Notebook 9/19: Time for Twins to Support Their Starters
Yesterday's Game Recap
CHC 1, MIN 0 - The Professor Schools Twins
Twins (31-22) @ Cubs (31-20), 7:15 pm CDT
No offense, but the Twins’ has disappeared
Entering the White Sox series, the Twins were rolling.
Since then, they’ve hit .189 with a .646 OPS, scoring 11 total runs over their last five games. The pitching staff has posted a solid 3.29 ERA in that 41 inning span. As has been the case for much of 2020, the Twins’ losses aren’t due to poor pitching and defense. Can they turn it around Saturday?
No-hitters in Chi-Town
Lucas Giolito won’t be the only pitcher to face the Twins after throwing a no-no. Alec Mills struck out five and held the Brewers to zero knocks in his last start. Coming in to that game, Mills had a 4.74 ERA. The right-hander has given up eight home runs in 52 ⅔ innings.
Mills has extreme platoon splits through nine starts in 2020. Righties are hitting just .150 with a .487 OPS, while lefties are hitting .243 with a .771 OPS. Perhaps the Twins start three lefties in the outfield with Jake Cave giving Byron Buxton a day off in center. It’s also a good night for Alex Avila to start behind the plate.
Mills ranks below league average in expected ERA, expected batting average, expected slugging percentage, and expected wOBA. His no-hitter last Sunday was a great example of the difference in contact and results. Mills gave up 11 (!) hard-hit balls but didn’t allow a single hit. Maybe it’s unfair to call it luck but uh… he’s been lucky.
Big Mike goes back to work for Minnesota
Michael Pineda has been a stabilizing force for the Twins. He owns a 3.57 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 17 ⅔ innings. Pineda, a three-pitch pitcher, has thrown the heck out of his slider in 2020. Opponents are whiffing at over a 50% rate and hitting just .125 off it. Pineda is unleashing it much more against lefties than he did in 2019, a la Kenta Maeda. It’s working for both of them.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- The Cubs’ offense ranks 17th in wOBA (.315), 20th in wRC+ (95), and 18th in OPS (.722)
- Pineda’s slider should match up very well with Kris Bryant and Javier Báez, who’ve struggled mightily against breaking balls this year.
- Lefties Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber and switch-hitter Ian Happ will be the key outs.
- Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson have played in five straight games. Look for one or both to get a day off Saturday.
- Only Caleb Thielbar pitched Friday (thanks to Rich Hill), so the Twins’ bullpen should be well rested.
- If Buxton plays, will he lead off with Kepler back in the lineup?
Chicago White Sox 33-18 (+74 run differential)
Minnesota Twins 31-22 (+44)
Cleveland Indians 28-23 (+37)
Detroit Tigers 21-29 (-64)
Kansas City Royals 21-30 (-27)
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