Oakland plays host to the Angels on Sunday afternoon as the two teams wrap up a four game series. The Angels have won two of the first three games, with Oakland pulling off a thrilling ninth inning walk-off comeback victory against one of the nastiest closers in baseball for their lone series win in the first game of their double header on Saturday. The Angels bounced back in the second game to put together a blowout victory, and it pushed their record to an impressive 23-13. The A’s have not fared as well, carrying a 15-21 mark after dumping many of their most talented players during the offseason. First pitch for the series finale is at 4:07pm ET.
The Angels Shrug Off A Tough LossThe A’s and Angels played a double header on Sunday, and everything was going according to plan for Los Angeles in the first game until they brought in their dominant closer Rasiel Iglesias. Iglesias came in with the Angels leading 3-1, and he got the first two outs without incident. A Ramon Laureano double and a walk to Christian Bethancourt brought the winning run to the plate in Luis Barrera, and he made good by smashing a walk-off three run homer. Los Angeles shook the loss off in a hurry and cruised to an easy victory in the second game, putting together a five-run second inning and never looking back as Michael Lorenzen shut down the A’s offense.
The Angels send talented young lefty Patrick Sandoval to the hill for Sunday’s series finale. Sandoval has been dominant in his first five starts of 2022, pitching to a 2.03 ERA while boasting a 2.46 FIP. He has 24.1% strikeout rate, and while his 10.7% BB rate isn’t ideal, he has limited hits enough to hold a solid 1.28 WHIP. His .303 BABIP shows that he has even suffered some bad luck and that his results could improve from their already-lofty levels.
The Angels’ offense has been one of the most potent in the bigs in the early stages of 2022. They rank third in OPS, second in wRC+, and have shown excellent power as they rank third in ISO as well. The potent combination has made them the MLB team that has put up the most runs thus far. Taylor Ward is putting up Trout-like numbers to start 2022, with seven home runs as well as a .361/.480/.687 slash line. Trout is predictably doing quite well also, with nine homers of his own and a .323/.446/.697 slash line. Shohei Ohtani got off to a slow start but has left it all behind with six bombs and an improving .250/.308/.432 slash line. Anthony Rendon, Jarred Walsh, and Brandon Marsh are all hitting extremely well also, making the lineup a deep and potent group that strikes fear into the heart of any hurler.
It Could Be Worse In OaklandNot much has gone right for the A’s thus far in 2022, but it actually could be even worse given how badly ownership gutted the team during the offseason. Trading away Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, and Sean Manea certainly isn’t the type of thing a team that was trying to win the World Series would do. While it isn’t ideal to be six games under .500 so early in the year, the players Oakland has left have performed probably above expectations and they deserve credit for not rolling over and giving up. They showed their resolve with their impressive comeback win in game one of Saturday’s double header, and they have played tough against the strong Angels team in this series in spite of dropping two of the first three games.
Oakland sends their ace Frankie Montas to the mound on Sunday to try to salvage a series split. The 29-year-old righty has again been consistent over his first seven 2022 starts. He boasts a 3.77 ERA, backed up by a 3.65 FIP, and has a solid 24% strikeout rate. His solid control has resulted in a 7% BB rate, and he also carries an impressive 1.02 WHIP into Sunday’s start. Statcast loves Montas’ stuff, as he sits in the 91st percentile for chase rate, the 72nd percentile for fastball velocity, and the 68th percentile for fastball spin rate.
Oakland’s offense has been about as weak as expected thus far in 2022. They rank 24th overall in runs scored, and they are dead last in OPS and wRC+. Sheldon Nuese is the only hitter in the lineup with an OPS over .700, but his .281/.344/.386 slash line isn’t exactly the type of output you want from the most potent offensive threat in your batting order. Sean Murphy leads the team with four homers, but hasn’t been able to deliver consistent output on a day-to-day basis. Cristian Pache, the key piece in the Matt Olson trade, has struggled mightily with a disappointing .163/.187/.250 slash line.