As the second half of the MLB season kicks off coming out of the All-Star Break this Friday, two of the American League’s top teams clash in what could be a potential playoff preview. The New York Yankees host the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series starting Friday in our AL spotlight matchup of the weekend.
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Yankees come out of the All-Star Break with MLB’s best record
Through the first 42 games of the season, the New York Yankees were 21-21 straight up, and the AL East race was wide open. Since then, the Yankees have gone 31-12 over their last 43 games to bring their record to an MLB-best 52-33 on the MLB moneyline and have opened up a 7-game lead in the AL East.
Part of the reason for the Yankees’ dominance over the last quarter of the season was Robinson Cano breaking out of his early-season slump. With Cano hitting the ball extremely well (.313 BA, 20 home runs, 51 RBI), the Yankees now have four players with at least 13 home runs and 48 RBI in Cano, Nick Swisher (13 HR, 51 RBI), Mark Teixeira (15 HR, 54 RBI), and Curtis Granderson (23 HR, 48 RBI). New York ranks sixth in the majors in run production, averaging 4.8 runs per game.
But while Cano and the offense have played a part in the turnaround, the performance of the Yankees' starting pitching staff has been the catalyst. CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.45 ERA) and Hiroki Kuroda (3.50 ERA) have been solid throughout the year, but Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have really come on of late. Hughes is 5-2 with a 2.87 ERA in his last seven starts after going 4-5 with a 5.64 ERA in his first 10, and Nova has a 1.70 ERA in his last seven starts after compiling a 5.60 ERA through his first 10. If the Yankees keep getting strong pitching, they’ll be tough to beat.
Los Angeles Angels hope to survive injuries in the second half
The Los Angeles Angels dug a pretty big hole for themselves in starting off the season with an 18-25 record, but they’ve gone 30-13 since then to bring their record to a solid 48-38 on the MLB moneyline, four games back from AL West leading Texas but currently atop the AL Wild Card race.
Usually known for their pitching, this year’s version of the Los Angeles Angels can hit. Their season average of 4.5 runs per game (13th in MLB) is a bit low due to their slow start, but Mark Trumbo (.306 BA, 22 home runs, 57 RBI), Mike Trout (.341 BA, 12 home runs, 40 RBI), and Albert Pujols (14 home runs, 51 RBI) lead a solid unit that can hit with just about anyone.
The Angels have no issues at the top of the rotation with All-Stars Jered Weaver (10-1 with a 1.96 ERA) and C.J. Wilson (9-5 with a 2.43 ERA), but things get a bit hazy after that coming out of the All-Star Break. Jerome Williams (4.46 ERA) and Dan Haren (4.86) are both on the disabled list, and Ervin Santana (5.75 ERA) has been Los Angeles’ worst starter this season. But with an outstanding bullpen led by Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs and an offense that is clicking, the Angels hope to stay in the hunt while they sort out their rotation issues.
Angels and Yankees an evenly matched rivalry of late
Due to the injuries in the Angels’ rotation, the team hasn’t put out any projected starters for this series yet. New York plans to send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound Friday, Freddy Garcia on Saturday, and Ivan Nova on Sunday.
Over the last 20 games between these two teams, both teams are 10-10 straight up, including a 3-3 straight up split in two series this year. The Yankees have won in each of Ivan Nova’s last three starts against Los Angeles while the Angels have won in each of Jered Weaver’s last three starts against New York.
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