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  1. TEX 18, MIN 4: Speechless

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    In the sixth inning, Matt Belilse made his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list. He threw three pitches, the last of which hit Adrian Beltre. For some reason, home plate umpire Alan Porter determined it was intentional and tossed Belisle. The score was already 10-0 at that time.

    In the eighth inning, Addison Reed got ejected for arguing balls and strikes. The score was 13-2 at that time. I hope Mr. Porter is real proud of himself for entertaining all the people who came out to the ballpark to see him.

    Gimenez came in to replace Reed, because of course. At least Gimenez provided a light-hearted finish to this game by hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.

    The Twins experimented with the opener today, starting things off with Gabriel Moya. He gave up a two-run homer in the first. Zack Littell came in for the next four innings and gave up three runs, though only two were earned.

    Oh yeah, the Twins also committed three errors today.

    Tyler Duffey recorded only one out and gave up five runs (four earned). Alan Busenitz recorded two outs and gave up a run on a homer. Reed gave up a run before he got tossed and the Rangers scored five runs off Gimenez in the eighth.

    If you ask me, it’s a little bit bush league to have your guys swinging out of their shoes against Gimenez. On the other hand, I guess it’s pretty bush of the Twins to have him pitching in the first place, especially in September when there should be an abundance of arms.

    Jake Cave was a bright spot for the Twins, as he hit his 10th home run of the season. He’s now gone deep in three straight games and has has six homers in his last 13 games.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Mon at HOU, 1:10 pm CT: TBD
    Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT: TBD
    Wed at HOU, 7:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    TEX 7, MIN 4: Is Jose OK?
    MIN 10, TEX 7: Tex-plosion!
    CLE 5, MIN 3: Odorizzi Fades, Busenitz Blows It

    • Sep 02 2018 06:57 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  2. Q&A: Offseason Plans, Molitor's Status and Much More

    “with no immediate heir apparent at 2nd base, first base, catcher, and the need to bolster the 8th inning setup man and if things went well, I’d imagine front of rotation, how do you think the FO will fill those roles? There’s maybe 50/60 mil in payroll to play with, and all those prospects to dangle. It’s a huge roster turn over, can they get it all done in one offseason/up to all star break?”


    An Eduardo Escobar reunion makes so much sense. He can fill your opening at second base as well as provide insurance at third. I’m of the mind you can stick pretty much anybody over a first base. There will be plenty of options out there in free agency, but I’m also interested in what Tyler Austin can do. Max Kepler has experience there, though he’s also a borderline Gold Glove right fielder, so it may be a waste to put him at first. I believe LaMonte Wade played there some in college. Either way, I don’t think the Twins should be falling over themselves to bring Joe Mauer back. Still, a reunion would make a lot of sense, so I would project Mauer to be the Opening Day first baseman in 2019.

    I personally don’t see a huge need at catcher. I think a lot of teams would love to have a duo of Jason Castro and Mitch Garver, assuming Castro comes back healthy. Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos would be significant upgrades, but I feel like other teams are going to be more desperate to get them.

    I believe the front office made a strong effort to land Yu Darvish last year, but your big free agents just aren’t going to be jumping at the chance to come play in Minnesota. No matter how much money there is sitting around, guys aren’t coming here until this club has shown it’s a legit World Series contender. I think the front office can reload and put together a competitive roster over the offseason, but taking it to the next level would probably be delayed until the trade deadline.

    “Why Belisle? Rosario for real?”


    I’ve been blowing off so much steam about Matt Belisle on Twitter that Seth threatened to unfollow me over it :) I don’t have an answer to that question. My best guess is that the front office is trying to secure a better draft pick next year and they know Paul Molitor can’t resist using him. Now that Fernando Rodney has been traded, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Belisle becomes the closer once he’s activated off the DL. Yuck. The only thing I'm certain about when it comes to Belisile is he truly must be a really awesome guy.

    Eddie Rosario’s free-swinging tendencies are cause for concern, but I still have to say he’s absolutely for real. Since the start of last season, Rosie has hit .294/.333/.503 (.837 OPS) in 1,079 plate appearances. To put that into context, Justin Morneau had an .832 OPS in his time with the Twins. Eddie drives me nuts sometimes, but he’s also probably my favorite Twin now that Escobar is gone.

    “Do you really believe that Molitor is the manager who can take us to the WS?

    How big of a diffence do you think it will be between what the Twins could/should do and what they will actually do this off-season?

    What do you really think went on behind-the-scenes and in the clubhouse regarding the rumors about a toxic clubhouse?”

    -Carole Keller

    I think a manager’s impact on wins and losses is generally overstated, but no, I don’t have a lot of confidence that Molitor is a manager who could lead a team to a World Series title. That being said, Ned Yost did it … so anything’s possible. I'll circle back to Molly in just a sec.

    Taking a look at the free agents that are expected to be available, I’m not really sure what I think the Twins should do. I’m sure the expectation from the majority of the fan base will be that they go out and fill in the payroll to a level that’s similar to this year, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to attract any of the big names like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado and I don’t expect them to spend just for spending’s sake. I’d bet they have a savvy offseason, but get ripped to shreds for not bumping the payroll up higher.

    It’s tough to speculate on anything regarding the clubhouse from the outside in, but I think it has more to do with losing than anything. Losing sucks. The roster turnover couldn’t have helped either, and I’m not just talking about the new guys. Ervin Santana, Jason Castro, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco were all expected to be regulars. With those guys being out in combination with adding a crop of free agents who were mostly bitter about their lack of a market, it would be no surprise if there was some turbulence.

    Now that, however, is something I think a manager should be able to have an impact on. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that some of the players are frustrated by the front office turning the page, but that should be an issue that's addressed internally.

    I still don't think Molitor is going anywhere. It's clear ownership loves him, hard for me to see them moving on until maybe this time next season.

    “Will Odorizzi be back next year? Will Fernando Romero make the starting rotation out of spring training next year?”


    Yes, I would expect Jake Odorizzi to be in the 2019 rotation. He should be expected to perform at about a league-average level. You don’t just let a starting pitcher like that walk unless you’re trying to slash payroll. A lot of what happens with Romero will depend on how the next couple months play out, but I would predict that he’ll start next year in Triple A.

    At this point a year ago, it would have been really hard to envision a scenario in which Adalberto Mejia wasn’t going to be in the rotation for this year, but he’s only made four starts with the Twins. I could see something similar happening to Romero. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Romero was pushed into a multi-inning relief role, similar to how Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano got their feet wet in the bigs. But again, that’ll also depend on who they go out and add.

    “What should TD be paying you per game recap?”


    Well, how much would you pay me per game recap as a reader? Probably nothing. It’s really hard to make money on the Internet. I’ve contributed to a lot of other places online and this is by far the best situation I’ve been in. TD could probably make some more money if the site was bombarded with ads, like some other places, but I like things the way they are.

    “What's your favorite Target Field food?”


    I will often bring my own food into Target Field, but my go-to concession stand item is the Turkey to Go sandwich. I like how they have the seasonings and sauce at the stand so you can flavor it to your liking. A pretty simple item, but an old standby.

    “How many five year olds could you take in a fight before they overpower you?

    Be honest.”

    -Mr. Brooks

    Oh boy, probably not very many. I don’t think I’ve been in a fight since middle school and all five-year-olds do is fight. So even though I’m older, they’ve definitely got the upper hand in terms of experience. I’ve got the size and the strength, but the five-year-olds would have a considerable advantage in the stamina department.

    This was a real brainteaser, so I did what any responsible human would do in 2018 and looked it up on the Internet. It says I could take on 21 five-year-olds, but that sounds like a really high number to me. Since you specifically asked me to be honest, I’d say 11. That’s assuming we’re talking about 11 five-year olds who are really gung-ho about scrappin’.

    Alright, that's it from me. Thanks for reading, please add your two cents in the comments and let me know if you'd be interersted in similar Q&As becoming a regular feature here on the site.

    • Aug 11 2018 12:27 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  3. CLE 10, MIN 0: Who Needs Chris Gimenez?

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Kyle Gibson: 23 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 52.6% strikes
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: None
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Gibson -.238
    There were other, non-Mitch Garver pitching things that happened in tonight’s game, but I fear that if I go into much detail it may be deemed cruel and unusual.

    Here are the Twins’ hits: Jake Cave single, Logan Forsythe single, Jorge Polanco double and … nope, that’s it.

    Kyle Gibson had a rare rough night and Matt Belisle had his usual rough night. Gibson surrendered seven hits and Cleveland scored six runs, four earned over his five innings. Belisle gave up four more runs over his two innings.

    That puts Belisle up to 20 earned runs in 19 ⅔ innings with the Twins this season. Just for reference, that’s the same number of earned runs Taylor Rogers has allowed in 44 ⅔ innings this season.

    Belisle also needed a season-high 48 pitches to get through those two innings. The Twins will need to make a move tomorrow when they activate Matt Magill from paternity leave ...

    Postgame With Garver

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 62-49
    MIN 52-59 (-10)
    DET 47-65 (-15.5)
    CHW 41-70 (-21)
    KC 34-77 (-28)

    Next Three Game
    Tue at CLE, 6:10 pm CT: Adalberto Mejia vs. Carlos Carrasco
    Wed at CLE, 6:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Mike Clevinger
    Thu at CLE, 12:10 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Corey Kluber

    Last Three Games
    MIN 6, KC 5: Cave Slugs Grand Slam as Twins Sweep Royals
    MIN 8, KC 2: New Twins Ace Wins in Front of Old Twins Ace
    MIN 6, KC 4: Long Day at the Office

    • Aug 07 2018 04:32 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  4. CLE 6, MIN 2: Deadline Day Ends in Defeat

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Kyle Gibson: 53 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 58.2% strikes
    Home Runs: Logan Morrison (14)
    Multi-Hit Games: Max Kepler (2-for-4, 2B)
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Morrison .107
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Rosario -.127, Mauer -.133, Belisle -.202
    We’ll get back to the game in just a sec, but I have something more important to address first.

    Earlier today, Nick Nelson wrote a valuable piece as it relates to what to watch for moving forward. He noted seven particularly critical Twins players, but I’ve got something else I wanted to pass along that’s worth watching: I think Kyle Gibson may be growing a mustache (maybe). I dunno, you tell me …

    OK, back to the action. Gibson exited this game with the Twins tailing 3-2 after six innings. In came Matt Belisle. Gulp.

    Of the six batters Belisle faced, three of them got hits and another was intentionally walked. He gave up two earned runs on three hits and got two outs. Belisle has now surrendered 16 earned runs in 17 ⅔ innings with the Twins.

    On the positive side, there were a couple of noteworthy comebacks out of the bullpen. Addison Reed made his first appearance with the Twins since July 10. He pitched a scoreless inning … but also topped out at 90.4 mph.

    Trevor May pitching in the major leagues for the first time since September 11, 2016. He gave up a run on a pair of hits over his inning of work and clocked in as high as 95.6 mph.

    Jose Ramirez was just incredible, as he has been all year for Cleveland. He was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, three RBIs and a stolen base.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 58-48
    MIN 49-57 (-9)
    DET 46-62 (-13)
    CHW 37-68 (-20.5)
    KC 32-73 (-25.5)

    Next Three Games
    Wed vs. CLE, 12:10 pm CT: Adalberto Mejia vs. Carlos Carrasco
    Thu: Off
    Fri at KC, 7:10 pm CT: TBD
    Sat at KC, 6:10 pm CTL TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 5, CLE 4: Awesome Sauce!
    BOS 3, MIN 0: Fenway Free Fall Continues
    BOS 10, MIN 4: Twins Blow Lead in Spectacular Fashion

    • Aug 01 2018 04:30 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  5. BOS 4, MIN 3: No Escobar, but at Least We Still Have Belisle

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 53 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 63.1% strikes
    Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco (2-for-4, R, BB), Eddie Rosario (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBIs)
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Rosario .423
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Cave -.105, Dozier -.170, Garver -.190, Rodney -.279, Belisle -350
    Let’s go around the horn …

    First Base
    Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before:

    There’s all sorts of rules regarding how/when a catcher can block the plate, but I don’t ever remember having to thumb through the rulebook to figure out the rules on first basemen sitting on the bag.

    Second Base

    Lance Lynn has definitely transformed back into a dependable starting pitcher. I mean, if the Twins were to try and acquire a guy like that, I’d definitely give up, say, a top 100 prospect.

    Was that good? Alright, now let’s blast this out to the other 29 team in baseball :)

    Seriously though, Lynn did look good. He only walked one batter over six innings. The only runs he gave up were on a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr.

    Third Base
    As in Eddie Rosario played third base. Yep, for real. With the Eduardo Escobar trade, the Twins were forced to play with a two-man bench. Joe Mauer pinch hit for Ehire Adrianza in the eighth inning. In the bottom of the frame, Joe took over at first, Logan Morrison moved out to left field and Eddie came in to play third.

    Guess what? Rosie is the GREATEST THIRD BASEMAN OF ALL TIME!

    With the Twins trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel walked Robbie Grossman and Jorge Polanco. Down to their last out, Rosario blasted one off the monster to plate both runners, giving the Twins the lead.

    That was awesome, but this … this play blew my mind:

    Honestly, how many actual major league third basemen can make that play?

    Home Plate
    Paul Molitor went to Fernando Rodney in the ninth. It was the fourth time he was being asked to pitch in five days. Just some background on Mr. Rodney: He has a human arm. Not some kind of a robot arm, I just want to make that clear. He’s also roughly as old as Paul Molitor, soooo ...

    The Twins should probably be happy that he only gave up one run in the ninth, forcing this game into extra innings. That meant we got to see 38-year-old Matt Belisle, who had thrown 54 pitches the previous four days. What could go wrong?

    … Oh ...

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 56-46
    MIN 48-54 (-8)
    DET 44-61 (-13.5)
    CHW 36-66 (-20)
    KC 31-71 (-25)

    Next Three Games
    Sat at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Rick Porcello
    Sun at BOS, 12:05 pm CT: TBD vs. Nathan Eovaldi
    Mon vs. CLE, 7:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 2, BOS 1: Gibby the Great
    MIN 12, TOR 6: More Like Er-win Sweep-tana!!!
    MIN 5, TOR 0: All-Star, Indeed

    • Jul 27 2018 09:16 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  6. MIN 12, TOR 6: More Like Er-win Sweep-tana!!!

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Ervin Santana: 50 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 61.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
    Lineup: 6-for-17 w/RISP, 12 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Garver .396, Kepler .364, Belisle .289, Duke .140
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Morrison -.143, Hildenberger -.408
    Let’s go around the horn …

    First Base
    It’s great to see Ervin back, and his 2018 debut has to be considered a success. After a much longer recovery than expected followed by some concerning reports throughout the early stages of his minor league rehab assignment, Santana didn’t pitch a gem but he gave his team a chance to win.

    Santana topped out at 91.1 mph, but relied heavily on his offspeed stuff. According to Baseball Savant, only 25 of his 97 pitches were fastballs. He threw 37 changeups and 35 sliders. Last season, Ervin averaged 93.1 mph on his four-seamer and only threw his changeup 10.3 percent of the time.

    It’ll be really interesting to follow Santana’s pitch usage, but as a veteran who’s had to make plenty of adjustments over his career, one would think he can still be an asset even without his best stuff going.

    Second Base
    Trevor Hildenberger’s having a weird year. He gave up three earned runs in an inning of work today, coughing up the lead in the eighth inning in the process. He’s now given up 21 earned runs this season, 11 of which have come in three particularly ugly appearances. But hey, he’s been pretty awesome in those other 44 games.

    It was all OK, because the Twins were bailed out by ... Matt Belisle? Wait, that can’t be right.

    OK, so Matty B pitched his way into trouble and then was aided by terrible baserunning by Kendrys Morales, but he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning. And he wasn’t done! Belisle came back out for the 10th, gave up a leadoff single, but again worked a scoreless inning.

    Just gonna go ahead and pencil Matt Belisle into my projected 2019 Minnesota Twins bullpen right now.

    Third Base
    Max Kepler, well ... he had a bad moment.

    Apparently Max didn’t inherit those dancer’s feet :) Kepler drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning with a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Maybe not the most heroic way to pick up the game-winning RBI, but whatever works.

    The crazy part was the Twins just kept scoring in the 11th inning, thanks in large part to ...

    Home Plate
    Mitch Garver. He was the heartbeat of the Twins offense today. Garver singled to drive in the Twins first run in the second inning, hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth, added an RBI single in the eighth inning and then delivered a two-run double in the 11th.

    Garver entered this game having hit .308 with an .868 OPS over his previous 30 games. It was also great to see things work out so that Mitch was catching Santana’s first game back. Forming a battery with such a veteran is only going to help Garver’s development behind the plate.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 55-46
    MIN 47-53 (-7.5)
    DET 44-60 (-12.5)
    CHW 36-64 (-18.5)
    KC 31-70 (-24)

    Next Three Games
    Thu at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Brian Johnson
    Fri at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: Lance Lynn vs. Chris Sale
    Sat at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 5, TOR 0: All-Star, Indeed
    MIN 8, TOR 3: Twins Cruise Over Toronto
    KC 5, MIN 3: Royals Sweep Twins, Butera Hits Inside-the-Park Homer (Seriously)

    • Jul 25 2018 07:16 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. CHW 8, MIN 4: South Side Slip

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Lance Lynn: 45 Game Score, 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 K, 1 BB, 65.6% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
    Lineup: 1-for-1 w/RISP, 2 LOB
    Top three per WPA: Adrianza .230, Dozier .069, Cave .017
    Lynn ended up failing to record an out in the sixth, loading the bases on a bunch of weak contact prior to being lifted for Ryan Pressly, who promptly walked Tim Anderson on five pitches to force home a run.

    Later that inning, Taylor Rogers gave up a two-run single that put Chicago up 5-4. The Twins ended up using four pitchers that inning, as Alan Busenitz came in to record the third out.

    Unfortunately, Busenitz game up a leadoff homer in the seventh and another run came across while he was on the mound in the eighth after a single, a hit by pitch, an error and another single.

    Then Matt Belisle came in and walked in another run. And that was just the pitching!

    Ehire Adrianza had a good night, going 2-for-3 with a homer and Brian Dozier hit his 11th home run of the season, but the offense struggled. The team combined for six hits and a walk. They only had one at bat with a runner in scoring position all night.

    After that nightmare sixth inning that saw the White Sox take the lead, the bats combined to go 0-for-9 with four strikeouts.

    Postgame With Molitor

    AL Central Standings
    CLE 43-35
    MIN 34-41 (-7.5)
    DET 36-44 (-8)
    CHW 27-51 (-16)
    KC 24-55 (-19.5)

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Next Three Games
    Wed at CHW, 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. James Shields
    Thu at CHW, 1:10 pm CT: TBD vs. Lucas Giolito
    Fri at CHC, 4:05 pm pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    TEX 9, MIN 6: Odorizzi Lays an Egg
    TEX 8, MIN 1: Circling the Drain

    See Also
    Twins Minor League Report (6/26): Thorpe Dominant, Miranda Slams
    What Fernando Rodney Experience?
    The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano

    • Jun 26 2018 11:43 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  8. BOS 9, MIN 2: There Go Those Shiny Pitching Stats

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Kyle Gibson: 49 Game Score, 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB, 61.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 1 BB
    Lineup: 0-for-2 w/RISP, 3 LOB
    Bottom three per WPA: Pressly -.143, Mauer -.085, Grossman -.072
    This game didn’t end well, but you can’t be too sore about the Twins taking two out of three from Boston. Speaking of sore, the bigger concern at the moment is some ailing Twins. Just think, what’s the worst thing that could happen to this offense right now? Being Ed-less, right?

    Well, Eddie Rosario was scratched from this game due to shoulder soreness and Eduardo Escobar was forced to leave after he was hit by a pitch. The good news is it sounds like Paul Molitor expects Rosie to be available tomorrow and Escobar only suffered a bruised elbow and is considered day-to-day.

    Down their two hottest hitters, there was little the Twins could muster against Rick Porcello. He pitched seven one-hit innings. Altogether, the Twins got only four hits and scored both of their runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    It was too bad, because Gibby pitched well once again. He got into some trouble, giving up seven hits while walking three batters and hitting another, but limited the damage to two runs over six innings. He’s now given up two or fewer runs in 10 of his 15 starts on the season. He also accomplished that feat 10 times in 2017, but that was in 29 starts.

    Entering this game, the Twins hadn’t given up more than six runs all month and the pitching staff had a 3.17 ERA, good for sixth best in the league. The bullpen had been particularly strong in June, ranking fourth in all of baseball with a 2.60 ERA.

    Ryan Pressly was charged with three earned runs while recording only one out and Matt Belisle also gave up three runs in his inning of work. Matt Magill even gave up a run.

    Molitor has already demoted Addison Reed from setup duties, at least temporarily, so Pressly’s continued struggles are especially worrisome. He hit a snag earlier this month and gave up two earned runs in three consecutive appearances. But since that bump, Pressly had strung together three scoreless innings in a row. Just when you thought he might be out of the woods, another rough outing pops up.

    Pressly closed out May with a 2.22 ERA on the season, but so far this month he’s surrendered nine earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings. On the other hand, Magill hadn’t surrendered a run in more than nine innings. He gave up a run on three hits in the ninth inning.

    It was a disappointing end to what had been a great series for the Twins. Next up, Texas comes to town. The Rangers are off to a poor start, but carry a five-game winning streak into Target Field.

    AL Central Standings
    CLE 40-33
    DET 36-39 (-5)
    MIN 33-38 (-6)
    CHW (24-49 (-16)
    KC 22-52 (-18.5)

    Next Three Games
    Fri vs. TEX, 7:10 pm CT: Mike Minor vs. Fernando Romero
    Sat vs. TEX, 1:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs. Jake Odorizzi
    Sun vs. TEX, 2:10 pm CT: Bartolo Colon vs. Jose Berrios

    Last Three Games
    MIN 4, BOS 1: For Grossman and Kepler, The Price Was Right
    MIN 6, BOS 2: Bats Get to Boston Bullpen
    CLE 4, MIN 1: Lots of Traffic, Just One Run

    • Jun 21 2018 08:17 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  9. Twins Sign Belisle: What Does This Mean?

    When the news came out that the Twins had signed Matt Belisle, my level of surprise was fairly low. I don’t know why. It just seems like what we would have always deemed a “Twins” type of move. The DFAing of Petit was also not a surprise.

    But as I gave it more thought, my mind raced in several different directions, and at the end of the day, I’m much calmer, but I can’t say that the move makes any more sense than it did eight hours ago. It still begs several questions.

    1.) What Does Matt Belisle Have Left?

    Matt Belisle got off to a very slow start last year with the Minnesota Twins, but he turned it on in the second half. He pitched well and did a nice job as the Twins closer after the Brandon Kintzler trade at the deadline.

    Late in the offseason, he signed a one year, $1.5 million deal with Cleveland. He made the Opening Day roster. He began the season with three scoreless outings before giving up runs in his next three outings. He responded with two scoreless outings. Cleveland DFAd him. Belisle became a free agent, but soon re-signed with the team. He was released on Sunday and signed with the Twins on Tuesday.

    In his 10 2/3 innings, he posted a 5.06 ERA. He walked one and struck out just four. In nine outings (and also 10 2/3 innings) for Triple-A Columbus, Belisle posted a 4.22 ERA with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

    In other words, he shouldn’t be a late-inning reliever, but the 38-year-old can probably be a solid big league pitcher still.

    2.) What Does It Say About The Front Office’s Opinion of the AAA Relievers?

    This was my first thought, and I know it was the thought of many others. First and foremost, it is inexplicable to me that Alan Busenitz isn’t pitching in the big leagues. Of course, that was my opinion before the Belisle signing. He pitched well late in the 2017 season for the Twins and became a reliable arm for Paul Molitor.

    While Busenitz didn’t make the Opening Day roster, he was promoted in mid-April. He then pitched in four of the next six games. The Twins were struggling and needed arms, so Busenitz was sent back to Rochester. In 14 games for the Red Wings, He has posted a 0.38 ERA. In 24 innings, he has given up 15 hits, walked five and struck out 28. The 27-year-old has nothing to prove in AAA, and he still have some upside.

    But Busenitiz isn’t the only reliever in Rochester who has to be wondering what the Twins front office is thinking.

    • Tyler Duffey was just sent down over the weekend to make room for outfielder Jake Cave. Duffey had pitched well in limited duty since being called back up. That said, it did make sense to want a fourth bench bat. So, three days later, adding a bullpen arm and going back to three bench bats has to make him think. In 26 innings over 11 outings for the Red Wings, Duffey has posted a 1.38 ERA. He’s walked seven and struck out 26 batters.
    • John Curtiss has the pitches to be a dominant reliever. While his short stay with the Twins earlier this season wasn’t pretty, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) limit anyone’s idea of his potential. Coming into Tuesday, he had a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. In that time, he had 31 strikeouts, but ten walks.
    • Luke Bard has 19 strikeouts and six walks in his 17 innings (11 games) since his return to the Red Wings after his stint with the Los Angeles Angels. His big fastball, slider and spin rates are pretty much big league ready.
    • Nick Anderson has given up nine earned runs in his last three outings (2 2/3 innings) which raised his season ERA from 1.16 to 4.15. So, as rough as this current “slump” is, it’s important to think about the first 14 games and 23 1/3 innings. In his 26 innings, he has walked 12 and struck out 39.
    • Jake Reed remains in the organization. He missed time earlier in the year and has struggled somewhat in his return. In his 15 2/3 innings over ten outings, he has walked seven and struck out 14 batters.
    • While he’s left-handed, Gabriel Moya has also pitched well in his five weeks with the Red Wings after being optioned at the end of April. He’s posted a 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. In that time, he has walked eight and struck out 29 batters.
    • Trevor May is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. As his rehab stint ended, the Twins optioned him to Rochester and he has worked out of the bullpen since. At some point, he’ll be ready as well.
    That is a lot of quality options who all were just told that they have been pushed down the line another spot with the Belisle signing.

    The team likely calls it "depth." Hopefully the players will consider it a challenge. The other option is that they get overly upset and don't handle it well.

    3.) What Kind of Leader is Belisle? (And What Kind of Leadership Does This Twins Team Need?)

    Matt Belisle likely isn’t going to be a difference maker for the Twins bullpen (which, frankly, has been pretty solid most of the season). The Twins have pitchers at Rochester who are just as talented, if not more talented, and younger. What we keep hearing is that the Twins are bringing in Belisle for his leadership in the clubhouse.

    Fair enough. There were plenty of good stories in 2017 about the role Belisle played for the team, particularly in a leadership role.

    However, when the Twins signed Fernando Rodney, there was some conversation about him being brought in as a leader for the pitchers. Then Zack Duke was signed, and we heard about how great of a teammate he is. And, when they signed Addison Reed, his leadership was again mentioned.

    I don’t mean to downplay the value of veteran leadership. It is important. But there are a lot of veterans, and there are a lot of veterans who are touted as leaders, and there are several indications that the clubhouse is not a happy place right now. There are issues. The team is five games under .500, not at all where they felt they would be at this point,

    Can Matt Belisle’s leadership push the Twins to more wins? That is to be determined. Can he help the Twins offense score more runs? That would also be helpful. As would getting more of the regulars back on the field and healthy.


    So at the end of the day, this is a minor move. Matt Belisle probably has a little left in the tank. Maybe he can help out. Maybe he can eat some of the innings that are currently constantly going to Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly so that they don’t reach 100 games pitched this year. Trevor Hildenberger is starting to take more and more of those opportunities, and Matt Magill has pitched well enough to earn those opportunities as well.

    We have also seen what Paul Molitor likes from his bullpen. He trusts Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly. In the first half last year, he trusted Taylor Rogers and ran him into the ground by the second half. We saw that somewhat in the second half last year when he used Trevor Hildenberger most every day over the final couple of months. My guess is that Molitor will not be afraid to use Matt Belisle late in games because of how well he did in the role last year. Trust.

    I also suspect that this is one move that the front office is giving Molitor and the team, a veteran, in an attempt to win this year. The trade deadline is about seven weeks away. By mid-July, the front office will have some big decisions to make. Most important, will they believe that the Twins could still make the playoffs this year? As Nick wrote yesterday, it’s not yet time to give up on this year.

    What this signing appears to me to be, in the big picture, is a message to the team and its veterans that they have a little over a month to turn things around and put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot. If not, all bets are off and at that time, we can start discussing which veterans could be on the trading block and which players will come up to take their places.

    • Jun 13 2018 04:51 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  10. Do The Twins Need A Proven Closer?

    The 2017 Twins season was, in some ways, a banner example of the closer label's fungibility.

    In the past, Minnesota has been guilty of vastly overrating the importance of ninth-inning experience, to its own detriment (*coughMATTCAPPScough*). But this past season, we saw Brandon Kintzler, a veteran with zero career MLB saves prior to overtaking the role midway through 2016, excel as an extremely reliable door-slammer. He converted 28 of 32 saves and made the All-Star team before being traded to Washington.

    Good reliever = fine closer.

    After Kintzler went to the Nationals, Belisle took over in the ninth. The 37-year-old had never in his career served as a regular closer. During the final two months, he converted nine of 11 saves.

    Good reliever = fine closer.

    These instances seem to confirm something most of us already knew: there's nothing supernatural about pitching in the ninth inning. And with this in mind, the urgency of adding a reliever with such experience during the offseason is lowered. The Twins have at least one player who could plausibly open the 2018 season as closer, with others in line to get a shot in the near future.



    Trevor Hildenberger: Hildenberger was fantastic as a rookie in 2017, with his stellar mix of strikeouts and grounders proving extremely reliable. He rose to the occasion time and time again in big spots. He got both righties and lefties out. And he has plenty of experience closing in the minors. But he's also 26 with only 42 innings logged in the big leagues. This, too, is problematic: pigeonholing him in the ninth stops him from being available to Paul Molitor in those key mid-game high-leverage spots where Hildenberger was a godsend this year.

    I'm not sure you can make a strong case for anyone else internally being ready to take on the closer job now. But as soon as mid-season in 2018, several others could emerge as legit options.


    Tyler Duffey: The 2017 season was a frustrating one for Duffey, who flashed overpowering stuff at times and posted solid peripherals (3.72 FIP) but could never get into a prolonged groove in terms of results. It's important to remember, though, that he hadn't previously pitched out of the bullpen since 2013 and was in the Twins rotation mix all the way up until the end of spring camp. If he prepares for 2018 as a reliever, and comes back with an extra tick or two on his fastball to complement his power curve, he's certainly got the makings of a closer. He was a dominant one in college at Rice University.

    JT Chargois: Duffey's co-closer at Rice has been on the path to a late-inning role in the majors ever since being drafted, and looks to me like a closer in waiting. He has the pedigree and potency, no doubt. But he lost almost his entire 2017 campaign to an elbow injury, so he'll need to come back and prove himself effective before any kind of high-leverage assignment is on the table.

    Ryan Pressly: It was a weird year for Pressly. You look at so many elements of his game and see the profile of someone who could close. His fastball burns in at 96 with a complementary slider at 90. His 3.2 K/BB ratio, 1.16 WHIP, and 50% grounder rate all signaled a quality bullpen weapon. If he could translate his second-half performance (2.62 ERA, .582 opp OPS) over a full season he'd be a perfectly suitable closer. But he's gotten in his own way too often to be counted on. A sustained run of setup excellence in April and May next year could change the narrative.

    Gabriel Moya: Acquired for John Ryan Murphy in a late-July trade, Moya had a phenomenal season closing at Double-A, saving 24 games with a 0.77 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, plus a 13.4 K/9 rate. The stuff played in his first taste of the majors, producing a 12.4% swinging strike rate (tied with Pressly for highest in pen) and holding opponents to a .206 average, albeit in a small sample of seven appearances. He performed very well against righties. Moya is definitely a sleeper for the gig but won't be in the mix until midseason.

    Tyler Jay: The true sleeper in this discussion. Like Chargois, Jay endured a lost season in 2017, but now he's back in the Arizona Fall League and proving he's healthy. After dealing with shoulder and neck issues again this summer, there were rumblings he'd need thoracic outlet surgery, but has repeatedly tested negative for that condition. Like Chargois, he has the stuff and pedigree; it's just a matter of staying healthy and showing what he can do.

    The six players listed above are realistic candidates to be good relievers, and as our earlier arithmetic suggests: Good reliever = fine closer.

    But no matter how much you want to downplay it, there is an added element when it comes to pitching in the ninth. There's unique pressure as a hurler faces the reality that small mistakes can turn a win into a loss very quickly.

    Any team, especially one with an offense like Minnesota's, can bounce back from a bullpen hiccup in the middle innings. When you're at the very end of the game? Not so much. Kintzler and Belisle converting a combined 86% of their save chances is an underrated factor in Minnesota's 2017 success, and the Twins need to try to replicate that efficacy in late lead protection.

    While neither Kintzler nor Belisle had history as a closer, or even a particularly dominant relief pitcher, they did have this arguably essential attribute: lots of experience in the big leagues.

    So if the Twins want to hold off on anointing one of the relatively inexperienced relievers as closer, it would make sense to find at least an interim veteran plug. Ideally, they'd do so without paying the premium for closer experience.

    Who on this year's market could be the next Kintzler? In our upcoming 2018 Offseason Handbook (preorder now!), we lay out the free agent reliever landscape. Wade Davis, of course, sits at the top of the pack, and is really the only bona fide "Proven Closer" in the group. Others like Seung-hwan Oh and Fernando Rodney have the experience but are somewhat shaky bets.

    These are some names that catch my eye as I survey what's going to be out there:

    Brandon Kintzler, RHP: If you're looking for a Brandon Kintzler type, you could always sign... Brandon Kintzler. The Twins will have an opportunity to re-sign the 33-year-old right-hander after sending him to Washington for the final two months of the season. He's familiar and well liked in the clubhouse. But they'd also be buying high on a guy coming off his best MLB season – also a season where his 4.9 K/9 rate ranked third-lowest out of 155 qualified relievers.

    Steve Cishek, RHP: Cishek has a very similar profile to Hildenberger. He's a right-handed sidearmer who gets lots of ground balls and strikeouts. He has been a very consistent performer over the course of his career, with an ERA+ of 109 or above in each of his seven seasons. Though he served exclusively in a setup role for the Mariners and Rays this year, the 31-year-old has plenty of closing experience with 121 saves and an 83% conversion rate in the big leagues. The distinguished track record will make him a pricey commodity.

    Jake McGee, LHP: There are many things to like about McGee. He's a strikeout pitcher with excellent control (four times as many K's as walks in his career). He's a left-hander who shuts down righties. He has experience in the ninth inning (44 saves), as well as in the playoffs (six postseason appearances). He's been durable and fairly reliable. It'd take a sizable multi-year deal to get him, but the 31-year-old could be a great veteran anchor in a young bullpen going forward.

    Luke Gregerson, RHP: Over the course of his career – spent with the Padres, A's and Astros – Gregerson has mostly been a fantastic reliever. But he's coming off his worst season, so it's possible he could be had at a relative discount. In the Offseason Handbook, we suggest Gregerson could be viewed as a "rich man's Belisle." He's got tons of experience (623 MLB appearances) and has a rep as a strong clubhouse guy, but he also has been much better all-around, and gets tons of strikeouts with a heavily deployed slider.

    Koji Uehara, RHP: It's entirely possible that Uehara decides to hang up the cleats. He turns 43 next April, and had the second half of his 2017 season ruined by knee and back issues. But if he wants to give it one more go, he'd be a welcome addition for the Twins on a one-year deal. When healthy, he's as reliable as they come, and was lights-out in the first half this year. He could hold down the closer role until one of the young guys emerges.

    What's your view of the closer situation as we head into the offseason? Are you comfortable with an internal option? Would you aim high for a name like Wade Davis? Or does one of the other free agents listed (or another) make more sense to you?

    • Oct 22 2017 07:45 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  11. MIN 3, TOR 2: Buxton Blasts Walk-Off HR

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    Might as well get right to it, here’s video of the walk-off homer:

    I think these guys are going to need some more Dubble Bubble. What a moment for Buxton. This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes being a fan so much fun. We’ve watched this young man endure a lot of difficulties and make countless adjustments. All those struggles make a moment like that all the more sweet.

    Jorge Polanco drove in the Twins first two runs with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning. Jose Berrios held the Blue Jays to one run on five hits over 5.2 innings. He walked four batters and had five strikeouts. Buddy Boshers (0.1 IP), Alan Busenitz (0.1), Trevor Hildenberger (1.0 IP) and Taylor Rogers (0.2 IP) combined for 2.1 shutout innings. Hildy struck out all three men he faced.

    Here’s where we get to the daily "complain about bunting" section of the recap. Seems like I can’t get through one of these things without bringing up the “b” word.

    With the Twins leading 2-1, Buxton opened the eighth inning by drawing a walk. Eddie Rosario laid down a sac bunt, but Toronto committed a throwing error that allowed Rosie to reach safely. With two on and nobody out, Kennys Vargas was due up.

    Given that Rosario bunted with a runner on first and no out, this seemed like a gimme that Paul Molitor would be bunting with two on and no outs. Zack Granite, among others, was available off the bench if needed. Instead, Vargas hit into a double play.

    If you’ve been keeping up with the game recaps, you know I’m not a fan of bunting. But there definitely are situations in which it makes more sense than others. Having an opportunity to get a man on third base with one out in the eighth inning of a one-run game is probably among the strongest arguments one could make for bunting. And we know Molitor LOVES bunting, so it’s especially odd that wasn’t the play there.

    It almost feels like Molitor is managing just by his gut, because there doesn’t seem to be any logic to why you’d have Rosario bunt, but not the next batter. There's also an argument to be made that they should’ve just had Buxton attempt to steal second in the first place. He is 25-for-26 on stolen base attempts this year.

    Anyway, the Twins did not score that inning. Belisle blew the save in the next half inning and it was feeling like that was huge blunder. Thank goodness Buxton delivered and just made that whole fiasco something we can have fun bantering about as opposed to having a discussion that would give the excellent moderators here (thanks for everything, by the way) a whole lotta cleanup work.

    AL Wild Card Standings
    Cleveland will never lose a game ever again. I don’t wanna talk about it.

    WC1: Yankees 80-66 (+3.0)
    WC2: Twins 77-69
    Angels 74-72 (-3.0)
    Seattle 74-73 (-3.5)

    Postgame With Buxton

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Fri: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Blue Jays (J.A. Happ), 7:10 pm CT
    Sat: Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 6:10 pm CT
    Sun: Twins (Kyle Gibson) vs. Blue Jays (Joe Biagini), 1:10 pm CT

    Looking Back
    MIN 3, SDP 1: Rosario Hits Walk-Off HR in 10th Inning
    MIN 16, SDP 0: MIN 16, SDP 0: Twins Hit 7 HRs, Set New Record
    KC 11, MIN 3: Big Dud from Big Sexy & Co.

    • Sep 15 2017 06:08 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  12. MIN 3, SDP 1: Rosario Hits Walk-Off HR in 10th Inning

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)

    We knew it was unlikely the Twins would explode for double-digit runs again, but one night after slugging seven homers they really struggled to scratch across runs. Their lone run prior to extras came in the second inning. Rosario hit a leadoff double. He scored, but it was thanks to a wild pitch followed by a throwing error.

    The first inning ended with a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out. Jorge Polanco, who had a full count, watched strike three go by and Joe Mauer was easily thrown out trying to steal. Polanco led off the fourth inning with a single, which was followed by an Eddie Rosario walk. But Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Eduardo Escobar were retired in order.

    The Twins got their lead off man aboard again in the sixth, as Mauer singled. Polanco bunted him over to second, but that’s as far as Mauer would go. Again, Polanco was the number three hitter tonight. He bunted. This is a regular thing now, I guess.

    In the seventh, the Twins once again got their leadoff man on. Kepler singled, Escobar followed suit and Jason Castro was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. Robbie Grossman grounded into a double play and Brian Dozier struck out to end the threat.

    In the eighth, Polanco hit a one-out single and Buxton dropped a bunt for a two-out hit. With a tough lefty in Brad Hand on the mound, Ehire Adrianza pinch hit for Kepler (.129/.198/.168 vs LHP this season), but could not deliver.

    But this team, as it has all year, just kept fighting. As much fun as I like to poke at Paul Molitor for the ridiculous bunting, his club has clearly taken heart to his message of no retreat, no surrender. Mauer hit a one-out single in the 10th before Rosario ended it with two down.

    Postgame With Rosario

    The Yankees beat Tampa Bay, and remain 3.0 games in front of the Twins. At the time this published, the Twins held a 2.5 game advantage over the Angels, but they were beating the Astros 9-0.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Thu: Twins (Jose Berrios) vs. Blue Jays (Brett Anderson), 7:10 pm CT
    Fri: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Blue Jays (J.A. Happ), 7:10 pm CT
    Sat: Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 6:10 pm CT

    Looking Back
    MIN 16, SDP 0: Twins Hit 7 HRs, Set New Record
    KC 11, MIN 3: Big Dud from Big Sexy & Co.
    KC 5, MIN 2: Molitor Pushes All the Wrong Buttons in Loss

    • Sep 14 2017 07:53 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  13. MIN 4, KC 2: Comeback Complete

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    Jorge Polanco … the team’s No. 3 hitter tonight … the guy who has an OPS over 1.000 since the start of August … was asked to bunt with no outs in the eighth. The Twins would end up not scoring.

    The very next inning, however, Polanco was given a chance to hit and delivered the go-ahead two-run single after Brian Dozier tied things up with a sac fly. All’s well that ends well.

    Kyle Gibson had another strong start, though it was in an unconventional way. He went 7.0 innings and held the Royals to two runs despite not striking out a single batter. Nobody in the bullpen recorded a strikeout, either. The Royals, who are still notorious for their ability to put the ball in play, hit into four double plays.

    It’s easy for late-season hot streaks to go unappreciated. Gibby still has a 5.19 ERA on the year, but coming into tonight he had been among the better starting pitchers in the AL since the All-Star break. It’s true.

    In his previous seven starts, Gibson had a 3.29 ERA, was 10th in FIP (3.11) among all pitchers and 11th in WAR (1.3) among AL pitchers (min. 40 IP). After watching Kyle throw more than 700 innings with the Twins now, I think we can safely say we know who he is, but there’s no denying the guy is on a great hot streak right now. It’s coming at a great time.

    Belisle has also had quite the turnaround, but he had actually given up four earned runs over his previous six innings pitched prior to tonight’s game. Even with the expanded bullpen, he’s such a pivotal guy. It was great to see him turn in a 1-2-3 ninth.

    Joe Mauer was on base five times tonight. He had a double, two singles and a pair of walks. Robbie Grossman hit his ninth homer of the season, Max Kepler stole his sixth base and Trevor Hildenberger picked up his third win.

    This victory put the Twins back in the second wild card spot. They lead the Angels, who were off today, by one game. Baltimore is two back after losing to the Yankees and Texas trails by 2.5 games. Cleveland won its 15th-straight game. Wow. They’ve really run away with the division.

    Postgame With Gibson

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Fri: Twins (Ervin Santana) at Kansas City (Ian Kennedy), 7:15 pm CT
    Sat: Twins (Jose Berrios) at Kansas City (Jake Junis), 6:15 pm CT
    Sun: Twins (Bartolo Colon) at Kansas City (Jason Vargas), 1:15 pm CT

    Looking Back
    Wed: MIN 10, TB 6: Twins Prevail Thanks to Big Error
    Tue: TB 2, MIN 0: Too Little, Too Late
    Mon: TB 11, MIN 4: Bullpen Lets Game Get Out of Hand

    • Sep 08 2017 04:31 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  14. MIN 5, CHW 4: Twins Win on Walk-Off HBP

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    On his second pitch on the ninth, Belisle gave up a crushing go-ahead homer to Alen Hanson. He also walked the next batter, but to his credit Belisle righted the ship and struck out three of the next four batters he faced to limit the damage. There was an intentional walk in the middle of those K's. You never like to see your closer (are we calling him that?) give up a go-ahead home run in the ninth, but at least he didn’t completely unravel.

    With David Robertson traded away, the White Sox have a lot of uncertainty in the back end of their bullpen, too. Juan Minaya, who entered the game with three career saves, coughed up the lead in the bottom of the ninth. Ehire Adrianza led off the inning with a pinch-hit single. Zack Granite popped out on a bunt attempt for the first out, but thank goodness in the end it didn’t matter. Brian Dozier walked, Rosario hit a game-tying single and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases.

    Jorge Polanco hit the first pitch he saw back to the pitcher for the second out. That’s when the Kepler heroics happened. Well, maybe that’s overselling it a bit. The very first pitch of the at-bat, an 88 mph slider, hit Max to give the Twins yet another August win. It looked like it got him squarely on the back shin, but Max was able to jog down to first and participate in the victory celebration. Kepler also hit a game-tying RBI double in the fifth inning.

    It was an odd day for Bartolo. Typically a wizard at coaxing “good” contact, Colon gave up 10 hits. Also weird: he struck out a season-high eight batters. At the end of the day, that combination resulted in a quality start (6.0 IP, 3 ER). Alan Busenitz pitched two shutout innings before Belisle gave up the run in the ninth.

    The Twins got some great news on Byron Buxton. His hand injury is merely considered day-to-day, a bruise of the hamate bone.

    Cleveland was off, so the Twins are now 6.5 games back in the division. The Yankees won, but the Orioles finally lost. So the Twins remain a game back of New York for the first Wild Card and are 1.5 games up on the Angels for the second spot. Baltimore is 2.5 back. The next teams trail the Twins by four games. The crowd has started to thin out.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Fri: Twins (Dillon Gee) vs. Royals (Jason Hammel), 7:10 pm CT
    Sat: Twins (Kyle Gibson) vs. Royals (TBD), 6:10 pm CT
    Sun: Twins (Ervin Santana) vs. Royals (TBD), 1:10 pm CT

    Looking Back
    MIN 11, CHW 1: Rosario Hits 2 HRs, Buxton Exits With Injury
    MIN 6, CHW 4: Polanco Does it All
    MIN 7, TOR 2: Buxton Hits 3 Homers, Twins Win Series at Toronto

    • Aug 31 2017 09:47 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. MIN 6, CHW 4: Polanco Does it All

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    What a terror Jorge has been against Chicago. Seven of Polanco’s nine home runs this season have come against the White Sox. He made another special memory against them tonight, as it was the first multi-homer game of Polanco’s career -- hitting one from each side.

    Every hitter in the lineup reached base safely at least once for the Twins. Ervin Santana put together a quality start, limiting the White Sox to three runs over 6.2 innings. He hasn’t given up four or more runs in seven-straight starts.

    Trevor Hildenberger was the first man out of the bullpen, which was a bit surprising considering the fact that Hildy had pitched in five of the team’s last six games. And since his debut on June 23, only 15 relievers have logged more innings than Hildenberger’s 28.1 heading into tonight. He allowed a runner he inherited from Ervin to score, but ended up recording four outs, all on strikeouts.

    Matt Belisle gave up a run in the ninth, but secured his fifth save of the season. That matches his career total entering this year.

    The Twins still trail Cleveland by 6.5 games in the division. At the conclusion of their game, the Twins were just 2.5 games back of the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot and 1.5 games up on both Baltimore and the Angels, though Anaheim’s game was in progress.

    Postgame With Polanco

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Wed: Twins (Jose Berrios) vs. White Sox (Derek Holland), 7:10 pm CT
    Thu: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez), 12:10 pm CT
    Fri: Twins (TBD) vs. Royals (TBD), 7:10 pm CT

    Looking Back
    MIN 7, TOR 2: Buxton Hits 3 Homers, Twins Win Series at Toronto
    TOR 10, MIN 9: Sloppy 8th Inning Costs Twins in Comeback Effort
    MIN 6, TOR 1: Buxton, Bartolo Get Twins Back to Winning Ways

    • Aug 30 2017 05:20 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  16. MIN 4, CWS 1: Gibson Great, Twins Hit 3 More Homers

    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    Top 3 Twins per WPA: Gibson .282 | Vargas .119 | Polanco .075

    Let’s talk about bunting, shall we? The White Sox opened up this game by getting hits in three of their first six at-bats. They held a 1-0 lead in the second inning. They had runners on first and second with nobody out. They were facing Kyle Gibson. And they decided it was a good time to attempt a sacrifice bunt.

    They paid for that decision. Jason Castro managed to nail the lead runner at third base, gifting Gibby an out. Chicago managed to load the bases with one out, but could not score. They also loaded the bases with nobody out in the third and could not score.

    Jorge Polanco homered in his third-straight game to tie it up at 1-1 in the fourth inning before a Kennys Vargas solo blast put the Twins ahead in the fifth. Joe Mauer led off the sixth with a misplayed double and I’m sure the Twins lineup was smelling blood.

    The Twins were already up a run. Mauer was in scoring position with no outs. Polanco was up. He bunted.

    Yes, Jorge Polanco, the guy who has been on fire this month. The guy who homered in three-straight games. The guy who you have to watch hit through those goofy eclipse glasses otherwise his hotness will burn out the back of your eyeballs. That guy bunted.

    Luckily, Eddie Rosario was able to make a laughing matter out of all this madness by crushing a two-run homer on literally the very next pitch. Thank goodness Mauer only had to trot in from third base. Hopefully Paul Molitor learned a lesson, but I doubt it.

    Again, Gibson got off to a dreadful start, but he was incredible after he got going. He struck out the side with the bases juiced in the third before setting down the Sox 1-2-3 in both the fourth and fifth innings. He gave up a one-out single in the sixth before inducing an inning-ending double play from the next batter. He closed out his night with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out the final two batters he faced. Over 7.0 innings he gave up one run, which was scored on a wild pitch, and struck out a season-high eight batters.

    Trevor Hildenberger pitched a perfect eight before Matt Belisle delivered a scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save. Max Kepler was out for the second-straight game with an illness. Ehire Adrianza started in left while Rosario manned right field.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 65-60
    Last 10: 7-3
    Last 20: 14-6
    Last 40: 21-19
    Last 80: 39-41

    AL Central Standings
    Cleveland 69-55
    Minnesota 65-60 (-4.5)
    Kansas City 63-61 (-6.0)

    AL Wild Card Standings
    WC1: Yankees 67-57 (+2.5)
    WC2: Minnesota 65-60
    Angels 64-61 (-1.0)
    Kansas City 63-61 (-1.5)
    Seattle 64-63 (-2.0)

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    ***UPDATE: Tim Melville has been DFA’d and Dillon Gee will start Saturday. John Curtiss will be called up from Rochester to join the bullpen.
    Looking Ahead
    WED: Twins (Ervin Santana) at White Sox (James Shields), 7:10 pm CT
    THU: Twins (Jose Berrios) at White Sox (Derek Holland), 7:10 pm CT
    FRI: Twins (TBD) at Toronto (TBD), 6:07 pm CT

    Question of the Day
    Bunting: Why?

    • Aug 23 2017 05:31 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  17. Bullpen Ramblings

    The Twins bullpen has not been good again this year. Here are the numbers:

    Bullpen ERA: 4.53 (25th)
    Strikeouts: 345 (26th)
    Walks: 132 (7th)
    Batting Average Against: .269 (30th)

    Also, the Twins bullpen ranks seventh in Innings pitched with 407.1 innings. That is largely the fault of the starting rotation. Even with the first halves of Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, the starters’ ERA is 4.89 (26th). The 625.1 innings the Twins starters have thrown ranks 27th lowest. They are also in the bottom half of MLB in strikeouts, walks, and batting average against. Again, the bullpen has generally been OK (not good, but not horrific either) until they have to throw a lot of innings due to a run of short starts.

    While the Twins were generally healthy during spring training, there were some things that were already known.

    First, while Glen Perkins was trying to throw some bullpens, it was clear that he would miss an extended time at the beginning of the season. Trevor May was going to be transitioned back to a starter before his season ended before it started when he had Tommy John surgery.

    In the offseason, the Twins spent $2 million on veteran Matt Belisle. He had four horrific outings early in the season. But then he was nearly flawless for about six weeks before becoming the team’s closer. He recorded saves in his first three opportunities before blowing one.

    The Twins also brought in some veteran types on minor league contracts. Craig Breslow got the longest big league look before the Twins DLd him and released him. Drew Rucinski has seen some time. Independent ball signing Nik Turley made three starts that didn’t go well, though it looks like his future could be in the bullpen.

    So, why did the Twins sign so few relievers when we knew that there was potential for it to be a huge concern?

    Brandon Kintzler would likely be solid, if not a stereotypical closer. He was much better than anticipated, even earning an All-Star berth and appearance. Taylor Rogers was coming off a solid rookie season and looking to improve upon it. Ryan Pressly’s clearly got the stuff to believe in. Fair to say that hasn’t gone real well much of this season. Tyler Duffey made the move to the bullpen and needed an opportunity to develop in that role.

    It was clear from the get-go that 2017 was going to be an evaluation year for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. That meant giving extended opportunities to several arms. Could Buddy Boshers be an alternative if (and eventually when) Craig Breslow didn’t pan out? Michael Tonkin got through 2016 without an option. Could he take a step forward in 2017?

    The team also added Justin Haley in the Rule 5 draft and wanted to evaluate him. Just like claiming the likes of Adam Wilk, Chris Heston and Dillon Gee. Add arms and evaluate.

    Already, we have mentioned nine names for eight (and ideally seven) bullpen spots. But then there were other injuries that started piling up toward the end of spring training.

    JT Chargois and his upper-90s fastball had a terrific September for the Twins and could have been a key contributor this season. Instead, 2017 has been the third lost season for Chargois since the Twins drafted him in 2012.

    Nick Burdi had a lost 2016 season, but in the season’s first month, he was throwing hard, and throwing strikes, and seemingly very closer to debuting with the Twins. Instead, he had Tommy John surgery in May and that will likely cost him much of the 2018 season as well.

    Tyler Jay was moved from the role of starting pitcher to relieverin spring training. The idea was that he would be able to move up more quickly. Instead, he’s missed nearly the entire season with biceps tendinitis and thoracic outlet-type symptoms.

    And Jake Reed stayed with the big league club through most of spring training, but in the final spring game, he pulled a muscle in his side and missed the season’s first two months.

    If you want to add Mason Melotakis to this group, that may work because he was supposed to get to the big league club this year. Unfortunately, he pulled an oblique early in the spring and didn’t have an opportunity to pitch in big league camp. While he hasn’t been injured, his velocity is way down. His numbers at AAA Rochester have been quite good. But he was able to be DFAd, went unclaimed and was outrighted to Rochester.

    Each of those guys was likely expected to be a key contributor in the Twins bullpen by this time in the season. Instead, they have received zero innings so far but Reed, and possibly Melotakis, has a shot of getting a call this season.

    However, that has opened up opportunity for others. Alan Busenitz got the call first. He went up and down a few times, but with recent outings, he has shown good improvement. His mid-to-upper 90s fastball is good, and he has a good breaking ball too.

    Trevor Hildenberger was the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2015and 2016. He came up in late June and has shown that he can get big league hitters out. On Sunday, he got four outs to record his first MLB save. While his fastball sits in the upper-80s most of the time, his changeup is really, really good. And he throws each of his pitches from a couple of angles.

    Busenitz and Hildenberger should factor into the 2018 Twins bullpen options. Hopefully Jay and Reed, Chargois and Melotakis, and maybe even Burdi at some point, will get an opportunity and could factor into the bullpen.

    But other names have surfaced for 2018 as well. John Curtiss had a very strong 2016 season, spending a month in Cedar Rapids before moving up to the Miracle. He also performed well in the Arizona Fall League. He’s been absolutely fantastic in 2017, both in Chattanooga and since his move up to Rochester.

    Luke Bard was recently promoted to AAA after putting up huge strikeout numbers at Chattanooga. Ryan Eades has been solid in the bullpen. The Twins also acquired lefty reliever Gabriel Moya from the Diamondbacks in exchange for John Ryan Murphy. He’s put up silly numbers at AA all year. Nick Anderson has been, arguably, quietly, the best reliever in the Twins farm system all season. Todd Van Steensel has put up another year with great numbers, this time at Chattanooga.

    And we don’t know what the ultimate roles will be for the likes of Fernando Romero, Dietrich Enns, Dereck Rodriguez or other starters in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

    The cabinet is certainly not bare, and as Falvey and Levine have said, accumulating arms and talented arms is clearly a focus.

    If you’re looking for a sleeper for 2018, look to the GCL where right-hander Michael Kohn has been pitching the last few weeks. A former teammate of Torii Hunter, Kohn threw for the Twins in a tryout and soon after the Twins offered him a deal. Kohn was eating lunch with another former teammate and former Twins reliever Kevin Jepsen when his agent texted him with the Twins offer. The Twins signed him to a two-year minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league camp in 2018. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since May of 2015 due to shoulder surgery. In 115 games (132 games) over parts of five seasons in the big leagues, he struck out 111. He has pitched five innings over five appearances in the GCL over the last two weeks.

    And finally, there is Glen Perkins. The three-time All-Star hasn’t pitched since April of 2016. He had shoulder surgery, reattaching the muscle to the bone. It had to be incredibly painful, and clearly it has taken a ton of work to get back. His rehab stint in entering its final week. The Twins will (presumably) call him up and give him an opportunity. I’m realistic about how much he’ll be able to contribute down the stretch. I hope he can just be solid. This is most likely the final season of his career, unless his plans have changed due to these injuries. The Twins aren’t going to pick up his option. So enjoy what he’s got left. Hope for the best. Appreciate the work he’s put in to get back and remember how great he was for a three or four year stretch.

    The Twins could certainly go out right now and add a reliever or two in a trade. The cost, in terms of dollars or prospects would not be high. Or, they could call up guys like John Curtiss, Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard and Jake Reed in September and give them a shot.

    The cupboard for Twins relief pitching options is far from bare. I would again advocate in the upcoming offseason that they not go crazy on bullpen arms in free agency. Maybe one veteran on a one-year, low cost, low risk deal, and a couple more minor league signings. That’s it. And then find a manager and pitching coach (whether that is Paul Molitor and Neil Allen or not) who will be willing to go with the young arms.

    • Aug 15 2017 05:46 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. DET 12, MIN 11: Twins Lose Crazy Game On Walk-Off HR

    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    Thanks in large part to a James McCann grand slam, the Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. This game appeared to be headed toward another one of those ugly, one-sided losses we were accustomed to seeing earlier this season, but a monster third inning put the Twins right back in it.

    Joe Mauer cleared the bases with a double to get the Twins on the board and Eddie Rosario crushed a game-tying homer.

    The Twins offense continued to roll, as they built an 11-6 lead by the sixth inning. Things would tilt back in the Tigers favor from there. Detroit scratched across a run off Dillon Gee in the seventh inning before tallying three more in the eighth, as Trevor Hildenberger allowed two runners he inherited from Gee to score and let in a run of his own to make it 11-10.

    The Twins managed to load the bases in the top of the ninth, but Miguel Sano struck out swinging for the third out. You could feel the momentum shift at Comerica Park.

    Matt Belisle, who bailed out Hildy by getting the final out of the eighth inning, opened up the the ninth by giving up a leadoff single to Mikie Mahtook. Belisle then fell behind Upton and surrendered the walk-off homer.

    It was too bad the pitching couldn’t hold it together, because this was a banner night for the Twins bats. Everybody in the starting lineup had a multi-hit game other than Jorge Polanco, which was pretty ironic, since Polanco entered the night with five-straight multi-hit games. Jorge still managed to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

    Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer all homered, and Joe drove in five runs for the first time since 2010. Jason Castro was 3-for-4 with a walk. Brian Dozier also had three hits.

    As impressive as it’s been to watch Polanco, Dozier and now Mauer break out over the past couple weeks, Rosario deserves a ton of credit for being such a consistent contributor. After getting off to a bit of a slow start, Rosie had at least an .800 OPS in May, June and July. That mark is up over 1.000 so far in August.
    But, again, as exciting an offensive output it was, the end result was pretty depressing thanks to a horrific night for the pitching staff.

    Jose Berrios gave up a grand slam in the first inning and left this one after just 3.1 innings pitched. He gave up six runs on six hits and two walks. He didn’t strike anybody out, either. Ryan Pressly entered with the Twins up 7-6, but Detroit had runners on first and second base. He retired both batters he faced to protect the lead. Gee shut out Detroit over the fifth and sixth innings before everything fell apart over those final three frames.

    The inning that really hurt the Twins was the eighth, and you can’t help but wonder if things may have ended up differently had they have been able to turn this double play:

    Postgame With Molitor

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 58-57 (.504)
    Last 10: 7-3 (.700)
    Last 20: 10-10 (.500)
    Last 40: 19-21 (.475)
    Last 80: 39-41 (.488)

    AL Central Standings
    Cleveland 62-52
    Minnesota 58-57 (-4.5)
    Kansas City 58-58 (-5.0)

    Wild Card Standings
    WC1: Yankees 61-54
    WC2: Minnesota 58-57, Angels 59-58*, Seattle 59-58* (all tied)
    Tampa Bay 59-59 (-0.5)
    Kansas City 58-58 (-0.5)
    *Saturday game still in progress. The Angels and Mariners are playing each other, so by the end of the night one of them will jump above the Twins.

    Defensive Lineups
    Here’s a look at the starting lineups from the past seven games:
    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Sunday: Twins (Ervin Santana) at Detroit (Matthew Boyd), 12:10 pm CT
    Monday: OFF
    Tuesday: Twins (TBD) vs. Cleveland (Danny Salazar), 7:10 pm CT

    • Aug 13 2017 05:00 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  19. MIN 4, MIL 0: Big Sexy With 7 Scoreless Lifts Twins Back to .500

    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    There are very few things I feel I know for certain about baseball, and one of them is that the game is very difficult. That being the case, how in the world is it possible that Bartolo Colon can make it look this easy?

    Big Sexy cruised through 7.0 innings of work, holding the Brewers scoreless on five hits and a walk. He even struck out five batters. Milwaukee only managed to get two runners as far as second base against Colon, one of who was after the Twins had already built a 4-0 lead.

    You know what? Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier have also been making baseball look really easy so far this month. Polanco got the scoring started with an RBI double in the second inning. He had a single later on in the game, and is now 12-for-24 so far in August. The second run came on yet another Dozier home run in the third inning, which was his fifth homer of the month.

    The Twins tacked on two more runs in the seventh, one on a Joe Mauer reached-on- error and the other on a Miguel Sano double. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect eighth and Matt Belisle struck out the side in the ninth. It was Belisle’s third outing in the past four games and it was not a save situation. Here’s hoping Paul Molitor doesn’t regret running him out there somewhere down the road.

    The victory gives Minnesota four straight wins, which is their longest winning streak since May 21-24. This streak has also put the Twins back to .500.

    Postgame With Polanco

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 56-56 (.500)
    Last 10: 6-4 (.600)
    Last 20: 9-11 (.450)
    Last 40: 18-22 (.450)
    Last 80: 38-42 (.475)

    Defensive Lineups
    Here’s a look at the starting lineups from the past seven games:
    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Thursday: Twins (Dietrich Enns) at Milwaukee (Zach Davies), 7:10 pm CT

    The Twins acquired Enns in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Yankees. He’ll be making his major league debut. The 26-year-old lefty has made just eight starts in Triple-A this season, posting a 2.38 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while averaging 8.1 K/9.

    To make room on the 25-man roster, poor Kennys Vargas is being optioned back to Rochester yet again.

    Friday: Twins (Kyle Gibson) at Detroit (Anibal Sanchez), 6:10 pm CT
    Saturday: Twins (TBD) at Detroit (Jordan Zimmermann), 5:10 pm CT

    • Aug 10 2017 04:29 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. MIN 5, MIL 4: Rosario Scores Go-Ahead Run on Balk, Polanco Collects 4 Hits

    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    Rosario’s run made the difference, but the other big stories of this game were Jorge Polanco breaking out of his slump and the bullpen delivering another great performance.

    Polanco went 4-for-4 and hit a huge two-run double. It was his first multi-hit game since July 1 and just the second time all year he’s had more than two hits. Polanco had as many hits tonight as he did all last month. He’s opened August with a five-game hitting streak after going 4-for-51 (.078) in July. Paul Molitor has gone back to running Polanco out there at shortstop everyday again, and it appears to be paying off.

    Ervin Santana went 6.0 innings, was only credited with two earned runs of the four he gave up and had six strikeouts. For the second straight night, the bullpen shined bright.

    Trevor Hildenberger struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to Ryan Braun. After Buddy Boshers recorded the last out of the seventh, it was Ryan Pressly who came in for the eighth. He walked the first man he faced on four pitches, but miraculously had a seven-pitch inning. His fifth pitch on the frame turned into a double play and he got the final out on a fly ball to end a two-pitch at bat.

    Molitor turned to Matt Belisle again for the save, despite the fact that he entered the night with a 9.85 ERA, 2.10 WHIP and 1.045 OPS against when working on zero days rest. Belisle answered the call and got the job done. Here’s the bullpen’s line from the past two games: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

    All’s well that ends well, but this was not a very pretty win. The Twins had a difficult time scratching across runs tonight, going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position while leaving 11 men on base. They left runners on second and third in both the third and fourth innings, then left the bases loaded in the fifth. In the sixth, they got runners on first and second base with no outs. Those runners were stranded.

    In the seventh, Rosario was at second with no outs after Milwaukee right fielder Domingo Santana appeared to lose his fly ball in the lights. With no outs, Paul Molitor had Buxton bunt him over to third. Rosario managed to induce the balk, but the Twins left two more runners on that inning.

    Along with struggling to deliver timely hits, the Twins also committed three errors. With two outs in the third inning, Polanco made a fielding error on what should have been the inning-ending ground out. That was the only really bad error -- the only one that should have resulted in an out. The others were on misplays that resulted in a player taking an extra base.

    That same third inning, Buxton mishandled a slow roller and turned a run-scoring single into a two-run hit. The next inning, Dozier was changed with a throwing error that allowed a runner to advance from second base to third. Luckily that runner was stranded. In the ninth, Buxton again misplayed a ball that allowed the runner to advance from first to second with two out. That was also originally scored an error, but was updated to a double after the conclusion of the game.

    Postgame With Rosario

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 54-56 (.491)
    Last 10: 5-5 (.500)
    Last 20: 8-12 (.400)
    Last 40: 18-22 (.450)
    Last 80: 38-42 (.475)

    Defensive Lineups
    Here’s a look at the starting lineups from the past seven games:
    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Tuesday: Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Brewers (Matt Garza), 7:10 pm, CT

    Old friend alert! After a couple of underwhelming and injury-riddled seasons, Garza is back to being an above average pitcher this year. He has a 3.68 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and hasn't given up more than two runs in five straight starts.

    Mejia is having an encouraging rookie season, but he's going to need to start pitching deeper into games. In his 17 starts this year, he's thrown 100 pitches just three times and has gotten an out in the sixth inning in six of those starts.

    • Aug 08 2017 04:38 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  21. MIN 6, TEX 5: Belisle Earns First Post-Kintzler Save

    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    This game got off to a terrible start for the Twins, as Berrios gave up a three-run homer to Adrian Beltre and a two-run shot to Joey Gallo in the first inning. But the Twins answered with a pair of second inning homers of their own, as Kepler and Dozier each hit two-run blasts. Rosario provided a solo shot in the third to tie it up.

    The only run scored in the game that wasn’t on a homer was on a bang-bang play. With two outs in the fifth inning, Robbie Grossman hit a ball off the right field wall. Shin-Soo Choo played in beautifully, and nailed Grossman at second base. Luckily Eduardo Escobar touched home just before Robbie was tagged out to end the inning. But it doesn’t get much closer than that.

    This outing won’t look so good in Berrios’ game log, but he did a great job at collecting himself after a really ugly first frame. After a clean second inning for Jose, he had to sit through a 32-minute rain delay. He stayed in the game and retired the Rangers in order in both the third and fourth innings before facing five batters in a scoreless fifth inning.

    That effort, along with a great performance by the pen, allowed Berrios to pick up his 10th victory. Hildenberger pitched two scoreless innings and Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect eighth for his first shutout inning in seven tries.

    Belise needed just 13 pitches to record his first save since 2012, and just the sixth save of his 14-year career. He got Carlos Gomez to fly out, induced a ground out from Drew Robinson before striking out Choo to end the game.

    Miguel Sano, whose hand is still recovering from a hit by pitch from Friday, was out again. Dozier was forced to leave this game in the sixth inning due to an illness.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 53-56 (.486)
    Last 10: 4-6 (.400)
    Last 20: 8-12 (.400)
    Last 40: 17-23 (.425)
    Last 80: 38-42 (.475)

    Defensive Lineups
    Here’s a look at the starting lineups from the past seven games:
    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Monday: Twins (Ervin Santana) vs. Milwaukee (Brent Suter)
    Tuesday: Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Milwaukee (Matt Garza)

    Next Series: Twins head to Milwaukee for two games.

    • Aug 06 2017 05:22 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  22. Official Twins Daily July Trade Deadline Day Thread

    Update 2:00 p.m. - Jerry Crasnick says the Twins may be nearing a trade of Brandon Kintzler... well, yeah, there's under one hour to go until the deadline!


    Update 11:11 a.m. - In response to Feinsand, Mike Berardino tweeted that the Twins expect a Kintzler deal to go "down to the wire."

    Darren Wolfson tweeted that the Nationals, Rays and Rockies have shown a lot of interest in Kintzler.
    Wolfson added the idea that Kintzler could be brought back in the offseason, even if he is traded.


    Update 10:30 a.m. - Mark Feinsand from MLB.com notes that as Justin Wilson and Addison Reed have come off the board, the Twins are getting more interest in Kintzler...


    Update (9:30 a.m.) - It's been remarkably quiet on the Twins Trade rumor front so far this morning. Addison Reed was just traded from the Mets to the Red Sox.

    Does this remove the Red Sox as a potential landing spot for Brandon Kintzler? There are likely still many other teams involved in discussions as well, but having the Red Sox involved can't hurt.

    The Red Sox gave up three prospects for him, but none higher than their 18th ranked prospect. So, this, like the Neshek deal last week, sets an expectation that the Twins might be able to get quantity, but they probably won't get high-ranking prospects for Kintzler.


    We all woke up on Sunday morning and soon learned that the Twins and Yankees had agreed to a trade that sent LHP Jaime Garcia to New York in exchange for RHP Zack Littell and LHP Dietrich Enns.

    The Twins went on to lose to the Oakland A's for the second straight game in walk-off fashion. While the front office had essentially acknowledged a day earlier that they were now in sell mode, the two losses in the Bay Area should have made it official.

    We tried to keep up with Twins rumors the rest of Sunday. There were some rumors on the likely trade candidates, and we know that many times there is a trade of an unlikely player. Who will that player be for the Twins tomorrow, if there is one?

    I think we can all agree that Brandon Kintzler is the player most likely to be traded tomorrow. Because he can fill so many roles for a team, from seventh inning reliever to closer (if needed), any playoff contender could find a role for him. Also, he is an impending free agent.

    It's hard to disagree with Nick's tweet from Sunday night. Because he can be a free agent, it seems wise for the Twins to get whatever they can for him as opposed to getting nothing for him at the end of the season. I can't imagine the Twins would make him a qualifying offer at approximately $18 million for 2018.

    Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray have yet to be traded. Maybe they won't be. Either way, it would seem that Ervin Santana is more of a fall-back plan for those teams like the Dodgers or Astros.

    There doesn't seem to be a lot of rumors swirling around Brian Dozier. A home run in his first at-bat on Sunday was followed by five strikeouts, which probably isn't what a potential trade suitor would want to see. Then again, Dozier's got five years worth of data points that teams are fully aware of.

    Matt Belisle is currently the Twins most reliable reliever. He also is a free agent at the end of the season. He is another guy that teams will consider as a sixth or seventh inning guy since they know that he won't buckle under the pressure of big-game situations. The return would certainly be small, but since he's a free agent, getting anything back would be good.

    And again, there will be plenty of rumors throughout the day, and this article will be updated as we hear them. Updates will happen at the top of the body of the article, so be sure to check back often and discuss.

    • Jul 31 2017 01:01 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  23. Twins 6, A's 3: Garcia Wins First (Last?) Twins Start

    In Jaime Garcia’s first inning, he struck out two in a 1-2-3 innings. In the second, things didn’t go as smoothly. He walked the first two batters, and then he gave up a line drive single to load the bases. That’s when he showed what he is capable of. He started by striking out Ryan Lavarnway. Next, veteran Matt Joyce grounded into a double play to end the inning, end the threat. Same thing in the third inning, Adam Rosales led off with a double. Again, Garcia was up to the challenge. He struck out the next two batters before getting the third out on a pop out.

    The Twins bats showed up in the top of the fourth inning, though some with the help of the A’s defense. Jason Castro had an RBI double. It was followed by a Brian Dozier RBI single to make it 3-0. Castro scored from third on a very wild pitch. With two outs, Miguel Sano grounded toward shortstop. Marcus Semien fielded but airmailed the throw. The first baseman Ryan Healy had to leap and Sano reached the bag safely. Meanwhile, Dozier rounded third and kept going. Healy threw a strike home, but Lavarnway just dropped the ball. Dozier was out easily if the ball was caught. Those extra, bonus runs are always appreciated.

    They are appreciated because Garcia wasn’t able to work out of a mess in the fourth, however, A lead off double was followed by a walk. Garcia did get a strikeout, but then Jason Castro had a bad passed ball, allowing the runners to move up. Lavarnway came up again, and this time he doubled in two runs.

    Castro helped get one of the runs back in the fifth inning when he added another RBI double to give the Twins their sixth run.

    After that, it was Garcia and the Twins bullpen. Garcia gave up a run on three hits in the bottom of the fifth, but he was again able to get a big double play ball to end that inning. But in the sixth frame, he got a fly out followed by two strikeouts. Because he was still at just 90 pitches, he went out to start the seventh inning too. He got the first two outs of the inning, but after a single, Matt Belisle came on and got the final out. Belisle added another scoreless inning in the eighth. His streak of games without allowing an earned run is now at 12 games, and he’s allowed an earned run in just one of his last 17 appearances.

    Brandon Kintzler came on to protect a 6-3 lead in the ninth inning. It took some work. He threw a lot of pitches, but he was able to get out of it without allowing a run to record his 28th save. Jaime Garcia is now 1-0 as an American League pitcher.

    More important, that Twins losing streak stops at four games. It was the Twins 50th win of the year, and it came much, much earlier in the season than it did a year ago.

    Win Expectancy (via fangraphs)
    Posted Image

    Top Five Twins (by Win Expectancy)
    • Jason Castro - (.194) - 2-4, 2 RBI doubles
    • Jaime Garcia - (.149) - 6.2 IP, 3 ER.
    • Ehire Adrianza - (.118) - 2-5
    • Matt Belisle - (.068) - 1.1 IP, 2 K
    • Robbie Grossman - (.067) - 1-3, 2 BB
    Obviously when you knock in runs twice when the game is still quite close, you’ve had a big impact on the game and on win expectancy. The Twins 7, 8 and 9 hitters (Granite, Adrianza and Castro) each had two hits in the game. Jaime Garcia got into and fought out of several tough situations.

    Jason Castro discussed with Audra Martin following the game what it meant to contribute with his bat, as well as what he saw from Jaime Garcia.

    AL Central

    Cleveland and Kansas City remain hot. The Royals beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park thanks to a three-run homer from Mike Moustakus in the top of the nint to give them a 4-2 lead. It was Kansas City’s ninth straight win. Cleveland won big over the White Sox, their eighth straight win. Detroit fell to Brad Peacock and the Houston Astros.

    Cleveland 56-45 .554 ---
    Kansas City 54-47 .535 2.0
    TWINS 50-51 .495 6.0
    Detroit 45-56 .446 11.0
    Chicago 39-61 .390 15.5

    Bullpen Usage

    Brandon Kintzler needed a lot of pitches to get his 28th save. Matt Belisle was good again and kept his pitch count low. After a day off on Thursday, the bullpen should be pretty well-rested. Here is a look at which relievers may be available on Saturday night.

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    What’s Next?

    The Twins and A’s will play the second game of a three-game series on Saturday (8:10 central time). It will be Adalberto Mejia against RHP Chris Smith. It is a matchup of two very different pitchers.

    Adalberto Mejia has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins this season. Sure, there were some bumps in the road, but of late, he has been as good as anyone in the Twins rotation. He got to the big leagues as a 22-year-old and it looks like he has a chance to stay in the for a long time.

    When Chris Smith came up on July 8 this year, he became the oldest pitcher in the well-over-a-century old A’s franchise to make a start. He came up to replace injured youngster Jharel Cotton. He pitched in 13 games out of the A’s bullpen in 2016. But just as interesting, those were his first games in the big leagues since he made three appearances for the Brewers in the 2010 season. He played for Milwaukee in 2009 and 12 games with the Red Sox in 2008 when he debuted as a 27-year-old. Now 36, he is 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

    The Twins will have to be patient and wait back. Smith was a soft-tosser when he was pitching out of the bullpen, averaging 87-88 mph with his fastball. As a starter, his average velo is down to 85 mph.He also throws a mid-70s breaking ball, and a mid-70s changeup.

    So what do you think? Will Jaime Garcia stick with the Twins? Did he do enough to make you want to keep him around, or make you think he increased his trade value? What were the keys to the Twins win in your opinion?

    Here are some final thoughts from the Manager, Paul Molitor.

    • Jul 29 2017 09:14 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  24. Twins July Trade Candidates

    As I’ve done in past years when the trade deadline approached and the Twins were (more clearly) sellers, I reviewed players in the Twins organization who could be dealt for something and gave a percent-likelihood that the player gets traded.

    WHO IS SAFE (probably)?

    Before digging into which players have at least some chance of being traded, it’s probably a good idea to consider which players will not be traded, for whatever reason. While the percent-likelihood that they are dealt may not be 0.00%, it is like 0.001% or similar.

    • Joe Mauer will not be traded. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, and he became a 10-5 guy a long time ago.
    • Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler - Young, high-ceiling hitters who are yet to reach their primes are immensely valuable. They each will make the league’s minimum at least one more year.
    • Jose Berrios, Adalberto Mejia - See the previous list and substitute the word “pitchers” for “hitters.”
    • Glen Perkins, Phil Hughes, Ryan O’Rourke, Trevor May - These are 60-day DL guys. While there would be teams interested in Trevor May if he was made available, it would be very unlikely the Twins would trade him when they likely have high hopes for him in 2018, and beyond.
    • Bartolo Colon, Hector Santiago - These guys are closer to being DFAd than to being traded.

    First and foremost, this list is intended for entertainment purposes only. Twins Daily does not recommend or encourage making wagers on trade deadline activities. These percentages are simply educated guesses designed to create discussion.

    Brandon Kintzler - RHP (75%) - Brought in on a minor league contract following an injury-plagued 2015 season, Kintzler began in Rochester, was called up a month later, was the team’s closer a month or so later, and in 2017, he became an All-Star. He has been remarkably reliable. However, he is at the end of his contract and will be a free agent following the season. His ability to close, or work in tough situations in the seventh or eighth inning could make him valuable to any playoff-contending team. Another All-Star who is an impending free agent at season’s end, Pat Neshek, went to the Rockies for three minor leaguers (none were Top 15 prospect types). Since Kintzler is a little younger, the Twins might be able to get slightly more return for Kintzler.

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    Jaime Garcia - LHP (55%) - When the Twins acquired him on Monday, they were buying, just 2.5 games out of first place, and even closer in the wild card. Now the team may be a seller, and he has yet to make his first start for the organization. The Twins gave up 19-year-old Huascar Ynoa for Garcia with a willingness to eat much of Garcia’s remaining contract. The Twins could look to trade Garcia, continue paying him at least some of his remaining money ($4.5 million or so), and get a higher-ranking prospect in return.

    Ervin Santana - RHP (40%) - Santana may be a bit older, but he’s on a friendly contract for 2018 with an option for 2019. In other words, he’s far from a rental. A team could keep him for nearly 2 ½ years if things go well. Santana was great in April and May. He hasn’t been particularly strong in June and July, but he’s a veteran that most teams would be happy to see starting for them in the playoffs. The Rangers are in about the same situation and they’ve made Yu Darvish available, so the Twins would be wise to at least make Santana available and see what offers role in. He could be a backup plan to Darvish or Sonny Gray for the Yankees and Dodgers, while he makes a ton of sense for the Astros.

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    Eduardo Escobar - UT (37.5%) - This name might surprise many reading, but it does make a lot of sense. Escobar is beloved in the clubhouse, but if the Twins were to offer him arbitration this coming offseason, he is likely to make $4 million or more. That’s a lot for a utility guy. Now, if he plays as much and as well as he has in 2017 next year, he’d be more than worth it. But with Dozier, Polanco and maybe Nick Gordon and/or Engelb Vielma in the picture in the middle infield, and Ehire Adrianza fully capable of being a solid utility infielder for $3 million less, dealing Escobar while he’s playing so well may make a lot of sense. They could get a similar haul to what the Giants got for Eduardo Nunez this week.

    Chris Gimenez - C (35%) - Gimenez clearly has a ton of respect in the game, particularly for his charisma and leadership skills. On field, he hasn’t been particularly good, but teams love adding guys like this down the stretch. The Twins wouldn’t get much, maybe even just some cash and a low level prospect, but I can see teams asking for him. It would allow Mitch Garver to be up for the final two months of the season as well.

    Matt Belisle - RHP (30%) - Belisle’s overall numbers do not look good because of a handful of really bad outings, but he has been really good the last two months. He’s given up just one earned run in his last 16 outings (18.2 innings). The return won’t be real high, but he can be a solid 5th or 6th bullpen option for a good team.

    Robbie Grossman - DH (20%) - Grossman was yet another strong minor league deal for Terry Ryan last year. Since joining the Twins, he has been a very productive hitter, primarily for his on-base skills, but he’s provided occasional pop too. He isn’t ideal to have in the outfield defensively, but there could be a team looking for a bench bat who could provide some versatility. He will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, and if he stays with the Twins, it would be an obvious choice to offer it to.

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    Kyle Gibson - RHP (17.5%) - The right-hander was the Twins pitcher of the year in 2015, but the last two years have been a struggle for him. He had one of his best starts of the year on Saturday, and by Tuesday, he was sent to Rochester where he pitched well on Thursday night. In his second run at arbitration this offseason, Gibson could make a raise, potentially getting $4.5-5 million. The Twins likely would not pick that up, but Gibson’s got enough pedigree that there could be a team out there that thinks they know how to turn things around for the right-hander. And they may be right. For some reason, he seems like a perfect fit with the Cardinals.

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    (One of) ByungHo Park/Kennys Vargas - DH (15%) - While teams likely won’t come to the Twins asking about these AAA (maybe AAAA) DH/1B, the Twins could go to teams looking for a bench bat, backup 1B/DH type in an attempt to drop one of them. Maybe they can find a taker. I thought Tampa made a lot of sense for Park since Logan Morrison and now Lucas Duda both bat left-handed.

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    Eddie Rosario - OF (12.5%) - Rosario has arguably been the Twins best hitter the last six weeks, so this would be a case of trying to sell high on Rosario. The decision to make him available would likely be based on the front office’s willingness to believe that Rosario’s improved plate discipline and walk rate over the last couple of months is sustainable.

    Brian Dozier - 2B (10%) - There will be teams that will inquire about the availability of Dozier. Clearly the Twins were wise to not deal him straight-up for Jose Deleon. However, to this point Dozier has returned to a level at or slightly above his 2014 and 2015 numbers, as opposed to his historic performance in 2016. That’s still a valuable player, but the Twins will (and should) ask for more than teams are likely willing to offer. There are a lot of quality second basemen in baseball, and one of them, Ian Kinsler, is very likely to be traded which means there may not be a lot of teams in need of a second baseman. The Twins will happily keep him unless overwhelmed.

    Ryan Pressly - RHP (5%) - Teams could or should watch Pressly and see the 96-98 mph fastball, and see that sharp breaking ball, and realize that he’s got some great stuff. Pitching coaches and coordinators likely believe that they can provide said pitcher with that little piece that he’s missing to turn things around. Pressly’s got stuff to be a great late-inning reliever, and he’ll probably get there some day. The Twins would be wise to hang on to him, especially since he can be optioned still this year. No need to sell low.

    Taylor Rogers - LHP (2.5%) - Although I think Rogers could be part of a strong bullpen for the Twins for years ahead, I am including his name here. When I look at what the Marlins got for reliever David Phelps (who is similar, though right-handed, and older), I’d be incredibly curious what other teams might offer for a left-hander like Rogers who has been great for the Twins until the last few games. Unlikely to be dealt, but if a team is willing to give up three or four minor leaguers for him, I’d be curious.


    It’s fun to guess what the team will do, but we still don’t know to what level the front office views this team. Sellers? Sellers only if overwhelmed? Buyers for long-term, high-talent assets? A combination of all of the above.

    There may be some surprises in the list above, and by Monday, there could be other surprises, maybe some minor leaguers. It will be as interesting a trade deadline as we have seen in recent years. There could be five moves, or they could do nothing, and a case could be made for both strategies. At the end of the day, each trade (made or not made) would have to be judged on its own merit.

    So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the list above or any of the percentages? As a reminder, it’s important to remember that several of these player trades may make more sense in August rather than the July deadline.

    • Jul 28 2017 04:35 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  25. Tigers 6, Twins 3: Bad Santana

    Win Expectancy & Top 5 Plays Per WPA (via Fangraphs)
    Santana just never seemed to be pitching with the count in his favor, and ended the evening with his shortest start of the season. Victor Martinez did the most damage, slugging a solo homer in the second before blasting a two-run bomb in the fourth.

    This was Ervin’s 20th start of the year. He has given up two runs or fewer in 13 starts. He has given up five runs or more in seven starts. There is no in-between, he’s either been great or ghastly.

    Zack Granite had a great game all around. He was 2-for-4, got his first career stolen base, scored a run and had an outfield assist. Ehire Adrianza, who’s getting more and more starts at shortstop of late, had a nice two-out, two-run single.

    Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. The only extra-base hit the team could muster was a Joe Mauer double.

    Matt Belisle was the first man out of the bullpen, and he was excellent. Really. He pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, gave up just one hit and struck out three hitters. He threw 36 pitches, which was the second time this season he broke 30. The last time Belisle had thrown more than 36 pitches was May 26, 2015.

    Belisle hit a low point on June 11 when he gave up four runs to the Giants, seeing his ERA balloon to 8.59. In his 14 appearances since, the 37-year-old has given up five runs over 17.2 innings, just one of which was earned. He has a 0.51 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over that span.

    What’s been the difference? Well, I’m sure it’s a combination of things, but he's clearly made adjustments. One thing I had noticed is that he’d been relying less on his slider and deploying his curve ball more frequently of late. Here’s a breakdown of Belisle’s pitch usage by month last season with Washington. Notice how he leaned more and more on his slider as the year progressed:
    And here is a breakdown of this year. Notice how he has gradually gone away from throwing as many sliders:
    In April, Belise threw 77 sliders and just 15 curve balls, in June that split was 54 to 28. But here's the weird thing, tonight he threw a ton of sliders, 18. Exactly half of his pitches. So maybe it's simply being less predictable and using a more diverse mix of pitches has helped Belise better keep hitters off balance.

    Postgame With Santana

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Twins (Kyle Gibson) vs. Detroit (Jordan Zimmermann), 6:10 pm CT

    Zimmermann is coming off a quality start, but over his past four appearances he’s given up 15 earned runs in 19.1 innings (6.98 ERA). In 10 starts on the road this year, the right-hander has just one win, a 6.29 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. He’s held Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to a combined .217 average (5-for-23) with no extra base hits or walks.

    What can you say about Gibson at this point? We’ve seen him for 115 starts. He is what he is. Over his last five starts against Detroit, Gibby has yielded a 5.74 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 12 walks over 26.2 innings. Current Tigers hitters have a .267/.359/.398 (.756 OPS) line off Gibson.

    • Jul 22 2017 05:06 AM
    • by Tom Froemming