After sweeping the Diamondbacks over the weekend, the Twins will head into their divisional series with the Tigers, holding a 4.5 lead in the division. With Minnesota looking to build their lead and distance themselves in the division race, we’ll preview the opening game of their series before going over our play for the action.
With a chance to steal a series from one of the best teams in the American League yesterday, the Detroit Tigers fell short. In their 10-6 loss, Detroit took on the Rays bullpen, as they faced seven different pitchers in the game, and despite a big day at the plate from Kerry Carpenter, going 3-4 with a home run and two RBIs, it was not enough to compete with the daunting Rays lineup.
While the Tigers' offense was trying to keep pace with the Rays' offense, Matt Manning was making it difficult on them, allowing eight runs (six earned) over 5.2 innings. As Detroit looks to bring chaos to an already strange division race, they’ll start this series by having lefty Joey Wentz on the mound. Wentz made his last start on June 28th and his last relief appearance on July 29th, as he enters tonight with a 6.37 ERA in 76.3 innings.
Wentz will take on a Twins lineup tonight that used a walk-off win yesterday to complete their sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Minnesota entered the bottom of the ninth with a 3-2 deficit, but after a game-tying home run by Max Kepler, rookie Matt Wallner would come up with a runner on and hit a walk-off home run to give the Twins a 5-3 victory.
On the hunt for their fifth straight win, Pablo Lopez will take the ball for Minnesota for his 23rd start of the year. Lopez has given his club three consecutive starts of at least five innings and two or fewer earned runs allowed. The last time he took the mound, the right-hander secured a win over the Cardinals by working six innings and allowing just one earned run, which lowered his ERA to 4.01.
The Minnesota Twins run-line of (-1.5) is currently priced at (+104), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Minnesota’s pitching staff has gotten into a nice groove as of late, while their offense gets an ideal matchup to start the week by taking on a struggling lefty.
That struggling lefty, Joey Wentz, will enter tonight’s game in the 13th percentile in expected batting average, 9th percentile in expected slugging percentage, and 8th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. With a 5.10 FIP and .280 batting average against at home this season, the Twins offense, which ranks 11th in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ against lefties on the road over the past month, should be able to continue their success at the plate tonight.
As for the Tigers' offense, they rank 25th in OPS and wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home over the past month. That bodes well for Lopez since he is already in the 80th percentile in expected batting average and has an xFIP on the road of 3.51. With the way he’s been pitching over his last three starts, there is no reason why Lopez can’t make it four straight outings with at least five innings and two or fewer earned runs.
Minnesota Twins (-1.5)(+104)