Thursday, July 18, 2024
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MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins (79-71) at Cincinnati Reds (78-73)

MINNESOTA TWINS NOTES:

THE TWINS: Have gone 3-1 through four games on their seven-game road-trip, taking a four-game series on the Southside over the weekend…tonight, the Twins will continue the trip with the first of three at Cincinnati against the Reds through Wednesday afternoon…the Twins have gone 43-32 at home and 36-39 on the road, winning nine of their last 14 games away from Target Field. Of the 12 remaining games, the Twins have an opponent winning percentage of .414, the lowest strength of schedule in baseball…Cincinnati (78-73) is the only remaining team on the schedule with a winning record…Twins also will play Los Angeles-AL (68-82), Oakland (46-103) and Colorado (56-93). The Twins are a season-high eight games over .500 for the third time this season…a win tonight would make them nine games over for the first time since July 6, 2022 (47-38).

TWINS TAKE SERIES ON SOUTHSIDE: The Twins shut out the White Sox yesterday afternoon by a score of 4-0, winning the four-game series, three games to one…the shutout marked their 11th this season, sixth away from Target Field…Sonny Gray (8-7) was the starter and winner, pitching 7.0 shutout innings, with five hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts…the offense scored all four runs off home runs, a three-run shot in the fifth inning from Edouard Julien and a solo shot in the eighth inning from Jorge Polanco…the homer for Polanco was the 111th of his career, passing Roy Smalley and moving into solo possession on the Twins all-time (since 1961) home runs list by a switch hitter.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC: Yesterday’s win in Chicago moved the Twins’ magic number to six…Minnesota enters today at 79-71 with a 7.0-game lead on the Guardians, who sit at 72-78…below is a brief look at Minnesota and Cleveland:

W-L GB YESTERDAY RESULT TODAY NEXT SERIES
Minnesota 79-71 – – Won at CWS, 4-0 at CIN (Ryan vs. Phillips) 3 vs. LAA (9/22-24) Cleveland 72-78 7.0 Won vs. TEX, 9-2 at KC (Quantrill vs. Singer) 4 vs. BAL (9/21-24)

TAYLOR MADE: The Twins have reinstated outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the 10-day Injured List…Taylor, who missed the last 14 games with a right hamstring strain, has hit .229 (75-for327) with 14 doubles, 20 home runs, 47 RBI, 21 walks, 13 stolen bases and 45 runs scored in 120 games for the Twins this season…to make room for Taylor on the 28-man roster, the Twins have designated outfielder/first baseman Jordan Luplow for release or assignment… Luplow, who was acquired off waivers from Toronto on August 4, appeared in 26 games for the Twins, hitting .235 (12-for-51) with three doubles, two home runs, four RBI, eight runs scored, seven walks, an a .339 on-base percentage.

TWINS AND REDLEGS: Minnesota and Cincinnati are playing each other for the 32nd, 33rd and 34th time in their history this week…the Twins are 15-16 all-time against the Reds, going 3-5 at Target Field, 4-4 at Great American Ball Park, 7-2 at the Metrodome and 1-5 at Cinergy Field…these two teams last met for a four-game “home and home” in 2021 as they split two games at Target Field June 21-22 and split two games at Great American Ball Park August 3-4.

NICE DOING BUSINESS WITH YOU: The Twins have several former Reds on their current 28-man roster and Injured List: Kyle Farmer played parts of four seasons with the Reds from 2019-22, playing in 421 games…Farmer was acquired by the Twins in a trade on November 18, 2022, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Casey Legumina. Donovan Solano played in 80 games for the Reds last season, his one season in Cincy. Sonny Gray pitched three seasons for the Reds from 2019-21, making 68 starts, winning 23 games…he was acquired by the Twins in a trade on March 13, 2022, along with right-handed minor league pitcher Francis Peguero, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Chase Petty. Tyler Mahle, who is on the IL recovering from Tommy John surgery, was acquired by the Twins from Cincinnati on August 2, 2022, in exchange for infielders Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer and left-handed pitcher Steve Hajjar. José De León, who is on the IL recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched in 14 games for the Reds from 2020-21.

THE NL GUYS: The Twins have gone 21-19 in Interleague Play this season, going 1-2 at Miami, 1-2 vs. Washington, 2-1 vs. San Diego, 2-1 vs. Chicago-NL, 1-2 at Los Angeles-NL, 1-2 vs. San Francisco, 2-0 vs. Milwaukee, 0-3 at Atlanta, 2-1 at St. Louis, 3-0 vs. Arizona, 2-1 at Philadelphia, 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh, 0-2 at Milwaukee and 2-1 vs. New York-NL…the Twins have gone 10-5 in their last 15 in IL Play and 14-9 in their last 23. After this series, Minnesota’s remaining 2023 IL schedule includes a trip to Colorado (September 29-October 1).

STARTER STRENGTH: Twins starters have combined to go 45-43, 3.83 ERA (836.0 IP, 356 ER) with 212 walks, 896 strikeouts and a .242 opponent batting average…below are other Twins starting pitching ranks among the MLB teams:

INNINGS QS BAA K/BB FIP WHIP K’s OPS
HOU – 836.2 MIN – 72 MIL – .226 SEA – 4.28 TB – 3.62 SEA – 1.13 MIN – 896 TB – .682
MIN – 836.0 SEA – 69 TB – .237 MIN – 4.23 MIN – 3.78 MIL – 1.16 TOR – 847 SEA – .687
SEA – 834.2 SD – 68 SEA – .239 TB – 4.14 SEA – 3.83 TB – 1.16 CWS – 827 MIL – .689
TOR – 830.1 CHC – 67 DET – .239 SF – 3.77 SF – 4.05 MIN – 1.18 ATL – 821 MIN – .701
PHI – 829.1 2 tied – 66 MIN – .242 PHI – 3.35 PHI – 4.08 PHI – 1.23 2 tied – 797 DET – .703

POLO ON THE MARK: Jorge Polanco has reached safely in 20 of his last 21 games since August 22, hitting .316 (24-for-76) with four doubles, five home runs, 14 RBI, 15 walks, a .424 on-base percentage, a .566 slugging percentage and a .990 OPS in that span…since that date, he is tied for third in the AL in OBP and sixth in OPS.

MINNESOTA’S GREATEST HITS: In 32 games since August 12, the Twins have posted an .813 OPS with 5.9 runs-per-game in that span… since that date, they rank first in baseball in walks (140), second in on-base percentage (.351), third in runs-per-game (5.9), tied for third in home runs (54), fifth in OPS (.813) and slugging percentage (.462), and eighth in batting average (.261). Of the Twins’ 30 runs scored on this roadtrip, 18 have been scored after the sixth inning, including four four-run innings.

STARTING PITCHER – #41 JOE RYAN
Making his 27th start and appearance of 2023 and his 14th road start of the year…also his 59th career start and appearance. Facing Cincinnati for the first time in his career…is 5-5, 6.33 ERA (54.0 IP, 38 ER) with 15 walks and 62 strikeouts in 11 career Interleague starts. Acquired by the Twins on July 22, 2021 from the Rays, alongside right-handed pitcher Drew Strot- man, in exchange for designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

LAST TIME OUT: Did not factor into the decision in his first career start against Tampa Bay, his former organization, on September 12 at Target Field, a 3-2 Twins’ win…pitched 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on five hits (1 HR), with two walks and seven strikeouts…held the Rays hitless through 3.0 innings, then allowed one run on three hits in the top of the fourth, including an RBI single by Josh Lowe…yielded a one-out solo home run to René Pinto in the fifth; issued a two-out walk and allowed a single to Randy Arozarena later in the inning before being releived by Louie Varland…Varland stranded both inherited runners…Willi Castro’s two-run homer in the seventh inning gave Minnesota the come-from-behind win in the middle game of the three-game series. Threw 102 pitches, his most in a start since returning from the 15-day Injured List on August 26 and the eighth time he has eclipsed 100 pitches in 2023, which ranks second on the Twins (Pablo López – 9).

TWO STARTS AGO: Took the loss on September 6 at Cleveland, a 2-1 Twins’ defeat…allowed two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings pitched, with one walk and three strikeouts on 89 pitches…yielded an RBI single to Will Brennan in the bottom of the second inning…recorded two outs in the third before a 66-minute rain delay interrupted the game…came back after the delay and allowed one run (Brennan RBI double in the fourth) in 1.1 innings pitched before being relieved by Louie Varland in the fifth… Twins were limited to two hits and failed to sweep the three-game series. Allowed multiple stolen bases for the second time this year (also, 2 SB on July 3 vs. Kansas City) and third time in career…his single-game career high is three stolen bases allowed in the second game of a doubleheader on September 7, 2022 at New York-AL. Did not allow a home run for the first time in his last 10 starts, snapping the longest streak of his career of allowing at least one homer (19 HR in 9-game stretch).

RYAN KING TAKES ON QUEEN CITY: Facing Cincinnati for the first time in his career…the Reds will be the 23rd team he has faced in his career…is 5-9, 5.71 ERA (108.2 IP, 69 ER) with 42 walks and 103 strikeouts in 22 previous starts when facing a new opponent…Great American Ball Park will also be the 19th different park he has pitched at since his debut in 2021…is 5-8, 6.00 ERA (90.0 IP, 60 ER) with 23 walks and 97 strikeouts in 18 career starts when pitching at a new venue.

INTERLEAGUE NUMBERS: Tonight is Ryan’s fifth Interleague start of 2023 and 12th of his career…is 2-2 with a 7.00 ERA (18.0 IP, 14 ER), four walks and 23 strikeouts in four starts against the Senior Circuit this season…earned the win on May 13 vs. Chicago-NL and May 24 vs. San Francisco; took the loss on June 27 at Atlanta and August 2 at St. Louis…is 5-5, 6.33 ERA (54.0 IP, 38 ER) with 15 walks and 62 strikeouts in 11 career IL starts, posting a 2.23 ERA in six IL home starts and a 12.46 ERA in five IL road starts. In five career starts against National League Central opponents (CHC – 3, MIL – 1, STL – 1), Ryan is 2-2, 4.62 ERA (25.1 IP, 13 ER) with six walks and 33 strikeouts.

BUMPS IN THE ROAD: Making his 14th road start of the season tonight…is 4-5, 4.67 ERA (69.1 IP, 36 ER) with 15 walks and 75 strikeouts in 13 previous road starts this year…in his last seven road starts, he is 1-4, 7.52 ERA (32.1 P, 27 ER) with nine walks and 39 strikeouts after going 3-1, 2.19 ERA (37.0 IP, 9 ER) with six walks and 39 strikeouts in his first six road outings of 2023. AIs 12-9, 4.21 ERA (145.1 IP, 68 ER) with 34 walks and 151 strikeouts in 27 career road starts…in 31 career home starts, he is 13-9, 3.62 ERA (174.0 IP, 70 ER) with 48 walks and 206 strikeouts.

LEFT/RIGHT: Left-handed hitters are batting .221 (58-for-263) with a .645 OPS and 69 strikeouts against Ryan this year, going 2-for-10 with one double, one walk and five strikeouts against him in his last start on September 12 vs. Tampa Bay…right-handed hitters are batting .258 (77-for-298) with a .788 OPS and 107 strikeouts against Ryan in 2023, going 3-for-9 with one home run (R. Pinto), one walk and two strikeouts against him in his last outing. Over his career, lefties are batting .206 (119-for-577) with a .637 OPS against him…righties are hitting .235 (147-for-625) with a .724 OPS off Ryan in his career.

THE ARSENAL: Has utilized a four-pitch mix in his first 26 starts of the 2023 season…has leaned on his four-seam fastball and split finger, combining to throw the two pitches 84.9 percent of the time this year…ranksthird in baseball in strikeouts with his four-seam fastball (102), trailing only NYY’s Gerrit Cole (118) and ATL’s Spencer Strider (111)…here’s a look at Ryan’s repertoire, per Baseball Savant:

PITCH (AVG. MPH) PCT. (# OF PITCHES, VS. RHB/LHB) RESULTS
4-Seam Fastball (92.3)……………… 57.2% (1,383 pitches, 730/653).. .242 (73-for-302), 13 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 102 K
Split Finger (83.7)……………..27.7% (670 pitches, 261/409)…… .213 (40-for-188), 8 2B, 7 HR, 45 K
Sweeper (79.2)…………………..11.3% (274 pitches, 191/77)…….. .288 (15-for-52), 1 2B, 3 HR, 22 K
Slider (82.7)…………………………3.7% (90 pitches, 70/20)…………… .389 (7-for-18), 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 K

SPECIAL K: Has recorded 357 career strikeouts through his first 58 games, the most in Twins’ history (1961-) through a pitcher’s first 58 career games…would also hold the record through a pitcher’s first 64 career games, five ahead of Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven (352 from 1970-71)…his 10.06 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings ratio in his career is the fourth best in Twins’ history, and his 4.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks eighth (min. 200.0 IP).

SEPTEMBER STAR: Making his 14th career start in September tonight, his most in any \month in his career…is 6-3, 3.09 ERA (70.0 IP, 24 ER) with 20 walks, 77 strikeouts and a .173 (43-for-248) opponent batting average in 13 previous September starts…his .173 opponent batting average in September is the second lowest in baseball since 2021 (min. 10 September GS), trailing only SD’s Blake Snell (.148).

IN THE ZONE: Ryan owns a 66.8 first-pitch strike percentage, the fifth highest in the American League this year (min. 25 GS)…also has a 39.9 percent first-pitch swing rate, the highest in the AL…opposing hitters take just 44.8 percent of Ryan’s offerings, the lowest rate in the AL among pitchers with at least 25 starts…only 29.2 percent of opposing swings vs. Ryan result in a ball in play, also the lowest rate in the AL this season.

CINCINNATI REDS NOTES:

TODAY’S TRANSACTIONS

  • Returned from a rehabilitation assignment and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list LHP Alex Young (#48).
  • Selected from Louisville the contract of RHP Connor Phillips (#34).
  • Placed on the 10-day injured list OF Harrison Bader (right groin strain).
  • Optioned to Chattanooga RHP Carson Spiers.
  • Transferred to the 60-day injured list RHP Graham Ashcraft, who tomorrow is scheduled for surgery to relieve a stress reaction in his right big toe.

TONIGHT’S GAME

  • Is Game 1 of a 3-game series vs Kyle Farmer’s first-place Twins and Game 1 of a 7-day, 6-game homestand that includes Thu’s off day followed by a weekend series vs the Pirates.
  • Prior to tonight’s game, Farmer will receive his 2022 Ernie Lombardi Award as the Reds’ Most Valuable Player and the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award.
  • Enjoying the game with their families are 2023 draft picks RHP Rhett Lowder (1st round), RHP Ty Floyd (CBA) and IF Sammy Stafura (2nd round).
  • The Reds are coming off a 4-2 road trip (2-1 at Det, 2-1 at NYM).
  • Following this homestand, the Reds will finish the season with a 5-game road trip to Cle’s Progressive Field (2g) and StL’s Busch Stadium (off day, 3g).

SERIES NOTES

  • The Reds are 16-15 all-time vs the Twins, including 4-4 at Great American Ball Park.
  • A 2-1 series win in April 2018 snapped a streak in which the Reds had lost 9 consecutive interleague road series of at least 3 games, dating back to September 2013.
  • With a 7-2 win at Target Field on 9/25/20, the Reds clinched their most recent Postseason berth, their first since 2013.
  • During that 2020 COVID-19 season, the Reds were the only road team to win a series at Target Field, where the Twins finished with the best home record in the Major Leagues at 24-7.

ROTATION

  • Rookie pitchers have made 53 starts for the Reds.
  • The Reds started a rookie pitcher in 11 in the last 15 games, a stretch that included 2 starts as “openers” by relievers RHP Tejay Antone and RHP Derek Law
  • RHP Lyon Richardson (4gs), who began the season at Class A Daytona, started twice.
  • LHP Andrew Abbott (19gs), who began the season at Class AA Chattanooga, started 3 times.
  • RHP Carson Spiers (2gs), who began the season at Class AA Chattanooga, started twice.
  • LHP Brandon Williamson (21gs), who began the season at Class AAA Louisville, started twice.
  • RHP Connor Phillips (2gs), who began the season at Class AA Chattanooga, started twice. • Richardson, Abbott, Spiers, Williamson and Phillips made their Major League debuts this season, along with fellow starter RHP Levi Stoudt (2gs), who began the season at Class AAA Louisville.

ROSTER NOTES

  • 65 players have appeared in at least 1 game for the Reds, the most of any team in the Major Leagues this season and 1 player shy of the single-season club record established in 2022.
  • 40 pitchers, including position players C Luke Maile (4 times) and IF Jason Vosler (twice), have appeared in at least 1 game for the Reds, a new single-season club record (38 pitchers, 2022).
  • 17 pitchers have started at least 1 game for the Reds, tying the singleseason club record (2003, 2022)…17 starters tie the Dodgers for most in the National League…the Athletics lead the Major Leagues with 23 starters.
  • The Reds have 9 rookies on today’s roster.
  • RHP Fernando Cruz, IF Elly De La Cruz, IF Christian EncarnacionStrand, IF Noelvi Marte, IF/OF Spencer Steer, LHP Andrew Abbott, RHP Daniel Duarte, RHP Connor Phillips and LHP Brandon Williamson.
  • Had a season-high 12 rookies on the 27-player roster for the 8/23 day/night doubleheader at LAA.
  • 16 Reds players made their Major League debuts this season, the most of any team in the majors…listed below in the order in which they debuted:
  • RHP Casey Legumina, RHP Levi Stoudt, IF Matt McLain, LHP Brandon Williamson, RHP Eduardo Salazar, OF TJ Hopkins, LHP Andrew Abbott, IF Elly De La Cruz, RHP Ricky Karcher, RHP Randy Wynne, RHP Jake Wong, IF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, RHP Lyon Richardson, IF Noelvi Marte, RHP Carson Spiers, RHP Connor Phillips.
  • 23 rookies played in at least 1 game for the Reds, the most of any team in the Major Leagues and tied for fourth-most in club history (26 in 1909, 25 in 2016, 24 in 1914 & 2017, 23 in 2022)…courtesy @EliasSports.

LET THE KIDS PLAY

  • With 58 HR the Reds have established a new franchise record for home runs in a season by rookies (Spencer Steer 22, Matt McLain 16, Elly De La Cruz 11, Christian Encarnacion-Strand 8, Noelvi Marte 1)…the 2008 team recorded 54 home runs by rookies (Joey Votto 24, Jay Bruce 21, Chris Dickerson 6, Ryan Hanigan 2, Paul Janish 1).
  • The Reds are the first team in Major League history with 3 rookies, in a single season, with at least 10 HR & 10 stolen bases each (Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer).
  • For the first time since 1890, when Cincinnati joined the NL, 3 Reds rookies have produced at least 10 HR.
  • IF Matt McLain (5/22-5/28) and IF Elly De La Cruz (6/19-6/25) each earned National League Player of the Week awards, McLain in the second week of his career and De La Cruz in his third week.

Tonight’s Pitcher – #34 Connor Phillips, RHP

  • Made his first 2 Major League apps on 9/5 vs Sea and Wed at Det after he was added to the roster as a substitute player when reliever RHP Fernando Cruz and starters RHP Hunter Greene, RHP Ben Lively & Brandon Williamson went on the COVID-19 injured list.
  • In the 7-6 walkoff win on 9/5 vs Sea made his Major League debut after 66 minor league apps, including 65 starts…was his 12th career appearance and 11th start above Class AA.
  • Struck out his first career batter faced, J.P. Crawford (looking).
  • Allowed all 5 runs on home runs, to Teoscar Hernández (2-run in the first inning) and to Julio Rodríguez (3-run in the fifth inning).
  • Became the sixth of 6 Reds pitcher this season to make his Major League debut in a start (Levi Stoudt, Brandon Williamson, Andrew Abbott, Lyon Richardson, Carson Spiers).
  • Became the 16th of 16 Reds players to make his Major League debut this season, the most of any team in the majors.
  • Became the 23rd of 23 rookies to appear in a game for the Reds, also the most of any team in the Major Leagues, and the 64th of 65 Reds player overall.
  • Following Wed’s start at Det was returned to Louisville as a substitute player to make room on the roster for RHP Ben Lively, who was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list.
  • Didn’t pitch for the Bats before he rejoined the Reds today.
  • Was a non-roster invitee to 2023 Major League spring training camp.
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