Let's Mess With the AL Central Race: Twins at Cubs, September 18-20, 2020 | Bleacher Nation

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Let’s Mess With the AL Central Race: Twins at Cubs, September 18-20, 2020

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have exactly ten games left, six of which comes against the Minnesota Twins (this weekend) and Chicago White Sox (to end the year).

The Sox have already clinched a spot in the postseason – as they reminded everyone loudly on Twitter (good for them … I guess) – but they can still lose their 3.0-game hold on first place in the AL Central. Meanwhile, the Twins have a 3.5 game lead over the Indians (8th seed at the moment) for second place in the division. Needless to say, the Cubs competitiveness over these next three games and their last three games can completely re-shape the AL Central race – and not as a spoiler, of course, as they’re still trying to sew up the division for themselves.

Let’s see what happens.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (30-20) are on a really nice (and unusually exciting) four-game winning streak. They have a 5.5 game lead in the division and have won seven of their last ten.

The Minnesota Twins (31-21) have won six of their last ten and are 3.0 games behind the White Sox for first place in the AL Central. They have a 3.5 game lead, themselves, over the 8th seeded Indians, and thus plenty of breathing room to be at least somewhere in the postseason.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Friday, September 18th at 7:15 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, September 19th at 7:15 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, September 20th at 6:08 CT on ESPN, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Rich Hill (L) v. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 2: Michael Pineda (R) v. Alec Mills (R)
Game 3: Jose Berrios (R) v. Yu Darvish (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – Jason Kipnis
•   3B – Kris Bryant
•   SS – Javy Baez
•   LF – Kyle Schwarber
•   CF – Ian Happ
•   RF – Jason Heyward
•   DH – Victor Caratini/David Bote

Unavailable: Andrew Chafin(?), Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana, Daniel Descalso, James Norwood, Brad Wieck

Minnesota Twins

•   C – Ryan Jeffers
•   1B – Miguel Sano
•   2B – Marwin Gonzalez
•   3B – Josh Donaldson
•   SS – Jorge Polanco
•   LF – Eddie Orsario
•   CF – Byron Buxton
•   RF – Max Kepler
•   DH – Nelson Cruz

Unavailable: Jake Odorizzi, Mitch Garver, Homer Bailey, Brent Rooker, Luis Arraez

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Alec Mills has a big game to follow up, but it’s not like he wasn’t pitching well just before the no-hitter. In his start prior to making history, Mills went 6.0 scoreless innings against the Reds with just 4 hits and 3 walks against 6 strikeouts. It wasn’t a perfect outing, but it was a big part of his current 17-inning scoreless streak – dating back to the last two innings of his September 3rd start against the Pirates.

Cubs Player: Ian Happ has begun to show signs of life, with a three-game hitting streak and four times on base in that stretch, but it really hasn’t been much yet. The Cubs really need him to get going again as we near the playoffs. He’s not just one of their most impactful offensive players, he’s their leadoff man. He sets the tone. They need Happ to hit.

Twins Pitcher: Rich Hill is somehow still out there pitching at age 40. And although the peripherals are extremely not strong (4.50 FIP, 11% walk rate), his results are still pretty good through six 2020 starts (3.80 ERA). And since his one blow-up in mid-August, the numbers are even stronger: 3.41 ERA, 4.01 FIP; 24.7 K%. He’s not who he was with the Dodgers, but we’ve seen lefties – hell, we’ve seen this lefty – completely dominate the Cubs before. I’m not taking Hill for granted.

Twins Player: Josh Donaldson just did this … LOL:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami