It seems as if nobody wants to win the AL Central division this season. With a prime opportunity to build on their lead in the division, the Minnesota Twins have dropped two straight games to the Detroit Tigers and can now only come away with a series split with a win today. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be backing Minnesota to get the job done.
The Detroit Tigers are here to keep this division race as interesting as possible for as long as they can. From the first to the final pitch of yesterday’s game, the Tigers' offense was unrelenting, as they racked up 17 hits on the way to their 9-5 victory. Detroit jumped all over Twins starter Bailey Ober, putting up four runs in the first two innings with three RBI singles. Spencer Torkelson would knock Ober out of the game in the fifth inning with his first of two home runs.
Torkelson was one of six Tigers hitters to record multiple hits on the day, including Miguel Cabrera, who passed Robin Yount on the all-time hits list. The Tigers threw five relievers in their win yesterday, so they’ll be looking for a quality start today from their starter Reese Olson. The young right-hander has allowed four or more earned runs in three straight outings, which has raised his ERA to 4.94 in 54.7 innings.
It will be up to Olson to give his team their first series win since July 17th-20th, but a motivated Twins team will be standing in his way. After being shut out in the second game of the series, the Minnesota offense did have a nice day at the plate yesterday in their loss. The team got home runs from Joey Gallo and Carlos Correa, along with RBIs from Max Kepler and Willi Castro.
Closing out the series on the bump for Minnesota will be one of the better starters in the league over the past few weeks, Kenta Maeda. Dating back to July 4th, Maeda has turned in six straight starts with three or fewer earned runs allowed and six or more strikeouts. The right-hander is fresh off a six-inning performance in which he allowed one earned run and punched out seven Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Twins are currently priced at (-154) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Minnesota needs to split this series, and they have the right man on the mound to do so. Additionally, their offense gets to face a struggling starter, and arguably the Tigers' best reliever, Tyler Holton, threw 2.1 innings yesterday, so he likely won’t be available today.
Over the last month, the Tigers rank 17th in wRC+ and 16th in wOBA against right-handed pitching at home, and while they got to a struggling Bailey Ober yesterday, their matchup today will be difficult. Kenta Maeda enters tonight in the 78th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 76th percentile in expected batting average, and has a 3.23 FIP on the road this season. Maeda has been highly comfortable on opposing mounds this season, allowing a batting average against of .205 in 31.1 road innings.
Tigers starter, Reese Olson, has not had the same success recently, as he is currently in the 25th percentile in expected batting average and 21st percentile in xERA/xwOBA. After his recent stretch of bad outings, Olson is also pitching to a 5.07 FIP when at home this season.
Minnesota Twins (-154)