The Los Angeles Angels are finally back home after a five-city, 10-game road trip. However, things don’t get any easier for them, as they must cobble together a starting rotation and bullpen against the San Diego Padres.
Neither the Angels nor the Padres are playing good baseball recently. L.A. is 1-5 in their last six after sweeping the Detroit Tigers. Meanwhile, the Padres are 1-8 in their last nine and have fallen out of the NL Wild Card Game.
The 162-game MLB season can sometimes become a war of attrition, and this series looks to be the epitome of that, as both teams are just desperately trying to scrape together a couple wins. Perhaps a two-game set could serve as a reset for one of the two.
Just a couple of months ago, the Padres looked to be a virtual lock for the NL Wild Card Game, facing off against one of their NL West foes in the L.A. Dodgers or San Francisco Giants. However, they are 15-21 since the All-Star break and have fallen two games back of the Cincinnati Reds for that second spot.
They have lived and dies by NL MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr., who has played in 97 of the Padres 129 games. Their offense grounds to a halt when he doesn’t play, which is part of why they rank among the league average in most categories. They are 14th in batting average, 15th in OPS, and 10th in runs scored.
Their pitching staff has also dealt with injuries much of the year. Ace Yu Darvish was just activated from the IL on Thursday, only to give up four runs to the Dodgers in a shutout that solidified an L.A. sweep. However, they rank ninth in ERA, 10th in WHIP, and 10th in opponent batting average as a unit this season.
The Padres desperately need wins — more so than the Angels — so pulling out all the stops when they have a designated hitter at their disposal would serve them well.
It’s hard to legitimately discuss the Angels plight this season without mentioning injuries. Mike Trout feels no closer to a return than at any point during his recovery, and Anthony Rendon has already been rules out for the season.
To make matters worse, the Angels now have three starters on IL, one starter out with a COVID designation, and two relievers with the same fate. Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, and Patrick Sandoval are all out with injury. Reid Detmers, Austin Warren, and Jose Marte are all facing a COVID absence.
The Angels would certainly like to get back on track, and being back home may be just the thing they need. However, facing the Padres — who are in desperation mode — means they’ll need to break out from their road trip slump immediately.
Angels (63-66) vs. Padres (68-61)
Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
Probable Pitching Matchups:
TBD vs. Joe Musgrove (8-8, 3.04 ERA)
Jose Suarez (5-7, 4.06 ERA) vs. TBD