MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Date/Time: August 19, 10:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Jeff Samardzija (8-8, 4.78) vs. Jeff Weaver (4-9, 4.60)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Los Angeles -140
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need to win games like this. The Chicago White Sox played the role of spoiler last week when the Angels were at US Cellular Field, but the Angels have taken care of business in the first two games on the West Coast and can guarantee a series win on Wednesday night. They’ll need to do so with Jered Weaver on the mound against Jeff Samardzija. Oddsmakers are clearly skeptical of Weaver, given the relatively low -140 price for the third game of this four-game series.
Front office dysfunction seemed to keep the Angels from making a bigger splash at the trade deadline. Former GM Jerry Dipoto was recently hired by the Boston Red Sox after an ugly, albeit mostly private, split from the Angels. Owner Arte Moreno sided with his longtime manager Mike Scioscia over his general manager and the Angels only added complementary bats like David Murphy and Shane Victorino at the deadline. The White Sox were blinded by a stretch of good play in July that kept them from being sellers. They are now seven games under .500 and six games out, seven in the win column. They are chasing the Angels.
One of the players that should have been traded at the deadline was Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija will take the ball for the 25th time this season as he looks to have his third straight 200-inning season after beginning his Major League career predominantly as a reliever for the Chicago Cubs. Samardzija has taken some steps back this season. He owns a 4.78 ERA with a 4.02 FIP and a 4.12 xFIP after a 2.99/3.20/3.07 season between the Cubs and Oakland Athletics last season. A big drop in strikeouts has been particularly detrimental because the White Sox are awful defensively. As a result, Samardzija’s BABIP against is up 0.17 points and his strand rate has dropped seven percent.
Perhaps the trade market was too soft for the White Sox to trade Samardzija given the big drop in strikeouts. There is no loss of velocity and his swinging strike rate is still at 10 percent, which is above league average. His chase rate has actually increased as well. The strikeout rate decrease may just be related to the league change, since nothing really stands out. In any event, the White Sox are unlikely to sign Samardzija after the season and squandered the chance to get a prospect or two. For Samardzija, these last few starts of the season are key in trying to build up his free agent value to get a nice payday in the offseason.
Jered Weaver will turn 33 on October 4, but the way his career is declining, it seems like he’s 43. Weaver now tops out at 85 miles per hour and his vast assortment of breaking stuff is nowhere near as effective as it used to be. Weaver, an extreme fly ball pitcher, was a guy that could outpitch his advanced metrics in Anaheim with a wide arsenal of pitches to keep hitters off-balance. The signs were there last season when Weaver won 18 games with a 3.59 ERA. This season, Weaver is just 4-9 in 17 starts with a 4.60 ERA, 4.70 FIP, and a 4.79 xFIP. Weaver set a new career high in home runs allowed last season by giving up 27 dongs in 213.1 innings of work. This season, he has allowed 17 in just 107.2 innings.
Weaver’s fastball command is declining rapidly and hitters have punished those pitches this season. His swinging strike rate isn’t all that far off from some that he had in the past, but Weaver used to enjoy a lot of foul balls to get ahead in counts. Hitters are starting to put some of those balls in play with authority. He’ll always find a way to battle through games in Anaheim, where the cool marine air suppresses power. It’s a good park for fly ball pitchers and that’s why Weaver owns a career 2.69 ERA at home and a 4.03 ERA on the road.
MLB Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
It’s chalky, but this is another lineup that Weaver can have success against. Much like I said in my picks/analysis article last week when Weaver took on the Royals, they were an aggressive lineup that would play right into his hands. The White Sox are just a bad lineup overall with a lot of free swingers. Weaver can toy with hitters like this and keep them on their front foot to pop up pitchers and make weak contact.