As is often the case with series preview (or in the past, game previews), I am changing the format a bit. I don’t have a great reason other than boredom. Once the Angels play a team for the third or fourth time in a season, there isn’t much new to say based on the old format, so I’m making some minor tweaks to allow myself a little more license. There will probably be more in the next few weeks as well because I might be bored, but I am also kind of lazy.
LAST TIME ON ANGELS VS. ASTROS…
Ah, yes, our old nemesis: the Astros. The bad team that the Angels just can’t quite seem to beat. Well, last year they couldn’t. This year they were off to a good start in their first two series against the ‘Stros. Then their third series went sideways with the Halos dropping two of three. On the plus side, the Angels are back at home where they currently boast the best home record in baseball which is convenient since Houston has the worst road record in the American League.
THURSDAY, 7/3: Matt Shoemaker vs. Brett Oberholtzer
Shoemaker has very little experience against the Astros, but the real question here is how he will rebound after getting lit up like a Christmas tree by the Royals last week. I feel like I’ve said this four times this month, but this is probably his last chance to earn the final rotation spot going forward.
Oberholtzer has limited experience against the Halos and it has been mostly good for them. It isn’t even close to a meaningful sample, but then again none of these are.
FRIDAY, 7/4: C.J. Wilson vs. Dallas Keuchel
C.J.’s general history against Houston has been good, but he got hammered last time he faced them, not even making it out of the third inning. The big inning has been a problem for C.J. ever since. It would be a nicely poetic if he solved that issue against the team it started against. Time is a flat circle… or something.
The Halos have seen a fair amount of Keuchel and handled him well, right up until the last time they faced him in May. Keuchel nearly had a complete game victory over the Halos in an utterly dominant effort. He made some sort of change to his approach or repertoire in the last two months and is basically the premier groundball pitcher in MLB. Basically, throw out the history and just get ready from some Albert and Howie GIDPs.
SATURDAY, 7/5: Hector Santiago vs. Scott Feldman
Hector doesn’t have enough of a history against the Astros to be worth a graph, but his small amount of history has been good. In 2014, he has two innings of relief work and that’s it. I’ll apply to the same caveat I had for Shoemaker to Santiago here as those two engage in the slowest developing rotation spot deathmatch in history.
Speaking of slow developing, the Halos get another shot at the glacial pace of Scott Feldman. That has been a wait that has mostly been worthwhile for the Angel bats. It has been a mixed bag this year though as Feldman had a sparkling outing back in April but got hammered by the Halos in May.
SUNDAY, 7/6: Garrett Richards vs. Collin McHugh
Basically, if you aren’t Jose Altuve or Chris Carter, you can’t touch Richards. Those two are kind of a problem though. Richards had eight innings of shutout ball against Houston back in June, but his two starts against them earlier in the year were more mixed. I’ll let you decide which information is the most relevant because I sure as hell don’t know.
McHugh has made two starts in his career against the Angels, both this season, and he has baffled them. Albert Pujols is the only one that seems to have a clue and lord only knows what version of Pujols is going to show up for this game.
Should the Angels sweep Houston? Of course. Will they? Of course not. That just isn’t how the Angels roll, annoyingly enough. Instead, I predict they shall win just three games. That is less about the Astros though and more about the Angels starting Shoemaker AND Santiago in the same series. That isn’t ever going to result in a sweep.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
Both Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker pitch poorly (we’ll qualify that as going less than six innings and surrendering four or more runs), making the rotation decision even harder than it already was, but Shoemaker ends up getting to stay in the rotation if only because Rich Hill proves to be a disaster and the Halos want to keep Santiago in the bullpen until the All-Star break so they can sort this mess out.