Houston enters this series one game back of the Oakland Athletics for the American League West lead. The Astros own a 35-27 record through 62 contests, including an impressive 21-13 mark against above-.500 teams and their +76 run differential is the second-best mark in the American League. Meanwhile, the Twins have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball this season. After contending for the AL Central title for the last several seasons, Minnesota has fallen 13 games back of the pace with a 25-37 record one-third of the way through the 2021 campaign.
Can the Astros take care of business at home against the reeling Twins on Saturday afternoon?
Garcia takes the hill in search of sixth straight winRight-hander Luis Garcia is scheduled to take the hill at Target Field for Houston on Saturday. Garcia has been effective all season long but he’s been rewarded in the win column as of late. The 24-year-old enters riding a personal five-game winning streak dating back to mid-May and has posted a stellar 1.86 ERA over his previous five starts during that span. In his last trip to the mound, Garcia spun six innings of one-run ball, striking out eight batters and walking just two in a win over the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in all 12 of his appearances (10 starts) while posting a strong 5-3 record and 2.75 ERA so far this season.
Prior to his 12-inning cup of coffee with the Astros last season, Garcia had never pitched above High-A ball. While he struggled to miss bats in his first taste of MLB action in 2020, the Astros’ right-hander has posted excellent peripherals in his first full season in a big-league rotation. Through 59 frames, Garcia has struck out 10.37 batters and walked just 2.90 batters per nine innings of work. However, he could be a candidate to experience some regression after benefiting from a .232 BABIP and 86.6 percent strand rate so far this year.
This will be the rookie’s first career start against the Twins.
Berrios quietly enjoying strong 2021 campaignMinnesota will call upon right-handed ace Jose Berrios for Saturday’s contest against the Astros. The 27-year-old is 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts this season and he’s turned into a reliable innings-eater for the Twins this season. Berrios has pitched into the sixth inning or later in seven of his last eight starts, including each of his last three appearances. Last time out, Berrios tossed six innings of four-run ball in a win over the Kansas City Royals, marking his fourth consecutive win.
Despite Minnesota’s team-wide struggles, Berrios is in the midst of a strong campaign and hasn’t lost a decision since April 20. In fact, the Twins have fared quite well in Berrios’ outings this season, going 8-4 when he takes the mound, including 6-1 in his last seven starts. The Twins' right-hander has struck out a career-high 25.7 percent of the batters that he’s faced this season and his 6.7 percent walk rate is the second-lowest mark of his career.
The Twins’ ace has made five career starts against Houston, going 2-3 with a 6.43 and 1.90 WHIP in those matchups. According to Baseball Savant, Berrios has limited the current Astros roster to a .266 batting average in 73 plate appearances ahead of Saturday’s contest.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s hard not to like Minnesota at this price. The Astros have given Berrios some trouble during his career but the Twins’ right-hander is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. He’s posted a career-low 3.58 ERA through 12 starts and the Twins are 8-4 in those games. Meanwhile, Garcia is a candidate for regression after allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his previous five starts and winning all five of those decisions. Take Minnesota to come out on top at home in this battle between American League franchises that are trending in opposite directions.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are projected for 9.5 runs but that number seems a bit high in this spot, as both starters should come into this game with plenty of confidence. Garcia has flashed his potential by allowing no more than three runs in any of his 12 appearances this season and he’s been even better of late, posting a 1.86 ERA over his last five starts. On the other hand, Berrios is silently in the midst of a career year and enters this matchup having allowed three earned runs or fewer in three of his previous four starts. Take this game to stay under the projected total on Saturday night.