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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Yu Darvish was one out away from perfection against the Houston Astros earlier this week. But, that came against a minor league offense in a stadium where it’s hard to see the ball at night or when the roof is shut. Sunday Night, Darvish will be facing the potent Los Angeles Angels bats in the hitting paradise of Arlington Stadium.

Is that a recipe for disaster? Is Darvish in a letdown spot at the worst possible time against a divisional rival? Or, is the Japanese import ready to take a big step forward this season and establish himself as the best pitcher in the American League?

You baseball fans are going to watch the game tonight on ESPN. Let’s see if we can find an edge in our matchup information…

 

FINAL 2012 RECORDS

LA Angels: 89-73

Texas: 93-69 (settled for Wildcard)

It’s easy to forget that what was supposed to be a two-team race in the AL West in 2012 turned into a three-team thriller that saw OAKLAND win the division. The Angels acquired Albert Pujols but couldn’t even make the playoffs. This past offseason, they added Jeff Hamilton (while taking him AWAY from the Rangers) in hopes that would put them over the top. The Halos sluggers have gotten off to a slow start so far…but are going to break out at some point. The betting markets expect Oakland to fall back this year, leaving the Angels and Rangers in a two-team chase.

 

2012 RUNS PER GAME

LA Angels: 4.73

Texas: 4.99

We had two top offenses last year, though the Rangers numbers were polluted by playing home games in Arlington. When you adjusted for that, it was actually the Angels who had the better offense. Remember that going forward this season. The Rangers are probably going to be worse this year from an offense that was overrated. The Angels are going to something to behold once their sluggers find their standard regular season form.

 

2012 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE

LA Angels: .332

Texas: .334

Both teams were well above league average…again with the Angels getting the best of it once you adjusted for home park influence on the stats.

 

TONIGHT’S PITCHERS

LA Angels…Jered Weaver: 20-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

Texas…Yu Darvish: 16-9, 3.90 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

Weaver started the Halos opener, allowing one earned run in six innings in their extra inning win in Cincinnati. He was the ace of the staff last year, and gives every sign of being a force again this season. You may have watched the later innings of Darvish’s effort vs. Houston when he made a run at the perfecto. Last year’s 1.28 WHIP was pretty good, but was loaded with walks. He’s much harder to hit than those numbers would suggest. If he can get his walks down…he’ll make another run at a perfect game this year vs. weak AL offenses.

 

INNINGS PER START AND K-RATE

Jered Weaver: 6.3 IP per start and 6.8 K-Rate

Yu Darvish: 6.6 IP per start and 10.4 K-Rate

Edge to Darvish here, as Weaver was helped some by playing his home games in Anaheim. It’s scary to think what Darvish’s numbers would look like if he played for the Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners.

Based on the general characteristics of the teams and pitchers…the Angels are likely to have the better raw offense this year, while Darvish is going to be the more overpowering of the two All-Stars. Handicappers must determine whether the Vegas line has properly reflected that mix plus home field advantage for the Rangers. And, they must determine if the Angels are in any sort of look-ahead situation in this final game of their season-opening road trip. After starting with a brutal sequence against the Reds and Rangers on the road…the Halos go home to face Oakland Tuesday Night.

JIM HURLEY knows he doesn’t have to force anything just because it’s a TV game. There’s a full Sunday slate to play with in the bases today. To see if Angels/Rangers made the cut, purchase Sunday’s BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. It’s a big day in baseball and basketball, so take care of business EARLY!

We’ll have a preview for you tomorrow of the Mets/Phillies game on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball. Is Roy Halladay done as a force in the Major Leagues? We’ll talk about that tomorrow here in JIM HURLEY’S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK!

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