It’s a bit unfortunate that 2020 has dealt the world the hand it has. On the sports front, and baseball in particular, the year has looked nothing like a traditional schedule. With Minnesota putting together arguably the most talented roster in franchise history, it’s unfortunate we didn’t get to see it perform over a full 162-game slate. What still matters however, is that all that talent is at the disposal of Rocco Baldelli when the games become win-or-go-home.
The most likely opponents for the Twins in the Wild Card round of the Postseason look to be the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, or Cleveland Indians. We know the field at this point, and there’s no reason Minnesota can’t be excited about facing any of these teams. In reverse order though, here’s how I’ll argue the stack up, from easiest to toughest.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (Batting 18th Pitching 18th Fielding 18th)
Somewhat of a surprise team, the Blue Jays have competed in what has been an up and down AL East this season. New York looked like a minor league team depending on which lineup you caught them with, and the Red Sox took ownership of the Orioles doldrums positioning. Toronto doesn’t do anything all that well, but they don’t have any glaring problem areas either. Bo Bichette is a stud, and right now Teoscar Hernandez has assumed the production intended for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Hyun-Jin Ryu has looked the part of the ace he was hoped to be, but they haven’t got much help on the pitching front elsewhere. Ken Giles isn’t coming back either, and the bullpen is plenty beatable.
6. Houston Astros (Batting 22nd Pitching 11th Fielding 28th)
What a difference a year makes. Houston was probably always going to be seen as tough despite the fallout from their cheating scandal due to the number of weapons that can hurt you. Their problem is that many of them have been a shell of themselves, and the pitching isn’t there either. Gerrit Cole is gone and Justin Verlander is done. George Springer and Michael Brantley have hit, but Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have been awful. You can’t let this team beat you, they have the talent to do so, but it isn’t the scary Astros anymore.
5. Oakland Athletics (Batting 10th Pitching 8th Fielding 3rd)
Taking the Athletics down a notch was the massive loss of Matt Chapman. He’s a superstar and arguably the best defender in baseball at third base. There’s still thump in their lineup with Matt Olson and Marcus Semien, but one through nine isn’t where they’ll beat you. This team can pitch in the rotation and the bullpen, while converting outs at a high clip defensively. Oakland isn’t a team to take lightly but the +53-run differential and overall win tally seems to be aided by a very mediocre AL West.
4. Cleveland Indians (Batting 16th Pitching 1st Fielding 2nd)
By now Twins fans have seen enough of the Indians to know what expectations are. The club can once again pitch, shocker, but they still can’t hit. Jose Ramirez has looked like an AL MVP candidate, but the middle of the order still features a black hole in Carlos Santana. The outfield production is atrocious, and they’ll rely on beating teams in low-scoring affairs. This isn’t a group you want to see in October. Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and company can shut down any lineup. That said, there’s warts here and Minnesota has already handled them to the tune of a 7-3 record in 2020.
3. Chicago White Sox (Batting 1st Pitching 9th Fielding 9th)
The rivalry has certainly been renewed, and it doesn’t matter who wins the division, the Southsiders will be coming for Minnesota plenty in the years ahead. The Twins split the season series with Chicago, and while a couple of those contests were lopsided, Rick Renteria’s club has the bats to do plenty of damage on their own. I think this unit is still a year away from settling into their own, but a series going up and down that lineup on a nightly basis would be as tense as it gets. Lucas Giolito is not an arm that has owned the Twins, and the rotation is barren behind him and Keuchel. Still though, it’s the bats that make this club worthy of a no-fly zone.
2. New York Yankees (Batting 7th Pitching 14th Fielding 13th)
Going on season numbers for the Yankees are relatively hollow considering the amount of time they were without key players. Now a healthy Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have returned, and all bets are off. Gerrit Cole is an ace in every sense of the word, and Masahiro Tanaka is plenty consistent in his own right. I actually don’t think New York’s rotation is that much better than Minnesota’s but turning to Cole twice in a short series could be the trump card. There are questions as to whether Judge and Stanton have enough at bats to feel comfortable, but both are capable of going off at any time. Throw in Luke Voit and D.J. LeMahieu and you’ve once again got an opponent to avoid.
1. Tampa Bay Rays (Batting 11th Pitching 10th Fielding 8th)
Maybe I’m overrating the Rays a bit given the opportunities they had against a more lackluster Yankees lineup, but this feels like the most complete team in the American League. Kevin Cash has this club clicking on all cylinders, and most of the names are guys a national landscape would gloss over. Brandon Lowe is a superstar, while Willy Adames has finally started living up to his potential. Tyler Glasnow is a problem on the mound and Nick Anderson may be the best reliever in baseball. Up and down this roster is a group of guys that constantly embody next man up, and anyone is capable of producing on a nightly basis. It’d be a fun narrative series for the Twins, but not one I’d want to willingly sign up for.
*Overall ranks based on Fangraphs fWAR totals
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- Sep 24 2020 01:37 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
I feel like I may have written something like this a year ago, but it rings true again today, and Rocco Baldelli’s club certainly has more to build on. Every time the Twins face New York in the playoffs there will be talk about the futility embedded in the matchup. That’s not a team problem however, and it isn’t even an organizational one. The reality is that the Yankees are often good, and they are often in the Postseason. This current group doesn’t care how things went for Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer.
Short of a colossal collapse from the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota will finish second in the AL Central and host New York in the Postseason. Nash Walker recently penned a great piece as to why it may make sense to welcome the Evil Empire. Beyond that, the only history that matters in 2020 is what can be gleaned from the 2019 sweep. Let’s get into that.
Where are the bats?
After setting a Major League record 307 single-season home runs in 2019, the offensive prowess went in the tank when it mattered most. Minnesota pushed across just seven runs in three games during the ALDS, and they led for a grand total of two innings throughout the series. The trio of Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano all became nonexistent, while 39-year-old Nelson Cruz failed to produce anything of substance as well.
In 2020 the offense hasn’t been at all what was expected. Thinking they’d light up the scoreboard every night, it just hasn’t been the case. The Twins have missed significant time from sluggers like Garver and Josh Donaldson, while the lineup hasn’t really clicked for any substantial period of time. Even still the results have shown up in the win column, and capable is a good descriptor for what Minnesota can do on any given day. The Yankees lineup is again daunting, but pitching won’t matter if the Twins can’t score.
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
Going into the Postseason a year ago there were plenty of concerns about the Twins pitching, and it seemed like a lofty task to keep the Yankees in check. Jose Berrios struggled down the stretch, and Randy Dobnak was given the ball in game two as a matchup play instead of Jake Odorizzi. When the dust settled New York had plated 23 runs across three games against the Twins and Minnesota was swept in quick fashion. The bullpen had gone from massive question mark on Opening Day, to becoming a relative force by season’s end. It didn’t factor much as the Twins were behind early and often in these tilts, and any ability from that group was thwarted pretty quickly.
This season the Twins have gotten great efforts from a handful of guys. Jose Berrios has been rolling through his last six turns, while Kenta Maeda looks worthy of Cy Young votes. Michael Pineda returned and picked up right where he left off, and Rich Hill has rounded into form of late. If Jake Odorizzi’s finger is healed in time for October baseball, he too could provide a lift despite such an unfortunate string of luck in 2020. There are few question marks when it comes to the “who” on Rocco’s staff, and he should feel good about choosing any of them for the “when.”
Oh, Byron Where Art Thou?
A shoulder injury ended Byron Buxton’s season in 2019 and it was a crushing blow for the Twins. Their record in games he played was better to a lopsided degree, and his .827 OPS was as much an indicator as to why as his glove was. Max Kepler posted a breakout season defensively, but centerfield wore on him down the stretch and there’s no denying the upgrade Byron brings all over the diamond just by being in the middle of the grass.
Buxton has missed time in 2020 as well, but his 36-game sample has provided a banner year. Currently he owns an .880 OPS and has swatted 12 homers. His plate discipline could use work still as evidenced by the 29/2 K/BB, but he’s getting off an “A” swing plenty, and he’s making sure to do damage when he connects. Still the fastest man in baseball and one of the game’s best defenders, having him patrolling the outfield against any opponent is an upgrade that can’t be overstated.
It will never matter to the current collection of players what history has dealt to a franchise, and it shouldn’t. Recent history is something this collection likely wants to overcome however, and each side loaded up with one big new piece. Gerrit Cole was always destined for New York, and Josh Donaldson made a surprise splash in Minnesota. It’s time to tango, and Minnesota is as well positioned as ever.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- Sep 22 2020 08:01 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
With the three AL Central leaders separated by a game and a half and the Twins lined up to play the other two back-to-back, it’s critical to remember the important thing: The Yankees straight-up suck right now.
The persistent cause of Minnesota’s postseason nightmares is currently in the depths of a 5-15 slide and it’s important to recognize that this is hilarious. Take in a deep breath and laugh the kind of laugh that rings with joy and merriment and makes others laugh with you. The Yankees are bad at baseball and you love to see it. It’s great, and you shouldn’t be ashamed for enjoying it. Relish their misery. It whips ass.
There are extenuating circumstances if you’re inclined to sympathy. Unlike any other team in baseball, the Yankees have injuries. Unlike any other team in baseball, the Yankees have critical players in prolonged slumps. Name one other team that could overcome injuries or slumps, much less both simultaneously. It can’t be done!
You might think that the crucial matter at hand is fending off Cleveland and Chicago for the AL Central crown in this last frenzied quarter of the truncated season. You are thinking wrong. All three teams are going to get in, home field doesn’t exist, and any division pennant from 2020 is going to have an asterisk larger than the champion’s logo. Focus on what’s important. Focus on the Yankees being an epic trainwreck.
This coming weekend promises to be filled with distractions for local sports fans. Not only are Minnesota and Cleveland battling at Target Field, the Vikings make their 2020 debut against the hated Packers. There are NBA and NHL playoffs. The Lynx and the Loons are playing. There’s even a slate of college football games on Saturday and the US Open at Flushing Meadows. It’s a staggering buffet of sports action.
And I’m asking you to please spare an eyeball for the upstart Baltimore Orioles (only two games below .500!) as they battle the Bronx Bombers. New York is clinging to the last playoff spot in the AL at this writing. Would be a shame if they lost it at the hands of a team that went 54-108 in 2019. A damn shame.
- Sep 11 2020 07:15 AM
- by RandBalls Stu
Here is what the Twins Daily writers had to say when asked, “Do you think the World Series Champion in an 82-game season would be legitimate?”
Seth Stohs: Of course. The NHL and NBA had 82-game seasons and then they crown legitimate champions. If it's about number of games, the NFL plays 16 games and then has a champion. If the question is because it's a shortened season, well, then there have been several shortened seasons in MLB history and those champions have been considered legit.
Nick Nelson: To me, the legitimacy of naming a 2020 MLB champion is more dependent on the makeup of a season than its length. I think 82 games is sufficient, especially with expanded playoffs. But how many players aren't participating? Is it fair to call this an official season of record if numerous stars opt out, especially if some teams are disproportionately affected? I don't think so.
Ted Schwerzler: It’s still a season and not just a playoff. It’s different, but sanctioned and legitimate, nonetheless.
Cody Pirkl: I would say yes, but I think the public perception will be based off of what team wins it. If a team like the Diamondbacks or the White Sox won, I think people would be more likely to point out the small sample size not being legit.
John Bonnes: Yes.
Nash Walker: Yes! 100% yes from me. As others have pointed out, overcoming the obstacles of a global pandemic and delayed season is more impressive than a regular year. It’s gonna be different, but legitimacy won’t be a question for me. Whoever takes the cake will have earned it during an unprecedented time.
Cody Christie: I think it is a strange proposition because there have been previous shortened seasons, but none that have been in the 80-game range. I think fans of the winning club will view it as legitimate, especially if it isn’t the Yankees or the Dodgers.
Tom Froemming: Absolutely, assuming there aren’t any major alterations to shorten the postseason format.
Matt Braun: The championship was won under the rules set forward by MLB and the players association. Yes, it would be an unusual World Series victory, but the team accomplished what they did legitimately with the same parameters as every other franchise.
Cooper Carlson: While I understand there will always be an asterisk for the 2020 World Series champion, I still believe the champion will be legitimate. 82 games is enough to weed out who the best teams are and provide a solid group of playoff teams. After 82 games last year, the playoff teams would have been the Yankees, Twins, Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Rays, Rangers, Brewers and Phillies. That group truly only has one outlier (sorry Texas) so I think 82 games will work. While 82 isn’t ideal, it’s the best we’re going to get in 2020 and that’s alright.
Andrew Thares: Yes, since playoff performance isn’t as heavily correlated to regular season performance as most people think, and that is already what determines the World Series champion.
Matthew Lenz: Yes, same rules and chances for every team. Teams may inadvertently be better built for an 82-game season but I still think that’s a big enough sample to figure out which team is the best.
What do you think? Is the winner of a World Series in an 82-game season legit? Leave a COMMENT and continue the discussion.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- May 25 2020 06:57 PM
- by Cody Christie
According to D1 Baseball's Kendall Rogers, the Yankees have made "college pitching coaches a high priority" for the position. Rogers says that the Yankees have interviewed Michigan's Chris Fetter and Johnson's replacement at Arkansas, Matt Hobbes. The Yankees also inquired about Arizona's Nate Yeskie (a Driveline favorite) and TCU's Kirk Saarloos but both coaches turned them down.
This past spring, I asked Johnson what he thought were the key differences between the college game and professional ball and what made that appealing for teams.
"I think the college game, we have the resources, we have a smaller number of players, so we are able to go in and do a lot of research with biomechanics and Trackman and write those individual plans," Johnson said. "As you’re seeing that’s just where the game is going and so these guys have the experience doing it, so it makes it easier. You look, basketball, in the NBA and the NFL, that’s not uncommon but for some reason it is uncommon in baseball. In the NFL you have great head coaches who never played a day of college football or anything of that nature, and they are phenomenal. Same way in basketball."
That's a huge factor for major league teams. College ball is where the forefront of development lies and the technology aspect was embraced heavily. Major league teams were late to utilize and some teams recognized that they didn't have the coaching infrastructure to incorporate the changes. Pitching coaches like Rothchild, while unbelievably knowledgeable about the craft, lacked the experience working with the advancements.
"I think that college baseball has been slightly ahead of professional baseball in some regard," said the Twins' minor league catching instructor Tanner Swanson. "I think from an educational standpoint there’s just more people in that space who understand how this stuff works and we’re seeing how it is utilized now and implement it in a professional environment."
As this continues to unfold and more college coaches are picked from the amateur ranks, keep in mind that this was Derek Falvey vision all along when he assumed the position of Chief Baseball Officer with the Minnesota Twins.
“When I came here, one of the things I thought about over my career in baseball was where are the people learning and growing and developing as coaches," Falvey told me. "I found when I was in different positions I would go to different conventions, college conventions or off-sites or these events, and I met these different people from college and thought wow, these people really have curious minds, they are high character individuals, they care about baseball deeply."
You may be surprised by the amount of money college pitching coaches at large universities make. Before leaving Arkansas, Johnson was making $250,000 a year and the Twins reportedly offered him a deal that is "well north" of $350,000 per year. The Yankees obviously have the biggest pocketbook so they could throw money at whoever they feel is the top coach but, for many teams, they typically pay between $150,000 to $300,000 for a pitching coach. Not everyone is as bold as the Twins when it comes to handing out money to unproven coaches. So you can see why some coaches, like Nate Yeskie who is earning “elite SEC school range” income, might turn down the opportunity. After all, most SEC head coaches make over a million a year and pitching coaches have a payday of half of that.
Beyond just income, the time dedicated to the job is significantly different and could favor a switch to the professional ranks. While pro baseball coaches have higher scrutiny (although you could argue SEC coaches are constantly under the microscope), college coaching requires a year-round commitment and does not have the luxury of regrouping during the offseason.
The Twins hired their Gulf Coast League pitching coach, Zach Bove, out of the College of Central Florida (you can read more about him in my article in the Offseason Handbook). Bove noted that the main difference between pro and college ball for coaches is the extra downtime pro coaches receive.
“In college you have practices and games and then you are going out on the weekends to recruit or have phone calls to make,” said Bove.
“People ask me how my time’s been and you have no idea,” said Johnson. “It’s 365 days a year in college. You’re on the phone with advisers, agents, parents and kids. Then you got your guys. You put it all into a funnel and let it come out on a calendar and you definitely have more free time in professional baseball than coaching in the SEC.”
It is odd to live in a world where the Minnesota Twins are the trend-setters and organization like the New York Yankees are trying to follow suit. The Twins did well in capitalizing on a market inefficiency but that avenue might be closing soon as other teams pillage college programs.
- Nov 01 2019 09:36 PM
- by Parker Hageman
Data scientist and former FiveThirtyEight journalist Rob Arthur wrote a piece today for Baseball Prospectus. The premise was that the baseball teams played the game with all season is now gone, and that’s quite a damning revelation. If you don’t have access to a subscription at Baseball Prospectus, he did a nice job breaking it down to a bite-sized Twitter thread. The ball itself is causing more drag than it has at any point since 2016. Home runs are down more than 50%, and the playing field established for 162 games has now been abolished.
Arthur went on to clarify that weather is not the culprit for these outcomes. He stated that drag factors in both temperature and pressure, while also noting conditions have been more optimal than normal and don’t have a significant overall impact. Considering the research he provided, and the comments offered up by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, I began to think of specific examples.
Earlier I mentioned thinking that something seemed off about that Dodgers and Nationals game to close out the National League Division Series. I didn’t dig in enough to see the amount of wall scrapers typically present on a game-by-game basis, but it certainly seemed abnormal. I did however consider that Will Smith at bat in the bottom of the 9th. His 100 mph exit velocity and 26-degree launch angle resulted in a fly out. During the regular season there was 75 similar occurrences of those inputs, and they resulted in 44 homers with an 83% base hit rate.
This is a Minnesota Twins website, so let’s bring things full circle here. Parker Hageman immediately turned to Monday’s game against the Yankees. I remembered thinking it was odd to see Gleyber Torres barely get out on a well struck ball, but it was Marwin Gonzalez’s blast that immediately looked gone and fell way short that got me. As Parker notes, the Twins 1B had his well struck ball become a pretty small outlier.
If we think back to game one, there were homers hit by both Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz that struck me as odd. Although the ball went out to the opposite field, power sluggers like those two rarely need every extra inch to reach the seats. In doing some research through MLB’s own Statcast service, the balls that left the yard in the Postseason traveled an average of 70 feet shorter than they same circumstances produced during the regular season.
All along, the expectation should’ve been that the sport would walk the baseball back. Despite the home run providing a level of excitement to the game (one that pace of play changes would seemingly be geared towards), Rob Manfred has publicly stated that inquiries would be made too many times for tools of the trade to go untouched. What strikes this writer as irresponsible, unfair, and downright disingenuous is to make these wholesale changes during the season.
The point isn’t to suggest that the Twins or any other team is getting a raw deal because of the deadened baseball. What is fair is for players across the league, most importantly hitters, to have a level of frustration aimed at the governing body of their sport. As former pitcher Dallas Braden puts it, “The guy that deflated footballs in the NFL was drug over the coals by the commissioner of the NFL for altering the sports’ ball. What do WE do when it’s THE COMMISSIONER altering balls like some MAD plastic surgeon? Let the man snip & shape as he sees fit, no issues?”
I’ll never have a problem with seasons being analyzed separately as not all factors remain the same as the calendar changes. I do think you’ve got a significant problem when the integrity of a collective season is being manipulated at the drop of a hat.
Because of this uproar Major League Baseball has now issued a statement on the situation. Unfortunately it does little to address any of the actual problems and avoids any statements that point to real reasons why there's such drastic changes in results.
- Oct 10 2019 05:52 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Odorizzi: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 65.9% strikes (54 of 82 pitches)
Home Runs: Rosario (1)
Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (3-for-4, 2B, HR), Arraez (2-for-4, 2B)
WPA of +0.1: Rosario .110, Cron .104
WPA of -0.1: Sano -.165, Kepler -.139, Gonzalez -.118, Cruz -.112, Polanco -.108, Garver -.101
Here's A Look At Today's Win Probability Chart
[attachment=13262:vs Yankees 10-7-2019.PNG]
(Chart via Fangraphs)
Despite being down in the series 2-0, Twins were amped at the start of the game, and Jake Odorizzi gave them something to cheer about in the top of the first. After striking out DJ LeMahieu to start the ballgame, Odorizzi appeared to get Aaron Judge to fly out to Eddie Rosario in right for two quick outs. However, Judge was awarded first base after catcher’s interference was called. That was no problem for Odorizzi, as he came back and got Brett Gardner to strike out and Edwin Encarnacion to fly out to end the inning.
Odorizzi wasn’t able to keep the Yankees off the board for long, however, as Gleyber Torres hit a fly ball that just cleared the wall, and Jake Cave’s glove, in left. Rocco Baldelli went out and asked the umpires to review the home run for fan interference, and while a fan did reach over the railing and made contact with the ball, it was clearly already over the fence, along with Cave’s glove, before the fan touched it. Luckily for the Twins, the home run came with nobody on base, which feels like a rare occurrence for the Yankees against the Twins of late.
The Twins gave themselves an excellent opportunity to get on the scoreboard themselves in the bottom of the second. Eddie Rosario drove a pitch about six inches above the zone deep off the top of the right-center field wall for a lead off double, narrowly missing a home run. After a Mitch Garver walk, and a Luis Arraez single, the Twins had the bases loaded and nobody out. However, as was the narrative all season long, the Twins failed to get the job done with the bases loaded, thanks to a Miguel Sano popup, and strikeouts from Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave.
Gio Urshela led off the Yankee third with a blopper that dropped in front a Jake Cave, who inexplicably laid out for the baseball, coming up a few feet short, and allowing the ball to get past him, turning a routine single into a lead off double for Urshela. Urshela was able to advance to third on a DJ LeMahieu ground out, and looked like he might be stranded there after Aaron Judge struck out. However, Brett Gardner came through with a two-out single that went right past a shifted Miguel Sano, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
After singles from Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario, the Twins had another scoring chance with two on and two out, for Mitch Garver, in the bottom of the third. After getting ahead in the count 3-0, Garver took what was pretty clearly ball four high, however, umpire Gary Cederstrom didn’t see it that way, calling it a strike. After that, Luis Severino was able to battle back and strike out Garver to end the inning.
Jake Odorizzi did his job in the fourth and fifth innings, by keeping the Yankees off the board and working two pretty clean innings. Overall, for the night, Odorizzi earned a tip of the cap for doing his job by limiting the Yankees to just two runs across five innings, keeping the Twins in the game into the later innings.
Luis Arraez got yet another Twins rally attempt going in the bottom of the sixth, when he drilled a one-out double that split the gap in left-center field. Miguel Sano followed that up with good at-bat, working the count full before driving a ball that left the bat at 107.9 MPH, toward the wall in right, but Aaron Judge used all of his 6’8” frame to reach up and snare the ball out of midair. Marwin Gonzalez followed that up by driving a flyball high into the Minnesota sky, but that ball came up just shy of the fence, as Judge made the catch on the warning track to end the Twins sixth.
The Yankees added to their lead in the top of the seventh after yet another clutch hit off the bat of Didi Gregorius. Gleyber Torres started the inning with a ringing double off of Taylor Rogers. Then with one out, Gregorius ripped a single down the first base line, bringing around Torres to extend the Yankee lead to three.
It took a long, and I mean long, time but the Twins were finally able to get on the board thanks to this Eddie Rosario blast to lead off the bottom of the eighth.
The Yankees tacked on a couple more runs in the ninth to extend their lead to four in the top of the ninth. Cameron Maybin took Sergio Romo deep, with what looked like a lazy fly ball that just cleared the wall in left. They tacked on their fifth, and final, run of the game, thanks to, you guessed it, yet another RBI off the bat of Didi Gregorius.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Twins got themselves a little rally going in the bottom of the ninth, getting each of the first two hitters on to lead off the inning. However, the ninth ended in the same way as every other Twins rally of the ballgame. Max Kepler picked up the first out of the inning, by striking out three straight sliders from Aroldis Chapman. Jorge Polanco then lined a ball up the middle that appeared destined for a base hit until Didi Gregorius grabbed the ball, and with it the Twins hopes and dreams. The Twins season came to an end with Nelson Cruz at the plate looking at strike three right down the middle.
The Twins ended the game going just 3-for-9 on balls put in play over 100 MPH. Those nine batted balls had an average expected batting average of .612. Instead, the Twins got just over half of that, and of course all the ones that didn’t drop for a hit were the ones hit in the highest leverage spots, but hey that’s baseball.
Postgame with Baldelli:
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
[attachment=13261:10-7-2019 vs Yankees.PNG]
ALDS Game Recaps:
Twins ALDS Game 2 Recap: Nothing Works, Twins Lose 12th Straight To Yankees
Twins ALDS Game 1 Recap: Bad Defense, Questionable Management Leads to Loss
- Oct 08 2019 04:25 AM
- by Andrew Thares
ALDS Game 3
New York Yankees (103-59) @ Minnesota Twins (101-61)
Series: 2-0 Yankees
Start Time: 8:40 PM ET / 7:40 PM CT
Forecast: 60 degrees and sunny
Pitching Matchup: RHP Luis Severino vs RHP Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi posted a sub-2.00 ERA through his first 13 starts for the Twins this season, and he was below 3.00 until the month of July. For the first half of the season Odorizzi established himself as the go-to arm behind Jose Berrios and earned a trip to his first All-Star Game because of it. July was not kind as the former Rays righty posted a 7.43 ERA in five turns and desperately needed to get back on track. Making nine more starts the rest of the way he rebounded with a 3.04 ERA .647 OPS against and 65/16 K/BB. As a fly ball pitcher it always made sense to turn Odorizzi loose in Target Field, but it was actually in New York that Jake fared significantly better than this outfit. His length in a series that has seen Minnesota get just a combined 6.0 IP from starters is a narrative to watch.
Aaron Boone turns to Luis Severino for game three. Had he been healthy in 2019 Severino would’ve likely been the game one choice as a two-time All-Star and Cy Young candidate at age 25. Instead he’s thrown just 12.0 IP this season and he’s yet to be given a leash longer than 80 pitches. Severino is a strikeout pitcher with plenty of velocity, and he’s fanned more than 10 per nine each of the past two seasons. He hasn’t been known to give up the long ball, and command isn’t much of a problem either. Luis does have a 6.26 ERA across 23 postseason IP however, and with the uncertainty of a small runway to get ready for this action, New York may decide to go with a quick hook.
Battle Tested Twins
There’s no denying that Minnesota is up against it and in a far from enviable position. That being said, this group has veterans sprinkled in that can provide levity during this type of scenario. Baldelli has kept things light and loose for his club all season, and nothing suggests bucking that trend now. Minnesota didn’t suffer a three-game losing streak until their 94th game of the season and surrendered to that fate just twice all season. Including a loss in the final game of the regular season the Twins are riding a three-game skid, but history suggests an ability to put the fire out.
All hands will be on deck in an elimination game, and the expectation should be that the usage of Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, and Sergio Romo should be more liberal if the situation presents itself. While pitching has been a downfall, and the management of it, a central focus will be placed on the quality of at-bats and production from the lineup. After breaking records left and right during the regular season, the Twins have been outscored 18-6 in the past 18 innings.
Climbing out of a 2-0 hole is hardly an easy task, and looking at it from a big picture view does nothing to minimize the situation. The Twins need to take their opportunities in small chunks at a time and attempt to win each inning on the path to making this a series before it’s over.
- Oct 07 2019 04:12 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Strip away the jerseys, the locations, and the history, and these are two remarkably similar teams. The Twins ended up finishing the season with just one more homer than the Yankees in order to be officially dubbed the home run champ of MLB, but the Yankees look to be their match in just about every offensive category. Conversely, both teams have rock solid bullpens and suspect starting pitching, giving us a match-up that will certainly be interesting to watch as it unfolds.
What They Do Well:
When talking about the 2019 Yankees, the most immediate topic is their great offense. Not only did they give the Twins a run for their money in the home run chase, they actually ended up a single point ahead of them in team wRC+ (117 to 116). One point of difference is essentially meaningless but the Yankees’ feat is especially impressive when you consider that Giancarlo Stanton barely played, Aaron Judge missed some time, Aaron Hicks is now out for the year, Didi Gregorius played just 82 games, and Edwin Encarnación has struggled with his own injuries since being traded to the Yankees. The depth players such as Gio Urshela and Cameron Maybin have been the backbone to a Yankees offense that has almost never been at full strength and it is in those players especially where the Yankees lineup goes from good to elite.
The other great strength for the Yankees is found in their bullpen. Not entirely surprising as they have had a death bullpen for about three years now and it seemed like they were well on their way to a historic one in 2019. While they never quite reached that height, the Yankees’ bullpen sits at second in baseball by fWAR and their collection of relievers is one of just three groups with a total fWAR over seven (Rays ahead of them at 7.6, Twins below them at 7.3). Needless to say, they will be relying heavily on this group in each game and it won’t be surprising at all if each Yankees starter has a short leash.
What They Do Not Do Well:
We have covered their offense and relief pitching so far and both have been great, there has to be somewhere where they falter, right? Indeed there is, as their starting pitching fWAR was good for 17th in all of baseball with their 10.6 mark being exactly as good as the Tigers. Now, this isn’t crap-all-over-the-Tigers week because I’ve already done that about three times this year, but being tied with that team in anything is never a good sign. The Yankees boast a solid 1-2 punch of James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka, but the quality of starters drops immediately and the volatility goes through the roof. Thanks to Domingo Germán losing postseason eligibility due to his domestic violence incident, the next two starters become J.A. Happ and his 5.34 FIP and Luis Severino who has thrown all of 12 innings in MLB this season. This is where the Twins will have an opportunity to take advantage and possibly put up runs quickly.
Hilariously, the Yankees have the sixth lowest number of stolen bases in MLB this year. This is funny because the Twins have by far the lowest total at just 28 swiped bags (second lowest is the Cubs at 45). While this is less “what do they not do well” and more “what are they not even trying to do”, it still is notable that the Yankees will mainly stick to hitting for power when it comes to scoring runs in the series and the Twins will most definitely follow suit.
Individuals Of Note:
For a team historically known for cartoonish evil and throwing money at anyone that walked, the modern Yankees are somewhat the reverse of that as they are full of players either developed internally or targeted from other teams in order to improve when they join New York. The shining example of this in 2019 is D.J. LeMahieu who was finally freed from the oppressive confines of Coors Field when he signed a somewhat modest deal with the Yankees this last offseason. The result is a massive 5.4 fWAR season that saw him top his career high for wRC+ with a 136 mark. LeMahieu will likely serve as the leadoff hitter and his .375 OBP in 2019 will serve the Yankees well in this series.
There are currently just two players currently on the Yankees who were with them when they last played the Twins in a playoff series. One is C.C. Sabathia who might not make the ALDS roster and the other is Brett Gardner who continued to defy age as he put up yet another solid season for the Yanks. His 115 wRC+ was his highest since 2012 and he set a new career high in isolated power with a .253 mark that absolutely destroyed his last career high. Somehow, he remains a thorn in the side of other teams and I can assure you that he will be a pest in this series as well.
There are four names the Twins and their fans need to know; Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. These four horsemen of the apocalypse stand as the most trusted relievers in Aaron Boone’s back pocket and they will be called on in whatever situation presents itself. Chapman has been melting faces for awhile so I don’t think I need to talk about him too much as has Zack Britton who has somewhat suspect peripherals (3.74 FIP) but a cartoonishly high ground ball rate of 77.2% and a past history of success.
Tommy Kahnle is the “Jekyll and Hyde” member of the bullpen as he was all sorts of awful last year but is back to dominating this year to the tune of a 3.33 FIP thanks in part to his 90 MPH changeup (for real).
Adam Ottavino is the newcomer who has video game-like movement on his pitches but is also known for walking his fair share of batters with a career BB/9 of 4.02 and a 2019 BB/9 of 5.43.
This is the kind of stuff the Twins will have to navigate through in order to beat the Yankees and I can guarantee that a number of games in the series will come down to which bullpen didn’t falter that day and which one did.
The Twins and Yankees played two series this season and the Yankees won both 2-1 giving them the season series at 4-2. Although, every game except for one was within three runs and the one game that wasn’t was the Twins’ lone win in Yankee Stadium this year.
Friday: Berríos vs Paxton
Saturday: TBD vs Tanaka
Monday: TBD vs Severino
No pitching matchups have been announced as of writing this article on Wednesday night. The matchups will be updated as the announcements are made.
Well, here it is! This is the reason why we pour so much energy into following a team over the off season and during the long season. There really is nothing quite like postseason baseball and it gets even better when the team that you root for is one of the few that will play. For the Twins, this is the result of a multi-year effort full of botched moves and fired personnel as the 2019 team finally broke through to win the division in epic fashion. From here on out, everything will be under a microscope as each mistake and clutch play will be amplified under the pressure that is the postseason. Will the Rocco Baldelli-fronted Twins finally slay the Yankee dragon that haunted the Ron Gardenhire squads of the past or will the Twins’ incredible run be cut short? Frankly, I’m not someone that can see into the future, but the pessimism of the past cannot bring me down as I predict that the Twins will indeed win a playoff series against the Yankees.
Looking at When Odorizzi Should Pitch in the Playoffs
Yankees' Weaknesses: The Lineup
Attacking the Heart of the Yankees Order: Part 1
Damage Control: Pitching is Minnesota's Primary Advantage in ALDS
How Minnesota Can Punch Against Paxton
The Only Twins-Yankees History That Might Actually Matter
- Oct 03 2019 02:42 PM
- by Matt Braun
You won’t have any trouble finding glowing stories about the New York slugger. Sanchez was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic, and he consistently popped up on top 100 prospect lists through his time in the minor leagues. A two-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner up, Sanchez owns an .846 career OPS and surpassed the 100-home run plateau this past season. Just about to turn 27, it’s Sanchez that is often thought of as the premiere backstop in baseball.
With a breakout 2019 season under his belt, Mitch Garver threw all of that for a loop. I’ve described Garver as “The best catcher in baseball” when tweeting out his exploits on a regular basis. What may have started out as somewhat in jest has become a ringing endorsement of talent that holds serve with the high praise. Following a decent showing during his 2018 rookie season Garver went to work over the winter, and it is paying off in any more significant way would likely be impossible.
At the end of the regular season Rocco Baldelli had played Garver in 93 games. He was given regular rest sprinkling in veteran Jason Castro, and he missed time after a Shohei Ohtani slide into home put him on the Injured List with an ankle injury. When the dust settled on those 93 games, Garver posted a .995 OPS. In Minnesota Twins history only four players have posted a higher single-season OPS: his teammate Nelson Cruz, 2009 MVP Joe Mauer, 1977 MVP Rod Carew, and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (twice). Mitch ripped 16 doubles, which is a modest total on its own, but launched a Twins record 31 dingers (30 as a catcher) with a nutty .630 slugging percentage.
When stepping into the batter’s box Garver brought his lumber and terrorized opposing pitchers. He’s been a bat first player for most of his career though, and it’s what he did behind the plate that elevated his game and stature in baseball’s landscape. After posting a -16 DRS and -9.2 FRM (framing runs) in 2018 he jumped those results to 0 DRS and 0.8 FRM in 2019. Working with Tanner Swanson over the offseason he focused on controlling the bottom of the strike zone and exponentially increased his effectiveness by percentage of called strikes.
During the ALDS press conference on Tuesday afternoon Cory Provus asked Garver about the work he put in and if he was happy with where things wound up from a defensive growth standpoint. Mitch answered, “I think about that a lot.” He talked about the importance of stealing any extra strike and how you may quantify that. There’s a level of importance that plays into all facets of the game based on how each pitch is received. Garver also noted that “the confidence level from a manager to put you back there knowing the work I put in is translating to the game, I think that shows a lot. Having a manager that can trust you behind the plate, that’s kind of more important than all of those things (referring to defensive metrics).”
Whether Mitch is in the lineup for every game of the series or not, it will be the time he’s on the field that his ability can truly take the spotlight it deserves. Sanchez has gotten the accolades while playing in the mega-market that is New York. The Yankees “Kraken” is the longball leader since he entered the league. Going into 2019 it was a good bet that he’d return to Silver Slugger status and regain his place at the peak of the position. For now, though it’s Garver’s chance to show he heads the conversation and currently carries the torch.
Minnesota is often a secondary thought when it comes to national discussions. The smaller market that Minneapolis is will never trump the costs, and regardless of the press that this Bomba Squad has driven, individual contributors will fall by the wayside. For the guy from Albuquerque that has had to grind for everything he’s earned, that’s probably all fine and well. Over the course of this series though, Mitch Garver can allow his play to overshadow even the largest of markets. If and when those moments come it will be good for him, because he’ll have earned it.
- Oct 03 2019 07:54 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we will be breaking down the strengths and weakness of DJ LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton, and finding the best approach for the Twins pitchers and fielders against each of them.
DJ LeMahieu has quietly been one of the best all-around players in the American League this season. Not only has he filled in well at three different positions in the infield, but his bat came to play, as his 136 wRC+ ranked 21st among all qualified MLB hitters in 2019. What makes LeMahieu so successful is that he doesn’t have many weaknesses. Here are LeMahieu’s wOBA versus each pitch type, and what percentile they rank in Major League Baseball this year.
[attachment=13208:DJ LeMahieu 1.PNG]
When breaking down LeMahieu’s splits versus lefties and righties, it comes as no surprise that he is a much better hitter versus lefties than he is against righties, given that LeMahieu is a right-handed hitter, as he has a 182 wRC+ against lefties vs a 119 wRC+ against righties. To get a better idea on how to approach LeMahieu, depending on the hand of the pitcher, lets take a look at the same chart as above, but this time broken down by opposing pitcher handedness.
[attachment=13209:DJ LeMahieu 2.PNG]
From these charts, it is clear that Twins pitchers should avoid throwing off-speed pitches, such as changeups and splitters to LeMahieu altogether. Their main approach should be to pepper LeMahieu with fastballs in and force him to hit his way on base. For right-handed Twins pitchers, they should be able to work in some breaking pitches against LeMahieu as well.
Another part of DJ LeMahieu’s game that is quite apparent is his approach at the plate. Illustrated below is DJ LeMahieu’s spray chart from the 2019 season.
From this spray chart, the part that is most clear is DJ LeMahieu rarely pulls the ball in the air. The Twins defenders should take advantage of this by having all their outfielders shade pretty significantly towards right field. Additionally, it would make sense to have Jorge Polanco shade a little more towards the third base bag to help cut off the large amount of ground balls LeMahieu hits in the hole between shortstop and third.
When it comes to facing Gary Sanchez, the key is to avoid letting him make contact. Fortunately for the Twins, Sanchez makes this pretty easy, as his contact rate of 70.2 percent ranks 237th out of the 273 hitters with at least 300 plate appearances in 2019. Sanchez especially struggles to make contact with breaking balls, as his contact rate on them is just 59.2 percent this season. Another way to induce Sanchez to swing and miss is by getting him to chase fastballs up and in on his hands.
While avoiding contact is an optimal strategy with any hitter at the plate, Gary Sanchez is one of those hitters where it seems especially important, as he barrels the ball up roughly one out of every five times he puts the ball in play. That’s the fourth highest among any hitter who put at least 200 balls in play this year. A big reason for this is the pull heavy approach that Sanchez has at the plate, as you can see in the spray chart down below.
Gary Sanchez’s ground ball distribution is almost exclusively pulls down the third base line. The Twins shouldn’t have much trouble exploiting this with a three-man shift on the left side of the infield. Another thing the Twins should take advantage of is Sanchez’s speed, or lack thereof, as his sprint speed of 25.5 feet per second is down near the bottom of the league. This should allow the Twins infielders to play further back to cover more ground laterally, and still have enough time to make the throw over to first to get Sanchez in time.
Giancarlo Stanton (Note: All statistics for Stanton are from 2018, due to limited sample in 2019)
When it comes to facing Giancarlo Stanton the approach is simple: feed him breaking ball after breaking ball after breaking ball. Whether it is a righty or a lefty on the mound for the Twins, it doesn’t matter, just don’t throw anything straight to Stanton. In 2018, Stanton whiffed at 45.8 percent breaking balls that he swung at. Since he struggles mightily vs. breaking balls against lefties, it is probably their best option to try to get Stanton out, unless they possess an excellent changeup. To illustrate this point further, here are Stanton’s wOBA breakdowns by pitch type and pitcher handedness in 2018.
[attachment=13212:Gincarlo Stanton 1.PNG]
Just as was the case with Gary Sanchez, the Twins should be able to employ an extreme pull shift to the left side of the infield when Giancarlo Stanton is up at the plate, as we can see from his spray chart down below.
While Stanton isn’t the fastest of runners, at 26.8 feet per second, he still has enough speed where the Twins probably won’t be able to take advantage of it by playing deeper in the hole, like they can for Sanchez. In the outfield, the Twins should pretty much just play straight up, as Stanton's spray is pretty even on balls in the air.
As we can see the Yankees order can provide quite the challenge, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to attack them to keep their lineup in check. The key will be for the Twins to take each hitter one at a time and do what they can to get that hitter out. Stay tuned later in the week, as we will be featuring three more juggernauts in the Yankees order in Part 2.
- Oct 02 2019 07:14 AM
- by Andrew Thares
There isn’t a ton of history between this collection of Twins and the Yankees presumed ace. Paxton started Opening Day at Target Field last season after a bald eagle attempted to throw him off his game. That lineup couldn’t be further from the 2019 collection, and this squad saw him for just three innings in May before he hit the injured list for nearly a month. Rather than breaking down individual matchups, the intrigue between what both sides do well is a tug-of-war between who wins out.
Rocco Baldelli’s club set the single-season MLB home run record in 2019, besting this New York club by one. They owned the second-best slugging percentage in the history of baseball, and they thrive by hitting the ball out of the park. Dominated by right-handed power, left-handed arms are something the Twins have stuck a fork in all year. Facing lefties 39 times they posted a .286/.357/.529 slash line with 88 home runs. That’s an average of 2.3 HR per start against lefties as opposed to their 1.8 HR per start against righties.
There’s also the consideration of where Paxton may pitch against the Twins. Unless his butt injury bumps him from a game one appearance, he can be expected to take the ball starting the series and then in a potential game four scenario. The first game would be at Yankees Stadium with that second start coming at Target Field. Minnesota has been a record-breaking road team this year, and the lineup has an OPS .31 points higher away from Target Field. In those road contests they also left the yard an additional 33 times.
From a stadium standpoint Target Field and Yankees Stadium have both played very similarly in 2019. Per ESPN’s MLB Park Factors they rank 24th and 25th in HR. What we saw between these squads both during the extra-inning affair in Minneapolis, and their total body of work, is that any given night can make a ball yard look pretty small.
So how does this stack up against Paxton? Well, there’s a lot to unpack. As a lefty it would be expected that righties hit better off of him, and that is the case. Opposite- handed batters own a .752 OPS against him while left-handed hitters have posted just a .670 OPS. Those lefties enjoy a higher .266 average and .314 on-base percentage. Righties jump way up in terms of slugging, posting a .445 mark, nearly 100 points higher. Surrendering 23 homers in 2019, Paxton has allowed only two of them to left-handed hitters and he has a K/BB two trips to the bench higher against lefties.
Although Yankees Stadium is often considered a bandbox, Paxton has enjoyed his time at home. In 15 home starts he has an ERA a full run lower (3.35) with an OPS nearly 200 points less (.650) than where he’s at on the road (.814).
2019 was Paxton’s worst full season as a starter. He posted his highest ERA, walk rate, and HR rate. He’s given up a career high hard-hit rate, fly ball rate, and nearly matched his HR/FB tally from 2018. That’s not to suggest this isn’t still a top-tier pitcher as the former Mariner is sitting down over 11 per nine and gets swinging strikes 14% of the time. It’s for spots like these that the Yankees went and swung the deal to bolster their rotation.
At the end of the day something must give, and it’s pretty hard not to say the pressure is on the Bombers. Paxton is pitching in the postseason for the first time, and now doing so with the weight of the empire on his back. He throws with the arm that Minnesota clobbers, and he’ll be coming off an injury-shortened start his last time out. As the home team it’s on New York to hold serve in the Bronx, and with Luis Severino likely to follow Paxton, a game one steal may be the best hand for the Twins to play.
Given how closely these two teams look on paper, it’s hard to imagine we’re going to see anything less than a four-game series. If the Twins can continue playing to their strengths and get to Paxton in game one, they’ll be in a great spot to make their way to the American League Championship Series. There’s no denying that Minnesota needs to perform up to expectations as well, but if there’s a draw they should be salivating about, it’s this one.
Not all aces are made equal, and much like Jose Berrios for Minnesota, Paxton has plenty to prove across the entire baseball landscape. Pitching can tend to have the upper hand in October, but Baldelli employing #BombaSZN early would hardly be a shock.
- Oct 01 2019 04:26 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
We’ll do a lot of looking ahead to this Twins-Yankees ALDS here at Twins Daily over the coming days, but I thought it was also worthwhile to take a quick look back at how these teams have played against each other so far in 2019.
There’s no denying the Yankees dominance over the Twins in postseason play, but it’s also completely irrelevant. Rocco Baldelli’s response to whether he was aware of the recent postseason history between the Twins and Yankees was the exact message the entire organization and its fans needed to hear.
So how about 2019? The Twins went 2-4 against the Yankees this season, though New York only held the advantage in run differential by five (43-38). Here’s how things went at Yankee Stadium, with links to the Twins Daily game recap for each contest:
May 3 | NYY 6, MIN 3
May 4 | MIN 7, NYY 3
May 5 | NYY 4, MIN 1 (8 innings)
The Bomba Squad was uncharacteristically quiet in that series, and a few untimely errors crippled the pitching staff. There were three unearned runs allowed the first game and one more in the finale. The teams met again nearly two months later in Minneapolis.
July 22 | MIN 8, NYY 6
July 23 | NYY 14, MIN 12 (10 innings)
July 24 | NYY 10, MIN 7
The Twins evened up the season series at two games a piece, then had New York against the ropes in the second game at Target Field. The Twins led 8-2 through the first four innings, but suffered a crushing extra-inning loss in what was among the most thrilling games of the season.
Over the entire season series, the Twins combined to hit a solid .254/.343/.512 (.855 OPS), but the Yankees had a much more impressive .327/.402/.588 line (.989 OPS). Poor starting pitching was a common theme throughout for both teams. Here’s a look at the numbers:
NYY SPs: 8.54 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.045 OPS against in 26 1/3 innings.
MIN SPs: 7.45 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 1.047 OPS against in 29 innings.
Ick. The biggest separator was bullpen performance. Twins relievers combined for a 5.87 ERA in 23 frames while the Yankees pen posted a 3.38 ERA over 26 2/3 innings. Blake Parker managed to give up five runs while recording just five outs against the Yankees, so I guess take that with a grain of salt. Parker’s dreadful appearance in that July 23 madhouse of a game was his last in a Twins uniform.
Considering the changes both these teams have gone through since late July, even this season’s previous matchups might not matter. That alone illustrates how completely ridiculous it is to drag any prior years into the conversation.
- Sep 29 2019 09:33 PM
- by Tom Froemming
Unlike many Twins fans, Henry Blomquist doesn't fear the New York Yankees.
"This is a different season. These guys are too young to care about the past, and honestly I'd rather play them than the Astros. Verlander and Gerrit Cole? Let the wild card team deal with that."
However, Blomquist does care about time. The 26-year-old Richfield bachelor is working two jobs as he attempts to pay back student loans. The prospect of a Twins/Yankees playoff game makes for a very crowded day.
"Do you remember that one game they played earlier this year, went into extra innings, Aaron Hicks won the game and it was a football score," asked Blomquist. "Neither team's pitching has gotten any better. It's going to be a co-rec softball game every night."
Blomquist spends his days working at a local credit union, then picks up gigs for a rideshare company in the evening. He figures if he plans it right, he can squeeze in a relatively normal Twins/Yankees game in between the two.
"If they can keep it down to, like, a 9-7 game with only one team really going bananas with the pitching changes, I should be able to watch the whole thing, then get people home from bar close and night shifts," said Blomquist. "Squeeze in 3-4 hours of sleep before I have to go back to work in the morning. That should be doable."
However, he has no contingency plan if the games go sideways.
"I have to accept that there's a chance that 9-7 score is in the 4th inning and Martin Perez is coming into the game," said Blomquist. "Radio doesn't work in my Ultima anymore, but the passengers seem to be alright with these smooth jazz CDs I got at Goodwill. Kenny G. is no substitute for Cory Provus, I'll tell you what."
- Sep 27 2019 06:11 AM
- by RandBalls Stu
As the Houston Astros and New York Yankees battle back and forth for the number one seed, it’s the Bronx Bombers that Minnesotans should be welcoming. History can be cast aside as no one currently on this roster cares about previous futility. Aaron Boone’s squad has plenty of warts on the bump and the Twins lineup can go toe-to-toe with anyone. No matter who they face though, what happens in a late game situation when Baldelli needs to work some magic? Is it speed, or is it patience?
Minnesota acquired Ian Miller from the Seattle Mariners in early August. He was a 14th-round pick in the 2013 draft and had yet to debut in the big leagues at 27-years-old. Not a top prospect by any means, Miller provided outfield depth on the farm but this move was about a specific asset. He’s fast and can steal a base. Even before Byron Buxton had his season come to an end due to shoulder surgery, the likelihood that he’d be available in a late game situation off the bench isn’t good (because he’d be starting). Miller fits the mold of a Terrance Gore type, and that’s exactly why the speedy outfielder (Gore) finds late season opportunity again in 2019, with the Yankees.
Miller has stolen 243 bases in the minor leagues while being caught 51 times. That’s a success rate of 83% and puts him into the threshold of the additional 90 feet being a worthy gamble. Unfortunately he also has just a .340 OBP on the farm and isn’t typically heralded for his ability to get on base. Taking over on the basepaths may be beneficial, but could come at the cost of an additional at-bat later in the game. Despite being capable in the outfield there are a good deal of question marks outside of his ability to swipe bags. The aforementioned Gore has been inserted into nine playoff games over seven seasons. He’s stolen five bases, being caught once and has scored three runs.
The Twins made the prudent move by adding him to the 40-man roster. He’s now eligible for the postseason, and they continued down their forward-thinking path at the beginning of September. Baldelli’s squad has stolen just three bases since the All-Star break though, and a team so capable of scoring from first base may not deem the gamble to second as a risk worth taking.
On the flip side of the coin, I can’t help but be reminded of the at-bat Luis Arraez took in mid-July against Edwin Diaz. Regardless of the closer’s struggles this season, Minnesota’s rookie stepped in at an 0-2 count against a dominant arm and took a walk. Having the ability to generate a very strong at-bat against some of baseball’s best pen arms could prove invaluable during a big situation in October. Fortunately for Minnesota Arraez has worked his way into the starting lineup, but LaMonte Wade could represent a similar asset to consider.
Despite missing a significant portion of his big league time this year due to injury, he hasn’t missed a beat in the time that he has played. Wade owns a career .389 OBP in the minors and has walked in 20% of his big league plate appearances. He’s struck out just three times in 41 opportunities, and has faced three-ball counts 32% of the time he’s stepped in. Despite a .161 batting average, he’s bolstered it with a .366 OBP and routinely makes pitchers work.
Like Miller, Wade too plays the outfield and could take over for a starter as a defensive replacement. He’s got the ability to play all three outfield spots, and despite not being a speedster, can hold down all three roles at an above average clip.
The decision here is an interesting one because it deals with two parts of the game that Minnesota has left largely unattended in 2019. The Twins have the fifth best OBP in baseball, but they’ve taken only the 18th most walks in the game. When constructing this lineup over the winter it was apparent that power production was a focus, and we’ve seen that play out at a record setting pace. No one has stolen fewer bases than Minnesota’s 26, and is postseason play the time to start looking for 90 extra feet?
Both of these players probably found themselves on the outside looking in when the outfield was in its healthiest state. Now with some holes, the Twins will look to create opportunity through utility on the fringes. Miller and Wade present opportunity, but which way will Minnesota go, and will they consider either of them at all?
- Sep 20 2019 04:27 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Let’s get this out of the way right now: This Twins team hasn’t lost anything to the Yankees. None of these guys care about what Ron Gardenhire’s clubs did against the Evil Empire, and I can guarantee no one in the current clubhouse is worried about what wins and losses took place a decade ago. Let’s view this through the lens of relevance in the here and now.
Chasing down the best record in the American League, the only thing in New York’s way is the Houston Astros. Besting a rotation bolstered by Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke in a five or seven game series seems near impossible. That isn’t just a Minnesota hurdle, but one that makes Houston the odds-on favorite to win the World Series regardless of who they play. The best way for the Twins to generate positive momentum is an ALDS victory, and the most optimal way for that to occur is a few wins in the Bronx.
So why the Yankees? I’m glad you asked.
Does it stink that the Twins won’t be able to turn to Michael Pineda at any point? Certainly. Do they need Jose Berrios and a few of his co-workers to step up? Certainly. Are they going to have opportunity against a New York group that owns the 19th rotation in baseball, and 15th since August first? Absolutely.
James Paxton has had a lackluster 2019, but he’s been exceptional of late. A 2.57 ERA since August 2nd is the type of arm the Yankees intended to acquire. As a game one type pitcher, he’s everything you could hope for. From there, Aaron Boone has Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, and J.A. Happ. That trio has as many warts (if not more) than the group Minnesota would call upon to oppose them. The Twins may not see Happ in an effort to keep a lefty off the hill, but the lineup can certainly bang through any of those arms.
It’s kind of weird to think a group with Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, and Zack Britton could be bested but Minnesota is doing that just now. Since the trade deadline only the Tampa Bay Rays have a better relief corps than Wes Johnson’s group. The Twins don’t have the names, but Sergio Romo has bolstered an internal group anchored by the likes of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May.
Realistically the Twins need to be able to get something from Sam Dyson. Knowing October games will be shortened by relief arms getting extended work, Baldelli needs the ability to turn to his recently acquired help. Hopefully the Twins can get his biceps soreness right over the next couple of weeks and get him back in the fold.
New York is going to get better with the additions of Dellin Betances and Luis Severino. There’s no denying their group has the bigger names and more trustworthy performances. Because Minnesota started the year with so many question marks doesn’t make that a reality now though, and this collection of Twins' relievers can get the best of them.
After setting the major league record in home runs for a single season, it’s easy to call the Bomba Squad a force to be reckoned with. The Yankees are the one team that holds a candle to that power though, trailing in the same stat by just single digits. The collection often known as the Bombers have plenty of pop on their own, but there’s also a level of uncertainty.
Left fielder Mike Tauchman was just lost for the year, and former Minnesota outfielder Aaron Hicks is still on the shelf. Edwin Encarnacion and Gio Urshella recently returned to active duty, but they both need to work their way back in (Edwin appears to be acclimating just fine). Much like the Twins, there aren’t many holes in this group one through nine, but they’re also a team that can be hung with.
The two squads are separated by less than 10 runs in total run differential, and despite a few game difference in the win column, that’s indicative of how similar they are.
It’s obvious that the Twins need to get healthy. The Minnesota lineup needs a full go Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, and Max Kepler. Jake Cave being back with Marin Gonzalez are also must have additions. There’s no denying that the current Rocco Baldelli group isn’t in an optimal spot. Fast forward two weeks though and getting proper rest and healing would leave about a week of runway prior to the postseason. If the organization can prioritize health, and mix in some winning along the way, then October gets significantly brighter.
The rotation was going to need to step up in big spots regardless of who was available. Health is more important than the loss of Pineda, and stealing games is going to need to happen against the Astros rotation regardless. The Twins are as good as the Yankees in 2019 and establishing that during the ALDS would go a long way for the sake of momentum.
Winning the World Series is difficult. One team out of thirty ends their season on a winning note. Not all organizations have the same probability, and even being among the final ten teams, odds are stacked in a few teams' favor. If you’re a Twins fan down the stretch though, you should be a Houston fan as well. Let the October road begin in New York and grab a big series victory before giving World Series favorite Houston all you have.
- Sep 10 2019 08:43 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Avoid the Wild Card Game
One of the most important steps in having a sustained playoff run is avoiding playing in a coin flip game like each league’s wild-card game. Minnesota fans are well aware of the dangers of this game after seeing the Twins fall to the Yankees back in 2017. New York went on to the ALCS that year and there are some concerns with surviving this style of game.
In that 2017 AL wild card game, Minnesota started Ervin Santana and then was forced to turn to Jose Berrios as a reliever. If the club had survived, they would have been put in an interesting spot for picking a starter of in Game 1 of the ALDS. Pitching staffs can be taxed in this type of game and there is too much randomness in a win-or-go-home atmosphere.
The Twins need to make sure they take care of business and win the AL Central.
Houston Poses a Problem
If Minnesota is able win the AL Central, the club will qualify for the ALDS for the first time since 2010. Entering play on Wednesday, New York and Houston are separated by less than a game. Minnesota sits four games back so it seems unlikely they could catch either of the front-runners for the league’s top record. This means a first-round series on the road versus one of the league’s top teams.
There are a couple ways to think about a Houston match-up. Teams are going to have to go through Houston at some point in the playoffs and it might be better seeing their strong starters in a shorter series. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke would get fewer starts over five games than in seven games. This could allow the Twins to steal a game or two and end up with a series victory.
New York would be the better match-up, but it would be better to face Houston in a shorter series. If a team must take out Houston, do it in the ALDS.
Big Apple Battle
Minnesota fans might have a phobia of facing off against the Yankees because of past playoff experience. When the Yankees came to Minneapolis earlier this year, it resulted in an epic back-and-forth series. New York’s pitching staff has flaws, but their offense is certainly on a par with Minnesota’s record-breaking line-up.
It seems most likely for Houston or New York to take care of any of the wild card teams, but anything can happen in a five-game series. Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Oakland are all in the running for the two AL wild card spots. Any of these three teams would be a better match-up than facing Houston or New York in a seven-game series, but it would take a team coming in hot to take down one of the league’s top foes.
If Minnesota takes care of Houston in the ALDS, it would be fitting for the club to face-off against the Yankees for the right to represent the AL in the World Series. It would be similar to the Red Sox exorcising their demons against the Yankees on the way to their 2004 title. If Minnesota must beat New York at some point, so why not do it on the biggest possible stage?
What do you feel is the ideal path for the Twins to make it through the gauntlet of the AL playoffs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Sep 04 2019 08:53 PM
- by Cody Christie
Gibson: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 56.4% strikes (57 of 101 pitches)
Home Runs: Polanco (15), Cruz (21), Sano 2 (16)
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (3 for 5, HR); Rosario (2 for 6); Sano (2 for 6, 2 HR); Arraez (2 for 5); Castro (2 for 4)
WPA of +0.1: Sano .502; Garver .262; Adrianza .176; Arraez .162; Polanco .135;
WPA of -0.1: Rogers -.619; Harper -.441; Stewart -.402; Parker -.266
The Yankees got the scoring started in the top of the first, thanks to a two-out, two-RBI, two base-hit off the bat of Didi Gregorius. It appeared as though Kyle Gibson was about to work himself out of the first inning jam by striking out Yankee slugger Luke Voit. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Gregorius drilled the first pitch of his at-bat deep to the left centerfield gap, giving the Yankees a quick two to nothing lead.
The Twins were able to answer back with a run in the bottom of the second when Luis Arraez ripped an RBI single up the middle drive in Eddie Rosario for the Twins first run of the game. After an impressive walk from Ehrie Adrianza loaded the bases, the Twins failed to capitalize on yet another bases loaded situation. Things got a little bit dicey in the top of the third when the Yankees themselves loaded the bases with two outs. However, this time Kyle Gibson was able to get out of the jam by getting Gary Sanchez to pop out to Jorge Polanco to end the inning.
The Bombasota Twins came out to play in the third inning when Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back for the second game in a row, becoming the first Twins duo to accomplish that feat in the team’s history. Additionally, the Polanco home run was his 15th of the season, which set the Twins record for most players to hit 15 home runs in a season with seven.
Ehrie Adrianza got the Twins fourth going with a leadoff double to right field. After a Domingo German wild pitch advanced Adrianza to third, Jason Castro drove him in with an opposite field single. The Twins were able to load the bases up again after a Jorge Polanco single and Nelson Curz was hit by a pitch. Eddie Rosario then bounced into an RBI groundout, brining in the Twins fifth run of the game. The Twins weren’t done in the inning, however, as Miguel Sano came up big with a three-run Sanodoubter into the upper deck in left field. This was Sano’s 15th home run of the year, extending the Twins record to eight.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to answer right back with a three-run home run of their own off the bat of Didi Gregorius in the top of the fifth. Much like the first inning, Kyle Gibson appeared as though he was on the brink of getting out of a jam, but Gregorius yet again made Gibson pay for filling the bases early in the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth the Twins answered right back with yet another run. Jason Castro leadoff the inning with his second opposite field single in as many at-bats. Max Kepler then advanced Castro to second on a chopper to the first basemen before Jorge Polanco drove Castro in with an RBI double, extending the Twins lead to nine to five.
Cody Stashak made quite the first impression, giving the Twins two much needed scoreless innings, while striking out three Yankee hitters. They weren’t the smoothest of innings, however, as Stashak did give up four hits. However, when it mattered most, buckled down and got some big outs to keep the Yankees off the board.
The lack of depth in the Twins bullpen reared its ugly head in the top of the 8th, when the Twins had to turn to Blake Parker to protect the lead against the Bronx Bombers. Parker proceeded to walk the leadoff hitter, before allowing doubles to three of the next four Yankee hitters, and before you know it the Twins lead was cut to one. Tyler Duffey then came in to try and get the Twins out of the jam. He came in and struck out Edwin Encarnacion and appeared to strike out Luke Voit, but what should have been ruled strike three was instead ruled ball four keeping the inning alive for, you guessed it, Didi Gregorius who came through yet again with another two-out, two-run, two-bagger to give the Yankees a 10 to 9 lead.
In previous years, the Twins would have been deflated by this crushing blow and folded, however, the 2019 Twins are not the Twins of old. After Nelson Curz leadoff the inning with a ground out, Eddie Rosario reached on an infield single, setting the table for yet another Sanodoubter to give the Twins back the lead.
In came Taylor Rogers to close the door on the Yankees in the 9th. After he picked up two quick outs, you thought to yourself, no way this is a repeat of what happened on Saturday, but unfortunately that is exactly what happened. Rogers then walked the Yankees 9th hitter and then proceeded to give up a go ahead two-run home run to Aaron Hicks, giving the Yankees a 12 to 11 lead.
Aroldis Chapman then came in to close the door on the Twins, but they still had some fight in them. Ehrie Adrainza, Mitch Garver (who pinch hit for Jason Castro) and Max Kepler drew three straight walks to load the bases with nobody out. Jorge Polanco then put together a great plate appearance that ended with a hard-line drive into the outfield that off the bat appeared would be in the gap. Unfortunately for the Twins, Yankeed left fielder Mike Tauchman tracked it down. Adrianza was able to score on the play, tying the game. The Twins were unable to add any more runs, after a Nelson Cruz flyout and an Eddie Rosario blooper was snared down by Didi Gregorius.
In the top of the 10th the Twins had to turn to Kohl Stewart to keep the game tied. After DJ LeMahieu lined a ball off Stewart that deflected right to Luis Arraez for the first out of the inning, Didi Gregorius came to the plate, and you can just about guess what happened. Gregorius lined a base hit to left field and got a Yankee rally of three straight hits to take back the lead going. When all was said and done the Yankees scored two and took a 14 to 12 lead into the bottom of the 10th.
The Twins faced another big challenge in the bottom of the 10th, this time trying to come from behind against Adam Ottavino. Miguel Sano began the inning by striking out looking, before Ottavino seemed to lose all sense of control. He proceeded to walk Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez. Ehrie Adrianza then hit a hard ground ball up the middle, but Didi Gregorius made a nifty play to almost turn two and end the game. Then it was Mitch Garver’s turn at the plate, and just like in his pinch-hit plate appearance in the 9th, he drew a big walk. With the bases loaded and two-outs, Aaron Boone turned to Chad Green to face Max Kepler. Kepler worked himself into a 2 and 1 hitters count and got a pitch to drive, and that’s exactly what he did with it, but yet again it was former Twin Aaron Hicks who crushed Twins fans hopes and dreams with this amazing diving catch to end the ballgame. Had that ball gotten down, it would have very likely cleared the bases and been Kepler’s third walk-off hit of the season.
Rocco Baldelli with some very honest comments following the game.
Baldelli also noted that there would be roster moves before tomorrow night's game, but did not give any specifics.
Here is a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days
Next Three Games
Wed vs NYY, 7:10 pm CT (Happ-Odorizzi)
Thur at CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Berrios-Giolito)
Fri at CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Pineda-Cease)
Twins Game Recap (7/22): Twins Turn Triple Play, Mitch Garver Homers Twice in Win Over Yankees
- Jul 24 2019 12:01 AM
- by Andrew Thares
New York took two of three against Minnesota earlier this season in the Bronx, but the run differential separated the clubs by only two. The Yankees are the only American League team with a run differential better than the Twins (+138) and Aaron Boone’s savages have done the majority of their damage without the help of their biggest names.
What They Do Well:
As you’d expect with any good team, there’s very little that New York doesn’t do at an above average clip. The have a top 10 offense across baseball, and own a pitching staff that slots in right behind the Twins at 5th overall. Boone’s club has plenty of bombers, and while they are well behind the Minnesota tally in dingers they round out the top five.
The Yankees are a patient group and that’s evident in their 4th best walk rate across Major League Baseball. On top of being able to drive the ball deep and score at a high clip, they’ll make pitchers work and settle for free passes.
No team in baseball is better getting out of jams than the Yankees. A 76.8% strand rate is indicative of a team that can handle high-pressure situations, and routinely tilts the scales in their favor. Touting the best bullpen in the game by a wide margin, your best bet is to get ahead early and not give up a lead.
What They Do Not Do Well:
Similar to the New York club that visited from the National League, this Yankees club is not a defensive stalwart. They rank 22nd in baseball from a defensive metric standpoint, and they bring up the rear in shift runs saved. Virtually every team in baseball (save for three this season) is at 0 or better when it comes to shift runs. The idea of shifting is to cut down would be base hits, and in general, the practice serves its purpose. At -6 rTS this season, New York has managed to be completely inept when moving defenders around the diamond.
The Yankees employ a strong defensive outfield, headlined by former Twins centerfielder Aaron Hicks. It’s on the dirt that they are essentially terrible all over the place. Luke Voit is well below average at first base, and Gleyber Torres is negative at second. D.J. LeMahieu is a strong player with the glove, but breakout third basemen Gio Urshella rates poorly and Gary Sanchez is consistently among the worst backstops in baseball. If there was ever an opportunity to reverse course against a bad defensive team after the Mets letdown, this is it for the Twins.
Individuals Of Note:
It’s Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton that typically draw headlines for this squad, but one has missed significant time and the other is still on the Injured List. After leaving Coors Field in free agency a slide was expected for former Rockies second basemen D.J. LeMahieu. Instead he’s having a career year and paces the Yankees in fWAR.
Every year it looks like Brett Gardner may be the old man squeezed out of a spot on the roster, and each season he rises to the challenge. He’s putting up great numbers in 2019 and doing so at the age of 35. Gleyber Torres was the second Yankee considered by most in the AL Rookie of the Year voting a season ago, but arguably had the better campaign. He’s back it up by becoming an All Star in year two and looks the part of a cornerstone for years to come.
The rotation is where New York is a bit soft but big time trade acquisition James Paxton has been plenty strong. He’s been somewhat outshined by youngster Domingo German, but Boone still has more than a few arms he’s comfortable turning the ball loose with.
These two clubs played in the beginning of May with New York taking the series. The Yankees won each of their games by three runs while Minnesota took the middle game by a score of 7-3.
After sending Oakland out with a split the Twins are just 4-6 over their last ten, and they have lost their last two home series. New York comes in winning seven of their last ten, but dropping their last road series. In 2018 Minnesota took the final series from the Bombers winning two of three at Target Field in September.
Right now the largest problem for the Twins has been a consistent offensive output. While starter have gone short and the bullpen is both taxed and undermanned, it’s the bats that carried Minnesota this far. Beating the Yankees isn’t likely going to happen late so Baldelli will need his squad to hop on opposing starters early and often. Byron Buxton could be back, and his presence would be a welcomed one both in the lineup and the outfield.
- Jul 21 2019 10:23 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
By the end of the All-Star break Minnesota will have all eyes focused on what reinforcements can be brought in to help the big league club. Derek Falvey faces just one trade deadline this season, July 31. All goals from here on out will be related to improving the length of time spent playing October baseball. Although the Twins did grab a one-game cup of coffee two seasons ago, this level of expectation is largely unprecedented for the current collective.
When it comes to those big games in October there have been to consistent story lines drawing repeated dialogue in 2019. How will the Twins handle the Yankees and is Madison Bumgarner the guy for the Minnesota?
The former is a question rooted in a deep spell of futility. New York has had the number of this organization for years. During the Ron Gardenhire run of division titles there was no ability to get beyond The Evil Empire. New York had their way with Minnesota and the 2-12 record says as much. There’s no way to paint a pretty picture on those results, but it’s hardly relevant today.
For the 2017 Wild Card game only five of the starting players still remain in a Minnesota uniform. Pitching in relief of starter Ervin Santana that game were names like Hildenberger, Busenitz and Belisle. As the new regime has transformed the roster, and in 2018 purged ineffectiveness, this current crop of Twins likely could care less how the “last time” played out.
Right now the New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and that is an accurate reflection of how they’ve played this season. If and when Minnesota sees them in the opposite dugout during the postseason it will be a dogfight because of that reality as opposed to any hardship the local franchise has previously experienced.
On the opposite end of this same discussion Minnesota could use pitching help. While it’s the bullpen that’s a focus, a starting arm slotting in behind Jose Berrios would be welcomed. Madison Bumgarner will be available and his name carries significant weight but will the opposition truly worry about a guy because of his track record in 2014?
When talking up the Giants starter you often hear of his World Series and postseason dominance. Those exploits are nearly a decade old, his last go-round in 2016 was hardly as effective, and he’s dealt with major injury and declining effectiveness since that point.
Past experience will certainly afford the thought of Bumgarner in a Twins uniform a calming aura, but it’s hardly relevant and intellectually dishonest to suggest that his previous World Series experiences trump the pitcher he is today. His ERA is in the land of mediocrity, and similar WHIP, H/9, and FIP numbers back that. He’ll leave the easiest park to pitch in, but bring a heightened velocity and strikeout rate.
At the end of the day the Twins will need to ask themselves if the juice is worth the squeeze. Bumgarner is not the same pitcher that twirled innings during the 2014 World Series. He’s a serviceable veteran that could be had to improve the overall strength down the stretch. Going all in on a move with the Giants hoping that the previous postseason success plays a trump card is quite the foolhardy gamble.
Following the well-deserved All-Star rest Rocco Baldelli will have a refocused Twins team keyed in on making waves when it matters most. The front office will work to bring in reinforcements that can help put this club in a better position. When the dust settles and October begins, you can bet that this team isn’t going to be worried about the failures of yesteryear, and they shouldn’t be holding out hope to capture performances based on history either.
- Jul 05 2019 06:51 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Year In Review
Like the fall of most empires, it wasn't a huge implosion, but a series of ever-widening cracks that led to deterioration. Vegas watched the Yankees offseason spending spree and set a number in the mid to high 80s to meet, but a lot of the big signings came up short. Biggest among them was (and continues to be) ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tananka dominated to the tune of a 2.77 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, but there were too few of those innings - just 136 - because he was limited to 20 starts with a sore elbow. Worse, he still has pain that he's just (effectively) pitching through. So there is no guarantee that he'll be healthy for the duration of this year.
Tanaka's status mirrored that of a lot of the team. The new slimmer CC Sabathia was limited to only eight starts, big free agent signee Carlos Beltran played in only 109 games, Mark Teixeira struggled with a wrist injury and of course A-Rod was suspended. The Yankees are counting on bounceback seasons from these guys, and if they stay healthy, the could get it, but here are their respective ages as of July 1: 34, 38, 35, 39. Their expected health is debatable.
Add that all up, and the Yankees still finished over .500 with 84 wins, which is an accomplishment given that they were outscored on the year.
With those results amid all their injuries, it may not be surprising that the Yankees had a pretty quiet offseason. They replaced free agent closer David Robertson by signing setup stud Andrew Miller, but other than that, the Yankees treated this offseason like a do-over. They let Hiroki Kuroda walk. He was their most durable and effective starting pitcher. The other two big departures are probably more about losing big names than impact players, but they're still losses: Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter.
“There are enough Yankees bobos betting money in New York that the number has to be higher than they deserve, and maybe they'll get lucky and keep people healthy. Still, I'm lowering last year's 86.5 line.” = 81.5.
I try not to bet on the Yankees for the same reason I try not to bet on the Twins; wishful thinking gets in the way. But if I had to bet, I'd bet the under. Practically, their run differential is more like a 77 win team than the 84 wins they tallied last year, and there is a lot more room for downside than upside given the age of this team. And karmically, it feels a lot like a franchise that just lost its identity, is floating through purgatory and is a lot closer to hell than heaven. .
- Mar 22 2015 03:01 PM
- by John Bonnes