Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Poor Mike Trout. Get this guy a winning team. This doesn’t really look like the year either. The Angels offense is much improved, but it’s hard to buy stock in this pitching staff, especially in light of Shohei Ohtani’s UCL damage. This is the third-best team in the American League West and I personally have them well behind Houston and Oakland.
The Angels finished 80-82 last season. They beat bad teams and got rocked by good teams. It was a pretty simple equation. Against teams .500 or better, the Angels were 35-61. Against teams with losing records, the Angels were 45-21. Fortunately there will be two others in the AL West this year instead of just one. It is quite concerning that the Angels were 26-15 in one-run games and still managed to finish under .500. When you run good in those close games, you’re supposed to do better overall.
Admittedly, I do like the offense. It was unfortunate that Zack Cozart had a lost season in the first year of his deal. People talk about the Mets and their injuries, but nobody seems to stay healthy in Anaheim outside of Baseball God Mike Trout. Cozart played 58 games, hit poorly, and was done for the year. CJ Cron and Justin Bour could be nice additions and the fact that Ohtani can DH while not pitching is beneficial. Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and Justin Upton are all good hitters.
The pitching staff is just so blah. And Andrew Heaney is already hurt.
Money Line Spots
The Angels’ rotation should play better at home. Anaheim was only 42-39 at home last season and I’m surprised to see that the pitching staff only allowed 12 more runs on the road. With Garrett Richards gone and Ohtani on the shelf, the Angels don’t have many strikeout pitchers in the rotation. Heaney had a strikeout per inning in his 180 innings, but he’s already out of commission and a guy with an extensive injury history.
Tyler Skaggs was good for the first half of the season, but only managed 27.1 innings in the second half and got battered. He’s also been brought along slowly in Spring Training. Trevor Cahill is solid, but he hasn’t topped 110.2 innings since 2013. I think all of these guys are fade-worthy at various points this season.
As far as spots to back the Angels, well, I would expect them to do what they did last year. They’ll do well when they’re supposed to do well. I would think that they’ll keep beating up on the bums. Bad offenses especially. One thing that can aid a lackluster pitching staff is an opponent that can’t hit. The Angels are also solid defensively for the most part, so they can outscore teams like that.
This has been a running theme throughout this betting tips series, but teams with bad pitching staffs appear to be priced incorrectly in the totals market. The Angels fit the bill there. They were 82-71-9 to the under last season. I think we have to keep that in mind this season. Bad pitchers are bad pitchers, but when they face bad offenses, they aren’t as bad. It sounds like common sense, but it really doesn’t appear to be priced that way.
The fact that the Angels were 11 games over .500 to the under with an average of 8.9 runs per game for both teams is a sign that totals lines for bad rotations aren’t priced correctly. Either that or the Angels offense was a big disappointment, which is possible, but it usually is.
Individual Players to Watch
Jaime Barria – Jaime Barria is another guy that the betting market is going to rush to fade. Barria posted a 3.41 ERA with a 4.58 FIP and a 4.99 xFIP. I have found success going against the grain with guys that the market wants to fade, but I actually agree with this one. Barria’s low K rate cannot support an 82.1 percent LOB%. His fly ball tilt is fine in Anaheim, but he actually posted a 4.28 ERA at home over 67.1 innings and a 2.47 ERA on the road in 62 innings. His road LOB% was 90.3 percent. Suffice it to say I’ll fade him outside of Angel Stadium early and often.
Cody Allen – What makes things worse for this Angels team is that the bullpen looks subpar. Allen’s K% fell below 30 percent for the first time since 2013 last year and his walk rate ballooned to a career-worst 11.4 percent. For good measure, he allowed 11 home runs to set a new career high. His fastball velocity fell for the fourth straight year.
The Angels aren’t going to be all that trustworthy when it comes to protecting leads. Allen will get the first crack at saves, but Ty Buttrey will be there to pick up the pieces if Allen can’t find his fastball. As a two-pitch pitcher, Allen went out there naked far too often last year. I have to expect more of the same here.
Justin Upton – Upton has been nursing a knee injury most of the spring. For outfielders on the plus side of 30, that isn’t a great thing. Upton’s K% jumped to 31.1 percent in the second half and his walk rate fell 3.5 percent. His launch angle also fell and he hit more ground balls. Late in the year, he hit a bunch of pop-ups. This isn’t to say that Upton is going to crater, but simply to say that this offense, which is rather top-heavy, could see one of its top contributors drop off a bit.