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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 08:16 PM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
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Curse of Big Papi

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Trevor May Tweet

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  Certainly doesn't sound like a guy that plans on coming back, or has an offer to come back. However, as we know these things are...
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GAME THREAD: 9/30/20 Minnesota Twins VS Houston Astros, 1...

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Jorge Posada > Jorge Polanco Short goodbyes > long hugs Golden gophers > rally monkeys vasectomy > presidential debates
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Recent Blogs


9 Thoughts from 9 Innings of a Home-Opening Win

The Twins topped the Cardinals 6-3 in their home opener at Target Field on Tuesday night to move to 3-1 on the season. I watched the game and jotted down a specific note or thought based on the events of each inning.

Let's run it back.
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1st Inning: Making Martínez Sweat

The bottom of the first was not a great showing for the Twins offense. They missed some big opportunities. Nelson Cruz popped out to foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in scoring position, and later Mitch Garver grounded out to third on 3-1 with the bases juiced. No one hit anything particularly hard.

And yet ... this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who needed 21 pitches to get through the frame. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it's the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher that can set up an inning like the second, where Minnesota took off and pushed across five runs.

Martínez, a very good pitcher with a 3.36 career ERA, was soon chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings.

2nd Inning: Hip Hip, Jorge

Punctuating the five-run outburst in the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer into the right field plaza. He very nearly followed with another bomb from the other side in his following at-bat, two innings later, though Cards left fielder Tyler O'Neill was able to track it down at the warning track.



Polanco tends to get lost in a shuffle a bit for this offense, as a steadily solid hitter amidst a sea of flashy sluggers. He ranked sixth on the team in OPS+ last year, and he was a bit quiet down the stretch. It can be easy to forget he was the lone All-Star on a historic 2019 offense.

One person who does not lose sight of Polanco's abilities at the plate is his manager.

Polanco batted cleanup in the second game of this season in Chicago. That marks the only time since Rocco Baldelli took over as skipper that the shortstop has hit anywhere below third in the lineup.

3rd Inning: Living on the Edge

The last time we saw Homer Bailey, it wasn't such a pretty sight. The newly signed right-hander got knocked around in his final tune-up start at Wrigley, as the Cubs took advantage of too many hittable pitches left up around the belt. His official debut was a different story. While he wasn't immune to mistakes, Bailey was executing far better this time out, peppering the borders of FSN's strike zone visualization to maximize the effectiveness of a so-so fastball.

Here in the third inning, he was at the height of his prowess for the evening, striking out the side with some stellar pitch sequences. Impressively, it was his slider and not his highly-touted splitter doing much of the work.



Bailey had a crisp outing, allowing four hits and two walks over five innings, with four strikeouts. It's a continuation of the trend we saw in 2019, which saw noticeable improvement in many indicators of hard contact (Barrel %, Sweet Spot %, XBA, XSLG).


Attached Image: baileystatcast.png


If he can keep dancing around the edges, while dropping the occasional slow breaking ball over the plate to catch a hitter off-guard, he's gonna be in good shape.

4th Inning: Here Comes the Rain

It was a picture-perfect summer evening for the opener at Target Field, although the Bringer of Rain did make his first splash in the bottom of the fourth. Josh Donaldson watered the plants on the right-field overhang with an oppo shot that just barely cleared the wall.



One thing that's really struck me about Donaldson is that even when he doesn't square it up – and so far he hasn't done so much; prior to the bomb, he was 2-for-11 with two infield singles – he still puts a charge into the ball.

That home run came on a ripe pitch over the middle, but he really didn't seem to get all of it. There have been a few other occasions, including his sacrifice fly earlier in the game, where the ball has carried surprisingly far off Donaldson's bat. This guy is as strong and powerful as advertised.

5th Inning: Bailey Bounces Back

The lone blemish in Bailey's outing came here in the fifth, where he left a hanging offspeed pitch over the dish and O'Neill destroyed it for a two-run homer. Following a well-struck single to open the inning, it looked like the Twins starter might be starting to lose steam. But he buckled down and rattled off three straight outs – a pop-out to first and two grounders.

That's the resiliency you like to see from a back-end starter. It was maybe more encouraging to me than his triple-K third.

6th Inning: Pesky Arráez

The sixth was fairly uneventful, with Tyler Clippard entering to pitch a clean top half and Minnesota going down 1-2-3 in the bottom. But one guy who did not go easily was Luis Arráez. As ever.

The scrappy second baseman drove a pitch the other way and nearly had extra bases, but O'Neill was able to chase it down in left with a diving grab near the line. Arráez makes pitchers and defenders work awfully hard to get him out. He still has yet to strike out through 12 plate appearances, and he's been hitting the ball pretty dang hard. To have a player like this near the bottom of your lineup (he's hit seventh twice and ninth once) is just an unbelievable advantage.

7th Inning: Stashak and Bullpen Depth

Bailey was out of the game for Minnesota after five, but the Twins had no trouble filling in the remaining innings. Second out of the bullpen was Cody Stashak, who delivered his second scoreless outing of the young season. With the exception of a ground-ball double, Stashak was basically flawless, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes and retiring the side with little trouble.

Just as Arráez is a major asset at the lower part of the order, Stashak is a major asset in the middle of the bullpen. He's looked every bit as good as the 3.24 ERA and 25-to-1 K/BB ratio in last year's MLB debut suggested.

8th Inning: Buxton Drops the Ball

Trevor May followed Stashak in the eighth. Leading off against him was Tommy Edman, who lifted a deep fly to center field. Byron Buxton, making his first appearance of the season, sprinted back, reached the wall, and had it measured. He leapt up, had it in his glove, and the ball glanced right off it over the fence.



It was a bit strange to see from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative outcomes of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we'll take.

It was a tough break for May, but he recovered nicely by striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely filthy, as he induced seven swinging strikes on 21 pitches.

9th Inning: Where is Rogers?

With the exception of Rich Hill (who starts tomorrow) only two players on the active roster had yet to see game action by this point: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation – albeit on the less-intense side – the Twins' top-tier closer remained unused. Romo tossed a clean ninth to close out the 6-3 victory.

That leaves Rogers, one of the team's best and long-tenured players, as the only reliever we've yet to see. It doesn't necessarily point to any error in judgment from Baldelli, as there's been no real need to turn to the team's highest-leverage arm, but still it seems strange that Rogers hasn't even gotten in an inning of work while several others have made multiple appearances.

Hopefully there's nothing bothering the southpaw physically, and this is all situational and strategic. Through the team's first four games in 2019, Rogers had already thrown four innings across three appearances.

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6 Comments

Arraez is so great to watch. I keep thinking how amazing it is that we have a guy who hit .334 last year hitting 9th. I've seen non-Minnesota journalists pick him to win the batting title -- add he can't crack the top 8 spots in our lineup. Unbelievable.

Remember when Buxton and Sano represented our future hopes? If you would have told me they would be our 7 and 8 hitters, followed by a potential batting champ, I would have been amazed.
Especially if i heard it wasn't because they didn't pan out, but the lineup was just too tough, too to bottom, with eight guys with 22 or more homers and 11 wet 10. I am still amazed today. No one would be surprised if any of those three were all stars. Yet they are the bottom of our lineup. I'd be happy to have them as my top three. It's incredible watching this lineup cycle through. I remember years after you'd had to wait two innings before the dangerous part of the lineup cane up. Now, it never stops. Our twelfth best slugger hit 8 homers last year and already hit a grand slam this year. You don't want to look away even when the bench warmers hit. It's like a dream.
    • birdwatcher, Dman, TL and 6 others like this
Photo
FritzDahmus
Jul 29 2020 06:51 AM

 

Arraez is so great to watch. I keep thinking how amazing it is that we have a guy who hit .334 last year hitting 9th. I've seen non-Minnesota journalists pick him to win the batting title -- add he can't crack the top 8 spots in our lineup. Unbelievable.

Remember when Buxton and Sano represented our future hopes? If you would have told me they would be our 7 and 8 hitters, followed by a potential batting champ, I would have been amazed.
Especially if i heard it wasn't because they didn't pan out, but the lineup was just too tough, too to bottom, with eight guys with 22 or more homers and 11 wet 10. I am still amazed today. No one would be surprised if any of those three were all stars. Yet they are the bottom of our lineup. I'd be happy to have them as my top three. It's incredible watching this lineup cycle through. I remember years after you'd had to wait two innings before the dangerous part of the lineup cane up. Now, it never stops. Our twelfth best slugger hit 8 homers last year and already hit a grand slam this year. You don't want to look away even when the bench warmers hit. It's like a dream.

 

Photo
FritzDahmus
Jul 29 2020 07:06 AM

That really is the secret to success in the MLB. Surround your minor league success stories with major league success stories.

 

Guys like Donaldson and Cruz struggled early in their MLB careers before becoming all-stars. You have to let the young guys find their way like those two did. Some of the young guys will hit their stride early than others....but surrounded by 2 proven stars....the Twins can be patient. This is a Twins hitting line-up that will do damage in the playoffs. Make all the routine plays and hit the crap outta the ball.

 

The Twins need to apply that same philosophy to their pitching staff. We need 2 or 3 more Clippards and we need something as close to a Verlander as possible. This town will back a well-paid-for-winner......if that COVID thing will ever go away.

 

Easier said than done.....but until we do, we will not beat the likes of the Yankees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twins need to apply that same philosophy to their pitching staff. We need 2 or 3 more Clippards and we need something as close to a Verlander as possible. This town will back a well-paid-for-winner......if that COVID thing will ever go away.

 

 

 

Does Bauer count? I have a feeling he might be a Twin. He's arguably the best free agent starter at the end of this season. Pickings are thinner than last year. Stroman? Robbie Ray? Chris Archer? Paxton? Odorizzi? Mike Minor? Corey Kluber? 

 

Kluber should be cheap after missing most of 2019 and looks like he'll miss all/most of 2020 too. 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Jul 29 2020 09:54 AM

Nice summary. Very exciting. Good bullet points. Thanks.

    • In My La-Z-boy likes this
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In My La-Z-boy
Jul 29 2020 11:19 AM

I'll call out Jorge Polanco!! The Heart & Soul of this team in my opinion. Loved the pregame the other day on the Buxton/Kepler friendship - the nucleus of this team goes back to when they were all 16 yr old kids. What an advantage we have there! Think of the bond that is formed at such a young age, and then for all of them to come to prominence at the same time; 

Bux/Kep/Sano/Jorge/Rosy/Garv/Rogers/Duffy/May/Berrios - which other team has so many key players who all grew up together? This is our secret sauce. 


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