What to Watch For
The Usual Suspects – Max Kepler, Marwin Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz have combined for nine home runs and four doubles against the Indians this year, and each owns a wRC+ of 127 or better. Take these three out of the equation and the only other Twins hitter who has been able to do any sustained damage to the Tribe’s staff is Jorge Polanco.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the Twins’ lineup isn’t any good; they don’t lead the league in home runs for no reason. But these three hitters in particular have been more than a thorn in Cleveland’s side–they’ve been a cannonball into the hull. Neutralizing them will go a long way toward winning this series.
The Old Jose Ramirez – Jose Ramirez has a 32 wRC+ in 36 plate appearances against the Twins this season. It’s safe to say Minnesota’s pitching staff will be seeing a different version of him this weekend. Ramirez’s second-half turnaround is well-documented by now: he owns a .330/.349/.718 slash line with nine home runs and 13 doubles since July 12.
More cause for concern among Twins pitchers is that even during his struggles, he was only striking out in 8.2% of plate appearances against them. The current iteration of Jose Ramirez is just as difficult to ring up, but now he’s doing big-time damage on batted balls again. There is no easy way to pitch to him.
The knock on the Indians throughout their resurgent climb back into contention has been that they haven’t beaten any good teams. They have an opportunity to make the critics on that front go silent this weekend. Buckle up and get ready for one heck of a series at Target Field.