After the six weeks of Spring Training for the Twins, it;s all wrapped up and the regular season will offically be under way. The Twins will kick off the 2023 season opener by playing the Kansas City Royals for a 3 game series this weekend in KC.
The Twins unviled the lineup for Opening Day a night early and there are 5 notable things about the lineup to keep an eye on.
1. Max Kepler in the leadoff spot
Definitely one of the most notable things that stands out is Max Kepler is back in the leadoff spot. He hasn't done much of it lately but in 2019 and 2020 seeing Kepler's name in the leadoff spot was a popular sight.
It definetly is a surpise to many that Kepler is hitting leadoff after Gallo lead off most of this spring, but the Twins are hoping to get that magic that Kepler had in 2019 and 2020 back. Kepler had a very solid spring himself. He started in 12 games this spring and slugged his way to a .375 batting average.
2. Trevor Larnach batting clean up and starting Left field
After a very promising spring for Trevor Larnach, slugging his way into a .375 batting average with 13 hits and 7 runs scored, he earned a spot in the cleanup position for the Opening Day lineup. 2023 will be a big season for the Twins 3rd ranked prospect. He will have a lot to prove this season after his promising 2022 was cut short due to injury.
3. Pablo Lopez is opening Day starter
This one was already known, as it was unveiled last weekend, that Pablo Lopez will be the Opening Day starter on the mound in KC for the Twins. It wasn't too surprising as he was brought in from a trade with the Miami Marlins to not only be the "ace" of this club but also help boost what should be a better rotation than what Twins fans have been used to.
Lopez had a decent spring, he pitched his way to a 4.00 ERA and that is partially due to his last start in spring against the Yankees where he allowed 4 runs in 3 innings pitched. But for what it's worth, in his start for Venezuela in the WBC against Puerto Rico, Lopez pitched 4.2 innings only allowing 1 run, and had 6 strikeouts with no walks. So Twins fans should hope that the Twins will be able to get the same out of him in the bright light moments this season.
It all starts with game 1 out of 162 for Lopez.
4. Buxton in DH with Taylor playing CF
This one also isn't much of a shocker as it was revealed that Buxton will be appearing at DH for most of the start of the season to let his knee continue to heal back up.
What is most interesting about this is we'll see Michael A. Taylor in center field for the first time as a Twin. He was brought here to provide depth in center for this exact reason. The Twins can continue to get great play from that spot while giving Buxton some rest. Taylor had a solid spring. He appeared in 16 games and slugged his way to a .256 batting average with a .319 OBP. The season opener will be the first time the Twins will get to see how much depth Michael A. Taylor will provide.
5. Joey Gallo will start at 1st base after playing the position for most of the spring
When Gallo signed with the Twins over the offseason, he was originally thought to be the Twins starting left fielder. But while Gallo could still appear in left throughout the year, he had a lot of playing time on 1st base in the spring due to the injuries of infielders Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff.
So because of that Gallo will be the Opening Day first baseman for the Minnesota Twins. However, what is a little surprising about the lineup, is that Gallo will be batting 7th instead of leading off like he did most of the spring. The Twins have hoped that with the new shift rules that Gallo's bat will improve and while Gallo did have a .214 Batting average during the spring he also posted a .298 OBP.