Scouting report: Los Angeles Angels

Angels The Angels' team construction is about as old-school as it gets. They're built around pitching and defense, with a "small ball" offense that puts the ball in play and tries to "manufacture" runs without such niceties as homers and walks. They have a handful of players who run and do so effectively, and they're aggressive about taking extra bases. Their pitching staff is built around power arms who throw strikes, and they've had one of the deepest bullpens in baseball over the past six seasons.


Their rotation is by far their biggest strength as long as they align it properly for the playoffs. John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Joe Saunders are a very strong 1-2-3, while Jered Weaver can be valuable if he's used in the right way.

Lackey is one of a handful of bona fide No. 1 starters in the game today. He has outstanding command of a 90-93 mph four-seam fastball and works off that pitch very heavily, burying it inside to righties, cutting it slightly at 90 mph to get it in on lefties and adding a two-seamer at 89-90 to give hitters an extra thing to think about. His best secondary pitch is a curveball at 78-81 mph with good two-plane break, which he uses to get both righties and lefties out, even using it in changeup counts against lefties. Saunders brings a combination of three solid-average pitches, with his fastball one grade above average, and outstanding command of his entire repertoire. He's very effective against left-handers, a potential advantage given the strong left-handed bats on some other playoff teams this year.