Series Preview: Angels Return Home To Face Scuffling Yankees
Gerrit Cole, 2021 Season
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After a 10-game, 4-6 road trip that saw the Los Angeles Angels get swept by the Tampa Bay Rays and sweep the Toronto Blue Jays, they finally return to Anaheim to face the New York Yankees. In their own way, the Yankees have also seen recent struggles.

After spending the first half of the season as MLB’s dominant powerhouse, they have fallen on some harder times since the All-Star break. They are 14-22 since the Midsummer Classic, have faced four separate losing streaks of three or more games, and had a 3-14 stretch between Aug. 2 and 20.

Still, they have the probable American League MVP in Aaron Judge. Judge is slashing .293/.393/.655 this season with 49 home runs and 109 RBIs. They also have a trio of excellent starting pitchers on the mound in this series, and the Angels will have plenty of roadblocks to keeping their momentum alive.

The Angels three-game sweep of the Blue Jays was proof of the fight that still exists within the clubhouse, even if their season is essentially lost. They won 22-3 over the course of the weekend, dominating with elite hitting and strong pitching performances.

At Angel Stadium, the Halos can keep things going behind two of their quality young starters while continuing the offensive onslaught led by Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout from the Blue Jays series.

Game 1: Monday, Aug. 29, 6:38 p.m. PT

Jose Suarez is the Angels starter for the series opener, and he hopes to get back on track after being hit around in his most recent outing. Against the Rays, Suarez allowed three runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings, shortly after ending a stretch of 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings.

Facing a powerful Yankees lineup — albeit one that has been struggling recently — he’ll need to trust the changeup that reversed the course of his 2022 season. The Angels also get Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup back after both missed the Toronto series due to their vaccination status.

On the flip side, the Yankees see a major trade deadline acquisition take the mound in Frankie Montas. Formerly with the Oakland Athletics, Montas has plenty of experience against the Angels. He’ll bring his 3.84 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with him as he tries to improve upon the 4-10 record he compiled in Oakland.

For the same reason as Tepera and Loup, the Angels offense also gets the boost of Taylor Ward back.

Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 30, 6:38 p.m. PT

The Angels have reliever-turned-starter Mike Mayers on the mound Tuesday, as it appears he’s taken the temporary spot in the rotation that recently belonged to Touki Toussaint. Mayers’ first start of the season last week saw him go toe to toe with AL Cy Young frontrunner Shane McClanahan.

He’s certainly earned a chance to take the mound a second time in the rotation, and he’ll face Jameson Taillon when he does so. Taillon carries an impressive 12-4 record this season, posting a 3.89 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, striking out 4.8 batters for every one he walks.

Perhaps Mayers can once again show out in a big matchup and give the Angels a real chance to win.

Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 31, 6:38 p.m. PT

The best pitching matchup of the series comes in its final game, when Patrick Sandoval steps on the bump to face off against Gerrit Cole. Sandoval’s season has not been as fruitful as he had hoped, but the young starter has turned things around recently.

In the month of August, he has a 1.07 ERA, allowing just three runs on 17 hits in 25.1 innings. However, walks remain an issue, as he’s doled out nine free passes in his last four starts. But, Sandoval’s best game of the season came two starts ago when he tossed a complete game shutout against the Detroit Tigers.

Meanwhile, Cole is having himself another strong year after seeing some dips in his production in 2021. In 157.2 innings, Cole has accrued a 3.31 ERA and 1.01 WHIP while reaching an incredible 200 strikeouts.

As is the case with the Blue Jays series, the Angels have a real opportunity to show their mettle against a superior opponents. If their offense can continue what they started in Toronto, anything is possible.

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