Los Angeles Angels try to cool down streaking Dodgers as Freeway Series begins

Jun 13, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Eric Young Jr. (8) is doused with a bucket of ice water by left fielder Cameron Maybin (9) after hitting a walk off single in the eleventh inning against the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Eric Young Jr. (8) is doused with a bucket of ice water by left fielder Cameron Maybin (9) after hitting a walk off single in the eleventh inning against the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels are fresh off a successful six-game trip to New York and Boston while the Los Angeles Dodgers have won 10 games in a row & look to keep it going against their SoCal rival. Fasten your seatbelts it’ll be a crazy week.

The Los Angeles Angels always play the Dodgers tough no matter what their record is as evidence by their 38-28 record over the last 11 years of the Freeway Series, which included a three games to one series victory in 2016.  This year’s series will be another hotly contested one with both teams playing good ball right now.

The two teams have many similarities and also some differences.  The backbone of both teams has been their bullpen as both pens are in the top five in the majors so far this season.  While the Dodgers have the more sexy closer in Kanley Jansen who has allowed only one walk while striking out 52 hitters, the combination of Cam Bedrosian early in the season and Bud Norris over the past two months has done well.

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Each team also has a few superstars in Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager as well as Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers.  On the Angels side Mike Trout and Albert Pujols come to mind. Both the Angels and Dodgers will have one of their big guns out for the series in Mike Trout and Corey Seager, but that’s where the comparisons stop.

The Dodgers starting rotation has been much better so far this season as has their offense.  While the Angels are winning a lot of tight low scoring games for the most part, the Dodgers are blowing teams out of the water especially as of late winning 16 of their last 17 games by an average of four runs per game. They are averaging 7.2 runs per game scoring 115 runs in those wins.

The Dodgers starting pitching is also much better with the one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood. While the Angels have been struggling to piece together a starting rotation all season with a mixture of young, talented , yet unproven arms and a few average veterans.  Kershaw and Wood are a combined 19-2 and an ERA of 2.02.

The Angels on the other hand have a starting rotation with only 19 combined wins between them with 25 losses. So with all this being said it looks this series should be a cakewalk for the Dodgers. However, the Angels have so magic going on of their own and have been not only competing with the big boys in the AL, Houston, New York Yankees, and Boston winning all four series with the AL’s finest.

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How have the Angels been staying afloat with all the injuries to their pitchers and losing the reigning AL MVP Mike Trout for six week: Depth.  The Angels have dipped into their Triple-A Affiliate the Salt Lake City Bees too many times to count this season and for the most part those players that have been called up to Anaheim have been up to the challenge.

It has been called a Next-Up mentality.  Everyone is ready to step up when needed.  The other factor is that the Angels have shown a lot of heart and resiliency this season. They never seem to be out of any game rallying for 27 comeback victories including seven walk-offs and fur more wins in their last at-bat.

Here is my predictions for each of the four games of the series.

Game 1 – Angels (Ricky Nolasco 2-9 5.23 ERA) at Dodgers (Rich Hill 4-3, 4.73 ERA)

Both starting pitchers have struggled to find consistency in 2017. Nolasco has been worse losing seven games in a row not winning since April 27th in Oakland.  Nolasco’s major problem has been the long ball giving up 23 dingers which leads the league.

Hill on the other hand has been plagued by high pitch counts and lack of control. Hill has not made it past the fifth inning in any of his nine starts and has 26 walks in 40 innings. So as they say something has got to give here.

As much as it pains me to say this I have to give the edge to the Dodgers in this one. Nolasco’s biggest weakness is the Dodgers strength: the long ball. I don’t think Hill will be stellar, but he will get a win.

Dodgers 6-4 victory in game one.

Game 2 – Angels (Jesse Chavez 5-7 5.15 ERA) at Dodgers (Kenta Maeda 5-3, 4.62 ERA).

Both starters have something to prove for different yet similar reasons.  Chavez was released by the Dodgers last season so he wants to show them they made a mistake while also continuing to keep his spot in the rotation. Maeda on the other hand has been taken out of the rotation and gets a spot start, which is an opportunity for him to prove he deserves his spot in the rotation back.

So in this one I believe it will be a toss-up, but I think Chavez and the Angels will come out on top as he usually seems to come up big in these moments and I think the Angels will solve Maeda enough to get the win.

Angels get the victory 5-3 in game two.

Game 3 – Dodgers ( Hyun Jin Ryu 3-6, 4.30 ERA) at Angels (J.C. Ramirez 7-5, 4.38 ERA)

The first game in Anaheim will be interesting as Hyun Jin Ryu will face-off against the Angels J.C. Ramirez. Ryu has struggled this season being hit hard as evidence by his73 hits allowed in 67 innings giving up 14 homers and allowing a .278 batting opponents batting average.

On the flip side Ramirez has been arguably the Angels best starter going at least six innings in eight of his 14 starts and he has seven quality starts. Ramirez has 72 strikeouts in 86 innings and leads the Angels with seven victories.

In the end I think the Angels and Ramirez will take the energy from the sold out crowd and take it to the Dodgers and Ryu.

Angels get the 8-3 victory in game three.

Game 4  – Dodgers (Alex Wood 8-0, 1.86 ERA)  at Angels (Alex Meyer 3-4, 4.20 ERA)

This may be the most intriguing pitching match-up of the series with Alex Wood who has been lights out so far this season going against 6’7 Alex Meyer who has been coming into his own over the past six weeks lowering his ERA from a robust 9.39 to 4.20. Wood came out nowhere this season to lead the league in ERA and has no losses.

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This could be the battle of two rising stars. Wood relies on great control and a low 90’s fastball for his success with 79 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 67.2 innings. Meyer on the other hand relies on a high 90’s fastball which averages 95 MPH. He also has a wicked curve ball. The key for Meyer is his control.  When he keeps his walks down he is much more effective and it also allows him to go deeper into games.

This game will depend on which Meyer shows up. The one who totally dominated the Royals striking out nine batters in six shutout innings. Or will it be the Alex Meyer on Friday in Fenway when he failed to make it through  the fourth inning giving up five runs and walking two batters with three wild pitches.

Maybe I ‘m going with my heart a little, but I would like to believe that Meyer is going to come up big Thursday.

Angels win 3-2 and take the series three games to one over the Dodgers.

Next: Who is the next up for the Angels

So let’s sit back and enjoy watching the two best teams in California square off for the next four days. It is sure to be entertaining.