2023 AL Wild Card Preview: Blue Jays vs. Twins

Blue Jays Twins

The Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins will start their AL Wild Card round series on October 2, and the winner will get the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. So, how does this matchup look? Here’s a preview of the series that will take place between the Blue Jays and Twins.

Related: 2023 AL Wild Card Preview: Rangers vs. Rays

Scheduled Starters and Start Times

All games are set to start at 4:38 PM ET on ESPN. However, that could change depending on what happens with the other Wild Card round series.

A Look at the Offenses

Runs Scored746778
Home Runs188233
Hard Hit%38.9%41.4%

As we documented a few days ago, the Blue Jays offense was one of the best last season but couldn’t replicate their success this season despite the addition of several left-handed bats that gave Toronto more balance on paper.

George Springer had arguably his worst season as a Major Leaguer, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s numbers declined yet again this season. Still, the Jays have plenty of talent, and the likes of Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, the latter of whom ended the regular season with the third-best batting average (.306) in the AL, can impact a game at any time.

The Twins, meanwhile, boast a high-powered offense filled with power but will also strike out a lot. Minnesota struck out 1,654 times in the regular season, well ahead of Seattle.

Minnesota’s lineup is filled with power hitters, from Jorge Polanco, rookie Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and Max Kepler. However, the big question for the Twins in October is whether Carlos Correa will be able to play a big role.

Correa is a career .272 hitter in the playoffs with 18 home runs and an .849 OPS but he’s been hampered by plantar fasciitis throughout the year. His second season in Minnesota did not go as well, as Correa’s .711 OPS was a career-low for him in a full MLB season.

Both he and Royce Lewis will be available for the AL Wild Card round.

A Look at the Pitching

Starters’ ERA3.853.82
Relievers’ ERA3.683.95
Opponents’ AVG.241.236

This matchup will feature the two teams with the most strikeouts in all of MLB. Minnesota finished the season with 1,560 strikeouts, over 30 more than the Blue Jays (1,528).

The Jays will roll with Kevin Gausman and his dangerous splitter in Game 1, followed by former Twin Jose Berrios in Game 2. Berrios had a much better season in 2023 as compared to 2022. Should this series go to a Game 3, Toronto could opt for Chris Bassitt, who had a strong second half. The veteran righty went 8-3 with a 2.89 ERA and an 84:23 K:BB ratio through 90.1 IP.

The Blue Jays pitching staff as a whole generated a ton of whiffs overall and ranked eighth overall in the category at 27.0%. Given that the Twins were one of the worst in that stat this season, that bodes well for the Blue Jays’ troupe of arms.

As for the Twins, Minnesota will go with Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray for the first two games of this series. Lopez finished second in the American League in strikeouts (234) this season, behind only Kevin Gausman. Sonny Gray, meanwhile, proved to be one of the more effective pitchers in the game yet again. This season, Gray finished second in the AL in ERA (2.79).

Our Predictions

This series sets up very well for the Blue Jays. A year after heartbreak against the Mariners, Toronto’s pitching staff has the stuff to poke holes in the Twins offense and the bats to do damage.

We like the Jays to advance to the ALDS.

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