The train is packed and has left the gate, as the MLB postseason slots are all taken for 2019. The Rays were the final team to reach the postseason with a win in Toronto last night. That sunk the Indians’ battleship as they were statistically removed from the postseason race. The Indians are 3 games back of the final wildcard, while the Mets are 5 games back, so that gives us our playoff teams.
There is still an interesting race for homefield in the AL. The Rays and Athletics are in a tied deadlock for the rights to host the Wild Card Game. Both teams enter Saturday at 96-64, so there is still something to play for there.
As far as the Twins are concerned, their main objective is to finish off these last two days of the regular season with a bit of momentum. Also, and most importantly, stay healthy going into the ALDS. That includes keeping the bullpen fresh and not over exerting guys they’re going to need in the postseason.
Martin Perez looked like he was going to be helpful for the Twins in the postseason rotation, but that was earlier in the season. Perez has been regressing hard recently and Twins’ brass are holding their breath on him.
The Twins may be forced to get creative and use Perez in a bullpen game. Perhaps if he’s on fire leave him out there, but as soon as there is a sign of trouble, yank him and go with a bulk reliever behind Perez. Jose Berrios is the only member of the rotation that I feel confident in.
Behind Berrios, there’s Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi, so they likely don’t have the talent to keep pace with a rotation like the Astros. Having said that, their offense has shown the ability to get hot, so if they do get hot at the right moment, look out for the Twins. Cody Stashak is scheduled to make his major league debut for the Twins on Saturday. Glenn Sparkman is scheduled to counter for the Royals. Head below for our free Twins vs. Royals pick.
Minnesota Twins vs. K.C. Royals Pick:
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Glenn Sparkman wanted to show that he can belong in a major league rotation this season. In his first season in a rotation, Sparkman failed miserably and is looking at an ERA above 6.00 going into his last start of the season. He made three starts a season ago and his workload got bumped up considerably in 2019. The Royals’ depth in their rotation was incredibly thin, so they had no other reliable options.
Sparkman has been reeling with an ERA of 6.11 and 1.53 WHIP. He’s especially having difficulties down the stretch. It could be a fatigue and workload issue, but the fact of the matter is that Sparkman could be pitching a whole lot better. In his previous 13.1 innings, Sparkman has allowed 17 hits and 12 runs. That amounts to a 7.42 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in his previous three outings on the hill.
He’s been dinged by the Twins pretty good in the past. They’re hitting .298 with 5 long balls and 18 runs scored against Sparkman in 104 at-bats. This is only a tune-up game for the Twins’ offense and I think Sparkman gives them a good opportunity to gain plenty of confidence. Minnesota haven’t been playing for much lately and are still scoring runs, so Sparkman shouldn’t provide much of a challenge if they want to hit today.
Saturday is a nice opportunity for Cody Stashak. The 25-year-old will be in a starting position for the first time in his major league career. He’s made 17 appearences out of the bullpen and has done reasonably well with a 3.13 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Stashak hasn’t been as good on the road, but still solid with a 3.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
This could be a bullpen game, so don’t expect a ton of work for him. He’s only pitched for more than 3 innings once and that was one of his worst outings of the year. Stashak allowed 3 hits and 2 earned runs in 3.1 innings against the Tigers in a 10-7 loss. Expect some runs in this game, or at least enough to put the game OVER the total on Saturday afternoon.