Angels face final test against Rangers as Postseason looms

Updated: October 1, 2015

October is here and with it a chance to leave a lasting impression. However, this Angels team has decided to turn on the proverbial jets a month ahead of postseason baseball and they’ve been leaving impressions on teams since September started. They couldn’t have picked a better time to post their best month of baseball, going 18-9, which also topped all of the majors in that span. Mike Trout evidently got tired of hearing that Josh Donaldson was coming for his AL MVP trophy, and it seems that David Freese got tired of being on the disabled list. While late season heroics are nothing new for Mr. Freese, this is a bit of uncharted territory for C.J. Cron, who I consider to be the second half catalyst for this Halos team.

Through the struggles in August and the September revival, the schedule has finally dwindled down. Just four more games separate the Angels from their October destiny. To elevate the hype-machine even more, the Rangers lead the AL West by just three games. They (Angels) also sit a half game back of the Houston Astros for the second wild card spot. Much needs to be decided in terms of playoff positioning and the stage will be set to play out in Arlington.

Tonight, rookie sensation Andrew Heaney will toe the rubber opposite Derek Holland. In Heaney’s last three starts he has posted a measly 2.12 ERA while punching out fifteen over seventeen innings pitched. Overall, Heaney has had a fantastic 2015 campaign and is a big reason the Halos are still in the playoff hunt. Derek Holland, on the other hand, has been a big boost to the Rangers rotation since coming back from a shoulder injury. Hollands’ numbers have dipped a little bit since his past three starts have seen him yield a 9.60 ERA. But, just like Heaney with the Halos, I doubt the Rangers have a lead in the AL West without the contributions of Holland.

Tomorrow night will see Jered Weaver take the mound against Martin Perez. Weaver, who looks to rebound from shoulder stiffness that forced him out early against the Mariners, will take a 4.76 season ERA against Martin Perez’ 4.77 ERA. Perez has definitely been the more impressive pitcher of the two this season, but both are on opposite ends of their career spectrum. The big key for the Halos here is Weaver. If he can give the bullpen somewhere around six or seven innings of quality work, there’s no doubt the Angels could take this game.

Saturday night will feature southpaw Hector Santiago against the Rangers’ Colby Lewis. Santiago, who has had an up and down second half, will look to right the ship as we get deeper into this series. Santiago, like Heaney, is another reason why the Angels are in this position with his magnificent first half start. On the other side of the ball, Colby Lewis will be looking to put the finishing touches on a great season in his own right. On Saturday, he will be seeking his 18th win on the season while also breaking his own personal record for innings in a season. (201) However, the Angels big three, in Trout, Pujols, and Calhoun all have a batting average north of .300 against Lewis.

The season and series finale will take place as a Sunday matinee and will feature Nick Tropeano and Cole Hamels. Tropeano brought his shutdown stuff to his last start, striking out eleven in just over six innings pitched. With Matt Shoemaker still unavailable, the youngster Tropeano may be called upon for the deciding game of the season. While Hamels is slated to pitch this game, a lot could change between now and Sunday. I would imagine if the playoffs are clinched prior to the first pitch in this game, Hamels will be scratched and saved for a playoff opportunity.


more to come, @wtjefff


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