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Twins vs. Angels MLB Odds & Picks: Back Minnesota On the Road (Friday, April 16)

Twins vs. Angels MLB Odds & Picks: Back Minnesota On the Road (Friday, April 16) article feature image

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images. Pictured: Nelson Cruz (L) and Bryon Buxton (R).

  • Two of MLB's best offenses take the field in Anaheim on Friday, but the play is not on the over.
  • The Angels struggle against lefties, and Twins batters match up well with Andrew Heaney.
  • Tanner McGrath explains why he thinks Minnesota can pull of the upset.

Twins vs. Angels Odds

Twins Odds +135
Angels Odds -160
Over/Under 9 (-105/-115)
Time 9:38 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday night and via BetMGM.

Two top-10 offenses meet in Anaheim on Friday with the winds blowing straight out of the ballpark. Hopefully, we’ll see some fireworks in this game.

The Angels are playing well to start the season while the Twins are lagging. Both teams feature rosters with high-end offensive talent, and both had high pre-season expectations.

While this could be a good spot to bet the over, I think there is a better value-play in this matchup.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins just missed disaster yesterday, as they avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox by holding on for a 4-3 win.

If the Twins hadn’t won, that would have been their sixth straight loss. It’s been frustrating for Minnesota fans, considering the Twins rank top-10 in every offensive metric. Not to mention Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz have been otherworldly in the early going.

But the pitching staff hasn’t been throwing all that great. Minnesota’s pitchers boast a league-high hard-hit percentage along with the second-highest average exit velocity.

The normally dominant Twins closer, Alex Colomé, has already blown two saves, while ranking in the bottom-15 percent of pitchers in hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity. Plus, while Kenta Maeda had a great start against the Red Sox yesterday, the starters allowed 15 runs over 24 1/3 innings in the prior five games.

That brings us to Minnesota’s uninspiring starter tonight:

Starting Pitcher: Lewis Thorpe (LHP)

Thorpe is making his 2021 debut after a disastrous 2020 campaign.

In one start and six relief appearances last season, Thorpe posted a 6.06 ERA, a 6.99 FIP and a 2.08 WHIP. He also had the exact same number of walks as strikeouts last season.

However, he has never pitched against the Twins in his young career, so he’s got a clean slate entering tonight’s matchup.

Lewis has a four-pitch arsenal but primarily throws a four-seam fastball. He has almost no velocity on it, as he throws his fastball less than 90 miles per hour on average.

However, his softball style does force a lot of weak contact. He ranked in the 85th percentile among pitchers last season in average exit velocity and in the 70th percentile in hard-hit percentage.

He pitched just four innings in his only start last season, so I wouldn’t expect a lot of Thorpe.

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Los Angeles Angels

The Angels dropped two of three on the road to the Royals most recently but overall are having a solid start to the season.

The story of the AL West division-leading Angels is Shohei Ohtani. And rightfully so, as he’s slashing .340/.380/.745 with four home runs and had a solid starting pitching performance against the White Sox.

However, we can’t overlook his partner in crime—Mike Trout—who is having another ridiculously good season. Trout currently boasts a 1.271 OPS while walking in 20.8% of his plate appearances, plus he’s hit four home runs.

First baseman Jared Walsh is also having an awesome start to his year. He boasts a .455 wOBA and hit a Sunday Night Baseball walk-off home run against the White Sox last week.

Once this lineup adds Anthony Rendon back, who hasn’t played since April 10, the Angels might be unstoppable.

The only thing that could hold this team back is the pitching. However, the starters currently rank sixth in xFIP and the relievers rank seventh, so perhaps this rotation may be above average.

That brings us to today’s starter:

Starting Pitcher: Andrew Heaney (LHP)

After getting blown up by the White Sox in his 2021 debut, Heaney bounced back strong against Toronto. The lefty tossed six shutout innings on the road, recording nine strikeouts to just two walks.

That may be somewhat predictable, given that we know the White Sox mash lefties, and the Blue Jays have had their struggles against that side recently.

So, how does Heaney match up with this Twins team?

Well, he’s made just one start against Minnesota in his career, way back in 2015. So, let’s instead look at Heaney’s arsenal.

Heaney is a fastball-heavy pitcher that mixes in a curveball and a changeup. His curveball has the highest whiff percentage by far, but the fastball has been his most effective pitch this season, as he’s allowing just a .199 wOBA on the four-seam.

What Heaney does well is getting guys to chase. Heaney currently has a chase rate of 36.9%, which would be the highest of his career and ranks in the 92nd percentile of qualified pitchers.

What Heaney does poorly is exit velocity. Heaney is allowing an average exit velocity of 92 miles per hour, which would also be the highest of his career and ranks in just the 22nd percentile of qualified pitchers.

Twins-Angels Pick

I think the Twins lineup matches up well with Heaney.

The Twins are average to above-average against both the fastball and the curveball, and while they performed poorly against left-handed pitchers in 2020, they’ve been solid against that side in early 2021. Minnesota currently boasts a .778 OPS and a 118 wRC+ against lefties this season, as opposed to a .718 OPS and a 100 wRC+ against righties.

Moreover, Minnesota doesn’t chase a lot of pitches (fourth-lowest chase percentage in MLB), and they are hitting the ball hard this year (sixth-highest average exit velocity), so they match up well with Heaney’s strengths and weaknesses.

While Thorpe isn’t a good pitcher by any means, I think he has some advantages in this matchup.

First, the Angels haven’t been hitting the fastball great, as they rank just 20th in weighted fastball runs created this season. And, although Ohtani and Trout have been elite, the overall Angels lineup has performed below-average this season in both exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. Thorpe’s softballs should be able to force weak contact against the Halos.

Second, the Angels are 7-2 against right-handed starters this season but 0-3 against left-handed starters. They have just a 93 wRC+ against southpaws so far this year, compared to a 115 wRC+ against righties.

I think Minnesota offers excellent value as heavy underdogs given the matchups. I’m looking for the Twins to pull out an unlikely road upset in this series opener.

I played the Twins at +135 on BetMGM Thursday night. I love the Twins at plus-money, but probably wouldn’t play them at anything worse than +120.

Pick: Twins ML (+135) | Play down to +120

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