Chasing the Twins in July is not a new feeling for the Indians. They were essentially in the same scenario last season, only they spent the last month overcoming a massive deficit in the standings instead of quarantining. This year, they’re only half a game behind and they feature one of the best, healthiest rotations in baseball.
The Twins run with the same strategy of a year ago — mash the brains out of every ball that comes your way — but they do it now with a former MVP in Josh Donaldson. Donaldson signed a massive contract in the offseason, one that clearly signaled the Twins were not content with one division title and early playoff exit. They are keeping the petal down and going for two.
Through their first five games, the Twins are second in baseball with a +16 run differential. They started the season by pummeling the White Sox to the tune of 34 runs over three games. For context, the Indians scored nine total runs in two games and were shut out in the other.
This series will come down to which team’s strength can outpace the other’s. If the four games turn into shootouts, the Indians are not going to win. If the excellent top-four of the Tribe rotation can shut down the Twins bats, their first road series will be a success.
Team in a box
2020 Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, July 30, 7:07 p.m. ET: RHP José Berríos vs. RHP Shane Bieber
The biggest series of this early season will start with arguably the worst possible pitcher for the Indians to face. José Berríos didn’t have the Opening Day that he wanted, and he is likely to have a clunker as often (or more often) than anyone. But his heavy use of breaking balls and changeups is a death knell for Indians batters right now. The 26-year-old righty finished 2019 with a career-high 200.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, and 79 ERA-. He also trimmed his walk rate by a full percent, down to 6.1% from the 7.6% rate he featured in 2018. He’s far from consistent, though, and the Indians just have to hope they don’t get him during one his of “on” days.
Friday, July 31, 8:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. RHP Mike Clevinger
TBD has some nasty stuff, I’ve heard. Mike Clevinger is also good.
Saturday, August 1, 7:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco
The Twins are taking the unprecedented move of pitching the same starting pitcher two days in a row. This is obviously the limit and they wouldn’t dare do it for a third day in a row.
Sunday, August 2, 2:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. RHP Aaron Civale
The absolute mad men. TBD may never be the same after this series.
DH Nelson Cruz- Somehow Nelson Cruz just doesn’t age. It’s a mystery that no one can solve, but the 40-year-old slugger hasn’t hit fewer than 39 home runs since 2013. Mysteriously, in 2014, he slugged a career-high 40 homers and has hit 244 home runs since, all while rapidly approaching 40 and fighting off father time. He’s currently tied for the lead in the short season with three home runs. We’ll never know how he does it.
3B Josh Donaldson - Unless Josh Donaldson finds the same secret magic that Nelson Cruz uses, it’s doubtful that he will still be a productive third baseman by the end of the four-year, $92 million deal he signed with the Twins this offseason. But that doesn’t really matter. For the Twins, the important part is that he can play like an MVP for a year, maybe two, and help them bury Cleveland even further. So far in 2020 he has three hits in 22 plate appearances, but he’s also drawn four walks and has blistered the ball more times than not. He will heat up eventually, just hopefully not right now.
How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?
This poll is closed