Showcase Series: Giants at Angels

MLB SHOWCASE SERIES: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS AT LOS ANGELES ANGELS

All sorts of Interleague series this month are potential World Series previews. Many of those are in the East...because that division in both leagues has plenty of postseason contenders. But, we can't lose sight of the great baseball being played out west in recent weeks by two teams who will be battling head-to-head tonight through Wednesday.

It's a rematch of a prior World Series...and it just might be a prelude to what's ahead this October if these teams can keep playing at a very high level. We're talking about the San Francisco Giants visiting the Los Angeles Angels in a series that should be getting a lot more media run than it is.

Both the Giants and Angels have had similar 2012 seasons to this point...

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

  • Started out slowly, dropping four of its first five games.

  • Treaded water for several weeks after that, still residing two games under .500 in the middle of May. Given the fast start of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the strong won-lost records over in the NL East...the Giants weren't in many playoff discussions as either a division winner or a Wildcard.

  • Picked up their level of play after that, going on a 22-11 stretch that put them back into the NL playoff picture with authority. That's .667 ball for more than a month...even with Tim Lincecum continuing to struggle with his velocity and run prevention. Let's also note that the Giants will have an easier schedule in the second half of the season than all the NL East teams fighting for Wildcards because of the unbalanced rotations. San Francisco's outlook is stronger than your morning newspaper makes it seem. If Lincecum ever gets settled...they may move up to about 80% to reach the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

  • Started out slowly, dropping five of its first seven games...

  • Kept dropping like a rock because Albert Pujols wasn't hitting. You certainly remember this story. It was one of the most shocking developments of the first six weeks. A pennant favorite had become a doormat!

  • Bottomed out at seven games below .500...which they hit first at 10-17, but then again at 18-25 after treading water for a couple of weeks. That's more than a fourth of the way into the season...and the Angels looked like a team that would struggle to reach 75 wins let alone 95.

  • Caught FIRE after getting rid of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher...which allowed Pujols to stop tinkering with Hatcher's ideas about mechanics and just go back to blistering the ball. The Angels are 17-6 since getting things back on track...playing some of the best ball in all of the Majors. They're back in the AL West race and the Wildcard race. But, for all practical purposes...the Angels are playing like a championship contender right now. If they maintain this form and stay healthy, they're going to be in the postseason.

So...this series matches two teams who are playing their best ball of the year lately...as each tries to move more firmly back into postseason discussions. Neither may reach 95 wins because of those slow starts. But, of late, each are playing like teams who are capable of winning 95 games at this high level. Yes, the Yankees are playing great and Atlanta/NYY deserves a slot on TV (it's the national game on ESPN this evening). Be sure you're paying attention to Giants/Angels to see if one team can establish superiority in terms of their odds the rest of the way. And, be on the lookout for market edges within this three-game set too. Oddsmakers have a way of focusing their attention on what the media's doing instead of what recently surging teams are doing.

Here are the probable pitchers for the series...

Tonight
SF: Cain (8-2, 2.18 ERA, 0.85 WHIP)
LAA: Williams (6-4, 4.20 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Matt Cain is coming off that perfect game he threw vs. Houston last time out. He could definitely suffer a letdown from that emotional experience. But, he's an overpowering pitcher when he's on...and he's been on a lot more than he's been off this year as you can see by those numbers. Jerome Williams is doing an adequate but not outstanding job in the Halo's rotation. Cain clearly has the edge given those stats...but if he falls back to earth in the letdown spot then LAA can steal a game with the lesser starting pitcher.

Tuesday
SF: Zito (5-4, 3.61 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
LAA: Wilson (7-4, 2.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

The edge moves to the Angels and C.J. Wilson here. He's an ace caliber pitcher who doesn't get enough respect. We saw a survey last week that suggested he was an overrated pitcher. By whom? He has great stats, and hardly anyone gives him credit for what he's done in tough pitching circumstances through his career. He'll have the edge tonight over Barry Zito...a pitcher that AL teams have a book on from his many years with Oakland.

Wednesday
SF: Vogelsong (6-2, 2.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
LAA: Haren (4-7, 3.97 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Will this be the rubber game of the series? Or will, somebody be going for a sweep? Great pitching matchup because Haren is better than his 2012 numbers to date...and Vogelsong is probably pitching a bit over his head with that data. Still, Vogelsong has been a value pitcher for quite a while because the market was too focused on his teammates. Would YOU have guessed Vogelsong's stat edges would have been that big when you first heard about the matchup?

Great series...with some marquee arms going in a series that means a lot to both teams. JIM HURLEY could definitely have a big information play going in this one tonight...and will likely be involved at least once over the next three days. Here are some other possibilities from the Monday card...

Other Monday Highlights
Atlanta at NY Yankees (nationally televised on ESPN)
Cincinnati at Cleveland (battle of Ohio)
Baltimore at NY Mets (replay of classic '69 World Series)
Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (Windy City War)

A few nice Interleague matchups don't start until Tuesday in this current sequence. We're also looking forward to St. Louis/Detroit (like Orioles/Mets, another replay of a classic World Series from decades ago), Tampa Bay/Washington, and Miami/Boston.

Our scouts and sources...our statheads...our computer programmers...our Wise Guy connections are all chiming in with their strong opinions. The man in the middle of the information hurricane, JIM HURLEY, will sort everything out and find the best options for you. You can purchase Monday's plays right here at the website with your credit card. Or, call the office at 1-800-323-4453 for more details. Be sure to ask about early bird football when you call. It's never too early to get set up for the Fall. And, the earlier you sign up the more money you save!

Back with you Tuesday for a stat preview of Game Four of the NBA Finals matching the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat. That series is on a Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday rotation...so our Game Five Stat preview will be Thursday in the NOTEBOOK. Look for timely baseball articles Wednesday, Friday (possibly focusing on Yankees/Mets or Dodgers/Angels), and Saturday.

Be with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY going on in the world of sports. And, link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK to find the best plays on the board in baseball and basketball!

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Aug

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