Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • Twins Could Get Postseason Edge Thanks to Wild Card Race

    Peter Labuza

    When Twins return to the playoffs, fans can all but guarantee seeing Pablo López or Sonny Gray—both Cy Young contending pitchers—take the mound for the first two games of the Wild Card series. However, a complicated dog fight elsewhere might mean their opponent will likely be unable to match the duo.

    Image courtesy of Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

    As it remains, the Astros, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rangers continue to battle over three potential positions in the American League playoff race. One team is guaranteed to sit at home throughout October. A total of three games separates them, which means every win in this last week will have to be fought to the bone.

    To win those games, none of these teams can compromise and rest a starter for a playoff game they might not even make. Meanwhile, Sonny Gray and Pablo López are set to each have over a week of rest after their final regular season appearances over this week. With pitching probables almost set for the rest of the season, we can now see who might line up for these games.

    While the Twins might want clarity on who they might face, this race to the final game could ensure that the team might not be ready to put their "ace" on the mound in Game 1. With the season-ending Sunday, October 1st, and the Wild Card beginning two days later, those teams will likely have to use their preferred Game 1 pitcher on the last day of the season and, if things go very south, perhaps quickly get a Game 2 pitcher out there to try and salvage a last minute win. Even with one day off, the bullpens of those teams might be similarly overtaxed going into this last week of work.

    With the Twins, it all comes down to breaking the curse. Some of these potential matchups thus allow them to sneak at least one game by their opponents.

    Here's how the four teams line up this week and how it might play out for the Twins:

    Justin Verlander and Hunter Brown are currently projected for Houston's final games of the season in Arizona, which would likely only mean one would show up for Game 3 of a Wild Card race. That means the Dusty Baker-managed team will probably have their ground ball producer Framber Valdez to start a Wild Card series before turning to Cristian Javier for Game 2. The lefty Valdez will be trouble for Minnesota, but Javier presents an excellent opportunity. With an xFIP at 5.18, the Twins could make mincemeat of the struggling pitcher.

    Blue Jays
    The Blue Jays seemed likely to have a formidable rotation that has run into road bumps all season. However, their Cy Young candidate, Kevin Gausman, will face off against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Eliminating him from the series would likely put Chris Bassitt or José Berríos against the Twins in Game 1. Both are still quite formidable— Bassitt has a 3.17 ERA since the All Star Break, while Berríos has recovered from a disastrous start to his time in Toronto. But the Twins have previously exposed both their weaknesses and could do again.

    Luis Castillo recorded twenty strikeouts against the Twins in his two appearances against the team in July. Fortunately, Castillo is scheduled for Saturday for the Mariners in their fight with Texas, making him likely only available in a Game 3 situation. If the Twins were worried about George Kirby, the young ace would also be exhausted for Sunday's game. That will push rookie Bryce Miller or Logan Gilbert to the front lines. Neither are walks in the park, but the Twins put up six runs against Miller in July and have not seen Gilbert since 2022. 

    The Twins punished the Rangers in their September series. They would likely be happy to face the current AL West leaders in the playoffs, especially after future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer exited for the season. However, the current pitching schedule for the Rangers will give them some compelling options even if they play to the final game. Jon Gray will likely play the last game of the season for the Rangers, pushing Nathan Eovaldi or Jordan Montgomery into a Game 1 situation. While the Twins put up crooked numbers against Montgomery at the beginning of the month, the pitcher has gone seven innings in his last three starts while only allowing a single run. The former Red Sox could be trouble for Minnesota. During his injury stint, the Twins missed the pitcher, and he has yet to return to his top form. However, Eovaldi has more postseason experience than the rest of the lineup; if he shows up in that form, expect a lot of swings and misses. 

    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    — Become a Twins Daily Caretaker


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Featured Comments

    I always go back and forth in my head of who I want the Twins to play next week. In reality, I think it is impossible to know who the "easiest/weakest" team will be until the actual playoffs this year. Overall I'm a huge fan of fresh new faces, so these playoffs are lining up to be an exciting one regardless of what happens with the Twins. If somehow the Mariners and Jays sneak in and knock the Astros out of the race that would be the icing on the cake, although it would be very satisfying if the Twins were the team to send the defending champs home in the Wild Card round. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I'm trying real hard to take a "We Draw who we Draw" attitude because it's one game at a time and anything can happen. Aces are not always ace like. 

    However... I can't help myself... this sort of thing does pass the time waiting and it's kind of fun. 

    I'll tack on a couple of thoughts and my thoughts are going to center on Rocco's consistent use of the platoon which I imagine will continue.  


    1. The Blue Jay can clinch before Sunday. If they do... They won't throw Gausman on Sunday... He will start Game one. The Mariners and Astros need to keep the pressure on to burn Gausman.   

    2. You'd have to imagine that they would want one of their lefty starters to toe the rubber against the Twins. Game 3 maybe? If Either Kukuchi or Ryu don't start in the 3 game series... we could see some creative usage of them. The Jays will have the lefthanders to bounce our platooning around like a pinball and create the unfavorable matchup. 


    If the D-Backs pin the Astros to the wall and they need a win on Sunday... I could certainly see them going with Valdez on Short Rest. He threw 83 Pitches and 4 innings on Wednesday against Seattle. After Valdez... The Astros are almost entirely right handed on the mound. This series could be as set it and forget it as it comes for Rocco. 

    Mariners: If we want the other teams to burn their top guys. They need to keep pushing from the bottom. The Mariners falling fast... Means Gausman or Valdez Game One.  

    Whoever we face... we face... bring em on. 



    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    If I was the Twins opponent and couldn't line up my ideal starter due to the playoff push, I'd do what the Giants (??) did against us earlier in the year:  start a righty opener and then switch to a lefty in the 2nd.  (Or vice versa.)  See if you could get Rocco to bite and empty out his bench.  

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 hours ago, Woof Bronzer said:

    If I was the Twins opponent and couldn't line up my ideal starter due to the playoff push, I'd do what the Giants (??) did against us earlier in the year:  start a righty opener and then switch to a lefty in the 2nd.  (Or vice versa.)  See if you could get Rocco to bite and empty out his bench.  

    The Brebbia Files.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I agree that this could be a real benefit…of course it’s still on the players to capitalize on it. This was in play in ‘87 in the Tiger’s series, when they went down to the wire with Toronto (no wild card then). Saw their number one and two…but they seemed taxed, Alexander more than Morris, but Morris couldn’t dominate and the Twins won his lone start.

    I think the club is positioned much better than at any other time during the streak. I expect them to compete no matter which opponent.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I really just don't want to face Framber Valdez. It's so hard to win a three game series if you lose game one. Almost never happens.  Not afraid of any of the Rangers, blue jays or mariners starters as Twins did get to most of them this year. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    There are 512 permutations on the three three-game series that affect the AL's seeding. In some working through the tiebreakers, if all games were coin flips, the likelihood of seedings appear to be these:


    That was my work on a spreadsheet. One of the formulas comes out as this, however, so I'm not going to bet my life on scoring 100 percent! It was fun giving it a whirl, however. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Friday night Eovaldi got rocked…….he’s burned until at least Wednesday. Gray went on the IL Friday and they brought up somebody from AAA.

    TEXAS is the best match-up at this point since their pitching staff is decimated. Their relievers were already suspect but I think they are down to 2 healthy starters. Eovaldi can’t be right with his health after watching last night. Gray & Scherzer are out! The Rangers are not a great road team either while the Astros are much better on road than at home…..let’s catch them in round 2!

    If Toronto wins one of two they are in at 90 wins.

    If Astros win 2 of 2 they are in at 90 wins. If they only win one, they can be caught by Mariners.

    If Mariners take next 2 from Rangers, I think the Rangers still win the season head to head and advance to playoffs as 3rd WC with 89 wins. They get the Twins in this scenario.


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • Create New...