Look, I can’t blame you if you aren’t expecting much out of this series. The Tribe seems like they’re a far cry from where they were a few weeks ago when they briefly sat atop the AL Central. But they still have a chance to get into the playoffs one way or another, and this weekend series will be crucial in that endeavor. The division seems to be pipe dream at this point, but stranger things have happened.
Team in a box
2019 Minnesota Twins
There’s a lot to be disappointed about when it comes to the Cleveland Indians in 2019. But it should be noted that the Twins have played out of their minds all season long. Sure, the Tribe has been hit with severe under performance from key players at key times and a big injury bug, but credit should be given to the Twins for going absolutely bonkers this year.
Friday, September 6 8:10 p.m. ET: RHP Michael Pineda (v. Adam Plutko)
Michael Pineda is having his best season with at least 100 IP (he was near untouchable in his 76.1 innings in 2014 with the Yankees). Across 140.0 innings in 25 starts, Pineda has allowed 64 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 130 (ERA+ 110). He’s got three pitches he’ll utilize; a fourseam (93 mph), a slider (84 mph) that moves kind of like a 12-6 curveball, and a change (87 mph). His most recent start came on September 1 against the Tigers; in that game, Pineda went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 9.
Saturday, September 7 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Jake Odorizzi (v. Aaron Civale)
Jake Odorizzi is having his best year period. Across 142.0 innings in 27 starts, Odorizzi has allowed 57 earned runs while walking 49 and striking out 152 (ERA+ 127). He’s got a fourseam (93 mph) and sinker (93 mph) that both get hitters to swing and miss a ton, a slider (85 mph) and a cutter (87 mph) that generate groundballs, and a splitter (85 mph) and curve (76 mph) that generate flyballs. He’s got a bit of everything, really. His most recent start came on September 2 against the Tigers; in that game, Odorizzi went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits while walking none and striking out 7.
Sunday, September 8 2:10 p.m. ET: TBD (v. Mike Clevinger)
FanGraphs believes that Randy Dobnak will take the mound for the Twins on Sunday. He got the start on September 3, so that date would line up for him for his next start, so it seems plausible. Dobnak has come on mainly in relief since making his debut against the *checks notes* Cleveland Indians on August 9, but his most recent appearance was a start against the Red Sox. In his 9.0 innings of work this season, Dobnak has yet to allow an earned run. He’s also struck out 8 and walked 1. He’s got a sinker (92 mph), fourseam (93 mph), slider (83 mph), and change (86 mph). In his “start” against Boston, he only pitched for one inning, so it’s more likely that he’ll be the opener for another pitcher on Sunday. Also during that game, he was the subject of this photo that was popular on /r/baseball for a bit:
I don’t know, draw three names out of a hat, you’ll probably pick Minnesota players who have hit really well this season.
DH Nelson Cruz: Yep, he’s still mashing. It’s been an incredible first year in Minnesota for Cruz since coming over from the Mariners. In 448 plate appearances in 103 games this year, Cruz is slashing .305/.385/.631 (wRC+ 161). I don’t think his numbers will be good enough to get him close to the AL MVP this year since he’s strictly a DH now, but he should definitely be in the conversation.
C Mitch Garver: What a breakout year for Garver. After getting over 300 plate appearances in a season for the first time in his career last year, Garver will end 2019 with close to 400 plate appearances and much, much better offensive numbers. So far, across 307 plate appearances in 79 games, Garver is slashing .272/.362/.616 (wRC+ 151). He hasn’t had nearly as many plate appearances as some of the other great catchers around baseball, but he could be in the conversation for best catcher in the AL this season despite that.
3B Miguel Sano: Remember when Miguel Sano had to play in the minors because he was so bad last season? Well whatever he did between then and now seemed to work because he’s back to smashing baseballs left and right. Across 371 plate appearances in 89 games this season, Sano is slashing .241/.345/.555 (wRC+ 132). Sure, he’s striking out 35.6% of the time, but that doesn’t matter when you’re hitting dingers.
Minnesota Twins roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?
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