Twins ready for playoffs as they finish season at Colorado

Field Level Media

September 29, 2023 at 8:22 am.

With the American League Central clinched and their AL playoff seeding set at No. 3, the Minnesota Twins can use a weekend series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver to get ready for the playoffs.

Minnesota (85-74) wrapped up its division title last week and spent the just-finished, three-game series against the Oakland A’s lining up its staff for the first two games of the AL wild-card round. The Twins haven’t decided who would pitch Game 3, if necessary, but Joe Ryan is in strong consideration.

Ryan (11-10, 4.31 ERA) has a chance to earn a playoff start when he opens the weekend series against the Rockies on Friday night. Colorado (58-101) will go with Ty Blach (3-3, 5.42), who has never faced the Twins in his seven-year career.

Ryan will be opposing the Rockies for the second time in his three major league seasons. On June 26, 2022, he allowed three runs over five innings to get a win over Colorado in Minneapolis.

In his most recent outing, Ryan gave up three runs and struck out 10, one shy of his career high, in six innings during a win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. Another good outing could make manager Rocco Baldelli’s decision easier.

“You’re looking for what the guy can give you in a burst right now,” Baldelli said. “I think Joe’s in a good place. I think (Sunday’s) outing is probably a pretty good display of what he’s been doing lately as a whole. I think there’s a lot to continue to even build off of, looking at what he did (Sunday).”

Colorado fans won’t get to see Twins shortstop Carlos Correa over the weekend. The two-time All-Star, who has been sidelined due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot, is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list on Friday but will remain in Minnesota to work out with other injured Twins players. The team hopes he will be ready for the start of the playoffs.

The young Rockies have faced a gauntlet of contending teams in September and have gone 9-17 for the month, which secured the first 100-loss season in franchise history. But even during the struggles, the club has seen the emergence of some young players.

Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar has 37 doubles, tied with Todd Helton for most by a Rockies rookie, and outfielders Brenton Doyle and Nolan Jones have earned the respect of baserunners, who are conscious of their strong arms.

While Doyle has struggled at the plate, Jones has swung the bat well since being promoted to the majors in late May. He was acquired from the Cleveland Guardians in the offseason, then hit .356 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in 39 games for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Jones has 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in 103 games for Colorado and is finishing the campaign strong following a rough July. He has raised his average 17 points to .290 since Aug. 1 and is hitting .330 in September.

“It was really tough for me to go to Albuquerque, but I wanted to have fun,” Jones said. “This is an opportunity that I’m blessed to have received. Some good things have happened, and I’m learning along the way. But I definitely could never have expected this.”