Another tough night with my MLB pick as the Tigers upset the Yankees by a 4-2 score.
Mike Fiers was significantly better than expected last night as he tossed 5.2 innings of two-run ball to go along with six strikeouts. Fiers has not been good or consistent this season, however on this night he was very good while holding one of baseball’s best offenses at bay.
Domingo German pitched well for the most part, throwing 6.2 innings while yielding four earned runs. While I would have liked those earned runs to be kept to one or two, it’s the Yankees’ offense that let me down on this night.
We will stay in the American League for tonight’s pick as we take a look at the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals in the middle game of a three-game set after the Angels took last night’s contest by a 9-6 score.
The Angels need to win games like these, meaning home games against weak opponents, if they want to keep pace with the Mariners and Astros who are currently duking it out for top spot in the AL West.
The Royals are already 18 games below the .500 mark as they embark on a rebuild expected to last for a few years.
Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels
Brad Keller (2.13 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.11 WHIP) vs. Andrew Heaney (3.66 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.26 WHIP)
The Royals will give the ball to Brad Keller for tonight’s contest, and the 22-year-old has been good this season. That said, this is just Keller’s second start since moving into the rotation from the bullpen and the Royals will be careful with their 22-year-old right-hander as he stretches out his arm. Keller went just three innings in his first start against the Twins, yielding one run on three hits.
With that in mind, most of the Royals’ pitching will come from their bullpen, and their ‘pen has been among the worst in the big leagues. Royals relievers have combined to produce a 5.65 ERA, good for 28th in the league. Their 4.97 FIP ranks 29th while their 7.06 K/9 is the worst mark in the baseball. It’s certainly a fall from grace for a bullpen that was arguably the league’s best in their World Series-winning 2015 season.
Kansas City also ranks in the bottom third of the league in many offensive categories, especially the power ones like home runs (28th), OPS (21st) and SLG (21st).
Andrew Heaney will take the mound for Mike Scioscia’s club tonight, and he has been very good this season. Heaney has yielded five or more runs twice in nine starts, but has allowed two runs or less in six of those nine starts. He has allowed more than two runs in just one of five home starts this season while throwing 14 innings of one-run ball with 17 strikeouts over his last two starts at Angel Stadium. All told, he’s sporting a 3.07 ERA at home, but the vast majority of that number comes from one outing where he yielded seven runs to the Giants in his second start of the season.
The Angels’ offense is among the best in the bigs. They are at their best against right-handed pitching as their team .758 OPS against righties is tied for fourth in the MLB. They also rank second in hits and fourth in home runs against right-handed pitching.
After scoring two runs or less in four of their previous five games, it was nice to see the Angels erupt for nine runs last night. This is one of the very best offenses in baseball and we are getting them while they’re feeling good after last night’s performance.
Andrew Heaney has been very consistent this season, and has been lights-out at home since that poor second start of the season. With the Royals’ weak bullpen to pitch the majority of the game against a potent Angels’ offense, I like the odds of another offensive show from the Angles tonight at home.