Series Preview: Mets vs. Twins
Quick preview for this weekend’s snowstorm in Minnesota.
Game One: Jonathon Niese vs. Vance Worley
Surely you remember Worley, the former hurler for the Phillies. Whereas Worley was a #5 for the Phils, he’s the de facto ace for the Twins. That should give you an idea of the strength of Minnesota’s rotation and their chance of contending this year.
Game Two: Matt Harvey vs. Scott Diamond
Diamond is a lefthanded Canadian who was plucked from the pitching-rich Atlanta Braves organization as a Rule 5 pick in 2010. He had a breakout year in 2012, going 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP for a very bad Twins team. He throws straight over the top, but not very hard — he’ll hang in the 87-89 range and top out at 90. However, he throws four pitches for strikes, the strongest of which is an overhand 12-6 curve. The Mets may be facing him at the right time, though — he had bone chips removed from his elbow in December, and was still recovering as of late March. In fact, he began the season on the DL and is making his first appearance this weekend.
Game Three: Dillon Gee vs. Kevin Correia
Correia is another familiar face, moving to Minnesota after a yeoman’s effort in Pittsburgh last year. Correia is what he is — a “pitch to contact” guy who strikes out few, walks few, allows very few homeruns, and usually pitches into the sixth inning, but rarely beyond it.
The Twins consider their relief corps a strength, but that could be similar to the way the Mets were calling their starting rotation a strength — in other words, Minnesota’s bullpen may be their strongest link, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. There are several unknowns coming out of the ‘pen, led by current closer Glen Perkins. Righty Jared Burton and lefty Brian Duensing are the men most likely to set up for Perkins. Anthony Swarzak, who relies on a low-90s fastball and 12-6 deuce, could be used as a long man or middle man. Rule 5 pick Ryan Pressly was plucked from the Red Sox system and made the team after an impressive spring; he’s a sinker/slider guy. Veterans Josh Roenicke and Casey Fien are the arms you’ll see in situational spots or when the Twins are behind. There’s also tall, soft-throwing lefty Tyler Robertson who might be identified as a LOOGY; his sweeping breaking ball is likely to give lefty hitters fits. Expect to see Robertson in 6th or 7th inning situations with Ike Davis / Lucas Duda at the plate.
For the Twins to have a chance at .500, their offense will have to mash. And they might. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are still the lynchpins, but if they’re pitched around, there is the eternally underrated Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe (who hit 24 HR in 422 ABs last year), Ryan Doumit, and minor-league on-base machine Chris Parmelee. Rookie Aaron Hicks surprised everyone by winning a job in spring training, but his bat cooled off with the weather once the real games began.
Tonight’s game very well may be snowed out or “colded” out — the forecast is calling for snow showers starting in the late afternoon and through the evening in Minneapolis, with the temperature dipping into the low 30s by game time. Was it smart to build a half-billion-dollar park without a dome in Minnesota? Could MLB have scheduled all road games for the Twins until late April? The questions are moot. If there’s no game tonight, presumably there will be two on Saturday; how that affects the Mets bullpen will be something to keep an eye on. Though many of you are anxious to see Mike Pelfrey as a Twin, it appears he won’t be pitching this weekend — but, who knows? Maybe the inclement weather will force him into hand-licking action.
Anything to add about the Twinkies? Please do, in the comments below.