Our Clients:

Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 26, 2024 10:54 pm

Twins already banged up heading into Opening Day vs. Royals

minnesota twins

As the Minnesota Twins open their American League Central title defense against the host Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon, the club is already dealing with an injury-depleted bullpen.

Closer Jhoan Duran (right oblique strain), lefty Caleb Thielbar (left hamstring strain) and right-hander Justin Topa (left knee tendinitis) will begin the year on the injured list. Right-handed starter Anthony DeSclafani (right forearm strain) is also on the shelf.

The Twins had a relatively quiet offseason, with more significant departures than roster additions.

Jorge Polanco was traded to the Seattle Mariners, while starting right-handers Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda and outfielders Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor left via free agency. The 2024 club will rely heavily upon outfielders Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, shortstop Carlos Correa and right-hander Pablo Lopez.

“Pablo is the go-to guy,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Lopez making his second consecutive Opening Day start for Minnesota. “That means a lot of different things. You look to that guy in big games. You look to that guy to end a tough stretch when you’re not playing the baseball that you want.”

In the 2023 season opener, Lopez earned the win in a 2-0 victory over the Royals on his way to an 11-8 campaign and his first All-Star berth. He is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four career starts against Kansas City, most recently striking out 12 while allowing just four hits in his lone career shutout on July 5, 2023.

“A big part of what we’re referencing when we use the term ‘aces’ is confidence,” Baldelli said. “The confidence that (Lopez) has in himself, the confidence that his teammates have in him, confidence that everyone watching the game has when that guy takes the mound that that team is going to win the game. I think that’s a big part of what that person is.”

Making his first career Opening Day start, left-hander Cole Ragans leads a revamped Royals pitching staff. In his only previous start against the Twins, Ragans allowed one run and five hits over four innings while pitching for the Texas Rangers in 2022.

“We felt like we had a lot of good choices,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said of his Opening Day starter options. “But based on what (Ragans) did here last year and how we feel about him and his future, and the pure stuff, we feel like this is the right decision for us to match up the best we can over the whole series with the Twins.”

Kansas City was one of the most active teams this past offseason, spending over $110 million in free agency to rebuild a pitching staff that ranked near the bottom of the majors in many pitching metrics.

In addition to bringing in right-handed starters Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo, the Royals revamped their bullpen, adding lefty Will Smith and right-hander Chris Stratton via free agency while trading for veteran right-handers Nick Anderson, Kyle Wright and John Schreiber.

However, Wright (shoulder) is currently on the 60-day IL and will likely miss the entire season.

Kansas City also added outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infielders Adam Frazier and Garrett Hampson. The Royals also made a splash with a club-record 11-year, $288.7 million contract extension for shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

All of the moves come in the wake of a 56-106 campaign in which the Royals matched the franchise record for losses.

–Field Level Media

You may also like

Aaron Judge
Apr 25, 2024 8:17 am

Yankees ‘warm and fuzzy’ heading into finale vs. A’s

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone quipped about experiencing a “warm and fuzzy” feeling after seeing Aaron Judge and Juan Soto each hit a home run in the same game…

Los Angeles Dodgers
Apr 25, 2024 7:56 am

Fresh off of 20-hit performance, Dodgers bid for sweep of Nats

It will be difficult for the Los Angeles Dodgers to duplicate the production they’ve put on display this week. The Dodgers will try on Thursday afternoon, however, when they attempt…

Dakota Hudson
Apr 25, 2024 7:38 am

Rockies turn to winless Dakota Hudson in finale vs. Padres

Dakota Hudson earned the final spot in the Colorado Rockies’ rotation to start the season. The right-hander still is looking for his first victory with Colorado, however. Hudson (0-4, 5.06…

More Baseball News

Aaron Judge
Apr 25, 2024 8:17 am

Yankees ‘warm and fuzzy’ heading into finale vs. A’s

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone quipped about experiencing a “warm and fuzzy” feeling after seeing Aaron Judge and Juan Soto each hit a home run in the same game…

Los Angeles Dodgers
Apr 25, 2024 7:56 am

Fresh off of 20-hit performance, Dodgers bid for sweep of Nats

Dakota Hudson
Apr 25, 2024 7:38 am

Rockies turn to winless Dakota Hudson in finale vs. Padres

Corey Seager
Apr 25, 2024 7:20 am

Rangers, Mariners nursing injuries entering series finale

Verlander,
Apr 25, 2024 7:04 am

Justin Verlander, Astros aim to slow quick-starting Cubs

Read all
fb-post
advertisment
title-icon

Upcoming events

See all odds
Array