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  1. Series Preview: On the Road Again

    Brief Overview:

    Texas remains a strange team this year as they didn’t appear to be any threat in the grand scheme of the AL, yet heading into the All-Star break they had plans for both buying and selling as they sat in striking distance of a wild card spot. They have fallen off the table since the break in winning just 12 games since while dropping 18, putting them at 60-60 headed into the series.

    What They Do Well:

    The Rangers are still very dead-set on swiping bags as they rank second in all of baseball in steals with 89. More impressive potentially is that they have 10 (technically nine since Asdrubal Cabrera has been released) players with multiple steals. The Twins have three for reference. So expect the base paths to be busy during this series, hope Jason Castro and Mitch Garver are prepared and ready for unleashing throws whenever. This also will put some more pressure on the suddenly walk-heavy Twins starting rotation as that free pass could turn into a guy on second base quicker than anyone would probably like.

    Their starting pitching remains good, kind of, let me explain. Usually I would keep this under “Individuals of Note” but I have some special names for that so I’ll put it here. Anyways, the Rangers have gotten 10.1 fWAR out of their starting pitching and 9.2 of that has come from just Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. Just those two would be the 12th best starting rotation in baseball by fWAR, which is really fun but also a bastardization of how fWAR works so don’t be reckless like that. For context, Lynn is 2nd among all starters in baseball in fWAR and Minor is 15th. The point here is that they have a great 1-2 punch of arms here and the Twins will see both starters in the series so expect some tough fights in those games.

    What They Do Not Do Well:

    Since the All-Star break, the Rangers bats have fallen colder than Hoth, as their 79 team wRC+ is the second-lowest in baseball over that stretch. Do you know what Ben Revere’s Twins wRC+ was? 77, he’d fit right in. One of the big issues has been their 25.8% strikeout rate which is the third highest in baseball over that stretch, meaning that the Twins have a chance to pump up their strikeout numbers during the series.

    The post-break woes don’t end there for the Rangers, however, as their team bullpen ERA of 5.49 is the 6th highest in baseball. This is partly thanks to a frightening 4.12 BB/9 that is the 8th worst in baseball over the stretch but should allow for some late rallies from the Twins lineup when their pen gets involved in the game. Matt Magill walked batters at a 4.02 clip during his time with the Twins so imagine an entire pen like that and try not to shudder.

    Individuals Of Note:

    Let’s talk about Emmanuel Clase. Who’s that? Well let me introduce you to a 21-year-old who can throw a 100 MPH CUTTER!

    What in tarnation is this wizardry? Let’s see some more:

    You have to feel for whatever poor Twins hitter steps up to the plate against this but boy is that something to watch. He hasn’t been in the Ranger’s bullpen for long but he most certainly has the pure stuff to stick.

    You know, baseball is a funny sport. There are players out there who you swear fell off the face of the earth and were more likely to be working in a shipping yard in Argentina than back up at the major league level. Yet here is the one and only Danny Santana back and thriving in 2019 with the Rangers. He’s gathered 2.0 fWAR in just over half a season’s worth of playing time and his 126 wRC+ is almost as high as his 2014 total with the Twins. Is his 4.0% BB rate and .386 BABIP sustainable? Probably not, we saw him do the exact same thing in 2014 when his BABIP was sky-high and it was just as unsustainable then as it is now, but it is still weird to see him back in the majors like this.

    Willie Calhoun has spent time as the designated “frequent flyer” for the Rangers as he has taken many trips from AAA to the majors and back this year as he attempts to shed the AAAA label. This year has been somewhat kind to the ex-top prospect as his 117 wRC+ is respectable and he owns enough talent to put it together and be a solid contributing member to the Rangers.

    Joey Gallo would most certainly be here also, but he’s currently on the IL with a fractured hamate bone and will be out until at least early September.

    Recent History:

    The Twins played the Rangers right before the All-Star break in a three-game series at Target Field. The Twins took two of three with the lone loss being an extra innings heart breaker.

    Recent Trajectories:

    The Twins are 8-7 over their last five series while the Rangers are 7-7 over their last five series.

    Pitching Match-ups:

    Thursday: Smeltzer vs Payano
    Friday: Odorizzi vs Minor
    Saturday: Berríos vs Jurado
    Sunday: Pérez vs Lynn

    (This assumes that Michael Pineda is not activated and/or there is no other rotation shenanigans.)

    Ending Thoughts:

    The Rangers, by most numbers, have been an impressively mediocre team and they have been very poor ever since the All-Star break. An easier team to beat than the Indians and most likely an easier team than the Brewers but the pressure is still on the Twins to get good starts out the rotation, play solid defense, add on runs with their offense, and have relievers come up clutch when needed. All four things have been scarcely seen from the team in awhile and improvement in any of those areas will be key for the team going forward.

    Now, I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is the fact that I am no longer perfect in my series predictions. After going 7-for-7, I choked the Cleveland series and am just 7-for-8. I’m calling for a split series but my word means nothing now that I am no longer perfect, shame.

    • Aug 15 2019 06:54 AM
    • by Matt Braun
  2. Series Preview: One More AL West Opponent Before The Break

    Brief Overview:
    The Rangers were seemingly stuck in a quasi-rebuild coming into 2019 as both the 2017 and 2018 team finished below .500 and there was a new captain at the helm in their new manager Chris Woodward. Their offseason was filled with interesting buy- low candidates and rebound targets in the hopes that those players could be pawned off at the deadline for prospects, as much of the roster was filled with players unlikely to carry the squad to anything substantial. Instead, those players performed too well and the Rangers now find themselves in wild card contention with a 46-40 record and a pythag W/L of 45-41 heading into Thursday’s game.

    What They Do Well:
    Starting pitching is the backbone of any good team aspiring to reach the playoffs and the Rangers have a solid starting rotation that ranks 10th in baseball in fWAR (thanks mainly due to Mike Minor and literally Lance Lynn whom I’ll talk about more later). Their starting pitching FIP of 4.53 is slightly worse than the mark Scott Diamond put up with the Twins (4.46), but in the modern high scoring era of MLB context, the number is much better than it looks compared to the rest of history.

    Yet again, the Twins will play a team that likes to steal as the Rangers have swiped the second most bases in all of baseball. It has also been a team effort instead of just falling on a single player or two, as 10 players have swiped multiple bases for the Rangers in 2019. For comparison, the Twins only have three such players. It will be interesting to see the different philosophies regarding base stealing at play during the series and both Jason Castro and Mitch Garver will have to stay on their toes through the series.

    What They Do Not Do Well:
    The Rangers are very good at striking out! I suppose if you get philosophical then you could question whether striking out a lot would categorize as something you do “well” or “not well”, but that’s an argument for a different day. The Rangers have the third highest offensive K% in MLB and their 25.8% mark almost perfectly matches how often Jim Thome struck out with the Twins (Thome was at 25.9%) and just 2 Twins hitters with more than 100 plate appearances have struck out at a higher rate so far this year (Miguel Sanó and Nelson Cruz).

    The Rangers bullpen is not good as they hold the fifth worst bullpen FIP in the majors at 4.93 (R.A. Dickey’s Twins FIP was 4.87 for comparison). It has been a revolving door for the Rangers pen as 20 different pitchers have gotten an out in relief for the Rangers in 2019 with one of those pitchers being named “Locke St. John”. No, I am not making that up. Along with Mr. St. John, they have also employed multiple relievers named “Jesse” and “Kyle” which would be less notable if I was talking about individuals who belonged to a fraternity in Montana, but I digress.

    Individuals Of Note:
    The poster boy for MLB in 2019, Joey Gallo, is having a brilliant season that has already seen him pass his career high in fWAR (it currently sits at 3.5). He’s still striking out at rates that would anger Willians Astudillo (35.8 K%), but he’s also walking more than ever and is being boosted by a .382 BABIP. Even if that BABIP comes down, he is still very capable of sending a ball deep into traffic over in right field and is one of the few hitters that make me visibly cringe in terror when he unleashes a swing.

    Hunter Pence was a part of the group of buy-low players I mentioned in the beginning and he has had a phenomenal bounce back year so far as he holds a 142 wRC+ (Harmon Killebrew’s career wRC+ is 144). Pence worked hard in the offseason to rework his swing that before had looked like an antsy crackhead digging into his pockets while looking for a cigarette but now looks more like that crackhead finally found some Adderall. The reward for Pence was the starting DH job in the All-Star game but he is unfortunately on the IL, so he will miss this series along with the All-Star Game.

    The Rangers also employ old friend Logan Forsythe and older friend Danny Santana and both have been above average players somehow, I really don’t know what’s happening over there but there is something in the water in Texas that brings players back to life.

    On the pitching side of things, Mike Minor has been another incredible story as the 31-year old finds himself second in the AL in ERA at 2.54 after missing both the 2015 and 2016 seasons and finally returning as a reliever for the Royals in 2017. The peripherals for Minor aren’t as pretty as his ERA (3.77 FIP and 4.42 xFIP suggest regression), but he has been a great starter nonetheless and it appears that the 2019 All-Star will pitch on Sunday.

    The other notable name is ...blegh ... do I have to write it? Fine, Lance Lynn. Yes, Lance “literally Lance Lynn” Lynn currently leads the AL in pitching fWAR. His 4.00 ERA isn’t the best but his pristine 2.94 FIP suggests that he is pitching better than it appears he is. I’m not sure what kind of necromancy the Rangers pulled to make this happen, but this is a sign that either there is no God or the one that exists has a sick sense of humor. If you would have told me during any of his outings last year where he was attempting to throw his 15th straight fastball out of the strike zone while runners were on the corners in the third and he already had thrown 60 pitches that this same man would lead the AL in pitching fWAR next year then I would have you taken in for being insane. Luckily, Lynn will not pitch in the series and Twins fans will get to avoid his terror.

    Recent History:
    The Rangers and Twins have not played this year but the Twins lost the season series last year by 2-4. I highly doubt any of those series can be used as a solid point of reference for how this upcoming series so I wouldn’t look too far into that.

    Recent Trajectories:
    Both teams are pretty cool right now as the Twins are 5-5 in their last 10 games coming into Thursday while the Rangers are 6-4 in the same time frame that includes 4 straight losses coming into Thursday. The Rangers did have a better June than the Twins did however as they had a .621 winning percentage and the Twins had a .556 winning mark.

    Ending Thoughts:
    The Rangers have built a respectable squad that will come in at a time where the Twins are a bit banged up and not playing their best ball. The Twins aren’t in a place yet where a series win is mandatory but it would be great to head into the break with a few more wins, especially as the Indians continue to play better baseball and look to threaten the division soon. I could see the series going either way but I’ll predict a series win for the Twins because I can feel in my gut that they’ll do it.

    • Jul 05 2019 11:03 AM
    • by Matt Braun
  3. Twins Unlikely to Sign Kimbrel, Keuchel — Wait, This Sounds Familiar!

    It’s important to keep in mind that every situation is different, but I still think there’s some value in looking back at how the Lynn contract came to be and compare that to where things are with this year’s market. I’m not saying any of this means the Twins are going to sign Kimbrel or Keuchel, but as long as they’re out there on the market it’s a possibility.

    One more disclaimer, sharing these reports that ultimately turned out to be untrue isn’t intended to be a jab at the reporters mentioned. They were simply relaying the information that was brought to them at that time from credible sources. Their reports were accurate to the situation in that snapshot in time. It’s clear things changed very quickly at some point, actually right around this time, last year.

    Here’s a look back at how things developed through the rumor mill.

    Feb. 28, 2018
    Mike Berardino Tweets that the Twins, who are just a few weeks removed from a strong pursuit of Yu Darvish, are likely done adding.

    March 2, 2018
    Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports Lynn’s asking price is north of $50 million, a mark no team is currently willing to entertain.

    March 4, 208
    Bowden’s sources tell him the Twins are unlikely to sign Lynn or any of the other top starters available.

    March 6, 2018
    Berardino writes that a person with direct knowledge said a $20 million commitment was a non-starter for Lynn.
    March 12, 2018
    Lance Lynn signs a one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins.

    I’m sure there were additional reports I missed, but you get the drift. As we learned with Lynn last year, things can change incredibly quickly.

    That lesson can obviously apply to other teams, as well. Bowden Tweeted Friday evening that the Nationals and Braves were “not in” on Kimbrel according to multiple sources. That would certainly make it appear the Twins have a better chance at swooping in at the midnight hour to sign him, but (again) things can change very quickly. If Kimbrel’s expectations are lowered, I’d imagine there’s a point at which the Nats and Braves would be very much in on him.

    Dan Hayes, also of The Athletic, passed this along shortly after Bowden's Tweet:

    Wouldn’t say no 100 percent? So you’re telling me there’s a chance!

    But seriously, Dan would know. To his credit, he’s already done a lot of the leg work in trying to find a scenario in which Kimbrel could land in Minnesota. Back in late January, he wrote a thorough 1,300-word piece over at The Athletic on the topic. He’s been painting the possibility of Kimbrel signing with the Twins as a long shot, but he did end that article attached above with this sentence: “As unlikely as it seems, if all those market conditions fell their way, the Twins could just wind up with Kimbrel.”

    This past Monday, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune wrote that “it would take a major change of events for the Twins to sign either pitcher [Kimbrel or Keuchel] and bring him into a training camp that started three weeks ago.” And added this: “I got the sense that, unless Keuchel or Kimbrel were willing to sign a one-year contract, there's no deal here.”

    A one-year contract you say? Hmm …

    While it does not appear likely that either Kimbrel or Keuchel will be in a Twins uniform this season it also doesn’t really seem like either of those guys is likely to be in any particular team’s uniform this season. There doesn’t appear to be a front-runner or obvious destination for either of them at this point.

    We’ve seen this movie. Our guys came out on top with contract in hand when the dust settled. Things didn’t work out exactly as intended, which was unfortunate, but they have this move in their playbook. Is it possible there was something they learned from last year that they can apply and ensure a smoother transition into the regular season for a late signing?

    All I’m saying is anything’s possible.

    Here are a couple more links if you’re interested in some further reading. MLB Trade Rumors featured both of these pitchers Friday.

    Let’s Find A Landing Spot For Craig Kimbrel
    Historical Market Price Points For Dallas Keuchel

    • Mar 09 2019 01:25 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  4. Waiting Game to Play Out Differently in Minnesota?

    Both Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison were coming off strong showings during the 2017 season. Any indications that they’d need to settle for bargain basement deals in the final hours of the free agency cycle were not apparent throughout the winter. The Twins were able to take advantage of both players and the market last season, but the deals went poorly for all involved. There’s an opportunity for things to be different this time around, and it’ll be worth monitoring to see what the reaction is.

    After Lynn and Morrison flopped, story lines down the stretch emerged that the Twins would shy away from one-year deals or rogue agent type players. After being non-tendered, Minnesota’s first two acquisitions, Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron, were both brought in on one-year pacts. All things are not always created equal however, and this is an instance of that. Cron had a career year in 2018 but was sent packing by the Rays. Grabbed by a system owning familiarity with his background, it had to feel like a nice spot for C.J. And Schoop is on a one-year bounce back opportunity after being an All Star in 2017.

    More with something to prove rather than a level of scorn, guys like Schoop, Cron, and even Parker could funnel that energy into a Twins club that has improved over the course of this offseason. Given the decline in talent that the Indians have seen, any level of motivating factors outside the field of play may serve to close the gap.

    There’s still just over a month until pitchers and catchers arrive at sunny Fort Myers for spring training. Obviously, the biggest names should have new homes by then, so things will have to start moving sooner or later. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren’t taking one-year deals because teams may be waiting them out, but Minnesota could end up striking late again on someone like Dallas Keuchel or Cody Allen.

    Should the Twins emerge as a landing spot for a bigger name, I’d imagine it would come in the form of a price drop but still a longer-term pact. Allen or another reliever could be acquired on a one-year deal that wouldn’t come with baggage if the money ends up being right. For the former Cleveland closer, there’s probably a good deal of relationship equity in place with this Twins organization.

    When the dust settles, I’d certainly hope that Minnesota has another move in them. If they learned anything from last year however, grabbing the guys who feel the process did them a disservice isn’t a good bet. The clearance rack is a fun place at Target, but we’ve seen how human commodities work out at Target Field. Jumping in on a market for guys who shouldn’t still be angling for a role, and compensating them at a level that suggests you believe they’ll advance their own and your cause, may be the bow this team needs to place on jumping the gun into relevancy.

    • Jan 10 2019 08:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  5. Twins Daily Roundtable: Grading the Front Office

    Nick Nelson
    Short-term planning is hard sometimes. No one could have predicted last offseason that returning core players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Ervin Santana — as well as new additions like Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison and Addison Reed — would collectively contribute so little in 2018 after the years they had in 2017. This turn of events completely sabotaged any chance of contention this season, and there's little the front office could have done about it without the benefit of hindsight.

    I still like the moves they made, especially because they were geared toward big-picture success. The Twins can move on from Lynn and Morrison after this season and managed to reload the pipeline with savvy trades in late July. They've set themselves up for tremendous spending flexibility this winter. Falvey and Levine have shown a penchant for opportunistically acquiring useful talents — such as Tyler Austin, Jake Cave and Gabriel Moya — at low costs. And, crucially, they've also overseen two drafts that look like absolute slam dunks so far, shoring up a sore spot from the latter years of Terry Ryan's tenure.

    The 2018 season has been a bummer but I feel extremely optimistic about the organization's leadership going forward.

    Seth Stohs
    Always a tough question because what's more important, process or results? Obviously results matter, but that's too easy. We all loved the offseason, for the most part, and adding the likes of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to one-year deals in spring training was immensely exciting. It didn't pan out. At all.

    But I think they've continued to add personnel and systems behind the scenes that should have Twins fans excited.

    In season, I think they've been fine. They've been willing to work and make changes to the 24th and 25th men on the active roster, and they've been willing to grab guys on the back end of the 40-man roster.

    I may not agree with every single decision, but I do trust the process. I do like what they did at the trade deadline and as they like to say, the way they've developed "waves" of prospects to hopefully put the Twins in a position to compete for playoff spots for the next decade or two!

    Grade: I don't know. B?

    Cody Christie
    Last week’s roundtable revolved around trying to give a grade to Paul Molitor. Managers get too much of the credit when a team wins or loses. For the front office, it takes a long-term approach to revamp an entire organization. The Twins were amid some bad seasons, but the farm system had some good pieces. There are lots of things to consider when looking at the front office as a whole.

    In their first season leading the organization, Falvey and Levine kept a lot of the previous front office pieces in place to reevaluate everyone. They started overhauling some of the pieces last off-season so it’s hard to know how well those pieces have worked out.

    Even though the wins haven’t piled up, I’d give the front office an A for last off-season. It helps to have the number one overall pick, but the minor league system has moved from middle of the road to a top-10 system in all of baseball. I’d give them a solid B+ for their drafting so far with the potential of it moving higher based on results in the years ahead.

    I feel their approach with Sano and Buxton this season was also appropriate. There are few teams that would send a former All-Star all the way down to High-A to “find themselves.” All things considered, I’d give them an A- at this point.

    Tom Froemming
    This is a tough question to answer, given that Derek Falvey has only been around since October of 2016. There are a lot of areas where I would give an incomplete grade at this point, but overall, I'd give them a C.

    Nothing jumps out to me that suggests they're either clearly above or clearly below average.

    What's really going to make or break this front office in the end is how they draft. So far, they appear to me to be very good at draft strategy, though having the No. 1 overall pick their first year certainly didn't hurt.

    I liked how decisive they were at this year's deadline, but there have been a number of odd scrap-heap additions while guys performing down on the farm have struggled to find opportunities. The more Falvey and Thad Levine put their fingerprints on the org, the more we'll know. I think the next 12 months could be particularly telling

    Ted Schwerzler
    I've considered this as a significantly loaded question at multiple points during this 2018 season. The offseason was one in which the front office hit it out of the park. They aimed high (Darvish), and they shot often (multiple FAs). When the dust settled, they brought in a crop of players that signified a large talent leap and did so by boasting an all-time high payroll.

    From there, things went downhill. A good number of those new players flopped (which isn't the fault of the front office), and the answers sought seemed less than satisfactory. I haven't found myself a fan of many roster moves made during the season and think more games could've been won with better promotions from the farm. As a whole, it's been a strong step forward from the late years of the Terry Ryan regime, but this duo isn't yet to the point of breaking through.

    Jamie Cameron
    It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of what the front office does and doesn't do, particularly with roster management. While some of the roster decisions have been odd (if not extremely poor), there are so many facets of the organization the front office has excelled at.

    Early indicators suggest the front office has drafted well in both drafts. Additionally, the Twins offseason was both strong and opportunistic (despite not translating on to the field). Finally, the team worked hard to acquire some exciting pieces at the deadline and took advantage of impending free agents.

    One other key lever when examining the front office. We tend to give equal weight to all aspects of the work of the front office in evaluating them. In reality, the number -one pick decision is vastly higher leverage than in-season roster management in a season where they were unlikely to reach the playoffs anyway. While the front office has some areas for refinement, their biggest decisions have been huge wins for the organization.

    Steve Lein
    Two years into evaluating any long-term “plan” Falvine and company may have is still a bit quick on the trigger, but I am on board with a lot of the things they have done to this point in the short-term sense.

    I liked that they struck on a colder free agent market to bring in guys like Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Lance Lynn, and Logan Morrison on short deals. On paper they improved some areas that needed it after a playoff appearance, which is what we all asked for. I’ll concede this didn’t work out, but when it didn’t they unloaded those and other short-term assets for future returns.

    I also approve of how they seem to be running the minor league system. For once, I don’t have the impression prospects are being held back as a whole. Top prospects Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Brusdar Graterol were all promoted after a half-season in Cedar Rapids, where such prospects often would spend an entire season no matter how they performed under old leadership. Fernando Romero made his MLB debut after just four starts in Triple-A, as examples.

    What I haven’t liked is their usage of the 40-man roster, both heading into the season with whom they protected/lost, and who has been bypassed with moves on the waiver wire. Small potatoes here, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with them yet.

    To assign a letter grade, I’ll say B-minus, trending up.

    SD Buhr
    The best “grade” I can give this front office is “Incomplete.” It hasn’t had time to fail, but the results on the field haven’t been anything to get TOO excited about, either. I’m sure some will give them a partial pass simply because they were not allowed to hire their “own man” as manager, instead being required by ownership to retain Paul Molitor. I think that’s a cop out.

    “Falvine” has only had one full offseason and I think most of us felt they did a decent job assembling a roster over the offseason. I’m also certain that a lot of people are impressed with the way this FO has modernized its approach to everything from scouting to assembling and utilizing advanced data.

    I just think running a professional baseball organization is about more than that. It’s also about relationship building – with players, agents, other GMs/executives, affiliates, fans, media and, I’m sure, many more stakeholders.

    It’s just too early for me to give a pass or fail grade at this point.

    If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
    Grading Molitor
    Closing Time
    Prospect Promotions
    Hall of Fame Impact
    Baseball in 2028

    • Aug 29 2018 07:45 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Minnesota Twins 2018 Trade Deadline Report Card

    All right, first thing’s first, here’s where all the players the Twins acquired are headed:

    Minnesota: Logan Forsythe
    Rochester: Chase De Jong, Tyler Austin.
    Chattanooga: Devin Smeltzer, Luke Raley, Jorge Alcala (on the DL)
    Fort Myers: Ryan Costello, Ernie De La Trinidad
    Cedar Rapids: Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Maciel
    Elizabethton: Luis Rijo, Gilberto Celestino

    So who are the best prospects the Twins acquired? Well 10 of the 12 guys the Twins added (everyone but Forsythe and Austin) still qualify for prospect status. I’m still getting up to speed on a lot of these guys, especially the ones acquired this week, so I’ll defer to another source.

    Baseball America published a fun list today. They ranked all the prospects dealt at the deadline, and the order they had the new guys in made a lot of sense to me.

    -Jorge Alcala

    -Gilberto Celestino

    -Jhoan Duran

    -Luke Raley

    -Chase De Jong

    -Luis Rijo

    -Devin Smeltzer

    -Gabriel Maciel

    -Ryan Costello

    -Ernie De La Trinidad

    Personally, I’d strongly consider putting Celestino on top. I also might put Rijo and Maciel above De Jong. Anyway, BA has capsules written up on those top three guys, and it’s just kind of interesting to see where they have them listed among all the prospects on the move. But, I’m going to make you click the link to go check out the rest of that stuff if you’re interested.

    All right, so let’s take a look at each trade individually. On each of these, I’m going to provide the link to the Twins Daily article published when the deals broke and also link to the Baseball Prospectus Transaction Analysis piece for each. Friend of the site Aaron Gleeman and the rest of the staff at B-Pro did an excellent job at breaking down each piece of each of these trades, so again, I’ll tip my cap to another outlet and encourage you to check those out. The grades though, those will be all me. Any grade disputes must be taken up with the Dean :)

    Friday, July 27
    Twins give: Eduardo Escobar
    Twins get: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: B

    Escobar was my favorite Twins player, but it just made too much sense to trade him away. It’s encouraging to hear the Twins approached him about an extension prior to shipping him off, and here’s hoping they engage with his camp again once he becomes a free agent.

    Eduardo was having a career year and will hit free agency at the end of the season, so it was difficult to envision the Twins netting a huge haul. I think Duran is a nice add, and he already made a great first impression, throwing seven no-hit innings in his Cedar Rapids debut. It sounds to me like he has a better chance at reaching the majors as a starter than Alcala does, though he doesn’t have quite as high of a ceiling.

    Maciel will skyrocket up prospect lists if he ever develops power. He’s a switch hitter who’s billed as a legit center fielder with elite speed, so even if the power never arrives he could be a fourth outfielder. De La Trinidad was a college draftee taken in the 19th round last year. His upside seems limited, but hitters hit. He’s got a career .874 OPS so far in the minors, so that at least makes him an intriguing throw-in.

    Friday, July 27
    Twins give: Ryan Pressly
    Twins get: RHP Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: A

    I love this deal. Pressly was the only player they moved who was going to still be under team control next season, but in parting with him, they acquired what I consider to be the two most valuable pieces among the dozen players that were acquired.

    Yes, Alcala was immediately placed on the DL with a right trap strain, but I think it’s a good sign that happened before he threw a single pitch in the Twins’ org. That suggests two things to me: 1) The Twins’ staff was able to uncover something in Alcala’s medicals and is getting out in front of this issue, and 2) I’d be willing to bet they used that information to leverage this deal with Houston.

    Celestino signed out of the Dominican Republic for a big bonus and he's living up to that billing so far. Not many guys put up the kind of numbers he was in the New York Penn League. He was fourth in batting average, sixth in OBP, seventh in slugging and was 14-for-14 on stolen base attempts in the NYPL.

    Pressly throws absolute filth and was having a strong season, but bullpen arms are so unpredictable and I feel like there are a lot of different ways the Twins could replace a guy like Pressly.

    Monday, July 30
    Twins give: Zach Duke
    Twins get: RHP Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: C

    To Twins fans, Duke may not seem like much of a prize, but he is among the best left-handed specialists in baseball. Duke has faced 425 left-handed hitters since the start of the 2014 season, and southpaws have hit just .214/.286/.316 off him. Since he was on an expiring contract, Duke was never going to fetch anything similar to the Pressly haul, and I’m not real impressed with what the Twins netted from Seattle.

    De Jong might be an interesting candidate to stick in the bullpen and see what happens, but it’s very difficult to see him ever working his way into the picture here as a starter. Maybe Costello is going to make me eat my words someday, but he was a 31st-round pick last year. Despite that underwhelming pedigree, he certainly deserves respect for putting up some of the better power numbers in the Midwest League this season. Again, hitters hit.

    Monday, July 30
    Twins give: Lance Lynn
    Twins get: Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: A

    I love this deal too, but for very different reasons than the Pressly trade. I just didn’t think Lynn had this kind of value. He fits the profile of exactly the type of pitcher a contending team should be looking to replace. Don’t get me wrong, he did really turn things around from May forward, but in my opinion he’s a second-division big league pitcher even at his best. Maybe the Yankees are onto something in using him in long relief, I don’t know.

    It’s worth noting that the Twins are paying half of Lynn’s salary, but this is still a really good return in my eyes. Tyler Austin could be a platoon 1B/RF/DH right now. The contact issues are a concern, but he crushes lefties and Target Field has been a pretty kind environment for right-handed power hitters.

    Honestly, if this was Lynn for Luis Rijo straight up I would have been impressed. Rijo has an insane 8.36 K:BB ratio in 125 ⅓ innings over his minor league career. He also tops out at 93 mph, so it’s not like it’s all just smoke and mirrors. And on top of all that, Lynn’s departure from the team opened up a spot for Adalberto Mejia to get a much-deserved chance in the rotation. Win, win, win, it’s looking all good here to me.

    Tuesday, July 31
    Twins give: Brian Dozier
    Twins get: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, LHP Devin Smeltzer
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: D

    I’m certain this was the best deal the Twins could get on July 31, less than an hour before the deadline. What I’m not certain of is if that was the best time to deal him. You never know how these things work out, and both Ian Kinsler and Jonathan Schoop entering the trade market late had to have complicated things, but I suspect the Twins could have gotten a better package if they had made the deal earlier, or may have even been able to find a better waiver trade partner this month.

    Of course, there was always the option to keep Dozier and extend a qualifying offer to him. Maybe he would have accepted, but I’m of the mind that there’s really no such thing as a bad one-year deal. Why did I think this was the Twins’ worst trade? Mainly because of who they were forced to take back.

    Logan Forsythe, the only major leaguer the Twins acquired in all these deals, actually has extreme negative trade value. This seems to defy logic, but the business of baseball is funny. His inclusion basically made this deal cash neutral. There was probably never going to be a deal with the Dodgers that didn’t have to include Forsythe, since they’re trying to avoid luxury tax penalties, but that’s exactly why you don’t make a deal with them in the first place.

    I typically don’t care much what happens to the Pohlad’s money (did you see how I just suggested they give Dozier $18 million?), but you’ve still got to acknowledge that money is an asset to a baseball team. If you get rid of Dozier, I think you need to find a way to get rid of that money too.

    If Forsythe’s not in this trade, I give it at least a C, maybe even a B. Heck, if I just look at this deal in a vacuum, which is what I originally did yesterday, I might give it a C. But when you zoom out and look at the big picture of what happened across baseball leading up to and on deadline day, it definitely feels like the Twins may have hurt their odds at maximizing a return. Tough thing for me to say from the outside looking in, but that’s how I feel.

    Raley is putting up really good numbers in Double A, but he’s already 24 and it’s just really hard to break into the bigs as a corner outfield/first base type. On the plus side, Raley also sounds like the type of guy in terms of makeup who goes out and proves idiots like me wrong, so I’m excited to see how this plays out.

    Smeltzer is left-handed, that’s always a plus. He’s also relatively close to the majors (he’s spent all year in Double A) and his strikeout numbers saw a boost when he recently shifted to the bullpen. However, it sounds like he has a fairly straight, fairly slow fastball, so …

    All right, so there’s my report card. The front office comes away with a 2.8 GPA. Not exactly Ivy League material, but in my eyes they get a solid passing grade for what was a difficult trade deadline to navigate for them. Maybe they also deserve some extra credit for the non-move they made by keeping Kyle Gibson.

    So now it’s your turn, how would you grade the Twins’ trade deadline?

    • Aug 01 2018 09:23 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. Twins Trade Lance Lynn to Yankees

    Austin has seen big league time with the Yankees over parts of three seasons, hitting .230/.287/.459 (.746 OPS) over 85 games. The bulk of his time has come at first base, but he's also played some in the outfield.

    Rated as the 77th-best prospect in the game prior to the 2013 season by Baseball America, Austin has a much more impressive .270/.347/.479 (.825 OPS) line in 202 games in Triple A. The biggest thing holding him back has been, stop me if you've heard this before, strikeouts. Austin has struck out in 39.6 percent of his MLB plate appearances and 27.0 percent of his PAs in Triple A.

    He'll fills a need in the Twins org right now as a right-handed bat capable of mashing lefties. Austin has hit MLB southpaws to the tune of a .292/.365/.596 batting line over 104 plate appearances so far.

    Rijo, a native of Venezuela, has posted strong numbers in his 125 1/3 innings so far as a professional. He has a 2.80 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and has averaged 8.4 K/9 while only issuing 1.0 BB/9. So far this season, Rijo is sporting a 10.67 K:BB ratio (32 strikeouts and just three walks over 39 innings). The bulk of his work has come with the Yankees' Appy League affiliate (same league as Elizabethton).

    Lynn had a frustrating free agency roll into a frustrating first month for the Twins. Lynn had an 8.37 ERA through his first five starts this season, but has been much more stable since, posting a 4.12 ERA over his last 15 starts.

    Though Lynn's disappointing overall performance contributed to the Twins getting off to a poor start, this has to be considered a positive way for things to end. Not long ago it would have been unimaginable that the Twins would land this kind of a package for Lynn.

    • Jul 30 2018 07:25 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  8. BOS 4, MIN 3: No Escobar, but at Least We Still Have Belisle

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 53 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 63.1% strikes
    Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco (2-for-4, R, BB), Eddie Rosario (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBIs)
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Rosario .423
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Cave -.105, Dozier -.170, Garver -.190, Rodney -.279, Belisle -350
    Let’s go around the horn …

    First Base
    Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before:

    There’s all sorts of rules regarding how/when a catcher can block the plate, but I don’t ever remember having to thumb through the rulebook to figure out the rules on first basemen sitting on the bag.

    Second Base

    Lance Lynn has definitely transformed back into a dependable starting pitcher. I mean, if the Twins were to try and acquire a guy like that, I’d definitely give up, say, a top 100 prospect.

    Was that good? Alright, now let’s blast this out to the other 29 team in baseball :)

    Seriously though, Lynn did look good. He only walked one batter over six innings. The only runs he gave up were on a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr.

    Third Base
    As in Eddie Rosario played third base. Yep, for real. With the Eduardo Escobar trade, the Twins were forced to play with a two-man bench. Joe Mauer pinch hit for Ehire Adrianza in the eighth inning. In the bottom of the frame, Joe took over at first, Logan Morrison moved out to left field and Eddie came in to play third.

    Guess what? Rosie is the GREATEST THIRD BASEMAN OF ALL TIME!

    With the Twins trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel walked Robbie Grossman and Jorge Polanco. Down to their last out, Rosario blasted one off the monster to plate both runners, giving the Twins the lead.

    That was awesome, but this … this play blew my mind:

    Honestly, how many actual major league third basemen can make that play?

    Home Plate
    Paul Molitor went to Fernando Rodney in the ninth. It was the fourth time he was being asked to pitch in five days. Just some background on Mr. Rodney: He has a human arm. Not some kind of a robot arm, I just want to make that clear. He’s also roughly as old as Paul Molitor, soooo ...

    The Twins should probably be happy that he only gave up one run in the ninth, forcing this game into extra innings. That meant we got to see 38-year-old Matt Belisle, who had thrown 54 pitches the previous four days. What could go wrong?

    … Oh ...

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 56-46
    MIN 48-54 (-8)
    DET 44-61 (-13.5)
    CHW 36-66 (-20)
    KC 31-71 (-25)

    Next Three Games
    Sat at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Rick Porcello
    Sun at BOS, 12:05 pm CT: TBD vs. Nathan Eovaldi
    Mon vs. CLE, 7:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 2, BOS 1: Gibby the Great
    MIN 12, TOR 6: More Like Er-win Sweep-tana!!!
    MIN 5, TOR 0: All-Star, Indeed

    • Jul 27 2018 09:16 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  9. KC 4, MIN 2: For Sale

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 43 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 6 BB, 55.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 K, 3 BB
    Lineup: 2-for-4 w/RISP, 6 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Mauer .105
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Cave -.110, Polanco -.144, Dozier -.191
    First Base
    Congratulations are in order! Joe Mauer led off this game with a double, giving him 415 for his career. The significance in that number? Joe is now the Twins’ all-time leader in doubles.

    The very first double of Mauer’s career came at the Metrodome on June 9, 2004. He hit it off Steve Trachsel, who was pitching for the Mets that day.

    Second Base
    It’s not like Lance Lynn got pummeled or anything, he gave up three runs on three hits, but he had an ugly start. I mean this one was a complete dog.

    Lynn had already reached the 100-pitch mark after four innings, it took him 118 pitches just to complete five frames and he walked six batters, though to be fair one was intentional. Yuck.

    Third Base
    Unfortunately, the lineup performed not much better. Mauer had a great game, going 3-for-4, and Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with an RBI. The issue was the rest of their teammates combined to go 2-for-24 with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

    Brian Dozier was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left four men on base, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. Jake Cave was also 0-for-4, but he struck out in all four of his at-bats. Again, yuck.

    Home Plate
    I’ll leave you with this question: Of the 14 players who appeared for the Twins tonight, how many of them do you expect will be on the team in another few weeks? Half?

    Both Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar’s names are floating around in trade rumors. Zach Duke seems like just the type of guy a contender would target to add depth to the left side of its bullpen. I’m sure Minnesota would love to find a taker for Lynn. If all hope of contention is dashed, it doesn’t make much sense to me why the team would keep guys like Bobby Wilson and Robbie Grossman around. That’s six guys right there. Who could be the seventh … Mauer?

    And that’s not to mention some of the other guys who didn’t play in this game such as Fernando Rodney, who’s been in the rumor mill, or Matt Belisle, who has no business blocking younger relievers from getting opportunities if this is going to be a lost season anyway.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 54-43
    MIN 44-52 (-9.5)
    DET 42-58 (-13.5)
    CHW 33-63 (-20.5)
    KC 29-68 (-25)

    Next Three Games
    Sun at KC, 1:15 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Brad Keller
    Mon at TOR, 6:07 pm CT: Adalberto Mejia vs. Marco Estrada
    Tue at TOR, 6:07 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Ryan Borucki

    • Jul 22 2018 05:58 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  10. MIN 8, KC 5: Twins Recover from Rough Start

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 36 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 57.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 3-for-7 w/RISP, 9 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Dozier .399, Pressly .227, Wilson .208, Cave .144
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Lynn -.275, Escobar -.107
    Credit to Lynn, he got back on track despite the awful start to the game. He struck out the leadoff man, gave up a single, but then appeared to induce a potential inning-ending double play. Instead, Jorge Polanco couldn’t handle the feed at second and everybody was safe. Perez went down and launched a three-run homer on a ball that was below the zone. From there, Lynn gave up just one more run through five innings.

    Lynn went back out for the sixth inning and opened things up with a hit-by-pitch followed by a walk. Ryan Pressly came in and hit a batter of his own to load the bases with nobody out and the Twins holding just a one-run lead. Pressly retired the next three batters he faced to keep things clean in the top of the sixth. The bats provided some breathing room in the bottom of that inning, as Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer and Logan Morrison added a solo shot.

    Wilson had a great day at the plate. For real! He hit an RBI single with two outs in the second inning, added a run-scoring double in the fourth frame and then singled in the seventh. Altogether, the Twins had 15 hits with three from each of Wilson, Dozier and Joe Mauer. Jake Cave was 2-for-4 with a triple.

    After Pressly’s impressive Houdini act in the sixth, Zach Duke followed with a scoreless seventh and Alan Busenitz, who was activated as Addison Reed hit the DL, handled the final two frames. Busenitz gave up a solo homer with two down in the ninth.

    Next up for the Twins is a four-game series against the Rays at Target Field to close out the first half. After getting off to a bit of a sluggish start, Tampa Bay has gone 20-10 over its last 30 games.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 49-41
    MIN 41-49 (-8)
    DET 40-55 (-11.5)
    CHW 30-61 (-19.5)
    KC 26-66 (-24)

    Next Three Games
    Thu vs. TB, 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Blake Snell
    Fri vs. TB, 7:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Nathan Eovaldi
    Sat vs. TB, 1:10 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Chris Archer

    Last Three Games
    KC 9, MIN 4: Slegers Slayed by Royals
    MIN 3, KC 1: Minnesota’s All-Star Shines
    MIN 10, BAL 1: Twins Pick Up First Sweep of 2018

    • Jul 11 2018 04:29 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  11. MIN 6, BAL 2: Jake Cave Is the Hero We Deserve

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 60 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 2 BB, 59.0% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 3-for-7 w/RISP, 5 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Lynn .209, Dozier .135
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: None
    Jake Cave is the hero we deserve.

    What a catch! It’s great to see the Twins giving Cave an opportunity for regular playing time. Hopefully we see the club continue to provide players like him a platform to put their skills on display. Players like, I dunno, Mitch Garver. He was 2-for-2 with a walk, called a good game and looked good behind the plate.

    The Twins had two runs on the board before they even recorded an out. Joe Mauer, Eddie Rosario and Brian Dozier opened things up with consecutive singles and Jorge Polanco added an RBI single of his own later in the inning.

    Lynn got a home run-saving catch, and three runs from his offense in the first frame. That’s a pitcher’s dream, right? Lynn delivered six innings of one-run ball. He gave up six hits and walked a pair of batters while striking out three.

    The Twins actually led this one 6-0 after four innings. Max Kepler hammered a two-run homer and Mauer tallied an RBI single in the fourth.

    Playing the Orioles, who are now 24-63 on the season (a pace for 117 losses), so any Twins positivity from these last two games has to come with a grain of salt. OK, maybe an entire block of salt. Still, this lineup looks a lot more capable with Jorge Polanco back, Jake Cave rolling and Mitch Garver being not Bobby Wilson.

    Poor opponent or not, it’s just been really nice to see the Twins do some things well the past couple contests. Even the one moment there was a bit of tension, when the O’s had two men on and one out with Manny Machado at the plate in the seventh, Eddie Rosario gunned down Beckham trying to score from second on a single.

    If you happen to see Tim Beckham around, give that dude a hug. He needs one.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 49-27
    MIN 37-48 (-11.5)
    DET 39-51 (-12)
    CHW 30-57 (-19.5)
    KC 25-61 (-24)

    Next Three Games
    Sat vs. BAL, 1:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Kevin Gausman
    Sun vs. BAL, 1:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Alex Cobb
    Mon vs. KC, 7:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 5, BAL 2: Slegers, Cave Lift Twins Out of Slump
    MIL 3, MIN 2: Pushing Against a Stone
    MIL 2, MIN 0: Strikeouts Galore

    • Jul 07 2018 08:27 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  12. Prioritizing Trade Candidates for the Deadline

    As is the nature of this miserable season, the Twins haven't seen trade candidates do much to build value, so the front office won't exactly be working from a position of great strength as the deadline approaches and buyers inquire.

    With that said, here's how I'd rank players on the "sell" board – not strictly in terms of what they'll bring back, but how eager I'd be to deal them all things considered.

    1. Brian Dozier, 2B

    The hope was that, even if Minnesota slid out of contention during the first four months, Dozier would at least position himself as a coveted trade target.

    Imagine if he put up the same kind of numbers that earned him an All-Star nod in the first half of 2015: .849 OPS, 19 home runs, 67 runs scored.

    Coming off back-to-back campaigns that bordered on MVP-caliber, and entering a contract year, this sort of production seemed possible – if not probable – for the 31-year-old. Alas, much like everything else this year, it hasn't gone to plan.

    Dozier entered play on Thursday with a .220/.308/.394 slash line. That batting average would rank as the worst of his career, and he hasn't posted a lower OPS since his tumultuous rookie season in 2012.

    Despite the hugely disappointing output, Dozier will still be attractive as a trade candidate.

    His clubhouse presence is reputed throughout the league. He has a recent history of catching fire down the stretch. And he'll only be owed about $3 million over the final two months of the season.

    Those two months (plus postseason) are all that a theoretical trade partner will be getting, since Dozier becomes a free agent after the season, but he does have the potential to make a significant impact for a contender.

    So I do think it's possible he yields a reasonably decent haul, especially if he gets rolling a little here in July. The front office will take any salary relief it can get after the 2018 fizzled out with an all-time high payroll.

    One club to look out for on the Dozier front: Seattle. Yes, the Mariners will be getting Robinson Cano back from his suspension in mid-August, but he'll be coming off finger surgery and is ineligible for the playoffs.

    Projected Return: 2 to 3 solid mid-level prospects

    2. Fernando Rodney, RP

    Out of all the moves Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made over the winter, signing Rodney may have drawn the most skepticism. He was, after all, a 41-year-old with a reputation for putting runners aboard and making things interesting. It was all too easy to see this acquisition backfiring.

    Instead, it's actually proven to be their savviest move. The grizzled vet has looked as strong as ever, pumping fastballs in the mid-90s, and his control has actually been considerably improved from recent years – Rodney's 3.5 BB/9 is lower than any mark he's finished with in that category since 2012, when he was an All-Star and Cy Young candidate.

    The righty holds a 3.18 ERA, 9.8 K/9 rate, and .626 opponents' OPS. He recently ended a streak of 15 straight converted saves.

    It's true that relief pitchers don't tend to bring back a ton in deadline trades, owing to the fact they'll only pitch a couple dozen innings thereafter, but Rodney has a couple of factors adding to his appeal:

    1) He is as experienced a relief arm as you're going to find on the market, with 16 seasons and 317 saves (tied with Craig Kimbrel for most among active players) under his belt.

    2) He's not just a rental, necessarily. His contract includes a team option for $4.25 million next year, so he can easily be brought back on the cheap.

    Whereas the market for Dozier will be narrowly defined (most contenders have players locked in at second base), most teams will be looking for bullpen help, so Rodney ought to draw more askers.

    Projected Return: 1-to-2 decent prospects

    3. Lance Lynn, SP

    No one seemed to want Lynn much during the offseason, where he went unsigned before joining the Twins three weeks into spring training, and it's unlikely that has changed during the past few months. In 16 starts, Lynn has posted a 5.49 ERA and 1.68 WHIP while issuing more walks (50) than all but two other big-league starters.

    On top of the poor numbers, there's the poor attitude; his perpetually visible grumpiness was passed off as competitiveness when he was pitching well for good Cardinals teams, but seems more sulky when he's struggling for a terrible Twins team. Lynn's failure to cover first base during a disastrous second inning in his latest start – subject of a frustrated Paul Molitor's venting after the game – is the kind of thing that is noticed and frowned upon.

    Having said all that, Lynn is a vet with a lengthy track record of success, and his performance has generally been better of late; he posted a 3.27 ERA in May and June. There are also some promising underlying signs in his performance: a four-seamer averaging nearly 93 MPH, a career-high 10.6% swinging strike rate, and metrics like a .341 BABIP and sub-70% strand rate that suggest he's been victimized by unsustainably bad luck.

    I've got to think someone will take a shot on him. He's a better bet than the fifth starters on several contenders and could be a real difference-maker if he gets invigorated and throws strikes. But the Twins will be lucky to get someone to eat all of his remaining ~$5 million in salary, and are very unlikely to get back on anything of consequence.

    The real value here is in opening up a 40-man roster spot, and some innings for younger pitchers.

    Projected Return: 1 non-prospect

    4. Kyle Gibson, SP

    Without question, Gibson would yield much more than Lynn in a trade. He has legitimately turned a corner in his career and is controllable through 2019, his final year of arbitration eligibility. But those very same factors should make Minnesota reluctant to move him.

    Gibson is making $4.2 million this season (about one-third of Lynn's salary) after losing his arbitration case against the Twins. Presuming he stays healthy and on track the rest of the way, he'll get a healthy raise next year but still shouldn't make more than $10 million or so, a bargain for someone of his caliber.

    As the Twins eye a quick return to contention, they'll certainly want to maintain their improvements in the rotation. Gibson's been such a big part of that, and figures to be a key depth piece next year with Lynn, Jake Odorizzi and Ervin Santana all potentially moving on.

    For what it's worth, the Yankees reportedly had scouts on hand to watch Gibson's latest start.

    Projected Return: 1 prospect that ranks in the 6-to-15 range on Twins top prospect list, and maybe another low-level guy

    5. Zach Duke, RP

    He has quietly been everything the Twins could've hoped for, turning in a 2.90 ERA, 2.49 FIP and 9.3 K/9 rate while allowing zero home runs in 38 appearances. His 0.7 WAR leads all Minnesota relievers.

    Yet despite his fine work, Duke hasn't had a huge overall impact, evidenced by -0.40 WPA and only 31 innings pitchers through the team's first 82 games. It's the nature of his role, a limited one by convention, and that will limit his trade value. The Twins won't likely get much more substance in return for Duke than they did for Fernando Abad (remember Pat Light?), so they may be just as well holding on and letting him eat innings the rest of the way.

    Projected Return: One prospect who ranks toward the back of Minnesota's Top 40

    6. Eduardo Escobar, IF

    He is Minnesota's most valuable trade chip among realistic candidates, to be sure. Escobar is having a career year at age 29, hitting .277/.335/.531 with a league-leading 34 doubles through the first half. He's a versatile and solid defender, beloved by all who spend time around him.

    Similar attributes fueled Eduardo Nunez's value two years ago, when the Twins flipped him to San Francisco for Adalberto Mejia, now a long-term rotation candidate. Escobar's a better and more desirable player now than Nunez was then, so it's easy to see the appeal of floating him out there. Any quality prospect is worth more than two months of Esco in a lost season.

    But there's a bit more to the equation than that. Once the season ends, Minnesota will be able to extend Escobar a qualifying offer. If accepted, he'll come back on a one-year deal worth around $18 million. If rejected, the Twins will net a high draft pick when he signs elsewhere.

    That sure seems like a good plan. He probably takes the QO, but that would put the Twins in a good position. A one-year commitment to Escobar carries little risk – they'll be overpaying but shouldn't have any trouble affording it – and might be really handy as the club faces an uncertain outlook in the infield.

    Obviously the conversation changes if the right offer comes along, but I lean toward holding onto Escobar.

    Projected Return: Roughly the same as Gibson's

    7. Jake Odorizzi, SP

    This is really a take-it-or-leave-it situation. Like Gibson, Odorizzi has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, so the Twins will have an option to bring him back on the cheap(ish). But the trajectories of these two careers have moved in opposite directions – Gibson sharply ascending and Odorizzi in stark decline.

    Inefficient, homer-prone and unable to work deep into games (he hasn't recorded an out in the seventh all year), Odorizzi is pitching as poorly as he has at any point in his career. The Twins got him from Tampa in exchange for Jermaine Palacios, who ranked outside their Top 20 prospects when they dealt him, and they'd get less for him now.

    At this point it's a little hard to envision Odorizzi figuring into the team's 2019 plans, but you never know what'll happen, and that optional control is nice to have.

    Projected Return: Roughly the same as Duke's

    8. Everyone Else

    To me, those are the names worth discussing. Other impending free agents either have too little value to merit mentioning (Logan Morrison) or a no-trade clause (Joe Mauer).

    Some might suggest a name like Addison Reed but it's hard to see the wisdom in trading him with his stock at perhaps an all-time low.

    There are, of course, more ambitious and outside-the-box ideas, like selling high on Eddie Rosario, or giving up on Max Kepler, or shipping Ryan Pressly – despite his controllability – to a team that looks at his stuff and whiffs more than his lack of results. But those options don't interest me all that much.

    What interests you in terms of a deadline approach? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

    • Jul 05 2018 11:21 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  13. CHC 11, MIN 10: Epic Comeback Falls Short

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Current record:
    Lance Lynn: 8 Game Score, 1.2 IP, 7 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 53.2% strikes
    Bullpen: 6.1IP, 4 ER, 6 K, 3 BB
    Lineup: 5-for-13 w/RISP, 11 LOB
    Top three per WPA: Garver .100, Cave .090, Dozier .080
    [attachment=11778:game chart.png]
    The Twins got the scoring started in the top of the second inning, as Jake Cave hit a monster blast to center field for a 1-0 lead:

    Cave would finish the game 3-for5 with two RBI, adding an RBI double and a single later in the game.

    In the bottom of the second however, Lance Lynn was chased after giving up two more walks, five hits, and six runs. The biggest of those hits was a three-run home run to opposing starter Jon Lester:

    An inherited runner would be added on to Lynn’s line in the eight-run inning, and his 1 2/3 innings pitched was the first time he hadn’t gone at least five innings in his last eight turns.

    With the scoreboard reading 9-1 after four frames, the Twins did not go away. Mitch Garver added an RBI single to Cave’s RBI double in the fifth. Brian Dozier clubbed his twelfth home run of the season in the top of sixth, a two-run shot to make it 10-5.

    It still wasn’t looking good with two outs in the top of the eighth inning and the score 11-5, but that’s when things got weird in a good way. Eduardo Escobar hit his major league leading 34th double, Dozier drew a walk, and Logan Morrison drove in one to cut the lead to five. Astudillo then drove in two more with a triple, and Mitch Garver made it 11-10 with his third home run on the season before the Cubs summoned closer Brandon Morrow to escape the two-out rally:

    Minnesota got Eddie Rosario into scoring position in the ninth but were unable to bring him in and left Chicago being swept by the Cubs, who outscored them 35-25 in the series. The game marked the first time since 1930 the Cubs have scored ten or more runs in four consecutive games.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11779:bullpen chart.jpg]

    AL Central Standings
    CLE 45-37
    MIN 35-45 (-8.5)
    DET 37-48 (-9)
    CWS 28-54 (-16.5)
    KC 25-57 (-19.5)

    Next Three Games
    Mon @ MIL, 7:10PM CST – RHP Kyle Gibson (2-6, 3.48 ERA)
    Tue @ MIL, 3:10PM CST – RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.62 ERA)
    Wed @ MIL, 3:10PM CST – RHP Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.52 ERA)

    Last Three Games
    CHC 14, MIN 9: It’s Not the Heat, It’s … Actually, It Is the Heat This Time
    CHC 10, MIN 6: Hey, Remember Joe Mauer?
    MIN 2, CWS 1: Walking Away With a Win

    More From Twins Daily
    Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher Of The Month – June 2018
    Twins Minor League Report (6/30): Grand Night for Cedar Rapids
    Revisiting Molitor vs. Lovullo

    • Jul 01 2018 07:47 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  14. CHW 8, MIN 4: South Side Slip

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 45 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 K, 1 BB, 65.6% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
    Lineup: 1-for-1 w/RISP, 2 LOB
    Top three per WPA: Adrianza .230, Dozier .069, Cave .017
    Lynn ended up failing to record an out in the sixth, loading the bases on a bunch of weak contact prior to being lifted for Ryan Pressly, who promptly walked Tim Anderson on five pitches to force home a run.

    Later that inning, Taylor Rogers gave up a two-run single that put Chicago up 5-4. The Twins ended up using four pitchers that inning, as Alan Busenitz came in to record the third out.

    Unfortunately, Busenitz game up a leadoff homer in the seventh and another run came across while he was on the mound in the eighth after a single, a hit by pitch, an error and another single.

    Then Matt Belisle came in and walked in another run. And that was just the pitching!

    Ehire Adrianza had a good night, going 2-for-3 with a homer and Brian Dozier hit his 11th home run of the season, but the offense struggled. The team combined for six hits and a walk. They only had one at bat with a runner in scoring position all night.

    After that nightmare sixth inning that saw the White Sox take the lead, the bats combined to go 0-for-9 with four strikeouts.

    Postgame With Molitor

    AL Central Standings
    CLE 43-35
    MIN 34-41 (-7.5)
    DET 36-44 (-8)
    CHW 27-51 (-16)
    KC 24-55 (-19.5)

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Wed at CHW, 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. James Shields
    Thu at CHW, 1:10 pm CT: TBD vs. Lucas Giolito
    Fri at CHC, 4:05 pm pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    TEX 9, MIN 6: Odorizzi Lays an Egg
    TEX 8, MIN 1: Circling the Drain

    See Also
    Twins Minor League Report (6/26): Thorpe Dominant, Miranda Slams
    What Fernando Rodney Experience?
    The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano

    • Jun 26 2018 11:43 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. Twins Daily Roundtable: Sell, Sell, Sell?

    John Bonnes
    Neither. They ARE neither. Because in order to be a buyer or a seller, there needs to be a marketplace. There isn’t.

    You’re anxious to turn the page on this season. I get it. Believe me, as someone who follows the team obsessively, runs a Twins web site and talks weekly on a Twins podcast, it’s been a frustrating three months. But declaring the season is over provides no practical value. It just makes us feel a little less personally invested in the year.

    Maybe, in three weeks, when the All-Star break is over, a marketplace will exist, and the Twins will need to choose. If their struggles continue, they’ll be sellers. But even then, don’t expect a cornucopia of prospects to be coming their way. They don’t have any of the premier veterans on the market, so they’re likely to get premier prospects in return.

    Until then, like it or not, this year is a competitive window for this franchise. I’d encourage you to personally invest another month in this team. I assure you that the management, the coaches and the players certainly are.

    Seth Stohs
    In my opinion, the Twins need to make all moves that they think will put them into contention by about July 20th. At that point, you evaluate where they are compared to Cleveland.

    If they had to make that decision today, and fortunately they don't, they would be sellers. The odds indicate that they will be sellers at the deadline at which point a lot of guys could be on the market.

    Nick Nelson
    At this rate, they sure look like sellers, although that could potentially change within the next few weeks. The trouble is that the Twins don't have much at this time in terms of appealing assets to move, so it's hard to envision any major haul coming back even if they're willing to unload anyone nonessential to the big picture. Brian Dozier's sluggish first half has torpedoed his trade value. Lance Lynn will have takers but won't net a ton. Fernando Rodney's been great, but non-elite relievers don't bring back top prospects (Matt Capps notwithstanding).

    Eduardo Escobar is perhaps the most intriguing candidate, as an All Star candidate on the last year of his deal, but Minnesota is probably best served holding onto him and extending a qualifying offer after the season.

    Cody Christie
    The AL Central might be the weakest division in baseball so it’s hard to call the Twins out of the race. That being said, Cleveland seems to have started to figure it out after a slow start. Minnesota hasn’t been able run off a long streak of winning baseball. Cleveland should easily win the division but they have flaws and this could make them vulnerable.

    If the front office is making the decision today, the club is sellers and the team has a lot of pieces that could be dealt. With many players on one-year deals, Minnesota could reset the roster and restock the farm system for the next decade.

    There were high hopes at the beginning of the season, so it’s depressing to think the team could be sellers. Flashback to last year, the Twins were in selling mode as the deadline approached. Then the team found a nice groove and ended up in the playoffs.

    Anything is possible but it seems like it’s time to sell.

    Ted Schwerzler
    I don't think it's fair to answer this question with so much time yet before the trade deadline. Realistically Falvey and Levine set the roster up for success this offseason, and it has underperformed as a whole. With the games remaining prior to the deadline, the Twins need to show some consistent life.

    The Indians have real warts, and I don't believe they're going to run away with anything. Given the amount of one year deals, the Twins are well positioned to act either way. They can let their play in the weeks ahead dictate how they should attack the deadline.

    Tom Froemming
    Right now, you'd have to say sellers. The depressing part is most of their obvious pieces to move are having down years.

    You can't expect guys like Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn or Zach Duke to fetch much of a return right now. The same can be said for Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney, who both have a team option for 2019.

    Who does that leave?

    Taking emotion out of it, Eduardo Escobar could be a great sell high option, but in my heart I want the team to extend him with a 15-year deal. OK, that's an exaggeration, but from a fan's perspective I'd be really bummed if they sent him packing.

    With those being the options, I'm not expecting the front office to make a move one way or another until the week of the trade deadline.

    Jeremy Nygaard
    I can't imagine the Twins buying at the deadline. What would be the point?

    If they decide not to sell, they should stand pat... but not buy.

    They should sell. Anyone scheduled to be a free agent should be on the block. Brian Dozier is playing his way out of getting a qualifying offer, so prospect would be better than nothing. Lance Lynn, in my opinion, has to be traded, especially if he continues to work back to his old self. Team needs a lefty reliever? Zach Duke has to be available. I would pay - not personally, but as the Twins - the rest of Joe Mauer's salary to give him a chance to win a title this year (and in return for that money, ask for a decent prospect).

    And moving any of those guys only give opportunities to other prospects. Moving Dozier allows at-bats for Nick Gordon. Trading Lynn opens a rotation spot for either of Mejia or Gonsalves. Exit Duke, enter Moya. Or Jay. Mauer's at-bats could be absorbed by many players.

    I'd also look at moving Morrison, Rodney and potentially Santana. In addition to those three with options, the team has only three other players (Castro, Reed, Pineda) under contract for next year. Moving guys now would be more of a reload and less of a rebuild; the nucleus of the team would remain under control.

    Steve Lein
    The Cleveland Indians are finally starting to pull away in the division, a wild card is even further off, and the Twins haven’t sniffed a .500 record in over a month. Unless a drastic turnaround happens, like immediately, they should be sellers.

    Unfortunately, the reason they’re in this position now is a direct result of the performances from some of those whom they should sell. Lance Lynn has rebounded nicely and could fetch something decent for a rental but the other guys with only one year on their deals, like Brian Dozier and Logan Morrison, have fallen flat and Ervin Santana has yet to throw a pitch this season. Fernando Rodney might net enough where selling him makes sense too.

    If you’re hoping to get anything beyond a B-level prospect though, that’s going to mean selling someone like Eddie Rosario or Eduardo Escobar as part of something bigger. But they’re really the only position players who have earned their money this season and are the types I’d want to keep around.
    So, while I think they should sell all those rental type pieces to clear the roster space if anything, I’m not holding my breath on any stellar returns.

    If you missed any of the previous roundtable discussions, here are the links:
    Fixing the Offense
    Romero’s Rotation Spot
    Top Prospect Timelines
    Minnesota’s All-Star Selection
    Extension Candidates

    • Jun 27 2018 06:26 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  16. Lance Lynn Was Worth The Wait

    Lynn eventually ended up signing with the Minnesota Twins in the middle of March for a 1-year deal that will be worth between $3.4 million and $5.4 million less than the qualifying offer he rejected four months earlier.

    When Lynn first signed this deal, some wondered if his missing a month of spring training would affect his performance early in the season. At first, I didn’t buy much into this theory, but when you look at the numbers you can’t help but feel that there was something to that.

    During the month of April, Lynn was a mess, pitching to the tune of an 8.37 ERA with a 6.56 FIP and a walk rate of 8.75 BB/9 over 23 2/3 innings. However, since turning the calendar to May, Lynn has been a whole new pitcher with a 3.20 ERA, a 3.07 FIP and a walk rate down to a more respectable 3.60 BB/9 over 45 innings.

    So, what has caused this sudden turnaround from Lance Lynn? Well, as I already pointed out, Lynn has had a sharp decline in his walk rate. Over his five starts in April, Lynn walked a combined 23 batters, but in his eight starts since Lynn has walked just 18.

    There have been two big factors in Lynn’s decreased walk rate. This first has been by simply throwing more pitches in the strike zone. During his five April starts, Lynn had thrown just 32.9 percent of his pitches in the zone. However, since then his rate has increased to 37.8 percent. Lynn still has some work to do to get closer to the roughly 43 percent league average, but it’s a definite step in the right direction.

    The other thing that is helping Lynn lower his walk rate is opposing batters are swinging at a higher percentage of his pitches outside of the strike zone, as Lynn has seen his chase rate increase from 28.5 percent to 31.3 percent.

    In addition to finding better control with his pitches, Lynn has seen his fastball velocity tick up as the season has progressed. Here is a look at both Lynn’s four-seam fastball and sinker average velocity on a per start basis.



    In addition to Lance Lynn increasing his fastball velocity, he has also seen his changeup velocity drop which has helped him create a bigger gap between the two pitches.


    So, what are some of the benefits that Lance Lynn is getting from his improved control and increased fastball velocity? Perhaps the biggest improvement has been in Lynn’s home run rate. Back in April, Lynn had given up a home run 27.8 percent of the time he gave up a fly ball, which resulted in five home runs in just five starts. However, since then, Lynn has given up just two home runs after decreasing his home run to fly ball rate down to 5.6 percent. As the season continues I would expect that number to settle in somewhere slightly above his career 9.3 percent rate given the current home run environment.

    Another significant improvement in Lynn’s game has been his stranded runners rate. After allowing 35 percent of runners that reached base to score during April, Lynn has cut that down to just 22 percent of base runners during May and June. For his career Lynn has allowed 24 percent of base runners to eventually score, so it appears that Lynn has returned to form in that regard.

    Part of the concern around Lance Lynn when the Twins first signed him was his .244 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) last season, which was the lowest mark of any qualified pitcher in Major League Baseball. This mark was much lower than the .299 career average that Lance Lynn had allowed, and lead some to believe that he would show some regression this year as that number came back to Earth.

    Well, not only did that number come back to Earth, but it blew way past it and swelled all the way up to .349 during the month of April. This was the 14th highest mark among the 134 pitchers who threw at least 20 innings by the end of April. Since then, Lynn has seen his BABIP reverse course back to Earth and dropped to .323 during May and June. Not only is this a step in the right direction, but it would suggest that Lynn still has a little more room for improvement as that number continues to move back towards his career average.

    Entering the season, the Twins had high hopes that Lance Lynn would help lead their starting rotation, especially with the loss of Ervin Santana, and so far this year it appears as Lynn goes so does the Twins pitching staff. Through the first month of the season, the Twins ranked 28th in Major League Baseball with a 5.29 ERA. However, since the beginning on May, the Twins pitching staff has improved to 9th place with a 3.49 ERA.

    • Jun 19 2018 06:22 PM
    • by Andrew Thares
  17. MIN 7, CLE 1: Twins Battle Their Way to Another Victory

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Current record: 24-30
    Lance Lynn: 64 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 5 BB, 57.5% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 5-for-13 w/RISP, 5 LOB
    Top three per WPA: Lynn .240, Rosario .175, Dozier .136
    Lynn only gave up one run on two hits, but he was working through trouble all game long. He walked five batters and hit another, but every time he was in a jam, Lynn prevailed.

    That’s three quality starts in a row for Lynn. He’s only given up three runs over his last 18 2/3 innings pitched, lowering his ERA from 7.47 to 5.46 over that stretch. It’s not always pretty, even when he’s on, but Lynn is a battler.

    The Twins offense also battled today. Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer entered the game with a 2.61 ERA on the year, and he had some good stuff working. Bauer struck out 11 batters over 5 2/3 innings. The Twins still managed to score seven runs off him (though only three were earned runs).

    Along with his impressive home run, Rosario also drew a pair of walks. Brian Dozier was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBIs. Logan Morrison also had a multi-hit game. Trevor Hildenberger, Ryen Pressly and Tyler Duffey each pitched a shutout inning out of the bullpen.

    Here are the highlights:

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:[attachment=11654:Bullpen62.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 30-27
    DET 28-30 (-2.5)
    MIN 24-30 (-4.5)
    KC 21-37 (-9.5)
    CHW 17-38 (-12)

    Next Three Games
    Sun vs. CLE, 1:10 pm CT
    Mon OFF
    Tue vs. CHW, 3:10 pm CT (DH)

    Last Three Games
    MIN 7, CLE 4: Escobar é o Fogo
    CLE 9, MIN 8: Twins Fight Back, Fall Short
    KC 11, MIN 8: We Can’t Have Nice Things

    More From Twins Daily
    2018 MLB Draft: Minnesota Connections
    Joe Mauer's Concussion Symptoms Return
    A Solution for the Twins Outfield

    • Jun 02 2018 08:48 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  18. MIN 8, KC 5: Bats Break Out

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Current record: 22-27
    Lance Lynn: 57 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB, 58.2% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 5-for-11 w/RISP, 10 LOB
    Top 3 Twins WPA: Dozier .162 Rosario .156, Sano .130
    Sano was back at third base and broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning by slugging a two-run homer, his first since April 25. Brian Dozier was 3-for-5 and drove in the go-ahead run. But, as has been the case for the bulk of the season, it was Eddie Rosario who delivered the big hit -- a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning.

    Lynn was constantly pitching with runners on, but the only damage he gave up was a two-run double to Mike Moustakas. Lynn closes out May with a 3.76 ERA and the Twins went 4-1 in his starts.

    The Twins took advantage of a few moments of hesitation from the Kansas City defense.

    Max Kepler hit what typically would have been a double into the right field corner. Jorge Soler didn’t look particularly concerned about getting the ball back in, so Kepler stretched it into a triple. He also had a double tonight.

    That massive Rosario bases-clearing double probably would have usually been a two-run single, but both Rosie and Dozier, who was on first base, just kept running. The Royals weren’t exactly quick to get that ball back into the infield, and when it finally did go into second base, they were more focused on keeping the tag on Rosario than keeping an eye on Dozier.

    It would be interesting if we had baserunning probability metrics. I’d bet under normal circumstances, there’s less than a 15 percent chance that’s a double and close to zero chance anyone would score from first on that play. Poor execution by Kansas City, but you gotta love Rosario and Dozier taking advantage. Rosario also stole third base later that inning.

    The bullpen did its best to make things interesting. Zach Duke committed a throwing error while fielding a bunt, allowing a run to score. Fernando Rodney entered this game with two outs in the eighth inning and allowed another one of Duke’s runners to come around, making it a 6-4 ballgame. It was a good thing the Twins were able to tack on a couple more runs in the top of the ninth, because Rodney gave up another run on a homer in the ninth.

    Lynn was credited with his third win and Rodney got his 11th save. Robbie Grossman had two hits and a walk, Mitch Garver was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs and Logan Morrison drew a pair of walks.

    Byron Buxton was 1-for-5, but the most encouraging plate appearance of his night may have been the one in which he struckout. Buxton fell behind 0-2, but managed to work an 11-pitch at-bat before going down swinging.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:[attachment=11595:Bullpen528.png]

    Next Three Games
    Tue at KC, 7:15 pm CT
    Wed at KC, 7:15 pm CT
    Thu vs. CLE, 7:10 pm CT

    Last Three Games
    SEA 3, MIN 1: Worst Birthday Ever
    SEA 4, MIN 3: Zuni-Not Again
    SEA 2, MIN 1: Paxton Outduels Romero

    More From Twins Daily
    Twins Minor League Report (5/28): Memorial Day Memories Made?
    Week in Review: Wasted Starts
    Overshadowed Twins Pitching Staff is Roundly Excelling

    • May 29 2018 04:31 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  19. MIN 6, DET 0: Lynn Shows Will to Win

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lynn left the mound shaking his head and screaming into his mitt. With two outs in the seventh inning, he hit a batter on a first-pitch curveball. With Lynn approaching 100 pitches, Garvin Alston went out to the mound for a brief visit.

    I’m guessing the conversation went something along the lines of “this is your last guy, so give him everything you’ve got left.” Lynn walked the next batter on four pitches for his only free pass issued of the night.

    It was a pretty intense show of emotion that followed, the kind you rarely see in a regular season baseball game. I loved it. Lynn has obviously had his struggles, but this Twins team just seems to be lacking an edge thus far in 2018. Injuries have taken a massive toll, but I also think the club has been a bit flat.

    Ryan Pressly came in and got the final out of the seventh, finalizing Lynn’s line at 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball with five hits and four strikeouts. His display of emotion seemed like it may have also helped awaken the offense.

    Already up 3-0, the Twins’ bats put together a great bottom half of the seventh, tacking on three more runs.

    Along with Lynn’s performance, another great sign of things to come (hopefully) was a great game from Brian Dozier. He drove in a pair of runs on a two-out double in the fifth inning and added an RBI double in the seventh. Ehrie Adrianza was 2-for-2 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs. Zach Duke and Matt Magill each pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.

    The Twins had opportunities to score even more runs, but they had two runners thrown out at the plate. Adrianza was caught trying to score on a wild pitch in the third inning and the Tigers got Logan Morrison on his way home on grounder hit to the third baseman.

    Postgame With Lynn

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:[attachment=11558:Bullpen522.png]

    Next Three Games
    Wed vs. DET, 12:10 pm CT
    Thu OFF
    Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT
    Sat at SEA, 9:10 pm CT

    Last Three Games
    MIN 4, DET 2: It’s All Coming Up Rosie
    MIN 3, MIL 1: Odorizzi Ks 10, LoMo Delivers Go-Ahead Hit
    MIL 5, MIN 4: Jake Cave Homers in MLB Debut

    More From Twins Daily
    Twins Minor League Report (5/22): Gordon Promoted, Diaz Walks It Off
    2018 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects: 21-30
    End of the Road for Phil Hughes and the Twins

    • May 23 2018 04:28 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. May Day is Coming for the Twins

    At this point, May has made two rehab starts in the Twins organization. His first came for Fort Myers and he went 3.0 IP allowing no runs on one hit, three walks and five strikeouts. He then made the jump up to Triple-A Rochester and tossed 4.0 IP allowing one run on three hits while walking two and striking out five. The strikeouts are an encouraging tally, while the walks highlight some lack of control as he settles back onto the mound.

    Regardless of the numerical results, what we do know is that May has made two starts in which he’s thrown 58 and 60 pitches respectively. He’s being stretched out to start, but the lack of growth between outings suggests that Minnesota is OK with drawing out the process some. Currently on the 60 day DL, May is first eligible for activation on May 28.

    Rochester is currently scheduled to play 11 games from now until May 28. With that schedule in mind, the Twins hurler should get two more turns in the rotation prior to his opportunity to be activated. I find it somewhat interesting that the pitch count wasn’t increased a bit further in his start for Rochester, but that number will be one worth monitoring in his next couple of outings.

    Going forward, there’s a collision course with a decision that Minnesota will need to make. Once May is eligible to be activated, where does he go?

    My first thought, and I think the one that suits him best, is to immediately take over for Phil Hughes in the bullpen. Hughes is holding down a spot that’s been virtually used to waive the white flag in games, and has all but reduced the Twins usable relievers by one. Allowing May to go multiple innings keeps him primed for a spot start if necessary, and he provides a significant upgrade to a bullpen that could use some added length.

    Used exclusively as a reliever for the Twins in 2016, May posted a career best 95 mph average velocity on his fastball. That’s over a full mph faster than he was able to register as a starter. The 8.7 K/9 average over his first two seasons also took a big jump to 12.7 as a reliever in 2016. Command and control have both evaded May at times, and his 3.6 BB/9 during his last full season with the Twins would be less than ideal out of the rotation.

    Over the course of his career thus far, we haven’t seen anything that screams May needs to be written into the rotation with a pen. The stuff is good, but it’s also been underwhelming at times. That being said, he has also been victimized as a product of his environment. Despite a career 5.14 ERA, he’s posted a 3.71 FIP across 203.0 IP. May generates ground balls just over one-third of the time, and he gives up hard contact less than that amount. Either way, it’s a formula that should work just fine in front of a much improved Twins defense.

    Sometime in July, the Twins will be tasked with adding Ervin Santana back into the fold as well. It’s at that point that I think juggling the rotation makes more sense. While Lance Lynn has been nothing short of a train wreck, it’s pretty difficult to cast aside a career 3.53 ERA and 8.5 K/9 because of eight starts in a new uniform. Minnesota is going to pull out all of the stops to get that figured out, but putting May in that spot doesn’t jump off the page as being the right answer.

    I don’t have a problem with Minnesota keeping Trevor May on a starting track through his recovery. Yes, it likely increases the time frame, but it also gives both the pitcher and the ball club options going forward. Without any certainties as to what type of pitcher he’s going to be in the short term (and really still feeling out his long term abilities), allowing Trevor to fire bullets in brief bursts seems like a smart decision.

    At the end of the day, the Twins pitching depth will grow even a bit more in the coming weeks, and that’s something that all involved have to be excited about. Trevor May is going to be welcomed back with open arms; it just shouldn’t be assumed that his place will be in the rotation.

    • May 18 2018 04:20 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  21. STL 7, MIN 5: Lynn with a Dud Again

    Snapshot Info
    Record: 18-21
    Lynn: Game Score 38, 56.1 Strike%, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
    Bullpen: 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 IR, 1 IS, 5 K, 2 BB
    Hitters: 3-for-8 w/RISP, 7 LOB, 6 K, 5 BB
    Top 3 per WPA: Morrison .230, Rosario .173, Grossman .078

    Win Expectancy Chart (via FanGraphs)
    Lynn only lasted three innings and it took him 82 pitches just to get that far. He walked another four batters. His ERA on the year ticked up to 7.47. Ick.

    The bullpen also ran into some trouble. Taylor Rogers gave up a run while recording five outs, Ryan Pressly was charged with two earned runs in his inning of work, though one of those scored while Zach Duke was on the bump, and Phil Hughes gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. The only members of the bullpen who didn’t appear in this one were Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Rodney. Good thing the Twins are off tomorrow.

    Despite the shaky performance from the pitching staff, the Twins still had the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth inning. Logan Morrison was 2-for-3 with a walk and a home run, which was the only extra-base hit for the Twins today. Eddie Rosario was 3-for-4 with a walk and Joe Mauer picked up a pair of hits.

    There was a lot of traffic on the bases in this one. The teams combined for 23 hits, 11 walks and left a total of 17 runners on base.

    Next Three Games
    Thu OFF
    Fri vs. MIL, 7:10 pm CT
    Sat vs. MIL, 6:10 pm CT
    Sun vs. MIL, 1:10 pm CT

    Last Three Games
    MIN 4, STL 1: Berrios is Back
    SEA 1, MIN 0: Twins Get LeBlanc’ed
    LAA 2, MIN 1: Ohtani Excellent as Angels Walk Off Twins

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    • May 16 2018 07:06 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  22. The K Brigade: Twins Pitchers on a Strikeout Binge

    With 31 games in the books, Twins pitchers are averaging 9.4 K/9 and striking out 23.5% of batters faced. Such numbers are unheard of around these parts.

    Now, first, a little context: as you're probably aware, swings and misses are off the charts throughout baseball. April marked the first month in MLB history with more strikeouts than hits. In 2006, the last time Minnesota boasted a true power pitching staff, the team's 7.3 K/9 rate and 19.2 K% both ranked second in the majors. Currently those marks would both be in the bottom five.

    Even when you account for the seismic shift taking place across the game, though, the Twins' relative standing has improved to a ridiculous degree. Compare their present rankings in K/9, K% and swinging strike rate to the past three seasons:


    What's driving this spike in strikeouts? Well, in part, it is by the design of Minnesota's new front office. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made power arms a clear emphasis when reshaping the bullpen this offseason; Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke are all unsurprisingly averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Each have been among Paul Molitor's most oft-used options, as has Ryan Pressly who is blowing people away. That helps.

    But the real story here is in the rotation, suddenly brimming with strikeout artists.

    How'd we get here? Through a combination of several factors.

    In some ways, this is just a reflection of the state of the game. Lance Lynn is the most conspicuous example. Despite his overall struggles, the veteran has been generating plenty of whiffs with an 11.4% swinging strike rate that would've led all Twins starters in any of the past five years. Lynn has never posted a whiff rate of even 10% in the past.

    Meanwhile, Jake Odorizzi has been doing his normal thing, with a 21.9% K-rate and 10.9% swinging strikes — both very much in line with his career baselines but well above the local norm. So here too, additions from the front office have played role.

    But there's also this: Kyle Gibson has harnessed the improvements he made in the latter half of 2017 and is now a bat-missing machine. Jose Berrios continues to take steps forward in his development. And of course, Fernando Romero has now arrived with some of the best stuff we've seen from any Twins pitcher in years.

    Add it all up, and you've got a staff that can actually strike fear into opposing lineups, retiring hitters without constantly relying on the defense to make plays (a luxury that will prove critical if Byron Buxton misses much more time this summer).

    For those of us who've been watching Twins players consistently induce contact over the past decade-plus, it's a jarring change, but a very welcome one.

    • May 08 2018 04:29 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  23. MIN 8, CHW 4: Rosario Drives in Five

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    The Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but Lynn did his best to make things interesting in the bottom of the inning. The White Sox scored a run on four hits, but with the bases loaded, Daniel Palka grounded into a double play.

    That was a huge turning point for Lynn in this game, and hopefully ends up representing the turning point in his season.

    Over the next five innings, Lynn only gave up four hits and one more run. The biggest plus sign was his control. After issuing 23 free passes in his first 23 2/3 innings, Lynn didn’t walk a single batter. He threw 71 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

    The Twins offense kept pouring it on, adding three runs in the third and two more in the fourth. Rosario was a beast. He ended the night 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs. The Twins had really been struggling to pick up hits with men on base, but Rosie did it three times Saturday night.

    Joe Mauer, who hit leadoff again, also had a nice night, going 2-for-3 with a couple of walks. Max Kepler drew three walks in the contest and Eduardo Escobar broke the ice in the first inning with a big RBI double.

    The Twins were leading 8-2 when Lynn exited, allowing Matt Magill and Phil Hughes to get in some low-leverage work. Magill gave up a run in his two innings, but also struck out three batters. Hughes gave up a solo home run in his inning of work.

    Postgame With Rosario

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Sun at CHW, 1:10 pm CT
    Mon at STL, 7:10 pm CT
    Tue at STL, 12:15 pm CT

    Last Three Games
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    CHW 6, MIN 5: Twins Blow 5-1 Lead
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    • May 05 2018 09:16 PM
    • by Tom Froemming