Series Preview: Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees (5/3-5/5)

The New York Yankees are finally returning home after a nine-game road trip that saw them go 6-3.  If you told a Yankee fan they would finish their West Coast stint with a 6-3 record before the trip, they would have been satisfied.  However, after starting 6-1 and dropping the last two games to Arizona by a combined three runs, it feels as if they left a win or two on the table.  Nonetheless, the Yankees currently have a 17-13 record and are just 2.5 games behind the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees start their seven-game home stand with a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins.  The AL Central leading Twins come into this series with a 19-10 record after just completing a series win over the Houston Astros.  Minnesota is 6-1 over their last seven games. They are getting it done on both sides of the ball as they are in the top-13 in the majors in both runs scored and runs against.  This is the first of two three-game sets between the clubs.  The second will come in late July in the Twin Cities.

Game One – Friday, May 3, 7:05 EST
Kyle Gibson (2-0, 4.88 ERA) vs James Paxton (3-2, 3.38 ERA)

Kyle Gibson is in his seventh major league season, pitching for the Minnesota Twins in all of them.  He has eight career starts against the Yankees over that span, sitting with a 1-5 record with a 6.86 ERA.  Brett Gardner has faced him the most (16 PA) and has an average of .385 and OBP of .500 against Gibson.

Gibson works with a low 90’s fastball that he combines with a hard-breaking slider.  He throws his fastball and slider 74 percent of the time, according to fangraphs.  Gibson has made five starts this season. His first three were a bit shaky, but his last two starts have been impressive.  He went six innings, giving up two runs and seven innings giving up one run, respectively.  Gibson will look to keep his quality start streak come Friday night.

After a couple rough starts at the beginning of the season, ‘big maple’ has started to come into his own for the Pinstripes.  Over his last three outings, Paxton has pitched a combined 19.2 innings, giving up ten hits and three runs.  Paxton is comfortable with three pitches in his arsenal, and more often than not tries to over power hitters with his mid-upper 90’s fastball.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

The Minnesota Twins are familiar with Paxton as their lineup has a combined 94 plate appearances against the lefty.  In those plate appearances they are hitting a combined .209 with three home runs.  C.J. Cron is the only Twin with some success against Paxton, going 5-for-17 with two jacks against him in his career.

Game Two – Saturday, May 4, 1:00 EST
Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.34 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (1-2, 4.68 ERA)

At age 29, Jake Odorizzi is in his eighth MLB season, and second with the Twins.  He has been very solid through six starts this season, giving up two earned runs or less in four of those starts.  If you remove Odorizzi’s one bad start (0.2 IP, 4 ER) his season ERA would be sitting at 2.17.  Odorizzi uses four pitches (FB, SL, CB, CH).  He throws his fastball 57 percent of the time, but his secondary pitches are basically split as he mixes them very well, via fangraphs.

Odorizzi, a former Tampa Bay Ray, is very familiar with the Bronx Bombers.  He has 15 career starts against the Yanks, sporting a 6-8 record with a 4.33 ERA.  Though, this current Yankee squad is not very familiar with him.  Brett Gardner has struggled against the righty as he is 6-for-31 in his career against Odorizzi.  Cameron Maybin and Gary Sanchez have a combined 20 career at-bats against him, going 8-for-20 with two HR and five RBI.

J.A. Happ started his second season with the Yanks with some poor outings, but has since bounced backed with three consecutive quality starts, including an April 27th outing where he went seven innings pitched, giving up no runs and picking up his first win of the season.  The Twins are very familiar with Happ as they have a combined 134 at-bats against him.  They are hitting a combined .291 with just two home runs. Nelson Cruz has seen a lot of success in his career against Happ, hitting .417 in 24 AB.

Happ has continued the trend of throwing his fastball a ton.  Through six starts this season he is throwing it 70.5 percent of the time, according to fangraphs.  Though Happ’s fastball sits right around 90 MPH, he locates it very well making it a tough pitch to hit.  Happ will look to continue his strong pitching during Saturday’s matinee.

Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Game Three – Sunday, May 5, 1:05 EST
Michael Pineda (2-2, 6.21 ERA) vs Domingo German (5-1, 2.56 ERA)

Five or so years ago many thought Michael Pineda would be the next dominate Yankee pitcher.  After a multitude of injuries and inconsistency, the Yanks decided to move on from the big lefty.  He found a new home in Minnesota, signing a 2yr/$10M contract in December of 2017.  Pineda is almost strictly a fastball/slider pitcher, throwing those two pitches a combined 88 percent of the time, via fangraphs.

Because he has been on the Yankees for the majority of his career, only two current Bombers have faced Pineda.  Brett Gardner is 0-for-2 against the lefty, and Cameron Maybin is 5-for-16.  Pitching for the Yanks for four seasons, Pineda is very familiar with Yankee Staduim.  In 47 career starts in the Bronx, Pineda is 18-13 with a 3.95 ERA giving up just 1.6 HR/9.  He will be looking for revenge against his old club come Sunday afternoon.

The Yankees ace of the early part of the 2019 season has been Domingo German, who will take the bump for Sunday’s matinee.  With five wins on the young season, the 26-year old is tied for the most wins in the majors.  With that being said, he is coming off his worst start of the season (6 IP, 4 ER).  German has consistently gone six innings per outing this season.  He uses three-pitches, a mid-90’s fastball, a hard-breaking curve, and a changeup.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/NY Post

German has never started a game against Minnesota, but he has two appearances out of the pen where he gave up just one run in five innings pitched.  The current Twins lineup has a combined 23 at-bats against German, managing just four hits with only one being an extra-base hit.  German has 11 strikeouts in those 23 at-bats.  All signs point to another strong start from the Dominican Republic native.

Article by: Shane Black


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