The Angels are 3 games behind the Twins in the wild card hunt and they need to start busting a move. The Twins aren’t doing any favors by losing so the Angels really need to win this series and even better - sweep. That may be tough as the Rangers probably see a sweep as putting them right back in the thick of the wild card and just behind the Twins. With only about 2 weeks of baseball left to play, one of these teams needs to bust a move this weekend if they want to gain on the Twins.
Not such great news? The Angels are 6-10 against the Rangers this year, including 2-5 against Texas at home. They haven’t much had luck against the Rangers this year and have yet to win 2 games in a row. Good news? The Rangers have only 1 win in their last 6 games, so both teams enter this series a bit cold. Who wants it more??
Pitching would seem to favor the Angels here with two not so great bookends around Cole Hamels in the middle game.
Question: Can the Angels finally gain some ground against the Twins?
Bud Norris (RHP) vs. Nick Martinez (RHP)
Friday, September 15th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Wow. Bud Norris hasn’t started a game all season and this is who the Angels put out there in game 1 of a must win series. I haven’t really looked at the other options, but Bud Norris? The same Bud Norris who has an 8.64 ERA and 1.860 WHIP in the second half? This might sting. The Angels shouldn’t win this game, but then they just might. Because you know - Team of Destiny!
Nick Martinez faced the Angels way back in April. Seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? In that game, Martinez threw 6 innings and gave up 3 runs, including home runs to Mike Trout and Yunel Escobar. In his last two appearances he pitched out of the bullpen and was beat up by the Yankees on Monday for 4 runs in 0.2 inning.
Verdict: Despite what I just said about Norris, Martinez hasn’t exactly been a stud. FiveThirtyEight actually has this game with a 58% chance of going to the Angels base mostly on their better team record and the fact that they are at home. Hang on tight for this one.
Parker Bridwell (RHP) vs. Cole Hamels (LHP)
Saturday, September 16th @ 6:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Parker Bridwell isn’t broken. Yay! After back-to-back terrible starts against the A’s, Bridwell had a nice rebound against the Mariners in his last outing. Surprisingly, Bridwell hasn’t faced the Rangers this year (or at all in his career) and the Angels need a good start out of him here against at tough opponent.
Cole Hamels is about as mean to the Angels as Justin Verlander. Seeing the above stats, what are the odds that EYJ get a start? Probably slim, but he seems to have no problem with Hamels. The Angels DID manage to score 4 runs off Hamels on September 1st, but this season Hamels has a 2.40 ERA against the Halos.
Verdict: Probably the toughest opponent on the mound this series and most likely game for the Angels to drop.
Garrett Richards (RHP) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (RHP)
Sunday, September 17th @ 12:37PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Garrett Richards is working up that pitch count from 52 to 63 and probably will be capped around 80-90 this time around. If you go bak to his April 5th start, Richards has a 1.38 ERA in 3 games this year. Richards faced the Rangers twice in 2016 for a 2.65 ERA.
Miguel Gonzalez drew the short straw in this pitching matchup. Over his last 11.1 innings (3 starts), Gonzalez has given up 14 runs. In his single start against the Angels this year, Gonzalez gave up 5 runs and 6 hits over 5.2 innings back in May.
Verdict: Richards is the favorite in this matchup. We’ll see how long he can throw based on his efficiency and what they set as hit pitch limit.
Overall Verdict: The Angels “should” win this series and they really need to get hot and sweep with Cleveland coming to town next week. Anything short of at least 2 wins here cast a huge doubt on the post season - unless the Twins drop 2 or 3 this weekend.