Trout doing everything he can to keep Angels afloat, but teammates not following suit
The two-time AL MVP is having arguably the best month of his illustrious career, and all it’s meant so far is Los Angeles falling farther behind in the playoff race. Four against the Blue Jays – followed by 10 games in four different cities – present a big opportunity for the playoff-hopeful Angels to rack up some wins.
After the Angels took two of three in Toronto a month ago, they were just 1 ½ games behind the Mariners for the AL’s second wild-card spot and 4 ½ back of the first-place Astros. Fast forward to the latter third of June and they entered Wednesday’s action 9 ½ behind Houston and 7 ½ behind Seattle for the junior circuit’s last realistic playoff spot.
Toronto has won four of five and eight of 11 but finds itself essentially playing for the future already. With Boston and New York ruling the AL East and at least four of the AL’s five playoff spots essentially decided, the only drama right now for the Blue Jays revolves more around who will be on the field after the July 31 trade deadline rather than how anyone will produce before then.
How good has Mike Trout been lately, you ask? Well, let’s run down a few numbers. He’s made a total of seven outs in his last eight games, posting a .778 on-base percentage. He currently has a slash line of .448/.554/.776 in June, good for a 1.330 OPS that is on pace to be the highest in his eight-year career. And all that has added up to a 2-7 record for Los Angeles over its last nine contests.
They’ll at least head into Thursday’s opener with their top starter on the hill. Tyler Skaggs was solid before June and has been beyond stellar in three starts this month, winning all three and posting a 0.45 ERA. Left-handed hitters have a .474 OPS against him this season, the fifth-lowest mark in the majors.
The Blue Jays, however, don’t have any left-handed batters aside from Curtis Granderson. And they’re hitting .289 as a team with 19 homers over the last 12 games, winning eight of those.
Toronto counters with Aaron Sanchez, who has a 2.95 ERA in three June starts after a disastrous May. He didn’t surrender a run and only allowed two hits in five innings against the Angels last month, but he walked five. On that note…
5.03. That’s Sanchez’s walks per nine innings, the highest total in the majors of 90 qualifying starters. He walked Trout twice when he met the Angels last month, and given the superstar’s on-base binge, more wildness could spell big trouble Thursday.
The Angels dropped two of three in Oakland on a recent road trip after being swept in Seattle, so the margin for error is running out in Anaheim. If they want to have any shot at catching the Mariners in the coming months, they can’t afford to stumble against bad teams. The Jays haven’t played poorly in recent weeks, but this is still a series Los Angeles needs to win – particularly with Skaggs going in the opener.
Vegas says: Angels -150 (Blue Jays +140); Over/Under 7 ½
Bet on: The Angels. The Jays have been outscored 51-29 in dropping eight of their last nine on the road, and Skaggs is no easy task. Los Angeles hasn’t been a great home team this season, but it’s won seven of nine at The Big A.