Twins at Pirates Series Preview
Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsSeries at a Glance
*Win Odds from FiveThirtyEight
Logan Morrison is still looking to get his season going, after going 0-for-11 in Baltimore. Unfortunately for Morrison, the Twins will not have the luxury of the designated hitter in Pittsburgh. With the offday between the two games in the series, he might only get a chance as a pinch-hitter during the series.
Probable Starting Pitchers
RHP Lance Lynn
Lance Lynn will be making his Twins debut on Monday in Pittsburgh. Last year was a strong year for him, coming back from Tommy John surgery, with a 3.43 ERA over 186.1 innings. In terms of pitching style, Lynn works a lot like Bartolo Colon, in that 90% of his pitches last year were either a two-seam, four-seam or cut fastball.
RHP Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi shined in his first Twins start on Opening Day, going six shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and just two walks. Odorizzi featured a healthy mix of fastballs up in the zone and splitters low in the zone to keep the Oriole hitters off balance.
It is a new era in Pittsburgh this season, after the Pirates traded away both Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole in the offseason. The Pirates are a team that doesn’t have high aspirations for a postseason run this year, as they are in one of the best divisions in baseball. However, this doesn’t mean that they are a team that can be overlooked.
Probable Starting Pitchers
RHP Jameson Taillon
The Pittsburgh Pirates are very excited about the future of Jameson Taillon in their rotation. The tall righty features a power fastball, along with a solid curve and an okay changeup. Taillon didn’t have as strong a season last year as he did his rookie year, in 2016. A big reason for this was Taillon got “BABIPed” to death, as his .352 BABIP was the highest of any pitcher with at least 120 innings pitched last season.
RHP Ivan Nova
Ivan Nova’s 2017 season was a tale of two halves. In the first three months of the season, Nova was the leader of the Pirates rotation with a 3.08 ERA over 108 innings. However, from July on Nova’s ERA ballooned up to 5.58. Nova struggled with his command in his first start of 2018, giving up 3 walks and 6 hits over 5 innings against Detroit.
Players to Watch
Starling Marte, CF
Last season was a rough year for Starling Marte. First, he was suspended for 80-games after testing positive for PEDs. After he came back, Marte wasn’t the same hitter that he had been in years past. His 91 wRC+ was a career low, and he slugged just .379, after never having slugged below .437 in his career.
Corey Dickerson, RF
Corey Dickerson got off to a blazing start in 2017, earning himself his first career All-Star appearance. However, Dickerson struggled down the stretch and was inevitably designated for assignment by Tampa in a move to save money on their payroll. Dickerson was eventually traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for two minor leaguers and cash.
Josh Bell, 1B
Josh Bell is one of the promising young players in the Pirates lineup. With the Andrew McCutchen era over in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are looking for a new face of their franchise and Josh Bell has the ability to become it. There isn't much for pop in the Pirates lineup, but Bell is a hitter who has the potential to become a perennial 30 homer guy.
(2017 Stats) *Reflects Minor League Stats
Paul Molitor wasted no time seeing what he has with the three new relievers in the bullpen, throwing all three on the opening day. Even though they gave up all three runs in the Twins loss, they still looked pretty good. Zach Duke gave up two runs, though of the six batters he faced he struck out four, and another reached on an intentional walk. Addison Reed pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts, and Fernando Rodney did an excellent job getting the Twins out of a jam in the 10th before being brought out for a second inning and surrendering a walk-off home run.
The Pirates bullpen features one of the best relievers in the game in Felipe Rivero, whom they acquired in a trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Nationals at the 2016 trade deadline. However, after Rivero, the Pittsburgh bullpen leaves a little to be desired. If the Twins can get the Pirates starters out of the game early, they will have a chance to take advantage of perhaps the weakest spot on the Pirates team.
Zone Charts courtesy of baseballsavant.com
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