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Game Thread: Twins vs. White Sox, 9/18/19 @ 6:40pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:29 PM
  Good afternoon and welcome back to another exciting game thread! After last nights win I'd prefer this game just go a standard 9...
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Magic Number Thread

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:14 PM
Why no magic number thread?     Why can't I post pictures?      BYTO was fun.    
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Front Page: The Future Value of Luis Arraez

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:46 PM
Major League Baseball has rookies every season that are deemed as the next wave of stars. However, this rarely comes to fruition as plent...
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Front Page: Michael Pineda Suspended 60 Games For Banned...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:14 PM
One day after a solid performance against the Cleveland Indians, Major League Baseball announces it has suspended Michael Pineda for 60 g...
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Front Page: Mission Accomplished: An Elite Twins Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:44 PM
As the month of July came to an end, Minnesota Twins fans watched with anticipation hoping that their club was going to make the necessar...
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Week in Review: Offensive Onslaught

The Twins have the best offense in baseball. They're on pace to be one of the greatest slugging teams in MLB history. And their prowess was on full display over the past week.

If what we saw in 2016 was a Total System Failure, then what we're seeing now is All Systems Go. Read on for our recap of a busy, boisterous and beautiful week for the #SotaPop boys.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/13 through Sun, 5/19

***

Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 30-16)

Run Differential Last Week: +23 (Overall: +74)

Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.5 GA)

Willians Watch: 3-for-18 last week (Season AVG: .278)


Quite a few roster moves to recap from the past week, so here's a rundown:
  • The Twins wanted to keep Tyler Duffey around as an extra reliever, so at the beginning of the week they optioned Jake Cave and recalled him.
  • Mitch Garver made a game-saving play on Tuesday night, blocking the plate beautifully to prevent Shohei Ohtani from scoring with the tying run, but the collision at home took a toll. Luckily, it sounds like Garver and the Twins dodged a bullet – his scary-looking leg injury was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain instead of something more serious – but he was placed on IL and will miss a few weeks at least.
  • Called up to take his place was Miguel Sano, who made his season debut on Thursday night in Seattle and started all four games against the Mariners.
  • Meanwhile, Trevor Hildenberger finally ran out of chances. After allowing multiple runs for the sixth time in eight appearances on Wednesday, nearly costing the Twins a game they should have comfortably won, he was demoted to Rochester. Taking his place is right-hander Austin Adams, a minor-league signing from the winter who'd posted a 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in Triple-A while flinging mid-90s heat.
  • To make room on the 40-man roster, Minnesota designated Addison Reed for assignment. While rehabbing in the minors, Reed had continued to look terrible, so the Twins had little choice but to pull the plug on their free agent bust and eat his remaining salary. It's a real shame because the team could really use Reed at some semblance of his full capacity right now.
  • With Nelson Cruz's wrist healing more slowly than expected, the Twins elected to place him on IL and called up infielder Luis Arraez.
Whew. Okay, on to dissecting another highly successful week for your Minnesota Twins:

HIGHLIGHTS

I don't even know where to start. I truly don't. The Twins have played great baseball all season but they took it to another level against the Mariners, with a comprehensive clobbering that featured contributions from just about everyone. No Garver? No Cruz? No problem. Minnesota still blew up for 40 runs on 11 homers over four games at T-Mobile Field, in one of the most astounding offensive series I've ever seen from a Twins team.

C.J. Cron was among those leading the way. After a quiet series against the Angels at Target Field (1-for-10), he went wild in Seattle, where he was 8-for-18 with three home runs and six RBIs in four games. Not long ago, Cron was one of the few laggards in this lineup, entering May with an OPS barely north of .700, but he's raised that mark by 150 points with a prodigious power outburst this month.

Also aiding in the bash-fest was Byron Buxton, who went 7-for-26 on the week with three bombs, including a grand slam on Saturday night. The #9 hitter drove in 11 runs over the course of seven games. His presence at the bottom of Minnesota's order is one major element in its intimidation factor.



There's just nowhere for opposing pitchers to find cover from the onslaught. Marwin Gonzalez was a reliable soft spot early on, but he's completely turned it around in May, where he's slashing .355/.429/.500. Last week, Gonzalez went 8-for-23 (.348) while playing four different positions. Jason Castro launched two more homers and has now gone deep in five of his eight May starts. Jonathan Schoop sent two over the fence on Saturday night and is rocking an .823 OPS overall. Eddie Rosario has slowed down his feverish HR pace a bit, but is back in rake-mode nonetheless, going 10-for-26 over the past week.

And now, the Twins have Sano again. He tallied a pair of doubles in his season debut on Thursday, then picked up his first home run on Saturday night. It's far too soon to say the slugger is "back" – he struck out eight times with one walk against the M's, and had a few very ugly ABs – but with almost everyone else on the offense clicking, the Twins can afford to be patient.

LOWLIGHTS

It was, quietly, a less stellar week for the rotation, with a few starters beginning slipping up a bit. Most notable among that group is Jose Berrios, who coughed up five runs on 12 hits against the Angels on Monday, and then couldn't get through five frames in Minnesota's blowout over the M's on Saturday. I'm not too worried yet; he's still throwing strikes and was rattling off qualities starts before this rough patch.

Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson were unspectacular, though far from terrible. Overall, Twins starters posted a 5.05 ERA over the course of the week, and, well, a couple things:

1. It says a lot about the relative quality of this group that we can view their week as a noticeable negative. Last year Twins starters had a 4.50 ERA for the season.

2. Minnesota still went 5-2 even with the lack of standout work from starters. This team was built to win games on the strength of its offense and that's just what they did.

Pretty much the only position player not to join the hitting parade was Willians Astudillo. He went 3-for-18 in five games, extending a slump that's seen him bat .222 in 67 PA since his huge first three games of the season. This visual shared by Ted does a good job illustrating the core problem plaguing La Tortuga at the plate – he's playing right into the hands of opposing pitchers:



I love his aggressiveness as a general trait, but Astudillo has gotta start finding some better pitches to hit. He's too often going after offerings that are nearly impossible to drive, and as a result his hard-hit percentage is (by far) the lowest among Twins hitters at 22.9%.

TRENDING STORYLINE

It's pretty easy to hide bullpen question marks when you're launching six home runs and taking 10-run leads after a few innings, but that won't keep happening forever. Right now, the Twins' relief corps is crowded with minor-league journeymen. Ryne Harper, Mike Morin, Matt Magill and the newly promoted Adams all came to Minnesota on non-guaranteed contracts.

To their credit, these guys have all pitched pretty well – especially Harper, who continues to confound MLB hitters with his slow, bending curveballs. Duffey is another guy who looked like an also-ran at the outset of the season but is making his case as an asset. With a pumped-up fastball in the mid-90s, he's been nasty at times, though the long ball proneness remains troubling.

As well as these relievers are throwing, the bullpen still has the feel of a ticking time bomb. The absence of Hildenberger, who was an essential fireman in April, will be felt, and sadly it doesn't look likely he'll be back soon. In his first appearance at Triple-A on Friday, he coughed up four runs in one inning, so there are clearly some serious issues to work through. Fernando Romero is pitching in Rochester alongside Hildenberger, and hasn't been very sharp in his three appearances since heading back down.

The indefinite absence of those two, along with the release of Reed, removes three key pieces from Minnesota's planned late-inning mix. It's just really hard to imagine the Twins can get by filling that void with unestablished minor-league vets all summer long, even if it's been working out to this point. The question is whether they'll be proactive in addressing the issue, or wait until leaks start to spring.

DOWN ON THE FARM

You've gotta feel for Nick Gordon. This is a huge year for him as he seeks to rebound from a brutal 2018 campaign that tanked his stock. He missed the first month due to a stomach issue, then came back at the start of May and raked over eight games, batting .353 with an .889 OPS, but last week he found himself back on IL with a left adductor strain. Hopefully he can make it back soon and continue his redemption tour.

Meanwhile, it was an interesting week for Minnesota's #1 prospect. On Thursday, Royce Lewis lined a drive off the top of the wall in a game against Bradenton, and chided himself by pulling into second base with a few push-ups. The Marauders were not too pleased. They threw at him in his next AB, and multiple ejections followed:



A few things stand out to be me in this footage. I'm very impressed by how the umpire handled it, standing tough as Bradenton's manager berated him with an embarrassing temper tantrum. I'm also impressed by how Lewis composed himself, standing quietly in the batter's box throughout the ordeal, waiting for his next pitch. Impressed, but not surprised. Lewis is one of the highest-character guys you'll come across on a ball field, which is why it's so bizarre to me that anyone would perceive his playful antics as anything malicious.

Anyway, Royce came out the next night and belted his first home run of the season in his first AB:



The 19-year-old shortstop is still slashing just .236/.311/.342 overall, but he's picking it up after a slow start.

His teammate Jordan Balazovic, has no such slow start to shake off. The right-hander was masterful in four starts at Cedar Rapids before moving up to Fort Myers, where he has been annihilating the competition. In two starts last week (Monday and Sunday) he struck out 20 batters over 10 innings, pushing his K/BB ratio to 30-to-4 in 17 innings with the Miracle.

In our preseason Twins prospect rankings, I noted that "Balazovic was an honorable mention for us, failing to make our Top 20 cut, but I'm wondering if that'll look silly a year from now." Turns out it only took about six weeks. From my view, he's currently the organization's second-best pitching prospect behind Brusdar Graterol, who has a 1.93 ERA through nine starts at Double-A.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Twins are 5-2 in their current run against AL West opponents, and they'll look to finish strong with another three-gamer against the Angels, this time in Anaheim. (More late night baseball for ya!) After a well-deserved day off on Thursday, Minnesota returns home to face the White Sox for the first time this year. The pitching matchups for that series look quite tantalizing on paper.

MONDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. TBD
TUESDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Trevor Cahill
WEDNESDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ANGELS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Matt Harvey
FRIDAY, 5/24: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Jose Berrios
SATURDAY, 5/25: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Manny Banuelos v. RHP Kyle Gibson
SUNDAY, 5/26: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Covey v. RHP Jake Odorizzi

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21 Comments

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MMMordabito
May 19 2019 09:14 PM

Wow, looking at the group of trash opposing starters coming up, I expect at least another 40-50 runs this week.

    • Mike Frasier Law likes this
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TheLeviathan
May 19 2019 09:22 PM

I love everything about what Royce Lewis did that game.Keep having fun kid.

    • Mike Frasier Law, h2oface, Danchat and 5 others like this
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IndianaTwin
May 19 2019 10:35 PM
I’m liking that there are just three more games in the Pacific Time Zone, and one of those is in the afternoon.
    • Mike Frasier Law, Minny505, bighat and 2 others like this
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Aerodeliria
May 20 2019 03:26 AM

Another very nice wrap. 92 mph fastball right behind him, but you could almost guess that was coming. I'm not all that sure Lewis was trying to show them up, but it's hard to know.

Time for a 3-day Twinscation at Angel Stadium. The rain looks finished for the 3 day stay here in LA. Start times here are just after 7, 7 and 6 (9,9 and 8 Central). No afternoon game on Wednesday, just an hour earlier. If anyone else it going and wants to meet, let me know.

    • ashbury and bighat like this
The amount of HR's the Twins are hitting seems almost bizarre. Some players are approaching career highs, in the first quarter of the season. It's going to need to continue if they want to cover up for the pitching. The FO office seems to have been able to make some good finds on the offensive side, hopefully they can duplicate that on the mound. As for Royce: I watched some video of him at SS, seems very impressive. Good arm, and athletic. While it may have not been an intent to "show up" the other team, doing push-ups on the bag at second base isn't a good idea in any league. Disrespectful is disrespectful, anywhere. This isn't about the unwritten rules in baseball. You do anything that sophmoric in any sport, the other team will retaliate. Baseballs way is just more visible.
    • MN_ExPat and Original Whizzinator like this
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MMMordabito
May 20 2019 06:12 AM

 

Disrespectful is disrespectful, anywhere. This isn't about the unwritten rules in baseball. You do anything that sophmoric in any sport, the other team will retaliate. 

 

The White Sox are coming to town this weekend. If Tim Anderson tries that bat flip $%^ at Target Field, maybe he'll find an Austin Adams 98 mph heater in the elbow or knee later in the game.

When Cruz comes back, what's the move? It seems pretty obvious that Arraenz goes back to AAA.I would imagine that Garver's return will mean the end for Astudillo for a while?

    • ashbury and Original Whizzinator like this
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Original Whizzinator
May 20 2019 07:16 AM
Two weeks till the draft. Let's go shopping! Ok I'll admit I don't know the rules. So after the draft they can sign a guy like Kimbrel and not have to give up a pick, but why are trades so rare until right before the deadline? Are trades impacted by the timing of the draft? I want to see them trade some assets for some heat in the pen.

 

 

 While it may have not been an intent to "show up" the other team, doing push-ups on the bag at second base isn't a good idea in any league. Disrespectful is disrespectful, anywhere. This isn't about the unwritten rules in baseball. You do anything that sophmoric in any sport, the other team will retaliate. Baseballs way is just more visible.

 

He was clearly trying to make a joke ie: "If I did more push ups, that ball would have been a HR instead of a double" - I get it, it's a fairly wholesome and a bit funny. And honestly I don't think he meant to show anyone up.

 

That said, the opposing pitcher didn't think it was funny and I don't blame him. I'm guessing that'll be Royce's first and last attempt at that kind of thing. Compared to other "problems" that some players have, I'm not to worried about Royce's attitude. The kid seems to be just a great guy.

    • MN_ExPat and KFEY93 like this
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terrydactyls1947
May 20 2019 07:41 AM

Two weeks till the draft. Let's go shopping! Ok I'll admit I don't know the rules. So after the draft they can sign a guy like Kimbrel and not have to give up a pick, but why are trades so rare until right before the deadline? Are trades impacted by the timing of the draft? I want to see them trade some assets for some heat in the pen.


A quick look at the May transactions page at MLB.com shows five trades so far this month. So they are possible.
    • Original Whizzinator likes this

 

Most notable among that group is Jose Berrios, who coughed up five runs on 12 hits against the Angels on Monday, and then couldn't get through five frames in Minnesota's blowout over the M's on Saturday.

Berrios hasn't been sharp for a few starts now, by his standards. He is struggling to consistently locate his curveball. When he throws it for a strike, it catches too much plate. When he tries to throw it just off the plate, he is missing by way too much and it isn't drawing the swings and misses he was getting to start the season. I think hitters are sitting on his fastball a little bit right now.

 

This is not meant to be a criticism, just an observation. Berrios has obviously been really good this season. Throwing his curve more effectively will elevate his performance even higher.

I always wondered how different this team would be if we had a true DH and power hitting 1st baseman.Many said Mauer, Grossman and the many DH's we had last year had a good OBP and that should be just as good. 

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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Harrison Greeley III
May 20 2019 09:18 AM

 

That said, the opposing pitcher didn't think it was funny and I don't blame him. I'm guessing that'll be Royce's first and last attempt at that kind of thing. Compared to other "problems" that some players have, I'm not to worried about Royce's attitude. The kid seems to be just a great guy.

 

Here's a novel idea. If you feel disrespected, instead of threatening or possibly executing physical violence with your fastball that could harm a guy's career, maybe...just maybe... I dunno... don't.

Text the guy after to say you didn't appreciate it. Strike the guy out next time. Ignore a harmless joke. There are a lot of other ways to go about it than act like an abusive idiot in response. 

    • diehardtwinsfan, TheLeviathan, flags and 1 other like this

There really are no breaks in the lineup, even with Garver on the shelf. Marwin is the only Twins regular with an OPS+ under 100 right now, and that's entire due to his brutal start in March/April. He's doing damage right now and is definitely a hitter you can't sleep on.

 

Even with Cruz & Garver out, the Twins have a deep and potent lineup. Sano is probably going to scuffle a bit while getting used to MLB pitching again, but woe betide any pitcher foolish enough to groove him a fastball down in the count.

 

ESPN predicted that Polanco will fall off and that his power surge is mostly a mirage. I hope he proves them very very wrong.

 

Bullpen is a fair concern. I think putting feelers out on Kimbrel is a good idea. Start figuring out that option sooner rather than later. Romero has disappointed, that's for sure.

 

I'd be more comfortable with the rotation if it felt like there were more/stronger options in AAA if a guy falters. Gonsalves hasn't pitched, Stewart has moments but has a bit of a wire act to make his pitch mix/approach work, and it's unclear if Thorpe is MLB ready yet. Littell doesn't look ready to me. How much are we prepared to give up for Bumgartner?

The way I see things. We have 5 good enough starting pitchers. Though we can add one in July is fine by me. We have 6 relievers pitching good right now so I'm fine waiting there too as we have 1 or 2 spots available to give others chances. Signing Kimbral or trading for a relievers does make sense but we don't have to rush into anything either. Our offense is awesome. Our bench is real strong too. Only the Yankees have a stronger bench, maybe Houston but that's it. We are sitting good and don't have to make any moves until late July. Maybe add a starter, likely add a reliever, and only if injury would we add in offense and even that is a maybe.
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segagenesisgenius
May 20 2019 01:16 PM

 

Here's a novel idea. If you feel disrespected, instead of threatening or possibly executing physical violence with your fastball that could harm a guy's career, maybe...just maybe... I dunno... don't.

 

I don't like the idea of throwing at batters, but he was not throwing *at* Royce.Rather, he threw the ball about two feet behind Royce.He was not "executing physical violence" and there was no apparent danger of "harming a guy's career" as that ball was nowhere near Royce.Or, at least, there was no more danger there than in any other pitch.To the extent that that pitch was dangerous, basically every pitch in baseball is dangerous. 

 

Now, if he had tried to hit Royce I would agree with your general sentiment, but here he didn't.As is, your comment feels... maybe like 40% of an overreaction.Just as there was no reason for the pitcher to get quite so bent out of shape for a poor joke on Royce's part, there is no reason for us to get quite so bent out of shape over a pitch that was no closer to Royce than a thousand pitches he'll (hopefully) get in the majors that are trying to get him to stop crowding the plate.  

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
May 20 2019 01:18 PM

How much better would you feel about the Twins' chances if the Twins had Bumgarner and Kimbrel?

I am honored to be a part of a group that includes mind readers. Very impressive. And..... I now know the 2 feet is a lot less distance than what I once thought it was.

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IndianaTwin
May 20 2019 04:07 PM

 

I’m liking that there are just three more games in the Pacific Time Zone, and one of those is in the afternoon.

 

 

To clarify, I mean "after this trip," there are just three more PDT games. 

 

Here's a novel idea. If you feel disrespected, instead of threatening or possibly executing physical violence with your fastball that could harm a guy's career, maybe...just maybe... I dunno... don't.
Text the guy after to say you didn't appreciate it. Strike the guy out next time. Ignore a harmless joke. There are a lot of other ways to go about it than act like an abusive idiot in response.


Maybe the team could put The opposing pitcher in Time Out while he thinks about what he did, and he can come out when he’s ready to apologize. Plus no dessert after dinner.

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