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Series Preview: Angels @ Astros (Battle for the West)

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First chance of 2018 to the see the 2017 World Series champs

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Angels Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels rode their hot start to the top of the AL West standings - until last week. Now, the Astros sit op top at 1.5 games ahead of the Angels. Likely, the Astros will stay there after this series - barring an Angels sweep, but this matchup is a good one in the battle for the AL West in 2018.

For on offense that had been on such a tear, it was a bit disheartening to see the Angels score only 9 runs in 6 games last week. Blame on 2 days off. Blame it on “it’s just early”. Blame it on Milli Vanilli. Whatever.. The bottom line is that the Angels offense NEEDS to turn a corner to if they want a good showing in Houston.

Last week, for their part, the Astros scored 48 runs in 7 games - a stark contrast from the Angels. The Astros also are riding a 6 game winning streak. So.. here we have the ice cold Angels rolling into Houston to take on the red hot Astros.

GAME 1

Tyler Skaggs v. Gerrit Cole
Monday, April 23rd @ 5:10PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

Tyler Skaggs had a good start to his year - and then the Red Sox happened. Over his first 3 starts, Skaggs gave up only 3 runs in 16 innings and against the Red Sox he gave up double those runs in just 4.1 innings. Talk about an ERA killer. Skaggs faced the Astros twice last September - holding them scoreless over 7 innings in one start and allowed 4 over 5 innings in the next.

Um, I think 0.96 is a good ERA right? Gerrit Cole knows it is. Cole has been like clockwork for the Astros so far. Four starts and exactly 7 innings in each of them. He’s allowed only 3 earned runs over 28 innings has has struck out 41. All that AND Cole has been tough against Angels players he has faced in his career, holding them to a .162 average. Simmons and Rivera? A combined 0 for 9. Trout? 1 for 6. Cozart? 1 for 14. I think you get the drift here.

Verdict: This is a really tough match to start this series - but then again, most of the Astros pitchers make for tough matchups.


GAME 2

Shohei Ohtani v. Charlie Morton
Tuesday, April 24th @ 5:10PM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

Summary:

We all know what version of Shohei Ohtani we need to show up for this game. Last week’s blister plagued version and we are gonna have a problem in Houston. The version that showed up in those 2 starts against Oakland? Yeah we are gonna need that guy for sure.

Like Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton has had an excellent start to his season. He’a already 3-0 and has allowed only 2 runs over 25 innings with 33 Ks. What are they feeding their pitchers down there in Texas??

Verdict: Great matchup if the right Ohtani shows up and not the Morton who allowed just 4 runs in 17 innings against the Angels last year.


GAME 3

Nick Tropeano v. Justin Verlander
Wednesday, April 25th @ 11:10AM

Pitcher vs. Batters

Relevant Stats

N/A

Summary:

Nick Tropeano has made a pair of start this year and they’ve been two sides to a very lopsided coin. 6.2 scoreless innings in Kanas City followed by a 5 run mashing against the Red Sox. Let’s hope the road version of him shows up to give his team a chance against Verlander.

Justin Verlander really must not like the Angels. Just look at those career stats above and see how painful it really is. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are a combined 3 for 35 against Verlander with a home run apiece. Simmons, Calhoun, and Valbuena each have one hit off him and are a combined 3 for 45. This game might hurt a bit.

Verdict: Ouch. Probably. Unless Verlander is hindered by a blister or a rare bad start, don’t get your hopes up for this one.


Overall Verdict: Honestly, I’ll be happy if the Angels don’t get swept. They will need a huge offensive showing against a formidable Houston pitching staff that has not been kind to them in the past.