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Front Page: Dealing with Wheeler Gets Minnesota an Ace

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:34 PM
This offseason the Minnesota Twins chief focus is going to be on acquiring impact pitching. The front office has suggested as much, and w...
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Plan to reduce minor league teams

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 02:24 PM
https://www.nytimes....ue-changes.html   https://www.baseball...r-league-teams/   It would appear that MLB must be thinking the...
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Front Page: Can the Twins Become the New Astros? Part 2

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:15 PM
After looking into the similarities in the use of analytics, technology, and communication in both the Twins and Astros organizations in...
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Front Page: Three Critical Developments in Tyler Duffey...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:10 PM
Despite having a clear need in their bullpen, the Twins spent last offseason focusing on offensive upgrades. Their only addition was fung...
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Front Page: Can the Twins Become the New Astros? Part 3

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:10 PM
In the final installment of this three-part series comparing the Twins to the Astros, we will look into the role that an important vetera...
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Recent Blogs


MIN 5, MIL 3: Smeltzer Shines in Emotional MLB Debut

If Devin Smeltzer was nervous on the mound as he made his Major-League debut for the Twins on Tuesday night against the Brewers, it didn't show. Smeltzer, who began the season at Double-A Pensacola, provided the first-place Twins with one of the best starts by a pitcher making his MLB debut in Twins history. No, he wasn't awarded with the Win, but the Twins had a big seventh inning against the Brewers bullpen and held on to the lead to split the two-game series with the Crew.
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson, USA Today
Box Score

Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 76.8% strikes (53 of 69 pitches)

Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (17)
Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco 2-for-4

WPA of +0.1: Devin Smeltzer (.365), Willians Astudillo (.159),
WPA of -0.1: Jonathan Schoop (-.110),

(chart via FanGraphs)


The Devin Smeltzer Show

Hey, when a guy makes his MLB debut, it is always going to be a story. But as we know, with Smeltzer, there’s always a bigger story. The fact that he made his major league debut as a 23-year-old when he was diagnosed with cancer as a nine year old is remarkable. The fact that he has been cancer-free for several years is remarkable. His willingness to give back and support others who are dealing with what he has dealt with is, yes, remarkable.

Catch Cancer Looking
Katie’s Krusaders

And his major league debut was, in fact, remarkable. Six shutout innings with just 69 pitches, and 53 of them were strikes. He struck out seven batters. And as easy as he made things look in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, he really had to do some work to get through the second and third inning. The second began with a leadoff triple, but he was stranded at third. In the next inning, a leadoff double was stranded.

It was an emotional night for Smeltzer's family, friends and long-time supporters…


And for Jack Morris…


And for Devin Smeltzer too…



Buxton vs The Wall (Part)

Advantage, the Wall. Yasmani Grandal led off the second inning with a blast to the wall in left center field. Byron Buxton raced toward the bullpens, leapt, and just missed the ball. And then, he slammed into the wall. His glove flew one direction. His body was five feet in the air, parallel to the ground. And he landed hard.

Fortunately, the initial diagnosis was “right knee bruise.” It could have been much worse.

Zach Davies Is No Romantic

Despite such a nice MLB debut, Smeltzer got a No Decision because Brewers starter Zach Davies was also very good. Like Smeltzer, Davies doesn’t throw hard. He topped out maybe at 90, sat at 88 most of the time. But he was equal to the task, as he has been for much of the season for the Brewers. He used an impressive two-seam fastball most of the night and hit his spots throughout the night. Like Smeltzer, Davies threw six shutout innings.

Another Big Inning

The Twins have found a way to have a big offensive innings at least once in most games the last several weeks. On Tuesday night, that inning came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lefty Alex Claudio came in. He’s been very tough on left-handed batters. So, of course, Jason Castro blooped a single to left. Willians Astudillo then grounded to second, but Keston Hiura threw toward second and hit the back of Castro’s helmet. The ball ricocheted into center field which allowed Castro to go to third base and Astudillo to hustle into second. Max Kepler, who has been crushing lefties of late, provided a big line drive double off the wall in right field to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.



A couple of batters later, CJ Cron doubled in a run, and then Eddie Rosario stepped to the plate with two runners on and uncoiled for his 17th homer of the season to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.



A Possible Storyline for Discussion

I think we can all agree that Rocco Baldelli has done a nice job of not overusing his relievers. However, on Monday night, Taylor Rogers struggled and gave up an eighth-inning, go-ahead, two-run homer to Orlando Arcia. On Tuesday, Blake Parker came in for the eighth inning and gave up a two-run homer that cut the lead to 5-2. Taylor Rogers, pitching for the third straight game, started the ninth inning by giving up a solo home run. He got the next two outs before Ryne Harper came on and got the final out.

As I said, I think that we all agree that the long-term benefits of rest for key bullpen arms is important. But in the short-term, might that mean some rust? Might that potential cause some short-term heartburn? Or, do we just give credit to a strong Brewers lineup in this case and realize that even the better guys aren’t going to be perfect every time?

Bullpen Usage

Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Posted Image

Next Three Games

Wednesday - Day Off
Thursday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay- Martin Perez (7-1, 2.95 ERA) vs TBD
Friday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay - Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.20 ERA) vs TBD
Saturday - 12:10 @ Tampa Bay - Kyle Gibson (5-2, 4.08 ERA) vs TBD

Last Game

MIN 5, MIL 4: Hader Closes the Door on the Twins Win Streak

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95 Comments

Both of these games felt like more than routine mid season games.

Fun. It's what being a fan should be.
    • SQUIRREL, ashbury, glunn and 31 others like this
I am sorry now that I wasn't a believer but I had this game as a loss with Devin on the mound. Of course I couldn't have been more wrong, Devin was brilliant tonight and now we have our best pitchers ready for the Tampa series. He man handled that tough Brewers lineup tonight. I was shocked at the out come. I hope he gets another chance to prove himself. Very happy to grab a split with a tough NL team. Here's to hoping the bats come alive against Tampa.
    • glunn, Blake, Madisonsdad and 10 others like this

Friday and Saturday home vs Baltimore??

Okay. That’s my favorite Twins game in years.
    • Steve Lein, jokin, TheLeviathan and 10 others like this
First, foremost and most importantly, a tip of the cap to Smeltzer. Not only for his amazing debut, but for his victory over cancer and to move forward with his life and his dream. If you haven't read about his battle and determination as a youngster, and what he has done to give back, shame on you and start reading.

He is already one of my favorite players in the organization.

I said thjs in the game thread, but think it bears repeating: The box score may not show he won this game, but he was the winning pitcher. And he's already a winner in so many ways!

As to what he did on the mound, I missed the first couple of innings. Heard some on the radio, and watched his last 2IP. It's still only 1 game, and a debut. But what I saw was control, location, change of speed, a mix of pitches, and some stuff that broke the looked nasty. Don't know how good he can be, but I saw enough to think he has a future.
    • glunn, brvama, jokin and 11 others like this
In regard to bullpen usage, I am generally very impressed the way Rocco has used the pen. (Lineup as well). I really like how nobody seems overworked, and everyone gets used regularly to stay sharp. Used to kill me how Molitor would use his best RP's in a 4-5 run deficit game in the hopes of a comeback. Hard to argue with the results. The only negative I can see, and this goes back to the "rust" idea, is there have been a couple stretches here and there where Rogers and others sat for a good 3 games at a time. Keeping everyone fresh is one thing. And it is a long season. But you also need to stay sharp.
    • h2oface, big dog, Dman and 4 others like this

 

Friday and Saturday home vs Baltimore??

Mistake there. Four game series with Tampa. We are done with Baltimore.

 

 

Friday and Saturday home vs Baltimore??

 

Updated... thank you! 

Great win. A hard-throwing shut down BP arm NEEDS to be a priority.

    • h2oface, Lunger, adorduan and 4 others like this
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Aerodeliria
May 28 2019 10:27 PM

The Polka-man is Kohl Stewart's worst nightmare.

    • h2oface likes this
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Aerodeliria
May 28 2019 10:30 PM

The Polka-man also deserved a better fate. That was really something to remember. 76.8% strikes? Who throws that many strikes? I would have thought it was a 'typo' if not for MLB.com. Who does this guy think he is, Greg Maddux?

 

I thought it was interesting that the competing pitchers were very similar in their approach. No one throwing 90+, but very little solid contact--keep throwing strikes and keep the hitters off-balance.

    • Madisonsdad, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this
Smeltzer was fun to watch. He came at hitters and seemed to have the same arm slot on every pitch.
    • glunn, Aerodeliria and KFEY93 like this

6 IP and we already won the Dozier trade. 

    • Steve Lein, glunn, birdwatcher and 25 others like this

Smeltzer! What a performance. And only 69 pitches in 6 innings. He sure proved my doubts wrong this night. 

    • Steve Lein, birdwatcher, gagu and 2 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 29 2019 02:30 AM

I didn't get to watch the game. Smeltzer was obviously cruising, so why did he get pulled after 6 innings?

 

In regard to bullpen usage, I am generally very impressed the way Rocco has used the pen. (Lineup as well). I really like how nobody seems overworked, and everyone gets used regularly to stay sharp. Used to kill me how Molitor would use his best RP's in a 4-5 run deficit game in the hopes of a comeback. Hard to argue with the results. The only negative I can see, and this goes back to the "rust" idea, is there have been a couple stretches here and there where Rogers and others sat for a good 3 games at a time. Keeping everyone fresh is one thing. And it is a long season. But you also need to stay sharp.

 

Every team wants that shutdown bullpen. Even with a triumvirate of studs for the last 3 innings, things can and do go afoul. There was some good info in this article ....

 

https://www.mlbtrade...ap-rewards.html

 

Harper:

Granted, regression for the soft-tossing Harper is likely on the way – it’ll be hard to maintain a .220 batting average on balls in play and an 85.2 percent stand rate, and perhaps even tougher for a fly ball-heavy hurler to continue limiting home runs. Nevertheless, one can’t quibble with the unexpected production he has given Minnesota to this stage.

 

Parker:

The 33-year-old Parker has been similarly effective through 17 1/3 innings, having registered a 1.04 ERA in an effort to prove the Angels were wrong in non-tendering him last November. Parker isn’t going to keep this up, as his .190 BABIP, 96.2 percent strand rate, uninspiring strikeout and walk rates (7.27 K/9, 3.63 BB/9), and FIP (3.63) indicate.

 

And not in the article, but Rogers in touting a 1.41 WHIP and a .283 batting average against in 22.2 innings compared to a .95/.206 in 68.1 innings last year, and a career 1.20/.243. If he went down now, it would be career worsts for a season.

 

They all have time to upgrade their lines, and they have been successful so far. But it is not the pen to rely on for the season, and it surely indicates that if this team is to get to and go deep in the playoffs, that the front office's work is just beginning in regards to fortifying this staff that we are all enjoying.

 

And injuries really haven't happened..... yet.

    • Dman and DocBauer like this
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Aerodeliria
May 29 2019 03:33 AM

I noticed that all of the runs the Twins scored were earned...I thought there was an error on the throw to second that contributed to the five runs...it's a curious curiosity.

    • wabene likes this

This series was fun to watch.The playoff feeling was real vs another good team.

 

Smeltzer was super impressive, the kid can obviously pitch and I don't see how he doesn't get a real shot now, at least at a pen spot. 

 

I came away believing in the offense and defense but the holes in the pen showed.Come playoff time If Rodgers isn't lights out they are super thin, if Parker doesn't have his split going they are done.They require a top line reliever, realistically they need two. 

 

    • IaFan1 likes this
Very happy for Smeltzer. What a beautiful story.
    • tarheeltwinsfan and IaFan1 like this
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birdwatcher
May 29 2019 05:19 AM

 

6 IP and we already won the Dozier trade. 

 

 

The Dozier trade was won simply by his departure. Schoop's success is frosting. This is piling on.

    • Jerr, nokomismod, TheLeviathan and 9 others like this
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birdwatcher
May 29 2019 05:20 AM

 

I didn't get to watch the game. Smeltzer was obviously cruising, so why did he get pulled after 6 innings?

 

 

I think he was just gassed. 

The bullpen is usually the hardest part of the game for a manager to learn to negotiate. Overall, I do agree that Rocco has done well with his pen. He had some early bumps, but he appears to have learned from them. I would think that he'll learn from letting guys sit too long without game action too. That job gets a bit more difficult when the starters are as effective as they have been. Talk about good problem to have. He's a rookie manager, there will be some learning involved. 

 

Also, congrats to Smeltzer. Heck of a debut. I look forward to seeing what your future holds!

    • brvama, bunt_vs_the_shift and EPEZRider like this

Twins may have something with Smeltzer here. Think about some of the other debuts of recent AAA guys: Stewart, Gonsalves, Littell....last night's performance reminded me more of what Romero was doing last year in his first appearances. Smeltzer just may stick.

 

That said, regardless of what his MLB future holds, the kid is playing with house money. He's already beaten the toughest opponent he'll ever face. Awesome job last night, what a story and it was great to see his family supporting him big time. They were emotional and proud of him. Too cool.

 

Buxton almost had that catch. Chief was right, this game felt almost like a playoff game or at the very least a late-season important game. Crowd was into it, good fight from both teams. Overall an entertaining little series for sure.

 

 

 

 

    • brvama, Madisonsdad, DocBauer and 3 others like this

 

 Used to kill me how Molitor would use his best RP's in a 4-5 run deficit game in the hopes of a comeback. 

 

Good point, but...I'm struggling to remember the last time Baldelli had a 4-5 run deficit to worry about.Maybe he'll get to make that mistake himself but he's not had many opportunities so far.

 

What a season.

    • Jerr, woolywoolhouse, gagu and 1 other like this
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MMMordabito
May 29 2019 05:48 AM
How about keeping Yelich to one sac fly RBI in the series! Go Twins!
    • Madisonsdad, 70charger, big dog and 4 others like this

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