LA Angels News

LA Angels Series Preview: Starters Need Lengthy Outings vs. Rangers

By Ryan Falla
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Francisco Arcia #37 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tags out Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers at home as he tried to score from second on a hit by Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers in the third inning at Angel Stadium on September 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Francisco Arcia #37 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tags out Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers at home as he tried to score from second on a hit by Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers in the third inning at Angel Stadium on September 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Felix Pena on the rise

What makes the previous starts in this series so important is their need to protect the bullpen in preparation of Felix Pena’s start. This isn’t to say that Pena is a fire-starter in any way, it’s only that Pena has not proved to be able to pitch deep into a game as of yet. His deepest start on the early season has been just 4.2 innings against the Rangers.

Pena has slowly shown improvement start to start as this young season moves forward, so there is tangible hope that he can continue the improvements going into Arlington. The opportunities for greater efficiency from Pena are all there it’s just a matter of Pena being able to tap into himself and bring out a better version than what he’s shown to start the season.

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In his last outing, which came against the Brewers, Pena walked two and allowed three hits in his four innings of work, with just one unearned run allowed. Should he find greater control of his pitches in this start there, will no doubt be a deeper look for Pena in this outing.

In that start against the Brewers, we saw Pena throw just 72 pitches in that 4 inning outing with 32 of those pitches being balls out of the zone. The bright spots in this start, aside from the one unearned run, was his low pitch count coming out of the game.

That leaves the impression that Pena is well rested enough to post his longest start of the season while in Arlington, it just matters how well he pitches. The fact that he threw 32 balls to his 40 strikes shows that a greater efficiency in pitch economy is the key to stretching his starts.

Let’s run back to the fact that his best outing this year came against the Texas Rangers. Sure, it was at home and there is a big environmental shift playing in Arlington, but the fact that Pena was able to maneuver through the Rangers lineup shows a strong understanding of these opposing hitters.

Pena can do much better than he did in that start as he threw 90 total pitches in just 4.2 IP, though on those 90 pitches he struck out 7 and walked two while giving up 1 run on 4 hits. It’s heartening to see the building blocks for success on top of what was already a solid affair by Pena, but as is with this Angels team execution is not something that can be guaranteed.

Next. Five Players Who Are Key to Success vs. Rangers, Mariners

Should Pena be able to take the Angels deep into this game they will have the chance to run into their rematch against the Mariners with greater force than they did last time. This Rangers series has far less importance than the Mariners series in terms of AL West power-standings and momentum shifting, but at the same time the Rangers series may be even more important given the need for the Angels to get deep starts from the starters and rally together a winning series.

Don’t you just love paradoxes?

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