Many teams got a rest day yesterday, including the Pirates and Twins, who will meet tonight in Minnesota to start a three-game interleague series. While Pittsburgh is still building towards the future, every series is important to the Twins as they look to build on their lead in the AL Central. We’ll preview the series' opening game before going over which team I’ll be backing on the run-line.
After managing to split a series with the Atlanta Braves, the Pirates have dropped two consecutive series, including their most recent three-game set against the Mets. Pittsburgh did have a chance to go into their off day and series with the Twins on a high note, but they fell 8-3 on Wednesday to lose the series. The only offense in the game came from a Bryan Reynolds two-run home run and an Alika Williams RBI single.
Pittsburgh’s pitching staff struggled in Wednesday’s loss, with three of the four pitchers they used allowing at least one earned run. As the team looks to avoid allowing their opponent to score four or more runs for the first time in four games, they will have Andre Jackson on the mound for his second start with the team. Primarily a bullpen arm this season, Jackson got his first start on August 13th and allowed three earned runs on five hits in 3.2 innings.
Jackson’s matchup tonight, the Minnesota Twins are fresh off dropping a tough divisional game to the Tigers on Wednesday. Minnesota’s three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth would be too little too late, ultimately falling 8-7. The Twins would storm out to an early 4-0 lead, but some Detroit home runs would cause the team to enter the bottom of the ninth with an 8-4 deficit. Even though Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler would leave the yard in that half-inning, they still fell short.
Following their off-day, the Twins will send Pablo López to the mound, searching for his fourth straight win. López has turned in five consecutive outings with two or fewer earned runs allowed and enters tonight on a streak of 13 innings without allowing a run. This phenomenal stretch of outings has lowered the right-hander's ERA to 3.66 in 147.7 innings.
The Twins run-line of (-1.5) is currently priced at (-108), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Minnesota has been one of the best-hitting teams when playing at home as of late, and tonight, they get a starter who struggled in his first start of the year. It also helps the Twins are starting one of the better starters in the league over the past month, who has been able to work deep into games consistently.
López’s excellent outings are not supposed to fade out anytime soon either, as he is in the 88th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 81st percentile in xBA, and 80th percentile in xSLG. With a 2.96 FIP at home this season, López is a brutal matchup for a Pirates lineup that is hitting .213 with a .240 BAbip against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month.
Minnesota’s advantage at the plate can’t be overstated either, with the team hitting .300 and ranking 3rd in OPS, SLG, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home since July 18th. Jackson has only thrown one inning on the road as a member of the Pirates but in 12.2 road innings with the Dodgers earlier in the year, the right-hander pitched to a 5.68 ERA.
Minnesota Twins (-1.5)(-108)