Fresh off a season sweep of the cross country transplants who stole their logo, the Angels sit at 54-49, a season high 5 games over .500, and a mere 4 games back from Oakland for the second Wild Card.
While the numbers gurus at various sites peg the Angels at only a 5% chance to actually make the big dance, with the current team momentum and chemistry, that 20-1 shot might actually pay off. Here’s how it would probably need to play out.
For this exercise, I’m going to set the second Wild Card goal at 90 wins. That is about where it lands historically, and nearly exactly the pace at which Oakland has played this year. 90 wins, and we have a shot.
To get to 90 wins, we’d also have 70 losses, so the math dictates the record the rest of the year needs to be 36-23, a 60% winning percentage. In case you’re wondering, that would equate to 97 wins over the course of a full season.
But this isn’t a full season, it isn’t even a third of a season. Can we do it?
The Good News:
Starting tonight, the Angels host Baltimore and Detroit for 7 consecutive games. These are two of the worst teams in baseball and they could conceivably get even worse as we approach the trade deadline. This is a shot to bank 5-7 of those needed wins and perhaps get to a more realistic target of 30-22 the rest of the way.
The Angels also see the White Sox a total of 7 times in August and September. Already struggling, that lineup could be further depleted by trades. There are 14 very winnable games on the docket.
Also good news, we play the teams ahead of us quite a bit down the stretch. There are still 5 games against Oakland, 3 against Tampa Bay, 7 against Boston, and 6 against Cleveland. Those are opportunities to directly hurt the competition and move up the ladder.
The Bad News:
The Angels schedule after this home stand is tough. In addition to the 21 games against teams ahead of us in the Wild Card, we still have 10 games left against Houston and a 3 game set in the Bronx against the Yankees.
Overall, 34 of the remaining 59 games are against teams with better records than the Angels.
The Angels are not yet done with inter league play and face the Reds in Cincinnati for 3 then host the Pirates for 3 a while later. Each team entered the year with hopes of competing in the ultra tough NL Central but has turned into a slightly sub par squad. They probably aren’t quite as bad as their records indicate, though, as they play tough competition night in and night out in that division.
These games won’t be easy, but they are winnable. We just need to be a little less meh than they are.
The Wild Card:
Texas is likely the Wild Card in our Wild Card chase. Assuming things fall into place against the bad teams and the Angels hold their own against the good teams, there are 6 games left against Texas, who always plays the Angels tough. Those six games against a foe who would love nothing more to spoil our season loom large.
How It Would Happen:
Going back to needing a 36-23 record, here’s what I come up with.
The Angels need to win 10 of those 14 games against the likes of Detroit, Baltimore, and the White Sox. They would then need to scrape out 26 wins and take 19 or fewer losses in the remaining games.
Those six games against the Reds and Pirates need to go no worse than 4-2. Win each series, and they’re now at 22-17 for the really tough stretch.
22-17 against the cream of the AL will be tough. That’s a 56% winning percentage, a run that would equate to 91 wins across a year, pretty much in line with what we’ll likely need.
Texas could sell some pieces, the Astros could rest some guys down the stretch (we play them 7 times over the last two weeks including the last 4 days of the year).
Or, the team could take the bull by the horns, ride the back of Mike Trout and a solid bullpen and simply knock down the teams in front of them.
5%? So you’re saying there’s a chance.