In this week’s MLB The Show 20 stream, featuring Ben Clemens and Dan Szymborski, the White Sox head to Minnesota to square off against the Twins in a battle for first place in the AL Central.
What was expected to be a two — or possibly a three — team race in the Central has become a quartet as the fourth-place Royals (28-22) are now only two games behind the first-place White Sox (30-20). The high-stakes battle between the White Sox and the Twins (30-21) this weekend starts with a matchup of aces, Lucas Giolito and Kenta Maeda.
Giolito, with a 4.14 ERA (4.13 FIP), isn’t exactly having a lousy season, but it pales in comparison to his breakout 2019 campaign. The Sox are in first, but that’s largely been driven by the offense and Dallas Keuchel, who has still only allowed a single home run in 10 starts. Nomar Mazara, the AL’s Player of the Month for April after a .402 BA, seven home run start, has slumped a bit of late and fallen out of the top 10 in WAR. Mazara’s OPS is still over 1.000, but he’s fallen to second in the league by that measure, behind Anthony Rendon of the Angels.
Miguel Sanó and Josh Donaldson have yet to live up to preseason expectations, but the quartet of Jorge Polanco (.975 OPS), Eddie Rosario (.960), Nelson Cruz (.930), and Max Kepler (.883) has done its best to pick up the slack, though the Twins only rank fifth in the AL in runs scored. Minnesota’s unexpected power outage from two of its likeliest sources has left the team seventh in the league in homers, a notable letdown from its 2019 season.
What’s kept the Twins in contention this time around has been the starting pitching. The quartet of José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, and Rich Hill have combined for 249 1/3 innings of a 3.00 ERA, with a FIP to match. The pitching staff’s 3.43 ERA and 48 home runs allowed both ranks at the top of the AL and as we approach the end of May, Taylor Rogers has yet to blow a save. Maeda’s arguably been the team’s best starter, with a 2.05 ERA over 10 starts. His 3.31 FIP suggests that there’s some regression coming — a 0.63 HR/9 will be hard to maintain — but with the Twins in contention, he’s been worth the loss of Brusdar Graterol in the Mookie Betts three-way trade.