Washington Nationals (11-8) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8-10)
2014 Head to Head Record: (0-0)
2013 Head to Head Record: Didn’t play.
Monday, April 21 7:05p.m.
Tanner Roark (5.29 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 6.88 K/9) vs. Garrett Richards (2.84 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 8.53 K/9)
Tuesday, April 22 7:05 p.m. ($5 Beer Night)
Taylor Jordan (5.94 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 6.48 K/9) vs. Tyler Skaggs (3.43 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 4.71 K/9)
Wednesday, April 23 7:05 p.m.
Gio Gonzalez (2.88 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 8.64 K/9) vs. Jered Weaver (4.74 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 7.30 K/9)
Ah yes, the first interleague matchup of the 2014 season features the potent Angels offense against the Nationals pitchers who know how to strike batters out. So far in 2014, the Angels have scored 96 runs and have an overall team slash line of .246/.310/.450. The Angels pitching staff does strike a lot of batters out (8.66/9 innings so far). Overall, they have a team ERA of 4.42 and a 4.29 FIP and don’t give up a lot of home runs – giving up 22 total home runs and only having a 1.2 HR/9 ratio.
Leading the way offensively for the Angels is sensational outfielder Mike Trout. He leads the team in home runs (5), is tied for first with 13 RBIs and has a .319/.380/.639 slash line. The Angels best pitcher so far this season has been Garrett Richards. So far, Richards is 2-0 and has struck out 18 batters in 19 innings.
How the Nats Win: Pitching will be key for the Nationals in this series. The Angels have a ton of players who are capable of turning a game around with just one swing of the bat. If the Nationals pitching can keep the Angels batters off balance and off the basepaths (especially Mike Trout), the Nationals have a great shot at winning the only series against the Angels this season.
Offensively, the Nationals need to take advantage of the Angels bullpen late in the game. If the Nationals find themselves down, they’ll need to be patient at the plate by waiting for their pitches to come to them. Playing small ball against this Angels defense might be more beneficial in the long run than trying to swing for the fences.
Three Angels to Watch For: Mike Trout is by far the No. 1 player in Major League Baseball this season. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Trout was the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and runner up for MVP in both 2012 and 2013.This kid is a bonafide S-T-U-D who makes baseball fans, like me, swoon over him. He has the potential to hit 30 home runs, drive in 100 RBIs and steal 40 bases. He’s so much fun to watch and will wow you with his defense – here’s a highlight video from last season showing Trout at his best, which is all the time. The second Angel to watch, Albert Pujols, could become the 26th place in Major League history to hit at least 500 home runs. Currently, Pujols sits at 498, allowing Nationals fans the chance to witness history. Finally, the last Angels player to watch for is second baseman Howie (Howard) Kendrick. Kendrick, a wizard on the infield also has some pop in his bat. On 4/18, Kendrick hit a pair of two-run home runs that helped the Angels beat the Detroit Tigers. Although they were the first two home runs of his season, Kendrick has hit 73 career home runs with an average of 13 dingers a season. He can come up with a clutch hit at any time and needs to be pitched to carefully.