Minnesota Twins vs Pittsburgh Pirates lineups, preview, and prediction (April 2, 2018)

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Pirates head home after a successful sweep of the Detroit Tigers to start their season.

Saturday's rain meant a Sunday double-header, which the Pirates won 1-0 and 8-6, with notable performances from Trevor Williams, who no-hit the Tigers for six innings, and Felipe Rivero, who collected a save in both games.

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The Twins come to Pittsburgh on the back of a huge 7-0 win against the Baltimore Orioles, which gave them a 2-1 series win. Jose Berrios tossed a three-hitter complete game while Brian Dozier mashed two homers and Miguel Sano added a third.


Game 1 starters - Lance Lynn (RHP) Vs. Jameson Taillon (RHP)

Lynn is in his eighth year in the Majors, but his first outside of St. Louis. 2017 marked his return from Tommy John surgery, and it was predictably underwhelming. While he made 33 starts, his K/9 rate dipped, his walks were up and his home run rate more than doubled.

Another year on from surgery and Lynn should be back toward what he was before the elbow blew, which is a workhorse with a good ground ball rate who keeps the ball in the park. If that is the 2018 Lynn, then the Twins will be very happy.

Taillon has battled such a wide array of injuries and health issues in his career that it is a wonder he is still pitching. Testicular cancer and shoulder fatigue made 2017 a very tough year for Taillon, and it showed in his numbers. His ERA ballooned to 4.44 due to a considerable jump in walk rate.

With the worst behind him there is a hope that Taillon returns to the ground ball pitchers he was before, when he posted a 3.38 ERA in 2016. His sinker and curveball are good pitches, and he can get a decent strike rate with his fastball too.

Projected lineups

Twins Lineup Home Runs Batting Average On-Base Percenta ge
Dozier, 2B2.357.400
Mauer, 1B0.364.500
Sano, 3B2.143.143
Rosario, LF0.167.231
Escobar, SS1.333.333
Kepler, RF1.300.462
Buxton, CF0.273.273
Castro, C1.125.125
Lynn, P0N/AN/A
Pirates  Lineup Home Runs Batting Average On-Base Percenta ge
Frazier, 2B0.400.455
Harrison, 3B1.357.438.
Polanco, RF1.333.429
Bell, 1B0.462.467
Dickerson, LF0.100.100
Marte, CF1.333.429
Cervelli, C0.231.231
Mercer, SS 0.091.214
Taillon, P0N/AN/A

Who's hot, who's not


Brian Dozier mashed his first two homers of the season last night, and has five hits to his name already this season. Joe Mauer is doing his usual thing in the #2 spot, hitting well and getting on base plenty, while Miguel Sano is very much doing Miguel Sano things; hitting homers and not much else.

There isn't a lot of power so far in the Pirates lineup, but both Adam Frazier and Josh Bell are seeing the ball well so far this season while Corey Dickerson has struggled out of the gate.

Prediction: Twins 4 - 2 Pirates

The double-header last night is going to make a few guys in the Pirates bullpen unavailable, notably Felipe Rivero. The lack of power also means that anything Lance Lynn does leave up in the zone is unlikely to be punished. I am optimistic about both he and Taillon this season, so it will be interesting to see which pitchers starts their season the best.

I'm taking the Twins superior lineup to see them through this one though.

Where to watch

Today's game will be broadcast on FSNO and ATTP, with MLB.tv streaming coverage for those out of market. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET