It is Game 2 of the worst and the best of what the American League has to offer as we look at betting baseball. Minnesota is being whipped on a regular basis, while Texas has quietly become the best team in the majors.
The Twins were a huge surprise last year to finish 83-79 (+20.6 units), but this year, manager Paul Molitor’s club is paying the price for overachieving. Below, we will dig a little deeper to understand what happened and what it could mean for tonight.
After last year’s stunning close to the season, the Rangers have picked up where they left off and one can only wonder what this club’s ceiling is if they can match tonight’s starting pitcher Cole Hamels (9-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) with a healthy Yu Darvish for the remainder of 2016.
Kyle Gibson (2-5, 4.82, 1.43) lacks the elite pitches to be considered ace material. He’s a ground-ball pitcher, which means keeping the fastball and slider down and that has been a problem all season long. Gibson has not really been healthy this year, battling shoulder and back issues, which have contributed to his inability to spot pitches. He has enjoyed success against Texas with 2.02 ERA in four starts (Twins 3-1), including victory last Sunday.
Though Hamels does not have same consistent velocity of younger days at 32, the left-hander is a complete pitcher, with full repertoire to go through opposing lineup four times and keep hitters guessing what is coming. Hamels still possess a lively fastball, cutter, multiple speed curves and deadly changeup. An elite hurler, who is underrated.
Minnesota Offense Has Come Around
After a very slow start, the Twins offense has caught up with last year’s club and is averaging 4.3 runs per contest. Where Minnesota has been knocked woozy is permitting one full run more this season compared to last (5.3 vs. 4.3 RPG). You could add Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and that would still not be enough offense to overcome pathetic pitching.
Texas Offense Overcomes Horrible Bullpen
In a lot of ways, the Rangers offense is far better collectively than the individual parts. With Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland at below .300 on-base percentages, hard to embrace the notion Texas is sixth in scoring in baseball at 4.9 RPG. But this speaks to everyone else pulling their weight to help the team and explains incredible 36-23 underdog record (+23.7). By run differential, Texas is incredible seven games better than they should be 53-34 vs. 46-41, however, this is byproduct of horrific bullpen giving up runs.