Welcome to the 2018 season, where the Astros primary competition for the AL West will be the Angels.
While there are a few teams hovering around .500 in the West, the best two teams are the Angels and Astros. The Angels got off to a hot start this year with a 13-4 record, but have struggled offensively to their current 14-8 record. While the Astros are now 16-7.
Even when the Angels got off to a roaring start, I believed that they were playing over their head a little. They have a good offense, but outside the top two starters, their rotation is not as deep as the Astros. That’s not just through the eyes of an Astros fan, the rotation has been great this year.
While the Angels and Astros will battle for AL West supremacy, the two teams aren’t equal. According to Richard Justice, the Astros are 25-13 versus the Angels since 2016. Last year, they were 12-7 against the Halos. Last year’s run differential versus the Angels was only a +1, which means there were plenty of low scoring wins. Keep in mind also that Mike Trout missed a lot of time as well.
The offense heats up.
After a rough stretch with the offense, the Astros got hot after the first game in Seattle. The Astros have a six-game winning streak. Via Justice, the Astros have outscored the opposition 47-6 during this streak. This includes 27 runs versus the White Sox. Yes, it was versus a not good team, but the Angels will play bad teams as well. The key is to take care of business versus the “bad” teams in baseball.
On the other hand, the Angels have lost five of the last six games. Via Justice, they have been outscored 42-10 in those six games.
The Ohtani factor.
The Angels have struggled recently, and so has Shohei Ohtani. After a three-game stretch where he hit a homer in each game, he’s cooled off. He is also coming off his shortest start in his short MLB career. Plus he may have some issues with a blister on his middle finger. When he’s on, he has been impressive.
The Astros are facing the Angels at a good time, where they won’t have to face Garrett Richards, who has been a thorn in the Astros side. While his career record versus Houston has leveled off a little 5-4, he has a career ERA of 3.28 versus them. Richards is the Angels ace despite what Ohtani offers because he will pitch more often than once a week.
Its never good to face the Angels with a lineup that features Trout, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols, and now Ohtani. With their recent struggles offensively, let’s hope they wait to heat up until they leave town. Speaking of Pujols, he’s trying to get his 3,000 hit. They may not play him much in the series with hopes of him doing so at home. Let’s take care of business!
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Richard Justice***