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Tigers vs. Twins Preview: Oh hey, the Twins still exist

The Tigers are nearly 30 percent of the way through their season, but haven’t squared off against the Twins yet.

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Major League Baseball’s unbalanced schedule often results in a number of quirks throughout a given season. For instance, the Tigers just played their entire season series against the Seattle Mariners in nine days (it would have been 10 were it not for a Friday rainout). Detroit was also done with the Pirates and Orioles in April, and won’t see the Astros for the first time until just before the All-Star break.

Intradivisional scheduling quirks are more rare, though. The Tigers have already played at least one series against three of their four divisional rivals, but have not yet seen the Minnesota Twins. They are nearly 30 percent of the way through their season — and would be nearly 50 games deep were it not for a soggy April — and are just now facing off against the pesky Twins.

So, who are these Twins? Like the rest of the AL Central, they have struggled this season. They were also victimized by April’s awful weather, and have only played 42 games so far this year. Their 19 wins have come against a mix of opponents, from bottom feeders — they have seven wins against the White Sox and Orioles — to playoff contenders (series wins over Houston and St. Louis).

Also like the Tigers, the Twins are dealing with plenty of injuries. They have seven players on the disabled list right now, and you know most of them; Joe Mauer has a neck strain. Miguel Sano is dealing with a bad hamstring. Jason Castro is out for the year, and Ervin Santana still hasn’t thrown a pitch yet.

But these are the Twins, so don’t be surprised when Jake Cave hits a walkoff home run on a bunt.

Detroit Tigers (20-26) at Minnesota Twins (19-23)

Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Blaine Hardy (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. RHP Jose Berrios (4-4, 4.05 ERA)

Game 47 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Hardy 8.0 19.4 8.3 6.14 -0.1
Berrios 53.1 23.5 4.7 3.76 1.0

Many Tigers fans still see Jose Berrios as the overmatched rookie that coughed up seven runs in two-thirds of an inning against their team back in 2016. This is... not the case. Berrios has all but evolved into the monster that everyone projected when he was a consensus top-30 prospect before the 2016 season. He was on’s top 100 for three years before finally making his debut in ‘16, and Baseball Prospectus had him all the way up to No. 17. The mid-90s fastball is a big reason why, as are his curveball and changeup, both now above-average off-speed offerings.

Now 23, Berrios is already an above-average starter. He has a solid strikeout rate, a walk rate under five percent, and he isn’t giving up too many home runs. He has been knocked around more than Twins fans would have hoped this year, but has followed up a solid sophomore season with improvements in nearly all areas (except ERA). The zeroes will come — he has already thrown three scoreless outings this year along with two double-digit strikeout starts — but he isn’t quite to top-of-the-rotation status yet.

Key matchup: The bullpen vs. getting through one dang inning

There’s no hard analysis to be found here. Just close out a lead for once, please.


Berrios shuts down the Tigers for his fifth win of the year.

Gameday reading