First, a shameless plug. If you haven’t checked it out lately, the Angels 40 man roster map has been updated.
If the Angels are to gain ground in the wild card race, playing the two worst teams in baseball over the next 7 games sure is a good place to start. First up - the Orioles and their 2nd worst MLB record. There is no doubt the Orioles are bad, but they have a few tricks up their sleeves like Hanser Alberto who has the 6th best AVG in the AL and he has been crushing left handed pithing with a .411/.420/.543 slashline, so Jose Suarez has his work cut out for him.
The Angels took 2 out of 3 against the Orioles in Baltimore during early May. The only loss was to All Star John Means, who the Angels will not see this time around. The scheduling gods have given us a reprieve, even though there will be four matchups. Means pitched Wednesday against Arizona.
Although the Orioles have a lot of guys you may have never heard of, Mark Trumbo is on the mend and could return soon. In addition, the Orioles offense is no pushover, so the Angel bats will have to go to work to outscore them.
Orioles - who’s hot (last 7 days):
Dwight Smith Jr. .438 AVG, 1 home run
Anthony Santander .423 AVG, 4 home runs, 7 RBI
Richie Martin .429 AVG, 2 RBI, SB
(L) Jose Suarez (5.51) v. (R) Jimmy Yacabonis (6.95 ERA)
Thursday, July 25th @ 7:07PM
Jose Suarez hadn’t been called up in May, so this will be his first start agains the Orioles, who as a team are hitting lefties pretty well. Suarez still hasn’t managed to go deep into any games, throwing 4, 3.1, and 4.1 innings over his last 3 starts. Home runs have been his problem and with the heat, balls could be flying off the Orioles bats. Expect an early hook and some relief innings needed.
According to some reports, Tom Eshelman could be making this start, but let’s pretend Yacabonis is. Really it doesn’t matter too much since neither pitcher has ben all that impressive this year. Yacabonis hasn’t throw more than 61 pitches in a game all year and Eshelman has only made 3 carer starts so either way we may seen some bullpen dudes in this one. Eshelman should serve as the “bulk guy”, but he hasn’t been pitching well either. High scoring affair.
(R) Griffin Canning (4.67) v. (R) Asher Wojciechowski (3.91)
Friday, July 26th @ 7:07PM
Griffin Canning was beat up a bit by the Orange Birds earlier this year. He allowed 3 home runs and 4 runs over 4.2 innings but that was in the bandbox they call Oriole Park. But, he’s coming off a strong start against the Mariners so hopefully can keep that mojo going.
Asher Wojciechowski has been really impressive over 5 starts this year, including a dominating performance against the Red Sox in his last trip to the mound. He threw 7.1 innings of 1 hit ball while striking out 10. Not bad for a 30 year old pitcher with only 101.2 career innings under his belt. Apparently he has a new breaking ball that is really nasty. Let’s hope for the best.
TBD v. (R) Aaron Brooks (5.16 ERA)
Saturday, July 27th @ 6:07PM
Honestly have no idea who is starting Saturday. But they’re giving away Mike Trout hats, and there are fireworks! So you should still go!
It doesn’t look like Aaron Brooks has good numbers. After tallying 50 innings each in 2014 and 2015, he didn’t pitch in the majors in 2016 or 2017 before returning for Oakland in 2018 for two innings. This year, he’s made 6 starts for Oakland before finding a new home in Baltimore. Career 6.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 120 innings. Angels bats, assemble!
TBD v. (R) Dylan Bundy (5.14 ERA)
Sunday, July 28th @ 1:07PM
This game should feature Félix Peña, possibly with Taylor Cole. That combo has worked well. Peña’s outings have gotten progressively shorter, and he only lasted 3.2 innings against the Dodgers, but he still got the win. Hopefully he has recovered from a nasty cut on his thumb that affected his ability to locate pitches last time up.
Dylan Bundy is the former prospect who has the straightest fastball the world has ever seen. He helped break Statcast last year. Mike Trout helped.
It’s another good matchup for the Angels.
Overall Verdict: We have to have these games. The Orioles are sneakily okay, but that’s no excuse. It’s crunch time. Let’s go.
Current Standings (sorted by playoff odds)
(Pitch tracking data from baseballsavant.mlb.com)
(Splits from FanGraphs Splits Tool and Baseball Reference)
(Standings/odds from fivethirtyeight.com)