Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins (77-70) at Chicago White Sox (56-91)


THE TWINS: After completed their six-game homestand with a record of 3-3 (2-1 vs. New York- NL and 1-2 vs. Tampa Bay), the Twins began their penultimate roadtrip of the season with a win over the White Sox last night in Chicago…tonight, Minnesota will play the second of four at Guaranteed Rate Field and complete the series on Sunday afternoon…after this series, the Twins will travel to Cincinnati to play the Reds for three games from Monday-Wednesday… the Twins have gone 43-32 at home and 34-38 on the road. The Twins have gone 7-4 in their last 11 road games and have won four of their last five series away from Target Field. Of the 15 remaining games, the Twins have an opponent winning percentage of .408, the second-lowest strength of schedule in baseball (San Diego – .404)…Cincinnati (76-72) is the only remaining team on the schedule with a winning record…Twins also will play Chicago-AL (56-91), Los Angeles-AL (68-79), Oakland (46-100) and Colorado (53-92).

TWINS PILE ON LATE IN CHICAGO: The Twins beat the White Sox last night at Guaranteed Rate Field by a score of 10-2…Kenta Maeda (5-7) was the starter and winner, allowing two runs on four hits in 7.0 innings pitched (tied season high), with one walk and eight strikeouts…the offense recorded 10 hits (5 XBH) while scoring eight runs in the final three innings…Edouard Julien (13), Royce Lewis (13) and Kyle Farmer (11) each homered for Minnesota.

CENTRAL FOCUS: Last night’s victory in Chicago lowered the Twins’ magic number to eight (Cleveland did not play)…Minnesota enters today at 77-70 with a 8.0 game lead on the Guardians, who sit at 69-78…below is a brief look at Minnesota and Cleveland:

Minnesota 77-70 – – Beat CWS, 10-2 at CWS (Ober vs. Scholtens) 3 at CIN (9/18-20)
Cleveland 69-78 8.0 Off Day at TEX (Giolito vs. Gray) 3 at KC (9/18-20)

OBER TIME: The Twins have recalled right-handed pitcher Bailey Ober from Triple-A St. Paul… Ober, who was optioned from Minnesota to St. Paul on August 28, made one start during his most recent stint with the Saints, allowing one run on three hits in 5.0 innings pitched, with no walks and three strikeouts on September 9 at Louisville…in 22 starts for the Twins this season, Ober has gone 6-6, 3.67 ERA (122.2 IP, 50 ER), 26 walks, 120 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP…to make room on the 28-man roster, the Twins have optioned left-handed pitcher Brent Headrick to St. Paul…Headrick appeared in four games during his most recent stint with Minnesota, going 1-0, 6.75 ERA (5.1 IP, 4 ER), one walk and four strikeouts.

SECOND HALF SWINGS: Since the All-Star break, the Twins have gone 32-24, the fifth-most wins in the AL, trailing Baltimore (37-20), Seattle (36-21), Houston (33-23) and Tampa Bay (33-22)…below are the offensive numbers and MLB ranks pre-All-Star break vs. post-All-Star break:

PRE: .232 (25) 4.2 (24) 708 (22) 115 (8) 297 (16) .309 (25) .400 (20) .709 (22) 1219 (20) .167 (10)
POST:.256 (13) 5.5 (6) 491 (10) 95 (3) 224 (T-2) .341 (5) .467 (4) .809 (5) 897 (5) .211 (2)

STRIKE ZONE DEFENSE: Kenta Maeda struck out eight batters last night, giving the Twins starters 876 strikeouts, setting a new club record…the Twins staff enters today with 1,380 strikeouts on the season, second most in Twins/Senators franchise history (since 1901)…they are on pace to strike out 1,520 hitters this season…below are the pitching staff rankings (left) and starting staff rankings (right) in Twins history:

1) 2019 ………………………………………….1,463 1) 2023…………………………………………….. 876
2) 2023 ………………………………………….1,380 2) 1967…………………………………………….. 870
3) 2018 ………………………………………….1,377 3) 2019…………………………………………….. 844
4) 2022 ………………………………………….1,336 4) 1964…………………………………………….. 777
5) 2021 ………………………………………….1,317 5) 1968…………………………………………….. 762

ADDITIONALLY: Twins starters lead baseball in strikeouts, while the entire staff ranks second in baseball, trailing Atlanta (1,387).

ROOKIES THAT RAKE: Royce Lewis is hitting .323 (54-for-167) with 11 home runs, 39 RBI and a .943 OPS in his last 45 games…he leads MLB in RBI (29) since August 23 and tied for third in homers (9) since that date. Edouard Julien has posted an .868 OPS in his last 54 games, since July 8…he has drawn a walk in seven-straight games, tied with Tim Teufel (1984) and Kent Hrbek (1982) for third-longest streak by a Twins rookie (since 1961), trailing Josmil Pinto (10 – 2014) and Rich Rollins
(8 – 1962)…since the All-Star break, he has drawn 36 walks, tied for seventh most in MLB. Matt Wallner has .353 on-base percentage, a .512 slugging percentage and an .865 OPS in his last 53 games…additionally, he has reached safely in 15 of his last 16 games. Below are AL rookie rankings among hitters with a minimum of 200 plate appearances:

Lewis – .300 Julien – .382 Lewis – .885 Lewis – 141.1 Lewis – .379 Y. Diaz – .538
Yoshida – .289 Noda – .378 Casas – .856 Gelof – 134.6 Casas – .372 Lewis – .530
Y. Diaz – .286 Casas – .367 Gelof – .851 Julien – 132.6 Wallner – .371 Gelof – .519
Fermin – .281 Lewis – .355 Y. Diaz – .847 Y. Diaz – 128.6 Julien – .369 Henderson – .500
Jung – .274 Caballero – .348 Julien – .842 Wallner – 128.1 Y. Diaz – .367 Casas – .490
M. Garcia – .273 Wallner – .348 Wallner – .834 Casas – 128.0 Noda – .360 Jung – .489

TWINS-SOX: Twins and White Sox are playing the 11th of 13 meetings this season…Minnesota has gone 7-3 against the Sox this season, going 5-1 at Target Field and 2-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field…the Twins have outscored the Sox this season 50-32…last night’s win secured the season series win for Minnesota for the second-straight year (10-9 in 2022). Minnesota has won five straight over Chicago, their longest streak since taking seven straight from August 10, 2021-July 5, 2022. Since 2015, the Twins have gone 85-68 against the Sox, their most wins against any opponent in that span. Since 2019, no opponent has homered at Guaranteed Rate Field more than the Twins, with 77 (next is Kansas City with 46). Christian Vázquez is hitting .328 (40-for-122) with seven doubles, one home run, 17 RBI, 10 walks, a .379 on-base percentage and a .789 OPS in 39 career games vs. the Sox…Vázquez is hitting .355 (22-for-62) with an .863 OPS in 20 career games at Guaranteed Rate…in his last 14 games here, he has reached base 23 times in 47 plate appearances (.489 OBP). Alex Kirilloff is hitting .324 (23-for-71) with six doubles, three home runs, 17 RBI and an .895 OPS in 19 career games vs. the Sox… he has driven in 15 runs in his last 11 games against Chicago…he is slashing 353/.353/.588 in nine career games at GRF. Jorge Polanco is hitting .310 (31-for-100) with three doubles, seven home runs, 23 RBI and a .952 OPS in his last 25 games on the South Side…he has driven in 15 runs in his last 10 games here…Polo’s 14 career homers and 44 career RBI at Guaranteed Rate are his most in any opposing ballpark.

2023: 6-6, 3.67 ERA CAREER: 11-12, 3.75 ERA

Making his 23rd start of the season and 10th road start…also his 54th career start and appearance. Facing the White Sox for the second time this season and the 10th time in his career…is 2-1, 3.33 ERA (46.0 IP, 17 ER) with 10 walks and 50 strikeouts in his nine previous starts. Making his first major league start since being recalled from Triple-A St. Paul earlier today. Selected by the Twins in the 12th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the College of Charleston.

LAST START: Did not factor into the decision in his last major league start on August 27 vs. Texas, a 13-inning, 7-6 Twins’ victory at Target Field…pitched 4.0 innings and allowed five runs on five hits (2 HR), with one walk and four strikeouts…worked a 1-2-3 first inning…allowed solo home run to J.P. Martínez in the second inning…yielded his first career grand slam to Jonah Heim in the fourth inning… relieved by Dallas Keuchel, who pitched 5.0 scoreless innings…the Twins tied the game in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Donovan Solano off Aroldis Chapman…Emilio Pagán entered in the 12th inning and yielded a sacrifice fly to Corey Seager…the Twins walked off the game in the 13th inning after a bases-loaded walk issued to Michael A. Taylor by Jonathan Hernández. Has yielded 11 home runs in his last eight starts, setting a new career high over an eight-game span (previously, 10, June 22-August 6, 2021). Has pitched 5.0-or-fewer innings in six-consecutive starts; marks the second-longest streak of his career…is 0-2, 6.75 ERA (28.0 IP, 21 ER) with eight walks, 30 strikeouts and a .328 (39-for-119) opponent batting average in that span.

TWO STARTS AGO: Did not factor into the decision on August 22 at Milwaukee, a 7-3 Twins’ defeat at American Family Field…pitched 5.0 innings and allowed two runs on two hits (1 HR), with a career-high tying three walks and three strikeouts; has issued career-high walks in back-to-back starts… allowed both runs on a two-run home run to Willy Adames in the first inning…retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced after the home run; the only hit he allowed was a double to Christian Yelich in the third inning…relieved by Dylan Floro in the sixth inning who permitted five runs on six hits; permitted RBI singles to Mark Canha, Tyrone Taylor and Brice Turang, then Brian Anderson hit a two-run single after Turang stole second…Floro ended the inning after a flyball by Joey Wiemer and a strikeout to Yelich…Oliver Ortega entered the game in the seventh but exited with injury…Cole Sands entered and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings.

ACROSS THE RIVER: In his five starts with Triple-A St. Paul this season, Ober went 2-1, 2.38 ERA (22.2 IP, 6 ER) with six walks and 25 strikeouts…in his last start with the Saints on September 9, Ober did not factor into the decision in a 4-3 St. Paul defeat at Louisville; pitched 5.0 innings and allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts…yielded a sacrifice fly to Matt Reynolds in the second inning.

THERE’S A LIGHT ON IN CHICAGO: Facing the White Sox for the second time this season and the 10th time in his career…is 2-1, 3.33 ERA (46.0 IP, 17 ER) with 10 walks and 50 strikeouts in his nine previous appearances…last faced Chicago-AL on July 23 at Target Field; did not factor into the decision despite recording a quality start, pitching 6.0 innings and allowed three runs (2 earned) on five hits (2 home runs), with no walks and six strikeouts…surrendered solo home runs to Eloy Jiménez in the second inning and Zach Remillard in the third inning…yielded an RBI single to Remillard in the fifth inning (run was unearned after Oscar Colás advanced to third base on a throwing error by Ryan Jeffers).

His nine starts and 50 strikeouts against the White Sox are his most against any opponent in his career. Owns the lowest opponent batting average against the White Sox (.208) since 2021 (min. 6 GS). Made his major league debut against the White Sox at Target Field on May 18, 2021…did not factor into the decision in a 5-4 Twins’ victory after pitching 4.0 innings and allowing four runs on five hits (2 HR), with one walk and four strikeouts.

BACK TO THE ROAD: Ober is making his 10th road start of 2023 tonight…Twins have won five of his nine road starts this year, with Ober going 4-3, 3.86 ERA (51.1 IP, 22 ER) with nine walks, 57 strikeouts and five quality starts…is 2-3, 3.53 ERA (71.1 IP, 28 ER) with 17 walks and 63 strikeouts in 13 home starts this season.

LEFT AND RIGHT: Left-handed hitters are batting .240 (58-for-242) with 16 walks and 54 strikeouts against Ober this season…right-handed hitters are hitting .249 (55-for-221) with 10 walks and 66 strikeouts…lefties went 3-for-13 with two home runs and five RBI in his last start on August 27 vs. Texas, while righties went 2-for-4…in his career, left-handed hitters are batting .259/.316/.409 with 112 strikeouts against Ober…righties are hitting .234/.263/.451 with 155 strikeouts. Owns the 15th-lowest opponent slugging percentage against lefties (.364) among American League pitchers (min. 22 GS).

ARSENAL: Ober has used a four-pitch mix in his 22 starts of the 2023 season, per Baseball Savant… mostly uses his slider against righties while relying on his changeup and curveball against lefties… recorded two of his four strikeouts on his fastball in his last start on August 27 vs. Texas…also allowed a home run on a fastball and a changeup…here’s a look at his repertoire:

4-Seam Fastball (91.3)………. 46.0% (899 pitches, 408/491)…. .250 (49-for-196), 11 2B, 10 HR, 54 K
Changeup (83.6)……………….. 26.2% (512 pitches, 185/327)… .250 (36-for-144), 5 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 34 K
Slider (81.2)……………………… 20.5% (401 pitches, 295/106)….. .244 (22-for-90), 7 2B, 5 HR, 28 K
Curveball (77.6)………………….. 7.3% (143 pitches, 35/108)……………….. .182 (6-for-33), 1 2B, 4 K

Despite a .250 opponent batting average on his fastball, he has an xBA of .216, the seventh lowest in the majors (min. 200 PA)…the .034 point difference is the seventh largest in baseball. His .240 opponent batting average across all of his secondary pitches (changeup, slider and curveball) is the 14th lowest in the American League (min. 250 PA).

WALK WITH ME: Despite owning a career-high 5.2 walk percentage this season, Ober ranks in the 91st percentile across baseball and second on the Twins pitching staff. AOber has issued 37 walks since the beginning of last season, the second fewest among any pitcher in the majors (min. 175.0 IP), trailing SF’s Ross Stripling (31)…is averaging 1.86 walks-per-9.0 innings in that span, 10th fewest in the majors (min. 175.0 IP). After walking zero batters in four games from July 18 at Seattle to August 4 vs. Arizona, Ober has issued eight walks in his last four starts, tied for the second-most walks issued in such a span in his career (9, June 22-July 10, 2021). AEnters tonight with a career 4.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio (267 K, 56 BB), second lowest in Twins history (1961-present, min. 250.0 IP), behind Phil Hughes (5.71).


The Chicago White Sox have lost fi ve of the last six games, 10 of 13, 22 of 31 and 34 of 49 as they continue the penultimate homestand of the season tonight vs. fi first-place Minnesota. RHP Jesse Scholtens is scheduled to start tonight’s game for the White Sox, who are a season-high 35 games under .500 and have been officially eliminated from postseason contention. The Sox are 1-3 on the homestand, falling last night to the Twins after losing two of three to last-place Kansas City. 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 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. Sox starters have allowed three earned runs or less in six of the last eight games, and just six home runs overall. Chicago has lost five consecutive games vs. Minnesota, its longest streak since 8/10/21-7/5/22 (seven in a row). The White Sox are 35-plus games below the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 2018 season (62-100). Jesse Scholtens is 0-3 with a 7.54 ERA (19 ER/22.2 IP) and 1.85 WHIP over his last five starts since 8/19 at Colorado. Yoán Moncada has reached safely in 21 of his last 22 games with a plate app., batting .346/.384/.556 (28-81) with four homers, 16 RBI, five walks, six multihit eff orts and a .939 OPS. Andrew Vaughn is 12-34 (.353) with three doubles, three homers, six RBI and a 1.077 OPS over his last nine games.

Chicago has been held homerless in eight of its last 13 games, hitting just nine home runs total during that span. The White Sox own just three multihomer eff orts over their last 17 games since 8/27 vs. Oakland (last 9/6 at Kansas City). Chicago this season is 44-52 when homering, 23-17 in multihomer games and 12-39 when homerless.

Chicago is 3-7 vs. Minnesota in 2023, going 1-5 at Target Field and 2-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field … the two clubs split the first six games before the Twins current five-game winning streak. The White Sox are hitting .216/.273/.343 with 11 home runs, and own a 3.27 ERA (34 ER/93.2 IP) with five quality starts … the Sox have been outscored by a 50-32 margin. Chicago is 30-28 vs. Minnesota since the start of the 2020 season (19-11 at home) after going 20-37 from 2017-19. The White Sox have gone 15-8 at Guaranteed Rate Field since the start of 2021, including 11 games decided by three or less. The Sox are 1-5-1 in the last seven season series since 2017.

Andrew Benintendi has hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games vs. the Twins, going 26-81 (.321) with a home run and five RBI. Eloy Jiménez is 12-29 (.414) with three home runs and seven RBI in seven games vs. Minnesota this season. Yoán Moncada has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games vs. Minnesota (.314, 22-70, 7 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 15 R, .928 OPS). Luis Robert Jr. is 15-53 (.283) with four doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI and a .941 OPS in his last 14 games vs. the Twins.

Is scheduled to make his 11th start (25th appearance) of the season and first (third) against Minnesota. Ranks among American League rookies (minimum 75.0 IP) in first-strike percentage (2nd, 66.0), quality starts (T9th, three), and ERA (10th, 4.44). Went 0-3 with a 2.88 ERA (8 ER/25.0 IP) in eight appearances (three starts) from 7/16-8/6. Recorded three consecutive quality starts from 8/1-12, tied for the longest streak by a Sox pitcher this season. Has held opponents to a .185 (15-81) average with eight walks and 20 strikeouts in his first inning pitched. Made his MLB debut on 4/7/23 at Pittsburgh, a day after his 29th birthday, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts over 3.0 IP in relief. Signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training with the White Sox on 12/20/22 … had his contract selected on 4/7, was optioned to Class AAA Charlotte on 4/13 and recalled on 5/22. Was originally selected by San Diego in the ninth round of the 2016 draft out of Wright State (Ohio) University.

Suffered his second straight loss on 9/10 at Detroit after allowing three runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 5.0 IP. Has lost six straight decisions since 7/23 … exited in the sixth inning with the White Sox trailing, 3-2, the eventual final score. Owned a 58.3 first-strike percentage and 6.3 swinging-strike percentage (eight swing and misses) vs. 24 batters … threw 83 pitches (50 strikes) with the following pitch breakdown: 48 four-seam fastballs (92.6 mph avg; 94.0 mph max), 27 sliders (85.6 avg; 87.0 max), 15 curveballs (74.1 avg; 75.0 max) and five changeups (85.4 avg; 86.6 max).

Is the only MLB pitcher (minimum 125 PA) who hasn’t surrendered a home run to a left-handed hitter this year. Is looking to become the 12th White Sox pitcher (14th
time) to accomplish the feat in a single season and first since Carlos Rodón and Chris Sale (2015). Is limiting left-handed hitters to a .212/.283/.255 (29- 137) slash line with 13 walks and 27 strikeouts in 2023.

Is 0-6 with a 5.10 ERA (27 ER/47.2 IP) in his last 13 games (eight starts), holding opponents to two earned runs or less in eight with three scoreless efforts. Has tallied a career-high six strikeouts two of his last eight starts, recording at least two strikeouts in eight of his last nine outings. Leads the team and ranks second among MLB rookie pitchers with a 66.6 first pitch strike percentage (minimum 75. IP).

Is 0-5 with a 5.44 ERA (30 ER/49.2 IP), .315 (64-203) opponents average, 15 walks and 33 strikeouts in 10 starts (three quality), compared to a 1-3 record with a 2.76 ERA (9 ER/29.1 IP), .213 (23-108) opponents average, 10 walks and 19 strikeouts in 14 relief outings this year. Is 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA (11 ER/16.0 IP) in three home starts in 2023.

Has forced hitters to ground into eight double plays, tied for ninth-most among American League rookies. His 0.91 GIDP/9 (8 GIDP/ 79.0 IP) ranks ninth among
AL rookies.

Recorded three consecutive quality starts from 8/1-12, tied for the longest streak by a White Sox pitcher this year … Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn also have recorded three straight QS this season.

Is scheduled to make his first career start (third appearance) against the Minnesota Twins and first outing at Guaranteed Rate Field. Is 0-2 in his two relief appearances against Minnesota, allowing two unearned runs in 0.2 IP with three hits, one walk (intentional) and no strikeouts. Is 0-5 with a 4.50 ERA (13 ER/26.0 IP), .324 (33-102) opponents average, nine walks and 17 strikeouts in eight appearances (four starts) against the American League Central … seven of his eight outings against the A.L. Central have come on the road.

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