Win Probability: 54.2%
Around the eighth inning last night I thought I'd be writing about how the Twins have a chance to win this four-game series with Oakland today. Instead, because Taylor Rogers chose an inopportune time to have a very rare bad outing, we're hoping to salvage a split and maybe get a game back in the standings from Cleveland. Such are the vagaries of baseball. I can't say that I've been overly impressed with the Twins' overall performance since the All-Star break. They've been adequate at best. But then again, they spent the first half of the season setting very high expectations for the second half that they just haven't managed to equal yet. In some ways, I think a hard-fought race for the division title would be good for this team, a crucible in which they temper their skill and desire into hardened competitive advantage for the postseason. On the other hand, I'd be fine with the Twins going on a month-long winning streak and putting another ten games or so between their tail feathers and Cleveland's beak.
The Twins commence today's contest with Big Mike Pineda on the mound for the 19th time this year. While I wouldn't say I'm a fan yet, he is working hard to win me over and has shown considerable improvement over his last several starts. His ERA is down to 4.38 (104 ERA+) and in four of his last five outings he allowed just one earned run. A 4.18 FIP would suggest he's doing all that while not being especially lucky. In 98.2 innings pitched he's given up 99 hits, 16 walks, and 51 runs for a 1.166 WHIP. He's compiled 87 strikeouts and whiffs more than five batters for every free pass he hands out. Not shabby for a back of the rotation arm, I guess. But despite all the favorable numbers you can find for Pineda, he's still only managed a 0.7 WAR and -0.2 WAA for the season. Cornelius McGillicuddy's legacy counters Pineda today with Daniel Mengden's moustache (4.21 ERA). The Twins touched the right-hander for five runs over 5.2 innings just a few weeks ago. Hopefully they can improve on that today. Play ball!