It’s not often two 100-win teams meet in the division series round of the playoffs, but that is exactly what we have here with the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins battling it out in this best-of-five ALDS showdown. This is the Twins’ first postseason series since 2010, but they enter as sizeable underdogs as they face a team that has had their number over the years in October. Can the Twins buck that trend and get the upset or will the Yankees coast to the ALCS?
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- Date and Time: Game 1 slated for Thursday, October 3, 2019
- Location: Yankee Stadium and Target Field
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Twins vs. Yankees 2019 MLB TV Coverage: FS1 and MLB Network
The rotations for both the Yankees and Twins are up in the air save for a couple names due to injuries, suspensions and struggles down the stretch.
For Minnesota, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi are the big guns, but beyond those two is a major question mark. Michael Pineda should have been in the mix, but he’s out for the postseason due to a PED suspension. Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez struggled down the stretch.
Randy Dobnak is a 24-year old rookie with just nine games, five starts, and 28.1 innings pitched, but it looks like the right-hander is going to be in line for a start—at least as an opener. He has pitched well in his limited time with a 1.59 ERA and 2.90 FIP thanks to just five walks and one homer allowed. If needed, the fourth starter is a huge question mark.
Regardless, Minnesota will need big performances from both Berrios and Odorizzi, both could make two starts each if the series goes five.
Berrios is the ace of the staff. The 25-year old right-hander was 14-8 this season with a 3.68 ERA and 1.223 WHIP in 200.1 innings pitched. He’s got a 3.85 FIP and was an All-Star for the second straight year. He had a 2.80 ERA at the end of July and struggled through the final two months of the season, giving some cause for alarm, but he did finish on a high note with a two-run, six-inning start against the Royals. He notched a quality start in three of his last four starts.
As for Odorizzi, he was an All-Star this season as well and, like Berrios, was stronger in the first half than the second. Despite that, he still ended with a 15-7 record and 3.51 ERA though he didn’t throw as many innings as Berrios.
Odorizzi has been dealing with some hamstring tightness which will be worth watching. He doesn’t typically go much more than six innings but has kept his team in the game over the last month and Minnesota has gone 4-1 in his last five starts, but New York roughed him up for nine runs in four innings when he faced the Bronx Bombers in July.
Fortunately for the Twins, the Yankees’ rotation is also up in the air. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are their most certain options. And, despite just 12 big league innings this year, Luis Severino is likely to get a start in this series, too.
If needed, J.A. Happ is likely to throw the bulk of the innings in another game though Chad Green did well as an opener in the regular season and could get the nod in the first inning or two ahead of Happ who looked better down the stretch, but still ended the year with a 4.91 ERA and 5.22 FIP.
For the other three starters, Paxton has had the best season. He’s 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.281 WHIP in 150.2 innings of work.
The 30-year old southpaw has 186 strikeouts, showing he can get the swing and miss when needed. He’ll likely get the Game 1 nod against Berrios. He pitched three strong innings against the Twins in May before coming out of the game with an injury that cost him most of the month. He also left his last start with a muscle pull but should be good to go on Thursday. Before his last start which was shortened to just an inning, he had been looking very sharp, allowing just one earned run in four combined games and 24.2 innings.
Tanaka was an All-Star this year, but fell off in the second half, ending the year with a 11-9 record, 4.45 ERA and 1.242 WHIP. He’s pitched to a 5.26 ERA in the second half.
There are serious concerns about Tanaka, but the 30-year old right-hander has proven himself in the postseason for the Yankees, coming up big even in years when he didn’t have a great regular season. Tanaka is also likely to get the Game 2 start at home which is huge. He’s got insane home/road splits with a 3.10 ERA in 16 home games and 6.05 ERA in the same number of games on the road.
As for Severino, there’s not really a lot to go on. He’s made three starts and pitched just 12 innings, so he won’t be able to give the Yankees length. Of course, with their bullpen that doesn’t matter too much.
In his 12 innings of work, Severino has 17 strikeouts and just six hits—including no homers—allowed. He, however, has struggled a hit with command with six walks.
After back-to-back scoreless outings, Severino allowed two runs in three innings, walking four, in his last start.
Even with the question marks around Severino and Happ, the Yankees appear to be a bit deeper in terms of options and thus get a slight advantage in the rotation in this series.
The Yankees have the better bullpen between these two teams. The Twins’ bullpen is certainly a bit underrated with a lot of lesser-known names, but New York has the swing-and-miss and proven postseason arms to shorten the games.
Aroldis Chapman was the closer for the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs and a crucial part to that team’s postseason run. He’s also boasting a 2.21 ERA, 37 saves and a 13.4 K:9 rate this season. Ahead of him, the Yankees have Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton. They’re very different pitchers but are nearly identical ERAs with Ottavino at 1.90 and Britton at 1.71. Ottavino, like Chapman, is a swing-and-miss guy with 11.9 K:9 while Britton is all about the sinker and the ground ball. Both have been incredibly effective.
Those three alone should effectively shorten games to just six innings, but Chad Green has been throwing well. Tommy Kahnle has good numbers and there are several other quality options at Aaron Boone’s disposal.
For the Twins, Taylor Rogers has really stepped up in the closer’s role. Blake Parker had the role to start the year, but Rogers ended with 30 saves and a 2.61 ERA along with an 8.18 K:BB ratio. He’s far more efficient than the big time Yankee arms and has shown much better command. That’s important in a postseason series against a strong offense like New York.
Sergio Romo is a proven veteran arm that will come up big against a key right-hander. New York certainly has its share of right-handed bats. Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Ryne Harper and Zack Littell, amongst others, may not be the sexiest names, but they’ve gotten the job done.
The Yankees have the better pen, but it’s probably a bit closer than many think.
The Yankees have scored more runs than any team in baseball, but the Twins are second and just four runs behind in a 162-game season, hardly a distinguishable difference.
While New York is known for its immense power, the Twins hit one more home run this season with both teams eclipsing the 300 mark. Minnesota also ended the regular season with a better OPS, .832 to .829.
All told, the numbers paint these two offenses as nearly identical.
Injuries, of course, did play a huge role in the Yankees’ season, but guys like Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, and D.J. LeMahieu stepped up. Now, Tauchman is injured, Voit may be playing his way off the postseason roster and while LeMahieu and Urshela continue to produce, the Yankees’ roster is coming back together. Is that a good thing? This team played so well with spare parts, its hard to image the offense getting better with the returns of Giancarlo Stanton and company.
Still, a lineup of Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gleybar Torres, Gary Sanchez, Edwin Encarnacion, and more is a fearsome one.
For the Twins, though, they have the ageless Nelson Cruz along with Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco and a cast of others. The health of Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez is uncertain. If neither can go in this series, that’s a big hit. The Twins’ depth is good, but not as good as New York to withstand those losses.
Odds Analysis and Recent Trends
The Twins are the underdog and the Yankees have home field advantage, but Minnesota ended the year with 101 wins, just two-shy of the Yankees. And while the Twins ended the year on a loss, they closed things out going 12-4 in their last 16 and 6-1 in their last seven. Meanwhile, the Yankees stumbled to the finish line, dropping four of their last five games.
How a team ends the season has a lot of factor. The Yankees wrapped the division a while ago and weren’t putting their foot on the gas pedal, but momentum heading into October can still be a factor.
Head-to-head this season, the Yankees are 4-2 over the Twins with New York winning both three-game series, two games to one. That’s not a good sign nor is homefield advantage for the Yankees in this series. New York boasts a .704 winning percentage at home. Of course, the Twins were 55-26 on the road, at least giving them a fighting chance.
These are similar teams, built on strong bullpens and powerful lineups. The lack of starting pitching could give us some fireworks in this series and the Twins can hold their own in a slugfest, even against the Yankees.
At the end of the day, the Twins need both Berrios and Odorizzi to step up in a big way. Look for Berrios to pitch well, but Odorizzi was handled by the Yankees earlier this season and could have similar issues in this baseball series.
While Tanaka hasn’t had a great year and Severino has barely pitched, both have had more postseason experience and should be able to execute a bit better than the Twins’ starters in this higher-pressure situation.
From there, the Yankees have the bullpen to close things out and the offense to at least match the Twins. Look for Minnesota to steal a game at home—and maybe one in the Bronx to push it to five—but the Yankees should be able to—once again—end the Twins’ season and send them home in the playoffs.
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