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Article: Where Are We Now? (152 Down, 10 To Go)

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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 06:20 AM

On Wednesday, the Twins lost in New York to the Yankees (Rinse. Repeat.) Fortunately, the Twins got help from the American League Central Division champions from Cleveland. Late on Wednesday night, the Angels lost a second-straight one-run game at the hands of Cleveland. That combination of events means that the Twins, despite their struggles in New York, they still have a 1.5 game lead in the American League Central. With all these losses, could another team work its way into the picture?

Nine days ago, we took a look at the teams competing with the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot. Seven teams were within four games of each other with between 18 and 20 games to play.Today, there are six teams within four games of the Twins and that second Wild Card spot. Baltimore is the one team that has fallen back. They are now 5.5 games back. Of course, being four games back with 20 games to play is very different than being four games back with ten games to play.

Here is how the 2nd Wild Card race stands with 11 days left in the regular season (12 if there is a Game 163).
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Fortunately for the Twins, the other teams have all struggled in the last 9-10 days too. The Twins have gone 4-5 in the last nine days, but each of the other teams competing for the second Wild Card spot have been under .500. The Angels, Rangers, Mariners and Royals were all 3-5 during that time frame. The Rays were 3-4. The Orioles fell out of the race by going 2-7.

So, the Twins have lost four of their last five games but only lost 1.5 games in that time frame. The Twins still have the advantage for a playoff spot, and that should be encouraging.

Of course, here is the time when it is important to mention that the Twins went 59-103 last year, and they now have 78 wins this season with ten games to play. Yes, 2017 has been a tremendous success for the Twins regardless of what happens over these final ten games. That said, it’s OK to recalibrate your expectations (or at least your hopes) for the 2017 season at this point.

With ten games to play in a 162 game season, it’s as if the Twins have a one-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning of their season. Now it’s time to bring in the closer and finish the season strong.

Here is a quick look at the remaining schedule.

The Twins start with four games in Detroit and then head to Cleveland for three games. They finish with three home games against the Tigers.

Seven games against the Tigers would seen to be a very positive thing for the Twins, and relatively speaking, it is. The Tigers traded off some veterans including Justin Verlander and JD Martinez in the last couple of months. They are playing for 2018. So they can be a scary opponent too. The Twins obviously have motivation to finish strong and get to a one-game playoff. But the Tigers players have motivation to finish strong and try to impress the manager and the front office.



Earlier this week, we ran a twitter poll asking fans how many wins it would take to win the second Wild Card. 54% thought that the team would need to get to 85 wins. To reach 85 wins, the Twins would have to finish the season by going 7-3, which is certainly possible. The most plausible way to 85 now it winning one of their three games in Cleveland and then win six out of seven games against the Tigers.

But maybe we also need to recalibrate our thoughts on how many wins it will take to get to the playoffs. The Angels are 1.5 games behind the Twins and have a 76-75 record. They have 11 games left, so for them to get to 85 wins, they will need to go 9-2. They have one more game to play against Cleveland followed by three games in Houston. Those two teams are competing for the best record, and home field advantage in the playoffs. They also do not have a day off the rest of the season.



If 84 is the number of wins needed, the Twins would have to go 6-4 in their final ten and the Angels would have to go 8-3. For the Angels to go 8-3, they would likely need to win one of the four remaining games against Cleveland and the Astros, and if they do that, they would have to win their four games at Chicago (White Sox) and three games against the Mariners to end the season.

More important, if 84 is the new number that we believe that it will take to win the second Wild Card, it is harder to envision that this is more than a two-team race. Texas is now 75-76 and 2.5 games back of the Twins, but to get to 84 wins, they would need to go 9-2 down the stretch. Feasible? Yes. Likely? No. However, after playing in Seattle today, they will play seven games in Oakland but three against Houston.

The Mariners would have to go 10-0 down the stretch to get to 84 wins, and they have three games against Cleveland and three on the road against the Rangers.

The Royals would have to go 10-1 down the stretch. While they have the “easiest” schedule down the stretch, they have one game in New York against the Yankees that will certainly be difficult, and they only have a one-game margin for error. The Rays would have to go 10-0, and they have three against the Yankees.

So again, it now appears to be just a two-team race for the second Wild Card. Unless, of course, 84 isn’t the required win total.

PLAYOFF ODDS

Here are the projections for which of the competing teams will make the playoffs:

FanGraphs:
Twins: 62.4%
Angels: 26.0%
Rangers: 4.8%

BaseballProspectus:
Twins: 65.0%
Angels: 20.4%
Rangers: 9.0%

FiveThirtyEight
Twins: 64%
Angels: 22%
Texas: 9%

FiveThirtyEight predicts that the Twins will end with a record of 83-79. That would mean a 5-5 record down the stretch.

REMAINING SCHEDULES

Minnesota Twins (78-74)
4 games @ Detroit
1 Day Off
3 games @ Cleveland
3 games vs Detroit

Los Angeles Angels (76-75, 1.5 games behind Twins)
1 game vs Cleveland
3 games @ Houston
4 games @ White Sox
3 games vs Seattle

Texas Rangers (75-76, 2.5 games behind Twins)
1 game @ Seattle
3 games @ Oakland
3 games vs Houston
4 games vs Oakland

Seattle Mariners (74-78)
1 game vs Texas
3 games vs Cleveland
3 games @ Oakland
1 day off
3 games @ LA Angels

Kansas City Royals (74-77)
1 game @ Toronto
3 games @ Chicago White Sox
1 game @ NY Yankees
3 games vs Detroit
3 games vs Arizona

Tampa Bay Rays (74-78)
4 games @ Baltimore
1 day off
3 games @ NY Yankees
3 games vs Baltimore

So, what do you think will happen? What do the Twins need to do?


I think the most important thing that the Twins can do is forget the three games in New York. Notice that they control their own destiny, they have the lead in the wild card race, and they can only control what they do. They need to take care of business in Detroit, and they need to find a way to eke out a win in Cleveland. Then they’ll still need to finish strong against the Tigers at home.

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#2 Blackjack

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 07:12 AM

Thanks for a good review Seth!!! I was wondering earlier this morning what the Angels schedule was.

 

The Twins need to stomp the Tigers tonight, score in the double digits, get their mojo back after getting their heads handed to them on a platter.Win 3 of 4 in Detroit, 1 of 3 in Cleveland, then they can return home in control of their own destiny.

 

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#3 DocBauer

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 07:52 AM

I absolutely am rooting for that final WC spot and a trip to the WC game. What an accomplishment for this team, especially after last season. And I don't buy in to whether or not the Twins ARE a true playoff team or not. They are playing winning baseball, are in the hunt, and have been most all season. If you are one of the top 5 teams, you are one of the top 5 teams.

But even if they would lose to the Yankees again and not advance, or somehow far at the end and not make it, this season is a resounding success and the future is looking pretty bright for our favorite team.
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#4 mazeville

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:02 AM

I'll say this: No matter what happens, this season should be considered a raging, shocking success. 

 

But it won't feel like it if they don't make the playoffs. 

 

I was probably as optimistic as anyone heading into the season, meaning I could easily envision a 10-15-win improvement. And yet here they are, awfully close to the second wild card spot. 

 

This season gives me a lot of hope heading into 2018 that the core can improve, and perhaps Sano can stay healthy for the full year, while perhaps the team does something to address its pitching staff and its bullpen. The Twins have the makings of a very good team if they can just do that.

 

But not making the playoffs will feel like a disappointment.

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#5 scottz

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:13 AM

We should be large supporters of Seattle, Houston, and Cleveland (except when we are playing them).

Oh, and we also need to win both series against Detroit. Going 3-1 and 2-1 against Detroit gets us to 83 wins. My target is 84, but taking care of business with Detroit is key.

#6 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:29 AM

Back when everyone thought the target was 85 i pointed out that would mean that teams that had played .500 ball to that point had to play significantly better to reach that mark. It was possible but unlikely. Now the most likely magic number is 83 which would still require some teams to play at least at a 7-4 clip to tie us. I would definitely lock in 84 if given the chance and maybe 83.  I wouldn't lock in 82 but that would still have a pretty fair chance of doing the job. Most important right now is winning today's game.

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#7 ThejacKmp

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:33 AM

I think it's only going to take 83. Just gotta take 3 of 4 from the Tiggers this weekend and I'll feel very good. Try to take one in Cleveland and then head into that last series in control of your own destiny.

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#8 Doomtints

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:13 AM

With Houston and Cleveland vying for the #1 seed and the best chance to feast on the Twins in the playoffs, it is good that they both have games left v. the Angels.

 

I don't think the Twins will need 85 wins, but 85 will guarantee it. I think the Twins have 5, maybe 6 wins left in them in the regular season. This means the Angels need 7-8 wins to TIE the Twins. Not likely. The Twins would need to crash hard to lose this thing.

Edited by Doomtints, 21 September 2017 - 09:14 AM.


#9 mikelink45

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:15 AM

The Tigers just seem too easy to be true. 

 

Lousy teams are relaxed and having fun - this is dangerous if our team is pressing.  

 

Being a MN fan is always a nervous condition.  

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#10 Doomtints

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:17 AM

 

The Tigers just seem too easy to be true. 

 

Lousy teams are relaxed and having fun - this is dangerous if our team is pressing.  

 

Being a MN fan is always a nervous condition.  

 

The Tigers have played the Twins hard all year. These will not be easy wins for the Twins, but they will be a hell of a lot easier than NY and Cleveland.

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#11 ThejacKmp

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:24 AM

It also appears that the Twins will miss Kluber and Corrasco when they play the Clevelanders. That should make winning a game or even two more doable.

 

I really hope they skip Colon on Tuesday against Cleveland. That would set him up to make only one more start (against the Tigers - he does okay against bad teams but good teams tee off on him by the 3rd) and would set the Twins up to have Gibson in a Game 163 and Santana in a WC game. That's ideal, weird as that first part seems.

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#12 TRex

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:09 AM

...am I a bad fan because I am hoping for a game 163 at Target Field (we hold the tie-breaker with LAA and Texas)?

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#13 spycake

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:18 AM

...am I a bad fan because I am hoping for a game 163 at Target Field (we hold the tie-breaker with LAA and Texas)?


Yes. :)

A game 163 would guarantee 1 extra game at home, but it would lower our chances of winning the wild card game and the guaranteed home postseason game that would come with that.

Not to mention, since we already have a lead, a game 163 would likely mean we blew that lead, which would be a bit of a sour taste before we even played the game. (The 2008-2009 Game 163's were pretty much us coming from behind to force them.)
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#14 Blake

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 12:16 PM

 

I absolutely am rooting for that final WC spot and a trip to the WC game. What an accomplishment for this team, especially after last season. And I don't buy in to whether or not the Twins ARE a true playoff team or not. They are playing winning baseball, are in the hunt, and have been most all season. If you are one of the top 5 teams, you are one of the top 5 teams.

But even if they would lose to the Yankees again and not advance, or somehow far at the end and not make it, this season is a resounding success and the future is looking pretty bright for our favorite team.

What he said. :)


#15 Riverbrian

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 12:50 PM

To me where we are Sunday will determine my comfort level. 

 

We started the week up 2 games. If we finish the week up by more than two games. I'll start to believe that we have it. 

 

If we are less than 2 games up after Sunday. I'll be a basket case and my wife will have to remind to focus on things like sleep, food and shaving every once in a while. 

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#16 Respy

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:06 PM

 

If we are less than 2 games up after Sunday. I'll be a basket case and my wife will have to remind to focus on things like sleep, food and shaving every once in a while. 

 

Shaving optional.  Start the playoff beard early!

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#17 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:15 PM

My comfort level is algebra related.  I still remember 06 when everyone said we had to sweep the last series of the year because Detroit was playing the weak KC Royals. We won one game and Detroit got swept.  Its always in the back of my mind that could happen to us. So here is the algebra.    I will be pretty happy when we are X games up with X games to go.  Happier still if we get to X games up with X-1 games to go.  That's it. We are in SSS season.

if Mejia shows us anything at all I am hoping Colon does not make the playoff squad.

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#18 Doomtints

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:28 PM

 

My comfort level is algebra related.  I still remember 06 when everyone said we had to sweep the last series of the year because Detroit was playing the weak KC Royals. We won one game and Detroit got swept.  Its always in the back of my mind that could happen to us. So here is the algebra.    I will be pretty happy when we are X games up with X games to go.  Happier still if we get to X games up with X-1 games to go.  That's it. We are in SSS season.

if Mejia shows us anything at all I am hoping Colon does not make the playoff squad.

 

So you will be happy when the magic number is 1 or, even better, 0. I think that's true for all of us.

 

As far as algebra goes, the Angels need to win x+2 games, x being however many games the Twins win, just to tie. The Twins will probably win 5 more games (.500) meaning the Angels have to win 7. I wouldn't worry about the Angels doing that. The Twins would need an epic collapse to miss the playoffs this year.


#19 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:48 PM

 

So you will be happy when the magic number is 1 or, even better, 0. I think that's true for all of us.

 

As far as algebra goes, the Angels need to win x+2 games, x being however many games the Twins win, just to tie. The Twins will probably win 5 more games (.500) meaning the Angels have to win 7. I wouldn't worry about the Angels doing that. The Twins would need an epic collapse to miss the playoffs this year.

You say that and its true though I don't entirely buy the epic collapse part.  it is true though that I will be on edge until we have at least clinched a tie.  Being 2 or 3 games up by Sunday would be great but not conclusive. I've compared it to cribbage before.  I calculate odds of winning starting around 3rd street but what looks like a skunk in my favor can turn on one good hand and crib by my opponent while I get a dud. In this case you can talk about records needed and likelihood but all it takes is two games where the Angels win and we lose and then  to have the same record in all the remaining games. We have been swept 5 times.  Angels have swept series 6 times. While that is still in play I am not counting anything.

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#20 spycake

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 02:04 PM

Fangraphs has the Twins odds at 61-65%. They could still miss without an "epic collapse", it's just 2 games (and only 1 loss difference right now) in 10 days.

FWIW, Rockies have roughly the same odds in the NL right now, with a 1 game lead on the Brewers.

Per 538, the Cardinals had a 62% chance last year on Sep. 22 and missed. They were tied with the Mets and Giants that day, and finished 6-4 -- but both the Mets and Giants finished 7-3.

Edited by spycake, 21 September 2017 - 02:22 PM.

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