The Show Must Go On: Inauspicious Debuts
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: 8/8
Team Record: 66-52
Leading OPS: Luis Arraez (.935 in 365 AB)
Leading ERA (SP): Jose Berrios (3.24 in 155.1 IP)
Leading ERA (RP): Tyler Duffey (2.18 in 53.2 IP)
LATEST RESULTS (4-6)
Gm 109 vs LAD: W 2-0 (Berrios 8.1 IP, 0 ER, W)
Gm 110 vs LAD: L 6-4 (May 0.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB, L)
Gm 111 vs HOU: W 6-5 (Cave 3-4, 2 R)
Gm 112 vs HOU: L 5-4 (Wood 4.1, 6 ER, L)
Gm 113 vs HOU: L 11-1 (Arraez 4-5, 4 RBI)
Gm 114 vs CLE: W 8-5 (Gonzalez 3-4, 5 RBI)
Gm 115 vs CLE: L 4-1 (Donaldson/Sano/Kepler 0-11, 5 K)
Gm 116 vs CLE: L 6-4 (Odorizzi 1.1 IP, 6 ER)
Gm 117 @ KC: L 6-4 (Wood 6 IP, 2 ER)
Gm 118 @ KC: W 8-4 (Avila 2-4, HR, 4 RBI)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
In our last edition, with the trade deadline bearing down, I proposed four different deals I felt we could pull off. Options No. 1 and 4 tied for the most votes, so I went ahead and made both. On July 27th we struck two trades to bolster the rotation:
- Traded LF Eddie Rosario and RHP Jordan Balazovic to Rays for LHP Blake Snell
- Traded SS Nick Gordon and RHP Tyler Wells to Dodgers for LHP Alex Wood
Adapting to the loss of a key lineup fixture in Rosario, we recalled Brent Rooker, and we're more or less platooning him with Jake Cave in left. Both players have performed well in the elevated roles; Cave went 9-for-23 with two home runs and four RBIs in six games, Rooker went 7-for-21 with a homer and three RBIs in six games.
The team overall, though, hasn't fared as well. We went 4-6 in the last 10 while Cleveland went 7-3, leaving us three games behind the division lead. Both of our newly acquired starters made had rough debuts with the new team. Here's a quick recap of the latest stretch of games, broken down by series:
Split home series vs Dodgers, 1-1
We won the first game behind a tremendous effort from Jose Berrios, who took a shutout into the ninth before giving way to Taylor Rogers and a two-out save. We lost the second game, with All-Star starter Kenta Maeda unable to get through five, and Trevor May taking the loss in an erratic relief appearance.
Lost home series vs Houston, 2-1
Like the last series, we won the first game, this time scoring five runs in a second inning highlighted by Miguel Sano's three-run double. Fending off an Astros comeback, the Twins held on 6-5.
The second game saw newly acquired Alex Wood make his Twins debut. Bringing in a 2.53 ERA from his first four months with the Dodgers, Wood was hit early and often by the Astros, giving up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. We lost 6-4. (Of note: Pineda – now in a long relief role, tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings after replacing Wood ... who just supplanted him in the rotation.)
In the third game, Snell made his first start in a Twins uniform, opposite the reigning Cy Young winner (and recent All-Star Game starter) Justin Verlander. It wasn't a great night for either pitcher, as they posted identical results: 5.1 IP, 5 ER. But Houston's bullpen bested Minnesota's. And... okay. Check this out.
Tyler Duffey came into this game with a 1.45 ERA. He's been the best reliever on the team and one of the best in the league. On this day against the Astros, he entered the eighth inning of a tie game. His line: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 ER. He got one out, put five runners on, and they all scored. In his three other appearances over the past batch, he allowed zero runs while striking out seven. It says a lot that, even after a week marred by that disastrous outing, Duffey still leads this excellent bullpen in ERA at 2.18.
I'm not trying to say the Astros are still banging garbage cans and this video game is accounting for it, but. Actually that is what I'm saying. Only possible explanation. Damn you Houston.
Lost home series vs Cleveland, 2-1
This one was painful. We had a big opportunity at home against the team we're battling for first place and ... we fell flat.
Once again the Twins took Game 1, this time keyed by a five-RBI effort from Marwin Gonzalez. But Cleveland took the next two, with Jake Odorizzi completely imploding in the third: 1.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 0 K. (Of note: Pineda relieved him and gave us 4 2/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 3.68.)
Split first two of four on road vs. Kansas City, 1-1
In the first game, Wood took the ball again and looked much better, holding the Royals to two runs over six innings, striking out six. But Rogers gave up a one-run lead in the ninth, and Hunter Dozier launched a walk-off homer against Zack Littell in the 12th.
The second game saw another rough effort from Snell, who allowed four earned runs and seven walks over six innings. Luckily the rest of the team lifted him up. Nelson Cruz and Alex Avila each homered, combining for seven RBIs. Sergio Romo and Duffey combined for three scoreless frames in an 8-4 win.
And that's where we are at. Since our rundown was quite extensive, I'll skip the hot/cold trends for this week. Let's talk bullpen upgrades.
DECISION TIME: CALL UP A RELIEVER FROM AAA?
While we made two major rotation additions at the trade deadline, we elected not to upgrade the bullpen. And that's justifiable, because the unit has generally been really damn good. But we might want to think about replacing Littell.
His numbers are okay: through 46 2/3 innings, he has a 4.44 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 33-to-15 K/BB ratio. But he has allowed eight home runs – most in the bullpen – and that includes the aforementioned walk-off shot in Kansas City. He just hasn't been very reliable, and in terms of overall rating in the video game, his 68 is worst on the current 26-man roster.
We've got two relievers performing extremely well in Triple-A. I propose that we call up one of them to replace Littell.
Option 1: Cody Stashak, RHP. In 28 innings of work for Rochester, he has a 27-to-8 K/BB ratio, 0.96 ERA, and a 0.82 WHIP. As we know, he's already had some big-league success.
Option 2: Blaine Hardy, LHP. Though sidelined in real life by Tommy John surgery, Hardy is still healthy in the virtual realm, and throwing well. He's got a 2.08 ERA and 1.07 WHIP through 34 2/3 innings, with a 23-to-7 K/BB ratio. He would give us a lefty option in the bullpen, which we currently lack outside the closer Rogers.
The other option is to stick with Littell. Feel free to state your preference in the comments.
8/8 @ KC
8/9 @ KC
8/10 @ BOS
8/11 @ BOS
8/12 @ BOS
8/13 @ BOS
8/14 vs KC
8/15 vs KC
8/16 vs KC
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)
Part 7: First Place! (Barely) (34-26)
Part 8: Drafting and Dropping (38-32)
Part 9: Cruz Control (45-35)
Part 10: Pulling Ahead (52-38)
Part 11: Bashing into the All-Star Break (58-40)
Part 12: Deadline Decisions (62-46)
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