There is perhaps no team in baseball built more similarly to the Los Angeles Angels than the Toronto Blue Jays. Both teams feature elite lineups when healthy, led by young superstars. However, both have had past issues with their pitching staff, leading to an underwhelming record. Now, the two face off in a four-game set.
The Angels are all but out of the Wild Card race — sitting eight games back of the second slot — but the Blue Jays are right in the thick of that fight. They are three games back of the Boston Red Sox, and only need to leapfrog the New York Yankees to get to where they want to be.
A lot has changed since the Angels met the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida for a three-game set back in April, but this could still be a quality series between two talented American League teams.
Blue Jays Preview
As far as numbers go, it’s hard to do any better than the Blue Jays have done offensively this year. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette, and recently healthy George Springer have made them a near juggernaut with the bats.
As a team, the Blue Jays rank second in batting average, first in OPS, second in home runs, and third in total runs. They also sport the No. 1 spot in almost every offensive category this season for the 1-2-3 batters in a lineup. The only team that rivaled them was the Angels until the injury bug went through the clubhouse.
With such a lethal lineup, there’s a reason that they are not already a playoff team. For one, they play in the AL East, which has quickly become a dominant division. Secondly, their pitching has been right around average.
They rank 12th in ERA, 12th in WHIP, 13th in strikeouts, and 12th in opponent batting average. These numbers aren’t necessarily bad, but they don’t inspire significant confidence for a postseason run. They tried to alleviate this by acquiring Jose Berrios at the trade deadline, however.
The Angels offensive attack has slowed in recent weeks as injuries continue to pile up. Luckily, there is some hope for the Blue Jays series. Shohei Ohtani can now be the designated hitter again after sitting three straight games against the L.A. Dodgers.
They also could be getting Jared Walsh back as soon as Tuesday. The All-Star first baseman has been out with a right intercostal strain since July 27, but Joe Maddon believes he could be activated during Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Obviously, there will be no Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon during this series, but the Angels have proven they have enough to still score runs so long as Ohtani, Walsh, and David Fletcher are in the lineup.
With the postseason mostly out of reach, the Angels can focus on development and building towards 2022. A team like the Blue Jays — that figures to be good for the foreseeable future — is a great place to start.
Angels (56-56) vs. Blue Jays (60-50)
Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
Game 1 (doubleheader): Tuesday, August 10, 3:07 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2 (doubleheader): Tuesday, August 10, 7:07 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Wednesday, August 11, 6:38 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 4: Thursday, August 12, 6:38 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Chris Rodriguez (2-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (9-6, 4.30 ERA)
Jose Suarez (5-4, 3.60 ERA) vs. Ross Stripling (5-6, 4.43 ERA)
Dylan Bundy (2-8, 6.14 ERA) vs. Alek Manoah (4-1, 2.58 ERA)
Shohei Ohtani (6-1, 2.93 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.23 ERA)