The Orioles get a short breather from the AL East with a three-game series against the Angels of Los Angeles. The Angels were expected to compete this year in a tough AL West division, but they’re sitting five and a half games back in fourth place. At 17-20, they’re certainly not terrible—O’s fans would wish for that record—but this isn’t where they thought they’d be.
Pitching has been a weakness for the Angels the last couple of seasons, but their offseason additions don’t seem to have helped much. On Tuesday, they DFA’d righty Chris Stratton, who’d pitched to an 0-2 line with an 8.59 ERA in seven games. Trevor Cahill is 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA. The staff is 11th in the AL in ERA and 10th in runs allowed. Before Wednesday’s 13-0 trouncing of Detroit, LAA pitchers had given up 36 runs in four games. According to FanGraphs’ Quality Start numbers, the Angels have just one pitcher with enough innings to be qualified—Matt Harvey, who’s toting around a not-so-sporting 6.94 ERA.
It’s been kind of the same story for the Angels bullpen, which is 12th in the AL in runs allowed. Cody Allen, in something like the closer role, is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP. The 24-year-old Hansel Robles has been better but not stellar, with three saves and a 4.24 ERA. Innings-eater Felix Peña has a 2-1 record and 3.21 ERA over six games, and the O’s will probably face the reliable pair of Cam Bedrosian (1-1, 3.00 ERA in 18 innings) and lefty Justin Anderson (2-0, 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings).
The offense, long a strength for the Angels, has been kind of a dud. They’re ranked ninth in the AL in batting average, and 11th in total hits. Oh, there is this one guy, Mike Trout—maybe you’ve heard of him? Trout still leads the AL in WAR, walks, and OBP, but his .284 BA and seven homers are in the mere mortal range, so I guess this counts as a downer of a start for him? However, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is hitting .291 with 44 hits, fifth-best in the league, and left-fielder Brian Goodwin seems to be taking well to LA in his first season there (.314 BA/.392 OBP/33 hits). Last year’s Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani is making just his third start after coming off the IL, so things should get better in the lineup, provided new manager Brad Ausmus can work out the roster crunch at 1B/DH with the aging Albert Pujols and a scuffling Justin Bour.
The Angels are 6-4 in their last ten games and 5-11 on the road. The O’s are 5-13 at home this season.
Game 1 - Friday, 7:05
- Trevor Cahill: 7 G, 7 GS, 33.2 IP, 6.95 ERA, 7.50 FIP, 1.455 WHIP, 27 SO, 12 BB
- Dan Straily: 6 G, 5 GS, 23 IP, 7.43 ERA, 8.00 FIP, 1.870 WHIP, 11 SO, 10 BB
The 31-year-old journeyman Cahill has a competent 4.15 ERA in eleven seasons, but so far this season the righty’s been getting hit around. In his last start, Cahill faced the Astros in Monterrey, Mexico, making him (fun fact) the first big league pitcher to start games in four different countries. Unfortunately for him, Cahill gave up six runs that day over 3.1 innings in a lopsided 14-2 game. So far, Cahill’s 12 home runs allowed and 7.50 FIP are way above his career numbers.
Straily hasn’t looked so hot this season either, and if his history against Los Angeles is any guide, this could be a short and unpleasant start. In nine starts against the Angels, Straily has a career 2-4 record with a 7.49 ERA. Trout has owned Straily over 24 plate appearances, racking up a .450 BA with 4 RBI. Pujols (who may or may not get the start at DH over a healthy Ohtani) has a .476 BA with 2 HRs against Straily. Andrelton Simmons is 1-for-5 against him, and Kole Calhoun 3-for-11 with 2 RBIs.
How O’s hitters are likely to fare against Cahill is something of a crapshoot, since only a few have any kind of a record against him. Chris Davis is 3-for-19 against Cahill with eight strikeouts and one home run. Trey Mancini is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Jonathan Villar is 1-for-5.
Game 2 - Saturday, 4:05
- Matt Harvey: 7 G, 7 GS, 36.1 IP, 6.94 ERA, 5.47 FIP, 1.376 WHIP, 22 SO, 14 BB
- Dylan Bundy: 7 G, 7 GS, 35.2 IP, 5.30 ERA, 5.80 FIP, 1.318 WHIP, 38 SO, 14 BB
If the name “Matt Harvey” strikes fear in your heart, remember: this is not your grandfather’s Matt Harvey. It wasn’t too long ago that Harvey was a perennial Cy Young contender for the Mets, but after Tommy John surgery in 2014 and an injury-plagued 2016, he hasn’t been the same.
Harvey has never faced the Orioles as a starter, and the only guys in the lineup who have seen him before during stints in the NL are Pedro Severino (1-for-2 with an RBI) and Jonathan Villar (2-for-10 with one HR).
Dylan Bundy has been a mixed bag this year, although his most recent starts are trending upward in terms of his endurance and susceptibility to the long ball. In Bundy’s last five starts against LAA, he’s 1-1 with a not-so-inspiring 5.56 ERA. When you look at his matchups with several Angels, this starts to make sense. That includes Albert Pujols, no longer what he used to be, but still owner of a .429 BA against Bundy on three hits in seven at-bats. Mike Trout has a .667 BA in seven at-bats against him with two homers and a walk, and Andrelton Simmons is 4-for-5 (you do the math).
I say the smart money is on several balls leaving the Yard on Saturday afternoon.
Game 3 - Sunday, 1:05
- Griffin Canning: 2 G, 2 GS, 9.2 IP, 4.66 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 1.034 WHIP, 13 SO, 2 BB
- John Means: 9 G, 5 GS, 32.2 IP, 2.48 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.010 WHIP, 29 SO, 7 BB
The 22-year-old rookie Canning is making just his third career start in Sunday’s series finale. In his first two, he’s had control problems, but he’s also struck out 13, including seven in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday against Detroit, where he gave up only two runs and four hits. The 2017 second-round draft pick has a nasty slider and a curve to go with a lively four-seam fastball.
The good news for the O’s is that Angels have been terrible against left-handed pitching this year. Their splits are pretty dramatic: a .258 BA with 33 HR and 121 RBI against righties versus a .202/13/39 line against lefties, against whom they’re 3-10.
This bodes pretty well for John Means, who’s been a revelation this season. He’s a complete unknown to Angels hitters, and O’s fans will hope the lineup’s struggles against lefties continue.
There are a lot of unknowns in this series, what with the Orioles fielding a lineup of mostly new faces and the Angels starting two pitchers who spent most of their careers in the NL and another who’s making just his third career start. Either way, it’s a safe bet to predict a lot of runs scored in the next three games, especially when Straily and Bundy take the mound. Stay tuned!
Stats retrieved from Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and ESPN.
Poll: How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
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3 (The Orioles will sweep!)
0 (The Angels will sweep.)