The Los Angeles Angels are nearing desperation mode. With 57 games left in the season, they sit seven games back of the second Wild Card spot. After dropping three of four to the Oakland Athletics, they need to find a way to claw back in the race, and there’s no better team to do that against than the lowly Texas Rangers.
The Rangers hold the American League’s second-worst record as of Monday morning, and MLB’s third-worst. The Angels need to grab wins wherever they can get them, and a four-game set in Texas is a perfect place to start. This is especially true because the Angels’ schedule drastically increases in difficulty after this series is complete.
L.A. holds the best record in baseball against below-.500 teams, and they’ll have to put that to the test if they want to gain any ground in their playoff chase. They’ll also need to rely on their youth to do so, as Chris Rodriguez reportedly prepares to make his first big league start in the series opener on Monday.
The Rangers were sellers at last week’s hectic MLB Trade Deadline. They dealt pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to the Philadelphia Phillies as a part of a smaller move, but their headline-making move was sending Joey Gallo to the New York Yankees.
What it left them with was a nice collection of prospects, but a dismal outlook for the rest of the 2021 season. As it stood, they were already one of baseball’s worst teams by many metrics, but those two trades only made things worse.
As a team, the Rangers are lackluster in all phases. Offensively, they rank 29th in batting average, 30th in OPS, 22nd in home runs, and 28th in total runs. They struggled to produce by manufacturing and with the long ball, and the Angels will use a reinvigorated starting rotation to capitalize on this.
Their pitching isn’t much better, as they are 23rd in ERA, 20th in WHIP, 26th in opponent batting average, and have allowed the fourth-most home runs in baseball. The Angels — missing key pieces — should still be able to score at will.
Any discussion about the Angels has to start with who isn’t playing, as the injury bug continues to ravage them this season. Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Jared Walsh are all likely to miss the entire series. Walsh could technically be activated by the series finale, but it’s more likely that he’s back against the L.A. Dodgers this weekend.
As for who is on the field, Shohei Ohtani will be in the lineup as a batter, but it’s looking less and less likely each day that he pitches during this series. Because of that, there is some uncertainty over what the rotation will look like.
Regardless, the Angels’ starters have been downright incredible over the past month. The combination of Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, Jaime Barria, and others has worked perfectly. It’s just a matter of piecing together enough decent innings from thew bullpen, especially if injuries are affecting the rotation.
The Halos cannot afford to drop games against inferior opponents. Obviously, four-game sweeps are tough to come by, but it would go a long way for the Angels to stay alive. Even a 3-1 trip would be beneficial, as it would put them back over .500. Anything less, and it will be viewed as a huge wasted opportunity by L.A.
Angels (52-53) vs. Rangers (38-67)
Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
Game 1: Monday, August 2, 5:05 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2: Tuesday, August 3, 5:05 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Wednesday, August 4, 5:05 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 4: Thursday, August 5, 11:05 a.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Chris Rodriguez (2-0, 3.66 ERA) vs. Dane Dunning (4-7, 4.20 ERA)
Jose Suarez (4-4, 3.45 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (5-7, 5.04 ERA)
TBD vs. Kolby Allard (2-9, 5.23 ERA)
Patrick Sandoval (3-5, 3.38 ERA) vs. Taylor Hearn (2-3, 4.10 ERA)