The Show Must Go On: Rising Power
Image courtesy of MLB The Show 20, SonyTo get caught up on what we're doing here, you can check out the introductory post in the series for an explanation of the premise and setup. But the quick version is this: We're playing a progressive simulated Twins season on MLB The Show 20 on PS4, and y'all are helping guide the ship. In each installment I'll update you on what's happened since the last, and put at least one key decision up for vote.
Date In Game: 5/21/20
Team Record: 30-20
Leading OPS: Miguel Sano (1.001 in 159 AB)
Leading ERA (SP): Kenta Maeda (2.37 in 60.2 IP)
Leading ERA (RP): Taylor Rogers (1.46 in 23.2 IP)
LATEST RESULTS (7-3)
Gm 41 @ DET: W 5-2 (Odorizzi 8.1 IP, 1 ER, W)
Gm 42 @ DET: W 5-4 (Rooker 3-for-4)
Gm 43 @ DET: W 9-4 (Astudillo 2-for-5, 3 RBI)
Gm 44 @ DET: L 2-1 (Dobnak 5 IP, 1 ER)
Gm 45 @ CLE: L 4-2 (Sano 3-for-6)
Gm 46 @ CLE: W 3-2 (Odorizzi 6 IP, 1 ER, W)
Gm 47 @ CLE: W 6-3 (Garver 4-for-5, 3 RBI)
Gm 48 vs BAL: W 6-5 (Polanco walk-off 2-R single)
Gm 49 vs BAL: L 10-7 (Garver 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Gm 50 vs BAL: W 6-4 (Kepler, Rosario, Astudillo HR)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Our last update shared numbers at the season's one-quarter milestone, and laid out three options for roster upgrades. Here are the vote tallies as I counted 'em:
- Replace Randy Dobnak with Jordan Balazovic as fifth starter (8 votes)
- Replace Jimmy Kerrigan with Brent Rooker on the bench (12 votes)
- Replace Devin Smeltzer with Fernando Romero in the bullpen (13 votes)
There was enough support for the latter two that I chose to move forward with both. Dobnak hung onto his fifth starter spot. For now.
A very nice 10-game stretch ensued for our Twins, who are really coming into their own as they now sit 10 games above .500, suddenly withing 2.5 of Cleveland for first place. Our latest slate featured some riveting extra-inning affairs, a thrilling comeback, and an impressive rookie debut. Here's a quick rundown.
In Detroit we took three of four on the backing of some strong pitching and quality hitting. Rooker made his first big-league start in the second game, batting seventh and playing left. He went 3-for-4 with a double in the debut.
All in all, Rooker is slashing .235/.316/.353 with a pair of doubles through his first 19 plate appearances as a Twin.
In the series finale against Detroit, Dobnak reaffirmed the decision to stick with him in the rotation, tossing five innings of one-run ball, but the Twins offense was shut down by Daniel Norris in a 2-1 loss. Then, it was off to Cleveland for the biggest series of the season yet.
Things opened up in dramatic fashion. Jose Berrios and Mike Clevinger dueled, then turned it over to the relievers, who kept the stalemate going. A 2-2 tie carried into extra innings, where the two teams traded zeroes until Zack Littell yielded a two-run walk-off homer to Carlos Santana in the bottom of the 13th. Fortunately, our Twins battled back to win games two and three, making up key ground in the standings.
Then it was back home to face the Orioles. In the first game of this series, the Twins fell behind 4-2 when Homer Bailey coughed up four runs in the fifth. Jordan Balazovic took over and kept the game in hand with one run allowed over 4 1/3 frames. Entering the bottom of the ninth down 5-2, our Twins needed some magic. Here's the game log from that half inning:
- [LHP Paul Fry replaces RHP Michael Givens for BAL]
- Miguel Sano reaches 1B on error by 3B Renato Nunez.
- Eddie Rosario walks, Sano to 2B.
- Nelson Cruz strikes out swinging.
- Marwin Gonzalez singles to left. Sano to 3B, Rosario to 2B.
- Max Kepler singles to left. Sano and Rosario score, Gonzalez to 2B.
- [LHP Tanner Scott replaces LHP Paul Fry for BAL]
- [Mitch Garver pinch-hits for Brent Rooker]
- Mitch Garver walks. Gonzalez to 3B, Kepler to 2B.
- Byron Buxton grounds into fielder's choice, Gonzalez out at home. Kepler to 3B, Garver to 2B.
- [Jorge Polanco pinch-hits for Luis Arraez]
- Jorge Polanco singles to right. Kepler and Garver score.
Hip-hip, Jorge! It was Polanco's second walk-off hit of the season, and in a pinch-hit appearance with two outs to seal a big comeback, no less. Gotta love it. Unfortunately Minnesota couldn't ride its momentum in the next game, where Dobak (3 IP, 5 ER) was outperformed by ... groan ... Kohl Stewart, who picked up his first win of the season, moving to 1-7 with five innings of one-run ball. But the Twins came back to finish this latest stretch with a win behind Berrios, keyed by Kepler's three-run homer.
As we head into the final 10 days of May, we're within two weeks of the MLB draft. I've mostly got scouting on autopilot in the game, but will check in with y'all to gather some thoughts in the next installment as we get ready to recruit some new (fictional) young talent into the system.
Jorge Polanco of course had the big knock and he has generally been playing very well, with his slash line up to .290/.381/.414 on the year. Mitch Garver was red-hot in this 10-game stretch, going 11-for-26 (.423) with three homers and nine RBIs. Luis Arraez collected 10 hits to push his season average up to .321, which ranks eighth-best in the American League. His .428 OBP ranks fifth. Eddie Rosario drove in eight more runs; his 37 RBIs are fourth-most in the AL.
Meanwhile, Jake Odorizzi (2 ER in 14 1/3 IP over 2 starts) and Kenta Maeda (2 ER in 11 IP over 2 starts) continue to do their things. Here's the current AL leaderboard for ERA:
In the bullpen, Tyler Clippard (1.69 ERA), Tyler Duffey (1.99) and Taylor Rogers (1.46) continue to lead the charge for a mostly effective unit.
Nelson Cruz has run into a cool spell, batting just .186 over his past 10 games, although he did chip in a couple more homers. Josh Donaldson too has hit a skid, batting .195 in nine starts and dropping his season OPS by nearly 50 points. It says something that our offense can still perform, and the team can still win three straight series, with these two linchpins in the lineup lagging.
Homer Bailey gave up eight earned runs in his 9 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 5.44, but he does have a 5-1 record thanks to his run support. Randy Dobnak has yet to complete more than five innings, and has gotten there only once in four starts.
DECISION TIME: DETERMINING BALAZOVIC'S ROLE
We chose not to swap in Balazovic for Dobnak as fifth starter last week, but there was clear support for the idea and I think it's worth revisiting. Dobnak allowed six earned runs over eight innings in his latest two starts. The success he was enjoying as a reliever has evaporated since the switch to starting.
Balazovic made only one relief appearance, but it was his best of the season: 4 1/3 innings, one run, five strikeouts, one walk. His strong work in relief of a short Bailey set the stage for a dramatic comeback win. As we've mentioned, Balazovic's morale is currently dragging down his player rating because he feels miscast in his role.
Should we swap the two? Vote in the comments section.
5/21: vs CWS
5/22: vs CWS
5/23: vs CWS
5/24: vs CWS
5/26: @ NYY
5/27: @ NYY
5/28: @ NYY
5/29: @ CWS
5/30: @ CWS
5/31: @ CWS
6/1: @ CWS
Part 1: We Can Build This Thing Together (0-0)
Part 2: 10 Games In, 6 Games Back (4-6)
Part 3: Roaring Back (11-9)
Part 4: Over the Hill (17-13)
Part 5: Checking In at the Quarter Point (23-17)
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email