Detroit Tigers (57–42) at Los Angeles Angels (60–41)
Time/Place: 10:05 p.m., Anaheim Stadium
SB Nation blog: Halo Heaven
Pitching Matchup: LHP Drew Smyly (6–8, 3.80 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Skaggs (5–5, 4.65 ERA)
A pair of young left-handed starters face off in the second game of a four-game series at Anaheim on Friday. The Angels send Tyler Skaggs to the mound, while the Tigers will start Drew Smyly. Both pitchers are in their first full season starting in the major leagues.
Skaggs, age 21, was drafted out of Santa Monica High School in the 2009 draft, and made his major league debut in 2012. He made 13 starts over the previous two seasons, and has gradually improved, as one might expect. He has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 11 runs, all earned, on 15 hits.
Skaggs features four pitches, which include a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a change up, and a slow curve. The velocity ranges from the low-90s to the mid-70s. Left-handed hitters have actually hit him harder than right-handers this season, but over his career, right-handers have hit for better power, so we'll see what Brad Ausmus does with those splits.
Drew Smyly is coming off a strong performance against Cleveland, going seven innings and allowing just one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts. His weakness has been the home run ball, as he has allowed 14 this season. He has held left-handers to a .155 average, while right-handers have hit .304 against him. His .192 wOBA allowed against left-handers is the lowest in the major leagues among starting pitchers.
Hitter to fear: Chris Iannetta, is 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk against Smyly, for a line of .667/.750/1.333/2.083.
Hitter to fail: Mike Trout is 2-for-8 with no home runs and a pair of strikeouts against the Tigers' starter.
The two teams have the best numbers in the American League against left-handed pitching. The Tigers lead the league with a .287 batting average, and a .797 team OPS, but the Angels lead the league in runs scored when facing a southpaw.
Both teams have had serious bullpen issues this season. The Angels traded their closer, Ernesto Frieri, to Pittsburgh for their closer, former Tiger Jason Grilli. They then traded four prospects in a six player trade with San Diego for closer Huston Street. The Tigers traded two top prospects to Texas for closer Joakim Soria, although he may not be closing games just yet.
You might say that the Angels need the victory more than Detroit, as they're chasing the A's in the West. The Tigers lead the season series, three games to one, with three games to play. There is a distinct possibility that these two teams may play seven more games in October against each other.
San Diego Mick is going to charm Mike Trout while in the on-deck circle in the first inning, causing him to be so distracted that he goes 0-for-5 with two errors. Soria makes his Tiger debut, shutting down the Angels, and Nathan racks up his second save in as many days.