The Los Angeles Angels have just six games remaining in the 2021 season. All six are on the road, and they begin this two-series road trip against the Texas Rangers, who find themselves at the bottom of the standings once again.
The Rangers are the third-worst team in baseball by record, and are one of just four teams capable of losing 100 games this season. They would need to finish a perfect 6-0 to avoid that fate, but sweeping the Angels is a tall task for this team.
The Angels are 10-6 against the Rangers this season, including five straight wins at one point against their AL West opponent. And while neither team has anything particularly meaningful to play for, late wins are always good for the morale of young teams.
The Rangers are quite simply not a good team. After trading most of their productive players away at the trade deadline in July — including Joey Gallo — they were left with a team likely multiple years away from competing.
Offensively, they rank 29th in batting average, 30th in OPS, 29th in runs scored, and 26th in home runs. Perhaps their only silver lining at the plate has been the productive year of Adolis Garcia. He’s slowed down considerably, but was still a 30 home run hitter and an All-Star in 2021.
Their pitching hasn’t been quite as bad, but still leaves much to be desired. They are 25th in ERA, 20th in WHIP, 25th in OBA, and 28th in strikeouts. These are generally the statistics of a team that turned things over to young players very early on in the season.
Much like the Rangers, the Halos have let youth become the dominant factor to finish out the season. After injuries and underwhelming performances decimated the starting rotation and bullpen, the Angels dug deep into their Minor League system to finish the year.
They’ve seen some glimpses of hope, like Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez becoming legitimate MLB starters. However, it’s been a lot more disappointment, causing them to look ahead to 2022. They are in the midst of figuring out a strategy to get starting pitchers through the door.
For now, though, it’s just about getting through the final six games without any further hitches. They’ll have a chance to play spoiler for the Seattle Mariners next series — if they’re still alive in the playoff hunt — but the Rangers series will just be a chance to experiment.
It will also be a chance for Shohei Ohtani to get back to the top of the home run leaderboard. Ohtani hasn’t performed particularly well against the Rangers this season, but he sits just one home run behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead. That should be plenty of motivation for him during this series.
Angels (74-82) vs. Rangers (57-99)
Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
Game 1: Tuesday, September 28, 5:05 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2: Wednesday, September 29, 5:05 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Thursday, September 30, 11:05 a.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Packy Naughton (0-3, 5.23 ERA) vs. A.J. Alexy (2-1, 5.00 ERA)
Janson Junk (0-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. Taylor Hearn (6-5, 4.55 ERA)
Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.46 ERA) vs. Glenn Otto (0-3, 8.02 ERA)