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Danny Salazar for the Twins?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:28 AM
He could be another buy low candidate that could be 2020's version of the Martin Perez signing. Health has been an issue with him for the...
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Front Page: Quick Hitter: New Rules for 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:16 AM
During the 2019 offseason MLB and the MLBPA agreed on various rule changes. Some of these rule changes went into effect in 2019, but ther...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Hooking a Big Fish

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:15 AM
There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Making Big Betts

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:09 AM
The Minnesota Twins are going to have money to spend and will need to spend to replenish the roster. What feels most Minnesotan is that t...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Building a Bullpenner

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:08 AM
If we're being honest with ourselves, the Minnesota Twins probably aren't going to go out and sign Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg this...
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Week in Review: Weathering the Storm

The Minnesota Twins battled through a severely shorthanded series against Washington, then dealt with a decidedly inconvenient rainout on Friday night in Cleveland that left them leaning hard on their bullpen for a critical Saturday doubleheader.

Rather than back down in these tough circumstances, the Twins stepped up in a big way to essentially put the AL Central on ice with two weeks left to go.
Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/9 through Sun, 9/15

***

Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 91-58)

Run Differential Last Week: -1 (Overall: +167)

Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (5.5 GA)

Magic Number: 9

Willians Watch: 3-for-17 with three singles


It's all hands on deck. When the Twins got news over the weekend that Sam Dyson is likely done for the year, they called up Jorge Alcala to join Brusdar Graterol as inexperienced but high-upside young fireballers in the bullpen. Marcus Diplan was DFA'ed to make room for Alcala.

Other roster moves from the past week:
  • Byron Buxton was placed on the 60-day IL, officially ending his season. He underwent shoulder labrum surgery, with a 5-6 month recovery timeline that will push right up against 2020 spring training.
  • Ronald Torreyes was added to the 40-man roster in Buxton's stead, and joined the team to replace Ehire Adrianza, who suffered an oblique injury on Thursday that likely ends his season.
  • Kyle Gibson was activated from IL after missing one start, and took the mound on both Thursday and Sunday. You'll find a rundown of his appearances in the Lowlights section below.
HIGHLIGHTS

Miguel Sano delivered the decisive blow of the season on Saturday night, launching a tie-breaking grand slam that caused all of Cleveland to (either literally or figuratively) mimic the reaction of Indians reliever Nick Goody:



Sano added another home run on Sunday – No. 29 on the ledger despite starting his season on May 16th. The slugger appears to be fully past the back soreness that sidelined him early in the week, which is very good news.

Plenty of other offensive mainstays came through for the Twins in this pivotal week:
  • Jorge Polanco, who had a two-run homer wiped away on Friday night, followed up with another one against Mike Clevinger in the Saturday matinee, a blast which proved decisive in a 2-0 win. For the week, Polanco was 7-for-19 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
  • Mitch Garver launched his 30th home run on Tuesday night, and the two-run jack was key to a late-rallying victory. He finished 3-for-10 with just one strikeout in his three starts for the week.
  • There's been no real fade from Luis Arraez, who just keeps churning out hits in bunches. Last week he was 9-for-23 with three doubles, pushing his August batting average to .400. Overall, his .344 average leads the major leagues among players with 300+ plate appearances.
  • Eddie Rosario shook off a lengthy slump (.156 average and .418 OPS through the first 11 games of August) and saw his bat come alive over the weekend as he launched three homers in the final two games of the Cleveland series. Getting Eddie hot again as the regular season gives way to the playoffs would be an enormous game-changer, so let's hope he can keep it up.
Seeing Max Kepler and Jake Cave return to the fold, on Friday and Sunday respectively, was also a very welcome development.

As nice as the offensive highlights were, none of them matched the Jose Berrios performance on Tuesday night in terms of magnitude. Desperately needing a strong showing to get back on track, Berrios came through with just that, firing seven scoreless innings against a good offense.

In his best start since the end of July, Berrios pounded the zone with efficiency, issuing only one walk with two hits allowed on minimal hard contact. As a negative, the righty didn't quite seem to have his most dominant stuff, getting only four strikeouts while tying a season-low with four swinging strikes. But obviously he'll take those results as something to build upon.

As I noted last week, Berrios shook off a late-season slump and finished strong in his final four starts of 2018. Was Tuesday the start of a repeat down the stretch here in 2019? We'll learn more when he takes the mound on Monday night against the White Sox.

Rising above all the aforementioned highlights last week was the Twins bullpen, which put forth an exquisite effort in Saturday's doubleheader, as nine pitchers combined to hold Cleveland to five total runs. If you count Devin Smeltzer (3 IP, 0 ER in the day game) and Lewis Thorpe (3.1 IP, 5 ER in the nightcap) as starters, the relief corps combined for 11 2/3 shutout innings against Cleveland on Saturday, with 14 strikeouts and zero walks. Flat-out amazing work.

For the week, the bullpen allowed only 10 earned runs over 24 2/3 frames (3.65 ERA) with nearly all the damage coming in what amounts to garbage time (nine of the ER came against low-rung relievers in losses on Thursday and Sunday). Among the standouts were Taylor Rogers (five strikeouts in 2 2/3 scoreless innings), Brusdar Graterol (four strikeouts in three perfect frames), Trevor May (2 IP, 0 R), Tyler Duffey (2.1 IP, 0 ER), and Zack Littell (3 IP, 0 R).

The top pieces in this pen are all clicking at the right time. Even with Dyson unavailable, the Twins may well have a bullpen depth advantage over anyone they face in the playoffs, which would prove vital given the shortcomings in the rotation.

LOWLIGHTS

Tuesday night gem's from Berrios was a lone bright spot for the rotation. Jake Odorizzi allowed two runs in two innings on Friday night before having the game (and his stats) washed out. Martin Perez looked terrible against Washington on Wednesday, coughing up five runs over five innings in a loss. And Gibson... ohhh, Gibby.

The Twins are doing whatever tinkering they can to coax their ailing right-hander into some level of effectiveness. They skipped one of his starts before having him take the hill Thursday, hoping extra rest might prove beneficial. Then they called on him out of the bullpen on Sunday, perhaps auditioning him for an altered postseason role. Neither experiment paid any dividends.

Gibson looked as bad as ever in his start against Washington, yielding eight runs and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Execution was incredibly inconsistent for the righty, who misfired constantly and gave up two home runs for – surprisingly – the first time in three months.

Interestingly, the Twins tried bringing Gibson back in relief on Sunday, with just two days rest, and he looked much the same, allowing two hits and a walk while needing 31 pitches to get three outs. Shortly after coming in, the righty gave up a no-doubt two-run blast against Roberto Perez that turned a manageable one-run deficit into an intimidating three runs.

This is all very distressing. With Michael Pineda out, it's awfully tough to envision a scenario where Gibson isn't counted on for the playoffs in some fairly significant way. While the capability to shut down a good lineup does reside within him, he's offering no glimmers of optimism that he's physically up to realizing it at this time.

TRENDING STORYLINE

With the magic number down to single digits, focus turns to securing the division officially and gearing up for the ALDS along the way. Expect ample rest for banged-up offensive regulars as the Twins try to nurse their lineup back to health. Fielding a relatively full-strength group will be critical to matching the firepower of a Houston or New York.

The pitching staff is more of a fluid situation. Here there are actually assessments and evaluations to be made. Presumably Berrios is your Game 1 starter and Odorizzi lines up for Game 2, but then what? Gibson and Perez are pitching with much on the line (not the least of which being their impending free agencies). Unfortunately, the Twins will have no further opportunities to see these hurlers compete against high-quality lineups, so it's gonna be tough to draw any strong conclusions from what happens in the final two weeks.

Meanwhile, the bullpen hierarchy must become solidified for October. Rocco Baldelli is fortunate to have a lot of good options to work with right now. Who will be left out when the team needs to shave down?

DOWN ON THE FARM

With all the minor-league seasons having reached an end, Twins Daily handed out its 2019 awards last week. You can read about the winners below:LOOKING AHEAD

It's a downhill ride from here on out. Coming off the triumph in Cleveland, Minnesota returns to Target Field for seven games against the White Sox and Royals. Now, I will say: Chicago showed last time around they can't be taken for granted, especially with Lucas Giolito taking the hill on Tuesday. But the Twins should absolutely be able to chip away at that magic number total in the next seven days.

Cleveland opens with three contests at home against a Detroit team they've gone 15-1 against, then they welcome an eliminated Philadelphia team, so the Twins can't count on getting much help.

MONDAY, 9/16: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Jose Berrios
TUESDAY, 9/17: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Martin Perez
WEDNESDAY, 9/18: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Covey v. RHP Jake Odorizzi
THURSDAY: 9/19: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Montgomery v. TBD
FRIDAY, 9/20: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jakob Junis v. LHP Devin Smeltzer
SATURDAY, 9/21: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Glenn Sparkman v. RHP Jose Berrios
SUNDAY, 9/22: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jorge Lopez v. LHP Martin Perez

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22 Comments

Thanks Nick for these summaries. Good stuff. Regarding the SP for the playoffs, is there much of a chance the Dobnak or Littel might slot into #3 or 4, even as a combo?

    • Hosken Bombo Disco, PDX Twin and ToddlerHarmon like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 15 2019 07:03 PM
I don’t think the Phillies are mathematically eliminated, but they are pretty close to needing to “win out” at this point.

A great week for the Twins. I’d like to see the regulars playing as much as possible this week.
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Nick Nelson
Sep 15 2019 07:19 PM

 

I don’t think the Phillies are mathematically eliminated, but they are pretty close to needing to “win out” at this point.

A great week for the Twins. I’d like to see the regulars playing as much as possible this week.

Ah yeah, I guess they're just eliminated from division contention. But real long shots for a WC and might be toast by Friday.

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 15 2019 07:41 PM

Ah yeah, I guess they're just eliminated from division contention. But real long shots for a WC and might be toast by Friday.

Agree—they are effectively eliminated, unless they go on a Rockies ‘07 win streak starting with their next game.
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 15 2019 07:44 PM
Great call to bring up Graterol. Posters here were too quick to dismiss him after his previous outing.

I’d like to see either Garver or Cruz at DH until this is clinched. I hope Cruz’s wrist is in decent enough shape. Marwin took BP this week so I’m counting on him being close. Backing up Berrios by a day also puts him better in line for a Game 1 ALDS start Thursday.

Now close it out, fellas!

Before we get too despondent about the rotation, remember Les Straker!

 

In 1987 we went into the post-season with essentially two starters. It didn't go too badly! :)

    • Han Joelo, brvama, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I hope "Devin Smeltzer" and "Randy Dobnak" are the answer to a trivia question years from now.  Something like, "After Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, who were the Twins 3rd and 4th starters for their historic title run in in the 2019 playoffs?

    • DocBauer, PDX Twin, DannySD and 2 others like this

Bullpen game in the playoffs?Especially, if Berrios and Odorizzi on top of their games.If these two can eat some innings in Games 1 and 2 and protect the pen, maybe Game 3 becomes a game where someone like Smeltzer or Dobnak "starts" and gives way to a lights out bullpen early.

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Aerodeliria
Sep 15 2019 11:35 PM

Thanks for the usual post-week wrap. It's as informative as always. As I have been exceedingly busy at work these past few weeks, I haven't had as much time to read Twins Daily.

 

Emotionally, it would be a great story if Gibson came through, overcoming his health struggles and his pitching struggles, but from a practical perspective, I can't see him offering much in any playoff scenario. Maybe shut him back down again? I do get the attempted experiment today, although personally, I would have preferred something like that against the White Sox.

 

If the playoffs started today, I would say;

 

1) Berrios (with ample rest)

2) Odorizzi

3) Perez (with fingers crossed)

4) Dobnak/Smeltzer

 

I guess Gibson would be long relief and everybody else would stay in their present roles.

 

The tricky bit would be if we had to get a must win game with Berrios having only three days rest. Frankly, I'd never do it with him. I would much rather try a bullpen game in that scenario.

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Richard Swerdlick
Sep 16 2019 04:53 AM

We have not won anything yet. Chicago and KC have given us tussles before. While it certainly looks great, I take nothing for granted.

    • birdwatcher and Dman like this
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Nine of twelve
Sep 16 2019 05:16 AM

 

Before we get too despondent about the rotation, remember Les Straker!

 

In 1987 we went into the post-season with essentially two starters. It didn't go too badly! :)

In 1987 we only needed 8 wins over two series, and there was a break between the two. In 2017 we need 11 wins over 3 series and a break is less likely to happen. We need four starting pitchers if we are going to make a run at a World Championship.

    • jkcarew likes this

Thanks, Nick.

 

Its gonna be a very interesting two weeks.The Twins will focus on, 1) getting that magic number to zero; 2) resting players without allowing them to go stale, and 3) deciding who the heck will be the fourth starter for the playoffs (and maybe even third).

 

Smeltzer and Dobnak have looked good and their stock is rising.Yes, Thorpe had a rough outing Saturday night but still is in the hunt for a key role come October.

 

And those four guys you mentioned above certainly look like a very solid core for the Twins pen in 2020.The only move I see that is needed over the winter is to find a good lefty specialist.

I can't believe the Indians finish with 6 of final 9 games against Phillies and Nationals. Twinswin tonight gives them an even 5 game lead with 12 to go and a favorable schedule. Can't ask for more than that. Sano's slam may be the single biggest hit of the season as it totally flipped the momentum as the season draws to an end.

    • birdwatcher and DannySD like this

 

In 1987 we only needed 8 wins over two series, and there was a break between the two. In 2017 we need 11 wins over 3 series and a break is less likely to happen. We need four starting pitchers if we are going to make a run at a World Championship.

 

But I think we have lots of potential surprises in the mix. Perez is certainly capable of a dominant start, and Smeltzer and Dobnak have both been very good most of the time.

 

And there are breaks, both between series and within for travel days. The need for the fourth starter will depend on how the series go.

 

Of course, the most likely outcome is still a first-round loss. We will be underdogs against whichever team we play.

 

In 1987 we only needed 8 wins over two series, and there was a break between the two. In 2017 we need 11 wins over 3 series and a break is less likely to happen. We need four starting pitchers if we are going to make a run at a World Championship.

And then there's this...one of the two starters in 1987 was a top-3 guy in all of baseball, and the OTHER was a hall-of-famer with WS experience.

 

Having said that, I not sure you need four with the way the playoff schedule is now...maybe...but, I'd say at least three.

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Don Walcott
Sep 16 2019 09:13 AM

 

Ah yeah, I guess they're just eliminated from division contention. But real long shots for a WC and might be toast by Friday.

The Phillies are only 4.5 out of a wild card spot. They play the Braves, who have nothing to play for, except to stay healthy for the NLDS they will host against the NL Central champs. I think they'll win 2 of 3 from Atlanta, and still be very much in it. They have 5 against Washington after that, where they could conceivably make up ground on the Nats, then end with Miami.

 

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I believe the Phillies will still be in it and playing for the playoffs this coming weekend.

And so the Marcos Diplan era comes screeching to a halt.

 

Wait, who?

What's the old saying from back when?Spahn and Sain and two days of rain.  

 

Could our winning formula be Berrios and Odorizzi and three days of rain?

Cheers, Nick. Great stuff as always.

I'm glad the team stepped it up like they did on Saturday. But I REALLY disagree with Rocco about resting everybody on Sunday. We should have gone all out to bury those guys as deep as possible. This race is not yet over, and it feels like we just handed them a game playing a 4A lineup.
Go all out, I say, start Berrios, and rest on Monday against the Sox. And Tuesday too, for that matter.
    • Don Walcott likes this
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Cap'n Piranha
Sep 16 2019 09:43 AM

A couple of points;

 

Perez hit a 3 run homer off Gibson, to turn a 1 run Twins lead into a 2 run defecit.

 

Don't pitch Gibson the rest of the regular season, except maybe for a side session in about 10 days.Call me crazy, but I don't think 10 days was enough to deal with colitis.Give him more rest--the earliest you would theoretically need him is for Game 3 on Monday the 7th.

 

If Rosie is heating back up, it's a perfect opportunity to give Cruz and Kepler some rest; Arraez, Rosie, Sano, Garver, and Polanco can hold down the offense.

 

Consider punting the game against Giolito, almost like what we were thinking of doing Saturday night before it worked out.Rest almost everyone, and instead focus on winning tonight and Wednesday.Do that, and the worst case scenario is a 4 game lead and a magic number of 7 on Thursday.

 

The playoffs bullpen should be Rogers, Romo, Duffey, May, Littell, Dobnak, and Smeltzer.The starters would be Berrios, Odorizzi, Perez, and Gibson.You'll need both Dobnak and Smeltzer for length, particularly since Games 3 and 4 are back-to-back in both the ALDS and ALCS (if you get there).That unfortunately leaves Brusdar out, but at this point I don't think the Twins are willing to stretch him more than an inning, and I trust the other 5 more.

We are going to the game Fri and I see my fav Smeltzer is pitching! They better have the A team in there including Gonzales! I am not paying over $100 a seat to see the C squad!
    • ashbury likes this

I was reading somewhere, I think it was MLBTradeRumors......... that Rosario was considered a League Average hitter for an outfielder, and his WAR and OBP was cited. If what we have turned into with today's stats is that a batter can hit over .270 for the year, have over 30 dingers, sits at 99 and will certainly have over 100 RBI with a slugging in the high .400s and currently right at .500...... I'll take average any day.


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