Angels at Jays, 23-25 August

Tuesday, August 23 2016 @ 09:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

Just two years ago, the Los Angeles Angels won 98 games, more than any other team in the American League.

This year? Well...

     When it starts to fall apart
     Man, it really falls apart

Mike Scioscia is now in his 17th season as the Angels' manager. He's been at his post longer than any other current manager in the game. The fact that he's never lost 90 games in a single season is one of the reasons why. But this will be the year, unless his team manages to go 21-17 the rest of way. Which doesn't seem likely.

So what happened?

Well, the 2014 Angels won 98 games mainly by pounding the other teams into submission. Their pitching and defense was roughly league average, but those Angels scored more runs than any other team in the major leagues, despite playing half their games in one of the better pitcher's parks in the game. Which I don't remember noticing at the time. I noticed the league MVP, of course, but the 2014 Angels had no offensive holes, nowhere. All nine regulars had an OPS+ better than 100  Just four of those players are still around - Trout, Pujols, Cron, and Calhoun - and those four are still producing at roughly the same level. One of the newcomers, Yunel Escobar is giving them production at third base comparable to what they received from David Freese two years ago. But at the other spots - yikes.


                      2014                            2016 
C Iannetta .252/.373/.392  123 --- Perez .222/.250/.344  63
1b Pujols .272/.324/.466  126 --- Cron .274/.341/.466 118
2b Kendricks .293/.347/.397 116 --- Giavotella .260/.287/.376  82
3b Freese .260/.321/.383 104 --- Escobar .320/.368/.402 114
ss Aybar .278/.321/.379 103 --- Simmons .272/.305.336  78
lf Hamilton .263/.331/.414  115 --- Ortega .238/.273/.303  60
cf Trout .287/.377/.561  168 --- Trout .308/.426/.544 167
rf Calhoun .272/.325/.450  123 --- Calhoun .269/.350/.413  111
dh Cron .256/.289/.450  111 --- Pujols  .253/.319/.431  105

It's true that two of the departed 2014 regulars - catcher Chris Iannetta and shortstop Erick Aybar - were having career years with the bat. And sure, Josh Hamilton was such a huge disappointment in Anaheim that they literally gave him away to a division rival while continuing to pay him enormous sums of money. But even the Anaheim version of Hamilton was a much more productive hitter than Rafael Ortega or Daniel Nava. This year's offense is roughly league average. It's not all that bad considering their home park. But it's still a long way down from what this team was doing just two years ago.

But even more disturbing is the fact that only the hapless Twins have allowed more runs than the 2016 Angels. In this ballpark - that's just unfathomable. Everyone on the staff has spent the season circling the drain - the ones who were there in 2014 and are still around and the ones they brought in since. You might say that Garrett Richards is the exception - he was their best starter in 2014 until a knee injury ended his season in August. He was also their best starter this season, right up until the day his elbow blew up and ended his season in April. The Angels got just 6 starts out of their best pitcher this season, and as for everyone else....

                  2014                           2016 
Jered Weaver  18-9, 3.59  ---  Jered Weaver  8-11, 5.47
Matt Shoemaker  16-4, 3.04 --- Matt Shoemaker 7-13, 4.14
Hector Santiago 6-9, 3.75 --- Hector Santiago 10-4, 4.25
C.J. Wilson  13-10, 4.51 --- Jhoulys Chacin 3-6, 5.68
Garrett Richards 13-4, 2.61 --- Tyler Skaggs 1-2, 5.19

Santiago has been traded for Ricky Nolasco, who's gone 0-3, 5.70 in his 4 starts. He's fitting right in, you could say.

Meanwhile the bullpen, which was exceptionally strong in 2014, has been one raging dumpster fire. Two years ago, incumbent closer Ernesto Frieri imploded, but the Angels moved quickly enough to replace him and got excellent work from Huston Street and Joe Smith at the end of the game. They in turn received solid support from Kevin Jepsen, Mike Morin, Fernando Salas, and Cory Rasmus. Jason Grilli even pitched in with some league average work.

But this year? Well, Smith was adequate, until they traded him to the Cubs. Cam Bedrosian was very good, until he went on the DL. But Salas, Morin, and Street have been bad, badder, and baddest. With Smith in Chicago, and Street and Bedrosian on the DL, Fernando Salas with his 4.56 ERA is the closer du jour.

And of course, the Los Angeles Angels have the best damn baseball player in the whole wide world playing for their team. What a waste.

Yeah, we got matchups:

Skaggs (1-2, 5.19) vs Dickey (8-13, 4.51)
Shoemaker (7-13, 4.14) vs Estrada (7-5, 3.20)
Weaver (8-11, 5.47) vs Happ (17-3, 3.05)