Four Games, Two Top MLB Teams and One AL Central Crown Up For Grabs

Photo: Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

If you got swept up in football yesterday, I am here to remind you that the Minnesota Twins only have TWELVE games remaining on their 2020 regular season schedule. That’s right. In two weeks, we will be bunkering down and flipping on the latest edition of the Minnesota Twins postseason adventure. Hopefully, this one will last more than one series.

But first, the Twins are trying to win the American League Central Division crown. After sweeping the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, the only obstacle left standing in their way, is the professional baseball team from the South Side of Chicago, nicknamed the “White Sox”. It just so happens, the Sox and Twins are about to meet for a 4-game series that starts tonight.

Stakes Are High

We’ll talk about the Yankees later. I can promise you the Minnesota Twins aren’t winning or losing baseball games based on who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. They want the AL Central crown. Why? Because that’s the first goal in a successful season. Winning your division is the success you set out for on Opening Day.

That’s especially true when division opponents are the only American League teams you’ve played against. Think like an athlete. Take the season one step at a time. If the Twins can win or split this 4-game set, the schedule says they should win the division. We’ll worry about playoff matchups after that (and later in this blog).

Remaining Schedules

Come Thursday afternoon, when this series commences on the South Side, the Twins will have nine games remaining on their 2020 schedule. The first three will be against the currently 28-20 (North Side) Chicago Cubs. The last five are against the sub-.500 Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds.

The Chicago White Sox will play both the Cubs and Reds, too. But unlike the Twins, they aren’t done with Cleveland yet. The Sox and Indians still have a four game series they will start on September 21. I know Cleveland slid down the AL Central rankings after the Twins swept Target Field with them over the weekend… but their pitchers are no joke and they’ll be fighting to stay in the expanded playoff race. I can’t see the Indians rolling over and dying.

Pitching matchups

If this were Opening Day of the 2020 season, we’d be happy with the pitching matchups for this week. The Minnesota Twins are opening the series tonight, with the pitcher they thought would be at the top of our rotation come playoffs, Jose Berrios.

That’s not the way it’s played out, unfortunately. If the playoffs started tomorrow, Berrios might slide in at #3… but I’d be hard-pressed to slot him in ahead of Kenta Maeda or Michael Pineda. If Dobnak outpitches him over the next two days, I might move him down to my #4 starter.

The Twins need him tonight, though. His matchup, Dylan Cease, has been terrible during his last couple starts. On paper, Dobnak’s matchup tomorrow looks a lot more difficult that what we will see today.

Dane Dunning has pitched shutouts in two of his four starts this season. That’s pretty good. He’s still a rookie, though, and the Twins bats are hot. Kenta Maeda will go for us on Thursday, to close out the series, but the Minnesota starter for game-3 is still up in the air. Same goes for Chicago in game-4.

Playoff Implications

I’ve seen a lot of people who are very afraid of playing the New York Yankees in the playoffs. After another beatdown last season, I can’t blame them. If the Yankees can climb over the Blue Jays in the AL East, they’ll all but lock up the AL’s 5-seed. Second place in the Central currently lines up as the AL’s 4-seed, meaning the Twins and Yankees would meet up for the first round, yet again.

Count me out as someone who cares. Like I said above, I’m not thinking about playoff matchups yet. Let’s win the AL Central first and then move to the next goal of the season. If that next goal happens to be the Yankees, then cool. I’ll worry about them then.

Buckle up, Minnesota Twins fans. The 2020 MLB season is about to get fun. The next two weeks will be an end-of-season roller-coaster like we’ve never seen before and it starts tonight against public enemy #1, the Chicago White Sox.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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