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Orioles-Angels series preview: The Birds are off to Anaheim, and we’re not sure who’s pitching

The Orioles take on the star-crossed Angels for a four-game series. 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Baltimore Orioles
The last time these two teams met up, both were wearing Mothers’ Day pink.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Tonight, the Orioles’ road trip continues with a four-game series against the Angels, a team that has had to overcome devastating adversity after the tragic death of 27-year-old Tyler Skaggs on July 1.

For both of these teams, finding four competent starters to put out there on the mound seems like a huge ask at this point. The Angels have just DFA’d one-time ace Matt Harvey (7.09 ERA), offseason signing Trevor Cahill was demoted to the bullpen (6.56 ERA in 70 innings), lefty Andrew Heaney has hit the 10-day IL with shoulder inflammation, Dillon Peters was optioned to Triple-A this week, and reliever Noe Ramirez is serving a three-game suspension after nearly beaning Houston’s Jake Marisnick. Meanwhile, two Angels pitchers are still on rehab after Tommy John surgery, righty JC Ramirez and one-man hype machine Shohei Ohtani, who’s taking regular at-bats as DH, though it isn’t clear when he’s going to pitch again.

That leaves the Angels starting rotation with only converted reliever Felix Peña, Griffin Canning, and Jaime Barría, who did a nice job last night holding the MLB-leading Dodgers to just a run over 5 innings. The Halos are recalling another pitcher, José Suárez, to take tonight’s spot. (I mean, let’s not pretend the Orioles have their rotation struggles figured out either—three Orioles starters this series weren’t on the team a month ago. We just have a few fewer TBDs this time than the other guys.)

With all this, the Angels somehow still consider themselves potential buyers. They’re on something of a hot streak (7-3 in their last 10), with two series wins against Seattle, a split against Houston, and a two-game sweep of the NL-leading Dodgers, and they’re five games back of an AL Wild Card slot.

A powerful offense is what is keeping playoff hopes afloat for the Angels. Back when the Orioles last faced them in May, the Angels were 11th in the AL in batting average and hits, but they’ve bounced up the tables in those categories to fifth. Trout remains Trout, with a .298 BA, a silly .445 OBP, an even more absurd 1.110 OPS, and an AL-leading 33 home runs and 80 RBIs. What can you do but tip your hat? Meanwhile, Ohtani is hitting .300 as a DH, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is putting up solid numbers (.281 BA/.310 OBP/.702 OPS), Albert Pujols can still contribute at age 39 (.247/.309/.759 with 15 HR and 59 RBIs), and outfielder Brian Goodwin (.285/.341/.808) and third baseman David Fletcher (.291/.353/.763) are having career years.

Trout or no Trout, I think it’s crazy to attempt to compete in the postseason with a rotation held together by scotch tape and a prayer—but I guess stranger things have happened.

Game 1 - Thursday, 10:07 pm

Starting pitchers

  • José Suárez: 7 G, 7 GS, 32.2 IP, 5.51 ERA, 6.50 FIP, 1.561 WHIP, 37 SO, 14 BB
  • Tom Eshelman: 3 G, 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 6.29 ERA, 7.41 FIP, 1.535 WHIP, 10 SO, 5 BB

The 21-year-old lefty Suárez has bounced back and forth between the Halos rotation and Triple-A this season. In his last start on July 14 against the Mariners, he allowed three runs over 4.1 innings to get a win. Suárez hasn’t gone five innings in any of his starts this year.

Roch Kubatko tweeted last night that tonight’s spot, originally slotted for Tom Eshelman, is going to be taken by Jimmy Yacabonis. Eshelman is still listed as the starter, so we’ll go with him for now, but keep in mind the potential for surprise. Eshelman has lost his last two starts, including a nine-run debacle against Boston last time out. The righty lives or dies by his command, so if he doesn’t bounce back significantly in that department, there will be a lot of balls going yard against the homer-happy Angels.

Game 2 - Friday, 10:07 pm

Starting pitchers

  • Griffin Canning, 14 G, 14 GS, 71.1 IP, 4.67 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 1.179 WHIP, 77 SO, 24 BB
  • Asher Wojciechowski: 5 G, 4 GS, 23 IP, 3.91 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 1.043 WHIP, 31 SO, 7 BB

The Orioles faced the youngster Canning once this season, scoring four runs off him on May 12, a game they won 5-1. After a somewhat rocky start, Canning settled in for a strong May and June, but his numbers have tracked upward in 3 starts in July. Against Canning, Mancini is 1-for-3, Dwight Smith Jr. has a home run, Stevie Wilkerson is 1-for-2 with a long ball, Jonathan Villar is 1-for-2, and Hanser Alberto 0-for-2.

WoJo is riding high fresh off the best performance by an Orioles starter all season, a 7.1 inning one-hit shutout against Boston on Sunday. Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship? WoJo has faced just a handful of current Angels: Tommy La Stella is 2-for-4 with a walk against him, Brian Goodwin is 1-for-4, and Justin Bour is 0-for-1 with a strikeout.

Game 3 - Saturday, 9:07 pm

Starting pitchers

  • TBD
  • Aaron Brooks: 18 G, 9 GS, 59.1 IP, 5.16 ERA, 5.47 FIP, 1.298 WHIP, 46 SO, 7 BB

Brooks has opened three times for Baltimore this season, the last one a frustrating 3.2 innings against Arizona where he gave up six runs. He hasn’t been able to provide length, but if he gets back to his prior form, he can give the team a chance to stay in the game. Brooks faced most of this lineup once back when he was Oakland, scatting five hits and two walks to 11 current Angels over 22 plate appearances (nobody has more than one of each against him).

Game 4 - Sunday, 4:07 pm

Starting pitchers

  • TBD
  • Dylan Bundy: 19 G, 19 GS, 98 IP, 5.14 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 1.357 WHIP, 102 SO, 35 BB

Bundy had a nice start last time out, allowing just two runs to the Diamondbacks over six innings and striking out five. It certainly looked like he’s bounced back from the knee tendinitis that landed him on the 10-day IL. The ERA and WHIP are high, but so is Bundy’s K/9 rate of 9.4. It’s swings and misses on his secondary stuff that’s kept Bundy in games.

A bunch of Angels have rather scary histories against Bundy. I’ll just leave you with the batting averages against: Trout .444 and Pujols .556 (nine ABs apiece), Goodwin .400 (five ABs), Simmons .800 (five ABs), and Bour .667 (three ABs). Kole Calhoun and Ohtani have lifetime 0-fers against him, so there’s that.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    4 (The Orioles will sweep!)
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    3
    (8 votes)
  • 26%
    2
    (44 votes)
  • 50%
    1
    (84 votes)
  • 13%
    0 (Whomp whomp, the Angels will sweep.)
    (23 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now