Could the Twins Miss the Playoffs?
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The Twins enter play on Thursday with a three-game lead in the AL Central. At the beginning of June, the Twins were up 10.5 games as Cleveland had squeaked out a .500 record up to that point. By the end of June, Minnesota still had a comfortable eight game lead, but then Cleveland really turned on the heat. The Indians have gone 13-4 in July with two of their losses coming against the Twins. Some will point to Cleveland’s recent opponents as the reasons for their success, but they are winning the games in front of them.
According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have a 96.2% chance of making the playoffs and a 90.9% chance of winning the division. They put Cleveland’s odds at 9.1% to win the division and 41.1% to make the playoffs. Also, the site projects Minnesota’s best possible record as 104-58 and their worst record as 91-71. On the flip side, Cleveland’s best record is projected as 96-66 and their worst record could be 83-79. Cleveland’s best and Minnesota’s worst would put the Twins back into the AL Wild Card Game.
Cleveland currently sits in the first Wild Card spot with Oakland trailing by one game. Twins fans saw how good Oakland has been in their recent match-up and the A’s have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Boston and Tampa Bay sit two games behind the A’s, which means the Twins are six games up from being on the outside looking in.
Minnesota has been running through a steady group of relievers from Rochester over the last couple weeks. This comes on the heels of the club parting ways with Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota cleared multiple roster spots without making any immediate additions to the bullpen. Cody Stashak made his MLB debut last night and he might have been the most effective Twins pitcher in a crazy game. Other players like Lewis Thorpe and Kohl Stewart are also getting some relief opportunities.
Twins relievers have seen some struggles in recent weeks albeit it has come against some strong opponents. Trevor May has given up multiple leads with some hanging breaking balls that ended up over the fence. He was even asked to pitch over 50 pitches in one game. On Thursday, Blake Parker was designated for assignment or release. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have also had some blemishes on their record as of late. Even the team’s best reliever, Taylor Rogers, has seen some leads slip through his hands. Realistically, the bullpen needs some help and Rochester might not have the pieces the team needs.
The bullpen hasn’t been Minnesota’s only weakness. Fans have been frustrated with the Twins inability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded. Twins batters have combined for an .820 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, the club has had 91 at-bats with the bases loaded this season while hitting .195/.213/.286 with only four extra-base hits. There seems to be some kind of hang-up when three men are on base instead of just having runners in scoring position.
Looming Trade Deadline
Minnesota could address some of their issues through trades in the next seven days. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey joined Darren Wolfson on his podcast to discuss the upcoming trade deadline. This year’s deadline is different since team’s cant make waiver trades after July 31. Falvey believes there will be a flurry of moves right before the deadline. Minnesota has given some consideration to being the first team to pull the trigger on a big trade, but that likely would mean the team is going to have to overpay to set the market.
Falvey went on to say, the Twins are interested in improving “overall pitching depth.” This could be starters, relievers or maybe the team can get creative. He mentioned, “If there are ways to add to our starting rotation, our pitching depth, is there a way to add to the bullpen at the same time?”
Fans might not want to hold out for any blockbuster trade. He believes the team is most likely looking for “supplements” to the current roster. If the team is going to win this year, it is going to be because of “the group that’s in the clubhouse right now.”
To some, that might not exactly be a vote of confidence. However, the Twins need to avoid doing anything brash, because those type of trades can come back to haunt an organization.
Do you think there’s a chance the Twins don’t make the playoffs? What would the repercussions be for the organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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