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Series Preview: Wild card leading Twins come to the Trop

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays had a disappointing weekend in Chicago, losing the last two games of the series to the last place White Sox. Losing two games would in itself be pretty devastating for the season, but seeing Chris Archer leaving after recording zero outs in one of those games made the series that much more troubling.

After pretty much acting as sellers at the deadline, the Minnesota Twins have had a strong second half. Although they are coming off a series loss to the Kansas City Royals, the have won 12 of their last 18.

The Matchups:

Monday 7:10 PM: Jose Berrios vs Alex Cobb
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Bartolo Colon vs Jake Odorizzi
Wednesday 1:10 PM: Aaron Slegers vs Blake Snell

Jose Berrios has been very good. The rest of the rotation has not.

The Twins throw their best pitcher against the Rays in game one. Despite the rough start to his major league career last season he has been very good this year. In 118.1 innings he has a 3.80 ERA and 3.81 FIP. He has a 23.4% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate. In his last start he held the White Sox scoreless through seven innings and collected 11 strikeouts.

The 44 year old Bartolo Colon is still surviving in the majors. He was signed by the Atlanta Braves to eat innings, but was released after 63.0 innings of 8.14 ERA and 5.07 FIP baseball. The Twins picked him up and he’s gotten better results with a 4.09 ERA, but the 5.08 FIP is in line with his time with the Braves. Colon is a low strikeout guy with a 13.9% strikeout rate, and his walk rate has risen to 5.6%. In his last start he allowed three runs in six innings against the White Sox.

Aaron Slegers makes his second career start on Wednesday. The 25 year old wasn’t in the Twins top 30 by Baseball America entering the year, but he had a successful AAA season. In AAA he had a 3.40 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 148.1 innings. He had a 19.7% strikeout rate and 4.7% walk rate. In his major league debut in early September he held the Cleveland Indians to two runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out three while walking one. He only allowed two hits, but one was a home run.

The Twins bullpen has been one of the worst in the majors.

The Twins bullpen has a 4.50 ERA and 4.50 FIP. Both place the Twins in the bottom ten of the league. The bullpen has been much better in the second half posting a 3.85 ERA and 3.90 FIP.

Brandon Kintzler has received most of the closing work. Kintzler has a 2.78 ERA and 3.66 FIP. He’s collected 28 saves. He doesn’t strike out many, 14.8% strikeout rate, but limits walks, 6.0% walk rate.

Trevor Hildenberger has gotten the best results in a small 31.1 inning sample. He has a 2.59 ERA and 2.56 FIP. He has a 26.1% strikeout rate and 3.1% walk rate. He made his MLB debut in late June.

Now that we’re in September bullpen workload isn’t as likely to force teams in really bad spots. Nobody in the Twins bullpen has worked more than once in the last three days.

The Twins offense is on fire.

On the season the Twins offense has been solid. They have hit .258/.334/.428 and have a 100 wRC+. Over the past 30 days they have been the best offense in baseball, hitting .288/.362/.519 and have a 129 wRC+. The most impressive part is they are doing this while their best hitter, Miguel Sano, has been on the disabled list. He is eligible to come off, but so far has not been activated.

Brian Dozier has rebounded from a rough start, n bringing his season line up to .263/.352/.479 and 117 wRC+. He’s hit 27 homers and is one home run short of the team lead held by Sano.

Joe Mauer (115 wRC+) and Eddie Rosario (112 wRC+) have been the help in the middle of the lineup and the only active players above 100 wRC+.

Byron Buxton had a miserable start to the season, but has brought his season offensive production up to 93 wRC+. In the past 30 days he has hit eight homers and put up a 187 wRC+ over 111 plate appearances. He is an gifted defensive center fielder that doesn’t have to hit a lot to be a very valuable player.

The Rays look to get back on track to put up a strong finish to end the season.

The Twins have been playing extremely well for the last month. The Rays not so much. They have an opportunity to face a team in front of them and will have to take advantage of it.

The road trip wasn’t bad, but ended in a disappointing manner. They went 5-4, given their position on the outside looking in they needed to do better. Especially disappointing was losing two of three to one of the worst teams in the American League. The injury to Archer makes things much more worrisome as there is some potential that an injury could bleed into next year despite Archer saying he doesn’t think it’s serious.