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Article: Twins Exhibit As A Flawed But Fearsome Foe

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:09 AM

Leaving New York, the Minnesota Twins likely couldn’t get on the plane out of town soon enough. Being outscored by 12 runs over three games, it was relatively apparent that the hometown nine was overmatched. What was also clear to see however, is that this current group is capable of putting the pressure on, and that remains a dangerous combination going forward.With just a handful of games left in the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the playoff race yet to be decided has come down to the Twins and the Los Angeles Angels. Despite the slimmest of margins (1.5 games to be exact), Minnesota has a more favorable path to postseason baseball. With seven of their final 10 games coming against the lowly Detroit Tigers, it’s time for them to get fat while the eatin’ is good. That being said, no amount of late season run is going to cover up some relatively glaring issues.

In New York, Paul Molitor sent Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios to the mound for games one and two of the series. The former pitched admirably, but the lineup wasn’t able to muster any run support. The latter struggled with command and ultimately left too much of a burden on the the team at end of the game. Behind those two arms though, there’s an incredible amount of unknown. Whether it be relying on the emergence of Kyle Gibson, or resting on hope with Adalberto Mejia or Bartolo Colon, the Twins starters still leave plenty to be desired.

Despite getting up 3-0 early on in the final game of the Yankees series, there was a feeling of when, and not if, the Bronx Bombers would climb back into it. Knowing Colon’s deception would be quickly taxed, and the bullpen would likely be overexposed, it didn’t take long for the Yankees to respond, and ultimately hang a 12-run effort on Minnesota. While the Twins came out firing against Yankees ace Luis Severino, their greatest flaw shined brightly, and allowed for a pretty stress- free result for Joe Girardi’s squad.

At this point in the season, there are many more known commodities than unknown. The Twins can score runs, and are currently third in baseball (only behind the Indians in the AL) since the All-Star break. Those runs tend to come in bunches however, and there’s been more than a few games in which the bats have gone cold. Now being carried both by veterans (Dozier and Mauer) as well as youth (Polanco, Buxton and Rosario), the Minnesota lineup looks more complete than it has at any point in 2017. Even with that notion however, nightly results are relatively unpredictable from this group.

It seems Miguel Sano will not be trotting on to the field at any point soon, and there isn’t any sort of reprieve on the mound. For a group that consistently relies on a starter eating up quality innings, there aren’t many arms for Molitor to hang his hat on. Knowing the bullpen has been better (13th in MLB since the break) is a welcomed truth, but they still are susceptible to being overexposed.

What we have in front of us is exactly as titled, a team that remains flawed but also fearsome. Yes, Minnesota could desperately use a thumper bat, another arm or two, and their best power hitter. Over the course of a 162 game season, those deficiencies rear their head a lot more often. In the snapshot of a one game playoff, five game series, or seven game series, this club has the ability to do some damage.

It’d be foolish to expect this band of misfits to make a deep playoff run. However, in the postseason, the mantra truly becomes one game at a time. There’s still work to be done prior to getting in, and there will be a treacherous road no matter how far they advance, but as flawed as they are, it’s also apparent fearlessness is something inherent by this group.

When you’re at a point where nothing else can be done, there’s no reason not to throw haymakers and hope something lands. With more than a few capable bats, and a handful of plus arms, Paul Molitor’s club has the makings of a group with a narrative yet to be written. Nowhere in the immediate future will the Twins find themselves in an enviable position, but that’s been the case for the majority of the year, so why not keep it going?

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- Ted Schwerzler
Off The Baggy
@tlschwerz

#2 Darius

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:42 AM

Some interesting stats provided by Gleeman on Twitter this morning.

The best one is that the Angels are 10-21 when Nolasco starts. They are 66-54 when anyone else starts.

Ricky Nolasco is the Twins' MVP.
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#3 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 08:47 AM

Many teams are not considered special until they do something special. 87 Twins and 2014 Royals come to mind. I just want this team to have the chance.  An encouraging season this year doesn't mean a whole lot to me for 2018. Right now we are seeing lots of guys having decent to good seasons and that hasn't happened much in the last 7 years. If this team makes the playoffs and goes on a hot streak people will still remember that the starting pitching wasn't deep and the bullpen wasn't reliable but the magnitude of the weaknesses will be diminished.   

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#4 ND-Fan

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:25 AM

This is modern day baseball this is not football where the domninat team is usually the winner. In baseball a team with flaws can get on winning streak and beat the best teams in short period of time. I am not saying the Twins are going to do this for sure this year but getting the chance opens the door for doing this. Look at last 10 years how many wild card teams have won and got themselves to the world series. Severalhave won the world series. Don't tell me they didn't have flaws. What infuriates me is this front office has done nothing to help this team down the stretch run. They acquired a pitcher and traded him away in few days plus one of there best bull pen pitchers this shows you how much confidence they have in their team. Second i wonder about Sano whats going on their to me if they were in we would be hearing more why he is not ready to return i get feeling again no urgency from the front office. I do have respect for this group of players and coaches that are carry this load to get themselves to the playoffs. It could be one and done deal or it could be they get a chance to play deeper in the playoffs. The Twins were one hit away from beating Yankeestwice in New York this week and that all it takes to get into the playoffs. I will tell you this group of players learned something going into New York this week and like they have been all year they have responded well the next time they have been put in similar situations. I just wish more people understood baseball its different sport than football difference between teams and game is way different, player development is different, and rebuilding is way different than football and even poorest teams still beat the very best teams in short game series every so often. Also these chances of getting to playoffs don't come very often and I sure hate to see when teams squander these chances.

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#5 Craig Arko

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:32 AM

It is, as they say, why they play the games.

 

I think behind Ervin it might be possible to beat the Yankees in the WC game. After that overwhelming good luck has to kick in to advance any further.

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#6 nokomismod

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:54 AM

It sure would be a positive event tonight if Meija pitches well and for 6 or 7 innings. If the Twins are able to make the WC, I would love to see him earn the 3rd or 4th spot in the rotation.


#7 Doomtints

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:04 AM

I don't buy it that the AL playoff teams would fear the Twins. The Twins are hitting with a lot of power, but so is everyone else this year. As usual, the playoffs will come down to pitching. 

 

Sure, teams will concede that a couple of the Twins starters could beat them on a good day if the defense is playing well, but that's probably more realism than fear. It's doubtful that the Twins would catch anyone off-guard, anyone they face will play the games to win.


#8 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:41 AM

 

This is modern day baseball this is not football where the domninat team is usually the winner. In baseball a team with flaws can get on winning streak and beat the best teams in short period of time. I am not saying the Twins are going to do this for sure this year but getting the chance opens the door for doing this. Look at last 10 years how many wild card teams have won and got themselves to the world series. Severalhave won the world series. Don't tell me they didn't have flaws. What infuriates me is this front office has done nothing to help this team down the stretch run. They acquired a pitcher and traded him away in few days plus one of there best bull pen pitchers this shows you how much confidence they have in their team. Second i wonder about Sano whats going on their to me if they were in we would be hearing more why he is not ready to return i get feeling again no urgency from the front office. I do have respect for this group of players and coaches that are carry this load to get themselves to the playoffs. It could be one and done deal or it could be they get a chance to play deeper in the playoffs. The Twins were one hit away from beating Yankeestwice in New York this week and that all it takes to get into the playoffs. I will tell you this group of players learned something going into New York this week and like they have been all year they have responded well the next time they have been put in similar situations. I just wish more people understood baseball its different sport than football difference between teams and game is way different, player development is different, and rebuilding is way different than football and even poorest teams still beat the very best teams in short game series every so often. Also these chances of getting to playoffs don't come very often and I sure hate to see when teams squander these chances.

I agree with everything here except the front office actions. When we acquired Garcia we were 2.5 games back and in the thick of things. We then got swept by the Dodgers, lost 2 of 3 to the A's and were 7 games back with a 50-53 record and less than a 7% chance of making the playoffs. Less than 7%!!  They got twice what they paid for Garcia and who knows how it would have played out anyway. With Garcia we maybe don't get Colon who may be done but gave us some good games. Or maybe Gibson is the odd man out and so doesn't go on the really nice run he had.  I don't fault them for the Garcia trade.  Kintzler was a different story only because I don't think we got all that much for him. Would sure be nice to still have him but maybe Hildenberger doesn't get his shot..  If the Twins had won a couple winnable games against the Dodgers and A's it is very likely the front office goes shopping for a reliever rather than shopping a reliever.

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#9 spycake

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:51 AM

Some interesting stats provided by Gleeman on Twitter this morning.

The best one is that the Angels are 10-21 when Nolasco starts. They are 66-54 when anyone else starts.

Ricky Nolasco is the Twins' MVP.


We have gotten a lot more from the $4 mil we are paying Nolasco this year, than from the same amount we are paying Jaime Garcia, that's for sure. :)
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#10 Darius

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:01 PM

I think the Twins are just the team to be successful in the playoffs with a shortened rotation. It's the bullpen that scares the hell out of me. I'm not sure I trust a single guy in a high leverage situation in a winner-take all game.

Offensively, they are just so hot and cold. Their relative incompetence when it comes to picking up those RISP with zero or one out will really kill them.

For those who don't buy that it's an issue for this club: they are 28th in the MLB in runners left in scoring position at 3.7 per game.

Normally, this is a good thing, because it means you're getting guys on base. They're right there with the Indians, Yankees, Houston, etc in that regard. But, if you dig a little deeper, you'll see they are behind those teams in avg., OBP, OPS, etc. that will tell you that they are getting fewer runners in scoring position, thus stranding them at a higher rate, than the elite offensive teams.

They have to turn that around and start picking up those runs, or they'll never survive their bullpen.

#11 jimmer

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 05:46 PM

I doubt our team strikes fear in any of the teams that will be with us in the playoffs.

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#12 chpettit19

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 05:53 PM

I agree with everyone's bullpen fear and that increases my frustrations with Molitor's obsession with bunting and playing for 1 run. As the OP, and some comments, said, this team tends to score in bunches and that's how they win games. I think anyone can beat anyone on any given day and have hope that Ervin could go in and shut down the Yanks enough to give them a real shot to win that game. In any series after that I'm hoping and praying that Molitor doesn't lose us a game by bunting his 3 hole hitter, or playing for 1 run in the first, or any of the other "old school" things he tends to do when this team needs to be playing for big leads to take pressure off a less than stellar, or proven, bullpen.


#13 blindeke

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 11:58 AM

The only way to get playoff experience is to play in the playoffs. I hope we go to Yankee stadium and win a nailbiter. 

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#14 FargoFanMan

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 03:42 PM

Even if they are one and done. This season has put a lot of confidence in our young hitters that only helps down the road. I'm also pleasantly surprised to see super Joe hitting and getting on base again at his pre concussion mark. Maybe they surprise some people in october
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