The Show Must Go On: First Place! (Barely)
Image courtesy of MLB The Show 20, SonyTo get caught up on what we're doing here, you can check out the introductory post in the series for an explanation of the premise and setup. But the quick version is this: We're playing a progressive simulated Twins season on MLB The Show 20 on PS4, and y'all are helping guide the ship. In each installment I'll update you on what's happened since the last, and put at least one key decision up for vote.
Date In Game: 6/1
Team Record: 34-26
Leading OPS: Miguel Sano (.966 in 195 AB)
Leading ERA (SP): Jake Odorizzi (2.30 in 82.0 IP)
Leading ERA (RP): Taylor Rogers (1.55 in 29.0 IP)
LATEST RESULTS (4-6)
Gm 51 vs CWS: L 2-1 (Odorizzi 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K, L)
Gm 52 vs CWS: L 6-3 (Maeda 5 IP, 3 ER, L)
Gm 53 vs CWS: L 10-2 (Bailey 4.1 IP, 5 ER, L)
Gm 54 vs CWS: W 4-3 (Rosario walk-off 2-R double)
Gm 55 @ NYY: L 9-1 (Berrios 5 IP, 4 ER, L)
Gm 56 @ NYY: L 3-2 (Rogers 0.2 IP, 1 ER, L)
Gm 57 @ NYY: W 10-5 (Sano 3-5, HR, 3 RBI)
Gm 58 @ CWS: W 8-1 (Garver 4-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Gm 59 @ CWS: L 5-3 (Balazovic 6 IP, 5 ER, L)
Gm 60 @ CWS: W 7-4 (Garver 2-5, 2 RBI)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Our Twins have pulled into a tie with Cleveland for first place, but it's not because we played all that well. Instead, the Indians have run into a deep slump; they've lost 12 out of their last 13, including an 11-game losing streak (!) that completely offsets their 11-0 start to the season.
For our part, we've endured some struggles, but a 4-6 run over the past 10 games was enough to pull us even with the Indians, who led the division by five games at the end of April. Meanwhile, the White Sox are starting to emerge as factors in the race, only two games behind the deadlocked leaders.
Chicago certainly made a statement in the early part of our latest batch of sims, taking the first three games in a four-game set and nearly completing a sweep before Eddie Rosario salvaged victory from the jaws of defeat with a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the 14th.
That was the team's only win in a six-game span, as the Twins headed next to the Bronx, with expected results. New York won the first contest in a 9-1 laugher, then walked off the typically reliable Taylor Rogers in Game 2. Luckily the Twins were able to again avoid a sweep, taking the finale 10-5, and they carried that momentum to Chicago with a 2-1 series victory that keeps the charging White Sox at bay (for now).
Jordan Balazovic, who was voted into the rotation last time around, is still looking for his first win after two starts but he has certainly given cause for intrigue. In his first MLB start against the White Sox, he tossed six innings of two-run ball, helping Minnesota avoid a four-game sweep. His next turn, against that same Chicago team on the road, didn't go as smoothly as he allowed five earned runs over six frames. However, he struck out 10 batters with only one walk, giving him a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio in 12 innings over his first two turns in the rotation.
Now that we've reached June, the MLB Draft is approaching, just two days away in our sim. I'll solicit some advice shortly, but first, let's run through the roster's hot and cold players.
In his latest two starts, Jake Odorizzi allowed three earned runs in 14 innings with 17 strikeouts. He now leads the American League in ERA, with his 2.30 mark edging Mike Minor's 2.35. Odo has been absolutely sensational, continuing to lead the rotation as Kenta Maeda comes back to Earth a bit (allowed 8 ER in 11 IP and took his first L during latest stretch) and Jose Berrios navigates an unspectacular first half (5-4 with a 4.34 ERA on the season).
In the bullpen, Tyler Duffey has clearly emerged as the top option behind Taylor Rogers. After allowing zero runs in 5 1/3 innings across four appearances, Duffey now holds a 1.67 ERA on the season to go along with a 27-to-11 K/BB and 1.26 WHIP through 27 innings.
Offensively, Mitch Garver continues to come on in a big way, with his .953 OPS now ranking second on the team behind Sano. Garver was an absolute force in the latest series at Chicago, going 6-for-10 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in his two starts.
The once-potent offense has cooled considerably, scoring three or fewer runs in six of the past 10 games. The biggest culprit in the unit's drop-off is pretty clearly Nelson Cruz, whose slump (mentioned last time) has snowballed. In the past 10 games he went 3-for-32 (.094) with no homers, and he's been leaving all sorts of runners on base.
Thanks to his outstanding start Cruz still has a respectable overall line (.268/.352/.460) and he's tied for second on the team in RBIs with 39, but one wonders if the veteran DH – who turns 40 in exactly one month – is starting to show signs of age. We'll stick with him in prime lineup spots for now and hope the cold spell gives way in June.
DECISION TIME: SETTING A DRAFT STRATEGY
As mentioned, the 2020 MLB Draft is coming up this week. We have no idea who'll be available when the Twins select 27th overall; right now the 27th-ranked player on our scouting board is a 20-year-old center fielder out of Illinois named Brett Bollinger (that's Brett, not Rhett).
My plan is to generally take a "best player available" approach with our first pick, but I wanted to get your input on a high-level direction: Given the choice, should we opt for a younger high school player with bigger upside but a lengthier path to the majors, or a college player who might be able to help more quickly?
Vote your preference in the comments section. I'll be back with a full report on whichever player we select in the next installment.
6/1: vs TB
6/2: vs TB
6/3: vs TB
6/4: vs LAA
6/5: vs LAA
6/6: vs LAA
6/7: vs LAA
6/9: @ BAL
6/10: @ BAL
6/11: @ BAL
Part 1: We Can Build This Thing Together (0-0)
Part 2: 10 Games In, 6 Games Back (4-6)
Part 3: Roaring Back (11-9)
Part 4: Over the Hill (17-13)
Part 5: Checking In at the Quarter Point (23-17)
Part 6: Rising Power (30-20)
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