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Front Page: Was Luis Arraez for Real in 2019?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:18 PM
Last winter the Minnesota Twins inked former All-Star Jonathan Schoop to a one-year, $7.5 million pact. He ended up playing in 121 games...
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Sign Yasmani Grandal, be open to trading Nelson Cruz if M...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:17 PM
Mitch Garver had a tremendous home run rate in 2019. If he is anything close in 2020 to the hitter he was in 2019, the Twins' have a spec...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Generics Over Brand Names

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:17 PM
On a shelf sit two bottles of dishwasher gel. One is a brand name you’re familiar with, the other a generic. You start reaching for the b...
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Front Page: Jhoan Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:15 PM
The Minnesota Twins have announced that right-handed pitchers Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers, infielder Travis Blankenhorn and outfielde...
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Front Page: Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:00 PM
Zack Wheeler is one of the most sought after free agents this off-season and there will be not shortage of teams interested in his servic...
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Week in Review: Powerful Ending

We don't know how Minnesota will fare against New York in the ALDS. But for now, the 2019 Twins can take great pride in finishing strong in one of the best regular seasons in franchise history. They punctuated this historical campaign over the past week by clinching the division, edging New York for the all-time MLB home run record, and winning five of their last six games to reach triple digits.

Let's run it back in the season's final Week in Review.
Image courtesy of Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/23 through Sun, 9/29

***

Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 101-61)

Run Differential Last Week: +16 (Overall: +185)

Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (7.0 GA)

Magic Number: 0


101 wins. 307 home runs, a new MLB record. The first AL Central title since 2010. It's been a magical year for the Twins and they closed it out in style, taking care of business against the dregs of the division and even scoring a lopsided win with their "hangover lineup" following Wednesday night's official clincher.

The final week of the regular season did not, unfortunately, see much tangible progress on the player health front.

In fact, the Twins suffered yet another blow when Luis Arraez went down in Minnesota's meaningless second-to-last game. The rookie infielder collided with Willian Astudillo as the two converged under a pop-up to the mound, and Arraez twisted his ankle before crumpling to the ground in a heap. He was carted off the field in obvious pain, but got relatively good news with his diagnosis: a Grade 1 ankle sprain (the least severe type). Arraez's status for the ALDS is very much in doubt, but there's still a possibility he could return, which seemed out of the question as he tearfully left the field.

Meanwhile, Max Kepler still has not swung in a game since the Cleveland doubleheader more than two weeks ago. Marwin Gonzalez also did not play all week after being scratched with oblique tightness ahead of Tuesday's game. But Rocco Baldelli expressed confidence that both will be ready to go by Friday's Game 1 tilt in New York.



Ehire Adrianza, who hasn't played since tweaking his own oblique on September 12th, seems much more questionable. The lack of recent in-game reps, plus the likelihood of being less than 100%, cast serious doubt on his viability for the first-round playoff roster.

The number of injury concerns heading into the postseason is quite troubling for a club that's already certain to be without Byron Buxton (shoulder surgery), Sam Dyson (shoulder surgery), and Michael Pineda (suspension). But alas, they now have four days to get as healthy as they can.

HIGHLIGHTS

Jose Berrios is a goal-setter. It's one trait that has helped drive him to such impressive success in his young career. This season, he had his sights set on 200 innings, and in his final start he achieved it. By tossing six innings of two-run ball in Friday night's rain-shortened victory over Kansas City, Berrios crossed this targeted threshold, becoming the fourth Twins pitcher to do so in the past 10 years.



Berrios finishes the season with numbers that are altogether pretty similar to 2018: 14-8, 200.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9. Even the pattern of his performance mirrored the previous campaign: a stellar first half leading to an All-Star appearance, a sluggish drop-off in the latter part of the summer, and a rebound in late September.

The difference, of course, is that this time around he'll get an opportunity to extend his season. Berrios is expected to take the mound for Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Friday in the biggest challenge of his career to date. In this regard, his aforementioned resurgence offers some reassurance.

After uncharacteristically completing six innings just three times in nine starts after the start of August, Berrios did so five of his last six turns, posting a solid-yet-unspectacular 4.34 ERA during that span. In his final starts, the righty saw his whiff rate and velocity both return to comfortable levels.

Attached Image: Screen Shot 2019-09-28 at 1.11.59 PM.png


In the surprise twist of the season, it's looking likely that Randy Dobnak will get the ball for Game 2. This would allow an extra day of rest for the bullpen ahead of Game 3, in the event of a short outing from Dobnak, while also moving Jake Odorizzi's start away from Yankee Stadium, which can be treacherous for fly ball pitchers.

Dobnak's improbable postseason nod is well-earned, as he put up a 1.59 ERA and 1.13 WHIP as a rookie and delivered his finest effort yet on Wednesday, when he fired six innings against the Tigers while allowing just one unearned run on one hit.
It might feel natural to dismiss Dobnak as a mere heartwarming story and overperformer being thrust into this situation out of necessity. To an extent, that's accurate. But his outstanding MLB debut does not carry the indicators of an unsustainable fluke. He's hammering the strike zone with heavy sinking stuff that's inducing grounders at an elite rate, while also missing more bats than Berrios or Odorizzi. In his final start against the Tigers he generated 15 whiffs on 78 pitches, which is fairly remarkable even in light of Detroit's ineptitude.

If these are Minnesota's three starters for the playoffs, set to be combined with a heavy dosage of relief work, then the Twins can be feeling a little better about their chances of keeping a potent New York lineup somewhat in check.

Of course, their fortunes in the ALDS are likely to hinge on their bats. It was an uneven week on that front, as the offense went through some perturbing quiet spells even before the rollout of backup-heavy post-clinch lineups. There were some positive signs though, like Astudillo putting together a late burst (7-for-18 with a homer and six RBIs after hitting .231 through the first three weeks of September), C.J. Cron hitting his hardest homer of the season in the final game, and Jonathan Schoop finishing on a high note (6-for-19 with a homer and three RBIs). Schoop will obviously be thrust into a far more prominent role in the playoffs if Arraez can't go.

LOWLIGHTS

The Twins keep trying with Kyle Gibson. They clearly want to find a way to justify a postseason roster for their long-tenured clubhouse leader, but Gibson just isn't giving them much to work with. He appeared in relief three times last week, allowing five hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings. This amounted to only one run, and to his credit the swing-and-miss stuff has still been there -- he struck out seven and induced 17% swinging strikes in those appearances -- but with these kinds of erratic showcases against bottom-tier offenses, how can you feel any confidence? How can he?

In five outings since shifting to a relief role, Gibson has a 7.50 ERA and 2.83 WHIP, with opponents reaching base at nearly a .500 clip. I just don't see how you can credibly run him out against the Yankees in any situation. And it pains me to say that because I'd love to see him be part of this so much.

Then again, given how hittable Martin Perez has been, maybe loyalty wins out as the deciding factor. The final spot on the pitching staff could very well come down to those two. Neither has made a very inspiring case in the final weeks.

Health is going to be the key for Minnesota's lineup heading into the playoffs. It's entirely possible the Twins could trot out a lineup on Friday that is missing Kepler, Gonzalez, and Arraez -- three essential lefty-swinging catalysts with righty Luis Severino the likely opposing starter. And the probable absence of Adrianza inhibits their ability to supplement via depth. Needless to say, the Twins need their remaining healthy horses to carry the load. There's mounting urgency for Eddie Rosario to rise to the occasion.

The final week of 2019 for Rosario epitomized his season as a whole. He had some loud knocks -- a homer and a double, with five RBIs -- but that production covered up a general lack of effectiveness. In 16 plate appearances he had only one other hit and one walk, good for a .250 on-base percentage with one run scored. For the season, Rosario finishes with some nice counting numbers (32 HR, 109 RBI) but he also posted his lowest OPS in three years with a significant defensive downturn.

By WAR, Rosario was the 11th-most valuable position player on the Twins this year. But we all know he can step up and become one of their most valuable in a hurry. Next week he'll have his chance to change the lasting narrative in what's been a roundly disappointing campaign.

TRENDING STORYLINE

There's only one storyline now: October baseball. The Twins have until 10:00 am on Friday to lock in their ALDS roster, and some of their decisions might come down to the wire. Can Arraez heal fast enough to be an option? What about Adrianza? Will the internal optimism around Kepler and Gonzalez prove valid?

DOWN ON THE FARM

The Twins announced their official Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year on Sunday: Trevor Larnach and Dobnak, respectively. These choices matched our top hitter and starting pitcher selections at Twins Daily, so clearly, we agree! Cheers to these two on their tremendous accomplishments this year. It's likely one and perhaps both will play a significant role for the Twins next year.



On another note: What's up with Baseball America souring on Royce Lewis? He's performing extremely well in the Arizona Fall League; last week we featured his offensive and defensive highlights right out of the gate, and he's hitting .364 with a 1.287 OPS with three homers and 10 RBIs through six games, but in BA's newly released league-by-league top prospect rankings, Lewis is all the way down at No. 18 in the Southern League. That's solidly behind Brusdar Graterol (9), Larnach (11), Alex Kirilloff (12) and even former Twins prospect Lewin Diaz (13).

I gotta be honest: I'm not exactly sure what BA is going for with these rankings. Are they meant to be an isolated snapshot in time? Because that's the only scenario in which I could remotely understand a list that puts Lewis five spots behind Diaz. I mean – two months ago, one was traded for Sergio Romo while the other was being bandied as a centerpiece for Noah Syndergaard. Yes, Lewis had a quiet season offensively, but he also started it as a teenager and finished it in Double-A.

If the negativity was centered on Royce's glove, that might make a little more sense, but BA's Matt Eddy calls him "a strong defensive shortstop with confident hands and a terrific arm." (Notable because ESPN's Keith Law recently offered up the exact opposite take: "Lewis can’t play SS. He has to move somewhere and CF makes the best use of his skills.")

Eddy also states that Lewis "plays with flair, and he rubbed multiple observers the wrong way with confidence that borders on arrogance." This really hits me oddly because I've almost always seen the 20-year-old's character and makeup portrayed as an immense strength. If little incidents like bat flips or doing pushups at second base (which was in fact intended to chide himself) are starting to materially affect his perception, and even seeping into his coverage at reputable prospect websites like Baseball America, that's a damn shame.

In any event, it'll be very interesting to see where Lewis lands across major offseason lists, given the obvious variance of opinion around him.

LOOKING AHEAD

The American League Division Series is on tap! Action gets underway on Friday. You can expect all kinds of previews and breakdowns here at Twins Daily, so stay tuned.

FRIDAY, 10/4: TWINS @ YANKEES
SATURDAY, 10/5: TWINS @ YANKEES
MONDAY, 10/7: YANKEES @ TWINS
TUESDAY, 10/8 (if necessary): YANKEES @ TWINS
THURSDAY, 10/10 (if necessary): TWINS @ YANKEES

Catch Up On Twins Daily Game RecapsAs a final note, I want to thank everyone who has read this column regularly over the course of the season, and especially those who interacted or offered positive feedback. I hear a lot of nice things about this running series, which is cool because I enjoy putting them together. Week in Review will be back next season, but in the meantime I'll have plenty to say about the upcoming playoff run and all that comes after.

Speaking of which, the 2020 Offseason Handbook isn't too far off...

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16 Comments

Another great, balanced, and fair weekly review on the greatest Twins site ever.We've made it to the ALDS with a historic season by a team for the ages.Sure, there are injuries and performance issues, but I look forward to see who rises to the occasion and contributes when it matters most.

    • Nick Nelson, birdwatcher, brvama and 1 other like this
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twinsfaninsaudi
Sep 29 2019 06:04 PM
Should Eddie be moved out of the four spot?

Again thanks Nick! Regarding Lewis, it always makes us happy that our team is recognized by various outlets and rankings. However, I've come to grips with a meh attitude on such anymore. Maybe I'm a grumpy old man, maybe for sure, but I care more about what really matters - their contribution to the Twins system. Plus, I'll believe TD's take before most of the others and trust the our FO and the others are closer to the real value of the players.

    • Nick Nelson and MN_ExPat like this
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Patrick Wozniak
Sep 29 2019 06:37 PM

Thanks Nick! Although I follow the Twins very closely, I always find your weekly reviews extremely entertaining and there's almost always a great tidbit that I missed (this week - the BA bit about Lewis). I'll miss reading these but at least we have some October baseball to help fill the gap!

    • Nick Nelson, birdwatcher, brvama and 1 other like this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 29 2019 10:13 PM

Great as always Nick!

 

I optimistically mentioned that the Twins were capable of posting 92 wins....I guess they were capable. LOL...

 

There were many big (good) surprises. Garver's and Kepler's home run ability, Cruz's performance in every batting statistic available. Sano's adjustment at the plate (I had serious doubts, but big brother took him under his wing (by all accounts)). Arraez coming up and literally taking the second base job through an outstanding approach at the plate.

    • Nick Nelson, brvama and MN_ExPat like this

Thank you for another terrific recap of the Twins action from the week.Thanks for keeping fans up to date throughout the season, Twins Daily in always the first place I go to find news about our Minnesota Twins.

    • Nick Nelson, birdwatcher, TwinVike61 and 1 other like this

Great weekly reports all season long. I've enjoyed reading them, but I've forgotten my manners and gone all year without saying thank you for your work. Twins fans are lucky to have Twins Daily and all of the writers who contribute to this sight. Thanks Nick for all your efforts!

    • Nick Nelson, birdwatcher and MN_ExPat like this

"On another note: What's up with Baseball America souring on Royce Lewis? He's performing extremely well in the Arizona Fall League; last week we featured his offensive and defensive highlights right out of the gate, and he's hitting .364 with a 1.287 OPS with three homers and 10 RBIs through six games, but in BA's newly released league-by-league top prospect rankings, Lewis is all the way down at No. 18 in the Southern League. That's solidly behind Brusdar Graterol (9), Larnach (11), Alex Kirilloff (12) and even former Twins prospect Lewin Diaz (13)."

 

This was characterized in their Chat:

 

Jim (Ontario):

Are we really saying that Dalton Varsho is a better prospect than Royce Lewis and Jazz Chisholm is a better prospect than Alex Kirilloff?

 

Matt Eddy: No, of course not. What we try to accomplish with these rankings is to take the temperature of managers and scouts who sat on a particular league all year. In the examples you cite, the Twins prospects didn't play as well as consistently as others. Our Top 100 Prospects take a broader look at projected prospect value.

    • Nick Nelson and MN_ExPat like this

I'm pretty new to this site...but I have thoroughly enjoyed the articles and the contributions from everyone.Even though the Twins are the parent of our Rochester Red Wings, they get zero press here. Its all Yankees (and Mets). Our media is totally screwed up. I SO want to beat the Yankees and get them out of our hair. Whether we could also beat Houston is another matter. But for now, I am looking forward to this series.

    • Sconnie, Tom Froemming and MN_ExPat like this

Its shaping up to be an awfully quiet week, Nick.

 

But will it be the quiet before the storm?And if there is going to be a storm, will it be an Alberta Clipper sweeping into New York from the Great Plains and washing those Yankees out to sea?Or will it be a Nor'easter that comes out of New England with a whoopin put on our Twins?

 

 

    • Nick Nelson and brvama like this
Nice write up Nick. Thanks as always. Also Kieth Law only confirmed what I’ve felt all along... he gets a way too high opinion of his own prognostications. He has a decent eye for baseball (most of the time), but others...? I suppose we should be thankful that windbag Todd McShay doesn’t cover baseball.
    • Nick Nelson likes this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 30 2019 10:26 AM

In regards to Royce Lewis: let the damn kids play.

    • Nick Nelson and brvama like this
Well the Twins are definitely underdogs, which seems really crazy for a team that won 101 games?? But maybe they can embrace that underdog mentality and go all the way, kinda like the Angels did back in 2002??
    • Sconnie likes this

Thanks for a whole season of Weekly Reviews - one of my favorite parts of the site. 

 

I agree about moving Eddie -- I would drop Rosario to 5th or 6th in the batting order -- not too far down, since he does hit those bombas.

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 01 2019 09:45 AM

Here's to hope you're writing weekly recaps for several more weeks though. 

    • ashbury and Sconnie like this
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Channing1964
Oct 01 2019 11:09 AM
This, for me being in Arizona, is the best way for me to stay close to my team. Thank you for what you do.
    • Brock Beauchamp, ashbury and Sconnie like this

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