The San Diego Padres welcome the Minnesota Twins to Petco Park on Friday evening for the first game of a three-match series.
The Friars are 12 games back from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West Division, but are placed nicely in one of the three wild card spots for the playoffs.
Minnesota Twins vs San Diego Padres, First Game of Three
Petco Park, San Diego, California
02:40 BST Saturday 30th July, 2022
|How to watch|
MLB.TV, bet365 live streaming service (UK), Bally Sports North, Bally Sports San Diego, MLBN (US)
|Odds||Minnesota Twins 20/21, San Diego Padres 20/23|
Meanwhile, the Twins lead the American League Central and have a two-game advantage over their nearest challengers, the Cleveland Guardians.
However, they have hit a real sketchy run of form. This month they have won nine of the 19 games played so far, playing under .500 baseball. As we get to the final two months of the regular season, the Twins need to kick on.
The Twins opened the season with seven starting pitchers on their roster with no room to fit them all on their rotation, but now they could probably do with another.
Chris Archer is out of form, he matches a season-high six walks and allowed six runs in the loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night while fellow starter Dylan Bundy has been erratic in his performances.
The Twins have been delighted with Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray at the top of their rotation but they need help with a mid-rotation consistent starter.
Minnesota have had to deal with the injured pair of Chris Paddack (season-ending surgery) and Bailey Ober (groin injury) that has shortened their starting pitching.
The Twins have expressed interest in pitchers Pablo Lopez of the Miami Marlins and Merrill Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks and they were also keen on the Oakland Athletics' starter Frankie Montas in the spring.
Speaking to the official Minnesota Twins' website, team manager Rocco Baldelli said: "We avoid distractions at all costs, and discussions and constant thought and letting your mind wander and things like that.
"That's a distraction. If we do bring any new players in this week, then we'll adapt and we’ll get them caught up and try to win some games with that player or those players."
Mike Clevinger received a no-decision in the Padres' first-ever franchise win in Detroit on Tuesday night. However, the 31-year-old showed flashes of his commanding self as San Diego won 6-4.
Clevinger has made just 10 starts in 2022, half as many as the league leaders in starting pitchers. His 3.38 ERA through 11 appearances is just higher than his overall average of 3.20 but not by much.
Could the final stretch work well for Clevinger and the Padres?
Padres' manager Bob Melvin spoke about Clevinger following Tuesday night's win in Detroit. He said: "Today looked like vintage Clev, that I've seen the other side for years.
"He enjoys what he's doing out there, you can kind of feel it. All of his pitches were working today, and he's going to be big for us. And, maybe a little bit fresher with getting off to a late start and having a couple of times where we had to shut him down."
With this being an inter-league fixture, these two franchises don't play many games against each other. Minnesota have won eight of the last 10 fixtures, with the Padres last winning a home fixture against the Twins back in 2017.
San Diego last won a three-game series against Minnesota back in 2005 with the Twins coming out on top in 15 of the overall 20 meetings.
Most of the pundits are predicting that the Padres will be the strong suitors for the Washington Nationals outfielder and superstar, Juan Soto.
San Diego will have to give up their best prospects to get Soto, namely MacKenzie Gore or C.J Abrams, maybe even both, along with two or three high upside prospects.
This could prove to be very expensive for the Padres, but the upside is that Soto will be on their roster for two years prior to free agency.
Adding Soto to Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Mike Clevinger and Yu Darvish, means the Padres are stacked for World Series success surely?