LA Angels Series Preview: Angels vs Red Sox (4/17/18)

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 10: Tyler Skaggs
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 10: Tyler Skaggs /

The Los Angeles Angels have been on one of the hottest tears in baseball, holding a 13-3 record to open the season. Many believe this is the benefit of the Angels weak April schedule, which consisted of two trips facing the A’s and a pair of series against the Rangers and Kansas City.

Now with Boston coming into town the Los Angeles Angels will face the stiffest test of their season. Can they hold it up under the big lights of East Coast baseball against an elite team?

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The Angels have a lot to prove in this upcoming series against the Red Sox. Not a lot of people in the baseball world believe the Angels to be as good as they’ve been performing. Sure they have the talents of Mike Trout and the stardom of Shohei Ohtani, yet many doubt the teams complete ability to win. However, a quick routing of the Red Sox would set the record straight in front of the baseball world.

Probable Pitchers

Tuesday, 4/17; 7:07PM PT: Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA) vs David Price (1-1, 2.40 ERA)

Wednesday, 4/18; 7:07PM PT: Tyler Skaggs (2-0, 1.69 ERA) vs Rick Porcello (3-0,1.83 ERA)

Thursday, 4/19; 7:07PM PT; Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 3.72 ERA)

It looks like we’ll be witnessing a battle of aces and potential aces in this matchup. Yet that’s how it should be when you’re watching elite baseball, even with one undeniable top pitching talent there is still a plethora of pitchers rearing up to prove their own elite “ace” status. That’s there difference between a great team and an elite team.

The first night of battle is looking to be a hot one, with the recently struggling David Price, whom pitched only 35 pitches while allowing 4 runs in his last game. A rough start which Price affixed to the extremely poor weather. Now, while this holds plenty of water given the terrible, unplayable  weather teams have been playing through in April, but the fact of the matter is David Price is often regarded as one of the more overrated aces in baseball.

Shohei Ohtani may be performing a bit over his natural threshold, though we can’t really tell this early into the season. There’s not a lot that can be said about this first matchup given the expectations regarding both starters. Can Ohtani continue to pitch at the pace he’s currently at? Will David Price continue to be a regular season ace? Will Southern California Boston Red Sox fans continue to be insufferable as they’ve been over the many years of this soft rivalry?

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This series is really looking like it’s going to come down to pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Like the real estate slogan of “location, location, location” this team will have to pitch itself into success. Also, like that real estate slogan location is going to be extremely important for these pitchers, as the Red Sox have plenty of batters who will eat bad pitches alive.

Tyler Skaggs has been pitching on an ace level so far this season, and if he wants to continue building his value into something phenomenal, which he has the potential to achieve, he will have to prove he can dominate the best of the best. His most difficult test this season was against the Cleveland Indians, a game in which he allowed two runs off five hits in 4.2 IP. While he did come away with a win on 5 K’s he will need to amplify his performance in order to achieve similar success against the Red Sox.

Fortunately, Skaggs has beaten the Red Sox in his only appearance against them during the 2016 season, so the confidence will be there to start the game. On the other side of the mound, Rick Porcello will be throwing against the Angels offense. While Porcello is off to a great start with the Red Sox over his career he’s struggled mightily against the Angels. This team has had plenty of looks against Porcello, mostly during his time with the Tigers, and with a 6-7 record against the Halos things look good for the home team.

Rounding out the series is a matchup that doesn’t look as hot on paper, but carries almost as much, if not more importance than the previous two. While Ohtani and Skaggs are looking to continue their success Tropeano is still attempting to establish his success. The 27 year old has had a rocky MLB career so far, the young pitcher never really getting a chance to showcase his stuff on a consistent basis.

This is Tropeanos year to prove himself as a legitimate piece of not only the Angels rotation, but the fabric of the MLB. The most he’s pitched in a single year was 68.1 IP in 2016, the season which saw him go down with injury for a season and a half. He finished that season with a 3.56 ERA and 68 strikeouts. Although Tropeano has only had one start to this season he pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals. It’s a good start for a pitcher who may be looking at the year which will set the path of his MLB future.

On the other side of the mound is Eduardo Rodriguez, a guy we haven’t seen in a while and someone we’re more than happy to see come back to Anaheim. He’s only pitched one game against the Angels in his career, back in 2015, and allowed 7 runs in just under two innings of work. It’ll be another great opportunity for Tropeano to continue the path towards his establishment.

What to look for

  • Southern California-based Boston Red Sox fans love filling up Angel stadium like it’s their own when the Red Sox come to town.Things tend to get a little dicey and spicy during these series; with that Boston crowd essentially in tow they can always expect a home welcome in Anaheim. These aren’t two teams who exactly want to rip each others throats out, at least not since the late 2000’s, but with the fanbases going to war with each other it’ll be a very heated series through and through.
  • Given that it’s going to be a rival series we’re going to need to see the best of the best on this roster perform to their natural standards. Baseball is a rough sport that offers many lows in addition to the highs, but this is not the series for any of these Angels to fall into a slump. Mike Trout is going to need to continue his current upwards trend, his batting average rising from .220 to .266 in the last 6 games. His power numbers have also jumped big time in that span as well, hitting 4 HR’s in the last 6 games compared to 2 HR’s from March 30th through April 7th.
  • We won’t see Ohtani hitting until the last game of the series, but you can rightfully expect a big game from the powerful superstar. Eduardo Rodriguez has allowed only 1 HR so far on the season, look for that number to balloon after his day versus Ohtani.

Next: How do the Angels rank after three weeks?

This series is shaping up to be one of the better series of the Angels season thus far and one you’re not going to want to miss a second of.