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Series #50: Athletics vs Twins - The Last Regular Home Games

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Twins’ Current Record:

71-81, second place in the AL Central, fourteen games back of the Indians and eliminated from playoff contention. They have won four consecutive games entering this series, primarily from sweeping the Tigers.

Possible Lineup:

Joe Mauer - 1B

Jorge Polanco - SS

Jake Cave - CF

Robbie Grossman - LF

Max Kepler - RF

Tyler Austin - DH

Ehire Adrianza - 3B

Willians Astudillo - C

Gregorio Petit - 2B

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Jose Berrios - RHP

Chase De Jong - RHP

Kyle Gibson - RHP

Hottest Hitter(s):

Willians Astudillo has been a wonderful story for the Twins this season, the large-bodied catcher providing a major spark to this Twins’ lineup. He has proven to be equally as gif-able as the indomitable Bartolo Colon, and has a .938 OPS with three home runs in his last fourteen games to boot. Robbie Grossman has the most hits for the Twins over the last month, and while his power hasn’t shown up, Grossman has fifteen walks to just nine strikeouts over that same span.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Miguel Sano was a vital lineup presence last season, but this season has been a major struggle for him. Things haven’t gotten any better lately, either, as Sano has just a .510 OPS over the last thirty days and is losing playing time to guys previously thought to be below him on the depth chart. Brian Dozier replacement Logan Forsythe hasn’t been very good either, slashing .193/.311/.216 since coming over from the Dodgers.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Jake Odorizzi flirted with a no hitter in one of his most recent starts, and has been the anchor of the Twins’ starting rotation. His WHIP is below 1.00 since the end of August. The Twins have been relying on the opener strategy to help get the team through the last month of the season, and they have had mixed results. The strongest member of their bullpen unit is Taylor Rogers, who hasn’t given up a run in his last eleven appearances.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

The Twins’ bullpen, in general, has been overworked and overtaxed lately, and the Twins lack the depth in the bullpen to compensate for its overuse. Of all the relievers on the team who have made at least ten appearances over the last month, only Rogers has an ERA below 5.06.

Key Injuries:

The Twins have lots of young sluggers on the DL. Miguel Sano may not see any action this weekend against the A’s, but the biggest blow for the Twins is injury to Eddie Rosario, who is set to get an MRI soon.

* * *

This season must have been a very disappointing one for the Twins, who surprised the baseball world by making it to the wild card game last season, nearly beating out Luis Severino and the Yankees in the one game playoff. The offense was young and promising, and the pitching staff was just good enough to allow the offense to win the games for them. Unfortunately, this season, despite playing in the weakest division of all of baseball, the Twins were never able to get started this year, and returned to being the middling franchise that the Twins were for several years prior to last. There is still a lot of promise for this team, but there is a lot of work cut out for Minnesota this offseason if they want to be in the playoff chase next year.

The A’s this year are playing a very similar role to that of the Twins last year, right down to the fact that the A’s will likely be taking on Luis Severino and the Yankees in a one game playoff in a couple of weeks. And while this season has felt like a wonderful miracle and a harbinger of good times rushing to the present, the Twins should be a cautionary tale for Oakland fans that next year is not guaranteed. The A’s have the best young core in the sport right now, but for sustained success the front office will have to find a way to bridge the young core to the next wave of prospects set to graduate around the start of the 2020 season.

Game #154: Friday, September 21st, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSNO,

Liam Hendriks (and friends) vs Jose Berrios

The A’s were able to beat Berrios the last time these two teams squared off, but the inconsistent right hander has been hot of late, and should be tough on the A’s hitters to start the series. Liam Hendriks will be getting the first inning once again, with Chris Bassitt likely to follow in the second, though that is not confirmed.

Game #155: Saturday, September 22nd, 6:05 - NBCSCA, FSNO,

Mike Fiers vs Chase De Jong

Fiers had one of his first real hiccups with the A’s in his last effort, only lasting four innings against a really strong Rays team. It still appears as though Fiers is the front runner for the Wild Card game start, should the team opt to go with a starter rather than bullpen the game. Chase De Jong spent most of this season in the minor leagues, but has found success since his callup in September.

Game #156: Sunday, September 23rd, 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSNO,

Trevor Cahill (probably) vs Kyle Gibson

Cahill didn’t feel any pain in his last bullpen session, so barring any last-minute setbacks, the righty should be back in the rotation and on the hill on Sunday, for the final home game of the A’s regular season. Gibson has grown into a dependable starter this season after years of struggling at the top level, though he wasn’t great his last time out.