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Article: Twins Sign Closer Rodney To One-Year Deal

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Let's get this mother started.    
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The NY Post reported the Yankees are working on a deal to acquire a Gerrit Cole. Players mentioned include Clint Frazier and Chance Adams...
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Regression For Twins Is Likely, But Not Inevitable

I have some bad news. You probably already know it, at least in the back of your mind. The success of the Minnesota Twins up to this point is not sustainable. At least, not in its current form. They are playing better, without question, but probably not well enough to stay above .500 or near the top of the division.

The good news, though, is that their play could easily improve to a point where winning baseball over the balance of the summer is perfectly plausible.
Image courtesy of Kevin Jairaj, USA Today
As Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot pointed out on Twitter, the Twins have the fourth-best record in the American League despite ranking 12th in runs allowed per game and dead last in FIP. By Pythagorean W/L, their expected record would be below .500 at 17-18.

Outside of newcomer Jose Berrios, the only starters with an ERA south of five are Ervin Santana and Hector Santiago. The bullpen had the makings of a ticking time bomb, and we’ve already seen some hiccups. On the other end, Miguel Sano has been their only truly outstanding hitter. To this point, almost any other regular has been disappointing in some sense.

Reviewing Minnesota’s roster and its performance through mid-May, this doesn’t look like a contender. A far cry from the 100-loss abomination in 2016, of course, but not a team that’s likely to hang with the big boys through September.

That could change.

While present trends portend it, a drop-off is not necessarily inevitable. That's because certain factors would serve to offset any imminent decline or regression to the mean.

For instance, there is the arrival of Jose Berrios. If his sensational season debut on Saturday was any indicator of things to come, he's a big game-changer for the tenability of this starting corps.

With two immediate needs in the rotation following Wednesday's rainout (Saturday and Monday), Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Gibson could both be heading back. At least one of them will be. At the end of camp, some believed Mejia and Gibby could be the staff's two best starters.

If either of them benefitted from a reset and comes out on track, that's a major boost. Both pitched well in Triple-A.

Phil Hughes is maintaining a delicate junkball balancing act, but he's going to hang in there unless things really go off the rails. What the Twins need is enough true mid-rotation guys to make him effectively their No. 5 starter. It's not a huge stretch.

The bullpen is a tough nut to crack. Either Matt Belisle has gotten his worst ball of the season out of the way, or he's cooked. We'll see. These dire control issues are absurdly uncharacteristic.

Ryan Pressly's stuff is way too good for that ERA. He was utterly filthy his last time out, hopefully a good omen. But he's awful tough to trust right now.

Brandon Kintzler is very solid, though I maintain skepticism about his outlook at closer. Taylor Rogers and Craig Breslow are proving well suited for their roles. Justin Haley is Justin Haley.

This bullpen could use a reinforcement or two, and they may be available in short order. J.T. Chargois was at last check starting a rehab assignment in Florida. Nick Burdi has been beyond dominant in Chattanooga, with a 0.61 ERA and 19-to-4 K/BB in 15 innings. He's a candidate for a direct promotion to Minnesota.

A sleeper might be Alan Busenitz, the hard-throwing 26-year-old acquired along with Hector Santiago in last year's Ricky Nolasco trade. After tossing 3 1/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief for Rochester Wednesday night, he has a 2.25 ERA and 21-to-8 K/BB with with five hits allowed in 15 frames.

The Twins have some fire to call upon in the late innings. Granted, it's wild fire. But as any Game of Thrones fan will tell you, wild fire can be an excellent way to ambush opponents.

On offense, the cavalry isn't as strong, but it doesn't need to be. The Twins lineup figures to improve on its own. Miguel Sano isn't going to slow down at this rate. Brian Dozier has brought a good approach to the plate and should start seeing more results. Same for Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco. Joe Mauer is on the upswing. Eduardo Escobar is an awfully nice plug to have around.

Things have shaken out favorably for the Twins thus far, sure, but the wins are already in the book. If they merely play .500 from here on out they're an 83-win team. It doesn't exactly take a blind leap of faith to see them exceeding that clip from here on out with just a few good breaks.

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34 Comments

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HitInAPinch
May 18 2017 02:54 AM

If some of the young starters develop, they may be able to hang around .500.  Which, in Twins terms, would be quite the victory.  More to come!

Nice picture of Nunez. Come on man!
    • bighat likes this
Baseball does weird stuff all the time.

The Twins could be weird this year.
    • bluechipper likes this

It's pretty easy to see what's going on without even talking about lofty things like "regression." The Twins have feasted upon a couple of bad teams.

 

Luckily for the Twins, these teams are in the division and we are in an the unbalanced schedule era.

The Twins have 19 wins total, and 10 of them are against the White Sox and the Royals.

10-3 v. two teams.

9-13 v. everyone else.

Will they "regress"? That's not even the point. How many wins can they get from crappy teams going forward? We know they'll be .500 or worse against good teams and probably mediocre teams as well.

    • Taildragger8791 and wsnydes like this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 18 2017 06:05 AM

Nick, I don't really get the "Kintzler isn't a closer" thing. With the Twins, he has entered the game with a one run lead in a save situation just ten times in the past two seasons (this was a quick scan of box scores so if I missed something, let me know). Eight of those times, the Twins left the game a winner. That's an 80% conversion rate on the most difficult of saves. Can we really expect better from a closer? Overall, he has 27 saves and only four blown saves.

 

Entering a clean inning and getting out of it shouldn't be that hard and Kintzler seems to have the mentality and makeup to do it. He keeps the ball on the ground. He doesn't give up home runs. He doesn't walk a bunch of guys.

 

Leave Kintzler in the ninth. Find guys for innings 6-8 who are better, guys who need to enter a game with runners on base in a critical situation. Kintzler is acceptable in his role.

 

If the Twins had four excellent relievers, sure, move Kintzler out of the closer role but the Twins don't have four excellent relievers and it's highly unlikely they'll ever have that many good relievers out of the bullpen in 2017.

    • Mike Sixel, James, Dantes929 and 7 others like this

1/4 mark of season - some expectations - Sano will continue to hit very well, Buxton and Kepler start upswing and keep going, Dozier has to have his half season of spectacular homeruns (two years in a row), and Polanco and Rosario maintain what they have.  Catchers better continue framing because they won't be hitting and Joe Mauer will have a week or two where everyone thinks he is back and he won't be.  Vargas should be okay, but not spectacular and maybe we will see another DH and I do not mean Grossman.

 

Santana has to regress some, but still is our best, Berrios will be good 3/4 of the time, Santiago will regress, Hughes better not regress because right now he is awful and, therefore, we have to hope that Gibson and Mejia push Hughes to the pen.  

 

In the bullpen it is beyond  time for Melotakis and Burdi to be there - Haley and Belisle out.  And we have to learn to quit waiting for Kinzler to fail - we have to hang with him.  Pressly - raw tough, poor performance, not a fan. 

 

With all that I think the Twins will be above 500 at the end, not a lot, but a game or two. 

    • gil4, LA VIkes Fan and bighat like this
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terrydactyls1947
May 18 2017 06:45 AM
If the Twins can go from a 59-win season to an 84-win season, that would be astronomical improvement. Personally, I like what the front office is doing (taking time to evaluate, make changes as needed - not just to appease Twins Daily commenters, look to the future, etc.). The Twins could be contenders in 2018 if a few more pieces are added. Enjoy what we have now and expect it to get better.
    • gil4, PDX Twin, dbminn and 2 others like this

 

Nick, I don't really get the "Kintzler isn't a closer" thing. With the Twins, he has entered the game with a one run lead in a save situation just ten times in the past two seasons (this was a quick scan of box scores so if I missed something, let me know). Eight of those times, the Twins left the game a winner. That's an 80% conversion rate on the most difficult of saves. Can we really expect better from a closer? Overall, he has 27 saves and only four blown saves.

 

Entering a clean inning and getting out of it shouldn't be that hard and Kintzler seems to have the mentality and makeup to do it. He keeps the ball on the ground. He doesn't give up home runs. He doesn't walk a bunch of guys.

 

Leave Kintzler in the ninth. Find guys for innings 6-8 who are better, guys who need to enter a game with runners on base in a critical situation. Kintzler is acceptable in his role.

 

If the Twins had four excellent relievers, sure, move Kintzler out of the closer role but the Twins don't have four excellent relievers and it's highly unlikely they'll ever have that many good relievers out of the bullpen in 2017.

The game he blew this year  were mostly scratch singles that some were afraid was inevitable because he is not a strike out pitcher but I can live with that. Strikeout pitchers can give up walks and dingers so ultimately it is still about runs given up and Kintzler has been just fine.  What I liked about Nathan against everyone but the Yankees was that when he blew a save he still kept us in the game and Kintzler is that kind of battler also. The save he blew this year we still won because he limited the damage.

    • birdwatcher, bluechipper and howieramone2 like this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 18 2017 07:46 AM

 

The game he blew this year  were mostly scratch singles that some were afraid was inevitable because he is not a strike out pitcher but I can live with that. Strikeout pitchers can give up walks and dingers so ultimately it is still about runs given up and Kintzler has been just fine.  What I liked about Nathan against everyone but the Yankees was that when he blew a save he still kept us in the game and Kintzler is that kind of battler also. The save he blew this year we still won because he limited the damage.

Yeah, Kintzler is going to occasionally give up a string of hits because he isn't a swing and miss guy.

 

In a perfect world, you want that guy in the sixth, not the ninth.

 

But Kintzler has a profile that plays out pretty well in a fresh inning situation. It usually requires multiple hits to score a run, as he doesn't issue a bunch of free passes and he doesn't offer up many gopher balls. Given his groundball tendencies, he should limit extra-base hits in general.

 

Considering the Twins bullpen situation, the ninth inning seems like a pretty good fit.

    • howieramone2 and d-mac like this

I expect regression in some areas and progression in others. Buxton and Dozier are prime candidates to pick up slack.  We contended on the back of three decent starters in 2015 and the 87 Twins won on the back of one good starter and one decent starter and two ok relievers.  If Berrios is the real deal and Gibson or Mejia give us anything all we need is a little good luck.  

    • bluechipper and howieramone2 like this

"Nick Burdi has been beyond dominant in Chattanooga, with a 0.61 ERA and 19-to-4 K/BB in 15 innings. He's a candidate for a direct promotion to Minnesota."

 

He's retired 15 in a row over his last four outings, striking out 6. It's time for a bump.

    • Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan, bluechipper and 3 others like this

 

It's pretty easy to see what's going on without even talking about lofty things like "regression." The Twins have feasted upon a couple of bad teams.

 

Luckily for the Twins, these teams are in the division and we are in an the unbalanced schedule era.

The Twins have 19 wins total, and 10 of them are against the White Sox and the Royals.

10-3 v. two teams.

9-13 v. everyone else.

Will they "regress"? That's not even the point. How many wins can they get from crappy teams going forward? We know they'll be .500 or worse against good teams and probably mediocre teams as well.

Ehh. Those two teams are pretty close to .500 if it weren't for the Twins.  Every good team beats up on bad teams and most go around .500 against good teams.  We are not even saying the Twins are a good team but a division should be judged on how it does against other divisions.  The East is 14 games above .500, the West is 10 games above .500 and the National league is collectively 17 games below .500. Thus far we are the weakest division in the AL but far from the worst in the majors.  

    • bluechipper likes this

Interesting article here:

 

http://www.beyondthe...gue-central-mlb

 

Notes the Twins nice defensive metrics, but points out some other stuff.  The info on the two players who are carrying us (Sano/Santana), is very interesting.

 

I sent the link because the timing of that article and Nick's are coincidental.

I'd like to see the Twins call up some of the young bullpen arms also.  They've washed their hands of Tonkin and DanSan already, I'd like to see some more housecleaning.  I was hoping Gibson would stay down longer, it's kind of depressing to think he's probably coming back, pronto.   

 

I like Pressley, Kinzler, and Duffey in the 'pen.  The rest I'd be happy to trade for minor-league counterparts, but I'm guessing that's not in the plans.  We'll be lucky to see Chargois and Burdi playing regularly this season, the best we can hope for is a September cup of coffee for them at this rate.

 

The bats seem to have slowed down over the past week, averaging 3 runs per game since last Friday.  This team is gonna need to score runs in a big way if they are to finish above .500.   

    • Vanimal46 likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 18 2017 08:45 AM

 

I was hoping Gibson would stay down longer, it's kind of depressing to think he's probably coming back, pronto. 

I suspect everyone hoped Gibson would stay down longer, including the front office.

 

Unfortunately, the weather hasn't cooperated. It allowed the Twins to punt on the fifth starter decision for quite some time but a reckoning is coming. Hopefully, both Mejia and Gibson step up and take the opportunity.

    • bighat likes this

 

It's pretty easy to see what's going on without even talking about lofty things like "regression." The Twins have feasted upon a couple of bad teams.

 

Luckily for the Twins, these teams are in the division and we are in an the unbalanced schedule era.

The Twins have 19 wins total, and 10 of them are against the White Sox and the Royals.

10-3 v. two teams.

9-13 v. everyone else.

Will they "regress"? That's not even the point. How many wins can they get from crappy teams going forward? We know they'll be .500 or worse against good teams and probably mediocre teams as well.

 

For the sake of argument, let's assume these will be the consistently "crappy teams" this year:

 

Jays
Royals
White Sox
Athletics
Mariners

The Twins have 41 games left against these opponents.  Assuming they play well against these teams (.600 win %), they can count on 24 wins.

Against the rest of baseball the Twins have a .409 winning percentage.  They have 86 games against everyone else.  Assuming they stay at a .409 W% v. everyone else, they can count on 35 wins.
 

Using the above premises, the Twins are due for 59 more wins the rest of the year, which will give them 78 wins. This will be a great year for the young team, out-performing the most sensible predictions by 4-6 wins.

Of course, we still have a small sample size. The Twins have yet to play many teams. They could end up better or worse than this. We will know more when we have more information.

    • bighat likes this
Yes, there will be some regression on the mound and the pen needs fortification. But I agree there is also hope there to balance out regression and provide greater depth in the rotation and the pen. Imagine the lineup as Rosario, Buxton and Kepler continue to grow and develop, along with Polanco, and Rosier kicks it up a notch. Oh, and I forgot to include Vargas! The offense should continue to grow and improve over the season, and that also can stave off regression. Barring injuries or implosion from the rotation, I still think this is a .500 club or a few games over.
    • bighat likes this

 

Ehh. Those two teams are pretty close to .500 if it weren't for the Twins. 

 

Nevertheless, it were for the Twins!

I was talking about apples, your response is about oranges.  The next obvious part of your argument is, then, if the Sox and Royals had not yet played the Twins, then the Twins would also not have yet played the Royals and Sox. The Twins record would likely be around 14-21 instead of 19-16 based on their winning percentage against everyone else.

 

Personally, I prefer the premise that they can beat up on crappy teams. Without that, the Twins are on pace for only 70-71 wins with the assumption that the Sox and Royals records are flukes.

    • bighat likes this

Did I miss something in regards to Gibson? He's getting called up again? 

 

Did I miss something in regards to Gibson? He's getting called up again? 

 

They need a starter for Monday, either him or Wilk.

When I am looking at term like "regression", I'd like to look at data that might so deviation to begin with.Here is some of that for the Twins, and their closest AL Central opponents:

 

Pitching:

Twins: 4.80 FIP - 4.31 ERA, Indians: 3.52 FIP - 3.98 ERA, Tigers: 4.57 FIP - 4.77 ERA

Twins: 72/7% LOB, 12.2% HR/FB, .269 BABIP
Indians: 73.9% LOB, 14.3% HR/FB, .308 BABIP
Tigers: 71.2% LOB, 12.3% HR/FB, .306 BABIP

Hitting:

Twins: .282 BABIP, Tigers: .294 BABIP, Indians: .278

 

How I would interpret that?Regression as far as hitting is not much of an issue (if anything players like Polanco and Buxton are likely to improve.)

 

As far as pitching goes, it is obvious that Santana and Santiaga (other than his last outing) have been playing over their heads, the bullpen is made out of band-aides and spit and Kintzler has a pact with the devil (or something.)

But, I hope that Berrios continuous where he starts to provide a serviceable number 2 behind Santana (at this point) and the one of Mejia (.360 BABIP) or Gibson (.359) rebounds (regresses? ;) ) .That is hopeful likely possible.  

 

The pen is a bigger story and the Twins need 2-3 late inning arms to keep it up, whether they come within the organization (Bard, Burdi, Chargois, Melotakis, etc) or outside.

 

But, I'd take first place any day :)

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Nick Nelson
May 18 2017 10:42 AM

 

Nick, I don't really get the "Kintzler isn't a closer" thing. With the Twins, he has entered the game with a one run lead in a save situation just ten times in the past two seasons (this was a quick scan of box scores so if I missed something, let me know). Eight of those times, the Twins left the game a winner. That's an 80% conversion rate on the most difficult of saves. Can we really expect better from a closer? Overall, he has 27 saves and only four blown saves.

No one’s denying that Kintzler has been very effective in the role up to this point. But I stand by my reservations about his poor fit there going forward. 5.3 K/9. .255 BABIP. 6.3% HR/FB. 86% LOB. Those numbers aren’t going to hold up. The things you’re saying about coming in with a clean inning, and requiring multiple hits in succession to score runs, are true for any reliever. I just believe that with all the contact allowed he’s more susceptible than most to giving up a run or two, even on a good day.

    • rghrbek likes this
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LA VIkes Fan
May 18 2017 10:54 AM

I think Thylos has it right on the pitching but I quibble a little regarding the hitting. The Twins need someone to step up and be that consistent middle of the order bat to hit either 3 or 4 along with Sano. The good news is that it can come from an OF or the DH spot so the defensive side won't get in the way of a bat. We need either Vargas, Kepler, Rosario or Buxton to be that guy, or get Park, Palka or Garver to come up and be that guy.  I think there's a real chance this will happen, and my money is on Kepler.  

 

On the pitching, our hope has to be that between Berrios, Mejia, Gibson and Hurlbut/Slegers we can find a middle of the rotation starter to go with Santiago and a back end guy to go with Hughes (or 2 in one category with Hughes going). There is a less than 50/50 chance of 2 starters emerging but better than 50/50 of one.

 

On the bullpen, we need at least 2 quality arms, maybe 3, and that's assuming Breslow is for real.  Most teams, even good teams, only have five or six decent bullpen arms plus filler and we arguably have three, four if you count Pressly.  With our starting rotation we need at least five quality bullpen pieces and could really use six. We may be stuck with the eight-man bullpen all year.. We've got to find at least two quality bullpen pieces and 3 if possible from Chargois, Baxendale, Hildenberger, Burdi, Busenitz and Rucinski. Odds, not very good.   

 

Overall, there will be some regression but I think there's a good chance that the offensive improvement will be enough to cover some of the pitching woes and that the starting rotation will stabilize to average or close to it. The bullpen is a much bigger problem. Sounds like a roughly .500 team to me winning between 78 and 84 games.  Much better than last year and worth watching but not a real contender for the Wild Card. 

    • Thrylos likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 18 2017 11:24 AM

No one’s denying that Kintzler has been very effective in the role up to this point. But I stand by my reservations about his poor fit there going forward. 5.3 K/9. .255 BABIP. 6.3% HR/FB. 86% LOB. Those numbers aren’t going to hold up. The things you’re saying about coming in with a clean inning, and requiring multiple hits in succession to score runs, are true for any reliever. I just believe that with all the contact allowed he’s more susceptible than most to giving up a run or two, even on a good day.

You're not wrong there, I guess we just have different priorities. If the Twins acquired two arms better than Kintzler, I'd be in favor of moving him out of the closer role. That would make Kintzler the fourth best reliever on the team (I'd currently put only Duffey in front of him).

I'm simply against moving Kintzler out of the closer spot before the Twins find two better relievers: one for the seventh, one for the eighth. I think those roles are more important than closer.
    • Mike Sixel and frightwig like this

I hate to be Debbie downer, but the Twins pitching is still really, really bad. Of the 19 pitchers to throw a pitch for the Twins this year, just 5 have an xFIP of under 4. To put that in context, 9 Major League teams (4 AL) have a team xFIP below 4. That is nearly a 3rd of all teams. The Twins have 12 pitchers that have a xFIP over 5, including all but one starter (Santana, his was 4.52 but that'll be near 5 after today's game). The Twins are dead last in xFIP in all of baseball and nearly a third of a run worse than the next worst American league team. 

    • frightwig likes this

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