Two teams that are contending for Wild Card spots but also fighting for division titles square off in the first of a two-game series when the Minnesota Twins visit the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. The two teams split their previous two-game series in Minneapolis in May.
The Twins are suddenly looking up at Cleveland in the American League Central standings after leading the division for most of the season. The Indians won Monday night while Minnesota was idle to take a half-game lead for the top spot in the division standings. The Twins do hold the top Wild Card spot in the American League by two games over Tampa Bay, but they’d much rather get back to their status of division leader.
Milwaukee is in the middle of a three-team scramble for the National League Central title. The Brewers sit 2.5 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs, with the St. Louis Cardinals in second place in front of Milwaukee by just a half-game. The Cardinals and Brewers are also contending for the National League Wild Card spots, currently held by the Washington Nationals and the Cardinals, with the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Arizona Diamondbacks all within 2.5 games of the second spot as well.
The moneyline for this contest has the Minnesota Twins +129 and the Milwaukee Brewers -140. The over/under for the game is set at 10.
Needing To Rebound
The Twins have seen their large lead in the division vanish, thanks in part to their current stretch of five losses in six games, including dropping three of four to Cleveland over the weekend. Minnesota will turn to left-hander Martin Perez for the start in this one, as he tries to notch his first win since July 5. Perez is coming off a rough outing against Atlanta, allowing six earned runs and three home runs in six innings of work, his fourth straight game allowing at least three earned runs. Perez is 8-5 on the season with a 4.80 ERA and has allowed three home runs in three of his last four outings.
The Twins’ offense has been all about the home run this season, with Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler leading the way with 32 apiece. Cruz won’t play in this series after going on the 10-day injured list Friday with a wrist injury, though it was revealed he won’t need surgery on the wrist. With Cruz out, Kepler will need to be counted on for more, and he’s been struggling lately, hitting .174 over the last week with one home run and one RBI. Jorge Polanco paces the Twins with a .295 batting average to go with 17 home runs, 56 RBI and 72 runs, and he could help jumpstart the Minnesota offense with a good series as well.
The Brewers have been up and down all season long, but they’re still in both the division and Wild Card races despite their inconsistency. Milwaukee will give the ball to Chase Anderson to start this series, with Anderson having gone almost two months since his last loss. The right-hander has only two decisions in his last nine appearances, both victories, though he hasn’t earned a win since July 17. On the season, Anderson is 5-2 with a 3.70 ERA and has allowed just 14 home runs in 99 2/3 innings.
Milwaukee anticipates Christian Yelich to be able to return to the starting lineup for this series after he has only one pinch-hit at-bat since Aug. 5 due to a back issue. Yelich looked like he was starting to heat up for the stretch run, hitting three home runs in two games before being sidelined. On the season, Yelich has NL-leading numbers in home runs (39) and batting average (.335) to go along with 84 RBI and 82 runs. The Brewers need more production from Mike Moustakas, who has just two hits and one RBI over the last week. Moustakas has 27 home runs and 63 RBI as a solid No. 2 to Yelich this season, but both are going to need to provide more in the next few weeks.
Brewers Get The Win
Milwaukee is playing at home, where it is 35-25 this season. Minnesota has a struggling starter on the mound and loses one of its big bats with the game being played in a National League park, eliminating the designated hitter. I’m taking the Brewers -140 to earn the victory.