Twins Notebook 9/29: Bring on the Astros
Sunday’s Game Recap
CIN 5, MIN 3: Twins Lose In Extras, Win Division
Twins vs. Astros 1:08pm CDT
TV Broadcast: ABC
Betting Lines: MIN -170, HOU +145, O/U: 7.5
Twins Starter: Kenta Maeda, RHP 2.70 ERA
After acquiring Kenta Maeda in the offseason, the Twins have gotten everything they could have wanted out of him, and then some, during the 2020 season. As a result of his performance, Maeda has earned the number one spot in the Twins Postseason rotation. A big reason for Maeda’s improvement this year has been his success against not only righties (whom he has dominated throughout his career) but also against lefties, holding them to an OPS of .521. Not to be out done, righties had an even lower .484 OPS against Maeda this season. This dominance against right-handed hitters will be crucial in this series against the Astros, as they had 1,059 plate appearances by right-handed hitters this season, which was the fourth most in Major League Baseball.
The Astros lineup does not have a lot of experience facing Kenta Maeda, accumulating just 31 career regular season plate appearances for their roster as a whole. Maeda also made four appearances against the Astros in relief during the 2017 World Series, where he famously gave up a game tying home run to Jose Altuve in the epic Game 5. However, outside of that Maeda was excellent against that dominant Astros lineup that is made up of many of those same players today. Across 5 and 2/3 innings pitched, Maeda allowed just the one earned run, and held them to an OPS of .655.
Astros Starter: Zack Greinke, RHP 4.03 ERA
With the loss of Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, the 2020 Astros starting rotation is far less intimidating than the one that made them a matchup nightmare in the past few Postseasons. Now, Zack Greinke has been elevated into the number one role, though he is more than qualified for that spot himself. While the 4.03 ERA would suggest that the nearly 37-year-old Greinke is having a down year, that isn’t exactly the case. Greinke’s FIP of 2.80, which is carried by his career best 7.4/1 K/BB ratio in 12 starts this season. A big reason for Greinke’s slightly inflated ERA is his stranded runner rate of just 68.5%, which is his lowest since his final season in Kansas City, all the way back in 2010.
Just as is the case with Astros lineup against Kenta Maeda, the Twins lineup has very little experience against Zack Greinke. In total, this Twins roster has just 65 career plate appearances against Greinke, with most of those coming from Alex Avila and Nelson Cruz. In total, the Twins hitters have combined for a .569 OPS against Greinke throughout their careers.
News & Notes
- Rocco Baldelli said that Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton had “a relatively good day” on Monday, as they try to recover from injuries that caused them to leave early Friday night’s contest against the Cincinnati Reds.
- All eyes will be on the Cleveland Indians versus the New York Yankees Tuesday night, as aces Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole will square off.
- At 29-31, the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers are the first two teams with losing records to make the MLB Postseason, since the 1981 Kansas City Royals did it with a record of 50-53 in the strike-shortened season.
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