LA Angels Opening Series Preview vs. Oakland Athletics

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 07: Fans line up prior to the Opening Day Game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 7, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 07: Fans line up prior to the Opening Day Game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 7, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The start of a new season is finally at hand for the LA Angels. With that we can we can finally throw away all of our theories and predictions and watch the team come into itself. With that being said, this series is a crucial one for the Angels.

This series will help to establish the LA Angels young pitching early and show off their newly manufactured offense.

***All Games available on Fox Sports West (FSW) and Angels KLAA Radio (830 AM)

Probable Pitchers 

Angels @ A’s

Thursday, 3/29; 1:05PM PT: Garrett Richards (0-0 0.00 ERA) vs Kendall Graveman (0-0 0.00 ERA) 

Friday, 3/30; 7:05PM PT: Tyler Skaggs (0-0 0.00 ERA) vs Sean Manaea (0-0 0.00 ERA)

Saturday, 3/31; 1:05PM PTShohei Ohtani (0-0 0.00 ERA) vs Daniel Gossett (0-0 0.00 ERA)

Sunday 4/1; 1:05PM PTMatt Shoemaker (0-0 0.00 ERA) vs Daniel Mengden (0-0 0.00 ERA)

There is a lot to look forward to with this opening series; plenty of fresh young pitchers on the Angels looking to start their season off on the right foot.

Does that make anyone else as nervous as I am? I miss the days when we had the ultra-reliable Jered Weaver opening up season after season for us. Garrett Richards is looking to bounce back from two seasons of near-inactivity, and while he has had a phenomenal spring with an ERA of 2.84 in 12.2 IP, with 14K’s to boot. All looks like it’s trending in the right direction, and given his dominance in the spring it seems almost certain the performance will translate to the regular season.

However, his injury bug constantly scratches at the back of our collective minds; that’s something that won’t go away for a while, if at all this season. Thursday is the first of many baby steps towards bringing Richards towards a successful full season as the rotation ace.

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Let’s not forget who’s throwing on the other side of the mound. Kendall Graveman is making his second Opening Day start against the Angels and looks to continue the success from his first outing. Last year Graveman opened the season with an effort that resulted in only 2 runs on 6 hits and 7K’s. He’s had a rough spring season however, finishing with an ERA above 7 in 14.1 IP, so we may see one of these two Gravemans.

Tyler Skaggs will be taking the 2nd rotation spot to cover for the injured Andrew Heaney, currently dealing with elbow inflammation. Pitching opposite of Skaggs is A’s Sean Manaea, one of the A’s many young studs they will be trotting out this season. Manaea has seen a ton of work already given his age, hitting 300+ innings in only two seasons at the age of 26.

This isn’t the era of baseball where pitchers aren’t expected to throw 150-200 IP a season. Even the leagues go to workhorse, Clayton Kershaw, hasn’t throw close to 200 IP in two season. It’s not so common anymore, so to see a young pitcher in Manaea handle veteran workloads offers a lot to his disposition as an athlete. However, Manaea has had little success against the Angels; in his career (two seasons) he’s come away with a 1-2 record featuring 17 ER in 30 IP, 5 HR’s and 11 BB’s.

Unfortunately, Skaggs has been even worse against the A’s, holding a career record of 0-4 which features an unholy 6.26 ERA and 29 hits across 27.1 IP. Clearly both of these pitchers will look to soften up those ugly career stat lines with a strong start here, so it will be anyones game.

Rounding out the pitching matchups, you have Shohei Ohtani featured against Daniel Gossett on Saturday and Matt Shoemaker vs Daniel Mengden on Sunday. Ohtani is leaving us all nervous wrecks, sure, but on the other hand Gossett does the same for the A’s. Gossett gave the A’s 91.1 IP and a 6.11 ERA in 2017 with an astounding 21 HR’s allowed and 116 hits allowed.

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While Gossett is coming into this series off a brutal 2017 season he has shown himself capable this spring with 12 K’s in 13.1 IP. Ohtani, on the other hand, has had slight flashes of strength and many flashes of worry. Despite being a prime-time pitcher coming to America he hasn’t shown much grace in his spring appearances, With only a handful of IP (2.2) and a bloated 27.00 ERA he hasn’t shown any real ability to compete regularly in the Major League level. This can all change over the course of the season, but where it stands now there’s a lot to worry over.

On the other hand, aside from a few worrying starts early on in spring, Matt Shoemaker has leveled out pretty quickly over the last few spring starts. Against the Dodgers, Shoemaker threw 4 shutout innings, an encouraging start to carry into the regular season.

On the other hand (if you have three), Daniel Mengden hasn’t had too much action against the Angels, with only 3 IP accompanied with a 24.00 ERA, and across his career he’s pitched to a 5.24 ERA in 115 IP.

What to look out for:

Both teams, the Angels and the A’s, have question marks all over their pitching rotations. The A’s have an incredibly young staff, many of these pitchers capping out at two total MLB seasons. While you can argue they are yet unproven, what they have shown so far is not the most encouraging. However, just like the Angels, the talent levels of their pitchers are sky-high, all it takes is a few strong starts to kick off the year and we might see both rotations come into form.

Likewise, a complete destruction of these pitchers confidences by way of stressful starts and brutal innings can flip the script just as fast.

  • The Angels are touting a near brand new offense featuring the likes of Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and a full season of Justin Upton; all ready to secure their title as LA Angels.
  • Shohei Ohtani. Can he hit? Can he pitch? Let’s reach into Pandora’s Box and find out!
  • Mike Trout has brutalized the A’s over his career, holding a stat line of .308/.395/.570 alongside 25 HR’s  and 61 RBI’s across seven seasons. That home run total is his second highest against an AL team next to his 26 HR’s vs the Mariners. RBI wise, it’s his third highest total next to (surprise surprise) the Texas Rangers (82) and Seattle Mariners (73).
  • The Angels still don’t know who will be closing for them. It is likely Jim Johnson, the former Braves closer, will see early save opportunities given his veteran status and relative big league success (3.79 ERA across 641.1 IP). Keep an eye on the late innings to suss out who the Angels favor as a closer

Last, but not least, be on the lookout for everything. This is the opening series of the Angels season, this is the moment when conjecture and theories no longer matter; those long pressed questions stewing over the course of the off-season will finally come around to answering themselves.

Next: Luis Valbuena: What will he do this season?

Now it’s time for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy some Angels baseball!