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  1. Dust Settles but Bombas Never Will for 2019 Twins

    On May 24 the Twins had just wrapped up a victory against the Chicago White Sox. They were 34-16 through their first 50 games and the club had swatted 101 homers. Dubbed “#SotaPop” by Twins Daily’s own Nick Nelson a month earlier, Eddie Rosario dropped a term that would stick the rest of the way. He suggested “When you’re hitting a lot of bombas, everybody’s hitting bombas, everybody’s happy.” From that point forward the “Bomba Squad” was born.

    Rosario’s comments came just a day after Minnesota had launched eight dingers for the second time on the season. Fast forward a few weeks and Byron Buxton had just launched the 4th greatest homer of the season in terms of WPA. It was his blast on June 5th though that busted out the tape measure. 454 feet against the rival Cleveland Indians, the shot was described as launched while putting the league on notice. Anyone in this lineup could take you out, and of the no-doubter variety.

    As the month of June wore on, it became time that the authorities take notice. All season long the Minnesota Twins did an exceptional job of marketing this team. Facing attendance woes from a year prior, they found ways to funnel fans into Target Field. Keeping with that theme in relation to the All-Star Game, the Twins creatively marketed the “Bomba Ballot.” Baldelli’s Bangers ended up meeting the Minneapolis Bomb Squad, and one group was preventing crime while the other was committing it.

    Heading into the All Star Break the Twins surpassed the 2018 New York Yankees mark for most home runs prior to the time off. They swatted four dingers against the Texas Rangers on July 5 at Target Field giving them 162 on the year (they’d add one more the next day). That game was a blowout 15-6 win that saw catcher Mitch Garver continue his tear.

    You can’t look back to July without thinking about the epic affair Minnesota and New York provided over the course of 10 innings. The two clubs combined for 26 run on 35 hits, and while the pitching got beat around, it was the bats that showed off. These two squads have been running away from the pack with the longball all year, and that was one of the most exciting games Minnesota has played this season. Unfortunately, it ended with an Aaron Hicks diving grab in the gap, but Miguel Sano put his stamp on the action by leaving the park twice on the evening.

    When the calendar turned to August the Indians began to believe they had a chance in the AL Central division. With the division lead shrinking by the day the month needed to get off to a good start. The lineup had lost some key pieces due to injury, some of the pitching performances weren’t what they were early on, and there was too much runway left to sit back and rest. On a day in which he was getting a break, Miguel Sano became a hero. Pinch hitting for Ehire Adrianza in the 9th inning of a tie game against the Atlanta Braves, he stepped in got a second pitch, and sent everybody home.

    Before the month would end the Twins walloped their greatest home run of the season. Highlighted as the greatest WPA inducing blast of 2019 in Cooper’s piece last month, Marwin Gonzalez got all of a ball from Josh Hader to put the Twins ahead while trailing in the 8th inning. Both Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz had looked like slam dunk fits for this club coming into free agency, and this was just another moment to highlight how right the front office got it.

    Minnesota began the month of September with a 4.5 game lead on the Cleveland Indians. Despite needing to provide some calm myself, and Indians personality Jensen Lewis providing fuel for the fire, the Twins were going to wrap the Central up. Holding serve the first two weeks was a must, and no serve was bigger than the Nelson Cruz bomba against the Washington Nationals. Statcast measured the blast at just 460 feet but crushing it out to bystanders at Minnie and Paul’s in dead center, there’s zero doubt the distance was significantly closer to the 500 ft mark.

    The Twins went into Cleveland and hung a doubleheader sweep on the Indians in what amounted to their final division opportunity of the season. Sending a shot out to left field off Nick Goody, Minnesota had all the breathing room they’d need. Once again, the Twins polarizing third basemen had come up in a spot fitting for a star.

    Just a couple of days later Sano went yard again, this time registering the longest homer of the season (per Statcast) tracked at 482 ft. Tape measure shots have become something of the norm for Miguel, but this one was something else. As Minnesota was in the swing of a 13-game stretch against the bottom of the division to close out the year, they were going to make sure there was no doubt about who the cream of the crop was.

    Another double dinger day was on tap for Sano against the Royals to close out the home slate at Target Field. As impressive as his efforts were in a 12-8 victory against Kansas City, it was his friend an elder statesmen that stole the show. Much like Jim Thome and his pursuit of 600 the last time Minnesota won the division (though the record breaker came in the following season), Nelson Cruz punctuated a career year with blast number 40. That longball was also the 400th of his career and firmly entrenched him as one of the greatest power hitters to ever play the game.

    Now the division has been in hand for nearly a week but coming off the official clinch on September 25 (and Baldelli’s birthday), the Twins trotted out their hangover lineup on Thursday against Ron Gardenhire’s Tigers. Minnesota was getting their game in hand over the Yankees in, and knotted at 299 homers could be the first to reach 300. Jonathan Schoop hit a wall scraper for a two-run shot to reach Sparta and history was made. Willians Astudillo tacked on another before the day was over, and now the Twins will look to hold serve before facing a Yankees team in a much more desirable set of circumstances.

    There are just three games left in the 2019 regular season. Minnesota can tie the all-time franchise wins record. They could surpass a few more benchmarks. Heck, they could even hang a final sweep on the board against the Kansas City Royals. No matter what they do though, this will have been the year of #SotaPop turned into the Bomba Squad and we lived through big flies that never seemed like they’d come down.

    • Sep 26 2019 08:00 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  2. Twins Game Recap (9/12): Twins Drop Series to Nationals, Cleveland 3.5 Back

    Box Score
    Gibson: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER (6 R), 4 BB, 5 K, 6.13% strikes (57 of 93 pitches)
    Bullpen: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Cruz (36), Schoop (22)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-5), Schoop (3-for-5)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop (.092), Castro (.071), Cruz (.061)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Gibson (-.302), Stewart (-.120), Stashak (-.47)

    Gibson Hit Hard in Return to Mound but It Wasn’t All Bad
    After missing two starts Gibby returned to the mound with the tough task of facing the Washington Nationals who were going for the series win. The Nationals are a top 10 team in all of baseball when it comes to facing right-handed pitching as well as being one of the best teams in baseball since June 1. Throughout the evening Washington was hovering around .380 in xBA, per Statcast, which means Gibson was getting hit hard which was mostly due to not hitting his spots. For example, Adam Eaton’s home run to lead off the fifth inning was left middle/middle, and this was a recurring issue through the night for Gibson. It also didn’t help that he walked four hitters. That said, there were some positive things to note.

    Gibson’s fastball velocity was actually a tick or two above his average in the first inning before settling in at about 94 mph, which is where he normally sits. A good sign considering the symptoms of ulcerative colitis include weight loss and fatigue. What might have been the most impressive thing from his start tonight was the movement of his off-speed pitches which induced a 21 percent swinging strike rate against a team who Fangraphs has ranked as third in all of baseball in contact percentage. In all, it wasn’t a terrible start and may be somewhat expected considering his recent illness coupled with the line-up he was facing but there were still some positive takeaways.

    Cruz, Schoop, Garver Hit Well, Rest of Line up Squanders Opportunities
    As the Nationals were smoking the ball from the top of the order to the bottom, the Twins struggled to make hard contact against the soft-throwing lefty Patrick Corbin. Through the evening the Twins xBA was in right around .275 give or take 10 points or so before plummeting in the later innings to the low .200’s. Rosario responded to a Rendon homer in the top of the first with a RBI single to right scoring Luis Arraez who had doubled on a ball that had an xBA of .020 (yes, the “2” is in the right spot).

    Cruz blasted his 36th home run in the bottom of the third while Mitch Garver was about two feet away from hitting his 31st home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth. Other than Schoop, who hit his 22nd home run in the eighth as well as a 109 mph line drive at an umpire, the rest of the offense was pretty stagnant. This was a little surprising as this was the best lineup the Twins had in the three game series with the Nationals.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Sep 13 2019 04:21 AM
    • by Matthew Lenz
  3. Twins Game Recap (9/7): Odorizzi, Garver Power the Twins to Victory

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 67% strikes (66 of 99 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: Garver 2 (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3), Astudillo (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Garver .248, Schoop .196, Sano .081
    Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.171, Rosario -.121, Polanco -.020

    Garver scored the lone run off Cleveland starter Aaron Civale on a solo shot in the first inning. Garver’s 27th homer set the record for the most in a season by a Twins catcher. Earl Battey hit 26 in 1963.

    Jake Odorizzi threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, falling one short of his career high with 10 strikeouts. The start held more weight, as Michael Pineda was handed a 60-game suspension today for violating the league’s drug policy. Pineda had been the most reliable Twins starter since the break, posting a 3.04 ERA and striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings.

    The Twins bullpen has been one of the best in the last month. Tyler Duffey continued his success, holding Cleveland to just one run on a wild pitch. Duffey struck out two in his relief of Odorizzi. With Sam Dyson uncertain to return, the Twins are exploring other options out of the pen. Zack Littell allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning. Sergio Romo limped off the mound after setting up in the eighth.

    Taylor Rogers was great again, retiring the side in order to secure the win and his 25th save.

    The win was important for Minnesota. Avoiding the potential sweep with Indians ace Mike Clevinger on the mound tomorrow, the Twins are more than treading water to win the division.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Sep 07 2019 09:10 PM
    • by Nash Walker
  4. Twins Game Recap (8/28): Twins Sail Past White Sox for Series Win

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 60.2% strikes (59 of 98 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Schoop (20, 21), Garver (24)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (3-4 HR), Polanco (2-4 2B), Schoop (2-4 2 HR)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop .302, Odorizzi .120, Polanco .059

    Bombas to Start, Bombas to End

    After the Twins offense scored just three runs last night against the White Sox ace, they came out early and mashed against Ross Detwiler. It started with a three-run homer from Jonathan Schoop for his 20th of the season. The Twins are now just one home run away from Jorge Polanco from breaking the record for most players with 20 home runs in a season.

    The Twins added some more runs the next inning after a leadoff hit-by-pitch, a double and an intentional walk gave them bases loaded with no outs. Eddie Rosario grounded into a fielder’s choice but beat the throw to drive in one run, and then Miguel Sano smacked a ball that went right through Tim Anderson’s legs for another run.

    The Twins offense somewhat stalled after these early runs as they struggled to get men on base, and when they did, couldn’t close. In the fourth inning they put together a two-out rally with two hits, and Cruz’s second intentional walk of the game, but Rosario grounded out to end the threat.

    In the next three innings, the Twins sent just 11 batters to the plate and never had a runner past second. That included Sano being hit by a pitch, which would later put him out of the game, and two hits, one of them by Luis Arraez, who took over for Sano.

    Schoop had enough of the scoreless innings for the Twins as he mashed his second home run of the game down the third base line. After Cave showed some smart base running and extended a single into a double, Mitch Garver sent a ball high and deep to left-center field to put the Twins up 8-2.

    Odorizzi Minimizes Damage in Route to Quality Start

    Just like last week when Odorizzi faced off against this White Sox team, he gave up a run in the first inning. However, he was able to mimnimize the damage as he came back to strike out Moncada after falling behind 3-0, and went upstairs to strike out Anderson to finish the inning.

    After a big turn around in the first inning, Odorizzi sailed through his next two innings with two 1-2-3 innings where he picked up a strikeout in each inning. After he retired the first batter in the fourth and had set down nine straight, he ran into some trouble after allowing two hits and a walk to load the bases. Odoirzzi was again able to keep the damage minimal as he got a fielder’s choice and picked up his fifth strikeout of the game after giving up just one run.

    In the fifth inning, Odorizzi picked up two quick outs, but ran into a bit of trouble after allowing a walk and a sharp single to center field. Odorizzi made quick work of Moncada and struck him out on three straight pitches to end the inning. Odorizzi picked up his third 1-2-3 of the game in the sixth which included his eighth strikeout of the game as his night ended and he picked up a quality start.

    Schoop’s Power

    Jonathan Schoop continues to mash the ball as of late, and unlike his usual blowout-game home runs, he has been hitting bombas in bigger spots for this Twins offense. In his last five games that he has played, he has six hits, but five of them are home runs. Take a look at the Twins' win percentage at the time of his first 16 home runs and the win probability it added:

    For reference on his last five home runs:
    -Aug. 16 Schoop hits two-run go-ahead home run in the seventh.
    -Aug. 21 Schoop extends lead to five runs with a two-run homer which turned out to be helpful insurance runs.
    -Last night Schoop homers in the second to extend the lead to 2-0.
    -Tonight’s second inning three-run home run to get the Twins on the board, and his eighth inning insurance home run (didn’t add that much win probability).

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Aug 29 2019 04:53 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  5. Taking the Twins to the Gridiron

    Jonathan Schoop- QB

    Initially I wanted to make Max Kepler out to be a Minnesota version of Michael Vick. Quick and left-handed, the profile certainly fit. If we’re going with a big body in the pocket, and arm strength out the wazoo, the choice here is obvious. Schoop has an absolute howitzer for an arm, and it’s shown often while turning double plays with Jorge Polanco. He may tend to get a bit long sometimes for a football throw, but the force at which the ball leaves his hand would challenge Brett Favre in a finger breaking contest.

    Jorge Polanco- RB

    Something about the man nicknamed “Chulo” strikes me as elusive. Polanco isn’t fast as much as he is quick. Shorter in stature at 5’11” Polanco is still plenty muscular and looks the part of a guy who could either evade or run through an opposing tackler. He has good feet that have helped him immensely during his time at shortstop, and you can bet he’d be all in on the idea of getting loose.

    Byron Buxton- WR

    The guy who may be the most fun to see run down the sideline is none other than center fielder Byron Buxton. His elite speed may not translate as easily in pads, but you can bet he’d be a nightmare for most cornerbacks to keep up with. He’s got exceptional hands with a glove on, and well, receiver gloves are virtually super glue today anyway. Buck played QB in high school and the arm strength that allows him to uncork 90+ mph from center would work in the pocket as well. I’d be a bit afraid of his stature being a downfall, but the jumping and sprinting ability on full display is something you could sign me up for.

    Miguel Sano- TE

    Sneaky athleticism for a big-bodied guy, Sano could be something of a matchup problem. He’s got some height to him, and the size would work well for boxing opposing defenders out. Imagine him wreaking havoc in the red zone or getting even a moderate head of speed before rumbling down the field and throwing a big block. Linebackers may have an opportunity to keep him in check but defending secondaries would be well overmatched.

    Eddie Rosario- SS

    Delivering the boom is something that seems like Rosario would live for. Swinging with reckless abandon at the dish could be replicated while patrolling the secondary. He’d likely get more than a few flags thrown his direction after lining up the big hit, but you best believe the celebratory dances would be legendary.

    Nelson Cruz- K

    If there’s a nickname more appropriate than Boomstick for Cruz in baseball, then using that same moniker as he swings his meaty right piece makes all the sense in the world. I have no idea if Cruz can kick, but I’d imagine he’s put a soccer ball in goal at least once. Even if the range topped out at 20 yards, the power stemming from the Boomstick appendage would be must-see television.

    Who else do you envision as a Twins player hitting the gridiron, and what are some of the positions you’d put guys at?

    • Aug 26 2019 02:22 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  6. Twins Game Recap (8/25): Pérez Impresses, Twins Beat Detroit for Series Win

    Box Score
    Pérez: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 68% strikes (68 of 100 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: C.J. Cron (21), J.Schoop (18)
    Multi-Hit Games: None

    Top 3 WPA: Pérez .214, Garver .154, Schoop .101

    Martín Pérez returned to Target Field after a very successful road trip in which he allowed just two runs in 11 innings. The bullpen and bats restricted Pérez to no decisions in both starts.

    The Twins allowed 8-of-9 leadoff batters to reach base in last night’s victory. On Sunday, Pérez surrendered just one. C.J. Cron assisted Pérez to his first win since before the All-Star break with a three-run blast in the fourth inning. Pérez twirled six strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Pérez has walked 3.8 batters-per-nine this year, but gave a free pass to just one hitter on Sunday. His cutter was extremely effective to right-handed batters, which is an important development after the pitch was dominant during the first half of the season, but not so during the middle part of the schedule.

    Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for Detroit and allowed seven runs in six innings. Jonathan Schoop had one of the four Twins’ hits, as he laced a two-run homer down the left field line in the sixth. The Twins lead the league in OPS against left-handed pitching (.885). Catcher Mitch Garver doubled off the wall in the third to improve his torrid numbers against lefties. Boyd walked five and struck Max Kepler with a pitch in the fourth. The Twins figure to see Boyd at least once more, as they have seven more head-to-head matchups with Detroit. They have scored 10 runs off him in two starts.

    Cody Stashak continued to be a reliable low-leverage arm out of the bullpen, pitching two innings of one-hit ball with a strikeout. He was helped out by an outstanding catch in left field by Jake Cave.

    Lewis Thorpe entered in the ninth with less luck, surrendering three hits and two runs. Thorpe escaped the jam and finished the job. Stashak and Thorpe saved the arms of Rogers, Dyson and Romo. All of which will receive two days of much-needed rest.

    The Twins will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before facing Chicago for a three-game series against Lucas Giolito and the White Sox.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Aug 25 2019 07:08 PM
    • by Nash Walker
  7. Twins Game Recap (8/16): Twins Prevail Behind Clutch Schoop HR, Great Bullpen Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Aug 17 2019 05:12 AM
    • by Thieres Rabelo
  8. Leading Off Podcast With Cooper & Matt: They Came At the King and Did Not Miss

    Time stamps:

    2:15 Reviewing this frustrating week

    17:30 Discussing the division race

    44:40 Jonathan Schoop/Luis Arraez

    49:30 Injury news (Cruz, Pineda, Dyson)

    62:15 Did Martin Perez do his job?

    68:10 It is looking like the Twins messed up this deadline

    71:00 Prospects (Thorpe, Romero, Alcala, Celestino)

    84:50 Looking ahead

    In this link you can find the Spotify audio of the podcast.


    Please be sure to let us know what you think, whether it’s a question, you disagree with us, or anything else by commenting on this post or heading over to our Twitter accounts below

    Cooper: Carlson_MnTwins
    Matt: Matthew_bTwins

    • Aug 12 2019 06:59 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  9. Twins Game Recap (8/7): Perez Struggles and Offense is too Late in Rubber Match

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

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

    Braves Ready For Perez

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

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

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

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

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

    Fried Fires Through Twins

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

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

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

    Twins Comeback Falls Short

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

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

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

    Next Series

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

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

    Postgame With Baldelli

    • Aug 07 2019 07:04 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  10. Jonathan Schoop Becoming the Odd Man Out

    The Twins had a lot of questions when it came to replacing Brian Dozier this off-season. Jonathan Schoop seemed to be a nice, short-term solution at second base. Ehire Adrianza has always seemed to fit the role of utility infielder and few could have predicted the impact Luis Arraez would have at the big-league level.

    Over the last two seasons, Adrianza has hit .254/.319/.384 with 40 extra-base hits in 176 games. He has also shown defensive flexibility by playing all over the infield including over 660 innings at shortstop during that stretch. Schoop is limited to playing second base as he has logged less than 230 innings at other positions throughout his seven years at the MLB level.

    The rise of Arraez has also cut into Schoop's time on the field. As a 22-year old, Arraez has put together some unbelievably professional at-bats in his 182 plate appearances. Entering play on Tuesday, he is hitting .356/.429/.444 and he might have a strong argument to be named the AL Rookie of the Year. First year manager Rocco Baldelli certainly has faith in Arraez and if the playoffs started today Arraez would be penciled in at second base.

    Schoop has compiled some strong numbers in a Twins uniform and Baseball Reference has he accounting for 1.2 WAR. May was a good month for him as he posted an .835 OPS with six home runs and five doubles. He hasn’t had more than four home runs in any other month and his OPS dipped to .622 in June and .787 in July.

    Since the calendar turned to August, he’s gone 1-for-5 with no extra-base hits. He’s also only started one game in that stretch, Saturday’s contest with the Royals. Currently, the Twins have gotten by with having him relegated to a bench role. What happens if the club needs another relief pitcher? This could force the front office to make a choice between Schoop and one of the other infielders. At this point, Schoop might be the odd man out.

    While Schoop has been worth more than replacement level when it comes to WAR, his win probability added total is one of the worst totals of his career. He entered play on Tuesday with a -1.28 WPA. His only year with a lower total was 2014 with the Orioles when he accounted for a -3.00 WPA. Schoop has the lowest WPA among qualified batters on the Twins roster and he’s over a full win lower than the next closest qualified batter.

    Schoop could have some big hits for the Twins in the weeks ahead but he shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from Arraez. At season’s end, Schoop will be a free agent and Arraez will enter the year as the team’s starting second baseman.

    It helps to have Schoop to add depth to the roster, but it’s getting closer to the point where he might be holding the team back from adding other players (especially pitchers). Do you think it’s time to cut Schoop loose? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Aug 06 2019 06:51 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  11. Let's Make A Deal, Part VI: GM For A Deadline

    Have you missed the earlier parts of this series?

    Part 1: 2020

    Part 2: Payroll

    Part 3: The Ammunition

    Part 4: The Sellers

    Part 5: Who Are We Getting?


    The previous five articles linked above have led us to this place: willing to take on payroll, less willing to deal the best of our assets, but understanding the cost to do business in terms of adding controllable pieces.

    My wishlist (in no particular order):

    A controllable starting pitcher - Beyond Jose Berrios and the team holding an option on Martin Perez's contract for 2020, the other 60% of the rotation is on expiring contracts. While the current rotation has been durable and, at a minimum, capable, adding a quality starter to the stable would be a big step for this pennant race and next year.

    A relief pitcher - While a reliever with team control would be preferred, getting a rental would suffice.

    An elite pinch-runner - There will come a time between now and the end of the season that Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano or Jason Castro will be the tying or go-ahead run on second base... and out of the dugout will trot Ehire Adrianza. Adding this piece would be ideal at the end of August, right before rosters expand... but that's not allowed anymore. So we shop in July!

    Holding on to my top six prospects - What? If I can accomplish the above tasks without moving any of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Brusdar Graterol, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran or Trevor Larnach, I'd be ecstatic. It doesn't mean I won't do it. I'd just prefer not to.

    Without further adieu, my moves:

    Acquire SP Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers. It's not the most appealing name, but Minor has had the most productive 2019 season of all the pitchers rumored to be available.

    Why the Rangers? While the Rangers are playing .500 ball, it's not happening for them this year. And if they're honest with themselves, it's not happening next year either. Plus, GM Thad Levine used to work under Rangers GM Jon Daniels and they have a great relationship.

    How does Minor fit? Well, this does give the Twins six pitchers for five spots. At its simplest, someone is going to have to move to the bullpen. I'd suggest being more creative, limiting Michael Pineda's innings and using Martin Perez in more of a swing role. I'd also find a way to get Devin Smeltzer the occasional start. Plus, Minor is under contract for another year. Controllable starting pitcher, check.

    The cost? You skipped the previous two parts, didn't you? Minor isn't going to come cheap, unfortunately. I'm probably going to have to give up one of the prospects I don't want to. If Trevor Larnach is involved, the cost probably wouldn't be much more. But there's a chance the Twins get this done without Larnach. A package of A-ball players fits in really well with where Texas is as an organization.

    The package(s):
    Quantity: SS Wander Javier, RHP Blayne Enlow and RHP Luis Rijo for LHP Mike Minor.

    Quality: OF Trevor Larnach and RHP Griffin Jax for LHP Mike Minor and minor-league RP CD Pelham.

    Quick Take: Is the Stroman deal what the market is going to be? If so, maybe the Twins can get Minor for less. If not, maybe neither of these packages get it done.


    Acquire RP Ian Kennedy from the Kansas City Royals. Just like Minor, Kennedy is not the most appealing name. But he's been dang good as the Royals closer this year.

    Why the Royals? If you can convince them to deal to a division rival, this is a no-brainer. Kennedy is owed over $20m through the end of next year, and the Twins are in a position to take on salary. The combination of those two things drive down the cost in terms of prospects.

    How does Kennedy fit? Kennedy has 20 saves in 23 opportunities and has been equally as good against right- and left-handed hitters. I wouldn't "demote" Taylor Rogers, but I'd be more inclined to use Rogers in earlier high-leverage situations knowing Kennedy is more than capable of closing out games. Oh, and he continues to serve in that role through the upcoming back-to-back World Series championships. Reliever, check.

    The cost? Money, mostly. How much the Royals send over determines the level of prospect.

    The package:
    RHP Johan Quezada for RHRP Ian Kennedy and $5 million.

    Quick Take: The Royals pay just the rest of this year's salary (or maybe less) and in return get a flame throwing prospect who they will add to the 40-man roster this offseason. Bad teams having a closer is a luxury that the Royals are capitalizing on.


    Acquire OF Jarrod Dyson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yeah, we're doing it...

    Why the Diamondbacks? They're setting themselves up as sellers, but maybe shouldn't be. At any rate, I want the one of the fastest runners in baseball on my team.

    How does Dyson fit? He fits great as a fourth outfielder... on a team that doesn't really employ a fourth outfielder. If Buxton were to miss time, this is a pretty easy transition. Otherwise, he's a pinch-runner and fourth outfielder.

    The cost? Dyson is owed $1.2m over the course of the season. Now, about that 25-man spot he's going to need.... I'm trading 2B Jonathan Schoop. With Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza capable of being the second baseman if something were to happen to Luis Arraez.

    The package:
    2B Jonathan Schoop for OF Jarrod Dyson. (And whatever else, from either side, to make the deal work.)

    Quick Take: The Diamondbacks have played Ketel Marte at both 2B and CF, so this move forces him to CF full time. Both Dyson and Schoop are on expiring contracts. This changes Arizona's lineup (more pop, less speed) if they want to continue going for it. Or maybe they flip Schoop.


    You're in charge. What are you doing?

    • Jul 30 2019 02:29 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  12. Twins Game Recap (7/28): Bats Bounce Back Behind Gibson’s Strong Outing

    Box Score
    Gibson: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 68.8% strikes (66 of 96 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
    Home Runs: Polanco (16), Sano (18), Schoop (16), Kepler (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-5), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (3-for-4), Kepler (2-for-5)

    Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.130), Sano (.124), Gibson (.106)

    Solid start for the offense

    After a rough game yesterday, the Twins offense got off to the best start possible, scoring five runs before there was even an out recorded. Max Kepler doubled, Polanco homered, Cruz singled, Arraez singled, and Sano homered before the White Sox had to pull Dylan Covey after 14 pitches.

    The offense was stifled a bit for the next two innings, but the fourth inning had a nice two out rally. Kepler reached on an error, Polanco singled and then Cruz drove them both in with a big double to left field.

    Gibson cruises into the sixth

    Twins starter Kyle Gibson went five solid innings, giving up four total baserunners and striking out five before he started to struggle in the sixth. It was 9-0 in favor of the Twins at the time, so Gibson was left in to work out of his mess and he did just fine. The inning started with a single, walk, single, single, and then a clutch called strikeout (thanks Angel Hernandez). Gibson was able to ride that wave and strike out the next two batters to leave the inning still leading 9-1.

    The offense was able to get that run back and then some with a couple of two run bombs from Max Kepler and Jonathan Schoop.

    The Twins bullpen finishes off the game strong

    After a strange sixth inning from Gibson, the bullpen came in and did it’s job. It started with Ryne Harper in the 7th, Tyler Duffey in the 8th and future reliever of the year Sean Poppen to finish it off. They threw a perfect three innings and tacked on one strikeout each to put this game and series to rest on a good note. The Twins bullpen has been getting better lately and with the addition of Sergio Romo it only gets better from here.

    Twins head into off day with two game division lead

    The Twins won the game by a final score of 11-1 and there was really no doubt at any point. The Twins were able to come up huge this series by taking three of four in Chicago. Not only did the Twins win, but the Indians lost so the Twins were able to get that game back and will head into tomorrow’s off day with a two game lead over Cleveland.

    As the deadline nears, the Twins look like they will continue to add to their pitching staff after the Sergio Romo upgrade. The deadline is at 3:00 P.M Central time on Wednesday so keep checking back here for updates.

    Twins win!

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Jul 28 2019 05:43 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  13. Where’s the Truth in These Twins?

    First and foremost, Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop have been a lightning rod for criticism of late. Sano turned in an 0-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox on June 27. Minnesota suggested they were working through some tweaks to his approach at the plate, and Parker Hagemen highlighted deficiencies in how he was being attacked. Since that game Sano has 51 plate appearances posting a 1.123 OPS with a 16/6 K/BB. He’s cooled a bit (.879 OPS) since July 1, but that mark is 4th on the team in that timeframe and he’s handling pitches in the same spots he wasn’t before. Playing league average defense analytically as well, Sano is going great for now.

    Schoop came into the month of June with an .819 OPS and took quite the dive over 21 games last month. Posting just a .622 OPS and three dingers, his overall OPS tally dropped to .758. Through just eight games in July he owns a .934 OPS and has already homered twice. He trails only Mitch Garver from a production standpoint since the calendar flipped, and his 5 DRS at 2B trails only the Cardinals Kolten Wong this year. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but Schoop is keeping Minnesota above water now.

    Michael Pineda and Martin Perez have been chided each time they take the mound and are the arms most often thought of needing replacing in the rotation. That may not be wrong in Perez’s case given his ability to shine in the pen and the slide he’s been on. Pineda is closer to overtaking a top spot in the rotation than he is sliding out of it, however. After being put on the IL at the end of May to skip a start, he’s pitched in seven games. Across 39.2 IP he owns a 2.95 ERA, is giving up a .641 OPS, and has a 37/13 K/BB. Jose Berrios would welcome numbers like that for a stretch.

    As unfortunate as hanging curveballs have been out of the bullpen recently the bigger story is the flip in offensive production. During a series in which Minnesota and Cleveland set up their best starters to go at it, the Twins bullpen stole the show. Picking up teammates after short outings, the relievers routinely blanked Indians hitters to take a series victory. Since July began Nelson Cruz, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron, and Max Kepler rank 6th-9th in Twins OPS production. Only Cruz (.708) is above a .700 OPS. Having hitters at the top of the lineup perform that poorly is not something Rocco Baldelli can afford to become the norm.

    Over the course of the entire 94 game stretch the Twins own the second-best defensive metrics in baseball. They trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by quite a bit, but Minnesota’s performance is strong, nonetheless. Playing .500 baseball for the past few weeks, defense has been a talking point. There’s been lackluster efforts and questionable plays not being made. Since the All-Star Break this has become even more apparent and was no more evident than Eddie Rosario dropping a routine fly ball on Wednesday afternoon against the Mets. As both pitching and hitting come and go, defense needs to be something the group continues to pride itself on.

    While all the above areas of focus are individual or group centered, the reality is that a 162-game season allows a team to speak for itself. Minnesota isn’t the 110-win team they raced out to, but they are also not the mid-80’s win team they’re currently playing as. Getting everyone back on the same page in the lineup, re-engaging from a defensive standpoint, and filtering the outside noise out of the clubhouse is a trio of avenues to put the train back on the tracks.

    Each day we can view the club’s exploits through the lens of a 9-inning performance but come time to declare Postseason participants the only thing that matters is a 162-game sample.

    • Jul 18 2019 11:06 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  14. MIN 15, TEX 6: Offense Erupts and Perez Faces Former Team

    Box Score
    Starter: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 62.8% strikes (59 of 94 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

    Home Runs: Arraez (2), Polanco (12), Schoop (14), Garver (13)
    Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-4, BB), Polanco (2-5, HR), Garver (2-4, 2B, HR, BB), Gonzalez (3-4, 2 2B, HR), C.J. Cron (2-5, 2 2B), Arraez (2-5, HR), Schoop (3-5, 2B, HR), Buxton (2-5, 2 2B)

    Top 3 WPA: Perez .125, Arraez .091, Buxton .081

    Twins’ Offense Erupts
    After a quick first inning by Adrian Sampson that included two strikeouts, the Twins batted around in the second with eight hits, six of them being extra-base hits to score six runs. Five of those runs were scored with two outs in the inning.

    In the second inning there clearly wasn’t enough damage to Sampson, as the Rangers left him out there for the third and fourth. After getting five straight outs, Sampson gave up three straight hits, and another run to end his night after giving up seven runs on 11 hits over 3 1/3 innings. Schoop extended the Twins lead to nine on a two-run shot in the fifth to really put this game out of reach.

    After a little comeback by the Rangers in the seventh, the offense felt the game getting a little too close for comfort and put up a three spot in response. Garver hit a solo shot for the team’s 166th home run of the season, extending their MLB-record of most home runs hit before the All-Star Break. Schoop's third extra-base hit of the night grabbed two more RBIs to get the lead back to seven.

    The Twins’ offense combined for a season-high 20 hits, 15 runs, club-tying 13 extra base hits, four home runs, and every batter had at least one hit!

    Perez Battles Old Team
    Martin Perez got his first start tonight against his old team after spending his first seven seasons with the Rangers. This was definitely a game Perez wanted to start, seeing some familiar faces and trying to gain bragging rights against some of his old buddies.

    Perez had all the fun in his first six innings but ran into trouble before exiting the game in the seventh. Perez gave up just four hits in those first six innings with the first three of them being weak singles with exit velocities of 69.8, 84.1, and 76.7, respectively.

    The seventh inning is where Perez ran into trouble, and it started with a walk. A leadoff walk was exactly what got things started in his last start when he gave up two runs in the second inning to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Tonight, the leadoff walk was a little more detrimental, though the offense gave Perez room to work. Following the walk, Perez gave up three straight hits for two runs which ended his night. He was responsible for two more runs as Harper wasn’t able to get out of a second and third no-out jam.

    Middle Infielders Shine
    When talking about this team’s highlight-reel defense, it usually has to do with Buxton and making some ridiculous catch look easy. Tonight, it was the middle infielders who rose above the rest.

    The first highlight-reel play was courtesy of Polanco, Schoop, and Cron’s first double play of the night. Choo grounded a ball towards the middle but Polanco grabbed it out of the air with his glove, didn’t even bother using his other hand, flipped it to Schoop who gunned it to Cron to end the inning.

    Schoop tried to top Polanco’s acrobatic play the next inning when he made a running backhand stop and delivered a bullet to Cron for the third out. Just when the Rangers thought they had a threat, Polanco and Schoop combined with Cron again for an inning-ending double play.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Jul 06 2019 06:11 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  15. 4th of July Fireworks: A Look Back at the 10 Longest Twins Home Runs of 2019

    Check out some of these moonshots! Make sure to add your own ooohs and ahhhhs while watching this highlight reel.

    Here's some more info on the taters included in that video are below.

    10. Max Kepler and Miguel Sano (tied)
    Kepler: 438 ft., 112.3 mph exit velocity
    April 26 off Alex Cobb at Target Field

    Sano: 438 ft., 113.2 mph exit velocity
    May 23 off Matt Harvey at Angel Stadium

    9. Jason Castro
    443 ft., 108.5 mph
    May 11 off Spencer Turnbull at Target Field

    8. Jason Castro
    443 ft., 110.1 mph exit velocity
    April 27 off Jimmy Yacabonis at Target Field

    7. Nelson Cruz
    445 ft., 108.3 mph exit velocity
    June 6 off Blaine Hardy at Comerica Park

    6. C.J. Cron
    453 ft., 114.3 mph exit velocity
    May 16 off Erik Swanson at T-Mobile Park

    5. Miguel Sano
    454 ft., 108.9 mph exit velocity
    May 23 off Matt Harvey at Angel Stadium

    4. Byron Buxton
    454 ft., 111.0 mph exit velocity
    June 5 off Tyler Olson at Progressive Field

    3. Jonathan Schoop
    465 ft., 108.1 mph exit velocity
    May 1 off Collin McHugh at Target Field

    2. Jonathan Schoop
    467 ft., 110.4 mph exit velocity
    May 23 off Matt Harvey at Angel Stadium

    1. Nelson Cruz
    469 ft., 112.4 mph exit velocity
    June 29 off Jose Ruiz at Guaranteed Rate Field

    Here’s to more fireworks from our favorite firecrackers. Have a happy and safe 4th of July everybody!

    • Jul 04 2019 11:45 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  16. MIN 6, TB 4: Cruz Bails Out Another Bunting Blunder

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 60.4% strikes (55 of 91 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (3-for-4, 2B), Arraez (2-for-3, BB), Rosario (2-for-2)

    WPA of +0.1: Cruz .491, Arraez .151, Rosario .141, Rogers .115
    WPA of -0.1: May -.129, Schoop -.145, Polanco -.236
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Nelson Cruz provides a solid presence in the lineup, veteran leadership and will even apparently bail out his manager after making a poor decision. What a guy.

    The Twins were provided an excellent scoring chance in the seventh inning, and nearly returned the gift. A double-play ball was botched, resulting in the Twins getting runners at first and second with no outs.

    Jonthan Schoop was coming to the plate. The Twins were still trailing by a run. It was still only the seventh inning. Still, Schoop was up there trying to bunt. He missed twice, looking absolutely horrible in the process, and ended up striking out.

    Unlike when this happened last time with Jorge Polanco, I cannot imagine Schoop was doing this on his own. This is a guy who came into tonight with 13 homers and a .480 slugging percentage.

    Luis Arraez followed with a single to load the bases. The next batter, Polanco, popped out, meaning Cruz was the team’s final hope of capitalizing on Tampa Bay’s big error. Cruz ripped a bases-clearing go-ahead double to center field.

    Rocco Baldelli should have gone straight into his office and just submitted All-Star votes for Cruz from that moment to the final out.

    Odorizzi Struggles With Command
    Over his last three starts now, Odorizzi has given up 11 earned runs on 19 hits and five walks. All that damage was done in 15 1/3 innings, giving Odorizzi a 6.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over this recent downturn.

    What’s going on? Well, tonight Odorizzi struggled with his command. His strike rate was just a shade over 60% and seemed to constantly be pitching from behind in the count. On the plus side, he did still strike out seven batters and got 12 swinging strikes on his 91 pitches.

    Odorizzi left with the game tied 3-3, but the Rays completed their comeback with a Willy Adames go-ahead solo homer in the seventh, their third homer of the evening.

    Rosie Exits Early
    In the bottom of the third inning, Eddie Rosario pulled up while running the bases. It was later reported that he suffered an ankle injury and was day-to-day.

    With both Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez on the IL and Max Kepler nursing a sore elbow, courtesy of a 95 mph fastball, the Twins already had a very unconventional outfield to start this game.

    In the fourth inning, the defensive alignment was Luis Arraez in left field, Jake Cave in center and Willians Astudillo in right. Arraez has a grand total of two starts in the outfield while down on the farm the past two seasons.

    Kepler would later enter this game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Jun 27 2019 04:09 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  17. Attitude a Difference for Twins in 2019

    On the latest Gleeman and the Geek Parker Hageman noted that, in talking with a Twins official, the feel in the clubhouse is decidedly different in 2019. It’s one thing for that to be the case when you have the best record in baseball, but the reality for this team is that this is how things have been from the beginning. In constructing this roster Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were both calculated and decisive, but maybe there was more to it than a talent overhaul.

    From an internal standpoint the two linchpins have long been Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Buxton was the guy who put in all the effort and had plenty of hurdles placed in his way. Sano was the talented slugger that looked to rely on that alone. Byron went home and got his confidence back. Miguel put in work and looked to commit for the first time in his career. From the two guys most necessary on the roster, the front office got the buy in they desperately needed.

    In looking at the external additions there seems to be a common theme. Blake Parker was non-tendered by the Angels as was Brewers second basemen Jonathan Schoop. C.J. Cron was DFA’d by the Rays. Ryne Harper was a 30-year-old minor league journeyman, and Matt Magill was an unproven commodity. All five of these players began the 2019 season on the 25-man roster, and it seemed to lead to the desired outcome.

    The trio of former big leaguers had all seen previous success. Parker worked in a high leverage closer role the season before, Cron was coming off a career high in homers, and Schoop was once an All-Star at an offensively starved position. Feeling snubbed could be a motivating factor for each of them, but it would be coming through the lens of a team that believed in their resurgence and wanted them on board.

    A season ago Minnesota was able to land veterans Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison on friendly pacts with the market scrutinizing their value. The snub there likely had the players feeling a level of frustration toward potential suitors, all while missing out on valuable ramp-up time in Spring Training. Those emotions of discontentment spilling over into the clubhouse or regular season would be an understandable thing to grasp. In a free agency redo prior to 2019, the group brought in represented a different narrative and could likely feel an immediate sense of buy-in regarding their individual abilities.

    There’s plenty of reason to be weary of unproven commodities, and both Magill and Harper represent that category. Neither of them had seen a high level of big-league success, and in a bullpen that was going to include question marks, counting on both was a big ask. That again was a level of buy-in shown by the front office that could certainly be responsible for fueling the 2019 production. Both have been backed by vocal support and have been put in position to succeed.

    In recent seasons it has been hard to tab the “leader” of Minnesota’s clubhouse. Paul Molitor wasn’t seen as that presence and Joe Mauer wasn’t necessary cut of that cloth. Brian Dozier was always the guy, but it wasn’t ever a role for which he seemed destined. Now it’s hard to examine that clubhouse from afar and not assume that the room is made up almost entirely of leaders. Nelson Cruz is a strong veteran presence, and perspective is offered by some of the acquired talent. Kyle Gibson has done important work to take a stand, and the developed talent are all carrying their individual loads.

    Juggling a room of personalities is never going to be an easy ask in any situation and creating the right infrastructure will always be the desired goal. Rocco Baldelli appears to be the empowering leader, and his staff looks to play the part of a collaborative group. From the day the front office was changed over, it is that collaboration word that became a tag line. Although it took a couple of years for them to reinvent the wheel in the organization it appears now that we’ve come full circle.

    The Twins are winning and it’s a ton of fun, both for fans and those in the room. We can sit here and assume that the cohesiveness and leadership followed the results, or we can assume that, more than likely, it’s a driving factor in getting the ball rolling.

    • May 28 2019 01:10 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  18. MIN 16, LAA 7: Twins Slug 8 More Home Runs, Sweep Angels

    Box Score
    Perez: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 58.0% strikes (51 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Schoop 2 (10), Polanco (9), Cron (13), Sano 2 (4), Kepler (10), Rosario (14)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cron (5-for-6, 2 2B, HR), Kepler (3-for-5, 2B, HR, BB), Rosario (3-for-6, HR), Polanco (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB), Sano (2-for-4, 2 HR, BB), Schoop (2-for-5, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Schoop .198
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Bringing The Rain in Southern California
    Mother Nature may have brought the rain on Wednesday, postponing the game until today. This afternoon, however, the Twins were the bringers of rain. They made sure to shower the outfield bleachers with home run balls, early and often. The Dark Knight, otherwise known as Matt Harvey, likely wanted a mulligan after surrendering four home runs in only 2 2/3 innings.

    New Day, New Lineup, Same Result
    Today’s contest was the 49th game of the year for the Twins and the 37th different lineup that Rocco Baldelli has used. That stat is a product of many factors, such as injuries, positional versatility, and perhaps most significantly, Baldelli’s emphasis on not over-using players. Whatever the reason may be it doesn’t seem to matter, this team hits taters, regardless of who’s in the lineup.

    Making Tater Tot Hotdishes
    The greatest quote of the year still belongs to Max Kepler, when he said, “we’re going to hit a lot of taters”. If anyone has his phone number it might be wise to ask him for lottery numbers because he was spot on with that prediction. After their third inning home run barrage, today marked their league-leading 24th multi-home run game. In the seventh inning Sano and Schoop went back-to-back, each hitting their second of the game. Max Kepler joined the party as well, launching his 10th of the year. Eddie Rosario finally snapped his streak of tater-less games (that is a word, go along with it), blasting his 14th of the year — his first since May 8. Entering the game they had 90 home runs, before it was over, they were at 98. That is certainly more than enough taters needed to make a hot dish.

    Aggressive Eddie
    If you have watched this team long enough then you have likely become accustomed to Eddie Rosario being a very aggressive player. His aggression is part of what makes him such a special and entertaining player. One play early in the game that really stood out was when Rosario scored on a sac fly hit to the shortstop. The ensuing four home runs that same inning made this play a relatively minor detail in the box score, but at the time it was anything but that.

    Martin Perez had just wiggled out of a first inning jam. The score was tied 0-0, with runners on second and third and nobody out. Luis Arraez hit a blooper into shallow left field. Angels shortstop, Zack Cozart, caught the shallow pop-up while drifting back on his heels. Eddie, being Eddie, saw this as an opportunity to steal a run and he did just that. When watching this play I couldn’t help but think of how the injury to Andrelton Simmons affected the outcome. It’s certainly hard to argue that Simmons is anything but the best defensive shortstop in the game. Had he been in the lineup today and playing shortstop it is likely fair to think Eddie would not have tagged up in that situation. Again, this play became an irrelevant footnote, but nonetheless, it is still an interesting baseball play worth mentioning.

    Fun Facts
    Today’s contest featured a handful of interesting tidbits. Hopefully these fun facts can provide you with a few conversation starters at your next cocktail party:

    • Yesterday was only the second rainout in Anaheim in nearly 25 years.
    • This 2019 season is the first time in franchise history the Twins have enjoyed a 6+ game lead in the division before June 1st.
    • So far this season, no other team in the league has hit six or more home runs in one game, the Twins have done it four times.
    • Their eight home runs today ties the franchise record for team home runs in a single game.
    • Twins have 208 extra-base hits, no other team has yet to hit 200.
    • Their 18 road wins is the most of any team in the league.
    • Today was World Turtle Day and Willians Astudillo struck out and walked in the same game (that’s more rare than rain in Southern California).
    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
    Fri vs. CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Berrios-Lopez)

    Last Game
    MIN 8, LAA 3: Bats Break Loose Late

    More from Twins Daily
    Polanco Proving It for Good
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    Where's the Weakness?

    • May 23 2019 07:06 PM
    • by Andrew Gebo
  19. MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners

    Box Score
    Berrios: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 66.7% strikes (70 of 105 pitches)
    Home Runs: Cron 2 (12), Buxton (4), Sano (1), Schoop 2 (8)
    Multi-Hit Games: Schoop (3-for-5, 2 HR), Gonzalez (3-for-5, 2B), Rosario (3-for-6), Cron 3-for-6, 2B, 2 HR), Buxton (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Buxton .194, Cron .144
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    I’ve run out of superlatives, so let’s cut the fluff and get right to the numbers. The Twins won their fifth straight game and are 30-15. They scored 18 runs. They hit six more home runs. No team in baseball has scored more or hit more home runs than the Twins.

    This is reality, right? I’m not dreaming, am I? Somebody pinch me.

    At this point, there really is no need to get cute about trying to analyze the Twins’ season so far. Just look at the standings. Just look at the leader boards.

    I honestly don’t even know what to say at this point. This team is insane. They are grinding Seattle into dust so far this series, outscoring them 36-11 through three games. They’ve done all this without Nelson Cruz or Mitch Garver.

    C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop each hit two home runs, Byron Buxton hit a grand slam and Miguel Sano hit his first homer of the season. The sharks combined for 19 hits, 10 of which went for extra bases. They also went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position and drew six walks.

    Despite being spotted a 15-0 lead, Jose Berrios slogged through this start tonight. Berrios was removed from this game after giving up four runs in the fifth inning. He went only 4 2/3 innings, and it took him 105 pitches to get that far. But Berrios still threw a good amount of strikes, did not walk a batter and only gave up one extra-base hit.

    Of the 16 balls in play the Mariners hit off Berrios, eight went for hits. I wouldn’t expect a .500 BABIP to be sustainable. It was a weird start. Jose also had a near exact split between all four of his pitches. He threw 28 two seamers, 27 curveballs, 26 four seamers and 24 changeups, per Baseball Savant. That’s the most changeups he’s thrown in a start this year.

    Luis Arraez made his major league debut. He took over at shortstop, moved over to second base where he made a fine diving stop and went 1-for-2 with a double at the plate. Here’s a link to a spotlight I did on him yesterday at the site that includes some video.

    Austin Adams made his Twins debut and first MLB appearance since 2016. He topped out at 97.5 mph and his slider hit 89.5 mph. If you were wondering why Derek Falvey likes this guy, well there you go. Adams gave up one hit and struck out four batters in two scoreless innings.

    Postgame With Buxton and Sano

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Sun at SEA, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-Kikuchi)
    Mon at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (TBD)
    Tue at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (TBD)

    Last Game
    MIN 7, SEA 1: Venezuelan Night in Seattle

    • May 19 2019 05:52 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. MIN 9, TOR 1: Twins Steamroll Toronto

    Box Score
    Gibson: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 70.5% strikes (62 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Polanco (7), Cron (7), Schoop (6), Rosario (13)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (5-for-5, 2B, HR), Cron (4-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-5, BB), Rosario (2-for-4, HR), Schoop (2-for-5, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Polanco .274, Gibson .131, Cron .117
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The Twins have now scored in the first inning in three straight games against the Blue Jays to give their starting pitchers an early cushion. They were able to run Thornton out of the game after just two innings when he gave up seven hits and five runs.

    After losing a home series to the Blue Jays earlier in the year, the team came together and combined for a totally opposite result.

    Offense Runs Away
    The bats got going right away in the first and continued into the third as seven different Twins’ batters combined for 11 hits, three home runs, and seven runs. Jorge Polanco and C.J. Cron led with three hits each in the first three innings including two of the Twins first three home runs.

    Polanco has been the most consistent hitter for the Twins this season, and was able to add to his success tonight. He finished with five hits, which is the second time in his career doing this, and got his average up to .344. Polanco exited the game, a triple short of a cycle, after his fifth hit of the game when Ehire Adrianza pinch ran for him.

    Cron was also able to have a night at the plate with a four-hit performance of his own, which was the sixth time of his career, to hopefully get him out of his hitting slump. Eddie Rosario was able to extend his American League lead in home runs with a two-run, sixth inning smack.

    The Twins continued their impressively powerful season as they combined for 18 hits and four home runs tonight. They now have 64 home runs this season, which is the number they were at on June 7th of last season.

    Pitching Dominates
    Twins starting pitchers have been very hot of late, and that didn’t stop this series. Kyle Gibson got the start in tonight’s game and was feeling it. Through the first four innings, he had eight strikeouts and had thrown a first pitch strike to 11 out of his first 12 batters. By the fifth inning, Gibson had already tied his career high in strikeouts with 10.

    Gibson was able to set a new record for himself, which wasn’t a surprise with how he was pitching tonight. He picked up his career high in strikeouts with 11, thanks to nine whiffs on his changeup and slider, as well as his third win of the season to improve to 3-1 with a 4.19 ERA.

    Gibson showed a bit of his former self from the second half of last season tonight, and what Twins fans were looking for. Obviously asking this from Gibson every night is a little out of the question, but it is what is needed if the Twins want to make a deep run in the playoffs. They already have a solid top three pitchers in Berrios, Perez, and Odorizzi, but adding Gibson to this list will help separate the Twins from first and second round exit teams.

    The bullpen came in after the sixth, with a huge cushion, to complete the series sweep and win 9-1. Ryne Harper made easy work in the seventh, Mike Morin came in for the eighth and Blake Parker was given the ninth. Here's the bullpen's combined line: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 R, and 3 Ks.

    The Twins picked up an easy sweep against the Blue Jays to extend their record to 23-12 as well as getting back into the top spot in the MLB standings. They finally go back to division play when they face the Detroit Tigers starting on Friday, after an offday on Thursday.

    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
    Thu OFF
    Fri vs. DET, 7:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Ross)
    Sat vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (TBD)
    Sat vs. DET, 7:10 pm CT (TBD-Turnbull)

    Last Game
    MIN 3, TOR 0: Berrios Hurls Gem, Twins Get Second Straight Shutout

    • May 09 2019 05:33 AM
    • by AJ Condon

    Box Score
    Perez: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 66.0% strikes (66 of 100 pitches)
    Home Runs: Schoop (5)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-4, 2B)
    WPA of +0.1: Perez .347, Schoop .157
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Perez continued to feature the cutter tonight, he threw 45 among his 100 pitches. He limited the Astros to just four hits, walked two batters and struck out seven, but things got off to a shaky start.

    Perez walked leadoff man George Springer on four pitches, then gave up a single to Jose Altuve. He got Alex Bregman to fly out, then induced an inning-ending double play. It was all Martin Perez from there. Here’s the full chart from tonight’s outing via Baseball Savant:
    Perez now has a 2.08 ERA in his four starts this season. Rangers fans have to be very confused right now. He had a 6.78 ERA in 15 starts with Texas last season. It's still very early, but Houston entered this game with a ridiculous .300/.379/.540 line against left-handed pitching so far this season (.919 OPS), so I'm not sure you could have realistically imagined a more encouraging start from Perez.

    Jonathan Schoop got the Twins on the board with a mammoth two-run home run in the third inning. The Twins added another run on a Jorge Polanco single, thanks to a throwing error by Astros starter Collin McHugh.

    Nelson Cruz added an RBI single in the fifth, then hit a run-scoring double in the eighth. C.J. Cron added a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 6-0 lead.

    Trevor Hildenberger gave up two runs in the ninth, but with that big of a lead his most important job was to simply throw strikes. He did excellent, throwing 15 strikes on his 20 pitches.

    Here’s the thing about that 11-run blowout last night: It proves this isn’t simply a slumping Astros team the Twins caught at the right time. This is a dangerous team, we saw that, but even the best teams go on slumps. These outstanding outings from Jake Odorizzi and Perez sandwiched between that clunker are obviously very encouraging.

    It’s Jose Day tomorrow. Get excited.

    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. HOU, 12:10 pm CT (Berrios-Peacock)
    Fri at NYY, 6:05 pm CT (Gibson-Paxton)
    Sat at NYY, 12:05 pm CT (Odorizzi-Happ)

    Last Game
    HOU 11, MIN 0: Completely Dominated

    • May 01 2019 09:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  22. Is this the Real Schoop?

    Jorge Polanco missed the first half of last year due to a PED suspension, and his arm has always appeared questionable from a position demanding strength. There was thought that Jorge could slide to second with Minnesota filling the void by inking a Freddy Galvis- or Jose Iglesias-type shortstop in the winter. It didn’t play out that way, a second basemen was acquired, and Polanco stayed put.

    The Baltimore Orioles sent their All -Star second basemen, Jonathan Schoop, to the Brewers midseason. Like Dozier, he was a one-organization player, and had turned himself into a slugger at an offensively deprived position. Also, like Dozier, success was something that slipped away from him after reaching the top of the mountain. An All-Star in 2017 with an .841 OPS, Schoop posted a .720 OPS in 2018 with Baltimore before dropping to .577 in 46 games with the Brewers. When the dust had settled on his season, he was non-tendered even though Milwaukee had no other obvious answer to start in his place.

    Looking outside the box, and waiting for an opportunity to pounce, Derek Falvey picked Schoop as the answer to Minnesota’s vacancy. Knowing the club wasn’t ready for Nick Gordon to make an impact, and seemingly not keen on the shortstop options, the decision was made to believe in a bounce back. Despite 2017 being the All-Star breakthrough, Schoop owned a .795 OPS from 2015-2017, and did so while averaging 24 long balls a year. If there was going to be a drop from what Dozier was to what Schoop could be, the impact wouldn’t be much.

    We’re only 20 games into the current season, but Schoop has already outperformed his 0.5 fWAR from a year ago. He’s never been a guy who takes walks, but there’s been a 3% dip in the strikeout rate from 2018. It took a little while for the first ball to leave the yard, but a career best 41.8% hard-hit rate suggests there should be plenty more to follow. We could stand to see a bit more plate discipline in hopes of doing more with the hard-hit rate, but the inputs are in place for a productive year.

    Manning second base, he follows in the footsteps of Logan Forsythe before him, and so far is proving to be an upgrade for Minnesota. Arm strength isn’t an issue, and Schoop has produced positive DRS numbers each of the past two seasons. It’s not like he’ll be up for any glove-based awards but helping Polanco up the middle is more than a fair expectation.

    This is the best start Schoop has ever seen, and that’s a positive development for a guy only a year removed from his first All-Star appearance. In his final year of arbitration, Minnesota doesn’t have team control going into 2020. They banked on this working out for this season, and so far, it has. If this is the consistent version we’re set to see the rest of the way, all parties must be thrilled.

    • Apr 25 2019 07:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  23. MIN 4, HOU 10: Springer and Bregman and Altuve... Oh My!

    Box Score

    SP: Michael Pineda: 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.5% strikes
    Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (10)
    Multi-Hit Games: Jonathan Schoop (2-4)
    WPA of +0.1: Eddie Rosario (0.189), Max Kepler (0.147)
    WPA of -0.1: Michael Pineda (-0.309), Trevor Hildenberger (-0.213), Jorge Polanco (-0.117)

    Posted Image
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    For the second straight night, the Minnesota Twins jumped out to a fast start in Houston. Leadoff hitter Mitch Garver got on with an infield single. One out later, Nelson Cruz reached. Eddie Rosario went opposite field to give the Twins a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game.

    He became the fastest player in Twins history to reach double digits in homers, in just his 21st game of the year.

    At that point, Wade Miley took over. Now, he barely reached 90 mph in the game, but he worked the bottom of the strike zone very well and retired the next 15 batters before leaving the game after the sixth inning.

    George Springer went to work for the Astros with his bat. In the third inning, he put Houston on the board with an RBI single. Then he hit an RBI double in the fifth inning. Later in the inning, Alex Bregman took a 3-0 fastball and drilled a ball to left field that scored two runs and put the Astros ahead 4-3. Fortunately, Rosario threw Bregman out at second base.

    The Twins were probably glad to see Miley’s night come to an end. With two outs in the top of the seventh, 17 straight Twins batters had been retired, the Twins had three straight hits, the third an RBI single by Max Kepler. It marked the 200th RBI of Kepler’s young career.

    But Trevor Hildenberger had to pitch with the bases loaded again, this time his own doing. He got Alex Bregman to line out to right field, but the go-ahead run scored. Adalberto Mejia was brought in to face lefty Michael Brantley, and the veteran with one of the sweetest swings in the game hit an RBI single to left to give the Astros a two-run lead after seven innings.

    Ryan Pressly shut the Twins down in the eighth inning. However, the bottom of the eighth got off to a bad start and Tyler Duffey was unable to stop the bleeding. The inning started with an error by Jorge Polanco and it just went downhill from there. Duffey fielded a bunt and threw errantly toward second, allowing a runner to score. And later Jose Altuve crushed a three-run homer that pushed the score to 10-4. All four runs were unearned.

    Former Twins All Star reliever Glen Perkins chimed in on twitter with his thoughts on the Duffey performance tonight.

    Michael Pineda worked well through the game’s first four innings, but you just can’t hold off the Astros lineup for very long. George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve combined for eight of the Astros ten RBI.

    Following the game, the Twins announced that Kohl Stewart will be called up to make the start on Wednesday night against Justin Verlander. The corresponding roster move will be made on Wednesday.

    The clubhouse remained closed to media for quite some time after the game (obviously due to a transaction happening), so FSN did not air the Rocco Baldelli post-game press conference. Here it is:

    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 - 7:10 @ Houston - Kohl Stewart (1st start of season) vs Justin Verlander (3-0, 3.00 ERA)
    Thursday - Twins Day Off
    Friday - 7:10 Home vs Baltimore - Jose Berrios (3-1, 2.97 ERA) vs Dan Straily (1-1, 8.59 ERA)
    Saturday - 1:10 Home vs Baltimore - Martin Perez (2-0, 5.31 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (0-1, 11.88 ERA)

    Last Game
    MIN 9, HOU 5: Bats Thrive, Bullpen Survives

    • Apr 24 2019 04:51 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  24. Super Rosario Stars as Twins Sweep Doubleheader

    Game 1: Box Score
    Berrios: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 60.6% strikes (63 of 104 pitches)
    Home Runs: Rosario 2 (8), Astudillo (2)
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (3-for-5, 2B, 2 HR), Astudillo (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Rosario .244, Rogers .207, Castro .165, Buxton .107
    WPA of -0.1: Berrios -.100,Gonzalez -.110, Polanco -.150
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Jose Berrios had his worst start of the season, giving up four runs on eight hits, three of which were home runs. Rosario picked him up by slugging a pair of homers himself and taking away another on a great catch in left field.

    That gives Rosie back-to-back multi-homer games. He was not done.

    Taylor Rogers had a rare shaky inning, giving up a run on three hits in the eighth. Still, Rocco Baldelli rolled with Rogers again in the ninth. Rogers rewarded his manager for showing faith in him by striking out the side in order to secure the one-run victory. He struck out five of the nine batters he faced.

    If this wasn’t a doubleheader, I’d be willing to bet Baldelli would have went with someone else in the ninth, but it made sense to let Rogers go and protect another pitcher for the evening game in this case. But maybe this is actually something that can work on a regular basis.

    Would you rather have Rogers pitch shorter bursts and be available to appear in more games? Or would you rather him cover multiple innings but be limited to fewer games? I’m not sure what the right answer is, but sometimes I feel like it’s pretty unrealistic to expect three or sometimes four of your relief pitchers to all have it in one night.

    Sometimes it’s not worth it to plan ahead for the next game, because you never know when ...

    Game 2: Box Score
    Perez: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 69.8% strikes (67 of 96 pitches)
    Home Runs: Cruz 2 (3), Schoop 2 (4), Garver 2 (5), Rosario (9), Cron (1)
    WPA of +0.1: Cruz .193
    WPA of -0.1: None
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    … your lineup is going to do something bananas like score 16 runs. The Twins hit eight home runs in this one, two each from Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and Mitch Garver. C.J. Cron also homered, and you know Eddie wasn’t gonna let everyone else have all the fun.

    Rosario homered again in the night game, giving him nine on the season. The earliest Rosie had ever reached that mark previously was May 11.

    I didn’t list out the multi-hit games above because it was nearly the entire lineup. What a show. Cruz, Garver and Schoop also doubled. Garver, tonight’s leadoff man, had a team-high five RBIs while Schoop drove in four. Byron Buxton added a pair of doubles of his own, giving him 11 on the season already.

    All this damage without Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler in the lineup. It was the kind of game we were all dreaming of these bats putting together coming into the season.

    The Twins put up 10 runs in the first three innings, meaning the main thing they really needed out of starter Martin Perez was innings. He did a good job of throwing strikes, and managed to log six innings, giving up just one walk. He was charged four runs on six hits, two of which were home runs.

    Fernando Romero, the 26th man for this doubleheader, made his 2019 Twins debut. It didn’t go so great. He gave up three runs over two innings. He didn’t record a strikeout, and only got one swinging strike among his 24 pitches.

    On a brighter side, Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. These two victories put the Twins up to 11-7 on the season.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Sun at BAL, 12:05 pm CT (Gibson-Bundy)
    Mon at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Peacock)
    Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Pineda-Miley)

    Last Game
    TOR 7, MIN 4: Rosario Homers Twice as Twins Drop Game, Series

    • Apr 20 2019 10:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  25. A Twins Mainstay Dying Before Our Eyes?

    Across major league baseball, the shift is now commonplace in an attempt to get batters out. Every team does it, and in fact, Minnesota is an organization that employs it at one of the highest clips. With the shift on, your goal is to downplay the strengths of an opposing batter. It’s less about worrying whether a bunt gets dropped down, or the hitter can change their approach and simply “go the other way” on some smoke, than it is taking away the highest percentage of batted balls. Truly beating the shift isn’t about going around it, but rather, going over it.

    The launch angle revolution is something that’s caught on across the big leagues, and while keyboard managers everywhere debate its viability the principles are sound. Hitting the ball in the air, harder, is going to produce positive results far more often than anything on the ground. Although often this is mentally categorized simply as fly balls, both home runs and rocket line drives fall into this optimal category as well.

    David Ortiz, arguably the largest stain on Terry Ryan’s career, getting away was in part because of an inability for the organization to work within a player’s abilities. Rather than get left behind in the current game, it seems Minnesota is maybe leading the charge in some respects.

    Back in 2017 Minnesota owned the third-lowest ground ball to fly ball ratio. They improved upon that factor a season ago, finishing with the second lowest tally in the big leagues. While the sample size is tiny, Rocco Baldelli’s club currently owns a 0.86 GB/FB ratio, trailing only the Seattle Mariners (0.83). So, what can we deduce from this information?

    The reality is launch angle isn’t useful on its own, as is the case with many advanced metrics. Pairing launch angle with exit velocity however gives you a formula for some quantifiable positive. That is to say, hit the ball higher, harder, and watch what happens. Seems like common sense right?

    Here’s what the Twins are doing right now, today, with that second-lowest GB/FB rate. Currently they’re only 20th in hard hit percentage. Mitch Garver is actually leading the club in barrels per plate appearance, and he’s top-10 in the big leagues with his output. Also let’s remind ourselves that fly balls include line drives, and Minnesota’s 19.4% is only 20th in all of baseball for that category. Where the outlook appears a bit shinier, the Twins' .315 BABIP is eighth best in all of baseball (Seattle’s .328 is 4th).

    With the numbers above, we can see that the results of an updated process currently look like. Now, let’s add some context to who is actually generating these inputs. Over the winter the Twins front office added thumping bats like Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, and C.J. Cron. Right now, Cruz owns the 10th highest hard hit rate in baseball, with Schoop not far behind at 22nd. Stretch a bit further and Jorge Polanco is just under 50% hard hit, but checks in one place ahead of superstar Mike Trout.

    Generating hard contact, like we discussed with launch angle, is not all that valuable in a vacuum. Pairing it with zone control, and optimal launch angle, is a formula for strong production though. This is where the idea that teams wanting big power guys and not caring about strikeouts breaks down. What we know is that strikeouts are as damaging as any of the other 27 outs within a game. They aren’t more detrimental, and sometimes, they can be even less harmful. Shying away from a player because he strikes out isn’t a worthwhile proposition for organizations today. The guys who succeed however, are not those who do so despite the strikeouts, but rather in spite of them.

    Joey Gallo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Khris Davis all fanned at least 175 times in 2018, but each of them had an OPS north of .800. Their strikeouts weren’t a problem because of the ability they showed to command the zone in any other situation. Rather than making soft contact, or simply putting the ball in play, they were taking walks or doing damage each time they were at the plate.

    I’m not here to suggest that Cruz, Schoop, Cron or any number of Twins hitters is going to finish 2019 in the upper tier of power hitters. What I do think is worth watching however, is whether or not a consistent command of the zone and strong plate approach becomes a regular expectation for these guys. If that does wind up being the outcome, it appears Minnesota’s strategy to get the ball off the ground and hit it hard, will result in a positive outcome this organization has long not achieved.

    • Apr 11 2019 08:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler