LA Angels Series Preview: Angels vs Rangers (9/10/18)

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 31: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim high fives Shohei Ohtani #17 after a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 31, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 31: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim high fives Shohei Ohtani #17 after a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 31, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

There’s not much for the LA Angels to play for at this point except pride, and on that note the Angels are playing the best baseball they have in a while. They’re coming off a three game sweep of the Chicago White Sox which has elevated their win streak to four games, their longest streak since the beginning of August. With the ice-cold Texas Rangers coming into Anaheim the Angels will be rightfully looking to extend that streak. There may not be much to play for except Mike Trouts legacy and Shohei “Showtime” Ohtani, yet at the end of the day that’s more than worth watching.

The LA Angels haven’t had the luckiest season, which is something we’re all used to seeing. However, the one thing that can put to rest all those leftover pangs of despair with the Angels current season and the futility of the last 8 years would be a strong finish to 2018. This is a season preceding possible major, franchise altering changes. Scioscia doesn’t seem a lock to return upon the expiration of his contract after this season concludes, Shohei Ohtani will decide whether or not he’ll receive career-altering surgery which would allow him to pitch, and Trout comes one year closer to impending free agency.

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The best thing for the Angels now is to continue building a flowery outlook for the future of the franchise. Everyone is already excited for the possibility of Ohtani DH-ing full-time, if not the majority of the 2019 season, en route to his return as a potential Cy Young candidate in 2020. The recent youth brigade has put the pep in many Angel fans steps; guys like Jaime Barria, David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, and Justin Anderson have given us only a slight peek into the future talent within the Angels.

There’s a lot to look forward to as an Angel fan. What we’ve gotten through hasn’t been pretty, but we’re at the point now where only greener pastures lie ahead. Now is time to enjoy the first motions of tomorrows rising sun.

Monday, 9/10; 7:07 PM PT: Mike Minor (11-7, 4.31 ERA) vs Jaime Barria (10-8, 3.30 ERA)

Tuesday, 9/11; 7:07 PM PT: Adrian Sampson (0-0, 54.00 ERA) vs TBD (-.-, -.– ERA)

Wednesday, 9/12; 7:07 PM PT: Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 6.22 ERA) vs Felix Pena (2-4, 4.04 ERA)

The game of baseball can change on a dime, so we can’t assume Barria will come away with an easy win despite the precedent showing it should be. On the other side of the mound is Rangers starting pitcher Mike Minor, who came away with a win against the Angels just a week ago. He allowed two runs in five innings of work against the Angels and has been very hot as of late, holding an overall 2.78 ERA in his last six starts. It looks to be a battle of the hot hands with Barria also riding a streak as he has pitched 11 scoreless innings consecutively.

Finally, closing out the set is the 28-year-old Felix Pena, who has been finding relative success with the Angels in the most active year of his young career ( 75.2 IP in 2018, 34.1 in 2017). This is by far the most productive season of his professional baseball career. Despite a few bumpy starts Pena has been solid, and on top of that he hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in each of his last 3 starts. Texas is a tough environment to have him pitch in, but at the same time it will be a good indicator of his progress as an MLB pitcher.

It shouldn’t be too hard for the Angels to put up runs against Yovani Gallardo. He’s allowed a bundle of runs this season, his ERA sitting above 6 in 2018. His latest start saw him allow 5 runs in 4.1 innings pitched and he hasn’t allowed less than 4 runs in six starts. If the Angels want to help Felix Pena earn his third win of the season they’ll have to jump on Gallardo fast while he’s vulnerable. The last thing they would want to do is allow him to steady himself in the early innings.

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What to watch for

  • “Showtime” Shohei, for one. He’s hit four home runs in this month alone alongside three 3 RBI games. He’s been as hot as they come, having notched at least one hit in every single appearance this month. His recent stretch has been legendary, the scope of his performance enhanced by his situation regarding possible looming Tommy John surgery.  His 2018 season, aside from some injuries, has been one to remember. Definite Rookie of the Year leading man as well as future Angels legend. In fact, he hit two home runs the same night he was recommended Tommy John surgery. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Mike Trout is coming off of a 5 hit game which also saw him collect 5 RBI’s. His follow-up game was a 2 hit affair, and while it isn’t as spectacular as 5 hits and 5 RBI’s that’s more than respectable for your average Major Leaguer. For Trout that’s just about average it seems, which just goes to show how spectacular his ability is. We may not see him have another 5 hit game this series, but odds say we’ll see something close to or almost as good.