The Los Angeles Angels have just 25 games remaining in their 2022 schedule. And as they embark on their second-to-last multi-series road trip of the year, they start things off by facing their American League West rivals, the Houston Astros.
In 16 games against the Astros so far this season, the Angels are a paltry 5-11. This is unsurprising, though, as the Angels are 69-107 against the Astros since they moved to the AL West in 2013. That’s a win percentage of just 39.2%, which would translate to a 63-99 MLB season.
So with the Halos in Houston for one last time this year — and before MLB’s schedule change decreases the per-year meetings between divisional opponents — they’re hoping to salvage a decent season record against one of the best teams in baseball.
The biggest story for the Angels are the returns of Michael Lorenzen and Mickey Moniak, who were both activated prior to the opener on Friday. Lorenzen has not pitched since July 1, when he suffered a right shoulder strain and was placed on the 15-day IL.
Meanwhile, Moniak played just a handful of games with the Angels before fracturing a finger. He hit two home runs prior to the injury, and did significant damage with his bat during his rehab assignment.
The Angels also should see some similar pitchers to who they got in their series last weekend in Anaheim. Below, we break down all three of the weekend’s matchups.
Game 1: Friday, Sep. 9, 5:10 p.m. PT
Lorenzen returns to the Major League mound for the first time in over two months. He immediately faces a tall task in the Astros, coming off of 12.2 innings between Triple-A Salt Lake and Class-A Inland Empire. Lorenzen struggled at Triple-A with a 10.80 ERA over 6.2 innings, but the Angels felt he was ready to return.
Prior to his injury, Lorenzen had compiled a 6-6 record in 13 starts, tossing 71.0 innings. He has a 4.94 ERA and 1.352 WHIP on the year, and is hoping to have a few more starts to increase his value as he heads into free agency this winter.
In his first start back, Lorenzen faces off against another pitcher that has dealt with injury this season in Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers is no longer one of the aces of the Astros rotation — largely due to the number of elite pitchers they have — as he has struggled in his 21.2 innings this season.
His 2.08 ERA suggests he has done an excellent job, but it may be more luck than anything else as he has a 1.523 WHIP, walking 14 batters compared to just 20 strikeouts. Against the Angels last weekend, he allowed only two runs on six hits and four walks in 5.2 innings.
Game 2: Saturday, Sep. 10, 4:15 p.m. PT
The second game of this series was rightfully chosen to be nationally televised on Fox, as Shohei Ohtani matches up with Jose Urquidy in what should be a stellar Saturday evening game. At this point, it’s difficult to quantify how remarkable Ohtani has been in 2022.
The Angels ace has a 2.58 ERA and 1.044 WHIP in 136.0 innings, striking out 181 batters in that span. This ignores the fact that he has three home runs in the Angels last three games, and has an OPS over 1.000 since the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, Urquidy has had himself a strong 2022 as well. He has a 13-5 record over 146.0 innings, and has posted a 3.51 ERA and 1.123 WHIP with 117 strikeouts. That tally likely isn’t as high as he would like it to be, but Urquidy is one of the better pitch-to-contact starters in the AL.
Game 3: Sunday, Sep. 11, 11:10 a.m. PT
The final meeting of the season between the Astros and Angels sees Tucker Davidson get the start against Luis Garcia. In the most lopsided matchup of the weekend in favor of the Astros, Davidson puts his 6.39 ERA and 1.658 WHIP to the ultimate test with the Astros lineup.
Davidson has shown some flashes of good work since joining the Angels at the trade deadline, but many of the issues he had with the Atlanta Braves continue to plague him. Namely, the fact that he has walked 16 batters in 25.1 innings with the Angels.
Garcia, meanwhile, has been strong all season. In 135.1 innings, he has a 3.99 ERA and 1.153 WHIP. Garcis has been a large part of one of the best starting rotations in baseball, acting as a No. 4 option behind Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and Urquidy.
If the Angels can put together more than the five runs they achieved last weekend, they may be able to salvage a decent season series with the Astros. If not, it could be another year of disappointing results within the division.