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Minnesota Twins Series Preview: I promise it’s the last one with these guys

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Three straight weekends together might lead some people to start talking...

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For the third consecutive weekend, the Royals and Minnesota Twins will face off, but there’s a positive to all of this. It’s the last time. If the Royals can win just one of three at home, they will split the season series. They’ve already guaranteed a better winning percentage against the Twins than they had last season. This has actually been a pretty close series with the Royals outscoring the Twins 25-24 in the seven games. Really, it’s been nice to see them hanging with the big boys this year after getting trounced by them so often last season. Of course, it wouldn’t be a baseball season without the Twins putting an absolute beating on the Royals and since it hasn’t happened yet, well, look out this weekend I guess. Oh and maybe don’t pitch to Nelson Cruz.

Royals vs. Twins Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Twins
Category Royals Twins
Winning % .400 .654
Team wRC+ 92 100
Team xFIP 4.63 4.18
H2H Wins 4 3
Run Differential -11 39
Highest fWAR Whit Merrifield, 0.8 Nelson Cruz, 1.4

Twins Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Max Kepler RF 102 .233 .343 .488 13.7% 16.7% 125 0.9
Jorge Polanco SS 107 .290 .330 .370 4.7% 11.2% 94 0.5
Nelson Cruz DH 106 .333 .415 .667 9.4% 25.5% 187 1.4
Eddie Rosario LF 101 .228 .297 .457 8.9% 14.9% 100 0.3
Marwin Gonzalez 3B 86 .247 .302 .377 7.0% 19.8% 84 0.2
Luis Arraez 2B 74 .277 .351 .308 10.8% 13.5% 88 0.3
Miguel Sano 1B 81 .194 .284 .458 11.1% 46.9% 95 0.3
Jake Cave CF 41 .167 .268 .278 4.9% 36.6% 55 0.1
Alex Avila C 41 .200 .415 .333 22.0% 29.3% 124 0.3

Twins Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Ryan Jeffers (2019, AA) C 99 .287 .374 .483 9.1% 19.2% 151 ---
Ehire Adrianza INF/OF 44 .200 .273 .225 9.1% 25.0% 42 -0.1
LaMonte Wade, Jr. (2019) OF 69 .196 .348 .375 15.9% 13.0% 98 -0.2
Ildemaro Vargas INF/OF 26 .200 .231 .240 3.8% 26.9% 28 -0.2

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 10 9.1 1 2 30.0% 2.5% 4.82 2.39 0.3
Sergio Romo 9 9.0 0 0 37.5% 3.1% 2.00 3.57 0.2
Trevor May 9 9.0 1 0 38.9% 5.6% 3.00 2.91 0.1

Probable Pitching Matchups

August 21, 7:05pm - Jake Odorizzi vs. Danny Duffy

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jake Odorizzi 2 7.0 0 0 26.7% 6.7% 5.14 3.86 0.0
Danny Duffy 5 24.1 1 2 28.0% 7.0% 4.44 4.48 0.4

The Royals will see their former prospect Jake Odorizzi for the third weekend in a row to start the series. It’s also his third start of the season and based on the progression from 71 pitches to 79 and from three innings to four, he might be ready to have the training wheels taken off for his year. What you might see, though, is that he’s thrown 150 pitches in just seven innings this year, so pitch efficiency hasn’t really been his thing. His last start was interesting because he did pitch better than his first start with six strikeouts and no walks, but he only had seven swings and misses after having 11 in that first game. He had 23 of his 79 pitches fouled off. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t effective, but it does mean that the Royals were getting a lot of contact off him, and he’ll need to clean that if he wants to continue his progression in this one.

Danny Duffy picked up his first win of the year in the second game of that double header with the Twins, and I thought it might have been his best start yet. He had eight strikeouts and just one walk, which marked his fourth game out of five with one walk or fewer. He was moving the ball around in a way he hadn’t done yet this year even while having some success. With nine swinging strikes on his fastball, I expect him to try that again, but we’ll see if the slider that has increased spin this season plays a bigger roll too as he was pretty fastball heavy in the game in Minneapolis. Facing any team for a third time in two weeks is tough, but a team like the Twins with the offensive potential they have is really tough, so hopefully Duffy has one more solid game in his back pocket against them.

August 22, 6:05pm - Randy Dobnak vs. Brady Singer

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Randy Dobnak 5 25.1 4 1 14.6% 6.3% 1.42 4.09 0.5
Brady Singer 5 25.2 1 2 22.2% 11.1% 4.56 4.39 0.1

When the game started against the Twins and Randy Dobnak on Sunday, I made a comment on Twitter that his season feels a lot like the start of the year in 2017 for Jason Vargas. He’s pitching great and the results are great, but I can’t imagine a team walks away thinking he beat them as much they let him beat them. His slider is very good, and he controls it well, so that’s something the Royals will have to lay off much better in this one than they did on Sunday. But everything else honestly isn’t anything to write home about, and while the numbers are shiny, I just feel like Dobnak is due to have a clunker at some point before the Yankees do it to him in the playoffs again. With home runs allowed to Hunter Dozier and Alex Gordon in Minnesota, I just feel like there’s more of that to come in dispatching one of the best and most interesting stories of the young 2020 season.

Brady Singer has been interesting this year. He hasn’t once been bad. He also hasn’t once been especially great. His first start of the year was really fun and that was the closest he came to being great, but in every other start, he’s been pretty workmanlike, which might end up being where he lands as a pitcher. There are certainly worse things. What I’d like to see from him in this one is better command in general. I know that’s super broad, but where he struggled against the Twins on Sunday was in making mistakes, and you can’t do that against a team like them. He just missed far too much down the center of the plate and the Twins made him pay for it with a couple home runs. If he can regain some of the fastball command he had in his first outing and let his slider play off that, his final start against the Twins could be a lot of fun to watch.

August 23, 1:05pm - Kenta Maeda vs. Kris Bubic

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kenta Maeda 5 31.2 3 0 28.7% 5.2% 2.27 2.96 1.2
Kris Bubic 4 19.1 0 3 23.2% 9.8% 5.12 4.49 0.0

The finale is set to feature Kenta Maeda who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in his last start against the Brewers, only to see them get a hit and then eventually tie the game before the Twins won in extra innings. He’s been really good this year, working with a below average velocity fastball that he’s only throwing about 20 percent of the time. Instead, he lives off his slider and changeup, which could cause the Royals offense some very real problems given their issues with everything but fastballs. If he’s getting whiffs on his changeup like he has this year, the Royals could be flailing all day long. Maeda has been unreal the first two times through the order, limiting opponents to an OPS below .400. The third time through, he’s still below .600 but it seems bad by comparison. He’s just having a really nice season and he is likely to cause the Royals trouble if he’s got it working. Of course, he hadn’t thrown more than 85 pitches this year before he threw 115 in his last start, so maybe there are some lingering effects from that. The Twins could decide to push him back as they did last weekend when he was scheduled to throw against the Royals.

Kris Bubic is pitching an awful lot like a guy with a ton of talent who hasn’t faced hitters above A-ball before this season. And that’s okay. He’s shown flashes of brilliance like in his first couple innings against the Cubs. And he’s shown some struggle, like in his first start when he allowed a home run to Adam freaking Engel. All in all, I think the Royals have to be very happy with his progress. The one thing I’d like to see in his second consecutive start against a good Twins offense is for him to not resort to nibbling. After giving up a home run to Nelson Cruz in the fourth, he really seemed to completely change his approach. Here’s the thing. You’re going to give up bombs to Cruz. Move past it and get back to what you were doing. It really seemed like he started to get tentative and he has the stuff to beat a good team, so I’d like to see that here.

Prediction

I think the Royals are playing fine enough, but the Twins are just better. I’ll say the Royals take one and split the season series, but the wild card is how Maeda pitches after throwing so many in his last outing. If he struggles, that’s the Royals path to getting two in this series if they’re going to do it. I’m also very excited to see how Singer and Bubic handle their follow-up starts against the same team.

Poll

This is it with the Twins. Who takes the series?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Royals Sweep
    (10 votes)
  • 25%
    Twins Sweep
    (20 votes)
  • 31%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (25 votes)
  • 31%
    Twins Win Two of Three
    (25 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now