Very quietly, the Los Angeles Angels have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past couple of weeks. The Halos have won 4 straight overall and 7 of their last 10 to leapfrog the Texas Rangers into third place in the AL West. L.A. is now just 4 games back of the A’s for second. While catching the Astros in the division is incredibly unlikely, the Angels can still make some noise in the Wild Card race.
The Angels just went into Dodger Stadium and swept 2 games from the best team in baseball, so they’ll be confident as they head down the freeway to begin a 4-game series with arguably the worst team in baseball this weekend. The Orioles, who own a record of 32-69 with a run differential of minus-185, will try and stop what has been a red-hot Angels club.
Jimmy Yacabonis is slated to serve as the Orioles’ opener on Thursday night in Anaheim before giving way to right-hander Tom Eshelman. The Angels, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Jose Suarez taking the mound.
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Long Summer in Baltimore
The Orioles finished with baseball’s worst record last season, and they’re well on their way to going back-to-back this year. Entering play Thursday, the O’s have a slightly better winning percentage than the 30-67 Detroit Tigers, who are really the only other team in the running. Baltimore and Detroit are both at least 6 games worse than the next-worst team, the 39-65 Toronto Blue Jays.
The O’s just went into Arizona and lost 2 of 3, and the bright spots have been few and far between for this team. A couple of rare bright spots have been Renato Nunez and Trey Mancini. Nunez, 25, leads the team in both home runs (24) and runs batted in (57), while Mancini has put up the best slash line on the team (.285/.346/.535) with 22 homers of his own.
The pitching, of course, has been far less remarkable. Eshelman has made 3 starts for the Orioles this season, and he has a 6.91 ERA across those appearances. He just got blasted in his last outing by the Red Sox, as Boston teed off on the right-hander for 9 runs on 6 hits, including 3 home runs, in just 3 ⅔ innings of work. Eshelman has allowed 5 dingers over his last 2 starts, and the Orioles have lost all 3 games in which he’s pitched.
It doesn’t get any better for the Orioles after the starter leaves the game, either. The O’s bullpen ERA of 6.05 is the worst mark in baseball by a huge margin. The Nationals (5.80) are next-worst, so there’s clearly quite the gap between the two. If the Angels get to Eshelman tonight, it could be a long night on the mound for a cavalcade of Baltimore bullpen hands.
The Angels started the season just 9-16, but they have rebounded since getting healthy and they’re very much in the thick of the American League’s playoff race. Los Angeles is fifth in the Wild Card hunt, 4 games back of the A’s for the second Wild Card position, and 6 games adrift of the Wild Card-leading Indians. There is still a long way to go, so there’s no real reason to believe the Angels can’t keep gaining ground.
Suarez, a 21-year-old rookie, has made 7 starts for the Angels this season, the last of which came back on July 14. He has a 5.51 ERA through those 7 appearances, though his 5.66 SIERA suggests he’s been a little bit unlucky. He has an impressive strikeout rate north of 25 percent. The walk rate over 9 is a tick too high, but he also gets the benefit of facing a weak Orioles lineup away from Camden Yards tonight.
So far this season, Baltimore ranks just 26th in wOBA (.302) against left-handed pitching, and they’re also 26th in wRC+. The Halos don’t have the greatest bullpen behind Suarez, but there’s reason to believe he should enjoy a bit of success tonight. Baltimore also has the third-highest strikeout rate (26.5 percent) against left-handed pitching as a team on the season.
Mike Trout has hit 11 home runs over his last 15 games, while Kole Calhoun, David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani have been steady contributors, as well. Few think of the Angels as an elite offense, but they are. The Halos rank eighth in wOBA (.332) and sixth in wRC+ so far this season against right-handed pitching.
Eshelman and the rest of the Oriole pitching staff should be in for a rough night. Angel Stadium has quietly become one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the league, and it’s expected to be another warm night in Southern California, so the ball should be flying.
Obviously, I expect most of the hard-hit balls to be coming off of Angel bats here. Eshelman figures to be overmatched by the talent in this lineup, and there’s no reason to expect the bullpen to have much more success. I like the Angels on the runline here at -115.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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