If it wasn't obvious based on performance or the way the Twins rotation was lined up, manager Rocco Baldelli confirmed what everyone expected Sunday.
Pablo López and Sonny Gray are scheduled to start the team's first two playoff games, likely in an American League wild-card series at Target Field on Oct. 3 and 4.
"I don't think there is any reason to not say that," Baldelli said. "I think it's pretty obvious one way or another."
That leaves Joe Ryan vying to start a potential Game 3 in the best-of-three wild-card series. Ryan's latest audition Sunday, in a game that featured some historic strikeouts, had plenty of positives. He matched his season high with 10 strikeouts, giving up three runs across six innings in the Twins' 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field.
Kenta Maeda will move to the bullpen next series, Baldelli confirmed, and that might signal Ryan's status as the No. 3 starter in the postseason.
"Joe's in a good place," Baldelli said. "Today's outing is probably a pretty good display of what he's been doing lately as a whole. There is a lot to even build off of, looking at what he did today."
The Twins haven't announced their rotation for next weekend in Colorado, but Ryan has followed López and Gray in the rotation's order all month. He had stretches Sunday in which he looked the part of a postseason starter. His 10 strikeouts, all with his fastball, were one shy of his career high, and he didn't issue a walk.
The bottom six hitters in the Angels lineup combined for three hits and nine strikeouts. The problem for Ryan was the other three hitters. Brandon Drury hit a two-run double with two outs in the third inning when he pulled a down-the-middle splitter over the head of left fielder Trevor Larnach.
Ryan surrendered back-to-back doubles to Randal Grichuk and Zach Neto in the fifth inning, his third time through the top of the Angels lineup. Then Ryan, who worked on his fastball this past week, struck out the side in the sixth inning.
"I was like, what if I relax it a little bit?" Ryan said. "Everything else was good, so it felt a little cleaner and some better rhythm. I was happy with that. Had a little [velocity] dip there for a second but found some rhythm again and got it cooking at the end."
Ryan's third strikeout, a called third strike to Michael Stefanic to end the second inning, was the 1,464th strikeout from Twins pitchers this season, a team record after they surpassed their total from 2019.
The Twins recognized their pitchers' record with a graphic on the video board, which received applause from the announced crowd of 24,232. In the bottom of the second inning, about 10 minutes later, there was no announcement or fanfare when Ryan Jeffers was called out on strikes to give the Twins offense its major league-record 1,597th strikeout of the season.
Ironically, on the day the Twins became the first team in MLB history to strike out 1,600 times in a season, they struck out only four times, their second-lowest total in a game this year.
The Twins carried a 4-3 lead into a 50-minute rain delay at the end of the sixth inning. Once play resumed, the offense turned in a five-run inning against reliever José Marte. Max Kepler crushed a two-run homer to right field, a no-doubter as he made a smooth transition from swing follow-through to bat flip.
After Matt Wallner bashed a two-out double, the hardest-hit ball of his career at 116.4 mph, Kyle Farmer hit an RBI single to left field, and Jeffers dropped a two-run homer about a foot beyond the left-field wall.
"Our guys have continued to focus well," Baldelli said. "With some of them, you want to keep an eye on them for a day or two after that clinch celebration. I think we're on the other side of that now."