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Brewers (18-36) @ Twins (32-21) series preview

Don't look at the Twins' record. It will just make you sad.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins are in first place...The Twins are in first place? Hold on a second. Let me double check that. Go ahead, pretend that time is passing for you like it is for me. . . . . Okay I'm back. Yep, it's true. The Twins are in first place in the AL Central. The Twins. First place. The Twins...Anyway, it's not going to last.

I really don't know how they've done it. Well, I do know how but that's just what you say when something stupid is happening that shouldn't be.

They're 20th in wRC+ in MLB and 12th in the AL. Their pitching is 17th in MLB and 9th in the AL. So they've been awful offensively and mediocre with their pitching. By FanGraphs' defensive metric they're 24th in baseball and 9th in the AL. So it's not like they're making up for any inefficiency there.

Their offense has scored 4.42 runs per game. That's 8th in baseball and 5th in the AL. They also have the 12th highest BABIP which is 4th highest in the AL. So basically they're getting lucky.

The Brewers are potentially going to be without the support of two important players (in context). Ryan Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure recently. The target return date is this Sunday with a chance that he'll be ready to go Friday.

The other player that will sit out is Will Smith. He is "just" a reliever but he's been the best Brewers reliever this year by fWAR, K%, and FIP.

The ruling on his suspension appeal will be handed down on Friday. The original suspension was for 8 games but it should be lessened moderately. I think anywhere between 3-5 games is realistic.

The hope is for 3 games. The Brewers need another starter next Tuesday and if Will Smith is back before then, the Brewers will only need to send down a reliever for a starter. If he's not off suspension by Tuesday, depending on how much the bullpen has been worked, the Brewers may have to get creative in their roster moves. Currently they have 8 relievers. So with Smith on suspension they'll have 7 in the Twins series.

Offensive Spotlight

The top of the Twins offense has actually been rather respectable (Brian Dozier, Trevor Pluffe, and Torii Hunter). It's just after the top 3 guys there is just absolutely nothing. Seriously, after those 3 the next highest regular is Joe Mauer at a whopping 87 wRC+.

Sitting on the top of the heap is second baseman Brain Dozier. He's slashing 260/338/525 (.367 wOBA, 138 wRC+). That's pretty good but it's far from the staggering numbers we've seen in recent series against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.

Pitching Match-Ups

Friday June 5, 7:10 pm CST: Kyle Lohse vs Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson is actually not that dissimilar to Kyle Lohse. He too primarily relies on inducing poor contact. But Lohse usually has reasonable strike out rates for that type of pitcher. Kyle Gibson has the fifth lowest K% (11.5%) in all of baseball among starters. His walk rate isn't very good (8.1%) and he as a weak .251 BAA but that's not altogether unsurprising for a contact pitcher with a high ground ball rate (51.5%). Still none of this is the profile of an elite contact pitcher. But here's the stupid thing: He has a 2.61 ERA. I can't see that remaining anywhere close to that low. His .270 BABIP is a red flag for regression.  But I've seen too many of these types of pitchers work over Brewers hitters to suggest that regression is coming Friday.

Gibson throws a fastball (91-92), slider, change-up, and curve.

Saturday June 6, 1:10 pm CST: Matt Garza vs TBD

Well look who it is. Our old friend TBD. This dude is cruising for a bruising and I'm pretty sure Saturday is his afternoon of reckoning. Count on it.

Sunday June 7, 1:10 pm CST: Mike Fiers vs Mike Pelfrey

First it was Kyle vs Kyle. Now it's Mike vs Mike. These two guys are nothing alike though. Mike Fiers has the 12th highest K% in baseball. Mike Pelfrey has the 4th lowest (11.0%). Yep, the Twins have 2 starters in the bottom five in K%. Guess what's stupid again. Yep, Pelfrey has a 2.59 ERA. Pretty much everything that applies for Gibson applies for Pelfrey.

Even their pitch selection is more or less the same: Fastball (92-93), slider, split finger, and curve.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs