The Twins are having a rough year, with Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill having gone on the IL twice and Homer Bailey's return from the IL still undetermined. Big position players Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton, and Mitch Garver are all on the IL, with Luis Arráez and Eddie Rosario nursing minor injuries as well. Even with all the depth that the Twins have, the injuries can add up and derail a season.
Injuries aside, the Twins aren't getting the same production out of their key players as last year. As a whole, the Twins have the fourth-worst OPS by players up the middle (C/2B/SS/CF), at a solid .617. Nelson Cruz is still doing his part, hitting .325, but after him the next highest is Arráez, who is batting .320 in his last seven games.
José Berríos is showing some command issues, and while Randy Dobnak (who continues to have my favorite headshot on Baseball Reference) has emerged as a quality starter for the Twins the injuries to Odorizzi, Bailey, and Hill mean that the team is without an "ace." Bullpen games only go so far. The trade deadline passing today, the Twins should have been aggressively in the market for a starter.
Enemy’s current record
The Twins were swept this weekend in Detroit, have lost five in a row, and have taken a nosedive to third place behind the Sox and Cleveland.
The losses of Donaldson, Buxton, and Garver clearly hurts the Twins. Going into Sunday, they hadn't scored more than three runs in their past five games on the road. Despite Cruz homering in both games of Saturday's doubleheader, the Twins offense did little else all weekend. It was a close one on Sunday, but the Tigers ultimately pulled it out to send the Twins packing, empty-handed.
Monday's face-off is Lucas Giolito vs. Hill in Giolito's first start since his no-hitter last Tuesday. In his last start (2019) against the Twins, Giolito threw a three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts. Hill is coming off of five days' rest, his last start having been against Cleveland where he allowed one run on 78 pitches. His ERA at home is holding steady at 4.70, and he's spent a lot of time hurt this season.
Tuesday is Dallas Keuchel vs. Michael Pineda. This season, Keuchel is sitting at an ERA of 2.70 with a 5-2 record and holding opponents to a .215 average — and he's 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA for the month of August. This is Pineda's 2020 debut, having spent time serving a 60-game suspension from last September after testing positive for banned substances.
Wednesday's matchup is Reynaldo López vs. Berríos. López didn't make it past the first inning the last time he faced the Twins and has had some short starts since coming off the injured list. He's sitting at a painful 9.00 ERA with eight strikeouts this season. Berríos has allowed three or more walks in his last four starts.
Keys to the series
The Sox should look to capitalize on Minnesota's shaky pitching. Chicago has made headlines lately for their home runs, but don't forget that loading the bases (and clearing them) is just as exciting as homers. Singles can bring in runs too, guys. Taking advantage of the Minny veterans being out will go a long way to giving the Sox a comfortable advantage in the series.