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Series #49: Athletics vs Angels - The Last Home Stand

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Angels’ Current Record:

74-76, fourth place in the AL West and eliminated from playoff contention. They have a 37-38 record both at home and on the road.

Projected Lineup:

Kole Calhoun - RF

David Fletcher - 2B

Mike Trout - CF

Shohei Ohtani - DH

Justin Upton - LF

Andrelton Simmons - SS

Jefry Marte - 1B

Taylor Ward - 3B

Jose Briceno - C

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Tyler Skaggs - LHP

Felix Pena - RHP

Matt Shoemaker - RHP

Hottest Hitter(s):

He may not be able to pitch again until 2020, which is a crying shame, but in the meantime Ohtani has been showing off that he is just as elite of a hitter as he is a pitcher. Over his last twenty two games, Ohtani is hitting .367/.447/.803, with fourteen extra base hits including seven home runs. Also, unsurprisingly, Mike Trout has been his amazing self as usual, OPSing 1.137 and a K:BB ratio of 19:16 while playing strong center field defense.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Kole Calhoun was awful to begin the year, but then managed to catch fire and was a top five offensive player in the game during the early months of summer, as his body seemed to be desperately trying to amend for the terrible first couple months. Unfortunately for Calhoun, his hot streak has come to an end, and once again he is struggling to reach base or hit for any power, his OPS over the last month a paltry .552 with just two home runs.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Felix Pena made the switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation this year, and with the Angels also having a rash of injuries to the pitching staff, Pena’s emergence could not have come at a better time for them. He always puts the Angels in a position to win the games he pitches in, and over his last five starts he has been even better, earning a 2.81 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Since returning from the DL, Matt Shoemaker has looked like his old self and is a huge boon to the Angels’ rotation. The Angels bullpen has also been a major strength, lately, something somewhat rare for the Angels.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Odrisamer Despaigne was traded to the Angels in August to provide both starting pitching and relief pitching help, but so far has provided neither, his ERA well over eight in four appearances, three starts, with the Angels. Beyond Despaigne, however, the team has gotten really solid results from all players except role players merely on the team from rosters expanding.

Key Injuries:

Albert Pujols is done for the year, as is infielder Zack Cozart. On the pitching side of things, while top guys like Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker have made it back to the mound, Nick Tropeano, J.C. Ramirez, and Alex Meyer are all out until 2019, and ace Garrett Richards will be out until 2020.

* * *

It is the final home series against a western division rival, and it serves as the perfect chance for the A’s to re-center their focus and start their final run at both the Astros’ and Yankees’ playoff spots. As things currently stand, the A’s are four games back of Houston and 1.5 back of the Yankees, and given that the Yankees have a much tougher schedule from now till the end of the season, the first wild card spot is probably more likely than the division title. But one can always hope.

The Angels aren’t going to roll over for the A’s, however, and should be expected to put up a good fight this series. With Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have perhaps the strongest middle of the order of any team and baseball, one that can carry an offense almost entirely on its own. The pitching staff has been hot and cold all season but is currently very hot, particularly the typically shaky bullpen, and of course the Angels have some of MLB’s best defenders in the field behind their pitching.

Game #151: Tuesday, September 18th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSW, MLB.tv

Liam Hendriks (and company) vs Tyler Skaggs

The A’s are using a fresh and well rested bullpen for the first game of the series, Liam Hendriks taking on the opening duty that he has performed so well at since being called up in September. Tyler Skaggs is making his first start after a month long stint on the disabled list, and may have some rust that he has to shake off. The A’s have traditionally hit Skaggs fairly well, and so if the team takes its usual grinding, patient approach, the team should have the edge in Tuesday’s game.

Game #152: Wednesday, September 19th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSW, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Felix Pena

Anderson had poor BABIP luck in his first start since returning from the DL his last time out, as a lot of poorly hit balls found holes and made his good performance look weak. As he was the team’s best pitcher in August and is now back on a regular pitching schedule, that dominant Anderson could re-emerge on Wednesday. That emergence would be ideal, as Felix Pena has been the Angels best starter in the season’s second half.

Game #153: Thursday, September 20th, 12:35 - Facebook Watch

Edwin Jackson vs Matt Shoemaker

The A’s are playing in yet another Facebook-only game in Thursday’s matinee. Edwin Jackson has continued to defy his age and the A’s never seem out of it when he takes the mound. He starts have been on the shorter side lately, but considering the unit behind him ready to take his place, his short starts haven’t been a big deal. Matt Shoemaker is still building up strength in his return from injury and hasn’t been lasting long in games either, but he has had strong run prevention in limited action.