Minnesota Twins set to face off against Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - APRIL 18: Eddie Rosario /

The Minnesota Twins are set to try and keep their winning ways going as they roll into Tampa Bay for a series against the Rays after a week in Puerto Rico.

The Minnesota Twins were able to split the series in Puerto Rico this past week. That has put the Twins back in first place in the American League Central. After a day off on Friday, the Twins will now look to build on that lead against the 5-13 Tampa Bay Rays.

The Twins turned to their “ace”, Jose Berrios, on Wednesday night to get a win. Now the Twins will have to face a player fans coveted all offseason and the Rays ace in game one of this Rays series, Chris Archer.

Archer has really looked pretty hittable to this point into the young season. In four games started, Archer is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA. The right-hander is still striking out batters at a good rate with a 10.5 K/9 in those four games. Which will be especially useful against a Twins lineup that racks up a fair number of strikeouts. Speaking of the ability to hit Archer this season, in each of his outings at least four runs have scored.

Here is a closer look at the pitching matchups for the rest of the series

Probable Starters:

April 20th: Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (1-1, 7.84ERA)

April 21st: Kyle Gibson (1-0, 3.68 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (2-1, 2.95 ERA)

April 22nd: TBD (likely Phil Hughes) vs. TBD

In that last game, both teams will be looking to add in a regular 5th starter to the rotation. Leaving some questions marks for what is ahead. For the Twins it will likely be Phil Hughes. The Rays have Ryan Yarbrough and Andrew Kittredge who have both made starts this season who they could turn to in that final game.

The Rays have been dealing with some injury concerns already in 2018. Most notably is Kevin Kiermaier who is on the 60-day DL after suffering a torn ligament in his thumb. As well as Jose De Leon, also on the 60-day DL who was the only real reported return in attempts to trade Brian Dozier two offseasons ago.

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The Twins will run into some old friends in Denard Span and Carlos Gomez. The pitching staff may also want to pay attention to Rays first baseman C.J. Cron. He has always just seemed to come up with hits against the Twins both while with the Los Angeles Angels and this past spring training with the Rays. Cron has hit .364/.417/.485 with a home run, double, and 6 RBIs against current Twins pitchers.

The Twins sorely need to see their bats get going in this series. It may be difficult in that first game against Archer. Looking at the second game, several Twins have had success against Snell in the past but those numbers do come from a small sample size. Also working against the Twins is that Snell appears to be turning a corner and is having more success on the mound than he has in the past. A good sign for the Rays as Snell has been viewed as a potential top rotation starter depending on his development. Combine that with facing Archer, the Twins may be leaning on Joe Mauer even more through this series to lead the offensive charge.

One hope would be that coming off of an emotional high on Wednesday that Eddie Rosario can keep his bat going. Especially since out of all Twins hitters he has had the most success against Archer collecting three hits, two of which have been doubles, in nine at-bats against the Rays ace.

Next: Brian Dozier is swing a hot bat

This series against the Rays isn’t as much of a statement series as the Cleveland Indians series was. It is a series where the Twins can simply show the ability to take care of business as a hopeful top team in the American League this season.