The Angels are facing one of the best teams in baseball as the team they are chasing in the wildcard race (Twins) are facing one of the worst (Padres). The Angels have only beat the Astros in 5 of 13 games this year, including just 2 of 6 at home in Anaheim.
Pitching matchups aren’t exactly super favorable for the Angels offense who has a cumulative .187 AVG against all 3 Astros pitchers in this series. On the flip slide, the Astros have hit all 3 Angels pitchers for sum average of .282. You could say the odds are not exactly in their favor for this series.
Angels bats were hot for a bit but recently have cooled dramatically. Not much unlike the Astros who had won 7 straight before dropping all 4 game to the A’s over this past weekend.
This is the series that will answer the question of was it smart to trade Cameron Maybin within the division? The Angels weren’t going to catch the Astros for 1st place, but they did have 6 more games against them when Billy Eppler sent Maybin packing to Houston. Since arriving, Maybin had some heroics there but is hitting just .148 (3 of his 4 hits have been homers).
Every game in this series starts at 707 which is hopefully the number of runs the Angels will score and not the number of Albert Pujols GIDP.
Question: Can the Angels buck the odds and win a series against the Astros? It’s a feat they’ve only done once in 4 tries this year.
Garrett Richards (RHP) vs. Justin Verlander (RHP)
Tuesday, September 12th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Hopefully Garrett “Bullet” Richards is the secret weapon the Angels needs to take game 1. He was limited to 50 pitches in his last outing so we’ll see how long he can throw in this game. Richards hasn’t faced the Astros since 2015 and they have a bit of a different look this time around.
Damn. Now the Angels have to face Justin Verlander in their own division. Both Uptons may be present at this game and hopefully Not Kate has the better showing. Verlander has historically been hard on the Angels - just check out the stats above, however, he allowed 4 runs over 6 innings the only time he has faced them so far in 2017. Silver lining - perhaps? Verlander has a 5.98 ERA with 6 HRs at Angels stadium in 49.2 IP.
Verdict: Despite Richards recent return from the DL, this has the making of an ace duel if both pitchers are on their game. It’s also possible the Angels bullpen will enter this game sooner rather than later and will have to hold things down for the Halo offense to do their thing.
Tyler Skaggs (LHP) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP)
Wednesday, September 13th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Tyler Skaggs has been (sort of) alright this year. At least he’s better than Ricky Nolasco - amirite?? Skaggs is coming off a solid 9 K, 3 run, 6 inning outing against the A’s. He’s faced the Astros once this year and gave up 5 runs (4 earned) and 6 hits over 5 innings.
Surprise! Another good Astros pitcher. You kind of needs those if you are going to run 1st place in your division almost all year long. Lance McCullers is by no means “great” but his 3.97 ERA is an enviable number for most Angels pitchers. However - there is a crack and since the start of July, McCullers has an 8.63 ERA in 5 starts. Let’s hope that’s a trend and not something he’ll turn around any time soon.
Verdict: Skaggs has been better than McCullers in the second half, but who hasn’t? We’ll need a good repeat performance out of Skaggs for his lasting outing.
Ricky Nolasco (RHP) vs. Brad Peacock (RHP)
Thursday, September 14th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
I’m not the only one who gets chills (the bad kind) when Ricky Nolasco takes the mound am I? Somehow, Nolasco has a positve WAR this year at 0.7 but an ERA north of 5 and a WHIP near 1.5. Not all is bad though, as Nolasco has a 3.79 ERA against the Astros in 3 starts this year. Judging by the above data, he’ll have a better shot at a win if he can keep Altuve, Beltran, McCann, and Maybin off the bases. It’s potentially only about half the lineup. He’s got this!
The good news is the Angels don’t have to face Collin McHugh for the anchor game. McHugh has been an Angel killer the past few years. The bad news is they get to face Brad Peacock instead. Peacock hasn’t been much kinder on the Angels and in 2017 has been an overall much better pitcher than McHugh. Peacock has a 3.05 ERA in 114 innings this year and has allowed 5 runs over 11 innings against the Angels. So I’m not sure which who is worse to be facing - McHugh or Peacock? Sound off below! I’m leaning toward preferring Peacock since MuHugh (probably) has a “suck it Angels” tattoo.
Verdict: No matter who the Astros put on the mound (Jose Altuve?), you have to put Nolasco as the underdog. I’m hoping he has some magic left in his tank for this playoff run. Tune in Thursday to find out!
Overall Verdict: The Angels are expected to lose this series. Duh. But they do have home field advantage and the hashtag #tod on their side. Buckle up for this one fans.