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The Yankees must take advantage of the Twins’ weaknesses at home

The Bombers can go for the jugular right now.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 Twins entered the postseason with a reputation as road warriors. The team went 55-26 on the road, good for a .679 winning percentage. “It’s been fun to watch,” skipper Rocco Baldelli explained to La Velle E. Neal III last week. “That part of it has been more exciting on a day-to-day basis … We were one of the best road teams in the history of baseball.”

That record didn’t help at Yankee Stadium, though. The Twins dropped the first two games of the ALDS in the Bronx, getting outscored by 12 runs in the process. Saturday evening’s game became noncompetitive after the third inning.

Now the Twins have to stave off elimination at home, where they have the worst winning percentage among postseason teams. Their 46-35 record translates to a .568 mark.

While it probably isn't fair to say the Twins struggle at home, they certainly haven’t played to their talent level at Target Field. Their record in Minneapolis represents a blotch on their season résumé, a weak point to leverage.

Game Three starter Jake Odorizzi’s home-road splits appear to favor the Yankees, especially when it comes to the home-run ball.

Jake Odorizzi’s 2019 Splits

Home 84.1 10.99 2.77 1.17 .321 3.42 3.43 4.14
Away 74.2 9.04 3.25 0.60 .282 3.62 3.28 4.54

Odorizzi doesn’t pitch poorly at home by any means; he has a stronger ERA and a few better rate stats at Target Field. The spike in home-run rate, however, stands out as major red flag. The Yankees have a lineup filled with prodigious power hitters. As a team, the 2019 Bombers hit the second-most home runs in baseball history. They shouldn’t have a problem teeing off against a homer-prone pitcher.

Minnesota’s bullpen doesn’t fare much better at home. Their relief staff has logged 296.2 innings in Minnesota with middling results. A 4.43 ERA (3.71 FIP) with a 1.1 HR/9 rate shouldn’t intimidate the Yankees. New York could drive Odorizzi from the game, only to find better success as against the bullpen arms.

To their credit, the Twins hit at home. The Bomba Squad slashed .264/.336/.479 with a 111 wRC+ in Minnesota. That’s pretty good! The Yankees shouldn’t take the Twins’ offense lightly, as they won’t get blown over. Their pitches will need their A-game working to pull off the plan. The advantages, however, see, to outweigh the pitfalls.

The Yankees have an interesting task ahead. They’re facing the postseason team with the worst home record. While that’s not the same as home-field advantage, it certainly can’t hurt. The Bombers should use those splits to their advantage. Don’t get cute. Don’t let the Twins back into the series. Go for the throat and end the ALDS in Minnesota.