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Minnesota Twins series preview: When the plan goes awry

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins
Fogo or bust
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals travel up I-35 to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Twins, a team whose 2018 has not gone according to plan. Men thought to be keys to their being competitive have played their way into a demotion to A-ball, lost 80 games to a positive test for Stanozolol, and tried to play through a broken toe while their success largely depended upon their speed. At 9.5 games out in the American League Central and a larger 16-game deficit separating them from the Seattle Mariners who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, it would seem that the Twins would need a minor miracle to befall them in the next two weeks or so to change their fortunes for this season and end up in the playoff hunt.

With now being the time to drop a deuce or get off the metaphorical pot, the Twins get to face the Royals for a three-game tilt. Nothing like getting to face the worst team in baseball to reverse your fortunes.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, July 9 — 7:10 PM CDT — Danny Duffy (L) versus José Berríos
  • Tuesday, July 10 — 7:10 PM CDT — Ian Kennedy/Trevor Oaks versus Aaron Slegers
  • Wednesday, July 11 — 12:10 PM CDT — Burch Smith versus Lance Lynn

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference

Royals at Twins 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
Game 1
Danny Duffy (L) 18 100.2 86 19.2 48 10.7 5.19 5.39 5.23 4.96 -0.2 0.2
José Berríos 18 114.1 114 25.0 26 5.7 3.54 3.93 3.74 3.58 1.9 2.3
Game 2
Ian Kennedy? 17 91.2 84 20.9 33 8.2 5.11 4.81 4.58 4.46 0.4 0.0
Aaron Slegers 2 11.1 5 11.1 2 4.4 2.38 5.33 5.06 4.87 0.0 0.3
Game 3
Burch Smith 24 38.1 39 23.2 21 12.5 5.40 5.60 4.85 4.26 -0.4 -0.1
Lance Lynn 17 86.1 85 21.5 52 13.2 5.21 4.30 4.31 4.66 0.9 -0.2

Selected to the American League All-Star team yesterday, José Berríos will get the luxury of facing the worst offense in baseball. In an age where the sinker is becoming increasingly endangered, Berríos’s most effective pitch has been his sinker this season. It’s still his third-most frequent offering behind his four-seamer and curve, but he throws the sinker 26.7% of the time. He also mixes in a get-me-over change that has yet to post a positive run-value at the major-league level.

Other than being a giant man (6’10”), there isn’t much of note about Aaron Slegers, who seems very much a prototypical Twins of yore pitcher. He has enjoyed an exceptionally low BABIP in just 26.2 innings, so it’s possible that he could be some weird extreme low-BABIP outlier like Chris Young was, but his minor-league career doesn’t really support such a hypothesis.

Little has gone right for Lance Lynn this year. His walk rate has spiked, his BABIP has spiked, and his strand rate is 5.9% below his career mark. He has gone away from his sinker this year, throwing it 8.0% less than he was last year in St. Louis. As it was his most valuable pitch in aggregate last year, perhaps this strategy is unwise.

Minnesota Twins position players

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Eddie Rosario (L) LF 367 18 58 53 6 .301 .342 .536 .371 136 3.3 3.9
Eduardo Escobar (S) 3B 350 14 40 52 1 .270 .326 .524 .355 125 1.9 1.9
Max Kepler (L) CF 335 10 38 33 3 .229 .313 .407 .313 96 1.0 1.3
Brian Dozier 2B 380 13 54 38 5 .222 .305 .402 .309 93 1.0 1.3
Mitch Garver C/1B 174 4 19 13 0 .268 .339 .395 .319 100 0.7 0.7
Jake Cave (L) OF 63 3 11 9 1 .267 .302 .483 .329 107 0.5 0.9
Joe Mauer (L) 1B 246 2 25 22 0 .259 .355 .349 .315 97 0.3 0.4
Jorge Polanco (S) SS 29 0 1 3 1 .269 .345 .346 .309 93 0.1 0.3
Willians Astudillo LF/C 14 0 1 3 0 .357 .357 .500 .364 131 0.1 0.1
Logan Morrison (L) DH 291 10 33 30 1 .192 .289 .357 .287 77 -0.3 0.0
Robbie Grossman (S) DH 250 4 24 25 0 .241 .320 .355 .299 86 -0.7 -0.2
Bobby Wilson C 94 1 6 11 0 .134 .207 .232 .198 16 -0.7 -0.4

The Twins’ position players have been worth just 6.5 fWAR in total thus far, ranking them 25th in baseball. They have slashed .238/.309/.400 with a .307 wOBA and 92 wRC+. Aside from Eddie Rosario star turn and Eduardo Escobar’s Fogo de Chão-fueled (h/t to Sam Weinberg) offensive breakout, there isn’t much that has gone as the Twins probably would have hoped. Rosario has been fantastic—easily the most deserving of the Twins for a berth to the All-Star Game—and may make it in on the Final Vote. Byron Buxton was recently activated from the disabled list but was optioned to Triple-A in the hopes of him getting right there. He’s a tantalizing talent and could conceivably be back up at any time, but the lack of polish to his hit tool has held him back for long stretches of time. There is also this. Guessing the article is a joke, but he really loves his Fogo.

Poll

How will the Royals fare in Minnesota?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Royals sweep
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Royals take two of three
    (15 votes)
  • 46%
    Twins take two of three
    (89 votes)
  • 42%
    Twins sweep
    (81 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now