There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Los Angeles Angels wasting the talents of spectacular players.
The Angels head into Baltimore with a roster that boasts both the best player of the last decade and the most otherworldly talent in a century...and yet a disappointing 38-45 record to go with it.
It's an all too familiar story for the Angels. Mike Trout, a three-time MVP, is in his 12th year with the club. They've made the playoffs one (1) time in that span. Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, the unanimous 2021 MVP, is in his fifth year with the club. They've made the playoffs zero (0) times in that span. The Angels, even with the incredible advantage of two once-in-a-lifetime players, remain utterly inept at building a good team around them.
Early on, it seemed this might finally be the year that things would click for the Angels. On May 24, they sat at 27-17, in first place in the AL West. And then everything fell apart. The Angels lost 14 games in a row and slipped under .500, which they haven’t reached since. They fired veteran manager Joe Maddon, and one of Phil Nevin’s first acts as interim skipper was to order his pitcher to intentionally throw at a Mariners hitter, inciting an all-out brawl that got Nevin suspended for 10 games. For a guy hoping to earn consideration as a full-time manager, it’s not a great look. Nevin has served eight games of the suspension so far, so he’ll miss the first two games of this series but will return Saturday to face off against his son, Orioles utility guy Tyler Nevin.
The Angels’ rotation has been decent, boasting three above-average starters in Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and former Mets wunderkind Noah Syndergaard. Of those, only Sandoval will pitch in this series. But the bullpen, which they tried to reinforce this offseason with several veteran signings, has had its troubles. Closer Raisel Iglesias strikes out a ton of dudes — 13.3 K/9 — but setup men Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup have been mediocre, and Archie Bradley suffered a season-ending elbow fracture during the Mariners brawl that, again, the Angels themselves incited. The Angels have used 20 different relief pitchers this year, with even former O’s closer Cesar Valdez bringing his “dead fish” changeup to the mound for an appearance.
On offense, Trout (.993 OPS, 23 HRs) and Ohtani (.842 OPS, 18 HRs) have been their usual stellar selves, and outfielder Taylor Ward has had a breakout season (.303/.393/.498, 12 HRs), but the Angels have gotten almost no production out of their infield, especially since Anthony Rendon’s season-ending wrist surgery.
Game 1: Thursday, 7:05 PM, MASN 2
RHP Chase Silseth (1-2, 5.23) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (4-7, 4.70)
Besides having a tongue twister of a name, Chase Silseth is remarkable for one reason: he’s the first member of the 2021 MLB draft class to make the majors. Not bad for an 11th round pick! He was part of an Angels draft in which they used all 20 of their picks on pitchers. Silseth, drafted from the University of Arizona, signed an overslot deal and is in the majors less than a year later. He threw six shutout innings in his MLB debut but has failed to get through the fifth in any of his four starts since.
Lyles is coming off one of the best starts of his Orioles career, a 6.1-inning gem in Minnesota in which he held the Twins to one run and struck out seven. It was the fewest runs Lyles has allowed this year in an outing of longer than six innings. He saw plenty of the Angels last year when he pitched for their division rival Rangers, but it didn’t go well for him. In three starts, L.A. crushed him for a .375 average, four home runs, and a 1.094 OPS. Lyles lost all three games and posted a 10.05 ERA. Like most pitchers, Lyles has been unable to solve Trout, who has blistered him for eight hits in 18 career at-bats, including two homers.
Game 2: Friday, 7:05 PM, MASN (in market)/MLB Network (out of market)
RHP Michael Lorenzen (6-6, 4.94) vs. RHP Tyler Wells (7-4, 3.09)
Tyler Wells, Orioles ace. Back in March, few thought we’d be bestowing that title on the second-year right-hander, but his conversion to the rotation has turned out better than almost anyone could have imagined. Wells’ latest triumph was a stellar six-inning effort against the Twins, the team from which the O’s plucked him in the Rule 5 draft in 2020. Thanks, Twins! Wells has now won six consecutive decisions, and the Orioles haven’t lost a game he’s started since May 25. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in an outing since his first major league start April 10. He faced the Angels three times last year, all in relief, and pitched four perfect innings against them.
Lorenzen, a longtime Cincinnati Red, served as a two-way player a couple of years ago, moonlighting as an outfielder when he wasn’t pitching. He has a career .710 OPS but is hardly the next Ohtani, and this year Lorenzen has returned exclusively to pitching. That was going pretty well until his last three starts, in which he twice coughed up seven runs.
Game 3: Saturday, 4:05 PM, MASN
LHP Patrick Sandoval (3-3, 3.09) vs. RHP Dean Kremer (2-1, 2.48)
The 25-year-old Sandoval had a breakout half-season for the Angels last year and has been impressive this season, posting a 3.09 ERA and a 9.5 K/9, second best to Ohtani among Angels starters. He’s been particularly tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .458 OPS and no home runs. Sandoval’s one blemish is his wildness — he’s averaging 4.1 walks per nine this year, so O’s hitters would be well served to show some patience. He faced the Orioles once last year and allowed two runs in five innings but walked five in a no-decision.
Dean Kremer’s stretch of scoreless innings ended at 23 in his last start, when the Rangers jumped him for a five-run rally. Still, he’s been a bright spot in a season when, frankly, not much was expected of Kremer. The hurler who went 0-7 with a 7.55 ERA last season has been replaced by a pitcher who’s throwing the ball with confidence and command. Throwing strikes has been the key to Kremer’s turnaround. He’s slashed his BB/9 rate to 2.5 this season, down from 4.2 in 2021, and is now averaging 2.56 strikeouts for every walk, up from last year’s 1.88. This will be Kremer’s first career start against the Angels.
Game 4: Sunday, 12:05 PM, Peacock
LHP Jose Suarez (1-2, 4.30) vs. RHP Austin Voth (0-1, 3.86)
This is Peacock’s streaming game of the day, hence the earlier-than-usual start time. You’ll need to have a Peacock subscription to watch this one. If not, there’s always radio. At least if you get Peacock, you can watch The Office whenever you want. Or Girls5eva. That show is a hoot.
The national audience will see perhaps the least exciting pitching matchup of this series, with Suarez, who’s been essentially a league-average starter or just below, matching up against Voth, who has pitched capably in four starts but still seems like more of a placeholder until a better option comes along.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Angels?
This poll is closed
4 (Orioles will sweep!)