ANGELS @ ASTROS
April 17-20, 2017
What happened in the last series?
The Angels, leading the AL West just a week ago, got swept in a three-game set against the Royals after dropping a series to the Rangers – they have lost five straight. They scored a total of only three runs in Kansas City, capped by a two-hit shutout on Sunday that they lost 1-0 on a walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th. Their 4.69 team ERA is good for 25th in MLB, mostly due to a starting rotation that is 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA. Although the bullpen’s stats are pretty middle of the road, the Astros would do well to do some damage early instead of climbing out of a multiple-run hole. The Angels went 6-13 against Houston in 2016.
Having won the first two games in Oakland, the Astros had the heel of their boot against the A’s throat before
Tony LaRussa the A’s canceled Sunday’s game due to weather. This truly puts into perspective the brave – and, dare I say, heroic – efforts of the Giants, who bravely toughed out a downpour of Biblical proportions some rainfall and, against all odds, managed to play an outdoor baseball game at the same time just ten miles to the west. G-men, know that your sacrifice has not been in vain. We will never forget. Carlos Correa wasn’t able to dodge an inside fastball literally on the hands on Saturday, but he has fortunately dodged the proverbial bullet and will not miss significant playing time; at the time of this writing he may even be available for Tuesday’s game.
Monday, April 17 – 7:10pm CDT
Jesse Chavez (1-1, 5.40) vs. Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.09)
Chavez has been a mixed bag so far this season. In his first start he beat the Mariners, falling one out short of a quality start. The Rangers then hung an L on him, getting five runs and two bombs off of him in just 4.1 innings. He has not faced the Astros since pitching an eight-inning one-run gem against them in 2015. Altuve has hit him well for his career (7×20) but no other Astros hitter is better than .250 against him.
Morton lasted five innings against the Mariners and allowed three runs when just one would’ve been enough for a loss, with Seattle pitching a 6-0 shutout on the other side of the ball. A longtime veteran of the NL East, he has only faced the Angels twice in his career: once in 2008 and again in 2013. Four Angels hitters hit better than .400 against him, albeit with small sample sizes.
Tuesday, April 18 – 7:10pm CDT
Ricky Nolasco (0-2, 5.40) vs. Joe Musgrove (1-0, 4.35)
Nolasco has already allowed five home runs this season, and at least one in each of his three starts. After coming over from the Twins in a midseason trade last year, he pitched seven innings of shutout ball against the Astros at MMP. Brian McCann is a beastly .338/.352/.765 against Nolasco with 8 homers and 26 RBI in 68 ABs. Beltran is a respectable .353/.421/.412, but everyone else either doesn’t have good numbers or doesn’t have many/any numbers, or both.
Backed by some timely hitting from his offense, Musgrove earned his first win of the season against the Hags, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings. He did really well against the Angels in 2016, allowing one run over seven innings in his final start of the year.
Wednesday, April 19 – 7:10pm CDT
JC Ramirez (2-1, 7.20) vs. Mike Fiers (0-1, 5.40)
A pitcher with a W/L and ERA like Ramirez’s usually has a story behind him. A career reliever, Ramirez started 2017 in the bullpen and owned a 2-0 record through three appearances, although one of those games was the blown-save/win ultimate bitch statistic in pitching. Then Garrett Richards pulled a bicep and Ramirez was thrust into the rotation. In his first career start he took the loss against Kansas City, giving up five runs in as many innings. The Astros have faced him 11 times as a reliever in 2015 and 2016, tagging him with two blown saves and a 6.75 ERA.
The first five-run Astros comeback since 2008 got Fiers off the hook last Wednesday after allowing five runs in four sloppy innings of work. The Angels hit well against him in 2016, giving him a 6.35 ERA in three appearances.
Thursday, April 20 – 1:10pm CDT
Matt Shoemaker (0-0, 6.14) vs. Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.86)
Like Nolasco, Shoemaker has allowed at least one homer in each of his starts this season. Despite a bad second outing against the M’s where he allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings, he rebounded against the Royals, taking a no-decision after five-plus innings of two-run ball. Last year he was frustratingly good against the Astros, with a 2.22 ERA in four starts despite going 1-2.
What can I say? Keuchel is doing Keuchel things, he has more wins against the Angels since 2014 (seven) than against any other team, and as a team they hit .253/.333/.380 against him. Nom nom nom.