Arizona Diamondbacks (30-32) vs Los Angeles Angels (32-31)
The Diamondbacks just had what was by far their best series of the year from a pitching standpoint, holding the Giants to a mere 2 runs in 3 games. This was a huge turnaround from the disastrous Dodgers series where they were easily swept. The D-Backs are now 3-3 on their 8-game road trip, and 5-5 in their last 10 games. They currently sit at 4th in the West, 6.5 back of the Dodgers.
The Angels have been a very disappointing team so far this year, just one game above .500. The offense has sure disappointed, currently 11th in the AL in runs scored per game at 3.98. Though the pitching has been very good, 3rd in the AL at 3.90 runs allowed per game, it just hasn't been enough to make up for the poor offense. The Angels are 3rd in the AL West, and trail the Astros by 3.5 games. Their offense has been surprisingly led by this no name guy you probably haven't heard of, Mike Trout. I think that's how you spell it. Albert Pujols is also having a great bounce back year, already with 18 homers on the year. The Angels have 3 other good hitters, David Freese (9 HR), Johnny Giavotella (.277 AVG, .335 OBP), and Kole Calhoun (.740 OPS). The other 4 guys regularly found in their starting lineup have been terrible, 3 of them batting below .205.
- The Halos don't get many hits, batting just .244 as a team, good for 23rd in the Majors. Only 3 regular starters have a batting average above .275.
- In case you had forgotten, Paul Goldschmidt is pretty good. He has gotten on base in more than half of his last 29 plate appearances.
- In the last 8 days, the bullpen has had a 1.99 ERA. If the rotation returns to how they were pitching before the Giants series, the 'pen will need to continue this level of performance.
- Jake Lamb may be coming around. He had a two hit game Sunday, including a double he ripped to right. The D-Backs need some stability outside of Goldy and the outfield.
- Chris Owings is in a big slump. He is batting .220 in his last 11 games, with a 34% K rate and just 1 walk.
- The Angels bullpen has been outstanding lately, with a 1.59 ERA in the last 7 days. The D-Backs better get to the starters.
Nothing new which will impact the series for the Diamondbacks. Enrique Burgos and Patrick Corbin are both rehabbing and could be back later in June, but won't be back to face the Angels.
Nothing new for the Angels either. I did have a request in the Gameday Thread to talk about Tyler Skaggs though, who is out for this year after TJ surgery in August last year. Skaggs has been able to throw from 150 feet, and plans to begin bullpen sessions off a mound by July 1.
Due to some fantastic starts the last 3 games, everyone will be good to go for the D-Backs.
The Angels probably won't use lefty Cesar Ramos on Monday, or righty Cam Bedrosian. Both threw over 20 pitches Sunday.
(Note: Games 1 and 2 are in Anaheim, Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix)
Game 1: Robbie Ray LHP (1-1, 1.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs Jered Weaver RHP (4-6, 4.61 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
Robbie Ray has been fantastic since replacing Archie Bradley, giving the rotation a much needed boost. The only complaint you can have with him is how far he is going in his starts, not having exceeded 6 2/3 innings. We also saw some flashes of control issues in his last start, where he walked four guys. I doubt this will continue though since he only walked one batter in his last 2 starts. I'd expect another quality start today.
Jered Weaver is no longer one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, and is now mainly just an innings eater for the Angels. Weaver has seen a significant drop in his fastball velocity from last year (86.3 to 83.9) and his K/9 (7.13 to 4.39). The Diamondbacks should be able to generate a lot of offense in this one.
Game 2: Jeremy Hellickson RHP (4-3, 5.29 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) vs Garrett Richards RHP (4-3, 3.97 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
After a string of 4 solid outings, Jeremy reverted to his old ways in his last start against the Dodgers. He gave up 5 runs and only lasted 3 2/3 innings. So, what is the real Jeremy? Probably somewhere in the middle. I would predict something around a 6 inning 4 run performance is all you can expect from Hellickson.
After a breakout year last season where Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA. This year, Garrett is showing that this was all a mirage with an ERA slightly under 4. He is a ground ball pitcher, with a ground ball rate of 54%. He throws mainly a 4-seamer, cutter (both around 95 MPH) and a slider. Richards is very consistent, having allowed 3 or less earned runs in 9 out of 11 of his starts. This game should be a close one.
Game 3: Chase Anderson RHP (2-1, 2.82 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs Hector Santiago LHP (4-3, 2.59 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Chase Anderson just keeps plodding along, good start after good start. In his last outing, Anderson took a no-no into the 7th, broken up on a comebacker which hit him in the leg. I would expect another solid outing from Anderson Wednesday.
Santiago is having the best season of his career, with his ERA having dropped about .75 from his career number. This looks like it is mostly due to his BABIP, currently at .249. This is well below his career .274 BABIP. Chase Field will not treat his 50% fly ball rate well, so expect some dingers for the D-Backs in this game.
Game 4: Allen Webster RHP (1-0, 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) vs TBD
In his first start as a Diamondback, Webster was fantastic. He took a no-no into the 5th, to have it broken up by a double. He was removed after allowing this, at just 81 pitches. For a guy who had struggled so mightily in both spring training and Reno, this start was a huge surprise.
For the Diamondbacks, the X-Factor is the middle infield. Everybody else in the lineup (excluding the catcher) is pulling their weight and more offensively. If the middle infielders get hot, the offense will be unstoppable.
For the Angels, the X-Factors are Chris Ianetta and Matthew Joyce. Both are hitting under .200, and if they do come around to even normal below average numbers, this Angels offense will see some huge improvements.
For this week in big questions, I tried a mailbag-type thing in the gameday thread. Though we received no questions relating specifically to the series, let's answer some of them anyways!
- Are the D-Backs a seller for the upcoming trade deadline?- I would be shocked if they aren't. I can assure you they won't be buyers. They are in no place to be giving away prospects to make some kind of move at the postseason. Don't be surprised if you see a bullpen arm or two like Brad Ziegler traded for prospects.
- Who leads the AL in home runs?- Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Seattle's Nelson Cruz are all tied at 18. A little scary we will be facing two of them in the same lineup
- What is the Angels actual name now?- If you think that they went from the Anaheim Angels to just the Los Angeles Angels, you would be incorrect. They are actually the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Why must they have some long, confusing name. I don't know, ask them.
I think that the Diamondbacks split the series with the Angels. Against a weak offense like the Angels, the D-Backs pitching should continue to be good. However, I don't think that Arizona is good enough to win the series against LA.