Twins Exhibit As A Flawed But Fearsome Foe
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsWith just a handful of games left in the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the playoff race yet to be decided has come down to the Twins and the Los Angeles Angels. Despite the slimmest of margins (1.5 games to be exact), Minnesota has a more favorable path to postseason baseball. With seven of their final 10 games coming against the lowly Detroit Tigers, it’s time for them to get fat while the eatin’ is good. That being said, no amount of late season run is going to cover up some relatively glaring issues.
In New York, Paul Molitor sent Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios to the mound for games one and two of the series. The former pitched admirably, but the lineup wasn’t able to muster any run support. The latter struggled with command and ultimately left too much of a burden on the the team at end of the game. Behind those two arms though, there’s an incredible amount of unknown. Whether it be relying on the emergence of Kyle Gibson, or resting on hope with Adalberto Mejia or Bartolo Colon, the Twins starters still leave plenty to be desired.
Despite getting up 3-0 early on in the final game of the Yankees series, there was a feeling of when, and not if, the Bronx Bombers would climb back into it. Knowing Colon’s deception would be quickly taxed, and the bullpen would likely be overexposed, it didn’t take long for the Yankees to respond, and ultimately hang a 12-run effort on Minnesota. While the Twins came out firing against Yankees ace Luis Severino, their greatest flaw shined brightly, and allowed for a pretty stress- free result for Joe Girardi’s squad.
At this point in the season, there are many more known commodities than unknown. The Twins can score runs, and are currently third in baseball (only behind the Indians in the AL) since the All-Star break. Those runs tend to come in bunches however, and there’s been more than a few games in which the bats have gone cold. Now being carried both by veterans (Dozier and Mauer) as well as youth (Polanco, Buxton and Rosario), the Minnesota lineup looks more complete than it has at any point in 2017. Even with that notion however, nightly results are relatively unpredictable from this group.
It seems Miguel Sano will not be trotting on to the field at any point soon, and there isn’t any sort of reprieve on the mound. For a group that consistently relies on a starter eating up quality innings, there aren’t many arms for Molitor to hang his hat on. Knowing the bullpen has been better (13th in MLB since the break) is a welcomed truth, but they still are susceptible to being overexposed.
What we have in front of us is exactly as titled, a team that remains flawed but also fearsome. Yes, Minnesota could desperately use a thumper bat, another arm or two, and their best power hitter. Over the course of a 162 game season, those deficiencies rear their head a lot more often. In the snapshot of a one game playoff, five game series, or seven game series, this club has the ability to do some damage.
It’d be foolish to expect this band of misfits to make a deep playoff run. However, in the postseason, the mantra truly becomes one game at a time. There’s still work to be done prior to getting in, and there will be a treacherous road no matter how far they advance, but as flawed as they are, it’s also apparent fearlessness is something inherent by this group.
When you’re at a point where nothing else can be done, there’s no reason not to throw haymakers and hope something lands. With more than a few capable bats, and a handful of plus arms, Paul Molitor’s club has the makings of a group with a narrative yet to be written. Nowhere in the immediate future will the Twins find themselves in an enviable position, but that’s been the case for the majority of the year, so why not keep it going?
- brvama, Oldgoat_MN, Don Walcott and 2 others like this