Cy Young is in town
Hyun-Jin Ryu is looking to continue making his case for being the best pitcher in baseball this season in the first game of this series. Note that he isn’t just looking to make a case as best pitcher in the NL this year, but all of the MLB. He currently sports the lowest ERA in all of baseball and has paired his 80 innings of work with 71 K’s to just 6 walks.
His K/9 rate of 8.0 isn’t anything to write home about, but at the same time his eye-popping ability to pitch aggressively to the zone he desires and generate weak contact while seriously limiting walks on a highly consistent basis is special enough to make up for his simply solid K/9 rate. This is going to be a tough one for the Angels as they struggle to compete against high levels of talent like Ryu on a consistent basis.
We can’t really know exactly what the Angels are going to bring to the table except for a few things. This team is currently the best in baseball at limiting their own strike outs; out of 30 MLB teams the Angels have the lowest K rate with 419 K’s over a season that sees the MLB average 568 K’s. The only problem with this matchup is that the Dodgers are also great at limiting offensive K’s. Over the 2019 season the Dodgers are the 4th best team in baseball at making regular contact with only 515 K’s in a league that sees NL teams striking out 573 times on average.
That might pose an issue with Angels rookie Griffin Canning on the first game of the series as his ability to strikeout hitters is an important part of his game plan. His last outing saw him strike out a career high 8 hitters yet he still found the loss by giving up 4 runs throughout six innings.
Canning is going to have to find a way to generate weak contact to find success in this game, his issue on the season has been his difficulty in getting outs by contact as he moves along the lineup multiple times. Usually by the 2nd time around hitters are putting better wood on the ball and once Canning starts struggling in that regard it tends to end with him letting hits get strung together on him.
The Angels need the first game to set a dominant tone throughout the series as Felix Pena is coming off his worst outing of the year and will need all the supportive energy he can get. Through just 1.2 IP against the A’s Pena allowed 7 total runs on route to an obvious loss. That kind of energy needs to be far away from this game and a great way to start that is with a dominant win on the first game of the set.