As of this morning, Sunday, Sept 3, the Twins have played 28 of their final 55 games. Let's take a look back at the wish list and see how the Twins are doing:
THEN: As of this morning, Saturday, August 5, the Twins are 52-55, in third place in their division, 7 games back of Cleveland, and tied for fourth behind the second Wild Card team (KC), 3.5 game back, and 4.5 games back behind the first Wild Card team (New York). Realistically, they are very unlikely to win the division, but they could certainly make a run at a Wild Card spot if they get hot. However, with a crowded field, it is also unlikely.
SINCE: They have climbed to 71-64, still 8 back of Cleveland (lost a game to them!), 1 back of NY, 1.5 ahead of the Angels, 2.5 ahead of Baltimore, 4.5 ahead of KC (gained 8)
THEN: I'd rather focus on a few things I'd like to see down the stretch, as these last two months could be important for next season. If they make a run at wild card, great, but most important is progressing on several fronts to set up a competitive team for next year.
SINCE: Ok, why not do both?
Here is my list:
THEN: See Byron Buxton's average climb to 240 as he continues to look more relaxed at the plate. I also want to see at least 3 triples from him before the end of the year.
SINCE: Has climbed from .216 to .253, and yes, three triples.
THEN: Watch Mauer's average climb to 290 before the end of the season. He is striking out much less this year. He's put several years between his big concussion. I think he has at least one more 300 season in his bat, and I am hoping it is next year. I want him to be a veteran leader with a renaissance year on a playoff team next year.
SINCE: Average has climbed from .277 to .303, good for a tie for sixth in the AL. Maybe I was wrong on this one, though...maybe he has a .300 season left in his bat and can be a renaissance veteran guy on a playoff team this year, not next.
THEN: Have Brian Dozier get on a homerun roll like the end of last year. Two home runs yesterday. If he can get to 30 before the end of the season, he could regain value as a potential trade candidate in his contract year.
SINCE: He's hit 8 since then, going from 19 to 27 and well within range of 30.
THEN: Get good starts from Mejia and Gibson. I think both will play a role with the 2018 club. Right now Mejia looks more likely to be a main rotation arm, but Gibson has shown some signs of improvement in the last month. How he does in the last 10 starts is important. And can Mejia become more efficient?
SINCE: Gibson has pitched three straight good games, and has a 3.21 ERA in six starts since this August 5 post. Numerous posters (even on this thread above) have stuck forks in Gibson. I didn't and don't think that was warranted. As for Mejia, I am still concerned about his efficiency (which Gibson has improved upon). Hopefully we see Mejia back in the Gee spot of the rotation for a few September turns...but my expectations are in check.
THEN: Witness as few Colón starts as possible. Realistically I think he is in the rotation through the end of the year (to try to get his seven more wins), but come September, I'd like to see Gonsalves get a few starts. Romero as well, but I think he's on a pitch count, so that might not happen.
SINCE: 3.43 ERA in six starts since then. Good grief. He's obviously locked into the rotation, attacking the strike zone, letting the outfield catch it. Oh, and he's at 239 career wins, now 4 shy of Juan Marichal for the all-time Dominican pitcher wins, passing Pedro last year. I'd take five more wins from Bartolo in September! (As for Gonsalves starts...not so sure anymore, given the playoff push.)
THEN: Bullpen tryouts. Let's see which of Hildenberger, Busenitz, Gee...and hopefully Curtiss and 1-2 others from the minors can pitch well down the stretch.
Busenitz: 1.32 ERA in 10 August appearances
Hildenberger: 2.19 ERA in 13 August appearances
Gee: 2.13 ERA in 4 August relief appearances (12IP), 7.11 ERA in two starts
Curtiss: Up, 3 appearances, two of them shutout innings.
(Belisle: 4.50 in 9 August appearances, 5 saves in 6 opportunities, 83% vs Kintzler 87%)
THEN: Win games. I will admit that the past few years, I have been fine with as many losses as possible down the stretch in order to get a higher draft pick. I was glad they did poorly at the end of last year so they could get the top draft pick. But this year, I want to see them playing their hearts out to win as many games as they can down the stretch. I want them to aim for finishing with at least 81 wins. 30-25 down the stretch would give them 82 wins. That would be a nice stepping stone towards next year.
SINCE: 19-9, currently 7 games above .500.
THEN: Now, if they finish above 500, that likely means Molitor stays. I'm torn on that. I personally think the Twins would be better served with a new manager. But I'm not going to root for the team to lose so that they can fire Molitor. (It's worth noting the Cubs were ruthless in firing Renteria when Maddon became available. If Falvey thinks the team would be better with a new manager, even if they finish above 500, I hope he is just as ruthless.)
NOW: Still torn on this one. However, if the Twins make the play-offs, Molitor will be back next year, I am almost 100% certain of that.
They are hewing pretty close to the script, except for that Colón guy. What will the second half of those 55 games bring? (A 56th game, perhaps? And hopefully more?)
Edited by AlwaysinModeration, 03 September 2017 - 05:03 AM.