Minnesota Twins: Breaking down the big border battle

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ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 13: Catcher Bobby Wilson #46 and pitcher Fernando Romero #77 of the Minnesota Twins confer on the mound in the fifth inning during the MLB game at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) FIFTH inning
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 13: Catcher Bobby Wilson #46 and pitcher Fernando Romero #77 of the Minnesota Twins confer on the mound in the fifth inning during the MLB game at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) FIFTH inning /
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The Minnesota Twins are three games under .500 and still very much alive in the AL Central. They trail the Indians by only one and a half games heading into the weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

This will be a big early test for the Minnesota Twins. The Brewers come into Target Field having won five of their previous seven games. Minnesota has been playing well and a good showing this weekend will give fans hope for the rest of this season.

However, Milwaukee has been one of the best teams in all of baseball during the last month of games so the Twins will have their hands full. Although there are still 123 games remaining for Minnesota, this is a pivotal series against the Brewers. Minnesota not only needs to keep pace with Cleveland, they also need to prove they can win against good teams.

Probable Starters:

May 18: Brent Suter (2-3, 5.14 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.43 ERA)

May 19: Freddy Peralta (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.54 ERA)

May 20: Junior Guerra (3-3, 3.08 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.35 ERA)

This series sets up well for the Minnesota Twins. They face two pitchers, Suter and Peralta, who weren’t even in the rotation a couple of weeks ago. Guerra is the third pitcher they’ll face and started the year in Triple-A for Milwaukee following a disastrous 2017 season.

The must-see matchup of the weekend will be Saturday when two rookie starters go toe to toe. Romero takes the hill for Minnesota and has been spectacular through his first three starts. He has surrendered only one earned run and has 20 strikeouts through his first 16 2/3 innings pitched in MLB. Milwaukee counters with Peralta who dazzled during his MLB debut on Sunday allowing zero earned runs while pitching 5 2/3 innings. All three of these games are very winnable for Minnesota and they need at least a series victory to keep the momentum moving in the right direction.

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The key to success over the Brewers

First and foremost, Minnesota has to do early damage against Milwaukee’s starting pitchers. When I say damage I don’t mean score two or three runs, rather they need to hang a crooked number early so they won’t have to worry about the Brewers bullpen.

Milwaukee’s bullpen is ranked ninth in MLB with a 3.83 ERA. The Twins have to avoid needing a big inning against this group because almost everybody in the Brewers pen has been effective during this season. One player Minnesota absolutely needs to avoid is Josh Hader. The left-hander has a funky delivery while hiding the ball well and has dominated the National League to start this season.

The Twins have the pitching advantage for all three games of this series. Gibson has been arguably Minnesota’s most consistent starting pitcher and should fare well on Friday. Milwaukee is a free-swinging group and could be exactly what this pitching staff needs to get on course.

Next: Jason Castro's out, what can the Twins do now?

Years ago, when Milwaukee was still in the American League, this was a fierce rivalry. Even now, when these two teams matchup there’s a sense of excitement and memories of the past always flare up. Matchups like this are what make Interleague Play worth it.

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