Twins playoff primer: Schedule set up nicely for Minnesota
It seems like only a matter of time before the Minnesota Twins clinch the American League Central Division title.
Of course, it’s never in the bag until it’s actually in the bag.
With a magic number to clinch down to six, the Twins technically could clinch as early as Sunday.
Minnesota isn’t exactly facing powerhouse teams in its next two series. The Twins’ next two opponents – Kansas City and Detroit – have combined for 101 wins. The Twins have 94. A six-game win streak would take care of matters all on its own.
Nevertheless, it’s not official until the number reaches zero, and Cleveland isn’t throwing in the towel.
Here’s how the next week of games look for both the Twins and Indians:
Upcoming Twins games (all games on FOX Sports North)
Friday, Sept. 20 vs. Royals, 7 p.m.: Randy Dobnak (0-1, 2.12 ERA) vs. Erik Skoglund (0-1, 8.36)
Saturday, Sept. 21 vs. Royals, 6 p.m.: Jose Berrios (13-8, 3.58) vs. Glenn Sparkman (4-11, 6.02)
Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Royals, 1 p.m.: Martin Perez (10-7, 4.92) vs. Jorge Lopez (4-8, 5.93)
Tuesday, Sept. 24 at Tigers, 5:40 p.m.: Jake Odorizzi (14-7, 3.59) vs. Spencer Turnbull (3-15, 4.66)
Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Tigers, 5:40 p.m.: Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.88) vs. Daniel Norris (3-13, 4.58)
Thursday, Sept. 26 at Tigers, 12 p.m.: TBD vs. Jordan Zimmermann (1-11, 6.32)
The Twins opened the series against Kansas City on Thursday with a win. Looking at the Royals’ upcoming rotation, it’s hard not to see more victories in Minnesota’s future. Kansas City is 8-9 this month, but five of those wins were against Baltimore, Detroit and Miami, the three worst teams in MLB (and two others came vs. the Chicago White Sox). Minnesota is 10-3 against the Royals this season and have won four straight. Kansas City is 27-51 on the road this year, the third-worst record in MLB. Minnesota concludes its season on the road, beginning in Detroit. The Tigers have the worst home record in the majors, 21-54. The Twins have the best road record at 50-25. Detroit can’t wait for the season to end – the Tigers are 5-13 so far in September and 17-49 (.258) in the second half. As things are scheduled, Minnesota won’t have to face Detroit’s ace, Matthew Boyd (8-11, 4.54, 1.197 WHIP, 11.6 K/9), either. The Twins are 11-5 against the Tigers so far in 2019 with a +31 run differential (104-73). Really, it’s hard to imagine this week being set up any nicer for Minnesota.
Upcoming Indians games
Friday, Sept. 20 vs. Phillies, 6 p.m.: Shane Bieber (14-7, 3.26) vs. Drew Smyly (3-1, 4.14)
Saturday, Sept. 21 vs. Phillies, 6 p.m.: Zach Plesac (8-6, 3.64) vs. Jason Vargas (0-3, 5.48)
Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Phillies, 5:30 p.m.: Adam Plutko (7-4, 4.34) vs. Vince Velasquez (7-7, 4.89)
Tuesday, Sept. 24 at White Sox, 7 p.m.: Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.82) vs. Ross Detwiler (2-5, 6.98)
Wednesday, Sept. 25 at White Sox, 7 p.m.: Mike Clevinger (12-3, 2.54) vs. Dylan Cease (3-7, 6.18)
Thursday, Sept. 24 at White Sox, 7 p.m.: Bieber vs. Ivan Nova (10-12, 4.83)
While the Twins get to face the Royals this weekend, Cleveland has to tangle with Philadelphia, which is still in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the National League, although currently sitting four games out. The Phillies have been positively mediocre in the second half (31-30 record, 9-8 in September), although they are coming off having won two of three in Atlanta. Philadelphia is 35-38 on the road while Cleveland is 47-31 at home. The Indians won’t be facing the Phillies’ ace, Aaron Nola. Playing at Chicago, which is without its ace, Lucas Gioloto, seems like a good matchup for Cleveland. However, the Indians are 7-9 against the White Sox this year, including a four-game split earlier in the month. The Indians lost three of four the last time they were in Chicago, although that was May 30-June 2.
If it comes down to the final weekend, the Twins will be in Kansas City for three games while Cleveland has to travel to Washington, which still might be fighting for playoff spot as well. Advantage: Minnesota.