The Texas Rangers open up a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, as Yu Darvish squares off against former Ranger C.J. Wilson. There are plenty of ripe storylines to follow in this series, including Darvish's first start against Los Angeles, Wilson's return to Texas, Albert Pujols' struggles and, of course, the overall impact on the AL West standings. We've brought in Jim (WiHaloFan) from Halos Heaven to help preview this series.
It's only May, but do the Angels and Angels fans consider this a big series?
I can't speak for the players or other fans, but I would hope they consider this a big series. I don't get how some will say, "It's still early." when these game count just as much as the games in September do. This series will at least be a test for the Angels club as to their true abilities against a good team as they've played 16 of their 32 games against the Twins, Royals and Oakland.
Albert Pujols is struggling and Jordan Walden was demoted -- but those can't be the only reasons for Los Angeles' struggles so far, can they? What else has contributed to the slow start?
The offense. The Angels' bullpen ERA ranks 29th in the majors, but it really doesn't matter when the batting order hasn't managed to score any runs. The Halos have been shutout a major league leading 7 times already this season, and the only teams they have out homered are the Royals and Twins.
On Pujols, are Angels fans getting restless, or do they still believe at the end of the year, Pujols will stand among the AL MVP candidates?
I think fans are getting restless watching Pujols swing at everything and hitting weak groundballs to the left side of the infield, but are confident he'll turn it around. If his trend continues, this will be his first year since his rookie season he has struck out more times than worked a base on balls...and it's not even close (16:6).
How do you expect Angels hitters to attack Yu Darvish, and do you believe that Ron Washington hiding him from the Angels during Cactus League play will benefit Texas, Los Angeles or neither?
Not facing Darvish during spring training probably doesn't benefit either team, but the Angels do seem to have a track record of letting pitchers they've never faced before dominate them. Also, with the sad state of the Angels' offense, they have already been held scoreless by Bartolo Colon, Derek Lowe, Henderson Alvarez, and Scott Diamond, so Yu Darvish might just throw a perfect game.
What are your early impressions of C.J. Wilson, and how do you think he'll fare against his former club on Friday night?
C.J. Wilson was a great signing. He's pitched extremely well in his six Halo starts and is on pace to have his best season of his career. I think Friday's game will be a classic pitcher's duel with Wilson coming out on top, 2-1.