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After a dismal end to a 10-game road trip that saw the Angels drop two of three to the worst team in the American League (Baltimore Orioles), the Halos will stumble back to Angel Stadium to begin a mini two-game series against the San Diego Padres. Currently sitting three games under .500, the Angels are 10 games out of an AL Wild Card berth, which is evidently escaping their grasp at an extremely fast rate. On the other side of the equation, the Padres come into tonight struggling as well, losers of nine of their last 11 games, and 8-14 overall in the month of August. The NL West competitor found success early this season battling with the Giants and Dodgers for the divisional lead, but now find themselves two games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the final national League playoff spot.
After a flurry of roster moves, manager Joe Maddon will hand the ball to 25-year-old Cooper Criswell to make his Major League Debut. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has pitched at two different levels in the Angels minor league system thus far this year. Starting the year at Double-A Rocket City, Criswell went 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 starts, including a complete-game win on June 22 against the Charlotte MudCats. The week prior, Criswell spun a career-best 14 strikeout performance at home against the Biloxi Shuckers.
After a promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on July 31, Criswell continued stellar appearances on the mound with a 2-1 record and 3.98 ERA in four starts, accumulating 27 strikeouts in just 20.1 innings. Based on scouting reports, his fastball velocity lives between 87-90 MPH, while having an above average changeup. The highest praise he’s received in his career is the ability to be a strong “command artist”. With this move, the 6’6 right-hander will be the 34th different pitcher the Angels utilize this season.
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For Padres manager Jayce Tingler, he will send the El Cajon, CA native Joe Musgrove to the mound. In 25 appearances (24 starts), Musgrove is 8-8 with a 3.04 ERA in 139.1 innings, which leads the starting staff. The 28-year-old made headlines early this year in his first season with San Diego by tossing the franchise’s first no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on April 9. Musgrove has been a consistent force in the Padres rotation this season as he leads the staff with 12 quality starts, a 1.02 WHIP and a .205 BAA. In three interleague games, Musgrove has dominated AL West opponents (Texas, Houston and Oakland) going 1-0 with a 0.45 ERA over a 20-inning span.
A Battle of MVPs
Stars always shine bright under the lights of a baseball diamond. For the first time this season, excluding the All-Star Game, AL MVP frontrunner Shohei Ohtani and NL MVP frontrunner Fernando Tatis Jr. share the field as power hitters in the leadoff position.
Ohtani ranks first in the AL in three major categories (Home Run, SLG and XBH), while 4th in RBI. For Tatis Jr., he ranks first in two NL categories (Home Run and SLG), while third in XBH and seventh in RBI. To bring more to the conversation besides numbers, Ohtani and Tatis Jr.’s personalities heighten their popularity and create buzz in expanding the game of baseball globally that will last for years to come.
Player To Watch
Outfielder Brandon Marsh completely mashed the ball during the recent road trip that has completely altered his season for the better. In 10 games, the Buford, GA native is batting .378 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 5 runs scored. During this time, he has raised his overall batting average from .209 to .260 and he recorded his first four-hit game and home run of his career as well.
His splits against right-handed pitchers fare much better than lefties as he is hitting .294 in 85 at-bats with seven doubles and 13 runs batted in. Even with all the shifting Joe Maddon likes to do to insert energy in the lineup, Marsh has made a home for himself in the seven-hole. Slashing .298/.377/.468 is a big reason why the southpaw is now the anchor in the bottom third of the order with friend and fellow outfielder Jo Adell.
Angels News & Notes
LHP Patrick Sandoval is out for the season (stress fracture in his back). This is a similar injury that placed RHP Griffin Canning on the shelf for the rest of the season as well – GM Perry Minasian acknowledged that Sandoval and Canning train together, so their workouts will be evaluated together
RHP Alex Cobb threw a light bullpen session, trying to get back before the end of the season
RHP Chris Rodriguez and RHP Dylan Bundy are listed as week-to-week and not ready to throw a bullpen session quite yet
Mike Trout ran the bases this afternoon, but GM Perry Minasian said if Trout returns, he will be playing his normal CF position
OF Justin Upton returns to the lineup tonight after missing the last three games due to a sore calf muscle
Upcoming Starting Rotation: Saturday – Jose Suarez, Monday – TBD, Tuesday – Shohei Ohtani and Wednesday – Jaime Barria