The Los Angeles Angels have fully turned their attention towards development for 2022. In the meantime, Shohei Ohtani will continue his historic season with a start on the mound to open up a four-game set against the lowly Texas Rangers.
The Angels hold the second best record in baseball against below .500 teams, and the Rangers fall squarely into that category. In fact, since the All-Star break — and a selling spree at the trade deadline — the Rangers are 12-31.
If the Angels continue their elite play against basement-dwellers, they could find themselves at or above .500 by the end of the series, which remains an impressive place to be given all the injuries that have plagued this roster.
The Rangers have the third-worst record in baseball in what’s been an all-around dismal season. The emergence of Adolis Garcia has been a bright spot, but that’s been about it. Even with a more complete team prior to the trade deadline, their season statistics have painted a bleak picture.
Offensively, the Rangers rank 29th in batting average, 29th in OPS, and 28th in runs scored. Garcia has 29 home runs this year, but their next highest total is Nathaniel Lowe at 14.
Their pitching isn’t much better. A trade deadline deal sending Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to the Philadelphia Phillies removed their most palatable arms. As a team, they rank 24th in ERA, 20th in WHIP, and 27th in OBA.
This team is not built to win this year — and they may not be built to win for a couple seasons — but it appears they have a plan and their cornerstones moving forward.
The Angels are coming off of an impressive series win against the New York Yankees. In that series, Ohtani showed off his entire offensive skillset while recovering from a weekend HBP. He was originally supposed to pitch on Tuesday, but it was postponed to Friday.
This gives him a chance to face a team he’s very familiar with, as he’s started more times against the Rangers than he has any other team. In three starts, Ohtani is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 15.0 innings. He has also struck out 22 batters in that time compared to eight walks.
As for the last three games of the series, pitching remains very much in flux. Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy remain on the IL, while Reid Detmers is in quarantine after landing on the COVID IL. The Halos will need to find at least two more starters to get through this series.
Teams like the Rangers have not posed much of a problem for L.A. this season, but a heavy reliance on their bullpen could spell trouble.
Angels (66-68) vs. Rangers (47-86)
Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
Game 1: Friday, September 3, 6:38 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2: Saturday, September 4, 6:07 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Sunday, September 5, 1:07 p.m. PT, ESPN+, Bally Sports West
Game 4: Monday, September 6, 6:07 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probably Pitching Matchups:
Shohei Ohtani (8-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Glenn Otto (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Jose Suarez (5-7, 4.10 ERA) vs. Kolby Allard (3-11, 5.01 ERA)
TBD vs. Taylor Hearn (4-4, 3.96 ERA)
TBD vs. A.J. Alexy (1-0, 0.00 ERA)