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  1. Leading Off Podcast With Cooper And Matt: The Twins Stand Alone (Again)

    Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist!

    1:30 Reviewing the 5-1 week

    11:00 Michael Pineda/Who is the Twins #1?

    15:40 Jose Berrios

    21:30 Bullpen still a concern?

    29:30 Jorge Polanco/Ehire Adrianza

    36:50 Nelson Cruz injury

    39:20 Fan Questions

    56:15 Martin Perez

    61:30 Minor Leagues

    72:00 looking ahead

    Let us know what you think in the comments, and ask questions if you have any.

    • Today, 09:42 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  2. Michael Pineda Will Play a Huge Role During This Division Race

    In case you haven’t noticed, the Twins starting rotation has been a huge area of concern since August began. Jose Berrios has dropped off a bit, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson struggle with consistency and then the number five spot is a fight between Martin Perez and Devin Smeltzer with neither of them doing enough to secure a job. The most consistent and reliable starter recently is Michael Pineda, but he hit the IL as August began and since then the Twins rotation holds a 5.55 ERA, 5.16 FIP, 1.61 HR/9, and 3.94 BB/9.

    Ironically, the Twins lost a key starting pitcher just a couple days after they did not add a starting pitcher at the deadline. That was controversial to some, but that is for a different day. So the Twins came into August fighting for a division, needing all hands on deck, and a few key players, including Pineda, landed on the IL at the worst time.

    People seem to forget this, but Big Mike began the season with four excellent starts before he started to slow down in his first season back from TJ surgery. There was talk about a long term extension before fans wanted to DFA him during his bad period of starts. He was eventually placed on the IL for the first time as a sort of break/precaution to get him some rest. Since his return he had been lights out, holding a 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 4.4 K/BB, and .662 OPS against. The funny thing is that nobody really started talking about how good he has been until the start before the most recent, his second, IL stint. Michael Pineda had quietly been putting up ace numbers since the start of June.

    A lot of this success has come from his ability to limit walks. He is fourth in the American League with just a 4.4 BB% so keeping guys off the bases has been key for his success. This BB% isn’t even a career high, so maybe he can get even better in that area, which would certainly be impressive.

    With Cleveland steamrolling through every opponent they face at like a .900 winning percentage, the Twins will need Pineda to return from his stint on the IL and get back into the role he had. It seems as if he stabilizes the rotation every fifth day with a guaranteed quality start. He actually has the second most quality starts on the Twins, trailing only Berrios, so he is definitely reliable.

    If the playoffs began today, Pineda would likely be the number two starter for the Twins, taking on Gerrit Cole of the Astros ... that’s scary, but it’s the truth. A playoff rotation of Berrios/Pineda/Odorizzi isn’t flashy but hopefully it could get the job done.

    Overall, the weight on this entire starting staff has only gotten much heavier with the Indians catching the team and no help for the starting staff being added at the deadline. The front office showed they have confidence in this group to get it done in big games this year so let’s see Big Mike step in and prove the Twins are here to stay. The Indians didn’t have to face him in the most recent series, but if they really want to take the division from the Twins then they have to beat the healthy version of the Twins.

    After this season Pineda will become a free agent and you should not be surprised if he returns to the Twins on a short two-year deal. He has become a solid pitcher and with the Twins having only Berrios and Perez under control, expect the team to make a noticeable effort to keep Pineda around.

    Before Pineda was put on the IL the second time, it seemed as if he was getting better with every start. It will be crucial for the Twins division chances if he can come back on that same wave he had been riding. On that note, I wonder what he would look like surfing... back to baseball. Keep in mind this is still his first season after TJ surgery so his innings could be limited. The Twins definitely seem to have a plan in place to keep him around for the long haul this season with scheduled breaks or IL stints for him to rest his arm so hopefully fatigue or major injury do not become concerns.

    He should be returning to this rotation this week so hopefully he can make the group a whole lot more reliable than they have been lately. All five starters will need to contribute if the Twins want to take the division for the first time since 2010, and I expect Michael Pineda to be leading the rotation.

    • Aug 15 2019 06:45 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  3. Jose Berrios and a History of Second Half Swoons

    Second Half Swoons
    Back in 2017, Berrios made 25 starts for the Twins and logged over 140 big league innings for the first time in his career. In the first half, he posted a respectable 3.53 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP. He had a 69 to 19 strikeout to walk ratio along with a 8.7 K/9. As the innings started to mount, he posted a 4.24 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP over his final 15 games. His strikeout rate stayed basically the same, but his walks increased from 2.40 BB/9 to 3.52 BB/9. Batters also saw their OPS increase 74 points in the second half.

    The 2018 campaign saw more of the same from Berrios. He earned his first All-Star selection on the heels of a first half that saw him post a 3.68 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP with 127 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings. He was limited to 12 starts in the second half and had a 4.15 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. His strikeout rate increased from 9.0 K/9 to 10.4 K/9 but he did this in half as many second-half innings. For the second straight year, batters improved their OPS from .644 in the first half to .703 in the second half.

    In 2019, Berrios has made six second-half starts, and he seems to be trending the same as previous years. After posting a 3.00 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in the first half, his ERA has jumped to 4.21 and his WHIP has increased to 1.27. Like 2018, his second half strikeout rate has increased from a first-half 8.0 K/9 to a second-half 9.9 K/9.

    Velocity Concerns
    Berrios and his fastball velocity have also become one point of discussion among Twins fans. Twins Daily’s Parker Hageman noted on Twitter that one of the biggest differences for Berrios this season is not driving toward home as much. He is more rotational with his rear leg action. This could be something the Twins instructed Berrios to do so that some of his other pitches have more movement.

    Back in 2017, his first full MLB season, Berrios was hitting 95 mph with his fastball over 10% of the time. Flash forward to 2019 and that percentage has dropped to less than 4% of the time.
    [attachment=12956:2017 Berrios Pitches.png]
    [attachment=12957:2019 Berrios Pitches.png]
    Even with the drop in velocity, Berrios is giving up less hard contact and throwing more strikes. His hard hit % was 34.1% last year and he has posted a 31.6 hard hit % in 2019 which is better than the MLB average. His strike percentage is also a career high 71.5% after topping out at 67.9% one year ago. This is also a large improvement from the 59.8 strike percentage he compiled back in 2016.

    Minnesota is only going to go as far as the pitching staff is able to take the team. Berrios is critical to any success this team can have in October so he needs to find a way to end the trend of having second-half swoons.

    Are you concerned about Berrios and his second half performance? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Aug 12 2019 01:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Looking Ahead to the Twins Postseason Rotation

    Which four starters should make up the postseason rotation? Should they send Martin Perez to the pen? Is their game-two starter the hot hand in Michael Pineda or All-Star Jake Odorizzi, who has had trouble going deep into ball games? Where does Kyle Gibson fit in? He seems to thrive against weaker opponents while coming up short against playoff caliber teams. Finally, could Devin Smeltzer force his way into the rotation with continued success?

    One thing we do know for certain is that if the Twins do make the postseason, they will be facing teams with winning records. To get an idea of both who belongs in the rotation and a potential pecking-order, it may be worthwhile to check-in on how Minnesota’s starters have fared against some of the better teams in baseball. The following chart shows how Twin’s pitchers have performed against teams with an above .500 record.

    As expected, Jose Berrios is the clear “ace” of this staff. His numbers hold up remarkably well against the better teams and he is able to go deep into ball games. In his most recent start he struggled against the Atlanta Braves (sending his ERA against winning teams from 2.37 to 3.45), but Berrios has generally been at his best while facing the best. His ability to pitch well against good teams bodes well for his chances of pitching successfully in the postseason.

    After Berrios, Pineda looks like he should be the game-two starter. Not only has he been much better in the second half, his overall numbers against tough teams make Pineda appear to be the second best option. Pineda generally doesn’t go deep into his starts, but this is partially to limit the number of pitches he throws since he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. In the postseason it seems reasonable to give Pineda a little longer leash. Pineda is currently on the 10-day IL, but the Twins seem to simply be using this trip to the IL as a chance to get Pineda some extra rest as they did earlier in the season.

    Odorizzi has pitched the most games against winning clubs this season and his overall numbers have been okay. His second half slide is concerning, but it seemed to coincide with a blister injury. He has improved in his last two starts (against Miami and Atlanta) so hopefully he is headed in the right direction. However, Odorizzi has a knack for accumulating high pitch counts even when he is pitching well, so he generally can’t be counted on for more than five or six innings. Still, he seems to be a step above Gibson or Perez.

    Gibson and Perez round out the bottom of the Twins rotation. After joining the rotation early in the season Perez was lights out for the first couple of months but has been fairly disastrous since. Gibson has been up and down throughout the year and as can be seen from his numbers, he really struggles against better competition. Gibson continued to struggle in his most recent start against Cleveland, walking six and giving up five earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. However, for the time being, it looks like Gibson should probably be the fourth starter with Perez moving to the pen for the postseason. Perez pitched out of the pen for Texas last season, having some success, and also started this season as a reliever.

    Devin Smeltzer is a bit of a wildcard here. His sample size is small, but he has really turned it on against some good teams. He has already pitched against Milwaukee, Cleveland, Texas, and the Yankees with his only hiccup against Cleveland. In his last start he faced off against the Royals (spoiler alert: they won’t be playing October baseball) and pitched six shutout innings (he was facing Cleveland again on the day of this article). There are still a lot of regular season games to be played and it will be interesting whether Smeltzer can avoid regression, assuming he continues to get some big league starts.

    Based on their ability to succeed against good teams, it looks like Minnesota’s rotation should be Berrios-Pineda-Odorizzi-Gibson, with Perez adding another lefty to the pen. If Smeltzer continues to succeed, he could also enter into the mix. Supposing that Perez’s struggles continue as Pineda comes off the IL, it may even be prudent for the Twins to keep Smeltzer in the rotation and get Perez in the bullpen sooner rather than later. This gives Minnesota a chance to get extra looks at Smeltzer as a starter and Perez as a reliever and gives Perez time to adjust to relieving again. The Twins would then have the luxury of adding Gibson to the pen (or having Smelter out of the pen if they stick with Gibson).

    One last factor to consider when constructing the postseason rotation is the ideal amount of rest between starts for each pitcher. The Twins would obviously love to ride Berrios as much as possible and by looking at the numbers we may be able to see the most effective way to structure the rotation. Let’s take a look at how Minnesota’s rotation has performed on four, five, and six days of rest (through Aug. 4th).


    Berrios has pitched very well on regular rest and a bit worse when getting an extra day off between starts. This may imply that Berrios doesn’t need as much rest and may be able to pitch with three days of rest if the Twins want to ride him. If not, the Twins can pitch him on the normal rest period of four days (allowing Berrios to stick to his regular routine as much as possible) and juggle the remainder of the rotation around Berrios.


    Pineda has pitched much better when given more than four days of rest between starts. He has been most effective with five days between starts.


    Like Pineda, Odorizzi has pitched better with additional rest. He has been almost unhittable in his six starts with six or more days of rest. He recently pitched well against Atlanta on five days of rest.


    Gibby’s results with four and more than six days of rest are both pretty ugly and he really struggled in his last start against Cleveland on four days of rest. The numbers are much better with 5 days between starts.


    Perez’s numbers are pretty bad no matter how much rest he gets. He was bad again against Atlanta and it is hard to imagine Perez making the playoff rotation at this point.

    It is unclear how much stock can be put into these numbers as the sample size is admittedly small, but the extra days off in the postseason could play to Minnesota’s advantage. Berrios is the only pitcher who has thrived on the normal rest period, with Pineda, Odorizzi, and Gibson pitching remarkably better with extra rest. The Twins obviously want to ride Berrios as much as possible, so the Twins can keep Berrios pitching on four days rest (or possibly three) and slot the remaining three starters around Berrios starts, allowing them to generally get five or more days of rest between starts (because of all the days off and Berrios occasionally sliding up).
    If the Twins are able to win the division, their starters should have plenty of rest. The season wraps up on September 29th with the wildcard games being played on the 1st and 2nd and the NLDS Game 1 on the 3rd. The Twins could potentially roll with the following rotation:

    ALDS Game 1 (10/4) – Jose Berrios
    ALDS Game 2 (10/5) – Michael Pineda
    ALDS Game 3 (10/7) – Jake Odorrizi
    Now the Twins have to decide whether to pitch Berrios on three days of rest or wait until the 10th for five days. For the purpose of this exercise let’s suppose the Twins play it safe and give Berrios five days off.
    ALDS Game 4 (10/8) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer
    ALDS Game 5 (10/10) – Jose Berrios (5 days rest)

    ALCS Game 1 (10/12) – Michael Pineda (6 days rest)
    ALCS Game 2 (10/13) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest)
    ALCS Game 3 (10/15) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest)
    ALCS Game 4 (10/16) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer (7 days rest)
    ALCS Game 5 (10/17) – Michael Pineda (4 days rest)
    ALCS Game 6 (10/19) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest)
    ALCS Game 7 (10/20) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest)

    The cart has undeniably been put ahead of the horse with this exercise and there are a lot of variables at play. It is unknown how many games each series will take, how far the Twins will go (or more importantly if they will win the division to avoid the wildcard game), or whether the starters will remain healthy.

    Given the Twins historic offense, however, it’s good to know that theoretically our best pitcher is the one who thrives with the least amount of rest and the remainder of the rotation can be afforded the extra rest that furthers their chances of success. Minnesota’s rotation is unlikely to strike fear into their opponent’s hearts, but hopefully they can do enough (along with the bullpen) to afford the offense the opportunity to carry the team.

    • Aug 10 2019 06:41 AM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  5. Perspective Proving Important for Twins Success

    Through May the Twins had compiled an MLB best 38-18 record. Over the course of a full season that’s a 110-win pace which would be the franchise record (102 in 1965) by nearly double-digits. To expect the continuation of that level of dominance over 162 games seemed like a longshot. What it did do however, was set up strong positioning for the stretch run.

    Since June 1st the Twins have played to just a 32-25 record. Obviously, that isn’t the torrid pace that the first three months of the season saw, but that still plays out to a 91-win pace. In 2018, 91 wins would’ve won two different divisions and have been worth of a postseason berth. It’s also representative of a 13-game improvement year over year for Minnesota. If at their worst the Twins play at a 91-win clip this season, I’d imagine Rocco Baldelli would take that any day of the week.

    So, as things have cooled for the big-league club, let’s get out in front of some common misconceptions.

    Beating Good Teams

    All season long there’s been plenty made regarding the Twins record against teams over .500. While this is somewhat of a silly practice given the volatility of records for teams hovering around that midpoint, it’s worth noting Minnesota has held their own against the best. Baldelli’s club has played six different teams that are at least 16 games over .500 (NYY, HOU, CLE, TB, ATL, and OAK). They own a 20-19 record against those clubs who have a combined winning percentage of .604. That winning percentage would be fifth best in baseball, and Minnesota is beating them at over a .500 clip.

    In any sport, the goal is to hold serve with the best teams while cleaning up against the lackluster competition. Minnesota has done exactly that and has far more opportunity to expand on the latter as the calendar closes out the year. 9 games remain with Cleveland (four of which take place this week) and then just 11 games remain with clubs north of the .500 mark (MIL, TEX, BOS, and WAS).

    Starting Rotation Issues

    A point of discontent among fans since the season began, the Twins pitching staff has performed largely above expectations. Martin Perez isn’t close to the pitcher he started the year as, but you can’t discredit what he gave Minnesota from the get-go. Michael Pineda was scoffed at plenty early on, but he’s been one of the best and most consistent arms in baseball during 2019. This grouping isn’t bolstered just by early season performance either. Only eight different pitchers have made starts for Minnesota, the fewest in baseball, and the Twins rotation still has the seventh best fWAR since June 1st.

    Pineda and Jose Berrios both have ERA’s south of 3.20 since June 1st, and Kyle Gibson is performing well with a 3.97 mark. Throwing out his nine-run blowup against the Yankees, Jake Odorizzi owns a 3.18 ERA in his last 4 turns and was the ERA leader early in the season. Wanting a starter at the deadline was a fair hope for the front office and fans alike, but with only Marcus Stroman as a realistic option, opportunity was hardly missed by passing on guys like Mike Leake, Tanner Roark, and Jordan Lyles.

    The Competition is Stiff

    There’s no denying that Minnesota should be eyeing up their postseason prospects at this point. They’ll need to finish out the slate strong, but they’re trending towards a berth and a division title. Despite losing two of three at home to Atlanta, run differentials suggest Minnesota may be the superior team. There were clunker pitching performances in the set, but it’s clear the clubs are evenly matched throughout their 25-man rosters.

    It’s not just the Twins looking for answers either. New York has the best record in the American League, and second in baseball. Since June 1st their rotation ranks 26th in baseball. Atlanta leads the NL East by a healthy six game margin, but they have just the 14th best rotation in baseball during that same time period. Neither team made starting acquisitions at the deadline, and Atlanta even parted with an option. You’re going to run into good teams during the postseason, but each one of them will have warts.

    Peaking in May

    After going gangbusters to open 2019 and distance themselves from a disappointing 2018 season, Minnesota has been consistently tied to their start. Getting out of the gates that fast makes it understandable to reference that point, but a mediocre stretch doesn’t trump Minnesota still making their mark.

    Since July 1st the Twins have a 17-13 record, which is a 92-win pace. That would’ve won four of six divisions a season ago and getting into the postseason is the only regular season goal. Record doesn’t matter once you’re there, and the opponent doesn’t care how you’ve arrived in the other dugout. We can break the season into chunks from an evaluation standpoint, but 162 games exist to legitimize trends over a significant period.

    At the end of the day, there’re a few takeaways here. First and foremost, this Twins team is very, very good. They absolutely have deficiencies but so does every team in baseball. Even the Zack Greinke-bolstered Houston Astros have a World Series probability of less than 30%. In a sport where five or seven games can be so closely contested, calling anything a wrap before the final pitch seems foolish.

    Since 2010 the Twins have looked like a lost franchise chasing a competitive window without much luck. Now they are not only well positioned to make waves in 2019, but for multiple years beyond. Reacting to contests without the context of a new game tomorrow or the opportunity that lies ahead is shortsighted. Smart money says there’s lots more winning to come, and the level we soak that in should only further the experience.

    • Aug 08 2019 12:46 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  6. Assessing Jose Berrios' Pitch Arsenal

    Jose Berrios is an emerging ace on this young Twins team and he will most likely be at the top of the rotation for years to come. He works with four pitches and all of them can be extremely effective when he is on. He throws a four seamer (30.2%), sinker (24.7%), curveball (30.4%), and a changeup (14.7%). I will be touching on each one of them but my main focus will be on the curveball and the changeup.

    Here is a graph showing how often he has thrown each of the four pitches to right-handed batters in his first four seasons.

    [attachment=12929:pitch ratios.png]

    Four seamer

    Let's begin with the basic fastball, shall we? Jose is throwing the fastball around 30% of the time and that is normal for him, but the velocity has dropped from 94 mph to 93 mph since his debut in 2016. That's obviously not a huge drop off, but it has allowed for better control as his BB% has gone down every single year on the fastball from 20.2% in 2016, 10.1% in 2017, 8.3% in 2018 and now just 4.5% this season. With the drop in walks came an uptick in strikeouts every season on the fastball and the percentage of strikeouts now sits at 28.8% for Berrios.

    Opposing hitters have not been doing too well against for the four seamer and the expected stats show that they will get even worse. The fastball gives up an expected batting average of .233, an expected slugging% of .383 and an expected weighted on base average of just .273 so basically opposing hitters against the fastball are just as good as Joe Panik who was just DFA'd by the Giants.

    One of the main reasons it is so good is because of how it builds off of the other pitches (you will see evidence of this later). For now, here he is fooling Khris Davis with it.

    Sinker/Two seamer

    This two seamer from Berrios is one of the nastiest two seamers you will see from any pitcher in baseball when it is working, especially against right-handed hitters where he throws it nearly 30% of the time. He only throws it against lefties 19% of the time and it gets hit pretty hard (.282 xBA against). It is definitely effective against right-handers, allowing just a .208/.256/.292 line.

    The velocity hangs out around 91-92 mph and he is throwing it more than ever against right-handers. He is striking batters out at a career high 15% as well. This pitch can work well with any of the other pitches, but especially the curveball because of how much they break in opposite ways.

    I will show another videos from the amazing @PitchingNinja on Twitter. This will outline just how effective the two seamer can be when paired with the curve.


    I gave you all a small taste of how effective the curve from Berrios can be with that video above, but I'm going to go a bit more in depth on it. Last season it was easily his best pitch and he was putting hitters away with it at a career high 38.2 whiff%, but it has been a different story in 2019. Hitters went from a .201/.274/.417 line against it in 2018 all the way up to .269/.310/.452 in 2019. The main reason for this has been the location of it.

    I'll use the right-handed hitter heat maps against the curve for this example. The first one is where his curve was located the most in 2018 and then the second one will show the location in 2019.
    [attachment=12931:savant curve 2018.png]

    [attachment=12932:savant curve 2019.png]

    There is a pretty noticeable difference here in the middle of the zone. While Berrios is at a career high in zone%, a lot of that is due to curveballs left in the hittable part of the zone. In 2018 he didn't throw as many strikes, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as he rarely left a hittable curveball for the hitter.

    Here is an example of one of the hanging curveballs from this season.

    Then this is one of the better curveballs from 2018 with some mean break on it.

    Now I am by no means saying that Berrios has a bad curveball this season. I am saying he has a much higher tendency to hang one than he did last season. There is a ton of good that comes from the curveball. It has insane break which I will show in a moment, it improves the other pitches like I showed above and it is nearly unhittable against left-handers. I'll show a couple of my favorite examples of the curveball next.

    If he can get the curveball back to where it was last season, he will take another huge step towards becoming the Cy Young caliber pitcher he can definitely become and that is because of how effective his changeup is becoming.


    The final pitch in Jose Berrios' arsenal is the changeup and this is the first season he is throwing it more than 10% of the time. It has shown signs of being an elite pitch to pair with the curveball and fastball and with a little bit more time this will be his third or fourth outstanding pitch to throw against opposing hitters. It has been nearly unhittable against right-handers which is surprising because usually you don't see a lot of righty-on-righty changeups but hitters have just a .133 AVG against it in limited appearances.

    Left handed hitters have given him some trouble when they hit the changeup with a .246/.267/.369 line with the expected stats looking worse by at least 30 points in each category. When Berrios has the changeup working in his favor, it is likely going to be a good day for him. The best improvement for the changeup has been Berrios' ability to keep it down in the zone so hitters are forced to swing, otherwise it'll be a called strike. Here is the changeup location from 2018 (top) compared to 2019 (bottom).
    [attachment=12933:savant heatmap 2018.png]
    [attachment=12934:savant heatmap.png]

    Here are a couple of his best changeups along with what an entire team looks like when the pitch is working well.

    Final remarks

    I was actually going to write a "could Berrios win Cy Young" post but then the Braves basically shoved that in my face so I changed it up and stayed up a bit later to write this instead. I think I had some interesting finds with the curveball and changeup location from last year to now. If Jose Berrios has both of those pitches working how he likes, along with his elite two seam fastball then the opponent doesn't stand a chance. Berrios is quickly becoming the ace the Twins need and a lot of people would say he may already be there. It's always pretty cool to have a two-time All-Star starting pitcher at just 25-years-old leading the pitching staff.

    Here is one final video of his three better pitches when they are all on.

    Big shoutout to PitchingNinja on Twitter. Everyone go follow him for daily pitching highlights.

    • Aug 07 2019 07:14 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  7. Baseball Card Q&A: Collecting Tips for Beginners

    Twins Daily contributor Jamie Cameron sparked this discussion when he tweeted something that caught my eye last week. Baseball cards have expanded into a much larger industry than simply going into your local retail store and grabbing a wax pack. With someone genuinely curious and questions at hand, it seemed a great opportunity to dissect where the industry is as it stands today.

    Timing for this piece couldn’t be better either. Starting Wednesday and running through Sunday, The National (The National Sports Collectors Convention) is taking place just outside of Chicago, Illinois. A yearly event each summer (that swaps between Chicago, Atlantic City, and Cleveland), The National is the epicenter of the collecting universe and offers an endless supply of cardboard dreams.

    Setting the stage for Jamie’s questions, he denotes his background being born and raised in the United Kingdom. Having been in the Twin Cities for roughly 15 years now, baseball has always been a passion of his. He doesn’t have the childhood memories of card collecting however, and as stated earlier, the game has changed significantly since then. Here’s what he wanted to know.

    How did you get into collecting? As a kid or an adult?

    I found myself collecting cards as a kid, seeing it as an inexpensive way to connect with athletes I enjoyed. My parents would often be ok with a pack or two from the local retail store when we stopped in on occasion. By my teenage years I had a couple binders full of early late 90’s and early 2000’s sports cards that I no longer cared about. Eventually they were parted with at a garage sale I would imagine.

    Getting back into the hobby in late 2016, I found myself stumbling into what is known as a “break room” (where groups of people buy into a product and split cards). Having always enjoyed decorating and displaying memorabilia in my basement, cards represented an avenue to capture moments and collect objects of a bit smaller physical footprint.

    How do you purchase products? Packs from a store, direct from dealers, or something else?

    The two main avenues are your retail stores such as Target or Walmart, and hobby shops. Hobby shops are designated by the term LCS (local card store). They aren’t nearly as plentiful as they may have been years ago, but many larger cities have one. Whether specializing in cards, comics, or some other collectible, they get what is known as hobby products. These boxes and packs may have different offerings in them to incentivize consumer from buying there.

    Retail options include more cost-effective offerings. While hobby boxes at an LCS can run from $50 all the way into the $1,000’s, smaller blaster boxes, fat packs, hanger boxes, and single packs can all be had at a retail store for $20 or less. If there’s no LCS in sight retail becomes the lone option. It’s a great place to dip your feet in. Just be aware that the individually wrapped packs could be picked over like the best offerings in the produce aisle.

    What are the best brands? What determines that?

    There are really only three baseball card manufacturers, and only two of them are the major players. Topps is the lone company with an MLB license and that makes them the premium product. Panini is a football first company, and while they are licensed with the MLBPA, the lack of MLB license means there’s no logos or team names on any of their cards. Leaf is another offering while being unlicensed as well. Although Panini does make some very visually appealing cards, value is always at its highest with Topps.

    How much time and money do people put into collecting?

    As with any hobby this is going to have a ridiculously wide range. Collecting anything is obviously a personal adventure. Some people collect single players or teams, while others look at cards as an investment vehicle. Those investing typically trend towards prospects or vintage cards, and the time is a large component as you must study the market and make sure you’re targeting the players with the best present and future ROI. A player or team collector may simply want each card of whoever they’re after, and sites like eBay and Comc (Check Out My Cards) provide a very quick way to grab and go.

    From a monetary standpoint, you can land all over the board. Topps alone puts out something like 25 different products each year. You can find a new release calendar at a site like Cardboard Connection in order to keep track. The bulk of those products cost $200 or less, while a small minority can get over $1,000. Each product has significant “hits” or desirable cards that, on the secondary market, can fetch hundreds to tens of thousands. The level of buy in is again up to the collector.

    What’s your favorite card? Why?

    Too difficult to chose just one, so I’ll go with two. I collect Minnesota Twins cards and have smaller collections of both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. There are some really nice cards in my Twins PC (personal collection, which you can view here), but it’s two Trout cards that stick out for me. The first is a 2018 Topps Heritage Relic Autograph /25 that I pulled from a blaster box. Purchasing a $20 retail offering from Target and hitting something like this is like winning the lottery. I was stunned and it’s a card I’ll almost certainly never sell.

    Having been back into collecting for roughly three years now, I have added some higher end cards of the players I really like. Mike Trout is trending towards the greatest player baseball has ever seen, and his rookie card market is reflective of that. A non-descript card few thought twice of seven or eight years ago, it’s now the must have subject of the modern era. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator- a third party grading company) graded copies of the card in a Gem Mint 10 went for roughly $500 as recently as this winter. They are now worth near or over $1,000 and continue to rise. My wife surprised me with one for our five-year wedding anniversary in February.


    What do you get from it? Overall, why is this a hobby for you?

    Personally, I find it as a connection to differing passions. I have always been artistically inclined, and love looking at the photography and designs these companies continue to put out while tying in a sport I enjoy. The thrill of pulling an autograph or hit, as well as the fun in buying the next cool card to hang onto is something I’ve gotten behind. I’m not interested in the investment side of the hobby or looking to make money, so grabbing what I like is much easier without worrying what the return or loss may be.

    I find myself continually going back to look through cards in my collection. Reminiscing on players or events that were depicted is fun, and not looking through them on a consistent basis lends to a thrill of excitement each time I peruse what I have. Displaying some of my collection has made for neat memorabilia showcases in my house, but a further connection to the game of baseball is really what it’s about for me.

    This is obviously far from all encompassing, and there’s certainly more nuanced questions about the hobby, and collecting in general, to be asked. Do you have a collection to show off? Do you have questions to ask? Anything else you’d like to know? Feel free to share in the comments below.

    • Aug 01 2019 05:13 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  8. Twins Game Recap (7/31): Berrios Throws Gem as Bombas Fly

    Box Score
    Berrios: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K, 69.1% strikes (56 of 81 pitches)
    Bullpen: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: Garver (20), Rosario (23), Kepler (29)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-4, HR), Rosario (2-for-4, HR, 2B)
    Top 3 WPA: Garver .241, Berrios .200, Kepler .158

    Berrios Lights Out

    Bert Blyleven said before Berrios’ start that he would give him a high-five and a pat on the back if he threw a complete game shutout. He struck out a season-high 11 batters, had a 1-2-3 inning in six out of seven innings he pitched. Unfortunately, he was pulled after just seven innings throwing only 81 pitches.

    Berrios was perfect through four innings while striking out six of the nine batters he faced. In the fifth, he surrendered two weak-hit balls for singles, but followed it up by getting the next three batters out, one via a strikeout. In the sixth inning, he struck out the side to bring his total up to ten on the night.

    In his last inning, he picked up his season-high 11th strikeout of the night, but fell short of his career high of 12 after being pulled after just 81 pitches. Berrios was unstoppable on the mound tonight but was pulled before he was able to go for a complete game. Berrios is still deserving of a high-five and a pat on the back after he silenced this Marlins’ team.

    Bomba Squad

    After an unorthodox night from the Twins’ offense, they pounced on Sandy Alcantara for three home runs and forced him out of the game before he could even finish the fifth inning.

    Mitch Garver got things going after Jose Berrios battled a leadoff walk which was followed by Max Kepler’s second walk of the day. Garver ended an 0-for-17 streak with a 3-run bomba to capitalize on the leadoff walks. This was just the start of the hitting fun for the Twins tonight.

    Kepler led off the fifth inning with a solo shot for his 29th home run of the year to put him in third in the A.L. lead in home runs.

    The fifth inning wasn’t done for Alcantara, after Garver hit a swinging bunt down the third base line, Eddie Rosario hit the team’s third home run of the game. This was only Eddie’s hit fourth home run since June 5th in 31 games. After a walk and double, Alcantara’s night was done, but another run was surrendered on a Schoop single to add on to his rough night.

    Poppen Blows Shutout

    Sean Poppen came in after a stellar performance by Berrios and worked through the eighth inning with ease. The ninth was completely different as he gave up three straight singles to start the inning followed by a grand slam by Brian Anderson to cut the deficit to only three runs. Poppen picked up a strikeout on the following batter before Taylor Rogers came in to close out the game striking out the two batters he faced.

    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 31 2019 08:31 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  9. Trade Deadline: What if the Twins Do Nothing?

    On Tuesday night, Cleveland finally traded All Star starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Typically that move would be seen as the team selling, but in this case, I do believe that they got better. They have pitching, and seem to keep calling pitchers up who do well. Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are two guys who fit into that mold. They also should be getting Corey Kluber back in the near future.

    Their need was offense, and they added two powerful outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in the three-team swap. They also added LHP Logan Allen, a Top 100 prospect, and two more minor leaguers.

    It was a very creative move for Cleveland. The Twins were very creative in their acquisition of Sergio Romo over the weekend. Not only did the Twins receive the veteran reliever, but they also received hard-throwing RHP Chris Vallimont and a Player to be Named Later for slugging first base prospect Lewin Diaz.

    On its own, the Twins made a really, creative, savvy move to improve their bullpen and improve the team. Twins fans have generally felt that the trade was good for the Twins, though that thought always comes with the “as long as it isn’t the only move they make by the deadline.”

    But what if it is? What if Sergio Romo is the only player that the Twins add? What will it mean? Here are my thoughts.


    First and foremost, Twins fans will and rightfully should feel disappointment. On the basic level, it’s always fun to acquire talent. It doesn’t even have to be elite talent, but just make the team better. Let's just say, #TwinsTwitter will not handle it well, for sure!

    On another level, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have consistently said that when the Twins window to compete for championships opens, they will pounce. Well, the window is wide open. This team has the talent to compete, not only for the American League Central title but also for a World Series. They have won two of six games against the Yankees this year, and probably should have won two more of those games. They won four of their seven matchups with the Astros this year. They currently have an edge on Cleveland this year too. Those are the top teams in the American League, and the team should absolutely feel like they can compete for an American League pennant. And hey, if you get to the World Series, you have a chance.

    So Twins fans will absolutely have every right to be disappointed and even upset if nothing is done.


    This is a very good team as is, as shown by their performance so far this year against the top teams in the league. Their lineup can compete with anyone. They can slug with the best. Pitching has been the issue although even that hasn’t been as bad as we may think. The starters rank in the top the top third of the league in most statistics. Some of that is because their #4 (Perez) and #5 (Pineda) have been better than most 4s and 5s around the league. Jose Berrios is approaching Ace level. Jake Odorizzi was an All Star for his strong start, but he has been more inconsistent of late. Kyle Gibson’s been good at times but also a bit inconsistent. Not adding a starter would just mean that these guys would need to step it up down the stretch. But would the Twins have a top three or top four that you could feel good about going into the playoffs?

    And the bullpen has been better than expected, though a lot of that is because of Taylor Rogers. Sergio Romo stepped in as the 8th inning guy last night in his Twins debut. Tyler Duffey has returned to an intriguing bullpen option. Ryne Harper has been a big surprise. Trevor May was doing well until the 0-2 curveball in Cleveland, but he has the stuff to dominate and will need to find that again.

    And then some young guys. Cody Stashak had a moment in the Yankees series. Sean Poppen reeling off 96-97 mph fastballs with a strong slider could be great for the team down the stretch. And if Will Smith and Felipe Vasquez are unavailable, I don’t think there is an available left-handed reliever that I would feel better about than giving Lewis Thorpe an opportunity. And Devin Smeltzer is available as well. The concern with them is their lack of MLB experience, obviously.

    In addition, Fernando Romero has been much improved of late in Rochester. And as it appears the odds of Cody Allen helping the Twins down the stretch is waning, flamethrower Brusdar Graterol returned to the mound on Monday for his first rehab appearance. Maybe he and his 101-mph fastball can help. Jorge Alcala and his triple-digit fastball pitched out of the bullpen in his most-recent outing.


    So, while I still think it is very likely that the Twins make one or two moves before the trade deadline, and this article will be all for naught, it is important for Twins fans to stand by a team that has put themselves in this position. Absolutely, be disappointed that nothing was done, but hopefully you’ll be able to quickly shift your attention back to the fact that this team, as it is currently put together, can win the division. And, if you are under the opinion (as I mostly am) that the playoffs are mostly a crapshoot, then you should still believe that the Twins can win in the playoffs too.

    All that said… Come On, Twins… Make a Move!

    • Jul 31 2019 07:49 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  10. Series Preview: Reeling in the Fish

    Brief Overview:

    The Twins continue their jaunt through the NL East with a trio of non-DH games. These two clubs haven’t met since the 2016 season and Miami traveled to Target Field in that action. The Marlins have the worst record in the National League and own a -97-run differential. They’re coming off a series win (3 of 4) against a mediocre Arizona Diamondbacks team, and they should be ripe for a sweep.

    What They Do Well:

    When you’re going this bad it’s hard to find significant positives. If there’s a bright spot though, it’s that this club fields the ball at a league average level. They rank 14th in defensive WAR and have posted a positive 6 DRS on the season.

    Though it hasn’t had a great impact in statistical output at this point, the Marlins have done a decent job of running out fresh faces. They’ve given chances to more than a handful of rookies, and for a bad team looking for an identity, allowing guys a spot to step up is hardly a bad ask. If we want to dig deep, Derek Jeter did remove the home run sculpture at Marlins Park too, so that could be considered a positive.

    What They Do Not Do Well:

    This is where the list gets long. Miami is 29th in offensive fWAR. Their hitters have combined to produce just 1.3 fWAR on the season and there’s no category in which they can hang their hat. At 87 home runs, the Twins have doubled them up and then some. No one takes less walks than the Marlins and their .124 ISO is dead last by 25 points.

    On the pitching front things aren’t as futile with the group being the 20th ranked unit in the majors. Caleb Smith won’t go in this series, but Minnesota will face All-Star Sandy Alcantara. The pen ranks 27th in the majors and that was with the inclusion of Sergio Romo. The Bomba Squad will need to pick their spots however, as Miami gives up the 24th fewest HR/9. Marlins Park is also 28th in Park Factors for HR in 2019 (one spot behind Target Field), so the confines don’t exactly produce an optimal environment.

    Individuals Of Note:

    Brian Anderson is one of the budding starts on this club. At 26-years-old he’s still got some youth on his side. He’s produced 1.8 fWAR in 103 games this year and leads the team with 15 homers. At third base he’s been an exceptional defender posting a 9 DRS in just shy of 570 innings played. Miami is still looking for guys to build around, but this is a player that should stick for the time being.

    On the bump it’s Alcantara. Opposing Jose Berrios in game two of the series, the former Cardinals prospect will look to stifle a great Twins lineup. Alcantara was acquired from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna deal and is in his first full big-league season at age 23. He hasn’t posted the strikeout numbers you’d expect, and his fastball has already lost some velocity. That said, if there’s a piece with workable upside in the rotation this is it.

    Recent History:

    Playing so sporadically these two clubs were dramatically different the last time they saw each other. Back in 2016 the Twins took two of three at Target Field but did so with a -3-run differential. This will be another one-off situation but should provide Minnesota with some nice opportunity.

    Recent Trajectories:

    The Twins have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games but are coming off a series victory over the White Sox. Miami has also gone 5-5 in their last ten, with a two-game winning streak. They are coming off taking three of four against the Diamondbacks.

    Pitching Matchups:
    Tuesday: Odorizzi vs Gallen
    Wednesday: Berrios vs Alcantara
    Thursday: Pineda vs Yamamoto

    Ending Thoughts:

    At this point the schedule has begun to flip in the Twins favor and lesser opponents are rearing their heads. Taking the series from Chicago was a must, and so to is this one in South Beach. A sweep would be nice but getting at least two while the Cleveland Indians play host to the Houston Astros needs to happen. The Twins haven’t swept a series since May 26th so ending that drought would be a very good look. Give me Minnesota in all three tilts.

    • Jul 30 2019 09:01 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  11. Twins Game Recap (7/25): Bomba Squad Cruz to Win

    Box Score
    Berrios: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 75.5% strikes (80 of 106 pitches)
    Bullpen (Poppen): 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: Cruz 3 (25), Kepler (26), Sano (17)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (3-5, 3 HR), Sano (2-4, HR), Buxton (2-4, 2 2B)

    Top 3 WPA: Berrios .111, Kepler .140, Cruz .377
    Bottom 3 WPA: Buxton -.048, Garver -.040, Polanco -.034

    Offense Continues to Thrive

    Nelson Cruz has now homered in the last four games, and has seven home runs in the last six games. He came into tonight’s game with 382 home runs in his career, but did something for the first time in his career tonight. It came against the ace of the Sox as he faced him three times and hit three home runs. Giolito came into this game giving up only 10 home runs, but surrendered five to the league’s best home run hitting team.

    His first home run was a solo shot and went 473 feet that set a record for the longest home run in Guaranteed Rate Stadium in the Statcast era. His second and third home runs traveled 433 and 430 feet, respectively, and came with a runner on. His home run distance added up to 1,336 total feet and all three balls went to three different spots on the field.

    Max Kepler and Miguel Sano each got in on the home run fun by hitting two-run home runs of their own. Byron Buxton brought his energy back to the lineup by extending a single into a double and hitting a stand-up double in the eighth.

    Berrios’ Quality Start

    After seeing some of the worst pitching of the season throughout the last series, Jose Berrios came in and showed why he is the ace of this ball club. Though this long start was a night late, it still came at a good time as most of the bullpen was able to have another night off.

    Though Berrios has been pitching outstanding this year, he hasn’t picked up a win since June 6 solely because of the lack of run support in those games. He had an ERA of 2.65 through seven starts in 44 2/3 innings. Tonight was no different from Berrios, but completely different from the offense.

    Berrios was locked in tonight as he gave up only two earned runs, one unearned, through seven innings. He managed to strikeout eight batters, getting five on his four-seam fastball, two with his changeup, and only one on his dirty slider. He also was able to get 17 swinging strikes.

    Poppen Continues AAA Success

    During a series that no Twins’ pitcher cares to remember, there were three standouts, and all of them were in AAA before the series started. With the bullpen getting worked so much recently, another move happened before today’s game that brought up Sean Poppen for the second time this year.

    After the three call-ups from last series gave up just two runs in 9 2/3 innings, Poppen continued their recent success tonight. In his first inning of work, Jose Abreu helped him out by not retouching second base on his way back to first after a fly ball and Rosario tossed it to Schoop to double him up. He then struck out James McCann to end the eighth.

    He worked through an easy 1-2-3 ninth inning to finish the game and his second appearance of the year. He got a weak ground ball and struck out the final two batters with his slider.

    Poppen’s stuff looked really good, but struggled with his control a little. His fastball has good movement on it and sits around 94-95 MPH and he really likes to use his sinker and sliders. They both have great movement and some White Sox hitters swung at some pitches in the other box.

    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 25 2019 10:10 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  12. Twins Game Recap (7/20): Twins Offense and Bullpen Can’t Do Enough to Secure the Win

    Box Score
    Berrios: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 65.4% strikes (74 of 113 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: Garver (17), Cruz (19), Sano (14)
    Multi-Hit Games: Sano (2-3), Kepler (2-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop (0.37), Berrios (0.28), Sano (0.24)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers (-0.62), Garver (-0.43), Littell (-0.43)

    Hot start with the bats

    The Twins began the third game of the series about as well as you could have hoped. Jose Berrios worked out of an error, bunt single and hit by pitch to strike out the side and it looked like he was well on his way to another quality start at the least. The bats also started off great, with a Mitch Garver home run, followed by a Cruz home run and then a Sano double that the Twins couldn’t cash in but it was 2-0 Twins after one.

    Mitch Garver is now batting .289/.357/.684 (1.041) with five home runs when he has hit leadoff (10 games this season).

    Offense slows down and Berrios navigates through trouble

    After the first inning, the Twins offense took a nose dive back down to Earth and couldn’t buy a hit against Anderson. There was an 0-for-14 stretch where everything was hit on the ground and there were only two balls hit with a 90 mph exit velocity or better. In the midst of these rough innings, Berrios seemed to be struggling and doing well at the same time. He got all the way into the sixth inning with spotty command but he showed just how good he is even without his best stuff.

    Bullpen struggles and Sano has a big day

    Berrios was taken out after 5 2/3 innings and was replaced by Tyler Duffey who did a good job of striking out the first guy he faced. He went back out for the seventh, walked the leadoff guy and got a pop out before he was removed for Zack Littell. It was not a good day for Littell after the front office showed how much they trusted him by letting other pitchers go. He immediately gave up a crushing two run home run to Mark Canha and then a solo shot to Ramon Laureano to give Oakland the lead 3-2.

    The next inning began with a Miguel Sano moonshot to left center that had an exit velocity of 113.8 mph and traveled 443 feet. The fans were back in it and the game was tied. The Twins offense rode that wave and C.J. Cron later scored on a sac fly from Jonathan Schoop. 4-3 Twins.

    Rogers blows the save and comeback falls short

    The ninth inning began just as everyone expected with the ever reliable Taylor Rogers in for the save, with a groundout and strikeout. Things got messy from there as the next batter was hit, then Laureano doubled and that was followed by a two-RBI single from Khris Davis off the glove of Adrianza at first. Eventually Rogers got out of the inning but it was 5-4 Athletics.

    The game appeared to be over, but the Twins refused to quit. Kepler singled, followed by a Schoop double and then Eddie Rosario was intentionally walked to bring up the greatest catcher of all time with the bases loaded and a chance to win it. Facing Liam Hendricks, Garver hit the first pitch right to shortstop for a crushing double play to end the game and the Twins fell 5-4.

    Bullpen woes hard to ignore

    The outcry from the fans for another bullpen arm or two to be added was never louder than throughout the game tonight. When Zack Littell is the guy you turn to in a big seventh inning, you may want to add. After the second home run it was apparent the fans at Target Field were upset as they rained down the boo’s from all over.

    The overuse of Rogers was also apparent tonight. He is the only reliever anyone can trust out there and he just didn’t have it tonight. If that is linked to fatigue then making a trade is much more necessary.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Jul 20 2019 10:07 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  13. Twins Organization Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

    Rochester Red Wings: Drew Hutchison (28), Sean Poppen (25), Devin Smeltzer (23), Kohl Stewart (24), Lewis Thorpe (23), Stephen Gonsalves (24-IL)

    The AAA depth has now all seen time in the big leagues. Hutchison spent a few years with the Blue Jays and recently signed with the Twins. Stewart and Gonsalves debuted in 2018. Gonsalves has been hurt but recently started throwing again and hopes to be able to pitch by season’s end. Smeltzer, Poppen and Thorpe have debuted in 2019.

    The front office could use one or two of these pitchers in trades. However, they have had time to evaluate them and consider whether they could be starters or relievers for the Twins for the next four to six years. Remember that as many as four of the Twins five starting pitchers could be free agents after this season. Having MLB ready starting options will be important. So while any of these guys could be second or third pieces in a big deal, it’s nice to have the depth for 2020.

    Pensacola Blue Wahoos: Jorge Alcala (23), Charlie Barnes (23), Edwar Colina (22), Randy Dobnak (24), Griffin Jax (24), Bryan Sammons (24), Tyler Wells (24-IL), Randy LeBlanc (27-IL), Andro Cutura (25-IL), Brusdar Graterol (20-IL)

    Tyler Wells was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2018, but he had Tommy John surgery in May. Randy LeBlanc had Tommy John surgery last year. Andro Cutura returned from missing nearly two years due to Tommy John, so they have limited his innings. But Brusdar Graterol is the top prospect here, and the hard-throwing righty is on the IL with shoulder impingement.

    Jorge Alcala has struggled at times, but he works in the upper-90s and has three pitches. His future may be in the bullpen (most likely). Edwar Colina is another upper-90s guy who was just promoted to Double-A. He is a pitcher as well, not just a hard thrower. Jax and Dobnak have both been good this season despite not having the same overpowering fastballs, but they are both very smart pitchers. Lefties Barnes and Sammons have both come up from Ft. Myers and done well. They both rely on command and control and mixing their pitches.

    Ft. Myers Miracle: Jordan Balazovic (20), Jhoan Duran (21), Blayne Enlow (20), Bailey Ober (23), Cole Sands (21), Tyler Watson (22), Lachlan Wells (22)

    The current Miracle starting staff is really exciting in terms of prospects. There have been several reports of scouts in the seats at Hammond Stadium. Jordan Balazovic has risen up quickly on prospect rankings. Keith Law was ahead of the game on this, but Balazovic has earned his ranking by combining his great stuff with projectability and great numbers too. He represented the Twins in the Futures Game. Duran is another who is pitching much better than his 1-8 record might indicate. He’s another guy who hits triple digits multiple times each game. Enlow started out slowly but since joining the Miracle, he has been fantastic. His velocity is up and his breaking pitches remain very good. Ober has just returned from another injury, but when he has been healthy, he has been really good. Sands has done well in his pro debut after being the Twins fifth-round pick a year ago.. He began in Cedar Rapids before moving up to Ft. Myers a month ago.Tyler Watson came to the organization from the Nationals and has continued to develop each of his pitches. And Lachlan Wells, a former Top 30 Twins prospect, returned to the Miracle last week after missing the last season-and-a-half due to Tommy John. And the Australian is still just 22!

    Cedar Rapids Kernels: Andrew Cabezas (22), Tyler Palm (24), Luis Rijo (20), Austin Schulfer (23), Kai-Wei Teng (20), Josh Winder (22), Kody Funderburk (22-IL)

    Often in the lower levels you can figure out prospect status by age-to-level-of-competition, and that is likely the case with this group. Rijo came to the Twins a year ago in the Lance Lynn deal and has been really good the last month. Teng was signed out of Taiwan, and at 20, he has been very impressive since joining the Kernels. In his most recent start, he was hitting 96 with a good pitch mix. But Winder was a seventh-round pick a year ago and has been very good too. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in June. Schulfer has probably been the Kernels most reliable, consistent pitcher all season. He began the year in the bullpen in long relief, but gradually moved into the rotation. Cabezas was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018. He’s had some ups and downs but when he’s been on, he’s had some really strong games. Palm has bounced around a bit. He signed a year ago out of the independent leagues, but he’s very tall and touches the mid-90s. Funderburk was drafted a year ago out of college where he was a very good two-way player. He doesn’t throw real hard, but when healthy, he has provided quality innings.

    Elizabethton Twins: Prelander Berroa (19), Sawyer Gipson (21), Ben Gross (22), Andriu Marin (20), Ryley Widell (22), Tyler Benninghoff (21) Tanner Brubaker (21-IL), Brent Headrick (21-IL), Casey Legumina (22-IL),

    Much of this group was drafted in 2019 and are looking to just make a good first impression in limited innings in their pro debuts. Benninghoff was the Twins 11th- round pick in 2016 and signed for well over slot. Immediately, he had Tommy John surgery and returned briefly at the end of last year in the GCL. He’s moved up this year and is one to watch. Prelander Berroa is not a big kid, but he is likely the top prospect in this group. He throws hard and has some pitches to work with. Widell was their 7th round pick in 2017, but he missed 2018 season due to a couple of bouts with mono.

    GCL Twins: Donny Breek (19), Matt Canterino (21), Niklas Rimmel (19), Michael Montero (19-IL), Jon Olsen (22-IL), Regi Grace (19-IL).

    This is another intriguing group, even with the injuries. We knew that the Twins probably wouldn't have second-round pick Canterino pitch too much this year, so he could stay in the GCL or potentially move up a level. Breek was signed out of The Netherlands and Rimmel grew up in Germany. Both were well known prospects in Europe and intriguing as prospects. Montero is also one to watch, but he just had Tommy John surgery last week. Olsen had Tommy John last year while at UCLA and is still recovering this season. Grace has the size and projectability to be really good, but he is young and will be taken care of.

    Twins Daily Top 40 Midseason Prospects
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic
    #9 - Jhoan Duran
    #10 - Blayne Enlow
    #11 - Lewis Thorpe
    #18 - Jorge Alcala
    #21 - Stephen Gonsalves
    #24 - Edwar Colina
    #28 - Matt Canterino
    #29 - Devin Smeltzer
    #32 - Griffin Jax
    #33 - Tyler Wells
    #34 - Cole Sands
    #37 - Kohl Stewart
    #38 - Bailey Ober
    #40 - Sean Poppen

    Have Hit 100 mph in 2019:
    Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala, Edwar Colina

    Outside Top 40, but Teams May Ask:
    Charlie Barnes, Lachlan Wells, Luis Rijo, Kai-Wei Teng, Josh Winder, Prelander Berroa.

    Teams in contact with the Twins will certainly ask for Brusdar Graterol and Jordan Balazovic, and while neither might be completely untouchable, the Twins would be wise to only deal them if completely overwhelmed. Duran is just behind those two but should also only be available if the return package is strong and multi-year. He and Enlow could be available. Personally, I would put Edwar Colina in that same category as well. Beyond that, one would think that the other starting pitchers are available. However, this is why depth in prospects, not only in pitching but also at all positions, is so important for the Twins to acquire and maintain.

    • Jul 17 2019 04:48 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  14. Is Taylor Rogers the AL’s Most Valuable Reliever?

    Minor Leagues
    With his college experience, it made sense for Rogers to try to stick as a starting pitcher. During his professional debut (15 appearances), he split time between Elizabethton and Beloit with a 2.27 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 74 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio. In 2013, he continued to be utilized as a starter. Between Low- and High-A, he posted good numbers as he made 24 starts and posted a 2.88 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP.

    Over the next two seasons, he would continue to start, and he made multiple trips to the Arizona Fall League. New Britain was his home for all of 2014 as he had a 3.29 ERA and a 1.29 ERA. He made only three appearances in the AFL that season, but he limited batters to four hits and one earned run. He continued to climb the ladder in 2015 as he pitched to a 3.98 ERA at Triple-A. A return trip to the AFL saw him start six games with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.

    It was time to see what he could do at the big-league level, but it would come with a new role as a relief pitcher.

    Rough Transition
    During his rookie season, Rogers made 57 relief appearances (61 1/3 innings) and had a 3.96 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Batters were making solid contact against him on a regular basis. His 89.7 exit velocity and 40.8% hard hit percentage were in the bottom 6% of the league. Opponents hit .260/.318/.401 (.719) against him that year as he surrendered a career high seven home runs.

    The 2017 campaign saw Rogers still trying to acclimate to life as a reliever. His WHIP rose to 1.31 and his strikeouts per nine dipped from 9.4 to 7.9. Obviously, this isn’t a good sign in the transition to the bullpen. However, opponent's exit velocity dropped nearly three miles per hour (89.7 to 86.9) and his hard-hit percentage finished at 35.4%. One of the biggest intentional changes was his decreased use of his fastball. He used his four seamer 3.9% of the time, which was a steep drop from 17% in 2016 (see chart below).

    From this point forward, Rogers made other pitching changes to transform into one of baseball’s best relievers.

    Among Baseball’s Best
    Besides his fastball usage, Rogers made two other pitching changes to become dominant. He implemented a slider in 2018 and it has become his second most used pitch during the 2019 campaign. Other than that, his curveball has almost disappeared. He used this pitch over 33% of the time last year and he has only used it 1.3% of the time this season.
    [attachment=12816:Tayor Rogers chart.jpeg]
    Rogers has provided unbelievable value to the Twins this season. His 2.78 win probability added (WPA) leads all Twins pitchers. It’s almost a full win higher than Minnesota’s All-Star starters Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. No position player has a higher total than Rogers. He also might be on pace for one of the best relief seasons in Twins history.

    Since Target Field opened in 2010, Glen Perkins (2.79 WPA) has the best WPA of any Twin reliever. Jared Burton (2.41 WPA) and Glen Perkins (1.85 WPA) in 2012 have the other top totals. Doug Corbett’s 1980 season was Minnesota’s all-time best WPA mark from a reliever. His 7.58 total is likely untouchable for Rogers, but he could have enough to catch Joe Nathan’s 5.77 WPA for second place all-time.

    During a record-setting year, Rogers might be the AL’s most valuable reliever. He is the lone AL relief pitcher with a WPA over 2.0 and he is closing in on 3.0. He’s up 0.85 WPA over Alex Colome, the second-place relief arm. Former Twins Liam Hendricks (1.87 WPA) and Ryan Pressly (1.78 WPA) round out the top-four.

    It’s been quite the journey, but Rogers could end this season as the most valuable reliever in the American League. Do you think Taylor Rogers is the most valuable reliever in the AL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jul 15 2019 08:40 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  15. Twins Game Recap (7/14): Cleveland Prevails, Avoids Sweep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    • Jul 14 2019 07:43 PM
    • by Andrew Gebo
  16. Handing Out Minnesota's First Half Awards

    All WAR totals listed in the headings are courtesy of FanGraphs. Looking at Baseball Reference’s WAR totals would probably result in similar results as listed below, but likely would have been more definitive for the winning players.

    Most Valuable Player
    Candidates: Jorge Polanco (2.9 WAR), Max Kepler (2.8), Jose Berrios (2.7), Byron Buxton (2.5), Jake Odorizzi (2.2)
    On Tuesday night, Jorge Polanco will represent the Twins as the AL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. His maturation on both sides of the ball has been critical to Minnesota’s first half success. Max Kepler is an interesting name because he has come on strong in recent weeks. If he continues trending upward, both he and Polanco could be in the AL MVP conversation.

    Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi will join Polanco in Cleveland. For Berrios, it will be his second straight appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic. Both pitchers have been integral in the Twins avoiding long losing streaks. Byron Buxton seems to be putting things together. Everyone knows about his defensive skills, but he’s also been able to add some pop to his bat. Buxton might be on top of this list if he’d been healthy for the entire first half.
    MVP: Jorge Polanco

    Pitcher of the Year
    Candidates: Jose Berrios (2.7 WAR), Jake Odorizzi (2.2), Martin Perez (2.0), Taylor Rogers (1.2)
    At different points in the first half, Minnesota’s top three starting pitchers all looked like Cy Young candidates. Most fans knew what to expect from Jose Berrios as he was coming off an All-Star season. Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez have both exceeded expectations. Odorizzi has currently collected as much fWAR as Justin Verlander and that puts him just outside the AL top 10. Perez has come back to the norm after a tremendous stretch to start the year.

    Berrios could have a shot at the Cy Young with a strong second half. Pitchers like Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, and Charlie Morton aren’t exactly household names when it comes to Cy Young voting. Berrios is leading the pitching staff of one of baseball’s best teams and he could help drive a playoff run.
    Pitcher of the Year: Jose Berrios

    Reliever of the Year
    Candidates: Taylor Rogers (1.2 WAR), Ryne Harper (0.6), Trevor May (0.4)
    This award isn’t much of a race at this point. Taylor Rogers has been a savior for a paper-thin bullpen. Rogers is on pace to have one of Minnesota’s all-time best relief seasons. He’s also doing this when being asked to pitch in a non-traditional closer role. If Minnesota is going on a long playoff run, Rogers will be a key piece to getting big late inning outs. It’s clear rookie manager Rocco Baldelli has full trust in Rogers and that’s the way it should be for a contending team.
    Reliever of the Year: Taylor Rogers

    Rookie of the Year
    Candidates: Luis Arraez (1.0 WAR), Ryne Harper (0.6 WAR)
    For a team in the thick of a playoff hunt, this is a two-man race. Besides Taylor Rogers, Ryne Harper has been a godsend to Minnesota’s bullpen. He made the Twins claimed a roster spot out of spring training and he has never looked back. Twins Daily readers named him the Sire of Fort Myers and he has lived up to that title. He has been contributing to the team for the entire season and that certainly adds value.

    There’s no doubt about Luis Arraez and his hit tool. Many of the other facets of his game were in question. In nearly 100 plate appearances, he is hitting .393/.453/.524 with a 10.5 BB% and an 8.4 K%. As a 22-year old, he has shown an advanced approach at the plate and it’s certainly looking like he needs to part of Minnesota’s long-term plans. Harper has been critical, but Arraez has been more than valuable as a replacement player.
    Rookie of the Year: Luis Arraez

    Who would you vote for in regards to the awards listed above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jul 08 2019 09:10 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  17. OAK 7, MIN 2: Twins Drop Independence Day Rubber Match in Oakland

    Box Score
    Berrios: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 58.7% strikes (54 of 92 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Nelson Cruz (3-for-5, 2B), Ehire Adrianza (2-for-3), Jonathan Schoop (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Adrianza .192, Cruz .070, Littell .046
    Bottom 3 WPA: Berrios -.173, Polanco -.173, Morin -.124

    Berrios Not Sharp, But Effective
    The expectations are so high for Berrios that it’s easy to expect complete dominance every time he takes the mound but that won’t always be the case. What sets him apart and makes him an ace, however, is his ability to still pitch effectively when he doesn’t have his best stuff.

    Today was one of those days for Jose. He issued more walks than strikeouts recorded and scattered six hits over five innings while allowing three earned runs. A high pitch count ended his afternoon early but when his day was over the Twins were still in a position to win the game.

    Bats Remain Quiet
    The red-hot Minnesota offense we enjoyed for the first two months of the season was never going to be sustainable over a full season but seeing this team struggle at times to drive in runs is still taking some adjusting to.

    The best chance for the Twins to put a crooked number on the board came in the first inning. Ehire Adrianza was credited with an RBI after catcher’s interference was called with the bases loaded. The next batter, Jonathan Schoop hit a hard line drive into the left-center field gap but the stellar Oakland center fielder, Ramon Laureano tracked it down and put an end to the threat.

    Minnesota was able to add another run in the fifth inning when Adrianza once again collected an RBI. This time he singled into center field and Nelson Cruz was able to score from third.

    Oakland Breaks It Open Late
    The eighth inning didn’t get off to a great start for Minnesota and it ended even worse. Mike Morin would eventually load the bases with no outs. Marcus Semein then promptly unloaded on a pitch and blasted a grand-slam to left field giving the Athletics a 7-2 lead.

    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 04 2019 06:55 PM
    • by Andrew Gebo
  18. CHW 6, MIN 4: Sanó Homers Twice, Twins Fall Short in Chicago

    Box Score
    Berríos: 7.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 74.3% strikes (78 of 105 pitches)
    Bullpen: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

    Home Runs: Sanó, 2 (11)
    Multi-Hit Games: Sanó, (2-for-3, 2 HR), Kepler (2-for-5), Adrianza (2-for-3, R)

    Top 3 WPA: Sano .245, Adrianza .088, Cruz .068
    Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.289, Berrios -.201, Schoop -.157

    The Twins are in the middle of their roughest patch of the season, at least injury wise. Already playing without center fielder Byron Buxton and super utility man Marwin Gonzalez, Minnesota was also forced to place backup catcher Willians Astudillo in the IL yesterday and left fielder Eddie Rosario today. Once again, Rocco Baldelli had to deploy infielder Luis Arraez on the outfield. To make things worse, a number of relief pitchers were not available to pitch tonight, due to all of them being used in Thursday 18-inning marathon against the Rays.

    A couple of home runs put both teams on the board early. James McCann hit a two-out, two-run shot early off Twins starter José Berríos, to put the White Sox ahead in the first. The Twins responded immediately. After Ehire Adrianza hit a triple in his first trip to the plate, Miguel Sanó tied it up with a bomb to the left field.

    Berríos Pitches Deep Into the Game
    Coming off a shortened start against the Royals, due to a blister on his right ring finger, Berríos pitched into the eighth inning, which was critical for the team, considering the bullpen shortage. But he gave up nine hits (first time since May 24) and allowed a season worst six runs (four earned). Small ball killed him tonight, as seven of the nine hits he gave up were singles. Four of them came in the fifth inning.

    The White Sox secured the win in the bottom of the eighth, when Berríos saw Eloy Jiménez hit his first pitch up in the zone, making this Berríos’ first multi-homer game since May 13.

    Sanó Homers Twice, Adrianza Comes Back Hot
    In spite of the loss, Sanó’s game was the highlight of the night. For the second time this season, first since May 23, the third baseman went yard twice. He helped initiate a late rally in the top of the ninth, bringing the game within reach, but that wasn’t enough. Sanó now holds a .829 OPS and became the eighth Twin to reach double-digits in home runs, making Minnesota the first team to do so this year.

    Coming back from the IL, Adrianza finished the night the way he left the team before the injury: red-hot. He had two hits on the night, including a triple, to go with one walk. He did have two crucial errors during the game though, but his return was much needed and hopefully will make things a bit easier for Baldelli now.

    Minnesota falls to 52-29, but still holds an eight-game lead over the Indians, who were crushed in Baltimore, 13-0. The Twins will try to even the series tomorrow, with Michael Pineda facing Iván Nova. They’ll try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.

    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.

    • Jun 28 2019 11:42 PM
    • by Thieres Rabelo
  19. 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 Thieres Rabelo
  20. What Version of Madison Bumgarner Would the Twins Be Getting?

    Vintage Bumgarner
    From 2011 through 2016, Bumgarner was one of the best pitchers in baseball and he was a workhorse for the Giants on the way to multiple World Series titles. He was a four-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger along with winning the NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP. He finished in the top-10 in the Cy Young voting for four straight seasons and two of those seasons saw him in the top-5.

    Statistically speaking, he averaged over 210 innings per season with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He averaged 9.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 along with a 121 ERA+ and a 3.07 FIP. According to FanGraphs, he had the ninth highest WAR total among pitchers placing him just behind Chris Sale, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke. Baseball Reference ranked him in the top-10 among pitcher WAR in 2015 and 2016.

    He was on top of the baseball world, but he’s hasn’t looked like the same pitcher in recent years.

    Recent Bumgarner
    Since 2016, Bumgarner missed time due to injury and he certainly hasn’t been the workhorse he was in the first half of the decade. After averaging over 200 innings per season for six straight years, he has been limited to under 130 innings in 2017 and 2018. Last season, he suffered a broken hand after being hit by a line drive. Back in 2017, he missed time with a Grade 2 sprain of the AC join in his throwing shoulder and bruised ribs. He had a dirt bike accident that year that were the root of his problems.

    This season, his ERA is almost 80 points higher than his career mark, but his 1.17 WHIP and his 8.7 K/9 are right in line with his career totals. Batters are barreling up the ball against him at an all-time high. He is allowing a 9.4 Barrel % (6.3 % MLB Average) and an 89.7 Exit Velocity (87.4 MLB Average). His fastball velocity is in the 11th percentile but his fastball spin ranks in the 85th percentile. Also, his curve spin is in the 71st percentile.

    Is Bumgarner an Upgrade?
    Jose Berrios is coming off his best start of the season and Jake Odorizzi is near the top of the league in ERA. At this point, these two players would be locks for Minnesota’s post-season rotation. Kyle Gibson would be the third pitcher at this point, and he has put up similar numbers to Bumgarner so far this year. They are within 17 points of each other in ERA, FIP, and ERA+. Gibson is striking out more batters and walking fewer batters per nine innings than Bumgarner.

    Michael Pineda has been a little bit of a roller coaster ride but his fastball is playing better since he came back from the disabled list. While Pineda has been performing better, Martin Perez has struggled in recent starts. Perez looked like a Cy Young candidate in his first eight starts with a 2.17 ERA and he held opponents to a .644 OPS. Over his last four starts, he has allowed 16 earned runs in 19 innings (7.58 ERA) and batters are getting on base 36% of the time against him.

    Looking at the Twins current roster, Bumgarner might be the fourth best pitcher in the Twins rotation. His playoff experience could certainly help, but what version of Bumgarner would the Twins be getting in a trade? Will they get vintage Bumgarner or some version of the player from the last three seasons?

    • Jun 18 2019 12:45 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  21. BOS 2, MIN 0: Offense Squanders Berrios’ Gem

    Box Score
    Starter: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 76.1% strikes (83 of 109 pitches)
    Bullpen: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Cron (2-4, 2B)

    WPA of +0.1: Berrios .328
    WPA of -0.1: Castro -.158, Gonzalez -.176, Rosario -.222, Cruz -.304
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Starting Pitchers Duel
    Jose Berrios started the game by giving up three singles and a Red Sox run. After that run scored, Berrios sat down 19 men in a row. Berrios was dealing all night, but was on the short-end of tonight’s decision.

    Red Sox starter Rick Porcello was also on the top of his game, and did not allow a run through seven innings. He also struck out five in a row from the second out in the second through the last out of the third. Porcello surrendered the first walk of the game with two outs in the seventh inning.

    It’s not often in today’s game that you see two starters go seven-plus innings, but tonight’s game was very much a throwback in how it was played. Porcello and Berrios were both working ahead, trusting their defenses, and getting strikeouts. Jack Morris and Dick Bremer were beside themselves with glee with how tonight’s game went.

    An Ineffective Offense
    The Twins have one of the best lineups in the MLB, but tonight they were unable to come up when it mattered most. C.J. Cron was able to get to second base with one out in the seventh, but fly outs from Marwin Gonzalez and Jason Castro ended the threat.

    In the eighth, the Twins got a leadoff single from Jonathon Schoop, which was followed by a Max Kepler walk. With two men on and no outs, Jorge Polanco laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Schoop ran himself into an out on a nubber by Nelson Cruz, but Kepler compounded the mistake by running back to second when he could have had third base. Of course Kepler’s mistake didn’t make a bit of difference because Eddie Rosario chopped out to first base to end the inning.

    Streaking Sox
    The Boston Red Sox entered tonight’s game having won five straight games, and seven straight road games. Since the Red Sox last loss, they have outscored their opponents 39-19. Even with the hot streak, Boston entered tonight’s game 5.5 games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees. It would have been nice to upset the streak, but Boston is very much a playoff contender.

    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 18 2019 04:03 AM
    • by Kirby O'Connor
  22. Week in Review: Home Cooking

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/10 through Sun, 6/16


    Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 47-23)

    Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: +116)

    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (10.0 GA)

    Willians Watch: 12-for-25 with 2 HR last week at Triple-A

    First of all, I must point out that the "Willians Watch" tracker, which has been a depressing sight for the past many editions, is firing up again. During his first full week back at Triple-A, Willians Astudillo made a pretty strong case that it's beneath him, putting up the absurd numbers you see above. In eight games since his demotion, Astudillo is now hitting .545 with three homers and nine RBIs. He's come right back out of his shell.

    There wasn't too much activity on the transaction front last week. On Thursday, the Twins sent down reliever Ryan Eades and recalled Fernando Romero, who was himself demoted a day later (for reasons you'll read about in the Lowlights section below). Zack Littell was recalled to replace him following a very successful run in the Rochester bullpen (2.35 ERA, 13/1 K/BB ratio in 7.2 IP).


    Like any other week, it'd be appropriate to start out by shoveling praise on the offense. The bats were tremendous once again, averaging nearly six runs while extending their games-with-a-homer streak to 14. We'll cover some top performers in a moment. But first, let's give a shout-out to this team's starting rotation, which continues to amaze.

    On Wednesday, Jose Berrios was on his game once again, holding a potent Seattle lineup to one run over 6 2/3 innings. It was his fourth straight turn pitching into the seventh inning, a feat he's accomplished in six of eight starts since the beginning of May. He's been a workhorse and a stud. After striking out six with two walks in this latest effort, Berrios is now rocking a 4.94 K/BB ratio, which ranks sixth in the American League.

    Closing in on Berrios in those rankings is Kyle Gibson, who's now seventh with a 4.53 K/BB after notching six strikeouts and zero walks on Friday night in one of the best outings of his career. Dueling head-to-head with Kansas City's top starter Brad Keller, Gibby fired eight shutout innings, matching Berrios' gem on Opening Day for the highest Game Score by a Twins pitcher this year (84).

    Slowed by an offseason illness, Gibson was running a little behind in his spring build-up, and it showed early on: In his first three starts, he allowed eight walks and 18 hits over 14 2/3 innings with a 7.36 ERA. In 10 starts since, the right-hander has posted a 2.82 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 65-to-9 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings. He also has a 14.9% swinging strike rate during this span; that'd rank fifth in all of baseball between Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg.

    Gibson is every bit as good as he was last year, if not better. That's a huge development for this unit.

    Even Michael Pineda joined the fun this week with his finest start as a Twin. On Thursday, the big righty tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing just two hits. He left the game with a zero on the board, but reliever Ryne Harper quickly let an inherited run score, depriving Pineda of his first clean outing for Minnesota.

    Still, it was another positive step forward from the 30-year-old, who's shown a noticeable velocity bump after returning from a two-week stint on the Injured List:


    The reasonable expectation for Pineda was always that he'd improve over the course of the season as he ramped up in the wake of Tommy John surgery. That's exactly what we're seeing, and I really like how the Twins are managing his workload to keep him fresh for the second half. His IL stint was seemingly designed to give him a breather (with no real downside, as Devin Smeltzer pitched well in his stead) and Pineda has yet to throw 100 pitches in a start.

    Okay, on to that offense. Once again there were plenty of monster performers last week, so let's just run through them in bullet-point fashion:
    • Max Kepler has been on an absolute tear. After collecting four hits in Sunday's series finale against Kansas City, he finished at 9-for-23 on the week with two homers and three doubles. He drew five walks, and is working a free pass in nearly 20% of his June plate appearances.
    • Ehire Adrianza is earning himself regular playing time on merit. The utilityman started four of six games last week, as Rocco Baldelli found him opportunities at third, short, and first. Adrianza responded by continuing to rake, with five hits in 15 at-bats. He's hitting .404 in his last 22 games.
    • Mitch Garver had a magical night on Friday, delivering a dramatic two-run homer that broke a scoreless tie and propelled Minnesota to victory over KC. He was 4-for-15 on the week and has mostly picked up where he left off since coming off the IL, with nine RBIs in 10 games.
    • Marwin Gonzalez continues to be an incredibly value asset. Last week he played in all six games, starting five. He appeared at four different positions while tallying eight hits (including a pair of home runs) in 23 at-bats.
    • Nelson Cruz provided further evidence his wrist is feeling okay as he collected six hits in 20 ABs, including a pair of big homers.
    • Jonathan Schoop rebounded from a quiet week with a 7-for-19, sprinkling in a home run and a double.
    • Jorge Polanco just kept on doing his thing, finishing 8-for-27 with as many walks (3) as strikeouts. It wasn't even really a highlight week by his standards, but that alone seems worthy of calling out.

    Can anyone fix Romero? As he rose rapidly through the minor-league ranks, the hard-throwing righty gained repute as the system's best power arm in years. He looked decent last year as a rookie for Minnesota, but the decision to shift him into a bullpen role here in 2019 made all the sense in the world, from my view.

    Unfortunately, it's been pretty much a total disaster. His latest call-up wasn't exactly earned by his performance in the minors (he posted a 6.06 ERA and 1.47 WHIP over a month in Rochester following his early-May demotion), but the Twins evidently wanted to take another look and have their big-league coaches work with him more closely. It took only one appearance to reverse that plan. Romero was unbelievably brutal when called upon to pitch with a nine-run lead on Thursday, allowing all four batters faced to reach on two hits and two walks. He threw just six of 16 pitches for strikes and induced zero swings-and-misses.

    The good news, I guess, is that Romero's arm appears to be healthy; he was bringing upper-90s heat with movement. Yet he lacked any semblance of command, and hitters were feasting, as they have all year. Getting him on track seems like one of Minnesota's best bets for impactful late-inning bullpen help, but sadly, it now feels like more of a long shot than ever.

    His absence looms large in a bullpen that showed its problematic lack of depth last week, especially with Taylor Rogers unavailable for a few games due to back tightness. Harper continues to dazzle but the unit is lacking for other trustworthy options. Blake Parker looks so bad right now it's semi-shocking the Twins haven't found an excuse to put him on the shelf; he has coughed up nine earned runs, and five homers, in his last seven appearances. Tyler Duffey is filthy at times, but prone to clunkers like the ugly 10th inning that cost Minnesota Wednesday's game and spoiled Buxton's big moment. Trevor May navigated a precarious save conversion on Tuesday, then struggled through a shaky outing the following night. He's still having a really hard time getting opponents to chase, resulting in prolonged counts and plenty of stress. Matt Magill's been filling the bases with runners all month, including last week when he yielded two hits and three walks in four innings. None of three runs allowed by Mike Morin on Sunday were charged as earned, preserving his misleading 1.17 ERA, but he didn't look good.

    This bullpen is a problem. We already knew that, but it was resoundingly reaffirmed last week, even against substandard competition. Anxiety is going to run high if any tight late-inning situations develop against the imposing Red Sox lineup in the coming series.

    Minnesota generally had an ugly week defensively (which is, refreshingly, uncharacteristic). But no one's poor glovework stuck out more than Miguel Sano's. He had a fine week at the plate (4-for-14 with a home run) but Sano butchered a couple of plays at third base, and they were both costly. On Wednesday in extra innings, he mishandled a grounder and then airmailed it to first, allowing two critical runs to score. He was charged with two errors on the play, a rarity. Sano logged a third error for the week when he let a bad hop eat him up on Sunday, allowing yet another key run across.

    When Sano is able to secure the ball and whip it across the diamond, it's a beautiful thing. His arm strength is unassailable. But overall consistency has been amiss, and to my eye, Sano has missed quite a few plays he should've made. He already has five errors in just 21 games.

    With Cruz and C.J. Cron entrenched at DH and first, the Twins have little choice but to run Sano out at third base and hope he improves if they want his bat in the lineup. I did find it quite curious that Baldelli put Sano at third and Adrianza at first with Cron sitting on Sunday, though Adrianza did have his own ugly defensive gaffe at the hot corner one night earlier.


    The first domino has fallen, so to speak. On Saturday, the Yankees traded for Seattle's Edwin Encarnacion, adding the American League's leading home run hitter to their lineup (which already features No. 2, Gary Sanchez). The Mariners, apparently, are completely open for business:

    There are some interesting candidates there from the Twins' perspective (albeit no game-changing bullpen additions). The bigger story is that Buying Season is officially underway. Minnesota isn't compelled to wait until late July to pull the trigger on improvements. Although the Twins don't really need to worry about their division lead – still in double-digits as we head into the second half of June – they do need to be thinking about building for primetime. The aforementioned bullpen issues make clear that there is some work to do.

    One tidbit to file away: Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press wrote over the weekend that Minnesota is pursuing a deal for San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner...


    As the Twins evaluate internal relief options, Sean Poppen is a name we should probably be paying attention to. He's been fantastic since a promotion to Rochester in late May, working as a starter but showing traits of a guy who might level-up in the pen. On Thursday he struck out nine over six innings of one-run ball; through four starts with the Red Wings, he has a 1.13 ERA and 29-to-9 K/BB ratio over 24 innings. A former 19th-round draft pick out of Harvard, the 25-year-old righty owns a 3.17 career ERA in the minors, averaging a strikeout per inning.

    Of course, Poppen is likely behind a couple of fellow Rochester starters in line. Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe are both already on the 40-man roster, and making their own strong cases for consideration. Smeltzer struck out 10 with zero walks over 5 2/3 frames on Sunday, while Thorpe had fired five shutout frames on Wednesday, allowing one hit and striking out nine. The Twins could really use another left-hander in the pen (they had none available when Rogers was sidelined in the early part of last week) so I'd expect to see one of these two get a look soon. Both have the potential to be legitimate difference-makers.


    Big test on deck. The Twins have taken care of business thus far in a home stand full of also-rans, winning series against Detroit, Seattle and Kansas City, but now they'll wrap it up with a tough challenge against the Red Sox. Don't be fooled by Boston's third-place standing in the East and pedestrian record. They started 6-13 but have been rolling since with a 33-21 record since, and they head into Minnesota on a five-game winning streak. Can Berrios, Pineda and Gibson back up their latest performances against a far better lineup?

    Next weekend, the Twins will head down to Kansas City. As will I, along with a large group of rowdy fellows on a big booze-filled bus for my bachelor party. Which is to say, when you read this column next week, it'll be authored by someone else. Hopefully that person will have plenty of happy things to write about.

    MONDAY, 6/17: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Rick Porcello v. RHP Jose Berrios
    TUESDAY, 6/18: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP David Price v. RHP Michael Pineda
    WEDNESDAY, 6/19: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Kyle Gibson
    THURSDAY, 6/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Glenn Sparkman
    FRIDAY, 6/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Jakob Junis
    SATURDAY, 6/22: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Jose Berrios v. LHP Danny Duffy
    SUNDAY, 6/23: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Homer Bailey

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Jun 16 2019 08:16 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  23. SEA 9, MIN 6: Bullpen, Errors Spoil Buxton’s Dramatic Homer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

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

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  24. MIN 5, CLE 4: Max Power Against Bauer

    Box Score
    Berrios: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 69.2% strikes (74 of 107 pitches)
    Home Runs: Kepler 3 (15)
    Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (4 for 4, 3 HR, BB)
    WPA of +0.1: Kepler .310; Berrios .229; Rogers .200
    WPA of -0.1: Magill -.193

    [attachment=12630:vs Indians 6-6-2019.PNG]
    (Chart via FanGraphs)

    Kepler got the scoring going on the second pitch of the game when he ended his 0-for-21 streak with a solo shot. This was the third time this season that Kepler hit a first inning leadoff homerun for the Twins.

    Kepler added to the scoring again in the top of the third when he took Trevor Bauer deep for the second time tonight. This time it was on a two-strike slider after Kepler did a good job spoiling a couple good two-strike pitches from Bauer.

    The Twins struck again in the top of the fifth after Kepler leadoff the inning with a walk. Jorge Polanco then grounded into a fielder’s choice before Mitch Garver drove him in from first with an RBI double. In the seventh Kepler struck again for his third home run of the game, giving the Twins a 5-1 lead.

    For his second straight start Jose Berrios had a good outing to get the Twins back on their winning ways after a tough loss. Berrios absolutely shut down the Indians lineup for six plus innings tonight, but made just one mistake to Roberto Perez in the fifth inning that he drove over the wall in the right-center field gap. Berrios had the changeup working especially well, picking up four of his six strikeouts with it. Despite being over a hundred pitches through six innings, Rocco Baldelli left Berrios in to start the seventh. He did a good job getting Jose Ramirez to roll over on a changeup, but Jonathan Schoop bobbled the ball and Ramirez reached, ending the night for Berrios.

    Matt Magill came in to relieve Berrios, hoping to bounce back from his terrible outing on Sunday in Tampa. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, as he walked Jordan Luplow on four pitches and gave up an RBI single to Tyler Naquin, causing Baldelli to go back to the pen to get Trevor May to get out of the jam. May came in doing his part, allowing just one run to score, on a sac-fly from Roberto Perez, before getting Leoyns Martin and Francisco Lindor to get out of the jam.

    Taylor Rogers came in to start the eighth inning and picked up a two inning save. Rogers looked unhittable getting each of the first five guys he faced out, three of which were via the strikeout. However, he made things interesting after he gave up a two-out home run to Oscar Mercado. Rogers shut the door on the Twins win on the next batter getting Roberto Perez to groundout.

    Postgame with Baldelli

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

    [attachment=12631:6-6-2019 vs Indians.PNG]

    Next Three Games
    Fri at DET, 6:10 pm CT (TBD-Boyd)
    Sat at DET, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-TBD)
    Sun at DET, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Carpenter)
    Last Game
    CLE 9, MIN 7: Bullpen Crumbles on Night Kimbrel Signs With Cubs

    • Jun 07 2019 06:42 AM
    • by Andrew Thares
  25. MIN 5, TB 3: Twins Rally, Top Rays Late

    Box Score
    Berrios: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 64.6% strikes (64 of 99 pitches)
    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4, 2 2B, BB), Astudillo (2-for-4, HBP), Gonzalez (2-for-4), Schoop (2-for-2, BB, HBP)
    WPA of +0.1: Rosario .263, Astudillo .219, Rogers .212, Schoop .184, Polanco .126
    WPA of -0.1: Sano -.132, Buxton -.166, Kepler -.187
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Coming Out Swinging
    After a beat down on Thursday night, the Twins were aggressive in the first inning. Max Kepler, hitting lead off, swung at the first pitch of the game and nearly hit the ceiling in the Trop. Jorge Polanco’s at-bat did not last much longer. He swung at the second pitch and laced a one-out double. Astudillo then drove him home with a single early in the count. The Twins possibly could have scored another run had Astudillo not hesitated rounding third when C.J. Cron hit one off the wall in right center.

    Berrios responded with a quick shut-down bottom of the first inning. It took him less than 10 pitches to retire the side in order — not surprising for a pitcher who’s strike percentage is fourth best in the league.

    Rays Respond
    After a stellar first inning, Berrios struggled with his command at times in the second and third inning. In the second inning, he issued his first walk of the game and that runner crossed the plate on a Kevin Kiermaier home run, which gave the Rays a 2-1 lead.

    Berrios issued another walk in the third inning and once again that runner came across the plate. With runners on first and third, the Rays called for a double steal and ended up stealing a run from the Twins. The run may not have scored had Astudillo held onto the ball, however. A strong throw home from Schoop may have been good enough to beat the runner but Astudillo tried to tag the runner before catching the ball and the runner scored easily.

    Two-Out Rallies are Awesome
    Schoop drew a walk to lead off the fifth inning. He advanced to second on what should have been a double play if not for the Rays having shifted defensive positioning. He ended up standing on second with two away in the inning. Down by two, this was a scoring opportunity the Twins needed to capitalize on and that looked to be in jeopardy with two gone.

    That was until Jorge Polanco stepped up and did what he’s done all year - hit the darn ball. He ripped a one-run double, making the score 3-2. Then it was La Toruga’s opportunity to pick himself up after dropping the ball that allowed the Rays to score their third run. He did not disappoint, singling to left and driving in his second run of the game. Back-to-back two out knocks tied the game at 3-3.

    They did it again in the ninth. They got the bases loaded with two outs essentially for free. Rays pitcher, Diego Castillo, hit Schoop, Polanco was issued an intentional walk following a sacrifice bunt from Buxton. Astudillo fell behind 0-2 but was drilled by a slider and awarded first base, loading them up for Eddie Rosario.

    The Rays went to their bullpen — again — and brought in lefty Adam Kolarek to face to the left-handed hitting Rosario. The move would prove ineffective as Rosario went opposite field and hit a two-run single past the third base bag and gave the Twins a 5-3 lead.

    Quality Start for Berrios
    After battling command issues in the second and third innings Berrios was able to settle in nicely and give the Twins another quality start. His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. That is what aces do, they give you a chance to win against other really good teams.

    Rogers Dominates
    Taylor Rogers took over for Berrios with two-out in the sixth inning and the game still tied. His night finished with 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 ER.

    Postgame With Baldelli

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

    Last Game
    TB 14, MIN 3: Well … That Just Happened

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