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Orioles-Angels series preview: Injuries abound in Anaheim for the fourth place Angels

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The Orioles head out west to meet the Angels for the first series of a nine-game road trip.

If you want to know how the Angels season is going, let me set the stage for you in terms you can relate to. In 2014 the Angels won 98 games and looked in great shape to go deep into the playoffs...until they were swept by the Kansas City Royals. They came back to earth in 2015, finishing in third place. So they headed into 2016 hopeful, but with the projections coming out of places like Baseball Prospectus that showed them finishing in last place in their division.

Kind of a similar situation to the Orioles, right? Eerily similar. But while the O's got off to a great start in 2016, first going 7-0 to start the season and now sitting in first place in the division, things haven't been as rosy for the Angels. In addition to any weaknesses the team had going into the season, they have been completely decimated with injuries.

Since the start of the season the Angels have lost Garrett Richards (#1 starter), Andrew Heaney (#2 starter), Daniel Nava (left fielder), Andrelton Simmons (shortstop who was acquired via a big trade in the off season), Huston Street (closer), Cory Rasmus (bullpen peon), and one half of their catching platoon (Geovany Soto, the half that could hit).

Imagine that the Orioles were currently without not only J.J. Hardy but also Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Joey Rickard, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, and Matt Wieters. Oh, and after Simmons was injured the Angels also lost utility man Cliff Pennington, so throw Ryan Flaherty on the DL with the others. The Angels also have backup outfielder Craig Gentry on the DL, so lose Hyun Soo Kim as well.

That's what the Angels have been dealing with. Sure they still have Mike Trout, one of the best players in baseball. And third baseman Yunel Escobar  and right fielder Kole Calhoun are having nice seasons at the plate, but that's about it. Albert Pujols has an OBP under .300. Catcher Carlos Perez has an OPS+ of 28. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella just can't hit.

The Angels are scoring an average of 3.95 runs per game, fourth worst in the American League. While their team OBP of .318 is league average, their SLG of .377 is just .001 better than the worst slugging team in the league, the Yankees.

But what about their pitching? Their team ERA is 4.16, which is just a little worse then league average. But their rotation will suffer greatly from the loss of staff ace Garrett Richards for the rest of the season. After six very good starts for the Angels, Richards tore his UCL. Instead of getting the standard Tommy John he will be receiving stem-cell therapy to try and speed up the healing process. Good luck to him.

Andrew Heaney made just one start for the Angels this year, and now he too has an injured UCL. The damage is less severe than Richards and he is foregoing Tommy John "for now."

The Angels have countered these pitching injuries by trading for Jhoulys Chacin, formerly of the Braves. They are also reportedly close to a deal with Tim Lincecum, but nothing is final yet.

So who does that leave in their rotation for now? Hector Santiago, Jered Weaver, Nick Tropeano, and Matt Shoemaker. The Orioles will this weekend be facing Santiago, Shoemaker, and Weaver.

Game 1: Friday, May 20th, 10:05 p.m. Eastern

Mike Wright (2-3, 5.20 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (3-2, 3.42 ERA)
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Of the three pitchers the Orioles will face this series, Santiago has had the most success this season. In fact, he's been good for going on six years. That's not bad for a guy drafted in the 30th round. Santiago came up with the White Sox and was traded to the Angels as part of the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks and brought Adam Eaton to the White Sox.

One weakness of Santiago's that could work in the Orioles' favor is that he gives up a lot of home runs. Last year he surrendered 29 home runs, the most in the league. So far this year he's giving up 1.3 home runs per nine innings, which would be tops on the O's starting staff.

It seems like a mismatch with the struggling Mike Wright pitching for the Orioles, but luckily for him the Angels don't have a lefty-heavy lineup, which is who he really struggles most with.

Game 2: Saturday, May 21st, 10:05 p.m. Eastern

Kevin Gausman (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Matt Shoemaker (2-5, 8.49 ERA)
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The Angels have a pitcher on their team who has been in the starting rotation the entire season and who has an 8.49 ERA. With their injury issues his rotation spot is probably a bit more secure than it normally would be. In three of Matt Shoemaker's seven starts this season he has given up at least six runs, and hopefully the Orioles can add another to that.

Kevin Gausman is coming off of his worst start of the season, when he gave up four run in just five innings. But otherwise he's been so good this year and I personally have a hard time imagning him putting together two bad starts in a row. Fingers crossed!

Game 3: Sunday, May 22nd, 3:35 p.m. Eastern

Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4, 5.60 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (3-3, 5.76 ERA)
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Jered Weaver used to be a really good pitcher. but that hasn't been the case for awhile now. His fastball has been dropping consistently for years now, and this year it is averaging 82.8. His fastball. Weaver wasn't good last year either but the Orioles still managed to lose in his starts twice. He is just the kind pitcher who terrifies me against the Orioles, so I have a pretty bad feeling. Weaver has actually put together a few good starts this year, and I'd be willing to bet he gets another one this weekend.

And who even knows with Ubaldo, man. You know what I'm talking about.

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So how are you feeling about this series? The Angels are struggling, but the Orioles are coming off of a series loss. Not to mention that yesterday they played a game in Maryland and tonight they're playing a game in California. That is a really quick turnaround and not much time to adjust to time zones.