The Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays face off in the first AL Wild Card Series game on Tuesday, October 3. First pitch from Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota is set for 4:30 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN. Minnesota will start Pablo Lopez, while Toronto counters with Kevin Gausman.
The Twins are the -115 moneyline favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Blue Jays are the narrow -105 underdogs, and the run total is set at 7.5.
Twins starting lineup, AL Wild Card Series Game 1, October 3
Twins' starting lineup for Game 1 vs. RHP Kevin Gausman and the Toronto Blue Jays:— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) October 3, 2023
2B Edouard Julien, L
3B Jorge Polanco, S
DH Royce Lewis, R
RF Max Kepler, L
1B Alex Kirilloff, L
SS Carlos Correa, R
C Ryan Jeffers, R
LF Matt Wallner, L
CF Michael A. Taylor, R
The Twins are known for their pitching staff, and the lineup will have to step up if they hope to advance out of this series. Julien had 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 37 RBI in the regular season. His .263 batting average is lower than what you see out of a typical leadoff hitter, and Minnesota could play around with its specific batting order game-to-game. Polanco has the advantage of being the lineup’s lone switch hitter, but injuries caused him to suit up for only 80 games this year. Still, Polanco hit .255 with 18 doubles, 14 home runs and 43 RBI.
Some combination of Lewis, Kepler and Kiriloff should make up the middle of this lineup throughout the series. Lewis and Kiriloff played fewer games but still hit .309 and .270, respectively and combined for 26 home runs and 93 RBI. Kepler played in 130 games and slashed .260/.332/.484 this year. Compared to other years in his career, the surprise of the lineup is seeing Correa drop all the way to sixth. He hit .230 in a down year, but had the most doubles on the team (29) and the second-most RBI (65).
Jeffers gets the Game 1 start behind the plate over Christian Vazquez. The latter played in more games during the regular season, but Jeffers was a better hitter, which is what the Twins need to focus on to stay in these games. Wallner and Taylor could be interchanged as the series progresses with Taylor a likely defensive sub in the latter part of the game if he doesn’t start.