TOR 5, MIN 3: About That Bullpen ...
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Perez: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 66.3% strikes (57 of 86 pitches)
Home Runs: Cron (2)
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (3-for-3, BB, R)
WPA of +0.1: Cron .223, Perez .221, Polanco .115
WPA of -0.1: Cruz -.120, Mejia -.666
(chart via FanGraphs)
There’s only so much a manager can do about a top-heavy bullpen. Rocco Baldelli, much like his predecessor, seems to be taking the approach that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. He’s opted to use his top guys to secure a win at hand and worry about the two games in the bush later. Or, something like that.
I understand that strategy, why risk losing a game in hand just to try to plan for something that may not happen later? Make sense, but it can also lead to trouble.
With Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger and Blake Parker having all pitched both of the previous two games, it figured that Rocco was going to have to dip a little deeper into the pen tonight.
Perez did everything he could to help, needing only 86 pitches to get through six innings. Baldelli decided that was enough for Perez, who had only thrown 44 pitches in his most recent appearance. Ryne Harper pitched a perfect seventh inning (more on that in a moment) before Mejia took over in the eighth.
Single, double, RBI single, three-run home run. Also, those were all hit by right-handed batters (and Mejia is, of course, a lefty).
Perez’s First Start
Perez looked good in what was kind of his second Twins debut. He entered this season with just 13 career bullpen appearances, but he was forced to pitch out of relief due to the extra off days. He didn’t look especially good in those outings.
An important thing to remember is that Perez was brought in to be the fifth starter. He’s not expected to be the savior of the rotation. The front office didn’t commit an exorbitant amount of money to him. He just needs to be competent. Anything extra would be a bonus.
The especially encouraging part of Perez’s outing tonight wasn’t his increased velocity, but that he was throwing strikes. If he can get into pitcher’s counts and limit walks, he’s going to be an asset.
Perez has always had good velocity, but it’s never translated into missing bats. Tonight, he got five strikeouts and eight swinging strikes. Another encouraging sign. It would be fair to point out this Toronto lineup has been among the worst in baseball, but remember, all Perez really needs to do is be a fifth starter.
Sire of Fort Myers Still Rolling
Ryne Harper pitched, which means I got all sorts of warm fuzzies. He pitched a perfect inning and struck out two batters. He threw 15 pitches, 10 of which were curveballs. That pitch ranged from 72.6 mph to 67.5 mph.
It’s a little like watching a knuckleballer in that anything he throws outside of that signature pitch is a surprise. The 30-year-old rookie has given up zero earned runs, two hits, two walks and has five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. I don’t know how long this ride is going to last, but I’m going to enjoy every last bit of it while it does. The guy is really fun to watch and it’s a great story.
Buxton Does it Again
Byron was doing his thing again, making an outstanding catch in the first inning.
Cron Crushes Another One
After hitting a laser line drive for a homer yesterday, Cron blasted a majestic, towering shot for another home run tonight.
Rocco Gets Tossed
Baldelli got ejected for the first time in his managing career. It was maybe the least entertaining ejection I’ve ever seen. He spoke on the issue during his postgame interview.
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Tue vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Gibson-Sanchez)
Wed vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Odorizzi-Thornton)
Thu v. TOR, 12:10 pm CT (Pineda-Buchholz)
MIN 6, DET 4: Berrios Figures It Out, Bullpen Barely Hangs On
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