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Series Preview: Angels Vs. Astros Vs. Third Place

The Angels are off to Minute Maid Park to play a three-game set with the Houston Astros, and if the 31-38 Angels could pull off a sweep against the 34-36 Astros, the Halos could actually take over third place by half-a-game.  The Astros will have a fully healthy squad ready to welcome an Angel team whose roster is riddled with injury.  One Angel who has been discharged from the disabled list, however, is Andrelton Simmons, but unfortunately his return has meant that the Angels’ hottest hitter in the month of June, Gregorio Petit (.435 OBP and eight extra base hits in his last 16 games), has been relegated to the bench.  Hopefully Mike Scioscia will find a way to let his potent bat see some action.

The Offenses

R/GOBPSBXBH
HOU4.17.31957209
LAA4.34.32122185

That the Angels have scored more runs per game this season than the Astros seems to point to the notion that on-base percentage is more valuable to an offense than then ability to mash the ball whenever you do make contact.  The huge discrepancy in stolen bases between the two teams is worrisome to me because the ability to steal a base and get into scoring position is something that can hand Houston a win in a tight contest and prevent the Angels from leap-frogging into third place by the end of this series.

Starting Pitching Match-ups 

Game One:  After a nice start to his Angel career, Jhoulys Chacin has been on a down hill slide his past three games where he has posted a 7.04 ERA in 15.1 innings pitched.  His counterpart on the hill for Houston will be Doug Fister who has been terrific his last three games wherein he has posted a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings.  Not only has he been really, really good lately, but in the one game he pitched against the Angels this season, he gave up just one earned run and struck out six while walking four in six innings pitched.  Advantage Astros.

Game Two:  As bad as Chacin has been during his last three starts, Tuesday’s starter for the Angels, Hector Santiago, has been even worse.  He has a 7.15 ERA during his previous three starts coming into this game, and he has only completed 11.1 innings.  He will be opposed by Collin McHugh, who after two really good seasons has had a noticeable drop off in his performance this year.  He has a 5.17 ERA in his last three starts while completing 15.2 innings.  Advantage Astros.

Game Three:  The resuscitated Matt Shoemaker is scheduled to pitch the final game of this series for the Angels, and he has been on some kind of roll lately.  He has a fantastic 2.08 ERA and 21.2 innings pitched over his last three games, and he beat the Astros back on May 27th when went 8.1 innings, struck out 11, walked none, and gave up just two runs.  Houston’s Lance McCullers will be trying to keep up with him, but during his last three starts, he has a 3.66 ERA in 19.2 innings.  Advantage Angels.

The Bullpens

WHIPK/9
HOU1.089.9
LAA1.287.1

The Astros clearly have the superior bullpen, so hopefully the Angels can build up a lead before the Houston pen gets called in to take over.  Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, Pat Neshek, Chris Devenski, and Michael Feliz have all been top-notch for Houston, and ever since leaving the rotation and joining the relief corps, Scott Feldman has dropped his WHIP from 1.88 to 1.02 and increased his strikeouts per nine innings from 5.9 to 8.3.  The good news for the Angel relievers is that thanks to how deep the Angel starting pitchers went in the series with the Oakland A’s (thank you Jered Weaver), the bullpen should be rested and ready for action.

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