Los Angeles Angels
The Mariners and Angels met for the first time in 2021 last month, when Seattle took two of three games from the Halos at home at TMP. But the roster from last month is very different from what it is now with so many Mariners either on the injured list or demoted to Triple-A. The Angels have also made some changes, but not as many; one is outsized, though, as perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout is on the IL and is expected to miss at least another month of action.
With the Fishman out of the equation, the Angels are less scary, but they remain a good-hitting team (at least by 2021 standards). Fortunately, aside from Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, the pitching staff is relatively poor, or at least has been struggling for most of the year. The M's will have to face Ohtani in the second of these four games; it will be the second time the club has seen him as a pitcher, Ohtani had one start against Seattle in 2018 and won, beating the M's with six strong innings. Griffin Canning is slated to start the first game and Alex Cobb the third, but Sunday is unclear as that would be José Quintana's turn and he was placed on the injured list after his last start; at this writing the Sunday afternoon matchup is Logan Gilbert vs. TBA. Canning beat Seattle on May 1st, allowing just one unearned run in 51⁄3 innings in a 10-5 Angel win, and has been similarly good in two starts vs. the M's in prior seasons. Cobb is coming off an excellent seven-inning effort against the A's last Saturday in an LA shutout, but historically the Mariners have hit him pretty well (6.41 ERA, 1.64 WHIP in nine career starts vs. Seattle from 2011-2018).
The relief corps is no better for the Halos—of the pitchers there with at least ten innings pitched so far, only former Mariner Steve Cishek has an ERA of 3.00 or lower. If they get to a save situation, closer Raisel Iglesias has an ERA above 4.00, though the Cuban fireballer only has a pair of blown saves and a hefty strikeout rate of 1.43 per inning.
Without Trout, the biggest bats in the Angel lineup belong to first baseman Jared Walsh and Ohtani. Though slumping against everyone at the moment, over the course of the season Walsh has been outstanding when facing right-handers (.341/.411/.636) but brutally bad versus lefties (.213/.250/.393); fortunately, the M's are scheduled to start three southpaws in the series—Justus Sheffield, Hector Santiago (in place of Justin Dunn, just placed on the IL), and Yusei Kikuchi—which will hopefully neuter that threat. Ohtani has not always been in the lineup on the days he pitches, so the M's may or may not need to pitch to him in all four games, but like Walsh, the splits work in Seattle's favor: Ohtani has hit .295/.359/.643 against right-handers, but just .193/.266/.491 versus lefties.
|vs. AL West||12-15|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last ten games
.333/.429/.400, 3 RBI
.179/.238/.256, 4 Ks
.189/.231/.486, 8 Ks
.229/.229/.229, 11 Ks
.214/.214/.250, 4 Ks
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|5/2/21||SEA 2, LAA 0|
|5/1/21||LAA 10, SEA 5|
|4/30/21||SEA 7, LAA 4|
|8/6/20||LAA 6, SEA 1|
|8/5/20||SEA 7, LAA 6|
|8/4/20||LAA 5, SEA 3|
|7/30/20||SEA 8, LAA 5|
|7/29/20||SEA 10, LAA 7|
|7/28/20||LAA 10, SEA 2|
Joe Maddon: He took the Rays to a World Series. He brought a championship to Chicago with the Cubs (the Cubs!). He's won everywhere he's gone. Maddon took over the Angels from Brad Ausmus last year and he couldn't be happier. “The Angel uniform is the most comfortable uniform I could possibly wear,” he said, having returned to the franchise he was a minor-league catcher with in 1976. Maddon managed in the Angels minors for years, then moved up to the big-league coaching staff and spent a decade as Mike Scioscia's bench coach before getting his first Major League managing gig with Tampa Bay.
Maddon's teams have made eight postseasons, and while a ninth time this season seems unlikely, with his impressive history it can't be written off as impossible. That he was even available to come to Anaheim is remarkable, but despite his success in Chicago, Cubs management started to butt heads with Maddon which made it easier for him to look for work elsewhere. Said Maddon, "When I started there—'15, '16, '17—it was pretty much my methods. And then all of a sudden, after '18 going into '19, they wanted to change everything."
Though he's used analytics in moderation, Maddon isn't a fan of the "statcast era" as an overriding philosophy and tends to mix in old-school approaches with his modern sensibilities. "Analytics and technology," he says, "[subtract] passion from what we do, not only in sports but in our regular lives ... my conclusion is that [such things are] slightly responsible for putting the game in a position where it's not as attractive to fans."
Steve Cishek: A Mariner from 2016-’17, Steve did a nice job for Seattle as a late-inning option out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.89 ERA with 26 saves and a WHIP just a hair over 1.000. The M's traded him to Tampa Bay in July of ’17 in order to re-acquire Erasmo Ramírez in a deal that ended up not much helping either team; even though Cishek was terrific for the Rays, they still finished five games back of the Twins for the last playoff berth that year. Since then, Cishek had two very good years as a Chicago Cub (under manager Joe Maddon) before spending the abbreviated 2020 campaign with the crosstown White Sox. So far this season, the sidearming righty hasn't performed that well, but he's only had a few innings yet and the Angels aren't worried. Said pitching coach Matt Wise, "I have full confidence in Cishek and his ability to get outs in meaningful innings. He has been there before and has done it a long time and we are going to continue to rely on him." Though the Angels pursued him in the offseason, Cishek opted instead to sign with Houston because they hold spring training in Florida and the east-coast-residing Cisheks had a newborn at home. "I didn't want to bring my family out [west] for the spring." But when it became clear the Astros weren't going to give him a roster spot, he asked for his release and accepted an offer from Maddon's Angels.
|Los Angeles Angels||(2016 - present)|
|Division Titles:||1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014|
Mike Trout: As a child, Trout and his brother Tyler went to the Cumberland County Fair and played the game where one throws a baseball at a pyramid of milk bottles to win a prize. Trout was so good at it that he was banned from the game. Tyler described young Mike as "furious" at not being allowed to knock down any more bottles.
Anthony Rendon: While with the Nationals, Rendon's penchant for hitting doubles earned him the nickname of "Tony Two Bags" among his teammates.
Kurt Suzuki doesn't pay much attention to politics. A member of the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals, Suzuki went to the White House with other members of the team (not all—some boycotted) and reveled in the experience, even allowing himself to be used as a prop by the then-president. The former president had Suzuki put on a MAGA cap and then hugged Suzuki weirdly from behind. By his own account, the Japanese-American catcher was just enjoying the moment and the grandeur of being at the White House, but fans in his home state of Hawaii and people throughout the Asian-American community were appalled at his tone-deafness in allowing himself to be used in photographs as the former president's "Asian friend."
Raisel Iglesias: It took two attempts, but the Angels' closer succeeded in fleeing his native Cuba in November 2013. He'd played in the World Baseball Classic for the Cuban national team that year and knew he had a good chance of playing pro ball in the U.S. if he could just get here. From Cuba he established residency in Haiti and held an open tryout in Mexico that landed him a contract with the Cincinnati Reds (he was traded to the Angels last December). Now Iglesias lives in Miami and hopes to be able to get his family out of Cuba to join him. "I have half my family here with me," he said. "I have my mom. I hope soon I can have my brothers here." His father is unlikely to get to leave Cuba, but was fully supportive of Raisel's defection. "He's proud of the step I took coming here to America," Raisel said. "He's always backed me. Everyone in my family backed me up."