Series Preview: Angels Attempt To Play Spoiler With AL Central-Leading Guardians
Patrick Sandoval, 2021 Season
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels have 22 games remaining in their season. And although there remains very little for the Angels to play for in 2022, they have fought each and every night regardless of opponent. They are 9-6 in their last 15 and head to Ohio to face the Cleveland Guardians.

As of the morning of Sep. 12, the Guardians hold a slim lead in the American League Central. At 73-65, they have a 2.5-game advantage over the 72-69 Chicago White Sox. The Guardians still have 24 games left while the White Sox have just 21.

So for the Guardians, each and every game is vital, as it’s unlikely the Central will be able to secure a Wild Card spot due to the Seattle Mariners and the entirety of the AL East.

This season, the Guardians have been consistently solid. They do not lead all of baseball in any major categories, but also don’t have many discernible weaknesses. They have quality pitching, a star in Jose Ramirez, and pieces around him that can get the job done.

The Angels, meanwhile, can be motivated by playing spoiler. They have the chance to make the AL Central race even more interesting by taking two of three or sweeping the Guardians in Cleveland.

Game 1: Monday, Sep. 12, 3:10 p.m. PT

The series opener sees two young pitchers face off in a battle of rookie vs. sophomore. For the Angels, it’s second-year starter Reid Detmers, who has proven himself to be a legitimate big league pitcher despite some ups and downs thus far.

On the season, Detmers holds a 3.67 ERA and 1.194 WHIP. One of his biggest issues has been hard contact, as Detmers has allowed 13 home runs on the year, a HR-per-nine rate of 1.1. He also has allowed 41 walks compared to 105 strikeouts, a solid ratio with some room to improve.

For the Guardians, it’s rookie Konnor Pilkington. In 47.1 innings this year, Pilkington has amassed a 3.99 ERA, but a high 1.606 WHIP. Traffic on the bases has been a struggle for Pilkington, but he has done a relatively good job keeping those runners from scoring.

If he can continue to hold that type of production, the Angels could have a chance to steal Game 1 of the series. The Halos have had recent success with runners in scoring position compared to most of the 2022 season.

Game 2: Tuesday, Sep. 13, 3:10 p.m. PT

The Angels face yet another rookie in the second game of the series, as Guardians pitcher Cody Morris takes the mound. Morris, 25, has tossed just 6.0 innings at the MLB level, giving up two runs on seven hits and three walks. He is 0-1 in his short MLB stint.

On the bump for L.A. is Jose Suarez, who has quickly become one of the Angels most reliable pitchers. When the year began, it was unclear what type of place Suarez would have in the Halos future. But since the All-Star break, he has been on a tear.

His season numbers are beginning to reflect that jump in production, as he is now down to a 3.77 ERA and 1.256 WHIP in 86.0 innings.

Game 3: Wednesday, Sep. 14, 10:10 a.m. PT

It’s an early start on the West Coast for Angels fans, but they’ll want to tune in to see an incredible matchup between Patrick Sandoval and Cal Quantrill.

Sandoval’s struggle with baserunners this season has been well-documented, but he’s continued to bounce back and now has an ERA of 2.98 with 131 strikeouts in 127.0 innings. The Guardians have had some struggles getting on base as a team this season — 19th in OBP — so this may be an ideal matchup for Sandoval.

Quantrill, meanwhile, has a 3.50 ERA and 1.223 WHIP in 157.0 innings this season. He does not strike out batters at a significant rate — only 108 Ks, 6.19 K/9 — but he has managed well in spite of that this season. Against an Angels team that strikes out a bunch, he too might be set up for success.

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