SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Angels have among the most star power in the entire league but are still mired in mediocrity thanks to a lack of talent surrounding said star power.
Red Sox 2, Angels 2
Down. When the Angels met the Red Sox at Fenway a few weeks ago, they finished the four-game set by taking the last two. That led to a bit of a hot streak, but it didn’t last too long. The Angels have lost each of their last three series and overall they’ve dropped seven of their last nine.
8/30: Nathan Eovaldi vs. José Suarez, 10:07 PM ET
The Red Sox are going to be sending Nathan Eovaldi out for the first game of this three-game set as the righty looks to get himself right for the final month of this season. Things have not gone smoothly in his return to the rotation, to the point where after his last start he admitted to being gassed after just three innings. That’s understandable given how little time he had to get himself ready after returning from the IL, and that preparation was for a relief role. It’s really hard to stretch yourself out to this extent at this speed against major-league competition. It doesn’t help when your command is off to a great extent, either. Eovaldi has now made two starts, allowing seven runs over five innings with four strikeouts and four walks. He made two relief appearances against the Angels earlier this month, allowing one run over three innings with a strikeout and two walks.
The Angels have been forced to dig deep into their depth chart in the rotation due to injuries, and Suarez is among those pieces in the midst of his first season at the major-league level. The 21-year-old southpaw was called up in June and has made 13 appearances (12 starts) since that initial promotion. In that time he has pitched to an ugly 6.67 ERA with a 6.32 FIP. He hasn’t had much trouble missing bats with a strikeout rate just below one per inning, but control has been an issue and he’s been killed by the long ball. Suarez has allowed 16 homers in just 58 innings. Length has also been an issue for the rookie, with just four of his 13 outings lasting at least five innings. Suarez will feature a low-90s fastball along with a changeup and a curveball.
8/31: TBD vs. Dillon Peters, 9:07 PM ET
The Red Sox are going with a bullpen game on Saturday as they are obviously dealing with rotation depth issues of their own. I’m really interested to see how this one plays out considering it will be their last game with a 25-man roster. They’ll know they have reinforcements on the way on Sunday if they need them, so I wonder if they’ll push their better arms instead of using guys like Brian Johnson and Josh Smith to get them through the early innings. I’d bet against that, but it also needs to be considered that they’re unlikely to get many innings from Eovaldi on Friday. They’ll be heading into September with some tired arms one way or another.
It’s another depth piece for the Angels going on Saturday with Peters having been acquired by the Angels in a minor trade with the Marlins last offseason. The southpaw has split the year between Triple-A and the majors, making six starts and five relief appearances with the Angels this year. Over his 46 innings of work at the highest level he’s pitched to a 4.11 ERA with a 5.68 FIP and a 7.19 DRA. His issue has been the long ball, just like Suarez, having allowed exactly two homers for every nine innings he’s pitched. Peters is coming off a tough couple of starts having allowed ten runs (seven earned) over 8 2⁄3 innings with five strikeouts and six walks. That said, he did look solid against the Sox a few weeks ago when he allowed three runs over six innings with eight strikeouts and just one walk. The lefty will throw a low-90s fastball along with a curveball and a changeup, plus the occasional sinker and slider.
9/1: David Price vs. Andrew Heaney, 4:07 PM ET
Sunday is a big day for the Red Sox, not only because they are getting reinforcements in the form of September call-ups, but also in the form of one of their best arms. Price will be back from the injured list for the series finale this weekend, set to make his first start since August 4 in the Bronx. The lefty was in a bad way before hitting the IL, pitching to an 8.59 ERA over his last five starts with at least one homer in each of them. It’s not fair to expect the world in this one from Price, but look for the command on his cutter as well as just his general rhythm throughout this one.
Heaney is the best starter the Red Sox are going to face this weekend as well as the third straight lefty they’re set to match up against. He has battled injuries throughout his career, but when on the mound this year he’s looked good. Over 70 2⁄3 innings this year he has pitched to a 3.95 ERA with a 4.07 FIP and a 4.75 DRA. He is going to miss a lot of bats as one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game, setting down over 11 per nine innings this year. His control can be inconsistent at times but has stayed around average this year as well. He’s been outstanding in the month of August, allowing more than one run in just one of four starts and pitching to a 1.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts and four walks over 24 2⁄3 innings. One of those starts was against the Red Sox when he allowed one run over 3 2⁄3 innings. Heaney will feature a low-to-mid-90s sinker along with a changeup and a curveball.
Ty Buttrey has emerged as a really solid late-inning arm for the Angels after heading over to L.A. in the Ian Kinsler trade. The Red Sox never seemed willing to give him a chance after he pitched well in the high minors, a decision they could regret, albeit only slightly given how last season ended for Boston.
Noe Ramirez seemed like a guy who was going to struggle to stay in the majors for a long time as more than an up-and-down arm, but since being claimed off waivers by the Angels a couple years ago the righty has shown himself to be a solid, if unspectacular, middle relief arm.
Notable Position Players
Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the world. We all know this, and there’s really not much to say about the guy because he’s just good at everything. He’s the best hitter in the game, does everything well at the plate and also plays great defense and provides huge value with his legs. Other than that, he’s only okay.
Shohei Ohtani isn’t pitching this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but he’s still hitting dingers in this Angels lineup. Ohtani will strike out a bit more than you’d like, but his power is more than enough to make up for that.
Andrelton Simmons missed the last series between these two teams, but he’ll be in action this weekend. He’s a treat to watch as arguably (probably?) the best defensive infielder in the game. He’d also been emerging as a really solid bat as well, though his power has taken a step back in 2019.
Albert Pujols is not the player he once was, which was the best in baseball and an inner-circle Hall of Famer. He’s still that, but at this point the fun from watching Pujols is knowing that every hit and home run he has puts him that much closer to some of the best company in the history of the game.
Kole Calhoun is sort of your typical 2019 player, striking out a bit, walking a good amount and hitting for big power.
David Fletcher is sort of not your typical 2019 player, hardly ever striking out, walking at a solid rate and hitting for almost no power.
Justin Upton has missed a bunch of time this year and his power has not been enough to make up for his 30 percent strikeout rate.
Matt Thaiss is pretty similar to Upton, just without the track record.
Max Stassi has done nothing at the plate in limited chances since getting to the Angels in July, but he’s there for his defense anyway.
Hansel Robles is the closer for the Angels right now. He’s not overpowering, but he’s proven tough to square up and keeps his control in check enough to put up good, though not elite, numbers.
Buttrey is a more typical late-inning arm with his strikeout stuff, but unlike Robles he’s had issues with hard contact this year.
Cam Bedrosian has the worst control of these three, but he also keeps the ball on the ground and has done a good job of sort of combining Robles’ command and Buttrey’s stuff.
Tommy La Stella fractured his tibia right before the All-Star Game, in which he was slated to play. He’s working his way back, but it might be too late for the infielder in 2019.
Griffin Canning went down with an elbow injury earlier this month, and while the Angels got relatively good news on their young pitcher they’re still shutting him down for the year.
Zack Cozart underwent shoulder surgery back in July that will keep him out the rest of the year.
Felix Peña tore his ACL and is out for the year.
Justin Anderson is working his way back from a lat injury and could be back in the Angels bullpen for the final few weeks of the year.
It’s L.A. The weather is going to be great.