Thursday, June 13, 2024
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Los Angeles Angels (30-28) at Houston Astros (33-23)


LEADING OFF: Today, the Angels play the fifth (2-2) of seven games on a road trip against the Chicago White Sox (2-1) and Houston Astros (0-1; June 1-4)…Halos went 5-4 on last homestand against the Minnesota Twins (2-1), Boston Red Sox (3-0) and Miami Marlins (0-3)…LAA was 3-4 on last road trip to Cleveland (1-2) and Baltimore (2-2).

BRINGING THE HEAT: RHP Ben Joyce made his Major League debut on Monday at White Sox, working one scoreless inning with two strikeouts…Recorded first career strikeout on 101.8 MPH pitch vs. Gavin Sheets; second fastest pitch for first career strikeout in the Statcast era (102.4 MPH by Julian Fernandez (COL) on 9/5/21 vs. ATL)…Across his two appearances, 21 of 22 pitches have been at 100+ MPH…In the Statcast era (since 2015), only Shohei Ohtani (67) has thrown more pitches at 100+ MPH for the Angels.

DINGER DUO: Wednesday at Chicago (A.L.) was the 27th time that Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani homered in the same game…It’s the third highest total among duos in Angels history (trails only Trout/Pujols – 48 games & Salmon/Anderson – 28 games).

JUST MET A MAN NAMED BARRIA: Since April 8, Jaime Barria leads the Majors (min. 20 IP) with a 0.59 ERA (30.1 IP – 2 ER)…He made his second start of the season Wednesday at White Sox and earned the win (has also made 11 appearances from Angels bullpen this year).

WINNING MONTHS: Angels went 15-13 in May after completing March/April with a 15-14 record (15-13 in April)…Halos had a record above .500 in consecutive months for the first time since June/July 2021.

VS. HOUSTON: Astros lead the 2023 season series 3-1 after taking two of three in first series of the year at Angel Stadium from May 8-10 and last night’s series opener in Houston…The teams will meet a total of 13 times this season…Last year, Astros won season series 13-6…Mike Trout leads all active players with 29 career home runs vs. Houston.

LEAGUE LEADER: Shohei Ohtani, leads the Majors in opponent batting average (.155), is second in WHIP (0.95) and fourth in strikeouts (90).

PLAY FROM AHEAD: Halos have held leads in 47 of 58 games played this year.

LATE COMEBACKS: Halos have three wins this season when trailing after eight innings, which matches the Angels total from each of the last two seasons…Last time LAA had more than three wins in a season when trailing after eight frames was 2017 (5).

ESTÉVEZ ENDING: This season, Carlos Estévez is pitching to a 1.50 ERA (24 IP – 4 ER) and has converted all 13 of his save opportunities (the 13 saves are a new career high)…He is the first Angels pitcher to convert his first 13 save opportunities of a season since Troy Percival had 16 straight successful save opportunities to begin the 2001 season.

CATCHING ON: This season, Angels catchers are tied for third with 10 home runs and rank fourth in the Majors with a .787 OPS.

SINGLE HANDED: Gio Urshela has hit 49 singles this year plus 11 extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple & two home runs)…Urshela ranks second, behind Toronto’s Bo Bichette (57), for the American League lead in singles…Since May 5, Urshela ranks third in the Majors with a .352 (31/88) batting average in that span.

LEAD ASSISTANT: Hunter Renfroe is tied for second in the American League with five outfield assists this season…Since 2017, his 61 outfield assists lead the Majors (Starling Marte is second with 52 assists).

NET-OW: Zack Neto has been hit by 10 pitches this season, which is second-most in the Majors…Since 1901, only Nick Johnson (2001-02 Yankees; 37 career games) reached 10 career HBP faster than Neto (41 career games).

THE MICK: Mickey Moniak is one of three players in the Majors with at least three leadoff HR this year, along with Mookie Betts (4) and Christian Yelich (3)… On May 13 at Cleveland, became the first player in MLB history to make his season debut on his birthday and hit a leadoff home run.

BACHMAN IN THE SHOW: Sam Bachman made his MLB debut on May 26 vs. Miami with 2.0 innings pitched in relief…The Angels first round pick ninth overall) in the 2021 Draft, Bachman is currently rated by MLB Pipleline as the #4 prospect in the Halos system…He is the highest drafted player from the 2021 Draft to debut and the only pitcher from the first two rounds of that Draft to appear in the Majors.

FEELS FAMILIAR: Tuesday night, Taylor Ward hit his second career leadoff home run…Both came at Guaranteed Rate Field off Lucas Giolito (also, 4/29/22).

UNEARNED: Angels have allowed 31 unearned runs this season, which is tied with San Francisco for the Majors…Halos have committed 35 fielding errors this season, which is tied for fifth-most in the Majors and tied for most in A.L.

5-1, 2.91 ERA
Leads the Majors with a .155 (34/220) opponent batting average this season

  • SHO TIME: Making 12th pitching start of the year and sixth on the road…Second start of 2022 vs. Houston…Is in sixth Major League season with LAA.
  • LEAGUE LEADER: Enters today’s start leading the Majors in opponent batting average (.155), is second in WHIP (0.95) and ranks fourth in strikeouts (90).
  • LAST TIME ON THE MOUND: Did not factor in decision in last start on Saturday vs. Miami after tossing 6.0 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
  • HEY BABE: Babe Ruth and Ohtani are the only players with 500+ pitching strikeouts and 100+ home runs in a career… (according to ELIAS, Ruth had 501 career pitching strikeouts).
  • 10 K: Since start of 2022 season, leads MLB with 14 games with 10+ strikeouts (has four this season – tied for second-most in MLB)…Recorded 10+ strikeouts in 10 starts last season, which was the most such games in the A.L.; joined Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers in franchise history with 10+ strikeouts in at least six consecutive games…With 10 strikeouts today, could join Nolan Ryan (three times) as the only Angels to reach 100 strikeouts in first 12 pitching games of a season.
  • UNFAMILIAR: This season, is holding opponents to an .085 (7/82) average the first time through the order, a .264 (19/72) average the second time through the order and a .111 (7/63) average the third time through.
  • VS. HOUSTON: In 11 career starts vs. Houston, is 3-4 with a 3.51 ERA (56.1 IP – 22 ER) and 75 strikeouts…This season, is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA (7 IP – 3 ER) after start on May 9 at Angel Stadium…Last year, was 3-1 with a 1.21 ERA (29.2 IP – 4 ER) and 45 strikeouts in five starts vs. Astros; carried a perfect game into 6th inning of start vs. Houston on April 20 at Minute Maid Park…Was one of two pitchers with three wins against Astros last year, (also Cole Irvin).
  • AT MINUTE MAID PARK: In six career games at Minute Maid Park, is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA (29.0 IP – 14 ER) and 39 strikeouts…Last season, was 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA (11 IP – 1 ER) and 19 strikeouts in two starts…Took perfect game into sixth inning on April 20, 2022 at the ballpark.
  • 500K: Reached 500 total MLB strikeouts for career with a 13 strikeout performance on May 3 at St. Louis…Fourth game in MLB history where a pitcher recorded 13+ strikeouts in 5.0-or-fewer innings (also, Jacob deGrom in 2022, Alex Cobb in 2013 and Zack Greinke in 2012).
  • OFF THE BOARDS: Had franchise record streak of 12 straight pitching starts allowing two-or-fewer runs snapped on April 27 vs. Oakland (Nolan Ryan had previous record with nine game streak across the 1972-73 seasons)… Overall, has yielded two-or-fewer runs in 21 of last 26 starts and one-or-fewer runs in 18 of last 26 starts.
  • CAN’T HIT THIS: Had streak of 10 straight pitching starts allowing three-or-fewer hits from Sept. 17, 2022 – April 27, 2023…The streak was snapped May 3 at St. Louis and finished tied with Jacob deGrom (10 game streak for Mets in 2021) for the longest streak all-time (excluding Openers).


TONIGHT’S TILT: The Astros and Angels will play the second game of their four-game series tonight with a star-studded pitching matchup of LHP Framber Valdez opposite RHP Shohei Ohtani…these two starters also matched up in Anaheim earlier this season on May 9, with Valdez (1ER/8IP) besting Ohtani (3ER/7IP) in the Astros 3-1 win.

FRAMTASTIC: LHP Framber Valdez has been one of the best pitchers in the AL this season, as he currently ranks tied for first in quality starts (9), fourth in ERA (2.38), fifth in innings (72.0) and sixth in strikeouts (77)…Valdez’s dominance goes back over the last three-plus seasons (2020-23) as he ranks second in the AL over that timespan in wins and ERA.

AL Wins Leaders (2020-23) AL ERA Leaders (2020-23)
Gerrit Cole: 42 Shane Bieber: 2.87
Framber Valdez: 38 Framber Valdez: 2.95
Dylan Cease: 35 Gerrit Cole: 3.23

RECENT ‘STROS: The Astros are 16-5 in their last 21 games dating back to May 9…since that date, the Astros record is the best in the Majors, immediately ahead of the Yankees (15-7).

GRINDERS: Tonight is the eighth day in a streak of 17 consecutive days with a game for the Astros…prior to this week, the most days the Astros had played in a row was seven, a streak that opened the season from March 30-April 5.

LAST NIGHT’S WIN: The Astros opened their four-game series with the Angels with a solid 5-2 win last night…RHP Ronel Blanco (2ER/5.1IP), who was making his first Major League start, picked up his first Major League win, after pitching into the 6th…RF Kyle Tucker (3×4) scored a pair of runs, while 3B Alex Bregman (1×3) and 1B José Abreu (1×3) both tacked on a pair of RBI in the victory.

PENA’S PALS: SS Jeremy Peña will host five kids with ties to Uvalde, TX, for the fifth Peña’s Pals of the season tonight…three of the kids that will participate are survivors of the shooting at Robb Elementary School…two other participants are kids from the Astros Youth Academy that were a part of the group that played in Uvalde in front of 1,500 fans on Uvalde Little League’s Opening Day…Peña’s Pals is a new program developed by Jeremy in partnership with the Astros Foundation, that celebrates kids and their development in academics, character
building and making healthy choices.

PITCHING IN: The Astros have the lowest team ERA (3.23) and have allowed the fewest runs (199) in the Majors…the Astros starters rank third the Majors in ERA (3.35) and have allowed one-or-fewer earned runs in eight of their last 13 games…also, the Astros bullpen ranks second in the Majors in ERA (3.04).

Lowest Team ERA – MLB Runs Allowed – MLB

  1. Houston: 3.23 1. Houston: 199
  2. Minnesota: 3.49 2. Texas: 215
  3. Seattle: 3.64 3. Minnesota: 216

HECTOR’S HOT STREAK: RHP Hector Neris has not allowed a run in his last 18 appearances (16IP), which is the longest scoreless appearance and innings streak of his career…the streak also is the longest scoreless inning streak by an Astro this season and ties as the longest active streak in the Majors.

BULLPEN WEAPON: RHP Phil Maton has been outstanding this season, allowing just 11 hits and two runs in his first 23 appearances (26.2 IP) for a 0.68 ERA and a .124 (11×89) opponent average…among AL relievers, he ranks first in ERA (0.68), first in WHIP (0.52) and second in opponent avg. (.124)…among MLB relievers, Maton has posted the lowest WHIP and trails only RHP Devin Williams in ERA (0.51).

HOT CORNER HEATER: 3B Alex Bregman, who’s on a sea- son-long, eight-game hit streak, is hitting .322 (28×87) with 16 RBI and an .851 OPS in his last 22 games, dating back to May 8…he’s coupled that by going errorless in that span.

SECOND TO NONE:SS Jeremy Peña has hit second in six straight games, with the Astros going 4-2 in those games, and has hit second 11 times in 2023 (6-5)…over the last two years, including the postseason, the Astros are 59-14 when he hits second…Peña is hitting .341 (14×41) with five homers and a 1.206 OPS in his 11 games hitting second this season.

2023 5-4 2.38 11 11 72.0 60 24 19 15 77

2023: 1-0 1.13 1 1 8.0 3 1 1 0 12
CAREER: 8-4 3.73 16 12 89.1 73 43 37 45 100

LAST START – 5/27 AT OAK: Allowed 1 run on 4 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts in 6.0 innings… earned his 3rd consecutive win and recorded his 9th quality start of the season.

COMPLETE GAME: on May 21 vs. OAK, Valdez delivered the 2nd complete-game shutout of his career, striking out 7 batters while allowing 4 hits and no walks through 9 scoreless innings…was the 1st complete-game shutout from an Astros pitcher since Valdez’s 1st career complete-game shutout on Sept. 12, 2022 at DET…was the 5th complete-game shutout from an Astros pitcher since 2017 with Valdez and Justin Verlander tossing 2 of them (May 16, 2018 at LAA, Sept. 1, 2019 at TOR), and Gerritt Cole contributing the other on May 4, 2018…were the fewest hits allowed in Astros complete-game shutout since Verlander’s no-hitter on Sept 1, 2019 at TOR… the last Astros pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout without issuing a walk was Dallas Keuchel on May 30, 2015 vs. CWS.

LEAGUE LEADERBOARD: in AL, he ranks 5th in innings (72.0), 4th in ERA (2.38), 6th in strikeouts (77) and 4th in pitching WAR (2.2)…is T-2nd in MLB with 9 quality starts.

REVERSE, REVERSE: has posted reverse splits to open his ‘23 campaign, holding right-handed hitters to a .216 batting average (50×232) while lefties are batting .313 (10×32)…traditionally, has been extremely tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .212 average (88×415) and a .616 OPS throughout his career, allowing just seven homers.

VS. LAA: is set to make his 17th appearance (13th start) against the Halos in his career…he’s recorded a 3.73 ERA (37ER/89.1IP) with 100 strikeouts, a .220 opponent batting average along with six quality starts.

  • in his last start against the Angels on May 9, he allowed 1 run on 3 hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks in 8.0 innings.

STAYING GROUNDED: among AL starters this year, ranks 1st in groundball percentage (60.6)

  • owns a career 65.9% groundball percentage, which ranks as the lowest percentage in the Majors since 2018 (min. 300 IP)…SF RHP Logan Webb is the next-closest over that span at 57.3 %… since ground ball percentage started being tracked in 1987, Valdez career ground ball percentage is the highest ever posted by a starting pitcher (min. 300 IP).

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