The Minnesota Twins limped into this week after a pretty successful road trip, going 8-2 against the likes of the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Boston Red Sox. Then they came home and only got one win in a three-game set against the Cleveland Spiders, which now puts them at 5.5 games ahead in the American League Central (at the time of this writing). After an off-day yesterday, the Bomba Squad will go head-to-head with the Washington Nationals before traveling to Cleveland for the last time this regular season.
Washington will be visiting wonderful Target Field for the first time ever. That’s right - EVER. The Nats come into town trailing the Atlanta Braves by nine games for the National League East title, so it’s kind of a long shot that they will win the division title. Good thing for them, there’s a nifty thing called the Wild Card - two of them, in fact - and they have the top spot, up three games on the Chicago Cubs with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia
Bryce Harpers Phillies, and the Milwaukee Brewers chasing them close behind. They’re in a two-city road trip right now, coming from Atlanta after dropping three-of-four to them and dropping a series to the New York Mets.
The two batters that the Twins pitchers will need to look out for is third baseman Anthony Rendon and outfielder Juan Soto. Rendon has been on fire the second half of this year, hitting to the tune of .382/.459/.657 (1.116) with 12 homers and 52 RBI. He’s belted 32 homers this year total and has joined the 100+ RBI club, notching 114 so far this season. To ease the pain of this a little bit, he is hitting less homers on the road (12) than at home (20). Soto, a lefty, is a tad bit less on fire, “only” hitting .293/.406/.641 (1.047) since the All-Star Break. He’s hit 18 of his 33 total homers during the second half of the year. His home/away splits are good for Twins fans, as he’s hitting only .266/.401/.511 (.911) with 15 homers and 39 RBI on the road.
Something odd to note, especially in the style of play in this new era, is that this team will steal on the base paths. Trea Turner, while hitting .301/.358/.481, has stolen 31 bases while being caught only five times. Victor Robles (24 stolen/8 caught), Adam Eaton (13/3), and Soto (12/1) will be ones to keep in check if/when they get on base.
The Nationals have a pretty exceptional starting rotation; they are third in the league in ERA (3.59), fourth in K/9 (9.68), and second in innings pitched. The Twins will see Anibal Sanchez tonight. Since the beginning of August, he’s posted an ERA of 5.13 in six starts, allowing four homers, including three in his last start to the New York Mets: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Stephen Strasburg will start on Wednesday, and his last outing saw him turn in a quality start in a loss to Atlanta. He’s held batters to a .212/.274/.388 slash line since the beginning of last month. Lastly, southpaw Patrick Corbin will start on Thursday night, and he’s been pretty good since the All-Star Break: 2.85 ERA, holding opposing batters to .217/.293/.375, and only seven homers in 11 starts.
With that in mind, the Nationals’ bullpen has the second-worst ERA in the league (5.78), worst strand rate (67.3%), and tied for the third-highest HR/9 (1.64). Closer Sean Doolittle has notched 28 saves in 34 opportunities this year, allowing 10 hits and 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Wander Suero (4.43 ERA, 3.04 FIP) and Tanner Rainey (3.96 ERA, 4.69 FIP) will also be main men out of the ‘pen.
I bet you’re wondering about our old friends Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki, aren’t you? Dozier has been hitting .237/.341/.432 with 19 homers and 45 RBI this year. Bad news for Suzuki fans: he’s day-to-day with elbow inflammation. He’s split time behind the plate with Yan Gomes this season, batting .260/.319/.473 with 15 homers and 58 RBI.
Tues., Sept. 10, 6:40p Central: Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 4.11 ERA) v Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.78)
Wed., Sept. 11, 6:40p Central: Stephen Strasburg (16-6, 3.50) v Martin Perez (10-6, 4.75)
Thur., Sept. 12, 6:40p Central: Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.16) v Kyle Gibson (13-6, 4.58)
There’s not much to talk about regarding the Cleveland team as we just saw them this weekend. Once the Twins finish their game on Thursday, they’ll fly out to Cleveland and play their last series against them this regular season. The Twins are better on the road, so it may seem to be an advantage to Minnesota that they’re playing the Spiders in Cleveland to try and finish off the A.L. Central race.
Cleveland is in Los Angeles taking on the Angels in a three-game series. When they return home to face the Twins, it’s expected they’ll announce that Aaron Civale, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber will be the three starters that weekend. Civale has started against the Twins twice this season (11.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 9 K), Clevinger has started three times against the Bomba Squad (18.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 11 H, 5 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 22 K), and Bieber has started against Minnesota three times and once out of the ‘pen (22.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 19 H, 8 ER, 4 HR, 4 BB, 29 K).
How many Twims wims this week?
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