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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

Just keep winning, just keep winning, just keep winning winning winning.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians will look to continue their winning ways against the struggling Minnesota Twins. The Twins last series was on the opposite end of a sweep -- they lost three straight to the surging Washington Nationals.

The two teams  will play all three of their games at 8:10 p.m. at beautiful Target Field.

Matchups

  • Monday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Tommy Milone (LHP)
  • Tuesday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Cody Anderson (RHP) vs. Ricky Nolasco (RHP)
  • Wednesday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Kyle Gibson (RHP)

The Twins rotation is... let's just say not a strength. Ricky Nolasco is off to a good start -- 2.66 ERA over his first three games -- but the other two pitchers the Tribe will face have been awful. Kyle Gibson lasted just three innings in his last outing against the Washington Nationals when he allowed seven runs on seven hits. Tommy Milone has been consistently not good, allowing at least two runs in every game this season, including four in the last two.

Danny Salazar over Milone is a pretty easy choice (unless you want to buy into the Indians not hitting against lefties), and I would take Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin over their opponents. The closest advantage for the Twins would be Nolasco over Anderson if he can continue his good start and not revert to a guy who had a 6.75 ERA in 2015.

Upcoming schedule: The Indians will remain on the road after this series to play the Philadelphia Phillies. They will then return to Progressive Field to face more of the American League Central: the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals.

Team in a Box

Minnesota Twins

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

5-14

R/G

3.26

14th

ERA

3.80

8th

AL Central

5th

OBP

.311

9th

HR/9

1.00

7th

Last 10

5-5

SLG

.376

12th

BB/9

3.33

11th

Streak

L3

Steals

11

t-5th

SO/9

7.66

10th

The Twins started off the season losing eight straight before they finally tallied a win against the Los Angeles Angels on April 15. Since that win, they are 5-5 but are coming off of a rough three-game sweep against the Nationals in which they were outscored 9-to-16.

Their last game in that series on Sunday was a 16-inning marathon that required seven bullpen pitchers to be used. Fatigue could definitely be a factor in their series against the Indians, at least in the first game.

Twins position players

  • C: Kurt Suzuki
  • 1B: Joe Mauer
  • 2B: Brian Dozier
  • SS: Eduardo Escobar
  • 3B: Eduardo Nunez
  • LF: Eddie Rosario
  • CF: Byron Buxton
  • RF: Miguel Sano
Twins bench
  • OF: Max Kepler
  • OF: Oswaldo Arcia
  • 1B: Byung-Ho Park
  • C: John Ryan Murphy

Despite lofty expectations, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton has struggled in the majors so far. There is still plenty of time for the 22-year-old to turn it around, but last season he finished with a 54 wRC+ in 138 plate appearances and this season he is just 7-for-45 with 24 strikeouts (49% strikeout rate).

Meanwhile, second-year player Miguel Sano is building off his strong rookie campaign. So far in 2016 he is slashing .239/.363/.403 with three home runs -- second most on the team. He is also second on the Twins in walks with 13, behind only Joe Mauer who has taken 15 free bases.

Eduardo Nunez and of course Joe Mauer are the early offensive leaders for the Twins, worth 190 and 158 wRC+, respectively. Mauer has also only struck out in 9.5 percent of his at-bats in 2016, which would be his best mark since 2010 if it holds over the whole season.

Twins starting rotation
  • RHP: Ervin Santana
  • RHP: Kyle Gibson
  • RHP: Phil Hughes
  • LHP: Tommy Milone
  • RHP: Ricky Nolasco
  • RHP: Tyler Duffey
Twins bullpen
  • RHP: Trevor May
  • RHP: Kevin Jespen
  • RHP: Casey Fien
  • RHP: Ryan Pressly
  • LHP: Fernando Abad
  • RHP: Michael Tonkin
  • LHP: Ryan O'Rourke

Lefty reliever Fernando Abad, who the Indians will probably see a lot of this series, has yet to allow a run in 8.2 innings of work.