New Feature: AL West Matchup Preview


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The time has come to unveil something I’ve been working on behind the scenes with some of my fellow FanSided bloggers! Since the AL West is likely to be such a tight race this season, I thought it would be good to take a little deeper look at the games we’ll be playing against our division rivals. Along with my take on the matchups from the Angels perspective, one of the bloggers from the opposing team’s blog will be giving us his take from his perspective, and then each of us will give our predictions for the series.

So, with the A’s coming to town to take on the Angels this weekend, we’ll take a look at the pitchers the Angels will be sending to the mound, and what I think we’re going to see in this series.

For the Angels,  Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, and Joel Pineiro will be taking the mound in each of the three games, meaning the A’s get to dodge staff ace Jered Weaver. Saunders, who is unfortunately matched up against Mr. Perfect Dallas Braden, has not exactly been pitching well this season, as we’ve covered here at Halo Hangout. I don’t think he’s quite as bad as he’s shown, but I don’t think he’s a lot better, either. I think expecting more than 6 innings of fair pitching out of him may be asking too much. Ervin Santana, for his part, has been a pretty mixed bag, alternating between brilliant against Toronto and getting battered by the Yankees and Mariners. I think he’ll be a bit in the middle ground here, and finish off the 6th inning without giving up more than 3 runs. Joel Pineiro is another that’s mixed good and bad, shutting out Detroit over 7.1 inning on April 19th, then giving up 9 earned in 3.1 inning three starts later to the very same team. I think he’ll be a little in between that, but more towards the good side against the A’s, making it to at least the 6th before departing, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see him giving up 4 earned in the process.

The Angels have played like a team that will hang out around the .500 mark, and I don’t envision that changing against the A’s. With a clearly struggling Joe Saunders, the A’s take game one easily. Game two starter Ervin Santana will keep the Angels in the game, and I think the offense is able to give them the lead that the pen doesn’t entirely piss away, and we enter game three with the series tied up. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the combination of Joel Pineiro, the bullpen, and the offense can all perform well at the same time, and the Angels drop game three and the series to the visitors. Until the Angels can show me a group that’s better than simply a .500 team, I have a hard time imagining them taking a series against an Oakland team that just seems to be playing better baseball right now.

For the A’s side of things, we turn to Swingin’ A’s Lead Blogger Joseph Lopez:

"At 18-17, the Oakland A’s will look to rebound against the struggling Angels. With the Angels struggling with their starting pitching, the A’s must capitalize on offense if they want to catch the Texas Rangers, who currently sit atop the AL West standings.The A’s will have Dallas Braden (a.k.a. Mr. Perfecto) on the mound Friday night, which will be the first start after his perfect game. Braden (4-2, 3.33 ERA) does not have overpowering stuff in his arsenal, but he does a good job at mixing speeds with his pitches. The Angels, who are batting just .247 as team, will need to turn things around if they want to repeat as division champions. Braden is 2-3 lifetime with a 4.38 ERA against the Angels. With that in mind, however, I see the Angels losing game one. Angels’ starter Joe Saunders has not been particularly good this season, and I see the patient A’s taking advantage on offense against Saunders.It’s still unknown whether or not Justin Duchscherer (2-1, 2.89 ERA) will start Saturday night against the Halos. However, if Duke does in fact pitch against the Angels, the A’s chances of winning the series improve. Duchscherer, who is recovering from hip-inflammation, has said that he feels, “great.” A’s manager, Bob Geren has also said that Duke is the leading candidate to start on Saturday, barring any setbacks.Trevor Cahill (1-1, 4.60 ERA) last pitched on May 11, and should be the leading candidate to start on Sunday’s finale. The A’s official site still lists the probable starter for Sunday’s game as “TBA,” but I think Cahill will get the nod. Cahill has pitched relatively well since his rough start to the season, and that is definitely good news for the A’s. In his last start, Cahill went 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers, but received a no-decision in the A’s wild win in extra-innings. Cahill has yet to face the Angels this season.Offensively, the A’s have been nothing special (.251/.316/.707), but they should have a better showing on offense against the Angels this weekend. I see the A’s taking game one, simply because Joe Saunders has struggled all season long. In his career, Saunders is 9-4 with a 4.13 ERA against Oakland. In Saturday’s game, however, I expect to see very little offense from both teams. Justin Duchscherer and Ervin Santana should provide a good pitching match-up. Santana has struggled this season, but he’s been known to throw gems against the A’s. He’s the unofficial “A’s killer.” In game three, I see Oakland getting past Pinero. The A’s pitching has been relatively good this season, and I expect the A’s to pitch past the struggling Angels."

Thanks to Joseph for joining me in this, and if you’d like to see any more of his work covering the A’s, you can visit him at Swingin’ A’s with a simple mouse-click here.

(Nate Proctor is the lead writer for Halo Hangout.  You can stay up to date on all of Nate’s work by following him on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of the Halo Hangout RSS feed.)