The Texas Rangers’ woes continued on Friday night, as their once-fearsome lineup mustered just a single run in a series-opening loss to the Minnesota Twins — their seventh in their last 10 games. Texas (75-59) now finds themselves just 1.5 games up on the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL’s third and final Wild Card spot, while Minnesota (70-65) remains five up on the Guardians in the AL Central, making this a pivotal Saturday for both teams. First pitch from Globe Life Park is set for 8:10 p.m. ET. It’ll be a battle of lefties on the mound, as the Twins hand the ball to veteran Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.50 ERA) while the Rangers counter with Jordan Montgomery (8-10, 3.19).
Texas enters as -198 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Twins at +164. The run total is set at 9.
Twins-Rangers picks: Saturday, September 2
Out: DH/OF Byron Buxton (right hamstring strain), 1B/OF Alex Kirilloff (right shoulder strain), UTIL Willi Castro (mild left oblique strain), 3B Jose Miranda (right shoulder impingement), SP Chris Paddack (Tommy John surgery)
Out: SP Nathan Eovaldi (right forearm strain), INF Josh Jung (left thumb fracture)
Dallas Keuchel vs. Jordan Montgomery
Keuchel has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins over the past few weeks — he’s allowed just six hits over 11.1 shutout innings in his last two starts, including five scoreless against these same Rangers last week — but he has a full two-run gap between his actual ERA (3.50) and his expected ERA (5.51). The veteran lefty looks like pretty much the same pitcher who put up a dreadful 9.20 ERA last season, and given his lack-luster repertoire at this point in his career (he has the slowest average fastball in the league at just 86.4 mph) it feels like some regression to the mean is inevitable.
Not much has gone right for Texas over the last few weeks, but Monty has been as advertised since coming over at the trade deadline, with a 2.30 ERA and 30 Ks in 31.1 innings over five starts for his new team. The lefty’s changeup remains among the best in the game (.204 BA against, 40.2% whiff rate) with a sinker that churns out ground balls and a curveball he can use against either lefties or righties. Montgomery isn’t flashy, but he’s just a complete, solid pitcher, capable of churning out six quality innings every time he takes the mound.
Keuchel’s awfully scary here — Texas could hit this over all by themselves if things go haywire — but given the Rangers’ teamwide slump of late and Keuchel’s ability to dance in and out of trouble, I’m going with the under in this spot. Even if Keuchel gets hit hard, Montgomery should keep a Minnesota in check enough to give us a chance to stay below the number.
Pick: Under 9
I refuse to believe in Keuchel, despite recent evidence, and I think Texas has a big advantage on the mound here — one that should carry them to a much-needed win. The Rangers can’t afford to drop too many more games like these, and one of these days Marcus Semien, Adolis Garcia and Co. have to wake up, right?
Pick: Rangers -198