With just under two weeks left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Angels are still very much in the hunt for the American League’s final playoff spot.

The wild, wild American League wild card race is going to come down to the final week of the season with the Minnesota Twins battling the Los Angeles Angels for the final spot. The race has been, to put a positive spin on it, interesting. We’ll leave it at that, because the teams behind the New York Yankees can only be described as a muddled, mediocre mess.

The Angels are very much a part of that muddled, mediocre mess, and they’re part of the cream that has risen to the top. It’s a surprising feat for a team that missed Mike Trout for 40 games and has had four of its expected starting pitchers on the disabled list for most of the season. They’re in the stretch run of a playoff race using their closer at the start of the game and having a staff game. Whatever gets the job done!

Los Angeles sat two games behind Minnesota entering play on Monday night and have roughly a 25 percent chance to make the playoffs. Two games is hardly an insurmountable lead for a team like the Twins, and it would not be much of a shock to see the Angels claim the final AL playoff spot. It’s been that kind of year. The scheduling gods have not been kind to the Angels, giving them the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros this week, but if they are able to play .500 their playoff hopes will be alive heading into the final week.

Here are the five biggest reasons the Angels will jump over the Twins and send Mike Trout back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.

ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 16: Parker Bridwell #62 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers on September 16, 2017 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

5. Parker Bridwell comes up big

The best pitcher for the Angels this year has been … Parker Bridwell. Excuse me? The 26-year-old right-hander was designated for most of the year and latched on in Los Angeles. When a team as hard-up for pitching as the O’s gives up on you, it’s not a great indicator of strong MLB potential. Or then again, maybe it is.

Either way, Bridwell has been the most consistent starter for the Angels in a year where their rotation has been gutted by injuries. Matt Shoemaker, Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and J.C. Ramirez have all been sidelined for long chunks of the season. Bridwell came from the depths of the minor leagues to save the day and is now 8-2 in 18 games. His 3.71 ERA looks like a fluke when considering his 4.56 FIP and 6.0 K/9, but the Angels will take it.

Whatever Bridwell has been doing on the mound with the Angels has worked, and they need him to come up big a few more times before the end of the season.

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