The Minnesota Twins finished the 2018 season strong, ending the year with a 6 game win streak. The club is hoping that momentum carries over into opening day 2019. Cleveland visits the Target Center in the March 28th AL free pick, looking to keep doing what they’ve been doing including putting together a 91 win season a year ago that saw them win the Central by 13 games. The Twins came in 2nd behind the Indians, and have hopes of closing that gap starting Thursday.
Indians Team to Beat in the AL Central Again in ’19?
Cleveland has won the AL Central for three straight years but for the first time during that span there are question marks on if they are the favorite. Well, the Indians are actually huge favorites (-450) to win the division yet again but that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have question marks. Cleveland has an OF and a bullpen that is significantly worse (on paper) than a year ago after the team lost such key contributors as Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Andrew Miller, Yonder Alonso, and Edwin Encarcion.
One of the big reasons the Indians are still a favorite in the AL is because SS Francisco Lindor is still around (38 HR, 25 SB last season). Jose Ramirez has been an all-star starting 3B the last two years and Carlos Santana also returns to ‘the Land’ after a year in Philadelphia. For the most part it will be a ‘find-out-what-we-have’ approach for the Cleveland offense, especially early in the season. What they would like is a solid outing from starter Corey Kluber right out of the gate. Kluber threw an AL leading 215 IP last season and should be showing signs of slowing down soon at 32 years old. He’s fresh vs. the Twins in the March 28th AL free pick however.
Twins Come into 2019 Very Optimistic
Minnesota has been picked as a dark horse for the AL wild card for the upcoming season by a good share of experts. This is a Twins team that did make the postseason in 2017 before scooting to a 78-84 record last season. There’s a lot of new faces in the Twin Cities, notably at manager as Rocco Baldelli takes over for Paul Molitor. The 37-year-old Baldelli brings a laid back approach to the Minnesota dugout, focusing on analytics and atmosphere as he comes over from Tampa Bay.
The Twins start fresh on Thursday, namely because they won’t have the retired Joe Mauer for the first time in 15 years. Nelson Cruz joined the team in the offseason after a 37 HR season with Seattle and Jonathan Schoop is also a new face looking to bounce back from a down year. Byron Buxton has also added 20 pounds in the offseason and has been working on his mechanics since last October. The Twins may not need a whole lot out of their new offense with Jose Berrios on the hill however.
March 28th MLB Free Pick Betting
Minnesota may be a surprise favorite on Thursday (MIN -109) although it is slight. The Twins are at home and there’s a new energy in the Twin Cities with a fresh manager and some big name additions. Kluber has the opening day experience (5 straight) but you have to wonder when he’s going to start hitting the wall.
AL Free Pick: Minnesota Twins -109