2020 Postseason Preview: Astros V. Twins
They’re back. But are they the same as they were a year before?
Without Major League Baseball’s new expanded format, the Houston Astros and their 29-31 record would be sitting at home. But they’re not and the Minnesota Twins are going to be tasked with taking out a very good postseason ball club. Of course the cheating scandal will be covered all over this series and the numbers will no doubt be talked about plenty. This year’s Astros hit .240. Last year’s club hit .274. Nine players hit better than .271 last year. This year: one guy. Michael Brantley is the answer to that trivia question.
That doesn’t mean the Astros aren’t dangerous because they are. It’s George Springer time… maybe. Springer has a reputation for being a clutch postseason player. What he is incredibly streaky. Four times he’s hit better than .379 in a series. Three times he’s hit worse than .360.
As for the pitching, Houston’s starters are decent. They don’t have Justin Verlander. They let Gerrit Cole get away. Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers have virtually identical stats (that’s not good for Greinke) and they don’t have AJ Hinch, who led them through their previous playoff runs. (I know. Boo hoo.) What they do have is experience and a really deep bullpen. If Greinke reverts back to Cy Young form and Jose Urquidy (2.71 ERA) continues to show he’s a number-one starter, Houston could win this in two.
How important is the Twins’ 16-game losing streak? This is a different club and a different time. They have their best opportunity to advance. They match Houston’s bullpen stride for stride. Former Dodgers Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill have the experience and the intensity to win their postseason starts. But who wins game three? Michael Pineda? Hardly confidence building.
Also worrisome is the Twins’ offense. You have wunderkind, 23-year-old Luis Arraez and his .321 batting average, to be knocked in by Nelson Cruz and his 16 homers. After that there are a bunch of guys hitting .257 or worse who strike out a lot.
When you have a team that hasn’t won and you have a team that has, it’s really hard to go against the team that knows how to get it done. First round, the Astros are the pick, but I doubt they’ll make it out of the second.