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Wednesday Free Selection

928 Oakland at LA Angels

The Oakland A's and LA Angels of Anaheim finish up a three-gamer at Angel Stadium with Wednesday night's matchup between Tommy Milone and Tyler Skaggs. In looking at Skaggs, it's important to realize that he started this season with a clean slate. After having a boatload of expectations in Arizona to be one of the main contributors to the wave of arms with Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, and Archie Bradley, Skaggs was traded to the Angels in the Mark Trumbo deal. As a result, Skaggs was able to get a fresh start with a new franchise.

So far, it has paid dividends for the Angels because Skaggs made a small mechanical tweak to regain the velocity that he lost in the Diamondbacks organization and he looks like a different pitcher. It wasn't a minor bump, as Skaggs is averaging three miles per hour more on his fastball and has touched 95 several times in his first two starts. Skaggs has pounded the strike zone with nearly 52 percent of his pitches and nearly 61 percent of balls in play have been hit on the ground.

Against a lineup like the A's that thrives on walks and home runs, Skaggs's control and ground ball prowess should play up in this matchup. The A's entered play on Tuesday 28th in the league in wRC+ against lefties with a .541 OPS. Skaggs should challenge the A's hitters and force them to put the ball in play and there aren't many guys in that lineup capable of hitting for a high average against lefties.

Skaggs's biggest problems with Arizona were the lost velocity, control problems, and home runs allowed. The Angels have worked with him to regain the velocity, he's pounding the lower half of the zone, and Angel Stadium suppresses home runs, especially at night.

Tommy Milone has struggled against current Angels players with a .313/.353/.500/.853 slash line against. He has only made one appearance so far this season, so it's hard to expect him to be at full arm strength and to be consistent with his mechanics with so little game action since the end of Spring Training. That was evident in his last start when he had trouble locating as the Mariners had 10 hits and scored five runs off of him in just five innings. He threw just 35.5 percent of his pitches in the strike zone and the more experienced Angels lineup will sort out even better pitches to hit than the Mariners did.

The Athletics bullpen has been worked hard early in the season, especially with Jim Johnson's struggles. Luke Gregerson worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, while Sean Doolittle worked Saturday and Sunday and Dan Straily failed to make it through the fourth inning on Tuesday night.

The Angels are really starting to hit their stride and a healthy Albert Pujols has been a key cog in the middle of that lineup. The Angels are a team to watch and Skaggs is a pitcher that we like in this park and a guy that we strongly believe in until he shows us otherwise.




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