Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 7:24 PM
It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about these teams playing a series in Anaheim. But, so much has changed since that series that we DEFINITELY need to put the Angels and the Rangers in the spotlight again.
A quick summary of recent developments.
*The Angels just acquired Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers, adding an ace caliber pitcher to a staff that was badly in need of it. We had talked about the problems the Halos were having at the back of the rotation. They can now drop the worst performing guy out and replace him with Greinke. That’s likely to be a HUGE upgrade unless Greinke succumbs to nerves under pennant race pressure.
*The Rangers just benched Josh Hamilton. Holy Cow! The slugging superstar has been in a monster slump for several weeks that just keeps getting worse and worse. If there’s an issue that isn’t going away (injury, off-the-field distress), then the Angels have just added Greinke as the Rangers were accepting that the heroic version of Hamilton is no longer around. What a turnaround from two months ago!
*Texas has definitely lost starting pitcher Colby Lewis for the rest of the season. He underwent what was reportedly successful surgery a few days ago. He had been a rock in the rotation this year. He’s now completely out of the picture until 2013. This is a huge problem for the Rangers because they can’t seem to keep their pitchers healthy this year!
*Yu Darvish has hit kind of a July swoon in recent days, seeing his ERA float above the 4.00 mark. Texas thought it had purchased an ace from Japan. Now it looks like they acquired an innings muncher who could wilt in the Texas heat. August is going to be about as hot as July down in Arlington. Darvish is showing signs of fatigue. His WHIP has been a problem all year because of walks. If he starts to lose strikeouts, things will get ugly.
*Roy Oswalt, who at first looked like he might be able to help out has been dealing with a bad back. He hasn’t looked good on the mound, and now he’s having trouble getting to the mound.
*Wait, there’s more! Zoom the lens back a bit, and the AL West isn’t only about the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels any more. Probably six weeks ago, we were among the many who assumed this was going to be a two-team race…with the loser getting a Wildcard. But, the OAKLAND A’S have been on fire in the month of July. They jumped past the Angels into second place once Saturday’s action is in the books. There’s no way they can keep playing at a 19-3 pace forever. The offense is legitimate though, based on their extremely productive road scoring. And, the young pitchers are feeling their oats. THAT’S a new development that didn’t seem like a big issue the last time Texas and LAA met.
It’s a whole new world with Greinke in LA, with Hamilton and pitchers struggling in Texas, and with Oakland joining the fracas. AMAZING!
Here are the projected pitching matchups for this critical four-game series.
MONDAY (on ESPN)
LA Angels: Santana (4-10, 6.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
Texas: Oswalt (3-1, 5.22 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)
Oswalt hopes to be able to throw effectively. But, he’s not well-suited at this point in his career to be effective in great hitting parks. This game is in Arlington, and the Angels do know how to score in good run environments. Santana’s been having a horrible season. The last thing he needs for his stats is to face the Rangers in Arlington. Of course, the same thing was true for Philip Humber of CWS on Saturday Night and he was fine. This Hamilton hoopla is definitely having an effect on the Rangers team as a whole. Texas might be helped a bit by staying at home while LAA had to travel from a Sunday afternoon game in California. We’ll certainly be thinking about the Over given those pitching stats in this park.
LA Angels: Weaver (13-2, 2.26 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
Texas: Holland (7-5, 4.74 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Weaver had originally been scheduled for Monday’s game, but was moved back a day. Clear stat edges for him over Holland. Though Weaver can get frustrated in the best hitter’s parks. He’s prone to blow his cool when things aren’t going well. Can the Rangers get him off his game early? JIM HURLEY’S sources will be monitoring the Texas mindset day-by-day. If they’re down in the dumps, this could definitely be a spot to step in on the Halos.
LA Angels: Haren (8-8, 4.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Texas: Darvish (11-7, 4.05 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Very similar pitchers this year. Haren has been a disappointment, and Darvish is slumping his way into being one too. We’ll definitely monitor the market on the total, because these pitchers get respect that they may not deserve at the moment. A really big game because it could determine who wins the series, and neither team is really comfortable with their pitcher at the moment (though Texas will tell you otherwise because they don’t want to rattle the newcomer).
LA Angels: Wilson (9-6, 2.88 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Texas: Harrison (12-6, 3.19 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
What a finale…the current ace of the Texas staff facing last year’s ace of the Texas staff who now plays for the Angels! Great stats from guys who have risen to the occasion this year. Note that this is a double getaway day where both teams will have a plane to catch afterward. The Angels fly to Chicago to face the White Sox. Texas flies to Kansas City. We’ll consider the Under because of that…but we generally don’t like taking flyers on Unders in this park unless the weather is also helping.
Wow…dueling question marks on Monday…dueling disappointments on Wednesday…and dueling aces on Thursday. A very competitive matchup with a lot at stake. Truly A SHOWCASE SERIES!
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this critical four-day battle. But, there are other major matchups that NETWORK is also very interested in this week. Among those:
Baltimore at the NY Yankees
Detroit at Boston
Tampa Bay at Oakland
Arizona at Los Angeles Dodgers
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Back with you Tuesday to talk more baseball. Football resumes this weekend with our previews of the ACC Atlantic and ACC Coastal divisions. We’ll study the mid majors every weekend through August as we guide you to the start of the college regular season in the final days of the month. Our NFL Divisional previews will begin a week from now, the day after the Hall of Fame Game. We’ll discuss the AFC over four days from Aug 6-9, then the NFC a week later on Aug 13-16.
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