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Series Preview: Blue Jays @ Angels (Take off, eh?)

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Another meaningless series for the Angels, but one that holds a whole lot of importance for the Blue Jays

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The last time I saw the Blue Jays play in Anaheim, they knocked around the Angels 12-5 and outscored them 36-10 during that ugly 3 game set last August.  Ouch.  Last month in Toronto, the Halos actually took the series against the Jays 2 games to 1 and the all-time record for these teams now stands at 201 to 201 games.

The Angels have lost 7 of their last 8 games and by all accounts have appeared to just be going through the motions lately.  It's a different story for our foes from the Great White North who want to tell the Angels to take off, eh - as they are in a playoff hunt 2 game behind 1st place Boston and clinging by a hair to that second wildcard spot after dropping 7 of their last 10.

When your best pitcher in the series in Ricky Nolasco and his 4.94 ERA, you know you have pitching issues.  (apologies to Paula Cole (and all of you) for these lyrics)

Why don't you stay the evening
Kick back and watch the TV
And hope we don't get swept in 4 games
Oh I know it's hard when the season's out the door
How do you take the losing and pain?
I will get the whiskey, if you drink all the beer
Where is my Garrett Richards
Where is my Matt Shoemaker
Where is my Tyler Skaggs
Where have all the pitchers gone?
Biggest question: Which of our scappy pitchers will be the biggest surprise?

Game 1

Daniel Wright v. J.A. Happ
Thursday, Sept 15th, 2016 @ 7:05PM
J.A. Happ v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
97 28 .289 14.8 5 6.07
Players/Stats to watch:
Kole Calhoun v. J.A. Happ (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
10 5 2 2 .500
Wright's performance for his Halo debut against the Rangers was not much of a surprise, though I suppose it could have been worse.  Wright threw 5 innings and gave up 4 runs.  He also threw 85 pitches would seem to be around his limit, so I'd expect yet another early bullpen game for the Angels.
Happ has been sharp for the Blue Jays this year with his 3.33 ERA and 18-4 record.  Despite that, the Angels did beat him at home last month, scoring 4 runs off him in 5 innings.  His last time out, Happ held a tough Red Sox team to just 2 runs.
VERDICT: Just so Happ-ens that Happ will probably get win nineteen here.  I hope I'm wrong, but I'm probably Wright.
Game 2
Jered Weaver v. R.A. Dickey
Friday, Sept 16th, 2016 @ 7:05PM
Maybe Dickey will teach Weaver how to throw a knuckleball? 

Jered Weaver v. Blue Jays Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
199 46 .246 21.0 8 4.66
R.A. Dickey v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
113 30 .265 11.0 1 3.64
Players/Stats to watch:
Mike Trout v. R.A. Dickey (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
13 6 1 0 .462
Melvin Upton Jr. (MUJ) v. Jered Weaver (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
11 5 1 1 .455
R.A. Dickey has given up just 1 homerun in 113 at bats to Angels hitters, while Jered Weaver has given up 8 homeruns in 199 at bats to Blue Jays hitters.  This is a big difference between these two pitchers right here and also what happens when you throw a ball that is hard for even the catcher to put a mitt on, versus a fastball with changeup speed that hits anywhere near the plate.  In 3 of his last 4 games, Weaver has managed to allow just one or two earned run.  One of those games was against the Blue Jays when he allowed just 1 earned run over 5 innings.
Dickey has been not so great this year and his age may finally be taking a toll.  He has a 4.60 ERA (highest since 2009) and has given up 28 homeruns.  He beat the Angels back on Aug 23rd and allowed just 2 runs through 6.2 innings.  The Yankees knocked him around for 5 runs in his last start that only lasted 4 innings.
VERDICT: This is the game to win if Weaver can manage another good start and the knuckleball doesn't vex the Angels.

Game 3
Ricky Nolasco v. Francisco Liriano
Saturday, Sept 17th, 2016 @ 6:05PM

Ricky "ace" Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco v. Blue Jays Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
140 37 .264 19.2 4 3.73
Francisco Liriano v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
78 19 .281 16.1 1 4.35
Players/Stats to watch:

Kole Calhoun v. Francisco Liriano (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
2 1 2 1 .500
In some ways, Nolasco has become the new "ace" of our pitching staff with Shoemaker and Skaggs out.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Nolasco is usually good for going 6-7 innings and allowing 3-5 runs.  I don't think this game will be much different.    Since July 29th, Nolasco has only had 1 game where he didn't last past the 5th inning.
Lirano is on an uptick this year after moving from the Pirates to the Blue Jays.  Granted, the sample size post trade is smaller (31 innings for Toronto), but Liriano has knocked nearly 1.5 off his ERA and .4 off his WHIP since moving to the Blue Jays.  He's started 5 games for the Blue Jays and has thrown 29 innings, allowing 13 ER while striking out 29.

VERDICT: Toss up game but probably leans Blue Jays, especially if Liriano has a good start.

Game 4

Alex Meyer v. Marcus Stroman
Sunday, Sept 18th, 2016 @ 12:35PM

Marcus Stroman v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% FIP
20 8 .400 25.0 3.95
Players/Stats to watch:

None

Meyer's call up hasn't exactly gone the way he wanted, but he's notching some great big league experience with nothing on the line.  The kid is still learning.  His pitch count creeped up from 68 to 76 in his two starts as an Angel and he lasted 3.1, followed by 4 innings.  Hopefully we see him finish the 5th in this game.
Stroman hasn't faced the Angels since 2014, and hasn't seen most of the current roster for many at bats.  Since July 15th, Stroman has given up more than 3 runs only once.  He has a 4.55 ERA this year, but that dropped from 4.89 in the first half to 3.97 since the break.

VERDICT: As much as I want to see Meyer notch a win, this game leans Blue Jays and if Meyer struggles, we can chalk it up to a good experience.

OVERALL VERDICT: I see a Blue Jays series win coming.