Saturday is the middle game of a three-game set from Anaheim as the Boston Red Sox take on the Los Angeles Angels in a battle of teams nowhere near playoff contention. It has been a disappointing season for both teams. After the Red Sox won the World Series, less than a year ago, they are struggling to stay relevant in the American League Wild Card race. At 72-62 they are 6 games out of the second playoff spot, with three really good teams ahead of them. The Angels, on the other hand, are yet again wasting another prime year of Mike Trout’s career. Their rotation is in shambles, and their bullpen has been shaky.
The Red Sox are opting to go with a bullpen day on Saturday, as that has continued to be a popular strategy in the MLB this season. Boston was dealt a major blow this week, losing ace Chris Sale for the rest of the season. Sale was having a down year at 6-11 with a 4.40 earned run average, but his 13.32 K/9 was certainly doing the trick. His FIP was a run lower than his ERA, and his xFIP was a run and a half lower. For much of the season, the Red Sox bullpen was the story, and not for good reasons.
Following Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly’s free-agent exits, the Sox struggled to find a suitable replacement for both the closer role and the pitcher in high leverage situations. However, in the second half, the bullpen has been much improved. The Sox pen ranks second in the AL with a 3.65 ERA, and their 3.54 FIP is 3rd in the majors. Also since the start of the second half, the bullpen’s 10.41 K/9 leads all of baseball.
For the Angels, Dillon Peters will get the start for the seventh time this season. After a rough last two starts, Peters sits with a 3-2 record, and a 4.50 earned run average. He was having a solid season since getting moved to the starting rotation. However, his last two times out against the Rangers and Astros he has floundered. He gave up 9 runs total and walked 6 batters in those two games, never making it out of the 5th inning in either. If Peters wants to get back on track, his 19.2 HR/FB% is going to have to come down. Giving up 3 home runs in 8 ⅔ innings in his last two starts isn’t going to cut it.
Batters To Watch
The Red Sox have the best team batting average in baseball, and Rafael Devers is a major part of that. The young third baseman has broken out in 2019, hitting .326 with 28 home runs and 104 runs batted in. August was his second-worst month batting average wise, albeit still hitting .308.
Mike Trout is somehow still getting better. It’s not even the end of August, and he has 43 home runs and 100 runs batted in. His batting average is a tad lower than his career average, but his wRC+ is still right on par at a monstrous 181. Oh, and this will be the 6th season he has a WAR of 9 or more.
Even being a bullpen day, I still like the Red Sox chances in this one. Peters has had a rough stretch, and the Sox are a good hitting team. Take Boston in this one.