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Opening Series Preview: Angels @ A’s (Baseball is back!)

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It’s Sho-Time on Sunday (Hey I haven’t used that phrase yet - there’s my one allowance)

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The long cold winter is over! Well, at least in some parts of the country. I’m sure the Angels are happy to not be opening in Seattle where temps will be in the 40s and 50s all weekend or Detroit where it could be 50s and rainy. It’s going to be a cold and wet opening weekend for some teams but the Angels get the pleasure of playing in Oakland where the temps will be in the 70s for highs and no rain in the forecast.

So here we are, all set to start the season and play the Athletics for a 4 game set and the start of 7 games out of their first 10 to start the season. Should be a walk in the park, right? Well, it SHOULD equate to an above .500 start to the season although they do have a series with Cleveland sandwiched in between.

Last year, the Angels beat the A’s 12 games to 7 and outscored them 96-83. Not a super dominant showing, but Angels were only a .500ish team in 2017. The A’s made a lot of changes going into this season so could be unpredictable. Buckle up!

(Note: As of this posting, all the A’s pitchers after Graveman are “probable”. I’ll update this preview if any of the below change.)

GAME 1

Garrett Richards v. Kendall Graveman
Thursday, March 29th @ 1:05PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

Garrett Richards is back and ready for his first (hopefully) full season since 2015. He’s looked sharp this spring with a 2.84 ERA and 1.184 WHIP over 4 starts and 12.2 innings. He was a bit wild in his last start but that shouldn’t be cause for concern. Richards faced the A’s twice last year in his 6 starts, holding them to 2 runs over 8 innings.

Kendall Graveman is one of the anchors of this questionable 2018 A’s pitching staff. We are soon to find out if his terrible spring has any relevance to the regular season. This spring, Graveman started 5 games and gave up 18 hits and 12 runs over 14.1 innings. He also struck out 16. Historically he’s been so-so against the Angels who knocked him around for 15 runs in 5 starts last year, including 5 home runs.

Verdict: Feeling good about taking home a win for game 1 of 162.


GAME 2

Tyler Skaggs v. Sean Manaea
Friday, March 30th @ 7:05PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

It may not feel like it, but Tyler Skaggs threw 85 innings in 2017 to the tune of a 4.55 ERA and 1.388 WHIP. Skaggs is a career 4.59 ERA guy so is usually good for at least a few runs each time he hits the mound. This spring he gave up 11 runs and 13 hits over 11 innings while striking out 13. Last year, the A’s managed 11 runs in 17 innings off Skaggs. He’s also good for a bunch of Ks, but rarely gets out unscathed by runs.

Sean Manaea had a decent spring with a 2.53 ERA and 9 Ks over 10.2 innings. He also gave up 2 home runs and walked 5. Manaea faced the Angels 4 times last year and gave up 13 runs in 16.2 innings but held them scoreless in his last start against the Angels in September.

Verdict: Historically the Angels have been pretty good against Manaea but the A’s have also beat up on Skaggs so this could go either way.


GAME 3

Matt Shoemaker v. Daniel Gossett
Saturday, March 31st @ 1:05PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

Matt Shoemaker ended his spring on a high note with a pair of dominant starts. Hopefully this bodes well as he steps onto the mound this Saturday. Shoey didn’t face Oakland this spring and you actually have to go all the way back to April 2017, when he faced them twice. In those outing, Shoemaker threw 10 innings, allowed 4 runs and striking out 10.

In his 13 spring innings, the youngster Gossett struck out 12 but also gave up 12 hits and 7 ER on 5 walks. Last year in his rookie campaign, Gossett only faced the Angels once (in August) and gave up 2 runs over 6.2 innings.

Verdict: This game should lean Shoemaker and the Angels especially if Shoey can throw the way he did his last two games of spring.


GAME 4

Shohei Ohtani v. Daniel Mengden
Sunday, April 1st @ 1:05PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

There isn’t much to say about Ohtani’s experience with the A’s - because there isn’t any. We all know how good he was in Japan but have yet to see that this spring. Ohtani has had a few bright moments but he’s been erratic with walks, hit batters, up and down with his velocity, etc. He’s anchoring out this series so hopefully it’s not more (extended) spring training for him.

Daniel Mengden was beat up pretty bad in spring to the tune of 29 hits and 17 ER over 25 innings. He also walked 9. It was a rough start after his impressive (but short) 2017 season. Mengden didn’t face the Angels at all in 2017 and has only pitched against them once back in September of 2016. In that appearance he gave up 8 runs and 9 hits over 3 innings.

Verdict: It’s likely that we’ll see both bullpens early in this game so it’s another game that could go either way - and could be a high scoring affair to end out the series.


Overall Verdict: The Angels should come out of this series still in the hunt for the playoffs. How’s that for prophetic and deep?