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Series Preview: Angels @ Athletics (Play Ball!)

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Baseball is finally back for real, and for the Angels it starts in Oakland

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Zomg! Dingers!! Mike Trout and the other guys are heading to Oakland to start the season for their first 4 game series and first day game of the season (on Thursday). This is THE Oakland stadium where Trout hit his first homerun of 2016, 7 games into the season. The A’s are now the King of Oakland sports (or soon to be) with the impending departure of the Raiders, but that doesn’t make their current team any better.

In 2016, the Angels bested the A’s 12 games to 7, including a sweep in their last series meetup of the season.

Question: Will the Angels start off better than last year when they dropped their first two games against the Cubs?

GAME 1

Ricky Nolasco v. Kendall Graveman
Monday, April 3rd @ 7:05PM

Jered Weaver’s record string of 6 consecutive starts is safe for a while as the Angels have used two different pitchers the last two years since Weaver lost the role.

Pitcher vs. Batters

Notable Stats:

Summary:

Ricky Nolasco is making his 4th opening day start of his career. Nolasco has been decent against this current A’s lineup, but good ole Matt Joyce seems to have his number with 2 homeruns in 8 AB. Nolasco gave up 8 runs in his first 13 innings against the A’s last year but finished them off in his last start of the season with an 8 inning gem allowing zero earned runs.

Kendall Graveman gets the opening day start thanks to Sonny Gray coming back from an injury. This is Graveman’s first career opening start (he is only 26 years old). Graveman was 2-2 vs. a largely different Angels lineup last year.

Verdict: Nolasco has been pitching well lately and should have the edge in this matchup.


GAME 2

Matt Shoemaker v. Sean Manaea
Tuesday, April 4th @ 7:05PM

Shoemaker is back in for his first regular season game since early September.

Pitcher vs. Batters

Notable Stats:

Summary:

Matt Shoemaker had a rough spring with a 5.29 ERA and .329 BAA, but spring is over and it’s a new season. Shoemaker was 2-1 against the A’s last year, allowing only 3 earned runs in 19 innings. He’ll be looking for more run support this year since he lost way too many games last season in which he pitched very well.

25-year-old Sean Manea only has 144 big league innings under his belt - all coming from his 2016 rookie campaign. The lefty was very solid for them last year with a 3.86 ERA, though he lost both starts against the Angels (one of them he only gave up 1 run). Manea didn’t fool Mike Trout in his debut season as Trout hit .750 off him and had an .833 OBP in those two games.

Verdict: I think Shoemaker’s rough spring is behind him and this should be a close matchup with Shoey needing some good run support to pull off the win.


GAME 3

Garrett Richards v. Jharel Cotton
Wednesday, April 5th @ 7:05PM

Richards hasn’t pitched a regular season game since last April.

Pitcher vs. Batters

Notable Stats:

Summary:

Garrett Richards is finally back, though some medical concerns continue. How many pitches will he get to throw? How is his arm going to hold up all season? Richards is ready to rock though after a successful spring tuneup. He hasn’t faced the A’s since September 2015.

Jharel Cotton is one to look out for on this Oakland staff. Only Calhoun, Cron, Marte, and Simmons have at bats against him and they went a combined 2 for 12, though Cron made the most of his hit with a homerun.

Verdict: Cotton could give Richards a run for his money in this game but this matchup definitely leans Richards and the Angels.


GAME 4

Tyler Skaggs v. Andrew Triggs
Thursday, April 6th @ 12:35PM

Tyler Skaggs anchors the series with this day game

Pitcher vs. Batters

Notable Stats:

Summary:

Tyler Skaggs had a bit of shoulder soreness this spring, but threw a solid 5+ inning minor league game to finish up spring. Skaggs hasn’t thrown in Oakland since May of 2014, before his TJ surgery. Skaggs only pitched in 10 games last season and this start will hopefully be the first of many more starts for him this year.

Andrew Triggs is another solid new young pitcher for the A’s. Triggs was a reliever and a starter last year and went 0-2 in games vs. the Angels though he only gave up 1 earned run in 5.2 innings.

Verdict: Tough one here. Tyler Skaggs has been beat up by this current Oakland roster so I’m leaning A’s here.

Overall Verdict: Angels should come out of this series with a positive record, which will be a much better start than their series against the Cubs to open 2016.