LA Angels Series Preview: Angels @ Royals (4/12/18)

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09: Shohei Ohtani
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09: Shohei Ohtani /

After a righteous routing of the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Angels look to continue stacking their win streak, currently at 4, against the Kansas City Royals.

The Los Angeles Angels have opened up their 2018 season with a series win in every series they’ve played in so far and look to further what may be the greatest opening to an Angel season in franchise history.

There’s no other way to describe the way the Angels have been playing the game to start the season except with the phrase “best in baseball”. They lead the MLB in a multitude of offensive categories, including Hits, HR’s, RBI’s, Batting Average and Slugging Percentage.

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That is quite certainly one way to start a season. Now they’re looking to take that blazing hot pace into Kansas City and their struggling team, currently at 3-7 on the season.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday, 4/12; 5:15PM PT: Nick Tropeano (0-0, -.– ERA) vs Ian Kennedy (1-0, 0.75 ERA)

Friday, 4/13; 5:15PM PT: Andrew Heaney (0-0, -.– ERA) vs Jason Hammel (0-1, 4.09 ERA)

Saturday 4/14; 4:15PM PT: Garrett Richards (1-0, 4.20 ERA) vs Jackob Junis (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Sunday 4/15; 11:15PM PT: Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA) vs Eric Skoglund ( 0-1, 9.64 ERA)

There’s a lot of interesting things happening with the LA Angels pitching matchups in this series. First off we have Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano in the same boat to start the season, or coming off the same boat I should say.

Andrew Heaney had an incredible Spring Training in which he pitched like a man looking to solidfy their status as the ace of the staff. Tropeano pitched to success of his own and looked very comfortable in his journey to carve out a role as a serious piece of the Angels starting rotation. Unfortunately both went down with an injury before the season started, Tropeanos being a bit concerning as he just recovered from Tommy John..

Luckily we have both pitchers coming back this series, Tropeano looking to make his first MLB start since July 18th, 2016 after an injury which sidelined him since then. The 27 year old is looking to put his best foot forward and silence the noise surrounding his legitimacy as an MLB pitcher after missing so much big league time. The Royals have struggled to pull together consistent wins in this early season, Tropeano is primed and set for success should the offense hold their own success.

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Tropeano will need to be on his best to come away with a win pitching against the hot Ian Kennedy. Ian Kennedy has started his season on a fiery note, pitching two ace starts to a collective 0.75 ERA to start his season. Kennedy has pitched 6 innings in each of his appearance with at least 5 K’s in each start. The Angels offense will have to keep their fortunes rolling to have success against the Royals.

Fortunately we have Heaney back in the fold as well, making his season debut on the mound against the Royals. Not only is Heaney debuting for the season, he’s also having his first career start against the Kansas City Royals. There’s a lot testing the young pitcher in this start, one big test being the Royals starting man, Jason Hammel. Despite Hammel’s rough start against the Tigers to open his season with 7 hits, 5 runs and 3 walks allowed in 5 IP he had a solid bounceback against the Indians with no runs across 6IP.

With Heaney and Tropeano we don’t know too much of what to expect except what we saw in Spring Training. The second half of this series is more manageable since we’ve seen what has happened with Richards and Ohtani in their season performances.

Garrett Richards has been improving in each start this season, yet it’s a bit of a two-edged blade. While Richards has limited his damage allowed from 4 ER to 2 ER to 1 ER in each start his ability to go deep into games has been shaky at best. In his first two starts he floated around 5 IP, against the Indians going 5.2 IP with 9 K’s, but in his last start against Texas he was only able to pitch 4.1 innings while allowing 5 walks. In fact, 3 of those walks came in a single inning.

It can be argued that Richards was worn down by pitching in Arlington, a stadium the Angels routinely struggle in. While the Angels did come away with the sweep there was a lot of shaky moments from the pitching staff, but that only goes to show how great this team is that they’re able to dance in and out of dangers that would have eaten them alive in season past.

Garrett Richards is going to have to improve upon all of his starts so far if he wants a chance to smoke out the Royals against Jakob Junis. They young Royals pitcher, in his second season, has pitched to near perfection so far this season. In 14 IP he’s allowed only 4 hits on 3 walks; in fact he had a near no-hitter in his last start before it was broken up in the 7th inning. The Angels offense will be facing plenty of tests this series, those tests peaking with their match against Jakob Junis.

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Since we’re on the note of near perfection and broken up no-hitters it’s about time to discuss Shohei Ohtani, the young Angels pitcher who pitched near perfection against the Oakland A’s before seeing it broken up in the 7th inning of his last start. A lot has been said about the rookie sensation that can’t really be said in any other way without sounding like a broken record. All that we can look forward to a continued success.

Speaking of continued consistency, Eric Skoglund of the Royals has had difficulty in his MLB time so far. Last season he pitched 18 innings in 7 games and gave up 30 hits. On top of that he allowed 19 runs in those 18 innings, leading to an ERA of 9.50. That looks eerily similar to hows he’s started this season off, though the sample size has been smaller. In 4 IP Skoglund allowed 5 runs and a HR among 6 total hits.

What to look for 

  • This Angels bullpen has been phenomenal to start the season, holding an ERA in the top 5 of the MLB. Noe Ramirez has been a killer, pitching the Angels out of many dangerous situations while dazzling the opposing hitters with 12 K’s in 6.2 IP. Keynan Middleton is practically demanding the closer role with 6 games pitched while allowing only one run across all those appearances. As long as the starters can keep handing them winnable games the Angels will keep winning.
  • The offense is still on fire, claiming top spots in many MLB standings including HR’s and RBI’s. Mike Trout may only be hitting .235, yet his 4 HR’s lead the team and his 10 RBI’s tie for the lead with Justin Upton. The only player slugging the ball harder than him is, surprise, Shohei Ohtani with a .773 SLG %. Trout leads the team with walks, at 9, and his OBP sits at a top-notch .355. Even if it looks like a slow start, it’s not, but do expect Mike Trout to put more wood on the ball in this series.
  • Jefry Marte. What? That’s right. The Angels backup first baseman is hitting .440 with 3 doubles and 11 hits in only 25 AB’s. Except him to cool off a bit as his discrepancies between his BA and OBP (.440/.481) show that this hitting streak is the main factor of his success, once his pace slows and we see a more human Marte it might not be as fun. Keep your eyes on him while he’s still on fire.

Next: Angels off to a fast start for many reason.

The Angels are in the middle of one of the greatest starts in franchise history, and a tear through Kansas City would only solidify this as the teams hottest start in history. After the tear through Texas the Angels aren’t looking to cool down anytime soon.

This team is for real.