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One of the more underrated and entertaining series of the weekend is set as the Minnesota Twins (24-20) will go on the road in a three-game series to take on the Los Angeles Angels (22-22). The Twins are looking to continue their reign at the top of the AL Central while the Angels are trying to survive in the AL West and make the playoffs.
The Twins started the month of May as they lost two tough series back-to-back against AL Central Divisional rivals in the Chicago White Cleveland Guardians. The Twins were able to rebound and earn back the rhythm they had lost with a solid of wins over the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs.
Through the first 44 games of the season, the Twins have been solid at the batting plate. Minnesota ranks sixth in the AL in runs accounted for (207), third in home runs (60), fifth in walks (150), 11th in batting average (.231), and 10th in on-base percentage (.309). They are a solid power-hitting team as one can shift the tides for the Twins. As a result, the Twins are prone to strike out often. They have struck out 422 times through 44 games, which ranks 14th in the AL.
Second baseman Jorge Polanco leads the Twins in batting average (.284) this season as he is one of the Twins’ more reliable batters. Polanco has also accounted for 27 hits, four home runs, and 14 RBIs. First baseman Joey Gallo leads the team in home runs accounted for this season at 10. Following him is designated hitter Byron Buxton at nine home runs, who has also accounted for 35 hits, a .236 batting average, and an on-base percentage of .341. Shortstop Carlos Correa has had some struggles this season, but he has been efficient in getting his teammates home by leading the team in RBIs at 26.
The biggest reason for the success of the Twins this season is the tremendous pitching. The Twins are third in the AL in ERA (3.41), second in fewest hits allowed (327), third in runs allowed (165), third in home runs allowed (42), and first in strikeouts thrown (432). There are three pitchers this season that have an ERA of 2.16 or lower in at-least 30 innings pitched.
Throughout April, the Angels have been fighting for stability by trying to stay at .500% or better. They have below .500% four times in April after being at .500%. The Angels then went on an impressive five-game winning streak to start the month of May before going 4-8 in their next 12 games.
Having two of the most talented batter in all of baseball helps the Angels significantly. Through the first 44 games, the Angels are ranked fourth in the AL in runs accounted for (222), fourth in hits accounted for (389), fourth in home run (57), fourth in batting average (.259), and sixth in on-base percentage (.327).
Centerfielder Mike Trout, designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani, and rightfielder Hunter Renfroe have been tremendous for the Angels this season. Before Thursday’s game versus the Baltimore Orioles, the three players have combined for 84 runs, 137 hits, 28 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 52 walks. All three of them have a batting average of .250 or better while Trout and Ohtani have a on-base percentage higher than .360.
The biggest concern for the Angels, other than talent at other positions, is the efficiency of the pitching. The Angels are ranked 11th in the AL in ERA (4.39), 11th in runs allowed (215) and 12th in walks allowed (151). Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval are two of the top pitchers for the Angels, while the other starting pitchers, outside of Reid Detmers, are not efficient.
The over/under for Friday’s game is set at 8.,5 which should be an indication of the potential low-scoring series the Twins vs Angels could be. While the Angels have a bad bullpen outside of their top two starting pitchers, both Sandoval and Ohtani will be starting this in the two games for the Angels.
Sandoval (3.22 ERA in 44.2 innings pitched) will be the starting pitcher for the Angels on Saturday while Louie Varland (4.30 ERA in 23 innings pitched) will be the starting pitcher for the Twins. While Sandoval is the more experienced pitcher, Varland has better numbers. In 23 fewer inning pitched, Varland has only four fewer strikeouts thrown than Sandovoal.
On Sunday, the Angels will have a clear advantage in pitching with Ohtani (3.23 ERA in 53 innings pitched). In 53 innings pitched, Ohtani has allowed only 26 hits and 19 runs while delivering 71 strikeouts.
The Twins are going with the starting pitcher with the second-worst ERA this season at 4.00 in Pablo Lopez. In 54 innings pitched, Lopez has allowed 44 hits, 24 runs, eight home runs, and 14 walks. He is certainly not among the worst pitchers in the league, but he will have a tough battle to compete with Ohtani.
Saturday’s game could be a toss-up, but the Twins have much better relief and closing pitchers than the Angels. Ohtani’s presence at the mound could be the boost to give either get one win in the series versus Minnesota or come out with a surprising series win.
Los Angeles Angels
Jorge Polanco (.284)
Anthony Rendon (.301)
Joey Gallo (10)
Hunter Renfroe (10)
Trevor Larnach (26)
Donovan Solano (.343)
Anthony Rendon (.415)
Byron Buxton (35)
Shohei Ohtani (47)
Shohei Ohtani (5)
Jorge Loez (1.37)
Matt Moore (1.29)
Pablo Lopez (66)
Shohei Ohtani (71)
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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