The Minnesota Twins have been taking it on the chin of late losing two straight including the opening game of their series with the Chicago Cubs and four of the last five and are beginning to lose touch with first place Chicago in the American League Central trailing the White Sox by 3 games with just 7 to play. The Twins must also be concerned with the third-place Cleveland Indians as Minnesota leads Cleveland by just two games.
Chicago owns a 5 ½-game lead at the top of the National League Central over both the Cincinnati Reds and St Louis Cardinals with just nine games remaining in the regular season. Chicago is getting hot at the right time winning each of the last five. On Friday in the opening game of the series with Minnesota, the Cubs received an excellent pitching performance from right-hander Kyle Hendricks who pitched eight Innings of three-hit shutout baseball to help the Cubs win 1-0.
Twins pitching holding its ownMinnesota pitchers are led in wins by right-hander Randy Dobnak with six, while Kenta Maeda has a team-high 71 strikeouts and is also leading all starting pitchers in ERA at 2.52. Minnesota's team ERA of 3.62 is fifth best in all of baseball as is it's 1.22 WHIP. Opposing hitters are averaging just .235 at the plate against Minnesota pitching which is 10th best in the majors. The Twins will hand the ball to Jose Berrios on Sunday. This season the right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA and 57 strikeouts. The Twins have won three of Berrios’ last 5 starts.
At the plate it's been almost all about Nelson Cruz. The Minnesota designated hitter is leading the team in batting average .314 and also tops the team in home runs with 16. The new leader in RBIs for Minnesota is Eddie Rosario with 33. Minnesota has a .241 team batting average which is 18th in baseball, have scored the 17th most runs with 233 and have the 15th best slugging percentage .424.
Cubs pitching carrying the teamThe Chicago Cubs pitching staff has been the shining star for the first-place team this season. The starting rotation has the second-best number of Quality Starts in baseball with 27 and as a team, the Cubs have the 8th best ERA at 3.90 and the fourth-best WHIP at 1.21. Opposing hitters are averaging only .229 at the plate against Cubs pitching which is sixth-best in the majors. Starting on the mound for Chicago on Sunday night against Minnesota will be Yu Darvish. The right-hander this season is leading Chicago in wins with 7 (7-2), strikeouts with 79 and ERA at 1.86.
Kyle Hendricks' 1.98 ERA at Wrigley Field since 2019 is the 2nd-best home ERA in the majors during that span (Clevinger, 1.97). pic.twitter.com/1uvVYqfRa8— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 19, 2020
At the plate, the Cubs have been slightly below average compared to the league. Chicago has scored the 18th most runs with 233 and a team batting average of .228 which is 24th, while it's slugging percentage of .398 is 23rd. Center fielder Ian Happ is the stats king for Chicago. Happ is leading in batting average at .275 and has team-highs in both home runs and RBIs with 12 and 28 respectively. Happ also has one of the highest slugging percentages for Chicago at .561.
- Chicago has won five straight overall
- At home, Chicago has won six of the last seven
- Minnesota has won one of the last five
- The Twins have lost each of the last six against Chicago
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Chicago will send its ace to the mound on Sunday and Yu Darvish is 7-2 with a 1.86 ERA. Chicago has led the National League Central most of the season and is putting things together down the stretch with five consecutive victories overall and 6 wins in the last 7 played at Wrigley Field. In contrast, Minnesota is faltering at the wrong time as the Twins have lost four of the last five and are now three games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs -155
Full-Game Total Pick
The Cubs will have a starting pitcher with an ERA 1.86 and Minnesota's starting pitcher has a decent ERA of 4.15. The total has finished under in nine of Chicago's last 12 games. For Minnesota the under has finished in each of the last five games including Friday's opening game of this series in which Chicago won 1-0.