Somewhere I heard that the Indians were kinda good, right? I mean, if you call setting the all time Major League winning streak good - then I guess so. The schedule is doing the Angels no favors in the near future as they have to face the TWO best teams in the American League in back to back series. If they can come out of those 6 game with at least 2 wins, that’s probably a plus. On a brighter note, the Angels end the season playing 4 against the White Sox and 3 against the Mariners.
Basically, the second wild card is the Twins to lose and the Angels to chase. Barring some crazy end to these final 2 weeks, the rest of the AL teams are all but out of the wild card chase at this point. It’s probably no surprise that the odds HEAVILY favor the Indians and Astros to win all 6 of these upcoming games.
If there is any good news, it’s that the Angels have to beat the Indians at some point, right? Back in July, the Tribe swept the Angels at Progressive Field thanks to an 11th inning grand slam given up by Bud Norris, a 7th inning bullpen meltdown by Cam Bedrosian and Brooks Pounders, and a Trevor Bauer pitching gem.
Players of Note: Indians hotshot Jose Ramirez has been sitting out with a sore hamstring and is day to day. He may return in time for the Angels series though. Michael Brantley is on the DL with a sprained ankle. Jason Kipnis has returned from the DL and is, surprise: playing center field. Brandon Phillips is still day to day with back tightness.
Question: Can the Angels avoid a sweep at the hands of the best team in the league?
Tyler Skaggs (LHP) vs. Mike Clevinger (RHP)
Tuesday, September 19th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Tyler Skaggs hasn’t faced the Indians yet this year, but he’d probably like to forget about when he faced them last August. Skaggs gave up 7 runs and 10 hits over 5 innings in that game. Hopefully we see more of the Skaggs from his last outing when he threw 7 shutout innings against the Astros and less of the Skaggs who faced Cleveland last season.
Mike Clevinger has faced the Angels twice the past two seasons. This year, he gave up 6 runs (5 earned) over just 4.1 innings. Clevinger gave up home runs to Calhoun and Valbuena in that game. Last year, Clevinger held the Angels to just 1 run over 5.2 innings. In 3 of his last 4 outings, Clevinger hasn’t allowed a run.
Verdict: Clevinger has been dominant lately, and Skaggs will need to channel his more recent start if the Angels want to pull of a victory here.
Ricky Nolasco (RHP) vs. Josh Tomlin (RHP)
Wednesday, September 20th @ 7:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Just look at these stats against Ricky Nolasco and abandon all hope for a win in game 2. Nolasco has given up about 1 home run per 10 ABs in his career against the Indians and has given up 5 homers in his last 3 games against the Indians over the past 2 seasons. However, Nolasco has been full of surprises at times this year and has been pitching well lately with zero earned runs allowed over his last 3 starts.
Josh Tomlin hasn’t faced the Angels since 2015. He had a mediocre start to his 2017 season but in the second half he has a 2.67 ERA, .218 BAA and 0.861 WHIP, so he has been pretty lethal.
Verdict: On paper, the odds definitely favor the Indians in this matchup unless Nolasco can summon some of that zero run mojo he’s been feeling lately.
Parker Bridwell (RHP) vs Danny Salazar (RHP)
Thursday, September 21st @ 1:07PM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Parker Bridwell hasn’t faced the Indians in his short career. He’s coming off a gem against the Rangers and a solid game against the Mariners. In fact, the only games in which he’s allowed more than 2 runs since August 3rd have been against the Oakland A’s.
Danny Salazar hasn’t faced the Angels yet this year, but in 2016 he allowed just 1 run over 5.2 innings. Salazar hasn’t thrown more than 4.2 innings since August 15th. That stretch includes a pair of relief stints and start in which he didn’t even last one inning. Salazar has been good though as of late, and aside from his appearances on August 20th and September 5th, he hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs since May 27th.
Verdict: Bridwell often seems to find himself in pitching duels and this has the potential to be another one of those.
Overall Verdict: The Indians “should” win this series but the Angels are fighting for their playoff lives right now. The Angels REALLY need to take at least 1 game and anything more is a huge bonus.