Minnesota's Randy Dobnak and Milwaukee's Adrian Houser might not necessarily be household names throughout the big leagues, but they happen to be two of the better pitchers on the young 2020 season.
Dobnak's task is clear: Help the struggling Twins avoid a fifth straight loss when they visit Houser and the Brewers on Monday night.
It's been quite the start to this unconventional season for the respective scheduled starters. Among MLB starters, Dobnak (2-1, 0.60 ERA) ranked first in the majors in ERA. Right behind was Houser (1-0, 0.75 ERA), although each pitcher was one inning shy of qualifying for MLB's official stats.
Dobnak, who has made eight career starts over two seasons, has yielded just one run through 15 innings of his first three outings this season -- and none over 11 innings of his last two. The right-hander has allowed just three hits in each of those starts, most recently over six innings of a 5-2 win in his hometown area of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"To be out there on the mound, I'm the one in charge right now," the 25-year-old Dobnak told the Twins' official website. "I'm pitching, rather than being in the stands watching it on TV."
Dobnak has likely watched the Brewers on television, but he has never faced them as a big leaguer. His focus Monday is helping Minnesota end its longest slide of the season.
The Twins opened the season 10-2, but have dropped four in a row, the last three coming in a sweep of a three-game set at Kansas City. Minnesota pitchers have a 6.12 ERA during the losing streak since Dobnak's win, and now face a Milwaukee squad that broke out for a 9-3 home win on Sunday.
The Brewers' enabled them to prevent a three-game sweep at the hands of Cincinnati.
While the Brewers hope their bats stay hot, they'll also need Houser to continue his strong start. The right-hander has yielded just one run over 12 innings in his first two outings. He gave up five hits through seven innings of a 1-0 road victory against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
"You just keep it locked in," Houser told the Brewers' official website. "I knew I could get it done with sinkers, and that's what we did."
This will be Houser's first start against the Twins, though he did face them over one inning of relief in May 2019.
He'll likely face Byron Buxton, whose three-game home run streak ended during Minnesota's 4-2 loss at Kansas City on Sunday. Buxton, though, is batting .368 (7 for 19) over his last six games after going 1 for 15 in his first six.
Buxton is 4 for 11 in three career games at Milwaukee.
Brewers star Christian Yelich, meanwhile, has also shown some life following a slow start to the season. Yelich is batting .300 (6 for 20) with three home runs and six RBIs in his last six contests after going 1 for 27 over his first six.
It's possible Milwaukee will get the services of fellow star Ryan Braun, who is dealing with a finger infection, back at some point during this three-game set. Batting .231 over four games in 2020, Braun last played on July 29.
Braun is a career. 332 hitter with 40 RBIs vs. Minnesota.
--Field Level Media