Friday, June 15, 2012

By Brian Waller, Columnist

Angels/D-Backs Preview:
The Angels continue to roll! Their rotation survived the thin air of Colorado and their bullpen came through when needed in L.A. as the Halos wrapped up a 6-game road trip with a 5-1 record. The Angels will now return home and welcome to town the defending National League West Division champs, the Arizona Diamondbacks for a 3-game series that begins Friday night at the "A".

It will be a homecoming of sorts for D-Backs pitcher Joe Saunders who was the Angels 1st round pick in the 2002 draft (12th pick overall) and who was apart of the Angels' organization from 2002 to 2010. Saunders was traded by the Halos to Arizona in 2010 as part of a package for "ace" pitcher Dan Haren. Saunders will take the mound Saturday night to face his former club for the first time.

From a pitching standpoint, this series will be very interesting to watch. In addition to Saunders and Haren facing their respective former clubs, the struggling Ervin Santana will look to finally get it together and pull out of the nose dive he has been in the last several outings. Oh, and who can forget Garrett Richards! The kid has had his "wild" moments on the mound but he has gotten clutch outs when needed and kept the Halos in the game when he pitches. It was Richards and Jerome Williams battling for a spot in the rotation back in March/April; with staff ace Jered Weaver returning soon it very well could end up being Richards and Santana battling for a sport in the rotation here in June.

The D-Backs have a 7-3 record their last 10 games and are coming off of a game in which they blew-out the Texas Rangers 11-3. They have been playing pretty good baseball lately and should be another good test for the resurgent Halos. Don't expect many fielding blunders from Arizona, they are 1st in the NL in defense with a .987 fielding percentage. Offensively the D-Backs are led by young sluggers Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Young and Justin Upton. They may not have the power of the Yankees or the Rockies but the D-Backs are definitely not a team that should be underestimated at the plate as the team ranks 6th in the NL in hitting.

Player(s) to Watch:
Garrett Richards continues to impress at the major league level. Although his most recent outing against the Dodgers didn't last as long as most would have liked (only 5.0 innings), he only allowed 1 run while scattering 5 hits. It will be important for Richards to improve his control and cut down on his walks. The D-Backs take their share of walks, they are 3rd in the NL with 219 so Richards needs to attack the zone and avoid nibbling around the plate.

Ervin Santana needs to improve and be more consistent and he needs to do it sooner rather then later. Pre-Dipoto, aging veterans and non-preforming players were penciled in the starting line-up/rotation on a consistent basis. With the new front office though, mediocrity and underachieving are not accepted. Santana hasn't made it into the 6th inning since his May 20th outing against the San Diego Padres. It's no secret that his downfall recently has been not being able to close out an inning after getting the first 2 outs. It will be interesting to see how long of a leash he has on Saturday.

Pitching Match-ups:
6/15 – Dan Haren (4-6, 3.73 ERA) vs. Trevor Cahill (4-5, 3.36 ERA)
Match-up Notes - Haren will be facing his former club for the first time since he was traded in 2010. Angels fans should be familiar with Trevor Cahill. Cahill pitched for the Oakland Athletics from 2009-2011 and has a career 4-3 record against the Halos with a 2.34 ERA

6/16 – Ervin Santana (3-7, 5.75 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (4-4, 3.48 ERA)
Match-up Notes - In his last 2 outings Santana has given up a combined 14 ER in only 10 innings while giving up 17 hits. In Saunders last 2 outings he has given up a combined 4 ER in 12.2 innings while giving up 18 hits.

6/17 - Garrett Richards (1-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. Ian Kennedy (5-6, 4.32 ERA)
Match-up Notes -After going 21-4 last season with a sub 3 ERA, Ian Kennedy has had a rough start to the 2012 season. Kennedy's record sits at a mundane 5-6 and he has a 1.34 WHIP. In his first 2 starts this season Richards has struck-out 12 batters in only 12 innings. 
6/15 – Partly cloudy with a high of 71 degrees
6/16 – Partly cloudy with a high of 75 degrees
6/17 - Partly cloudy with a high of 81 degrees

Game Times/Channels/Promotions:
6/15 – 7:05 p.m. / FSW / Big Bang Fireworks!
6/16 – 7:05 p.m. / FSW / Post-Game Country Concert - Chris Cagle
6/17 - 12:35 p.m. / FSW / Family Sunday & Father's Day Oven Mitt & Pott Holder

Angels’ Team Statistics / League Rank (as of 6/14/12)
Avg.: .259 / 5th (+0.07 from 5/30/12)
OBP: .316 / 9th (+0.11 from 5/30/12)
SLG: .399 / 8th (+0.15 from 5/30/12)
OPS: .690 / 9th (+0.26 from 5/30/12)
Hits: 563 / 3rd
HR: 64 / 7th
RBI’s: 250 / 10th
R: 262 / 11th
BB: 178 / 12th
SO: 423 / 10th
SB: 49 / 1st

W: 34 / 5th
ERA: 3.55 / 2nd
SV: 14 / 9th
SVO: 23 / 5th
IP: 568.1 / 4th
HR: 57/ 11th
BB: 211 / 4th
SO: 464 / 7th
Avg.: .237 / 3rd
WHIP: 1.26 / 3rd

FPCT: .984 / 9th
E: 39 / 6th
Love to hear what you think!

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