Angels Insiders: April Struggles, Ryan Braun

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For the sixth time in the last eight seasons, the Angels finished April with a sub-.500 record. The last time the club was above .500 in the first month was two years ago, when the Halos were 14-13. The last time before that was 2011 when the team was 14-12, and were 12-6 in the third week. To find the last good April for the Angels, you have to go all the way back to 2008, when the team was 18-10. Here’s more on this issue, and others:

  • When asked about this April trend, Mike Scioscia couldn’t really pin-point exactly what the cause has been and just said, “We’ve looked into it.” It’s a strange occurrence considering the Angels have had enough talent on the field just about every season since their last trip to the playoffs to have a good April.
  • Some have attributed these slow starts to Scioscia’s management. However, the Halos are also one of the best teams in the Majors in the month of May. Their last two postseason appearances have come in seasons in which they were either bad or so-so in April, and then took off in May. So it’s really difficult to point straight to Scioscia’s management in that context.
  • One has to wonder if it’s simply a matter of roster construction. For quite a while, the Angels had a lot of streaky hitters. And at one point, they had several hitters who were known for starting slow. Players like Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, etc. have all taken some time in their careers to get it going, and then took off as the weather got hotter.
  • Or maybe it’s just one of those things one can never make sense out of. After all, it’s baseball. And the day this game actually does make perfect sense is the day it should be shut down. The last time the Angels had a good April was 2008, when they were 18-10.

Stepping away from April, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested that the Angels would be a fit as a landing spot for Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. This came as a big surprise to many. But when we stop and think about it, there is a fit as far as the needs of the Halos in left field. Here’s more:

  • The Angels are one of six teams that are not on Braun’s no-trade list in his contract. Apparently, that list changes every season, and the Halos are one of the teams that has slipped by. After all, Braun is a Southern California native. One has to wonder, however, if the Angels would even take on that contract considering their recent history with big contracts, and Braun’s obvious history with PED’s.
  • What the club would have to give up for Braun is another story. Given the baggage associated with Braun’s career, one could argue that any trade would be a salary dump, and either a Major League player would be involved, or mid-level prospects. Braun’s performance would normally warrant a top prospect return. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if teams balked at mortgaging the farm for Ryan Braun.

LA Angels Insider Injury Tracker: Wilson, Gentry, Heaney, Skaggs

Craig Gentry celebrates his double during the Angels' preseason game against the Chicago Cubs at Angel Stadium Sunday. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: angels.0404.kjs --- Photo by KEVIN SULLIVAN / Orange County Register -- 4/3/16 The Los Angeles Angels take on the Chicago Cubs at Angel Stadium during a preseason game at Angel Stadium Sunday. 4/3/16

Photo by KEVIN SULLIVAN / Orange County Register — 4/3/16

Welcome to the LA Angels Insider Injury Tracker! Here we will have updates on injured Angels players. This will be running post that will last throughout the 2016 regular season. Here are the latest reports:

May 1, 2016

  • The list just keeps getting longer and longer. Gentry had been dealing with back spasms for close to a week. His move is retroactive to April 26.
  • CJ’s target for his return has finally been established as early June. He’s begun throwing long toss, and in the next week or so will ease his way back into his normal workouts.
  • There’s a big possibility CJ may return as a reliever.
  • Heaney received an injection that will have him out for 6 to 12 weeks. Additional tests revealed no structural damage to his elbow, particularly his UCL, and the lefty will not require surgery.
  • There are no injury concerns over Shoe’s performance. He told reporters after Saturday’s game in Texas that he felt as good as he’s felt all season so far. But even when he made good pitches, batted balls were finding holes. Perhaps it was just a bad luck start. But given the righty’s overall start to the season, Gentry’s injury, the need for more length in the bullpen, and Robinson’s opt-out, the Halos needed a shake-up.
  • Tyler Skaggs has had his shoulder examined in Los Angeles. However, there is no official word yet on his status beyond shoulder fatigue. The young lefty was in the final stage of recovery from Tommy John Surgery when he felt weak in his shoulder after his last start at AAA Salt Lake. This could mean that Skaggs could be out for a month or so longer, or it could just be a minor setback for a kid who hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

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LA Angels Insider Transaction Tracker: Shoe, Robinson, Achter

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Welcome to the LA Angels Insider Transaction Tracker within the Eppler’s Domain category. Here we will be listing daily Angels transactions for the 2016 regular season. Major transactions will be analyzed in separate articles. This will be a running post that will last throughout the end of the season.

May 1, 2016

  • The Halos also have Thursday off, which was the Bearded One‘s next scheduled start, so it looks like they’ll just skip that spot in the rotation. In the meantime they’ll need some more outfield and pitching depth to correspond with new additions to what has turned into a rather long disabled list.

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2016 Game 25: Angels at Rangers

5-1-16

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2016 Game 24: Angels vs. Rangers

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2016 Game 23: Angels at Rangers – 5:05pm PT

4-29-16

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2016 Game 22: Royals at Angels

4-27-16

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2016 Game 21: Royals at Angels

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Kansas City Royals (12-7, 2nd AL Central) at Los Angeles Angels (9-11, 4th AL West)

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Angel Stadium

Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Sunny, 66F, Wind WSW 8mph

Pitching Matchup

Edinson Volquez (3-0, 1.46 ERA)

Edinson Volquez, wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, delivers a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on April 15, 2016 (Thearon W Henderson?Getty Images)

Edinson Volquez, wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, delivers a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on April 15, 2016 (Thearon W Henderson?Getty Images)

Volquez has gotten his 2016 season off to a fine start winning 3 of his first 4 starts so far, and the Royals are 4-0 in games he’s started. He has also given up just 4 earned runs across 24 2/3 innings in his 4 games so far. His last start was Thursday at home against Detroit and Volquez tossed 7 shutout frames, liminting the Tigers to just 5 hits in a game the Royals won 4-0.

~VS~

Jered Weaver (2-0, 3.12 ERA)

Jered Weaver delivers a pitch during a game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on April 10, 2016 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Jered Weaver delivers a pitch during a game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on April 10, 2016 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Having started his 2016 season with a couple of quality starts sandwiched around a shaky one, Weaver will be looking to build on the encouraging results he saw in his last outing Thursday in Chicago. In that game Weaver gave up just 1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings, but perhaps more importantly he seemed to get stronger as the game went along, hitting as much as 85mph on the gun in the 7th inning. The Angels went on to win that game 3-2, giving Weaver his 2nd victory of the season.

Game Notes

  • Volquez hasn’t had much good fortune against the Angels – he’s 1-3 career against them with an unsightly 9.42 ERA. But he’s coming off a solid outing against the Tigers — seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 win.
  • Weaver is coming off a really good start against the White Sox, giving up just one run and allowing five base runners in seven innings. His fastball hit 84 and 85 mph several times, and even touched 86 once. That’s actually an improvement for him. He has a 2.77 ERA in 14 career starts against the Royals, but allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 10 1/3 innings against them last year.
  • Struggling right-handed Angels hitters C.J. Cron (.153/.242/.220) and Johnny Giavotella (.136/.156/.136) were both out of the starting lineup on Monday. It’ll be interesting to see when they play in the series with two more Royals right-handers slated. The Angels have left-handed-hitting first baseman Ji-Man Choi and switch-hitting infielder Cliff Pennington to replace them.
  • Yunel Escobar (4-for-15) and Albert Pujols (4-for-10) are the only ones who have any real experience against Volquez.
  • Kendrys Morales finds Weaver good hittin’ – he is 8 of 14 (.571) against Weaver.

Starting Lineups

Kansas City

Angels

AL West Standings

  1. Seattle: 10-9 (.526)
  2. Oakland: 10-10 (.500)
  3. Texas: 10-10 (.500)
  4. Angels: 9-11 (.450)
  5. Houston: 6-14 (.300)

Other AL West Matchups

  • Oakland @ Detroit – 4:10pm PT
  • NY Yankees @ Texas – 5:05pm PT
  • Houston @ Seattle – 7:10pm PT

2016 Game 20: Royals at Angels

4-25-16

 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols on hitting his 564th homerun, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Angel Reggie Jackson for 13th all-time!

 

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Angels Insiders: Shoe, Bullpen Depth

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We’re entering the third week of the 2016 season and the Angels are 8-11. Another slow start, and fans are hoping their club can overcome it again. One of the culprits of this slow start is Matt Shoemaker. The Bearded One has had a strange season so far, with two excellent starts and two terrible starts in between. It’s been back and forth for the righty so far. With Tyler Skaggs almost ready to return, and with a good performance from the Halos starting rotation as a whole, Shoe could find his way into the bullpen soon. But that’s not a bad thing. Matt has had success as a long reliever with the Angels. And that may be the role he is best suited for. Here’s more on Shoemaker and other things happening in Anaheim:

  • Shoemaker’s start on Sunday was actually an uncharacteristic outing. He threw a lot of balls, which is something he doesn’t do very often, even when he’s struggling. Shoe had a career BB/9 of just 2.0 for his career coming into this season. What ballooned his ERA in 2015, from his 3.04 in 2014, was allowing 24 home runs in 24 starts. His splitter was up. In ’14 it was down. And looks like it’s still up. That’s basically all Shoe needs to do to get back on track. Keep the splitter down and avoid the long ball.
  • Some grumbling a have been going around about sending Jose Alvarez down for Neal Cotts. In case you didn’t remember, the Halos signed Cotts on April 7. And although it’s early, Alvarez has a 5.79 ERA in just 9 1/3 innings. But Small sample, yes. However, no bullpen looks the same in August as it did in April. And Jose may be one of the first to go. As we speak, Cotts has a 1.46 ERA in 6 1/3 innings.
  • That’s not all. Al Albuquerque and Javy Guerra both have ERA’s under 2.00 at AAA Salt Lake. Something to look into soon. The way things are going right now, we could see Alvarez and Fernando Salas replaced by any combination of those three. And if anyone else struggles, we could see all three in the Halos bullpen soon.
  • And if anyone is wondering why the Angels have the relievers they have with those three veterans in the minors, well it was basically a case of letting guys like Cory Rasmus and Mike Morin bounce back from their injuries and seeing what they can do. The Halos basically threw them a bone. But they’re not on a very tight leash.