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Halos Offense Looks To Bounce Back After Lackluster Series Opener

Junk Hoping To Deliver Quality Outing On The Road In Final Appearance Of The 2021 Season

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two runs on four hits will not win a baseball game unless you have stellar pitching, which the Angels did not have last night in a 5-2 series opening loss to the Texas Rangers. The Halos still hold a 10-7 season series lead that won’t be overtaken, however, they have fallen victim to defeat in the last three head-to-head matchups. We know the Angels have struggled mightily against teams within the AL West this season as they currently retain a 26-45 (.366) record, but today marks a new day that hopefully brings winning ways in favor of the Angels.

Pitching Matchup

The youth movement in the starting rotation continues tonight as right-hander Janson Junk will take the mound for his fourth start of the year. The former 22nd Round pick in the 2017 Draft enters tonight 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 12 innings pitched. Junk made his major league debut on September 5 versus the Rangers, suffering the loss after allowing five runs (only one earned) on six hits across 3.2 innings. In his last start against the Houston Astros on September 22, Junk took the no-decision following four innings and yielding three runs on four hits and just one strikeout. The long ball has been the achilles heel for Junk during his short stint with the Angels this season, surrendering a total five home runs in three appearances.

The Rangers will oppose Junk with southpaw Taylor Hearn. The 27-year-old Texas native comes into today’s game with a 6-5 record and 4.55 ERA in 41 appearances (10 starts). Hearn has faced the Angels on three different occasions this year, twice as a reliever and once as a starter, combining to go 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA (6 ER in 12 innings) and a walk to strikeout split of 5 BB/11 K. His last appearance against the Halos occurred back on September 5, picking up the win with seven strong innings and his only blemish being two home runs off the bat of Jo Adell, which accounted for all three Angel runs. As a platoon pitcher who has worked as a reliever and starter this season, Hearn has found more success coming out of the bullpen. In 31 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA, while 4-3 with a 5.72 ERA in 10 starts overall.

All Aboard The Stassi Train

Max Stassi continues to make the most of his opportunity of being the Angels number one catcher. “Maximus” has officially set career-highs in numerous batting categories (Home Runs - 13, RBI - 35, Hits - 65, Runs Scored - 45 and Walks - 28), while defensively flashing the leather and guiding a young pitching staff through growing pains. Joe Maddon utilizes Stassi throughout the batting order, finding the best home for the 30-year-old catcher in the six or seven hole. In 28 combined games (11 batting 6th and 17 batting 7th), Stassi is delivering a .286 average (26-for-91) with 4 HR, 14 RBI and 6 Doubles.

Angels News & Notes

  • Joe Maddon confirmed Shohei Ohtani WILL NOT pitch on Sunday in Seattle, which means the 2021 Season on the mound for Ohtani is over. He finishes going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. He also accumulated 130.1 Innings Pitched, 156 Strikeouts, 1.09 WHIP and a perfect home record going 6-0 with a 1.95 ERA
  • Taylor Ward recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. In correspondence, LHP Packy Naughton is being optioned back to Triple-A Salt Lake