The Minnesota Twins looked like they were ready to run away with the AL Central early on in the shortened 60-game season, getting off to a 10-2 start with one of baseball’s scariest offenses.
Then, because nothing makes sense this year, the Twins got swept in Kansas City over the weekend and come into Milwaukee tonight on a 4-game losing streak. That’s allowed Detroit (again, this is a dumb year) and Cleveland to move within a half-game of first place.
Don’t let the sweep at the hands of the Royals (who started the year 3-10) lull you into a false sense of security into this series. Much like the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota’s lineup is capable of exploding in a big way any given night. They’ve scored 78 runs in 16 games, ranking 6th in the majors, while only allowing 55 runs. That +23 run differential is tied with Oakland for 4th-best in all of baseball.
Ageless old friend Nelson Cruz is leading the way with an OPS of 1.007 through his first 61 at-bats, including 4 home runs and 3 doubles while hitting .361. Max Kepler leads the team with 5 home runs in 57 at-bats, putting up a .912 OPS. Overall, the Twins have hit 25 home runs so far, ranking 4th in the majors.
The pitching has been largely very good, too, outside of ace Jose Berrios getting off to a bit of a rough start. The bullpen especially could pose problems for the strikeout-prone Brewers, considering Twins relievers currently rank 3rd in the majors with a 11.03 K/9 and 2nd in the majors with a 29.6% K%. The Brewers, if you were wondering, have the 2nd-highest offensive K% in the majors to this point at 28.4%.
Monday, August 10th - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Randy Dobnak vs. Adrian Houser
Tuesday, August 11th - 7:10 p.m. CDT
TBD vs. Josh Lindblom
Wednesday, August 12th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Kenta Maeda vs. Eric Lauer
Dobnak is a rookie with a goatee that would make Rod Beck proud that also wears glasses. The look alone has made him a bit of a cult hero already in Minnesota, but the pitching doesn’t hurt, either. He’s coming off throwing 6 shutout innings against the Pirates last Wednesday and has allowed all of one earned run in 15 innings so far this year.
Tuesday’s starter is still officially TBD for the Twins, but Maeda is lined up to start the series finale. The 32-year-old is in his first year with the Twins after the Dodgers traded him for Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley. He has a 2.65 ERA through his first 3 starts and has only walked 3 batters in 17 innings and only allowing a total of 8 hits.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference