Los Angeles Angels
After dropping six straight games, including three to the anemic-hitting Cleveland Indians, the Mariners are glad to head to Orange County. The Angels are also scuffling offensively, with six regulars batting under .230 and a 13th-place standing among AL teams in hits, runs, and OPS. Since the M's last saw them, the Angels have gone 7-5, including a sweep of the very good Milwaukee Brewers and getting swept by the not-at-all-good Texas Rangers.
Being the Angels, they have a lengthy list of injured players, including Shohei Ohtani, Kenyan Middleton, Tyler Skaggs, and Justin Upton. Perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout was out for a brief period with a groin strain, but has been back for a few days now. In this four-game set, the Halos are scheduled to start Chris Stratton, Felix Peña, Trevor Cahill, and Jaime Barria. The M's handily defeated Stratton on April 1st and handed a no-decision to Cahill on April 2nd in a pitchers' duel won by Marco Gonzales. Of the four, Peña is the only one with a sub-4.20 ERA. Scoring early(ish) is a must, as the mighty Cody Allen awaits in the bullpen should the Angels get to the ninth inning with a lead.
As always, the key with this team is to keep Mike Trout either off the bases or limited to first base; historically, shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been a tough out as well, but thus far this year he's been flailing. Other than Trout, the only Angel hitting his weight is catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The M's will start Felix Hernández, Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi (likely in a limited one- or two-inning appearance), and Mike Leake against them.
Mariners vs. Chris Stratton (CAREER)
Mariners vs. Felix Peña (CAREER)
Mariners vs. Trevor Cahill (CAREER)
Mariners vs. Jaime Barria (CAREER)
Angels vs. Yusei Kikuchi (CAREER)
Angels vs. Mike Leake (CAREER)
Players to Watch
Mike Trout: Arguably the best player in baseball, Trout signed a giant contract extension this month that will pay him an average annual salary of over $35.6 million through 2030, at which time he'll be 39. Regardless of what your general opinion on humongous paychecks for athletes is, if there was ever a player worth such a contract, it's this guy. Going all the way back to his Rookie of the Year season, he's never finished lower than fourth in MVP balloting, has led the league in runs four times, and last year led the AL in OPS with a figure of, get this, 1.088, the second time he's topped 1.000.
Cody Allen: In seven years with the Indians, Allen made quite a name for himself, amassing a career ERA of 2.98 and 149 saves over 456 relief appearances. Last year was a downer for him, though, evidenced by more homers allowed (11) and the highest WHIP (1.358) since his rookie season of 2012. Will he rebound with a change of scenery (and climate)? Now 30, Allen may not ever regain the form he had at 25—when he was 6-4, 2.07 in Cleveland—but should still be a solid late-inning arm out of the Angels' bullpen.
Zack Cozart: An All-Star in 2017, his last season with Cincinnati, Cozart was a free-agent bust with the Angels last year. Thanks in part to injury (welcome to Anaheim), he played only 58 games last season and hit a paltry .219/.296/.362. A career shortstop until coming to the Angels (Andrelton Simmons already had that job), Cozart will be once again asked to be the regular third baseman. The 33-year-old had a good spring training and appears healthy, but it remains to be seen if his terrific 2017 was an outlier; for his 7+ year career, his line is a rather ordinary .251/.304/.407.
Brad Ausmus: After spending a year as a special assistant to the Angels' GM, Billy Eppler, Ausmus takes over on the field for his second Major League managing gig. He led the Tigers to a division title in his first year managing, then struggled to win with Detroit for three subsequent seasons. Eppler cited Ausmus' "understanding of evolving strategies and probabilistic approach to decision-making" as a factor in his hiring, even though Ausmus had a reputation in Detroit for being old-school. This is the second time Ausmus has replaced an iconic manager—he succeeded Jim Leyland in Detroit in 2014 and now replaces Mike Scioscia, who had managed the Angels for 19 years.
Jeremy Reed: You may remember the Angels' batting coach from September 2004, when, as a Mariner prospect, he got his first callup to the bigs and hit a phenomenal .397/.470/.466 in 18 games and had M's fans wondering if he was the next Seattle superstar. Instead, he had a pedestrian year as a regular in 2005 and spent the next few years mostly toiling in Triple-A before being dealt to the Mets in a multi-player, multi-team trade. For the past two years he has been the Angels' minor-league hitting coordinator and previously held the same role with the Milwaukee Brewers' organization.
|Los Angeles Angels||(2016 - present)|
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