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Minnesota Twins Series Preview: Fin

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This is the last time you’ll ever have to watch the 2019 Royals play baseball, which is mostly good but still sad in a way.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians
Sep 14, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano (22) celebrates his grand slam with right fielder Eddie Rosario (20) in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard  
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought the last series was meaningless, then watch out for this weekend as the Minnesota Twins come to town to close out the 2019 season for the Royals. The next meaningful game for the Twins doesn’t come until Friday October 4th, so be prepared for some short outings from starters just to get them one last bit of work and a lot of relievers and reserves playing. It’ll likely be very spring training-ish this weekend, so it’s hard to say a whole lot about the series since there aren’t many games played with so little on the line. The Twins are locked into the third best record in the American League which will likely send them to Yankee Stadium, where they’ve struggled immensely, especially in the postseason. It’s a chance to either slay a dragon or waste one of the best seasons in franchise history. My money is on the latter, but hey, stranger things have happened.

Meet the Twins

Twins vs. Royals Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Twins
Category Royals Twins
Winning % .365 .623
Team wRC+ 84 116
Team xFIP 5.00 4.28
Run Differential -174 181
H2H Wins 4 12
H2H Runs 82 94
Highest fWAR Jorge Soler, 3.2 Max Kepler, 4.4

Twins Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Luis Arraez LF 362 .339 .403 .444 9.9% 8.0% 127 2.2
Jorge Polanco SS 698 .297 .359 .489 8.6% 16.5% 121 4.2
Nelson Cruz DH 513 .305 .389 .630 10.9% 25.3% 160 4.1
Eddie Rosario RF 582 .278 .302 .505 3.8% 14.6% 105 1.5
Mitch Garver C 355 .269 .361 .623 11.3% 24.2% 151 3.6
Miguel Sano 3B 432 .243 .343 .570 12.7% 36.3% 134 2.8
Jake Cave CF 220 .250 .341 .432 8.6% 31.8% 105 0.7
Marwin Gonzalez 1B 463 .264 .322 .414 6.7% 21.2% 93 1.4
Jonathan Schoop 2B 453 .256 .305 .476 4.4% 24.7% 101 1.3

Twins Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Jason Castro C 272 .231 .332 .423 12.1% 32.0% 100 1.5
C.J. Cron 1B 491 .253 .312 .467 5.9% 21.6% 100 0.3
Willians Astudillo UTIL 194 .272 .304 .383 2.6% 3.6% 79 -0.1
Ronald Torreyes INF 10 .222 .300 .222 0.0% 30.0% 48 0.0
Ehire Adrianza INF/OF 114 .236 .272 .349 0.416 8.5% 16.9 102.0
Max Kepler OF 596 .252 .336 .519 10.1% 16.6% 121 4.4
Ryan LaMarre OF 22 .158 .273 .316 13.6% 18.2% 58 -0.1
Ian Miller OF 10 .200 .200 .200 0.0% 30.0% -1 0.1
LaMonte Wade Jr. OF 61 .229 .393 .438 18.0% 11.5% 126 0.3

Twins Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Taylor Rogers 59 68.0 2 4 32.4% 3.6% 2.65 2.83 2.1
Sergio Romo 64 59.1 2 1 24.0% 6.9% 3.49 4.67 0.9
Tyler Duffey 57 56.2 4 1 34.3% 6.0% 2.22 2.95 1.3

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday September 27th - 7:40pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jose Berrios 31 194.1 13 8 22.8% 6.0% 3.70 4.36 4.1
Eric Skoglund 5 18.0 0 2 2.4% 9.6% 7.50 8.14 -0.1

Jose Berrios will get the call in the first game and will likely throw some pitches before leaving the game. He didn’t take the step forward this year that I expected, which sort of makes me wonder if he ever will. But even if this is what he is, it’s plenty good. He already has a career high in innings pitched, but I suppose there’s a chance they might try to push him to get to 200. It seems shortsighted and doesn’t seem like something Baldelli would do, but you never know. It’s been a rough go for him really since the start of August. After giving up five runs on eight hits over six innings to the Royals last weekend, he’s now posted a 6.15 ERA in 52.2 innings the last two months. He’s still striking out a good amount and limiting walks reasonably well, but he’s been hit hard by the home run and by hits in general with 62 allowed in that time. He needs to get right for the Twins to have a real chance in the playoffs.

Eric Skoglund gets one last chance to make an impression on the Royals heading into the offseason. Given the lineup he’ll be facing for at least part of the game, I can’t assume that’ll be a good impression. He did face the Twins on Friday last week and managed to get out of it with pretty minimal damage, allowing just two runs on three hits in four innings. He’s amazingly thrown 18 innings this year with eight walks and two strikeouts. You almost have to try to be that ineffective. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ned Yost leaves him in for some tough situations if they arise because there’s literally nothing to play for, so it’s a perfect opportunity to evaluate against top competition.

Saturday September 28th - 6:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Martin Perez 31 159.2 10 7 18.3% 9.0% 5.13 4.68 1.9
Glenn Sparkman 30 131.0 4 11 13.2% 6.8% 6.11 5.88 -0.6

Martin Perez seems like a likely odd man out for the Twins postseason staff, though a good start might at least make them think about it given their lack of options to start games. It’s been a tough year because, as we’ve talked about plenty of times this season, he started off with such promise and then the season really got away from him. He gave up five runs on eight hits in just 2.1 innings last Sunday against the Royals and now since May 12th, he’s posted a 5.93 ERA with 143 hits allowed in 118.1 innings. He’s walking too many, not striking out enough and just generally giving up too many hits. It’s a bad combination. Since August 31st, it’s worse. He has a 9.15 ERA in that time with 35 hits allowed in 20.2 innings. Opponents have hit .376/.412/.591. So yeah, he needs this opportunity even if it’s just to show a potential suitor he could be worth a flyer as a free agent this offseason.

There was a time when I thought that Sparkman might be okay in the back of a rotation. I mean he throws hard enough and throws strikes, so there’s a place for that starting every fifth day to eat up some innings. I no longer believe that. I do still think he can work as a middle reliever, which has value, especially in today’s game. He’s allowed a home run in seven straight starts and has recorded more than 15 outs in exactly one of them. Since moving into the rotation full time at the end of May, he’s pitched 106.1 innings with a 6.86 ERA and 28 home runs allowed. He’s also only struck out 60 batters in that time, which is, well, not good. He did have one very good start against the Twins in Kansas City, so all hope is not lost. He went seven in that one and gave up just one run on five hits. That’s when I still thought he might be okay in the back of a rotation. Things have changed a lot since then.

Sunday September 29th - 2:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jake Odorizzi 30 159.0 15 7 27.1% 8.1% 3.51 4.33 4.3
Jorge Lopez 38 117.2 4 9 20.2% 8.0% 6.35 4.76 0.0

The Twins end things with former Royal, Jake Odorizzi on the hill. He left his last outing with a tight left hamstring, so we’ll see if they risk it in this one or if they want to try to risk it to see how he is. This season has been a good one for Jake. He doesn’t give a lot of innings because the Twins manage him really well, but he’s been outstanding with a ton of strikeouts, limited hits and limited home runs, which might be the best part of his game in baseball in 2019. He’s recorded an out in the seventh exactly twice this season and never one in the eighth. Those two games are the only two times all year he’s even pitched in the seventh, so even in a regular game, he wouldn’t be likely to be out there too terribly long. In this one, I’d be they get three or four out of him and then go to the bullpen with the team’s mind on New York and figuring out a way to topple the Yankees.

The Royals put a bowtie on their season with Jorge Lopez, which, yeah, that fits. Some guys getting shut down for the season have given him a last chance at starting, and it wasn’t looking too bad until he faced these Twins his last time out. Seven runs on eight hits over 2.1 innings later and whatever good feelings were out there surrounding him were gone. Prior to the disaster, he was 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings over four starts, so it’s probably not fair to completely erase the positives, but that was pretty ugly, so it’s easy to do. The Twins may not completely be in this game and a pitcher like Lopez can take advantage of that with his good stuff, so maybe we’ll see something fun. Probably not, but maybe!

Prediction

The Twins enter needing to win one of three to get to 100 wins on the season, which will earn them the distinction as the third best division winner in the American League. I think they’ll get that and maybe one more, but this is one of the toughest series all year to figure because who knows how they play it? What do you think happens?

Poll

Who takes this last series of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Royals Sweep
    (6 votes)
  • 25%
    Twins Sweep
    (18 votes)
  • 19%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (14 votes)
  • 47%
    Twins Win Two of Three
    (34 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now