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Series #38: Athletics at Angels - No Trout, No Problem

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Angels’ Current Record:

58-58, fourth place in the AL West. After starting the season strong, the Angels are closer to last place than first place, despite employing the greatest player in the 150 years of the sport and a modern day Babe Ruth. To their credit, the team has won three straight ballgames, all at the expense of the Tigers.

Possible Lineup:

Kole Calhoun - RF

David Fletcher - 2B

Justin Upton - LF

Shohei Ohtani - DH

Andrelton Simmons - SS

Jefry Marte - 1B

Jose Briceno - C

Kaleb Cowart - 3B

Eric Young Jr - CF

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Felix Pena - RHP

Tyler Skaggs - LHP

Mystery Man - MHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The bullpen is well rested, but with the Angels starting rotation in flux and riddled with injuries, Anaheim will assuredly be heavily reliant on their bullpen unit for this series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Remember how awful Kole Calhoun was in the season’s early going? While his triple slash line hasn’t recovered yet, and probably won’t by season’s end, Calhoun is hitting all his competition in a fashion very similar to how he typically hits the A’s. Over his last twenty three games, Calhoun is batting .307/.386/.705, and his nine home runs over that same time span leads the team by a good margin.

Coldest Hitter(s):

While getting the lion’s share of starts at first base in the second half, Jefry Marte, former A’s farmhand, is batting an awfully impressive .103/.103/.138, good for a .241 OPS, just about as close to a complete black hole in the lineup as a team can get. The curse of former A’s has been on the down low for most of this season, but Marte would be a fitting candidate to do some real damage in this series.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Jim Johnson, the one who got away, has pitched over eleven innings since the All Star Break and has only given up one run. On the starting side of things, Jaime Barria has been effective, despite having a Paul Blackburn-esque inability to strike out big league hitters.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

The one of two confirmed starters for the Angels this series is Felix Pena, who began this season as a relief pitcher but has now started to take on starting duties. In three starts this half, he has yet to pitch twelve innings, while walking twice as many batters as he has struck out. His ERA over this timespan is fast approaching nine.

Key Injuries:

Lots of the usual suspects on the DL for the Angels. Garrett Richards is done till 2020. Matt Shoemaker is out indefinitely. Tyler Skaggs will be coming off of the disabled list prior to Saturday’s game, so the Angels’ rotation is getting one of its most effective members back. This is good news for the Angels.

The bad news for the Angels is that Mike Trout is officially on the DL with a wrist issue. Without their biggest weapon, that batting order looks pretty dang punchless.

* * *

It has been a while since these two rivals have gone head to head, long enough to where neither team resembles those that played each other just a couple of months prior. The A’s are no longer the inconsistent team that showed flashes of potential and flashes of incompetence seemingly at random for two months, and, after becoming sellers and getting victimized by cumbersome injuries, the Angels no longer resemble the contenders they once were. As the A’s have been methodically putting away more mediocre competition, the Angels are now in the same class as the Blue Jays and Tigers of the world, and this is a series the A’s really do need to win, no excuses.

With Mike Trout out of action and Shohei Ohtani ruthlessly taken away from the pitching world until 2020ish, the Angels fandom can at least take solace in the fact that their farm system is now amongst the best in the bigs, and for the first time in a long, long time, Anaheim can count on some help coming up (eventually) from the farm. This season, however, has completely transitioned from one of hope and expectations to yet another lost year, and Mike Trout is guaranteed to be around for too much longer. Next year should be better, though.

It should be.

Game #115: Friday, August 10th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSW, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Felix Pena

Anderson was superb in his last outing, doing whatever he could to silence those who were calling for his designation or a move to the bullpen. While those possibilities are still in the cards, his last effort proved he still has one of the best sliders in the game, and enough left in the tank to be an effective performer. Pena, in his last start, pitched more than five no hit innings, but eventually went on to lose the game.

Game #116: Saturday, August 11th, 6:07 - NBCSCA, FSW, MLB.tv

Edwin Jackson vs Tyler Skaggs

Jackson has defied his age and expectations, and has been highly impressive in his half-season in Oakland, becoming one of the more reliable and consistent arms in the rotation. In eight starts with the A’s, Jackson’s ERA is below 3.00. Despite being named for the Borderlands Goomba equivalent, Tyler Skaggs has been one of the best left handed pitchers in all of baseball, when healthy, and is a long proven frustrator of Oakland A’s hitters.

Game #117: Sunday, August 12th, 1:07 - NBCSCA, FSW, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill vs Mystery Man

Cahill has finally been getting deeper into games, while still not being the most efficient pitcher on the planet, but Cahill is who he is and he has been one of the better pitchers on the team at getting lots of batters out. If he continues to perform at the same level through the season’s second half, he would be a great candidate to start game one of the playoffs for Oakland.