The Angels are 4-5 since the break, and while that’s not downright horrible, you have to consider that six of those nine games were against the Rangers and the Devil Rays. The offense has struggled and the Mariners aren’t going away and I’d be very interested to see what kind of move that the Angels make here as the trade deadline gets closer and closer.
Joe Saunders got the job done yesterday and that helped the Angels avoid a sweep at the hands of the Twins. He’s now 4-0 and he’s 11-3 in his short career over 21 starts. Still an impressive record and having a guy like this in your back pocket has been huge for the Angels. It’s probably even more strange that he struggled down at Triple A this year but you have to give some kudos to the front office for recognizing who the best guy is to win the Angels some ball games.
Vlad hasn’t hit a homerun since June 23. We’re talking about a month now and in that time, his OPS has dropped around 70 points. If the Angels are going to walk home with the AL West crown, Vlad is the guy who’s going to have to heat up and get them their. Yeah, he’s still hitting around .320, but we need that punch.
John Lackey, while he’s won five of his last ten starts, is starting to get rocked on occassion. He gave up seven runs in his last start and he has just as many five’s and six’s in the earned run column of his game log recently as he does one’s and two’s. The end result is an increase of close to run his ERA and the last time he had a month with an ERA under 4.00 was way back in May.
Kelvim Escobar, on the other hand, has been lights out and he’s been the stopper of late. He’s won his last five decisions and in four of his last five starts, he’s given up a run or less. He’s also supplanted Lackey as the team leader with a 2.85 ERA. Good stuff and he’s already matched last season’s win total of eleven.
The Angels start a three game series with the A’s beginning tonight. Bartolo Colon gets the start and the Angels’ hitters will see Chad Gaudin. The A’s are pretty much done and a good series this week will bury them even further.
If you would have told me in April that the Angels would have a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL West, I would have been pretty happy. If you would have told me the team that trailed the Angels by just one loss was the Seattle Mariners, I would have said you were nuts but the Mariners have come out of nowhere to contend for the division title. In the meantime, the Athletics sit right at .500 and a distant, but not large enough, nine games back.
There’s little doubt who the best hitter in the first half of the season for the Angels is because Vlad Guerrero is an AL MVP candidate as well. While his 14 homeruns aren’t really sexy, he’s walking (47) more times then he’s striking out (32) and he’s on pace to set a career high in doubles. He should have more runs, but that’s more because the guys around him haven’t done what they’re supposed to. And a scary moment where Vlad was hit on the hand earlier in the season almost derailed the Angels entire season.
Orlando Cabrera is probably a solid honorable mention and one of the disappointments has been Gary Matthews, Jr. He hasn’t been horrible, but he’s pretty much regressed to his 2005 statistics and that’s not worth nearly what we’re paying him. The end result is an OPS that’s almost 100 points lower then last year and his defense is a bit overrated. He’ll make the flashy catch, but he sits with just one run above average in the field.
The best pitcher is an easy one as well because John Lackey is going to contend for the Cy Young. Just about everything is improved this year numbers wise with Lackey with the exception of one odd number, and that’s an unusually high homerun rate. In fact he’s almost given up as many homeruns as he did all of last year. Still, he’s walking fewer guys and his strikeout rate is right where it’s been in years past and with a little more run support, Lackey could be sitting on thirteen wins.
Ervin Santana has to be the most disappointing pitcher. At 5-10 and a sky high 5.97 ERA, Ervin Santana has definitely taken a step back. He’s given up a ton of hits and ton of homeruns and that’s not a good combination.
The Angels have the last place Rangers to contend with beginning Friday then they have a series against the Devil Rays so the Angels will hopefully take advantage of their weaker opponents and pad that small lead. Jered Weaver takes the mound on Friday night and he’ll face Kevin Millwood.
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