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Series Preview #41: Angels @ Diamondbacks

Battle of the Gold Glove Shortstops !

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Angels , who just lost 3 of 4 to the Rangers in Texas, are having yet another mediocre season. At 63-63, and 13 games off the division lead, 12 games out of the Wild Card, they will miss the post season for the 4th straight season. Their record the last 4 years is 302-310.

One has to wonder how long Mike Scioscia keeps his job. The team has a 103 OPS+ , a 105 ERA+, and a Pythagorean WL of 67-59, or 4 games better than their actual WL. They have had injuries to be sure, with the brunt of it being borne by the starting rotation. But there are a lot of good players on this team that have performed well. It doesn’t seem like Scioscia , (and by extension GM Billy Eppler’s Baseball Operations department) are getting the most out of their roster.

The two most compelling reasons to watch the Angels this season unfortunately will not be on display this series. As there is no DH in the NL, (yet) Shohei Ohtani will be limited to PH duties. He is still working his way back as a pitcher from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that was diagnosed earlier this year, taking a large measure of fun out of following the Angels this season.

Meanwhile, best player on the planet Mike Trout has been on the DL with a wrist injury. Originally scheduled to come off the DL before this series, unfortunately there has been tragedy in his family. Brother in Law and former Angels minor league pitcher Aaron Cox passed away last week. The brother of Jessica Trout, Cox was only 24 years old. Trout is not expected to return the to Angels until their next home stand which begins Friday.

Player spotlight this series is on defensive standout Andrelton Simmons , who is having his best year at the plate. Simmons is currently sporting a .297/.347/.421 triple slash, good for a 112 OPS+, easily the best numbers of his career. He has 16 DRS, which is one behind MLB Leader and NL Gold Glove favorite Nick Ahmed. While that figure is down slightly for Simmons he should be rightly recognized as the best shortstop in MLB. He not only holds the single season record for SS of 41 DRS, but currently ranks 5th all time, and the 4 players ahead of him literally have thousands of more games played. Standout shortstop defense should be on display for both teams these two games.

Justin Upton is having another typical good but not great season, batting .267/.352/.474, 126 OPS+, and posting 3.6 WAR (defense is rating about neutral this year). With 282 career HR, 35 WAR, and a 121 career OPS+, Justin has already punched his ticket to the Hall of Pretty Good. But a HOF career has never materialized for him, mostly due to the fact that he still to this day will go through stretches where he just can’t layoff the slider down and away. That combined with good health and durability has resulted in BY FAR the most strikeouts through age 30 of any player in MLB History. His 25% K rate is not the highest on the list below however, as former teammate Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis are over 31%, and several others including brother Melvin are over 26%. On the one hand, strikeouts are still just outs, and Justin’s career .349 OBP is still quite good . But there is no denying this flaw in his game, more than any other, limited his upside.

Thru age 30 K leaders

RK Player Strikeouts PA SO %
RK Player Strikeouts PA SO %
1 Justin Upton 1687 6717 25.1%
2 Adam Dunn 1632 6065 26.9%
3 Melvin Upton Jr. 1406 5319 26.4%
4 Alex Rodriguez 1404 7774 18.1%
5 Mark Reynolds 1398 4380 31.9%
6 Andruw Jones 1394 7276 19.2%
7 Jay Bruce 1378 5806 23.7%
8 Sammy Sosa 1369 5808 23.6%
9 Chris Davis 1309 4177 31.3%
10 Giancarlo Stanton 1300 4666 27.9%

EDIT: Justin Upton is not in the lineup tonight for the Angels. He did not play on Sunday either, the day before an off day. No word yet on if he is injured.

40 year old Albert Pujols and his .289 OBP is still kicking around hitting the occasional homerun and staring at it for a long time. Just 3 years, $ 97M to go on that deal for the age challenged future Hall of Famer. (Interesting BP article from back in April linked there)


Tuesday August 21 6:40 P.M. @ Chase Field.

RHP Felix Pena: 50 IP, 1-3 WL, 4.35 ERA/4.49 FIP, 0.3 bWAR,


LHP Patrick Corbin, 156 IP, 10-4 WL, 3.18 ERA/2.41 FIP, 3.5 bWAR

After 8 years of trying to establish himself in MLB with the Cubs organization , 28 year old Felix Pena from the Dominican Republic may have found a home in Anaheim. Traded to the Angels for a PTBNL in the off season, Pena spent most of the first half in AAA, appearing in just a couple of unsuccessful relief appearances for the Angels in April and May. However he made his 1st start of the year June 19th against our very own Diamondbacks, and pitched pretty well, going 4 innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6. The Angels ended up winning that game 5-4.

He has converted from four seam fastballs to a repertoire of mostly sinkers/sliders. While not a “groundball pitcher” by any means, he has been getting a lot of swing and miss on the slider. In 10 Starts since June 19th he has a 4.02 ERA, but has had just really bad start, getting knocked out of the box in the first inning July 29th, giving up 7 runs while recording just one out. In his other 9 starts he has thrown 46 23 IP, and given up just 14 ER for a 2.70 ERA. Most recently he threw 6 shutout innings against the Padres, striking out 7.

He is very tough on righties this year, but has been somewhat vulnerable vs. lefties. You know what to do Torey.

Felix Pena Platoon Splits

vs RHB 110 4 8 31 .206 .275 .361 .636 .250
vs LHB 105 3 13 16 .283 .371 .467 .839 .315

Patrick Corbin has won his last 3 starts in a row and went 7 innings allowing 3 runs to the Rangers in a 6-4 Diamondbacks win last time out. While not as Dominant as he was through his first 5 starts, (4-0, 1.89 ERA), Patrick has continued to be a steady presence in the rotation, going 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA in his last 20 starts. The team is just 11-9 in those starts however as the run support for Patrick has been up and down. In fact Patrick has had the worst run support while he is in the game of any starter on the team. See “RS/IP” column at this report. Patrick is having an excellent “walk” year and is in the top 10 in just about every positive pitching category you can think of.

Wednesday, August 22nd @ Chase Field

RHP Odrisamer Despaigne 24 IP, 2-1, 6.29 ERA/3.20 FIP -0.2 bWAR


Clay Buchholz 73 IP, 6-2, 2.47 ERA/3.62 FIP, 1.9 bWAR

Despaigne is an interesting cat. He defected from Cuba in 2013, and made his major league debut with the Padres in 2014 at age 27. It was a promising start. From his WIKI page :

Despaigne was called up by the Padres on June 23 to start that night against the San Francisco Giants.[7] Despaigne pitched seven shutout innings, allowing four hits in his major league debut.[8] In his fifth major league start on July 20, Despaigne pitched 7 2/3 no-hit innings before the New York MetsDaniel Murphy doubled. The Padres won the game 2-1.[9]

In 16 starts, 96 IP that year he had a 3.36 ERA, 101 ERA+. But the next year saw his ERA balloon to 5.80 and he was moved to the bullpen. Traded to the Orioles after the season, he was put on waivers and claimed by Miami in September of 2015 where he pitched for 3 years, and just recently was placed on waivers again, and purchased by the Angels. He’s worked in 83 games since that rookie year, just 28 of them Starts, struggling to a 5.43 ERA.

He has a really strange profile. He still throws pretty hard at 31 yrs of age, averaging 93MPH on both his 4 seam and Sinker, and he tops out at 96. He throws EVERYTHING. Sinkers, Cutters, 4 Seamers, Changeups, Curves, Sliders, and I presume the kitchen sink. (Follow link for percentages) But the wide repertoire and the still above average velocity have not translated to strikeouts, as his career K/9 is just 5.5 . Maybe he needs to just junk everything else and stick with the 2 seam and cutter. The DBacks should be able to rough him up in this game.

Buchholz is coming off a complete game vs. the Padres in which he only allowed 5 hits and 1 run, easily his best game since 2015. Yes, his FIP is over a run higher than his ERA, and at some point you expect him to have a bad game. He’s allowed 6 runs once, 3 runs twice, and 2 runs or fewer in his other 9 starts. He’s my pick at the moment for NL comeback player of the year.


Bullpen ERA: 3.70 (5th in AL) and 3.25 over the last 14 days

Inherited Runners scored 21% (lowest in AL)

The Closer right now is the homer prone Blake Parker, (12 of 15 SV OPS, 3.21 ERA, 10 HR in 55 IP) Jose Alvarez is the lone lefty out of the pen, and he’s been pretty good this year, 2.75 ERA, 153 ERA+, and just 6 of 45 IRS.


With the Angels missing Trout and Ohtani’s bats from the lineup, and LA starting two of their lesser SP options, the Dbacks are in good position to sweep this two game set. Corbin and Buchholz should do well . Very few Angels hitters have faced Corbin, and only Pujols has good track record against Buhholz, and it’s all before 2016.

Dbacks take two here.


How will the D-backs fare against the Angels?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    A heavenly sweep for Arizona
    (32 votes)
  • 23%
    The purgatory of a split
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    Oh, hell! The Angels win both
    (4 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now