After a downright pathetic weekend in Boston, the Yankees are back home to welcome Shohei Ohtani and the Angels to Yankee Stadium for a four game series.
It’s one thing to say that the Yankees need to right the ship this week, but it’s another to feel confident in the team doing so. I can’t blame you if you have your doubts. Every time this team appears to wake up, it takes a couple of giant steps backwards. That said: the Yankees can’t waste any time feeling sorry for themselves after getting swept at the hands of the Red Sox.
Fortunately, the Angels aren’t a good team in spite of Ohtani’s brilliance, so the Yankees have an opportunity to get back on track. Of course, we’ve seen that story before. This year’s Bombers are maddeningly inconsistent. It’s going to take more than just a good series against the Angels to feel better about the club’s prognosis. That said, a series win — whether three of four or a sweep — would be a start.
Their story so far
At 37-40, it sure looks like the Angels are well on their way to missing the postseason for a seventh straight season. It’s actually kind of impressive, in fact. They’ve had the league’s top player for ten years counting, and have made the playoffs just once in that time (2014). Just an atrocious job by the franchise’s ownership and front office to build a winner around Mike Trout all these years. And now, Trout hasn’t played since mid-May, and even for all of Shohei Ohtani’s heroics, he (nor both of them) can’t do everything.
The Angels had lost five straight games before yesterday’s win over the Rays and are 10.5 games out of first place and 8.0 games out of a Wild Card spot. It’s hard to see them climbing out of that, even if Trout returns soon. Their pitching is just so, so bad. Only the Orioles and Diamondbacks have surrendered more runs than the Angels this season. That’s not good company to keep.
While the bullpen has been bad (4.97 ERA), the Angels rotation is about as bad as it gets. Other than Ohtani (2.58 ERA), every other pitcher to have made at least nine starts for the Angels has an ERA of 4.72 or higher. As a group, the team’s starters own a 4.94 ERA, sixth-worst in MLB. Perhaps the biggest disappointment has been Dylan Bundy, who’s sporting a 6.68 ERA after a terrific 3.29 mark last season.
Fortunately, they can hit, which explains how the team’s run differential is only -32. The team’s 105 wRC+ is 7th-best in MLB, and again, that’s without Trout (193 wRC+) for more than a month now. Ohtani (166 wRC+), Jared Walsh (147 wRC+), and Justin Upton (125 wRC+) have been terrific.
|Player||Position||Injury||Roster Status||Estimated Return|
|Mike Trout||CF||Strained calf||10-day IL||Mid-July|
|Justin Upton||LF||Strained lower back||10-day IL||Early July|
|Franklin Barreto||2B||Tommy John surgery||60-day IL||2022|
|Dexter Fowler||RF||Torn ACL||60-day IL||2022|
|Luke Bard||RHP||Hip surgery||60-day IL||2022|
Spotlight: Shohei Ohtani
Could it be anyone else? The soon-to-be 27 year-old is an absolute superstar and leads the majors in WAR (per Baseball Reference). Not only will he be a tough out for the Yankees’ pitchers this weekend, but he’s also pitching against the Bombers for the first time in his career.
Ohtani doesn’t start until Wednesday, so let’s focus on his offense first. He enters this series with a remarkable .277/.363/.668 (174 wRC+) and 25 homers in 292 plate appearances. That home run total is one behind the major league leader, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This isn’t some fluke, by the way. Yeah, Ohtani struggled last year (.190/.291/.366), but he did post a 134 wRC+ in 2018 and 2019. Plus, the two-way player’s Statcast metrics are off the charts. Here are his percentiles:
- Average Exit Velocity: 97th
- Max Exit Velocity: 100th
- Hard Hit Percentage: 98th
- Barrel Percentage: 100th
Sheesh. He absolutely pummels the ball. He does strike out a bunch (29.1 percent), but the Angels will happily tolerate the Ks given everything else he contributors. Obviously, it’ll be pivotal for the Yankees to not let him pepper the short porch this week. That’s easier said than done, of course.
Ohtani’s offense has outshined his pitching this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s slacking on the latter. In 11 starts (59.1 innings), the righty has fanned 33.1 percent of batters faced en route to a superb 2.58 ERA. He’s had some walk issues (12.5 percent), but all the strikeouts and lack of home runs allowed (0.91 per nine innings) minimize that weakness.
Moreover, he’s really cut back on walks of late. After walking 22.6 percent of hitters in his first four starts, Ohtani has 7.3 percent of opponents since, which is very good. Walks or not, Ohtani’s been consistently great on the mound too. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his eleven starts and hasn’t given up more than four in any single outing. What a player. I just wish he chose to play for the Yankees.
- Shohei Ohtani, DH (.277/.363/.668, 174 wRC+) — He’s unfairly good.
- Luis Rengifo, RF (.140/.173/.280, 22 wRC+) — Just 53 PA.
- Jared Walsh, 1B (.281/.344/.555, 143 wRC+) — Looking like a pretty good late bloomer.
- Anthony Rendon, 3B (.228/.306/.355, 84 wRC+) — Been on the IL twice, once with a groin strain and another time with a knee contusion. Perhaps why he’s had such a down year.
- Max Stassi, C (.299/.378/.517, 149 wRC+) — Missed about a month due to a concussion but has been terrific otherwise.
- Taylor Ward, LF (.235/.317/.432, 108 wRC+) — Team’s first rounder in 2015 raked in the minors but hasn’t done too much in the big leagues.
- José Iglesias, SS (.256/.283/.361, 79 wRC+) — Remember when he hit .373 last summer for Baltimore? Good times. This is much more like it for the glove-first shortstop.
- Juan Lagares, CF (.224/.250/.336, 60 wRC+) — Hard to imagine a bigger downgrade from Trout, though I guess you could say that for almost anyone filling in his shoes.
- David Fletcher, 2B (.291/.322/.342 85 wRC+) — Not getting on-base like he typically does thanks to a career-low 4.4 percent walk rate.
- Kurt Suzuki, C (.221/.299/.310, 75 wRC+) — Hits lefties pretty well (109 wRC+ this season), so we’ll probably see him for the day game Thursday against Jordan Montgomery.
- Phil Gosselin, UTIL (.344/.386/.476, 141 wRC+) — Running an absurd .448 BABIP in 88 plate appearances.
- Kean Wong, UTIL (.179/.200/.282, 29 WRC+) — Former Rays prospect.
Tonight, 7:05pm eastern:
RHP Dylan Bundy (69 ERA+)
I guess Bundy’s 0.69 HR per nine was unsustainable last year. He’s allowed 1.99 per nine this year, which is north of his career 1.67 rate prior to 2020. He’s been particularly bad of late: a 10.21 ERA in his last seven starts. (Stats vs. Yankees)
RHP Michael King (104 ERA+)
King’s 14.40 first inning ERA screams opener needed, but there’s no indication the Yankees will try that yet. Since stepping into the rotation for Corey Kluber, King has a 5.75 ERA in five starts and has completed five innings just once. (Stats vs. Angels)
Tomorrow, 7:05pm eastern:
LHP Andrew Heaney (97 ERA+)
The southpaw has been very hit-or-miss for the Angels this season. He’s thrown six innings of one-run ball or better five times, but has also given up four runs or more five times. There’s very little in between. He just surrendered five to the Giants his last time out, though he did strike out 10. (Stats vs. Yankees)
RHP Jameson Taillon (81 ERA+)
The full-season numbers aren’t good, but Taillon has looked better in his last two starts. His previous outing was his best so far in pinstripes, going 6.1 innings and allowing just one run. He’s made some adjustments to pitch selection and isn’t going exclusively from the stretch anymore. (Stats vs. Angels)
Wednesday, 7:05pm eastern:
RHP Shohei Ohtani (178 ERA+)
There’s plenty about Ohtani above, but I’ll just add here that the righty struck out 9 Giants over six frames his last time out. This is the first time Yankees hitters will get a look at him.
RHP Domingo Germán (97 ERA+)
Germán needs to right the ship. He’s got a 10.22 ERA in his last three starts after posting a 3.12 ERA in his first eleven games. Oddly enough, Germán hasn’t given up homers in two of those last three games, which is usually his biggest issue. (Stats vs. Angels)
Thursday, 1:05pm eastern:
RHP Griffin Canning (92 ERA+)
The 25 year-old righty has pitched better of late (2.70 ERA and 3.75 FIP in last three starts), but still owns a 4.95 ERA on the season. (Stats vs. Yankees)
LHP Jordan Montgomery (103 ERA+)
Monty was a bit of a tough luck loser in his previous start against Boston, though the pitching line was still good: three runs in six innings. (Stats vs. Angels)
|Tony Watson (L)||8|
|Alex Claudio (L)|
|José Quintana (L)||36|
|José Suárez (L)||28|
|Dillon Peters (L)|