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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Twins series preview

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The Cubs welcome an AL Central contender to Wrigley Field.

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

These two teams are both likely in this year’s postseason. The Cubs enter the series in comfortable command in the NL Central and the Twins are second in the AL Central, three games behind the White Sox.

For more on the Twins, here’s TJ Gorsegner, managing editor of our SB Nation Twins site Twinkie Town:

A Cubs-Twins series is a rare treat for me, I grew up listening to Pat and Ron (Santo) on the radio. I still think of Pat Hughes as the voice of baseball. Anyway, you were asking about the Twins.

This is an interesting team, as they haven’t quite lived up to the offensive potential that we know the 2019 squad had, despite returning basically every contributor and adding Josh Donaldson. A large part of this can be attributed to injury, as Donaldson, Mitch Garver, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez, and others have all missed time for one reason or another.

Pitching, surprisingly (seriously, our last ace was Johan Santana and our last true closer was probably Glen Perkins) is carrying this Twins team. Kenta Maeda has been the surprise of the offseason, as he has performed much more like a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher than the back-of-the-rotation/bullpen swingman the Dodgers used him as. Must be nice to have a glut of decent pitching. Jose Berrios is a little hit-or-miss (get it?) but when he’s on he’s got great stuff. He just needs to find it consistently. Michael Pineda has also come back strong from a suspension for a banned masking agent/diuretic. Based on what he was doing last season and the small sample this year, the Twins have a strong top-3 to match up in the playoffs. Randy Dobnak has come down from the “best ERA in baseball” stratosphere, but as an extreme ground-ball pitcher, can probably sustain his success. Rich Hill is about 100 years old, and can’t get through the lineup twice, but has been good for a solid four innings per start. The “sixth” spot in the rotation has generally been a combination of spot starts and openers, but belongs to Jake Odorizzi if he can stay healthy. He’s pitching on a QO after a career year last season, but if he can be 80 percent of the pitcher he was last year, he’s a strong back-end option for a contender. Berrios pitched on Monday, Dobnak Tuesday, Odorizzi Wednesday and Maeda Thursday vs. the White Sox. The rotation for the Cubs series is Hill, Pineda and Berrios.

On offense, watch rookie catcher Ryan Jeffers. He’s been raking in small sample, after skipping Triple-A and coming straight up as an injury replacement for Garver. Eddie Rosario is day-to-day but should be fine by the time we meet, and Max Kepler is back from his IL visit, meaning the Twins outfield is finally intact for the first time in weeks. Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza have been filling in at second with Arraez out. Arraez is another fun player to watch as he’s a high-contact guy in a lineup of mashers.

Over the next three games, we will learn a bunch about what the Twins are playing for. If they can win all three, they’ll have a slim divisional lead. If they lose all three, they are basically locked into second place, and any other outcome leaves them in a tight battle with the Sox (we can at least agree to hate those guys, right?) The main focus though, will likely be on getting healthy for a playoff run, as it will be very difficult at this point for them to entirely blow a spot in the postseason.

I think game one is a pick ‘em, game two favors the Twins, and game three favors the Cubs. I’ll say we win two, but would absolutely respect a take that says the Cubs win two of them.

Fun fact

The Twins’ last visit to Wrigley Field was June 29-July 1, 2018, a brutally hot weekend on which the average game-time temperature was 93. In the June 30 game, several Twins players had to leave the game due to the heat. The Cubs swept the series and scored in double figures all three games, winning 10-6, 14-9 and 11-10.

Overall, since interleague play began, the Cubs are 17-13 vs. the Twins and 11-4 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have won the last five games played between the two teams.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (5-4, 3.29 ERA, 1.051 WHIP, 3.55 FIP) vs. Rich Hill, LHP (2-1, 3.81 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 4.51 FIP)

Saturday: Alec Mills, RHP (5-3, 3.93 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 4.85 FIP) vs. Michael Pineda, RHP (1-0, 3.57 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, 1.62 FIP)

Sunday: Yu Darvish, RHP (7-2, 1.86 ERA, 0.937 WHIP, 2.17 FIP) vs. Jose Berrios, RHP (4-3, 4.15 ERA, 1.365 WHIP, 4.01 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 7:15 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Saturday: 7:15 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, ESPN+ (subscribers only)

Sunday: 6:05 p.m. CT, ESPN

Prediction

The Twins are a very good team this year and are almost certainly headed to the postseason as (at least) the second-place team in the AL Central.

But the Cubs are on a roll, riding a four-game winning streak, and between that and their history against the visitors from Minnesota, I think they’ll take two of three.

Up next

The Cubs head to Pittsburgh for a four-game series against the Pirates beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    3
    (31 votes)
  • 65%
    2
    (113 votes)
  • 13%
    1
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    0
    (6 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now