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Bizarro Angels come to the Coliseum: A's vs Angels series preview

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"Up is down, down is up, he says hello when he leaves, goodbye when he arrives."

Yunel Escobar leads the Angels in wRC+ (min. 5 PA) in this bizarro start to their 2016 campaign.
Yunel Escobar leads the Angels in wRC+ (min. 5 PA) in this bizarro start to their 2016 campaign.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels have scored just two runs per game, tied for last with the Minnesota Twins, but the Angels are 2-4 while the Twins are winless in their first six contests. The culprits for the missing production are Mike Trout and Albert Pujols while the top bats by wRC+ (min. 5 PA) are Yunel Escobar (154) and Craig Gentry (152).

These are the Bizarro Angels.

G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wRC+
Cliff Pennington 2 4 0 0 1 0 25.0% 25.0% .667 .500 .333 .500 1.000 304
Yunel Escobar 6 26 1 4 2 0 15.4% 7.7% .182 .263 .273 .385 .455 154
Craig Gentry 5 15 0 0 2 0 13.3% 13.3% .091 .333 .273 .429 .364 152
Kole Calhoun 6 21 0 2 1 0 14.3% 28.6% .000 .500 .333 .429 .333 140
Daniel Nava 5 6 0 1 0 0 0.0% 16.7% .000 .400 .333 .333 .333 98
Mike Trout 6 25 0 0 2 0 16.0% 24.0% .050 .267 .200 .320 .250 64
Andrelton Simmons 6 21 0 0 0 0 0.0% 4.8% .095 .250 .238 .238 .333 61
Geovany Soto 3 7 0 2 0 0 14.3% 0.0% .000 .167 .167 .286 .167 46
Johnny Giavotella 5 16 0 2 0 0 0.0% 6.3% .000 .200 .188 .188 .188 2
Carlos Perez 5 14 0 1 1 0 14.3% 21.4% .000 .111 .083 .214 .083 -1
Ji-Man Choi 3 5 0 0 0 0 20.0% 0.0% .000 .000 .000 .200 .000 -19
Albert Pujols 6 24 0 0 3 0 0.0% 12.5% .000 .143 .125 .125 .125 -40
C.J. Cron 6 22 0 0 0 0 0.0% 22.7% .045 .118 .091 .091 .136 -50

Part of this, of course, is that the Angels had to face NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and their other ace, Jon Lester. But you'd think the Halos would have done better against the four starters Texas sent out in Anaheim.

But you all know better than to extrapolate over a week. Trout is Trout, Pujols will always be dangerous even if he's old and slow, and Johnny Giavotella will somehow bunt for a double because he's playing the A's.

Probable pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

All three games will be on CSN California:

Time (PT) TV Oakland Los Angeles (AL)
Mon. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Sonny Gray (1-0, 1.29) RHP Nick Tropeano (1st start)
Tue. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Kendall Graveman (0-1, 3.38) LHP Hector Santiago (0-0, 3.00)
Wed. 12:35 PM CSNCA LHP Eric Surkamp (0-0, 4.15) RHP Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 18.00)

Nick Tropeano signed a lease for an apartment in Salt Lake City with Jett Bandy, but he won't be there for at least as long as Andrew Heaney is on the disabled list with a forearm strain. Heaney is expected to be shut down for a couple of weeks to rest the arm. Tropeano has made 12 career major league appearances and 11 starts between the Astros and Angels. He has a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.

Hector Santiago took a no decision in the Halos' 4-3 win over Derek Holland and the Texas Rangers, giving up three runs (two earned) over six innings while allowing four hits, walking two, striking out seven, and conceding one home run. Santiago has had mixed results at the Coliseum as a starter. Last August 31, Santiago was knocked out of the game after pitching 2 2/3 innings and ended up charged with five runs while allowing four hits and three walks. He's never gotten out of the sixth inning as a starter at the Coliseum.

The Rangers got to Matt Shoemaker early, scoring six runs off of him in three innings plus one batter with seven hits allowed, three walks, and two strikeouts. He gave up a two-run home run to Rougned Odor. Shoemaker really struggled in 2015 with a 4.46 ERA in 25 games (24 starts), showing elevated rates in home runs and walks allowed.

Angels lineup additions and subtractions

As I wrote in my division preview, the Angels, in actions if not out loud, are doing everything they can to stay below the Competitive Balance Tax penalties, giving them very little room to maneuver. There are no prospects to rescue this club.

However, the left field platoon of Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry has worked out well so far. Plus, the offseason addition of Andrelton Simmons made using the last scraps of quality prospects remaining in that organization, other smaller adds, and the casting off of non-producers should still make the Angels lineup and defense a dangerous one.

  • Returners: CF Mike Trout, 1B Albert Pujols, RF Kole Calhoun, RF C.J. Cron, 2B Johnny Giavotella, C Carlos Perez, 3B Kaleb Cowart

  • Additions: SS Andrelton Simmons, 3B Yunel Escobar, OF Daniel Nava, OF Craig Gentry, C Geovany Soto, INF Cliff Pennington, OF Todd Cunningham, 1B/OF Ji-Man Choi

  • Subtractions: SS Erick Aybar, 3B David Freese, C Chris Iannetta, LF Matt Joyce, INF Taylor Featherston, OF David Murphy, OF Shane Victorino, 1B/OF Efren Navarro, OF Daniel Robertson, OF Collin Cowgill, 3B Conor Gillaspie, INF Grant Green

Bullpen

Al Alburquerque and Deolis Guerra were the only notable offseason reliever additions to the Angels organization, but both were sent to the minor leagues. The only new reliever in the active bullpen is A.J. Achter, called up on April 9 left-hander Greg Mahle, a 2014 15th round picked called up in place of A.J. Achter. Mahle will make his major league debut if he enters a game this series.

Fernando Salas will probably be unavailable for Monday night's game after appearing in three consecutive games:

Angels bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand 10-Apr 9-Apr 8-Apr 7-Apr 6-Apr 5-Apr
Huston Street R 10 7
O
F
F

D
A
Y
6
Joe Smith R 14 20
Fernando Salas R 10 12 8
Jose Alvarez L 7 4 14
Mike Morin R 13 28
Greg Mahle L
33
Cory Rasmus R 55
A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand 10-Apr 9-Apr 8-Apr 7-Apr 6-Apr 5-Apr
Sean Doolittle L 11 13 12
Ryan Madson R 21 9 25
John Axford R 8 17 17
Liam Hendriks R 35 30
Marc Rzepczynski L 31 6 2
Ryan Dull R 18 13 3
Fernando Rodriguez R 21 23

Other notes

  • If the A's win their fourth consecutive game, it will be their first four-game win streak since the A's won five in a row from June 20-25 in games 71-75. The A's did not win four games in a row last year until May 31-June 3 in games 53-56.
  • The last time the A's completed a series sweep this early in the year was in 2013, beating the Houston Astros on the road 8-3, 6-3, and 9-3 in games 5-7.
Statistics from FanGraphs.