The Minnesota Twins are opening a gap in the AL Central. Can they finally end their postseason skid?

There’s been a sense all season that whoever wins the AL Central will be the weak link in the American League playoffs.

The Minnesota Twins would probably take issue with that.

The Twins have opened a bit of distance between themselves and the mediocrity that is the rest of their division. After four straight victories, they lead Cleveland by 4 1/2 games. Their run differential — a respectable plus-47 — is better than Philadelphia and San Francisco, two teams that are in postseason position in the NL.

Yes, Minnesota trails even Toronto — the current last wild card in the AL — by four games. The Twins can thank their weak division for boosting their playoff chances. And the AL Central champ will probably be the worst division winner in the league, meaning a best-of-three series against one of the wild cards would await.

But if the Twins are in that series, underestimate their starting pitching at your peril. Sonny Gray is fifth in the AL with a 3.18 ERA. Pablo Lopez is second with 165 strikeouts and Joe Ryan is sixth with 152. Bailey Ober’s 3.21 ERA would be near the league lead as well if he had enough innings to qualify.

Of course, any postseason appearance for the Twins includes a fair amount of baggage at this point. Minnesota has lost a staggering 18 consecutive postseason games, a skid that includes best-of-threes, best-of-fives and a one-game playoff. It doesn’t include best-of-sevens because the Twins haven’t made it to the AL Championship Series since 2002.

It would be ironic if this is the Minnesota team that finally produces something worthwhile in the playoffs. It’s looking increasingly like the Twins will get that chance.