8:05 PM EST – Line: Rangers -140, Over/Under: 10.5
With the All-Star Break approaching, Division Rivals face off in Arlington, as the Texas Rangers play host the Los Angeles Angels in the first instalment of a Four-Game Series from Globe Life Park. After finishing a hair below .500 in each of the past two seasons, it appears that nothing has really changed for the Angels (42-42, 4th in AL West), who in Brad Ausmus’ first year at the helm, continue to toil away in mediocrity. Consistency has been a very foreign concept for this club, who at the moment stand Ten Games out of First Place in the American League West, and 4.5 Games out of the league’s final Wild Card. However, Los Angeles finds themselves in the middle of a crucial stretch in which they are tasked with closing out the First Half of the term with three consecutive Series against their direct competition in the AL West; after dropping out of Three Games at home to the Oakland Athletics, they must travel to Arlington for Four Games, followed by three more at the Division-leading Houston Astros. By and large, this is a team that hasn’t had much of a problem getting On Base or scoring Runs, for Ausmus’ charges have certainly taken part in this power-hitting renaissance that is 2019; the Angels rank Fifth in the American League in Batting Average (.259), and On-Base Percentage (.356), while placing Sixth in Home Runs (119), and Fourth in Walks (304), all the while totaling the fewest Strikeouts (555). The Batting Order features a good blend of power, patience, and balance, with perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout (80 G, .298 BA, 82 H, 63 R, 18 2B, 22 HR, 57 RBI, 70 BB, 63 K) leading the way with a .298 Batting Average, Twenty-Two Home Runs, Fifty-Seven Runs Batted In, and a Major League-leading Seventy Walks. In terms of patience, this guy defines the characteristic, with the Seven-Time All-Star Centerfielder on his way towards pacing the Majors in that particular category for the third time in the last four years, while shattering his personal-best of 122, which he set in 2018. With that said, it’s been a very different story in regards to the Pitching Staff, which has been a constant source of trouble for Los Angeles, who have given up nearly exactly as many Runs as they’ve scored thus far (421/414). Taking the mound tonight for the Angels will be Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.57 ERA, 4 GS, 21.0 IP, 22 H, 13 ER, 6 HR, 9 BB, 19 K, 1.476 WHIP), who will be making the fifth Start of his young career. The Lefthander was called up from the Minors about a month ago with designs of improving one of the weakest Pitching Staffs in the American League. Los Angeles comes into this Series with Texas ranking a disappointing Tenth in Team ERA (4.88), along with Thirteenth in Home Runs Allowed (139) and Eleventh in Walks Issued (293). The 21-Year Old Venezuelan International has been the latest attempt from Ausmus to further flesh out his Starting Rotation, though it remains to be seen if the Rookie isn’t better suited for a place in the Bullpen instead. Control certainly appears to be an issue at this stage of his career, for in just 21.0 Innings of labor, Suarez has already relinquished Six Home Runs, including three in his last Start, a 5-7 Loss at the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite ultimately not factoring into the Decision, he struggled yielding all Five Runs on Eight Hits before making his exit after 5.0 Innings. Granted, he did manage to strike out Six Batters, but he walked half of that number as well, serving as proof that this kid is still very much trying to figure out the Majors.
Meanwhile, it’s been a different story for the Rangers (46-38, 2nd in AL West), who despite also trailing the Astros by a sizable deficit in the American League West, find themselves currently occupying the league’s final Wild Card. Of course, Texas could have improved their fortunes had they managed a better outcome in their most recent Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, who stand just a single game ahead of them for the first AL Wild Card. After shutting the Rays out 5-0 in the Opener to their three-game set, Chris Woodward’s charges were outscored 4-11 over the final two outings, failing to take advantage of a golden opportunity to move up the Standings. Now, it appears that it will very much be a dogfight between a slew of teams over the second half of the term, with the likes of the Cleveland Indians and the aforementioned Athletics trailing them by 1.5 Games at the most. Injures have been an issue of late for this club, particularly n regards to the Batting Order, which has recently been without the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera (72 G, .228 BA, 58 H, 37 R, 12 2B, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 29 BB, 68 K), Hunter Pence (55 G, .294 BA, 57 H, 44 R, 14 2B, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 17 BB, 47 K), and Rougned Odor (67 G, .188 BA, 46 H, 36 R, 13 2B, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 22 BB, 84 K) due to a variety of maladies, with Cabrera and Odor listed as Day-to-Day with a stiff back for the former and cramping in the hamstring of the latter being the root of their pain. Pence, on the other hand, is heading to the 10-Day Disabled List, with Woodward likely shelving the Designated Hitter until after the All-Star Break. Let’s face it, Globe Life Park is definitely a Hitter’s Park, and this is a team that needs to score Runs in order to be successful, and they’ll need to get back to full strength if they hope to fend off the competition that’s currently breathing down the back of their necks. Taking the mound tonight for the Rangers is Mike Minor (8-4, 2.40 ERA, 17 GS, 112.2 IP, 89 H, 30 ER, 12 HR, 37 BB, 110 K, 1.118 WHIP), who in his second season with the Franchise, has really settled into his role as the team’s No. One in the Rotation. In a club full of so many promising, young players, the 31-Year Old has been an integral part in their overall growth, though by and large he’s taken his own game to new heights, leading the American League with a 2.40 ERA. While his Strikeout/Walk Ratio (2.97) won’t blow you away by any means, the veteran Lefthander has had no problems retiring opposing Batters. When we last saw him, Minor just earned his third consecutive Victory in as many Starts, leading Texas to a 4-1 Win at the Detroit Tigers. For the second time this season, he went the distance, authoring a Complete Game, featuring One Earned Run on Five Hits, with seven Strikeouts in comparison to a pair of Walks on a total of 108 Pitches. Furthermore, Minor has been rather successful when facing his opponent tonight, the Angels; in Five Career Starts, he has gone 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA, allowing Eight Runs on Twenty-Nine Hits, with Twenty-Eight Strikeouts to Nine Walks. In Two Starts against Los Angeles in 2019, Minor has relinquished just a Single Run on Eight Hits over 15.0 Innings, with a Dozen Strikeouts opposed to Four Walks. He last faced them back on May 25th, in an affair that resulted without a Decision for the Lefty, but in a 2-3 Defeat to the Rangers.