Los Angeles Angels Series Preview: August 30 – September 1

The Yankees’ west coast swing is almost over. Last stop: Anaheim, for three games against the Mike Trout-less Angels. They still have Shohei Ohtani, at least. He’s starting the middle game of this series, and he surely wants revenge for his awful start at Yankee Stadium two months ago. Even with Ohtani’s amazing season, the Angels remain a middling-to-bad baseball team. This tweet is evergreen:

Look, if Ohtani wants to swat a few more homers or strike out a dozen batters this week, so be it. But the rest of the roster is so lackluster that even such a performance shouldn’t be enough to beat the Yankees. With that, let’s get familiar with the 64-67 Angels.

Their Story So Far

The Angels are 10.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, and as such, FanGraphs has officially written them off as a playoff contender. I know Trout has been out since May and Anthony Rendon is done for the year too, but a team with those two and Ohtani should be way better than this. The front office has done an embarrassingly bad job at building a team around two of the best players this sport has to offer.

It’s remarkable that the Angels are merely three games under .500 too. They have a 59-72 Pythagorean record thanks to a -64 run differential. Other than Ohtani, both the pitching and offense are pretty bad. As a team, the Angels have a 95 OPS+ and 97 ERA+, both marks propped up thanks to Ohtani (159 OPS+ and 153 ERA+). Sure, there are a couple of others having solid seasons like Jared Walsh, Max Stassi, and Raisel Iglesias, but good grief this team’s depth is terrible.

At some point, the Angels should make the playoffs behind Trout and Ohtani, right? I mean, I guess I’m not counting on it given the team’s incompetence since 2015, the club’s last year over .500. What an incredible waste of two perennial MVP candidates.

Injury Report

PlayerPositionInjuryRoster StatusEstimated Return
Anthony Rendon3BHip Surgery60-day IL2022
Franklin BarretoINFTommy John Surgery60-day IL2022
Dexter FowlerOFTorn ACL60-day IL2022
Mike TroutCFStrained Calf60-day ILMid-September
Dylan BundyRHPStrained Shoulder10-day ILMid-September
Alex CobbRHPWrist inflammation10-day ILMid-September
Reid DetmersLHPCOVID-19 ProtocolCOVID-19 ILTBD
Patrick SandovalLHPLumbar spine stress reaction10-day IL2022
Luke BardRHPHip Surgery60-day IL2022
José MarteRHPCOVID-19 ProtocolCOVID-19 ILTBD
Austin WarrenRHPCOVID-19 ProtocolCOVID-19 ILTBD

Spotlight: Jo Adell

Perhaps the trajectory of the Angels looks a little different if Jo Adell broke into the majors as a star. He was one of MLB’s top prospects just a couple of years ago, but since a bump up to Triple-A as a 20 year-old in 2019, the outfielder has really struggled. In particular, Adell strikes out a ton and hasn’t been able to tap into his terrific raw power.

Adell debuted in the majors last year, but was completely overmatched. He hit .161/.212/.266 (29 wRC+) in 132 plate appearances, including a 41.7 percent strikeout rate. This followed a 67 wRC+ and 32.6 percent K-rate in Triple-A in 2019. There was always some swing-and-miss in Adell’s game, but I don’t think the crash he experienced in Triple-A in ’19 and the majors in ’20 was anticipated. After all, Adell tore up Double-A in 182 plate appearances in 2019. There, he posted a .308/.390/.553 (173 wRC+) triple-slash with just a 22.5 percent strikeout rate.

Now 22, Adell opened this season back in Triple-A and rebounded nicely. Still not great plate discipline (6.5 percent walk rate and 29.2 percent K-rate), but he was getting results: .289/.342/.592 (120 wRC+) and 23 homers in 339 trips to the plate. That performance, along with Trout’s extended absence, finally got the prospect another big league opportunity come August.

The outfielder got off to a nice start with a 10-for-34 performance in his first ten days up (113 wRC+), but has fallen off since (.182/.237/.291 in last 59 plate appearances). The good news? He’s striking out at a much more reasonable clip during this slump (23.7 percent). So even though he’s not getting the results, making more contact is a good sign.

Adell isn’t in the clear just yet, but he does serve as a good reminder that prospect development isn’t always linear. He was a consensus top-10 prospect in the majors who tore up the minors before hitting a major road block in the previous two seasons, only to seemingly bounce back in Triple-A this year. There are still some issues to iron out, but there are signs that the 22 year-old has started to right the ship.

Projected Lineup

  1. Shohei Ohtani, DH/RHP (.264/.363/.623, 160 wRC+)
  2. David Fletcher, 2B (.292/.323/.358, 89 wRC+)
  3. Justin Upton, LF (.213/.299/.413, 96 wRC+)
  4. Jared Walsh, 1B (.265/.330/.500, 124 wRC+)
  5. Phil Gosselin, 3B (.278/.330/.382, 98 wRC+)
  6. José Iglesias, SS (.259/.295/.375, 84 wRC+)
  7. Brandon Marsh, CF (.279/.350/.395, 109 wRC+)
  8. Max Stassi, C (.269/.346/.472, 126 wRC+)
  9. Jo Adell, RF (.225/.281/.337, 71 wRC+)

Bench:

  • Kurt Suzuki, C (.220/.288/.328, 72 wRC+)
  • Jack Mayfield, INF (.220/.276/.466, 101 wRC+)
  • Juan Lagares, OF (.237/.263/.357, 68 wRC+)

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 9:38pm eastern:

RHP Corey Kluber (143 ERA+)

He’s back. Tonight will be Klubot’s first start since May 25th, a three inning outing against Toronto before he went down with shoulder trouble. The timing of the injury couldn’t have been worse as the veteran righty was on a roll at the time. It may take some time for him to shake off the rust tonight, but it’s good to have him back, especially over Andrew Heaney (who’s expected to piggyback Kluber tonight).

LHP José Quintana (68 ERA+)

The veteran lefty and one-time Yankee farmhand has been pitiful for the Angels this year. He’s pitched mostly in relief after an ugly beginning in the Angels’ rotation, but numerous injuries and COVID cases will force him back into a starting role, at least for tonight. He probably won’t pitch too deep given his lack of build up (no more than 38 pitches since July 29), but he may not perform that well anyway. Quintana was just claimed off waivers by the Giants, so I have no idea who’s starting tonight. It’s still TBD.

Quintana.

Tomorrow, 9:38pm eastern:

RHP Jameson Taillon (104 ERA+)

Hopefully Taillon’s last outing was just a blip on the radar. He couldn’t complete four innings in Oakland and gave up five runs, marking his first really poor start since June. That previous not-so-great start came against the Angels, by the way: five runs, including three homers, in 5.1 innings on June 29th.

RHP Shohei Ohtani (153 ERA+)

The Yankees stunned Ohtani in the Bronx on June 30th, knocking him out before he could finish the first inning. Ohtani was tagged for seven runs before all was said and done. He didn’t pitch well against Baltimore in his most recent start, but overall, he’s been terrific of late (2.20 ERA in his last 45 innings since that start at Yankee Stadium).

Ohtani.

Wednesday, 7:07pm eastern:

RHP Gerrit Cole (155 ERA+)

Cole fanned nine Angels on August 16th, a makeup game for an earlier rainout. That was his first start returning from the COVID-19 injured list, and overall, he’s been great since then: 0.51 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched.

RHP Jaime Barría (83 ERA+)

The 25 year-old has pitched in the Angels’ rotation since the end of July and has been OK. The righty owns a 4.50 ERA in 28 frames in the rotation. Back in 2018, Barría had a really nice rookie campaign (123 ERA+ in 26 starts), but hasn’t found that form since.

Barría.

Bullpen Status

PitcherSundaySaturdayFridayThursday
Raisel Iglesias16
Mike Mayers19
Steve Cishek31
José Quijada (L)17
Junior Guerra26
Sam Selman (L)9
Andrew Wantz209
Packy Naughton (L)58
Jake Petricka3
Elvis Peguero31
Kyle Tyler
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5 Comments

  1. Steve

    Losing every bit of the ground they gained during the winning streak.

  2. HenryKrinkle

    Still need to address Taillon and his workload. Before the season started, he estimated that he could go 120-125 innings after the TJS and missing all that time. He’s already there, so you need to bake in some rest down the stretch.

  3. Why is Ohtani’s xwOBA and xSLG so good if all his other pitching parameters are middling?

  4. Macho Man "Randy Levine"

    Well, Quintana isn’t starting tonight anymore. The Giants just claimed him.

    I’m not really sure he’ll improve their offensive line, though.

  5. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Must win series, Derek. Winning 2/3 would give us a 6-3 road trip. Rays are playing the Sox so a sweep would be nice. Just depends which offense shows up, the one in the first two games in Oakland or the last two. I sense a cold spell coming and you’re already seeing that spill over into the defense. Gio booted the game last night. Rizzo booted the game away Saturday. Wade couldn’t turn an easy DP. And we still only have one elite reliever we can count on in Loisaga. The next best option is Peralta. Things ain’t looking god but at least we aren’t the Mets blaming their own fans for their decades long woes! Ha!

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