Where’s the Truth in These Twins?
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsFirst and foremost, Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop have been a lightning rod for criticism of late. Sano turned in an 0-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox on June 27. Minnesota suggested they were working through some tweaks to his approach at the plate, and Parker Hagemen highlighted deficiencies in how he was being attacked. Since that game Sano has 51 plate appearances posting a 1.123 OPS with a 16/6 K/BB. He’s cooled a bit (.879 OPS) since July 1, but that mark is 4th on the team in that timeframe and he’s handling pitches in the same spots he wasn’t before. Playing league average defense analytically as well, Sano is going great for now.
Schoop came into the month of June with an .819 OPS and took quite the dive over 21 games last month. Posting just a .622 OPS and three dingers, his overall OPS tally dropped to .758. Through just eight games in July he owns a .934 OPS and has already homered twice. He trails only Mitch Garver from a production standpoint since the calendar flipped, and his 5 DRS at 2B trails only the Cardinals Kolten Wong this year. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but Schoop is keeping Minnesota above water now.
Michael Pineda and Martin Perez have been chided each time they take the mound and are the arms most often thought of needing replacing in the rotation. That may not be wrong in Perez’s case given his ability to shine in the pen and the slide he’s been on. Pineda is closer to overtaking a top spot in the rotation than he is sliding out of it, however. After being put on the IL at the end of May to skip a start, he’s pitched in seven games. Across 39.2 IP he owns a 2.95 ERA, is giving up a .641 OPS, and has a 37/13 K/BB. Jose Berrios would welcome numbers like that for a stretch.
As unfortunate as hanging curveballs have been out of the bullpen recently the bigger story is the flip in offensive production. During a series in which Minnesota and Cleveland set up their best starters to go at it, the Twins bullpen stole the show. Picking up teammates after short outings, the relievers routinely blanked Indians hitters to take a series victory. Since July began Nelson Cruz, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron, and Max Kepler rank 6th-9th in Twins OPS production. Only Cruz (.708) is above a .700 OPS. Having hitters at the top of the lineup perform that poorly is not something Rocco Baldelli can afford to become the norm.
Over the course of the entire 94 game stretch the Twins own the second-best defensive metrics in baseball. They trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by quite a bit, but Minnesota’s performance is strong, nonetheless. Playing .500 baseball for the past few weeks, defense has been a talking point. There’s been lackluster efforts and questionable plays not being made. Since the All-Star Break this has become even more apparent and was no more evident than Eddie Rosario dropping a routine fly ball on Wednesday afternoon against the Mets. As both pitching and hitting come and go, defense needs to be something the group continues to pride itself on.
While all the above areas of focus are individual or group centered, the reality is that a 162-game season allows a team to speak for itself. Minnesota isn’t the 110-win team they raced out to, but they are also not the mid-80’s win team they’re currently playing as. Getting everyone back on the same page in the lineup, re-engaging from a defensive standpoint, and filtering the outside noise out of the clubhouse is a trio of avenues to put the train back on the tracks.
Each day we can view the club’s exploits through the lens of a 9-inning performance but come time to declare Postseason participants the only thing that matters is a 162-game sample.
- h2oface, woolywoolhouse, DannySD and 3 others like this