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Royals series preview: The Minnesota Twins

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With a Royals sweep of Minnesota, they could tie the Twins for fourth in the division and only be four games under .500!

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Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers
“Just let me rub your belly.”
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

These guys again? For those with short memories, the Royals dug themselves a hole in the opening series of the season in Minnesota, getting swept in a three-game set. At one point, the Royals worked back to a .500 record. That seems to have been eons ago. The Royals ride a seven-game losing streak, getting swept on the road by the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox. Can the Royals run their streak to ten games? Anything is possible. Or perhaps Buddy Bell’s quote for the ages “I never say it can’t get worse” is more apropos.

Series game times:

  • Friday, April 28, 7:15 CDT - Kyle Gibson vs. Ian Kennedy
  • Saturday, April 29, 6:15 CDT - Phil Hughes vs. Jason Hammel
  • Sunday, April 30, 1:15 CDT - Ervin Santana vs. Jason Vargas

Twins at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Kyle Gibson 4 17.0 12 14.3 7 8.3 9.00 6.97 4.95 4.69 -0.3 -0.8
Ian Kennedy 4 26.0 22 21.8 12 11.9 2.08 3.66 4.77 4.55 0.4 1.0
Phil Hughes 4 21.0 13 14.4 4 4.4 4.71 4.31 4.83 4.66 0.2 -0.3
Jason Hammel 4 18.2 14 15.7 10 11.2 5.30 3.40 5.64 5.19 0.4 -0.1
Ervin Santana 5 35.0 26 21.1 10 8.1 0.77 3.09 4.00 4.07 0.9 1.8
Jason Vargas (L) 4 25.2 28 28.9 2 2.1 1.40 1.53 2.28 2.43 1.1 1.1

Per the pre-series email I receive from the guys over at numberFire, namely Alex McDonald, the odds break down thusly:

In the first game of the series, we give the Royals a 55.23% chance to win.

In the second game, a 54.32% chance.

And in the third game, a 53.37% chance.

They also have the Royals 30th in their power rankings and give them just a 1.9% chance to make the playoffs.

Obviously, homefield advantage and the pitching matchups give the Royals a slight edge in each matchup. Ian Kennedy getting to square off against Kyle Gibson, who has not been good this season. Of course, much of the damage done against Cy Gibson this season has been done in his two starts against Detroit, who have an obviously superior offense to the Royals. Gibson’s first start of the season came against Kansas City, and he held them to three earned runs in five innings of work with five strikeouts, two walks, five hits, and two dongs allowed (can we just assume that they were hit by Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez?). Though the Royals scored a Herculean three runs against Gibson, they lost.

The Royals didn’t face Phil Hughes in their first series. Hughes pitched fairly well against the White Sox in his first start of the season and threw in another quality start against the Rangers in his last time out. Those solid starts sandwiched two pretty bad starts against the Tigers and that Cleveland baseball team. The Royals’ offense has much more in common with the two teams he pitched well against than the ones by whom he was shelled.

Santana has continued to outperform his peripherals this season. He is no stranger to these Royals. Even after Vargas’s less than stellar start in Chicago at [insert corporate sponsor who isn’t StubHub] Stadium, his peripherals are superior to Santana’s. Of arguable note, Vargas replaced an Ervin Santana-sized vacancy in the rotation both in Anaheim and Kansas City. Look for him in a Twins uniform in 2019.

Twins position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Miguel Sanó 3B 88 5 14 16 0 .286 .432 .600 .434 188 1.2 1.3
Jorge Polanco (S) SS 80 1 8 11 1 .257 .325 .371 .305 96 0.5 0.8
Robbie Grossman DH 71 1 9 8 0 .286 .437 .411 .382 150 0.5 0.4
Jason Castro (L) C 62 2 7 9 0 .212 .339 .365 .317 104 0.4 0.5
Max Kepler (L) RF 78 2 10 9 0 .275 .346 .478 .354 130 0.3 0.7
Eduardo Escobar (S) IF 39 2 5 6 0 .235 .333 .441 .340 120 0.3 0.1
Byron Buxton CF 70 0 3 1 2 .145 .243 .177 .203 22 0.3 0.0
Chris Gimenez C 30 0 1 2 0 .167 .333 .250 .280 77 0.2 0.1
Brian Dozier 2B 91 2 11 8 5 .247 .330 .370 .307 97 0.2 0.2
Kennys Vargas DH 15 1 4 1 0 .308 .400 .538 .405 167 0.1 0.1
Eddie Rosario (L) LF 77 2 6 8 1 .247 .276 .356 .277 75 0.0 0.3
Joe Mauer (L) 1B 76 0 9 6 0 .236 .276 .278 .248 54 -0.2 -0.3
Danny Santana (S) Util 21 0 1 0 0 .100 .143 .100 .117 -40 -0.3 -0.1

As a unit the Twins are slashing .239/.331/.374 with a .313 wOBA and 101 wRC+. While their offense itself is roughly league-average, their defense has been worth enough to make their position players the 10th-best unit in baseball, worth 3.4 fWAR thus far. Byron Buxton’s slow start has garnered a lot of attention, but Miguel Sanó’s 1.2 fWAR amassed thus far ties him for 12th amongst position players with Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, and Chase Headley. It looks like the long portended break-out may be in full bloom.

As pertains to this matchup, the Twins only have two position players playing below replacement-level at this moment. Compared to the nine Royals whose performance has sunk to those ignominious levels, one has to wonder how this is possible.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

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Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Royals sweep
    (23 votes)
  • 21%
    Royals take two of three
    (34 votes)
  • 33%
    Twins take two of three
    (53 votes)
  • 30%
    Twins sweep
    (48 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now