Arguably the marquee series of the MLB weekend is a potential World Series preview between the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs from Wrigley Field. The Twins are battling for the AL Central title and the Cubs are heavy favorites on the MLB odds to win the NL Central.
How to Bet Twins at Cubs MLB Odds & TV Info | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
- When: Friday, 8:15 PM ET
- Where: Wrigley Field
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Rich Hill/Kyle Hendricks
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Minnesota? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
The Twins have talked about prioritizing playoff readiness over throwing everything into repeating as division champions, based on the expanded playoff format. Manager Rocco Baldelli is optimistic that his roster is in position to handle the rigors of a three-game Wild Card Series, a five-game Division Series or a seven-game Championship Series without any rest.
“I think we’re equipped to handle that,” Baldelli said. “We’ve talked about depth. We’ve talked about the fact that we have six starters and a seventh starter on the way. We’ve certainly relied on a lot of different guys in our bullpen in important moments. I think all of that can really come forth in a playoff situation like this if we’re fortunate enough to be playing in those games.”
It’s possible the Twins could get back 2019 All-Star catcher Mitch Garver from the injured list for this game or at least this series. Garver has been getting at-bats and working behind the plate at Minnesota’s alternative training site. Garver has been on the injured list since Aug. 19. At worst, he should be back for the playoffs. Last year, his 31 homers were second most among catchers despite just 359 plate appearances. Second baseman is out with left knee tendinitis and not quite as close as Garver.
On Tuesday, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton hit his second career inside-the-park home run (previous, August 18, 2017 vs. Arizona). It marked the 55th in club history and third for Buxton, matching Tony Oliva, Tom Brunansky and Greg Gagne for most in Twins history (since 1961). Miguel Sanó needs one double to reach 100 for his career. Along with his 129 home runs, his next double will make him one of 14 players in Twins history (since 1961) with 100-plus doubles and 125-plus homers.
It’s lefty Rich Hill (2-1) on the mound for the Twins and his first four MLB seasons were with the Cubs. Hill recorded a season-high seven strikeouts over five innings last Saturday in a win over the Indians. Hill generated only 10 swinging strikes, but still managed to keep the Indians’ offense in check over five frames, surrendering only four hits and a pair of walks.
A solo homer by Jose Ramirez and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Oscar Mercado in the fourth inning accounted for all of the damage against him. The 40-year-old owns a 3.81 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 22/12 K/BB ratio across 26 innings (six starts).
Why Bet on Chicago Cubs? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
The Cubs can’t clinch the NL Central Division this weekend but almost surely will win it and could potentially clinch a playoff spot at some point vs. the Twins. When asked if the team has switched to playoff mode already, Cubs shortstop Javier Báez said yes.
“When it comes to playoffs, numbers go away,” he said, “and that’s what we’re going to be working on these (next) two weeks.”
season of former starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood is in jeopardy after his strained forearm didn’t respond well to his throwing program earlier this week. It could mean the end of Chatwood’s rocky tenure with the Cubs. He fell just short of 200 innings pitched in his three years on the North Side and recorded a 4.70 ERA with a 1.608 WHIP. He signed earned a $38 million contract before the 2018 season.
However, fellow pitcher Jose Quintana threw two bullpen sessions this week and could return as early as Friday. He won’t have time to build up to a starter’s workload by the end of the year but has a chance to be activated in a bullpen role. After being considered the biggest weakness of the Cubs early on this season, the bullpen has transformed itself into one of the best in baseball. Over the last two weeks of play, the Cubs’ bullpen has combined for a 1.79 ERA, second in the MLB. Since August 1, they boast a 3.58 ERA, which is good for sixth in baseball.
It’s Kyle Hendricks (5-4) on the mound Friday. Hendricks allowed two runs over 7 2/3 innings in a no-decision Saturday against the Brewers. Hendricks gave up six hits but made just one mistake, which Ryan Braun smacked over the center field wall for a two-run homer in the fourth inning. A 2-2 sinker from Hendricks stayed over the middle of the plate, and Braun didn’t miss.
He has a 3.29 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through 10 starts this year. For his career, Hendricks holds a 2.53 ERA in September/October regular season games, his best ERA in any month.
Expert PredictionCubs 5, Twins 4
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