Tuesday, September 26, 2023
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins (76-70) at Chicago White Sox (56-90)


THE TWINS: Completed their six-game homestand with a record of 3-3, going 2-1 vs. New York-NL and 1-2 vs. Tampa Bay…tonight, Minnesota will begin its penultimate roadtrip of the season with the first of four against the White Sox through the weekend…after this series, Minnesota will travel to Cincinnati to play the Reds three times from Monday-Wednesday… the Twins have gone 43-32 at home and 33-38 on the road. The Twins have gone 6-4 in their last 10 road games and have won three of their last four series away from Target Field. Of the 16 remaining games, the Twins have an opponent winning percentage of .407, the second-lowest strength of schedule in baseball (San Diego – .405)…Cincinnati (76-71) is the only remaining team on the schedule with a winning record…Twins also will play Chicago-AL (56-90), Los Angeles-AL (68-79), Oakland (46-100) and Colorado (53-92).

TWINS CAN’T SECURE SERIES WIN OVER TAMPA: The Twins lost to the Rays yesterday afternoon at Target Field by a score of 5-4, dropping the three-game series two games to one…Dallas Keuchel was the starter but did not factor into the decision, allowing four runs on six hits in 4.0 innings pitched…Griffin Jax (6-10) was dealt the loss, allowing a solo home run to Randy Arozarena in the top of the ninth inning…the offense recorded five hits and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position…Max Kepler drove in two runs with a triple, while Matt Wallner (12) and Kyle Farmer (10) both added solo home runs.

TWINS-SOX: Twins and White Sox are playing the 10th of 13 meetings this season… Minnesota has gone 6-3 against the Sox this season, going 5-1 at Target Field and 1-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field…the Twins have outscored the Sox this season 40-30…three of the nine games have been played in extra innings. Minnesota has won four straight over Chicago, their longest streak since taking seven straight from August 10, 2021-July 5, 2022. Since 2015, the Twins have gone 84-68 against the Sox, their most wins against any opponent in that span. Five of the nine games between these two teams this season have been decided by one run and seven have been decided by two runs-or-fewer. Christian Vázquez is hitting .336 (40-for-119) with seven doubles, one home run, 17 RBI, nine walks, a .383 on-base percentage and an .803 OPS in 38 career games vs. the Sox. Notable hitters vs. Sox pitching this season: Ryan Jeffers is 7-for-17 (.412) with one triple, one home run and two walks…Willi Castro is 4-for-10 (.400) with two doubles and a walk… Alex Kirilloff is 4-for-12 (.333) with one home run, five RBI and two walks.

BUT THERE’S NO GUARANTEE ON THE BOX: The Twins have gone 1-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field…their last series here came May 2-4, playing two extra-inning games. Since 2019, no opponent has homered at Guaranteed Rate Field more than the Twins, with 74 (next is Kansas City with 46). Jorge Polanco is hitting .316 (30-for-95) with three doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI and a .979 OPS in his last 24 games on the South Side…he has driven in 14 runs in his last nine games here…Polo’s 14 career homers and 43 career RBI at Guaranteed Rate are his most in any opposing ballpark. Christian Vázquez is hitting .373 (22-for-59) with an .896 OPS in 19 career games at Guar- anteed Rate…in his last 13 games here, he has reached base 22 times in 43 plate appear- ances (.512 OBP)…two of his six four-hit games (career high) have come in this ballpark.

CENTRAL FOCUS: Despite the loss yesterday, the Twins lowered their magic number to nine after a Cleveland defeat in San Francisco…Minnesota enters today at 76-70 with a 7.5 game lead on the Guardians, who sit at 69-78…below is a brief look at Minnesota and Cleveland:

Minnesota 76-70 – – Lost to TB 4-5 at CWS (Maeda vs. Ureña) 3 at CIN (9/18-20)
Cleveland 69-78 7.5 Lost to SF 5-6 OFF DAY 3 vs. TEX (9/15-17)
NOTE: Cleveland has gone 3-8 in their last 11 games and 23-34 since the All-Star break, while Minnesota has gone 7-5 in their last 12 and 31-24 since the break.

STRIKE ZONE DEFENSE: Twins pitchers enter today with 1,370 strikeouts on the season, third most in Twins/Senators franchise history (since 1901)…they are on pace to strike out 1,520 hitters this season…the starters have struck out an MLB-best 868 batters and are on pace to strike out 963 hitters this season…below are the pitching staff rankings (left) and starting staff rankings (right) in Twins history:

1) 2019 ………………………………………….1,463 1) 1967…………………………………………….. 870
2) 2018 ………………………………………….1,377 2) 2023…………………………………………….. 868
3) 2023 ………………………………………….1,370 3) 2019…………………………………………….. 844
4) 2022 ………………………………………….1,336 4) 1964…………………………………………….. 777
5) 2021 ………………………………………….1,317 5) 1968…………………………………………….. 762

KEPLER ON DRUMS: Since the All-Star break, Max Kepler is hitting .299 (56-for-187) with 15 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 29 RBI, 19 walks, a .365 on-base percentage, a .561 slugging percentage and a .927 OPS in 53 games (Twins 30-23 in those games). Among all AL qualified players since the break, he ranks 12th in OPS, 13th in slugging percentage, 15th in isolated power (.262) and 17th in batting average.

POLANCO ON BASS: Jorge Polanco has reached safely in 17 of his last 18 games, hitting .313 (20-for-64) with four doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI, 13 walks, a .423 on-base percentage, a .563 slugging percentage and a .986 OPS in that span…additionally, he has driven in 12 runs in his last 14 games, since August 26.

ROYCE ON LEAD GUITAR: After starting the season hitting .182 (6-for-33) with a .576 OPS in his first eight games, Royce Lewis has hit .325 (53-for-163) with a .931 OPS in his last 44 games. Since August 23, his 27 RBI are tied with Trea Turner for the most in baseball…additionally, his eight home runs since that date are tied for fifth-most in baseball with Matt Olson, trailing Trea Turner (12), Kyle Schwarber (10), Ronald Acuña Jr. (9) and Julio Rodríguez (9). Among all MLB rookies with a minimum of 200 plate appearances, Lewis ranks first in batting average (.301), OPS (.874), OPS+ (138.4) and at-bats-per-RBI (4.45), and second in wOBA (.376) and slugging percentage (.520).

WALLNER ON TRIANGLE: Matt Wallner hit his 12th home run of the season yesterday, all of those home runs coming in 186 plate appear- ances since May 27…since that date, he has an at-bat-per-home run ratio of 13.17, the best in baseball among players with a minimum of 150 ABs…among all AL rookies with a minimum of 175 plate appearances this season, he ranks second in isolated power (.278), fifth in OPS (.862) and sixth in slugging percentage (.513).

2023: 4-7, 4.65 ERA CAREER: 63-48, 3.96 ERA

Making his 19th start and appearance of 2023, as well as his 11th road start…also his 188th career appearance and 154th start. Facing Chicago-AL for the second time this season and seventh time in his career…took the loss on April 10 vs. the White Sox in a 4-3 Twins’ defeat at Target Field (6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R/ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 3 K). Is in his fourth season with the Twins after being acquired in 2020, along with Jair Camargo, from Los Angeles-NL in exchange for Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley.

LAST TIME OUT: Snapped a five-start streak without a victory, earning the win on September 9 vs. New York-NL in the Twins’ 8-4 victory at Target Field…pitched 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on five hits (1 HR), with one walk and two strikeouts…allowed a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo in the top of the first, the second leadoff homer he has allowed this year (also, April 20 at Boston – Alex Verdugo) and fifth of his career…fired 4.1 scoreless innings after yielding two runs in the first inning…was relieved by Kody Funderburk in the top of the sixth following a one-out walk to Daniel Vogelbach; Twins scored five runs off New York-NL’s bullpen as Minnesota claimed the series victory. Earned the win despite striking out just two batters, doing so for the first time in his career as a starter…his two strikeouts tied for his second-lowest single-game total of the year (also, April 26 vs. New York-AL), trailing only his zero-strikeout start on April 20 at Boston. Has yielded at least one home run in 10-consecutive starts, the longest streak of his career and the longest such streak by a Twins starter since Griffin Jax in 2021 (also 10-game streak).

TWO STARTS AGO: Took his fourth-consecutive no-decision on September 3 at Texas in a 6-5 Twins’ loss at Globe Life Field…allowed three runs on nine hits (1 HR) in 5.0 innings, with two walks and three strikeouts…yielded a three-run home run to former Twin Mitch Garver in the first inning, then tossed 4.0 scoreless innings to complete his start…failed to record a 1-2-3 inning but stranded seven runners on base, including two in the first, second and third innings…was relieved by Cole Sands to start the bottom of the sixth with the score tied 3-3; Twins bullpen allowed three earned runs in 3.0-plus innings pitched, and the Rangers won on a walk-off solo homer by Adolis García.

SOX STATS: Facing Chicago-AL for the second time this year and seventh time in his career…is 2-2, 5.58 ERA (30.2 IP, 19 ER) with nine walks and 27 strikeouts in six previous starts vs. the White Sox…lost to Chicago-AL on April 10 at Target Field in a 4-3 Twins’ defeat; pitched 6.0 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits (1 HR), with no walks and three strikeouts…retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced before allowing four runs in the fourth inning on four singles and a three-run homer by Hanser Alberto. Seeking his first win against the White Sox since July 26, 2020, when he earned the victory in a 14-2 Twins’ win at Guaranteed Rate Field (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 6 K); marked his first start as a Twin in Minnesota’s third game of the shortened 2020 season…is 0-2, 6.97 ERA (20.2 IP, 16 ER) in four starts vs. Chicago-AL since then, with the Twins going 0-4 in those games.

AGAINST THE CENTRAL: Maeda is 2-3, 4.14 ERA (37.0 IP, 17 ER) with eight walks and 40 strikeouts in seven starts vs. American League Central opponents this season…since becoming a Twin in 2020, he is 9-6 against the AL Central with a 3.69 ERA (131.2 IP, 54 ER), 29 walks, 151 strikeouts and a .218 (106-for-486) opponent batting average in 24 starts…his 10.32 strikeouts-per-9.0 inning ratio vs. the AL Central since 2020 is seventh best in baseball in that span (min. 15 GS).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Making his 11th road start of the season tonight…is 1-5 with a 3.42 ERA (47.1 IP, 18 ER), 16 walks and 56 strikeouts in 10 road starts this year…his 10.65 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings ratio on the road ranks seventh in the American League in 2023 (min. 45.0 IP)…Twins have lost his last four road starts despite Maeda posting a 3.86 ERA (21.0 IP, 9 ER)…is 3-2, 6.05 ERA (41.2 IP, 28 ER) with eight walks and 40 strikeouts in eight starts at Target Field this season. Pitching at Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time since June 29, 2021; took the loss in a 7-6 Twins’ defeat (4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R/ER, career-high-tying 5 BB, 4 K)…is 2-1, 5.47 ERA (24.2 IP, 15 ER) with nine walks and 24 strikeouts in five career starts at Chicago-AL. In 100 career road appearances (84 starts), he is 27-27, 4.57 ERA (435.0 IP, 221 ER) with 140 walks and 475 strikeouts…is 36-21, 3.31 ERA (416.0 IP, 153 ER) with 104 walks and 455 strikeouts in 87 career home appearances (69 starts).

THE ARSENAL: Has used a five-pitch mix this year, mostly using his slider, split finger and 4-seam fastball, throwing the trio 90.0 percent of the time…favors his split finger (281/452 – 62.2%) against lefties and mostly uses his slider (276/455 – 60.7%) and sinker (90/91 – 98.9%) against righties… recorded both his strikeouts in his last start on September 9 vs. New York-NL with his split finger… here’s a breakdown of his repertoire:

Slider (81.6)……………………. 31.4% (455 pitches, 276/179)………. .248 (29-for-117), 11 2B, 8 HR, 34 K Split Finger (84.1)……………. 31.2% (452 pitches, 171/281)………… .204 (23-for-113), 1 2B, 3 HR, 36 K 4-Seam Fastball (91.0)…….. 27.4% (398 pitches, 188/210)….. .296 (24-for-81), 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 26 K Sinker (90.3) ……………………….. 6.3% (91 pitches, 90/1) ………………………… .391 (9-for-23), 1 2B, 1 HR Curveball (76.4)………………….. 3.7% (54 pitches, 10/44)…………………………………. .375 (3-for-8), 1 HR

Has averaged 91.3 mph on his four-seam fastball in his last seven starts, a 0.7-mph increase from his four-seam fastball average in his first 11 starts this season (90.6).

SPLIT, THE DIFFERENCE: Has accumulated a run value of five on his split finger this year, the sixth- highest run value on a splitter in the American League and 10th highest in baseball this season… opposing hitters have an expected slugging percentage of .318 and an xwOBA of .265 off Maeda’s splitter this year…also owns a 33.9 percent whiff rate on his splitter in 2023, his highest whiff rate on the pitch since 2020 (45.6%). His 36 strikeouts with his split finger are the seventh most in the AL this year.

DOUBLE PLAY DANDY: Maeda has induced 10 groundball double plays this season, the second most on the Twins pitching staff (Sonny Gray – 13)…has averaged 1.01 groundball double plays-per-9.0 innings this year, the 10th-highest double play average in the American League (min. 15 GS).

SHARP IN SEPTEMBER: In 37 career appearances in September (14 starts), Maeda is 9-4 with a 3.55 ERA (99.0 IP, 39 ER), 22 walks and 116 strikeouts…also has earned four of his six career saves in September…as a Twin, he is 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA (34.1 IP, 13 ER), six walks and 37 strikeouts in six September starts…his 3.41 ERA in September with Minnesota is his second-best ERA in any month since 2020 (2.61 ERA in 11 July starts with Twins).

LEFT/RIGHT: Left-handed hitters are slashing .253/.314/.398 with 44 strikeouts and a .711 OPS against Maeda this year…right-handed hitters are slashing .261/.305/.511 with 52 strikeouts and an .816 OPS…in his last start on September 9 vs. New York-NL, lefties went 5-for-19 with one home run (B. Nimmo), one walk and two strikeouts off him; righties went 0-for-2 with one hit-by-pitch. Righties are batting just .210 (343-for-1635) with a .626 OPS and 551 strikeouts vs. Maeda in his career…owns the third-lowest opponent batting average vs. righties since 2016 (min 750.0 IP), trailing only Max Scherzer (.182) and Jacob deGrom (.203); also ranks seventh in opponent OPS vs. right-handed hitters in that span. Lefties are hitting .250 (391-for-1562) with a .741 OPS and 379 strikeouts off Maeda.


The Chicago White Sox have lost four of the last five games, nine of 12, 21 of 30 and 33 of 48 as they continue the penultimate homestand of the season tonight vs. first-place Minnesota. RHP José Ureña is scheduled to start tonight’s game for the White Sox, who are a season-high 34 games under .500 and have been officially eliminated from postseason contention. The Sox opened the homestand losing two of three to Kansas City, including a 7-1 defeat in last night’s deciding contest … the two clubs split a doubleheader on Tuesday. Following this four-game series vs. the Twins, Chicago will take its final trip of the season to Washington (9/18-20) and Boston (9/22-24) … it will conclude the 2023 season with a six-game homestand vs. San Diego (9/25-27) and Arizona (9/29-10/1). The Sox went 2-4 on the last trip from 9/4-10 at Kansas City and Detroit and 0-3 on the last homestand vs. the Tigers

The White Sox have not won a home series since 8/7-9 vs. the Yankees (2-1) … their last series win vs. an American League Central opponent was on 8/4-6 at Cleveland. White Sox starters have allowed three earned runs or less in six of the last seven games, and just three home runs overall. Chicago needs to win all four games this series to avoid its second straight season series defeat to Minnesota, and fifth in the last seven seasons. The Sox are 34 games below the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 2018 season (62-100). José Ureña is making his second start with the White Sox, and fifth overall this season … he is looking for his first win since 8/30/22 at Atlanta with Colorado. Yoán Moncada has reached safely in 20 of his last 21 games, batting .346/.378/.564 (27-78) with five doubles, four homers, 16 RBI, four walks, six multihit eff orts and a .942 OPS. Andrew Vaughn is 11-30 (.367) with three doubles, two homers, four RBI and a 1.054 OPS over his last eight games.

Mike Clevinger owns a 2.94 ERA (22 ER/67.1 IP), .228 (56- 246) opp. average and 61 strikeouts over his last 12 starts … he has allowed one run or less seven times during that span. Clevinger’s 2.93 ERA is the third-lowest in the American League and ninth-lowest in MLB since 6/1 (minimum 60.0 IP) … the only AL pitchers with a lower ERA are Baltimore’s Kyle Bradish (2.66) and the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole (2.70).

White Sox CF Luis Robert Jr. (6th, 1,142.2) and LF Andrew Benintendi (7th, 1,136.2) rank among the American League outfielder leaders in innings played this season.
Benintendi leads all AL outfielders and ranks sixth among all AL players with 7,176.1 innings played since 2017.

LHP Garrett Crochet last night worked 1.0 scoreless IP in an injury rehab appearance with Class AAA Charlotte … his assignment was transferred from Class AA Birmingham (4 ER/6.0 IP; 11 SO) to Charlotte yesterday. Crochet has been on the 15-day injured list since 6/17 with left shoulder inflammation.

Chicago has been held homerless in eight of its last 12 games, hitting eight home runs total during that span. The White Sox own just three multihomer eff orts over their last 16 games since 8/27 vs. Oakland (last 9/6 at Kansas City). Chicago this season is 44-51 when homering, 23-17 in multihomer games and 12-39 when homerless.

Chicago is 3-6 vs. Minnesota in 2023, going 1-5 at Target Field and 2-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field … the two clubs split the first six games before the Twins recorded a sweep from 7/21-23. The White Sox are hitting .220/.280/.347 with 10 home runs, and own a 2.98 ERA (28 ER/84.2 IP) with fi ve quality starts … the Sox have been outscored by a 40-30 margin. Chicago is 30-27 vs. Minnesota since the start of the 2020 season (19-10 at home) after going 20-37 from 2017-19. The White Sox have gone 5-17 at Guaranteed Rate Field since the start of 2021, including 11 games decided by three or less. The Sox are 1-4-1 over the last six season series since 2017.

Andrew Benintendi has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games vs. the Twins, going 26-77 (.338) with a home run and five RBI. Eloy Jiménez is 11-25 (.440) with three home runs and seven RBI in six games vs. Minnesota this season. Yoán Moncada has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games vs. Minnesota, going 21-67 (.313) with seven doubles, four home runs, nine RBI, 14 runs scored and a .930 OPS. Luis Robert Jr. is 15-49 (.306) with four home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.014 OPS in his last 13 games vs. the Twins.

Chicago is 3-9 during its current 16-game stretch vs. American League Central opponents … this series vs. Minnesota marks the end of the club’s matchups vs. the division in 2023. The White Sox are 22-26 against the AL Central this season, including 13-9 at Guaranteed Rate Field and 9-17 on the road … they are 7-15 and have been outscored, 107-80,, since 7/21. The White Sox posted a losing record (37-39) against the division in 2022 after combining to go 69-47 in 2020-21.

Is scheduled to make his seventh start of the season, second with the White Sox, third at home and first against the Minnesota Twins. Was recalled from Class AAA Charlotte on 9/9 … went 1-1 with 3.38 ERA (8 ER/21.1 IP), .282 (22-84) opponents average and 20 strikeouts over four starts with the Knights. Signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox on 8/7 after being released by Washington on 8/3 … made 15 starts with Class AAA Rochester in the Nationals system. Made the Colorado Rockies opening day roster … went 0-4 with a 9.82 ERA (20 ER/18.1 IP), .346 (27-78) opponents average and nine strikeouts over five starts before being released by Colorado on 4/27. Has gone 39-66 with a 4.90 ERA (445 ER/817.0 IP), four saves and 548 strikeouts in 195 career games (139 starts) over nine major-league seasons with Miami (2015-2020), Detroit (2021), Milwaukee (2022) and Colorado (2022-23) … ranks among active Dominican pitchers in starts (4th), IP (5th) and wins (8th). Was originally signed by the Marlins as an international free agent on 8/29/08 out of the Dominican Republic. Last name is pronounced oo-RAIN-yuh.

Suffered the loss on 9/9 at Detroit, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 4.0 IP … surrendered an RBI single to Zach McKinstry in the second inning … threw 75 pitches (44 strikes). Departed the game in the fifth with the Sox trailing, 1-0 … Chicago lost, 3-1. Owned a 73.7 first-strike percentage and 2.7 swinging-strike percentage (three swing and misses) vs. 19 batters … threw 24 sliders (84.8 avg; 88.3 mph max), 22 sinkers (94.5 mph avg: 95.7 mph max), 18 changeups (86.5 avg; 89.9 max) and 11 four-seam fastballs (95.7 avg; 97.0 max).

Has limited right-handed batters to a .247/.319/.392 (387-1,566) slash line and 47 home runs in his career … has struck out righties 338 times. Righties are batting .239/.315/.380 (324-1,356) vs. him lifetime as a starter … has allowed 40 homers while striking out 296.

Has gone 13-42 with a 4.92 ERA (226 ER/413.2) .281 (460-1,635) opponents average and , 281 strikeouts over 95 career games (75 starts) at home. Went 2-5 with a 6.14 ERA (30 ER/44.0 IP), .302 (54- 179) opponents average and 31 strikeouts in 10 home games (eight starts) last year. Is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA (7 ER/13.2 IP), .286 (16-56) opponents average and five punchouts in three career games (two starts) at Guaranteed Rate Field. Owns a 13-40 record, 4.88 ERA (203 ER/374.1 IP), .279 (411-1473) opponents average and 260 strikeouts over 72 career home starts.

Is scheduled to make his fourth career start (fifth appearance) vs. the Minnesota Twins. Has gone winless against Minnesota in four career games (three starts) … has not completed 5.0 IP in any of his outings. Last faced the Twins on 9/28/21 at Target Field, allowing two runs on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts over 2.0 IP in relief. Is 3-5 with a 5.61 ERA (37 ER/59.1 IP), .295 (71-241) opponents average, 1.69 WHIP and 39 strikeouts over 15 career games (12 starts) against the American League Central.

Troy Wins

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