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Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Friday, 7:10 PM: Ervin Santana (5.51 ERA, 3.26 FIP) vs. David Price (3.19 ERA, 3.68 FIP)
Saturday, 1:10 PM: Joel Pineiro (First start of season) vs. James Shields (2.35 ERA, 3.44 FIP)
Sunday, 1:40 PM: Jered Weaver (0.99 ERA, 2.19 FIP) vs. TBA

The Los Angeles Angels come into town this weekend with the same record as the Rays (14-11), and man, this looks like a great matchup. I'd feel a little bit better if the Rays were a little more rested, as this looks to be a challenging series, but what can you do?

The Angels have a solid all-around pitching staff, as evidenced by their 2.93 team ERA (second best in majors) and their 3.86 FIP (13th in the majors). I'm sure their ERA will regress going forward, as their .251 BABIP is very low, but their pitching won't be easy to beat. Jered Weaver has debatedly been the best pitcher in the majors so far this season, accumulating a major league leading 1.7 WAR so far - followed closely by teammate Dan Haren. Thankfully the Rays aren't also facing Haren this series, but Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro are no pushovers. Ervin Santana has posted good strikeout and walk numbers this year, but has been the victim of a .350 BABIP, and Joel Pineiro is a sinkerball pitcher that hasn't posted an ERA or FIP above four in two years.

On offense, the Angels have been led this year by the unlikely trio of Howie Kendrick (.392 wOBA), Maicer Izturis (.381 wOBA), and Peter Bourjos (.377 wOBA). Typical middle-of-the-order hitters Bobby Abreu (.345), Torii Hunter (.277 wOBA), and Vernon Wells (.241 wOBA) have all been slumping, but I wouldn't expect this trend to continue going forward. Kendrick, Izturis, and Bourjos have all been overperforming while Abreu, Hunter, and Wells have underperformed, and both sides should regress toward the opposite end of the spectrum going forward.

Series Note:

  • The Rays haven't announced a starter for Sunday's game yet, but Maddon has hinted he may try and get Andy Sonnanstine into a game this series if he needs to rest a starter due to the doubleheader yesterday. 
  • Seriously, how bad does that Vernon Wells trade look right now? If it wasn't for Carl Crawford narrowly out-sucking Wells so far this season, I'm sure the Wells deal would have a lot more people talking about it right now. It's still early and I'm sure this is just a slump, but at the same time, it's no surprise that Wells isn't producing as well as he did last year.
  • I'm not going to enjoy watching Bourjos playing centerfield against us again. He covers way too much ground out there.
  • Howie Kendrick has historically performed really well against the Rays. I know this is a meaningless statistic, but I still find it interesting: he's hit .400 / .417 / .710 against the Rays over the course of his career. Woof. Hopefully the Rays manage to cool him off this time around.