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  1. Twins 5, Tigers 1: Dobnak Dazzles, Gonzalez Debuts and More

    There is a competition for the Twins fifth starter job, and on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium, Randy Dobnak made another strong case for himself. The right-hander worked the first three innings and needed just 31 pitches. He gave up one hit - an infield single down the third base line. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out two batters.

    In spring, it’s about getting guys their work. Tyler Clippard came in for the fourth inning, and Randy Dobnak went down to the bullpen.

    “I threw 25 pitches in the bullpen.” Dobnak continued, “I don't know what the goal was, but I think it was like 55-60, plus all the warmups.”

    Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Dobnak pitched great. “he threw the ball very well. I think that he was doing everything he wanted to do out there. He spun the ball well. He got some swings and misses. He found himself in a very good place. So good, in fact, that he found himself throwing some extra pitches in the bullpen. But we're going to take that.”

    One inquisitive writer asked the manager after the game if it was almost tougher to evaluate Dobnak’s performance because it was so efficient.

    Baldelli noted, “I think there are times in spring training that you do almost hope that your pitchers get stressed. You want them to go out there and throw more pitches than they planned on, more pitches per inning than they planned on. You want there to be some runners on base. You want them to go back up a few bases. These things are going to happen during the season. Just to prepare them, I think it does help. You can never complain about an outing like that. He threw the ball very well. ”

    For Dobnak’s part, he’s not worrying about being too good this spring or too efficient.

    He said, “Still trying to work on some pitches here and there, but i'm still competing for a spot.”

    Dobnak is still working on things: “Today I was trying to get more depth on my slider. I've been working on that lately.” He added,“The changeup’s been working pretty well for me. Threw a few today that were pretty nice. I'm pleased with that. Next step will be the slider. Then I'll work on the sinker.”

    He was also excited to find himself with a defense filled with regulars.

    “Yeah. They're good. I get a lot of ground balls, so having the infield out there is nice to have. Marwin made a nice play in the first inning. Donaldson made a nice play. Polanco made a nice play. So, it's nice to have them out there.”

    In the first inning, Marwin Gonzalez made a diving play. In the second inning, Jorge Polanco made a nice play on a slow roller in the hole to his right. The next batter hit a ball to Josh Donaldson’s left. Donaldson made a tough play look easy.

    Dobnak finds himself in competition with veteran Jhoulys Chacin and fellow 2019 debuters Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe.

    Camp is nearly half over, how do you think the fifth starting job is shaping up?

    Marwin Gonzalez Debuts

    There were no boos (at least none that were noticeable) when Marwin Gonzalez’s name was announced in the starting lineup or when he came to the plate for his two at-bats.

    The versatile, everyday player made his first appearance this spring. He had knee surgery in October and did very little for about two months. He began with light workouts in December.

    He has been working hard since to get ready for play. He got tested right away and succeeded with the diving play at second base. His bat sure looked ready to roll.

    He said after his day was complete, “"Happy to be back on the field. I was kind of nervous about my knee, but it felt good."”

    Gonzalez hit a two-run double down the right field line in his first at-bat. Gonzalez said, "I was aggressive, man. I swung at four out of four pitches in that first at-bat."

    His second at-bat ended with a long home run to right-center field. “That was good. That wasn't the plan, but that was good.”

    Baldelli said, “Marwin put some excellent swings on the ball. I think his blood got flowing right away in the game having to make that play right off the bat and coming off of surgery and an offseason of hard work and rehabbing himself, that definitely gives you a lot of confidence”

    Sano Update

    Miguel Sano made a couple of nice plays at first base on Tuesday afternoon. But we’re here for the Bombas, right? Sano hit a line drive single to left field in his first at-bat and showed some speed in scoring from first base easily on Gonzalez’s double. In his seventh-inning at bat against Tigers RHP prospect Kyle Funkhouse, Sano connected for a long home run to right-center.

    Colina Impressive

    Edwar Colina threw a scoreless ninth inning. He was hitting 99 with regularity and the scoreboard did show 100 mph on one pitch. He also showed a good, sharp slider at 85-87. The final batter hit a line drive back at him that hit him in the foot and bounced toward first base. He collected himself, ran to first and the final out was recorded.

    Following the game, he said he was just fine.

    Nick Gordon Update

    The Twins have a complete day off on Wednesday. Baldelli said a couple of players will just play some catch, but the team will not be working out at all. Nick Gordon is expected to play when the Twins return to action on Thursday. Baldelli noted, “He's cleared. He's ready to go.”

    Any questions, feel free to ask.

    • Mar 03 2020 05:30 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Cut to the Chase: Can Twins Hitters Avoid Balls Out of the Zone?

    Players are going to continue to chase a higher number of pitches especially with launch angle and exit velocity becoming more prevalent in the baseball vernacular. Last season, the MLB average was 28.8% for chase percentage with a 57.6% chase contact percentage. Compared to previous seasons, chase percentage has gone up each year from 27.3% in 2017 to 27.6% in 2018.

    Not all Twins hitters need to improve their chase rate. Mitch Garver was much better than the league average with a 17.4 chase % and it was no surprise for Luis Arraez to be better than league average (24.3 chase %). Other Twins better than league average included Miguel Sano (26.2%), Jorge Polanco (26.6%), Nelson Cruz (27.2%), and Max Kepler (27.6%). These players could certainly make improvements this year, but they were already better than or close to league average.

    Sano might be a surprising name to be included in the list above, because of his offensive profile. He is a larger player that is considered a power hitter and this player type typically has big swings that can result in a lot of strikeouts. Sano’s chase % was less than two points lower than Arraez, who became well known for his eye at the plate during his rookie season. Sano was even a full point better than Cruz, his hitting mentor, in relation to chase %.

    Newly signed Josh Donaldson has fared well with chase percentage even though, like Sano, he fits the profile of a power hitter. For his career, he has a 22.6 chase % while last season he was slightly higher at 23.1%. Last season, he also made more contact outside of the zone (60.0 chase contact %), a career high. His veteran approach at the plate could help other players especially some of the younger players in the organization.

    Eddie Rosario is an interesting case when it comes to chase percentage. He led all Twins players with a 43.1 chase % and it placed him fifth in all of baseball. What makes him interesting is the amount of contact he makes outside of the zone (over 70% of the time) and that puts him in baseball’s top 20. It’s hard to imagine Rosario changing his offensive approach at this point in his career, but it would be nice if he could get his chase % below 40%.

    Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez had similar profiles when it came to chase % with Buxton’s chase percentage (33.9 %) only 0.4% higher than Gonzalez. Prior to the 2019 season, Buxton’s career chase % was under 32% and it seems like he could get back to that mark if he is healthy. Gonzalez had his career best chase % with the 2017 Astros and most fans are familiar with the cheating scandal surrounding that club. His chase % last season might have been the best of his career when excluding the 2017-18 seasons.

    Baseball is continuing to evolve, but some small changes for Twins batters could help the club reach their ultimate goal. Which Twins batters can make the biggest changes with chase % in 2020? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 24 2020 10:23 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  3. Marwin Gonzalez Addresses Media, Expresses Regret

    Gonzalez obviously wanted to make it clear that he most regretted how it impacted the fraternity of fellow ballplayers, some of who are on his team this year. Twins reliever Rich Hill was on the Los Angeles Dodgers team that the Astros beat in the World Series. Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios was hit hard by the Astros in 2017 in his road start against them. Gonzalez plans to talk to them specifically.
    “I just got here yesterday,” said Gonzalez.

    “Obviously, we're teammates now and we're going to have a great relationship as I spend more time with these guys as a young family. Hopefully it's eight months, including spring training. That means that we're going to fight in the playoffs and try to bring a championship back to this city. That's plenty of time to talk. I'm sure we're going to have a great relationship.”

    The 2017 Astros won the World Series and Marwin Gonzalez had a career year, posting career-high numbers. It was later revealed that the Astros used electronic means to steal signals and then signal batters by banging a trash can in the dugout. Gonzalez was the recipient of more “bangs” than any other Astro, and his chase percentage on offspeed pitches point to him gaining a significant advantage that year.

    Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, signed a two-year, $21 million contract with the Twins in late February 2019. The multi-positional every day player will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.

    MLB decided that the players involved in the cheating scandal would not be fined or suspended. In recent weeks, we have heard from former Astros players such as Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton. Morton talked at Rays camp on Monday and said, “Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed.”

    Penalties and suspensions have been levied against Astros' management and their general manager and manager were both fired. They were also fined the maximum amount allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and lost four draft picks, their first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021.

    This was Gonzalez's first time talking publicly about the revelations. He was not at Twins Fest last month as he continued to rehab from offseason knee surgery. After his media scrum, he communicated through the Twins that it would be the last time he addressed the topic this season.

    • Feb 11 2020 10:12 PM
    • by John Bonnes
  4. Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins, and How the Astros Cheated Minnesota

    Back in early January Nick Nelson wrote about how the Twins may have been impacted by cheaters. We know that Houston and Boston were involved, but we aren’t sure how far that reach expanded. Thanks to Tony, who Marc Carig did a great job speaking with over at The Athletic, we now can see a pretty direct picture of the tainted Twins happenings.

    Here’s the thing, it actually appears like the Astros started off the year relatively clean. Maybe they were feeling out their new system, or maybe it was around the time that A.J. Hinch went on his smashing spree. Nonetheless, it was in July that Minnesota traveled to Minute Maid Park, and it was game one that produced the second most egregious results of the regular season.

    During the three-game series in Texas, Twins pitchers threw 472 pitches. Of those, there were trash can bangs on 112 pitches, a whopping 24%. In game one, 48 of a total 179 (27%) pitches were tipped off. 84 total pitches thrown that day were not fastballs. That means Houston hitters knew, at a 57% clip, when they’d see a breaking pitch during that specific game.

    Not surprisingly, the results suggested this was the case as well. Houston scored 10 runs that day, hanging seven on starter Jose Berrios. Phil Hughes came on to get the final out in the second inning but was tagged for three runs on five hits while allowing two dingers on his own. The Astros grabbed 10 runs before Minnesota was able to record nine outs. Good day at the office to be sure, but certainly not as impressive when it’s coming in on a tee. The Twins fared better in game two and three, splitting the affairs, but 64 more Rubbermaid bangs were used over the course of that action.

    Hughes had opined when the original story broke that this was a game he thought back to. Knowing it was the one time he pitched against the Astros on the road, and proceeded to get lit up, it isn’t a surprise it would stick in his memory. His tweets today immediately pointed to that performance and give significant credibility to the advantages Houston had.

    More bad news is that it wasn’t just the 2017 Twins who felt the impact of these exploits. Matthew Trueblood recently wrote how Marwin Gonzalez likely benefitted from Houston’s scheme. He posted a career best OPS, and despite favorable numbers on the road, Nick Nelson pointed out a wOBA that jumped off the page in the friendly confines of Fresh Squeezed Park.

    What’s more, the analysis provided by Mr. Adams shows that Marwin didn’t only participate, but he may have been a ringleader. No Astros player was given more hints as to what was coming than Gonzalez received. If he knew breaking pitches were coming that often, it’s pretty apparent why he would have posted career bests across the board.

    There’s a ton to unpack here and heading over to signstealingscandal.com will allow you to dig to your hearts' content. It’s interesting that Jose Altuve was the batter at the plate the least when the garbage can rang out, but if he was wearing an electronic device as suggested then there’s probably less of a need to be involved. Former, and very short-term, New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran appears near the top of the leaderboard which isn’t a surprise given his named involvement.

    At the end of the day, this whole orchestration will go down as one of baseball’s greatest transgressions. A wild card-reaching Twins team was definitely exploited on the arms of Berrios and Hughes, and a current utility man will likely have question marks follow his production wherever he goes. This doesn’t change punishments or make any new ones more likely, but it definitely points to the negative impact on the Twins as being more drastic than on most other teams

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    • Jan 30 2020 06:47 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  5. Can the Twins Become the New Astros? Part 3

    Click here for Part 1 of this series.
    Click here for Part 2 of this series.

    The Veteran Leader

    Much has rightly been made about Nelson Cruz’s veteran leadership on a fairly young Twins team. At times, immeasurable variables like “team chemistry” and “veteran leadership” are probably over-valued, but in the case of Nelson Cruz, there is little doubt inside or outside of the clubhouse as to how valuable Cruz has been to this team. Cruz has been heralded for his work ethic, preparing himself not only physically, but also mentally for the challenges of playing at a high level as a 39-year-old. Whether in the weight room, the batting cage, or studying video, Cruz always seems to be applying himself to his craft and his younger teammates cannot help but notice.

    One of the beneficiaries has been Miguel Sano. Twins fans have long dreamed of what Miguel Sano could become, but after a sensational rookie season in 2015, Sano never quite returned to form. 2018 was a disaster filled with injury and off-the-field distractions, but 2019 has been a revelation for Sano. Sano worked hard to get in shape in the offseason and also claimed that he suggested the Twins sign Cruz in the offseason in an interview with FSN’s Justin Morneau. Sano has seemed to work harder than ever to improve his game as can be seen by his willingness to change his swing in-season and the results that have followed (.271/.376/.618 from June 28th to the end of the regular season). There is little doubt that Nelson Cruz has played a large role in Sano’s success.

    The Houston Astros had a similar veteran addition to their 2017 championship team in Carols Beltran. Beltran was a 19-year MLB veteran who wanted a last chance to win a World Series and Houston was looking to add a veteran to supplement its young core and improve team chemistry. Like Cruz, Beltran loved studying video and was instrumental in breaking down pitchers and passing the information on to his teammates. In Astroball, Correa talked about how much Beltran taught him in regard to viewing video and identifying when pitchers were tipping their pitches. Beltran also helped to identify when hitters like George Springer were developing bad habits at the plate, and Beltran made it clear to his teammates that he was there to help early on:

    “My friend, I am here to help you. Even if it looks like I’m busy, you won’t bother me. If you sit down next to me and ask me a question, I would be more than happy to give you the time that you need.”

    Having veterans like Cruz and Beltran on your team is akin to having another coach on the bench who younger players not only trust but can emulate. Cruz has also provided in one area that Beltran didn’t – Cruz has put up really big numbers while Beltran struggled in his final season. Beltran hit just .231/.283/.383 as a 40-year-old for Houston, whereas Cruz has been one of the MLB’s best hitters at age 39, slashing .311/.392/.639 with 41 home runs. Regardless of the results, Cruz’s leadership would have been valuable to the team, but when combined with his elite production he may well be the team’s MVP.

    Free Agency and Starting Pitching

    In their first two years in Minnesota, Falvey and Levine had a bit of a mixed record in free agency. Catcher Jason Castro turned out to be a pretty good three-year signing, but last year’s last-minute bargains, Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison were pretty much a disaster as they seemed unhappy to be in Minnesota playing for less money and years than they had hoped for. Pitcher Michael Pineda was also signed before last season but was really signed for the 2019 season as he sat out 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

    The FO seemed to learn their lesson and have had much greater success with this year’s signings, which include the previously mentioned Cruz and utility man Marwin Gonzalez, who came over from the Astros organization. Both have played well and have brought a winning attitude to Minnesota. Minnesota was also able to add second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the team. He has had an up-and-down year but has provided some pop, is well-liked by his teammates, and could have been essential to the team’s postseason roster, depending on rookie Luiz Arraez’s availability due to an ankle injury.

    If the Twins do hope to emulate Houston, upgrading the rotation would be the next step in the process. The Astros feature three of the best starters in baseball in the aforementioned Verlander, Cole, and Greinke. None of the three came from within the organization so the Astros needed to do two things that the Twins should be able to do as well. The first was to be willing to give up some of their prospect capital to acquire starting pitching. While the Astros had to give up good prospects in all three trades, they were able to do so without giving up anyone on quite the level of Lewis or Kirilloff. The Twins certainly have the prospect surplus to make some trades. Secondly, Houston was willing to take on some salary. Verlander and Greinke were under contract for large amounts and Houston went on to extend Verlander and reliever Ryan Pressly.

    With a lot of salary coming off the books, the Twins should theoretically have a lot of money available, and could definitely make a run at one or two of the top free agent starters if they so choose. With Jose Berrios as the only current starter due back next season (although Randy Dobnak may be in next year’s rotation), it will be interesting to see what the FO does to address starting pitching. Some big name free-agent starters will be available, led by Houston’s Gerrit Cole. The Twins got good years out of Michael Pineda and Jake Odorrizi, but they are set to be free agents along with Kyle Gibson. With this year’s team breaking the competitive window wide open, there may never be a better time to add an “ace.”

    Brain Drain

    Although Houston continues to succeed, finishing with the best overall record in 2019, they have had to deal with other teams luring talented front office staff and coaches away from the organization. When an organization finds success, especially with a new approach, other teams are sure to take notice. Gone from the front office are Sag Mejdal and Mike Elias who were poached by the Baltimore Orioles, and Mike Fast joined the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Alex Cora famously became the manager of the Boston Red Sox and led them to a World Series victory in 2018.
    With the success of the Minnesota Twins is 2019, other organizations are sure to take notice, and Minnesota would be extremely lucky if everyone remained in place for 2020. Coaches such as Derrek Shelton and James Rowson will likely draw interest and members of the front office and analytics department are likely to be hot commodities as well, not to mention minor league coaches and staff.

    With the right philosophy in place, Minnesota may be able to plug in great new minds and continue to succeed as Houston has. However, the teams that are plucking employees may soon bridge the gap as the Twins (and others) have done to the Astros. The best teams will need to evolve, always on the lookout for new hidden advantages, and the process will continue as it always has.

    Here We Go

    The Twins didn't reach the World Series this season, but regardless of the result, it’s hard to view the season as anything less than a resounding success. The Twins will obviously blaze their own path going forward, but if there is a ballclub to emulate, you can’t do much better than the Houston Astros. As Minnesota’s young core continues to mature, with most of the team returning for 2020 and plenty of intriguing options inching closer from the farm, the best is hopefully yet to come.

    • Oct 17 2019 05:37 AM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  6. Royce Lewis Opening Options with AFL Flexibility

    Overall 2019 was a down year for Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. While calling it a down year, it is labeled so with a bit of hesitancy. While it is an absolutely appropriate label as Lewis slashed .236/.290/.371 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola. There are more factors to a prospect's development at times than pure and linear statistical output.

    Lewis is also only 20-years-old and had other outside influences contributing to a lower production at the plate. He did struggle with an oblique strain early in spring training and also has been tinkering with his approach at the plate. All of which seem to have contributed to a lower output at the plate.

    Regardless of how we frame Lewis’ 2019 numbers, they did cause Lewis to stumble a bit lower on national prospect rankings, but he is still clearly one of the best prospects in baseball. Something that now is being showcased in the Arizona Fall League. Offensively Lewis has been doing things like this:

    And defensively like this:

    And that is where the heads begin to turn. That is Lewis in center field. Which isn’t all that strange, but the shortstop hasn’t in four games started at his regular position once and has seen all his time split between center and third base.

    So what does this all mean? We ultimately have no idea, but we can sure have some fun speculating. So let’s start with the most exciting option first.

    The Twins really like his bat now

    It is no secret that the Twins have a really good lineup right now. Maybe the Twins would like to add their former number-one pick to that lineup. The problem is that right now the middle infield spots look to be secured by Jorge Polanco and the emergence of Luis Arraez.

    Third base is also technically occupied, but it seems possible the Twins could roll with an infield that puts Lewis at the hot corner. And then goes around the horn with Lewis-Polanco-Arraez-Sano.

    Lewis could also wiggle his way into a crowded outfield situation. There is plenty of speculation about Byron Buxton’s long term ability to stay healthy. There is also a good dose of speculation surrounding Eddie Rosario as a trade piece in trying to bolster the Twins pitching staff.

    It seems absolutely plausible that at some point there will be a new face in the 2020 starting outfield compared to this year’s go-to group. It makes imagining a starting group next season as three of Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, and Lewis (or name your outfielder) feel very realistic.

    This scenario does feel like a stretch as I write it. Lewis’ scenario feels like one that no matter what he does in the AFL or spring training he will find more time in the minors in 2020. Since he has already made it to Double-A we also know that a promotion to the majors can happen quickly once a talented player hits that level. So while we as fans aren’t used to seeing 21-year-olds in the big leagues we know it isn’t impossible either.

    Versatility is King

    If there is anything we have learned about baseball in 2019, next to guys who can hit the baseball really far, it is that teams value defensive versatility. Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo are all guys on the Twins roster that greatly increase their value by their ability to field multiple positions.

    Generally superstars (which I think we all hope Lewis becomes) find one position and are able to lock into it. That may still be true, but maybe we are seeing that the Twins will also value that versatility out of even a superstar.

    This is AFL specific

    The last and least exciting option is this. This is just how the roster of the Salt River Rafters has worked best when it comes to day-to-day lineups to this point in the AFL season. So while Lewis is still viewed as a shortstop it just works best with the players on the roster to have him see time at third or in center.

    Lewis is still a better prospect than Arizona Diamondbacks Geraldo Perdomo who has seen time at short instead of Lewis. Which maybe only fuels speculation about what is happening in Arizona right now and what it means about the long term fate of Lewis and other Twins players.

    Do-Hyoung Park recently wrote that he has been told Lewis will return to his regular work at shortstop after the AFL. Which adds to this being the likely reasoning behind what we are seeing from Lewis. Not to mention Steve Lein wrote that this exact situation was a very strong possibility in his AFL preview not quite a week ago.

    Time will tell where Lewis plays once he gets a shot in the majors. Right now we can enjoy improved production at the plate from him as in four games Lewis has slashed .333/.412/.800 with a 1.212 OPS and two home runs. Lewis continues to look like one more very talented bat that isn’t far from plugging in somewhere and working to keep playoff-level baseball in Minnesota.

    • Sep 24 2019 05:24 PM
    • by Nate Palmer
  7. Twins Game Recap (9/20): Randy Dobnak Continues to Dominate in 4-3 Win

    Box Score
    Dobnak: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 61% strikes (45 of 74 pitches)
    Bullpen: 2.9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: None

    Top 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (0.25), Trevor May (0.17), Marwin Gonzalez (0.13)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Eddie Rosario (-0.11), Devin Smeltzerr (-0.07), Jonathan Schoop (-0.05)

    The legend of Randy Dobnak continues.

    Randy Dobnak has the greatest mustache of all time and also is the greatest Twins pitcher of all time. That was a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture. He continued his great rookie campaign with 5 1/3 great innings allowing only three hits and one run. Even he would have never predicted to be in the majors this season as two years ago he scheduled his wedding for the upcoming Sept. 28. Would it be weird to get married in the clubhouse or on the mound?

    The only run given up was actually off a pitch from Cody Stashak so I’m sure Randy is eternally angry with him. Besides that hit, Stashak was dominant once again, striking out the next two batters he faced. That makes 21 strikeouts and just one walk so far in his young career. When he first came up, he said he was just here to throw strikes and he seems to be doing that.

    Twins offense scores early, waits five innings and scores again

    The bats got off to a quick start tonight with a Mitch Garver walk and a Polanco double. Nelson Cruz followed with a sacrifice fly that Dick Bremer probably convinced you was a home run. Then the most unlikely event possible occurred when Miguel Sano hit an RBI triple to the right center gap. Yes, I said triple.

    After nothing really got going from innings two through five, the Twins got it going again in the sixth with a Polanco walk, a Sano walk, and then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI double that let Miguel Sano once again show off his insane speed. Who needs Buxton when Sano is running like this?

    Royals put up a fight but ultimately they achieve their 99th loss.

    Devin Smeltzer had a nice and clean seventh inning but he and Brusdar Graterol ran into some bad luck in the eighth with batters reaching on balls with an expected batting average of .170, .140, .400 and .200 so the Royals scrappy approach finally found some luck. Brusdar and his bazooka would leave the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead.

    Trevor May came in for the save and struck the first batter out on three pitches. Then he struck out Whit Merrifield looking. He capped off the save with....another strikeout! All three of the strikeouts came on fastballs and hitters have just a .158 BA against his fastball to go with a 32% whiff rate. It’s his best pitch and he throws it 62% of the time. Trevor May also has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August. Elite.

    Twins magic number drops to five and lead in the central stays at four.

    With today’s win the Twins have dropped their magic number to five games. Fangraphs has the Twins at a 99% chance to win the division. I know a lot of you are taking that 1% but just so we are all clear, the Twins will win the AL Central. As Trevor May would say, go Twins.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Sep 21 2019 04:47 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  8. Getting Defensive

    The Twins defense has been a topic in the second half, particularly in the infield. So I thought it might be fun to take a look at how the Twins stack up by this metric in its most recent analysis (through games of August 18th).


    Unfortunately for today’s article, there is a game- or innings-played minimum in this analysis, so the Twins don’t have a player at these positions that qualify. Regarding that Rafael Palmiero Gold Glove, this would have been nice back then!

    I think that the Twins feel good about their defense behind the plate. Jason Castro may not be quite what he was in previous years, but he’s still strong. And by all accounts, Mitch Garver has vastly improved his defense, specifically his ability to present pitches. While we can probably agree that their time split has probably helped keep them both fresh throughout the season, it means that neither qualifies for this.


    I have always thought that Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson are terrific defensive players. I think both show good range and athleticism. I still believe that, even if this data shows both in the bottom four in the AL, separated only by Lance Lynn.

    However, it also shows that Martin Perez is second on the list, behind only Mike Leake of the Mariners.

    First Base

    CJ Cron comes in at 1.0. I don’t know and won’t take the time to figure out exactly what that means or how it’s calculated. However, it’s a positive number which means he could be considered average or a little better than average.

    I think that’s fair. He got a lot of credit for some scooping early in the season. He hasn’t picked as many of late, but I generally think he’s more than adequate at the position. And, I think we can all acknowledge that he’s not A’s first baseman Matt Olson with the glove.

    Second Base

    Jonathan Schoop comes in at a -2.1 SDI, so again, a little bit below average. That ranks ninth of qualifying second baseman. I think we can all agree that his arm is plus-plus. His range may not be real great as he’s easily the biggest player on this list. Of course, in the last month, Schoop has lost much of his playing time to Luis Arraez.

    Third Base

    And, I don’t think any of us have any thought that Miguel Sano would rank terribly high among defensive third baseman. It would be nice to see what his numbers would look like though.

    Meanwhile, Marwin Gonzalez does show up on the list at 5.1 SDI. Sano has played 66 games at third base. Marwin Gonzalez has played 40 games at third base. In other words, Gonzalez’s numbers must include his time all over the diamond. But, frankly, that makes his 5.1, a decent amount to the positive, even more impressive.


    Jorge Polanco has certainly struggled in the field the last couple of weeks, but until that point, his defense went generally unnoticed, which is a good thing. His SDI is -0.3, which would say that he’s been about average in 2019. I fact, he fits in at seventh out of 12 AL shortstops.

    Old Friend Niko Goodrum of the Detroit Tigers ranks third at 4.0 SDI.

    Right Field

    Max Kepler is tremendous in right field, and good in center field. He comes in at 6.1 SDI, second among AL right fielders behind only Red Sox Mookie Betts (8.9).

    While Betts will likely win another Gold Glove, Kepler absolutely should be a finalist and get serious consideration. I’m sure having 34 homers already and playing on a winning team help his case.

    Center Field

    Despite missing a decent amount of time this season, Byron Buxton’s 8.9 SDI ranks atop the list of 14 American League center fielders. In fact, Rays OF Kevin Keirmaier ranks second at 6.3 SDI and recently-released Billy Hamilton is third at 5.7.

    In fact, Buxton’s 8.9 SDI ranks fourth among all AL players, regardless of position. He ranks behind only A’s 3B Matt Chapman (13.0), Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez (11.9) and Rays SS Willy Adames (9.9).

    Left Field

    Saving the best for last? No, but saving the most interesting - at least to me - for last.

    Eddie Rosario’s defense has been a bit of a roller coaster throughout his career, and even in the 2019 season there have been plenty of ups and downs.

    Rosario posts a -2.4 SDI, so again, below zero. But what does that mean? He ranks fifth of ten qualifying left fielders. Only two AL left fielders have a positive SDI, and Royals Alex Gordon has a 0.2 SDI. So, I feel fairly comfortable saying that Rosario’s defense this year hasn’t been good, but it isn’t terrible.

    But to the big story… The top defensive left fielder according to the SABR Defensive Index is Oakland A’s Robbie Grossman. And not just by a little bit. Grossman has a 5.8 SDI, well ahead of Gordon’s 0.2.

    So what do we make of that? Does it completely ruin any value that SDI has in your mind? Does it mean that Grossman is actually playing really good defense in 2019? Truly, I don’t know how to read that, and don’t want to read into it. But it is statistical, analytical, based on the same information that every other left fielder is evaluated by.

    So, what do you think?

    It feels like - aside from the Grossman thing - this data kind of verifies what we probably thought of the Twins defensive play in 2019. It verifies that Byron Buxton is amazing and that Max Kepler is really good. Marwin Gonzalez has provided defensive value wherever he’s played. Beyond that, there are several very average defenders, and despite his recent struggles, Polanco has been OK for most of the year.

    What else do you see from this data?

    • Aug 23 2019 03:34 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. Week in Review: Back on Top

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/12 through Sun, 8/18


    Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 76-48)

    Run Differential Last Week: +17 (Overall: +144)

    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (2.5 GA)

    Willians Watch: ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL

    It's been nearly two months since our guy Willians Astudillo played in a game for the Twins. But finally, the Tortuga Drought is nearing its end.

    Astudillo opened up a minor-league rehab stint at Pensacola on Thursday, and naturally, he homered in his first at-bat. This was vintage Willians in every way; on a 1-0 count, he hammered the first pitch in the strike zone deep to left, and proceeded to jog around the bases with his poorly tucked jersey hanging out the back of his pants. In other words, it was a thing of beauty:

    Following his splashy debut, in which he also drew a walk (!), Astudillo went 4-for-8 with a homer, double and three RBIs on Friday and Saturday.

    Aside from the fun factor, there are more practical reasons to be excited about Astudillo's pending return. Namely, his presence as a third catcher will make it easier for Rocco Baldelli to use Mitch Garver at other positions, or to pinch-hit Garver for Jason Castro late in a game. However, while La Tortuga has wasted no time showing he's ready to go, Minnesota's roster situation may impede his arrival. It's very possible – likely, even – that the Twins will wait until rosters expand in September to recall the beloved backstop.

    In other roster moves for the week:
    • The Twins activated Sam Dyson, who looked vastly better after a 10-day spell, tossing four scoreless innings while allowing just one run. Granted, that run did hurt – a game-tying solo shot in Texas – but the offense quickly picked him up. To make room for Dyson, Cody Stashak was optioned to Triple-A.
    • Randy Dobnak headed back to Triple-A with Michael Pineda coming off the injured list on Thursday. Pineda was solid in his first start back but seemed to run out of gas quickly. He got through five innings with three runs allowed, and gave way to Devin Smeltzer who covered the final four frames. Smeltzer was quickly swapped out for Lewis Thorpe, who arrived on Friday. By rotating arms through that final spot in the bullpen, the Twins are managing to keep a fresh long-relief option available pretty much at all times, which is savvy.
    • Ryan Eades was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. With Eades out, Minnesota's 40-man roster stands at 39, leaving one conspicuously open spot...

    When the Twins added him as an unexpected splash very late in the offseason. Marwin Gonzalez was viewed as something of an extra luxury – he fixed a problem that did not yet exist, as John aptly put it at the time. But here in the late stages of the summer, he's proving himself to be essential.

    With his team facing its most critical remaining stretch of the schedule, minus Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz, Gonzalez has stepped up in a massive way. Following a big series in Cleveland the prior week, where he was 6-for-15 with several clutch hits, Gonzalez absolutely torched the Brewers and Rangers in their home parks, collecting 13 hits in 26 at-bats with nine RBIs while starting all six games.

    The versatile veteran came through with big hit after big hit all week, leading the charge for an offense that was on its game in averaging 7.8 runs and making up for some shortcomings on pitching and defense. Also contributing to the potent productivity:
    • Rookie sparkplug Luis Arraez amazingly shows no signs of slowing down. You'd think that, with simple regression to the mean, his batting average and OBP would start to sink, but he just keeps taking excellent ABs and getting rewarded for them. Last week he was 6-for-22 with his third homer, two walks and two strikeouts, leaving his line for the season at .342/.412/.447.
    • Once again, Miguel Sano's plate appearances are turning into appointment viewing. The complete contrast from two months ago, when watching him flail was more of a "peek through your fingers" experience, is incredible. Sano and his hitting coaches deserve all the credit in the world. Last week he went 7-for-23 with three home runs and seven walks – par for the course of late. He makes pitchers sweat and preys on the slightest mistakes, harkening back to his glory days as a rookie and a 2017 All-Star. If this dominant Sano is back for good, the heart of the Twins lineup is in great shape.
    • Sano's turnaround should remind us all that baseball seasons are long, slumps come and go, and long-term track records matter. We're seeing a similar case, albeit to a lesser extent, in Jake Cave. The vitriol I was seeing from fans toward this guy, after he struggled through 100 sporadic plate appearances with the Twins, was kinda dumbfounding to me given what he did last year in Minnesota, and this year at Triple-A. Naturally he's coming around – after sitting in Milwaukee, Cave went 6-for-12 while starting three times in the Texas series, and is batting .429 in August. Patience, people!
    • Speaking of patience, Eddie Rosario has rediscovered a semblance of it. After going from June 16th through August 11th without drawing a single unintentional walk, he drew one in each of his first three games last week. Incidentally, he also hit a pair of home runs on the week. It's true that Rosario is capable of producing with the swing-at-everything approach (he did bat .329 over the aforementioned walkless stretch) but I believe he'll be in better position long-term – especially in those high-leverage spotlights he loves so dearly – if he's forcing opposing pitchers to come to him. Even though he had a somewhat quiet week, I see the walks as a very promising sign.
    • Finally, how about a round of applause for Ehire Adrianza? His emergence this year feels like sort of an "icing on the cake" nicety but should not be overlooked. The slick-fielding utilityman has put it all together at the plate, in a way I hoped he might last spring when the starting shortstop was suspended. Adrianza has always shown glimmers of power along with a decent plate approach, and this year at age 29 his skills have come to fruition. He only started twice last week but got into five games and made the most of every chance, going 6-for-12 with zero strikeouts. Since the start of June he's hitting .333/.410/.471.
    As a final note on the offense, we've gotta give props to Jonathan Schoop. He's seen his playing time fall off a cliff in the second half, both because Arraez has been unreal and because Schoop has been perpetually unable to come through in key moments. He finally bucked that trend on Friday in Texas, with a huge two-run homer late in the game that proved decisive.

    Schoop made two starts on the week, and has been in the lineup for only five of Minnesota's 14 August games. He's essentially a backup at this point. But he's a dang good one as far as depth and pinch-hitting options go. Hopefully he'll feel a little more confident after that redemptive moment in Arlington.

    Redemption was the banner headline of the week for the bullpen. We mentioned earlier Dyson's bounce back off the IL. Trevor May was also in pristine form, allowing zero hits and a walk while striking out three over two appearances. Outside of an (admittedly painful) solo homer allowed in the opener against Cleveland, May's been nearly perfect in August, allowing zero runs and only one hit with nine strikeouts and a 15% swinging strike rate.

    Overall, Twins relievers allowed 11 runs (9 ER) in 22 innings of work, with three of the scores coming on a single swing of the bat in Milwaukee. When Sergio Romo allowed that bomb, it was certainly a low point, but was set up by a bad defensive miscue (see below), and Romo was lights-out in his three other appearances.

    With Romo and Dyson in the mix, May rolling again, and Zack Littell quietly excelling (he has a 0.96 ERA in 17 appearances dating back to the start of June), this unit suddenly looks pretty strong heading into the final stretch. I'll be curious to see what Thorpe can do as the second lefty if they give him some real opportunities to assert himself. The looming presence of fellow southpaw Ryan O'Rourke, who's allowed one run over six innings at Triple-A since joining up on a minor-league contract, is also intriguing.


    The defensive performance of Jorge Polanco at shortstop has been a never-ending roller coaster. At times, he goes through stretches where he looks completely serviceable, even mixing in a few flashy plays to resemble something of an asset. And then, there are the downswings where he looks totally unviable. Lately he's been in the latter mode, and it's a stark reminder of just how much sloppy play at the infield's most critical position can hurt you.

    Polanco committed five errors on the week, running his total to seven in the month of August after he was charged with just nine total through the first four months. All his gaffes last week came on fairly routine plays. The most egregious came when he inexplicably dropped a force-out at second base, delivered right into his glove, but the most damaging was a bounced throw to first that set up Milwaukee's go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) homer on Wednesday.

    If this is anything like his defensive slumps of the past, Polanco will shake this off eventually and get back to playing at an acceptable level. But his medley of miscues serves to reinforce the narrative that his days at shortstop are numbered, with a move to another position needing to come sooner rather than later.

    It would be nice if Polanco were offsetting his struggles in the field with impactful performance at the plate, but that hasn't been the case. He did come through with an enormously clutch three-run triple on Sunday, breaking a late tie, but the big bops have been few and far between.

    Dating back to the start of June he's slashing a mediocre .263/.317/.411, with deteriorating discipline. Given the aforementioned offensive rise from Adrianza, and his clear defensive edge, it'd make sense for the Twins to mix him in more at shortstop over the next few weeks. Not to send a statement to Polanco, but simply to rest up the All-Star and get him right for the stretch run.

    Speaking of offensive non-factors, C.J. Cron has been in that category for quite a while now. Although his two-run homer on Saturday was a nice sight, it was Cron's first long ball in two weeks, and he's been unable to contribute much in other ways. He went 3-for-19 last week and has been plain-old ineffective since returning from his latest IL stint, with a .656 OPS and zero extra-base hits outside the homers. On Sunday he came up in a crucial spot in the eighth, with runners on the corners, one out, and a contact play in motion. He grounded meekly to short and got the go-ahead run cut down at home. (Thankfully, Polanco came through two ABs later.)

    Cron has been scuffling for a long time while battling through an inflamed thumb that is pretty clearly still affecting him. Getting him some extra time off, along with Polanco, would seem prudent. Patrick Wozniak had a good piece here over the weekend outlining a platoon scenario for Cron. Would the Twins consider placing him on IL to make room for Astudillo until the end of August, or to make room for Cruz's impending return?

    While the situations surrounding Polanco and Cron are somewhat concerning, the most troubling lowlight of last week was probably Jose Berrios's start on Saturday. Coughing up seven runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings, he ran his ERA up to 8.44 in three August starts. One wonders if he himself could use a little breather – it'd be an affordable luxury for Minnesota with a soft spot in the schedule ahead. The Twins absolutely need him pitching like an ace into the postseason in order to have a chance.

    The bright side for Berrios was that his sagging velocity rebounded and he actually induced 16 swinging strikes, his highest total in two months. So maybe we just chalk this one up to hot bats in the Texas heat.


    After working as a starter for the first six weeks, before going on the shelf with a shoulder impingement, Brusdar Graterol has been working in relief since his return. On Wednesday, in his second appearance back for Pensacola, he entered in the eighth and picked up the final four outs, notching the save in a 9-7 victory. He followed on Saturday with two perfect relief frames for the Blue Wahoos, mixing in a strikeout with five grounders. Then, on Sunday, the Twins promoted Graterol to Triple-A, perhaps for one last test-run ahead of a big-league debut. About that open 40-man spot...

    This is exciting stuff and we'll be tracking it very closely. Graterol, still only 20 and touching nearly 104 MPH on the gun as a reliever, has the potential to be a real difference-maker in the Twins bullpen for September and (hopefully) beyond.


    As the Twins continue to search for answers in the late innings, last summer's Ryan Pressly trade is haunting them like a walk in the Metrodome. Minnesota gave up control of a reliever who now ranks among the league's very best, while their bullpen suffers. Not only that, but Pressly is doing it for a chief rival in the American League. It's not all bleak, though. There have been positive recent developments with the prospects who came back in exchange for Pressly.

    Jorge Alcala, the headlining arm, has mostly been a disappointments since arriving, and owns a 5.87 ERA overall at Pensacola this year. But in late July, the Twins finally stopped trying to use him as a starter, shifting him to a more suitable bullpen role. He has since allowed only two runs on seven hits and two walks in 10 2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts. The Twins announced on Sunday he's moving up to Triple-A along with Graterol, so Alcala too has the potential to impact this pennant race with his high-powered arm.

    And then there's Gilberto Celestino, a younger outfielder who came over alongside Alcala. He struggled mightily through the first two months at Cedar Rapids this year, putting up a fruitless .219/.299/.290 slash line, but has completely turned things around this summer. Since the start of June he's at .322/.389/.506, including .407/.467/.630 in his past 20 games. The 20-year-old brings standout speed and increasingly evident power. When you talk about "helium guys" in the Twins system, Celestino's near the top of the list.


    The good news is that Minnesota took advantage of its favorable schedule to re-stake a 2.5-game lead in the Central last week. The better news is that they're well positioned to build on this momentum in the week ahead.

    You can't really ask for an easier slate than the White Sox and Tigers at home, although the Twins will have to deal with Lucas Giolito and Matthew Boyd. Meanwhile, Cleveland is heading into Citi Field to face Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and the Mets before returning home to welcome (with a huge sigh of relief) the Royals.

    Oh, and by the way, Cruz is expected back on Monday.

    MONDAY, 8/19: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Ivan Nova v. RHP Kyle Gibson
    TUESDAY, 8/20: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Michael Pineda
    WEDNESDAY, 8/21: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. RHP Jake Odorizzi
    FRIDAY, 8/23: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Matthew Boyd v. RHP Jose Berrios
    SATURDAY, 8/24: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Edwin Jackson v. LHP Martin Perez
    SUNDAY, 8/25: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Spencer Turnbull v. RHP Kyle Gibson

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    Game 119 | MIN 7, MIL 5: Marwin Comes Up Clutch To Put the Twins Back in First Place
    Game 120 | MIL 6, MIN 5: Twins Can’t Sweep, Polanco Commits Costly Error
    Game 121 | MIN 13, TEX 6: Pineda Solid While Offense Provides Plenty
    Game 122 | MIN 4, TEX 3: Twins Prevail Behind Clutch Schoop HR, Great Bullpen Performance
    Game 123 | MIN 12, TEX 7: Twins Win Slugfest in Texas
    Game 124 | MIN 6, TEX 3: Polanco Leads Twins Over Lynn in Texas

    • Aug 18 2019 08:06 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  10. Twins Game Recap (8/16): Twins Prevail Behind Clutch Schoop HR, Great Bullpen Performance

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 59.6% strikes (59 of 99 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: Kepler (33), Schoop (17)
    Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (3-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop .288, Romo .230, Rogers .155
    Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.115, Polanco -.113, Garver -.098

    Cleveland dropped the second game of their series against the Yankees in New York, which brings the Twins lead to a game and a half atop of the AL Central. That’s the highest advantage the Twins have since Aug. 7, as they now own a 74-48 record, still the fourth best in baseball.

    Unlike the series opener, it took Minnesota a bit longer to get on the board. After throwing a 26-pitch, but scoreless, first inning, Mike Minor managed to keep the Twins scoreless until the fourth, but they took advantage of a Rougned Odor error, who dropped a Miguel Sanó routine pop-up. Right on the first pitch after that, Max Kepler homered to right field, to give Minnesota a two-run lead.

    Wunderboy keeps adding accomplishments to his career year. This was his 33rd home run of the season, which moved him closer to the single season record for a Twins outfielder, as informed by our Twins Daily own Ted Schwerzler. He also moved the Twins a bit closer to the all-time single season home run record. All with this bomb:

    Odorizzi continues to bounce back
    After the worst month of his career after his rookie season (7.43 ERA this July), Jake Odorizzi continues to show signs of recovery. He couldn’t hold on to the one-run lead he took into the sixth, but he was one out short of a quality start. After tonight, he is now posting a 2.07 ERA in three August starts and 1.95 if you count his last July start, against the Marlins. His improvement brings Twins fans a little more optimism for a playoff run, since he’s starting to look much more like the All-Star he was during the first half of the season--in a much needed time.

    Other than a rare wild pitch during the fourth inning (only his second as a Twin), he basically didn’t have big problems in his first five innings of the game, allowing the Rangers to score only one run on three hits. But Texas got to him during the sixth and made him pay after he allowed a leadoff double and a two-out walk. Nomar Mazara became the last batter he faced, as he hit a two-out double to deep center field, giving the home team its first lead in the series. But that wouldn’t last very long.

    The unlikely hero
    Batting only .217 in his previous 15 games coming into tonight and having hit his last homer in Jul. 28,, I guess it’s hard to say many people envisioned Jonathan Schoop being the one to push Minnesota toward the win. But that’s the magic with this year’s Twins. The Bombas simply won’t stop. He crushed a 2-2 changeup over the plate, following a Marwin Gonzalez single and the Twins retook the lead.

    Other than hopefully providing Schoop’s season with a sparkle he’s been looking for in the past two months, that home run was the 238th for the Twins this year and they now need 30 to break the Yankees single-season record established last year. Minnesota is on pace to hit 316 this year.

    The bullpen takes care of business
    When Odorizzi gave up that lead-blowing double in the sixth, Tyler Duffey was called to put out the fire. He struck out Odor to end the inning and started a very efficient night for the Twins ‘pen. Sam Dyson recorded his third consecutive scoreless outing for Minnesota. He did get some help from the defense, which turned an inning- ending double play after he allowed two runners to reach.

    In his first appearance since giving up a tenth inning grand slam on Sunday, Taylor Rogers came into the game in the eighth and also held the Rangers scoreless. When most people thought he would come back to record another six-out save, Baldelli decided to bring in Sergio Romo and he also got the job done, earning his 20th save of the year.

    Hats off to Margo
    Despite the colder than usual night from the offense, Marwin Gonzalez simply refuses to cool down. After a four-hit night on Thursday, Margo led Minnesota with three hits on the night and he’s now batting .404 since the start of the Atlanta series.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Aug 17 2019 05:12 AM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  11. In Appreciation of Ehire Adrianza

    It did make some sense to have Adrianza around. Although Polanco’s bat looked like it would play at the MLB level, there were plenty of question marks pertaining to his ability to play short. Many in the industry, and Twins organization, felt Polanco’s long-term home would be at second, where he was then blocked by Dozier. Things were also a bit uncertain with Escobar as he had really struggled with the bat in 2016 and was underwhelming defensively. Adrianza at least gave the Twins a player who could step in and play solid defense, if not offering much with the bat.

    Up to this season, Adrianza has pretty much been the player fans could expect. He has been dependable, if not overly impressive. Adrianza has shown the ability to play short and play all around the diamond as well. In his time with Minnesota, he has played every position outside of center field and catcher, even pitching an inning this year. While his bat wasn’t great in 2017-18, he did show significant improvement from his number with the Giants. In 552 plate appearances, Adrianza slashed .256/.309/.380 for an OPS of .689, acceptable for a glove-first utility player.

    Coming into 2019, Adrianza’s role seemed even more up in the air as the Twins signed Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year, $21 million contract. With Gonzalez serving as the main ultility player, Adrianza was in a familiar position as the second utility option. With Minnesota’s stacked lineup, opportunities looked to be sparse, but Adrianza still filled a need as he is more palatable defensively at short than Gonzalez if Polanco were to suffer an injury.

    The season definitely got off to a slow start for Adrianza. Through May 10 Adrianza was hitting an unsightly .125/.218/.188 (.406 OPS). As the weather warmed so has Adrianza, batting a remarkable .355/.443/.518 (.961 OPS) in 47 games (31 starts) since May 11. This has been the best run of Adrianza’s career and thus far 2019 has been a career year for the utility man.

    Adrianza’s 2019 looks great against his career numbers, but he has also stacked up well against his peers in 2019. He currently holds a .348 wOBA (.297 career) compared to the MLB average of .320 and a 115 wRC+. For a utility player more regarded for his ability to fill in anywhere on the diamond, it’s pretty impressive that Adrainza has been an above average hitter in 2019. By comparison, Minnesota’s “everyday” utility man, Marwin Gonzalez, has a below average .310 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 90. Gonzales has accumulated a bWAR of 1.5 in 97 games (391 plate appearances) while Adrianza has a 1.2 bWAR in just 67 games (189 plate appearances).

    Image courtesy of FanGraphs

    This is not to imply that Adrianza should be getting playing time over Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been extremely valuable, playing the best defense of his career and providing the Twins with a much needed quality outfielder in the absence of Bryon Buxton. Gonzalez also has a better track record than Adrianza, offers more power and has valuable experience as a World Series champion. Gonzalez is heating up and he came up huge with his recent three-run homer in game one of the Milwaukee series (Adrianza also had a clutch pinch-hit RBI double earlier in that game).

    The main catalyst in Adrianza’s improvement on offense seems to be his improved plate discipline. In 2018, Adrianza walked in just 6.6% of his plate appearances and had a 22.4 % strikeout rate. This season, Adrianza has raised his walk rate to 10% (MLB average – 8.3%) and has lowered his strikeout rate to 15.3% (MLB average – 21.6%). Adrianza is also hitting the ball to all fields (he has pulled the ball less this year) and has reduced the amount of soft contact on batted balls from 21.4% for his career to 11.3 % in 2019.

    On the year, Adrianza’s playing time has been limited, but he has seen more action in August due to all of the injuries the Twins have experienced. Until Nelson Cruz comes back, Minnesota has the luxury of giving Polanco an occasional break as DH and letting Adrianza fill in at short. However, when Cruz is back, Minnesota may want to consider getting Adrianza in against lefties and sitting Polanco.

    While Polanco has had a great year, he has really struggled as a right-handed hitter, slashing just .262/.301/.376. Adrianza, on the other hand, has crushed .316/.400/.526 against southpaws (he’s done okay against righties as well - .275/.369/.383). As the season has dragged on Polanco has looked like he could use some rest. Polanco started the year red-hot, slashing .338/.409/.590 through May 31, but has hit just .260/.313/.408 since. He is nearing his career high in plate appearances and is on pace to play the most games of his career. Utilizing Adrianza a bit more could help Polanco perform better down the stretch by being better rested and not having to face left-handed pitching as much.

    Although Adrianza was formerly known as a defensive specialist, his defensive numbers on the year have not been all that great. His numbers have been the worst at third and short and he rates best at second base and as an outfielder. With that said, we’re dealing with a very small sample size, making the defensive metrics more unreliable and there is certainly value in Adrianza’s ability to play almost everywhere on the diamond. He has made some big plays of late and is also the only realistic option to fill in at short, as both Gonzalez and Luis Arraez are stretched on the left side of the middle infield.

    On a team that has set the all-time franchise record for home runs and is on pace to break the MLB record, it is easy to overlook a player like Ehire Adrianza. However, Adrianza has been invaluable to Minnesota because of his ability to step in and play virtually any position while providing above average offense and getting on base at a .380 clip. His ability to put up great numbers since mid-May without consistent playing time has been a major boost to the team. Marwin Gonzalez will continue to get more playing time than Adrianza, but with Gonzalez filling in at right and Max Kepler sliding over to center in Byron Buxton’s absence, Adrianza should get plenty of opportunities down the stretch.

    Next season will be Adrianza’s last year of arbitration should the Twins decide to bring him back, which they certainly seem likely to do at this point. With Gonzalez around for one more season as well, Adrianza will probably continue to play second fiddle, but it would be interesting to see what Adrianza could do with more playing time. Escobar soared to new heights in his age-29 season with regular playing time and has been even better in 2019. While Adrianza is unlikely to ever see quite the power surge that Escobar has, his numbers are also improving with age, and if he keeps it up maybe he too can one day become an everyday player.

    • Aug 16 2019 10:10 PM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  12. Twins Game Recap (8/10): Odorizzi Solid, Offense Takes Advantage of Key Opportunities

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 60.7% strikes (62 of 102 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
    Home Runs: Kepler (32), Gonzalez (13)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco, Gonzalez, Adrianza

    Top 3 WPA: Odorizzi (.300), Arraez (.110), Rogers (.082)

    Odo inefficient, yet effective
    Per the FSN broadcast, this was the fourth consecutive start that Odorizzi had thrown 100+ pitches but of the four only his last start versus Atlanta lasted six innings. Part of this is due to Odorizzi’s lack of success the third time through the line up, which seems to be the reason, in most of the cases, he’s been pulled mid- inning, as was the case tonight.

    Although he struck out six and induced mostly weak contact, Odorizzi also walked four and faced eight three-ball counts while allowing six hits. All that said, he did his job by stranding all nine baserunners and giving the Twins a much needed solid outing from their starter.

    Twins offense breaks through
    Despite having only one hit through three innings, the Twins entered the fourth with an xBA of .290 per Baseball Savant. That coupled with an average 92.7 mph exit velocity meant that it was only a matter of time before the balls started falling for hits. With two-outs in the fourth, Garver snuck a ball past Jose Ramirez down the third base line for a double which was then followed by Arraez’s first career triple. Back-to-back singles by Gonzalez and Adrianza made the game 2-0 before C.J. Cron was thrown out at the plate for the third out. After lead off home runs in the fifth and seventh innings by Kepler and Gonzalez, respectively, the Twins took a 4-1 lead.

    Other notes

    • Puig’s 455 foot home run was Sergio Romo’s first run given up in his last 16 innings
    • The Indians finished with eight hits, despite an xBA of .222, per Baseball Savant
    • Twins were 3-for-3 with RISP while the Indians were just 1-for-12 and left 20 runners on base
    • Per FSN broadcast, this was Taylor Rogers seventh save of six or more outs this year
    • Twins are now 6-6 versus the Indians this year and 27-30 against teams at or above .500
    This was a much needed win for the Twins who have now gone 2-4 during a week many touted as the most important of their season. They will look to secure a series tie on Sunday and move the lead back to two games over the Indians as Berrios draws the start.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Aug 11 2019 06:32 AM
    • by Matthew Lenz
  13. Twins Game Recap (8/8): Gibson Struggles, Late-Inning Rallies Fall Short

    Box Score
    Gibson: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 49% strikes (42 of 85 pitches)
    Bullpen: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Luis Arraez (2-for-3, BB)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Eddie Rosario -.314, Kyle Gibson -.257, C.J. Cron -.146

    Mike Clevinger mostly stymied the best offense in baseball on Thursday, going seven innings and striking out nine en route to his seventh win. Clevinger threw 117 pitches and made them all count, allowing just three hits. Two blemishes came in the fourth, as the Twins struck on RBI singles from Luis Arraez and Marwin Gonzalez.

    The Indians offense lifted Clevinger as Yasiel Puig tripled and scored in the second off Kyle Gibson. Gibson pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs while walking six. Zach Littell relieved Gibson in the fifth and gave up a two-run double to Jose Ramirez. Ramirez continued his smoking hot second half, driving in three runs on the evening.

    Adam Cimber pitched the eighth inning for Cleveland and surrendered two hits and a walk as Jorge Polanco doubled in Ehire Adrianza to narrow the deficit to three. Cimber was pulled for left-hander Oscar Perez and Eddie Rosario grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Max Kepler to bring the Twins within two.

    Miguel Sano doubled in Rosario on a full count to strike to within one. Marwin Gonzalez popped out to center to end the inning.

    Tyler Naquin blasted a solo homer off Trevor May in the ninth for an insurance run. In the bottom half, Eddie Rosario popped out to right with bases loaded for the finishing touch. Minnesota native Brad Hand earned his 29th save. Devin Smeltzer and Shane Bieber will face off tomorrow night.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Aug 09 2019 05:13 AM
    • by Nash Walker
  14. Twins Game Recap (8/7): Perez Struggles and Offense is too Late in Rubber Match

    Box Score
    Perez: 6 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 65.9% strikes (67 of 102 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

    Home Runs: Sano (20)
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-5, HR), Cron (2-for-4), Cave (2-for-4, 2 2B)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Rosario -.049, Schoop -.085, Perez -.321

    Braves Ready For Perez

    The Atlanta Braves came out swinging early today and jumped all over Martin Perez for another rough start by Perez’s. Perez has been the Twins’ worst starter for quite some time now. Since May 30th, 11 starts, he holds a 6.21 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Today was no different for him.

    After getting Ronald Acuna Jr. to fly out to start the game, Albies and Freeman went back-to-back, while both only seeing one pitch. The inning wasn’t over as the Braves put together a 2-out rally with a single and double scoring another run. The home runs and double were all on fastballs left right over the heart of the plate, and Perez paid.

    After a quick 1-2-3 in the second, the deficit got worse in an ugly third inning that ended featuring the only Twins highlight thus far. The ugly inning went single, single, walk, passed ball to score one, error, RBI single, and a walk to bring in a run. All of this was done with no outs, but what better way to get out of an inning then getting three outs in one pitch.

    For the second time in just over two weeks, the Twins turned a triple play and both were behind Perez. Last time it was Arraez-Schoop-Sano, and today it started with Sano going to Schoop and ending it with Cron at first. This was the fifth time in franchise history to turn two triple plays in the same season.

    Perez was able to settle down after that triple play and gave up one run in his next three innings. Perez had two very bad innings, but was able to stay in the game and give the Twins six innings to allow the bullpen to do less work than seemed likely after the first inning.

    Fried Fires Through Twins

    Max Fried was red hot to start off this game, and gave the Twins offense a lot of trouble through his first five innings. After the first time through the order, Fried was perfect while striking out seven of the nine batters he faced. Jeremie Rehak was the home plate umpire and had a lot of questionable calls that had the whole Twins dugout in a frenzy and Marwin Gonzalez smashing his helmet into the ground following a strikeout.

    The Twins got their first hit to start the fourth inning which was a double, and later had runners on second and third with two outs. Miguel Sano drilled a liner to center field that was caught to end the Twins threat. The next inning the Twins had another second and third, this time with only one out, but Fried picked up a huge strikeout on Schoop and then Graver flew out to end the threat again.

    Through five innings, Fried had given up just three hits while striking out a season-high 10 batters, but much like last night, the Twins woke up in the sixth inning. The Twins put three singles together and Fried’s day was over. Fried ended up being responsible for the three runs that were ultimately scored that inning.

    Twins Comeback Falls Short

    The Twins, just like last night, were dead through the first five innings, but in the sixth inning they came alive to make things interesting. Tonight it was four singles and a double in the sixth to score three runs and trim the lead to four. Unlike last night, the Twins couldn’t use the momentum to get closer.

    Ronald Acuna Jr. put the finishing touches for the Braves this series as he hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put them back in front by six runs. The Twins stranded runners on second and third in back-to-back-to-back innings, though the third time was after they scored three runs. The Braves added two more runs in the ninth to really put the game away.

    The Twins put together three more singles in the ninth to score another run and a Miguel Sano three-run home run brought the deficit down to just four.

    Next Series

    The Twins will face the Cleveland Indians tomorrow for a four-game series that will be huge in terms of standings. The Indians won game one today and if they win game two, they will be just two games back of the Twins.

    Though the starters got hammered these past two games, Zack Litell, Cody Stashak, and Kohl Stewart gave the Twins quality innings in the bullpen so the Twins’ top guys could have some time off for this huge series.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    • Aug 07 2019 07:04 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  15. Twins Game Recap (7/24): Twins Drop Series in Another Slugfest With Yankees

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 4 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 61.7% strikes (63 of 102 pitches)
    Bulllpen (Smeltzer): 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Rosario (22), Cruz (22), Gonzalez (12)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-4, HR), Rosario (2-for-4, HR), Arraez (2-for-3, BB), Schoop (2-for-3)

    Top 3 WPA: Cruz .100, Smeltzer .105, Rosario .172
    Bottom 3 WPA: Garver -.081, Polanco -.136, Odorizzi -.576

    Yankees Rake Odorizzi

    The Twins could’ve really used a seven inning performance from their All-Star pitcher tonight in hopes of giving their bullpen a night off before their series against Chicago. The Yankees offense had a different idea as they pounced on Odorizzi for seven extra base hits and a season-high, nine runs in just four innings. In his last seven starts, Odorizzi has given up at least three runs in six of those.

    Didi Gregorious and Aaron Hicks continued to destroy the Twins’ this series and they both made their presence felt early. After Gregorious demolished the Twins for five hits and seven RBIs last night, he ripped an RBI double and 2-RBI triple in the first half of the game. Hicks, who put the Yankees ahead in the ninth, and ended the game in the 10th, picked up two more RBIs in the first half off a home run and single.

    Though Odorizzi was able to strike out seven through four innings, his control was the biggest issue tonight. He wasn’t hitting his spots on any of his pitches, as he was only able to get a first pitch strike on 50% of the 24 batters he faced.

    Smeltzer Deals

    There have really only been three good pitchers for the Minnesota Twins this series, and coincidentally, they were all on the AAA roster before the series started. Lewis Thorpe gave the Twins a solid 2.2 innings on Monday, Cody Stashak gave them two shutout innings last night, and tonight Devin Smeltzer gave the Twins’ bullpen a much needed rest throwing five innings. He finished the game with five very solid innings and was the only pitcher out of the bullpen.

    After Odorizzi was only able to go four innings, Smeltzer came in and gave four shutout innings before surrendering a home run in the ninth. He gave up only three hits in those first four innings, and even struck out the side in the seventh.

    Smeltzer was called up today because the Twins were in dire need of some arms. He out-performed what was expected of him tonight, and really gave the Twins a good chance at coming back. He had command with all of his pitches and was able to pick up a first pitch strike on 16 out of the 19 batters he faced!

    Twins Offense Comes Up Short

    This whole series, both teams have needed their offense to match what the opponents did before them. Tonight was no different as the Bomba Squad tried to match the Bronx Bombers. It was an action-filled first half of the game, but the bullpens came in and shut down these hot offenses.

    The Twins got the action going when Rosario hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first, but saw their only lead vanish quickly. After Odorizzi gave up nine runs, that was matched by only one from the Twins, Marwin Gonzalez finally got them back on track with another 2-run homer. A Garver sac-fly and a solo shot later, the Twins saw their deficit down to only two.

    After the Twins scored their last run on a Nelson Cruz home run, the Yankee bullpen got the next 15 outs while facing only 18 batters. They had some threats throughout those 15 outs, but hit into two double plays, and stranded two guys on in the seventh.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Jul 24 2019 10:10 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  16. Twins Game Recap (7/19): Twins Have No Answer To A’s pitching

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 63.6% strikes (56 of 88 pitches)
    Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Gonzalez (11)
    Multi-Hit Games: Castro (2-for-2)

    Top 3 WPA: Gonzalez .136, Cruz .090, Castro .054
    Bottom 3 WPA: Harper -.234, Cron -.217, Rosario -.093

    The Twins offense once again shows signs of irregularity. After scoring the three runs early, they were dominated by A’s starter Chris Bassitt and the bullpen. Former Twin Liam Hendriks came in to pitch a five-out save, including a six-pitch eighth. The only highlight for Minnesota bats in the night was Luis Arraez’ hitting streak remaining alive, as he hit an infield single in his last at-bat. He’s now had a hit in 12 consecutive games, the second longest streak in baseball.

    Odorizzi had some unfinished business against the A’s. Last time he faced them, a blister on his right middle finger cut his start short, after only three innings. He gave up a season high five earned runs, four of which came off a grand slam. He was then put in the 10-day injured list, incidentally missing the first All-Star game of his career.

    The A's jumped on Odorizzi early. Marcus Semien hit a leadoff home run on the third pitch of the game, a bullet to left field. A couple of batters later Khris Davis grounded to center to score Mark Canha, giving Oakland a two-run lead. After that, Odo went on to pitch three shutout innings, despite not being as sharp as he has usually been this season, striking out only one batter.

    The offense made a good effort to back up their starter. Miguel Sanó drew a two-out walk in the second and on a Matt Olson fielding error near first base, after a Max Kepler ground ball, he was brought home to cut Oakland’s lead in half. On the following inning, Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run bomb to give Minnesota the lead.

    Odorizzi gave up a game-tying single in the fifth, which gave him a no-decision, as he didn’t come back to pitch the sixth. He remains unbeaten at home, where he is 6-0 in the year, now with a 2.56 ERA. He hasn’t lost a game at home since Aug. 24 of last year, against this same Oakland team.

    The Sire is down
    Uncharacteristically, Ryne Harper was punished by righties in his relief appearance. Before tonight’s game, right-handed hitters were being held by him to only .203 batting average. Facing the middle part of the A’s lineup, he gave up three hits, all against righties, that were enough to score a couple of runs. This was Harper’s 42nd game of the year, but only the third time he allowed more than one run in an outing.

    In his relief, the rest of the bullpen did a fine job, pitching three scoreless innings, with Tyler Duffey, Blake Parker and Zack Littell. The latter managed to pitch his tenth consecutive scoreless outing, despite giving up a one-out triple to Semien. He had a little help from a 3-2-3, inning-ending double play.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Jul 20 2019 05:09 AM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  17. Twins Game Recap (7/14): Cleveland Prevails, Avoids Sweep

    Box Score
    Berrios: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 65% strikes (60 of 92 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Marwin Gonzalez (3-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Arraez .142, Gonzalez .126, Adrianza .115
    Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.317, Schoop -.285, Cruz -.150

    Poor Command Bites Berrios
    Twins ace,Jose Berrios entered today’s action seeking an elusive ninth win of the season. He struggled with his command early on, surrendering two walks in the first inning and Jose Rameriz made him play by driving in one of the runners with a two out knock.

    In the fourth inning, Berrios gave up a double and two singles allowing Cleveland to add two more runs to their lead and push the score to 3-0. A high pitch count would eventually end his afternoon after only five innings.

    Minnesota Rallies in the Seventh
    It wasn’t exactly how you draw it up and the Twins missed an opportunity to score even more but on a day where runs were at a premium at least they finally cracked into the run column

    It took Garver and Cave each getting hit by a pitch and singles from Marwin Gonzalez, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler for Minnesota to tie the game. They were very well positioned to do even more damage with the bases loaded and only one out with Polanco and Cruz due up. Unfortunately, both Polanco and Cruz would strike out to end the inning leaving the bases loaded.

    Coming Up Short In the Late Innings
    After the Twins rallied to tie the game in the seventh inning, Trevor May handed Cleveland the lead again when he surrendered a solo home run to Carlos Santana in an 0-2 count.

    The eighth inning got off to a good start for Minnesota when Luis Arraez reached base via a lead-off double but they were unable to drive him in and the scored remained 4-3.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Jul 14 2019 07:43 PM
    • by Andrew Gebo
  18. MIN 7, TEX 4: Pineda, Rogers Lead Twins Over Rangers

    Box Score
    Pineda: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 61.5% strikes (59 of 96 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

    Home Runs: Gonzalez (10)
    Multi-Hit Games: Castro (2-for-3, 2B), Polanco (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Pineda .220, Rogers .182, Buxton .118

    Starting Strong in the 2nd, Nailing the Coffin in the 8th
    It was in the second inning, when the Twins drew first blood against recently converted starting pitcher Jesse Chavez. It began with a stinging double by our Man on Fire Luis Arraez, followed by a stellar plate appearance by Miguel Sano producing a walk, then a short pop-up to the infield by LaMonte Wade and then a Johnathon Schoop walk that loaded the bases for Jason Castro with nobody out. A sac fly that produced an astoundingly impressive overthrow by Joey Gallo set the stage for our Moment of the Day.

    It was that two-run single by Byron Buxton that gave the Twins the lead for good.

    Shaky Bullpen Lately
    In the top of the seventh, there was a notable comment that deeply resonated with me, and perhaps should resonate more with Tyler Duffey himself. On the FSN broadcast, newly minted booth color commentator Tim Laudner mentioned that Tyler Duffey, “took a page out of the book of Jake Odorizzi”, namely how his fastball has become a strength from a weakness.

    Well, maybe I have some criticism on how the Twins have been unleashing that animal in Tyler Duffey.

    It was in the seventh inning that provided the first nervous murmur at Target Field with an announced crowd of 36,969, when left-handed hitting Willy Calhoun torched a hanging slider, the fourth of that sequence to momentarily startle the crowd.

    Throughout the season we’ve been noticing a trend in how the starting pitchers pitch in the best way to conduce success. In other words, putting yourself in the best position to succeed.

    How often this season have we seen Jose Berrios, Martin Perez and Jake Oddorizzi vary their breaking ball distributions to gravitate to the results they desire.

    Now bear with me, this might be hard to understand. But below here is a rolling distribution of Jose Berrios and Martin Perez’s rolling breaking ball usage by K%:



    This might be one of the points of practice that pitching coordinator Wes Johnson and company are hammering home. Ride with what you feel is getting the best results (in this case weak contact and Ks), not what should be your best pitch.

    This is not to say that Taylor Rogers was beyond straight filth today. I mean my goodness, flawless seven outs turned, five strikeouts and topping out at 97 mph! He truly reminded me of peak Andrew Miller

    Well, Duffey faltered again, it may be interesting to note this and see if Tyler does rely on his newly improved fastball above the zone in high-leverage situations. It seemed abundantly clear that the Texas hitters were ambushing Duffey in anticipation of fastball usage in two-strike situations.

    Adding to the Injured List
    While Micheal Pineda was lights out in arguably his best performance (from a stuff standpoint) at Target Field, he did serve his only cookie of the day when Elvis Andrus belted a shot into the Twins bullpen that barely cleared the wall in right. It was then that LaMonte Wade collided with the wall in right, and dislocated his right thumb, according to this report….

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Jul 06 2019 08:58 PM
    • by Sabir Aden
  19. Week in Review: Becoming Whole at the Halfway Point

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/24 through Sun, 6/30


    Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 53-30)

    Run Differential Last Week: +6 (Overall: +113)

    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (8.0 GA)

    Willians Watch: Back on the Injured List :(

    Willians Astudillo opened his week with a three-hit game that included this nifty catch in RF foul territory, but his hearty effort on that play proved costly. Astudillo went 0-for-4 the following night and was then placed on IL due to oblique soreness, apparently stemming from his run-in with the wall.

    The Twins also lost Eddie Rosario, who sprained his left ankle while turning first on Wednesday and will miss at least the next week. It's a shame because he was heating up again – 6-for-7 through his first two games last week – and his visible frustration upon sustaining the injury appeared to reflect this.

    It wasn't all bad news, though. Rosario is a big loss but it doesn't appear he'll be gone long (in fact, the team hesitated to even place him on the IL). The Twins crucially got back Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez, who were both activated on Saturday, and Ehire Adrianza, activated a day earlier.

    Some other noteworthy roster moves from last week:
    • LaMonte Wade Jr. was called up briefly in the middle of the week with the Twins needing extra bodies in the outfield, and started on Friday (he reached once in two PAs, on an HBP, before being replaced by a pinch hitter in the seventh), but he was optioned alongside Jake Cave in order to make room for Buxton and Gonzalez.
    • Zack Littell was also optioned back to Triple-A, though not through any fault of his own (he threw four scoreless innings during his latest stint). The Twins simply needed more arms after burning through everyone in an 18-inning marathon loss to Tampa on Thursday. Prospect Lewis Thorpe was called up to replace Littell, and you can read about his sterling MLB debut in the Highlights below.
    • The Twins signed 36-year-old free agent reliever Carlos Torres, who'd recently been designated for assignment by Detroit, to a minor-league deal. He reported to Class-AAA Rochester. They also returned infielder Ronald Torreyes from the restircted list, making room on the 40-man roster by DFA-ing lefty reliever Gabriel Moya, who cleared waivers and returned to Rochester.

    On Friday, fan-selected starters for the All-Star teams were officially revealed, and we learned the American League lineup will feature one Twin: Jorge Polanco at shortstop. He won't be alone in representing the Twins, but Polanco's a fitting frontman, leading the team in WAR thanks to his steady work at shortstop and tremendously consistent production atop the lineup. Polanco had a fairly pedestrian week at the plate (7-for-27) but he also drew three walks and scored seven runs. The fact this counts as a down week for him says it all.

    Joining him on the All-Star roster is Jake Odorizzi, who surrendered two bombs on Wednesday against Tampa and has generally looked shakier in recent starts, but is still pacing the American Leagues with 10 while holding down a shiny 2.73 ERA.

    That's it for Twins All-Stars, for now. It seems pretty outrageous for a team that leads baseball in scoring and OPS to have only one representative among the AL's starters or reserves, but here we are.

    The good news is that we'll certainly see a few more players added to the roster, as a result of injuries and withdrawals, and the Twins have plenty of players near the top of the queue: Rosario, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers, to name a few.

    Missed time prevented Nelson Cruz and Mitch Garver from getting legitimate consideration as All-Stars, but they've both made strong cases while on the field. Last week was no different; Cruz went 10-for-23 with three home runs and 10 RBIs games, while Garver delivered an impressive three-hit game against Tampa on Tuesday, launching his 12th home run.

    It was an interesting week for Miguel Sano. In three games at home against Tampa, he went 1-for-13 with six strikeouts, extending a brutal slump that dated back to mid-June. Then, once he arrived in Chicago, he snapped right back into the dominant form we saw initially upon his return, blasting three homers and plating six runs in two starts, then entering with a clutch pinch-hit RBI single on Sunday. He struck out only once in 10 plate appearances, with two walks.

    Certainly an encouraging rebound, and one that was evidently driven by some mechanical changes involving hand positioning. Parker had written about this very issue last week, at the height of Sano's struggles. Credit goes to Miguel and Minnesota's hitting coaches for actualizing these adjustments; we'll see if they stick.

    As a final note on the offense, hitting machine Luis Arraez continued to do his thing, collecting six hits in 17 at-bats. The rookie's average stands at .426.

    On Sunday, Thorpe was able to make his first major-league start, on account of Kyle Gibson throwing a relief inning during Thursday's 18-inning affair, and thus having his scheduled turn pushed back to Wednesday. The young left-hander was absolutely sensational. Over his five innings, he allowed only two runs (both coming on an Yoan Moncada home run) while notching seven strikeouts and 11 swinging strikes. He continually worked ahead in counts and showed a stunning ability to execute while undoubtedly battling some serious nerves. Like Devin Smeltzer before him, Thorpe solidified himself as a quality rookie depth piece for the rotation.

    Elsewhere in that unit, Michael Pineda took another nice step, hurling six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox on Friday. The big righty struck out eight while walking one. He finishes June with a 25-to-4 K/BB ratio and 3.58 ERA. Most importantly: he quietly allowed just one home run, after coughing up 14 in his first 11 starts.

    Martin Perez provided his own promising flash from the back half of the starting corps, putting forth his best performance since early May against the Rays on Thursday. In seven innings he allowed just two runs with six strikeouts and one walk. Notably, per Brooks Baseball data, his improved outcome coincided with a return to leaning on the cutter, along with a reduction in sinker usage:


    In the bullpen, Taylor Rogers once again starred, appearing twice and retiring all seven batters faced. He wraps June with an 11-to-1 K/BB ratio and only four hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings, continuing to reaffirm himself as one of the game's best relievers. And credit is also due to Matt Magill, who himself tossed five scoreless frames after a serious rough patch.


    While Garver continues to be an offensive force, his catching counterpart Jason Castro has seen his early-season success dwindle. Last week he managed three singles in 12 at-bats, and for the month of June he slashed just .191/.240/.277 with one homer and one double. He saw his OPS plummet by 150 points as a result.

    Now, Castro's current mark (.782) remains plenty respectable for a catcher, but his regression has dashed the notion of two elite offensive players sharing time behind the plate for Minnesota.

    C.J. Cron's All-Star campaign at first base fell short, and meanwhile, his lengthy hot streak faded into a major cooldown. After putting up a .963 OPS with eight home runs in May, Cron followed with stellar production through the first three weeks of June. But last week, while starting every game, he went just 5-for-28 with seven strikeouts, zero walks, and zero extra-base hits.

    Also finding himself in a bit of a drought is Jonathan Schoop, who went 4-for-24 with eight strikeouts on the week.

    A few downspells here and there are to be expected. The Twins offense in general has come back to Earth in recent weeks, but remains a powerhouse to be reckoned with. As long as they continue to have multiple guys clicking simultaneously, as they have at all times, Minnesota's going to be okay in the run-scoring department.

    Blake Parker seems to have his swing-and-miss stuff back, which is a plus – after inducing just six whiffs through his first eight June appearances (4% SwStr), Parker has since induced 10 in his past four appearances (14% SwStr). Last week he tallied four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of work, but it still wasn't pretty as he yielded five hits, including his fifth home run of the month. Two years ago, when at his best, Parker allowed only seven home runs total.


    We're still waiting to see how the Twins will address their needy bullpen through high-impact acquisitions (a task that will be harder than many wish to believe), but for now it's about closely tracking how the team's lower-scale additions and internal options are progressing.

    Torres coughed up a two-run homer in his debut for the Red Wings on Thursday. Cody Allen debuted at Single-A for the Miracle on Saturday, tossing a clean scoreless inning with a strikeout, but he reportedly topped out at 91 MPH. (Two years ago, when he was last an outstanding MLB reliever, Allen averaged 94.3 on his fastball.) Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger are both on IL at Rochester.

    His may not have the same name recognition as those above, nor is he on the 40-man roster as of yet, but Cody Stashak is really emerging as a name to watch. After he posted a 40-to-5 K/BB ratio in Pensacola over the first two months, Minnesota looked past his 4.76 ERA and promoted the 25-year-old righty to Triple-A and he has responded by decimating the highest level of minor-league competition. After striking out six in 2 2/3 innings last week, he now has a 19-to-1 K/BB ratio and 2.25 ERA through 12 innings with Rochester. I suspect we'll get a look at him in the bigs before the summer's over.


    Acquired from the Yankees during the offseason, Torreyes spent much of the first half away from the team for reasons that weren't made public. He was activated from the restricted list last week and after a brief stint at Fort Myers, returned to Rochester with a bang on Friday, launching two home runs against Pawtucket. Torreyes followed with a three-hit game on Saturday and delivered a two-run single in his AB on Sunday. He adds another piece of credible depth to Minnesota's infield picture, albeit one made less critical by the play of Adrianza and Arraez.


    Hate those late-night West Coast games that linger past midnight on weekdays? Then I've got good news for you: the Twins will be playing their last such set in Oakland during the first half of this week. You might find it easier to stay up and watch the second game on Wednesday, with a holiday and afternoon contest coming on Thursday. Afterwards, the Twins finish out the unofficial first half with three home tilts against Texas.

    TUESDAY, 7/2: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Daniel Mengden
    WEDNESDAY, 7/3: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Tanner Anderson
    THURSDAY, 7/4: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Mike Fiers
    FRIDAY, 7/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jesse Chavez v. RHP Jose Berrios
    SATURDAY, 7/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Michael Pineda
    SUNDAY, 7/7: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Ariel Jurado v. RHP Jake Odorizzi

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Jul 01 2019 09:51 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  20. MIN 5, KC 4: Bats Rally, Bullpen Protects 1-Run Lead

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 71.7% strikes (66 of 92 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: Kepler (17), Gonzalez (9)
    Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2-for-4, HR)

    WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .205, Rogers .170, Cron .120, Polanco .102
    WPA of -0.1: Odorizzi -.111, Schoop -.122, Cruz -.126
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    No Lead is Safe
    The Twins fell behind 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth. They were within a run of the Royals by the time an out was recorded that inning. Mitch Garver singled and Marwin Gonzalez socked a two-run bomba.

    Later that inning, Jorge Polanco provided a game-tying RBI double with two outs. The comeback was complete when C.J. Cron hit an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning.

    Bullpen Secures Victory
    Sometimes that “no lead is safe” statement applies to the Twins’ bullpen, but not tonight. After the bats stormed back, the bullpen managed to protect that lead.

    Trevor May pitched around an error to record a scoreless seventh inning. There was another error committed in the eighth, but Blake Parker and Ryne Harper combined to keep Kansas City off the board that inning. Taylor Rogers gave up a one-out single and issued a two-out walk in the ninth, but worked around them to earn his eighth save.

    Odorizzi is Human
    Jake Odorizzi gave up as many earned runs tonight, four, as he had in those previous eight outings. He looked a little more human tonight, though he did still provide the Twins with six innings.

    Odorizzi gave up seven hits, walked two batters and struck out seven. He gave up multiple home runs for the second time this season, but to his credit, never flew completely off the rails.

    I’ve Got a Riddle for You
    Who’s the most underrated Twin? I started brainstorming an article around this question, but it was too difficult. There are so many guys on this 2019 teams that are doing so well, but still have such low profiles across the landscape of baseball.

    Now of course, if you’re here at Twins Daily reading a game recap, you’re obviously more invested than the average sports fan. But how many people actually realize that, say, Max Kepler is doing what he’s doing?

    Anyway, Kepler hit his 17th home run tonight. He entered this game with a 134 OPS+ so far. He’s never even cracked 100 before (which is league average).

    People around town are definitely starting to take notice of what this team is doing collectively, which is tremendous, but it’s pretty incredible what so many of these guys are doing on an individual basis, as well.

    No.7 Retired
    Before tonight’s game, the Twins put together a ceremony that was pretty neat. Joe Mauer’s No. 7 was retired.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    And One More Thing ...
    I try really hard to avoid ump talk, but I’m sorry, we have to go there tonight. It’s a tough job, I get that, and both teams are stuck with the same umpire, so things typically even out. But, my word, is Angel Hernandez terrible. If anybody needs a retirement party, it’s that guy.

    Here’s a look at the called strikes on Twins hittters:
    And below are the called strikes on Royals hitters:
    The guy basically made a joke of this game. How can MLB allow this to continue to happen?

    • Jun 16 2019 05:43 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  21. SEA 9, MIN 6: Bullpen, Errors Spoil Buxton’s Dramatic Homer

    Box Score
    Berrios: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 66.4% strikes (71 of 107 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Gonzalez (8), Kepler (16), Buxton (9)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-4), Gonzalez (2-for-4, HR), Sano (2-for-4, 2B)

    WPA of +0.1: Buxton .351, Gonzalez .296, Berrios .208
    WPA of -0.1: Polanco -.104, Rosario -.132, Kepler -.138, Cron -.152, Parker -.239, May -.241, Duffey -.455
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Errors Open the Game
    The Minnesota Twins were charged with five errors in tonight’s game, and all of them came in the final three innings. Four out of the five errors actually resulted in runs being scored.

    C.J. Cron was responsible for the first error in the eighth inning when he misjudged a ground ball that slipped by him into right field. One run was scored on that play, but it was followed by a three-run home run to put the Mariners up by five.

    The Twins’ late rally was overlooked after three more errors by the Twins’ defense in the 10th inning. The first one hurt the most as the Twins played the situation perfectly with runners on second and third and one out.

    Tyler Duffey was able to get Mallex Smith to ground right to Cron at first, but Mitch Garver tried to apply the tag at home before he had caught the ball allowing the go-ahead run to score.

    The next one was probably a worse play by Sano, as he couldn’t field a ground ball to his left and came up blindly firing over to first and put the ball into the stands. Two more runs came around and just like that, the Twins were down three runs.

    Late Inning Push
    One of the best offenses in the league was held quiet through six innings. Not to worry Twins’ fans, the “Run Bunch” always comes alive at some point of the game, sometimes you just have to wait.

    It all started in the seventh inning when Marwin Gonzalez went deep to tie the game and save Jose Berrios from potentially picking up a loss. That was followed by another home run and a couple of hits against former Twins pitcher Tommy Milone in the eighth inning to keep it close.

    Miguel Sano got the ninth started with a single and Byron Buxton demolished a ball to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

    Pitcher Duel
    Berrios had a shaky start to tonight’s game as a Mariner runner reached third base in the first four innings. Berrios was able to work out of the jam in each of those innings to keep the runner from crossing the plate. He was able to strand six runners, with five of them being in scoring position. The Mariners were able to get only one run on Berrios with a solo shot by Vogelbach in the sixth on a hanging changeup.

    Berrios closed out tonight’s game barely over an ERA of three, sitting at 3.01, but unfortunately, picked up a no-decision with the Twins’ lineup nowhere to be seen in the first six innings. Berrios was also one pitch away from an immaculate inning in the fifth.

    Tommy Milone, former Twins pitcher from 2014-16, was able to keep the Twins’ offense quiet through six innings. He struggled late in his outing and ended up giving up three runs, and a start to the Twins’ push.

    His success came from getting ahead early and his changeup that Twins’ batters just couldn’t figure out. He struck out six batters using his changeup for the final strike in all of them. He also faced 22 batters and got 17 first pitch strikes.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Game
    Thu vs. SEA, 12:10 pm CT (Pineda-Kikuchi)

    Last Game
    MIN 6, SEA 5: Comeback Victory Capped By Trevor May Save

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  22. MIN 6, DET 3: Offense, Bullpen Come Through Late as Twins Take Opener

    Box Score
    Pineda: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 72.1% strikes (57 of 79 pitches)
    Home Runs: Garver (10), Cron (14), Cruz (9)
    Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (4-for-5, 2B, RBI), Garver (3-for-5, HR, RBI), Cron (2-for-4, HR), Buxton (2-for-4), Polanco (2-for-5)
    WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .200, Garver .200, Cruz .150, Cron .170
    WPA of -0.1: Rosario -.110, Astudillo - .120, Pineda -.120, Schoop -.140

    (chart via FanGraphs)

    There were two opposite games at Comerica Park on Friday night. One while Boyd was out on the mound for the Tigers and a completely different one after he completed his great outing, as usual. Minnesota took advantage of Detroit’s bullpen, which came into this game with the third-worst ERA in the league since the start of May, at 5.60. It took the Twins offense only three pitches into the eighth inning to break the tie and take the lead for good.

    Gonzalez maintained his great moment and had the fourth four-hit game of his career, the first one since Sept. 25, 2017, while still with the Astros. Mitch Garver also found his swing after a bad start since returning from the IL, hitting the first home run of the game, to go with two other hits. Overall, Minnesota managed to get 14 hits.

    Michael Pineda was making his first start after 10 days in the IL due to a knee tendinitis. He didn’t pitch as well as in his previous four games, in which he got four consecutive quality starts, but he did deliver a good outing, completing five innings and allowing three earned runs with no walks. That was good enough and you probably couldn’t have hoped for much more than that. If he’s not been great so far, he’s proven to be a solid fifth starter.

    The bullpen held the Tiger offense scoreless through four innings, bouncing back from a rather bad trip to Cleveland. The Twins improve to 42-20, maintaining the best record in the American League and a 10.5 game lead in the Central Division.

    Story of the Game
    Pineda struggled right away, as he loaded the bases in the first inning and saw Brandon Dixon score Christin Stewart on a one-out sac fly. Fortunately, he managed to hold the Tiger offense to that one run. In his 21-pitch effort, he gave up a walk and hit Nicholas Castellanos. In the end of the second, Byron Buxton made yet another fine defensive play in center field, robbing JaCoby Jones of an extra-base hit, to end the inning.

    Minnesota took the lead in the top of the third. After Buxton snapped his 0-for-18 matchup against Matthew Boyd and advanced to third base on a balk (which got Ron Gardenhire ejected) Mitch Garver hit his first home run since coming back from the IL. That homer also ended his mini-slump since coming back from rehab assignment, as he had hit 2-for-15 in his previous four games. And he crushed that, too.

    While things appeared to be stabilizing for Big Mike in the fourth, the Tigers had other ideas. They tied the game after Miguel Cabrera led off the inning with a double and was later brought home by a one-out double to left by Ronny Rodriguez. In the fifth, Pineda's struggles continued, as Detroit retook the lead on a Castellanos two-out single to left that scored old friend Niko Goodrum.

    But just like that, the SotaPop offense was at it again, scoring right after being scored on. C.J. Cron destroyed a curveball from Boyd to hit his 14th homer of the year and tied the game once again.

    Boyd finished yet another great start against Minnesota having dealt through seven innings. Then, in the third pitch of the eighth, with Joe Jimenez pitching, the tie was broken. Nelson Cruz hit a bomb to right field, making it 4-3 Minnesota. The eighth inning party, sponsored by the Tiger bullpen, continued. Cron doubled off Jimenez, just to be followed by Gonzalez’s fourth hit of the night, bringing him home.

    Meanwhile, after being roughed up in Cleveland, the Twins bullpen did a superb job to hold on to the victory. Mike Morin and Ryne Harper combined for two flawless innings following Pineda’s departure. Both of them had identical performances of 13 pitches with nine strikes, giving up nothing but a hit. Harper truck out the side and earned his first MLB win. Tyler Duffey, on the other hand, didn’t pitch in the eighth as well as they had in the sixth and seventh. He allowed two runners to reach, and both advanced on a wild pitch, but he managed to deliver scoreless outing.

    Another Twins insurance run was added in the top of the ninth. Buxton led off the inning with a double, his MLB-leading 21st and his second hit of the game. Then, he was scored by a Garver grounder to center, his third hit of the night, making it 6-3 Twins.

    Blake Parker got his ninth save of the season, but he made it interesting. Detroit batters demanded 28 pitches from him and two runners reached on walks. But, in the end, Parker pushed through.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:

    Next Game
    Sat at DET, 3:10 pm (Gibson-TBD)

    Last Game
    MIN 5, CLE 4: Max Power Against Bauer

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  23. CLE 5, MIN 2: Twins Can’t Figure Out Bieber, Lindor Lifts Cleveland

    Box Score
    Smeltzer: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 59.8% strikes (49 of 82 pitches)
    Home Runs: Gonzalez (7), Rosario (18)
    Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2-for-4, 2B, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: None
    WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.102, Smeltzer -.183
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The Twins had only one other true scoring threat, when they put Miguel Sano at third and Johnathon Schoop at second with two outs in the second inning. Minnesota didn’t move anybody past second base outside of their two solo shots. The Tribe’s bullpen would come in and shut the door, Oliver Perez struck out the side in the eighth, and Brad Hand shut the door for the save in the ninth. The Twins did not record a hit after Eddie Rosario’s home run in the sixth inning.

    Margo and Rosie Continue Their Tears, Rest of Team Goes Silent
    One of the bright spots in a bleak night in Cleveland is the continued surges of Marwin Gonzalez and Eddie Rosario. Gonzalez would add a home run and double to his season total, following his strong series in Tampa Bay where he had another game where he had a double and home run. Gonzalez has six home runs and seven doubles this year. Unfortunately, Gonzalez ended his night with a game ending double-play ball.

    Eddie Rosario only had one hit, but it was his 18th home run this year. The Twins couldn’t muster anything else out of their offense, with another particularly bad performance turned in by right fielder Max Kepler. Kepler went 0-for-4 to extend his at-bat streak without a hit to 17. Outside of Gonzalez and Rosario, the Twins only had two other hits, the double by Jonathan Schoop, and a single by Jorge Polanco. Byron Buxton should have had an infield single in the eighth, but a bobble by Cleveland shortstop Fransisco Lindor made it an error.

    Smetlzer Can’t Figure Out Lindor, Gets Chased by Back-to-Back Homers
    Rookie Devin Smeltzer had his “welcome to the big leagues” game as a starter today when he gave up two home runs to Indians’ shortstop Fransisco Lindor. Lindor hit a solo shot in the third on an 0-2 count, a pitch that Smeltzer was trying to locate above the zone, but left it belt-high and middle-in.

    The second home run that Lindor hit was another pitch middle-in, but this time was a changeup left just under the belt. Lindor finished the game with those two home runs, a walk, and three RBIs. Smeltzer was chased from the game in the seventh inning when he gave up home runs on back-to-back pitches to Cleveland’s Roberto Perez and Jake Bauers. Twins relievers were solid tonight, and not overtaxed as Ryne Harper collected two outs and Tyler Duffey pitched a spotless eighth.

    The Twins certainly didn’t play up to their potential tonight, but they also got rocked 14-3 to start their last series in Tampa Bay. The bats going cold is concerning, but it’s happened before. Smeltzer didn’t look as untouchable as he did in his last start, but it’s only his second career start and he was only making it as Michael Pineda spends time on the injured list. It never feels good to lose to a division rival, but this series is not make-or-break for the Twins. Look for a good bounce-back tomorrow from Minnesota tomorrow. After all, they are 15-3 following losses.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Game
    Wed at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Perez-Carrasco)

    Last Game
    MIN 9, TB 7: Odorizzi Shines In Tampa Return

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  24. MIN 6, TB 2: Marwin Carries May Success Into June, Helps Lead Twins Over Rays

    Box Score
    Gibson: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 67.0% strikes (59 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Gonzalez (6), Buxton (6)
    Multi-Hit Games: Castro (3-for-4, 2B), Gonzalez (2-for-5, 2B, HR), Buxton (2-for-3, HR, BB), Rosario (2-for-4, BB)
    WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .168, Gibson .151, Polanco .125, Castro .107
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Gonzalez, who hit .299/.370/.443 (.814 OPS) in May, had a go-ahead RBI double and a solo home run today. He also had a flyout that had an exit velocity of 99 mph and traveled 379 feet. Marwin accounted for three of the five longest balls hit in today’s game, those three balls traveling a combined 1,201 feet.

    Gonzalez has played a different position each game of this series so far. He’s moved across the diamond, going from third base Thursday to shortstop last night to first base this afternoon. He contributed there, as well, making a few nice scoops and stretches.

    The Twins’ bullpen, subject of constant nitpickery, was also solid today. That unit combined to cover the final four innings of this game, and the only run they surrendered was on a 67.4 mph Ryne Harper curveball below the zone that Christian Arroyo somehow muscled out for his first homer of the year.

    Tampa Bay starter Yonny Chirinos was nasty early on, but the Twins seemed to figure him out as the game progressed. They were having a tough time with Chirinos’ slider in particular, but he left one up on an 0-2 count to Byron Buxton in the fourth inning that resulted in an RBI single. Buxton also hit a solo homer with two strikes off reliever Hunter Wood in the sixth inning.

    Chirinos ended up with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings and got 19 swinging strikes on his 91 pitches. Even with that nastiness, the Twins lineup was able to get nine hits off him.

    Kyle Gibson had basically the opposite experience. He wasn’t overpowering Tampa Bay, but he managed to make pitches when he really needed to.

    After the Twins took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning, it was starting to feel like Gibson might unravel in the bottom of that frame. He labored through, requiring 28 pitches to get through it, but he managed to hold the Rays off the board and stranded the bases loaded.

    Gibson followed that grind of an inning up with a quick 1-2-3 fourth inning that required just 10 pitches. He ran into some more trouble in the fifth, but pitched around a leadoff single. In his five innings, the Rays were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Gibson and stranded seven runners on base. The only run he gave up was unearned.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Game
    Sun at TB, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-TBD)

    Last Game
    MIN 5, TB 3: Twins Rally, Top Rays Late

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  25. MIN 8, LAA 3: Bats Break Loose Late

    Box Score
    Pineda: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 63.0% strikes (51 of 81 pitches)
    Home Runs: Gonzalez (5), Arraez (1)
    Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Polanco (2-for-4, BB), Gonzalez (2-for-5, 2B, HR), Rosario (2-for-5), Arraez (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .305, Polanco .285
    WPA of -0.1: Schoop -.100
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The matchup for tonight’s game was Michael Pineda against Trevor Cahill as the Twins looked for their second straight win and to continue their hot road trip.

    Pineda Settles
    Michael Pineda had a rough start to the game, giving up a solo shot to Mike Trout in the first and a two out rally in the second as the Angels got off to a 3-0 lead. After a shaky start that included three hits, one walk and a wild pitch, he was able to send down 13 out of 14 batters to close out his night.

    It was very impressive to see Pineda be able to pitch six innings tonight after his first two innings. He recovered well and finished with 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks and was able to pick up a win thanks to some late game hitting. He improved to 4-3 but his ERA is still pretty high, sitting at 5.43. He’s been looking better of late and keep in mind, he’s coming off Tommy John surgery.

    Offense Comes Alive Late
    After being no-hit for the first four innings of the game, Arraez continued his hit-streak to start his career. He hit his first major league home run in the eighth inning and is now 7-for-12 in the major leagues.

    Through five innings, the Twins had only three baserunners, two walks and one hit, but none of them had made it past first base.Then, the Twins exploded in the second half of the game to win their second straight and improve to 5-1 on this road trip.

    In the sixth inning they had three straight extra base hits on three straight pitches. It started with a double from Kepler that was very close to being a home run which ended Cahill’s night, exactly what the Twins needed. Polanco followed with a double of his own down the first base line to score the first run for the Twins. Marwin Gonzalez was able to tie the game on a home run to right field to extend his hit streak to 11 games and tying the game at 3-3.

    The hitting continued into the seventh to put the Twins up for the first time tonight. A hit-by-pitch and a pair of singles, including another RBI for Polanco on a two-out single. Gonzalez extended the lead with a ground rule double for his third RBI of the night. Eddie Rosario kept it going with a weird play between the shift which scored two more runs in the seventh.

    Bullpen’s Work
    Matt Magill came in for the seventh and made quick work, striking out his first two batters, and after allowing a single, got La Stella to ground out to end the inning.

    Trevor May got the call for the eighth and after giving up a lead off walk, he got a fielder’s choice and a strikeout before handing the ball to Baldelli. Rogers came in, after pitching for the first time in six days last night, and retired his only batter on the first pitch to end the eighth.

    Mike Morin was given the ninth inning and gave up a couple of singles. There was no need to worry with the defense he had behind him. Buxton made one catch crashing into the wall, and another sprinting in for the first two outs, and Arraez made a diving stop at third to finish off the game

    The Twins won 8-3 and secured a series win in Anaheim. They improve to 32-16 with a 6.5 game lead in the American League Central.

    Postgame With Arraez

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Game
    Wed at LAA, 8:07 pm CT (Perez-Harvey)

    Last Game
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