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Not to add more doom and gloom

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:31 PM
This is interesting and sort of concerning. Article snippet comes from the incomparable Jayson Stark of The Athletic (Which is must read...
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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 01:24 PM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
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Wolfson: Twins Scouting Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:01 PM
  Doogie Wolfson tweeted that the Twins are going to be scouting 22-year-old RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto, "one of the premier young pitc...
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White Sox make changes

Other Baseball Yesterday, 10:44 AM
Both Manager Rick Rentaria and pitching coach Don Cooper were let go.     Was a bit surprised by this, because the White S...
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Where Would the Return of Baseball Leave Rich Hill?

If baseball does in fact come back in early July as now proposed, Minnesota will finally get a chance to see some of the “impact” players that were acquired this offseason. Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda are big names who should be ready to go, but the other big acquisition, Rich Hill, comes with more questions.
Image courtesy of © Jake Roth - USA TODAY Sports
Donaldson signed the biggest free-agent contract in Twins history, and Maeda, while less expensive (depending on how you feel about Brusdar Graterol), will presumably be in Minnesota for the next four years. Hill on the other hand, is signed for only 2020 and is guaranteed just $3 million (up to $9.5 million with incentives), so from the Twins perspective the cost and commitment is minimal. However, even at 40-years of age, Hill could prove to be as impactful of any of the other acquisitions Minnesota made.

Hill’s last season with an ERA above 3.66 was back in 2013 when he pitched for Cleveland. Since then he’s had an ERA of below 3.00 in all but two seasons. In other words, Hill has been good, in fact very good…when he’s been on the field. Which brings us to three all important questions for the man they call Dick Mountain.

Will Hill be healthy?

With Hill, health of course is the big question, and it’s unsurprisingly linked to all three questions. Hill underwent modified or experimental Tommy John surgery, which involves reinforcing the UCL with tape that has been soaked in collagen. Although it sounds like the medical equivalent of me trying to fix a leaky pipe, the good news is the recovery time is much shorter than with traditional Tommy John (or calling the plumber). And unlike our leaky pipe, we really only need Hill’s elbow to hold up for half a season. Then again, at age 40, Hill’s elbow has already gone through two Tommy John’s, so it might not be much better off than our proverbial old leaky pipe.

When will Hill be ready?

Originally Hill was hoping to make it back sometime in June, so with the season presumably pushed back to July, Hill at least has a chance to start the year in the rotation. However, with Covid-19 preventing Hill from working directly with the Twins training staff, matters become more complicated. At this point it’s unclear how Hill’s throwing program has advanced. While the Twins have become one of the teams at the forefront of using technology for player development, distance and the inaccessibility of facilities have likely made a smooth recovery a greater challenge. Teams will likely have an abbreviated spring training of about three weeks, but that doesn’t leave Hill much time.

What kind of workload can be expected?

The MLB’s most recent plan calls for approximately 80 games in 2020. With the shorter season comes increased variability, making every game that much more important. Winning and avoiding long losing streaks will be paramount, and a healthy and effective Hill would go a long way toward bolstering Minnesota’s rotation. Therefore the Twins will have every reason to try to maximize Hill’s usage in 2020. If Hill is ramped up and ready to go in July, how much can we really expect?

With a half-season, the rosiest picture would be somewhere approaching 100 innings. The bad news is that Hill threw only 58 2/3 innings in 2019 while dealing with elbow soreness. They were however, good innings, and we can hope that the surgery took care of the arm issues. If we go back to 2017 and 2018 Hill was actually pretty healthy, pitching 135 2/3 and 132 2/3 innings respectively. So maybe somewhere in the vicinity of 80 innings isn’t such a (rusty) pipe dream? Hill was mostly dealing with nagging blister injuries throughout those two seasons. While annoying, blister injuries usually only cause a brief stint on the IL, and short stints that allow Hill a little extra rest certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Minnesota’s rotation was much improved in 2019 and they were able to bring back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda (who must complete his suspension) and add Maeda and Homer Bailey to join Jose Berrios. With uncertainty surrounding a trade deadline and the likelihood of more teams being in contention due to the shorter season and postseason expansion, acquiring starting pitching could be next to impossible. A healthy and effective Hill could go a long way toward helping the Twins ascend the mountain that is baseball in 2020.

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8 Comments

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strumdatjaguar
May 15 2020 08:20 PM
The starting staff is deep. Rich Hill starts at beginning of season. If there is an injury or a starter is ineffective, Pineda is waiting to take over before the September run for the pennant
Still betting the suspension of Pineda will be reduced. How could it not be considering the fluidity of, well, EVERYTHING. Hill bas always been a hopeful question mark. Does anybody have any idea how the surgery turned out? How is he feeling? Even without direct contact with Twins trainers and support staff, surely he's finding some way to rehab and on a throwing program. Berrios, Odorizzi, Hill, Maeda, Pineda, Bailey, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe and a strong pen. Liked the staff without Hill. Loved the staff if we could get a half season of Hill. Is it possible a half season of ball could actually work in our favor?
    • Trov, MN_ExPat and rdehring like this

 

 

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Patrick Wozniak
May 16 2020 01:42 AM

 

Still betting the suspension of Pineda will be reduced. How could it not be considering the fluidity of, well, EVERYTHING. Hill bas always been a hopeful question mark. Does anybody have any idea how the surgery turned out? How is he feeling? Even without direct contact with Twins trainers and support staff, surely he's finding some way to rehab and on a throwing program. Berrios, Odorizzi, Hill, Maeda, Pineda, Bailey, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe and a strong pen. Liked the staff without Hill. Loved the staff if we could get a half season of Hill. Is it possible a half season of ball could actually work in our favor?

I just saw that Seth posted that Betsey Helfund recently wrote an update on Hill. Sounds like the rehab is going well and he says he'll be ready to go if the season begins in July.

    • DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this
"Dick Mountain" !?!? 🤷

"Dick Mountain" !?!?

Richard.

 

Hill.

 

Baseball is just that simple. (Team mate Brock Holt is credited with the coinage.)
 

    • HitInAPinch likes this

I think the depth the Twins have, under the current thought of schedule, will lead to good things for Twins.It seems like they will allow teams to swap players a lot with out having to "option" them.Having several potential starters will allow for giving greater rest for starters that need it, like Hill may.I want Hill for playoffs more than regular season, assuming we will make it.He is proven to be a good playoff pitcher, only Dodger to pitch well at Houston during WS, because he was smart enough to change signs every 7th pitch, I heard reported.Dude is the vet that gets it done when he has too.He will even punch a dude out during the off season if he has too. 

    • Joey P likes this

That was a very interesting point about not being able to acquire starters during the season, due to many more teams being "in the race". Quantity over quality, when coupled with our great bullpen, sounds like a really good plan right now. SKOL Twins!