There was a time when this series was circled on the calendar because it was thought that it would be one of the most important series of the season. It was a final trip to Anaheim in late September that would surely help to shape how the American League West Pennant chase would unfold between baseball's newest biggest rivals in baseball's final two weeks. Or so we thought. This one had all the makings when Texas vs. Anaheim was baseball's spring fling.
But then a nearly entire baseball season happened and something interesting happened along with it. The Oakland A's Moneyball'd their asses off and while this isn't to say that this isn't an important series--it still has an opportunity to help shape the AL West race--the complexion of what this series is about is different than what we thought it might be in March.
Sometimes you should circle your calendars with pencil.
Now the Rangers can all but eliminate whatever faint shred of hope the Angels have for even considering winning the division with a strong showing in this series. But, again, that's now what this is about. This series is now about the Rangers' march and the Angels' desperation to stay in the hunt for baseball's play-in Wild Card. Were the Rangers to win this series, they would put a fair dent in Anaheim's mild chances at qualifying for the postseason. Were the Angels to win this series, the AL West race between Texas and Oakland could tighten to an uncomfortable closeness.
It's worth noting, also, that while this series has high stakes for reasons different than we expected before the season, you can be sure that these two teams definitely want to beat the other to help their cause and damage that of their rival all the same. It's going to be a tough series. In many ways, it'll still be played like the division were tied and this was the biggest series of the year in baseball. And that begins with the starters taking the mound for each team. Anaheim is throwing the Rangers their best.
Here are some numbers on the starting pitching that we will see in this series:
In the previous three games pitched by all six of these starters, spanning a total of 18 starts, the pitcher with the highest total number of runs allowed cumulatively over that span is Jered Weaver with 6 runs over his last 19.1 innings pitched. The most runs allowed in a single game by one of these pitchers in this stretch was also by Weaver on Aug. 28 when he allowed four runs to Boston. Since then, though, Weaver has allowed 2 total runs in his next two starts.
Total, for those 18 starts, the six pitchers in this series have combined to allow 29 runs in 122 1/3 innings pitched. That's an ERA of 2.14 over the equivalent of half a season of baseball were the six pitchers starting in this series one composite baseball hurler over the previous three weeks. Needless to say, the starting pitching in this series has been spectacular of late and there's no reason to assume we won't see some ferocious mound battles over the next three days.
It's also nice to see the Rangers come into this series, in terms of recent success, not outclassed by the best the Angels have to offer. This seems especially important considering the Angels' rotation was supposed to be the area where they would outclass the Rangers the most coming into this season.
It's not for the reasons we expected, but this is going to be a battle all the same.
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the falsely prophesied Los Angeles Angels:
- Ryan Dempster: 11-6, 7.87 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, .265 BABIP, 77.8% LOB, 3.47 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 3.3 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
- Jered Weaver: 17-4, 6.99 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, .241 BABIP, 79.0% LOB, 3.64 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 2.9 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 19.1 innings
Advantage: Ryan Dempster has had a better season than Jered Weaver sabermetrically but I still fear Weaver. And Weaver's got the Orange County Stadium rock advantage at home. I've been impressed with Dempster of late. He's having his best season since 2009 whereas Weaver has his lowest strikeout rate since 2007 (Which, really? Weaver has been around and this hateable since 2007? Time sure flies.)
- Derek Holland: 10-6, 7.62 K/9, 2.60 BB/9, .253 BABIP, 67.9% LOB, 4.58 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 1.9 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 22.0 innings
- C.J. Wilson: 12-9, 7.61 K/9, 3.83 BB/9, .279 BABIP, 69.7% LOB, 3.95 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 2.5 WAR - Last three appearances: 5 runs allowed in 17.2 innings
Advantage: There was a time when it seemed like C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish were having the exact same season. Then Darvish decided to become an ace while Wilson hit a month and a half long free fall. It seems C.J. is back on track of late, however. I suppose you'd have to take Wilson at home against Derek Holland in the vacuum of this exercise but, uh, hey, look at that, they have the same xFIP! Holland's almost got that xFIP under 4 for the first time since June when he shaved his mustache and his shoulder got the flu.
- Yu Darvish: 15-9, 10.44 K/9, 4.43 BB/9, .292 BABIP, 69.9% LOB, 3.38 FIP, 3.62 xFIP, 4.5 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 22.0 innings
- Zack Greinke : 14-5, 8.25 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, .306 BABIP, 73.7% LOB, 3.16 FIP, 3.27 xFIP, 4.5 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 22.1 innings
Advantage: Speaking of Darvish. Man, this guy is something. But then again, so is Zack Greinke. This is a real peach of a matchup. It seems like Greinke has gotten his adjusting to being back in the American League period over with. But luckily for us Rangers fans, it seems like Darvish has gotten his adjusting to being in America period over with. I like Yu Darvish in this game because he's Yu Darvish but I can't wait to watch this one.
Anaheim Angels (80-67, 3rd Place in AL West)
Rangers Record vs. Anaheim: 6-7 (2-4 at Angel Stadium)
Anaheim's Recent Results: 2-1 road series win against the Kansas City Royals
Anaheim's Home Record: 40-32
Angel Stadium Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 93/106 - Runs: 87/87
SB Nation Angels Blog: Halos Heaven (I don't think so, mister.)
|Match-up: (as of 09/18)||Rangers||Angels||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||53.9 (5th)||101.6 (1st)||Angels (Thanks a lot, Trout)|
|Base Running (RAR)||6.8 (4th)||9.9 (3rd)||Angels (Thanks a lot, Trout)|
|Starters (RAR)||90.1||92.0||Angels :-/|
|Bullpen (RAR)||50.4 (7th)||6.6 (27th)||Rangers|
|Defense (UZR)||22.5 (4th)||40.4 (1st)||Angels (Thanks a lot, Trout)|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||223.7||250.5||Angels (Why are they struggling for a playoff spot again?)|
Questions to Answer:
- It's 2025, who has more MVP awards: Mike Trout or Jurickson Profar? Remember, Profar has already spotted Trout one.
- Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I don't even know why but I have a feeling Derek Holland is going to have a good outing. I am trusting the gut.)
- Over/Under: 4.5 stolen bases the Angels accrue off the slow-to-the-plate Texas Rangers starters in this series?
- What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Ryan Dempster in his first start against Anaheim since his debacle of a first start against Anaheim in his first start as a Ranger on August 2?
- Who collects more extra base hits in this series: Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, or Ian Kinsler on the road?