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Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels series preview

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This series would be way more intriguing if Mike Trout wasn’t injured and if Shohei Ohtani was still a two-way player.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just win series. That’s the idea going forward. And the Cleveland Indians did just that against the Minnesota Twins with 2 wins in 3 chances. Now they’ll return home and welcome in the Los Angeles Angels for a weekend series.

Looking ahead

After this weekend, the Angels head back to the House of Mouse to host the Detroit Tigers for three games followed by the Oakland Athletics for another three games. The Indians, on the other hand, will face off against the Twins yet again for four games at Progressive Field before they head off to Chicago to take on the White Sox for three games.

Pitching match-ups

Friday, August 3 7:10 p.m. ET: Jaime Barria (RHP) v. Mike Clevinger (RHP)

I don’t think that Jaime Barria was supposed to be in the Angels rotation this season. He pitched 14.2 innings at the Triple-A level in 2017 and just 18.0 innings this season. But with injuries to just about every member of the Angels rotation, Barria has made his debut earlier than anticipated. But so far, he’s done a good job. In 77.0 innings at the major league level this season, Barria has allowed 32 earned runs while walking 22 and striking out 56 (which translates to an ERA+ of 111). He’s got an average fastball (92 mph) along with a slider (83 mph) that moves like a curveball to pair with his ground ball-inducing change-up (84 mph). He also has a sinker (92 mph) that has trouble sinking. His most recent start came on July 28 against the Seattle Mariners; in that game, Barria went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking no one and striking out 2.

Mike Clevinger is awesome. His last 250 innings across last year and this year have been fantastic, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. This season, across 133.2 innings, Clevinger has allowed 51 earned runs while walking 45 and striking out 133 (which translates to an ERA+ of 130). His most recent start came on July 28 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Clevinger went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 8.

Saturday, August 4 7:10 p.m. ET: Felix Pena (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Again, Pena was a pitcher who probably wasn’t supposed to be a mainstay in the Angels rotation this season. After coming over from the Cubs last October, the Angels probably saw Pena as depth in case of pitching injuries. Well, the injuries came and now Pena is a member of the Los Angeles rotation. Across 32.2 major league innings this season, Pena has allowed 19 earned runs while walking 14 and striking out 35 (which translates to an ERA+ of 80). He’s got a sinker (93 mph) that doesn’t quite sink, a slider (82 mph) that gets hitters to swing and miss a ton when it’s not inducing ground balls, a decent fastball (94 mph), and a good swing-and-miss changeup (86 mph). His most recent start came on July 29 against the Mariners; in that game, Pena didn’t make it out of the first inning. He went 0.1 innings and allowed 7 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1.

Hey so Corey Kluber is still really good. He had a couple of rocky starts and a knee injury, but if his last start is any indication, it looks like Kluber may be on his way back to his true form. Overall this season, Kluber has pitched in 145.0 innings and has allowed 45 earned runs while walking 19 and striking out 139 (which translates to an ERA+ of 160). His most recent start came on July 29 against the Tigers; in that game, Kluber went 7.1 innings and he allowed 1 earned run on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 5.

Sunday, August 5 1:10 p.m. ET: Tyler Skaggs (LHP) v. Shane Bieber (RHP)

Tyler Skaggs, on the other hand, was supposed to be in the rotation this season for the Angels and he’s done quite well. The 26-year-old has thrown 113.1 innings this season and has allowed 42 earned runs while walking 34 and striking out 118 (which translates to an ERA+ of 125). He’s got a good fastball (92 mph) that gets hitters to swing and miss, while his curveball (75 mph) induces a lot of ground balls. His change (85 mph) and his sinker (92 mph) also get ground balls. His most recent start came on July 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays; in that game, Skaggs got absolutely shelled. He went just 3.1 innings and allowed 10 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3.

Shane Bieber has had an up-and-down rookie season. His numbers overall have been a little down; across 51.1 innings, Bieber has allowed 27 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 51 (which translates to an ERA+ of 95). His most recent start came on July 30 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Bieber went 6.1 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.

Players to watch (not named Mike Trout)

  • Andrelton Simmons - Simmons has been one of the bright spots on an otherwise disappointing Angels team this season. A high average hitter with Lindor-esque defense at shortstop, Simmons looks to be part of the Angels’ core for the next few years. This season, he’s rocking a .307/.362/.430 slash line across 402 plate appearances (which translates to a wRC+ of 120).
  • Justin Upton - Upton is having another good year after making the All-Star team in 2017. Across 456 plate appearances this year, Upton has a slash of .260/.351/.450 with a team leading 61 RBIs and 125 strikeouts.
  • Jose Alvarez - The lefty reliever can succeed against both right-handed and left-handed batters, and Mike Scioscia is not afraid to use him (he’s made 55 appearances this season). Across 44.1 innings, Alvarez has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 18 and striking out 43 (which translates to an ERA+ of 137). He’s got a good fastball (94 mph) and a good sinker (92 mph) to get hitters to whiff. His change (82 mph) will get hitters to ground out in a pinch.
  • Justin Anderson - The rookie out of Houston, Texas has had a good beginning to his major league career this year. Across 40.0 innings, Anderson has allowed 14 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 48 (which translates to an ERA+ of 133). He’s got a great slider (87 mph) to pair with his electric fastball (98 mph).

Storylines

Still Corey Kluber’s knee

Kluber looked much better in his last outing. He wasn’t his surgical self, but his command was much improved and his pitches had a lot of late movement and bite. One solid outing isn’t enough for me to feel calm every time Kluber pushes off of his right leg, but another without any problems may help to ease those fears.

Mike Trout-less Angels

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. Jose Ramirez is incredible, and he’s got a leg up on Trout in at least one regard, but he isn’t on the same level as Mike Trout. Trout is listed as day to day with a wrist injury, so there’s a good chance that the Indians won’t even face him this series. That bodes well for the Indians, but from an overall perspective, baseball is worse when Mike Trout isn’t playing.

Los Angeles Angels roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Angels?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    3
    (40 votes)
  • 62%
    2
    (83 votes)
  • 6%
    1
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now