The San Diego Padres will visit the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif., marking the first time Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mike Trout meet head-to-head on a major league field.
While the 29-year-old Trout is the consensus “best player in the majors,” Tatis, 21, is having the best season in the majors this year.
Before play on Wednesday, Tatis leads the majors in runs (38), RBIs (33) and total bases (97), and is tied in home runs (13). He is batting .313 with a 1.055 OPS. Trout, who recently recovered from an extended slump, is hitting .268 with 12 homers, 32 RBI and a .960 OPS.
Trout hit .156 (7 for 45) with four extra-base hits over a 12-game stretch from Aug. 14-25, but has two homers, a double and seven RBIs in his past four games for Los Angeles (12-24).
Meanwhile, Tatis has gone hitless in back-to-back games only once this season — Aug. 12 and 13 when he went 0 for 7 against the Dodgers. He raised his OPS over 1.000 on Aug. 5 and it hasn’t dipped below 1.000 since then, and he’s been hitting over .300 since Aug. 8.
Tatis is playing for a team (22-15) that is in the middle of the playoff race, having made numerous moves at the trade deadline to make a run at a championship, while the Angels were “sellers” at the deadline, trading away current major leaguers to improve the team for the future.
Tatis also has been both spectacular and steady at shortstop, making highlight-reel plays while committing just one error.
“He is so freaking talented,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “I don’t know how to explain it. We’ve got a No. 1 NFL receiver. We’ve got a point guard in the NBA. We’ve got a world class FIFA soccer player, maybe an anchor on a four-by-four Olympic team. We’re just blessed that he was born in the Dominican and grew up playing baseball.
“He’s a freak. And the other thing, too, is just how driven this guy is — to not only be a great player but driven to be a champion.”
The Angels will send Julio Teheran to the mound Wednesday to try to contain Tatis and his teammates, who have won 11 of their last 14 games. Teheran is back in the starting rotation after having been demoted to the bullpen recently to work out some issues.
Overall, Teheran is 0-2 with a 9.17 ERA in five games (four starts), but he said he felt better in his most recent start, despite failing to last five innings. In 4 2/3 innings against Houston on Aug. 25, Teheran gave up three runs on four hits and did not walk a batter.
“I feel way better,” Teheran said. “I feel like I had a feel for all my pitches. The two-seamer was incredible. That’s the best I’ve thrown it in a long time.”
Teheran is 5-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 12 career starts against San Diego.
Dinelson Lamet (2-1, 2.35 ERA) will start for the Padres, having given up more than two runs in only one of his seven starts this season. It came in his most recent start, when he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in a no-decision against the Mariners. He is facing the Angels for the first time.
–Field Level Media