Continuing on from last weeks discussion on the top two NL match ups to look forward to on opening day. Here are the top two AL match ups to look forward to on Opening Day.
Cleveland Indians Vs. Minnesota Twins
The Twins had a disappointing 2018 season after they made the playoffs in 2017. They look to turn it around this season, and signed Marwin Gonzales, Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz. The Twins are hoping for some bounce back from stars Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, plus production from the new acquisitions can get them back in the playoff chase.
The Indians lost some depth in Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley, and Edwin Encarnacion, but still have enough talent to run away with the division. The only team that has a chance of dethroning them is the Twins. This matchup is an early indicator of how much ground the Twins will have to make,
Pitching matchup: Corey Kluber Vs. Jose Berrios.
Kluber is a two time Cy Young winner and one of the best pitchers in the game. Berrios is a breakout candidate and has the potential to be on Kluber’s level in the next couple of years.
Last year Berrios went 12-11, with a 3.84 ERA, and 202 strikeouts. Kluber went 20-7, with a 2.89 ERA, and 222 strikeouts.
Berrios has been stellar against the Indians as they are hitting .250 against him. He has struck them out 17 times in 88 at-bats, but has issued 12 walks.
Kluber has been just as good against the Twins. In 173 at-bats, the Twins are hitting .254, with eight home runs and 52 strikeouts.
What matchup to be most excited about: Fransisco Lindor Vs. Jose Berrios
Lindor has been able to dominate Berrios. In their 17 matchups, Lindor is hitting .294 and six RBI. Lindor is the spark plug for this Cleveland offense. If he can get to Berrios early and often, then it will be a rough day for the young hurler. Lindor has to step up because his running mate Jose Ramirez has struggled against Berrios. Berrios will need to finally be able to triumph over Lindor to have a successful outing and set the tone for the rest of the season.
Houston Astros Vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Astros are one year removed from winning the World Series, while the Rays won a surprising 90 games last year.
Tampa has bolstered their roster in an attempt at securing a playoff spot. They signed former Astros pitcher Charlie Morton and slugger Avisail Garcia.
Houston has responded from losing in the ALCS by adding Michael Brantley. He will join a core of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer. Houston and Tampa may be a first-round playoff matchup, and it will be interesting to see which top pitcher comes out on top on opening day.
Pitching matchup: This matchup will see current AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell face off against former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. Both recently signed extensions with their current teams and both could face off in the ALDS.
Last year Verlander went 16-9, with a 2.52 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Snell went 21-5, with a 1.89 ERA and 221 strikeouts.
The Rays have limited experience against Verlander as only ten players on the roster have faced him. In 86 at-bats, the Rays are hitting .267 against the righty with an OPS of .633 and 29 strikeouts. The Astros are also having limited success against Snell. They are hitting .270 against him, with an OPS of .778 and 21 strikeouts.
What pitcher matchup to be most excited about: Jose Altuve Vs. Blake Snell
In 10 at-bats against Snell, Altuve is hitting .300 with one walk, two home runs, an 1.264, and two strikeouts. The Astros lineup is deep, but limiting the face of the franchise goes a long way to shutting down one of the best offenses in the game. If Altuve can continue to dominate against Snell, then the Astros may be able to knock him out early.
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