The Minnesota Twins returned to the postseason in 2019 and are the favorites in the AL Central to win again. This year, however, will take a different path for success. The 2020 schedule includes only 60 games and will be a sprint from start to finish. What does the schedule have in store for the Twins? What new players will contribute to the team? Can the Twins go back to back in Central? Let’s look at the Minnesota Twins Season Preview for the 2020 season.
There will not be a 162-game schedule this year; instead, it’s only 60. The Twins schedule will feature 40 games against the usual division foes while the remaining 20 games will be against the competitive National League Central.
The AL Central is supposed to be one of the weaker divisions in baseball but with only 60 games, anything can happen. The Cleveland Indians have a sharp rotation and strong core of position players. The Chicago White Sox are being picked to be a young upstart team to watch. Rounding out the AL Central are the two cellar dwellers in the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers.
The Twins get things started on the road with their division rival, Chicago White Sox. The three-game weekend series will be a big test for both teams. While the rotation is several days from being set, it’s hard to imagine Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi not getting the ball at some point over the weekend.
Hopefully the Twins get off to a good start in August because the calendar starts to turn ugly after Labor Day. On September 8th and 9th, the Twins travel south to take on the St Louis Cardinals. They then return home for a big three-game series versus the Indians, which is the last series with that club. Don’t unpack, because it’s right back on the road for a tough seven-day trip to Chicago. There are four games with the White Sox and then three against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley. Survive that, and you get the Tigers and Cincinnati Reds for five games at home to finish it off. Not a bad last week.
The easy answer is nearly all of August. Teams in the Central will be circling the Pittsburgh Pirates, Royals, and Tigers on their schedule. From August 3rd to September 7th, the Twins play a total of 34 games in 36 days. Of those games, 22 are against the aforementioned three teams. Add in six games versus the Milwaukee Brewers, a team projected to finish fourth in their division, and they have a nice stretch to cushion their lead. This is where they need to take full advantage of a nice schedule. Win the games you are supposed and it will make life much easier moving forward.
As the rotation goes, so will the Twins. Everyone knows they will score a lot of runs but what they get out of the back end of the rotation could be the difference between a .500 record and a playoff spot.
Leading the way should be Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. To shore up the back end, the Twins have brought in three veterans. Kenta Maeda comes over from the Dodgers via trade. He figures to slide into one of the three back-end spots in the rotation. He has pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen. Rich Hill and Homer Bailey are the favorites to round out the rotation. Hill brings leadership and a big left-handed curveball, while Bailey adds 13 years of big-league experience.
When talking about the Twins, hitting and power should be the first two things that come to mind. It’s safe to say the Twins will not hit 307 home runs again in 2020. However, what the Twins lost in C.J. Cron, they gained in Josh Donaldson. The rest of the team remains intact. A heart of the order featuring Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Eddie Rosario should provide some thump. Add a healthy Mitch Garver and Miguel Sano behind them, and there isn’t much drop-off at the bottom, either. This is a scary lineup top-to-bottom for any pitching staff to face.
The big-name addition is clearly Donaldson. The 34-year-old veteran brings a strong power bat that will fit in very well with the rest of the Twins hitters. He’s a big upgrade at the hot corner defensively, as it allows Sano to move across the diamond over to first.
The trio of arms in Maeda, Hill, and Bailey could be what makes or breaks this Twins ball club. If two of the three are a success, the playoffs should be attainable. If they struggle, then they fall back to the second level with the Indians and White Sox.
A quiet yet strong acquisition is one found in the late innings of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard signed a one-year deal to pitch late in the ball game. The journeyman will be a nice bridge to the ninth inning for closer Taylor Rogers.
The Central division is theirs for the taking. They have a lineup that can rival anyone in the league. Slugfests should be a common occurrence with this Twins team.
The playoff picture will likely come down to their starting rotation. If they pitch well, they have the opportunity to run away with the division. Taking advantage of two rebuilding teams in their division will be key. Good teams must beat bad teams, and that’s especially true in a shortened season. The real story will be what happens in the playoffs. Can they be competitive against the powers of the East and West? That is a whole other story. Get to October and see what happens.
Embed from Getty Images