Earlier this week, the Yankees played arguably their biggest series of the season when the Red Sox came to town for three games. The Yankees were ready for the fight and swept the series, gaining some crucial ground in the playoff race.
Next up for the Yankees is a team not in the playoff race, so while the series may not lead to as big of a standings swings like the Red Sox series did, it’s still a set the Yankees need to at the very least split, if not take outright.
Coming in for four games this weekend are the Twins, who currently sit fourth in the AL Central. At the trade deadline, they dealt away several notable players, meaning this is going to be a different team than the one the Yankees played in Minnesota in June. Back then, the Yankees took two of three, but in typical 2021 fashion, they missed a chance to sweep by losing a game in crushing fashion.
Before things kick off tonight, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups we’ll see over the next couple days.
Thursday: Jameson Taillon vs. John Gant (7:05 pm ET)
Taillon had one of his lesser outings of recent months last time out, allowing three runs in five innings. However, if that’s one of the worst outings, it shows how good he’s been recently. He’s now at a 1.68 ERA in 48.1 innings since the start of July, allowing just a .589 OPS to opposing hitters.
Gant only recently became a Twin, coming over in the deadline deal that sent Yankee legend J.A. Happ to the Cardinals. He’s been used as a bullpen arm since going to Minnesota, and this will be his first start for them, but he’s made 14 this season, in which he’s put up solid numbers.
Friday: Nestor Cortes vs. Charlie Barnes (7:05 pm ET)
Thanks to a very nice outing by Cortes, the Yankees were able to take two of three against the AL Central leading White Sox last weekend. He allowed just one run in six innings, keeping a scary Chicago offense from being able to do much. Prior to that, he had been a bit iffy, putting up an ERA over five in his four previous appearances.
The rookie Barnes hasn’t been great in his MLB career so far, coming in with a 4.91 ERA (86 ERA+) and a 5.14 FIP. It has only been four appearances, though, and the most recent one was his best. He threw five innings of one-run ball as he helped the Twins pick up a win over the Rays last Sunday.
Saturday: Gerrit Cole vs. Kenta Maeda (1:05 pm ET)
The Yankees’ ace made his return from the COVID IL on Monday. His first pitch was 99, and after that it was like he’d never been away. Cole didn’t go super deep into the game, likely due to not wanting to push him in his first time back and his high pitch count. However, he was effective, allowing one run on two hits while striking out nine in 5.2 innings. This particular game will also be a rematch with the Twins and Josh Donaldson, which became a notable event in the “sticky stuff” situation earlier this year. Cole got the better of that matchup when the teams played in Minnesota in June
Maeda has followed up his Cy Young runner up 2020 with a below average season thus far, putting forth a 4.41 ERA and a 4.16 FIP. He is coming off six shutout innings against the Rays, and he’s been better since the start of July. This will be the Yankees first look at him ever, as they didn’t face the Twins last year and he spent the rest of his career in the NL.
Sunday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Griffin Jax (1:05 pm ET)
Montgomery also made his return from the COVID IL this week, giving the Yankees a solid but unspectacular outing before the team rallied to beat the Red Sox for a big win. He previously faced the Twins back in June and again was solid but unspectacular, allowing three runs in 5.2 innings.
Another rookie will be going for the Twins when Jax takes the mound on Sunday. He also hasn’t bene great so far, but has only become a rotation regular for them since the Twins made their various deadline deals. In four starts since July 30th, he has a 2.82 ERA in 22.1 innings.