Recap: Slegers Shines in Debut, Twins Split Doubleheader
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsThis is like a choose your own adventure recap. If you wanna get to the good stuff, just go ahead and scroll down to Game 2. Otherwise, buckle up for a whole lotta ugliness from Game 1.
Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
Top 3 Twins per WPA: Polanco .175, Gee .167, Buxton .088
The day didn’t get off to a good start for the Twins. Not only did they get beat handily, but they had to use five guys from the bullpen to cover five innings, thanks to another short start from Kyle Gibson. Not what you want to have happen in your first of seven games scheduled over a stretch of just five days.
Gibson lasted just four innings, and it took him 97 pitches to get that far. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk. He also hit two batters and threw a wild pitch. Regardless, the Twins managed to stick around in this game and were trailing 3-2 heading into the eighth inning.
Ryan Pressly gave up a three-run homer and a solo shot in the eighth, crushing any hopes of a Twins late-inning comeback. What that did allow, however, is a low-leverage spot for Glen Perkins to make his 2017 debut.
It was a long journey back from torn labrum surgery, and Perk deserves credit just for working his way back to a big league mound, but he’ll hope for better results the next time out. He faced six batters and only got one out, surrendering two runs on a pair of singles, two hit batsmen and a walk. Below are Perkins’ velo readings from the game via Baseball Savant. He averaged 91.3 mph on his fastball. He was at 93.7 back in 2015.
How about the lineup? Well, they set a team record by striking out 19 times. They got the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and couldn’t score. And, to top it all off, they made some poor baserunning plays, too. Jorge Polanco got picked off at second base on an odd Max Kepler bunt attempt.
And Eddie Rosario hit a ball high off the wall that somehow failed to score Joe Mauer from second base and only advanced Miguel Sano 90 feet. The ball hit at least halfway up the wall in right-center field, at least 10 feet up, and neither Cleveland outfielder was faking out the runners. Hard to see why Mauer didn’t get a better read.
Byron Buxton was a bright spot, as he hit his seventh homer, drew a walk and scored twice.
Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
Top 3 Twins per WPA: Slegers .242, Kepler .136, Escobar .101
The Twins desperately needed a starting pitcher to provide them length, so why not the 6-foot-10 Aaron Slegers? He delivered 6.1 innings, and surely could have gone longer, but Paul Molitor decided to let him end his major league debut on a high note after just 82 pitches.
The only run Slegers gave up while he was on the hill was on a solo homer, which was also one of just two hits he surrendered. He walked two men and had three strikeouts. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Slegers became the first Twins pitcher to throw at least 6.0 innings and allow two or fewer hits in his debut since Pat Mahomes in 1992.
Slegers, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2013, opened up the game by setting down Cleveland 1-2-3 in both the first and second innings. He also faced the minimum in the third inning, thanks to a double play. He opened the fourth by retiring the first two batters he faced, then gave up the homer to Jay Bruce, his 30th of the year. Slegers followed that up with a four-pitch walk to Edwin Encarnacion, but just when it looked like he may be unravelling, he got Carlos Santana to ground out to end the inning. Then it was right back to where he started. Slegers again had 1-2-3 innings in both the fifth and sixth innings. Brian Dozier helped out with an web gem on a slow roller that got past the big man.
He opened the seventh by getting some revenge on Bruce, striking him out, before giving up a single to Encarnacion. That ended Slegers’ night, but unfortunately Trevor Hildenberger allowed Encarnacion to score, tacking on an earned run to Slegers’ line and costing him a shot at picking up the win.
Below is some data on pitch usage and velocity for Slegers, via Baseball Savant (FF stands for four-seam fastball and FT is the two-seamer).
The repertoire/usage reminds me a lot of Bartolo Colon, though it’s not a perfect comp. He throws a whole lotta fastballs even though they don’t really light up the radar gun and just enough other stuff to keep hitters honest. Here’s hoping Slegers will be back up and able to soak up some knowledge from Colon. Slegers served as the 26th man for the doubleheader, so he’ll rejoin Rochester.
Mauer and Eduardo Escobar each had three hits, but Max Kepler came up with the biggest hit of the game, pounding the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning, his 15th of the season.
Robbie Grossman fractured his thumb in a collision with Buxton (who is just fine) in the outfield. It’s possible this will end Grossman’s season. It was also reported Nik Turley was at Target Field Thursday night, so expect a few transactions coming.
Postgame With Slegers
Twins W-L Record
Overall: 60-59 (.504)
Last 10: 7-3 (.700)
Last 20: 11-9 (.550)
Last 40: 20-20 (.500)
Last 80: 39-41 (.488)
AL Central Standings
Kansas City 61-59 (-5.5)
Minnesota 60-59 (-6.0)
AL Wild Card Standings
WC1: Yankees 65-55
WC2: Angels 62-59
Kansas City 61-59 (-0.5)
Minnesota 60-59 (-1.0)
Seattle 61-61 (-2.0)
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
FRI: Twins (Ervin Santana) vs. Arizona (Zack Godley), 7:10 pm CT
SAT: Twins (Jose Berrios) vs. Arizona (Zack Greinke) 6:10 pm CT
SUN: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Arizona (TBD), 1:10 pm CT
Question of the Day
With Grossman injured, would you like to see as the primary DH?
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