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  1. Pitching-Rich AL Central?

    Here is a quick look at what AL Central starting rotations could look like in the years to come. I haven’t included any pitchers who will become a free agent after the 2020 season.

    I think that you will find that the Twins, and each of the other teams in the division, have a plethora of exciting pitchers and more coming in the near future.

    Minnesota Twins

    The Veterans

    • Kenta Maeda
    • Jose Berrios
    • Michael Pineda
    Maeda had been really good for the Dodgers the past four years, but he has probably never been better than he has been in his eight starts for the Twins this year. He is under team control through the 2023 season. Berrios, the 26-year-old, two-time All Star struggled early in the season but he’s proven himself over time and should remain in the Twins plans for years to come. He could be a free agent after 2022, but the Twins may want to lock him up before then. Pineda just came back from his 60-game suspension. The Twins signed him to a two-year deal last offseason, so he’ll be back in 2021. Rich Hill and Jake Odorizzi will be free agents after this season.

    The Newbies
    • Randy Dobnak
    • Devin Smeltzer
    • Lewis Thorpe
    All three of these guys made their debuts in 2019, each showing enough promise to compete for roster spots in 2020. Dobnak was given the first shot this season and has made the best of it. He is 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA going into Tuesday’s start. Smeltzer has filled the role of long reliever or “primary” pitcher. He was optioned on Monday. Thorpe has struggled, but most would say he’s still got some ceiling.

    The Prospects
    • Jhoan Duran
    • Dakota Chalmers
    • Jordan Balazovic
    Duran and Chalmers were easy choices last fall to add to the team’s 40-man roster. In one of the televised intrasquad games of Summer Camp, both pitched and showed Twins fans just how exciting their futures are. Both have big potential as top-of-rotation starters. The Twins top pitching prospect is Balazovic, who joined them at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul this weekend. All three could debut in 2021. And Jorge Alcala sure looks like a high-leverage bullpen arm for years to come.


    The Veterans
    • Shane Bieber
    • Carlos Carrasco
    Simply put, Shane Bieber is the best pitcher in the American League. Yes, even (possibly) better than Gerrit Cole (maybe). Bieber won’t even be arbitration-eligible until 2022. He’s still just 25, as well. Carrasco has been good throughout his career when he is healthy. He’s signed for two more seasons plus an option for 2023.

    The Newbies
    • Aaron Civale
    • Zach Plesac
    • Adam Plutko
    Civale and Plesac are two examples of the pipeline that Cleveland has developed. Neither was a big-name prospect and both have shown early in their careers that they will be effective MLB pitchers. Neither will even be arbitration-eligible for two more years. Plutko hasn’t had the same level of success, but he has had several strong showings.

    The Prospects
    • Triston McKenzie
    • James Karinchak
    We’ve seen what James Karinchak can do out of the bullpen. Clase came to the organization in the Corey Kluber trade. He got suspended, but his stuff is on par with Karinchak. Triston McKenzie has come up and been very impressive. The supplemental first-round pick in 2015 is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings over his three MLB starts this year. He has 19 strikeouts and four walks. Lefty Sam Hentges, from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, reached Double-A in 2019.

    Chicago White Sox

    The Veterans
    • Lucas Giolito
    • Dallas Keuchel
    • Reynaldo Lopez
    Giolito has reached the potential that made him a possible #1 overall pick in 2012 before having Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school. It took awhile with the Nationals and the White Sox, but he has become an All Star, been consistent and recently threw his first no-hitter. Keuchel is in Year 1 of his three-year deal and continues to live on control and command. Lopez has been around a bit and hasn’t been able to harness what is really good stuff.

    The Newbies
    • Dylan Cease
    After struggling to a 5.79 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie last year, Cease has settled in in 2020. He’s 5-2 with a 3.29 ERA despite 20 walks and 28 strikeouts in 41 innings.

    The Prospects
    • Michael Kopech
    • Dane Dunning
    • Garrett Crochet
    Blessed with a triple-digit fastball, Kopech has long been a high-ranking prospect. He debuted with four games in 2018 but then underwent Tommy John surgery. He was set to return this season, maybe even opening day, Dane Dunning also had Tommy John surgery in 2018. He missed 2019. In three starts for the White Sox this year, he’s got 18 strikeouts in 14 innings. In addition, the White Sox took lefty Garrett Crochet from the University of Tennessee with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and he could be a fast-mover.

    Detroit Tigers
    • Matthew Boyd
    • Michael Fulmer
    • Spencer Turnbull
    Boyd has struggled in 2020, but he has experienced a lot of success the last two seasons. Michael Fulmer has missed time due to Tommy John surgery and is just coming back, but he was great when he won the Rookie of the Year award a few years ago. Turnbull had a bad record in 2019, but having watched him a lot, he’s got good stuff too.

    The Prospects
    • Casey Mize
    • Tarik Skubal
    • Tyler Alexander
    • Matt Manning
    • Alex Faedo
    The Tigers have some very impressive pitching prospects. Casey Mize was the top pick in the 2018 draft out of Florida and he has now made four MLB starts. Tarik Skubal was their ninth round pick in 2018 out of Seattle University. He sure has looked good against the Twins these past two weekends. Those two are Top 100 prospects. So is Matt Manning who spent 2019 in AA and is in the same prospect category. In addition, Tyler Alexander is another left-hander with good stuff. Also in the Tigers bullpen is Kyle Funkhouser who has struggled with control, but he was very highly touted earlier in his college and professional career. Alex Faedo (nephew of former Twins great Lenny Faedo) was their first-round pick in 2017, and he reached AA in 2019. Oh, and they just added Coon Rapids native Logan Shore to their 60-player pool.

    Kansas City Royals

    The Veterans
    • Danny Duffy
    • Brad Keller
    • Jakob Junis
    Danny Duffy has been a part of the Royals rotation for more than a decade. He’s got another year on his current contract. Keller has gradually taken on a bigger role the past three years, from bullpen work, to back-end starter to being strong in 2020. Junis has won nine games each of the past three seasons. He won't get anywhere near there this year as he is yet to earn a win.

    The Prospects
    • Brady Singer
    • Kris Bubic
    • Asa Lacy
    • Daniel Lynch
    • Jackson Kowar
    • Josh Staumont
    The Royals have certainly gone the direction of college pitchers with high picks in recent years and those picks are just starting to show up. Brady Singer (18th overall, Florida) and Kris Bubic (40th overall, Stanford) were both selected in the first 40 picks of the 2018 draft. They are a combined 1-9 right now, but both have shown enough to be considered part of the future. Also from the 2018 draft are Jackson Kowar (33rd overall, Florida), Daniel Lynch (34th overall, Virginia)and Austin Cox (5th round, Mercer) all have potential and have pitched at AA already. In addition, we have seen what Josh Staumont can do out of the bullpen and they just called up another prospect in Carlos Hernandez and pitched him in the bullpen. Oh, and they took Asa Lacy with the fourth overall pick in June from Texas A&M, and he has the potential to move very quickly.

    So, while the Twins have seen some strong pitching in 2020 from AL Central teams, there are a lot of really good, young pitchers who will be in the division for years to come. As talented as some of the pitchers who have debuted so far ini 2020 have been, there are many more high-ceiling prospects who should be debuting in the near future too.

    The Twins have a lot of high-ceiling hitting prospects. We have already seen Ryan Jeffers and Brent Rooker. We know that Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are likely not far behind. But the Twins have high-ceiling prospects such as Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers and Jordan Balazovic to counter the great pitching prospects from other division teams.

    The AL Central is already a solid division, and over the next several years, it may be able to compete with others for the best division in baseball.

    • Sep 08 2020 08:19 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Minnesota Twins 2020 Schedule Released

    Here’s a breakdown of what was known about the schedule going into Monday’s release:

    • All teams will play 10 games against each team in their division, so 2/3rds of their schedule will be against division opponents.
    • The other 20 games will be played against the corresponding regional division in the National League. For the Twins, this means playing teams from the NL Central.
    • Out of those 20 games, six will be with the closest natural rival. For the Twins, this means playing the Brewers six times.
    • Every team has six total off-days throughout the season.

    Before the full schedule was released, fans learned the Twins would be opening the 2020 season on the north side of Chicago against the White Sox. This likely means a pitching match-up of Jose Berrios versus Lucas Giolito starting at 7:10 Central. Chicago is expected to be better this season after adding some key pieces, but most prognosticators have them slated to finish third in the AL Central.

    After three games in Chicago, the Twins have an eight-game home-stand that includes two games with the Cardinals, four games against Cleveland, and two games versus the Pirates. Minnesota’s next eight games are on the road with two games at Pittsburgh, three games in Kansas City, and three game in Milwaukee.

    Next on the schedule is seven home games against the Royals (4 games) and Brewers (3 games). From there, the club goes on the road for 10-games with three in Kansas City, three games in Cleveland, and four games in Detroit. Following this, the club heads home for seven games with three against the White Sox and four against the Tigers.

    Also included in Minnesota’s final month of the schedule is two games in St. Louis, before coming home to face Cleveland in what could be a pivotal series in deciding the division winner. Minnesota’s last road trip includes four games against the White Sox and three games against the Cubs. This allows the team to end the year at Target Field with two games versus Detroit and three games versus Cincinnati.

    Notes on the schedule:
    • The Twins get seven home games against Cleveland which means the Twins will only play in Cleveland for three games.
    • Minnesota’s inter-league schedule includes six games against Milwaukee, four against Pittsburgh, four against St. Louis, three against the Cubs, and three against the Reds.
    • In September, 15 of their 23 games are against AL Central opponents.
    • August might be their easiest month with 18 of their 29 games against the Pirates, Tigers, and Royals.

    What are your thoughts on the team’s 60-game schedule? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Jul 06 2020 04:48 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  3. Jose Berrios Has Tough Road to First Gold Glove

    The American League award for pitchers has been dominated by Dallas Keuchel since 2014 with him winning four of the last five years. Marcus Stroman took home the award back in 2017 to break-up the Keuchel three-year run. Both of those pitchers are in the National League now and this means there will be a first-time winner in the AL.

    Berrios will be facing off against Chicago’s Lucas Giolito and Seattle’s Mike Leake. Both of these players rank better than him according to SABR’s Defensive Index. According to SABR, the SDI will be used to help select the winners for the seventh consecutive year and it accounts for approximately 25 percent of the selection process. In the last SDI update, Leake led all AL pitchers with a 2.2 SDI, while Giolito (1.0 SDI) came in tied for third. Out of qualifying pitchers, Berrios ranked second to last with a -1.5 SDI.

    Ranking defenders can be a tough endeavor even in the Statcast era and ranking pitchers can be an even more challenging. In the AL, the league fielding percentage for pitchers was .945 and Berrios was well above that mark with a .969 fielding percentage. Giolito wasn’t charged with an error all season and finished with a perfect fielding percentage. Leake ended the year in the NL, but he accumulated a .966 fielding percentage in his AL appearances.

    Another important defensive skill for pitchers is the ability to hold runners, but some of this stat is on the catcher too. In the AL, the league caught stealing percentage was 27% for the season. Giolito allowed three stolen bases and had three runners caught for a 50% caught stealing %. Leake had a slightly higher caught stealing percentage (56%) as he allowed five steals and four stolen bases. Berrios had the worst mark by far (8 CS%) as he allowed 12 steals and only had one caught steal.

    Defensive runs saved is another common defensive metric. Again, Berrios ranks at the bottom when compared to the other two finalists. Leake was worth three defensive runs saved during his time in the AL and Giolito was also able to collect three defensive runs saved. Berrios was worth zero defensive runs saved, his lowest total since he had a negative defensive runs saved in 2017.

    It seems like there are multiple metrics that put Giolito and Leake ahead of Berrios. Historically, that might not always matter when it comes to voting for the Gold Glove Awards. Brian Dozier was a surprise winner for the Twins back in 2017 when he beat out Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia.

    Could Berrios surprise and win in 2019? It might not be likely, but there’s always a chance.

    • Oct 30 2019 05:50 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Series Preview: Southside Special

    Brief Overview:

    When you play any team 19 times in one season you’re going to get to know them quite well. Chicago knows the Twins are what they aspire to be (in a few years), and Minnesota is familiar with the up-and-coming names on the White Sox. Luis Robert did not garner a September look, so this is the same squad we’ve grown accustomed to.

    What They Do Well:

    At 65-84 it’s not shocking that there’s very little the White Sox do well. These two teams last played against each other on August 29th so it’s worth trying to isolate the numbers since that point.

    Over the past few weeks the White Sox own the 10th best offense in baseball. That’s actually superior to the Twins, which isn’t surprising given what Minnesota has had to run out there. There isn’t a specific category that truly jumps off the page for Chicago in that time, but they have done a great job hitting for average. With a .272 batting average they have the fifth best tally dating back to the 30th.

    What They Do Not Do Well:

    Pitching has been pretty middle of the road for Chicago since the end of August. Lucas Giolito has continued to look the part of a staff ace and that’s helped to anchor a group that’s definitely lacking as a whole. Where Chicago really falls off, as has been the case most of the year, is in the field.

    You can’t isolate defensive metrics over a sample size so small, but the White Sox have been 25th in fielding over the course of the season. They have a whopping -59 defensive runs saved and have a whole collection of guys that struggle to provide any range. It’s a dated stat, but only the Seattle Mariners have made more errors than Chicago’s 111, and that many miscues is hardly a positive.

    Individuals Of Note:

    The same names you’ve gotten to know all year are worth mentioning again in this space. Eloy Jimenez is the big-bat prospect that Chicago is pinning its future hopes on. Lucas Giolito is that late-blooming arm that has developed into a staff ace, and now looks like one of the best starters in baseball. Tim Anderson has electrified the sport and provided plenty of excitement all year long.

    If there’re two guys that have flown a bit under the radar in terms of recognition, it’s James McCann and Yoan Moncada. The former was an All-Star (because Mitch Garver wasn’t on the ballot), and has fallen off in the second half, but he’s having a career year. The latter is a former superstar prospect that has finally met expectations and looks the part of a franchise cornerstone. McCann will need to substantiate the 2019 results, and Moncada will also, but it’s Yoan that can be a guy you build around.

    Recent History:

    Minnesota swept Chicago at the end of August on the road but dropped two of three the week before at Target Field. On the season, the Twins have gone 11-5 against the White Sox and they own a healthy +59 run differential.

    Recent Trajectories:

    The Twins wrapped up their last difficult stretch of the season going 6-6 against the Red Sox, Nationals, and Indians. Chicago is 4-6 across their last ten and have been losers in each of their last two.

    Pitching Matchups:

    Monday: Berrios vs Lopez
    Tuesday: Perez vs Giolito Giolito now done for the year with a lat strain
    Wednesday: Odorizzi vs Covey

    Ending Thoughts:
    There’s no denying that Minnesota should have a healthy amount of wins awaiting them in this final 13 game stretch, but the reality is they still need to play the games and compete. The Twins bumped Jose Berrios to get another day of rest, and they should prioritize getting ready for October. They’ll get solid tests against Lopez and Giolito though, so dropping the series is something they should be keyed in on avoiding. I don’t see a sweep, but Minnesota needs to assert some home dominance against bottom feeders the rest of the way. Take two and call it good.

    • Sep 16 2019 08:37 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  5. Series Preview: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

    Brief Overview:

    These two clubs met a week ago, and they’ll meet again three weeks from now. Because the Twins were light on AL Central opponents to kick off the year, they’re going to see plenty of familiar faces during the final month of the season. Chicago is the cream of the bad crop in the division, and while they do own a 60-70 record, the -114 run differential still suggests they’re playing a bit above their heads.

    What They Do Well:

    Without rehashing much of what we already know about this club, we can look at what they did well against Minnesota at Target Field last week. Ivan Nova has been rolling of late and last week danced around 10 hits allowing just two runs. Stealing that game-one matchup put the Twins up against a wall needing to beat Lucas Giolito in the rubber match. The White Sox ace continued his breakout year and turning in a complete-game shutout allowing just three hits, that train continued rolling down the tracks.

    Eloy Jimenez, Jose Abreu, and Yoan Moncada remain as fearsome of a trio as it gets. Moncada will be back for this series and that provides new challenges for the Minnesota staff. Although this lineup isn’t good by any means, they have the bats to do damage against poor performances. The fielding won’t carry them either but pitching performances can keep them competitive.

    What They Do Not Do Well:

    If there’s a blueprint for the Twins to take against the White Sox, it’s game two of last week’s series. Minnesota pounded out 14 runs on 14 hits en route to a 10-run laugher. Reynaldo Lopez didn’t miss bats and Minnesota blew the doors off the bullpen. There’re plenty of poor arms waiting behind the wall for Chicago, and Minnesota needs to get to them. Giolito will put up a tough test to start the series, but both Ross Detwiler and Dylan Cease are more than capable of coughing up runs in bunches.

    The Twins must set the tone in this matchup and really start to create some distance between the two clubs in the season series. Chicago put a feather in their cap last week on the road and now Minnesota must return the favor.

    Individuals Of Note:

    Twins fans have seen plenty of Jose Abreu this season, and Twins pitchers have been haunted by him. Eloy Jimenez is still as dangerous a bat as it gets, and Tim Anderson has enjoyed a breakout season at shortstop. We aren’t yet into Luis Robert territory but that could soon be coming. One guy that wasn’t around last week though was Yoan Moncada.

    Returning from the IL on August 22nd after being down since July 30, he tallied two hits in his first two games against the Rangers before going 0-for-7 to cap off the four-game set. Moncada is a legit bat and his .901 OPS is nothing to be taken lightly. His return to the Chicago lineup is a big boost for Rick Renteria’s club.

    Recent History:

    Minnesota just dropped two of three to Chicago last week at Target Field. On the year the Twins own an 8-5 advantage with a +45 run differential. The dominance in victories is there, but the win-loss record should be a bit more lopsided than it currently is.

    Recent Trajectories:

    The Twins are 7-3 over their past 10 games and Chicago is 6-4. When playing different opponents, Minnesota is 6-1, with the White Sox being 4-3.

    Pitching Match-ups:
    Tuesday: Pineda vs Giolito
    Wednesday: Odorizzi vs Detwiler
    Thursday: Berrios vs Cease

    Ending Thoughts:

    Chicago continues to gain steam as an up-and-coming team. They aren’t there yet, and while not a dumpster fire, this still is not a good big-league club. Minnesota had no business dropping the series last week at home, and they’ll need to exact immediate revenge on the road over the next three contests. Cleveland gets a hapless Tigers club in the same time span and keeping the lead where it is should be a must. Sweeps are tough in baseball, and Giolito is going to be a difficult foe in game one. The Twins also need to see Jose Berrios return to form, though it is his final turn in a month that gives him fits. Give me Minnesota taking two-of-three and finishing August riding high.

    • Aug 26 2019 02:27 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  6. Twins Game Recap (8/21): Giolito Throws Complete Game as Sox Take Series

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 62.5% strikes (65 of 104 pitches)
    Bullpen: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: None

    Bottom 3 WPA: Rosario, Arraez and Castro -.055, Sano -.056, Odorizzi -.163

    Giolito Sails to Complete Game

    Giolito absolutely cruised through the Twins offense today after getting some early runs from his offense. He used those first-inning runs and first-pitch strikes to really settle down and go deep into today’s game. Giolito struck out 12 batters, his third straight game with 10+, and got first-pitch strikes on 22 of the 30 batters he faced.

    The first time through the Twins’ order, Giolito gave up just one hit, which was to Polanco in the first on a bunt, and struck out five batters. The Twins picked up their second hit in the fourth on a rocket by Nelson Cruz that had an exit velocity of 117 MPH, but Giolito got two outs on the next two batters.

    He worked through the fifth and sixth innings very rapidly, using only eight and nine pitches, respectively, to get two more 1-2-3 innings. In the seventh inning, it took him 12 pitches to get the 1-2-3 mostly because Cruz worked a full count then drilled a ball straight to Engel in center field.

    He had two very impressive streaks of consecutive batters sent down. After the Polanco bunt single, he set down the next nine batters before Cruz picked up his single. Rosario reached on a fielder's choice the next at-bat and then Giolito sent down the next 11 batters including three straight 1-2-3 innings.

    It wasn’t until Schoop hit a double with one out in the eighth that the Twins’ had their first runner in scoring position. They failed to do anything with it as Giolito picked up two more strikeouts to end the inning. Giolito completed this game while facing the Twins’ top three hitters picking up two more strikeouts on Kepler and Cruz.

    Odorizzi’s Bad Luck

    If you just looked at the box score, you’d get a different view of how today’s game went for Odorizzi. Odorizzi struggled to retire the first batter of innings which helped lead to a short start and the White Sox hitters also seemed to be finding the perfect spots for their hits. But, Odorizzi also was throwing some good pitches that hitters were putting in play for hits.

    In the first inning, Polanco missed touching second base on a double-play attempt which was originally called a FC, but changed to an error on Polanco, his 17th this season. Jose Abreu reached on 2-2 cutter, poking the ball into left field for the White Sox to score their first run. After a wild pitch, Skole also found himself in a 2-2 count, and a hit a blooper over second with an exit velocity of 67.7 for the Sox's second run of the inning.

    In the third, Odorizzi again gave up a leadoff single, and two singles later, which included Abreu’s second RBI of the game on a ball that landed perfectly in right field between Cave and Schoop with an expected batting average of .050. After three innings, the White Sox had seven hits, all singles, with only two of them being hard-hit, and three runs.

    In the fifth inning, Odorizzi gave up another leadoff hit, but this time for a double. After getting a strikeout and a groundout, Odorizzi looked as if he would be able to pitch around this. He threw another wild pitch and Abreu was able to come around to score. Odorizzi was able to strike out Goins to end the inning, but this is definitely a start Odorizzi is going to want to forget.

    Bullpen Solid Again

    A night after the bullpen had a perfect two innings to help secure the win, the bullpen again was shut-down today, though Giolito’s very solid outing kept the offense at bay.

    Ryne Harper was the first one out of the pen and ran into some trouble after a leadoff double, wild pitch and walk, putting himself in a jam. He was able to pick up a huge fly out and strikeout, then Polanco made an amazing snag to end the threat and inning.

    Then it turned to Sam Dyson and Tyler Duffey who each had quick and easy 1-2-3 innings. Dyson looked really solid, and since coming back from injury, has given up just one run in five innings. Duffey came in for the eighth and struck out two hitters and hasn’t given up a run in his past 11 outings.

    Trevor May got the ninth inning and struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up a single, but got an infield fly out and a fly ball to Arraez to end the inning. May has now only given up one earned run in his last 11 innings.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Aug 21 2019 08:12 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  7. Series Preview: Tired Twins Head to Chicago's South Side

    Brief Overview
    Out of the triforce of tanking AL Central teams, the White Sox have pulled ahead of the dreadful Royals and the atrocious Tigers as a solidly below-average team, somehow a step up over the aforementioned squads. Despite ultimately coming up short in the Machado sweepstakes and being relatively quiet over the offseason except for signing Kelvin Herrera, the White Sox have taken a small step forward thanks to a few internal players realizing their potential along with the help of a breakout from a familiar but unlikely catcher. With a record of 37-41 and a pythag W/L of 33-45, the White Sox will look to be an annoyance to a Twins franchise that is all too familiar with scrappiness.

    What They Do Well
    In digging through their team numbers, it became obvious that there really is not one thing that this team excels at but there are not many things that they do horribly, just a constant below-average squad by most major metrics that I could find.

    They are very good at running the bases as Fangraphs has their team baserunning as the sixth best in all of baseball, somehow above the pesky Royals that just gave the Twins some fits not too long ago. They have the 11th-most steals in baseball which isn’t ridiculously high, so most of their quality baserunning can probably be attributed to them taking extra bases on balls in play while not running themselves into outs.

    That’s it, honestly. I could not actually find much that was notable as far as what this team does notably well. They have the second highest offensive batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in baseball at a .320 mark (Denard Span’s Twins BABIP was .320) which is certainly interesting but I don’t know how much of a skill that is. I guess just keep in mind that they might have some better “luck” on balls being put into play than the Twins.

    What They Do Not Do Well
    Everything? Again, they aren’t truly horrendous in a lot of categories, but often they fall in the 20th-25th range when being compared to the rest of baseball. Their team wRC+ of 92 is 20th in all of baseball and just 2 points lower than Luis Castillo’s Twins wRC+. Their team FIP is 25th in baseball at 4.91 which is slightly worse than Tommy Milone’s Twins FIP of 4.85. Their pitching staff as a whole hold the second worst BB/9 in baseball at 3.85 which is just a hair better than what Kohl Stewart has done in his Twins career so far (3.93 BB/9 for Stewart). Their defense ranks as the eighth worst in baseball which when combined with their pitching staff’s walk rate could mean that the White Sox might beat themselves more often than the Twins beat them as they will most likely shoot themselves in the foot quite a few times.

    Individuals Of Note
    I mentioned before that the White Sox have had a few players from the inside who have broken out this year and that remains true even after about a page and a half of typing. Yoan Moncada has hit to the tune of a 130 wRC+ and has already put up a career high 2.5 fWAR (this does come with a sky high .387 BABIP). Tim Anderson has a career high 120 wRC+ and is knocking on the door of a new career-high in fWAR (1.8 now, 2.1 in his rookie year) but this also comes with a high BABIP of .373. Longtime Tigers catcher and All-Star starter voting finalist James McCann has almost doubled his career wRC+ as he currently sits at a 143 mark thanks to a few mechanical changes in his swing. But, and stop me if you have heard this, this comes with a frankly insane .413 BABIP (gee, I wonder why their team BABIP is so high…). Unfortunately for the White Sox, both Anderson and Moncada suffered injuries recently and their status for the series is up in the air.

    On the pitching side, the big story has been the breakout of Lucas Giolito who has put aside a terrible 2018 season and has dropped his ERA by over half (6.13 in 2018, 2.87 in 2019) with the peripherals to support it. So far he has been the ninth most valuable starting pitcher in baseball by fWAR with the same 2.8 mark that José Berríos currently holds on the year. There have been a number of changes that Giolito made thanks to winter spent with his high school pitching coach, but most notable has been an arm action that hides the ball better and an increased emphasis on his changeup. Right now it looks like he will pitch the Sunday game so be prepared for a much better Giolito than we all saw last year.

    Recent History
    Since this is only the second time these teams have matched up this year, there is not much recent history to go off of. The Twins and White Sox faced off at Target Field in a series that started on May 24th and the Twins were ruthlessly efficient in beating them by seven runs in each game.
    Ending Thoughts
    As I said in my last write-up, road divisional series are never anything to take for granted, the other team will also be looking to play spoiler and weird stuff tends to happen. The White Sox are a passable squad (less so if Moncada and Anderson miss time) and I can absolutely see them giving the Twins a good fight especially in the Sunday game with Giolito on the mound. I expect the Twins to take two but I also would not be shocked if the White Sox took two instead, especially depending on the roster moves after that 18-inning nightmare the Twins just played and the injuries they are currently nursing. But however it goes, I just pray for everyone’s sanity that no game goes into extras.

    • Jun 30 2019 10:19 PM
    • by Matt Braun