10:07 PM EST – Money Line: Angels -110, Over/Under: 8.5
Division foes battle for ground in the Standings, as the Los Angeles Angels play host to the Oakland Athletics in the first entry of a Three-Game Series from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. After putting together a surprising 10-game winning that saw them climb the ladder in the American League West, the Athletics (29-30, 3rd in AL West) appear to have reverted back to form, dropping each of their last five outings, coincidentally falling back down the Standings, maintaining a one-game lead on tonight’s opponent, the Angels, for Third Place in the Division. The struggle to maintain consistency has been theme thus far for Bob Melvin’s charges, whom have endured a chaotic campaign featuring plenty of highs and lows. Offensively, Oakland has been largely average, ranking towards the middle of the pack in the American League in Runs (290), Hits (507), Doubles (99), and Walks (204), while placing Tenth in Batting Average (.244). However, they’re saving grace has been the long ball, tagging Ninety-Three Home Runs as a team (4th in American League), with nine different players logging at least Seven. Chief among them has been Matt Chapman (.272 BA, 61 H, 37 R, 14 2B, 16 HR, 35 RBI, 27 BB, 41 K), their young Third Baseman who looks like a lock to earn his first All-Star Selection next month. In just his third season with the A’s, Chapman is on pace to set career-highs across the board, for he has been by far and away the potent bat in Melvin’s Lineup. Taking the mound tonight for the Athletics is Frankie Montas (6-2, 2.81 ERA, 64.0 IP, 59 H, 20 ER, 4 HR, 18 BB, 66 K, 1.203 WHIP), who after being a late addition to the Starting Rotation, has done nothing but reward the club’s faith in him. Indeed, the 26-year old Righthander has established himself as a rising star, cementing his place as a Starter for the first time in his young career. Montas ranks tops in Oakland’s Rotation is a slew of categories, including Wins (6), RA (2.81), Strikeouts (66), Walks per Nine Innings (2.5), Strikeouts per Nine Innings (9.3), and Strikeout/Walk Ratio (3.67). When we last saw the Dominican Republic native, his sterling run of three consecutive quality starts came to an end, ironically against tonight’s opponent; in last week’s meeting, Montas lasted just Four Innings, yielding Four Earned Runs on as many Hits, walking as many Batters as he struck out (5). Indeed, he certainly came back down to Earth, following a stretch in which he had allowed just Four Earned Runs over the course 20.2 Innings, racking up Twenty-Six Strikeouts in comparison to issuing just Three Walks.
Meanwhile, the Athletics aren’t the only team in California that has struggled to find maintain consistency, for the Angels (29-31, 4th in AL West) have been virtually a mirror image of their northern neighbors this season. After finishing just below .500 and moving on from longtime Manager, Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles initially found life under their new skipper, Brad Ausmus difficult, getting off to a disappointing 22-28 start, but since then have begun to show signs of progress, winning seven out of their last ten games. Despite suffering more than a few injuries in their Lineup, the Angel’s Offense has carried them through the first two months of the season, ranking Fourth in Hits (527) and On-Base Percentage (.338), Fifth in Batting Average (.258), and Third in Walks (227), all the while striking fewer times than any team in the American League (379). Indeed, patience at the Plate has been key, for seven different players have been issued at least Fifteen Bases on Balls, including two-time MVP, Mike Trout (.298 BA, 56 H, 43 R, 14 2B, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 7 SB, 54 BB, 40 K). Of course, the All-Star Centerfielder is no stranger to receiving a free pass, having led the Majors in Walks three times already, and at Fifty-Four, is on his way towards passing the mark of 122 he set a year ago. As a result, Trout has also led the Majors in On-Base Percentage in each of the last three seasons, and as you can imagine, is leading the pack once more (.464). However, the reason that this team has been meandering around .500 for a third straight season has not been their Lineup, but rather their Pitching Staff, which for all intents and purposes, has been a mess in 2019. This certainly applies to Rotation, which has struggled to find any kind of consistency thus far, with the likes of former Mets’ Ace, Matt Harvey (2-4, 7.50 ERA, 48.0 IP, 52 H, 40 ER, 11 HR, 21 BB, 35 K, 1.521 WHIP) languishing on the Disabled List, while Trevor Cahill (2-6, 7.18 ERA, 57.2 IP, 61 H, 46 ER, 16 HR, 20 BB, 46 K, 1.405 WHIP), their supposed No. One, has posted a miserable ERA of 7.18. As a team, Los Angeles ranks Twelfth in the American League in Team ERA (4.96), Thirteenth in Home Runs (98) and Tenth in Walks (215). Fortunately, taking the mound tonight for Ausmus is Griffin Canning (2-1, 3.06 ERA, 32.1 IP, 22 H, 11 ER, 6 HR, 9 BB, 34 K, 0.959 WHIP), who has been the only Starter to inspire confidence at this point. Though he’s authored a brief sample size, having tossed just over Thirty-Two Innings of action, the 23-Year Old Righthander has certainly shown some promise; the Rookie leads the Rotation in a number of categories, including ERA (3.06), WHIP (0.959), Strikeouts per Nine Innings (9.5), and Strikeout/Walk Ratio (3.78). When we last saw Canning, he failed to factor into the decision of a 12-7 victory over tonight’s opponent, the Athletics, but produced a quality start nonetheless, yielding one Earned Run on Three Hits, while striking out five batters and walking none over the course of Six Innings. The issue with him at this point has been his control, leading to getting tagged six times in as many starts, including allowing five in his last four outings alone. Then again, this has been an issue that has plagued the Rotation as whole, particularly the aforementioned Cahill, who has served up a staggering Sixteen Homers thus far, or in other words a dreadful 2.5 per Nine Innings.