneficial to the Angels.

This year, the Rangers have won 6 games to 4 and of the 3 matchups, the Angels have yet to win a series.

Biggest question(s):  Will the Angels continue their impressive July success?

Game 1
Nick Tropeano vs. AJ Griffin
Monday, July 18th, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Both pitchers have won against the other team this year.

AJ Griffin v. Angels Current Lineup (Career)
AB H HR K% BA FIP
65 17 4 13.2 .262 5.89
Nick Tropeano v. Rangers Current Lineup (Career)
AB H HR K% BA FIP
53 10 0 19.3 .189 2.28
Players/Stats to watch:

Geovany Soto v. AJ Griffin (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
6 3 2 1 .500
Elvis Andrus v. Nick Tropeano (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
6 3 0 0 .500
Nick Tropeano shut the Rangers out over 6.2 innings back on May 23rd, allowing only 4 hits and a walk.  He leads the team this year in ERA with 3.12 and his given up 2 or fewer runs in 5 of his last 6 starts.  Tropeano is a much better pitcher on the road  (2.58 ERA / .236 BAA) this year than at home (3.86 ERA / .308 BAA).
Griffin beat the Angels back on April 8th and gave up 3 runs over 6 innings.  He's been pretty reliable all season giving up 3 or fewer runs in all of his starts until his last start vs. the Twins on July 10th where he gave up 2 home runs and 6 runs over 5 innings (5 of those runs came in the 5th inning).  The Twins offense has been on fire and they scored 15 total runs that game.
VERDICT: The Angels need to get to Griffin early and Tropeano needs to stay hot.  This could be a close game and maybe even a bit of a pitching duel.

Game 2
Tim Lincecum vs. Kyle Lohse
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 @ 7:05PM

Both pitchers are trying to revive their careers

Tim  Lincecum v. Rangers Current Lineup (Career)
AB HR K% BA FIP
59 3 23.5 .424 5.99
Kyle Lohse v. Angels Current Lineup (Career)
AB HR K% BA FIP
63 1 15.9 .286 3.40
Players/Stats to watch:

Ian Desmond v. Tim Lincecum (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
12 8 3 2 .667
Mike Trout v. Kyle Lohse (last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
3 3 0 0 1.000
Tim Lincecum hasn't really pitched well at all since his return.  He allowed 3 runs over 5.2 innings his last time on the mound.  He has a 6.85 ERA this season and has given up 38 hits in 23.2 innings.  Ian Desmond owns Lincecum so hopefully the Freak can limit his damage.
Lohse started his season in May pitching for the Rangers AAA team.  In 58 innings for Round Rock, he had a 5.06 ERA and gave up 8 home runs.  Lohse is on the tail-end of his career and another example why the Rangers are looking for pitching to stay competitive in 2016.  He pitched one game for the Rangers this year and gave up 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings of work.  Lohse hasn't pitched since that July 9th start due to stiffness in his side.
VERDICT: Could be an offense kind of game with two struggling pitchers on the mound.  The Angels bats have been hotter so they may have the edge on this one.

Game 3
Hector Santaiago ? vs. Martin Perez
Wednesday July 20th, 2016 @
7:05PM

No Angels pitcher has been announced for yet for Wednesday

Martin Perez v. Anaheim Angels (2015-2016)
G IP H HR K BA ERA
4 25.1 21 0 13 .233 2.51
Most likely, Hector Santiago slots in against Perez on Wednesday since he pitched on Friday, but the Angels haven't announced a starter yet.  It won't be Tyler Skaggs, even though he's slotted to pitch Wednesday, since he's getting one more rehab start.  If Hector Santiago pitches, he's 2-1 against the Rangers this year, though he got shelled the last time he faced them and exited after just 2.1 innings.
Perez has faced the Angels 4 times over the past 2 years and has gone 6+ innings each time.  In 2016 he is 1-1 with a loss on April 10th were he failed to strike out even 1 batter over 6.1 innings.  On May 24th he shut out the Angels over 6 innings with 6 Ks.  He's been pretty hard on the Angels over the past two years.  Perez has been beat up pretty bad his last two starts against the Red Sox and the Cubs and he's given up 12 runs over his last 9.2 innings.
VERDICT: Might be the toughest game of the series.  Hopefully Santiago (assuming he pitches) will have his good stuff and Perez is more like the version we saw back in April or the version the Red Sox and Cubs recently faced.
OVERALL VERDICT: Angels have a legitimate shot at winning the series with a remote shot at a sweep if their offense stays hot.