The Cleveland Indians and their sleepy fans are probably excited to know this is the final leg of their West Coast road trip. After splitting a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners, the Tribe will now turn their attention south as they travel to California to take on the Los Angeles Angels.
With last night's win and the Kansas City Royals losing, the Indians' lead in the American League Central is now a full three games, the highest it has been all season.
The first two games of this series will be the standard 10:05 p.m. ET start time, while Sunday's will be an afternoon 3:35 p.m. ET start.
- Friday, 10:05 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) vs. Hector Santiago (LHP)
- Saturday, 10:05 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Matt Shoemaker (RHP)
- Sunday, 3:35 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. TBD
The good news is that the first two pitchers the Indians will face in this series have earned run averages over 5.00. The bad news is one of them (Matt Shoemaker) really has not been that bad this season. Despite having the second-worst ERA among Angels starters, Shoemaker still leads all pitchers in FanGraphs WAR with 1.0, thanks to high strikeout rate (22.5%) and low walk rate (5.0%). His results are very reminiscent of Josh Tomlin -- a lot of home runs given up, not a lot of walks -- although he usually strikes out more batters than the Tribe's own little Cowboy.
The Angels have used a total of nine pitchers this season, including David Huff who made a spot start after Matt Shoemaker's spot in the rotation last week. That slot remains to be decided as of now.
Danny Salazar was originally slated to start on Wednesday, but that was pushed back due to shoulder fatigue. Best case scenario is he was just throwing a little too hard in his previous start and needed a day off, so it will be worth keeping an eye on how he does heading into the later innings of Sunday's game.
Next week could shape a lot of the AL Central race over the next couple of months. The Indians will head to Kaufman Stadium to face the Kansas City Royals on Monday, then return home to host a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox starting on Friday. The Royals and White Sox are 3.0 games and 3.5 games back of the Indians, respectively and they are kicking off a three-game series against each other later tonight.
Team in a box
The Angels have Mike Trout, who is great, but unfortunately for Los Angeles, he cannot pitch... or play every other position on the field. The Angels pitching staff as a whole has been atrocious all season long. Garrett Richards, who was having a great start to the season, wound up being one of the many injured Angels this season, and he may eventually require Tommy John surgery on an injured elbow.
The rest of the pitching staff walks far too many batters and allows far too many home runs to be successful. If the Indians want to maintain their AL Central lead, they will need to take advantage of both of those factors in this series.
Los Angeles' offense is right on the line of being average according to wRC+, thanks in large part to Trout raising the curve. But even with Trout swiping nine bases on his own, the Angels still rank towards the bottom of the American League in stolen bases.
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Los Angeles Angels roster
- C: Carlos Perez
- 1B: CJ Cron
- 2B: Johnny Givaotella
- SS: Gregorio Petit
- 3B: Yunel Escobar
- LF: Rafael Ortega
- CF: Mike Trout
- RF: Kole Calhoun
- DH: Albert Pujols
- C: Jeff Brandy
- 3B: Jefry Marte
- SS: Brendan Ryan
- Shane Robinson
The Angels' offensive leaderboard is topped by Trout, as you would expect. He leads all Angels batters with a 3.6 fWAR, .308/.411/.552 slash (164 wRC+), and 13 home runs. He has also walked in 15.2 percent of his at-bats this season and struck out in only 19.8 percent, both of which would be some of the best of his career.
Hey, remember Albert Pujols? Yeah he is not very good anymore. He still has 12 home runs for the Angels this season as a 36-year-old, but his slash is a diminished .236/.318/.422, good for a barely-above-average wRC+ of 104. And I am going to be honest, I did not even realize Shane Robinson was no longer in the Indorganizationation. But apparently he is on the Angels as their fourth outfielder, if that tells you how desperate injuries have made their roster situation.
- RHP: Jered Weaver
- LHP: Hector Santiago
- RHP: Matt Shoemaker
- RHP: Jhoulys Chacin
- LHP: David Huff
- RHP: Huston Street
- RHP: Fernando Salas
- LHP: Jose Alvarez
- RHP: Cam Bedrosian
- RHP: Mike Morin
- RHP: Deolis Guerra
- RHP: Cory Rasmus
Three years ago, the Indians traded relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano to the Angels for starting pitcher prospect Mike Clevinger. Pestano is now just another cog in the Yankee war machine, but another former Indians reliever -- Joe Smith -- now calls the Angels home. He has a 3.91 ERA and a 5.22 FIP this season.
Jered Weaver is very obviously not the Jered Weaver of old. So far this season he has struck out 5.43 batters per nine innings, and he has a 5.56 ERA and -0.3 fWAR. Even with all that, he is only a shade worse than another Angels starter -- Hector Santiago -- who has a 5.07 ERA in his 12 starts.
- A lot