Interleague Baseball Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels

Interleague Baseball Preview:  Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels

We talked about a great underdog play in the National League earlier and now we’ll look at another sizable underdog, this one in interleague action. The Pittsburgh Pirates are having a solid season and are still in the thick of things in the NL Central. They’re currently in third place in the division 1/2 game behind Cincinnati and 4 games behind the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. The Los Angeles Angels are starting to show some improved form–at least relatively speaking–but are still 9 games off the pace in the AL West.

The Halos will start their ace Jered Weaver–he’s battled injuries and inconsistency this season and hasn’t looked especially sharp since returning to the rotation. Weaver has posted an ERA of 5.09 in his last three starts with the Angels losing two of those games. His physical problems may be behind him but he just hasn’t looked dominating since returning to the lineup. Obviously this is something that will come with time but at this stage of the game he’s not anywhere near top form.

He is favored, however, since he’s the ‘big name’ in this matchup but the Pirates will counter with a youngster who is expected to be a fixture at the Major League level for years to come. Most baseball experts consider Gerrit Cole to be the top rookie pitching prospect to enter the Majors this season and although he’s still somewhat raw he’s looked good in his first two starts. Cole has a 3.75 ERA in his first two assignments–both Pirates’ wins. Even at this stage of his career he’s a much more formidable pitcher than the price on this game would indicate.

At the outset of this post we noted that the Angels have started to crawl back to respectability after their disastrous start. That shouldn’t imply they’re playing well–they’re only 8-10 in the month of June. The Pirates, meanwhile, have bludgeoned right handed pitching this year (36-22 +19.6 units) and have really taken advantage of matchups against opponents with losing records. Against teams under .500 the Bucs are 22-9 +13.7 units. A lot of upside with the Pirates as a team, with their young phenom Cole and especially at a big dog price against a hard to trust favorite.