By Glen McKee, Dumber
Every week with this team is a roller coaster. Sometimes, it’s one of those crappy old roller coasters the theme park keeps around until they can find a way to replace it, like the Gold Rush at Magic Mountain: old, rickety, rough, and at the end, you swear you’ll never ride it again. Other times, it’s like the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disneyland: new, smooth, fun, and as soon as you’re done you want to get back in line and ride it again. Last week was a Guardians week.
The bad. I already used my Denny’s pun so I have nothing for the Angels giving up another walk-off grand slam. It felt inevitable as soon as Machado came up to the plate. Everyone, including myself and apparently excepting Mike Scioscia, wondered why Middleton was in the game to face Machado. Then, on Sunday Mike brought Middleton in again for a pressure situation and…he wasn’t that bad.
– Kenyan Middleton. Yeah, that grand slam was bad and he gave up the game-tying hit Sunday, but was he really that bad? ERA of 9.00 for the week, two IP, two ER. However, if you dig a bit deeper in the month of August he has a 3.86 ERA. Not great, but passably good. Given the state of our bullpen and our starts not going more than five innings at a time, it’s almost understandable that he was used like he was. Almost.
– Albert Pujols. This isn’t even relative to his contract, it’s relative to having a decent DH hitting behind Trout. .214 last week, but hey, three RBI! He also managed to get walked four times, while striking out only once. But, those GIDP. You shouldn’t have a GIDP machine hitting behind Trout.
– Kaleb Cowart. I hate to say it as much as you hate to read it. He started three of the five games last week and had a pinch-hit appearance in the non-start. For whatever reason, and we can think of a few, his production is falling. .182 last week, .279 for the season. But you know who else was bad last week? You guessed it, Frank Stallone! And, this guy…
– Cliff Pennington. The guy who starts when Cowart sits. Kinda sucks on defense, hitting .247 for the year and trending downward. If he was a stock, you’d already have sold him. If Pennington and Cowart are gonna hit the same, why not go with the better glove in Cowart?
– Andrew Heaney. What? Come on dude, he just came back. I know, and that’s awesome, and I know he’ll get better. But come on, five runs in five innings. I know, he’ll get better. Welcome back, Heaney.
– CJ Cron. Remember when he was hot? It seems like it was just last week because it was last week. Now, he’s cold, like a Katy Perry song. Nope, no pictures. He did have a HR but it was his only hit in 16 AB, for a .125 BA. I expect he’ll heat up again this week, but I expect a lot of things that don’t happen. Still expecting Salma Hayek to call me.
The good. There was a lot of good last week. First off, the record, 3-2. Any week you win more than you lose is good. The Angels moved into a wild card spot and are making August interesting. Some unexpected players are heating up, and none of them are hotter at the moment than…
– Luis Valbuena. I think this is the first time this season Louie V has been on the good list. He hit .500 last week with three HR and five BB. His average is at the Mendoza Line as we read. As Luggage Man Yunel Escobar fades from our memory, Valbuena is finally stepping up. Here’s to another hot week.
– Mike Trout. Yeah, it’s redundant to have him on here. He was 0-5 yesterday and that hurt his average for the week (.238) but he’s Mike goddamned Trout so he gets a break. He hit three HR and had a two-HR game.
– Cam Bedrosian. At the risk of a whammy, Cam is back. 0 ER in August, three IP last week. There’s no reason why Cam shouldn’t be the closer right now, other than Scioscia experimenting with the bullpen.
– Blake Parker. Paker only made two appearances last week, 0 ER. 2.30 ERA for the season. Another surprise in a bullpen full of them. And now, a few surprises on the good list for the week:
– Andrelton Simmons. It’s not a surprise that he’s on the good list, it’s a surprise that he’s on it this week, as his bat has frozen. Two hits in 20 AB for the week, but one of those hits was a big HR on Sunday. That, coupled with his consistency incredible defense, was a key factor in winning the game and the series.
– Bud Norris. 3.00 ERA last week, but he pitched two key innings, one in each win in Baltimore, and got the save on Sunday. Welcome back, Bud! A note about Bud: we’ve already gotten so much more than anyone could have reasonably expected from him (19 saves), given his career 4.50 ERA. Nobody expected him to be thrust into the closer position this season and he did remarkably well for longer than he should have. I still count Bud as a win for the season.
The rest. Juan Graterol went 0-6 last week, and Carlos Perez is hitting .377 in Salt Lake. You have to figure that Perez will take over as backup catcher when the September call-ups are made. Why wait? Get him up here now! Eduardo Parades (I think that’s Spanish for “parade”) has been solid all month and he would have made the good list, but I looked into him too late, so here he is on the rest.
The Rest of the Season. The Angels have six games left versus Oakland and three versus the White Sox. They have ten games left versus the Rangers, nine versus the Astros, three against the Indians (WTF?), and five versus the Mariners. Take out Oakland and Chicago, and the rest of the teams are either playoff teams or in the hunt for the wild card (Seattle is only 1.5 games behind the Angels right now). That’s a brutal schedule, and that’s how it should be. The team will be tested and if they make the playoffs, they certainly deserve to.
The Week Ahead. Four at home versus the Rangers, who are only 2.5 games behind the Angels for the second wild card, and three at home versus the Astros, who have led the AL West for about three years in a row now. Houston is 5-5 in their last 10, Texas 7-3. The Angels are 8-2.
Predictions. Last week I got back on track, calling 1-1 and 2-1. This week is tough to call. The Angels are 33-26 at home and Texas is 26-33 on the road. Houston is ridiculous on the road with a 40-21 road record, better than their home record. 3-1 versus the Rangers, and 1-2 versus the Astros. Post your predictions here, if you’re not chicken.