Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 Yankees-Twins regular season tilt was unlike any in literal decades. Minnesota took two of three and won the season series for the first time in 20 years, but the standings tell a better story.

Both teams are 14-11 on the year but with one key difference. The Twins are first in the AL Central while the Yankees are fourth in the AL East and seven games behind the first-place Rays. It’s still late April with plenty of time to level out and any social media hysteria is exactly that.

The greater point is that even across two early season series, we have a good idea of how good these Twins are. And in a playoff setting, the matchup certainly isn’t as one-sided as years prior.

Hitting: Let’s be clear. Wednesday’s 12-run outburst aside, the Yankees did not hit well at all in this series. Minnesota had better at-bats across the board and made New York’s competitive arms work. Minnesota also might have a secret weapon in former Yankee Joey Gallo, who hit two home runs in the series and is batting .262 with seven on the year.

But let’s not forget that much of the Yankees’ struggles at the plate right now are largely circumstantial. Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson being out of the lineup, plus Aaron Judge slumping, mean less good pitches to hit for anyone.

The Twins won the regular season battle but in an October war? It’s hard to not envision anything other than “Advantage: Yankees.”

Pitching: This is where the matchup gets interesting because while the Yankees have the better bats, Minnesota’s pitching is noticeably stronger early on. As of this writing, they rank second in baseball with a 3.16 staff ERA. Former Yankee flop Sonny Gray even leads MLB with a 0.62 ERA!

New York’s arms, meanwhile, aren’t far behind. They currently rank third with a 3.25 ERA, and that’s without both Luis Severino and Carlos Rodon. The Twins play in a weak division and might be overachieving, but this might still be their best pitching staff in recent memory.

Who wins the playoff series? This is a tough question because much of the matchup is still the same. The Twins have lots of talented players, but still play in the weak AL Central. Again, both they and the Yankees are 14-10 on the year. It’s also still April and regression is inevitable, starting with Gray’s so-far stellar ERA.

That said, a 2023 playoff matchup would be way different. It wouldn’t be defined and won by the Yankees’ strong bats, but whose pitching staff fared better. We have to assume the Yankees will be healthier across the board and have Gerrit Cole, Rodon, and Severino ready to go along with Nestor Cortes.

Even with a stronger pitching staff, young Minnesota lacks postseason experience and, unfortunately, that matters. New York’s bats would thus have to completely vanish for the Twins to pull off the upset. However, this playoff rematch between the old rivals would have one key difference.

Unlike in recent years, the Twins make this a real series and maybe push it to a decisive fifth game.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.