Strong start for Nolasco, Mauer closing in on Twins record

Starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco is off to a solid start this season for the Minnesota Twins with a 0.99 WHIP.

Charles LeClaire/Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The Minnesota Twins head south for a matchup with the Chicago White Sox, and they’ll turn to resurgent starter Ricky Nolasco to start the series.

Nolasco has been solid through five starts, and while his numbers aren’t blowing anyone away, he’s allowing just one batter to reach base per inning through five games.

It’s a figure that ranks among the best starts to a season in recent franchise history, a list that also includes Brian Duensing circa 2009, and former Twins ace Johan Santana.

Twins, Lowest WHIP in First 5 Starts in Season – Since 2007

Year Player WHIP IP
2013 Andrew Albers 0.86 37
2007 Johan Santana 0.94 33
2007 Ramon Ortiz 0.97 35
2016 Ricky Nolasco 0.99 33 1/3
2009 Brian Duensing 1.03 29

Meanwhile, manager Paul Molitor has a big decision to make at third base with the return of Trevor Plouffe.

Edwardo Nunez has done a fine job filling in for Plouffe, and now leads the team with a .379 batting average, and ranks fourth with 10 RBI.

Minnesota Twins, Eduardo Nunez vs. Rest of 3B – 2016

All stats as starting 3B only

  Nunez All other 3B
Games 10 18
BA .372 .275
OBP .426 .329
SLG .465 .478
HR 1 2
RBI 8 9
Runs 7 7

Nunez isn’t the only Twins hitter off to a hot start.

First baseman Joe Mauer continues to vex opposing pitchers, and has reached base safety in all 28 games this season while batting .323 on 32 hits and 22 walks, both of which lead the Twins.

It’s one of the best starts in Twins history, as Mauer closes in on Kent Hrbek’s record of 33 games, set back in 1982.

Twins, Most Consec. Games Reaching Base to Begin Season – Since 1961

Year Player Games
1892 Kent Hrbek 33
2016 Joe Mauer 28
2005 Jacque Jones 27
1985 Tom Brunansky 23
1997 Chuck Knoblauch 23

It could be a big night for the long ball, as Nolasco squares off with fellow right-hander Matt Latos.

The Twins and the White Sox have hit a higher percentage of their home runs off of RHPs than any other teams in the league.

Highest Percent of HR Hit off of Right-Handed Pitchers – 2016

Team HR %
Twins 92
White Sox 88.9
Boston Red Sox 88.5
Chicago Cubs 83.9
Cleveland Indians 83.3

Statistics courtesy of Stats, Inc.