Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have won four of their last five games to move two games over .500 for the first time all season. They are sixth in the American League in ERA (3.86). LA has scored the fourth most runs in AL (193). Their offense will get a boost next week when Kole Calhoun returns. He is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the next week. Josh Hamilton will most likely start a rehab assignment at the end of next week. C.J. Cron has played very well since being called up from AAA (.379 with 2 HR’s and 6 RBI). His opportunity to remain in the starting lineup may be blocked by Raul Ibanez. Mike Trout only has 4 hits in his last 26 at bats with 1 HR and 4 RBI. Albert Pujols has 1 hit in his last 25 at bats. Hector Santiago has been removed from the starting rotation. He was replaced by Matt Shoemaker, who has no real upside. The closing situation with the Angels remains in flux. Joe Smith blew his 1st save chance against the Blue Jays over the weekend, but he bounced back the next day despite allowing a pair base runners. Over the last two weeks, Ernesto Frieri has allowed only one hit in 7.7 innings with one walk and 8 K’s. He has converted his last three save chances.
The Astros continue to struggle to win games. Their pitching has been better over the last seven games (20 runs allowed), but their ERA (4.68) is 13th in the American League. Scott Feldman returned from the DL. He allowed two runs in six innings with 6 K’s. Dallas Keuchel has pitched back-to-back strong games (2 runs in 16.7 innings with no walks in 14 K’s) against two strong offensive teams (Tex and Det). Brad Peacock had 11 K’s against the Rangers, but he has allowed 5 HR’s in his last 18.7 innings. José Altuve hit .400 with 4 RBI and 2 SB’s. Matt Dominguez also played well (10 for 30 with 1 HR and 2 RBI). George Springer flashed his upside with a pair of HR’s over the last week, but his 14 K’s in 27 at bats shows the ride won’t be easy. Jonathan Villar has 10 K’s in his last 23 at bats. Jason Castro continues to struggle to make contact (3 for 19 with 9 K’s).
After losing 3 games in a row to the Mariners, the A’s have won their last six games. They have allowed no runs in three of their last six wins. With their 11-0 pasting of the White Sox, Oakland has taken over the American League lead in runs scored (203). They also lead the American League in ERA (2.86). Drew Pomeranz hasn’t allowed a run in his two starts since moving into the starting rotation (2-0 with 13 K’s in 10 innings). His success has led to Dan Straily being sent back to the minors. Straily allowed six runs in five innings in his first start at AAA. Tom Milone and Scott Kazmir combined for 15 shutout innings. Jim Johnson was hooked in his last closing opportunity when he allowed the first two base runners to reach base. At this point, it would be tough to believe he would be able to keep the closing job for the remainder of the season. Sean Doolittle has the most fire and command (no walks in 20 innings). After struggling early in the year, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 8.3 innings. He could be the favorite for saves going forward. Brandon Moss went 11 for 30 on the week with 3 HR’s and 9 RBI. Derek Norris continues to crush left-handed pitching and he has started to work his way into at bats against righties. Last week, he hit .368 with 2 HR’s and 8 RBI. Coco Crisp is listed as day-to-day with a neck issue.
Seattle has won every other game over the last week to remain one game over .500 on the season. They are fourth in the American League in ERA (3.57). The Mariners are 9th in the AL in runs scored (165). Robinson Cano led the team hitting .345 with 4 RBI. He hasn’t hit a home run since April 17th (94 at bats). Dustin Ackley played well (.304 with 3 HR and 3 RBI). Brad Miller only has one hit in his last 26 at bats. He is only hitting .156 on the year. Nick Franklin is hitting .516 in his last 10 games at AAA with 3 HR’s and 10 RBI. I’d have to say he belongs in the majors while Brad Miller works out his issues at AAA. Logan Morrison has shown improvement over the last week. He could be about a week away from beginning a rehab assignment. Hisashi Iwakuma has been elite in his last 2 starts (1-0 with 16 shutout innings with no walks and 12 K’s). Brandon Maurer appears to be destined to pitch back in AAA (4 runs and 14 base runners in his last 7.3 innings). James Paxton threw an aggressive bullpen session on Wednesday with his eyes on beginning a rehab assignment next week. Taijuan Walker also threw a bullpen session. If he doesn’t have any issues over the next couple of days, he could be ready to begin a rehab assignment sometime in the last week in May.
Texas has lost 11 of their last 16 games. Their offense continues to be unimpressive, while their pitching staff has shown some downside risk due to injuries. Matt Harrison was pulled from his last start due to a back injury. I expect him to land on the DL. Martin Perez has inflammation in his left elbow with Tommy John surgery in his future. Nick Tepesch will be called up to move into the starting rotation. He is 6-1 at AAA with a 1.58 ERA and 41 K’s in 45.7 innings. The Rangers are 12th in the American League in ERA (4.55). They are 10th in the AL in runs scored (163) while only hitting 25 HR’s (14th). Elvis Andrus has started to find his stroke (11 for 28 with 1 RBI and 1 SB). Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre only hit .158 last week with 22 combined K’s in 54 at bats. Texas called up Rougned Odor to take over the second base job. He was hitting .279 at AA with 6 HR’s, 17 RBI, and 6 SB’s. He will try to help the Rangers bridge the gap to when Jurickson Profar returns from the DL. Profar has started swinging the bat in extended spring training, but his timetable to retun the majors will be determined by his success throwing the ball. Neftali Feliz return from the DL at AAA on May 13th. He threw one shutout inning with 1 K.