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Minnesota Twins Series Preview: The Royals keep coming back for more

After getting swept in Kansas City, the Royals will try to get some revenge on a Twins team that is just so much better than them.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The unbalanced schedule sometimes leads to teams playing a lot of games against each other in a short time in the case of the Royals vs. Twins, all they had between their last series sweep at their hands was a two-game series in Arizona. Of course, the Twins swept the Royals last weekend, though it didn’t have to be that way. The Royals carried a 6-0 lead into the eighth inning of the finale on Sunday that was gone before you can say “Cal Eldred is terrible at his job.” I think it’s fair to say now that the Twins are good. And the fact that they started 4-8 and look this good says a lot about the talent they have. They can hit, they can catch the ball and they can pitch. Baseball, as Bull Durham taught us, is actually a pretty simple game. It’s just not easy, but the Twins are making that part look easy right now.

Royals vs. Twins Matchup Stats

Category Royals Twins
Category Royals Twins
Winning % .333 .614
H2H Wins 2 4
Team wRC+ 91 111
Team xFIP 4.58 3.81
Run Differential -62 32
Highest fWAR Andrew Benintendi, 1.2 Byron Buxton, 1.3

Twins Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Byron Buxton CF 128 .202 .291 .535 7.8% 27.3% 134 1.3
Luis Arraez 1B 139 .347 .446 .415 14.4% 7.2% 161 0.7
Carlos Correa SS 133 .275 .346 .400 9.0% 22.6% 122 0.7
Jorge Polanco 2B 177 .232 .333 .364 13.6% 24.3% 109 0.8
Max Kepler RF 164 .248 .360 .423 13.4% 16.5% 133 1.2
Gary Sanchez C 135 .208 .281 .417 6.7% 29.6% 102 0.2
Trevor Larnach DH 85 .295 .341 .449 7.1% 31.8% 130 0.9
Gio Urshela 3B 144 .254 .319 .349 9.7% 13.2% 97 0.2
Gilberto Celestino LF 83 .319 .395 .375 8.4% 21.7% 134 0.8

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 C 107 .200 .283 .347 10.3% 29.9% 87 0.7
Jose Miranda INF 66 .143 .182 .254 3.0% 19.7% 24 -0.6
Nick Gordon OF/INF 89 .250 .284 .321 4.5% 29.2% 77 0.1
Kyle Garlick OF 41 .273 .390 .636 14.6% 17.1% 193 0.5

Twins Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Emilio Pagan 15 15.2 1 1 29.6% 15.5% 2.30 3.62 -0.5
Jhoan Duran 16 21.1 0 1 38.3% 3.7% 2.53 1.92 0.1
Tyler Duffey 17 17.1 2 2 23.5% 4.4% 3.63 2.53 0.0

Royals vs. Twins Probable Pitchers

May 26 - Daniel Lynch vs. Devin Smeltzer, 6:40pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 7 33.2 2 3 20.8% 10.1% 4.01 4.88 0.3
Devin Smeltzer 2 10.1 1 0 5.1% 7.7% 1.74 5.24 0.2

Daniel Lynch is coming off his worst start of the season, and it was against these very Twins. But there was actually something to like about his game if you want to squint to try to find the positive. He walked the leadoff batter on four pitches and just couldn’t seem to hit his spots at all. He hasn’t had perfect command this season, but this was the first time we’ve seen him really struggle like that. So this is a chance for him to come back against the same team and correct some of those issues. It was only the second time this season that he didn’t have double digit whiffs in a game, so I think it’s fair to wonder if the Twins bring out the worst in him or if they didn’t see the true Lynch. We’ll find out pretty quickly against what I’m sure will be a very righty-heavy lineup.

Career vs. MIN: 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 1-1, 4.91 ERA


Lynch’s opponent in that game on Friday is the same as his opponent in this one, Devin Smeltzer. He’s now had two very similar starts, giving up on run in each with very few strikeouts and very few walks. In the case of his last outing, he didn’t strike out any Royals hitters, but he did hold them to a run on five hits in 5.1 innings. He relied heavily on weak contact from Royals hitters to keep them down and never really found himself in trouble after giving up a run on two hits in the first. Smeltzer gets by with a high fastball that doesn’t come in very hard and then a curve and a changeup. He’s definitely the type of guy you hear about opponents taking an easy 0 for 4, but he’s also the type who can’t afford to be off and the Royals offense has actually been pretty good over the last few games.

Career vs. KC: 6 G, 3 GS, 21.1 IP, 3-0, 2.11 ERA

May 27 - Brad Keller vs. Bailey Ober, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brad Keller 8 50.2 1 4 14.6% 6.0% 3.20 4.16 0.6
Bailey Ober 5 24.2 1 1 19.8% 5.9% 2.55 4.45 0.5

In Brad Keller’s start against the Twins last weekend, he walked more than two batters for just the second time all season. In spite of some struggles, he got through seven innings with four runs allowed before the bullpen imploded and put the game out of reach. While Keller is never a big swing and miss guy, he only had four of them against the Twins. His slider just wasn’t there. Some of that is the Twins offense looking good, but some of that is it just wasn’t as good as it normally is. A better slider might have meant a better outing for him. It wasn’t hit hard, but it wasn’t missed either. I wonder if he maybe looks to a few more four-seam fastballs as they were pretty successful in a limited showing on Saturday night.


Career vs. MIN: 10 GS, 57.2 IP, 3-4, 3.43 ERA

Bailey Ober is one of my favorite pitchers to watch when he’s not facing the Royals because I’m sort of in awe of the way he works. I mentioned this last time, so I won’t go into the details, but he works his fastball at the top of the zone and because he releases the ball so close to the hitter, his velocity looks a lot harder than it is. He was good against the Royals in the game on Sunday, giving up just a run on three hits before the Royals offense did damage against the bullpen. And before the Twins offense did even more damage.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 13.1 IP 0-0, 3.38 ERA

May 28 - Brady Singer vs. Chris Archer, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 5 19.2 1 0 23.7% 5.3% 1.83 2.98 0.5
Chris Archer 8 30.1 0 1 20.9% 11.9% 3.86 4.90 -0.2

This might be the most interest I’ve had in a Brady Singer start since 2020 when he was a rookie. Why? Well he’s coming off two straight starts with seven shutout innings. But now he’s facing a team twice in a row. That brand new changeup that he’s throwing quite a bit and seems to be helping him quite a bit, especially in tight spots, becomes extra important. This Twins team just saw him on Sunday and now they’ll see him on Saturday. If he can shove in this one, I’ll be a lot closer to sold than I was before. And it’s kind of win-win because even if he’s just okay, it’s understandable. Facing a team twice in a week is tough, especially a team with an offense as good as the Twins have.


Career vs. MIN: 8 GS, 37.0 IP, 1-5, 4.86 ERA

The Twins signed Chris Archer late in spring training, March 28 to be exact, and he’s had to be a fairly big part of their rotation because of some injuries they’ve dealt with. He’s been okay. He isn’t giving many innings, averaging fewer than four per start and not going more than 4.1 innings in any outing or exceeding 79 pitches. But he’s gotten the job done. His longest start of the year was actually against the Royals in his second start of the season. And he was generally okay there too. He’s throwing a ton of sliders and it’s been good, but his fastball has been terrible with opponents slugging .733 on it. Everything else he throws has been effective, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if he backs off that fastball as the season progresses.

Career vs. KC: 8 GS, 51.1 IP, 2-4, 4.03 ERA

May 29 - Zack Greinke vs. Sonny Gray, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Zack Greinke 9 47.2 0 3 11.3% 3.9% 4.53 4.55 0.7
Sonny Gray 6 27.2 2 1 31.0% 8.8% 2.60 2.95 0.6

Zack Greinke has come back to earth quite a bit over his last few starts and his last one is one he’ll likely want to forget quickly. Staked with a 4-0 lead before threw a pitch, he allowed seven runs in just 3.2 innings and walked four batters which doubled his season total. He did have five strikeouts and has been getting more swings and misses lately, so maybe he’s about to turn a corner, but he’s now allowed 30 hits in 19.2 innings with a 7.32 ERA in his last four starts. The Twins, who possess a good offense will need to be finessed by Greinke like he did in April when he held them to one run in five innings. They weren’t playing that well then, but he’s at least shown he can handle them.

Career vs. MIN: 26 G, 22 GS, 139.0 IP, 5-10, 4.53 ERA


The Twins acquired Sonny Gray before the season, and he’s been fantastic for them, though he did miss some time to start the year and completed more than five innings for the first time in his start before last. But he went seven shutout in his last start on Tuesday and looks like he’s rounding into form. His velcoity is down a touch but he uses both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball and both have been outstanding. His actually had his most trouble with his slider. Opponents have hit .364 against the pitch, so he’s been prone to leaving it in bad spots. He has shown a reverse split this year, holding lefties to an OPS of more than 300 points lower than righties, which is kind of odd.

Career vs. KC: 7 GS, 46.0 IP, 4-2, 2.15 ERA

Royals vs. Twins Prediction

There is no thought process behind this. I don’t predict the Royals win a game until they win a game, so I’m predicting a Twins series sweep even though the Royals are kind of famous for winning a few games when they look their absolute worst, so I’m hoping they make me look bad but preparing to be right.

SB Nation has partnered with DraftKings to sponsor select series previews this season. Here are the betting odds for this series. The Royals are a +1.5 run underdog tonight with a +155 moneyline, and an over/under of 8.5 runs scored in the game.

Poll

The Royals have a shot to get back at the Twins this weekend. How many wins do they get in the series?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    4
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    3
    (4 votes)
  • 13%
    2
    (19 votes)
  • 53%
    1
    (76 votes)
  • 27%
    0
    (40 votes)
143 votes total Vote Now