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Series Preview: Rangers @ Angels (Play the spoiler)

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Angels aren't going to the playoffs, but they can make the road more difficult for the Rangers

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Rangers being in first place in the AL West, the Angels have beat them 7 game to 6 over the 2016 season.  Texas hasn't had a winning season against the Angels since 2013.  This series matters littler unless you want to play spoiler to the Rangers or boast a winning record against them for the 3rd straight year.  Not sure that either will be much consolation when the Angels are watching the Rangers in the playoffs from their couches.

The Angels have been playing some decent ball lately (if you don't count that series lost to the last place A's).  Before that, they had won 7 of their last 8 games.  The Rangers are coming off a series loss of their own - to the Mariners, but are still 11-4 in their last 15 games.

Since the break, the Rangers and Angels both have a .262 AVG and the Angels have an offensive WAR that is .2 higher. Our Halos have had a pretty good second half at the plate and we have been holding our own compared to teams like the Rangers who managed to upgrade their offense in July.  The Angels rank 10th in team ERA while the Rangers rank 12th.  But - stats aren't everything (especially ERA).

Biggest question: Can the Angels best the Rangers 3 years in a row?

Game 1

Tyler Skaggs vs. Yu Darvish
Friday, September 9th, 2016 @ 7:05PM
Tyler Skaggs v. Rangers Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
32 8 .250 17.1 0 2.83
Yu Darvish v. Rangers Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
95 25 .263 24.1 9 7.75
Players/Stats to watch:
Kole Calhoun v. Yu Darvish (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 3 3 2 .375
Mike Trout v. Yu Darvish (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
34 10 6 4 .294
Elvis Andrus v. Tyler Skaggs (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
6 3 0 0 .500
After a rough August, Skaggs has had a couple solid starts back to back.  He hasn't faced the Rangers since 2014 and he he gave up 12 ER in 7.2 IP, but to a mostly different look Texas team.  Skaggs will have a tough start with a Rangers team that hits lefties well and has a lot of firepower.
Darvish has given up 13 runs in his last 3 starts (7.22 ERA) and he had a 4.50 ERA in August.  Darvish was 1-1 against the Angels when he last pitched against them in 2014.  The Angels have gone deep off Darvish in 10% of their at bats, mostly thanks to Calhoun and Trout.
VERDICT: I'm going with Skaggs and the Angels on this one.  I think our offense will show up and Skaggs will have another good outing.  And I'm calling another Trout homerun.
Game 2
Daniel Wright vs. Cole Hamels
Saturday, Septeber 6th, 2016 @ 6:05PM
Latest waiver wire pickup gets the start.  Can. Hardly. Wait.

Cole Hamels v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
142 26 .183 19.6 3 3.62
Players/Stats to watch:

Kole Calhoun v. Cole Hamels (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
8 3 1 0 .375
The Angels recently grabbed Daniel Wright off the waiver wire from the Reds and he'll take Matt Shoemaker's start on Saturday.  25-year old Wright has only started 2 big league games in his career and he gave up 6 runs in 6.1 innings during those games.  He had a 6.17 ERA in 17 games in AAA this year and he threw 94 pitches in his last start on August 30th, allowing 3 runs in 5 innings.  That's a lot of pitches for 5 innings of work, so his nibbling will fit right in with the Angels.
Hamels lost to the Angels in May and won in April.  In those 2 games this year, he's thrown 11 innings and allowed 4 total runs.  Hamels was destroyed in his last trip to the mound by the Mariners who scored 7 times off him and booted him after just 1.2 innings of work (aka batting practice).  Hamels has a 3.25 ERA this year though, so he's been pretty solid in most starts.
VERDICT: Wright could get lucky but he could also be a mess.  This games leans heavily toward the Rangers.

Game 3
Colby Lewis v. Jered Weaver
Sunday, September 11th, 2016 @ 12:35PM

Veteran grit on the mound

Jered Weaver v. Rangers Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
274 68 .248 13.5 10 4.55
Colby Lewis v. Angels Current Roster (Career)
AB H BAA K% HR FIP
204 65 .319 15.8 9 4.81

Players/Stats to watch:
Albert Pujols v. Colby Lewis (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
31 9 7 3 .290
Kole Calhoun v. Colby Lewis (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
34 14 6 1 .412
Mike Trout v. Colby Lewis (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
35 13 12 4 .371
Elvis Andrus v. Jered Weaver (Last 5 years)
AB H RBI HR BA
55 17 4 2 .309
Jered Weaver is not good.  Pretty much everyone knows that by now.n  If you aren't a believe, check out yesterday's morning links.  Yet somehow, Weaver manages to still get wins and is the last pitcher standing from the rotation at the beginning of the season.  If he made some sort of deal with the devil, why didn't he ask for his velocity back?  Weaver has given up 4 or 5 runs in 5 of his last 7 starts and has been slightly worse in the second half of the season than the first.  He last faced Texas way back on April 10th and allowed only 1 run through 6 innings.
Colby Lewis usually has a bad time with the Angels and has a career 6.26 ERA against them.  He managed to pull out a win back on April 29th but on May 25th the Angels unloaded 6 runs and knocked him out after 5 innings.  Lewis has only had 3 starts out of his 15 where he allowed more than 3 runs, including that Angels game and his last start when the Reds scored 6 off him.
VERDICT: Could  be a high scoring affair unless Weaver has one of his fluke 1 run games.

OVERALL VERDICT: This is a tough one.  I don't think either team will sweep and the Angels best shot of a win is game 1.  If they lose game 1, this series goes to the Rangers.