Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Anaheim Angels - California Dreamin'

'V' is for Vernon

And so, the Rangers escape to California. Everyone got all gussied up for a road trip to the best coast. Hair was trimmed. Mustaches were manicured. The team was ready for sun and fun. But then the Seattle Slaughter happened. Thanks to the generosity of scheduling, the Rangers don't have to stick around and marinate in that failure. Instead, they get to enjoy a summer vacation in the Golden State. Three games in Anaheim, four games in Oakland, and three games in San Francisco. A team could really find itself out there.

Of course, it's not all sand castles on the beach and Wish You Were Heres. Those three cities amount less to Disneyland, Lake Merritt, and the Golden Gate Bridge and more to the team's biggest rival in Anaheim on an "upswing," a division rival in Oakland in a cavernous ballpark, and a ballpark in San Francisco where the Rangers are 0 for forever. But at least for once, the 2011 World Series won't be the World Series used to haunt us. Who is ready for replay after replay of the 2010 World Series!? None of you? Well tough. Remember when Vlad was in right field? You will.

But about these Angels. These Angels lost a series to San Diego in mid May, then lost the opening game in a series to Oakland to drop to 18-25. Since then, they've lost once. They are now 26-26. Through 52 games last season, the Angels were...wait for it...26-26. The Angels had a record of 18-11 for the month of May. The Rangers had a record of 14-14. Who can we blame? Where should we direct our anger? It's pretty simple. Be mad at Vernon Wells.

Vernon Wells was placed on the disabled list on May 22. May 22 was the date of the first game of an Angels' eight game winning streak. The Angels are 9-1 in the ten games they've played without Vernon Wells. In that time, Mike Trout has been hitting .324 with five home runs and a .941 OPS. Thanks for nothing, forever, Vernon Wells.

Of course, the Rangers are 31-20. That amounts to a 5.5 game lead in the American League West. Coming into this season--a season where the Angels were crowned preseason consensus favorite to win the World Series--you'd take a June 1 5.5 game lead any damn day. The 2011 Rangers were 26-25 at this point last season. It's easy, really. So far, the Rangers are better than they were last season and the Angels are only as good as they were when they weren't the team with too many good players. Here's hoping the Rangers get a little California love.

Here's a breakdown of what this series will mean in the standings:

  • Angels sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 2.5 games
  • Angels win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 4.5 games
  • Rangers win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 6.5 games
  • Rangers sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 8.5 games

Friday, June 1 9:05: RHP Jerome Williams vs. RHP Colby Lewis

Saturday, June 2 9:05: LHP C.J. Wilson vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Sunday, June 3 2:35: RHP Dan Haren (Or possibly Garrett Richards) vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the Orange County Celestial Spirits:

  • Colby Lewis: 4-3, 8.13 K/9, 1.24 BB/9, .286 BABIP, 81.1% LOB, 4.60 FIP, 3.81 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
  • Jerome Williams: 5-2, 5.80 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, .291 BABIP, 75.1% LOB, 4.07 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 20.1 innings

Advantage: Colby Lewis hopefully overcoming his Tommy Hunter-ish HR/9 rate in Anaheim over Jerome Williams not really fooling anyone.

  • Yu Darvish: 7-2, 9.74 K/9, 5.16 BB/9, .304 BABIP, 79.1% LOB, 3.84 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three appearances: 8 runs allowed in 16.2 innings
  • C.J. Wilson: 6-4, 8.17 K/9, 4.02 BB/9, .228 BABIP, 73.9% LOB, 3.53 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 1.2 WAR - Last three starts: 2 runs allowed in 17.2 innings

Advantage: Yu Darvish over C.J. Wilson because I said so. These two have actually been very similar pitchers this season.

  • Matt Harrison: 6-3, 5.83 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, .322 BABIP, 70.0% LOB, 3.67 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 1.3 WAR - Last three appearances: 6 runs allowed in 20.1 innings
  • Dan Haren: 3-5, 8.29 K/9, 1.76 BB/9, .313 BABIP, 73.8% LOB, 3.08 FIP, 3.29 xFIP, 1.8 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 22.2 innings

Advantage: Painfully, Dan Haren not being broken over Matt Harrison and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.

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Anaheim Angels (26-26, 2nd Place AL West)

Rangers Record vs. Anaheim: 2-1 (All at Ballpark in Arlington)

Anaheim's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the New York Yankees

Anaheim's Home Record: 13-11

Angel Stadium of Anaheim Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 90/93 - wOBA: 99/98

SB Nation Angels Blog: Halos Heaven (Do not)

Match-up: (as of 06/01) Rangers Angels Advantage
Batting (RAR) 52.0 (2nd) -13.7 (22nd) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) -0.7 (19th) -2.9 (26th) Rangers
Starters (RAR) 29.5 37.8 Angels
Bullpen (RAR) 25.3 (1st) 7.1 (20th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 21.1 (1st) 15.6 (4th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 127.2 43.9 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of Yorvit Torrealba to Elvis Andrus: How much do you miss Vernon Wells being healthy?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (The player I most look forward to watching is Adrian Beltre.)
  • Over/Under: 7.5 combined walks allowed by Yu Darvish and C.J. Wilson on Saturday?
  • Who has more hits in this series: Mike Trout or Mike Young?
  • Who has a better pitch face: I1trx_medium Jerome Williams or Rpuuy_mediumColby Lewis?
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