TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASEBALL SELECTION SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH
#970 MINNESOTA with Pineda (-128) over Cincinnati with Castillo at 7:10 PM EST
Off last night’s surprising 7-2 home loss to the Big Red Machine, the Twinkies will get back on track with a solid victory on Saturday night. Minnesota still owns a 1.0-game lead in the AL Central and the division title is theirs provided they can take care of business at Target Field the next two days.
Big right-hander Michael Pineda will toe the rubber for the home team. With four starts in the books this year, No. 35 has been scratched for eight earned runs and 21 hits in 22.2 innings of work. Pineda has struck out 21 batters and walked just four on his way to a 2-0 record with a respectable 3.18 ERA. Last year, with 26 starts in the books, Michael was a force for the Twins. Pineda surrendered just 65 earned runs and 141 hits in 146.0 frames. That was good enough for an 11-5 mark and a strong 4.01 ERA.
Red-hot righty Luis Castillo will counter for Cincy. In his last three trips to the mound against the Brew Crew, Pirates and Redbirds, No. 58 was in a zone allowing only two earned runs and nine hits in 22.2 innings. Castillo fanned 25 and walked seven en route to a golden 3-0 tally with a 0.79 ERA. Unfortunately, the road has given Luis a little trouble this year. On foreign soil, Castillo has been slammed for 14 earned runs and 31 hits in 35.1 frames. That adds up to a 2-4 record with a 3.57 ERA.
Several elite team trends support this investment. Minnesota has won 11 of its last 15 as interleague chalk, five of its last seven coming off a blemish, 32 of its last 47 after scoring two runs or less and five of its last seven in the second game of a series. On the other side of the yard, Cincinnati has fallen in 73 of its last 97 as a pup against AL foes and 12 of its last 16 facing a foe that scored two runs or less last.
The Twins know what is on the line and they’ll do what they’ve done all season long and that’s simply win at home. Take Minnesota with Pineda. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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