Mariners vs Angels Preview: Struggling Halos Square off vs 1st place M’s

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The Los Angeles Angels of Santa Monica (13-20) are not good. Fresh off of a 6 game losing streak, the wheels have completely come off the wagon. The Seattle Mariners (21-13) are quite good and sit atop the AL West after their best start in 13 years.

The M’s have a new challenge; in a sport where any team can beat another team on any given day, the hometown 9 need to get up to win this set of games against a team that took them to the limit back in April. Sometimes good teams drop these types of series. Every once in a while, a great team wins the games they are supposed to win. Which are the M’s? A good team or a great team?

A legend struggles

Just how much is left in the tank for future hall of famer Albert Pujols (www.sportsonearth.com)

The legendary career of Albert Pujols is slowing down. And while the last couple years, Angel fans had seen it, it was always explained away as he was able to produce in the clutch.  The 16 year veteran has seen declining numbers from an average and walks. But luckily for the Angels, the home run and RBIs were still there.

Pujols G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K AVG
2014 159 633 89 172 37 1 28 105 48 71 .272
2015 157 602 85 147 22 0 40 95 50 72 .244
2016 33 124 13 23 2 0 6 18 13 16 .185

The problem is that the batting average is so bad, that it is hard to overlook.  While Pujols can still crank the occasional dinger (6HR on the season), his remaining numbers are a disaster. With a .185 Batting Average and .261 On Base Average, the 36 year old 1st baseman is becoming a liability.  Unfortunately for the Angels, he still has a hefty contract for another 5 years.  All stars must eventually fade, but for the Angels, they will be paying $30 million a year until 2021 for this one to go away.

Just the stats ma’am

Cano did his Ichiro impersonation last year, this year, he is doing his Babe Ruth impersonation with 12 HR so far (www.sportingnews.com))

The Angels cannot score. With only 113 runs on the year (3.4 runs per game) the Halos are not putting themselves in a position to succeed. They currently rank 26th in the league in putting up crooked numbers, while the Mariners average a full run better (4.47 runs per game).

The Mariners are scoring a lot of those home runs, where Seattle ranks #4 in baseball with 47 team home runs. The M’s are led by the AL leading Robinson Cano who has 12.  Seattle is loaded with other mashers such as Dae-Ho Lee (5), Nelson Cruz (6), and Kyle Seager (7). Mike Trout (7) and Pujols (6) have been the power for the Angels, but absolutely no one else is helping them.

On the pitching side, the M’s are ranked 4th in both ERA (3.11) and Batting Average Against (.225).  Buoyed by strong starters and surprisingly good relief pitching, the M’s are clicking in all aspects of the game. The Angels are doing ok with a 4.00 ERA and .256 BAA, but Ace pitcher Jared Weaver is looking every bit his 33 years of age.

Dipoto’s revenge?

Dipoto getting the evil eye from Scioscia (www.foxsports.com)

The new Mariners General Manager, Jerry Dipoto is getting his opportunity to get revenge on the team that forced him out.  The high priest of the Control the Zone religion was once the GM of the Angels (2011-2015).  Angels’ owner Arte Moreno was a fan of the approach that Dipoto had towards baseball, unfortunately for the Angels organization, manager Mike Scioscia was not a fan of Dipoto’s approach.

A rift developed between the two when Dipoto fired Mickey Hatcher from the role of the team’s hitting coach. And by 2013 the dysfunction of a clash between the new school Dipoto and the old school Scioscia was in effect.  It got bad enough that mid-way through the 2015 season, Dipoto quit out of frustration with the 2-time Manager of the Year.

Now with the M’s, Dipoto has the opportunity to develop his own managerial crew who follows his lead. So far, so good as the M’s are off to a hot start and Jerry can look back at his former team in the cellar and feel good about where he is at.

SSU Projection

The Orange County Angels of Canoga Park are absolutely struggling to even field a team this year. With 2 main rotation pieces potentially out for very long periods in Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards, along with triple A being bereft of any talent to promote, the Angels have no pitching to speak of. Coupled with the loss of their starting shortstop this past week, the Vegas oddsmakers have the Angels odd’s of making the playoffs somewhere in the pigs-flying category.

That being said, they’re our division rivals and they know us best. Pujols has always been dangerous to our pitching since coming to play for the Van Nuys Angels. Their best opportunity to win comes Friday night, with Tropeano taking the mound. Saturday they have newly acquired Jhoulys Chacin pitching, who has never succeeded at the major league level.

Look for the Mariners to continue their streak, but take 2 of 3 from the Angels.

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