Incredibly, this four-game series will be the Jays' third straight trip to Minnesota without facing the best pitcher in baseball, and their second straight in which they'll only have to deal with one of M and M. However, their hitters will still be challenged: they'll see two killer Bs with good K/BBs and a pair of the stingiest control pitchers around. These may not quite be the real Twins, but this is still going to be difficult.
Kevin Slowey: Rookie righthander with excellent fastball command. There's one incredibly consistent (consistently incredible?) column in Slowey's minor-league stats which should immediately jump out at y'all. He only throws in the high 80s, but he can throw it to a teacup with as much regularity as the Jays' starter tonight can. The Baseball America prospect annual has a story about how Slowey struck out the side in the FSL All-Star Game last year on 9 pitches. They were all fastballs. 8 of the 9 strikes were called.
Slowey gives a scouting report on his approach in a 2005 interview with Seth Stohs: "I guess for me it's all about throwing strikes. Staying ahead of the batter and keeping them on the defensive makes pitchers look better than they are. A 2-0 fastball coming in at 95 looks slower than a 1-2 fastball at 88 on the hands. I really throw a lot of fastballs, almost 80% this year in the minors, batters tend to get themselves out a lot more than I do. I guess I just try to make a "good" pitch every pitch. And then I only try to make a perfect pitch when I really have to. It keeps the hitters from getting their pitch."
Scott Baker: The Twins have loads of players with the same name. They employ 3 Jasons, plus two Luises and a Lew. If Scott Baker slips up a couple more times, they'll probably have two Matt Gs as well. Baker has been victimized by the BABIP and HR/Fly gods this year. He's due for a bit of hit luck.
Boof Bonser: The cherry on top of the A.J. Pierzynski trade is off to a good start this year. He's 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA. Bonser has a low-90s fastball and throws lots of off-speed pitches. His best strikeout bet appears to be a hard high-70s curveball. If he's keeping it down, he usually does well. If he's throwing it for strikes, good luck...
Carlos Silva: The Chief is well on his way to a nice bounce-back year. He's doing it more with homer luck than with a low walk rate this year, so I doubt he'll be quite as great the rest of the way as he was in 2005, but Silva is still very quietly sitting on a 3.98 ERA. His game plan is the same as it ever was: lots of hard sinkers, though his groundball rate has been in a steady decline over his career. The Jays seem to be running into a lot of pitchers like Silva this week; hopefully they get into a rhythm of some sort.
Torii Hunter: Is having a great year with the bat, but Friday night was not exactly its high point: he managed to get both caught stealing and picked off in a one-run loss to the Marlins.
Wednesday night, the Twins are offering a peanut-free skybox. Nice idea. For $29, fans who suffer from peanut allergy can watch Josh Towers pitch from a safe, super-comfortable environment.
Justin Morneau: Unlikely to play this series. He flew back to Minnesota today after three nights in a Florida hospital nursing a bruised lung, per Rotoworld. Morneau suffered the injury when he crashed into Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo on Friday night. The Twins might DL him and call up a pitcher, but currently they're holding out hope he will be available by the end of the week. If the Twins want; some lefty pop off the bench in Morneau's absence, Johan tripled on Sunday in Florida...
Bullpen: As good as advertised, despite Joe Nathan's large quantity of liners surrendered this year. Pat Neshek is off to a tremendous start as the Twins' designated strikeout machine.
The Credit Section: All offensive stats, pitches per PA for pitchers and league average stats are from the Hardball Times. Pitchers' stats and leverage indices are from Fangraphs. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% + LD% + FB% = 100.