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Angels Offense Stuck in Gridlock, Lose Freeway Series to Dodgers

August 8th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 5, Dodgers 0 | Game 2: Dodgers 5, Angels 4
Game 3: Dodgers 2, Angels 1 | Game 4: Dodgers 7, Angels 0

Runs Scored: 10
Runs Allowed: 14

YTD Record: 67-47 | 2nd in AL West

DodgersSeries1

After taking Game 1 of the annual Freeway Series, the Angels dropped the final three games against the Dodgers to fall three games behind the Oakland A’s in the division. The Angels scored 40% of their runs this series in the first inning of the series, four off Zack Greinke. After, the excellent Dodger pitching staff held the Halo bats to six runs over the final 35 innings. It’s tough to glean much from a four-game sample, but even with the Angels’ small advantage record-wise over the Dodgers, the Dodgers looked like a better and more dangerous team. Matt Kemp is apparently good again, and if he regains some of his peak form the Dodger offense could be lethal. Both clubs are probably locks for the postseason. The Dodgers are the best team in the  National League, and the Angels are still 6-1/2 games clear of Kansas City for the top wild card slot. Could we be in for a Freeway World Series? After these four games, I’m not sure Angel fans would want that.

This Week in Notable Numbers

May 4th, 2014
Has the future batting champ at last learned the art of the walk?

Has the future batting champ at last learned to walk?

+39

…is the club’s current run differential, which is the second best in baseball. It represents a 66-run improvement over the club’s differential at the same point last season, the importance of which really can’t be overstated. As friend-of-blog Alden Gonzalez laid out very well at MLB.com earlier this week, there are few things that correlate better with playoff appearances than large positive run differentials. This shouldn’t be all that surprising, as the most basic tenet of the game is to score more runs than the opponent, but it can tough to put stock in when your team is losing a lot of one-run games like the Angels currently are (2-7 thru Saturday). If the Halos continue to push that run differential higher and higher over the course of the season, though, that record in close games is likely to even out — better teams typically win more close games – and their overall win-loss mark will be much more in line with the one Pythagoras has predicted.

 

8

…is the number of times Mike Scioscia has used a reliever to get more than three outs this year, fewest in the American League. The Angels have been in the bottom 10 in this category in three of the last five years, so their showing up in last isn’t too surprising, but it seems to be at a new extreme this year. Not a single one of the bullpen’s multi-inning appearances has come with the team in the lead, and just one has come in a tie game — and that only happened because Scioscia was down to his last reliever. Sosh’s refusal to keep guys on the mound while ahead has led to some needlessly stressful situations with low-leverage arms on the hill in high-leverage situations. Take Tuesday’s game against Cleveland, for instance: Michael Kohn relieved Jered Weaver in the 6th, as he should’ve, and escaped the two-on/one-out jam, throwing just nine pitches. Rather than go back to the obviously on-his-game Kohn for the 7th, Sosh inexplicably went to scrap-heap pickup Yoslan Herrera, who lasted all of three batters before getting yanked. When all was said and done, four relievers were used to get the five outs needed to bridge the gap between Weaver and the set-up man, when it easily could have been one. I don’t have the data to back this up at the moment, but it makes sense to me that the more guys you throw into the fire, the greater the probability that one of them is going to spontaneously combust. If you have the opportunity to stick with a guy who’s throwing well, why take the chance on what’s essentially an unknown quantity?

 

33

…is most free passes Howie Kendrick has ever taken in a season, which makes his 12 walks through Saturday quite the aberration. Howie has walked in 9.0% of his 134 plate appearances so far this season, double his career rate (4.5%) and the only time he’s ever come anywhere close to a league-average mark (8.4%). Before we start salivating at the thought of Kendrick becoming an on-base machine at the top of the order, though, it’s worth noting that he’s done this kind of thing before. He walked 13 times in his first 126 plate appearances of 2011, then drew just 20 more over his final 457 trips to the plate. The only thing that really stands out among Kendrick’s plate discipline numbers so far this year is that he’s seen fewer pitches in the strikezone than usual (43.2% in 2014 vs. 48.2% overall). His swing rates both in and out of the zone are down from the last two years but right in line with his numbers from 2009-2011, when he still had just a 4.9% walk rate, so if/when pitchers start throwing more strikes, his walks should, sadly, become more scarce.

 

1

… is the number of games, out of 29 this season, in which the Angels failed to record an extra-base hit. They’re currently averaging 3½ XBHs a game, the best rate in the American League and just shy of the Rockies’ top mark (3.7). The Halos have tallied eight or more extra-base knocks in a game three times already, which equals the number of times the club accomplished the feat all of last season and is halfway to the franchise record. That all three of those games have come with Josh Hamilton on the shelf — not to mention the latter two coming without Kole Calhoun — speaks to how well the offense has been gelling over the season’s first month-plus and how strong (most of) the bench contributions have been. To wit: The only bench player (15 PA min.) with a below-average OPS this year is the recently demoted J.B. Shuck. The non-Shuck irregulars, as a unit, are hitting .290/.340/.477 with 19 extra-base hits in nearly 200 plate appearances. Oh, and that one game without an XBH? It was a win.

Angels Call Up Mike Morin; DFA Michael Roth

April 27th, 2014

Morin has struck out 116 batters in 112.2 minor league innings.

The Angels have designated southpaw Michael Roth for assignment and called up right-hander Mike Morin, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Morin is now the first of the Angels’ “big three” relievers (Morin, Cam Bedrosian, and RJ Alvarez) to reach the majors.

The Angels also optioned outfielder Brennan Boesch (who hit .231/.231/.308 in 13 plate appearances with the Angels) to Triple-A in order to clear room for Morin on the 25-man roster.

The 22-year-old Morin was drafted in the 13th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has risen the ranks of the Angels’ farm system fairly quickly, starting out at Rookie-level Orem in 2012 and reaching Triple-A Salt Lake City this season. In 112.2 minor league innings, Morin has struck out 116 batters, walked 24, and posted a 3.04 ERA.

Morin pitches with a fastball that sits in the low-90′s, and a below-average slider. However, his best pitch is easily his change-up, which does a fantastic job of keeping hitters off balance and easily grades out as a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Morin’s impeccable control and command, along with his strong two-pitch mix (excluding the slider), gives him the ceiling of a high-leverage late innings option.

Roth, a former University of South Carolina Gamecocks legend, was drafted by the Angels four rounds ahead of Morin (9th) in 2012, and made his big league debut less than a year later in April of 2013. Roth posted a 7.20 ERA and 2.83 K/BB in 15 appearances (including one start) last season. He currently has a 5.48 ERA in four starts for Double-A Arkansas this season.

Morin brings some control (1.9 career BB/9) to an Angels’ bullpen that has issued 36 walks in just over 70 innings pitched (4.58 BB/9) this year. Angels’ relievers have been atrocious so far this season, tallying a 4.58 ERA that ranks 24th in the majors, and a 4.49 FIP that ranks 26th.

Angels Activate De La Rosa; Option Maronde

April 11th, 2014

The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 2.99 FIP and 1.1 WAR in 2013

The Angels have officially reinstated reliever Dane De La Rosa from the disabled list, the team has announced. In a corresponding move, the club will option 24-year-old southpaw Nick Maronde to Triple-A Salt Lake City.

De La Rosa has been on the DL since late March recovering from forearm inflammation. The 31-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Rays last March and was excellent last season as the team’s primary set-up man once injuries and poor performances struck the rest of the bullpen. He posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.1 K/9 in just over 72 innings pitched, while showing a reverse platoon split, limiting left-handed batters to just a .475 OPS.

Maronde, the Angels’ 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft, has made four appearances this season, striking out five and allowing just one earned run in three innings pitched. He figures to be one of the first names called upon were another injury to crop up. By optioning Maronde, the Angels are now one of just two teams without a left-handed reliever currently on their 25-man active roster.

De La Rosa should prove a huge boost to an Angels’ bullpen that is currently last in baseball with a 5.95 FIP. Most of the bullpen’s early undoing has been at the fault of the home run, as they are allowing a league-worst 2.63 HR/9 and 26.9% HR/FB.

Halos Daily

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