After a disappointing road trip that saw the Angels drop six out of 10 games to bring their record to 26-27, the Angels welcome the Braves to town. Atlanta is currently tied for second place in the NL East at 21-27, and they lost one of the game’s top players, Freddie Freeman, to an injury a couple of weeks ago. They’ve scored one more run than the Angels this year, which slots them at 17th in the majors in that category, and they are 24th in team ERA.
The Braves are in the midst of a rebuilding process, which is why Andrelton Simmons is an Angel and the reason the Angels should have the advantage in this series.
Question: Can the Angels find a way to win a series against a team they’re supposed to be better than?
Teheran is the Braves’ best pitcher, but, as his 4.88 ERA indicates, he’s off to a rough start this season. However, he didn’t allow an earned run in two of his last three starts. The start in between those two? Well, the Blue Jays tagged him for nine runs in three innings.
Having spent much of their careers in the NL East, Danny Espinosa and Ben Revere are the only Angels who have faced Teheran more than a couple of times, and neither have fared particularly well; Espinosa is 5-for-26 with a double while Revere is 6-for-23.
Nolasco is coming off an outing in which he gave up five runs in six innings against Tampa Bay. He allowed three home runs in that start, and the long ball has been his downfall all season. The good news for him, though, is that the Braves’ 47 home runs this year rank 26th in the majors.
Brandon Phillips has faced Nolasco more than any other Brave, and he’s just 5-for-27 with eight strikeouts. Matt Kemp has had success against Nolasco in a small sample size; he’s 4-for-11 with a home run. And Matt Adams, Atlanta’s newest addition, is 0-for-10 against the right-hander.
Teheran might be the more talented pitcher, but Nolasco’s consistency and Teheran’s volatility this season gives the Angels the edge in this one.
Colon turned 44 years old last week and after defying the aging curve for so many years, his age is finally beginning to catch up to him. He owns a 6.96 ERA this year, and he’s given up five or more runs three times this month.
Furthermore, Revere, Simmons, and Mike Trout have had great success against Colon throughout their careers. Revere is 10-for-30; Simmons is 12-for-23; and Trout is 9-for-17 with three home runs.
Because Alex Meyer was placed on the disabled list last Wednesday, the Angels’ starter for Tuesday has yet to be determined. Top candidates to get the start include a pair of 25-year-old starters currently in Triple-A Salt Lake: Troy Scribner and Parker Bridwell.
Scribner has yet to pitch in the big leagues and sports a 3.71 ERA in 16 Triple-A starts over the last two years. Bridwell debuted in the majors last year with 3 1⁄3 innings with the Orioles and has allowed just two runs in three starts with Salt Lake this year.
Regardless of who starts for the Angels on Tuesday, they will almost certainly have the advantage. I mean, Colon won the Cy Young award with the Angels in 2005 when he was 32 years old, and he’s still pitching. C’mon.
Garcia is one of baseball’s best when it comes to inducing ground balls, and he has been effective in 2017, posting a 3.58 ERA to this point. Additionally, his last two starts were his best of the season; he has given up one earned run in his last 14 2⁄3 innings.
Because he has spent his entire career in the NL, not many Angels have faced Garcia. Espinosa and Martin Maldonado have the most experience with the lefty. Espinosa is 9-for-23 with a pair of big flies, and Maldonado is 5-for-17 with two doubles and a home run.
In contrast to Garcia, Chavez’s last two starts have been two of his worst starts of the season, as he gave up five runs in each, and his ERA on the season is now over five. The Braves have very little experience against against Chavez, and nobody on the roster has more than eight at-bats against the 33-year-old.
Like Nolasco, Chavez’s biggest problem has been the home-run ball. He’s given up at least one homer in all but two of his starts, and he served up five in his last two starts combined. Chavez and Garcia are going in opposite directions right now, and the Angels will need that to change in order to come out on top on Wednesday.
Atlanta’s rebuilding, and they’re without their best player. Therefore, the Angels should, at the very least, take two out of three games from the Braves. But as we saw during the previous road trip, these things are far from a given. And it’s really series like these that the Angels desperately need to take advantage of if they are to get anywhere near a postseason spot this year. So far they haven’t been able to do that, but how about a big series from former Braves—and two of the Angels’ hottest hitters—Cameron Maybin and Andrelton Simmons to get the Angels back on track?