For the first time since 2012, it looks like the Yankees will get to play some meaningful October baseball. Once upon a time the Yankees led the division, but ever since the Toronto Blue Jays went on a tear the Yankees have had to be satisfied with the top Wild Card spot. This of course means they'll have to win a one-game, winner-take-all contest to creep into the divisional series, assuming they can't retake first place. One team they could very well meet is the resurgent Minnesota Twins, who finally got some of their highly touted prospects to the big leagues this season and have seen them produce immediately.
The Rotation (and who they might start in a Wild Card game)
Unlike the Yankees, who have a pretty clear favorite to start a Wild Card game in Masahiro Tanaka, the Twins don't really have a clear ace. Last year, it was Yankee favorite Phil Hughes, but Hughes has fallen off quite a bit in 2015 with a 4.58 ERA. In terms of fWAR, Kyle Gibson leads the Twins starters - his 3.73 ERA and 3.95 FIP make him probably the Twins best option to start a do-or-die game. Tommy Milone, Ervin Santana, and Mike Pelfrey all have ERAs north of 4.00, and while youngster Tyler Duffey has had a productive and promising season (Duffey's FIP stands at 3.26) since being called up in August, it's unlikely the Twins will let a rookie start the biggest game of the season.
Advantage: Yankees - Gibson's solid, but Tanaka's a real ace.
The Twins pen has been one of the worst in baseball this season, both in terms of fWAR and FIP, but things aren't as bleak as they might appear at first. Closer Glen Perkins has struggled with a back injury for much of August and September, but he's healthy for the stretch run. Perkins anchors the back end of the Twins pen quite effectively, as his 2.79 ERA and 3.51 FIP attest to. In his absence, Kevin Jepsen (1.96 ERA/2.89 FIP) has been closing. With both of them back the Twins have a fearsome duo to lock down the eighth and ninth innings. They have two good options for bridging the gap between their starters and the Jepsen/Perkins combo in second year reliever Trevor May and veteran Blaine Boyer. May, who moved out of the rotation when Ervin Santana's PED suspension ended, has posted a 3.65 ERA in the second half along with a 1.22 WHIP and a K/9 ratio north of 11. Boyer, who returned from the DL in late August, has been fairly mediocre over his career, but has been lights out since rejoining the team. Outside of these four, the Twins have few effective relievers, but this group is nothing to sneeze at.
Advantage: The Twins pen isn't as bad as it might seem, but it can't touch the Yankees'.
The Twins reside in the middle of the pack in terms of runs scored, and while they don't have a particularly deep lineup, they do have a major masher at the heart of it: Miguel Sano. Sano was a highly-touted prospect, and everyone's gotten to see why this season - in 280 plate appearances, Sano is hitting .280/.396/.569 with 17 home runs a 164 wRC+. Outside of him, though, the Twins have other weapons in slugging second baseman Brian Dozier, and Trevor Plouffe. Eduardo Escobar has found his bat in the second half, notching a 121 wRC+ since the break. But not everybody's doing. Joe Mauer's not what he once was, and doesn't bring a whole lot of power to the first baseman spot, as his .376 slugging shows. Torii Hunter's not even a league-average hitter anymore, and Kurt Suzuki followed up his stellar 2014 season by falling off a cliff offensively - he's hit just .239/.295/.318 this year.
The Twins are still a few games back of the second Wild Card spot, so this matchup may not come to be. Still, if they do happen to make a run and sneak into the playoffs, the Yankees would be a tough matchup for this Minnesota team. It's the playoffs, though, and with Sano in the lineup and Gibson on the hill, the Twins would certainly be a formidable opponent.