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Game Thread 7/15 Scrimmage

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:51 AM
I don't know how many of us are streaming this tonight, but for those who are, how about a little game thread? You can stream the game, a...
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Charley Walters: Twins-Saints partnership talks quietly o...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:49 AM
Very interesting article in Pioneer Press from Charlie Walters. https://www.twinciti...uietly-ongoing/ There’s been a few suggestions in...
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Cord cutters dilema

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:49 AM
With the season fast approaching, what is the best way to watch Twins Baseball as a cord cutter? For the past several years, I've been us...
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Spring Training 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 01:45 PM
No matter what kind of patch work 2020 season MLB comes up with, if anything at this point, it will amount to no more than a glorified pr...
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Player Opt-outs

Other Baseball 14 Jul 2020
While we think about if a season happens or not.I started thinking about the opt out clauses by players, and what they will do.I tried to...
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Recent Blogs

The Show Must Go On: Treading Water as the Clock Ticks

As our interactive simulated 2020 season marches into late August, the Twins are failing to put a run together, and losing ground in the AL Central race as a result. We've fallen 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland with 34 left to play.

Can we take the division with a late push, or is it time to turn focus toward a wild-card berth?
Image courtesy of MLB The Show 20, Sony
To 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: 8/19
Team Record: 71-57
Leading OPS: Luis Arraez (.929 in 395 AB)
Leading ERA (SP): Alex Wood (2.62 in 137.1 IP)
Leading ERA (RP): Tyler Duffey (2.04 in 57.1 IP)

LATEST RESULTS (5-5)

Gm 119 @ KC: W 6-4 (Berrios 7.1 IP, 3 ER, W)
Gm 120 @ KC: W 7-2 (Sano 2-5, HR, 2 RBI)
Gm 121 @ BOS: L 7-6 (Maeda 4 IP, 5 ER)
Gm 122 @ BOS: L 4-0 (Wood 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 11 K)
Gm 123 @ BOS: W 11-4 (Rooker 3-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
Gm 124 @ BOS: W 8-7 (Cruz 3-4, HR, 5 RBI)
Gm 125 vs KC: W 3-2 (Arraez walk-off RBI single in 13th)
Gm 126 vs KC: L 7-6 (Rogers 1 IP, 3 ER, L)
Gm 127 vs KC: L 4-1 (Cruz 3-5, RBI)
Gm 128 vs CWS: L 9-2 (Snell 4 IP, 4 ER, L)

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS




Attached Image: alcstandings819.jpeg


THE RUNDOWN

Per last week's lopsided vote, we decided to send down Zack Littell and replace him in the bullpen with Cody Stashak, who'd been pitching brilliantly in Triple-A. Things... did not go well in Stashak's initial run with the Twins. He has thrown four innings over four appearances, allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and two homers, for a 15.75 ERA and 2.50 WHIP. That's not quite "Let's reverse the decision and send him back down" territory, but it's pretty close.

While Stashak arrived with a thud, it was another reliever whose failure turned the tides on a promising run. We were 5-2 through our first seven games of the latest stretch, seemingly headed toward 6-2 as we entered the top of the ninth of a home game against Kansas City leading by two. In came All-Star closer Taylor Rogers, who was knocked around for three earned runs on four hits, blowing the lead and the game. Our Twins lost the next two without putting up much of a fight, getting outscored by the Royals and White Sox 13-3.

As recently as late July, we were tied with the Indians for first place. But a 7-9 record so far in August, along with Cleveland playing consistently good ball, puts us 3 1/2 games out as September approaches. A string of games starting at the end of August where we play Cleveland seven times in 10 games looms very large. Failing to succeed there could potentially doom us, and that's if we keep pace up until then.

The good news, I guess, is that we are still in playoff position, holding the second wild-card spot behind Texas (71-55), but leading Houston (69-57) by only one game.




Attached Image: wildcardstandings819.jpeg


We need to buckle down and rattle off some wins if we want to avoid missing the playoffs. It's discouraging that our biggest deadline acquisition has thus far been a bust (as I'll cover shortly) while big bats are failing to step up. But there's still time left.

WHO'S HOT

Brent Rooker has been hitting very well since being recalled after the Eddie Rosario trade. He balled out in our 11-4 victory at Fenway, homering twice and doubling while driving in six runs. Since being recalled in late July, Rooker is hitting .283 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 13 games. Jake Cave is also performing very well, with a .308/.394/.495 slash line in 27 total games on the season, so the platoon is thus far minimizing the impact of Rosario's absence.

Meanwhile, leadoff man Luis Arraez keeps on collecting hits. His .339 batting average trails only Mike Trout (.344) in the AL batting race.

In the rotation, Alex Wood's rough debut in a Twins uniform (4.1 IP, 6 ER vs. HOU) has since given way to three strong efforts:
  • 8/6 vs. KC: 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 1 BB
  • 8/11 @ BOS: 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 11 K, 3 BB
  • 8/16 vs KC: 7 IP, 4 R, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB
He's still searching for his first win in a Twins uniform due to a lack of support from – alternatively – the offense, bullpen, and defense. But he's been a hell of a lot better than his fellow deadline rotation pickup.

Attached Image: alexwoodtwins.jpeg


WHO'S NOT

Blake Snell has made four starts since we traded Rosario and Jordan Balazovic to Tampa for him. The results:
  • 8/2 vs HOU: 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
  • 8/7 vs KC: 6 IP, 4 ER, 5 K, 7 BB
  • 8/12 @ BOS: 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 K, 4 BB
  • 8/18 vs CWS: 4 IP, 4 ER, 5 K, 3 BB
Zero quality starts in four attempts. Routinely erratic control. Failure to capitalize on soft home match-ups. He's got time to make good (especially since we have him for three more years after 2020), but Snell's 7.40 ERA through four starts is definitely instilling some buyer's remorse.

Offensively, the once-potent lineup has been lagging at times, and Max Kepler's drop-off is a prime culprit. When he started in right field at the All-Star Game, he was slashing .289/.373/.462 with 13 home runs and 57 RBIs. A month later, his overall line has dropped to .267/.365/.426, and he has added only two homers and 13 RBIs in 29 games. This is especially problematic since Kepler has stepped into the cleanup spot left vacant by Rosario. Which brings us to this weekend's decision up for vote.

DECISION TIME: SHAKING UP THE BATTING ORDER

We made big rotation additions at the deadline, and we've been pretty active with promoting and demoting relievers. I'm not sure what else we can do to right this wayward ship, other than something as straw-graspy as moving people around in the batting order. While the once-leading Twins still rank second in the majors in runs scored – albeit distantly, behind the Angels (679 to 639) – our offense has clearly tailed off in recent weeks.

With hindering issues, such as Kepler slumping in a key spot, maybe a major shakeup will make a real difference.

Here's the core lineup I've been running out against righties:
  • Luis Arraez, 2B (.339/.438/.491, 11 HR, 62 RBI)
  • Josh Donaldson, 3B (.261/.364/.471, 29 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Miguel Sano, 1B (.268/.368/.513, 30 HR, 85 RBI)
  • Max Kepler, RF (.267/.365/.426, 15 HR, 68 RBI)
  • Mitch Garver, C (.281/.375/.470, 16 HR, 39 RBI)
  • Jorge Polanco, SS (.262/.347/.402, 12 HR, 39 RBI)
  • Nelson Cruz, DH (.269/.342/.480, 25 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Jake Cave, LF (.308/.394/.495, 4 HR, 10 RBI)
  • Byron Buxton, CF (.216/.284/.309, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
Against lefties, I usually swap in Rooker for Cave and move Cruz up a spot. And of course, there are backups routinely rotating through. But this is the A1 order.

One thing we won't consider here is moving Arraez out of the leadoff spot; he was voted into it by readers ahead of the All-Star break, and has been phenomenal in that role with his .438 OBP (second only to Trout in the majors). But I'm otherwise open to pretty much anything.

Here's one re-shuffling we could try, which moves the struggling Kepler and underwhelming Donaldson down a bit while elevating Polanco and Garver:
  • Luis Arraez, 2B (.339/.438/.491, 11 HR, 62 RBI)
  • Jorge Polanco, SS (.262/.347/.402, 12 HR, 39 RBI)
  • Mitch Garver, C (.281/.375/.470, 16 HR, 39 RBI)
  • Miguel Sano, 1B (.268/.368/.513, 30 HR, 85 RBI)
  • Josh Donaldson, 3B (.261/.364/.471, 29 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Max Kepler, RF (.267/.365/.426, 15 HR, 68 RBI)
  • Nelson Cruz, DH (.269/.342/.480, 25 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Jake Cave, LF (.308/.394/.495, 4 HR, 10 RBI)
  • Byron Buxton, CF (.216/.284/.309, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
Or... here's another thought. Buxton's been fighting it at the plate all season long. He started slow and has simply never been able to get going. In that respect, having him at the bottom of the lineup has been logical and beneficial. But maybe a change of routine could jumpstart his game. Getting Buxton going at the plate would be such a catalyst for this offense. So here's a more radical reconfiguration we could try:
  • Luis Arraez, 2B (.339/.438/.491, 11 HR, 62 RBI)
  • Byron Buxton, CF (.216/.284/.309, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
  • Max Kepler, RF (.267/.365/.426, 15 HR, 68 RBI)
  • Miguel Sano, 1B (.268/.368/.513, 30 HR, 85 RBI)
  • Josh Donaldson, 3B (.261/.364/.471, 29 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Jake Cave, LF (.308/.394/.495, 4 HR, 10 RBI)
  • Nelson Cruz, DH (.269/.342/.480, 25 HR, 79 RBI)
  • Mitch Garver, C (.281/.375/.470, 16 HR, 39 RBI)
  • Jorge Polanco, SS (.262/.347/.402, 12 HR, 39 RBI)
The risk is that Kepler and Buxton keep slumping, and our run-scoring issues worsen. But I think they're gonna heat up soon. It's not like they have bad player ratings in the game, far from it.

If anyone has any other ideas, I'm all ears. Feel free to share them, ask questions, or vote for your favorite lineup in the comments

COMING UP

8/19 vs CWS
8/21 vs DET
8/22 vs DET
8/23 vs DET
8/25 @ MIL
8/26 @ MIL
8/28 @ TB
8/29 @ TB
8/30 @ TB

PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS

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)
Part 6: Rising Power (30-20)
Part 7: First Place! (Barely) (34-26)
Part 8: Drafting and Dropping (38-32)
Part 9: Cruz Control (45-35)
Part 10: Pulling Ahead (52-38)
Part 11: Bashing into the All-Star Break (58-40)
Part 12: Deadline Decisions (62-46)
Part 13: Inauspicious Debuts (66-52)

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

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4 Comments

Photo
Nick Nelson
May 25 2020 09:19 PM

Option 1: Press "Like This" on this comment (or voice your support below) if you want us to stick with this regular batting order:

 

1. Luis Arraez, 2B
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B
3. Miguel Sano, 1B
4. Max Kepler, RF
5. Mitch Garver, C
6. Jorge Polanco, SS
7. Nelson Cruz, DH
8. Jake Cave, LF
9. Byron Buxton, CF

Photo
Nick Nelson
May 25 2020 09:20 PM

Option 2: Press "Like This" on this comment (or voice your support below) if you want us to switch to this regular batting order:

 

1. Luis Arraez, 2B
2. Jorge Polanco, SS
3. Mitch Garver, C
4. Miguel Sano, 1B
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B
6. Max Kepler, RF
7. Nelson Cruz, DH
8. Jake Cave, LF
9. Byron Buxton, CF

    • bradyhern, Wookiee of the Year, Centerfield and 7 others like this
Photo
Nick Nelson
May 25 2020 09:20 PM

Option 3: Press "Like This" on this comment (or voice your support below) if you want us to switch to this regular batting order:

 

1. Luis Arraez, 2B
2. Byron Buxton, CF
3. Max Kepler, RF
4. Miguel Sano, 1B
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B
6. Jake Cave, LF
7. Mitch Garver, C
8. Nelson Cruz, DH
9. Jorge Polanco, SS

    • terrydactyls1947 and Joey P like this
Photo
Doctor Gast
May 26 2020 07:29 AM

This game seems rigged! How can all these high caliber sluggers be held down for so long! Unbelievable! For the most part it seems you`re doing everything right

    • ashbury and DocBauer like this