For a long time, the Los Angeles Angels were chasing the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. However, things have drastically changed for both teams, as the Athletics find themselves in a playoff chase of their own with the season winding down.
As these two AL West rivals meet with just about 16 games left in the season, neither are in the playoffs. The Angels are all but mathematically eliminated, while the Athletics are doing everything they can to not lose their ground in the race. As it stands, they are three games back of the second Wild Card Boston Red Sox.
Perhaps a series against the Angels — a team they’ve dominated this season — will do just the trick. However, the Angels have not been an easy out for any team in recent weeks, as they’ve gladly taken on the spoiler role.
This three-game weekend series could do a lot for determining the futures of both of these franchises.
On August 12, the Athletics were riding high. They had just won seven straight and were 19 games over .500, destined for the playoffs. However, it has been almost entirely downhill since. They are 12-19 in their last 31 games, are just 12 games over .500 now, and no longer have a playoff spot.
Perhaps the biggest reason for this demise is their bullpen, which has gone from a solid unit to being one MLB’s worst since the All-Star break. In this stretch, they’ve lost several games they absolutely should have won, and have cost themselves a spot in the playoffs.
They are as motivated as ever to defeat the Angels, and they are a team that hasn’t had much issue doing that this season. Oakland is a whopping 12-4 against L.A. this season. That is tied for the second worst win percentage against any team the Halos have faced this season. They’ve only fared worse against the Cleveland Indians (1-5).
For some reason, the A’s have the Angels number, and they’ll desperately need that to continue being true this weekend in Anaheim.
On the flip side, the Angels really want to improve the way they play against divisional rivals. L.A. is 24-36 against the AL West this season, including a combined 9-22 against the Houston Astros and Athletics.
However, wins for the Angels are not quite as vital. Rather, they are just trying to see good development from their younger pieces, including Brandon Marsh, who took a big leap on Wednesday when he hit a game-winning home run.
Originally, Shohei Ohtani was supposed to pitch on Friday, but general soreness is pushing back that start. He will not pitch this weekend, and it’s been floated around the organization that if the soreness persists, he could be shut down as a pitcher for the season.
This means the Angels are putting together a bullpen game in the series opener, before returning to more traditional starters for the rest of the weekend.
Angels (72-74) vs. Athletics (79-67)
Probable Pitching Matchups: