Los Angeles Angels: Texas Rangers

Rangers don't back down to Trout

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
ARLINGTON, Texas -- This is what you have to handle if you're a young pitcher like Nick Martinez and a young slugger like Mike Trout: Pitching inside.

[+] EnlargeNick Martinez
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMike Trout was hit twice Thursday, but Nick Martinez was simply trying to establish his inside fastball.
Martinez, who fell to 3-11 after the Texas Rangers' 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night, hit Trout twice with inside fastballs.

Martinez has to establish the inside portion of the plate, if he expects to be around with this team next year, and getting in on hitters is important in his development.

"Just establishing the fastball inside and it got away from me," Martinez said.

Trout also understands the game of baseball and he didn't like it. In the three-game series, he was hit three times, all near the same spot of the left arm and he almost got popped there a fourth time.

Trout said he was fine, yet after getting plunked in the fifth inning he flipped his bat and had an exasperated look on his face.

"You go up there trying to have at-bats not thinking you're going to get hit," said Trout, who has 102 runs scored and 103 RBIs. "They're pitching inside the whole series, I understand it."

It doesn't mean you have to like it.

(Read full post)

We've reached the most fun part of the All-Star Game: Arguing about the final rosters.

The starters and reserves were named on Sunday and it was interesting to note the different philosophies of managers John Farrell and Mike Matheny in filling out their rosters. As expected, some worthy American League players were excluded and there were a couple surprising choices in the National League.

Some quick thoughts:

Worst American League starter: Derek Jeter, Yankees. While I actually don't have that big of an issue with Jeter starting -- there is no Troy Tulowitzki in the AL that he's keeping out of the lineup -- he's probably the worst starter we've had in a long time, hitting an empty .273 with mediocre defense and no power, worth 0.5 WAR so far. Matt Wieters was inexplicably voted in by the fans at catcher, but since he's out for the season, Salvador Perez will rightfully start in his place.

Worst National League starter: Aramis Ramirez, Brewers. Cincinnati's Todd Frazier is clearly the deserving starter at third base based on 2014 numbers while Ramirez is hitting .287 with 11 home runs. Considering Frazier, Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals and Anthony Rendon of the Nationals are better all-around players than Ramirez, his selection cost somebody an All-Star spot (Rendon is on the final player ballot).

Best ballot stuffing: Orioles and Brewers fans. Who says you need to play for the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers to have an edge in fan balloting? Adam Jones was never in the top three among outfielders until passing Yoenis Cespedes at the wire. He's a fine selection, however, and has come on strong after a slow April. Orioles fans also voted in Wieters and Nelson Cruz in that crowded DH slot that included Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Moss and David Ortiz. Likewise, Carlos Gomez passed Giancarlo Stanton for the third outfield spot in the NL behind Yasiel Puig and Andrew McCutchen. Stanton clearly should be starting but Gomez is arguably one of the top three outfielders in the NL. Brewers fans, however, couldn't get Jonathan Lucroy voted in over Yadier Molina, so Lucroy will be the backup.

National League DH should be: Stanton. Pretty each choice here for Matheny. Heck, start him and let him play the entire game. A nation that never watches Marlins games should see this guy get four at-bats.

Jeff Samardzija, almost an All-Star. The players had actually voted for Samardzija as one of the five best starters in the NL, along with Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. Samardzija had a 1.68 ERA through May, so you can see why he fared well in the balloting. His ERA had since climbed to 2.83 with some bad outings and he was replaced by Julio Teheran of the Braves.

Worst player selection: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies. The players actually did a much better job than they usually do and Blackmon's selection was the only dubious choice, a guy who had a monster April but is down to .295/.341/.463, mediocre numbers for a guy who plays in Colorado. To be fair, the NL lacked obvious choices for the fifth and sixth outfielders, but they somehow came up with a player ranked 21st among NL outfielders in FanGraphs WAR. Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Billy Hamilton or even Rockies teammate Corey Dickerson (hitting .340) would have been better selections.

The AL crunch: Farrell had some tough choices in filling out his squad. His manager selections were Jon Lester (deserving and the only Red Sox rep), David Price (deserving and the only Rays rep), Glen Perkins of the Twins, Max Scherzer of the Tigers, Kurt Suzuki of the Twins (a third catcher), Encarnacion and Moss. I guess you have to carry three catchers and I don't have a problem with the Scherzer selection. Encarnacion was a lock with his big numbers so the final choice probably came down to Moss or another player.

Biggest snubs: Ian Kinsler, Tigers; Kyle Seager, Mariners. And that led to Kinser and Seager being this year's biggest snubs. Entering Sunday, Kinsler ranked third among AL position players in fWAR and Seager seventh. In Baseball-Reference WAR, they ranked third and sixth, so by either measure two of the AL's top 10 players didn't make it. It's not that an undeserving player made it -- the players voted in Jose Altuve and Adrian Beltre as the backups at second and third -- just that there were too many good players and not enough spots (unless you want to knock out a third catcher). You can debate the Moss selection, but I can see the desire to have the left-handed power off the bench if needed late in the game. (Remember, it counts!)

Matt Carpenter and Pat Neshek are good selections: Matheny picked two of his own players -- third baseman Carpenter and righty reliever Neshek. I'm sure both picks will be criticized but when you dig into the numbers, both are worthy choices. Carpenter isn't having as good a season as last year, but he's still 10th among NL position players in fWAR and 15th in bWAR. Please, I don't want to hear that Casey McGehee is more deserving.

As for Neshek, his numbers are outstanding: 0.78 ERA, 35 strikeouts, four walks and a .134 average allowed. He has been as dominant as any reliever in the game, even if he's not a closer. He's also a great story, once one of the game's top set-up guys with the Twins in 2007 but suffering years of injuries since. On the day the A's clinched the AL West on the final day of the 2012 season, his infant son died after just 23 hours. The Cardinals signed him in February to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, so Neshek certainly qualifies as this year's most improbable All-Star (along with Dellin Betances of the Yankees).

I suspect Matheny also picked Neshek for late-game strategic purposes -- his sidearm delivery is killer on right-handed batters (although he has been just as effective against lefties this year), so you can see him matching up against Encarnacion or Jose Abreu if there's a big moment late in the game. Similarly, Matheny picked Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson, a good strategic move since he had only three other lefties on the team.

Strangest selection: That picking reserves for strategic reasons also led to the selection of Pirates utility man Josh Harrison. I get it: He's having a nice season and can play multiple positions, but it's a little odd to pick a guy who doesn't even start regularly for his own team (reminiscent of the Omar Infante choice a few years ago). Rendon -- who has played second and third -- is the better player and Matheny already had versatility with Carpenter and Dee Gordon.

Best AL final man: Chris Sale, White Sox. Farrell went with five pitchers -- Sale, Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Garrett Richards and Rick Porcello. I wrote the other day that four of these guys would be battling for a spot or two (along with Scott Kazmir, who got voted on by the players). All are worthy but the best choice is pretty easy since Sale is one of the top starters in the game and would have otherwise already made the team if not missing some time with an injury.

Best NL final man: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs. Torn here between Rizzo and Rendon, but since Matheny has already loaded up with third basemen and second basemen, let's go with Rizzo in case you need to swing for the fences late in the game.

Suggested AL lineup: Jeter better hit ninth. Mike Trout, CF; Robinson Cano, 2B; Jose Bautista, RF; Miguel Cabrera, 1B; Nelson Cruz, DH; Adam Jones, LF; Josh Donaldson, 3B; Salvador Perez, C; Derek Jeter, SS. With Felix Hernandez on the mound.

Suggested NL lineup. Yasiel Puig, RF; Andrew McCutchen, CF; Troy Tulowitzki, SS; Giancarlo Stanton, DH; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B; Carlos Gomez, LF; Aramis Ramirez, 3B; Chase Utley, 2B; Yadier Molina, C. With Clayton Kershaw on the bump.

Weaver strong early; Pujols/Ruth even

April, 7, 2013
There's a premier pitching matchup on Sunday Night Baseball this evening with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim visiting the Texas Rangers, and 20-game winner Jered Weaver facing almost-perfect second-year man Yu Darvish.

Let's take a look at some of the top things to watch in this contest.

Weaver’s no slouch
Jered Weaver is 13-0 in his last 19 starts in March or April. That’s tied for the third-longest streak of consecutive pre-May starts without a loss in major-league history.

Weaver is 59-26 in his career before the All-Star break. That’s the best mark of any active pitcher.

In fact, among those who began their career in the All-Star era, only Pedro Martinez and Sandy Koufax have a higher winning percentage (min. 100 starts) in the first half of the season than Weaver’s current .694.

One thing to keep an eye on is that Weaver’s recent run of success has come despite a decline in velocity and strikeouts. He averaged 89.8 miles-per-hour on his fastball and averaged 9.4 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2010, numbers that dropped to 87.7 and 6.8 in 2012.

In his first start of 2013, Weaver threw 94 pitches, but never even hit 89 miles per hour with any of them.

What can Darvish accomplish on Sunday
It would be hard for Darvish to be better than he was in his first start of the season.

But a 10-strikeout performance would make him the first pitcher with back-to-back 10-strikeout games to open the season since Kerry Wood in 2002 and the first in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 2000.

It would also give him at least 24 strikeouts, surpassing team president Nolan Ryan’s 23 in 1989 as the most by a Rangers pitcher in his first two starts of the season.

The last four pitchers prior to Darvish to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning (Dave Stieb, Brian Holman, Mike Mussina and Armando Galarraga) combined to pitch 21 1/3 innings in their next start, yielding 12 earned runs.

Mussina had the best next start of that group, allowing one run in six innings against the Boston Red Sox, the same team he nearly perfected.

Pujols watch
On the 40th anniversary of the designated hitter, Albert Pujols had the best Saturday of any DH, with his 45th career multi-homer game. He passed both Willie Stargell and Stan Musial into 28th place on the all-time home run list.

Pujols may not pass anyone on the all-time home run list on Sunday, but he can surpass a legendary home-run hitter in one regard.

Pujols enters Sunday with 506 career doubles. That’s tied with Babe Ruth for 51st on the Elias Sports Bureau's all-time doubles list. Ed Delahanty and Rickey Henderson rank tied for 49th with 510.

Matchups to Watch
Mike Trout vs Darvish: Trout is 6-for-17 with two home runs in his career against Darvish. In fact, the last pitch he saw from Darvish last season was one he hit for a home run.

Trout dominated the Rangers last season, with a .338 batting average, 1.140 OPS and 17 RBI in 19 games. He’s the only player ever to have six home runs and seven steals against the Rangers in the same season.

Trout gets better with each time he faces a pitcher in a game. In 2012, he hit .291 in his first turn against a starting pitcher, then .378 and .393 in his second and third turns against them.

Josh Hamilton vs Darvish: No starting pitcher got a higher percentage of swings and misses than Darvish last season (29 percent). No hitter had a higher percentage of misses on his swings last season than Hamilton (36 percent).

Hamilton is 1-for-20 in his first five games with the Angels (remember he went 2-for-17 in his last five games with the Rangers, including the loss in the Wild Card Playoff), with 10 strikeouts in 20 at-bats. Of the 19 outs, 14 have come on pitches on the outer-half of the plate, or off the outside corner.

Mark Simon also contributed to this post

Darvish will start against Angels on Sunday

April, 3, 2013
HOUSTON -- Yu Darvish will stay with his normal routine after flirting with a perfect game and start Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Wednesday's series finale against the Houston Astros.

Full story »



Howie Kendrick
.293 7 75 85
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
WJ. Weaver 18
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169