With the Kansas City Royals officially declaring themselves all in with a big trade yesterday, the Cleveland Indians can stop screwing around now. They let the Royals hang around, build up that ‘ole confidence and keep all their core players to screw themselves for the next decade. Now it’s time to win; they only have to do it against the best player of this generation, and maybe in the history of the game.
Luckily, Mike Trout is a beacon of baseball glory protruding from a swamp. He’s not exactly surrounded by the best talent, and even with such a great player, the Los Angeles Angels are a mere 49-51 and miles behind in their division.
Trout missed more than a month of baseball, and he still leads the Angels in fWAR at 3.8. Andrelton Simmons is having a great year, too, anchored by his always-stellar defense and newfound bat carrying him to a .292/.340/.450 slash. Those two are the only Angels players with fWARs over 1.5, however.
The Angels were poised to be a contender this season — even if it they weren’t World Series favorites by any stretch — but a devastating injury to Garrett Richards in his very first start derailed those hopes a bit. Still, despite being a million games out of catching the Houston Astros (because no one is catching the Astros), they could still make a run at the Wild Card. Especially with a healthy Mike Trout leading the charge.
Los Angeles is coming off a 2-3 series win over the Boston Red Sox, but have won just three of their last eight overall.
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) vs. Jesse Chavez (RHP)
A reliever-turned-starter, 33-year-old Jesse Chavez signed with the Angels on a one-year, $5.8 million deal in the offseason. So far he hasn’t been great, but he has been right along his career averages — maybe a touch lower — with a 4.88 ERA, 5.28 FIP, and an 18.3 percent strikeout rate.
Chavez is not typically a pitcher that goes deep into games, but he has consistently given the Angels five or six innings this year. And, most of the time, the offense has let him down and put him in the loss column. Just quickly glancing down his recent games, Chavez has pitched at least five innings, given up three or fewer runs, and still lost four times. Most of those came while Trout was injured.
I think even the biggest Mike Clevinger fans among us are flinching every time he starts, waiting to see if this is really him or if he will revert to the pitcher who walks everyone and gives up unfortunately timed home runs. To this point in the season, though, Clevinger has been outstanding. His 2.73 ERA and 3.90 FIP are both obviously career highs, and he has not allowed a run over his last two starts. More encouragingly, he only walked four batters, combined, in those starts.
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. TBD
TBD has a lot of grit. He’s a real player’s player. Just bares down and does what needs to be done. I’m a big fan.
Carlos Carrasco is very similar in that respect, but he’s even better because he actually exists in the mortal plane. When he’s not busy designing voodoo baseballs, Cookie also enjoys striking a ridiculous number of opponents out — he’s racked up 27 whiffs over his last three starts.
I caught a lot of flak for claiming that Carrasco was “great” in one of those outings — a 10-strikeout, five-run loss — but if a few balls drop differently, or better defense is played, I don’t think he exits with five runs allowed. Taking batted balls out of the equation, the guy struck out 10 and walked two against the A’s. What else do you want?
Thursday, 12:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. JC Ramirez (RHP)
JC Ramirez, probably no relation to the Rare Dominican GOAT, was a shrewd waiver claim by the Angels midway through last season. The 28-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds last June. The Angels scooped him up, and he promptly put up a 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings out of the bullpen.
Ramirez was so impressive (and more honestly, the Angels just had no other options), that he’s gotten an extended look as a starter in 2017, despite not starting a single game since he was in Double-A in 2011. And so far he’s been alright, with a 4.34 ERA and 4.54 FIP.
Last chance to not be replaced at the deadline
If the Indians are serious about making moves at the deadline, time may be running out for fringe players like Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela to prove they can stick around on a World Series team and don’t need to be replaced by veteran guys. Same thing goes for the glut of outfielders roaming Progressive Field.
Mike Town USA
As mentioned above, I’m a little scared every time my boy Clevinger takes the mound. I imagine he’s pumped to face Mike Trout, and I cannot wait to see how he handles it. Probably with hair in his face and a wicked curveball.
Los Angeles Angels 40-man roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Angels?
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