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2021 Series Preview: Minnesota Twins @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (65-43, 1st in AL West) open up a homestand with four games against the reeling Twins (45-63, 5th in AL Central)

Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Quick Notes

The Twins come to Houston in a far different position than the last time they were in town, spiraling quickly out of contention and into a high draft pick. Though the White Sox were always expected to become the cream of the crop in the Central, the Twins falling so hard and quickly has come as something of a surprise this season.

While the Twins did move several big names at the deadline, including Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Hansel Robles, it seems like they made a priority of acquiring talent close to the MLB level. So while things might look grim now, Minnesota could possibly regain some relevance in the next few seasons.

Of course, hopes and dreams for the future don’t add numbers to the win column, which is where the Twins are hurting the most this season. In theory, the Astros should be able to have this depleted team for lunch, but we all saw how well theory went for them against the Orioles and Tigers.

Last 10 Games: 3-7 Record, 2 Series Lost, 1 Series Split, -8 Run Differential (52 Scored, 60 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 24-30 at home, 21-33 on the road, 16-36 against teams over .500


Offense

The Twins offense has actually been slightly above average this season in comparison to other MLB teams, though not really elite except in the power category. Boasting a collective team slash line of .245/.318/.431, Minnesota’s slugging % of .431 is good for fifth in the league. This is mostly due to the ridiculous amount of home runs that they hit, clocking in at 3rd in MLB with 156.

But there’s not a whole lot of reason that those numbers will remain so lofty after trading away their best power hitter in the form of Nelson Cruz. Cruz’s 19 homers are still the most of any Twins player this season, current of former. Expect Jorge Polanco to slip past him at some point though, as he is currently second with 18 taters under his belt.

Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson also remain power threats in the Twins’ lineup, though Donaldson has been recovering from a hamstring injury and may not be fully 100% this series even though he hasn’t hit the IL yet.


Pitching

Pitching has been the real bug-a-boo for the Twins this season. The team is the shamed owner of a 5.00 ERA even after having Jose Berrios pitching in their rotation much of the season. It’s hard to lay the blame more at the starting or relieving pitchers as both staffs have similar stats, which are pretty terrible all around.

The deadline saw Berrios was shipped off to the Blue Jays and Hansel Robles, who has been covering closing duties for them at times this year, dealt to the Red Sox. They also traded J.A. Happ to the Cardinals, but that might actually be an improvement.

The team did hold on to Taylor Rogers, who a lot of people consider their best reliever and expected would fetch a high price on the trade market, so expect to see him in high leverage situations during this series.


Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Griffin Jax (RHP, 1-1, 6.41 ERA, 22 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 7-2. 3.01 ERA, 66 K’s)

Jax is in the midst of a rookie campaign that is trending towards dumpster file territory, though he has managed to right the ship in his last couple of starts. Surrendering just 2 runs in nine innings across those games. He also managed to lower his ERA by two full runs in that time as well. This will be just his 8th career start and his first against the Astros.

Game 2: Bailey Ober (RHP, 1-1, 4.94 ERA, 51 K’s) vs Zack Greinke (RHP, 10-3, 3.65 ERA, 97 K’s)

Like Jax, Ober is in the midst of his rookie campaign with the Twins, though he has been slightly more effective during his time in the majors. Ober has had a back and forth season so far in 2021, but his last two starts have certainly been decent. He had a pretty good start against the Astros back in June as well, pitching 5 innings of 2-run ball while striking out 7.

Game 3: Michael Pineda (RHP, 4-6, 3.89 ERA, 67 K’s) vs Luis Garcia (RHP, 7-6, 3.49 ERA, 121 K’s)

With the departure of Berrios, Pineda is probably now the Ace of Minnesota’s staff. Stats-wise he’s having a good season, though not the best of his career. He did get hit for 3 runs (2 earned) across 4 innings in his last start against the Cardinals, He was also chased early his last time out against the Astros, leaving that one after 4 innings and 3 runs as well.

Game 4: Kenta Maeda (RHP, 4-4, 4.65 ERA, 99 K’s) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 9-2, 3.02 ERA, 124 K’s)

Maeda is currently grinding through one of the worst seasons of his career, though his stats are mainly suffering from a few really ugly starts earlier in the season. He actually had a really good month of July, clocking a 2.15 ERA across 29.1 IP. His lone August start did not go as well though, where he gave up 5 runs and 3 homers in just 5 innings.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, August 5th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Twins - WCCO 830, Audacy, The Wolf 102.9 FM, TIBN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Twins - Bally Sports North / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

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Game 2: Friday, August 6th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Twins - WCCO 830, Audacy, The Wolf 102.9 FM, TIBN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Twins - Bally Sports North / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Saturday, August 7th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Twins - WCCO 830, Audacy, The Wolf 102.9 FM, TIBN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Twins - Bally Sports North / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 4: Sunday, August 8th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Twins - WCCO 830, Audacy, The Wolf 102.9 FM, TIBN, twinsbeisbol.com / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Twins - Bally Sports North / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (40 votes)
  • 53%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (60 votes)
  • 5%
    Series Split 2-2
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Twins Win 3-1
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Twins Sweep 4-0
    (4 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now