The Twins find themselves in a bit of a surprising situation after the first month of play in the 2022 season. Sitting in first place at 18-11, most people expected that the AL Central would be firmly in the hands of the White Sox, who have stumbled out of the gate and are now barely one game above .500.
Of course, it’s not so much that everyone expected the Twins to be terrible as the ChiSox were expected to be so much better than their showing so far this year. The Pale house have improved in recent play after stumbling out of the gate though, so now it’ll be up to the Twins to keep that hold on the cat bird seat in the Central.
With a record of 7-3 in their last ten games they’re well on their way to defending the spot, especially after a weekend sweep of the A’s. What’s made that even more impressive is the fact that they’ve seen a slew of players injured recently, including Byron Buxton (day-to-day) for a hip injury and old friend Carlos Correa (day-to-day) after he took a pitch to his finger. It looks as though Buxton will be back in time to face the Astros but Correa, who it turns out doesn’t have a broken finger, will probably need a few more days to recover.
Meanwhile, the Astros will get a chance to show that their 7-game winning streak is legit as they face off against a team significantly over .500 for the first time in over a week. The same goes for the Twins, who made won their last two series against teams that are expected to be sitting on the couch come October.
Last 10 Games: 7-3 Record, 1 Series Sweep, 1 Series Won, 1 Series Split, +11 Run Differential (42 scored, 31 allowed)
W/L Splits: 11-4 at home, 7-7 on the road, 5-3 against teams over .500
Minnesota comes into this series with an offense that has been red hot in recent play, with a good chunk of players terrorizing opposing pitching in the recent week. On the year the Twins are slashing .239/.317/.390, which puts their .707 OPS at 8th in the league. They’re a top 10 offense in most categories except for Stolen Bases (5, t-27th in MLB), which definitely does not seem to be a part of Minnesota’s game.
They’ve also seen a rash of injuries recently with Buxton and Correa, two of their top hitters, both listed as day-to-day. Still, Astros pitchers will need to be locked in against this offense if they’re hoping to pour some cold water on their bats.
The Twins’ offense is currently being led by Buxton, who a lot of people have been waiting on to take the reigns for Minnesota. Slashing .278/.342/.722 on the year, Buxton’s 1.064 OPS is the best on the team, as are his 9 home runs. He’s hardly the only player playing hot right now though, with Jorge Palanco and Gilberto Celstino both sporting OPS’s north of 1.000 in the past week.
Unfortunately for the Twins, Buxton has also spent about a third of the games riding the bench after getting banged up on the base paths. He’s joined on the pine by LF Trevor Larnach, who is headed to the IL along with his .813 OPS.
As is becoming more and more common these days, the back end of the Twins’ bullpen is more of a committee than one with defined roles. Emilio Pagan (RHP, 8.2 IP, 2.08 ERA, 12 K’s) has seen the lion’s share of save opportunities this season, converting 4 of 5. But his 1.73 WHIP has to be a little scary if you’re a Twins fan.
Jhoan Duran (RHP, 14.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 24 K’s) is probably the most exciting high leverage piece in the pen right now though. Duran throws a 102 mph fastball and is looking more and more like the Twins’ closer of the future, though nothing is official yet. He has successfully closed out two games so far in 2022.
You can also expect to see Houston native Tyler Duffey (RHP, 11.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 11 K’s) in the mix for high leverage, though he hasn’t logged a save yet this season. Griffin Jax (RHP, 13.1 IP, 1.35 ERA, 17 K’s) is the only other pitcher with a save opportunity in the Twins’ bullpen.
Game 1: Justin Verlander (RHP, 3-1, 1.93 ERA, 31 K’s) vs Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA, 28 K’s)
The Astros will face off against Minessota’s three best starters this series, beginning with Joe Ryan, who has been an ace for the Twins in 2022, though he did wobble in his last game. He only gave up 2 runs in that one, but also walked 1 and hit 2 batters while only going 4.2 IP. Ryan managed two straight scoreless outings of at least 6 innings before that though, so I won’t predict his demise just yet.
Game 2: José Urquidy (RHP, 2-1, 4.56 ERA, 16 K’s) vs Chris Archer (RHP, 0-0, 3.26 ERA, 20 K’s)
It’s been so far so good for Chris Archer in 2022 as he seeks to reclaim his ace status, which has fallen off in the last few seasons of injury and bouncing from team to team. He’ll need to start going deeper into games though, with his longest start this season sitting at just 4.1 IP. He hasn’t given up more than 2 earned runs in any one start though, but he’s also walked exactly 3 batters in three of his games, so command hasn’t really been stellar.
Game 3: Luis Garcia (RHP, 2-1, 3.45 ERA, 28 K’s) vs Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA, 20 K’s)
Winder gets the ball in Game 3 and will look to keep his excellent month of May going. He has yet to give up an earned run so far this month and has 15 strikeouts versus just 1 walk in 12 IP. Those last two games were also his first starts of the season, though he had been playing a long man role in the pen before that.
For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure
Game 1: Tuesday, May 10th @ 6:40 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Twins - TIBN, twinsbeisbol.com
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Twins - Bally Sports North Extra
Game 2: Wednesday, May 11th @ 6:40 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Twins - TIBN
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Twins - Bally Sports North
Game 3: Thursday, May 12th @ 12:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Twins - TIBN
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Twins - Bally Sports North / MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Who wins this series?
This poll is closed
Astros Sweep 3-0
Astros Win 2-1
Twins Win 2-1
Twins Sweep 3-0