ALDS: Twins Name Bailey Ober as Game 1 Starter vs Astros

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Dodgers
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The Minnesota Twins won their first playoff series in 21 years on Wednesday evening and now find themselves staring up at the defending World Series champion and nearly decade-long MLB dynasty, the Houston Astros.

Bailey Ober named Minnesota Twins starter for game 1

Until Friday, it was a mystery as to who would take the mound as Twins starter for game 1. That changed when Bailey Ober sat down in front of reporters this afternoon and officially announced himself as the guy for Saturday. He told reporters that he only found out 20-30 minutes before he talked to them.

Who are the expected starters for ALDS Twins vs Astros?

The expected starters for the ALDS between the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros are as follows:

Gm 1 – Oct. 7 (3:45 pm): Bailey Ober vs Justin Verlander

Gm 2 – Oct. 8 (7:03 pm): Pablo Lopez vs Framber Valdez

Gm 3 – Oct. 10 (3:07 pm): Sonny Gray vs TBD

Related: Target Field Crowd Noise “a Weapon” that Made Pickoff Play Possible vs Blue Jays

The Houston Astros hit a lot of home runs and they do not strike out very often. On paper, that poses a problem for Joe Ryan, seeing as his 32 home runs allowed in 2023 was the 7th-most of any pitcher in Major League Baseball and he relies heavily on strikeouts, when at his best.

Bailey Ober, who threw just 20 innings less than Ryan this season, actually throws harder and allowed 10 less homers than his curly-haired teammate. Ryan allows more line drives and less fly balls. Plus, it’s Ober who allowed less exit velocity, a smaller hard-hit %, a smaller HR % and fared better in BA, OPS against and BAbip.

2023 OpponentsBAOPSBAbipHR%AVG EVHardH%LD%GB%FB%
Joe Ryan.248.742.3054.8%89.6 MPH41.7%23.0%32.2%34.7%
Bailey Ober.232.682.2763.8%87.7 MPH35.7%20.8%33.9%35.2%

Justin Verlander to start for Astros

Houston received a bye in the American League Wildcard round, after an incredible MLB regular season finale saw them move up from the AL’s #6 seed, at the start of the day, to the #2 seed, when it ended. The Astros will start 40-year-old postseason legend, Justin Verlander (2023: 162 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.133 WHIP).

Why didn’t the Twins choose Pablo Lopez or Joe Ryan?

The easiest option for Minnesota would have been to run Joe Ryan, the officially named starter for a Wildcard game 3 vs Toronto that wasn’t necessary. Pablo Lopez would have barely had 4 days of rest between his first pitch on Tuesday and the scheduled first pitch for Saturday’s game 1. Tossing him would’ve been risky.

But Lopez was so good vs Toronto that the urge to start him in game 1, again, had to have been nearly unbearable. Joe Ryan, on the other hand, has been very average, since throwing a complete game shutout back in June. In reality, he got every opportunity to prove he was the guy, and couldn’t close the deal. Thus, Ober gets the ball this weekend.

Related: How to watch Minnesota Twins Playoff Games in 2023

Yes, Joe had a good run in the Olympics a couple of years ago but those empty arenas can’t hold a candle to what the atmosphere will be like at Minute Maid Park this weekend. Ober going on Friday will slot Pablo Lopez in for Saturday afternoon, before the Twins come back with Sonny Gray in game 3, back at Target Field. If needed, Joe Ryan would go in game 4. Divisional Series rosters are due on Saturday morning by 10 AM CDT.

Read all of our Minnesota Twins playoff coverage

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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