Mike Trout had another MVP-caliber season, and somehow the Los Angeles Angels are still 31 games behind their opponent on Friday, the Houston Astros. Los Angeles has once again failed to capitalize on the best player in the sport’s prime years and will once again fail to make the postseason. They have made the postseason only once in the 2010s — in 2014 — and have not won a postseason series since 2009 when they won the ALDS. That was the same year the Angels drafted Trout.
On the other hand, the Astros went through a lengthy rebuild, and it has worked. They won the World Series in 2017, and in 2019, they have won over 100 games in a season yet again. As we head towards October, the Astros are once again heavy favorites to come out of the American League, with the Yankees being the only real threats.
The Angels will give the ball to Jaime Barria for his 12th start of the season and his 18th appearance. Barria is 4-9 with a 5.95 earned run average bouncing between pitching in the rotation as well as the bullpen. Barria has pitched fairly well relative to what should or would have been expected of him on a team that has lost 84 games so far.
He hasn’t recorded a win in a start in his last eight outings, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t pitched well enough to. Four times out of those eight games, he pitched at least five innings and given up two runs or less.
He has also faced the Houston Astros once so far this season, on Aug. 25. He went 5 1/3 innings and only gave up two runs while striking out four. He ended up taking the loss in an 11-2 game, as his offense only mustered four hits behind him.
Zack Greinke will take the mound once again as a key piece of the Houston juggernaut rotation for his 32nd start of the season. Greinke’s numbers are absolutely ludicrous this season. He holds a 16-5 record with a 2.95 ERA and 174 strikeouts.
What is even crazier is he’s the third-best pitcher in the rotation as far as 2019 is concerned. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole very well may finish first and second in the AL Cy Young voting.
Since coming over to Houston at the trade deadline, Greinke has been everything that Houston fans could have hoped for. He had back-to-back mediocre starts against the Rays and Brewers, but take those out of account, and he’s been almost untouchable. Each of his other six starts as an Astro has seen him go at least six innings and give up two earned runs or less.
Batters To Watch
For the Angels, with Trout out, there’s not much to write home about. Albert Pujols is at 90 RBI, and if he can get 10 more, it would mark the 14th time in his career he has done so. Kole Calhoun has had a breakout season of sorts with 31 home runs but is batting only .233. Tommy La Stella was having an All-Star season, but that ended in only 78 games as he went out with a season-ending injury.
With the Astros, there aren’t many batters that you would want to miss watching. Alex Bregman may steal the MVP award with Trout’s injury. Yuli Gurriel is batting over .300 with 30 home runs and 102 RBI. Jose Altuve is batting over .300 for the sixth straight season. George Springer has 35 home runs. We haven’t even talked about Yordan Alvarez yet, who has 26 homers and 76 RBI in 79 games. The Astros lineup is just lethal.
I’m not going to take too much time here. Ace on the mound. Best batting team in baseball to back him up. Take the Astros.