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Article: Twins Select RHP Tyler Kinley In Rule 5 Draft (L...

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2017-18 MLB Off-Season Transactions Thread

Other Baseball Today, 03:41 PM
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Article: Twins Sending Relief Messages

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:31 PM
As the Winter Meetings came to an end, the Minnesota Twins found themselves mentioned often and making just a few waves. In signing Micha...
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Getting To 85

The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Except for now. Now it is a SPRINT. RUN Forrest, RUN!

The Twins entered last night with 19 games left in the season. In 19 games, anything can happen. In 19 games, the best team in baseball can go 3-16. That’s not hyperbole; it is currently happening this very minute and thank you Los Angeles Dodgers for proving the point. Nineteen games is a small sample size and nothing needs to make sense anymore. So let’s try to make some sense of it.
(All records below are before yesterday's games. I need to get some sleep.)

In the five years in which there has been a second Wild Card, that second team in the AL has won between 86 games (2015) and 93 games (2012). This year may set a new low, with 85 wins looking like a very real possibility. By taking a look at the schedules of the AL Wild Card’s top four contenders, one can get a little perspective on the path each team must travel to advance to the postseason.

The Los Angeles Angels (73-70) have a very tough 19-game schedule ahead of them with only four games versus also-rans and NINE versus the best teams in the AL. The easiest path to 85 wins includes:
  • taking five of the nine games versus the division leaders Houston and Cleveland,
  • winning four of six in their two series against Seattle and Texas and
  • taking three of four games versus the White Sox.
Summary: It can be done, but there can be no stumbles, not even against great teams.

The Texas Rangers (72-71) have a little easier 19-game finishing leg, with seven games against non-contender Oakland. But they need 13 wins, which looks like:
  • Taking two of three in their showdown at home versus Houston
  • Winning six of nine games they have versus other AL Wild Card teams
  • Capturing five of those seven games they have versus Oakland.
Summary: Again, that’s not impossible, but that’s a lot of consistent baseball for a .500 baseball team.

The Kansas City Royals (71-72) have the easiest 19-game stretch left, but also the fewest wins of the four, so they need to find 14 wins in their last 19 games to get to 85. Let’s see if we can get them there:
  • Take two of four versus the Indians this weekend.
  • Win eight of 11 games they have versus the White Sox, Detroit and Toronto.
  • Beat the Yankees in their makeup game on the 25th.
  • Take two of three against the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.
Summary: That still only gets them to 84 wins. So they either need to sweep the Diamondbacks, take the series from a red-hot Cleveland team, or win nine of eleven versus the also-rans. Yikes.

The Rest – The Orioles, Mariners and Rays all entered last night’s games with as many wins as the Royals, but with fewer games to play. To get to 85 wins, the Orioles and Seattle would need to finish 14-4, and the Rays would need to finish 14-3.

Summary: The baseball gods humble those that dismiss the absurd, but that’s a tall order for teams that haven’t played .500 ball through 140+ games.

Finally we get to the Minnesota Twins, who have 74 wins and perhaps the easiest schedule. Of their remaining 19 games, 13 are against second-division teams. To go 11-8 down the stretch, this seems reasonable:
  • Win four of six this week versus the Padres and Blue Jays
  • Win five of 10 on their upcoming road trip to Cleveland (one of three?), Detroit (three of four?), and Yankees Stadium (one of three?).
  • Take two of three versus Detroit in the final home series of the year.
If you’re wondering why the Twins always seem to be favored in whichever playoff odds probability report you check every day, that’s why: the Twins road to 85 offers the least resistance and makes the most sense.

But with 19 games left, baseball doesn’t need to make sense. To steal a quote from our boy Forrest, "Baseball is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get."

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77 Comments

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Florida Loggerman
Sep 12 2017 08:33 PM
19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? with Berrios just so so in his last few outings, never have been a Colon person, too me, total waste, start to finish, would rather see them bring up some young stud arm from our farm system, I'd rather loose with kids playing there butts off rathan than watch Colon throwing beach balls up there to the opporonets, Gibsons been a pleasant turn around and surpirse, scary pitchers; Pressley, hoirrible; Tomkins, worse than ugly; Boshers, another please stop putting this guy in; IMOI should have kept Kinsler, didn't get much for the trade, and now it looks like having Kinsler could have been a huge plus, keep pounding the rock Twins, not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro???
    • DelusionalTwinsFan likes this
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ashburyjohn
Sep 12 2017 08:46 PM

not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro??? 

Guess you're not watching the game tonight. It's gonna be this way the rest of the season - a homer in every inning!

    • USAFChief, Blake, James and 5 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Sep 12 2017 08:54 PM

19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? with Berrios just so so in his last few outings, never have been a Colon person, too me, total waste, start to finish, would rather see them bring up some young stud arm from our farm system, I'd rather loose with kids playing there butts off rathan than watch bubba cheese cake Colon throwing beach balls up there to the opporonets, Gibsons been a pleasant turn around and surpirse, scary pitchers; Pressley, hoirrible; Tomkins, worse than ugly; Boshers, another please stop putting this guy in; IMOI should have kept Kinsler, didn't get much for the trade, and now it looks like having Kinsler could have been a huge plus, keep pounding the rock Twins, not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro???

This team managed to get though something like ten games in nine days and did pretty well IIRC. And they did it in August with a 25 man roster.

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)
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Old Twins Cap
Sep 12 2017 09:18 PM

Twins don't need to be terribly good, just better than the terrible teams they play.Then, depend on the reality that the teams chasing them are not terribly good.

 

It's kind of a skid row sprint to the last ticket into the playoffs.

 

Given everything the Twins have been through, I'll take any kind of game against the Yankees, especially an elimination game.

 

Bring it, dammit.

It doesn't make any difference where they get them, the Twins just needs wins.  Twins games have become very watchable, because they can explode for 5 + runs in any any inning, regardless of the score.  As far as I'm concerned, this has been a great season, regardless of the final score of their final game.  :D

    • birdwatcher, pbrezeasap, Kevin and 10 others like this

Nice article John!! Also makes me want to watch Forrest Gump again. Run Forrest run!!

 

 

    • caninatl04 likes this
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John Bonnes
Sep 13 2017 06:03 AM

 

19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? ...

 

There is plenty to be worried about with this team, to be sure. But the closest team to them is just two games over .500; they're all flawed teams. Otherwise they wouldn't be behind the Twins.

 

The point here is that besides being flawed, the other teams have challenges to overcome with their schedules and with the number of games they need to catch up. The Twins don't need to go on a 13-6 run - though they would probably be the best-positioned to do so. They just need to grind out a requisite and reasonable number of wins against a pretty favorable schedule. 

    • PseudoSABR and Don Walcott like this

 

 

 

 

It's kind of a skid row sprint to the last ticket into the playoffs.

 

I got a good chuckle out of this, so true, but it sure is fun to be watching meaningful games into late September!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've already been out and checked the Twins schedule for the weekend so I make sure to tune in.

    • James and Circus Boy like this

 

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

    • Blake, James, brvama and 8 others like this
Thanks John, always enjoy reading how you look at things.

And this was an excellent presentation of why the Twins have an excellent chance of playing at least one extra game. Expect that will happen unless the Twins go on a serious losing streak OR someone else goes on that winning streak.

And last night made it even better (Twins) or tougher for the others, especially after the Angels fell another game back.
    • bluechipper likes this
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John Bonnes
Sep 13 2017 08:43 AM

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

 

I'd agree with all of that, except for one nitpick: (whispers) I don't think the Yankees are even a half step better than the rest of the Wild Card teams. Maybe a quarter step. Bring 'em on. 

 

    • USAFChief, Blake, gil4 and 6 others like this
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John Bonnes
Sep 13 2017 09:20 AM

 

And last night made it even better (Twins) or tougher for the others, especially after the Angels fell another game back.

 

Yep they lost to Houston, and still have eight games versus the Astros and Indians. So now, to keep the pace in the story, they would need to win five of the remaining eight against those high-powered teams. 

Baseball voodoo being what it is, expect a loss today. What is baseball voodoo, you ask? Its the unwritten tendencies, like striking out after hitting a foul ball out of the park, like a runner getting to third base with no outs should score, and like losing after a big win (16-0 qualifies).

Having said that, I hope that last night's surge brings a dose of confidence to the guys and they all get hot together, like in August. If that happens, and they score 6 runs a game, they could make a run in the post season. I for one like the idea of having so many kids on the roster that are not intimidated. And where are all the guys that were calling for Molly to be fired? I'll tell you where: on the bandwagon.

Yeee hawww, this year's pennant race is fun.

    • Seth Stohs, 70charger and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this

I see that 10 game road trip as the key to the season.  That's not an easy road trip.  I'd love to see Cleveland stumble, but they look pretty tough right now.  The Yankees certainly have incentive to play well.  Detroit's only incentive is to play spoiler.  Hopefully, the Twins stay loose and don't put too much pressure on themselves.

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LA VIkes Fan
Sep 13 2017 09:42 AM

The teams chasing us that scare me are Kansas City and maybe the Angels. KC has been there before and has the most talent. The Angels are doing this with smoke and mirrors so far. They just don't have the starting pitching and they're stuck with trying to integrate guys like Richards, Heaney and Skaggs who are all great young talents but have been out injured most of the year so haven't found their groove yet.They could all come together at once though, and they could go on a run. The rest of the contenders don't look like much of a threat if the Twins get to 85 or 86 wins. KC and the Angels actually could get to 86 or 87. 

Hopefully Cleveland won't be as hot two weeks from now. Kipnis and Miller, possibly Brantley, will be back by then tough.

 

This team managed to get though something like ten games in nine days and did pretty well IIRC. And they did it in August with a 25 man roster.

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)

 

They're not great, but they are a good team, i think. the lineup is a good one, especially right now, with players having come into their own or cleared out of slumps. there's not a lot of easy outs there (Kepler is scuffling the most right now, but he's still not a guy any pitcher is going to feel good about grooving a fasball or hanging a curve to) The defense has generally been good all year, with elite play from Buxton and Mauer and the only real hole is Rosario/Grossman...who don't generally play the field at the same time. With Sano back, this is a playoff caliber lineup without question.

 

The pitching is the issue. No one in the rotation scares you, the bullpen is cobbled together...it's a staff that we're trying to mix & match to be "good enough", which doesn't exactly make your socks roll up & down.

 

They're a pretty good team. certainly an entertaining and fun team that's easy to root for. not a great team.

 

    • birdwatcher, Craig Arko and Oldgoat_MN like this

They're not great, but they are a good team, i think. the lineup is a good one, especially right now, with players having come into their own or cleared out of slumps. there's not a lot of easy outs there (Kepler is scuffling the most right now, but he's still not a guy any pitcher is going to feel good about grooving a fasball or hanging a curve to) The defense has generally been good all year, with elite play from Buxton and Mauer and the only real hole is Rosario/Grossman...who don't generally play the field at the same time. With Sano back, this is a playoff caliber lineup without question.

The pitching is the issue. No one in the rotation scares you, the bullpen is cobbled together...it's a staff that we're trying to mix & match to be "good enough", which doesn't exactly make your socks roll up & down.

They're a pretty good team. certainly an entertaining and fun team that's easy to root for. not a great team.


Much like the 87 and 91 squads.
    • birdwatcher likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Sep 13 2017 10:39 AM

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

Agreed. This team is good/decent. My point is more that "good/decent" teams can go on short losing streaks pretty easily (hell, even very good teams can do this on occasion, see the Dodgers), especially teams that rely on offense as much as the Twins do.

 

But with a bunch of teams with middling/good records, any one of them could turn hot or cold over 15 games, which would define their season. That's my concern; not that the Twins are vastly inferior to anyone else competing for the WC spot.

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drivlikejehu
Sep 13 2017 10:45 AM

I think the playoff projections pretty much have it right, the Twins' WC odds are 55% or so . . . at this point they just have to play the games. One thing though - I'd think some of the theoretically 'hard' games for various teams could be misleading, to the extent that Cleveland, Houston, etc. might be setting up for the playoffs at the end of the regular season. 

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Don Walcott
Sep 13 2017 10:57 AM

If we can win some easy games against teams that have nothing to play for, like SD, TOR and DET, we can probably get 6-7 innings from some starters, and pitch the back end of the bullpen like we did last night.This gives our top bullpen arms much needed extra rest.This makes playing 18 games in 19 days much easier, and alleviates the potential negative effects from the team's weakest link.

 

Add to this, that if Mejia is decent, and Sano comes back strong, we're suddenly looking like a pretty deep squad.

 

I agree with John, that the Yankees aren't particularly scary, and I would love nothing more than to beat them in the WC game.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

From your summary it looks like it is also reasonable that 84 or even 83 wins could be enough.

 

If you’re wondering why the Twins always seem to be favored in whichever playoff odds probability report you check every day, that’s why: the Twins road to 85 offers the least resistance and makes the most sense.

Well, that and the fact that we already had/have a head start of 1-3 games on those clubs. That's a pretty big deal with under 20 to play.

    • Oldgoat_MN and dbminn like this
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John Bonnes
Sep 13 2017 12:26 PM

 

From your summary it looks like it is also reasonable that 84 or even 83 wins could be enough.

 

(knocking on wood furiously)

 

The remaining schedules suggest that isn't so crazy. A lot of those scenarios look pretty challenging for the teams other than the Twins. But I also wonder if one of them won't get "hot" and suddenly reel off four wins in row, even versus a few good teams. 

 

The other thing I wonder about a little is the games in the last week of the season. For instance, the Twins play the Indians in the second to last series of the season. By then the Indians will have clinched. Might that work in the Twins favor? (And similarly for the Royals versus the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.)

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

 

I disagree with New York being clearly separated from the teams in the chase for the 2nd Wild Card. NYY is only a few games ahead of MN in the standings, and not even in a much better division. NYY has an edge in pitching, but on any given day, Santana, Berrios, Colon, or (yes, even) Gibson can create some real problems for an opposing lineup. The Twins have some big holes in their bullpen, but they've got some talented arms too.

 

I guess we'll find out early next week. Then hopefully for good this season a few weeks later.

    • gunnarthor likes this