(Tyler Skaggs photo courtesy Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
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: Tuesday, July 2, Globe Life Park at Arlington, Texas, 8:05 p.m. EDT.
A game of baseball can be many things over the course of a 162-game season.
On Tuesday night, the actual game between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers will be secondary. But the game may also provide a space for the grieving process and perhaps offer some catharsis following the shocking passing of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
The Southlake Police Department responded to a call of an unconscious man in a hotel room Monday afternoon and pronounced Skaggs dead at the scene. The 27-year-old, an outgoing clubhouse favorite, started Saturday’s game against Oakland. He leaves behind a wife Carli whom he married in the offseason.
“He had a long life ahead of him, and now that’s gone,” general manager Brian Eppler told reporters while fighting back tears. “Everybody grieves in their own way, and everybody has to find peace through this eventually, but it’s just a tragic day for everybody, especially his family.”
MLB released a statement via Twitter that read, “All of us at Major League Baseball extend our deepest condolences to Tyler’s wife, Carli, their family, their friends and all of his Angels’ teammates and colleagues. We will support the Angels’ organization through this most difficult period, and we will make a variety of resources available to Tyler’s teammates and other members of the baseball family.”
Skaggs was drafted in 2009 — the year the Angels also drafted Mike Trout — and was traded to Arizona in August 2010. The Diamondbacks dealt him back to Los Angeles before the 2014 season and had gone 25-32 over parts of five seasons. Skaggs was 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 15 starts this year.
Led by general manager Jeff Daniels, the Rangers and MLB agreed on postponing at least Monday’s contest while leaving option the possibility this contest may also be postponed.
“Real life takes precedence here,” Daniels said. “Some things are a lot bigger than baseball.”
Angels rookie Suarez gets start in challenging circumstances
The Angels have opted to stick with their Monday scheduled pitcher for this game, rookie Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.57 ERA).
Suarez 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 20 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.
All-Star Minor looks to win fourth straight start
The Rangers have also opted to hold over Monday’s scheduled starter for this contest, which means newly minted All-Star Mike Minor (8-4, 2.40) gets the ball.
The left-hander earned his first career All-Star nod Sunday and will be part of the AL squad in Cleveland on July 9. Minor 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.
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 (-115)
Originally, the 3-way money line was offering a slightly better return at -110, but with both now offering -115, the switch is to the more standard Rangers 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 (+130)
This game in such difficult and unique circumstances appears to lend itself to two directions. One is the Angels come out full of anger and try to mash the ball into oblivion. The other, which quite frankly feels like the more likely scenario, is they come out subdued and go through the motions after such a tragedy.
That said, this space is sticking with the original idea of 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 and pick up the win in sub-optimal conditions all the way around.
Angels UNDER 4.5 runs (-105)
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 (-105)
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 6 runs first 5 innings (-121)
This line actually ticked one-half run higher compared to Monday, firming up confidence in the under. 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 (-125)
With the three-inning over/under for the Angels moving down to one run, it makes more sense to play the five-inning at 2.5. Minor has allowed more than two runs in the first five innings just three times this season and held opponents under 2.5 runs in the first five innings of his last five starts and eight of his last nine.
In his two starts this year versus the Angels, they reached him for one run combined in the first five frames.