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Article: Report From The Fort: Ups And Downs

kyle gibson alex wimmers ryan pressly kennys vargas robbie grossman
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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 03:58 PM

The Twins lost to the cross-city foes the Red Sox today. The damage was done late, which is both good news and bad news, depending on whether you are worried about the starting pitching or the bullpen.

Optimistic Outing
Kyle Gibson started against a Boston regular season lineup and kept them off-balance and in check for six innings, throwing only 78 pitches. By my count, 56 (72%) of them were strikes, so it’s not surprising that he also had no walks amid his four strikeouts. The first time through the lineup he relied primarily on his fastball, and the second there were a lot more offspeed pitches, but that wasn’t a conscious effort; Gibson said afterwards it was just how catcher Chris Gimenez called the game.Except for a couple of batters, he made things looked effortless. Whether that’s a good sign or not for the regular season remains to be seen. Gibson cautioned that he never knows what the other team is working on, and it might be that they’re working on something that gives Gibson an advantage.

Towards that end, I’ve been very surprised by how patient teams have been against the Twins pitching this year. Today, the first time through the order, only two of the Red Sox batters swung at the first pitch, and five of them just watched strike one. It was similar the second time through the lineup; at least four guys watched themselves go down 0-1 in the count. It’s a lot easier to have an efficient outing when that’s the case.

But for what it’s worth, Gibson is clearly in a positive mindset. So is his manager. “Bottle it,” exclaimed Twins manager Paul Molitor when asked for his reaction.

Back To Your Regularly Schedule Pessimism
Less exciting was Ryan Pressly’s outing. I counted (roughy) 24 pitches and 10 strikes. He started by walking the first two batters. He bounced back a bit for a strikeout and then outlasted left-handed hitting Pablo Sandoval when Panda chased a 92 mph 3-2 fastball outside the zone. But that gift was erased when his next pitch to catcher Christian Vazquez ended up in the left field bleachers. So in one inning he walked two, gave up three runs and never really found the strike zone. I’m 99% sure he’s safe to make the bullpen, so I don’t think it matters, unless you’re hoping for a rebound this year from the bullpen. It was the exactly the opposite of Gibson’s outing, and exactly the opposite outing one wants to have just before the regular season. I expect we’ll see him again midweek.

Let’s Leave On Some High Notes
Molitor talked a little about how impressed he has been with Alex Wimmers, who had a clean inning in relief, this spring. He likes that he has four pitches and he likes that he has a presence about him when things go wrong. I also heard from a baseball guy that he views Wimmers' changeup as a “separator,” a pitch that raises him above the others who might be relievers. I mention this all since I wasn’t very excited with the demotion of JT Chargois and the possible (maybe probable) addition of Wimmers to the 25-man.

On that note, it looks like Michael Tonkin will have a chance to pitch in relief tomorrow night versus the Pirates. He needs a good outing.

Kennys Vargas made some progress today: he put on a shoe. He was also supposed to run, but he is fighting the flu, and it sounds like a couple of guys from the WBC are also. Next up for Kennys: locusts followed by pestilence, probably.

I’ve been wondering about the status of Robbie Grossman, who had a groin strain and has been out a few days. He took batting practice today and ran, although he didn’t run the bases. Molitor is hoping he can play again on Wednesday, so keep an eye on that lineup.

If Grossman regresses, it’s not at all clear what the Twins would do. He wouldn’t necessarily be replaced by an outfielder, as Danny Santana and (cringe) Eduardo Escobar could play there if necessary. But the Twins likely won’t be adding the slick-fielding infielder Ehire Adrianza; he has an oblique strain. If he isn’t added to the 25-man and isn’t placed on the DL, he would need to be exposed to waivers. He’s out of options.

And finally, there are a few candidates with a real chance to make the team who are not on the 40-man roster. ByungHo Park and Chris Gimenez would both need to be added. Molitor said he thinks they know what they would do. Presumably, one spot could be opened up rather easily, as Glen Perkins could be put on the DL.

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#2 Nick Nelson

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 05:05 PM

I'd say Pressly is a 100% lock to make the bullpen and I wouldn't put too much stock into today's erratic outing as it was rather out of character. He hadn't issued a single walk in seven prior outings this spring. 

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#3 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 05:24 PM

Such a nitpick, but the Twins and Red Sox are cross-county foes as neither team is inside the city limits of Fort Myers. Boston used to be in City of Palms Park, but now both teams are in Lee County but neither inside the city limits.
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“Concern yourself not with what is right and what is wrong but with what is important.” ~Unknown


#4 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 05:27 PM

With the comment made by Gibson, 'It was just how Castro called the game' ... is this him saying he liked Gimenez as well, or was he confused and just commenting how the game was called? If the former, wondering if that's a signal that Gimenez is our backup catcher headed north? Or has that decision been made already and I missed it?
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“Concern yourself not with what is right and what is wrong but with what is important.” ~Unknown


#5 Halsey Hall

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 07:46 PM

I think Gimenez is a lock.Vargas likely to the DL.Yesterday he called down to the minors for his buddy, a worker, for a ride to the trainers room, he couldn't walk that far.Xrays showed nothing but he's really hurting.

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he gone!


#6 Han Joelo

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 06:25 AM

I'm starting to think the Twins got what they paid for in the Hicks-Murphy swap.  So, until Garver is ready, Gimenez works for me.  It's not about the offense with any of those catchers except Garver.

 

Gibson is freaking me out.  He's gonna go all former-first-round-pick on us.  Extend him now!  (Actually, if he does well, I am already looking forward to those thread debates at the trade deadline.)

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#7 Taildragger8791

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 07:22 AM

While I'm encouraged with Gibson's spring I'm also hesitant to get too excited since he's a bit of a spring queen. His ERA is 2.52 since 2014 in spring training. As we know his regular season ERA is nearly double that, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much yet until I see his new approach working in April or later.

But maybe that's just the abused Minnesota fan in me that is scared to have good feelings about anything lest they be yanked away in the most painful way possible.
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#8 John Bonnes

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 08:20 AM

 

With the comment made by Gibson, 'It was just how Castro called the game' ... is this him saying he liked Gimenez as well, or was he confused and just commenting how the game was called? If the former, wondering if that's a signal that Gimenez is our backup catcher headed north? Or has that decision been made already and I missed it?

 

No, nothing to read into this. I specifically asked if he was trying to work on his offspeed pitches in this start because I saw how many he threw when facing Red Sox a second time. He replied "No" and that he did it just because that was how Castro was calling the game. 

 

TBH, I don't know who he has worked with more. FWIW, I think we'll get clarification on the 5th starter today. And I wouldn't be shocked if we hear about the catchers at that point, too, though, maybe not.


#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 08:53 AM

 

I'd say Pressly is a 100% lock to make the bullpen and I wouldn't put too much stock into today's erratic outing as it was rather out of character. He hadn't issued a single walk in seven prior outings this spring. 

 

In fact, he's the top set up guy, and I would say that at the end of the year, he'll have been the team's top bullpen guy. He's definitely a lock.

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#10 ThejacKmp

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 08:57 AM

 

So, until Garver is ready, Gimenez works for me.

 

Yeah. I mean, I think the best option is JRM because at least he has some upside. But then I remember "we're talking about the backup catcher, it probably doesn't matter" and I realize Gimenez works for me. Maybe he's better with the pitchers or something?

 

If this is the end for JRM, he will remain one of the most baffling Twins of his era. I never expected him to be an all-star or anything but the dude hit in the minors and hit in a relatively sizable major league sample. If you'd told me he'd flame out, I'd assume he couldn't catch well enough, not that he couldn't hit ML pitching. Super weird.

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#11 John Bonnes

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 11:27 AM

And I just realized I've been saying "Castro" and thinking Gimenez. He was the catcher yesterday.

#12 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 11:35 AM

And I just realized I've been saying "Castro" and thinking Gimenez. He was the catcher yesterday.


That was my confusion and why I posed the question. Thanks.

“Concern yourself not with what is right and what is wrong but with what is important.” ~Unknown


#13 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 12:05 PM

 

In fact, he's the top set up guy, and I would say that at the end of the year, he'll have been the team's top bullpen guy. He's definitely a lock.

Yeah, middle relievers drive me crazy.

Based on FIP, xFIP, WHIP and SIERA our two best bullpen arms last year were May and Boshers. Now Buddy is getting beat up this spring. I would think he has to perform to make the team.

He doesn't have the track record Pressly has established.

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#14 BuxtonBandwagon

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 01:57 PM

I'm starting to think the Twins got what they paid for in the Hicks-Murphy swap.


Brining this up makes me I think. I know it's been a year and hicks didn't perform well offensively last year but would people already call this a bad trade? At least hicks will be on the Yankees big league roster. I would rather have hicks right now.

#15 Respy

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 02:29 PM

 

While I'm encouraged with Gibson's spring I'm also hesitant to get too excited since he's a bit of a spring queen. His ERA is 2.52 since 2014 in spring training. As we know his regular season ERA is nearly double that, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much yet until I see his new approach working in April or later.

 

Yes, I recall watching Gibson pitch last spring training and thinking how good his sinker and slider were moving.  I thought for sure that he was poised for a breakout year.  Then he hit a brick wall in April.  I remember thinking the same thing about Mike Pelfrey in spring training of 2015.  I have come under the assumption that most sinkerball pitchers prefer warm/mild/fair weather so they can stay loose and consistent. (I'd also point out Carlos Silva 2004-2007 Metrodome ERA 3.82; away ERA 5.67).  Gibson should improve this year but my expectations are not too high.




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