Previous Postseasons the Story for Minnesota
Image courtesy of © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY SportsBy the end of the All-Star break Minnesota will have all eyes focused on what reinforcements can be brought in to help the big league club. Derek Falvey faces just one trade deadline this season, July 31. All goals from here on out will be related to improving the length of time spent playing October baseball. Although the Twins did grab a one-game cup of coffee two seasons ago, this level of expectation is largely unprecedented for the current collective.
When it comes to those big games in October there have been to consistent story lines drawing repeated dialogue in 2019. How will the Twins handle the Yankees and is Madison Bumgarner the guy for the Minnesota?
The former is a question rooted in a deep spell of futility. New York has had the number of this organization for years. During the Ron Gardenhire run of division titles there was no ability to get beyond The Evil Empire. New York had their way with Minnesota and the 2-12 record says as much. There’s no way to paint a pretty picture on those results, but it’s hardly relevant today.
For the 2017 Wild Card game only five of the starting players still remain in a Minnesota uniform. Pitching in relief of starter Ervin Santana that game were names like Hildenberger, Busenitz and Belisle. As the new regime has transformed the roster, and in 2018 purged ineffectiveness, this current crop of Twins likely could care less how the “last time” played out.
Right now the New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and that is an accurate reflection of how they’ve played this season. If and when Minnesota sees them in the opposite dugout during the postseason it will be a dogfight because of that reality as opposed to any hardship the local franchise has previously experienced.
On the opposite end of this same discussion Minnesota could use pitching help. While it’s the bullpen that’s a focus, a starting arm slotting in behind Jose Berrios would be welcomed. Madison Bumgarner will be available and his name carries significant weight but will the opposition truly worry about a guy because of his track record in 2014?
When talking up the Giants starter you often hear of his World Series and postseason dominance. Those exploits are nearly a decade old, his last go-round in 2016 was hardly as effective, and he’s dealt with major injury and declining effectiveness since that point.
Past experience will certainly afford the thought of Bumgarner in a Twins uniform a calming aura, but it’s hardly relevant and intellectually dishonest to suggest that his previous World Series experiences trump the pitcher he is today. His ERA is in the land of mediocrity, and similar WHIP, H/9, and FIP numbers back that. He’ll leave the easiest park to pitch in, but bring a heightened velocity and strikeout rate.
At the end of the day the Twins will need to ask themselves if the juice is worth the squeeze. Bumgarner is not the same pitcher that twirled innings during the 2014 World Series. He’s a serviceable veteran that could be had to improve the overall strength down the stretch. Going all in on a move with the Giants hoping that the previous postseason success plays a trump card is quite the foolhardy gamble.
Following the well-deserved All-Star rest Rocco Baldelli will have a refocused Twins team keyed in on making waves when it matters most. The front office will work to bring in reinforcements that can help put this club in a better position. When the dust settles and October begins, you can bet that this team isn’t going to be worried about the failures of yesteryear, and they shouldn’t be holding out hope to capture performances based on history either.
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