The Los Angeles Angels enjoyed an off day on Thursday before heading up to Seattle to take on the Mariners. The M’s enjoyed their Thursday as well, salvaging the series finale against the New York Yankees on the back of a strong pitching performance from Logan Gilbert.
They’ll hope for another good one from Marco Gonzales as this weekend set between AL West rivals gets underway. A top-five Angels offense will try to conquer the tough hitting conditions of T-Mobile Park and also give Alex Cobb some run support in one of three 10 p.m. ET start times on July 9. The Angels are a road favorite in the -125 range with a total of 8.5 at Jazz Sports.
Los Angeles Angels
That was not a typo in the intro. The Angels have a top-five offense in Major League Baseball. The craziest part is that Anthony Rendon is having one of his worst seasons as a professional and Mike Trout has not played a game in about two months. Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, and others have been carrying the load for Los Angeles and it is a force to be reckoned with.
The Angels are also the most potent team in baseball with runners in scoring position. They’ve even upped the ante by being even better offensively over the last 30 days, which is the period that encompasses most of the foreign substance crackdown.
The problem is that what the Angels have done defensively and on the pitching side has really cut into their offensive successes. Using the all-encompassing Def metric at FanGraphs, the Angels are the second-worst defensive team in baseball with -29.3 fielding runs. Only the Tigers are worse.
The Angels also went into Thursday’s off day with a bullpen that ranks just barely outside the bottom 10 in the league and a starting staff that has an ERA of 5.21. The starters have been the unfortunate casualty of the horrific team defense, as the ERA sits at 5.21, but the FIP sits at 4.26. Angels hurlers have deserved a better fate, but the fielders have let them down.
Alex Cobb has fallen victim to the defense a lot. Cobb has a 4.60 ERA, despite a 2.58 FIP. His LOB% sits at 57.7% and his BABIP sits at .331, even though his contact metrics look just slightly below average. Cobb has a 27.3% K%, far and away the highest of his career, which seems to be almost of out necessity with such a bad defense behind him.
The Mariners entered play on Thursday with the second-highest K% in baseball, so we’ll see if they can put enough balls in play off of Cobb to make the Angels defense work. Seattle has been a respectable offensive team on the road, but the poor hitting conditions of T-Mobile Park make it very difficult for an offense that tries to hit fly balls for doubles and home runs.
The ball just doesn’t carry well in Seattle, even with the use of a humidor. The Mariners have had the lowest wOBA and some of the worst home stats in the league just about all season long. They have the lowest batting average in baseball. Yet, the Mariners have a winning record. How could that be possible?
Well, Seattle has the best record in baseball in one-run games at 19-8. The Mariners also entered play on Thursday with a .271 batting average with men in scoring position and the fourth-highest wOBA in baseball in that split. They don’t get a lot of hits, but they’ve certainly made them count, running a .343 BABIP with RISP. To be fourth in wOBA with RISP, but also have the highest K% in the league is extremely hard to do.
Marco Gonzales has a 5.82 ERA with a 5.98 FIP in his 51 innings of work. Based on his contact quality against, he has an 8.50 xERA. Gonzales has allowed 27 barreled balls in his 10 starts, which is an obscene number. He has done that in 155 batted balls. For reference, Gonzales allowed 31 barrels in 657 batted ball events in 2019 for a career high.
His Hard Hit% against is 45.8% and he has allowed 13 home runs in just 51 innings. Gonzalez has had two separate stints away from the club. He came back on July 3 and allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings the Rangers, including three home runs. He simply has not pitched well and this feels like a throwaway season with a prolonged IL stint from April 27 to June 1 and then another period away from June 20 to July 3.
Angels vs. Mariners Free Pick
The Angels have far and away the better offense here in this one and also have been a very potent lineup against left-handed pitching. The scariest part about the numbers for Gonzales is that he’s basically been just as awful at home as he has on the road. Righties own a .440 wOBA against him. Cobb has gotten unlucky because of the Angels defense, but he faces a lineup that strikes out a lot here and that should help his cause.
Laying the number with the Angels is the only way to go.
Pick: Los Angeles Angels