The Angels were supposed to be the runaway winners of the AL West this year, but Texas has played better than expected, and even the Mariners are hanging around. The Francisco Rodriguez-free bullpen has had a 76% reduction in asinine post-save gestures, but they’re also giving up a lot of runs. The offense has been somewhat meh, too -- Howie Kendrick was demoted, Vladimir Guerrero has been hurt 'n' awful, and the rest of the lineup has been just slightly above the league average. Don't get me wrong, the Giants would kill for the Angel's lineup, as I think Erick Aybar would be our cleanup hitter, but I think the the Angels Angels of Anaheim were expecting a little bit more.
Hitter to watch:
Torii Hunter was the rich man’s centerfield option after the 2007 season, and his five-year/$90M deal was pretty rich for a team that also had Gary Matthews Jr. for several years/several million. For the short-term, though, Hunter has been raking. FanGraphs doesn’t seem to like his defense, but the anecdotal evidence says he’s great, which should help in all of those anecdotal one-run games. I’ll take the under on the 1.000 OPS for the season, and I’ll take the under on a .750 OPS for 2012, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to go goofy on the Giants in this series.
Pitcher to watch:
Matt Palmer is scheduled to fill in for one of the Giants’ starters this series, but I can’t figure out why. Everyone’s healthy…uh, there aren’t any demotions of note…I…wait, Palmer’s on the Angels now? And he’s 6-0 with a 4.11 ERA? So I guess he’s like the Matt Palmer of the Angels organization now.
It seems that the "pitcher to watch" section has become the "pitcher I expect to absolutely dominate the Giants" section, and that might not be fair for a team that’s on a pretty good roll. But c’mon. There’s no way the Giants will slap around Palmer – he’ll make them pay for making a barely noticed, sensible roster decision. The Giants might win the game, mind you, but it will be a 2-1 grind for nine innings.
Fewer than two inside-the-park home runs.