Wednesday, May 31, 2023
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: San Diego Padres (18-17) at Minnesota Twins (19-16)


On Sunday, Padres fall 5-2 in extras against the Dodgers, drop 1st series against So-Cal rival

• Joe Musgrove started opposite Julio Urias, and he went 5.0 innings with 1 unearned run allowed on 2 hits with 3 walks and 5 punchouts…he didn’t receive a decision.

• Josh Hader suffered his 1st blown save of the year, with Mookie Betts hitting a 2-out, game-tying homer in the 9th.

• Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with a double, and the Padres saw doubles from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.

• It marked the Padres’ 10th straight regular season series they’ve lost against the Dodgers (SD’s last series win was on June 21-23, 2021, and they’ve gone 6-25 vs. LAD since then). Pads are 17-3 when they scored 3-or-more runs

• When SD has scored at least 3 runs this year, their 17-3 (.850) record is the 2nd best in all of baseball, behind just the Rays’ 28-2 (.933)…the Friars have won 10 straight games when scoring at least 3 runs.

Packed house at Petco Park
• The Padres have the 2nd highest home attendance total in MLB so far this year at 806,361, trailing just the Dodgers’ 863,682…discounting the two “home games” vs. the Giants in Mexico City from April 29-30, the Padres have hosted a total of 767,117 fans so far at Petco in 19 games for an average of 40,375 fans per game…that average at Petco per game ranks 2nd in MLB (the Dodgers have average a Major League leading 47,982 fans per game so far in Chavez Ravine).

• The 3 games vs. the Dodgers, Petco Park saw a total 131,512 fans through the Petco Park gates. Padre defense leads Majors in fielding percentage (.992)

• San Diego’s .992 fielding percentage is the highest in MLB so far, committing 10 errors this year

Padres go 3-3 this past homestand (vs. Reds & Dodgers)
• Not including the 2-game “home series” against the Giants in Mexico City, the Padres split the 6-game homestand at Petco Park, claiming the 1st series vs. the Reds 2-1 and losing 2 of 3 to the Dodgers.

• The Padres pitching staff posted a 1.77 ERA (11 ER, 56.0 IP) in their 6 games, holding opposing batters to a .174 AVG…their 1.77 ERA and .174 opponent clip are both the best marks of any team in May…Friar batters plated just 24 runs in the 6 games (T-22nd in MLB) and hit just 4 homers (T-3rd fewest in MLB).

Padres have 2nd most walks in MLB this year (142)
• San Diego batters have drawn 142 walks, trailing just the Dodgers’ 161 BB for the most in baseball…there are 8 different Padres who have at least 10 walks, including Juan Soto, who leads the Majors so far this year (32).

Friar DH’s have driven in a MLB-high 30 runs
• San Diego DH’s have combined for a MLB-most 30 RBI this year…they’ve also had a .488 SLG, higher than any other SLG this year of any Padre position… before today, Nelson Cruz has started 17 games at DH and Matt Carpenter has started 16…Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts each have 1 start.

Wacha set for 6th career start vs. MIN 31-year-old right-hander Michael Wacha is set for his 7th start of the season tonight vs. MIN…it will be his 4th start on the road and the 6th of his career vs. the Twins…he made 2 starts against the Twins last season as a member of the Boston Red Sox, going a combined 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA (2 ER, 11.0 IP), 0.73 WHIP and .132/.195/.237 opponent slash line.

Wacha scoreless vs. Cincy last time out
Last Tues, May 2 vs. Cin, Wacha allowed 0 runs on 6.0+ IP for the 22nd time in his career and his 2nd as a Padre (also: Sat, Apr. 8 @ ATL)…it was just the 6th time he didn’t earn a winning decision when tossing 6.0+ scoreless frames, ending a streak of 10 consecutive winning decisions in such outings and the first time his team took a loss in such an outing since May 19, 2017 vs. SF (w/ STL)…he now has 13 quality outings in his 21 career starts vs. the Reds, the most total starts he’s made against any club in his career.

When allowing 4 ER or fewer:
Since the start of the 2022 season, Wacha has a 13-1 (.929) record in games in which he’s allowed 4 ER or fewer…that is the 2nd best record of any pitcher with at least 10 such starts since 2022 besides MIL Brandon Woodruff’s 14-1 record (.933).

Wacha’s pitch mix
Wacha throws his changeup 30.1% of the time, and is limiting opponents to a .205 AVG against it (9-for-44)…his cutter drops an average of 24.2 inches – which is 4.4 inches and 15% more drop than other ML cutters – tied for the 9th-most vertical movement of any cutter in the Majors (min. 75 throws)…but opponents are hitting .320 (8-for-25) against it, with 2 of his 4 HR allowed coming against the pitch…opponents are hitting .286 vs. his 4-seamer, .368 vs. his sinker and .250 vs. his curveball.

Hard hit%
Is currently getting hit hard 31.7% of the time, ranking in the 82nd percentile in MLB this season and is his lowest percentage since 2017 (30.1%)…his average career hard hit % is 35.0 %

Barrels and contact
Wacha did not allow any barrels in his most recent start vs. CIN, but has allowed 10 barrels in his 551 pitches thrown and 101 batted balls for a 9.9% barrel rate, the 2nd-highest barrel rate of his career (10.5% in ’21) and ranking in the bottom 27th percentile in the Majors…18.3 percent of his pitches thrown have been put in play, a tick below his 18.4 career average, and his 29.7 ground ball percentage is the lowest of his career, well below his 45.0 percent ground ball rate…his 37.6 % fly ball rate is by far the highest of his career, having averaged a 21.6% fly ball rate in his career.

A tad more comfy at home
In his career, Wacha has made 8 more road starts (109) compared to at home (101), and has tossed 14.0 more total innings on the road (574.1) than at home (560.1) as a starter…he has a 3.61 ERA at home compared to a 4.31 ERA in away parks.

Big May guy
Tonight will be Wacha’s 41st career start in May, the most in any calendar month in his career…he has a 3.97 ERA in May, 1 of 3 months he has a career sub-4.00 ERA, posting a 3.43 ERA in 41 April appearances (40 starts) and a 3.42 ERA in 24 July appearances (21 starts).


THAT ROADTRIP ESCALATED QUICKLY, I MEAN THAT REALLY GOT OUT OF HAND FAST: The Twins completed their six-game road-trip with a record of 2-4, going 1-2 at Chicago-AL, and 1-2 \at Cleveland…tonight, Minnesota will begin a six-game Interleague homestand with three against the San Diego Padres through Thursday afternoon, then host the Chicago Cubs for three games over the weekend…the Twins have gone 10-6 at Target Field and 9-10 on the road.

Twins have gone 6-2 in their last eight games at Target Field.

THAT WAS WORSE THAN THE TIME THE RACCOON GOT IN THE COPIER: The Twins lost to the \Guardians on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field by a score of 2-0 as the Guards scored both of their runs in the first inning…Joe Ryan (5-1) was the starter and loser, allowing two runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings pitched with no walks and four strikeouts…the offense recorded just one hit, a single by Alex Kirilloff in the seventh inning…it marked the Twins’ first time being one-hit since a 13-0 loss at Chicago-AL on September 3, 2022, when Luis Arraez broke-up a no-hit bid in the ninth inning from Dylan Cease.

YOU PLAY JAZZ F-LOU-TE? I DABBLE: Louie Varland ranks in the 89th percentile in baseball in whiff percentage at 32.9%…he has a 50.0% whiff rate on his changeup and 36.4% on his slider…Varland’s 35 strikeouts through seven career games are the sixth most in club history, trailing Bert Blyleven (43 in 1970), Joe Ryan (41 from 2021-22), Tyler Duffey (37 in 2015), Jim Merritt (37 in 1965) and Francisco Liriano (36 from 2005-06).

DON’T ACT LIKE YOU’RE NOT IMPRESSED: Twins starters have combined to go 14-9, 3.19 ERA (197.2 IP, 70 ER) with 48 walks, 220 strikeouts and a .223 opponent batting average… below are Twins starting pitching ranks in all of baseball:

MIN – 197.2 TB – 2.82 TB – .215 SF – 39 TB – 3.14 MIN – 1.08 MIN – 220 TB – .611
PIT – 197.2 CHC – 3.18 MIN – .223 MIN – 48 MIN – 3.24 SEA – 1.11 CWS – 209 MIN – .630
TOR – 196.1 MIN – 3.19 CHC – .230 SEA – 48 SEA – 3.43 TB – 1.12 NYY – 196 SEA – .630
CWS – 194.1 ATL – 3.41 SEA – .231 LAD – 52 ATL – 3.62 CHC – 1.14 TOR – 196 CHC – .645
SEA – 194.1 HOU – 3.48 MIL – .236 TEX – 52 CHC – 3.80 TEX – 1.18 ATL – 192 MIL – .681

THAT’S HOW I(L) ROLL!:Twins are 252-236 all-time in Interleague Play, the 10th-most wins in IL history…additionally, their .516 IL winning percentage ranks ninth best all-time…however, they have gone 2-4 in Interleague Play this season, going 1-2 at Miami from April 3-5 and 1-2 vs. Washington from April 21-23.

DOESN’T IT MEAN SAINT DIEGO? NO. WELL, AGREE TO DISAGREE: The Twins are 16-7 all-time against the Padres, posting a .696 winning percentage, their highest vs. any NL opponent… they last played the Padres for three games at Petco Park last season from July 29-31, winning the middle of the three…they last hosted San Diego from September 12-13, 2017, sweeping the two-game series…the Twins are 6-1 all-time against the Padres at Target Field, 7-3 at Petco Park, 2-1 at Qualcomm Stadium, and 1-2 at Metrodome.

I’M KIND OF A BIG DEAL, PEOPLE KNOW ME: Padres DH Nelson Cruz played nearly three full seasons with Minnesota from 2019 until getting traded on July 22, 2021 to Tampa Bay in exchange for right-handed pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman…Nellie returned for a three-game series at Target Field with the Rays from August 13-15, 2021 and hit his 441st career home run, a solo shot off Michael Pineda…during his time in Minnesota, Cruz hit .304 (284-for-935) with 45 doubles, 76 home runs, 191 RBI and a .984 OPS in 258 games…he hit his 400th home run on September 22, 2019 at Target Field against the Royals…he was named AL Silver Slugger Award winner in both 2019 and 2020, and an AL All-Star in 2021… was given 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at ESPY Awards…was given Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award as part of 2020 Players Choice Awards…won 2019 Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter of the Year Award…was given Most Valuable Twin Award in 2019 and ’20 and the Bob Allison Twins Leadership Award in 2019 and ’20…Carl R. Pohlad Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2019.

DISCOVERED BY THE GERMANS IN 1904: Max Kepler has reached safely in 10 of his last 12 games, posting an .859 OPS in that span, a .370 on-base percentage and a .489 slugging percentage…in those 12 games, the German-born outfielder has 12 hits, three home runs, seven walks, eight RBI and nine runs scored.

Kepler ranks in the 88th percentile in baseball in hard hit percentage at 49.3% — a figure that is up 9.4% from 2022 for Kepler (39.9)…additionally, he ranks in the 86th percentile in average exit velocity at 92.0 mph.

WHAMMY!: The Twins went homerless on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, snapping their franchise record of 18-straight games with a home run…the streak started on April 18 and since that date, the Twins have hit 29 home runs, tied with Los Angeles-AL for fourth most in baseball, trailing Tampa Bay (36), Atlanta (34) and San Francisco (30) in that span…prior to the streak, the Twins ranked tied for 21st in baseball with 16 home runs through games of April 17, but now rank ninth entering play today with 45.

MIRANDA WATCH!!!: Jose Miranda is hitting .321 (26-for-81) with three doubles, three home runs, seven RBI, 10 runs scored, a .469 slugging percentage and an .830 OPS in his last 20 games at Target Field, dating back to September 24, 2022…this season, he is
slashing .276/.333/.448 at home, compared to .171/.227/.200 on the road…all three of his homers this season have come at Target
Field, each in his last four games.

season, stealing one base in six of their last seven, seven of their last nine and eight of their last 13…they have been caught five times
overall…their nine steals are tied with Colorado for fewest in baseball.

Michael A. Taylor leads the team with five stolen bases…Sunday afternoon’s stolen base in the eighth inning was the 100th of Taylor’s career, joining 27 active players to reach the 100-stolen base mark.

BUX PANTHER, BY ODEON, MADE WITH BITS OF REAL PANTHER, SO YOU KNOW HE’S GOOD: Byron Buxton has reached safely in 16 of his last 17 games and in a season-long 11 straight (via hit, walk or HBP)…it is tied for the fourth-longest on-base streak of his career (also 2020), his top three are: 19 (August 3-21, 2017), 18 (August 9, 2022-April 9, 2023) and 16 (September 15-October 3, 2021)…he has a .408 on-base percentage (10 hits, 9 walks), a .744 slugging percentage and a 1.152 OPS during the streak.

GONNA BE HONEST WITH YOU, THAT SMELLS LIKE PURE GASOLINE: Jhoan Duran has thrown 91 of his 215 pitches at least 100 mph, second-most in baseball trailing St. Louis’ Jordan Hicks (135)…he has thrown 24 pitches at least 102 mph (Hicks – 36)…since the start of last season, he has thrown 483 pitches of 1,238 total pitches 100-plus, the most in baseball, next being Hunter Greene with 413.

(OVER) 60 PERCENT OF THE TIME, IT WORKS EVERY TIME: Twins have gone 10-6 at home this season for a .625 winning percentage, the sixth best in the AL and tied for seventh best in baseball…they have gone 4-1-0 in series play at Target Field this season.

DON’T KNOW IF YOU HEARD ME COUNTING, I DID OVER 1,000: The Twins have hit 1,082 home runs at Target Field (since 2010)…they have hit a home Run in 10-straight home games, their longest since homering in 15 straight in Minnesota from May 4-30, 2021…their longest in Target Field history was when the Bomba Squad homered in 20 straight from May 1-June 16, 2019.

HE HAS MANY LEATHER BOUND BOOKS AND HIS APARTMENT SMELLS OF RICH MAHOGANY: Since coming off the Injured List (left knee inflammation) on April 21, Jorge Polanco has hit safely in 12 of 15 games…in nine games at Target Field he has .333 (13-for-39) with nine RBI and a .923 OPS, compared to .200 (5-for-25) with two RBI and a .459 OPS in six road games.

2023: 0-0, 5.91 ERA CAREER: 1-2, 4.42 ERA

Making his third start of the season and his first home start of 2023…also his eighth career start.

Facing San Diego for the first time in his career…also making his first career Interleague start and appearance.

Currently ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Twins organization, per

Selected by the Twins in the 15th round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of Division II Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

LAST TIME OUT: Took a no-decision in a 6-4 Twins defeat on May 3 against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, opposite Dylan Cease…pitched 4.2 innings, marking the shortest start of his career…allowed four runs on seven hits, issued two walks and fanned six batters…walked the first batter he faced…allowed a three-run home run to outfielder Luis Robert Jr. in the first inning…yielded another run in the fourth inning on a RBI single from infielder Tim Anderson…the inning ended after catcher Yasmani Grandal was thrown out at home on the single by Anderson…exited the game after recording two outs in the fifth inning…relieved by Emilio Pagán as the bullpen combined to pitch 3.1 innings while allowing two runs…the first run was allowed by Griffin Jax in the seventh inning off a RBI single to designated hitter Eloy Jiménez…Jovani Moran allowed the final run in the eighth inning on a groundout by infielder Elvis Andrus.

TWO STARTS AGO: Recorded his first career quality start in his 2023 Twins debut, taking a no-decision in a 4-3 Twins victory against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, opposite Nestor Cortes… marked two career highs by pitching 6.0 innings and recording eight strikeouts…allowed three runs on six hits and walked one batter, with all three runs allowed via solo home runs…allowed back-to-back home runs for the first time in his career to infielder Anthony Volpe and outfielder Aaron Judge in the bottom of the first inning; Volpe’s homer was also the first leadoff home run Varland has allowed in his career…yielded another home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton…relieved by Emilio Pagán in the seventh inning as the bullpen combined to pitch 3.0 scoreless innings…Twins scored once in the seventh and twice in the eighth on a two-run double from shortstop Carlos Correa to record the come-from-behind victory.

STRIKEOUTS THROUGH SEVEN: Varland has recorded 35 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched through his first seven major league starts…his 35 strikeouts are the sixth most in Twins history (since 1961) through a pitcher’s first seven games of his career…he has also recorded three-or-more strikeouts in each of his seven career starts, the third-longest streak by a Twins pitcher to begin his career (Jim Merritt, 10 games in 1965; Joe Ryan, 15 games from 2021-22).

PADRES PREMIERE: Facing the Padres for the first time in his career…tonight also marks his first career Interleague start and appearance…San Diego will be the fifth team he has faced since his major league debut on September 7, 2022…in four career starts when facing an opponent for the first time, Varland is 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA (21.0 IP, 11 ER), six walks and 16 strikeouts…becomes the first Twins starter to face the Padres at Target Field since Ervin Santana on September 13, 2017 (Twins won 3-1 in 10 innings)…San Diego outfielder Adam Engel is the only active Padres hitter to previously face Varland, going 1-for-2 against him as a member of the Chicago White Sox on October 5, 2022.

HOME FOR THE WEEK: Varland will take the mound to start Minnesota’s six-game homestand…tonight is his third career start at home and first this season…in his two career home starts, he is 0-1, 4.22 ERA (10.2 IP, 5 ER) with three walks and six strikeouts…is 1-1, 4.50 ERA (26.0 IP, 13 ER) with six walks and six strikeouts in his five career starts on the road…his three walks issued at home last season tied for second lowest among the entire Twins pitching staff (min. 10.0 IP).

LEFTIES VS. RIGHTIES: After his first two starts this season, left-handed hitters are batting .313 (5-for-16) with seven strikeouts against Varland, while righties are hitting .286 (8-for 28) with seven strikeouts…all his runs allowed this season have been to righties, including four home runs… historically, Varland has posted similar numbers against both left- and right-handed hitters but had a slight edge on lefties…last season, lefties posted a .262/.296/.405 slash line (11-for-42) with three doubles, one home run, two walks, nine strikeouts and a .700 OPS…righties slashed .263/.323/.491 (15-for-57) with an .814 OPS, two doubles, three home runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts.

PITCH BREAKDOWN: Varland has used a four-pitch mix in his first two starts of 2023, including a four-seam fastball, slider, cutter and changeup according to Baseball Savant…has utilized his cutter the most after only throwing the pitch 18.5 percent of the time in five starts with Minnesota last year…below is a look at his repertoire:
Cutter (90.2) …………………………….35.9% (61 pitches, 47/14)……………………… .286 (4-for-14), 4 K
4-Seam Fastball (95.2)………………34.1% (58 pitches, 38/20)…………….. .400 (6-for-15), 3 HR, 4 K
Changeup (84.4)………………………..15.9% (27 pitches, 9/18)……………….. .333 (3-for-9), 1 HR, 4 K
Slider (84.3)………………………………14.1% (24 pitches, 20/4)………………………… .000 (0-for-6), 2 K

Varland has averaged 10.4 inches of horizontal movement on his slider this season, which ranks second most among Twins pitchers in 2023 (Bailey Ober – 11.2).

Mikey Balhan Sports

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