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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Now that both the American and National Leagues have 15 teams apiece, there must always be at least one Interleague series going on at any given time. The Majors decided to open with the Los Angeles Angels at Cincinnati, a potential World Series preview right out of the gate!

*The Reds are on the short list along with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers as favorites for the National League pennant. They won 97 games last year, and didn’t do anything to get discernibly worse in the offseason.

*The Halos had a disappointing fade to miss the playoffs last year, but still made a run at 90-victories in a tough division. In the offseason they added Josh Hamilton to create an even more potent lineup. The Angels are on the short list with Detroit and Texas as most likely American League pennant winners.

The teams opened the season Monday with a 13-inning nailbiter ultimately won by the Angels 3-1. Let’s see how tonight’s middle game of the series is shaping up with two quality pitchers on the mound in a showdown that both teams are taking very seriously…

 

FINAL 2012 RECORDS

LA Angels: 89-73

Cincinnati: 97-65

The Reds were almost an automatic win if they led in the latter stages of a game thanks to Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen. The franchise wanted to move him to the rotation so he could double or triple the number of innings he threw. But, he preferred slamming the door on opponents, and they’ve honored his wishes. The Angels were a playoff caliber team that didn’t make the playoffs because Oakland came on so strong in the tough AL West. If these teams swapped divisions last year (remember that the NL was inferior once again), they well could have swapped won-lost records.

 

2012 RUNS PER GAME

LA Angels: 4.73

Cincinnati: 4.13

Any team with Albert Pujols in the middle of the order is going to score some runs. Los Angeles finished the year third in the AL in runs per game even though they played home games in a pitcher’s park. This was a good offense even when Pujols was slumping…and a lethal one when he wasn’t. Now Hamilton is going to join Trout, Pujols, and the rest of the weaponry to give MLB pitchers six months of headaches. Cincinnati was below league average at 4.13, as they were a surprisingly pitching-heavy team through 2012.

2012 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE

LA Angels: .332

Cincinnati: .315

Same story here. You may not be aware that on-base percentages are relatively condensed…so that’s actually a big advantage. The Angels ranked #4 in the American League (the DH league) in this stat, while Cincinnati was #13 in the National League. Dusty Baker doesn’t much believe in the value of walks, so the Reds will probably rely on homers and pitching again this year in their race for the league title.

 

TONIGHT’S PITCHERS

LA Angels CJ Wilson: 13-10, 3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP

Cincinnati…Mat Latos: 14-4, 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Wilson was a disappointment coming over from Texas, as his stats took a step backwards even though he left a great hitter’s park in Arlington and threw in a great pitcher’s park in Anaheim. Those are still decent numbers…don’t get us wrong. But, that’s not what the Angels paid for…and it’s not good enough to be a star when you need stars to win a tough division. Latos was a pleasant surprise because he maintained good stats despite coming over from San Diego. That’s an excellent WHIP for a Reds pitcher. Latos made 33 starts, and only lost 4 times! That’s not a misprint.

 

INNINGS PER START AND K-RATE

CJ Wilson: 6.0 IP per start and 7.7 K-Rate

Mat Latos: 6.3 IP per start and 8.0 K-Rate

Latos gets the nod in both categories…though he was pitching in the inferior league. These two guys might be very close to dead even if they had to face the exact same schedule in the exact same park. We’ll have to see if Wilson is on a downward trend that will move him further away from expectations this season.

Great matchup for handicappers…as the Angels bring the better offense, while the Reds may be able to mow down Halos hitters with a lot of strikeouts from Latos and the bullpen.

To find out if Angels/Reds made the cut at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK, purchase the Wednesday slate right here at the website with your credit card. In addition to baseball, the NBA schedule is packed with games like New York/Atlanta, Denver/Utah, and 11 more possibilities. If you have any questions about baseball or basketball, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with your tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK to preview Thursday Night’s NIT CHAMPIONSHIP game from Madison Square Garden in New York. You know our Gotham sources will be providing great information there.  Whether you’re looking for BIG MONEY BOMBSHELLS in baseball or basketball, the place to be is JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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