To say the Twins needed their win last night is an understatement, as they were able to snap a five-game losing slide in the opening game of their series with the Cardinals. As the team now looks to secure their first series win since July 23rd, we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing for the first five innings.
From July 25th to July 29th, the Minnesota Twins pitching staff allowed a total of 35 runs to be scored over that four-game stretch, but with last night’s impressive performance from Pablo Lopez, the team has allowed just four runs over their past two games. Lopez worked six innings while allowing just one earned run and striking out five, which turned out to be crucial since the Twins offense could only scratch three runs across in the 3-2 win.
Looking for a third straight solid pitching performance, the Twins will hand the ball to Joe Ryan for his 22nd start of the year. After starting off the year on a high note, Ryan has hit a rough patch recently, allowing three or more earned runs in five of his last six outings, which has elevated his ERA to 4.06 in 122 innings.
The good news for Ryan is that he will match up with a Cardinals lineup tonight that has failed to score more than three runs in five straight games. The difficulties to consistently produce offense will likely only grow for the team since it was announced yesterday that Brendan Donovan will miss the rest of the season with a flexor strain injury that requires surgery.
While the team was preparing for yesterday’s game, the Cardinals also traded starter Jack Flaherty to the Orioles, making him the second member of the rotation to be traded over the past couple of days. With that being the case, St. Louis will have Dakota Hudson on the mound for his second start of the year. The right-hander made 26 starts for the club last season, but six of his seven appearances this year have come out of the bullpen.
The Twins F5 run line of (-.5) is currently priced at (+105), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. It may not have been evident last night, but the Twins' offense has had a lot of success against right-handed pitching recently, and tonight they get to face a starter whose last outing was a 4.1 inning relief appearance in which he allowed five earned runs.
In the 19.1 innings that Hudson has thrown this season, he is already posting a 5.17 xERA and .293 expected batting average. While his sample size is small, he still has not shown enough to prove he can handle a tough matchup like the Twins, who rank 7th in OPS and 4th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month.
At the same time, the Cardinals have gone under their F5 team total in four of their last five games. Even though he’s struggling as of late, numbers suggest that Joe Ryan is still a tough matchup for them tonight as he is in the 89th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 80th percentile in expected batting average, and 69th percentile in expected slugging.
Minnesota Twins F5 (-.5)(+105)