Toronto Blue Jays News

Series Preview: Lowly Angels visit the Blue Jays

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Aug 20, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) talks to umpire Dana DeMuth in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) talks to umpire Dana DeMuth in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Across the Diamond

On the offensive side of things, the Angels are essentially league average with a 99 wRC+. As a team, the Angels strike out at the lowest rate in the entire league. Their 16.6% is first in the MLB by 1.7%, so they definitely put the ball in play on a consistent basis. However, despite putting the ball in play more consistently than any other team in the league, they fail to consistently drive the ball for extra bases. Their 118 HR’s are 25th in the league, and they rank 26th and 20th in ISO and SLG respectively.

When you have a league average offence, but you have arguably the best hitter in the entire game, it’s a testament to the rest of the hitters. They have some veteran hitters who can provide solid production and put together strong AB’s, with the likes of Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun, and Yunel Escobar, but for the most part, their lineup is below average.

Behind Trout, who owns a ridiculous 164 wRC+, Escobar sits at 115, Calhoun sits at 112 and Pujols is at 103. Pujols is the biggest power threat of the three, while Calhoun is probably the best all around hitter, as he’s trimmed his strikeouts by nearly 8%, increased his plate discipline, and has shown the ability to consistently hit the ball hard on a line.

A name that the Jays pitching staff should gameplan for is C.J. Cron. The 26-year-old has posted a 117 wRC+, and is arguably the Angels best power threat behind Trout. He doesn’t have the home runs that Pujols has (23 vs 11) but his ISO and SLG are both higher by a significant margin.

His 33% hard contact mark and 41% fly ball percentage makes him a threat every time he steps to the plate, and he should be pitched accordingly. He’s a guy that could potentially fly under the radar in this lineup, but he provides some potential danger.

The Angels offence can get by, but their pitching is the real reason they’re so bad. They possess the league’s second worst fWAR from their pitching staff with a mark of 3.8 (Joe Biagini has 1.2, for some context on how bad that is). The only team worse is the Reds.

Their team ERA is 4.59, and that’s not a matter of bad luck either, as their FIP is an atrocious 4.72. Their 7.20 K/9 is second worst, and they lack firepower in the rotation and bullpen.

Losing Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs for significant periods of time due to various injuries has saddled their rotation with below average veterans. Skaggs is back, but coming off Tommy John, you can’t expect him to jump right back to where he was prior. The Tim Lincecum experiment went about as poorly as it could have, Ricky Nolasco is very poor, Jhoulys Chacin and Nick Tropeano have some strong qualities but neither belong in a major league rotation, and Jered Weaver is a shadow of his former self.

The only starter providing any real value is Shoemaker, who has a 3.61 FIP and 2.9 fWAR through 145.2 IP. He has solid strikeout numbers to go along with excellent command. He can struggle with the home run ball, which is why I still like the matchup for the Jays at home, but he can definitely give offences trouble.

Cam Bedrosian and Jose Alvarez are their best options out of the pen, as Joe Smith and Huston Street are having down years after having plenty of previous success in years past.

Next: Game 1: Can Skaggs rebound after three rough starts

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