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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim series preview

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When last these two squads met, the Angels of Anahiem but not California swept the World Champion Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium. It wasn't a good showing for Ned Yost's squad. Edinson Volquez was shelled, and the Royals were outscored 19-7 in the three game set. Very little went right for the Royals, and this was one of the earliest moments in the season where it became apparent that this year might not go as swimmingly for the Kansas City as 2015 did.

Now the Angels come to town sporting the third-worst record in the American League, squandering yet another year of peak Mike Trout. Sure, the Royals are looking increasingly likely to be on the outside looking in at the playoff race, but they don't have a guy on pace for another 10 WAR season while careening toward a 70-win campaign.

*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference

Pitching match-ups

Game One - Monday, 7:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Hector Santiago (L) 20 110.1 96 47 4.32 4.91 5.04 4.68 0.6 0.8
Ian Kennedy 19 109.1 114 36 4.28 5.38 4.49 3.97 0.1 1.1

Seemingly always an outperformer of his peripherals, Santiago has continued that trend this season. Of course, in this run environment, neither Santiago's ERA nor his peripherals look especially good. His ERA is eight percent below average. His FIP is 20 percent below average. He is yielding the hardest contact of his career, and his DIPS are all comfortably over 4.50. This is all in spite of the fact that he's throwing harder than he has since he was donning a White Sox uniform. He lives off of his sinking fastball, throwing it 62.0% of the time, and then offers his main secondary offering, the change-up, 22.3% of the time. This leaves just a handful of times in which Royals hitters may see his cutter, slider, curve, and even the occasional screwball.

Game Two - Tuesday, 7:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Tyler Skaggs (L) - - - - - - - - - -
Dillon Gee 19 62.1 54 21 4.19 4.86 4.46 4.15 0.0 0.2

After missing the entire 2015 season and the first half of 2016 due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the one-time highly touted prospect will make his first major-league start since July 31, 2014. Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2009 out of Santa Monica High School by the Angels, he was moved to Arizona as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks to Anaheim for Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, and Rafael Rodriguez. After reaching the majors for brief stints in 2012 and 2013, Arizona sent him back to the Angels in the three-team deal that sent (chiefly) Mark Trumbo to Arizona, Hector Santiago to Anaheim, and Adam Eaton to Chicago. In his rehab stints in the minors, the 25-year-old southpaw has been particularly dominant, suggesting that he may in fact be the pitcher that prospect hounds once predicted.

Game Three - Wednesday, 7:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Matt Shoemaker 19 112.2 115 23 3.99 3.29 3.63 3.59 2.7 1.3
Danny Duffy (L) 29 94.2 105 20 3.14 3.56 3.65 3.23 1.7 2.2

While his 2014 campaign came out of nowhere, leading many to predict hard regression to a more reasonable true-talent level, Shoemaker's 2016 campaign seems to assert that perhaps that 2015 regression campaign was the outlier. Shoemaker's K-rates are at their highest sustained level at any stop in his career. His K-BB% is approaching 20%, a marked improvement from any other prolonged stop at any level of the majors or minors. His success would seem to be coming from his wildly increased usage of his splitter, which sometimes gets classified as a change-up. He's used it more and more as the season has progressed. It's by far his best offering this season, and there have been many starts of late where he throws it more than 50% of the time, salvaging his season in the process.

The Batsmen

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Yunel Escobar 3B 382 3 43 30 0 .318 .364 .410 .337 115 1.0 1.2
Kole Calhoun (L) RF 415 10 62 50 2 .284 .364 .433 .346 121 2.4 2.0
Mike Trout CF 420 19 75 62 17 .314 .421 .557 .411 165 5.9 6.1
Albert Pujols DH 412 19 40 72 4 .249 .325 .436 .326 107 0.5 0.5
Andrelton Simmons SS 246 1 23 21 3 .286 .314 .372 .297 88 1.3 1.8
Ji-Man Choi (L) 1B 62 2 5 3 1 .170 .274 .340 .271 70 -0.2 -0.3
Johnny Giavotella 2B 324 6 39 27 3 .258 .283 .379 .285 79 0.0 0.3
Carlos Perez C 207 4 17 23 1 .204 .234 .325 .240 49 0.0 0.1
Todd Cunningham (S) LF 28 0 5 1 0 .154 .185 .269 .196 19 -0.1 -0.0
Bench Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Jett Bandy C 102 4 12 16 0 .284 .333 .466 .339 116 0.8 0.9
Jefry Marte 1B 121 6 16 17 0 .226 .273 .429 .299 89 0.2 -0.3
Gregorio Petit Util 145 2 17 15 0 .276 .319 .418 .315 100 0.4 0.3
Daniel Nava (S) OF 122 1 8 12 0 .231 .303 .296 .270 69 -0.2 -0.9

Stats through Sunday, July 24

It looks like this Mike Trout guy might be pretty good. Kole Calhoun probably is too. But really, it's Johnny Giavotella's world. We just get to live in it.

The real question here is how many of these Angels position players have you heard of before today?

There is a lot of replacement-level talent on the positional side of things as guys like Geovany Soto, C.J. Cron, and Craig Gentry have spent much of the season on the disabled list. In fact, counting Cliff Pennington and pitchers Andrew Heaney, Cory Rasmus, Garrett Richards, and C.J. Wilson, the Angels have six guys on the 60-day DL with Nick Tropeano a possible candidate to join them there with a UCL issue.

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