The Los Angeles Angels are currently in the midst of a six-series, 18-game stretch against teams in or hovering around the playoff picture. They sit at 2-3 through the first five games of the stretch, and now face the AL Central leaders, the Chicago White Sox.
While the hype of the AL resides in the AL East, as the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox jockey for playoff positioning, the White Sox have quietly built a World Series contender. Tommy La Russa has put himself atop the leaderboards for AL Manager of the Year.
The Angels certainly have their work cut out for them as they try to finish their final 19 games on a high note. While the playoffs are out of reach, there are still plenty of things to fight for, including getting a settled look at the 2022 roster.
White Sox Preview
The White Sox are simply a great baseball team through and through. They don’t have many discernible flaws and have one of the most complete rosters in baseball, especially after acquiring closer Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline.
Offensively, they are fifth in average, seventh in OPS, and seventh in runs. On the mound, they’re sixth in ERA, fourth in WHIP, and fourth in OBA. Ranking 10th in errors committed is perhaps the only thing they’ve done wrong this season, but advanced metric still favor them as an average defense.
Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert are just some of the fire power that they bring to the plate. Their OPS leader — Yasmani Grandal — has had a prolific season getting on base. Despite a .238 batting average, he holds a .956 OPS, anchored by 71 walks and a K/BB ratio of 1.00.
Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodon, Dallas Keuchel, and Dylan Cease make up one of the better rotations in all of baseball, with Rodon and Lynn having Cy Young-caliber seasons. Their bullpen has been elite as well, anchored by Liam Hendricks, Kimbrel, Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer, and Garrett Crochet.
The Angels are hopeful that Jo Adell will be back in the lineup after crashing into the outfield wall in Houston over the weekend. If he is, they’ll be getting back a guy that has been one of their best players in recent weeks. He is in the middle of an eight-game hit streak, and he’s slashed .367/.406/.733 in that time frame.
Meanwhile, the team remains in a state of limbo with starting pitching. They have a TBD for this series — currently on Tuesday — and have yet to activate several of the pitchers they lost to injury and COVID.
This is less than ideal for a team that continues to look for clarity heading into 2022. So far, only Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and Jose Suarez have made a convincing case to be in next year’s rotation.
The same can be said for the shortstop position, as the Angels continue to cycle between Jack Mayfield and Luis Rengifo as stopgap starters. A series against a team as good as the White Sox could be another chance for somebody to show their abilities at the highest level in an attempt to earn a spot on next season’s roster.
Angels (70-73) vs. White Sox (82-61)
Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, Illinois
Game 1: Tuesday, September 14, 5:10 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 2: Wednesday, September 15, 5:10 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Game 3: Thursday, September 16, 11:10 a.m. PT, Bally Sports West
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Packy Naughton (0-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (9-9, 3.69 ERA)
TBD vs. Dallas Keuchel (8-9, 5.33 ERA)
Shohei Ohtani (9-2, 3.36 ERA) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (3-2, 2.05 ERA)