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Oakland A's vs. Minnesota Twins preview: They have to beat the Twins

The Oakland Athletics (22-29) host the Minnesota Twins (15-34) for three games.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe has struggled this year.
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

My Oakland A's, listen up.

You have to beat the Twins.

You've got to win this series, and it would be nice to just go ahead and grab all three games.

The Twins are nauseatingly bad. They're just the worst in the American League in scoring runs (3.78 per game) and giving them up (5.29 per game).

Two out of three games is barely acceptable. Oh my goodness, it would be horrible to only get one. A sweep shocks the conscience, leave that to the Mariners.

Do they have some good hitters? Sure. Eduardo Nunez is hitting .338/.366/.510 (140 wRC+) in 161 plate appearances with five home runs. Miguel Sano has a 53 percent Three True Outcomes rate with 11 home runs, 28 walks, and 70 strikeouts in 205 plate appearances. Joe Mauer is putting plenty of balls in play, though his 14.5 percent walk rate has given him a .391 on base percentage this season.

But the rest? A little bit of meh and a whole lot of awful.

Please win. Please win all the games. Because the Twins are bad. You are not that bad, and maybe you might be good? Let's just go with not that bad. Thank you.

Pitching probables and broadcast schedule

Monday's game is part of ESPN's Memorial Day doubleheader!

That game might start on the Deuce or ESPNews if the first game between the Mets and White Sox runs long.

Tuesday is the only game of the three on CSN California, with Wednesday's day contest going to MLB Network for a Twins broadcast that Jesse Spector of The Sporting News rated poor.

Monday: Ervin Santana vs. Kendall Graveman

If the A's get tripped up by anyone in this series, it will be Ervin Santana with his career 2.03 ERA against the A's in 29 appearances (27 starts), the best against any AL team. At the Coliseum, Santana has a 1.93 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts), his best ERA at any stadium where he's pitched at least four times.

Santana is coming off a poor start against Kansas City where he did not get out of the fourth inning and allowed six runs, but it's really just two bad starts that have lifted his ERA to 4.17.

Tuesday: Tyler Duffey vs. Eric Surkamp

Tyler Duffey's second season isn't going too badly and he's getting pretty deep into games, averaging a hair over six innings per start. He is coming off two starts where he has allowed five or six earned runs.

Duffey's fastball isn't anything too exciting, coming in at 91 mph without much movement, says Brooks Baseball, but he relies more on his curveball anyway and throws the fastball less frequently than Rich Hill does.

Wednesday: Pat Dean vs. Sean Manaea

Rookie Pat Dean is making his third career start after making two long relief appearances for the Twins in May. His last relief appearances was 5 1/3 innings in relief of Jose Berrios, who only recorded the first two outs of the 1st.

In the first game of Minnesota's Seattle sweep, Dean struck out eight Mariners and gave up two runs in seven innings for his first career win. He's a four-pitch pitcher, according to Brooks Baseball, with the fastball averaging 90 mph with some slight armside run.


Minnesota apparently has Kevin Jepsen as a closer, though there have been so few ninth inning save opportunities for the Twins he hasn't even had a chance to lose the closer job yet. Jepsen is 6-for-9 in save opportunities with his 5.91 ERA. The Twins have six saves and nine blown saves.

It is nice to see that Fernando Abad has completely turned it around after getting caught up in last year's terribleness in the bullpen. Besides Abad, however, I'm not sure Twins manager Paul Molitor really has a handle on who he can trust in his bullpen. For the year, the Twins bullpen ERA of 4.53 is third worst in the AL.

Phil Hughes technically is the ninth man in the Twins bullpen after he was removed from the rotation, though he probably won't be available to pitch in relief until Game 2 after throwing 86 pitches on Saturday. Hughes has a 5.74 ERA in his 10 starts, and including all of this year has $48.8 million left on his contract through 2019. The Twins won't call up Kyle Gibson to start until Thursday.

Recent usage patterns for the Twins and A's bullpens from Roster Resource. Stats in table for reliever innings only from FanGraphs.