Mike Minor and Jaime Barria are hoping to maintain their recent success on the mound when they go head-to-head Monday night in the opener of a three-game series between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.
Minor (11-7, 4.31 ERA) is 5-1 in his past six starts with a 2.78 ERA. The left-hander has been one of the few recent bright spots for the Rangers (61-82), who have lost four in a row and 10 of their past 13 games.
Barria (10-8, 3.30) is 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his past six starts for the Angels, who have won four in a row and seven of 10. Two of Barria's recent outings came against the Rangers, and he's 3-0 against Texas this season with a 0.86 ERA.
Minor is also scheduled to make his second straight start against the Angels after allowing two runs and three hits in five innings of a 4-2 win on Tuesday, his only decision against Los Angeles in four career appearances, including two starts. The Angels were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Minor.
Minor was a starter his first five seasons with the Atlanta Braves, missed two seasons because of injuries and then made 65 appearances out of the bullpen for the Kansas City Royals last season. The Rangers acquired Minor in the offseason and they moved him back into a starting role.
Minor told MLB.com after his last outing that he's not surprised with his success as a starter but rather expected it.
"That sounds bad, but I think people didn't expect me to have a good season," he said. "They thought I should have gone to the bullpen and I wasn't cut out to be a starter anymore. It feels good to end it like this. Couple more starts to go, but it's coming together."
Minor brings a 1.10 WHIP in 25 starts into the series opener.
The only players in franchise history with a WHIP of 1.1 or lower and at least 25 starts are Ferguson Jenkins (1974, 1978), Bert Blyleven (1976), Nolan Ryan (1989-91) and Yu Darvish (2013).
"We couldn't have asked for it to work any better than it has," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told MLB.com. "He'll still get to 29 starts, which I think is an important mark for him to get to. It's important to continue that process with Mike and not push the envelope at all, so we still have a guy who is fairly fresh into the offseason, in good shape so that when we get to spring training next year, we can take the gloves off and let him run with it."
Barria beat the Rangers on Wednesday in Texas, blanking them on two hits for five innings.
"He had to work hard to get through five innings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com after that game. "We talk about Jaime, what his upside is -- even when he's not as crisp as he was maybe the other night in Houston, he's facing a tough lineup, and he puts up five zeros and gives us a chance to win."
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is getting a chance to hit every game with Albert Pujols sidelined with a knee injury, and he's 9-for-19 in his past five games with four home runs, a double, triple and 10 RBIs.
Ohtani knocked Minor out of the game with a home run to lead off the sixth inning on Tuesday.