Series Preview: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels (4/27-4/29)

The New York Yankees set-off on Friday night for their first west coast trip of the season, as they meet the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim for a three-game weekend series. The Yankees come into the road trip playing their best baseball of the season, now winners of six straight thanks to a Gary Sanchez walk-off homerun against the Twins on Thursday afternoon. The Angels, meanwhile, should be feeling good about themselves as well, having just taken two out of three from their division rivals, and reigning World Series champs, the Houston Astros. Los Angeles, however, has lost six of their last nine contests.
Photo via Seth Wenig/AP

Game 1: Friday, April 27th, 10:07 p.m.
Luis Severino (4-1, 2.32 ERA) vs. Andrew Heaney (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

Luis Severino takes the ball for the Yankees in the series opener. The 24-year-old right-hander has certainly lived up to his billing so far in 2018. After placing third in the American League Cy Young voting last season, Severino continues to build on his game, developing his changeup along with his elite fastball and wipeout slider. The right-hander is coming off a quality performance against the Blue Jays last Sunday, where he went seven one-run innings while striking out six. Severino is striking out more than a batter per inning in 2018, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio sitting slightly above three (34 K, 10 BB).

Batters to watch out for:
Ian Kinsler: 3-for-10, HR, RBI
Albert Pujols: 1-for-3

Left-hander Andrew Heaney makes just his third start of the season on Friday night for the Halos. Heaney was a first-round pick by the Miami Marlins back in 2012, before being traded to Los Angeles prior to the 2015 season as part of a deal that saw Dee Gordon and Dan Haren shipped to South Beach. Heaney has pitched in the Majors in parts of four seasons, but has yet to put together any kind of consistency on the mound, with his 2018 campaign being no exception. Heaney struggled mightily in his last appearance against the San Francisco Giants, allowing seven earned runs in just 4.1 innings. The smoking hot Yankees offense will probably be licking their chops to get a piece of the young lefty.

Batters to watch out for:
Brett Gardner: 1-for-3

Game 2: Saturday, April 28th, 9:07 p.m.
Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 4.97 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (3-0, 3.46 ERA)

Masahiro Tanaka bounced back nicely in his last outing, after a string of two bad starts against the Red Sox and Marlins bloated the righty’s ERA over six. Tanaka was able to earn a victory against Minnesota his last time out, going 6.2 innings of one run ball. The trouble for Tanaka in 2018 has once again been giving up the long ball. The Japanese import has already given up five homers this season, despite allowing less than a hit per inning and posting a respectable 1.103 WHIP.
Photo via Kathy Willens/AP
Batters to watch out for:
Mike Trout: 3-for-8
Albert Pujols: 3-for-9, RBI

The Angels will turn to Garrett Richards on Saturday evening. Another former first-round draft pick, Richards has been solid in the Majors when he is healthy. That, however, has been a dubious proposition for the righty, as injuries held Richards to just 12 starts between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Looking to put together a full-season, Richards has been impressive so far this year, allowing more than two earned runs in just one of his five appearances so far (Richards allowed four earned runs in his first start of the season against Oakland).

Batters to watch out for:
Brett Gardner: 2-for-5, 3 RBI
Didi Gregorius: 1-for-1

Game 3: Sunday, April 29th, 8:07 p.m.
CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.86 ERA) vs. Tyler Skaggs (3-1, 2.96 ERA)

To close-out the series, the Yankees turn to their veteran southpaw CC Sabathia, as the Bronx Bombers will appear on Sunday Night Baseball for the first time in 2018. The veteran has quietly put together an impressive season so far, although it doesn’t show in his record. Sabathia has scattered just four earned runs over 19.1 innings, with a WHIP under one. Unusually, though, getting length has been Sabathia’s problem this season. The left-hander has made it through six innings in just one appearance, his last time out against Minnesota where he also recorded his only win of the year.

Batters to watch out for:
Mike Trout: 4-for-11, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Ian Kinsler: 5-for-12

The Angels will also turn to a left-hander on Sunday night, as they throw Tyler Skaggs out to the mound. Although it is early, Skaggs has put up the best numbers of his career so far in 2018 (Skaggs has never posted an ERA under four in a Major League season). Skaggs does struggle with command at times, walking eight batters over 27.1 innings, but he has only allowed one homerun this season. The southpaw should also be feeling confident, as he pitched seven shutout frames on his way to a victory against the Astros his last time out.

Batters to watch out for:
(No Yankees have faced Skaggs at the Major League level)

Players to Watch
Photo via Julie Jacobson/AP

Didi Gregorius
Thanks to another big series against Minnesota, the Yankees shortstop continues to be arguably the hottest hitter in baseball in 2018. After homering in the third inning of Wednesday night’s game, Gregorius became the first Yankees shortstop ever to hit a homerun in four straight games. Gregorius is batting .407 over his last seven games, including those four homeruns and 12 RBI. He will look to join the Angels’ Mike Trout as the only players in baseball with 10 or more homeruns this weekend.

Gary Sanchez
After a painfully slow start at the plate, the Yankees catcher has been heating up as the team heads towards May. Although his average sits at a lackluster .202 this season, Sanchez has five homers over his last 15 games. He also hit the aforementioned walk-off homerun off of Fernando Rodney of the Twins on Thursday to help New York complete the four-game sweep of Minnesota. With the three-run blast on Thursday, Sanchez now has 21 RBI on the season.

Gleyber Torres
It will be interesting to see what the Yankees top prospect can do in his first road trip as a Major Leaguer. Torres’ much anticipated debut came last Sunday against Toronto, and he collected his first big league hit on Monday against Minnesota. Torres if 5-for-16 with a double and an RBI in a very small sample size. There is no doubt Yankees fans will be tuning in to see what the highly touted prospect can do away from the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.

Mike Trout
You cannot discuss the Angels without inevitably mentioning Mike Trout. The New Jersey native is widely considered one of the League’s best all-around talents, already compiling two MVP awards since making his Major League debut in 2011. Another MVP may be on the horizon for the young outfielder, as Trout has gotten off to a blazing hot start in 2018. Trout is hitting just .295, but with a 1.067 OPS. He currently sits one ahead of Gregorius for the MLB homerun lead (10).

Shohei Ohtani
Possibly the most intriguing spectacle of last offseason, the Yankees might see a glimpse of Shohei Ohtani this weekend. The only true two-way player in MLB today, Ohtani hasn’t played in a game since Tuesday, when he pitched 5.1 innings of four-run ball against Houston. While he won’t be pitching against the Yankees, New York could see Ohtani in the batter’s box at some point this weekend, though a nagging blister problem has kept a bat out of his hands since last Sunday. Ohtani is batting .333, with three homers and 11 RBI in his rookie campaign. There is certainly no love lost between the Japanese phenom and the New York Yankees, after Ohtani refused to hear offers from New York when he entered MLB free agency last offseason.

Albert Pujols
Even at 38 years-old, Albert Pujols continues to put up impressive numbers at the Major League level. If Trout is the best player in baseball right now, he may have taken that title from Pujols when he entered the league. Though his numbers have dropped off the past couple of seasons, it is undeniable that the power-hitting first baseman has put together a Hall of Fame career. Pujols has a .305 career batting average with 619 homeruns and 1,932 RBI. This season hasn’t been too bad, either, as Pujols has already launched five homers and driven in 14 runs.


While Los Angeles has some solid offensive players that could pose a problem for the Yankees pitching staff, New York should look at this series as an opportunity to stay hot before a string of tough games against the imposing Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, who both sit in first place atop their respective divisions. Still, the Angels are a threat if the Yankees take them too lightly. Sitting at 16-9 and in second place in the American League West, the Angels have shown that recent acquisitions have made them a team to be reckoned with in the AL. As a team, the Halos have driven in 119 runs to make up for the fact that their pitching staff is throwing to a 4.19 team-ERA. This series could go a long way in showing the fans what type of team the Yankees are after starting their current winning stretch against the subpar Blue Jays and Twins.

Article by: Jonathan Kohut


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