Minnesota Twins series preview: Cleveland Indians
By Tyler Kruse
The Minnesota Twins continue their 10 game road trip with a visit to the second place division rival Cleveland Indians.
It’s a tale of two stories so far this year for the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. Thus far, the Twins have achieved an astonishing 40 wins in 58 games, a franchise record pace dating back 119 years. The Indians on the other hand are struggling to find their groove both in the field and at the plate, failing to keep up with the surging Minnesota Twins. This series has potential to be a big one early in the season.
New look Indians
After rumors of looking to trade Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer in the offseason failed to come to fruition, the Indians have kept their starting rotation mostly intact. The bullpen and line-up, on the other hand, are missing quite a few key pieces leading to a down year for the Indians so far.
Though having down years for their own standards in 2018 the Indians lost two key bullpen pieces in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Andrew Miller is currently with the St. Louis Cardinals and though he has an ERA of 3.98 through 20.1 innings, he also has 27 strikeouts showing he still has swing and miss stuff.
Currently with the Los Angeles Angels, Cody Allen is also another name the Indians seem to be missing in the bullpen right now. Though he didn’t have the greatest 2018 campaign and isn’t faring the best so far in 2019, he has the experience to be a high-leverage situational reliever.
Their line-up has also had quite the overhaul since the end of last year. Losing big bats such as Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion, the bats for the Indians are lacking quite a bit of pop. Yan Gomes is another guy that has moved on from the Indians heading to the Washington Nationals in an off-season trade that landed young Indians starter Jefry Rodriguez.
Twins additions paying off
The Twins on the other hand, after some savvy off-season moves, seem headed in the right direction. Put simply, the Twins added more bats than lost and the Indians lost more bats than they added, and the results prove that. The Indians have a line-up that relies heavily on Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, the Twins on the other hand have a plethora of bats performing well at the plate.
Adding veteran DH Nelson Cruz has paid off handsomely so far for the Twins, a signing that was always supposed to pay off. A couple pleasant surprises for the Minnesota Twins this year have to be Jonathan Schoop and CJ Cron. Schoop is coming off a bit of a rough year from the Orioles and Brewers and Cron never really got the consistent at-bats necessary with the Rays or Angels.
Both have seemingly turned a corner with the Twins. Given consistent playing time on the right side of the infield, these off-season additions seem to be paying off exceptionally well for the young Twins line-up this year. Adding some much-needed help to the pitching staff doesn’t hurt either.
Martin Perez, Blake Parker, and Mike Morin are all pitching well for the Twins. Perez getting starts when many thought he was a relief type guy, seems to be a great call by the front office in Minnesota. Parker and Morin have also done well when called upon coming in and throwing strikes while getting key outs.
Though the two teams seem headed in opposite directions, it’s still very early in the season. Much can change between now and October and the Twins hope that’s not the case. To say a series is big with 60 games played in the season seems a bit ludicrous, and is, most of the time.
However, with the Twins currently 11.5 games ahead of the White Sox and Indians, in one of the weaker divisions in baseball, this could be a big series, especially for the Indians. Falling further behind the Twins at this stage in the season seems like a death sentence for the Indians mainly because the Twins have one of the easiest remaining schedules in baseball.
That goes for both teams, they need to win the games they’re supposed to and so far, one team has done that. Look for this to be a heated series while it’s reasonable to expect some close games given the pitching match-ups to come in the three-day set in Cleveland.
One of my favorite match-ups of the season will come Thursday when Jose Berrios squares off against Trevor Bauer. However, Twins newcomer Devin Smeltzer gets the ball tonight against Indians starter Shane Bieber which should be a fun matchup to watch. Anything can happen in a series between division rivals, the Twins visiting the Indians should be an exciting series to watch.