Despite his team's recent five-game losing streak, Minnesota Twins president of baseball operation Derek Falvey did not make big additions ahead of the Tuesday trade deadline
He believes the squad, with the addition of reliever Dylan Floro, can remain on top of the American League Central. The Twins will continue that pursuit on Thursday when they play the rubber game of a three-game road series against the St. Louis Cardinals
"I think what I would say to fans and what I feel in this group is that we believe this roster is capable of continuing to compete for this Central championship and ultimately beyond," Falvey said after the trade deadline passed
"We like the guys we have," Twins slugger Joey Gallo said. "We haven't played maybe our best baseball, but we've got a good group of guys that so far has us in first place.
Sonny Gray (4-4, 3.22 ERA) will start the series finale for the Twins. After going 4-0 with a 0.77 ERA in six starts in April, the right-hander has not recorded a victory since
The Twins have won just four times in his past 15 starts while struggling to provide him with run support. Overall, Gray has met the quality-start metric nine times this season
Gray stuck out nine batters and walked only one in 12 innings over his past two starts. He allowed three runs on five hits over six innings in his most recent start, Friday at Kansas City, a game the Twins eventually lost 8-5 in 10 innings
Gray is 2-5 with a 5.74 ERA in nine career starts against the Cardinals
After trading away starting pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty for prospects ahead of the deadline, the Cardinals will give Matthew Liberatore (1-3, 6.75 ERA) ample opportunity to establish himself during the rest of this season
The Cardinals want to see if Liberatore and Dakota Hudson, who earned the victory on Wednesday, can become part of their pitching solution for 2024. Liberatore will draw the start Thursday
"From a front-office standpoint, yeah it's going to weigh in heavily -- how people perform and what we see," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "That all determines how we really put our offseason strategy together.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol added, "(Hudson) and Libby are going to get a shot at it. They are going to get their outings. We need to see what we have. That's been communicated.
Liberatore was 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Memphis this season. He has pitched nine games for the Cardinals this season, including eight starts, allowing 43 hits and 16 walks in 32 innings
The Thursday game will be his first career appearance against the Twins
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was a late scratch on Wednesday due to right hamstring soreness. The team hopes he can return to the lineup for the finale
The Cardinals got second baseman Nolan Gorman back in the lineup Wednesday after he missed two games because of lower back tightness. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch
--Field Level Medi