Minnesota Twins: The Biggest Playoff X-Factor is Michael Pineda

After making his long-awaited return, Michael Pineda may be a key factor for the Minnesota Twins in their 2020 postseason play.

2020 could finally be the first time since 2006 that the Minnesota Twins do not face the New York Yankees in the first round of the MLB Postseason. Even if they do face the Yankees in round one, they still have one key piece of their 2019 rotation that the Yankees never saw in the 2019 ALDS: former Yankee Michael Pineda.

Before Pineda’s 60 game suspension for the use of Hydrochlorothiazide came down on September 7th, of last year, Minnesota Twins fans saw Pineda as their biggest hope in the pitching rotation for their postseason play, and after a couple starts in 2020, this postseason looks no different.

Pineda looks likely to be getting a start in for the Minnesota Twins opening postseason series, no matter who their opponent is. It’s fair to say that Kenta Maeda would likely get the start for the Twins first postseason game, but after that, Big Mike could be the guy.

Like many of his teammates in last years’ Twins starting rotation, Pineda has never pitched a game in the postseason before. To this day, Pineda has still yet to play postseason baseball, but what does he have to lose by going in game two of a three game series?

That series that could be against any American League team, spanning from the arch rival Chicago White Sox to the breakout youngsters that make up the Toronto Blue Jays. If Pineda was to open his postseason against one of these two teams, here are the stats Pineda has put up against the those two teams over his career.

Against the White Sox, Pineda owns a 3.21 career earned run average, a 1.01 WHIP, while only giving up three home runs against White Sox hitters at US Cellular Field in Chicago. Against the Blue Jays, Pineda has a 4.48 career ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and an opponents OPS of .801.

It should be noted though that Pineda has not made a start against the Blue Jays since April 18, 2019. A team, which at the time, did not feature current Blue Jays stars such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Even though the career numbers against the Blue Jays are not the best, there are still plenty of bats in their lineup that have yet to see Pineda pitch in the Major Leagues.

In case the Minnesota Twins do end up playing the Yankees to open up their postseason again, there is one advantage Pineda does have over his teammates. He’s quite used to pitching under high pressure at Yankee Stadium.

As many people who follow baseball know, the crowds at Yankee Stadium can be brutal in their cheers against visiting teams in the postseason, as well as their taunting toward visiting team fans. Pineda spent four seasons pitching for the Yankees. If any Minnesota Twins starter could face the pressure of the fans there, it’s him.

However, it is 2020. MLB fans are not allowed into the ballparks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Regardless of there being fans or no fans, Pineda looks to be the X-factor for the Twins this postseason.

 

Next: Can the Minnesota Twins keep the pace in the season’s final quarter?
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