The Orioles welcome the Twins to Baltimore for a three-game series that begins tonight. If you haven’t been paying much attention to the A.L. Central this season it might surprised you that the Minnesota Twins have been playing good baseball so far in 2017. They are, in fact, in first place in their division, percentage points ahead of the reigning A.L. champion Cleveland Indians.
FanGraphs ranks the Twins’ offense as 9th best in baseball so far this season, and the team is being led by Miguel Sano in that department. After a disappointing 2016, Sano is destroying basically every baseball he sees, hitting .299/.426/.622 on the year.
The pitching staff is headed up by Ervin Santana, who is having a career year so far. Rookie Jose Berrios has been outstanding in two starts this season. The rest of their rotation has kind of been a mess. Sadly for the Orioles they will see both of those pitchers in this series.
Game 1: Monday, 7:05 PM
Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 6.52 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (0-4, 8.20 ERA)
Kyle Gibson started the season with the Twins but after six rough starts, as evidenced by his 8.20 ERA, he was sent packing to AAA Rochester. He’s done well in two starts down there, pitching to a 2.92 ERA. That isn’t why he is being called up to make this start, but rather it’s because they need someone after playing in a doubleheader yesterday.
The 29-year-old Gibson is in his fifth major league season, all with the Twins. And while he has never been all that good, this year so far has been more miserable for him than most.
As for Jimenez, it’s hard to even know what to say anymore. His only good appearance so far this month was three shutout innings he pitched out of the bullpen against the Red Sox. He looked somewhat decent against the Nationals before Buck Showalter left him in the game too long and he fell apart in the eighth inning.
At this point we just have to hope for the best and be prepared to see the long man out of the bullpen. Jimenez has been very homer prone so far this season, so let’s hope he can keep those walks under control.
On paper, this game is a slugfest waiting to happen, which probably means that it’ll end with a score of 2-1. That’s if it even gets played, as there is quite a bit of rain in the forecast.
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:05 PM
Dylan Bundy (5-2, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (6-2, 2.07 ERA)
As mentioned above, Santana is having himself a very nice season so far. If you’re a fan of the stat FIP you might be interested to know that it does not support that 2.07 ERA, putting him at a much more mediocre 4.37 for the season. So far Santana is skating by with a .143 BABIP and he is stranding 90% of his base runners. But his strikeout and walk numbers are very pedestrian.
He has been successful so far, although it might be reassuring to you to know that two of his last three starts have been clunkers as he gave up six runs in six innings against the Red Sox on May 9th and five runs in seven innings against the Rockies. It’s possible he’s coming back to earth and hopefully the Orioles can take advantage of that.
Speaking of clunkers, Dylan Bundy pitched his first of the season in his last start against the Detroit Tigers. After eight consecutive starts in which he didn’t pitch fewer than six innings and gave up more than two runs (three, actually) in two starts, he was due. I’m not worried about him.
Game 3: Wednesday, 12:35
Chris Tillman (1-0, 3.52 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (2-0, 0.59 ERA)
After a tough rookie season in 2016, Jose Berrios made his first start for the Twins on May 13th and gave up just one run in 7.2 innings against Cleveland. He followed that up with an even better performance on May 18th, pitching 7.2 shutout innings against the Rockies. He gave up just two hits in each of those two starts and he struck out 11 Rockies. He is only 23 years old.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Berrios after just two starts this season, but suffice it to say I don’t feel great about watching the Orioles face him.
As for Tillman, the party line on him is that he is still working up to being in mid-season form since he has only made three starts this season. He hasn’t been horrible, he hasn’t been great. His fastball velocity has been down a few ticks, something that will hopefully be cured as he continues to gain strength with more starts.
How many games will the Orioles win against the Twins this week?
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