Opening Day has arrived!
I’ll be here throughout the MLB season not only with my daily DFS picks, but also with some free MLB game picks as well! I couldn’t be happier to be writing about baseball everyday once again, and I promise my research is always thorough and processed.
With that in mind, let’s dial up our first MLB pick of the 2021 season as it’s the Twins vs. Brewers from Milwaukee!
Twins vs. Brewers Betting Odds
- Twins (-101)
- Brewers (-109)
- Twins +1.5 (-205)
- Brewers -1.5 (+175)
- Over 7.5 (+107)
- Under 7.5 (-127)
Twins vs. Brewers MLB Pick Breakdown
The Twins will kick off their season by sending Kenta Maeda to the mound for his first career Opening Day nod after Jose Berrios had most recently taken care of those duties for the Twin Cities.
It was Maeda who was the better of the two pitchers in 2020 as the former Dodgers right-hander worked to a career-best 2.73 ERA/3.00 FIP while his 2.73 expected ERA confirms that he was every bit as good as his surface ERA suggests.
Maeda also racked up punchouts at a clean 10.80 K/9 clip while putting elite command on display in the form of a 1.35 BB/9. Maeda’s 8.00 K/BB ratio from last season was the second-best mark in all of baseball behind only Seattle’s Marco Gonzales and his 9.14 mark.
While it was a career-year for Maeda, he’s long been an extremely reliable arm. He owns a 3.75 ERA/3.64 FIP for his career while bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen across his four seasons as a Dodger. After making all 11 of his appearances out of the rotation in 2020, Maeda now owns a career 3.73 ERA as a starter as he was more effective out of the bullpen during his Dodgers tenure.
Nonetheless, he dominated last season and there’s not much reason to believe he won’t be very good again this time around.
The Twins set an MLB home run record while mashing their way to division crown in 2019. That said, nearly every regular in that 2019 lineup enjoyed a career-year as the Minnesota offense regressed in 2020.
They weren’t terrible, but they did slip to 15th with a .319 wOBA while their 101 team wRC+ suggests they were about average at the plate last season. They did tie for 10th with a .187 ISO as there’s power throughout the lineup, but it will be interesting to see if this group can bounce back this season.
Retaining the still-elite bat of Nelson Cruz was paramount, and they were able to do so, bringing back their best bat from the last two seasons in the process. The team added Andrelton Simmons at the shortstop position while long-time left fielder Eddie Rosario was not retained and walked to the rival Cleveland Indians in free agency.
Top prospect Alex Kiriloff was unable to seize that left-field job in spring training, so it appears Jake Cave and Luis Arraez getting a timeshare in that spot while it appears Arraez will get the first crack at it out of the leadoff spot tonight.
A healthy Josh Donaldson would go a long way towards getting this offense back on track while Byron Buxton’s health will also be key as he brings a power/speed combination to the table when at his best.
Here’s an area where I think the Twins have lost the most since the 2020 season concluded.
Their bullpen ranked sixth in baseball with a 3.62 ERA last season and fifth with a 3.85 FIP, but man did they ever lose some key arms.
Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo and Matt Wisler all put in good work in 2020, but all four are no longer with the club. The team did add former White Sox closer Alex Colome to the mix for some late-inning work while Taylor Rogers offers closer experience as well. However, after that duo and Tyler Duffey, there are plenty of questions in a Twins bullpen that certainly does not appear to be as deep as we’ve seen it in recent years.
Bullpens can be the most volatile aspect of a team’s roster from season to season, so we’ll give them some time and see if they can indeed recapture their 2019 and 2020 form.
Unsurprisingly, the Brewers will send ace right-hander Brandon Woodruff to the mound to open the season today on the heels of a monster 2020 season that saw Woodruff solidify himself as one of the best pitchers the NL has to offer.
He’s been effective throughout his big-league career whether it be from the bullpen or as a starter, but few starters were as good as he was a season ago.
Woodruff worked to a 3.05 ERA/3.20 FIP last season while his even superior 2.86 xERA confirms he was elite last season, especially when we factor in the 11.12 K/9 against a 2.20 BB/9. While Maeda ranked second in terms of his K/BB ratio last season, Woodruff came in at 10th on that list with a 5.06 mark, also ranking fifth in the NL in that department.
Like with Maeda, there’s no reason to expect any sort of notable regression from this right-hander.
The Brewers offense took a major step in the wrong direction last season as they didn’t hit much of anything and endured some significant struggles in the strikeout department.
In 2019, the Brewers ranked 12th in baseball with a .324 wOBA and tied for ninth with a .192 ISO. However, in 2020, the Brew Crew tied for 22nd with a .307 wOBA on the season and finished 20th with a .166 ISO. Additionally, their 26.6% K-rate was the third-highest in baseball, so this offense struggled all-around last season. Additionally, they tied the Marlins for 26th with a .298 wOBA against right-handed pitching with an increased 27.2% K-rate off of righties as well.
That 2020 campaign also came alongside a down season for former NL MVP Christian Yelich while starting center fielder Lorenzo Cain opted out of the season just a few games in. They’ll get Cain back this season and I’d suggest we can expect a major bounce-back campaign from Yelich who hit just .205 with just four steals in 58 games last season.
Kolten Wong was added to the top of the lineup and Travis Shaw was brought back to man third base. Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. was brought in as well, although he’s not in today’s starting lineup.
We’ll see if the Brewers can get things turned around at the plate in 2021.
If you’ve followed this team at all over the last couple of seasons you’d know the club’s bullpen is their bread and butter and it is shaping up to be one of, if not the very best bullpen in the league this season.
Josh Hader and 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams form perhaps the best 8th/9th inning tandem, but man is this bullpen ever deep. According to FanGraphs’ projections, the Brewers have three relievers projected to throw at least 64 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA. While that may not seem overly impressive, those projections are usually on the harsh side.
They also have seven relievers projected to throw at least 52 innings this season and another two at least 40. Many of those arms are projected to finish with ERAs just north of 4.00, although I’d suggest this team could have up to four or five relievers with ERAs around the 3.00 mark this season.
Woodruff is their workhorse, so we’ll see how much action this ‘pen gets tonight, but this group is set for heavy duty this season, especially with starters’ workloads expected to drop following the shortened 2020 season.
Twins vs. Brewers MLB Pick
Quite honestly, I see both Maeda and Woodruff having success in this one. I see a couple of capable offenses, but we have our usual low Opening Day totals around the slate given the No. 1 starters toeing the rubber across the league.
I’m not overly thrilled about either offense. I think both can be better than league average and the Twins probably have more top-10 upside, but I don’t see the offenses winning this game.
Rather, I see this game being won with pitching, and when we combine the starters and bullpens, it’s the Brewers with the superior staff in this one.
Woodruff is a sexy Cy Young pick in my opinion as he’s just continued to get better in his big-league career and is, of course, coming off that career-year in 2020 despite the smaller sample.
However, the real advantage is in the bullpen. I’ll have to see how the Twins’ bullpen fares as the season moves along, but I’m extremely confident this Brewers’ bullpen is going to be elite, once again.
I see a low-scoring affair, but I’m more confident in this Brewers pitching staff to the win this game for them on the moneyline.