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Series #19: Athletics vs Angels - Going Streaking

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

There have been some significant changes made to the Angels’ roster over the years, but the story remains the same. A pitching staff with potential but decimated by injuries. An offense with potential but plagued by expensive black holes. Questionable managing. A superstar cast supported by an amateur crew. The result is typically a team that looks great on paper but finishes below .500, as the Angels have done now for the previous three seasons.

So, of course, Mike Trout is having a typical great season, slashing .288/.456/.589, hitting twelve home runs and driving in thirty runs through the years’ first third, but the Angels have been basically plodding along around him, with a middling offense and a middling pitching staff to play to the tune of a 24-28 record. The Angels are currently in fourth place in the division thanks in large part to a free falling Mariners team, and are 3.5 games behind the A’s for a playoff spot.

Entering this three game series, the Angels have won two in a row after having dropped five straight, their two most recent wins coming on the shoulders of some late inning dramatics. Streakiness is to be expected from this team though. The last time these two teams played each other was on the A’s home opener back in late March, where the A’s won three of the four games of that series. Starting with that series, April was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Angels. The Angels lost five in a row after their first win, beginning the season 1-7 before going on a six game winning streak and winning seven of their next eight games overall. Then the Angels lost six in a row and nine of ten. Then the team took six of their next seven games again. The Angels were either unbeatable, or very, very beatable.

In addition to Trout the Angels have had some notable, unexpected contributors on offense. Tommy La Stella, while playing almost every day, has twelve strikeouts and thirteen walks on the season, all the while hitting for power. He is tied for the team lead in home runs with Trout, and is second to Trout in OPS on the team, hitting .921. Jonathan Lucroy has been taking most of the starts at catcher, and while he isn’t setting the world on fire, for the first time in years there is some semblance of the hitter he used to be, the catcher finding his own power stroke with seven total home runs and a .788 OPS. On the flip side, Shohei Ohtani is still trying to find his stroke after returning from Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm, showing very little power from his spot at DH, and Justin Bour has looked awful with little improvement in his short time with the Angels, making silly outs on the basepaths, playing poor defense, and not doing much of any hitting.

For the pitching staff, the team got some good news as Andrew Heaney returned from injury and looked fairly strong in his first appearance of the year, hoping to aid a pitching staff that is in dire need of some sort of help. The Angels’ rotation is currently in flux, with guys like Matt Harvey getting injured or guys like Chris Stratton being bad, and beyond Heaney, an ineffective Trevor Cahill, and Tyler Skaggs, right now no one has a solidified sport. While admittedly some were used as openers, twelve different pitchers have made a start for the Angels this season, and few of them have been viable for the long term. The questions in the rotation have had an impact on the bullpen as well, as the Angels do have several strong pieces who can be used in almost any situation out of the bullpen. However, the unit as a whole has been relied on far too often and that overuse has had a rippling effect on results and the roster itself, with twenty two total men throwing at least one pitch for the Angels in just two months of action (twenty three when including position players).

The A’s winning streak can be extended to eyebrow-raising and asterisked levels if the team stays hot this series, as it currently sits at nine games, with a hanging chad of a tenth win in a row suspended until September. Going up against an Angels team that is so uncertain in its pitching staff that two of the three starters have yet to be announced, there is a decent chance that the A’s streak will survive the next three days.

Potential Lineup

Tommy La Stella - 2B

Mike Trout - CF

Shohei Ohtani - DH

Albert Pujols - 1B

Kole Calhoun - RF

Jonathan Lucroy - C

Brian Goodwin - LF

Zack Cozart - 3B

David Fletcher - SS

Pitching Matchups

Chris Bassitt vs Trevor Cahill

Frankie Montas vs TBD (likely Nick Tropeano)

Daniel Mengden vs TBD

Game Information

Game #55: Monday, May 27th at 1:07

Game #56: Tuesday, May 28th at 7:07

Game #57: Wednesday, May 29th at 12:37

All games are available on NBCSCA or Fox Sports West.