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Series Preview: Twins host World Series Champion Astros

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Will they survive the cold?

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The defending World Series champion Houston Astros will be visiting the Twins for the next three games. Currently, the Astros have an AL-west leading eight wins, and only two losses. The Twins have played a couple less games, but come in with a record of four wins and three losses, which is enough to lead the AL-central.

The Astros have a good young core, and return basically everyone from their championship squad, so this certainly won’t be an easy task for the Twins. However, most of Houston’s batters have gotten off to a fairly cold start. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Josh Reddick, and Brian McCann are their only regulars with an early batting average above .250, although that will change as the sample sizes expand. Collectively, the team is hitting .256/.342/.411. Meanwhile, their hurlers have started out strong. The Astros don’t have a single starter with an ERA over 3.50, and only two of their relievers hold an ERA over 4.00. Their team ERA is 2.22, and their team FIP is 2.77. In the cold, I would say to expect a pitcher’s battle, but the Twins are easily the most dangerous lineup the Astros have played to date.

Lance Lynn’s second Twins start slides back a day, due to the fact that Minnesota is a cold, cold place. He’ll be facing a largely unfamiliar line-up, having appeared against only four Astros. Jose Altuve is responsible for half of the 20 at-bats. Against those guys, Lynn has allowed four hits, and only two, both doubles, for extra bases. The Twins know his opponent very well, as Justin Verlander spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers. Joe Mauer has hit .325/.429/.545 against him, with four home runs in 77 at bats. Byron Buxton also has hit him well, with a home run and a single in seven at bats, and Logan Morrison has two hits in five at bats. The rest of the Twins have been mostly confounded by the veteran right hander.

Jake Odorizzi will lead the Twins into game two of this series, and he has effectively shut down most of Astros’ lineup. The exception is former Yankee Brian McCann. McCann has 28 at bats against Odorizzi, and has hit .464/.531/.964 with three home runs and ten RBI. On the plus side, he’s also struck out five times. Dallas Keuchel, on the bump for the Astros, has given up a home run each to Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, and Logan Morrison. Those three have all hit very well against him, but the rest of the Twins have scuffled.

Kyle Gibson, starting game three, has been “Good Gibby” when he has faced the Astros. He has held their line to a combined .183/.290/.283 in 60 at bats, and only Brian McCann has gone yard. The Astros will be using Lance McCullers, and the young pitcher has shut down the Twins in 37 at bats, holding them to .135/.250/.216.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Monday, April 9th; 7:10 pm CT — Lance Lynn RHP vs. Justin Verlander RHP

Game 2: Tuesday, April 10th; 7:10 pm CT — Jake Odorizzi RHP vs. Dallas Keuchel LHP

Game 3: Wednesday, April 11th; 12:10 pm CT — Kyle Gibson RHP vs. Lance McCullers, Jr RHP

Notes

  • The Twins’ need for a fifth starter has been postponed by a bit, due to the weather. Otherwise Phil Hughes probably would have started the third game of this series.
  • Houston has been relatively healthy so far this season. Their injury report is short, and contains two pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who is still recovering from off season hand surgery.
  • In case you missed it, Eric Hosmer, the man who beat Joe Mauer for the Gold Glove last season did a really silly thing against the Astros, and totally deserves to be shamed.

Poll

How many games do the Twins win against the Astros?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3
    (29 votes)
  • 24%
    2
    (117 votes)
  • 42%
    1
    (203 votes)
  • 26%
    0
    (126 votes)
475 votes total Vote Now