Series Preview: Angels Look To Keep Strong Stretch Alive Against Rangers
Reid Detmers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels have won three of their last four games. It’s the first time in the month of July that they’ve been able to do that, and just the third time with that type of streak since May 26. Now, the Angels hope to keep the good times rolling against the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers and Angels have been relatively even all season long. Both have similar records — although the Angels have had much higher highs and lower lows — and the Rangers have a 5-4 advantage thus far in the season series. This four-game set could continue that trend, or give one team an upper hand on third place in the AL West.

As the Angels enter this series, they remain unclear on the status of superstar Mike Trout. After news broke of him being diagnosed with a rare back condition, Trout stated that he would not resume baseball activities until at least Sunday, meaning he’ll be out for the entirety of this series.

The Angels are 4-7 since Trout’s injury, so they would obviously love to have him back in the lineup as soon as possible. But for now, they must game-plan for the Rangers without him, meaning that much extra weight is being placed on the shoulders of Shohei Ohtani, the opener’s starting pitcher.

In the team’s final full series before the trade deadline, a few wins may be all they need to avoid a fire sale on Tuesday.

Game 1: Thursday, July 28, 6:38 p.m. PT

Despite some minor concerns that Ohtani’s next start would be pushed back due to an in-game injury suffered earlier this week, the Angels ensured that he was completely fine. Given that he was in the lineup the very next night, it should be no surprise that he’s making his regularly scheduled start on Thursday evening in Anaheim.

Outside of the seventh inning in Atlanta last weekend, Ohtani has been just about untouchable for the better part of two months. The Angels are 6-1 in his last seven starts, so if he can keep from getting rattled by his six-run inning against the Atlanta Braves, his dominance should continue.

The Rangers have been a middle of the pack offensive team this season. It’s their pitching, though, that has left them in the dust. They rank in the bottom 10 nearly across the board in major statistical categories. And for Thursday, they have Spencer Howard lined up.

Howard is 1-2 on the season with a 7.10 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP, giving the Angels a real chance to continue their solid offensive output in their last four games. Including the series finale against the Braves, the Angels are averaging nearly five runs per game over that span.

Game 2: Friday, July 29, 6:38 p.m. PT

The Rangers get a sharp uptick in their pitching production for Game 2, going from Howard’s 7.10 ERA to the 2.59 ERA and 1.18 WHIP of Martin Perez. Perez is 8-2 on the season, a remarkable record for a starter on a team currently 11 games below .500.

Perez has allowed just seven home runs in 118 innings pitched, and has solid strikeout numbers to go along with that. The Angels offensive struggled have been well-documented, meaning they have something to overcome on Friday.

And on their end of the matchup, it’s Patrick Sandoval taking the mound. Sandoval remains one of the league’s bright young pitchers, but he’s had some difficulties in his last two outings. He’s allowed nine earned runs on 16 hits and five walks over his last 7.2 innings of work.

These outings could be cause for concern, or could be a result of facing two of the best and most disciplined offenses in baseball in the Braves and L.A. Dodgers. This start would be an opportunity to get back on track before seeing another top-of-the-line offense.

Game 3: Saturday, July 30, 6:07 p.m. PT (FS1)

The third game of this series sees a battle of second-year pitchers with Reid Detmers and Glenn Otto. The two, however, are coming off of vastly different performances in their most recent start.

Detmers had one of his best performances of his sophomore season against the Braves in their series finale. Over 5.0 innings, he allowed zero runs on three hits and two walks, striking out six batters in that time. Otto, on the other hand, gave up three runs on seven hits in a loss to the Mariners.

This tracks with a larger trend of Detmers having himself a strong second campaign while Otto struggles with consistency. Detmers holds a 3.84 ERA and 1.07 WHIP compared to Otto’s 5.37 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

If Detmers continues to perform the way he has throughout this season, the Rangers offense should have far more troubles than the Angels.

Game 4: Sunday, July 31, 1:07 p.m. PT

As trade rumors swirl, it’s unclear whether or not Noah Syndergaard actually makes this start. But as of Thursday, he remains the scheduled starter for the series finale in Anaheim. He faces Dane Dunning, another Rangers pitcher who has had his fair share of difficulties this season.

Dunning has tossed 100.2 frames in 2022, and is 1-6 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Perhaps his biggest issue has been walks, as he’s allowed 40 free passes with his 89 strikeouts. For comparison, Syndergaard has walked just 22 batters with 64 strikeouts in 80.0 innings.

The trade deadline may loom large on this game for both teams, especially if one team is able to take command of the series in the first three outings.

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