Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Minnesota Twins

The Rangers start off a three game weekend series against the Minnesota Twins tonight at Target Field. It is the bottom of the rotation going for both teams, and that is where Texas has a definitive advantage. Last year was rough for the Twins and they are looking to get back on top thanks to performances from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

July 26, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) bats against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Twins won 9-8. (Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE)

Probable Starters:

Friday 7:05 CDT TEX: Matt Harrison (1-0, 0.00 ERA) – MIN: Anthony Swarzak (0-1, 1.80 ERA)

Harrison is coming off of a solid season debut, pitching six shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox.

Swarzak is a 6’4 RHP making his second start of the season. His first start against Baltimore was successful but the offense couldn’t pick him up. He is a back-of-the-rotation guy at best for the Twins and throws the basic fastball-change up-curve. His pitch to watch is the change up. It gives him the most swinging strikes, but also is the pitch that is hit most often for homeruns over his career.

Saturday 12:10 CDT TEX: Yu Darvish (1-0, 7.94 ERA) – MIN: Nick Blackburn (0-1, 7.50 ERA)

Darvish is probably going to be less nervous in his second Major League start, and seemed to settle down nicely after a rough start against the Mariners. He gave up five runs in the first two innings but nothing after that.

Blackburn is in his fifth full season as a Twin and has been a mainstay of their rotation. He has a very low strikeout rate and relies on groundballs to be successful. The last two years he has struggled because he has had bad luck on home runs, meaning the percentage of homeruns-to-fly balls was higher than we should expect. Blackburn actually struck out three in six innings in his last start against the Angels but gave up five runs. That is a little misleading – he had 14/21 ground balls against the Angels and two failed double plays cost him.

Sunday 1:10 CDT TEX: Neftali Feliz (1-0, 0.00 ERA) – MIN: Liam Hendriks (Season Debut)

Feliz is going to try to replicate his amazing season debut. After coming down from the high, we should expect some bounce back to normal but who knows – it is the first time he’s making a second start in five days.

Hendriks is one of the top pitching prospects in the Twins organization. What you see is what you get in Hendriks, who is making his season debut after dealing with food poisoning last week. He has a low walk rate and had an above-average strikeout rate in the minors but doesn’t have the stuff to make that happen at the next level. For him to be successful, you will see the ball on the ground and not a lot of walks. He made four starts last year going 0-2 with an elevated ERA of 6.17. He’s better than that ERA shows, though.

Projected Minnesota Lineup

1 CF Denard Span (L)
2 SS Jamey Carroll
3 C Joe Mauer (L)
4 DH Justin Morneau (L)
5 LF Josh Willingham
6 RF Ryan Doumit (S)
7 3B Danny Valencia
8 1B Chris Parmelee (L)
9 2B Alexi Casilla (S)

(source MLBDepthCharts)

Hot/Cold

Josh Willingham (Hot-MIN) 9/22 (.409), 4 HR, 7 RBI

Denard Span (Hot-MIN) 8/23 (.348), 3 BB

Alexi Casilla (Cold-MIN) 2/14 (.143)

Jamey Carroll (Cold-MIN) 3/21 (.143), 5 BB (.308 OBP)

Ian Kinsler (Hot-TEX) .370/.452/.889 (10/27, 3 HR, 6 RBI)

David Murphy (Hot-TEX) 8/18 (.444) 1 HR, 2 RBI

Nelson Cruz (Cold-TEX) 4/25 (.160), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 10 K

Mike Napoli (Cold-TEX) 1/13 (.077), 3 BB (.333 OBP)

For more information on the Twins see Fansided’s Twins page, Puckett’s Pond.

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Topics: Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers

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