On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2011 season.
The Opponent: The Rangers come back home from their nine-game road swing to open a three game series with the Angels on Monday night. It's the first of 18 games against the divisional rivals this season and it comes with the Angels riding a five-game win streak to a tie atop the AL West with the home team.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Ervin Santana (0-1, 3.74 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (1-0, 3.72); Tuesday - Matt Palmer (0-0, 7.71) vs. Colby Lewis (1-1, 5.25); Wednesday - Jered Weaver (4-0, 1.30) vs. Matt Harrison (3-0, 1.23)
What's Hot: Weaver is off to a tremendous start -- he's also striking out 10.08 per nine -- and if the Angels are going to contend it will be on the back of him and Dan Haren. The Rangers are lucky to miss the other Angels ace in this set because their pitching drops off dramatically from there.
Offensively, the Angels have been riding some unlikely names to their five straight wins. Macier Izturis, Alberto Callaspo, Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger have all been swinging the bat very well for a team that's not as loaded with stars as they've been in many recent seasons. Rangers fans probably aren't that familiar with these names, but they'll likely be old hat by the end of the season.
Jordan Walden, of Mansfield, is another new name but he'll be well known soon if he keeps closing games without incident for the Angels. Walden grabbed the job from Fernando Rodney in the early going and shows no signs of giving it back.
The Rangers hope that Michael Young will keep swinging a hot back now that he's left the Bronx and Adrian Beltre has also been scalding for the Rangers.
What's Not: The Rangers' travel schedule isn't all that enjoyable. The miserable weather in New York this weekend was made all the worse by the late departure on Sunday night before a home game on Monday. The team looked like it could use a bit of rest by the end of the trip, let's hope a night (or a morning) in their own beds is enough to get them back on track.
The Angels have gotten zippo from Vernon Wells and little more than that from Torii Hunter thus far. It's been great to see the young and nameless have great starts, but the Angels need more from the middle of the order.
And the Rangers need more from everyone not named Beltre and Young. It was a long road trip and things could have been much worse, but the offense needs to pick up their game now that they are back home. No better place to start than at the top of the order where Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus have been invisible.
Familiar Faces: For Mike Napoli, just about every face is a familiar one. He's facing his old team for the first time since the pair of offseason trades that sent him to Toronto and Texas.
With the aforementioned exceptions, the faces are pretty familiar to the rest of the Rangers as well. No Angels have played for Texas in the past, but plenty of them have been through the AL West wars more than once. In the past, it has been the Angels fighting off the Rangers but the tables are turned for this year's resumption of hostilities.