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The offense is better and the pitching staff is battered, but they aren’t this extreme

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Maybe we should just take a step back and look at who we’ve been dealing with lately when considering the team’s recent performance.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The last four games have been rather wild. The Angels have scored a whopping 33 runs! In fact, over their last six games, the Angels are averaging more than eight runs per game. It is pretty obvious that the additions of Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips have been impactful and are probably going to get the Angels to the playoffs on the backs of the best lineup in baseball, right? Well...

The obstacle in the Angels’ path now appears to be the rotation that has plagued the Angels all year and the absolute workhorse of a bullpen that has been one of the few reasons that they are in contention at all. They have allowed 30 runs since their rest day. Had I led with that number, I wouldn’t have faulted you for assuming that we were in the midst of a losing streak that would murder Anaheim’s October dreams.

In short, it is pretty telling that I would consider Nolasco’s 5.2 innings pitched with 3 ER allowed “solid length out of a starter” since the beginning of September in these games.

And yet, with all the lead changes, heart attacks, crushed baseballs, and dreadful errors from these teams, maybe it isn’t as bad as it looks. The Rangers and Athletics have defined strengths and weaknesses that may have a direct correlation to the craziness of these games.

Let’s see how the Rangers’ and Athletics’ power rates among all baseball teams according to Fangraphs. The Rangers have the most home runs in baseball at 215 and Oakland is 9th at 193. Both teams are top 10 in Isolated Power (or ISO), which shows how many extra base hits they have per at bat, and Hard-Hit Rate (or Hard%). To the surprise of absolutely no one, both teams’ Fly Ball Rates (FB%) are top 5. What we happen to be looking at are two of the offensive powerhouses of baseball.

How the Angels’ pitching staff compares to other teams in related statistics:

The Angels are 5th in home runs allowed, 6th in home runs per 9 innings allowed, 3rd in FB%, and 3rd in Hard%. The numbers get far worse when you look at them with the relievers filtered out.

We can certainly also see how our best relievers, such as Yusmeiro Petit and Blake Parker, are really getting up there in innings pitched.

What happens when you take two of the most powerful teams and put them in an arena against one of the most “Ricky Nolasco is among our strongest pitchers”-y teams in the majors? You get this kind of thing to put you in a bad mood until the top of an 11th inning.

So, maybe it won’t be quite like this the entire month. There will be games against a weaker Mariners offense and pathetic White Sox lineup.

We can turn a blind eye to the upcoming 12 consecutive games against juggernaut offenses that sit smack dab in the remainder of our schedule because I’d like to do so.

If the pitching does regress, then that means that the World Series is a foregone conclusion! Or maybe it just means that the regression in runs scored is following suit.

The Athletics and Rangers are not known for having the most lights-out bullpens in the majors. Both are in the bottom 10 in ERA and FIP, the Rangers struggle with walks allowed and BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) against, the Athletics with gifted home runs, and neither is anywhere near the top performers in strikeouts. At the same time, their rotations both have atrocious strikeout rates and, accordingly, high FIPs.

I mean, come on. Chris Smith? Is Bob Melvin even trying at this point? Look at this guy’s profile and tell me a positive about him. I dare you.

It is fair to say that the Angels have been mashing against pitchers that have many of the same issues that their own starters have had. This would appear to be due for a change as the team re-encounters the Astros and Indians, two teams who have had at least a bit more success on the mound than Texas and Oakland.

What are we left with if everything regresses? Pretty close to the barely-above-or-below-.500 team we’ve seen all season.

We might put up league average offense finally for the remainder of September, and the continuous stream of waiver claims that Eppler keeps channeling into the bullpen might maintain some level of success from the back end. The starting rotation is full of pitchers coming off injury and can’t be trusted. We will probably still see magical come-from-behind victories as a result, but they will be fewer and farther apart.

You can put the Xanax away. It’s going to be a slightly less bumpy ride to the Wild Card.