Saturday night's start against Texas for Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson is worth monitoring for potential injury, and that would be a big problem for the Halos. More on that below. L.A. opened as a -170 favorite on MLB odds with a total of 8 runs.
What You Need To Know
What's wrong with the Angels offense? Last season Los Angeles led the majors in runs. Entering Friday's series opener against Texas as favorites in MLB odds, the Halos were just 16th in runs and tied with putrid Philadelphia for last in batting average. No team with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols should be in that range. While Trout is hitting better than .300 he's in a bit of a slump since a two-homer game against Houston on April 17 raised his season average to .444. He hadn't homered or driven in a run since then entering Friday.
The Angels have five every-day players hitting below .200: Pujols, Matt Joyce, Collin Cowgill, C.J. Cron, and Chris Iannetta. Joyce has especially disappointed. The Angels thought they would be fine if not better without the injured Josh Hamilton because of Joyce, the former Tampa Bay Ray. However, he's batting just .143 after entering the season as the cleanup hitter. The lefty Joyce was penciled in as a lock starter against right-handers and potentially against southpaws. At this point, he has been dropped to sixth against righties and hardly plays against lefties. Maybe the lineup will improve when Hamilton and fellow outfielder Colby Rasmus are ready in June. Perhaps the Angels miss traded second baseman Howie Kendrick more than they ever thought they would. He has been great with the Dodgers.
Texas also struggles on offense, ranking 17th in runs and 28th in average. Prince Fielder is having a nice bounce-back season, but Adrian Beltre is below the Mendoza Line and Shin-Soo Choo has been an unmitigated disaster. He can't even see the Mendoza Line from where he is. That seven-year, $130 million deal the Rangers signed him to before last season looks like one of the worst deals in recent memory.
I mentioned that Wilson's start should be monitored closely because he was originally set to go Thursday but had it pushed back due to some discomfort in his pitching elbow that he felt after his last start Saturday vs. Houston. Needless to say, that could be a sign of major problems. The 34-year-old Wilson had Tommy John surgery on his elbow while he was in the minors and then in 2012, his first season with the Angels, he pitched the second half of the season with some elbow discomfort and had surgery after the season. If Wilson has to leave this game early, that's not good. The former Ranger is 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA this season. He has had two quality starts and one where he was crushed by the Royals. Last year, Wilson somehow managed to not face the Rangers in his 31 starts. That's pretty hard to do against a division opponent. Fielder hits him well, going 6-for-12 with a double, homer and five RBIs. Beltre does too, going 11-for-34 with four doubles, a homer and five RBIs. Elvis Andrus is a career .381 hitter with a homer and three other extra-base hits in 21 at-bats off Wilson.
Texas starter Colby Lewis was to pitch Friday, but the Rangers put Wandy Rodriguez in that spot and took Ross Detwiler out of the rotation for now. Detwiler has an ERA of 10.95 in three starts, all Texas losses. Lewis (1-1, 3.79) lost to the Mariners last time out, allowing three runs and 10 hits over 5.2 innings. He hasn't been sharp since his season debut, a win at Oakland. The Angels are about the worst opponent Lewis could face as he was 1-4 with a 9.35 ERA in five starts against them in 2014. L.A. batters hit .367 off him with seven homers in 26.0 innings. Some may remember his July 10, 2014, start against the Halos in Arlington as Lewis allowed an incredible 13 runs and 13 hits (both career worsts) in 2.1 innings. Pujols is 7-for-15 with two homers off him. Trout is 7-for-20 with two dingers and seven RBIs.
Have to love the 'over' for MLB picks here with those two iffy pitchers on the mound despite the struggling offenses. Take L.A. on the moneyline at sportsbooks. The Angels are 8-0 in Wilson's past eight at home vs. teams with a losing record. The 'under' has failed to hit in his past five vs. Texas.
MLB Free Picks: Angels -164 & Over 8 runs at The Greek