The Los Angeles Angels had a brief two-game series against the Oakland Athletics and then hit the friendly skies for a long trek out to Minnesota to take on the Twins. This is a rather interesting line, one made even more interesting by the overnight movement that we’ve seen from the influential bettors that squat on the immature odds in the betting market.
These two teams leave a lot to be desired. The Twins are still 15 games under .500 and the Angels have a top-five offense and still have a losing record. I can only imagine the frustration of being a fan of these two teams this season.
I hate games like this. The Twins have no business being a favorite of this size in my opinion. However, Andrew Heaney has a 5.56 ERA with a 4.19 FIP. Do I think Heaney should improve? Yes. But, the command profile and the batted ball metrics worry me. He’s given up 15 HR in 16 starts. He still has a .331 BABIP against, even though home runs don’t count towards BABIP. His 67% LOB% is a byproduct of the Angels defense.
On the other hand, he has a 42.6% Hard Hit%, so it isn’t all the porous defense. Heaney’s command has also been suspect. It hasn’t even been a home/road thing either. Heaney has a .331 wOBA against at home, where his SLG is lower, but his control is worse. He has a .328 wOBA against on the road, where his SLG is higher, but his batting average against is 20 points lower.
At least he’s been consistent. His ERA by month is 5.25, 5.23, 5.67, and then 6.75 through two July starts. Heaney has had some weird situational splits this season. He’s allowed a .299 wOBA with the bases empty, a .387 with men on base, and a .288 with RISP. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher to say the least.
At least the Angels offense has been good. They have fallen off the pace ever-so-slightly of late, but still rank seventh in wOBA at .326. They’ve hit a good number of home runs and have really been impressive, even in the absence of Mike Trout and with Anthony Rendon playing like a replacement-level player.
The 2021 version of Kenta Maeda is not the 2020 version. He has a 4.71 ERA and a 4.12 FIP. The numbers are improving, but like Heaney, a high BABIP and a low LOB% have hurt the ERA. Maeda has also had a home run issue of his own. His Hard Hit% has skyrocketed up to 38.8% for this season. That is far and away his highest in the Statcast era.
Since returning from the IL on June 14, Maeda has a 3.90 ERA with a 2.77 FIP. He has worked 30 innings with 40 strikeouts against 13 walks. He has only allowed two home runs in that span, though it is worth noting that he has faced Seattle, Texas, White Sox, Kansas City, Detroit, and Detroit in that span. He hasn’t really faced teams with a lot of power and faced Texas and Seattle on the road.
He has taken some strides in the exit velo department with a mark of 83.6 mph. His Hard Hit% is down to 26.4% and he has only allowed three barrels.
The question here is whether or not we can consider Maeda “back” or if it just has to do with the teams that he has faced. After all, he allowed seven runs on eight hits with five walks in 4.2 innings against the White Sox. That is far and away the best offense he has seen in this span, even with the Tigers performing better of late.
The more I look at this, the more the over makes sense. It is a high total now at 9.5, but it will be a hot day at Target Field. The Angels don’t strike out a lot. The Twins will strike out some, but also hit a lot of home runs. It is their biggest offensive skill. That should play well with Heaney and his subpar command profile.
I also don’t like either one of these bullpens, so we definitely have the possibility for some late runs in this game.