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Orioles-Angels series preview: A chance to beat up on an unrecognizable team

The Angels went all-in at the trade deadline, collapsed spectacularly, and then jettisoned their key players for literally nothing. It’s been quite the season.

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Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics
Pop quiz: Name one Angel besides this guy.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If you thought being an Orioles fan (pre-2022) was miserable, try being an Angels fan.

No team has consistently done less with more than the club from Los Angeles. Graced with the talents of both the longtime best player in the game, Mike Trout, and the otherworldly two-way sensation known as Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have failed to qualify for a single postseason in their six years as teammates. And this season has been the biggest boondoggle yet.

Hovering on the fringes of the wild card race at the trade deadline, the Angels spurned the many trade suitors for Ohtani and elected to go all-in around him, making a flurry of trades to acquire Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk, and others, further weakening their already thin farm system. The decision immediately turned into an unmitigated disaster. Starting on deadline day, the Angels lost seven games in a row, going 8-19 in August to bury their playoff hopes. They also lost Trout to a probable season-ending wrist injury and, in a brutal development, revealed that Ohtani suffered a torn UCL that will prevent him from pitching for the rest of the year and likely beyond. You couldn’t have imagined a more devastating sequence of events for the perpetually snakebitten franchise.

At that point, the Angels decided to cut their losses in the most chaotic way possible, simply dumping most of their free-agents-to-be onto the waiver wire, losing them for no compensation other than taking their final month’s salaries off the books. Giolito and López — for whom the Angels had traded two of their top prospects less than a month earlier — were claimed by the Guardians, as was veteran lefty Matt Moore. Righty Dominic Leone, another trade-deadline acquisition, went to the Mariners, and slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Reds. The result is a threadbare, nearly unrecognizable Angels roster in which the remaining players and even the manager seem mystified about what just happened. The now 64-73 Angels just got swept over the weekend by MLB’s worst team, the Athletics.

For an Orioles team trying to keep its grip on first place in the AL East, this is a series they should certainly win and, ideally, sweep. Don’t expect it to be that simple, though. You can never assume a sweep — the O’s failed to do so against the also-lousy Rockies and White Sox last week — and the Angels do still have the presumptive AL MVP, Ohtani, swatting dingers daily, as he continues to hit despite his UCL injury. Their lineup also includes Grichuk, who went unclaimed on waivers due to his .568 OPS since the Angels acquired him. The former Blue Jay is an infamous Orioles killer, slashing .324/.365/.718 with 21 home runs in 57 career games against Baltimore pitching. I didn’t miss him when he was in the National League.

The O’s will be facing all left-handed starters in this series, which means that Ryan O’Hearn, their OPS leader, could be on the bench three straight nights. Expect to see more playing time for Jordan Westburg, who didn’t start the last two games of the Arizona series.

Game 1: Monday, 9:38 PM ET, MASN, FS1

RHP Grayson Rodriguez (4-3, 5.03) vs. LHP Kenny Rosenberg (0-0, 6.43)

Is it too early to declare that Grayson has lived up to the hype? Since his reset in Triple-A earlier this year, Rodriguez has looked every bit like the hotshot pitching prospect who was to take the major leagues by storm. He has a 2.83 ERA and batters are hitting just .199 against him in his eight starts since returning. Five of those eight have been quality starts, including his last four in a row.

Rodriguez will surely welcome a rematch against the Angels, who handed him one of his most disastrous outings of the year in May before his demotion. The Angels pounded him for eight runs, including a mammoth three-run homer by Ohtani, who also bested him on the mound that night. Only three of the Angels hitters from that May lineup are still on their active roster today.

Ken Rosenberg, not to be confused with the national baseball writer of a very similar name, will be making just his second major league start and first of this year. He’s taking the rotation spot of the departed Giolito. Rosenberg wasn’t even pitching particularly well at Triple-A — where he had a 4.95 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 20 games for Salt Lake — but the Angels are in desperate need of warm bodies. That said, watch this guy pull a Ty Blach and inexplicably shut down the O’s offense.

Game 2: Tuesday, 9:38 PM ET, MASN, MLB Network

RHP Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.20) vs. LHP Reid Detmers (3-10, 5.01)

I don’t want to use the “P” word before the O’s have clinched a berth, but if the team is lucky enough to find itself playing in, well, October, Kremer has seemingly solidified a spot in the rotation along with Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish. His 2.37 ERA in August was his best of any month so far, and he — like Rodriguez and Bradish — is riding a four-game quality start streak. Kremer defeated the Angels earlier this year, holding them to three runs in 5.2 innings despite a Mickey Moniak leadoff home run.

Detmers, an Angels first-round pick in 2020 who debuted a year later, hasn’t lived up to his breakout 2022 season in which he posted a 3.77 ERA and threw a no-hitter. This season he’s been prone to implosions, including three outings since the All-Star break in which he’s given up seven runs apiece. He is still capable of pitching a gem on occasion, though, as evidenced by his 7.1 innings of one-hit, shutout ball against the Rangers three starts ago. Detmers faced the Orioles twice last year and held them to two runs in 11 innings.

Game 3: Wednesday, 9:38 PM ET, MASN2

RHP Kyle Gibson (13-8, 5.15) vs. LHP Patrick Sandoval (7-11, 4.19)

If you were among the gaggle of Orioles fans clamoring for Kyle Gibson to get bumped out of the rotation after his latest meltdown against the White Sox, you’re out of luck. Gibson gets at least one more start while the main candidate to replace him, John Means, will make another rehab start at Norfolk. It was only two starts ago that Gibson twirled a season-high eight innings in a huge win over the Blue Jays, so we know a good pitcher is in there somewhere. He just hasn’t revealed himself nearly often enough. Gibson was torched for a 7.89 ERA and .951 opponents’ OPS in August, even including his impressive Jays outing. The most experienced veteran in the rotation is also the one on thinnest ice.

Sandoval is the de facto ace of the Angels staff with Ohtani out of commission. Like Detmers, his 2023 season has been a big step down from a year ago, when Sandoval posted a fantastic 2.91 ERA in 27 starts. Sandoval’s biggest weakness this year has been his walk rate, which is up to a career-worst 4.4 BB/9. A patient Orioles lineup should be able to take advantage of his wildness, one would hope.


How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Angels?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    3 (Orioles sweep!)
    (259 votes)
  • 52%
    (319 votes)
  • 3%
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    0 (Orioles get swept)
    (4 votes)
602 votes total Vote Now