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Know Your Enemy: Minnesota Twins

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So long, Nelson Cruz! I won’t miss you

LOL remember when PECOTA said the Twins were going to win the division this year? Joke’s on those guys- the Twins are in last place. Guess their “we’ve been to the postseason 18 times in a row!” streak is over.

Last Time

The Twins still had Nelson Cruz when the White Sox last faced off against them. Now Cruz has been shipped off to the Rays and José Berríos is in Toronto. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco homered a bunch in the kick-off to the series with the doubleheader. Gavin Sheets hit a three-run homer in the second game of that day to walk it off for the White Sox. Lance Lynn allowed one run during his series start. Liam Hendriks picked up his 24th save in 28 chances. And the White Sox lost the last game of the series, starting a bit of a skid by losing three in a row before taking the series closer against the Brewers.

How’s it going?

The White Sox have been a bit spotty post-All-Star break. They lost badly to the Royals a couple times, had a wild 12-11 loss to the Cleveland team, and lost two of three against the Brew Crew. They’re 10-10 in their last 20 games and 28-26 on the road. Faring much better against Central teams, they’re 36-23 with a 10.5 game lead in the division. José Abreu is currently leading the team with 21 of the team’s 127 home runs this season. Tim Anderson is leading in batting average with .296 while posting a solid .440 SLG, and Abreu leads in RBIs (83) this season.

Meanwhile, the Twins are just trying to stay alive. They were forced to be sellers at the trade deadline, saying good-bye to Cruz and Berríos. They’re 9-11 during their last 20 and 24-30 at home. They’re 23-30 against Central teams and 48-64 overall this season, sitting firmly in fifth place, 18 games back from first with less than 50 games left of the season. Their bullpen is painful but the offense continues to be the only bright spot for Twins fans. They’re scoring 4.61 runs per game, 13th in MLB. They have a team OBP of .315, with Luis Arráez leading with .377. Jorge Polanco is leading in everything: home runs (20), batting average (.272), RBIs (61), and hits (109). On the pitching side of things, Berríos led the team in wins, strikeouts, and ERA before he was shipped to Canada. Hansel Robles has the most saves (10) and holds (14) for the bullpen this season.

The White Sox may not see Josh Donaldson during this series as he’s listed as day-to-day, along with Sean Gilmartin and Luis Rijo. Byron Buxton is still on the 10-day IL with hand issues.

Pitching matchups

Today is Lucas Giolito vs. Beau Burrows. In Giolito’s last seven starts he’s 3-3 with a 4.35 ERA over 41 13 innings. He’s walked 10 while striking out 35 and allowing five home runs. He’s 2-2 in his last five against the Twins, going 28 23 innings while striking out 27 and posting a 5.02 ERA.

Burrows has made three relief appearances for the Twins this season since being recalled on July 27 from Triple-A. This will be his first big league start. He has four pitches he uses: 4-seam fastball (55%), slider (31%), changeup (10%), an curveball (2%). Burrows’ ERA is 11.00 over nine innings of work, giving up 11 hits and earned runs, striking out six, and walking seven.

Tuesday is Dallas Keuchel vs. Griffin Jax, whose name sounds like a video game character. Keuchel is 1-4 in his last seven starts with a 6.00 ERA over 36 innings, striking out 26 while walking 15 and giving up 39 hits. In his last five against the Twins he’s 3-0 with a 4.18 ERA, allowing 29 hits and striking out 18.

Jax is 2-1 this season with a 5.63 ERA over 32 innings. He’s 1-1 in his last four starts with a 4.19 ERA. Jax has four pitches in his arsenal: 4-seam fastball (50%), slider (26%), changeup (14%), and curveball (9%). He’s posting a 9.00 ERA against righties and 1.29 against lefties. The White Sox last saw him July 19 where he went four innings and struck out six.

Wednesday is Lance Lynn vs. Bailey Ober for the close of the series. In his last seven starts, Lynn has been phenomenal with a 1.85 ERA and 3-0 record in his last seven starts. He’s 2-0 against the Twins, striking out 24 while allowing seven earned runs.

Ober is 1-1 in his last seven starts with a 5.23 ERA over 31 innings. In his last four starts against the White Sox, he’s 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA over 17 13 innings. He has four pitches that he relies on: 4-seam fastball (58%), slider (16%), changeup (13%), and curveball (11%).

Spoiler: We still hate them!