Halo HQ: Angels vs. Pirates Preview

Updated: June 3, 2016

After a quick six game home-stand, the Angels (24-29) are hitting the road and making a stop in the Steel City where they will be taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates (29-24). The series against the Tigers started out on the right note, led by a dominant pitching performance by Jhoulys Chacin on Monday and then a walk-off bomb by C.J. Cron the day after, but the Halos failed to get the sweep on Wednesday when the offense decided not to show up for the 3-0 loss.

Looking at the next opponent, the Pirates seem like a playoff-worthy team to start the season, cruising by with a 15-9 record at home. The good news for the Angels is that the Pirates are coming back from Miami a little cold, losing their last three games.

Three-time All-Star Jered Weaver (4-4, 5.40 ERA), or the Big WEAV as I like to call him, will look to get back into ace form against the Bucs on Friday at 4:05 P.M. Things did not go as planned in Weaver’s last start against the Astros, giving up a two-run home run to Jason Castro in the 6th inning to end his day with the stats of six innings, four earned runs, and three strikeouts. Maybe this will be the start where Weaver turns his season around and heats up. Weaver has given up a (.312) batting average against righties this season though, and the Pirates are batting (.280) against right-handed pitchers, which puts them at 2nd best in the league. For the Pirates, the 2013 NL Comeback Player of the Year Francisco Liriano (4-4, 4.63 ERA) is on the mound, as he looks to come back strongly after giving up five earned runs against the Rangers in his last appearance.

For the game on Saturday at 1:05 P.M., Angels’ right-handed pitcher Nick Tropeano (3-2, 3.25 ERA), only 25 years of age, will try to improve on his successful season so far. Bringing up Tropeano from Salt Lake is one of the best decisions the Angels have made this year. Even though he was roughed up by the Astros’ bats in his last start, Tropeano pitched really well against the Rangers and the Dodgers, giving up only one earned run in the two appearances. He is killing it on the road with an ERA of (2.63), so the Pirates need to watch out for Tropeano since he loves pitching away from home. On the rubber for the Pirates is lefty Jeff Locke (4-3, 4.33 ERA). In his last start against the Marlins, he threw a surprising complete game shutout with three hits and one strikeout.

What an outstanding performance for Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 4.42 ERA) against the Tigers. Picking up his first win as a member of the Halos, he pitched an absolute gem, a complete game four hitter with ten K’s against a powerful Tigers’ batting order. He strikes out (26.8%) of batters on the right side, and hopefully he can use the momentum from his last start to pitch a strong game against the Pirates, who have a righty-dominated batting order. Opposing Chacin will be 2015 All-Star Gerrit Cole (5-4, 2.72 ERA), who seems to be in solid form this season. Born and raised in Orange County, CA, he was hot in the month of May, posting an ERA of (2.68) throughout the month. He is looking to start off June with a bang, so the Angels’ bats need to be ready.

In my last article, I hoped that C.J. Cron and Carlos Perez would break their cold streaks against the Tigers. Well, Cron was the Tigers’ worst nightmare, as he batted (.417) with two home runs and six RBIs, but Perez was quite the opposite, batting (.125) with only one hit against the Tigers. My spotlight for this series in Pittsburgh will be on Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Trout batted (.222) against the Tigers with only two hits, one of which was a home run, and Pujols batted (.250) with two hits and only one RBI. In order for the Angels to be successful against the Pirates, Trout and Pujols need to produce more hits and runs in the heart of the order. The bottom of the order has been a mess lately, so the Angels really need Trout and Pujols to bring the power into Pittsburgh. A guy worth mentioning who has been exciting lately is Jefry Marte. Many fans have no clue who Marte is or when the Angels added him. To clarify, Marte is a 24-year-old prospect who the Angels picked up from the Tigers earlier this year, and in five games at the major league level in 2016, he is batting (.429) with one home run and three RBIs. He went 4-for-4 on Tuesday, and the fans will wait and see if he gets an extended stay with the Angels.

The Pirates might have one of the finest outfields in baseball. Andrew McCutchen (.254 AVG and .333 OBP), Gregory Polanco (.310 AVG and .389 OBP), and Starling Marte (.310 AVG and .352 OBP) are crucial pieces for the Pirates’ batting order. The funny part about facing the Pirates is seeing ex-Angels’ players David Freese (.291 AVG) and Matt Joyce (.324 AVG), who are performing way better offensively than they did for the Halos. It hurts to see Joyce batting at such a high level for the Pirates, when his batting average was only (.174) for the Halos. The Angels’ pitching staff needs to be at its best in order to keep the Pirates’ lineup from doing some damage.

Even though the Angels took two out of three games from the Tigers, the rest of the AL West keeps on winning, so the Angels currently sit at dead last in the division. Hearing that the Angels are last is difficult news for the fans, but on the bright side, the Angels are just seven games behind the Mariners and the Rangers, which is not that horrific with the amount of games remaining. A series win against the Pirates would be pleasant, and I am longing to see the hashtag #LTBU (Light That Baby Up) a couple times on Twitter this weekend.

Jake Wilson is a Staff Writer at Halo Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter

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