With the ALDS in Houston about to being, things are starting to fall into place for the Minnesota Twins.
The biggest question that needed to be answered was who would start Game 1. Neither Pablo Lopez or Sonny Gray are available, nor is it a good idea for the Twins to use them so early in the series when they’ll likely be needed to clamp down later on.
Not having Lopez or Gray doesn’t put the Twins in as tough a spot as it might have in the past. For so many years, fans have watched subpar pitchers take the mound in big spots, but Rocco Baldelli had arms like Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, and even former Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel available.
Instead he went in a different direction, picking Bailey Ober to start Game 1 and creating paths to potential victory with what he can do with the pitching staff beyond that.
Minnesota Twins probable pitchers for ALDS vs. Astros
Here's who will be on the mound for Minnesota and Houston this series, barring some sort of injury or last-minute change:
The Twins had some options for who to put out there for Game 1, with both Joe Ryan and Kenta Maeda looking like potential starters Rocco could go with. In the end it was Ober who got the call, which could go a long way in helping develop him into a key piece of the Twins rotation.
Ober was already a rising star behind the five starters Minnesota rolled into the regular season with, and he was given a handful of opportunities throughout the year. Starting Game 1 of a crucial playoff game is quite the vote of confidence, which is something he now needs to live up to.
Using Ober in Game 1 allows Pablo Lopez to pitch against Houston's most dangerous starter, Framber Valdez. It also sets up Sonny Gray for Game 3 back at Target Field and a potential bullpen game in Game 4 before turning to Lopez if needed in a win-or-go-home game.