The trade deadline will be completed in a few short hours, and one of the teams that could look different by the end of the day is the St. Louis Cardinals. With reports circulating that they are not done selling off pieces, the Cardinals players will still need to take the field tonight for the opening game of a three-game series with the Twins. We’ll preview tonight’s game before reviewing my play for the game and an additional play for the first five innings.
Being in the AL Central division has saved the Twins organization a tough conversation this time of year, as there are not many teams that can be one game over .500 at this point in the season and still be in the middle of a playoff race. Minnesota got a much-needed day off yesterday after getting swept by the Royals on Sunday to give them their fifth straight loss.
The Twins' pitching staff had allowed eight or more runs in four straight games heading into Sunday, but after allowing just two runs in the series finale with the Royals, the offense decided it was their turn to drop the ball, only scoring one run in the game. Now with that nightmare of a series behind them, the Twins can focus on the Cardinals and hand the ball to Pablo Lopez for tonight’s game. Lopez took the no-decision in his last outing after allowing just two earned runs over seven innings against Seattle.
Lopez will take on a Cardinals team that has also struggled over their past ten games, going 3-7 in that span. The scouting report for Lopez tonight could change depending on who the Cardinals decide to trade, but no matter what, he will be taking on a team that has scored three or fewer runs in five of their last six games, including their 3-0 win on Sunday.
Taking the mound for St. Louis tonight will be veteran Miles Mikolas for his 24th start of the year. This will be Mikolas’ first start since he was suspended for an incident with the Cubs in his last outing. Before the outing in which he was ejected, Mikolas allowed five earned runs over five innings, which brought his ERA to 4.38 in 127.3 innings.
The Twins are currently listed at (-120) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for one of my plays in this one. Minnesota may be in the midst of a losing streak, but they hold the advantage tonight on the mound, and their offense has been able to produce runs even in the losing efforts.
Pablo Lopez enters tonight in the 83rd percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 80th percentile in expected batting average, and 74th percentile in expected slugging percentage. The right-hander also has a batting average against of .230 on the road this season and should be able to get some run support tonight from his offense.
Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas is not only in the 5th percentile in expected batting average, but he has a .281 batting average against and a 4.42 xFIP at home this season. With the Twins offense ranked 5th in OPS and wOBA and 3rd in wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road, I’ll be taking the Twins F5 team total over 2.5 at (+110) for my second play in this one.
Minnesota Twins (-120)
Minnesota Twins F5 Team Total Over 2.5 (+110)