Series Preview #5: Twins @ Angels (Home Rebound)

Twins (6-7) @ Angels (7-5)

The recent Angels road trip started out well enough, with two wins against the Blue Jays in Florida. Then a rain delay and postponed stalled momentum, and injuries prevented the Angels from winning the series in Kansas City. They return home, hopefully healthier and ready to get back in the win column. With a two-game losing streak, the Mariners have taken over first place in the AL West.

Photo from Fangraphs

The Minnesota Twins come out on the road also looking to bounce back from a disappointing homestand. After splitting with the Mariners, the Twins dropped three of four to the suddenly resurgent Red Sox, including both legs of a seven-inning doubleheader on Wednesday.

Twins Lineup

Photo from Fangraphs

The Twins have been somewhat hurt by injuries over the past week, so it’s hard to know exactly what their lineup configuration is. However, some of their key hitters are returning, such as Josh Donaldson and a superstar Byron Buxton. Luis Arráez hits leadoff, using his Fletcher-esque bat-on-ball skills to hit for average. Although he’s played multiple positions, expect him to slide in at second base for this series.

Because Andrelton Simmons is on the COVID-19 list and will not be available, that means that Jorge Polanco moves from second to shortstop to his more natural position. The 27-year-old is struggling this season, with a 34 OPS+ through 58 PA, but the switch-hitter will be looking to recapture his 2019 All-Star form.

The aforementioned Donaldson is still raking at thirty-five. Despite missing half of 2020 to injury and a large chunk of 2021 already, Donaldson is still a threat in the lineup, and the Twins will be glad to have him back.

Miguel Sanó rounds out the infield. At first base, the slugger has two home-runs this season, but those two boppers account for 50% of his hits, as he’s only hitting .100 this season. If he gets into the lineup this weekend, the important thing will be to keep him from getting hot and regaining his form. If he does not, fan favorite Willians Astudillo may take his place.

Catcher is a timeshare between Mitch Garver and Kyle Garlick, neither truly impressive, and the ageless Nelson Cruz is carding an insane 1.226 OPS at DH (Ohtani has a 1.125).

In the outfield, if Buxton is healthy, he should play a superb centerfield while continuing his torrid stretch with the bat. The former top prospect has hit five homers in nine games and is slugging 1.094, good for an OPS of 1.622. Jake Cave and Max Kepler man the corner positions.

Probable Pitchers

Photo from 538

Here are the probables for this weekend, including the chances of winning according to 538’s ELO system and adjustments.

The Angels will, thanks to the Wednesday doubleheader, miss the top three (Maeda, Berrios, Pineda) Twins starters. This stroke of luck should be capitalized upon.

Lewis Thorpe is an Australian left-hander who impressed this spring. After disastrous stints in the Majors in 2019 and 2020, Thorpe added strength this offseason and improved his fastball velocity from the 90-91 mph it had previously been, and he posted a sub-1.00 WHIP in Spring Training this year. He makes his first start of the year against Andrew Heaney, who looks to put together some sort of consistency.

Old friend Matt Shoemaker is back in town! Ol’ Shoey has been bitten by the injury bug the past few seasons, with the ACL injury in 2019 the latest to sideline him for a long period of time. He came back strong towards the back part of 2020 and parleyed that performance into a one-year deal with the Twins. If you’re at the game, be prepared for Saturday Night Fireworks at Angel Stadium to be delayed, because Shoey can take a looooooong time on the mound with runners on. He matches up against José Quintana, who looks to improve upon his 16.20 2021 ERA.

J.A. Happ is your prototypical soft-tossing lefty. He’s been in the bigs since 2007, and since then, he’s always thrown his 90-92 mph fastball about 50% of the time, combined with a sinker and slider. He has a changeup and a curveball, but he rarely uses them. He opposes Alex Cobb, who has managed to impress me through his first two starts with some sharp stuff.

Twins Bullpen

Photo from Fangraphs

Alex Colomé heads up the bullpen, which also features Taylor Rogers and former Angel Hansel Robles. Randy Dobnak is a nice story, but they seem to be keeping him somewhat stretched out in case he is needed in the rotation. The rest of the pen seems uninspiring (though the same could be said for that of the Angels).

Series Prediction

This series could have a number of outcomes, depending on who the Angels call up and how the more shaky half of the rotation (in Heaney, Quintana, and Cobb to a certain extent) pitch. However, this is the back half of the Twins’ rotation as well, so there could be some offensive explosions to be had. Back at home after an off-day, the Angels should be able to get the offense right, so I do lean towards the home side taking two slightly more than the away side doing so. Regardless, it should be a fun series. Thoughts?

(Title Photo from Twins Twitter)

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tommyshalo
Member
1 month ago

Thanks for the detailed preview. Yeah their lineup looks scary, but hopefully we can merit from their backend starters.
Get the momentum rolling again!

GrandpaBaseball
Trusted Member
1 month ago

About an hour to the game and I am finding it hard to wait as I think we have a good shot to win. Why is Shohei not pitching on Sunday, anybody know?

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
1 month ago

Good for Schebler.

He signed a minors deal pretty early this off season then saw a lot of guys brought in afterwards. He played well in ST and now has a shot at some MLB playing time.

surprised Ward isn’t up, but I’ll gladly root for Schebler.

Mia
Super Member
Mia
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Sounds like Ward may have COVID. Joe said he hasn’t gotten enough playing time due to “things going on in the world”

Doesn’t take a genius to crack that one.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mia
Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Mia

Wow. Thanks for sharing that.

Hope he’s ok.

LAAFan
Member
1 month ago

Jay gone, Schebler added. Also Rengifo called up.

Fansince1971
Super Member
1 month ago

Okay wierd. Rengifo is in the lineup with no known roster moves. How did that occur?

jco
Member
jco
1 month ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

Mayfield was optioned, Jay was DFA’s, Rengifo called up and Schebler called up.

JackFrost
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  jco

Rengifo is in the lineup playing 3B tonight, so that is an improvement. Though I might have moved Fletch to 3B and put Rengifo at 2B.

Pretty sure Fletch has played more games at 3B than Luis.

JackFrost
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  H.T. Ennis

Could be. Also could be that they feel 2B is a more important defensive position due to frequency of turning the DP and overall activity, which is something similar to your explanation,

matthiasstephan
Trusted Member
29 days ago
Reply to  JackFrost

Sounds like Fletcher isn’t a rover anymore. He is the starting 2B. I think that is good. He can focus on his hitting, and get a Gold Glove at 2B 🙂

Fansince1971
Super Member
1 month ago
Reply to  jco

That sounds great!

Angels2020Champs
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I like Walsh at RF, glad to see JUp isnt seriously injured and that we have a good 4th OF in Schebler. I was hoping for Ward but Rengifo is a team favorite

Last edited 1 month ago by Angels2020Champs
Fansince1971
Super Member
1 month ago

Anyone hear of any Angel roster moves?

Angels2020Champs
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

No and I keep checking angels PR page.
I even looked up when lineups have to be announced. Generally 3 hours before gametime.
Was surprised to learn (recently) teams have to submit their lineup to the league office who will release them to all media and sports books at the same time.

Fansince1971
Super Member
1 month ago

Thanks for the info. A bit frustrating actually.

Angels2020Champs
Trusted Member
1 month ago

What’s the story with the twins becoming the twins… they came in as we know them in ‘61 expansion with Angels, right? But there was a franchise there before? That moved? Help before I go to wiki

Born_in_59
Member
1 month ago

Actually the Twins moved from Washington DC where they were the original Senators team (the one with Walter Johnson). They moved after the 1960 season concluded and were replaced by the expansion Washington Senators. Ironically the second edition Senators moved in 1972 and became the Texas Rangers.

BoyWithApple
Member
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Born_in_59

Mary Wells called it — You beat me to the punch.

Born_in_59
Member
1 month ago
Reply to  BoyWithApple

I swear I hit post and when my screen refreshed I saw your reply too.

BoyWithApple
Member
Trusted Member
1 month ago

No, the Twins were the Washington Senators, who were one of the original American League teams in 1901. Senators owner Calvin Griffith moved his team to Minnesota because there were too many Black people living in the DC area for his liking (Years later when Rod Carew found out about this, he demanded to be traded. “I’m not working on this plantation any more” he said. Carew called his former teammate Lyman Bostock, who told him the Angels were a great organization to play for, and so a trade with the Angels was worked out.

When the Senators left DC for Minnesota, the league compensated DC fans by granting them one of the two new franchises for the 1961 season, and that team was also called the Washington Senators, who then left town about a decade later, relocated in Arlington, and called themselves the Rangers.

Angels2020Champs
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  BoyWithApple

Didn’t know any of that, thanks! Especially the Rod Carew part. He is one of the best men around. His story just gets better and he continues to give back to our communities! Now there’s an Angels jersey I should purchase!!

2002heaven
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  BoyWithApple

Before Marge Schott and Donald Sterling, there was Calvin Griffith. 👎 

jco
Member
jco
1 month ago
Reply to  2002heaven

There’s a really good book about the Homestead Grays (a Negro League Team) called Beyond the Shadow of the Senators. It’s got quite a bit about Griffith in there and the relationship between the Senators, the Grays, and the many Black Fans that attended both Senators and Grays games in the Senators’ stadium.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
1 month ago
Reply to  jco

And my reading list just got a little longer.

this reminds me of the story of the Pirates and Crawfords. Once year when the Pirates were at or near the bottom of the standings, Wendell Smith wrote the Pirates an open letter stating there was enough talent on the Crawfords to get the Pirates a pennant.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeff Joiner
Born_in_59
Member
1 month ago
Reply to  2002heaven

And apparently before all of them was Cap Anson.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
29 days ago
Reply to  2002heaven

And before him was Charles Comiskey.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago

I think it has do to with the splitting of a fertilized egg.

Twebur
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Concerned that the OC may have a food shortage this weekend……the Twins have some very, very large players to put it kindly.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Twebur

As long as they don’t use all of our toilet paper we should be ok

DMAGZ13
Trusted Member
1 month ago

I think this is could be one the 3-4 defining series of the season. The disaster that was the rain delay against Toronto and then the nightmarish loss to KC and getting whooped by Sal Perez and seeing Trout whiff a game away reminds me a lot of the snow disaster series at KC, or the home beating we took against Boston. This road trip has decimated our lineup with injuries, even Trout May be hurt, pitching staff off and all that shine gone at 7-3. I honestly can see us getting beat up some more, especially with Heaney starting the series against a homer happy line up.

GrandpaBaseball
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Tomorrows game is the one I have concern about winning as Quintana has not pitched a good game so far. Cobb is a wild card so far isn’t he. Heaney is due for a no decision tonight or loss. Tough 3 game match up. But we have Trouty and Ohtani and Fletch. Go Angels.

Angels2020Champs
Trusted Member
1 month ago

I try not looking at who is going to pitch so it won’t affect if I go to the game or not haha.

Twebur
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Over / under 8.5

Home Runs Nelson Cruz will hit this series.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Twebur

I’ll take the under

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
1 month ago

Very tight series. Could see either team winning any game. Cruz is ageless due to roids. He’s the new Papi and just as obvious.

Heaney is up and down, Quintana has yet to have a good start for us, Cobb was dealing last game until the wheels fell off but probably our best bet here.

GrandpaBaseball
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Why is it so obvious that this guy is using and MLB does not test him?

steelgolf
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Maybe they have tested him and his suppliers are ahead of the testing protocols and they have not detected it yet.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  steelgolf

He probably got the Sputnik vaccine.

2002heaven
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Same reason the Angels wouldn’t pass a independent auditing office if MLB had one. Same as law enforcement agencies have a Internal Affairs Bureau. Because some teams aren’t very scrupulous.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
1 month ago

Last time Cruz was busted came as the result of an investigation into an anti aging clinic, not a positive test.

Very little testing was done last year, particularly in the DR. Hence a lot of DR guys having huge years.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago

With a left hander going tonight, if this isn’t right time to start Taylor Ward, I don’t know when it will be. Hopefully J Up is back as well.

JackFrost
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Speaking of the left-hander going for the Twins tonight, (Thorpe) having lost to Duffy in KC we still have not beaten one in 2021.

That fact, combined with the fact we are missing Rendon, Upton and may have a stiff in RF, I see the Twins winning tonight. Then Shoemaker throws in a potential revenge game.

This series scares me. The bats have gone silent and the injury bug has hit. We need to be very focused and not miss key scoring chances like we did on Wednesday. If that continues we could easily lose this series.

GrandpaBaseball
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  JackFrost

There is always the fact that home cookin’ is good for the Soul and that we can always comeback in later innings while at home too.

Cowboy26
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  JackFrost

I have felt over the last few years that the Angels are in need of a right handed utility player who does destroys left handed pitching that can be plugged into the middle of the lineup for games like these. Even our main right handed hitters have not shown severe LH/RH splits to garner an advantage over these starting pitchers. It seems like there are always 1 or 2 key at bats a game where the right righthanded hitter would totally change the outcome.

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