Albert Pujols (then with the Cardinals) with David Ortiz (Photo: Kelly O’Connor – sittingstill.smugmug,com)

After taking two of three against the Rangers, the Boston Red Sox (37-24, 1st place in the AL East, 1.5 games ahead) welcome the Los Angeles Angels (26-34, 3rd place in the AL West, 10.5 games back) to Fenway Park for a three-game series. Friday night’s game was rained out, and a split doubleheader will be played on Saturday. The Red Sox are 6-4 in their last 10 games and won their last game, while the Angels are 3-7 in their last 10 games and lost their last game.

STARTING PITCHERS: Tommy Hanson, C.J. Wilson and Joe Blanton

Tommy Hanson (versus Felix Doubront) is having a bad first season in the American League. On the good side, Hanson has lowered his walk rate from 3.66 per nine in 2012 to 2.62 per nine in 2013, and his HR/FB rate has dropped from a terrible 13.5% in 2012 to a still below average 12.5% in 2013. However, Hanson seems to have forgotten how to strike out batters. His K rate went from 9.83/9 in 2011, 8.30/9 in 2012, to an anemic 4.98/9 in 2013. Ouch.

C.J. Wilson (facing Clay Buchholz) has not broken out of his stretch of mediocrity as an Angels pitcher. In 2011 (his last year with Texas), Wilson posted a pitching line of 2.94 ERA/3.24 FIP/3.41 xFIP (minus line of 67 ERA-/75 FIP-/84 xFIP-), good for 5.5 fWAR. In 2012 (his first year with the Angels), Wilson’s line rose to 3.83 ERA/4.04 FIP/4.10 xFIP (minus line of 97 ERA-/102 FIP-/99 xFIP-, pretty average), resulting in only 2.2 fWAR. So far in 2013, Wilson has continued being just about average, posting a line of 3.93 ERA/3.90 FIP/3.87 xFIP (99 ERA-/100 FIP-/95 xFIP-), resulting in 1.0 fWAR so far. Meh.

Joe Blanton (against Ryan Dempster) is hittable. Very hittable. Too hittable. Just looking at Blanton’s incredibly high BABIP of .371, one might think that he’s just been lucky and that such a mark would be unsustainable. Not so fast, my friend. Blanton hasn’t had a sub-.300 BABIP since 2009. So far in 2013, Blanton has an ugly .329 batting average against, and is giving up 12.8 runs more than average on his fastball (worst in the majors) and 6.3 runs above average on his cutter (third worst in the majors for pitchers who throw cutters). That’s bad, m’mkay.

EXPECTED LINEUP (based on games in Boston)

1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Albert Pujols, DH
4. Mark Trumbo, 1B
5. Josh Hamilton, RF
6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
7. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
8. Chris Iannetta, C
9. J.B. Shuck, LF

WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT

In the last two weeks, Howie Kendrick (.400/.451/.556, .433 wOBA, 179 wRC+) and Chris Iannetta (.281/.395/.500, .390 wOBA, 150 wRC+) were the hot hitters for the Angels, while Hank Conger (.267/.267/.667, .394 wOBA, 153 wRC+, 2 homers in 15 plate appearances) also hit well in limited action. However, Albert Pujols (.205/.275/.364, .277 wOBA, 74 wRC+) and Alberto Callaspo (.167/.255/.238, .229 wOBA, 41 wRC+) aren’t hitting well lately. Everybody else hit within my (arbitrary) criteria of 75-125 wRC+, so they don’t get mentioned. So there.

In the Angels’ bullpen, Kevin Jepsen (0.00 ERA/0.71 FIP/1.94 xFIP, .222 BABIP) and Scott Downs (0.00 ERA/1.57 FIP/1.57 xFIP, .167 BABIP) have been lights out, while Garrett Richards (1.50 ERA/1.40 FIP/3.07 xFIP, .286 BABIP) has also excelled. Closer Ernesto Frieri (3.60 ERA/7.07 FIP/4.45 xFIP, .308 BABIP) has to watch out for the homers (22.2% HR/FB), walks (3.60 per 9 innings) and lack of ground balls (26.7% GB rate).

AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE

INJURIES

CF Peter Bourjos (left hamstring strain, placed on 15-day DL on April 30), LHP Sean Burnett (left elbow impingement), RHP Ryan Madson (recovery from April 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 15-day DL on April 28, retroactive to April 27) and LHP Andrew Taylor (small tear in left labrum, placed on the 15-day DL on March 30, retroactive to March 22, transferred to 60-day DL on April 9)

AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?

In the last fortnight, the Red Sox (as a group) are hitting about as well as they have all season. Those with wRC+ of 125 or greater are Jacoby Ellsbury (.457/.513/.686, .505 wOBA, 220 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR), Jose Iglesias (.429/.490/.595, .464 wOBA, 193 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR), Mike Carp (.333/.364/.667, .427 wOBA, 167 wRC+), David Ortiz (.256/.407/.581, .410 wOBA, 156 wRC+), Dustin Pedroia (.327/.393/.571, .404 wOBA, 152 wRC+), Stephen Drew (.293/.383/.561, .403 wOBA, 151 wRC+), Pedro Ciriaco (.400/.400/.500, .391 wOBA, 143 wRC+), Mike Napoli (.302/.404/.488, .381 wOBA, 136 wRC+) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.297/.316/.541, .364 wOBA, 125 wRC+). Wow. Only David Ross (.154/.154/.231, .165 wOBA, -10 wRC+) had an wRC+ of 75 or lower.

In the bullpen, Andrew Bailey (0.00 ERA/1.82 FIP/3.61 xFIP, .300 BABIP), Alex Wilson (0.00 ERA/4.07 FIP/4.07 xFIP, .000 BABIP) and Alfredo Aceves (0.00 ERA/1.07 FIP/2.50 xFIP, .333 BABIP, delivered to Pawtucket yet again) shared the Blutarsky ERA Award. Junichi Tazawa (1.50 ERA/2.57 FIP/1.83 xFIP, .333 BABIP), Koji Uehara (1.80 ERA/3.27 FIP/3.53 xFIP, .182 BABIP) and Andrew Miller (2.08 ERA/3.76 FIP/2.08 xFIP, .444 BABIP) also pitched well. Craig Breslow (4.76 ERA/1.83 FIP/2.09 xFIP, 7.94 K/9, 1.59 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, .214 BABIP, 25.0% LOB%, 84.6% GB%, 0.0% HR/FB) was as unlucky as a pitcher could be. Clayton Mortensen (7.36 ERA/7.43 FIP/5.06 xFIP, .333 BABIP) continues being the black hole in the bullpen. It could be time for an Aceves return or a Ryan Rowland-Smith (0.76 ERA/2.78 FIP at Pawtucket) call-up.

SUMMARY

Disappointing seasons from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Lackluster starting pitching. Your 2013 Los Angeles Angels.

 

Categories: Albert Pujols Alberto Callaspo Alex Wilson Alfredo Aceves Andrew Bailey Andrew Miller Andrew Taylor Boston Red Sox C.J. Wilson Chris Iannetta Clay Buchholz Clayton Mortensen Craig Breslow David Ortiz David Ross Dustin Pedroia Erick Aybar Ernesto Frieri Felix Doubront Garrett Richards Hank Conger Howie Kendrick J.B. Shuck Jacoby Ellsbury Jarrod Saltalamacchia Joe Blanton Jose Iglesias Josh Hamilton Junichi Tazawa Kevin Jepsen Koji Uehara Los Angeles Angels Mark Trumbo Mike Carp Mike Trout Pedro Ciriaco Peter Bourjos Ryan Dempster Ryan Madson Ryan Rowland-Smith Scott Downs Sean Burnett Stephen Drew Texas Rangers Tommy Hanson

Scott Candage is a long-time Red Sox fan. He recently came in third in the 127th annual Upperclass Twit of the Year competition. His best friend is a tree and he is a stockbroker in his spare time.

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