Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM
For the bulk of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, the Los Angeles Angels were locked into a Wildcard spot behind the amazing Oakland A’s. Those were the two best teams in the sport. But, they were in the same division. Seemed automatic that Oakland would earn the top seed in the AL and home field advantage, while the Halos would be forced into a coin flip Wildcard game just to join the A’s in the brackets.
But, after Oakland made news with some high profile trades to strengthen its starting rotation…something surprising happened. The Angels caught them from behind! At the close of this past weekend, the Angels and A’s were in a dead heat for first place. We could very easily see LAA win the division, and suddenly Oakland, in its “year of destiny,” startled to find itself in a Wildcard toss-up.
You can check in on the Angels Wednesday Night when the visit the Boston Red Sox in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. Some quick notes you need to be aware of as you handicap that game and the rest of the AL West race:
*The Angels “caught” Oakland from behind because the A’s hit an ugly slump! If you’re only casually paying attention because football has grabbed the headlines, you need to know that Los Angeles isn’t on some kind of surge to greatness. That’s Kansas City! Oakland fell back to the pack.
*After their weekend series in Texas, the Angels were only 14-13 since the All-Star Break. Their best baseball was in the first half of the season, not recently.
*During that 14-13 stretch, the Angeles went 1-3 vs. the LA Dodgers, and 2-4 vs. the Baltimore Orioles. They are not establishing superiority vs. quality teams who are playing well. They are clearly much better than .500 caliber or losing teams. Just don’t let the full season record fool you regarding recent form.
*After the Texas series, the Angels had also played 64 home games compared to only 58 road games. They weren’t really “tied” with Oakland once you factored in schedule rotations. That’s equalizing now because of this series and a three-game set this weekend in Oakland. The standings AFTER that series in Oakland will be much more relevant. (Note, we won’t be able to preview that series here in the NOTEBOOK because of all the critical NFL dress rehearsals…but you baseball fans need to pay very close attention to that the Angels/A’s matchup!)
Vegas may start pricing the Angels as the best team in baseball because of the newspaper standings. YOU need to be aware of vulnerabilities that are still in place here in crunch time. With that in mind, let’s preview tonight’s TV game…
LA Angels: 4.70 runs per game, .324 on-base, .408 slugging
Boston: 3.85 runs per game, .317 on-base, .368 slugging
Well, no vulnerabilities with the bats. Los Angeles clearly has an elite offense, which only gets better when you adjust for their home park. Imagine what they’d do in a season of home games at Fenway Park! Boston has the worst batting average in the American League, amidst a truly disastrous offensive season. A mismatch with the bats.
Garrett Richards: 2.53 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.8 K-Rate
Clay Buchholz: 5.79 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate
No, those numbers aren’t reversed. If you just awoke from a five-month nap, you might have expected Buchholz to be the guy with great numbers, and Richards to have the statline of a glorified minor leaguer. Richards continues to be one of the surprise success stories of the season. When did he become Justin Verlander?! His ace caliber numbers have held up through a full season of 25 starts. Is he overdue to turn back into a pumpkin….or is Richards now a true star? The championship hopes of the Halos may rest on the answer to that question.
Buchholz did just throw two sterling starts, including one against the Angels in Anaheim. A return to past form wouldn’t matter much for Boston because the Sox are so far out of the race. Buchholz is fighting to save his career though, and may be a value arm from this point forward.
Clearly, LAA’s vulnerabilities in the pennant race aren’t clear in this matchup! They have the much better offense, and the pitcher who’s been much more productive and consistent. Contenders are supposed to beat last place teams. Can the Angels maintain focus through this series in Boston with that battle against Oakland imminent?
JIM HURLEY may or may not have a formal release in this TV tussle. He only releases the best options for his clients! You can purchase the final word for Wednesday right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you take care of business EARLY because of all the day games. If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office during normal business hours this week at 1-888-777-4155.
The pro football dress rehearsals begin tomorrow. Here’s this weekend’s TV preview schedule here in the NOTEBOOK…
Thursday: NFL TV Preview: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia on NFL Network
Friday: NFL TV Preview: Oakland at Green Bay on CBS
Saturday: NFL TV Preview: New Orleans at Indianapolis on CBS
Sunday: NFL TV Preview: San Diego at San Francisco on CBS
Stop worrying about what you’ll wear and get ready to win! Build your bankrolls tonight with baseball…then GET THE MONEY all weekend long in baseball and football with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!