The A’s are beginning their final road trip of the season by playing two games in Los Angeles against the 4th place Angels.
The Angels hung around for roughly the first half of the season before gradually falling behind the rest of the AL West. The story for the Angels was largely the same as it always has been for the last few years. Mike Trout and a few other high-profile names play well, but injuries to the starting pitching staff and a lack of filler throughout the remainder of the roster ultimately sank the team.
Both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani have been shut down for the season, which will make the Angels’ offense mostly punchless in this series.
At 70-86, and the Seattle Mariners just four games behind them in the standings, this year has gone a lot worse than most Angels’ fans anticipated. Even with Mike Trout threatening to lead the league in home runs and Ohtani proving that his TJS didn’t impact his ability to hit with authority, most other players on offense took steps backward. Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons each wound up on the Injured List and struggled to reach base and hit for power upon their returns to the roster. Albert Pujols continued to decline, and Justin Bour, who was brought in to lighten Pujols’ load, managed to be even worse than Pujols. The team couldn’t get any offensive production out of the catcher position. Tommy La Stella was having a breakout season before getting hurt and needing to be shut down for the season.
The only Angels’ hitter currently on the roster with an OPS above .800 is Kole Calhoun, who is at .807. Calhoun enjoyed good power numbers this season, hitting 33 home runs, but he lost a lot of his OBP ability and made very little noise on the basepaths.
The Angels only have one pitcher who has logged 100 innings for them this season, and that pitcher is Trevor Cahill. Unfortunately, Cahill took some major steps back after his tremendous season in Oakland last year, and has a 6.10 ERA in over thirty appearances as a starter and reliever this year. No starting pitcher on the roster has an ERA below 4.50. The bullpen, save for a few arms here and there, is overworked and underperforming. Hansel Robles and Cam Bedrosian are arguably the only consistently effective pitchers on the roster right now.
Of course, the pitching staff and team was dealt a heartbreaking blow when Tyler Skaggs died in the middle of this season. His absence from the roster is palpable, and there are many people on the team and in his life who will never fully recover from his departure.
All the above is rather negative. That isn’t to say that this series will be a cakewalk, and if the A’s take their feet off of the gas for even a moment, the Rays and Indians can leapfrog them in the standings. But the A’s really, really should sweep this series and then sweep the Mariners next, and not even give Tampa Bay or Cleveland a fighting chance.
Better luck next year, Angels
David Fletcher - SS
Brian Goodwin - CF
Albert Pujols - DH
Kole Calhoun - RF
Kevan Smith - C
Jared Walsh - 1B
Taylor Ward - LF
Matt Thaiss - 3B
Kaleb Cowart - 2B
Homer Bailey vs Dillon Peters
Frankie Montas vs Andrew Heaney
Game #157: Tuesday, September 24th at 7:07
Game #158: Wednesday, September 25th at 7:07
Both games will be broadcast on NBCSCA. Tuesday’s game will also be broadcast on MLB Network for those who are out of market. Wednesday’s game will also be broadcast on ESPN for those who are out of market.