Hey everyone, we’re just checking in between games to let you know what we know after the Twins fell 9-3 in the opening game of the doubleheader at Target Field. The Twins just had a presser with Royce Lewis and Scott Boras confirming that the No. 1 overall pick has signed with the club. We’ll have quotes from Derek Falvey, Lewis and Boras a bit later tonight.
It’s been a bit rainy between games and they did have the tarp out on the field until about 10 minutes before 7:00, but so far it looks like all systems go to get this second one underway on time.
If the Twins lose in the nightcap, they’ll fall out of first place for the first time in quite a while:
#mntwins have held at least a share of first place in AL Central for 37 straight days (since May 10). Sweep by CLE could end that today.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) June 17, 2017
In between the games, the Twins designated pitcher Adam Wilk for assignment and purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Alan Busenitz (BOOZE-nits) from Triple-A Rochester. Busenitz, who was acquired as part of the Alex Meyer-Hector Santiago-Ricky Nolasco deal, will be making his MLB debut when he gets into a game. In 19 games spanning 29.1 innings with the Red Wings, the 26-year-old righty has struck out 36 batters (9.8 K/9), walked just nine (2.8 BB/9) and has not allowed a home run on the way to a 2.15 ERA (2.29 FIP).
Here’s how the Twins are lining up in Game 2 against Mike Clevinger:
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) June 17, 2017
Here’s how the Indians will counter against Adalberto Mejia:
Given that move, this would be our Game 2 lineup:
Clev SP pic.twitter.com/5CRlEeW8Yf
— #VoteTribe 5x a day (@Indians) June 17, 2017
Mejia’s numbers came unraveled a bit last time out, as he was chased after 3.2 innings against the Mariners at home. Mejia allowed nine runs (eight earned) while recording just 11 outs, and saw his ERA swell from 4.18 to 5.75 as the Mariners peppered him after seeing the lefty for the second time in less than a week. On the positive side, Mejia got 12 swinging strikes in the 77 pitches he threw against the Mariners, so the stuff is clearly there for him to be good. This will be his first look at the Indians this season.
This ostensibly should be a good matchup for Mejia, as the Indians came into the day with a 92 wRC+ against left-handed starters this season. Of course, that hasn’t kept the Indians from scoring 17 runs over the first two games of the season, in both of which the Twins started lefties.
“We’ve seen him when he’s been good,” manager Paul Molitor said of Mejia. “When he’s struggled, it’s been usually part of being inexperienced where things start speeding up and he has trouble containing. But he’s watched these last couple lefties pitch these first couple games, and he knows he has to make pitches. He certainly can’t pitch from behind against these guys.”
Clevinger will provide a much different look for the Twins than Merritt did, as he averages 92 mph with his fastball — almost exclusively four-seamers — while he’ll mix in a changeup, slider and curve in that order as far as his preferred secondary pitches. He’s a bit under league average as it pertains to grounders (41.6 percent), so maybe the Twins will be able to elevate and celebrate a bit after not having scored more than four runs against the Indians in any game all season.
Clevinger’s fastball isn’t particularly difficult to hit — opponents are hitting .292 on it with an .893 OPS — but if he gets ahead, he’s got an impressive array of secondary pitches. The change, slider and curve all have whiff rates in excess of 20 percent. It’ll be a good exercise in patience for a Twins offense that has been good at taking pitches all year. With Clevinger walking 4.6 batters per nine this year, improved command appears to be all that’s really standing between the 26-year-old righty and success. He could be a really good one.