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  1. The Only Twins-Yankees History That Might Actually Matter

    We’ll do a lot of looking ahead to this Twins-Yankees ALDS here at Twins Daily over the coming days, but I thought it was also worthwhile to take a quick look back at how these teams have played against each other so far in 2019.

    There’s no denying the Yankees dominance over the Twins in postseason play, but it’s also completely irrelevant. Rocco Baldelli’s response to whether he was aware of the recent postseason history between the Twins and Yankees was the exact message the entire organization and its fans needed to hear.

    So how about 2019? The Twins went 2-4 against the Yankees this season, though New York only held the advantage in run differential by five (43-38). Here’s how things went at Yankee Stadium, with links to the Twins Daily game recap for each contest:

    May 3 | NYY 6, MIN 3
    May 4 | MIN 7, NYY 3
    May 5 | NYY 4, MIN 1 (8 innings)

    The Bomba Squad was uncharacteristically quiet in that series, and a few untimely errors crippled the pitching staff. There were three unearned runs allowed the first game and one more in the finale. The teams met again nearly two months later in Minneapolis.

    July 22 | MIN 8, NYY 6
    July 23 | NYY 14, MIN 12 (10 innings)
    July 24 | NYY 10, MIN 7

    The Twins evened up the season series at two games a piece, then had New York against the ropes in the second game at Target Field. The Twins led 8-2 through the first four innings, but suffered a crushing extra-inning loss in what was among the most thrilling games of the season.

    Over the entire season series, the Twins combined to hit a solid .254/.343/.512 (.855 OPS), but the Yankees had a much more impressive .327/.402/.588 line (.989 OPS). Poor starting pitching was a common theme throughout for both teams. Here’s a look at the numbers:

    NYY SPs: 8.54 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.045 OPS against in 26 1/3 innings.
    MIN SPs: 7.45 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 1.047 OPS against in 29 innings.

    Ick. The biggest separator was bullpen performance. Twins relievers combined for a 5.87 ERA in 23 frames while the Yankees pen posted a 3.38 ERA over 26 2/3 innings. Blake Parker managed to give up five runs while recording just five outs against the Yankees, so I guess take that with a grain of salt. Parker’s dreadful appearance in that July 23 madhouse of a game was his last in a Twins uniform.

    Considering the changes both these teams have gone through since late July, even this season’s previous matchups might not matter. That alone illustrates how completely ridiculous it is to drag any prior years into the conversation.

    • Sep 29 2019 09:33 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  2. How Soon Could Top Prospect Brusdar Graterol Debut?

    Assistant General Manager Rob Antony was interviewed by Darren Wolfson earlier this week. When Wolfson asked about Graterol joining the Twins, Anthony made the team’s position clear.

    “I would say absolutely,” Antony said. “That came into play when we talked about some of these guys some relievers that we talked about. We looked at each other and basically said, ‘Why not bring up Graterol?’”

    Graterol, the 20-year old righty, is working his way back from a shoulder issue- impingement- that had him on the injured list. In two appearances with the GCL Twins, he has thrown three scoreless innings by allowing one hit and striking out four. His fastball has been in the high-90s with good movement and some radar guns had him top out at 101 mph. He was added back to Pensacola's roster on Wednesday.

    “His arm feels great.” Antony went on to say. “So, we need to build him up and give him a few more outings and hopefully that continues, and I don’t think we’d be afraid to run him up here and see if he can’t be part of the equation in the bullpen.”

    In nine starts for Pensacola, Graterol has posted a 1.89 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP to go along with 46 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. Also, he has a 3.26 FIP, 8.69 K/9, 3.59 BB/9 and a 52.1% groundball rate. So far this season in the Southern League, the average age for pitchers is 24.3 years old. This means Graterol is almost a full month younger than the second youngest pitcher in the league.

    Even with the time missed because of injury, Graterol is still a consensus top-60 prospect in all of baseball. In their mid-season updates, Baseball America put him as their number 34 prospect, the highest of any major ranking. FanGraphs (52) and MLB.com (58) both had him in their top-60. Here at Twins Daily, he was our number three ranked prospect.

    Antony also hinted at the possibility of Graterol filling a multi-inning role that could be a big boost to a bullpen that has seemed to have a direct line to Rochester in recent weeks. Minnesota’s bullpen has completely transformed after parting ways with Matt Magill, Adalberto Mejia, Mike Morin and Blake Parker. Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson were added at the deadline, but Dyson is already on the injured list.

    Entering play on Wednesday, Minnesota’s bullpen had a 4.45 ERA, which ranked 17th in MLB. The Twins also don’t rank favorably when it comes to relievers FIP (23rd), BB/9 (25th), LOB% (23rd) and HR/FB (27th). Graterol’s talent could certainly help these numbers if he is healthy and the Twins feel he is ready to be added to the team’s 40-man roster.

    Antony didn’t beat around the bush. “I would not be surprised to see him up in Minnesota at some point. Maybe this month…”

    Do you think Graterol could help the Twins this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Aug 07 2019 07:20 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  3. Could the Twins Miss the Playoffs?

    Standings Check-In
    The Twins enter play on Thursday with a three-game lead in the AL Central. At the beginning of June, the Twins were up 10.5 games as Cleveland had squeaked out a .500 record up to that point. By the end of June, Minnesota still had a comfortable eight game lead, but then Cleveland really turned on the heat. The Indians have gone 13-4 in July with two of their losses coming against the Twins. Some will point to Cleveland’s recent opponents as the reasons for their success, but they are winning the games in front of them.

    According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have a 96.2% chance of making the playoffs and a 90.9% chance of winning the division. They put Cleveland’s odds at 9.1% to win the division and 41.1% to make the playoffs. Also, the site projects Minnesota’s best possible record as 104-58 and their worst record as 91-71. On the flip side, Cleveland’s best record is projected as 96-66 and their worst record could be 83-79. Cleveland’s best and Minnesota’s worst would put the Twins back into the AL Wild Card Game.

    Cleveland currently sits in the first Wild Card spot with Oakland trailing by one game. Twins fans saw how good Oakland has been in their recent match-up and the A’s have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Boston and Tampa Bay sit two games behind the A’s, which means the Twins are six games up from being on the outside looking in.

    Multiple Weaknesses
    Minnesota has been running through a steady group of relievers from Rochester over the last couple weeks. This comes on the heels of the club parting ways with Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota cleared multiple roster spots without making any immediate additions to the bullpen. Cody Stashak made his MLB debut last night and he might have been the most effective Twins pitcher in a crazy game. Other players like Lewis Thorpe and Kohl Stewart are also getting some relief opportunities.

    Twins relievers have seen some struggles in recent weeks albeit it has come against some strong opponents. Trevor May has given up multiple leads with some hanging breaking balls that ended up over the fence. He was even asked to pitch over 50 pitches in one game. On Thursday, Blake Parker was designated for assignment or release. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have also had some blemishes on their record as of late. Even the team’s best reliever, Taylor Rogers, has seen some leads slip through his hands. Realistically, the bullpen needs some help and Rochester might not have the pieces the team needs.

    The bullpen hasn’t been Minnesota’s only weakness. Fans have been frustrated with the Twins inability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded. Twins batters have combined for an .820 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, the club has had 91 at-bats with the bases loaded this season while hitting .195/.213/.286 with only four extra-base hits. There seems to be some kind of hang-up when three men are on base instead of just having runners in scoring position.

    Looming Trade Deadline
    Minnesota could address some of their issues through trades in the next seven days. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey joined Darren Wolfson on his podcast to discuss the upcoming trade deadline. This year’s deadline is different since team’s cant make waiver trades after July 31. Falvey believes there will be a flurry of moves right before the deadline. Minnesota has given some consideration to being the first team to pull the trigger on a big trade, but that likely would mean the team is going to have to overpay to set the market.

    Falvey went on to say, the Twins are interested in improving “overall pitching depth.” This could be starters, relievers or maybe the team can get creative. He mentioned, “If there are ways to add to our starting rotation, our pitching depth, is there a way to add to the bullpen at the same time?”

    Fans might not want to hold out for any blockbuster trade. He believes the team is most likely looking for “supplements” to the current roster. If the team is going to win this year, it is going to be because of “the group that’s in the clubhouse right now.”

    To some, that might not exactly be a vote of confidence. However, the Twins need to avoid doing anything brash, because those type of trades can come back to haunt an organization.

    Do you think there’s a chance the Twins don’t make the playoffs? What would the repercussions be for the organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    Other Stories of Interest
    Byron Buxton’s Not So Secret Value
    Twins Getting Greatness from Utility
    Buyer Beware: Avoiding a Chris Archer Trade

    • Jul 24 2019 05:49 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. The New Bullpen Market Efficiency?

    Aside from adding Blake Parker, who seemed like a rather marginal upgrade, the Twins really didn’t do much to address the bullpen during the offseason. Instead they extended Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler and made several key offensive additions). Rather than adding any big-named, high-priced relievers, the Twins have chosen to roll with minor league free agent signings and their own internal candidates.

    In some cases it worked remarkably well (as expected with Taylor Rogers and somewhat surprisingly with Ryne Harper), others have been serviceable but haven’t quite taken the step forward that we would have hoped (Trevor May), and some have been a disaster (Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger). The Twins have relied upon the Rochester/Minneapolis shuttle and found some useful pieces, most recently in Zack Littell. Tyler Duffey has also been pretty good for the most part and Devin Smeltzer, Kohl Stewart, and Sean Poppen have provided some useful outings, both starting and in relief.

    The bullpen is currently sixth in the American League in ERA and first in WPA (Thanks Taylor Rogers!). Although the Twin’s bullpen has been surprisingly effective this year, I don’t think anyone would argue that they couldn’t use at least one more late-inning shut-down reliever along with a quality middle reliever, preferably a lefty.

    However, not jumping in to make a big off-season reliever signing or two is looking more and more prudent.

    A quick glance at the stat lines of the top free agent relievers will show how inconsistent the signings were, Well, outside of the Yankees, unfortunately. In general, signing free agent relievers seems to be a crapshoot, as the past couple of seasons have shown. Even with the somewhat suppressed contract amounts of the last two seasons, staying clear of the FA reliever market was shrewd in that Twins avoided the burden of being committed to a potentially ineffective reliever for multiple years. This of course saves the Twins money, but more importantly it keeps them from feeling an obligation to continue running out an ineffective reliever because of money owed, as it is much easier to cut a player who isn’t tied to a large salary (as we’ve seen recently with Matt Magill and Mike Morin). It also makes it more palatable to take on added salary in a trade, whether starter or reliever.

    This brings us to the potential beauty of the Twins’ plan, if it is in fact their plan. If they do decide to add relievers through trades they have a much better idea of what they are getting than they would through free agency. The Twins are obviously closely monitoring potential trade targets and are aware of how relievers have pitched recently. Although there is always the risk that a player could regress for the remainder of the regular season and/or in the postseason, the odds are certainly lower than that of an off-season acquisition. Plus, relievers who have some years of team control left tend to be younger and therefore less likely for regression than more volatile, older free agents through the remainder of their time with the Twins. Waiting gives the Twins the advantage of seeing the direction in which the potential trade target is trending. They have the luxury of going after the hot hand(s).

    The Twins are in a great position to make some trades. With a stacked farm system, the Twins can afford to part with a few quality prospects to go after a high-quality reliever or two with some years of team control left, and/or go after upcoming free agents without giving up any top prospects. Falvey and Levine have done a nice job of building the farm system and definitely place a high value on prospects. They undoubtedly have a notion of which prospects are untouchable and seem unlikely to needlessly give away prospects. The front office seems keen to keep the best long- term interests of the team intact (as they should), but with a first place team they are almost obligated to strengthen the pen through some trades.

    Whether or not this is something the front office cleverly plotted out or just fell into. That is, staying away from free agent relievers, testing/developing internal options, and waiting to make a trade or two (or three) appears ingenious in hindsight. We’ll find out soon enough.

    • Jul 20 2019 09:31 PM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  5. MIN 5, KC 3: Twins Win Nail-Biter in Extras

    Box Score

    Berríos: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 61.1% strikes (55 of 90 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
    Home Runs: Sanó (9), Cave (1), Cron (17)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cron (3-for-5, HR, RBI), Cave (2-for-3, HR)

    WPA of +0.1: Berríos .366, Cron .356, Cave .250, May .142
    WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.113, Cruz -.121, Polanco -.155, Astudillo -.161, Rogers -.269

    Posted Image
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Coming into this game, the Twins were having some rather rocky previous few games. After having a winning record in all of its seven, ten-game splits so far in the season, Minnesota had more losses than wins in their current ten-game split, with a 2-3 record. They were able to avoid a three-game losing streak on Friday night, as they have done all year, though. They were able to get a second straight win even though they had to face an, at times, very difficult opposing starter in lefty Danny Duffy.

    Even though Duffy isn’t having a very good year, coming into this game with a 4.64 ERA, he had posted a 2.61 ERA in his last five starts against the Twins, striking out nine batters per nine innings. It was by no means an easy task. But, José Berríos also came into the game carrying great recent success against the Royals. In his last six starts against them, he’s posted a 2.48 ERA, not once giving up more than three runs or pitching fewer than six innings.

    Sanó slowly ending his slump
    Miguel Sanó had a brutal series against the Boston Red Sox earlier in the week, going 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts. He then became the rally sparker late in Friday’s game, hitting a clutch solo home run to tie the game in the eighth inning. That didn’t change the fact that he finished the game in a 1-for-19 sequence. So he was determined to end that slump for good. He homered again on Saturday, in the second inning, to put the Twins ahead.

    For the first time in the past ten games, the Twins recorded three home runs in a game. The last time they did so was on June 12th against the Mariners. Minnesota continues on the path to break the single-season home run record, as they are now on pace to hit 311 homers. Here’s a look at how Jake Cave (his first of the year) and C.J. Cron went back-to-back in the eighth.

    Berríos leaves and the Royals take advantage
    Everything was going smoothly until the beginning of the eighth inning. Berríos had completed seven shutout innings with only 83 pitches. But he started suffering from a blister on his right ring finger and gave up a single and a walk to open the inning.

    Both of those runners ended up scoring as Taylor Rogers couldn’t strand them. Kansas City then tied the game in the inning, as Jorge Soler was hit by a pitch from Rogers and scored later. For the second time this week, the Twins were going to extra innings after Trevor May pitched a scoreless ninth.

    Patiently, Minnesota was able to score a couple more runs to retake the lead in the tenth. After Luis Arráez and Cave reached on a single and a hit-by-pitch, Cron got his third hit of the day to earn his second RBI. It was followed by Eddie Rosario’s double to add one more insurance run and give Blake Parker some breathing room to earn his tenth save of the year in the bottom of the inning.

    Bullpen continues good stretch
    Any compliments given to the Twins bullpen this year will sound weird. Although Minnesota relievers aren’t having a very good year, they’ve had some brilliant stints, the current one included. Before this afternoon game, the Twins bullpen pitched 31 innings in the previous eight games, posting a 2.03 ERA. It also should be said that more than half of those innings - sixteen and two-thirds - were pitched against the current World Series champions.

    Despite the fact that Rogers couldn’t hold on to the advantage late in regulation and got his third blown save of the year, the Twins bullpen is now posting a 2.11 ERA in the past nine games. May earned his second win of the season.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    Posted Image

    • Jun 22 2019 08:44 PM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  6. CLE 9, MIN 7: Bullpen Crumbles on Night Kimbrel Signs With Cubs

    Box Score
    Perez: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 60.9% strikes (56 of 92 pitches)
    Home Runs: Buxton (7), Cruz (8), Polanco (10)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Buxton .191, Polanco .156
    WPA of -0.1: Sano -.137, Perez -.218, Parker -.500
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The Twins held a 6-5 lead through six innings, but rain caused this game to be delayed more than an hour and a half. The Twins scratched across an insurance run once play resumed, but Blake Parker was ready to play his role in throwing gasoline on what was already a hot talking point across Twins Territory.

    I don’t know that you’ll find a Twins fan or baseball analyst who believes the Twins bullpen is fine as it’s currently constructed. So for Kimbrel to sign and Parker to give up three runs to blow the lead within a matter of hours is only going to increase the attention paid to that storyline.

    Parker gave up a two-run homer to Jordan Luplow and a solo shot to Roberto Perez. Just for good measure, Tyler Duffey gave up a solo homer to Francisco Lindor in the eighth.

    It’s worth mentioning that the Twins came into tonight 34-2 when holding a lead entering the seventh inning. Things like this haven’t happened all that often this year, it’s just that we’ve all been expecting doom for so long that it feels like they have.

    Perez Struggles Again
    Martin Perez entered this start having posted a 5.59 ERA over his previous four outings. His last time out against Tampa Bay was particularly ugly, as he gave up six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

    Perez opened his evening by walking the leadoff man, Francisco Lindor, on four pitches. The Twins lineup was making noise again tonight, creating plenty of breathing room, but Perez wasn’t sharp once again tonight.

    There were a few bad-luck, seeing-eye singles mixed in, but Perez struggled to find the strike zone. When he did, he didn’t miss many bats. He threw only 60.9 percent of his pitches for strikes and got just four swinging strikes on his 92 pitches. That’s the fewest swings and misses he’s had in an outing this season, which is particularly striking because he had four appearances of fewer than four innings coming into tonight (he started the year in the bullpen, remember?).

    It was a bit of a sloppy game for the Twins. Perez and Jason Castro had some troubles, accounting for both a wild pitch and a passed ball. Also, Miguel Sano committed his second error of the season. Only two of the five runs Perez gave up were earned. Still, he was given a 5-1 lead at one point and could not seal the deal.

    Cleveland Pen Battles Through Trying Times
    This appeared to be a tough matchup for Cleveland from the get-go. Carlos Carrasco was placed in the IL due to a blood condition, resulting in the team being forced to go with a bullpen game.

    As if that wasn’t a challenge enough, I imagine the rain delay didn’t help things. They used seven pitchers tonight. Momentum isn’t something that can be quantified, but for Cleveland to win this game under these circumstances has to have injected some swagger into that clubhouse.

    The Good Stuff
    It wasn’t all bad. The Twins lineup was out there hitting bombas again. Byron Buxton absolutely obliterated an 0-2 pitch for a three-run homer.

    The lineup also combined to go 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and five of the Twins’ run were scored with two outs.

    Trevor May made things interesting in the sixth, but he got out of it unscathed and struck out a pair of batters. He was averaging 96.1 mph with his four seamer tonight. He had been sitting at 94.8 mph with that pitch coming into this evening.

    But who am I kidding? You’re a Minnesota sports fan. You’re only here to cry in your beer (or coffee, depending on when you’re reading this) and lament about not being able to have nice things. That’s OK, we’re all here for you, lol.

    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 at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Berrios-Bauer)

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

    More from Twins Daily
    Will Minnesota Be a Fit for Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel?
    2019 MLB Draft Day 2 Thread
    MLB Draft Day 3 Thread

    • Jun 06 2019 05:49 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. MIN 5, MIL 3: Smeltzer Shines in Emotional MLB Debut

    Box Score

    Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 76.8% strikes (53 of 69 pitches)

    Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (17)
    Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco 2-for-4

    WPA of +0.1: Devin Smeltzer (.365), Willians Astudillo (.159),
    WPA of -0.1: Jonathan Schoop (-.110),

    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The Devin Smeltzer Show

    Hey, when a guy makes his MLB debut, it is always going to be a story. But as we know, with Smeltzer, there’s always a bigger story. The fact that he made his major league debut as a 23-year-old when he was diagnosed with cancer as a nine year old is remarkable. The fact that he has been cancer-free for several years is remarkable. His willingness to give back and support others who are dealing with what he has dealt with is, yes, remarkable.

    Catch Cancer Looking
    Katie’s Krusaders

    And his major league debut was, in fact, remarkable. Six shutout innings with just 69 pitches, and 53 of them were strikes. He struck out seven batters. And as easy as he made things look in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, he really had to do some work to get through the second and third inning. The second began with a leadoff triple, but he was stranded at third. In the next inning, a leadoff double was stranded.

    It was an emotional night for Smeltzer's family, friends and long-time supporters…

    And for Jack Morris…

    And for Devin Smeltzer too…

    Buxton vs The Wall (Part)

    Advantage, the Wall. Yasmani Grandal led off the second inning with a blast to the wall in left center field. Byron Buxton raced toward the bullpens, leapt, and just missed the ball. And then, he slammed into the wall. His glove flew one direction. His body was five feet in the air, parallel to the ground. And he landed hard.

    Fortunately, the initial diagnosis was “right knee bruise.” It could have been much worse.

    Zach Davies Is No Romantic

    Despite such a nice MLB debut, Smeltzer got a No Decision because Brewers starter Zach Davies was also very good. Like Smeltzer, Davies doesn’t throw hard. He topped out maybe at 90, sat at 88 most of the time. But he was equal to the task, as he has been for much of the season for the Brewers. He used an impressive two-seam fastball most of the night and hit his spots throughout the night. Like Smeltzer, Davies threw six shutout innings.

    Another Big Inning

    The Twins have found a way to have a big offensive innings at least once in most games the last several weeks. On Tuesday night, that inning came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lefty Alex Claudio came in. He’s been very tough on left-handed batters. So, of course, Jason Castro blooped a single to left. Willians Astudillo then grounded to second, but Keston Hiura threw toward second and hit the back of Castro’s helmet. The ball ricocheted into center field which allowed Castro to go to third base and Astudillo to hustle into second. Max Kepler, who has been crushing lefties of late, provided a big line drive double off the wall in right field to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

    A couple of batters later, CJ Cron doubled in a run, and then Eddie Rosario stepped to the plate with two runners on and uncoiled for his 17th homer of the season to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.

    A Possible Storyline for Discussion

    I think we can all agree that Rocco Baldelli has done a nice job of not overusing his relievers. However, on Monday night, Taylor Rogers struggled and gave up an eighth-inning, go-ahead, two-run homer to Orlando Arcia. On Tuesday, Blake Parker came in for the eighth inning and gave up a two-run homer that cut the lead to 5-2. Taylor Rogers, pitching for the third straight game, started the ninth inning by giving up a solo home run. He got the next two outs before Ryne Harper came on and got the final out.

    As I said, I think that we all agree that the long-term benefits of rest for key bullpen arms is important. But in the short-term, might that mean some rust? Might that potential cause some short-term heartburn? Or, do we just give credit to a strong Brewers lineup in this case and realize that even the better guys aren’t going to be perfect every time?

    Bullpen Usage

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

    Next Three Games

    Wednesday - Day Off
    Thursday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay- Martin Perez (7-1, 2.95 ERA) vs TBD
    Friday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay - Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.20 ERA) vs TBD
    Saturday - 12:10 @ Tampa Bay - Kyle Gibson (5-2, 4.08 ERA) vs TBD

    Last Game

    MIN 5, MIL 4: Hader Closes the Door on the Twins Win Streak

    • May 29 2019 04:24 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. Building for Primetime

    It's been a long time since Twins fans last had the luxury of contemplating things like pennant races and playoff rotations and jockeying for home field advantage. I can't remember ever having any such thoughts before the end of May. But we're at a point where talking about the Twins as likely postseason entrants and World Series contenders is not fanciful. It's almost obligatory.

    Throughout the entirety of a drawn-out rebuilding process that began with a 99-loss season in 2011, Minnesota has been future-focused. At their best (in 2015 and '17), they straddled the line, scrapping for an unlikely postseason berth while keeping their eyes trained on a championship window to come. Here in 2019, if perhaps slightly ahead of schedule, the window has been thrust open. The future is now.

    There is nothing fluky or superficial about the stunning success of this Twins team. Finding weaknesses is tough. The lineup continues to reaffirm that its unparalleled 1-through-9 power and run-scoring prowess are for real. The rotation has no blatant holes. (Michael Pineda gets some flack, but all his numbers outside of a bloated HR rate – and correspondingly high ERA – are quite good for a fifth starter.)

    And the bullpen has, thus far, been beyond respectable. As Matt Braun concluded in a blog entry here on Thursday, "These guys have actually been pretty good, so lay off them for now." He makes many fair points, noting that the unit rates well in key categories like FIP and leverage metrics. There's no doubt Twins relievers have performed extraordinarily well thus far.

    But as I view the Twins through this new, unfamiliar lens – sudden division favorites with legitimate championship aspirations – the bullpen does weigh on me. It's almost inconceivable at this point, given how absurdly consistent they've been since Day 1, but eventually this team will hit some turbulence. The bats will go through some quieter periods, and the starters will experience downspells or injuries. In the dog days of the summer, we will really see this bullpen tested. As much as this team has surpassed my every expectation, even the most optimistic side of me can't see it grading out too well in those moments.

    And when it comes to matching up against the other kingpins in the American League? Houston, New York and Boston have deep pens custom-built for October. Tampa Bay, as usual, has a vast assortment of incredibly effective relievers that no one's ever heard of – in fact, they have the game's best bullpen ERA.

    I guess you could put the Twins in the same boat as the Rays, a club they seemingly modeled their approach after. Like Minnesota, Tampa has opportunistically traded away good relievers, filling the vacancies through internal pipeline or low-wattage additions. Both teams have mostly eschewed free agency; as you watch Addison Reed get cut loose with his millions in dead money, while Blake Parker and Ryne Harper continually deliver, it grows a lot tougher to question that strategy.

    The Twins are finding ways to extract the most out of their talent. Pitching coaches Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner are clearly getting through with good info. Rocco Baldelli's decision-making and usage patterns have been strong, from my view, and he places a clear focus on taking care of his players. All these factors help elevate a group toward its true potential.

    Still, unless some sort of supernatural enchantment is at play (and it's getting a little harder to rule that out with each passing day), no objective onlooker can view this bullpen with great confidence going forward.

    Taylor Rogers is clearly awesome. I'm willing to buy into Parker, although his 1.10/3.87 split in ERA/FIP points to a clear luck element to his ridiculously good results thus far. After those two, the Twins have:

    • Trevor May. Sadly not anywhere near the same guy he was last year. His swinging strike rate is down to single digits (from an elite 15.4% last year), because his stuff isn't compelling people to swing outside the zone, which is also leading to too many walks. May's throwing as hard as ever and it isn't hard to envision him turning that corner, but so far he hasn't.
    • Ryne Harper. There's no knocking his splendid performance up to this point. But he's a 30-year-old MLB rookie whose fastball sits in the high-80s. He's going to need to keep doing it for quite a while longer before lifting all shrouds of doubt.
    • Matt Magill. The Twins were believers. They had him in their bullpen plans before an injury sidelined him to start the year, and since joining the team in late April, Magill has validated their faith. He might be one of the least intimidating-looking pitchers in baseball but his spectacular velocity – 95 and 88 on average with the fastball and slider – belie his aesthetic. He has ridden that stuff to copious strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. This is clearly a higher-caliber pitcher than we saw last year, but everyone recalls the way his hot start turned ice cold in 2018.
    • Mike Morin. He has thrown strikes and gotten people out. (8.1 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 ER). What more could you ask? But it's only nine appearances. He's also a 28-year-old who has thrown 24 MLB innings over the past two years, and owns a 3.99 career ERA in Triple-A.
    • Austin Adams. Can't help but be impressed by his arm out of the gates. He throws even harder than Magill, and looked dominant in two outings before getting blown up by the Angels on Thursday. His nightmare outing in Anaheim (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 ER) will set his numbers back for a while. And it served as a reminder: As good as some of these relievers look at times, and as much as the Twins might be optimizing their repertoires and usage, these are still pitchers signed to minor-league contracts, drawing zero demand from the league at large. Him, Magill, Morin, Harper. And the next guy can more or less be placed in the same group.
    • Tyler Duffey. He almost certainly would've been waived from the 40-man roster during the offseason, if not for holding an option that allowed the Twins to stash him at Triple-A. Now he's in the Minnesota bullpen and looking very much like the dominant reliever we all dreamed he could be. Duffey is finally showing some bite on his heater, and in combination with his ever-vexing curveball, it's piling up strikeouts.
    So after Parker and Rogers, you have May and then five guys that are more or less veteran Triple-A pitchers thrust into MLB action. With the exception of Adams' implosion, they've all handled it beautifully. All are awesome individual stories, and given the substance behind each of these performances, it isn't that hard to see any one of them sustaining. But... all of them? That feels like too tall an ask, even in this possibly enchanted season.

    Depth is of the essence. And that's where the pressing concerns emerge. The front office was planning around Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Romero (and maybe Reed) as key late-inning contributors, but at present both are struggling as part of a GHASTLY bullpen at Rochester:

    The Triple-A rotation hasn't been so hot either. There's no credible help at the highest level of the minors. Double-A is a little more interesting, and on Thursday, Brusdar Graterol's presence in Minneapolis raised considerable intrigue among the fan base. It sounds like Graterol was here for evaluation, but the idea of a call-up wasn't that far-fetched, which says quite a lot for 20-year-old pitcher (and for the Twins' underlying need). He's been absurdly dominant in Double-A. Alas, the right-hander recently dealt with a trapezius issue and the Twins will smartly place his welfare ahead of the team's.

    With that in mind, who's going to help this bullpen? The internal reinforcement slate at present is not inspiring. The MLB Draft is suddenly less than two weeks away, meaning that Craig Kimbrel is about to be freed from his burdensome compensation pick tether. That'll fire up the discussions around him again, which is fair. But I maintain that the trade market is a superior avenue. That's how the Astros acquired the best reliever in baseball (from the Twins, unfortunately) and it's a big part of how Tampa constructed its bullpen.

    The Twins are sneakily well positioned. Their relief corps has performed well, so no trade partner is going to be able to leverage it as an urgent weakness against them. At the same time, the Twins are more motivated to be proactive than other big-market contenders, who are largely flush with high-paid, established options.

    Will this press them to make a hard push for Kimbrel on the other side of the draft? Or to be aggressive early in the trade market and snatch a big arm? I'll be interested to find out.

    Most of all, I'm just giddy to be be in a position to think about such things.

    • May 23 2019 09:15 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  9. MIN 4, LAA 3: Throw Down

    Box Score
    Gibson: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 56.8% strikes (50 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Garver (9)
    Multi-Hit Games: None
    WPA of +0.1: Parker .229
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    With the Twins clinging to a one-run lead, Brian Goodwin sent a solid single into center field. Buxton corralled the in-between hop, set himself and fired a bullet to home plate, right on the money, to nail Shohei Ohtani trying to score the game-tying run. This play … wow.

    Garver did an excellent job at positioning himself wisely to make the catch and tag at home plate, but sometimes trouble just seems to find you no matter what you’re doing. Ohtani slid into his foot and Garver had to be assisted off the field.

    According to old friend Rhett Bollinger, who is now the MLB.com beat writer for the Angels, that thrown from Buxton was 98.6 mph and traveled 253 feet. That play ended up being the difference in the game, as Blake Parker protected the one-run lead to earn his seventh save of the season.

    Gibby’s Strike Rate
    If there’s one number you can look at in regard to Kyle Gibson and have a pretty good indication of his overall performance it’s his strike percentage. When Gibson is able to throw a good amount of strikes, things typically go very well. If not, it tends to catch up with him eventually.

    This has typically been characterized as Gibson nibbling. I’m not so sure if that’s necessarily accurate, I think it has more to do with his command than his confidence. But whatever your takeaway with Gibson’s difficulties throwing strikes, the numbers don’t lie. Check this out:
    When Gibson has a strike rate of 60% or higher, which has happened in exactly half of his starts this season, he’s tremendous. Unfortunately, Tuesday was not one of those nights. Gibson carried a shutout into the sixth inning, but he gave up three runs on four hits and a walk before being pulled.

    RISP Review
    A couple games ago I touched on how much this team was struggling to hit in clutch situations. Eddie Rosario got things off to a great start in this game. With two down and a runner in scoring position in the first inning, Rosie drove in Jorge Polanco with a single. Buxton drove in the Twins’ second run on another hit with two outs and a runner in scoring position.

    Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep that mojo working. The Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, but C.J. Cron struck out to end the threat. Angels reliever Taylor Cole started the at bat with a slider out of the zone, threw a changeup that Cron fouled off, then amped it up to pound two 95 mph fastballs on the outside edge.

    Three-Pitcher Inning
    Rocco Baldelli used three pitchers in the seventh inning. Ryne Harper, who recorded the final out of the sixth inning, faced the first three batters. Tyler Duffey was called upon to face right-handed hitter David Fletcher. He gave up a single and Mike Morin was brought in to face left-handed hitter Tommy La Stella.

    Strange. I’m not sure I’ve seen a three-pitcher inning where they were all right-handers. Usually there’s a LOOGY in the mix somewhere. Maybe this tells us that Morin, who has a killer changeup, is effectively the Twins LOOGY right now.

    The Shift Works!
    Well … sometimes. After a poor run of luck on the shift last night and some good conversations in the comments section of the game recap, I tried to pay closer attention to when it did work and wanted to come away with some visual evidence :).

    There were a couple instances it worked, but the big one resulted in Mike Trout grounding into a double play.

    Of course, the shift taketh and the shift giveth away. There were times it did not work, like when Shohei Ohtani hit a dribbler through the infield for an RBI single in the sixth inning.

    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 Three Games
    Wed vs. LAA, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Cahill)
    Thu at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (TBD-Swanson)
    Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (TBD)

    Last Game
    LAA 5, MIN 4: More Missed Opportunities

    • May 14 2019 09:29 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  10. MIN 1, HOU 0: Let’s Go Crazy

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 66.3% strikes
    Home Runs: Adrianza (1)
    Multi-Hit Games: None
    WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi .473, Parker .170, Rogers .124, Adrianza .123
    WPA of -0.1: Rosario -.100
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    There are certain things, even in the early going, that can give you certain vibes as a fan that your team may be on the verge of something special. Certain events just hit you and let those “this is our year” vibes to start flowing.

    Jake Odorizzi and the Twins bullpen shutting out the Houston Astros lineup would be one of those things. Ehire Adrianza hitting a home run off Justin Verlander for the only run of a game would be another one. Both those things happened tonight.

    It took Odorizzi just 86 pitches to get through seven innings. That’s a solid mark for any pitcher, but Odo isn’t exactly known for his efficiency. He got 13 swinging strikes on those 86 pitches, improving upon the career-high rate he carried into this outing. Odorizzi has gotten swinging strikes on 13% of his pitches this year. Last season, only nine qualified starters had a swinging strike rate above 13%, and Odorizzi was at 10.2%.

    Not surprisingly, the strikeout rates are also encouraging for Odorizzi in the early going of this season. He's now struck out exactly a quarter of the batters he's faced so far. That would represent a career high and a nice boost from his 22.8 K% from last year.

    Odorizzi needed a grand total of just 21 pitches to get through the third through fifth innings. He ran into trouble in the sixth, issuing a one-out walk followed by a single. We’ve seen him unravel in similar situations before, but he struck out both Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel to end the threat.

    While Odorizzi was cruising, Justin Verlander was also carving up the Twins. But there was a different look to the lineup tonight. They entered this game with a league-low 3.76 pitches per plate appearances. Tonight, they had a batter work an at-bat of six pitches or more in each of Verlander’s six innings. The longest of those was a 10-pitch walk for Max Kepler to lead off the first inning. Eddie Rosario had a nine-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout, and one of those longer plate appearances produced the game’s only run.

    In the third inning, Ehire Adrianza fell behind Verlander 1-2. He fouled off the fourth pitch to extend the at-bat, then watched two balls go by. Ehire deposited pitch No. 7 into the stands.

    Verlander was nasty, but all that work resulted in him needing 100 pitches to get through six innings. He turned things over to the bullpen at that point. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a drop off. The Houston bullpen held the Twins scoreless for two innings.

    Taylor Rogers looked incredibly nasty in a scoreless eighth inning before Blake Parker took care of business in the ninth. Parker gave up a leadoff single, but managed to induce a double play ball from the next batter.

    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 Three Games
    Tue vs. HOU, 6:40 pm CT (Pineda-Cole)
    Wed vs. HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Perez-McHugh)
    Thu vs. HOU, 12:10 pm CT (Berrios-Peacock)

    Last Game
    MIN 4, BAL 1: Kepler Sets Tone, Gibby Brings It Home

    • Apr 29 2019 09:06 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  11. Craig Kimbrel’s Trickle-Down Effect

    Early Season Results
    Minnesota’s limited amount of games to start the season has certainly altered the bullpen’s results. Only three pitchers have appeared in double-digits games (Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, and Taylor Rogers). Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers have split save situations with both players earning three saves or more.

    There have been some surprises so far this season. Minus one appearance in Houston, Ryne Harper has been outstanding. There’s reason to believe he could continue this in the weeks ahead. Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker have also been outstanding. Does that mean the Twins aren’t that desperate to add depth to the bullpen?

    The Ninth Inning Question
    Craig Kimbrel might not want to pitch outside of the ninth inning. With 333 saves, he currently ranks in the top 14 on the all-time list. He’s a long way away from catching Mariano Rivera’s 652 saves, but there is room for him to move up the list. Even if he signs after the draft this season, he could still pass Rollie Fingers (341 saves) and Randy Myers (347 saves).

    Also, Kimbrel might not be willing to pitch outside of the ninth inning. Rocco Baldelli has been open to using relief pitchers in the best situation. Would Kimbrel be willing to enter the game in the seventh inning if the opposing team’s best hitters were scheduled to appear.

    Relief pitching has drastically changed during the last handful of seasons. Kimbrel might be more worried about his long-term legacy than the results of team he has little connection tio.

    Trickle Down Effect
    If Kimbrel came in to be the team’s closer, other strong relief pitchers would be able to be utilized in earlier innings. May, Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker could be utilized in earlier innings. Pushing all of the relief pitchers back an inning would mean the starters don’t need to go as long.

    This could make the bullpen even stronger and it could allow the Twins even more separation in the American League Central Division. Will Kimbrel solve everything that is wrong with this team? No… But he could add depth to a strong core. This could be the difference in a first-round exit and a competitive team in the AL Championship Series.

    Could Kimbrel make that much of a difference? I believe he can…

    • Apr 23 2019 07:16 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  12. MIN 4, TOR 1: Pitching Staff Redemption Night

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 63.3% strikes (64 of 101 pitches)
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-3, 2B, BB), Cruz (2-for-3, 2B, BB), Gonzalez (2-for-3, BB)
    WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi .211, Cruz .175
    WPA of -0.1: Rosario -.120
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Odorizzi had an encouraging outing after back-to-back poor starts, Adalberto Mejia recovered from his most recent poor performance with a scoreless outing and Blake Parker, who looked pretty lost over the weekend, got the save in a scoreless ninth inning. Oh, and in between all that Taylor Rogers did his thing in the eighth, turning in a scoreless frame with a pair of strikeouts.

    Nelson Cruz returned to the lineup and provided a pair of run-scoring hits. He drove in the Twins’ first run with a single in the first, then hit an RBI double in the third inning. Jorge Polanco had yet another excellent game. His OPS is up to 1.242.

    If you want to put a number on how much more relaxed tonight’s game was compared to the first two of this series (which, of course I’m going to want to do that), Leverage Index would be a good place to look. Tonight, the LI maxed out at 1.95. Last night, 18 plate appearances exceeded that mark with that max at 5.40. There were five plate appearances topped that mark on Monday night, the highest being at 3.41.

    Postgame With Parker

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Thu vs. TOR, 12:10 pm CT (Pineda-Buchholz)
    Fri vs. TOR, 6:05 pm CT (TBD-Cobb)
    Sat vs. TOR, 6:05 pm CT (TBD-TBD)

    Last Game
    TOR 6, MIN 5: Gut Punch

    • Apr 18 2019 04:36 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  13. MIN 4, DET 3: Bats Quiet, Bullpen Hangs On

    Box Score
    Pineda: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 76.0% strikes (73 of 96 pitches)
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (2-for-4, 2 RBI)
    WPA of +0.1: Parker .170, Buxton .132, Rogers .124, Kepler .101
    WPA of -0.1: Cron -.140
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    At first glance this doesn’t appear to be all that bad of an offensive performance, but the Twins got their four runs on just five hits, all of them singles.

    The Twins had an excellent scoring chance in the bottom of the seventh, but let it slip through their fingers. The Tigers walked the first three batters of the inning, but Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz both struck out and Eddie Rosario flew out to center field.

    Not that the Tigers exactly impressed, either. Again, with game time temperatures just above freezing, this was not a great day to hit.

    In the top of the third inning, Pineda induced what appeared to be a double-play ball, but it ricocheted off the second-base umpire for what was scored a single. That loaded the bases with no outs, and Detroit was able to capitalize by scoring two runs that inning.

    Luckily, the lineup had Pinada’s back. The Twins answered in the bottom of the third, scoring all four of their runs on the day without the benefit of an extra-base hit. Rosario provided the big hit, a two-run single.

    That inning ended with Rosario trying to trail Cruz as they both attempted to advance bases on a fly out to center. I’m guessing Eddie assumed Cruz would draw a throw to third base. Instead, Rosario was thrown out at second to end the inning.

    Luck continued to trend in the Twins’ direction in the top of the fourth, as Pineda had an eight-pitch inning thanks to a line-drive double play. Pineda was going right after Tigers hitters, and after striking out five more batters while not issuing a walk today, he has an incredible 7.50 strikeout to walk ratio (15 Ks, 2 BBs).

    Trevor Hildenberger was the first man out of the bullpen, taking over a clean inning for a change. He’s already inherited 11 runners this season, allowing three of them to score (27%). In all of last season, he only inherited 25 runners, 14 of which scored (56%).

    Hildy delivered a scoreless inning, Taylor Rogers pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Blake Parker came in for the ninth. Parker put the tying run on with a one-out walk and allowed that runner to advance into scoring position due to a wild pitch.

    But just when it looked like things were slipping away, Parker struck out the next two batters to earn the save.

    Jorge Polanco had a single and a sacrifice fly at the plate, and also made a great diving catch to end the first inning.

    Marwin Gonzalez was 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. His passive approach has paid off the past couple seasons, but it seems to be working against him so far this year. He took seven strikes today and was called out looking both times. I talked a bit (very briskly) about Marwin’s approach yesterday evening.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Sun vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (Berrios-Zimmerman)
    Mon vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Perez-Shoemaker)
    Tue vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Gibson-Sanchez)

    Last Game
    NYM 9, MIN 6: Forever of a 5th Inning

    • Apr 13 2019 08:12 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  14. CLE 2, MIN 1: Odorizzi Strikes Out 11, Wild Parker Surrenders Go-Ahead Run

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Odorizzi: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 62.0% strikes
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: None
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Odorizzi .235, Buxton .206, Rogers .111
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Kepler -.237, Parker -.289, Cron -.472

    Despite Odorizzi’s excellent effort, the Twins entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 2-1. Byron Buxton lifted what appeared to be a routine flyball out to lead off the inning, but it was misplayed and he ended up at second base.

    Max Kepler struck out and Jorge Polanco lined out to center field, allowing Buxton to advance to third base. Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to bring up Eddie Rosario, creating a left-on-left matchup with Brand Hand on the mound. He worked a walk to load the bases, bringing C.J. Cron to the box.

    Cron took a massive hack at the first pitch, a fastball over the heart of the plate, but whiffed. He popped the next pitch up to short right. Game over.

    On Odorizzi

    Through the first three innings, Odorizzi was completely overwhelming Cleveland. He had a no-hitter going and six strikeouts already in his ledger.

    With two outs in the fourth inning, Odorizzi fell behind 3-0 to Hanley Ramirez, missed his spot and left a ball right over the middle of the plate. Ramirez did exactly what you’d expect a major league hitter to do, depositing the ball 416 feet away in the seats.

    Last season, there were plenty of instances where Odorizzi got off to a brilliant start but ended up watching it all fall to pieces as his outing progressed. Not today.

    Odorizzi was at 80 pitches through the first five innings, but he went out for the sixth, which also was the start of his third trip through the Cleveland lineup. That’s spelled doom for him in the past, but he got a bunt popout, then struck out both Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin to end his outing with an exclamation point.

    Odorizzi had 16 swinging strikes on his 92 pitches and was untouchable in the upper third of the zone. Here’s the location of those swings and misses:

    Breaking Down the Bullpen

    Trevor May took over in the seventh, but he pitched to just two batters. After surrendering a single, Adalberto Mejia was called upon to pitch to a lefty, except Terry Francona countered that move by pinch hitting with a right-handed hitter, Jordan Luplow. All those chess moves ended in Mejia striking out Luplow on three pitches.

    That brought up Roberto Perez, who has a .724 OPS against lefties as opposed to a .602 mark against same-sided pitching. Mejia stayed in to face him and ended up getting him on strikes, as well.

    Not an entirely impressive string of managing decisions by Baldelli, in my opinion, but there’s certainly no arguing against the results. Even just beyond the numbers, is Mejia really the guy you want pitching in a tie game with the go-ahead run on base when you have a fresh bullpen?

    Interesting. Again, it worked perfectly, but … interesting.

    It’s only one outing, but Mejia getting off on the right foot is just another of the many great signs we’ve seen these first two games. This bullpen looks a lot better if Mejia can find his footing out there.

    Taylor Rogers came on for the eighth and did his Taylor Rogers thing of pitching a scoreless inning. Guy is automatic right now. With only 11 pitches today and an off day coming Monday, it’s entirely possible Rogers could pitch in every game of this first series.

    Maybe all these extra days off aren’t so bad.

    Blake Parker made his Twins debut in the ninth and had some control issues. He gave up a hard single to Carlos Santana, then allowed him to advance all the way to third thanks to a pair of wild pitches. He eventually scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly.

    Just a gut punch of a way to give up the game-winning run.

    The Framing Factor

    And what of the guy behind the plate today, Mitch Garver? He had a very good day, here are all the called strikes and balls:

    On the Offense

    In the bottom of the fourth, Jorge Polanco hit a one-out triple and new Twins slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz clobbered … an 86-foot dribbler between the mound and first base. Hey, whatever works. Polanco took off on contact and scored the game-tying run.

    That Polanco triple and Buxton’s “double” were the only two hits of the game for the Twins. Cruz was hit in the wrist by Trevor Bauer, who was pitching him up and in all game, but was able to stay in and finish the game.


    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 Three Games
    Sun vs. CLE, 1:10 pm CT
    Tue at KC, 7:15 pm CT
    Wed at KC, 12:15 pm CT

    Last Game
    MIN 2, CLE 0: Berrios Dominates, Sets Twins Opening Day Record for Ks

    More from Twins Daily
    Twins Daily 2019 Season Preview: The Minefield
    What to Expect From the Twins Newcomers to Start the Season
    Beginner's Luck? How Rookie Managers Typically Perform

    • Apr 01 2019 07:01 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. What to Expect From the Twins Newcomers to Start the Season

    For example, take the 2018 Mets who were 13-4 at one point last year before ending at 77-85. Or the Twins last year who were forced to miss a great number of games due to the weather which not only changed their in-game strategy but also led the team into a long rut of losses from which they never recovered. Or take the shining beacon of my example, Edwin Encarnacion who owns a career .740 OPS in March/April and a career OPS of .850.

    The point is that early season performance is not necessarily indicative of how a player will perform over the entire season. And in the age of hot takes and short leashes in the eye of public opinion, this can lead to premature reactions that call for the DFA-ing or benching of a specific player. Generally, we know which Twins players struggle to start and which players get off to hot starts, but there are quite a few new faces on the team this year most of whom we most likely have not watched before as much as the usual Twins regulars. So what I will do in this article is look at the new members of the 2019 Twins team and compare their March/April stats to their career stats so we can find out which player(s) we should be worried about if their performance during this time period this season does not match up with their career.

    The Newcomers

    C.J. Cron-March/April OPS of .671, career OPS of .772

    C.J. Cron was an interesting addition to the Twins. After being DFA’d by the Rays despite having a good 2018 season, the Twins claimed Cron with the plan for him to replace Joe Mauer as the everyday first baseman. People were generally split into two camps; those who liked the adjustments he made in 2018 and were fans of the move, and those who saw “ex-Rays first baseman” and immediately had every Logan Morrison strikeout flash through their mind. By now, cooler heads have prevailed and Cron will start the season as the first baseman. Despite having a hot spring training, do not be surprised if Cron comes out of the gate a touch sluggish. While a .671 OPS is not terrible, it is a good .100 points below his average. But the calls for Tyler Austin to replace him will be premature as he most likely will be fine eventually. Cron evens this slow start out with a career OPS over .900 in both July and August.

    Nelson Cruz-March/April OPS of .900, career OPS of .860

    One of the few signings in recent history that basically every Twins fan liked, Cruz brings a long history of hitting the crap out of the ball along with some veteran presence to a team that needs it. The new big bopper in the Twins lineup can just plain hit and the first part of the season is no exception here. In fact, he actually hits a touch better in the first month or so of the season compared to his career numbers. His worst month comes in June but even that comes out to a .815 OPS so expect Cruz to hit well no matter what month it is and keep a helmet on if you are seated in the left field bleachers because it could get messy out there.

    Jonathan Schoop-March/April OPS of .732, career OPS of .738

    This was one of the few signings that my dad called, he had mentioned before that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Twins signed Schoop and just a few days later the Twins listened to him and scooped him up on a 1-year deal. Schoop is one of the many bounce-back candidates on the 2019 Twins and the team would be quite happy if he regained his 2017 form that put up a 5 rWAR season and garnered MVP votes. While I cannot guarantee that will happen, I can promise that Schoop should come out the gates hitting about in line with his career. Schoop’s worst month is in September/October where he owns a career OPS of just .609.

    Marwin Gonzalez-March/April OPS of .712, career OPS of .737

    The man of an excellent beard and many positions was signed by the Twins after camp started to continue to be a useful utility player who has the ability to play wherever and whenever. His job to start the season will be that of Miguel Sano insurance as Sano will start the season on the IL. The news of this signing broke while I was walking to my lab in which I had to take a practical that did unspeakable things to me, but in my defense, my mind was elsewhere at the time as I was giddy that the Twins signed Marwin. Despite a brutal spring training, Marwin should hit relatively close to his career totals to begin and he does not have much fluctuation as far as his numbers go on a month-to-month basis. His lowest OPS is in August at a career .692 clip and his highest is in September/October at a .811 clip.

    Blake Parker-March/April ERA of 4.23, career ERA of 3.29

    Blake Parker has a weird place in my family. We went to a minor league game a few years back where he gave up a game-tying homer in the ninth in a brutal game that we left after 12 innings. Of course, I thought nothing of it but then just a year or two later he’s making fools look silly for the Angels and I could barely believe that it was the same guy. The lone pure reliever whom the Twins signed to a major league deal this offseason is coming off a solid spring training but could possibly stumble a touch out of the gate. However, unlike the batters before who had large sample sizes to draw data from, Parker only has 27.2 career major league innings in March and April, so take this with a grain of salt. He does follow it up with a career ERA of 1.61 in May that comes with a K/9 of 12.2.

    Martin Perez-March/April ERA of 4.76, career ERA of 4.63

    I remember when my phone buzzed for the notification that the Twins had signed Martin Perez after which followed about 10 minutes of questioning before hopping on Twitter to see that everyone else had similar thoughts regarding the signing. Most of them could be summarized by one word; “why?”. Perez had a horrendous 2018 and it seemed like a strange signing given the other starting pitching available. After the months went by, the Twins reasoning slowly seeped out: They thought that they could squeeze some extra velocity out of him and change his pitch usage a bit to become a deadly weapon in the rotation. His spring training numbers as the new Martin Perez were a mixed bag, but his velocity certainly was up as he mainly sat about 95 and would occasionally touch 97. Whether this translates to the regular season will be seen soon enough, but if he’s anything like the old Martin Perez, it could take him a little bit before he gets going.

    • Mar 28 2019 10:57 AM
    • by Matt Braun
  16. Report From The Fort: Closing Time?

    "Knowing where guys slot in a game is helpful, at least generally from a parameter standpoint. Guys knowing what they’re preparing for and what role they generally play," said Derek Falvey on Wednesday. "But I know Rocco (Baldelli) and Wes (Johnson) have already had conversations with our guys around their role and the way they want to go about it."

    The head Twins front office exec continued: "A few of our guys know they’re going to pitch in the back end of games, and that could eventually evolve into a more set person as we go. But as it stands right today, I don’t think Rocco is ready to name that. I’m comfortable with that if he is."

    It appears that Baldelli is indeed comfortable with this plan. To see a rookie manager eschew such an entrenched convention of the game is surprising and, frankly, rather refreshing. Many analytical thinkers believe that the save ruined relief pitching, and I am of the same mind. When you reserve your best reliever for the end of the game, you risk letting leads slip away at pivotal moments while he stagnates in the bullpen.

    Of course, just because Baldelli and the Twins are ready to enter the season without a defined closer doesn't mean it'll stay that way. The point made by Falvey is an undeniable one: relief pitchers like to know their roles, and unpredictability can lead to tension and frustration. As such, it is likely that Minnesota will eventually settle on a primary ninth-inning guy (though hopefully Baldelli will never be overly stringent or rigid in his usage).

    Let's handicap that race as Opening Day approaches. Here are, in order, the guys I'd expect to accrue saves for the 2019 Twins.

    1. Blake Parker

    With so little clarity among the top candidates, it's pretty tough to pick a true favorite, but Parker is clearly in the back-end mix that Falvey spoke of. He is also an experienced veteran with a 2.90 ERA and 22 saves over the past two seasons. Parker has pitched well this spring with a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio and only four hits allowed in 7 2/3 innings, so his manager has to be feeling confident in what he's seen.

    2. Trevor Hildenberger

    From my view, Hildenberger is the best choice to handle the ninth on a regular basis. He throws strikes and gets grounders, making it tough for opponents to string together rallies and post crooked numbers against him. In his first 73 appearances as a Twin, spanning about one calendar year, Hildenberger allowed multiple runs in an outing only five times.

    Of course, he then did so 10 times in his final 37 appearances last season, so he's got to regain the team's confidence. If and when he settles back into his groove, I think he's the guy.

    3. Trevor May

    May finished the 2018 season as closer and looked damn good in that role, converting three straight saves in the waning days of September and not allowing so much as a hit in any of them. He's the kind of strike-throwing and bat-missing force that can offer safety with slim leads in the ninth.

    But there are two issues at play: 1) When he's on his game, he's also the kind of gas-hurling force you want to unleash in the highest-leverage of spots, which aren't always the ninth, and 2) He hasn't been on his game of late, with four walks and five hits allowed in 2 2/3 innings over his past four appearances. He looked noticeably flustered while struggling to find the zone on Wednesday. With a well established guy, you'd make nothing out of a brief ugly stretch late in exhibition play. But May is not that.

    4. Taylor Rogers

    He is Minnesota's best reliever. I don't think there's any question about that. So in a very traditional sense he'd be the logical pick for closer. But it seems telling that, even while he was almost completely untouchable during the second half last year, the Twins never really gave him a look as Rodney's replacement. That's because – more than anyone else in this unit – he's the guy you want to roll out in those most crucial of spots: runners on, big bopper coming up to the plate. Last year Rogers had the ninth-highest Win Probability Added among all MLB relievers, illustrating the way he thrived in leverage.

    Perhaps most importantly, he is absolute death to left-handers (allowed ZERO extra-base hits against them in 110 PA last year) so the Twins will want to have him available for key matchups. WIth that being said, I expect he'll get a few save chances in situations where two or three lefty hitters are due up in the ninth. That's the beauty of staying open-minded with this role.

    5. Fernando Romero

    Down the line, I believe the Twins envision Romero taking over as their long-term closer. They see him as a big, overpowering, imposing presence with the "bulldog" mentality that teams love at the end of games. Kenley Jansen is one name I've heard thrown around as a (very optimistic) comp. And while that might be a bit of a stretch, Romero does fit all of the aforementioned descriptors, and the idea of his stuff playing up in the late innings caused many (including myself) to think it might happen quickly.

    Falvey threw some cold water on that hype on Wednesday. "I don't know that we were viewing him as the back-end guy right at the outset," he said. "A lot of people think he had the stuff for it and the ability. I think you grow into those roles."

    The CBO mentioned Romero's name in the same breath as Adalberto Mejia, so it sounds like a middle-inning longman role might be more likely out of the gate – IF he makes the team. That's now somewhat in doubt, because while Falvey was holding court with media amidst Wednesday's game, Romero was getting torched for a second straight outing. He's suddenly lost his ability to find the zone. And while it's only spring training, the same thing applies as with May; more so, in fact. Romero doesn't have any track record as a reliever, so the Twins could very well send him down to get a little more acclimated.

    6. Addison Reed

    When Falvey was asked whether fans should expect anyone other than Miguel Sano and Gabriel Moya (who's battling shoulder tightness) to open on the Injured List, he mentioned that it's "possible there may be one more in that group," and then grinned conspicuously, which seemed to indicate there will definitely be (at least) one more in that group. Some of us inferred he was talking about Reed, because the guy hasn't looked right all spring after not looking right for most of 2018.

    If healthy and throwing well, Reed would be at the top of this list, since he's a veteran with an excellent track record and plenty of history closing games (125 career saves). But he's very far from throwing well right now, with 10 earned runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings this spring, and given that an offseason of rest didn't seem to help much, it's tough to imagine what non-surgical solution is going to get him back on track at this point.

    7. Ryne Harper

    The sleeper. Enjoying a great spring, his odds of making the bullpen are greatly bolstered if Reed and Romero (or Matt Magill, who may also be ailing since he hasn't pitched in a week) do not. Harper's buzz isn't entirely a result of his strong work in eight innings this spring (11 strikeouts, zero walks, zero earned runs); he was also quite impressive between Double-A and Triple-A last year, posting an 86-to-10 K/BB ratio with only two homers allowed in 65 innings.

    Granted, he also turns 30 next Tuesday and hasn't yet pitched in the majors, which is why the sleeper label needs to be strongly emphasized. But if he shows well early, reserving him for those less intense save opportunities (multi-run leads, or bottom part of the order due up) would make plenty of sense, and would enable Baldelli to focus on keeping his most powerful arms available to put out fires.

    • Mar 22 2019 03:40 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  17. Intro to Building a Bullpen-MLB 101

    And my oddly specific intuition is mostly correct. Since that year, the Twins have been ranked the 29th, 25th, 4th, 23rd, 23rd, 21st, 19th and 18th best bullpen respectively by fWAR each year from 2011 to now. That comes out to an average of ~20th each year that is propped up massively by the one year it was actually good. Meaning that the bullpen has been near the top of the to-do list during the offseason for quite some time now.

    This offseason was no different, while the bullpen was technically the best it had been since 2013, it was obvious that they needed to upgrade with some reliever additions if they wanted a chance to build a stable pen. And so we waited and waited this offseason as cheap, reliable veteran relievers were signed and so far the bullpen addition has been … Blake Parker.

    I’m being a bit unfair here because Parker had an incredible 2017 with the Angels and was still pretty good last year. There also appears to be internal help as Fernando Romero has also been moved to the pen along with possibly Martin Perez or Adalberto Mejia. Also internally, Trevor Hildenberger and Addison Reed present themselves as interesting bounce-back candidates but I really only trust the server of sliders to actually do so (imaginary sliders, not real ones, it does annoy me slightly that Hildy’s best pitch is actually the changeup but that’s neither here nor there).

    One interesting thing from the numbers I presented earlier was that 2013 bullpen, going from 25th the year before to fourth is quite the drastic jump. While I won’t be looking at that bullpen specifically as the target of this article, I will be looking at another similar bullpen example in the Padres. San Diego’s bullpen in 2017 was ranked 24th in ERA, 29th in FIP, and 29th in fWAR. In 2018, their bullpen was ranked sixth in ERA, second in FIP, and second in fWAR. These are all major improvements from only a one year difference. How did they do it? Well hop on in and I’ll break down how their personnel changed and what the major factors for these drastic turnarounds were.

    Let’s start with the Padres in 2017, here are the eight relievers who logged the most innings for the Padres out of the bullpen in 2017 ranked by total innings:


    These players made up the majority of the second-worst bullpen that year, and here’s how they lined up in 2018 with asterisks on the returning players:


    A few things here, this is now the second straight article I have made that references Robbie Erlin, I don’t know how to feel about that. Also, the Padres really blurred the line between starter and reliever so many of these guys logged innings in both roles which forced me to check how they got their innings for this article to be accurate which was a pain in the butt. Also, Jordan Lyles has a negative career rWAR, stop giving him jobs. And finally, who was the leader in rWAR for the Padres last year? That’s right, Hunter Renfroe apparently was, what an odd team.

    Anyways, let’s ignore my semi-coherent rambling thoughts and talk about the topic at hand, the 2018 Padres only saw four guys remain from the previous year along with 4 fresh faces who made major impacts on the 2018 team. Where did all of these guys come from? Well, let’s break that down also:

    Free Agency-Craig Stammen, Jordan Lyles
    Trade-Matt Strahm, Robbie Erlin
    Developed-Adam Cimber, Phil Maton
    Waiver claim-Brad Hand, Kirby Yates

    An awfully balanced way to build a pen, almost suspiciously balanced. Why is it suspicious? I don’t know, it just is.

    Even those free agent additions weren’t big name tickets, as mentioned before, Lyles holds a negative career rWAR and Stammen was consistent for years with the Nationals but had missed two whole years of major league time before latching on with the Padres in 2017. Strahm was a talented lefty with the Royals who came over when the Royals were actually buyers in 2017 (if you can believe that) while Erlin was in the Mike Adams trade many moons ago (y’all remember Mike Adams)?

    Maton and Cimber were never highly rated prospects in the consistently great Padres system but worked themselves up through the ranks before getting their major league chances in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Hand and Yates are interesting cases. Hand was a struggling starter for years with the Marlins before San Diego claimed him, made him a reliever, and turned him into Andrew Miller Lite. Yates bounced around a few teams and had decent peripherals in some small samples but when even the Rays don’t want an extra look at you, that’s usually a bad sign. But he added a splitter when he joined the Padres and then became death, the destroyer of worlds.

    All in all, this is an awfully long-winded way of saying that a team doesn’t need to make a big splash to have an elite bullpen. The Padres used wood, glue and duct tape to build one of the best bullpens in the game thanks to their pitching coach Darren Balsley and a front office that has an eye for talent and the patience to let that talent develop.

    The Twins will look to somewhat follow suit as they advance in 2019 hoping that players like Matt Magill, Fernando Romero and possibly an NRI or two can improve under the eyes of Wes Johnson and stick in the Twins pen to give them a similar boost that the Padres saw in 2018. Talent takes many shapes, sometimes it's hard to see how a player can become great, but oftentimes they’re just a few adjustments away from letting their skill shine. Along with improving internally, the Padres were also forward thinking on how they could get the most from their pitching staff as they utilized them more as “out-getters” rather than designating them specifically as starters or relievers.

    On the outside, it doesn't appear as if the Padres made any major moves to go from one of the worst bullpens in baseball to one of the best. And even after they traded Hand and Cimber to the Indians, they went on to have the highest bullpen fWAR in all of baseball in the second half! All they did was improve everyone by just a little bit and the effects were enormous, having a system of internal improvement will yield results that ripple throughout the entire team more than any single signing can. So, if Wes and the boys prove to be the difference makers they all seem to be, the Twins could easily follow in the footsteps of the Padres and have a great bullpen in 2019.

    Oh, and last year the Padres paid less for all of those eight guys than what Addison Reed alone made.

    • Mar 15 2019 11:14 AM
    • by Matt Braun
  18. March Madness: A Look Back at the Collegiate Careers of Current Twins

    I came across a lot of interesting facts and numbers from the time that these now major leaguers were just a bunch of hopeful kids attending classes everyday. Here’s a list that I’ve put together, with a personal experience shared at the end.

    Kyle Gibson was a vital part of the Twins rotation last year, after struggling for some years in the majors. That story is a bit similar to how his college career went down. He was off to a slow start, coming out of the bullpen during his freshman year for the Missouri Tigers, in 2007. But then, when he started being used as a starter in 2008, he turned the corner and pitched at a good level in the following two seasons. In his last year in college, when he posted a 3.21 ERA and 11.05 K/9. Gibby and the Tigers played the NCAA Regionals in all of the three years he was there.

    Kyle Gibson (Missouri, 2007-09)
    3.66 ERA
    63 games (29 starts)
    259.0 IP
    304 K (10.48 K/9)
    0 HR
    61 BB (2.10 BB/9)
    1.16 WHIP
    9 SV

    Tyler Duffey was drafted by the Twins in 2012 out of his hometown college, Rice University, in Houston. He spent three full seasons playing for the Owls between 2010 and 2012, helping the school claim its fourth conference championship in 2011. Curiously enough, do you know who was elected the conference MVP that year? That’s right...Duffey. He helped the Owls to finish the regular season in first place (16-8 conference record), with the highest number of wins (42-21 overall record) and to be the No. 24 program in the nation. He shared closing duties with former Twin J.T. Chargois.

    Tyler Duffey (Rice, 2010-2012)
    3.06 ERA
    92 games (1 start)
    13 SV
    152.1 IP
    189 K (11.12 K/9)
    14 HR (0.82 HR/9)
    55 BB (3.24 BB/9)
    1.21 WHIP

    Trevor Hildenberger also spent three seasons in college ball, but his overall numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as Duffey’s nor his stellar minor league totals. Coming out of high school, he pitched for the University of California, Berkeley starting in 2010, but he was redshirted during the 2011 season. His best season was his senior year, in which he posted a 2.83 ERA and tied the school record of 10 single-season saves. On May 10, 2014 he pitched three innings to earn a save, striking out six batters, his career high.

    Trevor Hildenberger (California, 2010-2014)
    4.28 ERA
    56 games (5 starts)
    11 SV
    106.0 IP
    95 K (7.97 K/9)
    3 HR (0.25 HR/9)
    33 BB (2.77 BB/9)
    1.34 WHIP

    Veteran relief pitcher Blake Parker wasn’t always a pitcher. During his three seasons playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, from 2004 to 2006, Parker played third base. Drafted in 2006, forgoing his senior year, he had a very slow start as a position player on rookie and A-ball and started his transition to the mound in 2007, to never turn back. As a batter in college, his best season was during his sophomore year when he had an .865 OPS and was an extra-base maniac, with a 54.55 XBH%. After maintaining a 2.85 ERA in ten years pitching in the minors, he knew he made the right call for his career.

    Blake Parker (Arkansas, 2004-06)
    .266/.344/.417 (.761 OPS)
    129 games
    504 AB
    15 HR
    79 RBI
    16 SB
    51 BB (8.79 BB%)
    118 K (20.34 K%)

    Taylor Rogers is a superstar in the making right now, but his college career was nowhere near an indication of that. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009, he decided not to sign with them and to attend the University of Kentucky. He was a starting pitcher for the Wildcats for three seasons and his performance comes as a shock for those of us who have been seeing him thriving at the major league level nowadays. Look at what his Wikipedia page has to say about his college career: “In 2010, he tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in losses (7) and runs allowed (68), as he went 4-7 with a 6.40 ERA. In 2011, he tied for second in the Southeastern Conference in losses (7), and was third-highest in runs allowed (56). In 2012, he was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in runs allowed (45)”. Can you believe this?

    Taylor Rogers (Kentucky, 2010-12)
    5.34 ERA
    45 games (42 starts)
    249.0 IP
    172 K (6.21 K/9)
    25 HR (0.90 HR/9)
    55 BB (1.99 BB/9)
    1.46 WHIP

    Addison Reed's MLB career is pretty respectable. His college career? It was monstrous. In three seasons pitching for the Aztecs, Reed was one of the best pitchers in the country. During his sophomore year, in 2009, he led the nation with 20 saves in 20 save opportunities, striking out 38 batters in 27.2 IP (12.36 K/9) and finishing with a 0.65 ERA. He was named the 2009 National Stopper of the Year by the NCBWA.

    Addison Reed (San Diego State, 2008-10)
    2.16 ERA
    60 games (11 starts)
    24 SV
    132.0 IP
    154 K (10.40 K/9)
    10 HR (0.68 HR/9)
    31 BB (2.09 BB/9)
    1.05 WHIP

    Another player who had an astonishing college career was C.J. Cron. In three years playing for the Utah Utes, between 2009 and 2011, Cron was acknowledged as one of the best first basemen in the nation. Not only did he have extraordinary individual numbers, but he also helped the Utes reach the regional finals in 2009, his freshman year. During his junior year, he was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, NCBWA, ABCA, Perfect Game, ESPN and the Collegiate Baseball newspaper (Louisville Slugger). He slashed .434/.517/.803 (1.320 OPS) that season.

    C.J. Cron (Utah, 2009-11)
    .396/.459/.713 (1.172 OPS)
    157 games
    641 AB
    46 HR
    198 RBI
    62 BB (8.46 BB%)
    75 K (10.23 K%)

    When the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year, $24,5 million contract in 2017, they did it for his defensive skills. As a major leaguer he hasn’t lived up to his minor league numbers and certainly not for his college numbers. Castro played very well offensively for Stanford, especially during his junior year. Not only did he lead the Cardinal in batting average (.376), hits (105), doubles (18) and RBI (73), he also earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, second-team All-America accolades from Rivals.com and third-team All-America recognition by Baseball America, ABCA/Rawlings and Ping!Baseball. He was also a finalist for the Johnny Bench award honoring college baseball's top catcher. With Stanford reaching the College World Series that year, Castro was named to the All-College World Series team after hitting 6-for-18 (.333) during the event.

    Jason Castro (Stanford, 2006-08)
    .309/.381/.476 (.857 OPS)
    162 games
    540 AB
    18 HR
    106 RBI
    62 BB (9.94 BB%)
    83 K (13.30 K%)
    11 SB

    Last, but not least (especially not for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute), there’s Mitch Garver, who played for four years for the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque. Garver was one of the best catchers in the nation. In his senior year, he slashed .390/.458/.589 (1.047 OPS) and led the team in multiple stats. But not only did he succeed individually, but he’s also led UNM to two of its three Mountain West Conference titles (2011 and 2012), including the very first in school history, making him one of the best Lobos of all time. Garver also takes much pride in his state’s roots. I don’t know if may of you will remember, but during Players Weekend last year, the catcher used a New Mexico flag bat.

    Mitch Garver (New Mexico, 2010-13)
    .351/.421/.527 (.948 OPS)
    211 games
    809 AB
    18 HR
    167 RBI
    88 BB (9.51 BB%)
    104 K (11.24 K%)
    21 SB
    .384 BABIP

    What makes Garver’s college career so special to me? In 2013 I was granted a scholarship from my university in Brazil and I managed to spend six months in the U.S., studying at UNM. At the time, basketball was my main passion and I took every opportunity I had to go watch the Lobos basketball team, which was pretty good at that year (until a tragedy at March Madness…). But I took one chance to go to the Isotopes' park, home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and attend the very first (and only) baseball game of my life.

    Back then, I didn’t follow baseball nearly as much as I do today. So I had no idea who any of those players were. It only occurred to me last year, when Garver started to get his first Major League chances, that he was very likely there, behind the plate, during that particular game. I checked, and, yes. He was at that game (check the picture above, which I took on that day). The Lobos trailed 4-2 on that February evening, the ballpark was empty before the game was finished and the pitcher I actually went there to watch, because we took one class together, didn’t even play (I think). But, in retrospect, I can see how meaningful that day was to me, and Garver was a part of that.

    • Mar 10 2019 10:28 AM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  19. The Discard Pile

    You can make cases that C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Blake Parker and (to a lesser extent) Martin Perez are all logical, savvy additions. But you can't make the case that these players were in any kind of demand. Each was optionally let loose by his former team, and all those teams are looking to compete in 2019.

    The Rays, Brewers, Angels and Rangers deemed these players to not be worthwhile at their projected (non-exorbitant) 2019 salaries, so each made the active decision to move on, via non-tender/DFA/declined option. It is essentially tantamount to the way Minnesota viewed Robbie Grossman.

    Even Nelson Cruz fell to the Twins at a surprising bargain because the market was lukewarm on him, despite his monstrous offensive production. Seattle didn't show much interest in bringing Cruz back, and Minnesota ultimately found itself bidding against only one or two other teams.

    And so, when fans question – or at least attempt to critically analyze – the front office's approach this offseason, it's not so much about the collective expense for these players, which amounts to less than $32 million at a time where the team theoretically had upwards of $50 million to spend.

    It's more about the context of how they were acquired. The Twins have been drawing from the discard pile.

    Does that mean these moves are all doomed to fail? Not by any means. Personally, I have enough faith in the team's current assembly of analysts and baseball minds that I'm inclined to get behind this strategy for the most part. I like the fact that they've added several players under 30, with every signing other than Schoop coming in the form of a one-year guarantee plus team option. Those are good, team-friendly deals that strike a reasonable low-risk/medium-upside balance.

    What's been amiss is that clear, decisive upgrade to the pitching staff. Or that landscape-altering trade that charts a bold new direction for this perpetually stagnating franchise. I can't blame fans who feel underwhelmed with what's been acquired thus far – a collection of cast-offs and a 38-year-old DH who settled for less than almost anyone expected.

    The Twins still have about four weeks before their first full-squad workout in Fort Myers, so there's time yet for further additions, but one gets the sense it'll be more of the same. For better or worse, Minnesota appears content to stand pat and roll with what they've got, mixing in mostly gambles and secondary role players rather than clear-cut difference-makers.

    The upside is that whatever flexibility they end up preserving through these low-wattage free agent signings will potentially put them in an advantageous position around the trade deadline, should things play out as hoped in the first half. The downside is that they might be hurting their chances of reaching such a "buyer" position to begin with.

    • Jan 20 2019 08:32 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  20. Get To Know: Twins Infield Prospect Daniel Ozoria

    Below you will find a profile for Daniel Ozario in the form that is found in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. There is header information with the bio information as well as his 2018 statistics. Tom Froemming wrote up his 2018 recap, as he did throughout the Prospect Handbook. I wrote up the background information and the scouting report as well as the 2019 projection.

    Have you purchased the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook yet? If not, why not? There are over 160 of these profiles for the Twins minor leaguers. There are feature stories on the Twins Daily 2018 Minor League Award winners (Alex Kirilloff, Tyler Wells, Andrew Vasquez), and more articles from the likes of Dan Hayes, Chris Blessing, Ted Schwerzler, Cody Christie and Tom Froemming. There is also an article about each of the Twins top five minor league affiliates that are enjoyable. Plus, you get the Top 30 Twins prospect rankings from Cody, Tom, Jeremy Nygaard, and myself. Plus, you can look at my Top 30 Prospect rankings going all the way back to 2015, if only to mock and ridicule me.

    HEIGHT: 5-9 • WEIGHT: 150 BATS: Left • THROWS: Right
    HIGHEST LEVEL: Orem (Pioneer League - Rookie (Advanced)
    2018 STATS: .195/.248/.218 (.461), 0 HR, 12 RBI, 26.4 K%, 5.2 BB%, 6/12 SB
    ACQUIRED: Acquired from the Angels for John Curtiss (1/15/19)

    Background: Ozoria grew up in the Dominican capital city of Santo Domingo. While he was not big, scouts saw a young player with great baseball instincts and the ability to play shortstop. He was about as young for the 2016 international signing period as possible. At the time, he was about 5-foot-9 and less than 135 pounds. He made his professional debut in 2017 in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .247/.332/.301 (.633) with six doubles and three triples. He participated in the Angels Instructional League in 2017.

    2018 Recap: Ozoria spent all but two games of his 2018 season with the Angels' Arizona League team. He was very young for his level. Not once all season did Ozoria face a pitcher who was younger than he was. He was tested, and the numbers show it. The diminutive Dominican tallied just four extra-base hits in 217 plate appearances on the season. In the field, Ozoria made 33 appearances at shortstop, 13 at second base and five at third base.

    Scouting Report: If you look at his biographical information on most baseball sites, it will still show him at about 135 pounds. In the two years since signing, he has added some size and strength and is now up to about 150 pounds. Clearly he will have to continue to grow and add strength over the coming years, but the skills and the tools are there. Again, Ozaria is a real good defensive player. He’s got good hands, and good range. He’s also got a good arm, though strength should help his arm improve to above average. Right now, Ozoria has a nice, smooth swing that can produce line drives from gap-to-gap. The Twins took a flyer on Ozoria, and they will certainly need to exhibit a lot of patience.

    Rule 5 eligible: 2021
    Free Agent: 2023

    Forecast for ‘19: He will start the season at extended spring training and likely stay in Ft. Myers and play for the GCL Twins.

    More Notes

    One comp that I have heard is Engelb Vielma. If the Twins can turn a DFAd player (Curtiss) into a guy who gets to the big leagues, the player development would deserve a ton of credit. Best case scenario… he could become a Dee Gordon type of player. That would work, right?

    I’ve always been told that statistics matter much, much more in the upper levels than the lower levels. In the DSL or the rookie leagues, statistics all need to looked at, but the stats mean less than the tools. So, the fact that he hit .195 in rookie ball as a 17-year-old isn’t something that should scare anyone away.

    And, just for fun, here is the profile in the Handbook on former Twins pitcher John Curtiss:

    Posted Image

    Again, if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook today, available in paperback and for immediate PDF download.

    • Jan 17 2019 08:50 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  21. Can the Twins Be Competitive With Their Current Bullpen?

    Simply the arrival of new pitching coach Wes Johnson, who led the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 3.58 ERA in two seasons with the program, and the return of catcher Jason Castro to the team are surely going to make a huge difference for the Twins. Here are some other factors that could result in the bullpen becoming a solid unit in 2019.

    Players who can bounce back

    After an awful 2018 overall, there are at least two pitchers who could be expected to bounce back this year considering their track records. Both of them had quality numbers not long ago, but are coming off rather bad seasons in 2018. Addison Reed, who is in the last year of his two-year, $16.75 million contract, could be the greatest lift for this staff. He had a disappointing season last year, but even then he’s shown signs of the good pitcher he had been before.

    During his first 31 games of the season, Reed posted a 3.03 ERA with 8.6 K/9. But then, in the remaining 24 games he appeared on the mound, he had a 6.56 ERA. He had a 4.50 ERA on the year, his worst since 2012.

    There isn’t much statistical evidence that shows he would improve much in 2019. FanGraphs projects that he will have a worse ERA of 4.90 and fWAR of -0,1 (which would be an improvement in comparison with the -0,2 he had in 2018). But I think it’s safe to say that a pitcher with a career ERA of 3.53, who had had three consecutive solid seasons before last year, is not meant to have another terrible year.

    Reed's velocity has dropped considerably from 2017 (92.8 vFA) to 2018 (91.3 vFA), but possibly that’s due to the fact that he dealt with a triceps injury in late June, which had him go to the DL for most of July. When he came back, he posted a 3.60 ERA in the last 14 games of the year.

    Trevor Hildenberger is another player poised to have a good 2019. Most Twins fans are still patient with him because he had a stellar start of his career in 2017 and maintained that performance (or maybe improved it) during the first half of 2018.

    In the first 42 games of last year, Hildy posted a 2.80 ERA, held opponents to a .201 batting average and posted a 9.2 K/9. But just like Reed, his performance plummeted down after mid-July. In the remainder of the season, he had a 9.64 ERA, giving him a 5.42 ERA on the year. Unlike Reed, he is projected to improve a lot this year. FanGraphs estimates that in 2019 his ERA will improve to 4.04 and his fWAR will rise from 0.0 to 0.2. Those numbers aren’t great, but projections aren’t perfectly accurate. If the previous months of his career are an indicator, that rough finish to 2018 was nothing but an accident.

    Both Reed and Hildenberger were missed a lot in the second half of last year, but I think they aren’t done at all. If they manage to recover, the Twins bullpen will see a great improvement. But a lot also depends on the next category of players.

    Maintaining their performance

    Four of the Twins’ current relievers had very solid 2018 seasons: Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, Trevor May and Matt Magill. If they manage to keep the same kind of numbers this year, Minnesota will be able to achieve consistency from its bullpen. Rogers is the stud of the relief group, having had an amazing season. He posted a team-best 2.63 ERA, 2.33 FIP and 1.9 fWAR. Such numbers are in consonance with his previous two seasons in the majors and his entire minor league career. Nothing ralistically indicates that he is about to have a bad season this upcoming year.

    Parker joins the Twins on a very cheap, basically no-risk contract. He signed with Minnesota for one year, with a salary of $3.2 million. If he manages to maintain the same level from the last couple of seasons, the Twins got themselves a pretty good deal. He arrives in Minnesota after two absolutely solid years with the Angels. In both he’s reached at least 66 1/3 innings, posting a 2.90 ERA and 3.55 FIP, with 10.5 K/9. Parker’s 2017 was stellar, whereas his 2018 was “just good”. But even that “just good” would work for the Twins. He turns 34 in June and since he has prior closing experience, he is possibly the main candidate to take over ninth inning duties.

    The 29-year-old Magill had his breakout with the Twins last year, having started his stint with the club in late April. He went on to appear in 40 games, striking out 56 batters in 56 2/3 innings. During his first 15 games in the majors, he managed to keep a below 2.00 ERA. In 17 of his 40 games he pitched more than an inning, making him one of the most dependable men out of the bullpen in 2018. It’s uncertain if he will remain with the club after Parker’s signing, but he certainly did a decent job last year.

    After spending 2017 recovering from Tommy John Surgery, May came back strong to the Twins. Even appearing in only 24 games in the year, he managed to get 0.5 fWAR, while also striking out 12.8 per nine. His velocity seemed virtually unchanged (94.4 vFA) in his return. It was a smaller sample, but 2018 was by far his best year in the majors. If he manages to repeat that this year, May could be another cornerstone from that bullpen.

    Converting starters into relievers

    Assuming the six aforementioned cases work out the way they could, the Twins would have one or two spots to fill. That’s exactly where most fans would like to see a big free agent signing. But, if they decide to work with one of their in-house options, what would be the best way to go? They could hand over the job to one of the young pitchers currently in the 40-man roster, such as Andrew Vasquez, Lewis Thorpe, Gabriel Moya or John Curtiss. But there might be another safer and more effective way.

    Two young starters could become relievers and provide a strong help out of the pen. Zack Littell hasn’t had very long to show his stuff in the majors, having pitched only eight games for the Twins last year. But one thing was clear: He’s done a much better out of the bullpen than as a starter/opener. In 13 1/3 innings out of the pen, he’s had a 4.05 ERA. He could get another shot in 2019 if the Twins decide to use a 13-man pitching staff. His ERA is projected to improve from 6.20 last year, to 4.62 this year.

    On the other hand, if the club decides to use 12 arms, then the most appealing option would be converting Fernando Romero to reliever. The young Dominican had an amazing first stint in the majors. He had 11 starts for the Twins and has finished the first year with a modest 4.69 ERA, but that’s mainly due to a couple of really bad starts.

    In his first five starts, Romero posted 1.88 ERA while striking out 9.2 per nine. It’s uncertain how well he would do pitching out of the bullpen in the majors, given the fact that he’s done that very little during his minor league career. But, when he did, he was superb. He’s pitched only 18 1/3 innings as a reliever in the minors, but posted a 0.49 ERA. That’s definitely worth experimenting in the Majors.

    Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Can the Twins be competitive with the bullpen as it’s currently constructed?

    This is Thiéres Rabelo's debut article at Twins Daily. You can follow him on Twitter @TwinsBrasil.

    • Jan 11 2019 01:46 PM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  22. REPORT: Twins Finalizing Deal With Blake Parker

    UPDATE: Jeff Passan of ESPN confirmed the Twins are indeed finalizing a deal with Parker. His sources say it's a one-year deal worth slightly more than $3 million.

    Here's what I wrote about Parker in the non-tender tracker we ran here at Twins Daily on Nov. 30:

    Blake Parker will be non-tendered by the Angels, according to Mark Feinsand. This is the most surprising one so far in my book. Parker has pitched to a 2.90 ERA in 138 appearances over the past two seasons with the Angels, racking up 22 saves in the process. He also has an impressive 1.03 WHIP and 4.46 K:BB ratio over that same stretch (10.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9). Parker, 33, was projected to make a modest $3.1 million.

    And I added this in my recap of the day's activity:

    Final Thoughts
    Some of these guys could make a lot of sense for the Twins.

    Blake Parker is a guy who jumps out in particular, mainly because I think bullpen help is probably the biggest need right now.

    At least in my eyes, Parker stacks up favorably when you compare him to some of the other relief pitchers available on the market. That's especially true if we look back at 2017-18 numbers combined.

    Past two seasons
    Blake Parker
    2.90 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 22.8 K-BB%

    Adam Ottavino
    3.50 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 18.1 K-BB%

    Cody Allen
    3.82 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 20.7 K-BB%

    Kelvin Herrera
    3.47 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 14.5 K-BB%

    *Moments after the Parker news broke Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the White Sox signed Herrera to a two-year, $18 million deal with a vesting third-year option.

    To be fair, there's a good reason why I zoomed out to the past two seasons. Parker is coming off a much less impressive season than he posted in 2017. Two seasons ago his FIP was 2.71, last year it was 4.40.

    According to Baseball Savant, Parker relies on his four seamer 58 percent of the time while mixing in a splitter 31.1 percent of the time and his curve at 10.9 percent. All three of those offerings took a dip in velocity from 2017 to last season, with the four-seam fastball going from 93.5 mph in 2017 to 92.1 last year.

    So there are certainly some things to like about Parker and some to be concerned about, as you would expect from a player who was recently non-tendered.

    Again, it's important to point out that at this time the signing has not been confirmed, but it would be surprising to see someone like Ken Rosenthal to connect a player to a team without having a strong inclination that things were fairly settled.

    Something to keep in mind is the Twins' 40-man roster is currently full, so they'll need to DFA another player to make room for Parker. Last week the Twins designated Aaron Slegers to make room for Nelson Cruz.

    4:23 Update: Jeff Passan is reporting that the deal is close and believed to be worth slightly more than $3 million.

    • Jan 07 2019 04:24 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  23. Non-Tender Tracker: Avisail, Schoop Among Those to Become Free Agents

    *All projected arbitration salaries are from MLB Trade Rumors.

    The White Sox did not tender contracts to a couple of their better hitters from the 2018 season: Matt Davidson and Avisail Garcia. Davidson was projected to make $2.4 million while Garcia was tabbed for $8.0 million.

    Davidson had a .738 OPS in 496 plate appearances and slugged 20 homers for the second straight season. He got most of his reps at DH but has also played first base and third base. Garcia, an All-Star in 2017, had a .719 OPS with 19 home runs in just 385 plate appearances. Both Davidson (.268/.344/.461) and Garcia (.304/.358/.457) have handled left-handed pitching pretty well over their careers. Jeff Passan was first with the Davidson news while Scott Merkin was first to report on Garcia.

    Also of note in the AL Central: Detroit is expected to non-tender catcher James McCann and reliever Alex Wilson, per Anthony Fenech. McCann made 112 starts behind the plate for the Tigers last year, but had a career-low .581 OPS. McCann was projected to make $3.5 million. Wilson had a 3.36 ERA and 1.05 WHIP last year despite a pitch-to-contact approach that saw him average just 6.3 K/9.

    The Reds will non-tendered Billy Hamilton (as first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans), one of the most recognizable faces in Cincinnati over the past five seasons. The bat never came around, but Hamilton has averaged 65 stolen bases per 162 games played over his career and provides incredible defense in center field. He was projected to make $5.9 million.

    The Mets non-tendered infielder Wilmer Flores. He’s posted a 109 OPS+ over the past three seasons combined. Flores has been seeing more time at first base the past couple seasons, but has still got in some reps at second base and third base. He was projected to make $4.7 million. Joel Sherman had that news first.

    5:20 p.m. Update
    The Brewers announced they would not be tendering a contract to second baseman Jonathan Schoop. After hitting 32 home runs with a .841 OPS in 2017, Schoop's numbers plummeted. He was struggling for Baltimore, then really tanked after a trade sent him to Milwaukee. He finished with a .233/.266/.416 (.682) slash line and was pinned to make $10.1 million through arbitration.

    Milwaukee will also non-tender lefties Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno. In parts of seven seasons in the Majors, Jennings has a 2.96 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 7.1 K/9. He's made 70 appearances in each of the past two seasons. Cedeno pitched to a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings between the White Sox and Brewers last year. He averaged 9.2 K/9 but also walked a batter nearly every other inning (4.3 BB/9). Trade Rumors had Jennings expected to make $1.6 million while Cedeno was at $1.5 million.

    Mark Feinsand reported that the Royals non-tendered Jason Adam, Samir Duenez, Andres Machado and Bubba Starling. Kansas City is expected to bring all four back on minor league deals.

    5:55 p.m. Update
    Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that the Twins will non-tender Robbie Grossman. With the addition of C.J Cron, this seemed like a likely move. Jake Cave's emergence and LaMonte Wade being added to the 40-man roster also certainly played a part.

    In three seasons with the Twins, Grossman hit .266/.371/.400 (.771), but he was projected to make $4 million next season. With the retirement of Joe Mauer and now Grossman's apparent exit the Twins could really use an OBP boost.

    6:05 p.m. Update
    The Diamondbacks announced they have non-tendered Shelby Miller, Brad Boxberger and Chris Owings.

    A former first-round pick who was a centerpiece in two bit trades, Miller was been a big disappointment in Arizona. He made just 28 starts over thre seasons and had a 6.35 ERA with the Snakes. Boxberger led the AL with 41 saves back in 2015 when he was with the Rays, but has a 4.21 ERA and averaged 5.2 BB/9 in 107 innings since. Owings has played all over the diamond in his six years with the D-Backs. He's coming off a career-worst .574 OPS, but hit .273/.308/.428 (.736) in the two prior seasons.

    The Blue Jays will not tender a contract to infielder Yangervis Solarte. In his only season with Toronto, Solarte hit .226/.277/.378 (.655) while making 79 starts at third base, 26 at second base and five at shortstop. The Twins originally signed Solarte out of Venezuela back in 2005.

    6:20 p.m Update
    The Twins will avoid going to arbitration with C.J. Cron. He agreed to a $4.8 million deal, slightly below the $5.2 million MLB Trade Rumors had him projected to receive.

    6:25 p.m. update
    Blake Parker will be non-tendered by the Angels, according to Mark Feinsand. This is the most surprising one so far in my book. Parker has pitched to a 2.90 ERA in 138 appearances over the past two seasons with the Angels, racking up 22 saves in the process. He also has an impressive 1.03 WHIP and 4.46 K:BB ratio over that same stretch (10.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9). Parker, 33, was projected to make a modest $3.1 million.

    7:10 p.m. update
    The Angels have also non-tendered starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker. The runner-up for the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year award, Shoemaker has seen his innings drop and his ERA rise in each of the past three seasons. He made just seven starts and had a 4.94 ERA for the Angels in 2018.

    The Phillies non-tendered first baseman Justin Bour and left-handed reliever Luis Avilan.

    Bour had incredible power numbers in 2017, slugging .536. That dipped to .404 last season, but he still had a 110 OPS+. His calling card is the ability to mash right-handed pitching (.269/.354/.499 career). Cleveland's rotation is very much skewed toward righties ... hmm.

    Avilan has a career 3.09 ERA in more than 300 innings pitched. Over the past three seasons, he's posted a 10.6 K/9. Lefties have hit just .213/.289/.292 (.581) against him.

    7:30 p.m. update
    Another round of non-tenders!

    Oakland: Mike Fiers, Kendall Graveman and Cory Gearrin.

    After a couple of poor years with the Astros, Fiers had a nice bounce back. He started the year in Detroit, then was traded to Oakland in early August. Altogether he had a 3.56 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 3.76 K:BB ratio in 172 innings pitched.

    Graveman has a 4.38 ERA for his career but in seven starts last season that was up to 7.60 ERA. Gearrin, a right-handed reliever, has a 2.80 ERA in 125 1/3 innings over the past two seasons, but he's also averaged 4.0 BB/9.

    Giants: Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez.

    Strickland had an outstanding first three seasons but took a step back in 2018. In 45 1/3 innings, Strickland had a 3.97 ERA and averaged 4.2 BB/9 while only striking out 7.3 K/9.

    Baltimore: Tim Beckham and Caleb Joseph.

    Beckham's a long ways away from being the No. 1 overall pick, but he flashed some skills in his time with the O's. He had a career year in 2017, hitting .278/.328/.454 (.782) with 22 home runs, but failed to back that up. Beckham had just a .661 OPS last season.

    Cubs: Ronald Torreyes.

    The Cubs acquired Torreyes in a trade from the Yankees on Wednesday for a player to be named later. Hard to figure this one out ...

    8:00 p.m. update
    Texas: Matt Bush

    Another former No. 1 overall pick! Bush was converted to the mound and had an impressive debut back in 2016. Since then, however, he has a 4.06 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 75 1/3 innings. Still, that 96 mph fastball will surely open some eyes.

    Houston: Chris Herrmann

    Old friend alert. Herrmann hit .237/.322/.421 (.743) in 87 plate appearances for the Mariners last year and .250/.385/.425 (.809) in 78 games for their Triple-A affiliate.

    Final Thoughts
    Some of these guys could make a lot of sense for the Twins.

    Blake Parker is a guy who jumps out in particular, mainly because I think bullpen help is probably the biggest need right now. Could Jonathan Schoop be a good bounce back candidate at second base? Love the power, love the arm strength but what happened? Can Mike Fiers back up his bounce back? He could be nice rotation insurance ... or he could turn back into a pumpkin.

    I think Avisail Garcia could be a great guy to push Max Kepler and also get some DH at bats. Same for Justin Bour and Tyler Austin. Same for Tim Beckham and Ehire Adrianza, but he'd just be pushing him straight off the roster. Not sure if the Twins would have interest in Garcia, Bour or Beckham though.

    Cleveland also traded away catcher Yan Gomes. All in all, it was a good day for the Twins. The rest of the division got a little worse on the whole and the free agent pool got a little deeper.

    • Nov 30 2018 10:48 PM
    • by Tom Froemming