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Article: Week in Review: Bounceback in Baltimore

eddie rosario jake odorizzi adalberto mejia brusdar graterol
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:47 PM

After being given the business at home by Toronto, the Minnesota Twins hit the road and handled their business, sweeping a bad Orioles team in Baltimore to salvage a winning week.

Your full breakdown lies ahead.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/15 through Sun, 4/21

***

Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 12-7)

Run Differential Last Week: +8 (Overall: +20)

Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA)

Willians Watch: 5-for-21 last week (Season AVG: .295)

Outscoring their opponents by eight over the past seven days, the Twins now find themselves tied with Houston for the third-best run differential in the American League. Minnesota has spent 12 out of 25 days since the season started in first place.

It was a positive week for Willians Watch, as La Tortuga delivered some big hits and – most importantly – saw plenty of playing time. Rocco Baldelli was quite creative in finding spots for the unconventional utilityman, who made appearances at four different positions (C, 1B, 3B, RF). More this, please.

HIGHLIGHTS

Last summer, as I put together these weekly recaps for Twins Daily, one practice became quite familiar: writing about Eddie Rosario in the "Highlights" section. It was a Sunday night tradition as reliable as pre-workweek dread. And Rosie has wasted no time resetting that routine here in 2019.

Following a strong finish to the previous week, Rosario was simply unconscious against the Blue Jays and Orioles, going 8-for-30 with six home runs, a double and nine RBIs. At one point, he launched five homers over a span of 11 plate appearances, and seven over a span of 24.

His monstrous performance during the doubleheader on Saturday was part of an 11-homer barrage by the Twins offense. Baltimore's pitching didn't navigate The Minefield very successfully.



Others who enjoyed strong offensive weeks:
  • C.J. Cron, who went 7-for-23 with a pair of homers and five RBIs, and has quickly pushed his OPS into the .800 range following a slow start
  • Byron Buxton, who collected six hits, all of them doubles. His total of 12 now leads the majors
  • Mitch Garver, who didn't see a ton of action (just two starts) but made the most of it with a double and two more home runs
  • Jorge Polanco, who went 7-for-22 with a 3-to-5 K/BB ratio and finished the week with the fourth-best batting average in the American League (.362)
  • Nelson Cruz, whose 7-for-24 owed mostly to a four-hit night on Saturday

After his victorious outing on Wednesday, Jake Odorizzi gave an in-depth self-assessment to The Athletic's Dan Hayes. "I think I'm a lot more consistent with these first four starts, just from stuff-wise, not results-wise, than any point last year," the right-handed opined. It can be tough to explain away poor outcomes without sounding like you're making excuses, but I think Odorizzi hit the right notes. And his confidence is warranted: Through his first four turns, he has held opponents to a .172 average with a blistering 14% swinging strike rate. Those are outstanding numbers.

Odorizzi's disastrous second start, on a cold and rainy night in New York, will inflate his overall numbers for a while. But if you take it away, he's got a 2.76 ERA and 20-to-6 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. He's generating whiffs at one of the highest rates in the league. If he can keep the bouts with control at bay, there's something special here. Monday's road date with the Astros presents a big test.

The most notable performer in the bullpen was actually Ryne Harper, who pitched three times and allowed zero runs on three singles while recording 15 outs. He's fast changing his narrative from "good story" to "good reliever."

LOWLIGHTS

It was a rough week for the bullpen. The unit's questionable depth came into frontal focus on Monday night, when Adalberto Mejia entered in the eighth inning with Minnesota protecting a two-run lead, and completely bombed. The left-hander allowed four runs before recording his first out, effectively turning a win into a loss.

Mejia is ostensibly slotted as more of a low-leverage long man in this pen, but Baldelli's hand was forced by necessity: Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May had all thrown 20-plus pitches the previous day, while Trevor Hildenberger was coming off appearances on consecutive days.

But those types of situations are going to arise often, and the Twins need to be ready for them. They can ill afford to have a single reliever on the roster they can't trust. To his credit, Mejia bounced back with a solid scoreless outing two days later.

Tuesday night featured another bullpen botching. After Rosario tied the game with an invigorating three-run bomb, May came on for the seventh and just couldn't throw strikes. He gave up a single and walked the bases loaded before giving way to Hildenberger, who's been thrown into some obscene pressure spots early on. This time Hildy couldn't bail the Twins out, as Teoscar Hernandez's two-run single was the difference-maker in another loss.

Betraying the high expectations he set with a dazzling showing in 2018, May just hasn't looked right this year. His command seems to go amiss every other outing. Swinging strikes are way down. And to whatever extent body language matters, his hasn't really inspired confidence since the start of spring.

Of course, this is a guy who had thrown 25 total innings in the past two years coming into 2019. Hopefully he just needs a little time to settle into his groove. There's no question that he's an absolutely critical factor in a successful turnaround for this relief corps.

TRENDING STORYLINE

For the foreseeable future, it seems likely the bullpen will be this team's most pressing issue – specifically, what the front office can do to bolster it. Fernando Romero wasn't overly impressive during his brief appearance on Saturday. Tyler Duffey (while intriguing) is probably not the answer for late-game leverage. The current IL members (Matt Magill, Addison Reed, Gabriel Moya) can't be counted on for much. If the Twins want to sustain in the division race, they absolutely must avoid leaning too hard on their top relievers early on, which means infusing more high-quality depth.

Naturally, there is a continual fan focus on Craig Kimbrel, given his availability in free agency. I myself favor the idea of pursuing the trade market, where the Twins could procure a prime-aged player with multiple years of control on reasonable financial terms. Through savvy drafting and "sell" moves, Minnesota's front office has built up considerable prospect depth in the minors. If the Twins can acquire an equivalent talent to Ryan Pressly, for an equivalent price that Houston paid, they should be looking to make that move at least once.

Granted, it's early for in-season dealing. But the landscape has never been better, with so many teams unabashed in their tanking intent. Indeed, reports are already arising that the hopelessly irrelevant Giants are open for business:



There are impact arms in that bullpen. Will Smith, Sam Dyson and Nick Vincent, to name a few. And as it happens, the Twins have already swung two trades with San Francisco in the last month (Michael Reed and Tyler Austin). One would hope Thad Levine is already getting on the horn.

DOWN ON THE FARM

For two members of this system's "Big Three," the 2019 season is off to a low-key start. Alex Kirilloff still hasn't played as he recovers from a wrist ailment, and Royce Lewis is hitting .214/.357/.286 at Fort Myers. But there's been nothing quiet about Brusdar Graterol's arrival at Double-A.

The 20-year-old flamethrower was flat-out brilliant on Tuesday night, hurling seven shutout innings with one hit, one walk, and eight strikeouts. Our guy Tom (whose Twitter account is an absolute must-follow for any Twins fan on the platform) has the grisly highlights:



Through three starts at Pensacola, Graterol has allowed one run on seven hits in 17 1/3 innings. If things keep going this way, there's no telling how quickly he could become a factor in the majors.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orioles, Astros, Orioles, Astros. A weird quirk in the schedule (which have been plentiful early on) has the Twins alternating between these two opponents exclusively for a two-week period. It'll be interesting to see what they do on Wednesday; Jose Berrios was slated to start, but with Friday's rainout he'll be on three days rest. For the purpose of my probable listings below, I'm assuming the Twins slot in another starter (Mejia?) and push everyone else back a day.

MONDAY, 4/22: TWINS @ ASTROS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Brad Peacock
TUESDAY, 4/23: TWINS @ ASTROS – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Wade Miley
WEDNESDAY, 4/24: TWINS @ ASTROS – TBD v. RHP Justin Verlander
FRIDAY, 4/26: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Dan Straily v. RHP Jose Berrios
SATURDAY, 4/27: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Alex Cobb v. LHP Martin Perez
SUNDAY, 4/28: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. RHP Kyle Gibson

Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps


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#2 Lasorda_This_Out

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:09 PM

12-7 on April 21st...better than anybody expected.

Keuchel/Kimbrel?Pass.

 

MLB semi-elite? No doubt. MLB semi-doubts? No doubt.

 

Fight tooth and nail the next 2 1/2 months, and then be super aggressive at the Trade Deadline...

 

Best way to the playoffs....not reacting in April...good start or bad start.

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#3 jkcarew

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:11 PM

Now 7-0 against KC, DET, and BAL. 5-7 against rest of schedule. On to Houston.
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#4 Nick Nelson

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:42 PM

 

Best way to the playoffs....not reacting in April...good start or bad start.

It's not a reaction to April. You might accuse it of being confirmation bias, but I don't think so.

 

Many people (most?) were questioning this bullpen's ability to stack up as needed since before the season started. What we're seeing is very much expected, and the problem is real. Frankly, they've been bailed out so far by plentiful off-days, and Rogers/Hildy putting out fires. 

 

Failing to be proactive, and letting these things spiral without being addressed, is how a season can go off the rails. 

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#5 h2oface

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 12:35 AM

The most notable performer in the bullpen was actually Ryne Harper, who pitched three times and allowed zero runs on three singles while recording 15 outs. He's fast changing his narrative from "good story" to "good reliever."

 

It seems the rest of the story is left out again. Harper was also 2/3 (5/8 on the season) inherited runners scored for the week, coming in against Toronto on Tuesday to bail out Gibson and hold the fort with runners on 1st and 2nd with one out and the Twins only down 2-1 in the 6th ..... and let them both score with a pair of singles before he walks away with a 0.00 ERA (a 2/2 outing). Am I the only one that thinks that is a big part of a reliever's story - the inherited-runners scored - and should always be included in a discussion of their perfomance? The Twins lost the game by one... 6-5, so those two runs that were charged to Gibson but let in by Harper, were significant.

 

Harper came in in the 4th with 2 outs and a runner on second on Thursday after Pineda had just imploded and turned a 3-1 lead into a 6-3 deficit, and struck Galvis out swinging on 4 pitches. Harper continued to pitch 3 more stellar innings, and kept the score at 6-3. Now that was impressive, albeit with a much lower pressure threshold. I really hope Harper continues to improve and baffle. We certainly need it in the pen.

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#6 Nine of twelve

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 06:28 AM

 

Now 7-0 against KC, DET, and BAL. 5-7 against rest of schedule. On to Houston.

If they do as well against the White Sox as against these three teams they should be in pretty good shape.


#7 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:02 AM

Early, we don't know much.

 

Like, is Baltimore a terrible team? Not clear the way they played Boston and New York. But, how good are Boston and New York? Don't know.

 

Toronto gets some breaks at Target Field, Twins don't hit and Toronto take three of four, and then sweep Oakland out west. How good Toronto? Hard to say.

 

Things swing wildly the first months.

 

Twins will hit homers. Defense is solid to excellent. Pitching? Don't know.

 

Cleveland? Great starters, decent bullpen, weak on offense. Hard to repeat.

 

Division for the taking if Twins can pitch.

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#8 nicksaviking

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:19 AM

Nick Vincent signed a MiLB deal, had the Twins been interested in him they could have easily had him a month ago. Sam Dyson doesn't historically miss many bats, that doesn't sound like a pitcher on this new-era Twins. If the Giants aren't moving Will Smith now, I don't see much of a fit at the moment.

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#9 ashbury

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:26 AM

Things swing wildly the first months.

Contenders also lose unexpectedly to cellar-dwellers in August and September. It's a long season with many ups and downs. I'm in agreement with your main point, though, not to get too worked up or enthused at this time.

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Nothing is impossible for the one who doesn't have to do the work.


#10 Monkeypaws

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 08:36 AM

I'll take .600 ball, regardless of the opposition.

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#11 MMMordabito

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 09:15 AM

A sweep is good medicine for the foul feeling you get after losing a series that you think you should have won.

 

Toronto is hot, and like the old saying goes - "It isn't always who you play, but when you play them."(Can we switch our schedule and go to the Bronx this week?)

 

The Twins bullpen is lacking in depth, but they are still currently tied for the third best record in MLB. Knock on wood, the team is staying healthy since the regular season started.Every team has their issues - some more than others.  

 

I'm certainly happy that the Twins don't have the Yankees' IL that's looking to compete with the weight of Johnny Cash's Cadillac title, and it's also nice that they don't have to call career 582 OPS Pedro Severino to pinch hit for career 579 OPS Cedric Mullins when the game is on the line.

 

 


#12 bunt_vs_the_shift

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 09:28 AM

I'm a believer in body language, so the body language comment on May is interesting. I haven't noticed any poor body language stand out, but I haven't been looking either. I also didn't see the game yesterday, so I'm curious how he looked in his scoreless inning and whether/how much that differed from the following inning given the results? This is going to be on my radar looking forward and I really hope he can figure it out, because we're going to need guys like May to step up! 

 

As a separate observation, I love the Ryne Harper story, but Jack Morris was commenting the other night on how he's got very little margin with his fastball and this seems spot on. As good as his array of curveballs look, I think Jack's take is on point. I'll be pulling for him and I'd love for Harper to be Matt Guerrier 2.0, but he's going to have to stay effective with some other pitches to do so.


#13 Aerodeliria

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:16 AM

While it's true that these are early days, the pressure on everyone is eased when the team is 12-7 rather than 7-12. If we play + .500 over the next three series, we'll be in good shape. The Astros are playing well, but not lights out. They are bound to lose at home soon. Let's hope the Twins deliver there first home losses for 2019.
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#14 The Mask of Zoilo

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 12:06 PM

In looking at bullpen team stats, theres room for some hope. Theyre second in bullpen WAR, second in lowest hard hit rate, second in highest soft hit rate, third in highest BABIP. This suggests that a lot of softly hit balls are falling in for hits and that a regression to the mean can happen to their benefit. They also are truly bad at BB/9 rate (24th) and any improvement at reducing that along with maintaining weak contact and things could start looking better.
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#15 adorduan

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 01:38 PM

"If the Twins can acquire an equivalent talent to Ryan Pressly, for an equivalent price that Houston paid, they should be looking to make that move at least once."

 

Or we could have just kept him in the first place.......

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#16 Nick Nelson

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 02:45 PM

 

"If the Twins can acquire an equivalent talent to Ryan Pressly, for an equivalent price that Houston paid, they should be looking to make that move at least once."

 

Or we could have just kept him in the first place.......

Preaching the choir, my friend.

 

I still hear people say it was a good trade. My question: is there any chance you would NOT make the same deal in reverse today? (Sending out Alcala & Celestino for Pressly.) You do it in instant, right? Not a second thought. So how can we really call it a good trade?

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#17 TheLeviathan

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 03:05 PM

 

Preaching the choir, my friend.

 

I still hear people say it was a good trade. My question: is there any chance you would NOT make the same deal in reverse today? (Sending out Alcala & Celestino for Pressly.) You do it in instant, right? Not a second thought. So how can we really call it a good trade?

 

Because your scenario takes a number of factors out of the trade that are relevant: like the performance of the team, team control, etc.Context matters a lot and rarely can you push that hypothetical fairly without a ton of caveats.

 

It may well end up a bad trade.But we could go get Sam Dyson right now and we'd all feel a lot better right?Ain't the end of the world.

Edited by TheLeviathan, 22 April 2019 - 03:06 PM.

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#18 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 03:48 PM

"If the Twins can acquire an equivalent talent to Ryan Pressly, for an equivalent price that Houston paid, they should be looking to make that move at least once."
 
Or we could have just kept him in the first place.......

Let's not forget how frustrating he was for the bulk of his Twins tenure.

#19 The Mask of Zoilo

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 03:49 PM

Because your scenario takes a number of factors out of the trade that are relevant: like the performance of the team, team control, etc.Context matters a lot and rarely can you push that hypothetical fairly without a ton of caveats.
 
It may well end up a bad trade.But we could go get Sam Dyson right now and we'd all feel a lot better right?Ain't the end of the world.


Yeah the trade was for one year of control of Pressley. Then he signed a 2/17.5 million extension starting in 2020, which is fair but projecting relievers 3 years out is risky. Then again, we seem to have received more return for two months of Escobar.

#20 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 05:10 PM

Preaching the choir, my friend.

I still hear people say it was a good trade. My question: is there any chance you would NOT make the same deal in reverse today? (Sending out Alcala & Celestino for Pressly.) You do it in instant, right? Not a second thought. So how can we really call it a good trade?


Are a lot of people calling it a good trade, or like me, are many simply saying it's too early to call it a bad trade? There is a big difference.
And no, I personally wouldn't make that trade in reverse. I'd never trade a legit prospect for a reliever, ever.
As a whole, I understand the increased value of bullpens, but on an individual level, they are still too inconsistent and unpredictable.
With no data, just my impression, you seem to see far more good relief pitchers suddenly fall off a cliff than you do any other position.



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