Week in Review: The Return of Chris Gimenez
Image courtesy of © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsWeekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/27 through Sun, 9/2
Record Last Week: 2-4 (63-73 overall)
Run Differential Last Week: -22 (-59 overall)
Standing: Second place in AL Central (-14)
Most of the positive news coming out of Twins Territory this week had to do with the minor leagues, so you’ll want to make sure and check out the “down on the farm” section. As for the major league club, the entire starting pitching staff is struggling and the offense has had difficulties scoring runs. Pretty tough to find silver linings when that’s the case.
Luckily, Jake Cave and a couple of the guys in the bullpen have continued to impress. Cave has homered in three straight games and has six homers in his last 13 games.
Trevor May pitched 2 ⅔ scoreless innings and struck out six batters in the process. His ERA is down to 1.88 and he’s racked up 22 strikeouts in 14 ⅓ innings while walking just three batters.
Taylor Rogers added 2 ⅔ innings to his scoreless streak, which is now at 14 ⅔ innings. He’s only given up seven hits and a walk over that span and has stranded eight of the nine runners he’s inherited in the process.
Also, Joe Mauer reached another milestone this week, scoring the 1,000th run of his career, and Willians Astudillo hit his first Major League home run.
Left-handed reliever Andrew Vasquez, a former 32nd-round pick who opened the year with the Fort Myers Miracle, made his Major League debut Saturday. He recorded two outs in that game, giving up an unearned run due to his own two errors.
OK, so maybe that wasn’t such a hallmark moment, but debuts are always highlights in my book.
The Twins’ established starting pitchers all appear to be fighting through some things right now. Kyle Gibson (5 ER in 5.1 IP), Jake Odorizzi (3 ER in 5.1 IP) and Jose Berrios (5 ER in 4.0 IP) combined for a 7.98 ERA this week.
To make matters worse, the rookies struggled as well. Kohl Stewart (3 ER in 4.2 IP), Stephen Gonsalves (3 ER in 3.2 IP) and Zack Littell (2 ER in 4.0 IP) combined for a 5.84 ERA, and even combining to allow four unearned runs. So yeah, the defense was real bad too.
Littell served as the “primary pitcher” in the Twins’ first experiment with the opener Sunday. It was was a complete disaster in what ended up being an embarrassing 18-4 loss.
It’s not like the offense was firing on all cylinders, either. They averaged 4.3 runs per game this week even with a 10-run effort sprinkled in there.
One of the big dates on the transaction calendar passed this week, as Aug. 31 was the deadline for waiver trades. The only move the Twins made was to send Bobby Wilson to the Cubs for Gimenez and a player to be named. Big news, I know.
Rosters expanded on Sept. 1, meaning the Twins had enough room to activate Matt Belisle off the DL and call up Gimenez. Yay!
Vasquez, Littell, Tyler Duffey and Johnny Field, were also added to the active roster. With the minor league season ending there will likely be a few more guys who join the Twins early this week.
A couple players we know will not be joining the Twins are Fernando Romero and Byron Buxton. Romero has pitched a career-high 146 ⅔ innings this season, and has been showing some signs of fatigue over his past five starts, so the team is deciding to shut him down to avoid any further stress on his arm.
There was a lot of good discussion already at the site about Buxton leading up to this decision. First in Nick’s Awkward Decisions article, then in Ted’s piece titled Hardball, the Twins and Byron Buxton. I don’t feel the need to rehash everything here, since it’s already been well-covered and I’m sure will continue to be a topic of discussion. Make sure to check out this week’s episode of Gleeman and the Geek for more.
The reasoning the Twins, through GM Thad Levine, have provided on that move are not exactly clear. There was some acknowledgement that service time had something to do with the move, but the club is also insisting that Buxton’s left wrist injury continues to bother him.
Anyway, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press did an excellent job of reporting on the decision. I recommend you go check out his article from Saturday evening if you’re interested in seeing how Levine addressed questions.
Personally, I think it’s clear this has everything to do with manipulating his service time in order to gain an extra year of control. Absolutely 100 percent. If his wrist is still bothering him, why in the world was he even playing games for Rochester in the first place? If the Twins were in the playoff hunt right now, Buxton would be on this team. Anyway, moving on ...
Now that we know who’s up and who’s definitely headed home at the conclusion of the minor league season, who’s left? The only other healthy players on the 40-man roster are John Curtiss, Chase De Jong and Lewis Thorpe.
Like Romero, Thorpe has already established a new career-high in innings pitched, but (unlike Romero), he’s finishing strong. Thorpe got called up to Rochester for his final four starts and pitched to a 3.32 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 4.33 K:BB ratio (10.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9).
DOWN ON THE FARM
On the final day of their regular season, the Fort Myers Miracle clinched a playoff appearance. They entered Sunday a game back, meaning they need to win AND the team they were chasing had to lose. They pulled it off, as a 2-1 Miracle victory combined with a 5-2 loss by the Charlotte Stone Crabs sent Fort Myers to the postseason.
Brusdar Graterol (4.2 IP), Jovani Moran (2.1 IP) and Colton Davis (2.0 IP) were up to the task, combining to give up just one run. Aaron Whitefield drove in a run on a single in the fourth inning, stole second base, stole third base and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
The Miracle open their series against the Palm Beach Cardinals Tuesday night. Cedar Rapids also qualified for the playoffs, and will kickoff its playoff series Wednesday evening
Elizabethton has already opened up postseason play, and won its matchup in the Appalachian League Semifinals. The E-Twins are trying to defend their 2017 league title, and take their eighth Appy League Championship since the turn of the millennium. Game 1 against the Princeton Rays is Tuesday evening.
The participants for the Arizona Fall League were also announced this week. The Twins are sending pitchers Griffin Jax, Hector Lujan, Alex Robinson and Devin Smeltzer. The position players who are Arizona bound include Travis Blankenhorn, Jaylin Davis, Luke Raley and Brent Rooker. Additionally, Chattanooga manager Tommy Watkins will be managing the Salt River Rafters. The AFL season opens Oct. 9.
The Twins head to Houston to play the defending World Series champion Astros. The series opens with a Labor Day matinee. After taking Thursday off, the Twins will come home to play their second to the last series of the season at Target Field.
Monday, 9/3 at Houston, 1:10 pm CT
Tuesday, 9/4 at Houston, 7:10 pm CT
Wednesday, 9/5 at Houston, 7:10 pm CT
Thursday, 9/6 OFF
Friday, 9/7 vs. Kansas City, 7:10 pm CT
Saturday, 9/8 vs. Kansas City, 6:10 pm CT
Sunday, 9/9 vs. Kansas City, 1:10 pm CT
CATCHING UP ON TWINS DAILY GAME RECAPS
Game 130 | CLE 8, MIN 1: Where Did the Runs Go?
Game 131 | MIN 4, CLE 3: Astudillo Gets First Homer, Mauer Scores 1,000th Run
Game 132 | CLE 5, MIN 3: Odorizzi Fades, Busenitz Blows It
Game 133 | MIN 10, TEX 7: Tex-plosion!
Game 134 | TEX 7, MIN 4: Is Jose OK?
Game 135 | TEX 18, MIN 4: Speechless