After winning only one of three against the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox (59-63, 13 games back in the AL East) return to Fenway Park to host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (62-60, 9.5 games back in the AL West). The Red Sox are 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Angels are on a 3-7 slide.
Ervin Santana (facing Aaron Cook in Tuesday night’s opener) is having a horrible year. The owner of a 5.59 ERA/5.68 FIP/4.60 xFIP pitching triple slash line, Santana is one of the many Angels pitchers that seem to be preventing the Angels from advancing in the AL West and in the Wild Card race. Santana’s strikeout rate has dropped almost a full strikeout per 9 innings pitched (7.01 to 6.05) in 2012, and his walk rate has risen from 2.85 per 9 to 3.19. Most importantly, Santana is giving up bombs; he’s tied with Phil Hughes for a major league worst 28 homers surrendered. Santana’s xFIP says he probably should have given up fewer homers than he has, but the fact is that he has been horrible at keeping the ball in the park.
Jered Weaver (versus Clay Buchholz) is continuing his run as one of the American League’s top pitchers. With a 2.74 ERA/3.60 FIP/4.07 xFIP, Weaver seems to have earned his 15-3 record this season. Weaver’s strikeouts are a bit down this year (6.89/9 versus 7.56 in 2011 and 9.35 in 2010) but he’s lowered his walk rate to 2.04/9. Most amazing is Weaver’s microscopic .205 batting average against and an amazing 0.97 WHIP, both of which lead the majors. Yikes.
C.J. Wilson (against Franklin Morales in the finale) hasn’t been the pitcher the Angels thought they were signing as a free agent this past winter. Having posted a 2.94 ERA/3.24 FIP/3.41 triple slash line in his contract year with the Rangers, the Angels thought they might be getting a second ace to pair with Jered Weaver. Instead, they got just a slightly better than average pitcher. Wilson’s 3.64 ERA is 14% better than average, but his 3.93 FIP is only 4% better than average, and his 4.13 xFIP is only 1% better than average. Meh.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the hot hitters for the Halos were the best rookie I’ve ever seen, Mike Trout (.298/.358/.681, .441 wOBA, 185 wRC, five homers), along with Erick Aybar (.370/.396/.630, .451 wOBA, 191 wRC), Howie Kendrick (.316/.366/.526, .394 wOBA, 152 wRC), Torii Hunter (.347/.360/.429, .349 wOBA, 121 wRC) and Kendry Morales (.308/.325/.615, .396 wOBA, 154 wRC). The cold hitters have been Alberto Callaspo (.194/.356/.222, .285 wOBA, 77 wRC), Chris Iannetta (.185/.281/.407, .296 wOBA, 85 wRC), Mark Trumbo (239/.239/.304, .236 wOBA, 44 wRC) and Albert Pujols (.200/.217/.489, .296 wOBA, 85 wRC, but four homers).
In the Angels bullpen, Ernesto Frieri (1.93 ERA/3.04 FIP/3.27 xFIP) continues his fantastic run. Frieri’s 5.54 BB/9 is troublesome and will lead to a high FIP but when matched with a 14.71 K/9, that will lead to a low ERA. It’s a wonder that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto wasn’t charged with highway robbery in his trade with San Diego for Frieri. Scott Downs (3.03 ERA/3.57 FIP/3.76 xFIP) has also had a decent season, but the rest of the Angels’ bullpen has been merely average to pretty bad. Reason #4 why the Angels are in third place in the AL West.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
Another series, more bad news – some expected, some not. The expected bad news is that Carl Crawford will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday, ending his season just as he was getting hot. The unexpected bad news (but maybe it’s good news) was that the Red Sox fired pitching coach Bob McClure, who never really got along with Bobby Valentine, and installed Randy Niemann (a Bobby V supporter) as interim pitching coach.
In the last two weeks, Dustin Pedroia (.354/.404/.542, .410 wOBA, 157 wRC) is finally hitting the way the Red Sox needed him to hit all season. Joining Pedey on the hot list are Adrian Gonzalez (.304/.353/.717, .433 wOBA, 173 wRC, four homers), Cody Ross (.302/.348/.558, .377 wOBA, 135 wRC) and Pedro Ciriaco (.323/.344/.452, .358 wOBA, 122 wRC). However, the cold list is getting kind of long: Mike Aviles (.207/.281/.241, .250 wOBA, 47 wRC), Jacoby Ellsbury (.196/.241/.275, .242 wOBA, 42 wRC), Nick Punto (.176/.263/.235, .244 wOBA, 43 wRC), Scott Podsednik (.238/.273/.286, .248 wOBA, 46 wRC), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.226/.250/.226, .214 wOBA, 23 wRC), Ryan Lavarnway (.136/.174/.136, .145 wOBA, -25 wRC) and Danny Valencia (.125/.111/.125, .098 wOBA, -57 wRC).
As for the starters, Jon Lester (2.75 ERA/2.64 FIP/2.96 xFIP) and Clay Buchholz (2.12 ERA/3.80 FIP/3.67 xFIP) have continued their excellent pitching, while Aaron Cook (3.38 ERA/4.41 FIP/4.96 xFIP) turned a bit of a corner. But Josh Beckett (9.92 ERA/8.91 FIP/6.06 xFIP) and Franklin Morales (6.75 ERA/9.19 FIP/4.90 xFIP) make you want to close your eyes and pray for April 2013 to come soon.
In the bullpen, Andrew Miller (0.00 ERA/2.03 FIP/2.98 xFIP) and Alfredo Aceves (0.00/0.85/2.70 xFIP) join Andrew Bailey (0.00 ERA/0.85 FIP/1.96 xFIP) in sharing the Blutarsky ERA Award, while Mark Melancon (5.40 ERA/4.30 FIP/2.58 xFIP) had a bit of bad luck in the homer department.
The Angels have the bats to make a move into the Wild Card spots. They just need the arms to get there.