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(Close enough) to the Quarter Pole

bullpen rotation defense depth power
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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 09:46 AM

The Twins played their 39th game this season yesterday. Their record remains the best in baseball (by percentage points), despite a 5-3 loss to Detroit. While 40 games is closer to the 1/4 mark, there are more than 24 hours between games to consider where the Twins are and what changes (if any) should be made. Obviously, with that good record, the weaknesses aren't too glaring and the strengths are pretty evident.

 

Why are the Twins 25-14? Power and pitching are the easy answers. They are on a club-record pace for long balls, with a lineup that legitimately could have eight or nine 20-homer hitters. Starting pitching has been well above expectations, as well, with José Berríos putting up ace numbers, while probably the two biggest surprises are Jake Odorizzi and Martín Pérez, both of whom have been outstanding. The bullpen has, on balance, gotten the job done. There have been hiccups in the 'pen, especially callups and middle inning guys, but one can only point to a game or two where the bullpen is to blame for a loss. 

 

If Marwin Gonzalez is considered part of the bench, the Twins have a deep and versatile group of players to fill in. Gonzalez has gotten over 500 plate appearances every year since 2016 while playing multiple positions. Willians Astudillo and Ehire Adrianza also play multiple positions and either of the two primary catchers are hitting well right now. Garver can also play multiple positions.

 

The team's defense is far better with centerfielder Byron Buxton playing full-time and healthy. The three new defenders in the infield have been very good, as well. Super-utility player Gonzalez has been the principal 3rd baseman and probably will be until third baseman Miguel Sanó returns.

 

Here is one person's thoughts on problems for this club:

1) Bullpen--Blake Parker has gotten the job done as a closer, Taylor Rogers has continued to be an outstanding late-inning arm. Beyond that, there are questions. Trevor May has been OK as a 7th-8th inning guy, but he's been inconsistent. Trevor Hildenberger has faltered recently. It doesn't appear that the manager trusts any of the other bullpen pitchers with high-leverage situations. Another arm or two is needed, if the Twins want to get to October and win games in postseason.

 

2) Starting depth--The front four starters have been great. Miguel Pineda has struggled, but shows signs of shaking off the rust. Beyond that, it appears the Twins best hopes to bolster their starting rotation are in AA (or just promoted to AAA). Teams almost always need more than five starters and the cupboard is pretty bare beyond #5 for the Twins.

 

3) Speed and a backup outfielder--Way down the list, but the Twins have only one real threat on the base paths. Buxton has all but two of the teams stolen bases and demonstrates his blazing speed running out extra-base hits and tracking fly balls. Jake Cave is a major league player, but is essentially a backup corner outfielder and he is backing up two left-handed hitting corner outfielders. It would be helpful if the Twins had a speedy, good defensive outfielder who hit right handed and handled LH pitching. 

 

These are my thoughts at almost 40 games. I wonder how they'll change after 81, the halfway point.

 

 

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#2 Doomtints

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 09:56 AM

If they can play this well for another quarter they might have a nice buffer, though it will still take more than that to deflate the Indians who are hanging tight in spite of some injuries.

 

It's nice to see a Twins team where, at least on the hitting side, they're not just 1-2 injuries (or extended slumps) away from being mediocre. They have just two players who aren't hitting well this year and that's crazy. We can see this has been rubbing off on the pitchers, who started slow but who are now really stepping up.

Edited by Doomtints, 13 May 2019 - 09:56 AM.

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