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Article: Getting To 85

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 07:54 PM

The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Except for now. Now it is a SPRINT. RUN Forrest, RUN!

The Twins entered last night with 19 games left in the season. In 19 games, anything can happen. In 19 games, the best team in baseball can go 3-16. That’s not hyperbole; it is currently happening this very minute and thank you Los Angeles Dodgers for proving the point. Nineteen games is a small sample size and nothing needs to make sense anymore. So let’s try to make some sense of it.(All records below are before yesterday's games. I need to get some sleep.)

In the five years in which there has been a second Wild Card, that second team in the AL has won between 86 games (2015) and 93 games (2012). This year may set a new low, with 85 wins looking like a very real possibility. By taking a look at the schedules of the AL Wild Card’s top four contenders, one can get a little perspective on the path each team must travel to advance to the postseason.

The Los Angeles Angels (73-70) have a very tough 19-game schedule ahead of them with only four games versus also-rans and NINE versus the best teams in the AL. The easiest path to 85 wins includes:
  • taking five of the nine games versus the division leaders Houston and Cleveland,
  • winning four of six in their two series against Seattle and Texas and
  • taking three of four games versus the White Sox.
Summary: It can be done, but there can be no stumbles, not even against great teams.

The Texas Rangers (72-71) have a little easier 19-game finishing leg, with seven games against non-contender Oakland. But they need 13 wins, which looks like:
  • Taking two of three in their showdown at home versus Houston
  • Winning six of nine games they have versus other AL Wild Card teams
  • Capturing five of those seven games they have versus Oakland.
Summary: Again, that’s not impossible, but that’s a lot of consistent baseball for a .500 baseball team.

The Kansas City Royals (71-72) have the easiest 19-game stretch left, but also the fewest wins of the four, so they need to find 14 wins in their last 19 games to get to 85. Let’s see if we can get them there:
  • Take two of four versus the Indians this weekend.
  • Win eight of 11 games they have versus the White Sox, Detroit and Toronto.
  • Beat the Yankees in their makeup game on the 25th.
  • Take two of three against the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.
Summary: That still only gets them to 84 wins. So they either need to sweep the Diamondbacks, take the series from a red-hot Cleveland team, or win nine of eleven versus the also-rans. Yikes.

The Rest – The Orioles, Mariners and Rays all entered last night’s games with as many wins as the Royals, but with fewer games to play. To get to 85 wins, the Orioles and Seattle would need to finish 14-4, and the Rays would need to finish 14-3.

Summary: The baseball gods humble those that dismiss the absurd, but that’s a tall order for teams that haven’t played .500 ball through 140+ games.

Finally we get to the Minnesota Twins, who have 74 wins and perhaps the easiest schedule. Of their remaining 19 games, 13 are against second-division teams. To go 11-8 down the stretch, this seems reasonable:
  • Win four of six this week versus the Padres and Blue Jays
  • Win five of 10 on their upcoming road trip to Cleveland (one of three?), Detroit (three of four?), and Yankees Stadium (one of three?).
  • Take two of three versus Detroit in the final home series of the year.
If you’re wondering why the Twins always seem to be favored in whichever playoff odds probability report you check every day, that’s why: the Twins road to 85 offers the least resistance and makes the most sense.

But with 19 games left, baseball doesn’t need to make sense. To steal a quote from our boy Forrest, "Baseball is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get."

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#2 Florida Loggerman

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:33 PM

19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? with Berrios just so so in his last few outings, never have been a Colon person, too me, total waste, start to finish, would rather see them bring up some young stud arm from our farm system, I'd rather loose with kids playing there butts off rathan than watch Colon throwing beach balls up there to the opporonets, Gibsons been a pleasant turn around and surpirse, scary pitchers; Pressley, hoirrible; Tomkins, worse than ugly; Boshers, another please stop putting this guy in; IMOI should have kept Kinsler, didn't get much for the trade, and now it looks like having Kinsler could have been a huge plus, keep pounding the rock Twins, not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro???
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#3 ashburyjohn

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:46 PM

not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro??? 

Guess you're not watching the game tonight. It's gonna be this way the rest of the season - a homer in every inning!

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#4 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:54 PM

19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? with Berrios just so so in his last few outings, never have been a Colon person, too me, total waste, start to finish, would rather see them bring up some young stud arm from our farm system, I'd rather loose with kids playing there butts off rathan than watch bubba cheese cake Colon throwing beach balls up there to the opporonets, Gibsons been a pleasant turn around and surpirse, scary pitchers; Pressley, hoirrible; Tomkins, worse than ugly; Boshers, another please stop putting this guy in; IMOI should have kept Kinsler, didn't get much for the trade, and now it looks like having Kinsler could have been a huge plus, keep pounding the rock Twins, not sure where the power source is coming from,Polanco, Escobar, Castro???

This team managed to get though something like ten games in nine days and did pretty well IIRC. And they did it in August with a 25 man roster.

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)

#5 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:18 PM

Twins don't need to be terribly good, just better than the terrible teams they play.Then, depend on the reality that the teams chasing them are not terribly good.

 

It's kind of a skid row sprint to the last ticket into the playoffs.

 

Given everything the Twins have been through, I'll take any kind of game against the Yankees, especially an elimination game.

 

Bring it, dammit.


#6 Thegrin

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:30 AM

It doesn't make any difference where they get them, the Twins just needs wins.  Twins games have become very watchable, because they can explode for 5 + runs in any any inning, regardless of the score.  As far as I'm concerned, this has been a great season, regardless of the final score of their final game.  :D

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#7 Blackjack

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:03 AM

Nice article John!! Also makes me want to watch Forrest Gump again. Run Forrest run!!

 

 

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#8 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:03 AM

 

19 games for the Twins in 20 days; holy crap; with this current pitching staff, i'm not liking that combo of games to days? ...

 

There is plenty to be worried about with this team, to be sure. But the closest team to them is just two games over .500; they're all flawed teams. Otherwise they wouldn't be behind the Twins.

 

The point here is that besides being flawed, the other teams have challenges to overcome with their schedules and with the number of games they need to catch up. The Twins don't need to go on a 13-6 run - though they would probably be the best-positioned to do so. They just need to grind out a requisite and reasonable number of wins against a pretty favorable schedule. 

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#9 Blackjack

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:05 AM

 

 

 

 

It's kind of a skid row sprint to the last ticket into the playoffs.

 

I got a good chuckle out of this, so true, but it sure is fun to be watching meaningful games into late September!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've already been out and checked the Twins schedule for the weekend so I make sure to tune in.

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#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:30 AM

 

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

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#11 rdehring

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:31 AM

Thanks John, always enjoy reading how you look at things.

And this was an excellent presentation of why the Twins have an excellent chance of playing at least one extra game. Expect that will happen unless the Twins go on a serious losing streak OR someone else goes on that winning streak.

And last night made it even better (Twins) or tougher for the others, especially after the Angels fell another game back.
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#12 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:43 AM

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

 

I'd agree with all of that, except for one nitpick: (whispers) I don't think the Yankees are even a half step better than the rest of the Wild Card teams. Maybe a quarter step. Bring 'em on. 

 

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#13 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:20 AM

 

And last night made it even better (Twins) or tougher for the others, especially after the Angels fell another game back.

 

Yep they lost to Houston, and still have eight games versus the Astros and Indians. So now, to keep the pace in the story, they would need to win five of the remaining eight against those high-powered teams. 


#14 kellyvance

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:27 AM

Baseball voodoo being what it is, expect a loss today. What is baseball voodoo, you ask? Its the unwritten tendencies, like striking out after hitting a foul ball out of the park, like a runner getting to third base with no outs should score, and like losing after a big win (16-0 qualifies).

Having said that, I hope that last night's surge brings a dose of confidence to the guys and they all get hot together, like in August. If that happens, and they score 6 runs a game, they could make a run in the post season. I for one like the idea of having so many kids on the roster that are not intimidated. And where are all the guys that were calling for Molly to be fired? I'll tell you where: on the bandwagon.

Yeee hawww, this year's pennant race is fun.

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#15 gocgo

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:35 AM

I see that 10 game road trip as the key to the season.  That's not an easy road trip.  I'd love to see Cleveland stumble, but they look pretty tough right now.  The Yankees certainly have incentive to play well.  Detroit's only incentive is to play spoiler.  Hopefully, the Twins stay loose and don't put too much pressure on themselves.

Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.


#16 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:42 AM

The teams chasing us that scare me are Kansas City and maybe the Angels. KC has been there before and has the most talent. The Angels are doing this with smoke and mirrors so far. They just don't have the starting pitching and they're stuck with trying to integrate guys like Richards, Heaney and Skaggs who are all great young talents but have been out injured most of the year so haven't found their groove yet.They could all come together at once though, and they could go on a run. The rest of the contenders don't look like much of a threat if the Twins get to 85 or 86 wins. KC and the Angels actually could get to 86 or 87. 


#17 ahart10

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:57 AM

Hopefully Cleveland won't be as hot two weeks from now. Kipnis and Miller, possibly Brantley, will be back by then tough.

#18 JLease

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:18 AM

 

This team managed to get though something like ten games in nine days and did pretty well IIRC. And they did it in August with a 25 man roster.

I'm not worried about the games played or the opponents. I'm simply not convinced this team is very good, which can result in short losing stretches (to be fair, they're not very bad either)

 

They're not great, but they are a good team, i think. the lineup is a good one, especially right now, with players having come into their own or cleared out of slumps. there's not a lot of easy outs there (Kepler is scuffling the most right now, but he's still not a guy any pitcher is going to feel good about grooving a fasball or hanging a curve to) The defense has generally been good all year, with elite play from Buxton and Mauer and the only real hole is Rosario/Grossman...who don't generally play the field at the same time. With Sano back, this is a playoff caliber lineup without question.

 

The pitching is the issue. No one in the rotation scares you, the bullpen is cobbled together...it's a staff that we're trying to mix & match to be "good enough", which doesn't exactly make your socks roll up & down.

 

They're a pretty good team. certainly an entertaining and fun team that's easy to root for. not a great team.

 

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#19 Craig Arko

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:37 AM

They're not great, but they are a good team, i think. the lineup is a good one, especially right now, with players having come into their own or cleared out of slumps. there's not a lot of easy outs there (Kepler is scuffling the most right now, but he's still not a guy any pitcher is going to feel good about grooving a fasball or hanging a curve to) The defense has generally been good all year, with elite play from Buxton and Mauer and the only real hole is Rosario/Grossman...who don't generally play the field at the same time. With Sano back, this is a playoff caliber lineup without question.

The pitching is the issue. No one in the rotation scares you, the bullpen is cobbled together...it's a staff that we're trying to mix & match to be "good enough", which doesn't exactly make your socks roll up & down.

They're a pretty good team. certainly an entertaining and fun team that's easy to root for. not a great team.


Much like the 87 and 91 squads.
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#20 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:39 AM

 

I did a radio interview yesterday in St. Cloud and was asked if I think this Twins team is very good. My response was that there is clear separation between Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York and the rest. Those are the 'very good' teams. But we're 144 games into the season and the Twins are 6 games over .500. At some point, we might have to start considering that maybe this team is good. Maybe not very good, but certainly good. Yes, they're capable of going 6-12 over the final 18 games, but that feels unlikely. And for all of their flaws (particularly some pitching and maybe some against left-handed pitching), they're 2 games better than the next group. All of the other teams below them have flaws that are just as big, and maybe bigger, than the Twins. 

Agreed. This team is good/decent. My point is more that "good/decent" teams can go on short losing streaks pretty easily (hell, even very good teams can do this on occasion, see the Dodgers), especially teams that rely on offense as much as the Twins do.

 

But with a bunch of teams with middling/good records, any one of them could turn hot or cold over 15 games, which would define their season. That's my concern; not that the Twins are vastly inferior to anyone else competing for the WC spot.