The Minnesota Twins playoff race is picking up steam. They don’t have much time to recover of they want to win the AL Central division title. The Twins squandered their division lead and are now playing catch-up to the rivals, the Cleveland Guardians. Plus, the Chicago White Sox aren’t going away as Minnesota has to fend them off while trying to recapture first place.
Twins Playoff Race Is Challenging
The Twins playoff race will be close for the next 29 games. They have 13 games at home and 16 on the road. They play the White Sox six more times, the Guardians seven more times, three at Target Field and four at Cleveland. Lastly, they play the New York Yankees three more times this week.
Minnesota Must Recover
The next few weeks for Minnesota will depend on a total team effort. Between a rash of injuries and the bats’ lifelessness, the Twins are in a tough bind. They were embarrassed on Saturday, being held to just one hit in a 13-0 loss to the White Sox. This team knows they must turn it around quickly and get their pitching, hitting and defense going.
Injuries Have Been a Factor
Each MLB team has to go through its fair share of aches, pains, sprains, and strains throughout a 162-game season. However, it has hit this Twins team hard. When an ace like Kenta Maeda is not available, there is added pressure on the other starting pitchers, some of whom are dealing with their injuries.
Randy Dobnak has dealt with a finger issue. Although he has struggled with a high ERA, he has been a significant part of the staff as a starter and long reliever. Sonny Gray has been battling a hamstring injury and needs to recover quickly. The Twins will count on him down the stretch to keep them in contention.
Bailey Ober is another that pitcher who’s been battling injuries. He is on a rehab assignment and will hopefully return soon. And it’s not just pitching. Position players have missed valuable time, including Ryan Jeffers, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sanó. To return to contention form, this team needs to get healthy—and fast.
Byron Buxton is another player who has battled injuries all season. He is one of Minnesota’s best players when healthy. Buxton is a vocal leader on and off the field, getting everyone around him to play their best. He is fun to watch with each at-bat. His speed causes real apprehension to the opposing pitchers.
Defensively he takes away hits, chances down deep hit fly balls, and saves runs for this team. Let’s face it, even though his average is not where it should be; the Twins need him. They aren’t good enough when he is out. He must get back in the game and remain healthy through the end.
Beat the Basement Dwellers
At this point, Cleveland has control of the division. The Twins are now the outsider looking at them. To catch the Guardians, they need that competitive fire they had in the first place to wake them and get the team going.
One way to do that is by beating the cellar-dwellers, the Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels. Winning the 12 games they play against will ease the pressure for facing the Guardians and White Sox.
Also, it needs to include Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, leading them offensively. They need the bullpen, including closer Jorge López, to find their grooves again. Since the trade for López, he is 0-1 with four saves, two blown saves with a 3.00 ERA. While not exactly bad numbers, it certainly isn’t what the Twins or even Lopez hoped.
If the Twins can get healthy and beat up below the .500 teams by winning at least nine of twelve and playing .500 ball or better against the Guardians, White Sox, and Yankees, they might sneak in and win the division. Can the Twins recover over the next 29 games and win the AL Central is certainly must-watch baseball at this point. We’re in for an exciting few weeks of baseball; however it plays out.