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Series Preview: Twins look to pad playoff lead against Tigers

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A four game series against one of baseball’s worst teams may be just what the Twins need.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Nothing quite takes the wind out of the sails of a Twins postseason run like getting swept by the Yankees, but it’s not over yet. In fact, with the Angels loss last night, the Twins still have a 1.5 game lead for the second wild card spot—which is exactly where they were before bombing in the Bronx. They didn’t lose any ground at all.

Sounds like the perfect time for a four game series against the Tigers!

That’s what the Twins will start tonight in Detroit. I know in recent-ish years the Tigers have been good and scary, but that is not that case anymore. That’s sooooooo not the case. The Tigers are bad now, folks. Their 62-90 record is second worst in the American League (behind only the White Sox), and fourth worst in all of baseball. They sold off Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, and are basically now in full-on rebuilding mode.

In fact, I’m not even entirely sure who the Tigers will be sending to the mound this series (a fun side-effect of expanded rosters!). It’s settled that Jordan Zimmerman will be starting Game One, but after that MLB.com and ESPN list different probable pitchers listed. According to ESPN, the Tigers are going with these guys:

  • Game Two: Matthew Boyd
  • Game Three: Buck Farmer
  • Game Four: Chad Bell

But MLB.com is going with these dudes:

  • Game Two: TBD
  • Game Three: Matthew Boyd
  • Game Four: Buck Farmer

In any case, we know that Game One’s starter, Jordan Zimmerman, sucks. He’s been awful this year—a 6.18 ERA with a MLB-leading 103 earned runs—and the Twins have already taken advantage him. He’s made three starts against the Twins so far this year and gave up at least five earned runs in each of them, never making it to the end of the fifth inning. He’s also been battling neck issues lately (he hasn’t pitched since September 2nd), which sucks for him but makes it even less likely he’ll be successful against the Twins batters tonight.

Zimmerman will face Adalberto Mejia, who struggled in his last outing, giginv up three earned runs over only 3.0 innings. Still, all he has to do is basically not suck and the Twins should be able to win this one.

Friday night we’re probably going to get Matt Boyd, since he last pitched on Sunday. In fact, Boyd almost pitched a no-hitter on Sunday, but the White Sox were able to break it up with one hit in the ninth inning. Poor Boyd. Anyway, he’s faced the Twins four times this year and had varying degrees of success, though his last start against them was the worst—four earned runs over 5.2 innings back on August 13th. Brian Dozier hits pretty well off him though—9-for-24 with two doubles and two home runs—so I’m thinking lead off home run in this one. Make it happen, Dozier.

Assuming it is Boyd is the pitcher going Friday, he’ll be facing Kyle Gibson. Gibby has had four starts against the Tigers this year, some being good (three earned runs over 7.1 innings back on July 22nd), and some being bad (six earned runs over 2.1 innings back on April 23rd). But Gibby has been good lately, barring his last outing against the Blue Jays where he gave up five runs. Damn. Let’s pretend that didn’t happen.

After the first two games, it seems like the Twins will be facing Buck Farmer and the Chad Bell guy. Farmer has reportedly been battling some forearm issues, so maybe he won’t pitch at all. I’m not sure. Hopefully he doesn’t get scratched, though, since he’s not a very good pitcher. The Twins haven’t faced him this year (he’s spent most of his season in Triple-A), but Buck hasn’t done too great against others, boasting a 7.11 ERA over 38.0 major league innings. Both Dozier and Joe Mauer have had success off Farmer in past year, going 2-for-3 and 2-for-4 respectively, so that bodes well too.

Bell is some goof who used to be in the bullpen, but has been starting basically since Verlander was shipped off. He’s made four starts since then and none of them have been good. He has a 6.52 ERA and 1.81 WHIP over 58.0 innings. The Twins have only face Bell in one inning of relief, but Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Mauer, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosario all got a hit off him. Brian Dozier walked.

As for who these guys will face, it should be Ervin Santana Saturday and Jose Berrios Sunday, who are widely considered the Twins’ two best starters. Berrios will need to watch out for James McCann, though—the catcher is 5-for-5 with two home runs off him in Berrios career. Yikes.

While the Twins are lucky to have fours games against one of the worst teams in baseball when they really need wins, it doesn’t mean this will necessarily be a cake walk. They’ll still need to play top-notch baseball if they really want to make it to the wild card game and be eliminated by the Yankees.

Better than nothing? Maybe.

Pitching Match-ups

Game 1: Thursday, September 21, 2017; 6:10 pm CT — Jordan Zimmerman RHP vs. Adalberto Mejia LHP

Game 2: Friday, September 22, 2017; 6:10 pm CT — TBD vs. Kyle Gibson RHP

Game 3: Saturday, September 23, 2017; 5:10 pm CT — Matthew Boyd LHP vs. Ervin Santana RHP

Game 4: Sunday, September 24, 2017; 11:10 am CT — Buck Farmer RHP vs. Jose Berrios RHP

Notes

  • Yeah... Miguel Sano is probably not going to be back. His shin thing still hurts.
  • Our friends over at Bless You Boys have asked their fans whether they want the first round draft pick or to knock the Twins out of the playoffs, and it seems there is still some resentment about Game 163 over there...

Poll

How many games against the Tigers will the Twins win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    1
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    2
    (13 votes)
  • 52%
    3
    (78 votes)
  • 34%
    4
    (51 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now