The Los Angeles Angels officially opened up a 10-game road trip with a makeup game on Monday against the New York Yankees. However, they start their first full series of this gauntlet away from Anaheim in the Motor City as they take on the Detroit Tigers.
The Angels and Tigers have found themselves at a very similar spot in the standings, despite taking very different paths to get there.
The Angels have been defined by their injuries, with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and others missing significant time throughout the season. Were it not for a lack of health, the Halos could have been in a much different place in the standings.
The Tigers — meanwhile — were viewed as a basement-dweller in the American League. They have outperformed expectations to be at this point, largely due to a pitching staff that has accelerated their development.
Regardless, both have wound up in the same place, all but eliminated from playoff contention with only strides from young players to look forward to. An MVP campaign from Shohei Ohtani also has not hurt the Halos intrigue.
The Tigers are 18-11 since the All-Star break, including a seven-game winning streak. They are in the middle of one of their best stretches of baseball in multiple seasons. However, they started that momentum already 11 games below .500, meaning they were well out of time to make a playoff push.
Their hot streak did, however, allow them to climb up the rankings from a lower-level rebuilding team to a middling one. Offensively, they are about as average as a team can get. Led by Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario, Robbie Grossman, and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers rank 15th in batting average, 19th in OPS, 21st in home runs, and 17th in total runs.
Meanwhile, their pitching has found themselves towards the bottom, but has been better than expected. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matthew Boyd have been impactful arms, with Detroit ranking 19th in ERA, 22nd in WHIP, and 22nd in opponent batting average.
The Tigers have — like most younger teams — fared extremely well at home, putting them at an advantage against the Angels.
The Angels — on the other hand — are below .500 on the road, putting them at an early disadvantage. Luckily, the previous four-game series between these two teams should give the Angels the inside track in getting some wins. The Angels went 3-1 against the Tigers earlier this season.
Trout and Rendon will be missing in action for this series. Rendon is obviously out for the season, but Trout is continuing to work in the hopes of an eventual return.
This series gets the benefit of an Ohtani game, as the two-way star will take the mound on Wednesday. It’s yet to be determined if he will hit and pitch on that day, but all prior indications point that way.
The Angels have been in a bit of an offensive slump recently. Perhaps the Tigers are the team to help them out of it. As they progress through a long and winding road trip, they will need some form of rhythm to avoid a complete offensive collapse.
While winning is not of the utmost priority for either side, getting some wins while developing young talent is perhaps the best way to expedite each of their processes to get back to the postseason.
Angels (59-61) vs. Tigers (58-62)
Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
Game 1: Tuesday, August 17, 4:10 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2: Wednesday, August 18, 4:10 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Thursday, August 19, 10:10 a.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Dylan Bunday (2-9, 6.17 ERA) vs. Casey Mize (6-6, 3.66 ERA)
Shohei Ohtani (7-1, 2.93 ERA) vs. Tarik Skubal (8-10, 4.10 ERA)
Patrick Sandoval (3-6, 3.62 ERA) vs. Matt Manning (3-5, 6.10 ERA)