Thursday, April 25, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants (24-24) at Minnesota Twins (25-24)


TODAY’S GAME: Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Giants will try to complete the sweep this afternoon in Minnesota after taking the first two games of this series…SF has swept the Twins one time in a three-game series since the two teams started playing one another in 2003…that series came at Oracle Park from May 23-25, 2014.

EVEN STEVENS: Last night’s win brought the Giants back to .500 (24-24) for the first time since they were 3-3 after defeating the White Sox in Chicago on April 6…a win today would move the Giants over the .500 mark for the first time this season.

CREAM AND TWO SUGARS, PLZ: Today’s 12:10 p.m. local start time is one of the earliest scheduled games the Giants will play all season…it’s not the earliest though as the Giants have at 12:05 p.m. ET game at Pittsburgh on July 16 and the 12:05 p.m. PT game on the final day of the year on Oct. 1 where all teams play at the same time across the league.

BULL’S EYE: The Giants have won seven of their last eight games, a stretch that comes after dropping six of their previous eight contests…this excellent stretch is in part due to SF’s bullpen, who’s sporting a 1.22 ERA and holding opposing teams to a .186 average during the run…since May 15, the 47 strikeouts are second-most of any ‘pen in the Majors behind the Dodgers’ 51 while their 37.0 innings pitched are fifth-most.

Giants Bullpen, Last 7 games vs. Previous 8
Last Eight # Ranking
Team Record 7-1 T-2nd
ERA 1.22 4th
Strikeouts 47 2nd
Innings 37.0 5th
Opposing Avg. .186 3rd
Saves 7 1st
Previous Eight # Ranking
Team Record 2-6 27th
ERA 5.67 26th
Strikeouts 19 T-27th
Innings 27.0 11th
Opposing Avg. .299 28th
Saves 1 T-16th

IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE: Overall, SF’s pitching staff has posted a 2.63 ERA since May 15, the best figure in the NL and third-lowest in MLB behind the White Sox (1.177) and Yankees (2.30)…the Giants’ offense averaged 4.5 runs-per-game despite homering just five times over the eight-game span…after slugging an NL-leading 46 home runs in April, SF hitters have just 21 homers this month, tied for 17th in MLB.

WE’RE MAKING MORE LOCAL CALLS: During this eight-game stretch, the Giants haven’t relied as much on the homer to score a majority of their runs as they have for much of the season… only 11-of-36 runs during this eight-game run have come via the homer (31%), which has dropped their season percentage of runs via the homer to 52.15% (109-of-209), now second in MLB decimal points behind the Dodgers (52.17%) (SIS).

-30-: The Giants are 18-11 (.621) with a +4 run differential in their last 29 games dating to April 22…prior to that point, the Giants were 6-13 (.462) with a -18 run differential…SF’s .621 winning percentage in this span is tied for fourth-best in the Majors with Texas behind the Dodgers (21-8, .724), Orioles (19-10, .655) and Astros (18-10, .643).

TONY SUNSHINE: RHP Anthony DeSclafani toes the slab today for his fourth day game start of the season…he’s been superb in his prior three starts in the sunshine, going 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA (3er, 19.0ip)…the Giants are 2-1 in those three games…in the 19.0-innings during day games this season DeSclafani has struck out 16 and not walked a batter (SIS).

BE LIKE MIKE: OF Michael Conforto became the first Giant this season to reach the double-digit homer mark by hitting his 10th homer of the season last night that eventually gave SF the win…the homer was Conforto’s sixth in his last 12 games, tied for the third-most homers in MLB since May 10 behind NYY’s Aaron Judge (8)and CHC’s Christopher Morel (8)…in this run, Conforto is slashing .333/.380/.778 with 14 RBI.

CONFORT…ABLE: The outfielder also has a relatively long history of success against the AL Central, particularly the Twins…Conforto’s 1.070 OPS vs. the division is tops in MLB (min. 125 PAs) among active players, with his .643 slugging percentage also ranking first…in his small eight-game history vs. the Twins, Conforto is 13-for-28 with three homers, 12 RBI and a 1.388 OPS (Stats, LLC).

HIT ‘EM WHEN IT COUNTS: With another go-ahead homer yesterday, 60% of Conforto’s home runs this season have given the Giants the lead (6-of-10)…his six go-ahead homers are tied for fourth-most in the Majors behind NYY’s Aaron Judge (eight), MIA’s Jorge Soler (eight) and STL’s Nolan Gorman (six).

KAMILO: RHP Camilo Doval struck out the side in the 9th inning last night to secure his NL-leading 13th save of the season…Doval has whiffed 34 of the 93 batters he’s faced this year (36.6%)…that percentage is ninth-best in the Majors among relievers with at least 15.0 innings pitched.

RATIOED: It’s been a short time in the Majors for C Patrick Bailey but since his arrival the Giants pitchers have 49 strikeouts to just eight walks in the 39.0 innings that he’s caught…that’s better than a 6:1 ratio (Sports Info Solutions).

QUICK FLIGHT: After today’s game the Giants take to the skies to face Milwaukee in a four-game set beginning tomorrow… SF took two-of-three from the Brew Crew in San Francisco earlier this month…this year’s trip is much easier than last year’s when SF had to visit Milwaukee two separate times as a result of the restructuring of MLB’s schedule after the first week of the season was postponed.

2023 RECORD: 3-3, 3.09 ERA

TODAY’S OUTING: Gets the nod to make his 10th start of the season tonight at Minnesota…the veteran, who returns from an injury-plagued 2022, is in his ninth Major League season and third in a Giants uniform.

LAST TIME OUT: Didn’t factor in the decision last Friday in SF’s 4-3 over Miami…threw 5.1 innings and limited batters to two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

VS. MINNESOTA: Is slated to face the Twins for the third time in his career and his first since the 2020 shortened season, when he threw 3.0 innings of relief on September 26 here at Target Field as a member of the Reds…gave up three runs on four hits in the outing and struck out two…in two career appearances (one start) against Minnesota, DeSclafani is 0-1 with a 8.38 ERA and .375 opposing average.

IN THE ZONE: DeSclafani has been in control around the zone all season, issuing just seven walks with 41 strikeouts in his first nine starts this year…his 3.2% walk rate and 1.14 walks-per-nine average are both second-lowest in MLB behind SEA’s George Kirby (2.2%, 0.77), while his 5.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks second in the NL behind ARI’s Zac Gallen (6.00).

UNDER PRESSURE: When reaching the three-ball count, opponents are just 4-for-31 (.129) with seven walks against him…according to Sports Info Solutions, his .290 opposing OBP in three-ball counts is the lowest in MLB, with his .451 OPS ranking third.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: The veteran has been especially stingy against leadoff hitters who are generally great at getting on base….DeSclafani’s .148 OBP against the leadoff hitter is tops best in MLB (min. 25BF)…he’s yet to walk a hitter batting first in the lineup this season in 28 plate appearances…the only NL pitchers to have faced the leadoff hitter more times without a walk are teammate RHP Logan Webb (32), STL’s Jordan Montgomery (30) and LAD’s Julio Urías (29).

SEND HELP: Has received one or no runs of support in five of his nine starts this season and three runs of fewer in seven of those… has a 3.25 runs support average this season, eighth lowest in MLB…today’s opponent RHP Joe Ryan has a 8.04 RSA, fourth-highest in MLB

SEAL THE DEAL: DeSclafani has been outstanding this season with two strikes, holding batters to 13 hits in 101 at-bats (.129) with just four extra-base hits and three RBI…opponents have a .358 OPS off him with two strikes.

QUALITY…AND QUANTITY: The veteran has reached the 5.0-inning threshold in each of his starts this season, with five of his nine outings so far this year earning quality start status.

LUCKY CHARM: Since joining the Giants in 2021, SF is 29-16 (.644) when DeSclafani takes the hill, winning 13 of his last 20 starts.


THE TWINS: After completing their road-trip with a record of 2-4 (1-2 at Dodger Stadium and 1-2 at Angel Stadium), the Twins began their six-game, seven-day homestand with consecutive losses to the Giants the last two nights…today, Minnesota will continue the homestand with the three-game series finale against San Francisco…they will enjoy an off-day tomorrow, then welcome the Blue Jays for three games over the weekend…the Twins have gone 14-10 at Target Field and 11-14 on the road.

The Twins are looking to avoid dropping their fourth-straight game today, which would mark a season-long…they have lost three-straight three times previously (April 15-18, April 20-22 and May 6-9).

TWINS DROP ANOTHER CLOSE ONE: The Twins lost to the Giants last night at Target Field by a score of 4-3, dropping their second series at home (6-2-0)…Sonny Gray was the starter but did not factor into the decision, allowing two runs on six hits in 5.0 innings pitched…Jorge López (1-2) was dealt the loss, allowing a two run-homer to Michael Conforto in the seventh inning, losing the 3-2 lead…the offense recorded just six hits, two from Byron Buxton, who went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his 10th of the season…Michael A. Taylor also added a home run, his sixth of the season.

JOE CY-AN: Through eight starts, Joe Ryan has gone 6-1, 2.25 ERA (56.0 IP, 14 ER) with eight walks and 66 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .203 (42-for-207) batting average… below are his ranks among AL starting pitchers in a few notable categories:

Gray – 1.82 Ryan – .530 Gray – .292 Wells – 0.79 Gray – 1.98 Eovaldi – 2.7
McClanahan – 2.05 Rodriguez – .550 Ohtani – .294 Ryan – 0.89 Ryan – 2.30 Gray – 2.4
Rodriguez – 2.19 Ohtani – .560 Ryan – .295 Ohtani – 0.90 Eovaldi – 2.43 Gausman – 2.3
Ryan – 2.25 Wells – .560 Rodriguez – .302 Javier – 0.95 Gausman – 2.44 Ryan – 2.2
Valdez – 2.45 Gilbert – .580 Gilbert – .326 Rodriguez – 0.96 Gilbert – 2.65 Valdez – 2.1

GOLDEN JOE: Joe Ryan was born and raised in Marin County, CA and played prep ball at Sir Francis Drake High School…he was a die-hard Giants fan growing up…the Giants invited him for a pre-draft workout in 2014 but did not take him high enough in the draft (39th round), so Joe decided to attend California State University, Northridge and was eventually drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 draft by Tampa Bay…Joe recently met and took a picture with 49ers legend Joe Montana in front of the team hotel on Sunday morning in Anaheim prior to getting on the team bus.

MY GIANT: The Twins and Giants are playing each other for the 21st time in their history today… the Twins are 9-11 all-time against San Francisco, going 3-2 at Target Field, 5-7 at Oracle Park and 1-2 at the Metrodome…dating back to 2017, the Twins have won five of their last eight over the Giants…Twins are looking to avoid losing a series to the Giants for the first time since May 23-25, 2014, when they were swept in three at Oracle Park…the Twins are 3-3-0 all time in series play against San Francisco.

50 FIRST DATES: The Twins are playing in their 50th game of the season today, below are the yearly hitting and pitching comparisons (since 2019) for the first 50:
2019 .273 300 472 108 8 101 162 376 .342 .521 .862
2020 .244 225 391 63 2 75 161 428 .319 .426 .745
2021 .241 234 403 89 5 69 168 438 .315 .424 .738
2022 .251 222 417 86 3 53 179 415 .328 .402 .730
2023 .229 223 379 78 7 66 169 485 .310 .405 .714

2019 34 16 14 442.0 415 188 60 142 421 3.83 .246
2020 30 20 16 423.1 381 175 54 143 442 3.72 .239
2021 20 30 10 434.1 419 223 70 159 420 4.62 .251
2022 30 20 13 444.0 396 169 49 143 427 3.43 .234
2023 25 24 11 441.0 369 169 45 150 486 3.45 .224

SERIES FINALE: The Twins lost their seventh series of the season last night, making them 7-7-1 in series play in 2023…they have gone 1-6-1 in eight road series this season and 6-2-0 at home (results to the right)…Twins are looking to avoid being swept today for the first time this season…they faced a potential sweep once after losing the first two to Washington from April 21-22, but won the third game on April 3…last time they were swept was by Cleveland in three games at Target Field from September 9-11, 2022.

NATIONAL TREASURES: The Twins have gone 7-10 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 vs. Los Angeles-NL and 0-2 vs. San Francisco…after this series, the Twins’ next NL opponent will be the Brewers for two games at Target Field from June 13-14…the Twins are 10-6 (.625) against the AL Central and 15-18 (.455) against the rest of the league this season…no other division leader is below .500 in non-divisional games.

CREATING SPACE: The Twins have played 14 one-run games this season, going 4-10 in such instances, tied for the fourth-most losses in baseball…they have played 35 games within two runs, going 21-14 in those games, eighth-most wins in baseball…they have played 24 games within three runs, going 14-10 in those.

ALL ARMS AND LEGS: Byron Buxton went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a stolen base last night…last night marked his eighth career game with a homer and a stolen base, 11th most in Twins history; Torii Hunter has the most, with 19….Buck extended his on-base streak to a career-long 23-straight games, since April 25…Buxton’s current streak is the longest for a Twin since Jorge Polanco reached safely in 37-straight from May 13-June 25, 2019.

In his last eight games, Buxton is hitting .333 (10-for-30) with four walks, two doubles, two home runs, four RBI, four walks, nine runs scored, three stolen bases, a .429 on-base percentage, a .600 slugging percentage and a 1.029 OPS.

DONNIE BARRELS: Donovan Solano is hitting .320 (16-for-50) with three doubles, six walks and a .404 on-base percentage in 19 games at Target Field this season…Solano has reached base safely in nine of his last 10 games overall (home and road), posting a .420 on-base percentage in that span…Donnie played three seasons with the Giants from 2019-21, hitting .308 (219-for-712) with 45 doubles, 14 home runs, 83 RBI and 84 runs scored in 236 games and won a Louisville Silver Slugger Award in 2020…Solano believes his nickname “Donnie Barrels” came from Giants teammate Mike Yastrzemski who started calling him “Donnie Ballgame”…then, some teammates started asking how he got the barrel of the bat on the ball, and somehow the name became “Donnie Barrels.”

2023: 6-1, 2.25 ERA CAREER: 21-10, 3.29 ERA

Making his 10th start and appearance of 2023 and his fourth home start of the year…also his 42nd career start and appearance.

San Francisco native is facing the Giants for the second time in his career; won his only previous start vs. the Giants on August 26, 2022 at Target Field in a 9-0 Twins victory (6.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 8 K).

Owns most strikeouts (247) and second-most wins (21) through a pitcher’s first 41 career games in Twins history (since 1961)

LAST TIME OUT: Recorded his seventh-straight quality start but did not factor into the decision in the Twins 5-4 loss against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium on May 19…pitched 6.0 innings, allowing three runs (2 earned) on seven hits, with one walk and nine strikeouts…allowed one run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by outfielder Taylor Ward, scoring infielder Zach Neto…gave up two runs in the fourth inning, one on a RBI double from infielder Brandon Drury and one on a throwing error by catcher Ryan Jeffers…allowed a stolen base to infielder Luis Rengifo in the fourth inning, the first steal Ryan has allowed this year; snapped his career-long 12-start streak without allowing a stolen base, dating back to September 13, 2022…yielded two hits in the bottom of the sixth inning but held the Angels scoreless in the frame…was relieved by Griffin Jax to start the seventh inning with the Twins leading 4-3; Jax allowed two runs in the inning and Minnesota did not score in the final two innings, dropping the series opener.

Current streak of seven-straight quality starts marks the longest streak of his career and the longest by a Twin since José Berríos also recorded seven-consecutive quality starts in 2019…Ryan’s streak is tied with Houston’s Framber Valdez for the second longest in baseball this season, trailing only Seattle’s George Kirby (8).

Has pitched 6.0-or-more innings in each of his last 10 starts, dating back to September 30, 2022…marks the longest streak of Ryan’s career and the longest active streak in baseball. AHas not allowed a home run in his last five starts, his longest streak without allowing a homer in his career…last allowed a homer in the sixth inning on April 19 at Boston to Kiké Hernández, logging 31.1 innings since the home run.

TWO STARTS AGO: Earned his team-leading sixth win in the Twins 11-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on May 13 at Target Field…recorded his sixth-straight quality start, tossing 6.0 scoreless innings with four hits allowed, one walk and a season-high-tying 10 strikeouts…retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced from the top of the third inning through the top of the sixth…threw a season-high 102 pitches, his most in a game since throwing 106 pitches vs. Kansas City on September 13, 2022… was relieved by Jovani Moran to begin the top of the seventh inning with Minnesota leading 7-0…the Twins offense recorded 13 hits, including a season-high five home runs, as Moran and Cole Sands combined to hold the Cubs to one run over the final 3.0 innings to seal the win.

Recorded 10-or-more strikeouts for the fourth time in his career and the second time vs. the Cubs (career-high 11 K at Chicago-NL on September 22, 2021)

RYAN VS. SAN FRANCISCO: Today is Ryan’s second career start vs. the Giants…earned the win in his only previous start on August 26, 2022 at Target Field in the Twins 9-0 victory; pitched 6.0 shutout innings, allowed two hits, issued three walks and struck out eight batters…threw 107 pitches, the second most he has ever thrown in his career (110 at Los Angeles-NL on August 9, 2022)…Ryan was born in San Francisco and grew up across the San Francisco Bay in Marin County, where he currently resides during the offseason…grew up a diehard Giants fan and was selected by them in the 39th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Sir Francis Drake High School, but elected not to sign.

In four career starts vs. National League West opponents (SF – 1, LAD – 1, SD – 1, COL – 1), Ryan is 2-2, 7.84 ERA (20.2 IP, 18 ER) with seven walks and 20 strikeouts.

ON TARGET: Making his fourth home start of the season today…has won each of his three starts at Target Field in 2023, going 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA (19.0 IP, 5 ER), two walks, 27 strikeouts and a .194 (14-for-72) opponent batting average…his 13.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home is the fifth best in the American League this year (min. 3 GS), trailing TB’s Zach Eflin (34.00), SEA’s George Kirby (22.00), TB’s Taj Bradley (21.00) and teammate Tyler Mahle (16.00)…the Twins are 5-0 in his last five home starts, dating back to September 13, 2022, with Ryan going 4-0, 2.40 ERA (30.0 IP, 8 ER) with seven walks and 41 strikeouts in that span…in six road starts this season, he is 3-1, 2.19 ERA (37.0 IP, 9 ER) with six walks and 39 strikeouts.

Ryan has gone 10-5 with a 3.32 ERA (116.2 IP, 43 ER), 35 walks and 132 strikeouts in 21 career home starts…has similar numbers in 20 career road starts, going 11-5 with a 3.27 ERA (113.0 IP, 41 ER), 25 walks and 115 strikeouts.

LIGHTS OUT VS. LEFTIES: Left-handed hitters are batting just .186 (19-for-102) with a .499 OPS and 26 strikeouts against Ryan this year…his .499 opponent OPS against lefties ranks fifth in baseball this season (min. 30.0 IP)…right-handed hitters are hitting .219 (23-for-105) with a .560 OPS and 46 strikeouts…his .203 (42-for-207) overall opponent batting average in 2023 ranks sixth in the American League and 10th in baseball…over his career, Ryan has slightly better splits against lefthanded hitters than righties, with lefties batting just .192 with a .599 OPS since his debut in 2021… right-handed hitters are hitting .215 with a .641 OPS off Ryan.

THE ARSENAL: Ryan has utilized a four-pitch mix in his first nine starts of the 2023 season…has leaned on his four-seam fastball and split finger, combining to throw the two pitches 86.1 percent of the time this year…opponents are batting just .184 (14-for-76) with 19 strikeouts against his split finger and sweeper combined this season…here’s a look at Ryan’s repertoire, per Baseball Savant:

4-Seam Fastball (92.6)………….58.3% (482 pitches, 243/239).. .202 (24-for-119), 3 2B, 3 HR, 42 K
Split Finger (83.5)………………….27.8% (230 pitches, 85/145)…………. .188 (13-for-69), 3 2B, 17 K
Sweeper (78.7)…………………………8.1% (67 pitches, 56/11)………………………….. .143 (1-for-7), 2 K
Slider (82.7)…………………………….5.8% (48 pitches, 38/10)……….. .364 (4-for-11), 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 K

Ryan’s four-seam fastball has accumulated a run value of -12 this season, the best run value on a four-seam fastball in the majors (min. 10 PA).

MASTER OF MAY: In four starts during the month of May this season, Ryan is 1-1, 1.50 ERA (24.0 IP, 4 ER) with four walks and 30 strikeouts…his 1.50 ERA in May ranks fourth in the American League and his 30 strikeouts are the fifth most in the AL this month (min. 4 GS)…he is 3-2, 2.44 ERA (44.1 IP, 12 ER) with 12 walks and 47 strikeouts in eight career May starts; his 2.44 ERA in May is the second lowest among any month in his career (April – 2.13).

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