The 3 Scariest Stretches on the 2020 Twins Schedule
Image courtesy of Minnesota Twins on TwitterAs I size up the coming two-month sprint through the AL and NL Central divisions, three particular stretches stand out to me as challenges that could make a very good Twins team sweat.
July 24th through August 2nd
- 3 games @ CWS
- 2 games vs. STL
- 4 games vs. CLE
Right out of the gates, the Twins will feel some heat. I happen to believe the White Sox will be a sneaky riser in the shortened format, and would bet on them winning more games than Cleveland. Minnesota opens in Chicago, then comes home to face the defending NL Central champion Cardinals, followed by a Cleveland team that's plenty formidable. Four games. Huge spot.
A slow start in this shortened format will put a team behind the eight-ball, creating immediate stressful pressure. If the Twins go 3-6 in this opening stretch, they'll be digging themselves a fairly deep hole, especially since some of the losses are coming against their primary division rivals.
August 18th through 26th
- 3 games vs. MIL
- 3 games @ KC
- 3 games @ CLE
The Brewers reached the postseason as a wild-card last year, led by one of baseball's best players in Christian Yelich. Milwaukee is at least the third-best opponent on the Twins' schedule, and this will be their second meeting between the two in a week. Following is a trip to Kaufmann, where wins cannot be taken for granted. (Minnesota's 2019 regular season ended with a walk-off loss in Kansas City.) Then it's off to Cleveland, for the only road series of the year against the Indians.
September 8th through 20th
- 2 games @ STL
- 3 games vs. CLE
- 4 games @ CWS
- 3 games @ CHC
This right here. This is the gauntlet. Here in September, the Twins make their first trips to Busch Stadium and Wrigley, and by now the big-market home teams will be very comfortable in their own digs. (As much as can be expected, anyway.) This stretch also includes Minnesota's final head-to-head chance against Cleveland, and another trip to Guaranteed Rate, where young talent could be starting to gel. Twelve games in 13 days on the tail end of an intense sprint.
Even if the Twins play quite well, the reality is that it's gonna be almost impossible for them to build up a comfortable first-place buffer in the 43 games leading up to these ones. One way or another, urgency will accompany this tricky, travel-filled segment of the schedule.
On the bright side, a nice reprieve awaits on the other end: Minnesota gets two off days in the final week, along with five home games against Detroit and Cincinnati.
Hopefully the Twins will be in good enough shape by then to rest some regulars and set themselves up for the postseason. But with the 30 games in the three stretches of strong headwinds above representing half of their "soft" schedule, getting into that position will be no breeze.
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