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2019 Penultimate gamethread: Twins at Royals

Soler is running out of chances to take the AL HR crown for himself.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Manager Ned Yost, in his final days setting the lineups for the club, has done his very best to help Jorge Soler win the first ever AL Home Run crown for the Royals. Soler currently sits at 45, tied with baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, who has sat out the final three weeks of the season with an injury. Despite being pushed higher and higher in the lineup - will he lead off, tomorrow? - Soler has not hit a home run since tying Trout on September 15, half a month ago. This is the second longest drought for home runs Soler has endured this season. If he fails to hit one today, it will tie the longest set from August 13-24 when he was stuck at 35 for 10 straight games.

Beyond Soler’s mark and Yost’s final career managerial record this game does not matter. It’s extremely unlikely the Royals will catch the Marlins for the third overall pick next draft. They can’t be caught by anyone else. Minnesota can neither catch New York or Houston nor be caught by Cleveland. Everyone should be playing free and lose, unless they’re just playing distracted as the Royals consider their off-season plans and the Twins prepare for the playoffs.

This will be Glenn Sparkman’s last chance to make a regular season mark in his effort to keep his rotation spot, next year. Given the starting pitching currently controlled by the Royals there’s even a fair chance he’ll get that opportunity to start the season. It would take a huge leap in competence for him to still hold it by the end of 2020, however. Sparkman hasn’t had so much as a quality start since the middle of August. The Twins will allow Cody Stashak to open the game before handing it off to a bulk reliever. It will be his first career major league “start”. I suspect this is being done less for gamesmanship than simply to allow the Twins to arrange everything to their liking for the post-season.