Houston Astros – Minnesota Twins ALDS Preview

Astros Twins
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins are set to meet in the American League Division Series. The Astros are looking to repeat as World Series Champions. No team has won back-to-back World Series since the 2000 season when the New York Yankees won their three in a row (1998-2000). The Twins ended their 18-game playoff drought on Wednesday and are looking to get to the American Championship Series for the first time since 2002. If all goes according to plan, they could make their first World Series appearance since 1991.

Schedule of Games

Games will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Fox with Adam Amin and former Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the call. The duo will be joined by Adam Wainwright making his debut in the booth along with Tom Verducci. Though the postseason structure was revamped this season, the Division Series remains the best of five with a 2-2-1 format. The series will start in Houston, as the Astros have home-field advantage. Game One is Saturday October. 7 at Minute Maid Field. Game time is 4:45 pm Eastern. Game 2 is Sunday, October 8 at 8:03 pm Eastern.

After a day off play moves to Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota for game 3 on October 10 at 4:07 pm. If necessary, they will play game 4 the following day, October 11, at 2:07 p.m. Should a game 5 be necessary, play returns to Houston with a game Friday, October 13, at 4:07 pm. NOTE: Game dates and times are Eastern Standard time.

Twins won Season Series

On paper, the Astros and Twins are pretty evenly matched. The Twins won four of the six games played in the regular season, outscoring the Astros 29–25 with good pitching and excellent defense. However, the Twins did not face pitchers Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez or Justin Verlander. Those three have been named the starters for the Astros in this series against the Twins.

Carlos Correa

In this series between the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins, all eyes will be on Carlos Correa. Correa was with the Astros during their previous playoff runs. Some of the most outstanding and unforgettable moments in Astros playoff history include Correa. Now, he is opposing them trying to keep his former teammates from winning and advancing to the ALCS over his current team. Correa loves the spotlight and will look to shake off his injury-filled season and make some new memories for himself, and his Twins teammates and fans.

Relief Pitching

Both bullpens struggled during the regular season. The final month both were effective and provided the quality innings needed to get their respective team into the playoffs. However, Sport Relay, your connection to the Diamond, reports in their latest Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza – Playoff Team Rankings that the Twins have the better bullpen. During their two games against the Toronto Blue Jays the bullpen was outstanding. Griffin Jax, Brock Stewart, Caleb Thielbar, and Louie Varland combined on to hold the Blue Jays to just four hits over 5 1/3 innings. Closer Jhoan Duran showed up with his 100mph+ fastball and saved both games.

Byron Buxton Out

Byron Buxton is not on the Twins 26-man roster. He has not played since August 1 after going on the injured list with a right hamstring injury. The Twins will rely on veterans like Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco. Both have been good contributors and will need to step up and provide the leadership for the younger players.

Intangible Assets

Here is a look at the intangibles in this series between the Astros and Twins. Mentally, the Astros go into the series confident. They almost never lose in the postseason, while the Twins have struggled to win in the playoffs until last week. The Astros were below .500 at home, going 39–42 but they have played well on the road. On the other hand, the Twins played well both at home, 47–34, as well as on the road, where they went 40–41. They beat the Astros two out of the three games played in Houston. While none of that really matters because the playoffs are different, the mental aspect of the game has an impact.

Defense Wins Games

Defense can win games especially in the playoffs and there is a slight lean toward the Twins, who are ranked fourth in the league in defense. They also finished with the second most putouts and have an excellent double play combination in Correa and Edouard Julien, who has worked hard to improve his defense.

Tossup to Predict

It is a tossup to say who will win this series between the Astros and the Twins.  The starting pitching edge can go in either direction. Both teams have lockdown starters that could dominate. In a somewhat surprise move the Twins are starting Bailey Ober in Game One. If they can find a way to win Game One, next up for them are Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray. With this firepower, the Twins could close out the series and move on. However, a veteran like the Astros’ Verlander, who is making his 35th career postseason start, could dominate Game One. Then, Valdez could put pressure on the Twins with his control and they could go to Minnesota up two games. Once in Minnesota, they use Javier to close it out.

It also can come down to the bullpen for both teams and which manager will make the right decision to pull a starter and use their bullpen to hold the lead for their closer to get the save and the win. Both teams have top tier closers, Ryan Pressly for the Astros and Duran for the Twins. The Astros and Twins go into the series with their strengths and weaknesses pretty evenly matched, with either team able to pull out the win. Regardless of who comes out on top, this series will be an outstanding one to watch and follow.

 

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Share "Houston Astros – Minnesota Twins ALDS Preview" on social media:
More Minnesota Twins News
James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *