The Minnesota Twins will take on the Houston Astros in the American League Divisional round in the 2023 MLB playoffs. The best-of-five series will begin on Saturday, October 7, with Houston having the home-field advantage.
Minnesota hosted the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card round as the No. 3 seed. The Twins made quick work of their opponents as they picked up the two-game sweep. Minnesota won the first game 3-1, marking its first playoff victory in nearly 20 years. They then won 2-0 to take the series in Game 2. Houston was the AL’s No. 2 seed due to being the second-best division winner behind the No. 1 seed Baltimore Orioles, earning a bye into the Divisional round
Let’s take a look at the starting pitchers for this best-of-5 series.
Twins vs. Astros starting pitchers
Update: Bailey Ober (8-6, 3.43 ERA) will start Game 1 against the Astros.
Game 1: TBD (Probable: Joe Ryan — 11-10, 4.51 ERA)
Game 2: TBD (Probable: Pablo Lopez — 11-8, 3.66 ERA)
Game 3: TBD (Probable: Sonny Gray — 8-8, 2.79 ERA)
Game 4: TBD (Probable: Ryan)
Game 5: TBD (Probable: Lopez)
Lopez and Gray helped Minnesota secure its first playoff series win in over 20 years. Lopez pitched Game 1 and allowed one earned run on five hits over 5.2 innings of work. Gray pitched five shutout innings in Game 2. He allowed just five hits and struck out six. The Twins lineup isn’t as potent as the Astros’, putting more pressure on the rotation to be at their best. Ryan was slated to throw Game 3 this week if Minnesota needed it, and is the most likely choice to start Game 1 — though Bailey Ober or Kenta Maeda could either get the ball outright or factor in as a piggybacking option. That sets up Lopez in Game 2, allowing the righty to pitch a potential Game 5, while Gray would take Game 3 on an extra day’s rest.
Game 1: Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.22 ERA)
Game 2: Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.45 ERA)
Game 3: TBD (Probable: Cristian Javier — 10-5, 4.56 ERA)
Game 4: TBD (Probable: Hunter Brown — 11-13, 5.09 ERA)
Game 5: TBD (Probable: Verlander)
It was clearly a postseason move when Houston re-acquired Verlander at the 2023 trade deadline. The experience of the three-time Cy Young winner will help sustain a rotation that could see two rookies making important appearances. Houston is looking to win back-to-back World Series and will hope for big early series outings from Verlander, Valdez and Javier — pitching the best he has in a long time of late — to help offset the chance of Brown or J.P. France having to start Game 4, as each of the young righties have struggled down the stretch. The Astros aren’t new to the postseason, so could end up switching the order to give Verlander Game 4 on short rest and Valdez Game 5 if needed.