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Angels series preview: Will Ohtani finally make the post-season?

And will it be with the Angels?

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Angels fans have enjoyed watching Shohei Ohtani do some of the most incredible things ever seen on a baseball field, but looming over this season has been his looming free agency. The team has never reached the post-season since he joined the team - they’ve never even had a winning season with him. That could change this year with the team off to a 39-32 start, but without a deep post-season run, he may decide his chances of winning a ring might be better elsewhere.

You can see a bit of the urgency from the front office as they have aggressively promoted recent draft picks to the big leagues in an attempt to win now. Shortstop Zach Neto was the first member of the 2022 draft class to reach the big leagues, and he held his own until he was placed on the Injured Last yesterday. Sam Bachman was promoted to the big leagues after 84 innings in the minors, and 2022 draft pick Ben Joyce - who is clocked at 104 mph - threw just 28 13 innings in the minors before getting a call up (and also landing on the Injured List).

The result is that the Angels are in the hunt, although they are in third place, 4.5 games behind the Rangers in the division, and one game back of a Wild Card spot. They were a .500 team back on June 3, but have won ten of twelve games since then. They took two out of three from the Royals back in April in Anaheim, and this upcoming series in Kansas City could help them stay hot.

Los Angeles Angels (39-32) vs. Kansas City Royals (18-50) from Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Angels: 4.90 runs scored/game (8th in MLB), 4.62 runs allowed/game (18th)

Royals: 3.75 runs scored/game (28th in MLB), 5.32 runs allowed/game (28th)

The Angels have hit the fifth-most home runs in baseball with four players already in double-digits. Ohtani is still amazing, tied for the most home runs in baseball with 22. He has a higher OPS than he had in his MVP season of 2021 and has cut his strikeout rate to the lowest of his career at 21.4 percent.

On the other hand Mike Trout has been in a slump for a bit now, hitting .195/.320/.358 over his last 34 games. Anthony Rendon has been in a slump ever since signing with the Angels and has completely lost his power that made him an All-Star with the Nationals. Despite losing starting catcher Max Stassi to injury in spring training, the Angels have the second-highest OPS in baseball from the catcher position between Matt Thaiss and Chad Wallach.

Angels lineup and bench

Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
LF Taylor Ward (R) 275 8 2 .243 .313 .379 0.5
DH Shohei Ohtani (L) 309 22 10 .301 .382 .620 2.9
CF Mike Trout (R) 294 14 1 .248 .354 .460 2.0
3B Anthony Rendon (R) 164 1 2 .248 .366 .316 0.2
C Matt Thaiss (L) 146 3 1 .285 .390 .407 0.7
2B Brandon Drury (R) 254 10 0 .256 .303 .470 0.9
RF Hunter Renfroe (R) 268 12 0 .239 .291 .437 0.5
1B Gio Urshela (R) 228 2 3 .299 .329 .374 0.4
SS Andrew Velazquez (R) 4 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -0.1
C Chad Wallach (R) 82 6 0 .280 .341 .547 0.8
1B Jared Walsh (L) 70 0 0 .119 .257 .186 -0.6
IF Luis Rengifo (S) 193 4 5 .209 .290 .302 0.0
OF Mickey Moniak (L) 75 6 2 .319 .347 .681 1.1

Patrick Sandoval has given up 11 runs in 8 13 innings over his last two starts. He has one of the lowest strikeout rates among starters, but one of the highest groundball rates. Griffin Canning has been going in the other direction, with a 2.63 ERA over his last four starts, winning three of those games. He has a deep arsenal, using a 94 mph fastball to go with a slider, curve, and one of the better change ups in the game. Tyler Anderson has been a bit of a free agent disappointment after signing a three-year, $39 million deal with the Angels last winter. He gave up six runs in less than six innings back in April in the only Royals win over the Angels, and he has given up 15 runs in 15 innings over his last three starts. His 87 mph fastball is one of the slowest in the league, so he relies a lot on his change up and cutter.

The Royals will likely use an opener on Saturday, but Mike Mayers will probably get the bulk of the innings against his former team.

Expected pitching matchups

Friday, June 16 - 7:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Friday, June 16 - 7:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Patrick Sandoval 4.52 4.06 63.2 6.8 3.5 1.0
RHP Brady Singer 6.58 4.63 64.1 8.4 3.6 0.5
Saturday, June 17 - 3:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Griffin Canning 4.56 4.85 53.1 8.4 2.5 0.4
RHP Mike Mayers 5.06 3.65 21.1 6.8 3.8 0.3
Sunday, June 18 - 1:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
LHP Tyler Anderson 5.8 5.05 63.2 6.4 4.2 0.4
RHP Zack Greinke 4.65 4.36 71.2 6.8 1.1 0.8

The Angels traded away their closer last summer, and yet have the fifth-best bullpen ERA this year. They signed Carlos Estévez to a two-year $13.5 million deal, and he has converted all 18 of his save opportunities, although he was shaky last night walking all three batters he faced before being pulled. Chris Devenski has already surpassed his innings total of each of the past three seasons, and has the twelfth-best walk rate of any reliever with at least 20 innings. Lefty Aaron Loup has been unable to retire lefties - they’re hitting .385/.407/.500 against him this year. Jacob Webb has been a nice find for the Angels, but the rest of the bullpen is very inexperienced with only a handful of MLB innings between them.

Angels bullpen

Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Carlos Estévez 1.80 3.68 30.0 11.7 4.8 0.6
RHP Chris Devenski 1.85 2.99 24.1 8.9 1.5 0.7
RHP Jose Soriano 0.00 2.14 7.0 12.9 2.6 0.2
RHP Jacob Webb 2.03 4.48 13.1 9.5 3.4 0.1
LHP Aaron Loup 5.40 2.80 16.2 8.6 3.2 0.3
RHP Sam Bachman 0.90 4.08 10.0 7.2 7.2 0.0
LHP Kolton Ingram - - 0.0 - - -
LHP Tucker Davidson 6.58 3.43 26.0 9.0 2.8 0.2

The Angels have placed a high importance on winning, it just hasn’t worked out for them. They have spent lavishly, but the farm system just hasn’t produced enough talent to surround their stars. Perhaps this is the year they put it all together and give Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout a chance to shine on the post-season stage. Or perhaps we’ll be seeing Ohtani make his post-season debut in a Yankees uniform.


How will the Royals fare against the Angels this week?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Royals sweep 3-0
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Royals take 2 of 3
    (1 vote)
  • 39%
    Angels take 2 of 3
    (30 votes)
  • 57%
    Angels sweep
    (44 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now