(Mike Minor photo courtesy Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)
This is the full preview(s) seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Monday, July 1, Globe Life Park at Arlington, Texas, 8:05 p.m. EDT.
Newly minted All-Star Mike Minor looks to continue his run of success versus the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night when he leads the Texas Rangers into the opener of their four-game set versus their AL West rivals.
Angels rookie Suarez trying to overcome command problems
Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.57 ERA) did not pitch all that badly in four starts after being promoted last month, and the schedule worked out for the Angels that the left-hander was able to get a tune-up start with Triple-A Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
There, the 21-year-old yielded a pair of unearned runs and struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings, throwing 57 of his 87 pitches for strikes in the Bees’ eventual 6-4 defeat.
The hope is the quick trip to Salt Lake City allowed Suarez to regain some command. The lefty served up three homers in his last start with the Angels, taking the loss in a 7-5 loss at Toronto on June 20. Suarez has given up at least one gopher ball in all four starts with Los Angeles and also has walked nine in 21 innings, which has contributed to his 1.48 WHIP.
This will be his fourth road start, and Suarez has gone 2-0 in three starts despite a 6.06 ERA in those games.
The Angels (42-43) are opening a seven-game road trip that takes them to the All-Star break and are currently in a stretch of 21 consecutive games versus AL West opponents. They dropped the final three of their four-game series versus the Oakland A’s, including a 12-3 pasting Sunday that ruined the announcement of Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella making the All-Star team.
“You win the first game of the series against the team you’re chasing, it’s kind of unacceptable — we need to play better than that, quite frankly,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus told the team’s official website. “Any of us that put [on] that uniform and go into that dugout, we need to do a better job. We’re chasing Oakland among other teams in the hunt. We just got back over .500 and we lose three in a row. We just have to be better. Simple as that.”
Minor looks to win fourth straight start
Minor (8-4, 2.40) earned his first career All-Star nod Sunday and will be part of the AL squad in Cleveland on July 9. The left-hander leads the American League in earned run average and trails only Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His recent surge has helped him climb the leaderboard in that category. Minor has conceded five runs in 23 1-3 innings for a 1.93 ERA in his three wins, with four of those runs scoring on three homers. The lefty tossed his second complete game of the season Wednesday, finishing with a five-hitter and seven strikeouts in a 4-1 victory over Detroit.
“It’s a lot of fun — to be out there, to give the bullpen a day off,” Minor told The Associated Press after his 108-pitch effort in a game that took just 2 hours, 19 minutes. “It’s a long season. Quick game, get it on and off the field, and give the bullpen a break.”
Minor’s strong current run could serve as an omen for the Angels. The southpaw has not lost to Los Angeles since joining Texas last year, going 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four starts. Minor recorded his first career shutout in the last matchup between the teams in Texas, firing a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 5-0 victory April 16.
In the most recent matchup May 25, Minor did not factor in the decision of Texas’ 3-2 loss despite limiting the Angels to a solo homer by Kole Calhoun and four other hits over six innings.
Calhoun is 3 for 7 with a solo homer while Shohei Ohtani is 3 for 9 with a home run. Trout has also taken Minor deep while going 4 for 14.
Texas (46-38) wrapped up a six-game road swing 4-2, but the two losses came in the final two contests after dropping back-to-back games at Tampa Bay. Joey Gallo, who accounted for the offense in Sunday’s 6-2 defeat with a mammoth blast and will join Minor in Cleveland, is 9 for 24 with five homers in his last eight games.
The Rangers are:
- 7-1 in their last eight home games vs. left-handed starters.
- 18-8 in their last 26 home games.
- 5-0 in Minor’s last five starts.
The Angels are:
- 1-4 in their last five road games vs. the Rangers.
- 14-38 in their last 52 road games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 2-6 in their last eight vs. above-.500 teams.
Rangers 3-way money line first 5 innings (-110)
The 3-way money line offers a slightly better return than the run line at -115 for the Rangers and laying the half-run. Texas has led after five innings in seven of Minor’s last nine starts, and the two times the Rangers trailed was because they failed to score.
Rangers -1.5 runs (+135)
This is a pick riding Minor’s overall form and his recent form against the Angels. With the expected two starts this week ahead of the All-Star game, look for the left-hander to be aggressive to close out the first half of the season. Facing an Angels squad that continues to struggle to find consistency only helps to that end.
Angels UNDER 4.5 runs (Even)
A confidence pick in Minor, one that is completely justified considering Rangers opponents have scored four runs just once in his last seven starts. Opponents have also failed to score more than four runs against Texas in six of the southpaw’s eight starts at Globe Life Park.
UNDER 10.5 runs (Even)
This number came in surprisingly high given Minor’s current run, and the feeling is Suarez’s spot start is being overvalued as opposed to the Rangers’ lefty. The under has delivered in the Minor’s last four starts versus the Angels and is 12-4 in his last 16 against division opponents.
The under is 6-2-1 in Los Angeles’ last nine series openers and 5-2 in its last seven road games versus the Rangers. The under is also on a 6-0-1 run in Texas’ last seven games overall.
UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)
The hook makes the under the pick, though Minor’s form is reason 1A in this instance. The five-inning under is 7-3 in Minor’s last 10 starts and has hit in both his matchups with the Angels this year. The under was 2-2 in Suarez’s four starts before his shuttle to Salt Lake, but Minor’s form should carry this number in a close one.
Angels UNDER 2.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)
For those of you who are impatient, taking the UNDER at 1.5 runs for the first three innings is also a solid pick, but the -145 return is not much. Minor has allowed more than two runs in the first five innings just three times this season and has held opponents under 2.5 runs in the first five innings in his last five starts and eight of the last nine.
In his two starts versus the Angels, they were held to zero and one run, respectively.