A stoppable force vs. a very movable object: The Twins haven’t won a postseason game in 19 years, while the Blue Jays have made a habit of underperforming in recent years. One of these teams will open their series with a big Game 1 win on Tuesday. The Twins are slight home favorites at -122 on the moneyline with Pablo Lopez on the mound.
Let’s make predictions for Tuesday’s Game 1 and break down why the Twins’ drought may be primed to continue at least one more day.
Blue Jays vs. Twins Prediction
Few would’ve expected these teams to be so pitching-reliant, but that will be the reality in this series. When it comes to Game 1, the Blue Jays have a strong case to bring both the pitching and hitting advantages to the table.
Kevin Gausman is coming off back-to-back scoreless starts and is going up against the league’s highest-strikeout lineup. After he averaged 11.5 K/9 in the regular season, a Twins lineup reliant on power (and likely without Royce Lewis) could be in for a quiet start to the postseason.
The Blue Jays have underwhelmed from a power standpoint this season, but they can make decent contact. That’s a potential mismatch with Pablo Lopez, who has been allowing far too many hits over the last five weeks. Ticket data also indicates it’s extraordinarily cheap to get into Target Field for Game 1, so this might not be the most rowdy crowd on Tuesday.
I’m rolling with the Blue Jays to win their first postseason game since 2016.
Blue Jays vs. Twins Prediction: Blue Jays Moneyline (+104)
Blue Jays vs. Twins Odds
The Twins are slight home favorites in Game 1 at -122 on the moneyline. The over/under is 7.5 runs per game.
The Twins got Pablo Lopez to start this kind of game, but Kevin Gausman has been a legitimate ace for the Blue Jays this season. Will a Blue Jays lineup that has underperformed this season give Gausman some run support on the road?
Blue Jays vs. Twins Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Blue Jays vs. Twins.
Twins’ High-Strikeout Lineup vs. Kevin Gausman
The Twins’ offense led the league in strikeouts this season, and we saw just two weeks ago how that can hurt them when Hunter Greene struck out 14 Twins in just seven innings. Gausman led all qualified AL pitchers with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. That could be a problem here.
The Twins are pretty power-reliant, especially if Royce Lewis isn’t able to play as expected, and that comes with the cost of far too many swings and misses. Gausman has limited home runs very well over the last three seasons, and he generates swings and misses at a high clip.
Coming off back-to-back scoreless starts, Gausman is well positioned to go into Minnesota and handle business against this offense.
Blue Jays’ Contact Hitters vs. Pablo Lopez
Lopez once gave up very few hits while with the Marlins. Lately, even as his overall numbers have stayed steady, the hits have started to rise. He’s allowing 10.2 hits per nine innings over his last seven starts, a concerning mark that is dramatically higher than his early-season numbers. Can the Blue Jays take advantage?
Toronto’s power has dropped off, but there are still a few contact bats including Bo Bichette. The Blue Jays are 8th in all of baseball with a .256 AVG, though they’ve hit a bit below .250 in each of the season’s final two months.
If Bichette can rediscover his early-season form and at least one of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer gets going, the Blue Jays will be set up excellently and could score by stringing hits together. If Toronto tries to go all-or-nothing with its power, Lopez might be able to escape without so much damage.
Blue Jays vs. Twins Starting Lineups
Blue Jays Starting Lineup
RF George Springer R
DH Brandon Belt L
SS Bo Bichette R
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. R
2B Cavan Biggio L
C Alejandro Kirk R
CF Kevin Kiermaier L
3B Matt Chapman R
LF Daulton Varsho L
Twins Starting Lineup
2B Edouard Julien L
3B Jorge Polanco S
DH Alex Kirilloff L
RF Max Kepler L
SS Carlos Correa R
1B Donovan Solano R
C Ryan Jeffers R
LF Matt Wallner L
CF Michael Taylor R
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