If These Three Excel, the Twins Will Go Far This October
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports3. Miguel Sanó
Sanó’s 2020 season has been a rollercoaster, as it sometimes can be with him. He hit .140 with a .632 OPS over his first 18 games, frequently swinging through centercut fastballs and striking out at a (even for his standards) ridiculously high rate.
Over his next 19 games ranging from August 17th to September 5th, Sanó hit .333/.403/.696 with 15 extra-base hits. The Twins were carried by Miggy and Nelson Cruz for nearly a month as the rest of the lineup remained injured or ineffective.
Since then, though, Sanó has cooled considerably. Over his last 55 plate appearances, Miggy has just six hits (.113) and four home runs. He’s struck out 12 times for every walk.
When he’s on, Sanó is one of the best sluggers in the game. He leads the A.L. in average exit velocity (95.4 mph) and hard-hit rate (57%). As the type of player who can beat the world for weeks at a time, his bat could be the difference for the Twins in October. They need him.
2. Taylor Rogers
Much has been said and written about Taylor Rogers and his struggles recently. Rogers began his season with four sterling outings, allowing just one hit and striking out four. Since then, he has a 5.52 ERA and .353 OBA. Opponents are making contact more often, making hard contact more often, and hitting less ground balls against Rogers.
He has struggled to put hitters away, frequently making mistakes in two strike counts. Rogers is still striking out over 11 batters per nine and has given up only two home runs all year. The underlying numbers suggest bad luck has at least a little bit to do with it.
No matter, it’s hard to feel confident in the Twins’ closer right now. When he’s himself, though, there are very few better in the game. Rogers ranks second in fWAR among American League relievers since 2018 (4.5), behind only Liam Hendriks of the A’s.
The narrative that Rogers has been poor since the 2019 All-Star Game is misguided. He’s been a top five reliever even over the last 13 months.
For better or worse, T-Rog is an X factor.
1. José Berríos
The emergence of Kenta Maeda has taken loads of pressure off Berríos, who has thrived as the team’s No. 2 starter. Berríos has a 2.14 ERA over the last month with 37 strikeouts in 33 ⅔ innings. This came following a 5.92 ERA over his first five starts of the shortened season.
Berríos is slated to start game two of the Wild Card round. He’ll be tasked with either clinching the series or keeping the Twins alive. Even though he’s no longer the game one starter, the team’s fate will be somewhat in his hands. If Berríos can keep it going into October, this rotation will be hard to beat.
The Twins will of course need Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Maeda, Max Kepler and others to contribute if they want the ring. The three above, however, may dictate whether their playoff run is extended beyond a round or two.
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