The All Star Break is tough to weather. No regular games. No “real” major league baseball. Just photo ops with big league players and umpires. Most years we at least get to see Mike Trout play in the mid season classic but no... not this year. Now baseball is back and the Angels kick off the second “half” of the season against one of the teams they are chasing in the wild card hunt.
These next two weeks before the trade deadline are key to teams like the Rays and Angels who are sitting on the playoff bubble. Are they going to make some progress and make the GM’s decision easier or will they teeter of the edge of questions?
Back in June, the Angels and Rays split their 4 game set in Tampa. There were only 20 total runs scored in the whole series by both teams. Both games won by the Angels were against pitchers they will face again in this series.
The Rays are without two of the their better players - Kevin Kiermaier (hip) and Colby Rasmus (personal reasons).
Question: On a scale of 10 to 10, how awesome will Trout be this weekend?
Ricky Nolasco v.
Cy RookieJacob Faria
Friday, July 14th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Ricky Nolasco had his best start of the season on July 1st with a compete game shutout, then followed it up with a 1.2 inning fiasco where he allowed 8 runs. When he faced the Rays back in May he gave up 5 runs and 3 homers over 6 innings. Hopefully Nolasco can miss Weeks’ bat since he has owned him in his career.
Jacob Faria’s rookie season is going about as well as could be expected. He didn’t start pitching in the big leagues until June 7th but 2.11 ERA? Check. 37 Ks to 9 walks in 38 innings? Check. Faria has given up 3 runs only once and 1 or 2 runs in his other 5 starts. Faria is the Rays #9 prospect with his changeup being his best asset.
Verdict: Trout is back but this game leans Rays thanks to Faria’s skills and Nolasco’s lack of them.
JC Ramirez v. Alex Cobb
Saturday, July 15th @ 6:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
JC Ramirez held the Rays to 2 runs over 6.2 innings on May 22nd. In his last start on July 9th he held the Rangers scoreless for 6 innings. With his 4.46 ERA and 1.1 WAR this season, Ramirez has emerged as one of the Angels best starters.
Alex Cobb is one of 3 Rays pitchers with an ERA under 4 and WHIP at 1.31 or better. He lost to the Angels back in May after giving up 2 home runs (Trout & Maybin) and 4 runs in 7.1 innings. He’s really only had 2 bad starts this year, one of which was agains the Orioles on July 2nd when he was tagged for 6 runs in 6.1 innings. He bounced back before the break with a 7.2 inning 2 hit scoreless outing against the Red Sox.
Verdict: Tough game to judge. Hoping Puhols can get some mojo going against Cobb who he’s hit well in the past.
Parker Bridwell (probable) v. Jake Odorizzi
Sunday, July 16th @ 12:37PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
The Angels haven’t announced starters for any of their games, including this one. Bridwell is likely to get the nod but who knows. Maybe even Scribner can finally get his chance? Bridwell has been a pleasant surprise for the Angels with his 3.24 ERA. He’s also gone 6+ innings in his last 3 starts. Some questions remain when you dig deeper as Bridwell has a .291 BAA and 1.41 WHIP.
Jake Odorizzi has been pretty mediocre this year, though he DID pitch well against the Angels back on May 22nd. He gave up 2 runs in that gave over 6 innings and he struck out 8. In his last start before the break, Odorizzi gave up 7 runs against the Red Sox over 4.1 innings. Albert Pujols is 0 for 10 in his career against Odorizzi. Can he break out of that slump in this game?
Verdict: Another toss up game that really could go either way.
Overall Verdict: The Angels REALLY need a series win here as they head off to face the Nats for 2 games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The race is on now that the break is over and the Angels need to start playing better than .500 ball if they hope to nab a wildcard spot.