After the Minnesota Twins answered back with a commanding 10-4 win over the Boston Red Sox last night, the two teams will meet one more time from Fenway Park in the rubber game of this three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET. Kenta Maeda (0-2, 4.09 ERA) will get the ball for the Twins after having his turn in the rotation pushed back due to arm fatigue, while Tanner Houck (2-0, 4.50) will go for Boston.
Boston is currently listed as slight -115 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while Minnesota is a -105 underdog. The run total is set at 9.
Twins-Red Sox picks: Thursday, April 20
Out: 1B Alex Kirilloff (wrist), 2B Jorge Polanco (knee), INF Kyle Farmer (face)
Day to day: INF Yu Chang (paternity list)
Out: CF Adam Duvall (wrist), RP Chris Martin (shoulder), RP Joely Rodriguez (oblique), SP James Paxton (hamstring)
Kenta Maeda vs. Tanner Houck
Maeda hasn’t pitched in 10 days, the Twins understandably wanting to give the righty plenty of time to rest his arm as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Maeda was great in his first start of the year against the Miami Marlins, giving up one run in five innings while striking out seven, but was knocked around a bit last time out in a loss to the Chicago White Sox. It’s clear that he doesn’t quite have the feel for his splitter yet, which is typically his put-away pitch — he’s generating whiffs with it just 9.1% of the time so far this year, which is far below his career average — but he should continue rounding into form as he knocks the rust off.
Houck has had a frustrating start to his season, failing to make it past the fifth inning in any of his starts while allowing seven earned runs over 14 frames. His walk rate (12.1%) is concerning, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the righty has been a bit unlucky so far: Houck’s expected batting average (1.85) and expected ERA (2.91) are much better than his actual numbers, probably due to the fact that he’s generating tons of strikeouts and ground balls. If more of those grounders start finding gloves instead of holes, he should be able to work deeper into games.
A day game after a night game means we might see wonky lineups on both sides, and each of these pitchers feels like they’re due for a successful start. The Green Monster is never a friend to the under, but I think we’ll be in for a lower-scoring affair this afternoon.
Pick: Under 9
I still don’t quite trust Maeda yet, especially in Fenway Park, as he’s clearly not quite his sharpest self. Houck has had some bad luck so far this season and could finally put it all together this afternoon.
Pick: Red Sox