Angels @ Dodgers – July 7, 2023: Going for the season series victory

After a pair of 2-0 wins on June 20 and June 21 in Anaheim, the Dodgers now host the Anaheim Angels in Los Angeles to close out the first half of the 2023 season.

The Dodgers won all four meetings in 2022, split the six games in 2021 and swept the six meetings in 2020, so a win tonight would make it victories in 16 of the past 19 meetings. So while the Angels have had two of the best players in baseball beginning in 2018 … the Dodgers are 18-10, as well as 33-23 since Mike Trout moved up to the majors full time in 2012.

Thus, the expertly created graphic I am using for this post seemed appropriate.

Note: I don’t quite understand how Major League Baseball has continued to tweak the schedule to play more games between the American League and National League, but we still are only getting four games between the Dodgers and Angels these past two years. It would be nice to get back to the annual pair of three-game series between the teams that we had between 1999 and 2012. Of course, once we get to an East and West alignment in Major League Baseball the teams will just share a division anyway.

Getting back to this season, the Angels and Dodgers have gone in slightly different directions since those two games. Their records were nearly identical when they faced off, with the Angels tied for second in the AL West at 41-33 and the Dodgers four games back of first at 39-33. After a 4-9 stretch against the Rockies, White Sox, D-backs and Padres, the Angels are now 45-44 and seven games out of first in the AL West. Meanwhile the Dodgers have gone 8-5 against the Astros, Rockies, Royals and Pirates and moved to 0.5 games back of first in the NL West.

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7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
DH Ohtani (L) 2B Betts
LF Ward 1B Freeman (L)
RF Moniak (L) C Smith
2B Escobar (S) 3B Muncy (L)
CF Adell DH Martinez
3B Moustakas (L) LF Peralta (L)
1B Renfroe RF Heyward (L)
C Thaiss (L) CF Outman (L)
SS Velazquez SS Rojas
P Canning (R) P Gonsolin (R)

No surprises in the Dodgers’ lineup against the right-handed Griffin Canning as Mookie Betts starting count is up to 19 at second base, 12 at short and 52 in right. With tonight making it six starts at second base in his past 12 games, this answer from Dave Roberts is interesting.

As for the Angels, there’s no Mike Trout, no Anthony Rendon, no Brandon Drury. Jo Adell is back in the majors again and playing in just his fourth game of 2023 for the Angels having hit .271/.376/.580/.956 in 321 PAs for Triple-A Salt Lake this season. Adell is 3-for-8 in the majors this season with a triple, homer and one walk to three strikeouts.

Eduardo Escobar is playing his 11th game for the Angels this season, Mike Moustakas his 10th and Andrew Velazquez his 16th.


To open the two-game series, the Dodgers will send the Tony Gonsolin to the mound against Canning. Canning last faced the Dodgers in 2021 and has allowed four runs on 11 hits and three walks across 11 2/3 innings during his career. That’s pretty similar to Gonsolin against the Angels, as he’s allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks in 12 1/3 innings with a scoreless 6 1/3 innings in Los Angeles last June.

Gonsolin’s struggled mightily in his past three starts, allowing 15 runs on 17 hits and seven walks over 14 1/3 innings against the Giants, Astros and Royals. In his 63 career starts in the majors, Gonsolin had never allowed more than 12 runs in a three-game stretch before these past few weeks. Those 12 runs came last July against the Cardinals, Nationals and Rockies before Gonsolin bounced back to allow just three runs in his final 25 2/3 innings of the season. Before 2023, Gonsolin had also allowed four or more earned runs in a game just four times, with two of those coming in that last stretch in July as well as once in 2020 and once in 2019.

So yeah, this is as much trouble as he has had since being called up in 2019.

With a K% down at 19.0% from 23.9% in 2022 and his career best of 27.2% in 2021, Gonsolin’s Whiff% has dropped to 20..8% in 2023 from 26.9% in 2022 and 29.7% in 2021. Predictably, the largest drop has been on his splitter which is now at 21.1% from 32.3% in 2022. The slider has taken a step back too, now at 27.3% from 36.8% last year and 47.8% in 2021. Another fact that won’t shock anyone is the dip in Gonsolin’s velocity as the splitter is a career-low 82.8 mph as is the four-seamer at 92.3 mph. The splitter is at career highs on movement both vertically and horizontally which has led to a career worst .310 xwOBA.

Thankfully Gonsolin’s BABIP is still at .215 which ranks second in the league and somehow has still kept him at first all time with his career BABIP of .221 among pitchers with 300 innings. Otherwise, it would seem like this could all be much worse. While many of Gonsolin’s percentile rankings are at career worsts, his hard hit% and exit velocity are still in line with his career averages or even the best in his career.


Getting back to Canning, he returned from a lower back stress fracture that cost him the final month of the 2021 season and the entire 2022 season before returning on April 12 this season. Somewhat similar to Dustin May, Canning has never been able to break 100 innings in a season and his current total of 71 1/3 innings his most since his rookie season in 2019 that ended early due to elbow inflammation.

After starting the season off slowly, with a 6.14 ERA in the first 29 1/3 innings of the season, Canning bounced back with a 2.25 ERA in the next 36 innings that began with a 7 scoreless innings against the Red Sox on May 23. That matched his longest scoreless outing since his rookie season when he held the Royals scoreless through 7 innings and was his longest outing since holding the Mariners to one run in 8 innings back in August 2020. However, the D-backs sort of ended that stretch in Canning’s last outing as they put up five runs against him in 6 innings. Canning did still strikeout nine batters, matching his season high, but walked a season-high four which Lourdes Gurriel Jr. cashed in three of those with a grand slam in the 2nd inning. Canning did retire the final 13 batters he faced, with nine of those coming by strikeout, so he may have just needed to settle in a bit.

After sitting around 40% fastballs to 20-28% sliders in his first three seasons, Canning returned this season and has gone 32.9% fastball to 31.7% slider while his change and curve usage remain very similar to 2021. The slider’s Whiff% isn’t as high as it once was, but it is still at 36.7% to lead all of his pitches and has been the out pitch on 34 of his 71 strikeouts. The D-backs went down swinging on the pitch in six of their nine strikeouts after Gurriel Jr. sent the pitch 388 feet over the left field wall.

Canning’s slider is at just 0.3 inches of horizontal movement, tied for the 8th-lowest in the league among the 317 qualified pitchers while the 88.4 mph average is tied for 39th of the 317. Canning has actually cut down on the usage of the pitch to right-handed batters with it sitting at 38.4% in 2023 from the 41.7% in 2021. That’s mostly due to an increase in his change, going from 9.9% to 15.7% and has been his best pitch against righties for wOBA at .275.

The slider is up to 23.9% against lefties from 10.6% in 2021 and 19.7% from 2020 as that vertical movement went from 1.5 inches down to that 0.3. It had previously been at 0.5 in 2020 when he used it more often against lefties, so it’s clear he went back to that plan of attack. As has been the case for the previous two years of his career, lefties see fastballs most often and changes second-most even with the increase of the slider that generates swing-and-misses.


As for today’s news, Noah Syndergaard lives.

And how did that go?


And as for Landon Knack, who has been with the team in case of another IL stint for a pitcher:


First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT from Dodger Stadium on SportsNet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.