The hobbled New York Yankees managed to fly to California for a West Coast swing without bumping their heads with turbulence. It is a good start to what could be a promising trip. The first seven games consist of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the West Coast of The United States and then the San Francisco Giants. The Angels are currently in last place with a 9-13 record. The Giants are in last place with a 9-14 record. Let's take a look at what is ahead.
The Yankees have announced JA Happ and Domingo German as the starters respectively for tonight and tomorrow. It is a little disconcerting that they have not announced who is pitching beyond that. Let us hope it is not that abomination called an "Opener," coming up this week. Gosh, that is so anti-baseball. But, whatever, Happ needs to get his act together and German needs to not lose his way when things get a little difficult. Mike Trout is back and he is always a factor. His On-Base Percentage is higher that most players' Slugging Percentage.
Right now, Trout and Tommy La Stella (I coulda been a contenda!) are about the sum of the Angels' offense. Tyler Skaggs will be back on Wednesday so the Yankees are fortunate to miss him for the first two games. Albert Pujols is doing pretty well for this geezer stage of his career. At least his OPS+ is over 100.
I always look for the player who has been really cold at the plate. Zack Cozart has been that guy. His current slash line looks like this: .102/.141/.119. Yeesh! Why do I look for the cold guys? Because the Yankees always seem to warm up such players. It happens every time.
The Yankees lineup looks like an away Spring Training game but this is the regular season. They have a chance though because the Angels cannot deliver a good pitching performance these days. Tonight, they face Matt Harvey and his 1.821 WHIP and tomorrow it will be Chris Stratton who has a shiny, even 2.000 WHIP. Translation, they have been getting cuffed around. The bullpen has not been effective with far too many walks. This is a pitching staff that coughs up a lot of dingers, walks too many people and does not strike out enough batters.
But still, you really have to worry about this Yankee lineup. It can be had right now. A split would not be a good outcome for this series. Just on pitching talent alone, the Yankees should win three of the games. But that is why they play the games, right, John Sterling?
The San Francisco Giants have been pitching well. The team's staff's only problem has been the home run ball. But the Giants' overall ERA is second in the National League. So far, the problem with the Giants has been offense. They are dead last in the National League in OPS and, of the regulars, Steven Dugger (who?) is the only one batting above .240. Brandon Belt has a decent OPS due to his four homers and nine walks, but is batting .213.
The Giant series could be a problem for the Yankees as they will have to let their pitchers bat and lose the DH (which, hopefully, will end some day). With their Triple-A lineup and strong pitching for the Giants, the team might really struggle to win games. A lot of 2-1 or 3-0 games could result from that three-game series.
The Yankees always have a difficult task with West Coast swings. It is fortunate that the first seven games will be against struggling teams. In the Yankees' current state, the only question is whether the team from the Bronx are catching teams when they are down or providing those teams with a rebound. The second week of the swing will come against the Twins and the Seattle Mariners. I'll talk about those series later in the week.