Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins (24-19) at Los Angeles Dodgers (27-16)


THE TWINS: After completing their six-game homestand with a record of 4-2 (2-1 vs. San Diego and 2-1 vs. Chicago-NL), the Twins began their six-game, seven-day road-trip with a loss and a win to the Dodgers over the last two nights…today, the Twins will play the three-game series finale at Dodger Stadium…after today’s game, the Twins will travel south to spend the off-day tomorrow in Anaheim, then play the Angels for three games over the weekend… the Twins have gone 14-8 at Target Field and 10-11 on the road.

Twins have gone 3-3 in rubber games this season, winning each of their last two and securing series wins vs. San Diego on May 11 and vs. Chicago-NL on May 14.

TWINS GET OBER THE HUMP IN LA: The Twins beat the Dodgers last night in Los Angeles by a score of 5-1…Bailey Ober (3-0) was the starter and winner, allowing one run on six hits in 6.0 innings pitched, with one walk and six strikeouts…the offense recorded 11 hits as five different Twins had two-hit games (Solano, Buxton, Farmer, Gallo & Castro)…Kyle Farmer hit his third home run and drove in three…Willi Castro also drove in a run while recording a pair of singles…the win marked the Twins second-ever victory at Dodger Stadium, the other being a 5-3 win on June 11, 2005, a difference of 6,549 days…below are the lineups from that game:

Lew Ford – LF Cesar Izturis – SS Morneau two-run homer in third
Luis Rodriguez – 2B Hee-Seop Choi – 1B inning off Lowe. Hunter solo homer Justin Morneau – 1B J.D. Drew – CF in sixth inning off Lowe. Rodriguez Torii Hunter – CF Jeff Kent – 2B three hits and two runs scored.
Jacque Jones – RF Jason Werth – RF Morneau four RBI and five total bases.
Glenn Williams – 3B Antonio Perez – 3B
Mike Redmond – C Jason Grabowski – LF WP: Carlos Silva
Juan Castro – SS Jason Phillips – C LP: Derek Lowe
Carlos Silva – P Derek Lowe – P SV: Joe Nathan

DODGE BALL: The Twins are playing the Dodgers in the regular season for the 22nd time in their history today…the Twins are 7-14 all-time vs. LAD…in the regular season, Minnesota is 2-8 all-time at Dodger Stadium, 2-6 at Target Field and 3-0 at Metrodome…including the Postseason, the Twins are 2-11 all-time at Dodger Stadium, going 0-3 in this ballpark during the 1965 World Series…last night’s victory snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Dodgers, beating them for the first time since June 29, 2011, a 1-0 win at Target Field.

GET UP, IT’S SONNY DAY: Through eight starts, Sonny Gray has gone 4-0, 1.39 ERA (45.1 IP, 7 ER) with 16 walks and 56 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .201 (33-for-164) batting average…below are his ranks among AL starting pitchers in a few notable categories:

Gray – 1.39 Rodriguez – .481 Rodriguez – .264 Gray – 0 Gray – 1.90 Eovaldi – 2.5
Rodriguez – 1.57 Ryan – .507 Gray – .268 Eovaldi – 1 Eovaldi – 1.96 Gray – 2.1
Ryan – 2.16 Wells – .518 Ryan – .283 Kirby – 2 Gausman – 2.42 Gausman – 2.1
Cole – 2.22 Gray – .539 Rasmussen – .294 4 tied – 4 Ryan – 2.55 Ryan – 1.8
McClanahan – 2.34 Rasmussen – .567 Ohtani – .307 Kirby – 2.57 Kirby – 1.8

ALSO: Sonny’s 1.39 ERA is the lowest in Twins history (1961-) and fifth lowest in Twins/Senators history through a pitcher’s first eight games of a season (since 1913, min. 45.0 IP), trailing Walter Johnson (0.17 in 1913 and 1.37 in 1915), Milo Candini in 1943 (0.60) and Roger Wolff in 1945 (1.08).

GETTING OFFENSIVE: After 11 hits last night, the Twins now have double-digit hit totals in each of their last four games, their longest stretch since four-straight from September 24-28, 2022…the last time they had 10-plus hits in five-straight came May 26-30, 2022…in this current four-game stretch, they have totaled 55 hits (13, 18, 13, 11)…below are the Twins first 39 games from March 30-May 12 and their last four games since Saturday:

FIRST 39 .218 4.2 281 58 47 157 131 367 .298 .381 .679
LAST 4 .337 10.0 55 14 11 39 18 44 .413 .626 1.039

NOTE: Since Saturday, the Twins lead baseball in hits (55), batting average (.337), on-base (.413), slugging (.626) and OPS (1,039).

SERIES FINALE: The Twins are looking to win their eighth series of the season today, going 7-5-1 in series play in 2023 (results to the right)…they have gone 1-4-1 in six road series this season; their one win was a three-game sweep of Kansas City to open the season…a victory today would mark their third-straight series win over an NL team…the last time they did that was in 2017, when they won four consecutive series against the Brewers (twice), D-Backs and Padres from August-September.

THE OTHER GUYS: The Twins have gone 7-7 in Interleague Play this season, going 1-2 at Miami, 1-2 vs. Washington, 2-1 vs. San Diego, 2-1 vs. Chicago-NL and 1-1 vs. Los Angeles-NL…they have gone 6-3 in their last nine vs. the NL after starting 1-4…after this series, the Twins’ next NL opponent will be the Giants for three games at Target Field next Monday-Wednesday.

AND HE’S LOOSE!!!: The Twins stole four bases last night (Buxton – 2, Castro – 2), marking their most in a game since June 21, 2017 vs. Chicago-AL (also 4)…last night marked the first time the Twins had multiple players with multiple steals since July 29, 2012 vs. Cleveland (Brian Dozier – 2, Ben Revere – 2)…the Twins have stolen 15 bases on the season, 12 coming in their last 15 games…they have been caught six times overall…15 steals are the second fewest in baseball (Colorado – 14)…Twins are tied for eighth in baseball in stolen bases this month with 11…by comparison, in 2022, the Twins stole 38 bags, the fewest in baseball.

ROYCE ROLLS UP: Infielder Royce Lewis advanced his rehab assignment from Double-A Wichita to Triple-A St. Paul yesterday and went 3-for-5 with a home run, a stolen base and four RBI for the Saints…Royce has now played three games on rehab between the Wind Surge and Saints, going 5-for-11 with a double, a home run, five RBI, one walk and three stolen bases…he has played two games at shortstop and one game at third base…Lewis was originally placed on Minnesota’s injured list on May 30, 2022 and underwent right knee surgery last June.

I’M JUST GLADD TO BE HERE: Twins radio stud Dan Gladden played in 21 career games at Dodger Stadium, hitting .278 (22-for-79) with five doubles, no home runs and five RBI…at one point, he hit safely in 10-straight games in this ballpark, from October 2, 1983-Sep- tember 27, 1985…he also hit safely in 14 of 15 games at one point, from October 2, 1983-April 13, 1986…he recorded his first Dodger Stadium hit with a second inning single on October 2, 1983, off of good ol’ Sid Fernandez, while driving in John Rabb on the play…in his next at-bat he hit the second double of his career, off Fernandez, driving in Dave Bergman.

2023: 4-0 1.39 ERA CAREER: 94-77, 3.49 ERA

Enters today leading all qualified major league pitchers in ERA…also ranks third in FIP (1.90), behind Atlanta’s Spencer Strider (1.63) and Arizona’s Zac Gallen (1.78).

Making his 256th career appearance and 247th career start.

Facing Los Angeles-NL for the first time this season, sixth in his career; is 1-3, 3.16 ERA (31.1 IP, 11 ER) with 10 walks and 39 strikeouts…looking for his first win against the Dodgers since July 28, 2015.

Making ninth start of the year and fourth on the road…is 5-3, 3.36 ERA (67.0 IP, 25 ER) with 20 walks and 53 strikeouts in 14 road starts since joining the Twins.

Acquired by the Twins on March 13, 2022 in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, along with right-handed pitcher Francis Peguero, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Chase Petty.

LAST TIME OUT: Did not factor into the decision against the Chicago Cubs on May 12 at Target Field, opposite Drew Smyly…pitched 5.1 innings, allowing one run on four hits, with one walk and nine strikeouts in a 6-2 Twin loss in the opener of the three-game series…recorded his first four strkeouts looking; marked his second-most looking strikeouts of the season (5 on April 7 vs. Houston)…allowed his only run on a sacrifice fly to outfielder Seiya Suzuki…relieved by Jovani Moran in the sixth inning after striking out infielder Dansby Swanson…Griffin Jax entered the game in the seventh inning and yielded two runs (an RBI double to infielder Matt Mervis and an RBI single to catcher Yan Gomes)… Jorge Alcala entered the game to pitch a scoreless eighth inning before yielding a two-run home run to infielder Chrstopher Morel in the ninth inning…Alcala was lifted from the game after the home run… Dereck Rodríguez entered in the ninth inning and allowed the final run off a sacrifice fly to outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Brought his ERA to 1.39, the fifth lowest in Twins/Senators history in ERA through a pitcher’s first eight games of a season (since 1913, min. 45.0 IP), trailing Walter Johnson (0.17 in 1913 and 1.37 in 1915), Milo Candini in 1943 (0.60) and Roger Wolff in 1945 (1.08).

TWO STARTS AGO: Did not factor into the decision against the Cleveland Guardians on May 6 at Progressive Field…pitched 5.0 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in a 4-3 Twins loss, opposite Logan Allen…marked the first start Gray has allowed more than one run this season…retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced…allowed all three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning…issued a walk to infielder Amed Rosario to start the inning; allowed three consecutive singles (two for RBI, one from designated hitter Josh Naylor followed by another from infielder Josh Bell)…allowed his final run on a bases-loaded walk to outfielder Myles Straw…
relieved by Jorge Alcala in the sixth inning…Twins tied the game thanks to two home runs (a two-run homer by Max Kepler in the top of the sixth and a solo shot from Carlos Correa in the seventh)…Alcala yielded the winning run to Steven Kwan in the bottom of the seventh for his first home run of the year.

AND STILL: Gray is still the only pitcher in the majors who has yet to allow a home run this season (min. 45.0 IP)…is the second pitcher in Twins history to allow zero home runs through their first eight starts and ties the longest streak from a Twins starter (Frankie Rodriguez at eight games and 45.1 IP in 1995)…is the 17th pitcher since 1995 to allow zero home runs through their first eight games of the season (min. 45 IP).

AGAINST LOS ANGELES-NL: Gray is facing the Dodgers for the sixth time in his career, going 1-3, 3.16 ERA (31.1 IP, 11 ER) with 10 walks and 39 strikeouts in his five previous appearances…last faced Los Angeles-NL on August 10, 2022 at Dodger Stadium, taking a no-decision in an 8-5 Twins loss after allowing four runs (3 earned) on seven hits (1 HR) with five strikeouts in 4.2 innings…relieved in the fifth inning by Caleb Thielbar as the bullpen combined to pitch 3.1 innings and allowed four runs.

Looking for his first win against the Dodgers since July 28, 2015 when he led the Oakland Athletics to a 2-0 win at Dodger Stadium after pitching his fourth career complete-game shutout.

Four of Gray’s five starts against the Dodgers have been at Dodger Stadium…is 1-2, 2.84 ERA (25.1 IP, 8 ER) with eight walks and 34 strikeouts in those starts.

Gray is 12-8, 3.38 ERA (191.2 IP, 72 ER) with 61 walks and 192 strikeouts in 33 career Interleague games (32 starts)…is 1-0, 2.70 (20.0 IP, 6 ER) with eight walks and 23 strikeouts in four Interleague starts since joining the Twins.

BACK TO THE ROAD: Gray is making his fourth road start of the season today, going 1-0, 2.40 ERA (15.0 IP, 4 ER) with nine walks and 14 strikeouts in his three prior road outings…went 4-3, 3.63 ERA (52.0 IP, 21 ER) with 11 walks and 39 strikeouts in 11 road starts in 2022 and is 41-39, 3.23 ERA (673.2 IP, 242 ER) with 251 walks and 651 strikeouts in 121 career road appearances, including 116 starts. A Is 5-3, 3.36 ERA (67.0 IP, 25 ER) with 20 walks and 53 strikeouts in 14 road starts since becoming a Twin.

Tied for seventh in lowest road ERA in the American League this season (min 15.0 IP).

THE ARSENAL: Gray is currently using a six-pitch mix, per Baseball Savant…continues to use his curveball the most at 23.8 percent…primarily uses his curveball (110 pitches) and changeup (52 pitches) against lefties and his cutter (115 pitches), sinker (116 pitches) and sweeper (113 pitches) against righties…here’s a look at his repertoire so far:
Curveball (79.0)…………………….23.8% (177 pitches, 67/110)…………… .167 (6-for-36), 3 2B, 12 K
Cutter (87.4) …………………………19.1% (142 pitches, 115/27)…………….. .160 (4-for-25), 1 2B, 5 K
Sinker (92.5) …………………………17.4% (129 pitches, 116/13)…………… .200 (6-for-30), 2 2B, 14 K
4-Seam Fastball (92.7)……………16.4% (122 pitches, 40/82)……………… .381 (8-for-21), 2 2B, 2 K
Sweeper (83.3)……………………….16.0% (119 pitches, 113/6)……………. .175 (7-for-40), 2 2B, 22 K
Changeup (87.0)……………………….7.3% (54 pitches, 2/52)………………… .167 (2-for-12), 1 2B, 1 K

Tied for fifth for the lowest opponent batting average against a cutter in the American League, sixth against a sweeper, tied for 11th against the curveball and tied for 13th against a changeup (min 500 pitches).

Ranks second for the most strikeouts off a sweeper, trailing Shohei Ohtani (36) tied with three others for 10th on sinkers (min 500 pitches).


GET THE SERIES: The Dodgers saw their season-high tying six -game winning streak snapped last night as they were held off by the Minnesota Twins, 5-1, in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd on Mexican Heritage Night. Clayton Kershaw worked a season low 4.0 innings, giving up seven hits and two runs in the loss, his third of the 2023 campaign and first at Dodger Stadium since June 16, 2021 (a span of 17 starts). Los Angeles still has 14 wins in its last 17 games and this afternoon will try to win its sixth consecutive series in the finale with Minnesota. Following today’s 12:10 p.m. game to close out the homestand (4-1), the Dodgers fly overnight to St. Louis and begin an 11-day, 10-game road trip against the Cardinals (4), Braves (3) and Rays (3) tomorrow night at Busch Stadium. Freddie Freeman collected two hits last night, his 16th multi-hit game of the season, which ties him with Nick Castellanos and Paul Goldschmidt for second in the National League, two behind Ronald Acuña Jr. (18). Freeman’s 53 hits rank third in the NL and he currently owns a six-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .478 (11-for-23) with two homers, three doubles, eight RBI and six runs scored. Max Muncy’s 14 home runs are tied with Pete Alonso for the most in baseball while his 28 walks are tied for fifth in the Majors. His 32 RBI ranks fourth on the Senior Circuit and he already has a league-leading four games with two or more home runs this season. The Dodgers have the best home record in the National League (16-7, .696) and last night saw their season high 10-game home winning streak come to an end. Los Angeles enters play today with a season-high tying 3.0-game lead on the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West. The Dodgers have the second best run differential in the National League (+53), trailing just the Atlanta Braves (+61). Dodger catcher Will Smith had the night off Tuesday, but went 2-for-6 with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored Monday night. He’s hitting .400 (10-for-25) with three homers, two doubles, seven RBI and three walks during his current six-game hitting streak. The Dodgers are 19-6 (.760) when Smith is in the starting lineup this year.

MAY DAY: Dodger right-hander Dustin May is seeking to extend his career high in wins, gunning for his fifth victory. May hasn’t lost a decision since April 11 in San Francisco and last outing gave up two runs on five hits in 6.2 innings vs. the Padres (no-decision). He has never faced the Twins in his career. May’s 0.94 WHIP ranks third in the National League and his .171 opponents’ average (28-for-164) ranks second. The native of Texas boasts an opponents’ OPS of .501, which leads the NL and ranks second in the Major Leagues (Eduardo Rodriguez, .481).

RELIEF REPORT: The Dodger bullpen had to cover 5.0 innings last night and allowed three runs on four hits while striking out five. Since allowing a season high-matching eight runs on April 26 at PIT (also, April 21 at CHC), the Dodger ‘pen has posted a 2.81 ERA (21 ER/67.1 IP) with 77 strikeouts against 30 walks. The bullpen is among the leaders in multiple categories since April 27, including ERA (3rd), batting average against (.185, 2nd), opponents slugging percentage (.288, 2nd) opponents OBP (.280, 2nd) and opponents OPS (.568, T-1st). Caleb Ferguson currently has a Dodger season high 11.2-inning scoreless streak and since being recalled on April 22, Victor González has fired 10.1 scoreless innings.

FABULOUS FREDDIE: Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3 and drove in the Dodgers’ only run last night, his 22nd RBI of the season, which is tied with Will Smith for fourth on the team. Freeman did not score a run, snapping his Dodger season-high of eight straight contests with a run. Freeman is tied with Matt Olson and Alex Verdugo for third in the Major Leagues with 35 runs scored, trailing just Ronald Acuña Jr. (38) and Marcus Semien (36). With 299 career homers, he’s on the doorstep of 300 and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, would become just the fifth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat in a Dodger uniform:

Duke Snider JULY 7, 1957 Ebbets Field Dick Drott, Cubs
Gil Hodges April 23, 1958 L. A. Coliseum Dick Drott, Cubs
Gary Sheffield July 21, 2001 Coors Field Denny Neagle, Rockies
Adrian Gonzalez Aug. 8, 2016 Dodger Stadium Junichi Tazawa, Red Sox

WE’RE GOING INTERLEAGUEING!: This series marks the first Interleague tilt of the season for the Dodgers in the new balanced schedule format, which will see the club play 46 games vs. the AL. Last season, the Boys in Blue went 15-5 (.750) vs. the American League, which was tied for the best mark in baseball with Milwaukee. Since the beginning of Interleague play in 1997, the Dodgers hold a 240-216 record (.526 winning percentage), which is the best mark amongst National League teams. Los Angeles is 14-7 all-time vs. Minnesota in Interleague play, including an 8-2 mark at Dodger Stadium.

LONG BALLS: The Dodgers failed to hit a home run last night, snapping their season-high tying streak of nine straight with a big fly. The club has 71 homers on the season, which is second in the Majors, behind only the Tampa Bay Rays (84). The Dodgers have recorded 3+ homers in 13 games this season, which is one behind the Rays for the most in the Majors. Los Angeles is also second in the Majors with 34 games with at least one homer, behind the Rays (38), who have homered in all but five games this season.

2023 NOTES:

  • Notched his fourth win of the season on May 6 against the Padres, tossing six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and one walk while sitting down six…tied his season-high strikeouts
  • Ranks third in the National League in WHIP at 0.942 and second in the NL in opponents’ batting average at .171
  • Texas native took the mound in five games (four starts) during Cactus League play, posting a 5-4 record with 2.95 ERA (6 ER/18.1 IP) and 20 strikeouts against just seven walks…pitched in Spring Training for the first time since 2021…missed 2022 while recovering from Tommy John surgery

vs. TWINS:

  • Will make his first career start against Twins today
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