SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Angels are right where they can be found pretty much every season, which is to say they are hovering around .500 and wasting another historic season from the best player in the game.
Red Sox 0, Angels 0
Down. The Angels came out of the All-Star break red-hot, putting themselves firmly in the wildcard picture with five wins in a row and nine in twelve games. Things have gone downhill since then. Los Angeles has lost their last six and since that hot twelve-game stretch they’ve fallen in ten of twelve.
8/8: Chris Sale vs. Dillon Peters, 7:10 PM ET
The Red Sox season is probably, most likely, I don’t want to say definitely but maybe definitely over in terms of a playoff chase, but they still need strong performances both for my sanity and to get guys feeling good heading into 2020. Chris Sale probably tops that list, as Boston’s ace has been frankly dreadful of late. He is coming off an outing in which he allowed eight runs to the Yankees and he allowed six runs the time out before that. Going back to his final start of June, Sale has a 7.47 ERA with opponents posting a .900 OPS over seven starts. It’s not what you want.
Peters is one member of a totally depleted Angels rotation, and the 26-year-old lefty came over to Los Angeles this past winter in a minor trade. He has been splitting time between Triple-A and the majors this year, and in his latest stint he is looking solid. Over three appearances — two start and one 7 2⁄3 inning relief appearance following an opener — he has a 2.70 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks over 16 2⁄3 innings. Peters doesn’t miss a ton of bats and can lose command at times, so the Red Sox would be wise to get him off his game early because if he starts off with a couple easy innings we could blink and see him with six innings of one-run ball. That’s just the way this season has gone. The southpaw will feature a low-90s fastball along with a curveball and a changeup.
8/9: TBD vs. Jaime Barría, 7:10 PM ET
As I detailed earlier today, the Red Sox placed David Price on the injured list with a wrist injury prior to Thursday’s game. He was slated to start this Friday night affair. There is no official replacement having been named, but I outlined the most likely scenario in my view in the linked the post.
Barría had a very quietly strong rookie season in 2018, pitching to a 124 ERA+ over 26 starts. This season, he has not been on the mound as consistently and while his strikeout rate is way up — now over a strikeout per inning after finishing at fewer than seven per nine innings a year ago — everything else is worse. His ERA+ is 72 and he’s allowed a whopping 12 home runs over just 46 2⁄3 innings. The righty is still only 23 and showed plenty of promise this year, but he’s had some issues this year. That said, he has settled in a bit of late, pitching to a 3.95 ERA over his last three starts, though half of the twelve hits he’s allowed in that span have left the yard. Barría will lean heavily on his slider while also throwing a low-90s fastball, a changeup and a sinker.
8/10: Rick Porcello vs. TBD, 4:05 PM ET
Porcello is coming off his best start in what seems like forever, and while he wasn’t perfect and it came against a bad Royals team it was still the step in the right direction he’d been looking for. Now, he has a bigger test. The Angels aren’t great but they have serious pop in the middle of the lineup including the best baseball player on planet Earth. If he makes the mistakes he’s made for so much of this year guys like Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani might hit 1500 feet worth of home runs against him. Look for him to stay on the edges of the zone, and as long as he only allows a homer or two and they are of the solo variety he will be fine.
The Angels, as I mentioned above, have a depleted rotation and it’s not clear who will start this game. It’s possible they go with a Johnny Wholestaff approach here with Cam Bedrosian as an opener, but they could also call someone up from Triple-A to make a spot start. What I’m trying to say is I don’t have a clue.
8/11: Andrew Cashner vs. Patrick Sandoval, 1:05 PM ET
Cashner was never intended to be a savior, which is obvious just by looking at his career numbers. He made real changes this year, most notably with respect to his changeup, that led to better numbers in 2019 but he was always intended to just shore up the back of this Red Sox rotation. They just needed him to approach league-average and he’d have done his job. Well, he’s now made five starts with Boston and by ERA+ he has been 36 percent worse than the league-average pitcher. That is approaching! He’s been obliterated by the long ball with seven homers allowed in those starts and his control has fallen way off since he left Baltimore. Again, this is a lineup that will punish mistakes if they are made, and Cashner has made plenty of late.
First of all, not he is not related to Pablo. Okay, with that out of the way let’s get into it. Sandoval was acquired by the Angels last summer in the trade that sent Martin Maldonado to the Astros. He has made exactly one appearance in the majors to this point, a five-inning relief appearance following an opener earlier in the month. He allowed two runs to the Reds in that outing on three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. The lefty has always shown big strikeouts stuff in the minors but control has been an issue, so look for the Red Sox to be patient against Sandoval in this game. It is also worth mentioning that his 6.41 ERA in Triple-A this year, while certainly not good, is not as bad as it looks. The PCL is an absurdly hitter-friendly league every year and even more so with Triple-A starting to use the major-league baseball.
Ty Buttrey was sent to the Angels last summer in the trade that brought Ian Kinsler to the Red Sox. That deal is looking like a significant loss for Boston, though it’s worth noting that while Kinsler didn’t hit with Boston he helped solidify the infield defense that was in desperate need for some glovework. Buttrey has flourished with the Angels, striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings since last summer with fewer than three walks per nine.
Noé Ramirez was claimed off waivers by the Angels from the Red Sox back in 2017. Since then, he has had some solid showings in the Los Angeles bullpen but has also been plagued by some inconsistency. He is currently on the injured list.
Notable Position Players
Mike Trout is absurd. Everyone knows he’s the best player in baseball, but it’s really easy to forget just how big the margin is. Trout is known for being a great all-around player and a WAR machine, which is all true. He’s also the best pure hitter in the game, too. His power is unreal, he draws walks at an incredible clip, he hits for average and he has cut his strikeouts way down. There is nothing on the baseball field at which Trout is not good.
Shohei Ohtani isn’t pitching this year due to injury, which certainly takes away some of the intrigue. He is hitting, though, and he’s doing so incredibly well. He’ll strike out some, but he draws walks at a decent clip and his power is extremely legit.
Albert Pujols is obviously far, far from what he was in his prime when he was the best player in baseball for a stretch and eventually he’ll be a first-ballot, inner-circle Hall of Famer. For now, he is a below-average hitter but one that can still punish mistakes for home runs.
Justin Upton has had an injury-shortened season and a disappointing one when he has been healthy. He strikes out a ton and he hasn’t been hitting for his typical power to make up for it.
David Fletcher has come out of nowhere to provide solid production at the top of the Angels lineup. He’s not going to hit for power, but he almost never strikes out and gets on base at a high clip.
Kole Calhoun is not going to rack up a whole lot of singles as he’s easy to shift again and he strikes out a bit more than you’d like. He’s still an above-average hitter this year, though, thanks to big power numbers.
Matt Thaiss was just recently called up. The sample size is small, but his power has been big while his strikeout rate has, well, also been big.
Luis Rengifo is another guy who won’t hit for much power, but unlike Fletcher he doesn’t limit his strikeout rates. Most of his value at the plate this year has come from drawing walks.
Max Stassi was just recently added to the Angels lineup. He has yet to get on base in three games with his new team.
Hansel Robles is the Angels closer. He’s had a strong year by ERA but he doesn’t strike out as many batters as you’d expect from a late-inning arm and has gotten by with a low home run rate despite a lot of fly balls.
Buttrey is probably the best arm in this ‘pen right now. I mentioned his numbers above.
Cam Bedrosian was once seen as the closer of the future. He’s still solid, but his strikeout rate is more good than great and he has bouts of command issues here and there. He’s both a late-inning option as well as an opener.
The Angels have no lefties in their bullpen, which is good news for guys like Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, among others.
Ramirez, as mentioned above, is on the IL. He’s out with a stomach virus and should return relatively soon.
Andrelton Simmons is the best infielder in the world, but we won’t get to watch him flash the leather this weekend. He was placed on the IL with an ankle injury earlier this week.
Tommy La Stella was named to the All-Star team but then immediately suffered a fractured tibia. He could return before the year is over.
Zack Cozart went down in May with a shoulder injury and has since undergone surgery that will cause him to miss the rest of the year.
Griffin Canning was just recently placed on the IL with a shoulder injury. He’s already playing catch and could be ready to return by the end of the month.
Keynan Middleton underwent Tommy John surgery last summer but suffered a setback in his rehab and likely won’t return this year.
Andrew Heaney has been out with a shoulder injury. He hasn’t made rehab appearance, but he is a possibility to start this weekend.
Felix Peña is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Luke Bard was hit with a comebacker and suffered a right tricep contusion. His timetable is unknown.
This weekend should be solid, but there is some rain in the forecast Friday and Saturday. It doesn’t look like anything major, but who knows?!