MLB Playoffs Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Astros vs. Twins Preview (Tuesday, Sept. 29)

MLB Playoffs Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Astros vs. Twins Preview (Tuesday, Sept. 29) article feature image
Credit:

Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenta Maeda

Astros vs. Twins Odds

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Astros Odds +140 [BET NOW]
Twins Odds -165 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 7.5 (-112/-109) [BET NOW]
First Pitch Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET

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After finishing the season strong, the Twins secured their second straight AL Central title. They grabbed the No. 3 seed after ranking top 10 statistically in all four phases.

After a loss in Game 7 of last year’s World Series and an offseason of turmoil, the Astros limped into the playoffs finishing below .500 for the first time since 2014.

They struggled in all four phases, but took advantage of a weak AL West to make the playoffs by only two games over the Mariners.

Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP  is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

BaseRuns is a formula designed to estimate how many runs a team would be expected to score (or allow) given their underlying offensive (or defensive) performance. In other words, BaseRuns is a context-neutral run estimator used to evaluate teams. Major League average for an individual batter per game is 0.50 BaseRuns and a for a pitcher its 0.52 BaseRuns per inning.

Offensive Matchup

Houston Astros

Houston has struggled offensively, accumulating a .311 wOBA and 100 wRC+. Those struggles have never been more apparent than the last two weeks of season, as the Astros hit for a measly .219 average and have only a .296 wOBA over that time span.

Houston has also been below average against right-handed pitching, ranking 19th in MLB in terms of wOBA. The Astros will have a tough matchup against Kenta Maeda, who has been one of the best righties in the American League this year.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have done most of their damage this season against right-handed pitching, ranking ninth in MLB in wOBA (.330) against righties. Nelson Cruz was the surprising leader of the Twins offense, as the 40-year-old accumulated a .303 average and a .441 wOBA in 53 games.

Another positive for Minnesota is the resurgence of Byron Buxton. Over the last nine games, Buxton hit five homers and accumulated a .423 wOBA. His red-hot hitting will be huge for Minnesota especially with Kepler, Donaldson, and Cruz in front of him in the lineup.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Zack Greinke vs. Kenta Maeda

2020 Stats (via Fangraphs)

Astros Starter: Zack Greinke 

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Greinke started out 2020 on fire, but struggled over the second half of the season. In his last seven starts, he’s allowed at least three earned runs in each start and accumulated a 5.73 ERA. Greinke’s fastball hasn’t been great this, allowing a .377 wOBA, which is a problem, since he’s throwing 45.3% of the time.

Greinke is an amazing tactician who can throw any pitch in any count, much like Braves legend Greg Maddux.

Greinke’s control has been solid this season as his BB/9 and HR/9 rate are the lowest they’ve been in five years. However, his location hasn’t been great as his sinker is the only pitch that is allowing a wOBA under .300.

Twins Starter: Kenta Maeda 

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Maeda is having the best season of his career in 2020. His 2.63 xFIP, ranks third among qualified starting pitchers behind only Shane Bieber and Jacob deGrom.

The biggest change Maeda made since he’s arrived in Minnesota is utilizing his slider and changeup more often. The change has seen great success, as those two pitches combined are allowing only a .169 average to opponents in 2020.

In 2019, he went to his fastball more often than any other pitch and wasn’t very successful with it. Now, since he’s throwing his two best pitches (slider and changeup) more often, it’s benefited his fastball greatly, as he’s allowing only a .114 wOBA against, compared to a .381 wOBA against it in 2019.

Maeda should have a fantastic matchup against this Astros lineup, as they rank in the bottom half of MLB against both fastballs and changeups.

Bullpen Matchup

After starting out the season as one of the worst in baseball, the Astros bullpen has steadily improved over the second half of the season. However, their bullpen finished with the 14th best xFIP in baseball (4.43) and likely wont provide them with an advantage in this series.

Minnesota’s bullpen has been solid all season long. They’ve been especially good over the second half of the season, ranking inside the top 10 in ERA and xFIP.

The Twins should have a slight advantage in the later innings during this series.

Weather Report

Data via Sports Insights

It’s going to be a little chilly up North on Tuesday, which should benefit both starting pitchers.

Projections and Pick

I think the Greinke/Maeda matchup is an advantage in Minnesota’s favor. Greinke’s second half of the season is major cause for concern and I think the Twins offense should be able to have success against him.

Therefore, I am going to back the Twins first five innings spread of -0.5 at -117 (DraftKings) and I would bet it up to -132.

Pick: Twins First Five Innings -0.5 (-117)

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