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Series Preview: Miami Marlins vs. Minnesota Twins

The Marlins kick off a nine game road trip today, meeting up with three teams who are a combined 65-111.

The collective expression of the 2016 Minnesota Twins.
The collective expression of the 2016 Minnesota Twins.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Following an off day and a stellar, 14 strikeout performance by Jose Fernandez to salvage a game out of the Mets series, the Marlins (30-27) travel out west to face off against some of the worst teams in baseball.

First up, the Minnesota Twins (16-40), who are coming off three straight losses against fellow Sunshine State squad, the Tampa Bay Rays. Not much has gone right for the Twins this season as you can see. Phil Hughes was recently demoted to the pen. Byron Buxton has been sent down and recalled (though he is hitting well thus far in his second stint). Miguel Sano is on the DL for an indeterminate amount of time. Solid closer Glen Perkins has been out all season.

The offense isn't clicking, the run prevention is atrocious (-83 run differential to this point), the defense in the outfield is shaky at best. Even their relatively low walk per nine rate doesn't seem to be helping them much, particularly since it isn't accompanying an equally low ERA/FIP. Indeed, the lopsided ratios are indicative of a team collectively struggling to miss bats and stop the bleeding when they need to (opponents are running a .325 BABIP out there against them).

This is a team that the Marlins should beat. Sound familiar? You would think at this point that the Fish (with their struggles against the Atlanta Braves still fresh in their memories) will not be taking these Twins lightly, no matter what the record says.

Opponent snapshot

Minnesota Twins

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

16-40

R/G

3.73

15th

ERA

5.04

15th

AL Central

5th

OBP

.311

12th

FIP

4.54

13th

Last 10

4-6

SLG

.389

13th

BB/9

2.90

6th

Streak

L3

SB%

77.08%

5th

K/9

8.08

8th

Hot Twins Hitters (last seven days, minimum ten PA)

Byron Buxton - .435/.417/.652

Kurt Suzuki - .400/.438/.400

Eduardo Nunez - .323/.344/.548

Cold Twins Hitters (last seven days, minimum ten PA)

Brian Dozier - .222/.333/.444

Max Kepler - .211/.286/.263

Eduardo Escobar - .200/.250/.200

Probable Pitching Match-ups

  • Tuesday June 7th 8:10 ET: Adam Conley vs. Pat Dean
  • Wednesday June 8th 8:10 ET: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Ricky Nolasco
  • Thursday June 9th 8:10 ET: Tom Koehler vs. Ervin Santana

Old Friends

Former Marlin: Ricky Nolasco ('06-'13)

View From The Opposite Side

Maija Varda runs Twinkie Town, the Minnesota Twins SB Nation blog. Here are her responses to our five questions!

Q: Are the Twins meeting, beating, or defeating the expectations you had for them coming into the season?

Maija: Well, the Twins are completely shattering all of my personal expectations for 2016, and I don't mean that in a good way. Perhaps I was a bit naive in thinking the team would continue to build on their successful 83-79 2015 season...

I honestly thought this year's team could be a fringe contender similar to last year's team. The Twins only really lost a couple players, most notably Torii Hunter and long-relief pitcher Brian Duensing. They added power hitter Byung Ho Park and catcher John Ryan Murphy. Unfortunately, Murphy sucked, was sent to Triple A, and continues to suck there. Park has been good, but his presence on the roster coupled with the Twins' baffling refusal to trade Trevor Plouffe has resulted in 6'4", 260 pound plus guy playing right field with no previous experience in his life-long career. So, yeah, the "Miguel Sano in the Outfield" experiment has not been going well, and taken with all of these "pitch to contact" pitchers the Twins have, who depend on good outfield defense, you can see why the Twins are tied for the worst freaking record in baseball.

In short: no, I did not expect the Twins to win the World Series, but I had no idea they would be historical levels of bad like they have been.

Q: What has been the high point of the Twins season so far? Low point?

Maija: Joe Mauer won the third AL Player of the Week award of his career a week ago. He hit four home runs that week, including three in three straight games. After Mauer's struggles with his concussion in 2013 (especially having watched Justin Morneau similarly struggle for so long), seeing him do well again brings me unbridled joy.

Byung Ho Park, the Korean power hitter, has been an exciting edition to the team as well. He's been kinda cold lately, but when he hits a ball he really hits a freakin' ball. According to ESPN's True Distance home run tracker, the first home run Park hit at Target Field was the longest home run ever hit in Target Field history. And Jim Thome hit some long ones there!

As for low point? Basically everything. Pitching. Outfield defense. A lot of the hitting. The Twins haven't even won 17 games yet and it's June. As someone born and raised as a Twins fan in Minneapolis, the only real answer I can give you here is Prince dying. That has nothing to do with baseball, but trying to wrap my head around that still permeates everything I do. Let's move on to the next question before I start crying again.

Q: Tell us about a Twins player who has been important to the team so far this season that might be flying under the radar to non-Twins fans.

Maija: Eduardo Nunez, the kinda short stop utility player, has been doing fantastic. He's currently hitting .331/.360/.500. Don't laugh, but he's kinda the leading contender for the Twins' All-Star Representative so far.

Q: Our NL East counterpart, the Atlanta Braves, are in a similiar situation record-wise and have made no secret about being open for business on most of their players. Are the Twins in the same boat? Do they have pieces to trade and if so, what's the expected return?

Maija: No, the Twins are not in the same boat. The Twins right now are largely built on very young, high-profile prospects. Like the literal Byron Buxtons and Miguel Sanos of the world. They just haven't been able to step up as quickly as the Twins would like them to. Eventually, though, they will. The Twins are not going to trade them. You don't trade a Byron Buxton or a Miguel Sano.

As far as veterans for trade? The Twins don't have much. Joe Mauer has a complete no-trade clause and he gets the pleasure of his grandparents attending just about every single home game of his major league career. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who I like, really should be traded, but the Twins apparently have some very strong aversion to that. Closing pitcher Glen Perkins has been on the DL since near the beginning of the season. The Twins have a bunch of middling starting pitchers that are all overpaid and basically unmovable.

The Twins' long-term outlook isn't bad because they have great young players, but this year is going to be a wash.

Q: Steal a Marlin: If you could take one player, coach, or member of the Marlins organization, who would you take and why?

Maija: Oh boy. Well hands down, Ichiro Sukuzi. He is my favorite player ever (behind Kirby Puckett and Ken Griffey Jr.) and I just always have and still do love to watch him play. In fact, I'm planning to go to at least one of these Marlins vs. Twins games at Target Field literally just because I want to see Ichiro Suzuki. I've seen him many, many times, but this might be my last and oh dear it's getting dusty in here...

I've also never actually seen Barry Bonds in person. I've been to maybe around 1000 baseball games in my life, but I never saw him. I'm firmly in the "Barry Bonds was spectacular" camp so do with that what you will. He'd be a pretty cool guy to have hanging around.

However, if I could really take one person, I'd take Jose Fernandez. The Twins are in dire need of pitching, and I like that guy. I remember when he came to Target Field a couple years ago and he was so excited because he saw snow for the first time in his life. That just makes me want to pick him up and put him in my pocket.

Thank you to Maija and check out Twinkie Town for more great Minnesota Twins coverage!

Bold Series Prediction: Marlins continue their fine work on the road, take two of three from the Twins.

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