Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Anaheim Angels - Disney Town

Scioscia face never gets old - USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have their three best healthy starters going up against the blight that is the back end of the Angel rotation

Series Schedule:

Monday, April 22 9:05: RHP Joe Blanton vs. LHP Derek Holland

Tuesday, April 23 9:05: LHP Jason Vargas vs. RHP Alexi Ogando

Wednesday, April 24 9:05: RHP Tommy Hanson Jerome Williams vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Excuse the brevity. This is the kind of series where you hope it develops like you think it should but you don't want to say anything about it because it might not. Sometimes it's hard to hold in the gauche.

With that barely said, it's never too early:

  • Angels sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 1.5 games
  • Angels win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 3.5 games
  • Rangers win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 5.5 games
  • Rangers sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 7.5 games

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the Anaheim Angels, A.K.A. the owners of the worst non-Astros pitching staff in the American League:

  • Derek Holland: 1-1, 6.14 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, .194 BABIP, 83.3% LOB, 2.81 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 22.0 innings
  • Joe Blanton: 0-3, 4.91 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, .357 BABIP, 69.4% LOB, 8.08 FIP, 5.23 xFIP, -0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 14 runs allowed in 14.2 innings

Advantage: Remember when Jerry DiPoto was trying to be John Hart-in-Texas clever and use the money he saved from jettisoning Ervin Santana on signing Joe "He's serviceable as a No. 4 or 5 starter" Blanton to be his No. 3? Well, Santana is pitching pretty well for the KC Royals (2-1, 3.65 FIP, .5 fWAR), and Blanton is not pitching well at all. In fact, nearly a month into the season, Blanton has been the second worst pitcher in baseball. Blanton has just barely been better than Cleveland's Brett Myers at being the worst. There's plenty of time for Blanton to turn his season back to serviceable, but, almost a month in, I remained confused about the intent with that signing.

Derek Holland has been almost as good as Blanton has been bad. Holland still isn't striking out as many hitters as you'd hope someone who is left-handed and averages nearly 94 MPH on his fastball would, but one encouraging development is the rediscovery of Holland's changeup. Holland threw his change only 5% of the time in 2012, according to Fangraphs. Whereas, early in 2013, he's throwing the change nearly 20% of the time. Holland's change flashed as a plus pitch as a minor leaguer but never really developed in the majors. So far this season, it's been a revelation.

The value of Holland's change has been 3.2 runs above average. That's been the third best change in baseball in 2013 and easily Holland's best pitch. In 2012, it was Holland's worst pitch at 5.2 runs below average. It's easy to see why he abandoned it. If Holland has truly rediscovered his change, we might be in for an actual Year of Holland.

  • Alexi Ogando: 2-1, 9.00 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, .302 BABIP, 81.1% LOB, 3.51 FIP, 3.39 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 12.2 innings
  • Jason Vargas: 0-2, 4.91 K/9, 4.30 BB/9, .433 BABIP, 70.6% LOB, 4.26 FIP, 5.28 xFIP, 0.1 WAR - Last three start: 11 runs allowed in 14.2 innings

Advantage: Garrett Richards has been the Angels' best starting pitcher so far in 2013. Richards has only made two starts, however, because the Angels thought acquiring Jason Vargas was a good idea and Richards began the season in the 'pen until the Angels lost Jered Weaver earlier this month. Other than Richards, Jason Vargas has been the Angels' best starting pitcher. The only problem is, Jason Vargas isn't very good.

Alexi Ogando wasn't very good the last time he pitched. Ogando allowed 5 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 home runs in a very cold and rainy environment in Chicago. Before that game, Ogando was having a decent start to his season. I'd like to just assume he was bad because the conditions were bad, but he's been pretty erratic with his control (walking nearly 3.5 per 9), and not very efficient (averaging about 4 2/3 per outing). Here's hoping for a nice bounce back start.

  • Yu Darvish: 3-1, 12.83 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, .250 BABIP, 75.0% LOB, 1.42 FIP, 2.26 xFIP, 1.3 WAR - Last three: 6 runs allowed in 18.0 innings
  • Tommy Hanson: 2-1, 4.24 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, .298 BABIP, 82.6% LOB, 5.44 FIP, 5.20 xFIP, -0.1 WAR - Last starts: 8 runs allowed in 17.0 innings

Advantage: Uh, Yu Darvish. Duh. Though, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers get like 10 hits, strand a bunch of guys, and allow Tommy Hanson to wiggle out of this game with a 3-2 win. Tommy Hanson seems like a supreme wiggler.

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Anaheim Angels (7-10, 3rd Place in AL West)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Anaheim: 2-1 (All at Rangers Ballpark)

Anaheim's Recent Results: 3-0 home series sweep over the Detroit Tigers

Anaheim's 2013 Home Record: 5-4

Angel Stadium of Anaheim Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 84/79 - Runs: 88/86

SB Nation Angels Blog: Halos Heaven (Where's Sam Miller when you need him?)

Match-up: (as of 04/22) Rangers Angels Advantage
Batting (RAR) -1.2 (12th) 9.7 (6th) :(
Base Running (RAR) 0.2 (13th) -1.3 (16th) pujolsrunning.gif
Starters (RAR) 18.9 -5.7 LOLOLOLOLOL
Bullpen (RAR) 8.0 (4th) -0.8 (26th) Do ho ho hoh
Defense (UZR) 5.1 (6th) -6.3 (27th) Good thing the Angels can hit
Overall (UZR + RAR) 31.0 -4.4 Rangers, no doubt

Questions to Answer:

  • Of Blanton, Vargas, and Hanson, which currently-awful Angel starter do you foresee as having the best chance to inexplicably handle the Ranger offense in this series?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Adrian Beltre will bring back fond memories of "Oh Shit!")
  • Over/Under: 3.5 times during this series that Ron Washington calls for an intentional walk to Albert Pujols so he can get to the ultra-slumping Josh Hamilton?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Alexi Ogando on Tuesday as he attempts to bounce back from a bad outing without having to worry about the abysmal conditions he faced in Chicago?
  • At what point in the season does Josh Hamilton (.570) finally surpass Vernon Wells (1.013) in OPS?
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