Los Angeles Angels Vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Lineups, preview, and prediction (May 22, 2018)
Two wildcard hopefuls battle it out this week. Who will take game one?
The Angels head to Toronto after dropping three of four at home against the Rays, avoiding the sweep on Sunday night with a 5-2 win. Shohei Ohtani was the stopper the Angels needed as he went 7.2 innings with nine strikeouts to stymie the Rays lineup. The Angels offense provided good run support, with Zack Cozart and Martin Maldonado putting up two RBI, Maldonado’s second coming on a solo homer in the eighth. The win was their fourth of a disappointing 11-game home stand.
Toronto are also in a bit of a funk of late. They were just swept at home by the Athletics, making them 2-7 in their last nine. Sunday’s game was a 9-2 loss as the A’s beat up Joe Biagini, getting eight hitters to first base in just four innings. They scored earned three runs on the struggling starter before he was pulled during a four-run fifth inning. It was a gap the Blue Jays offense just couldn’t bridge as fielding errors allowed the A’s to build on their lead in the sixth.
Garrett Richards (RHP) Vs. JA Happ (LHP)
The Angels veteran righty is finally healthy and productive after losing most of the last two seasons to injury. He comes into today’s game with a 3.47 ERA that is still somewhat inflated by a rough outing against the Yankees in April.
His last start, seven innings in which two unearned runs were scored and just five men reached on him, was typical of Richards this season. A low strikeout total (4) is more like the usual Richards than the 10.2 K/9 he is currently posting, but the low walks in recent starts has helped bring his WHIP down and reduce his risk of allowing runs too. Things look good for a pitcher that has come a long way from his peak.
Happ comes into his tenth start of the season with a 4.15 ERA that, like Richards, is still feeling the effects of one bad start. For Happ that was on May 10 against the Mariners as he allowed seven runs in just 3.1 innings. Outside of that outing he has been solid this season though. His ERA without that Mariners games is a healthy 3.43, and he has been racking up strikeouts too. Six starts have seen at least eight strikeouts, which is helping him combat allowing nine homers already.
|Angels Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Blue Jays Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Smith Jr, LF||0||.294||.400|
Who’s hot, and who’s not
The Angels lineup is struggling somewhat at the moment. Justin Upton has mashed five homers in the last two weeks, but he is hitting under .300 in that time frame. Martin Maldonado is the only regular above .300 in that span, as both Andrelton Simmons and Mike Trout are struggling. Trout is in a rare slump, hitting just .158 over the last two weeks with two homers.
The Blue Jays lineup isn’t exactly setting the world on fire either. Luke Maile, the backup catcher, is the only man hitting over .300 for the Jays in the last two weeks, but he has had just 22 at-bats. Justin Smoak has a .238 average with a pair of homers, but Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and Curtis Granderson are all in a funk right now.
It is tough to pick this one. Both pitchers are better than their headline numbers suggest, and both lineups are in a bit of a rut. I’ll always lean Mike Trout’s way, especially when a solid pitcher is on the mound with him, and if the Angels are willing to put Ohtani in the lineup after he pitched yesterday then that would certainly help their cause. I’ll go with the Angels by one, just because the Blue Jays are in such rotten form right now and it seems to be affecting every aspect of their play, but don’t be surprised if they snap their skid tonight behind a double-digit strikeout game from Happ.