The Yankees are back in the Bronx following a ten-day West Coast road trip. Overall, the trip went about as well as expected. They beat up on the not-so-great Angels and an even worse Giants club but dropped back-to-back games against a solid Diamondbacks team. Now, the Yankees face an even tougher test against the hot Minnesota Twins.
Offensively, this Twins team is a force. They just took three of four against the Houston Astros, who swept a then-healthier Yankee club a couple weeks ago. No team in the league hit for more power in the month of April, and it’s not really close. Their .237 team Isolated Power is nearly 20 points higher than the second place team.
On the other side of the ball, this Twins team is a little less scary, but their pitching staff is still above league average. Fortunately, the Yankees will face the bottom of the Twins’ rotation this series. Let’s get to the matchups:
Game one: James Paxton vs. Kyle Gibson
Paxton wasn’t able to notch three consecutive games with 12 strikeouts, but he punched out eight Giant hitters in his last time out. Unfortunately, these Twins don’t strike out a lot. They have a 19.7% K-rate as a team, which is good for third-lowest in the leg. Even worse for Paxton, this Twins team is seriously adept at hitting fastballs and cutters, Paxton’s two primary pitches. The Big Maple has been a phenomenal add for the Yankees, but this might not be the easiest of starts.
Opposite Paxton is the pride of Greenfield, Indiana, Kyle Gibson. The 31-year-old right-hander owns a 4.88 ERA in 27.2 innings this season. His 93 ERA+ indicates he’s a slightly below average pitcher, but he’s also coming off his best start of the year. Gibson went seven, struck out six, and only allowed one run against the Orioles on April 28th.
Game two: J.A. Happ vs. Jake Odorizzi
Speaking of best starts of the season, J.A. Happ just had his first homer-less outing of the season his last time on the mound. His last outing was also his second consecutive start of seven innings. Hopefully, Happ can continue to build off his last couple starts, but this lineup is really going to test him. Minnesota is currently fourth in the league in homers.
In his second season with the Twins, Jake Odorizzi is off to a really solid start. In six starts, he owns a 136 ERA+ and a 3.34 ERA. The Yankees last saw Odorizzi in September of last year. He did well then, only one run surrendered in 7.1 innings, but he’s not exactly the same pitcher this season. According to Statcast, he’s drastically increased his usage of a curveball and cutter while eliminating his slider completely. He throws his cutter, slider, and splitter all about 15% of the time, while using his four seam about 55% of the time.
Game three: Domingo German vs. Michael Pineda
In game three, the Yankees send out Domingo German, who, like James Paxton, has really stepped up in the absence of Luis Severino. German has made some mechanical adjustments that have seemingly played a part in his steps forward this season. He struggled a bit his last time out, but the Yankees still got the win against the Giants.
The Twins will give the ball to a familiar face for game three. Big Mike Pineda is healthy again after missing the entirety of the 2018 season, but his stuff doesn’t appear to have rebounded. His velocity is down a few ticks, and he’s been getting hit hard. He’s given up multiple runs in five of his six starts this year, and hitters have a .913 OPS against him.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this series is that we might start seeing some injured Yankees return to the lineup. DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela are expected to be back after some time off the last few days. Aaron Boone also told WFAN on Thursday that there’s also a possibility that Miguel Andujar could be activated this weekend. Clint Frazier’s IL stint ends today, but he’s not likely to get back into the lineup until Monday.