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Series Preview: Angels @ Blue Jays (Canada eh?)

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Angels meet the Blue Jays for the first time in 2016

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels scored 3 runs in entire Yankees series while the Blue Jays scored 10 runs over this last 3-game set against the Indians.  The Blue Jays are hanging on to first place by a hair in the AL East.  They are tied with the Red Sux and Baltimore breathing down their necks.  The only thing breathing down the Halos necks is the breeze from being in the cellar.

It's been a rough August for the Blue Jays, and they have only scored 78 runs (10th in the AL) to the Angels 65 (last place).  The Blue Jays and Angels come in at #14 and #15 respectively for AL team batting average in August.  Pitching is what sets these two teams apart - as in the Blue Jays actually have good pitching.  The Jays staff has the 2nd best AL ERA in August at 3.12, while the Angels sit firmly in last with a 5.74 team ERA.

While the Angels and Blue Jays haven't squared off yet in 2016, they met 7 times in 2015 with the Blue Jays taking 5 of those games and scoring double digits in three of them.

In a sense, a win or a loss in this series is a good thing since even a series loss can help boost the Blue Jays over the Red Sux, and any time Boston loses is a win in my book :)

Biggest question: Can we win on this road trip?

Game 1

Tyler Skaggs vs. R.A. Dickey
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 @ 4:07PM

Knuckleballer in the house

Tyler Skaggs v. Blue Jays Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
25 7 .280 14.3 0 3.37
R.A. Dickey v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
55 15 .273 12.7 0 2.89
Players/Stats to watch:
Mike Trout v. R.A. Dickey (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
11 6 1 0 .545
Skaggs is still looking to regain the form he showed in his first two starts back.  He's given up 15 runs over his last 3 games in 13.2 innings.  He's been pretty much beat to a pulp.  Skaggs is a strikeout pitcher and the Blue Jays have the third most strikeouts in the AL behind Houston and Tampa Bay.  Toronto also hits a lot of homeruns this year - 179 of them, which is good for second place behind the hard hitting Orioles.
R.A. Dickey is about what you'd expect from a 41-year-old pitcher.  He has a decent 4.51 ERA and has good games and bad games.  In 2015, Dickey beat the Angels twice, including a complete game victory.  Mike Trout is certainly not fooled by the knuckleballer and had a good time hitting off him last year.
VERDICT: Dickey beat us twice last year and Skaggs has been pitching poorly as of late.  I hate to say it, but this will be a tough one for the Angels to pull off unless Skaggs finds his groove.
Game 2
Matt Shoemaker vs. Marco Estrada
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 @ 4:07PM

Matt Shoemaker v. Blue Jays Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
33 8 .242 17.1 2 5.67
Marco Estrada v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
36 12 .333 20.0 2 5.95
Players/Stats to watch:
Josh Donaldson v. Matt Shoemaker (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
7 3 0 0 .429
Andrelton Simmons v. Marco Estrada (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
7 4 0 0 .571

Matt Shoemaker has had three rough starts since June 6th, but also 10 great starts, including his last time on the mound when he gave up just 2 runs over 7 innings.  He last faced the Blue Jays on May 21st, 2015 and they shelled him for 8 runs over 6 innings.
Estrada has a 3.20 ERA and 7-5 record in 2016, but was beat up to the tune of 5 runs over 4 innings when he faced the Yankees in his last start.  He generally gives the Blue Jays 6+ strong innings.  Estrada has only given up 4 or more runs 4 times in his 21 starts. Estrada beat the Angels when he faced them in 2015, going 5.2 innings and giving up 3 runs.  CJ Cron and Kaleb Cowart both hit homeruns off him that game.  Estrada has a Blue Jay leading 1.04 WHIP among starters and just a .190 BAA.
VERDICT: I'm expecting a pitching duel here and the Angels best shot at a win is going into the late innings with a lead.  This is the most likely game for the Angels to pull off a win in this series.

Game 3
Jered Weaver vs. J.A. Happ
Thursday, August 25th, 2016 @ 4:07PM

Is there any gas left in the tank for Weaver?

Jered Weaver v. Blue Jays Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
147 41 .279 20.1 7 5.11
J.A. Happ v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
55 16 .291 6.3 5 9.43

Players/Stats to watch:
Michael Saunders v. Jered Weaver (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
15 5 3 1 .333
Justin Smoak v. Jered Weaver (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
26 8 6 2 .308
Melvin Upton Jr. v. Jered Weaver (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 3 1 1 .375
Kole Calhoun v. J.A. Happ (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
7 4 3 2 .571
C.J. Cron v. J.A. Happ (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
4 2 2 1 .500
Jefry Marte v. J.A. Happ (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
5 2 2 1 .400
Every time I do these series previews and Weaver is pitching, there are a whole bunch of guys who hit well of him.  This is not a big surprise.  Weaver has been rough this year and his ERA skyrockets dramatically as the game goes on.  In the first inning his ERA is 4.12 and the second inning it's 2.62.  By the third inning when batters are starting to see him for a second time, it jumps to 4.50 and jumps again in the fourth to 5.25.  By the 5th inning, Weaver is done and his ERA of 10.01 pretty much proves that.  he has a 7+ ERA In the 6th and 7th innings as well (if he makes it that far).
Happ is having a stellar year and is 17-3 with a 3.05 ERA.  He's been really hard to beat and one of the aces of this team along with Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada. The saving grace (if there is one) is that the Angels beat Happ when he was on the Mariners last yer and Cron, Calhoun, and Marte have all had success against him.
VERDICT: I'm not see a Halo win here unless Happ has a rare meltdown and the 2014 version of Jered Weaver shows up.

OVERALL VERDICT: Blue Jays could sweep this series, but maybe the Angels will pull off one win.