The Minnesota Twins face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight in an interleague battle. These teams almost never meet. They last played in 2017 with the Twins sweeping the three-game series at home, but obviously these teams are completely different now. This will be the Twins first trip to Arizona for a series since 2011. I will say the one good thing Rob Manfred is doing is making every MLB team play every other team at least once every season. They’re the only major US sport to not do it, and it is even funny to think a lit bit ago there wasn’t even interleague play at all. Granted, the universal DH makes that much easier.
Devin Smeltzer has only made six starts this season, but he has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins. He is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA on the season and he has yet to allow more than three runs in an appearance. He did struggle a bit in his last two outings though. He has allowed five home runs and five walks in his past two starts. However, those two starts were against very good hitting teams against lefties in the Blue Jays and the Rays. He should have much more success against a Diamondbacks team that is ranked fourth worst in the league in wOBA against lefties. They struggle against lefties because they don’t have many right-handed batters to platoon with. They end up starting three or four lefties against the lefty which is just a tough ask. Smeltzer has actually been better against righties so far this season, but he also hasn’t faced many lefties in just six starts.
Madison Bumgarner has been very hit or miss all season, but I think he will struggle against a Twins team that has been hitting well this season. However, he is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in June and he was 1-2 with a 5.33 ERA in May. He has also walked multiple batters in four straight starts. I think the Twins bats will have success today. The Twins also have their top bullpen arms available to come in a save the game if they need to, because they don’t have a ton of bullpen depth. The Diamondbacks also have their top relievers available, but they are ranked sixth worst in the league this season. Take the Twins on the road.