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KCR 9, MIN 6: Brief 2020 Debut for Odorizzi; Royals Bust It Open Against Bullpen

Jake Odorizzi lasted just three innings in his 2020 season debut. After he exited the game the Royals jumped all over the bullpen, scoring six runs in the fourth inning. The Twins’ lineup scored more than five runs for just the second time in the past 11 games, but the damage had already been done.Box Score

Odorizzi: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

Home Runs: Cruz (4), Buxton (3), Kepler (5)

Bottom 3 WPA: Stashak -.279, Thorpe -.275, Adrianza -.209

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: Winchart.png


While much of the Twins’ lineup has scuffled, Byron Buxton is white hot. He gave the Twins a two-run lead with a three run homer in the fourth inning, his third dinger in as many days. In his next at-bat, Buxton laced a single to left and drove in another run.



Marwin González has filled in more than admirably in Josh Donaldson’s absence. Marwin singled in his first two at-bats Saturday and reached in all four of his plate appearances. Marwin was already hitting .297/.381/.459 before another fantastic game.


Nelson Cruz hit a 437-foot home run to center off Duffy in the fourth, his fourth dong of the season. The Twins scored enough runs to win. The problems arose on the mound.



Jake Odorizzi made his season debut and understandably wasn’t sharp. He threw 71 pitches in only three innings of work. Odorizzi’s command was spotty at best but he allowed only two runs.


Lewis Thorpe entered with a 4-2 lead and lasted only the three batter minimum. Cody Stashak was called next and made multiple mistakes. Jorge Soler and Salvador Pérez made him pay with booming, back-to-back home runs. Soler homered twice in the first four innings.


Jorge Alcala, whom the Twins received along with Gilberto Celestino in the Ryan Pressly trade, was electric in two innings of relief. He fired upper 90s heat and buckled the Royals with nasty offspeed action. Alcala struck out four, walked none, and didn’t allow a hit. Watch out for this flamethrower.


The Twins will try to salvage one Sunday with José Berríos on the mound against rookie right-hander Brady Singer. Singer throws a mid 90s fastball, a low 80s slider, and an upper 80s changeup. MLB Pipeline ranked Singer as the No.2 prospect - and best pitcher - in the Royals’ system.


The Twins have yet to use Sergio Romo, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey or Taylor Rogers this weekend. The bullets are in the bullpen gun for Sunday and for next week’s series in Milwaukee.


Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Download attachment: Bullpen.png


Postgame Pint

After the last out, Twins Daily's community and writers dissected Jake Odorizzi's return, the bullpen' worst game of the season and Buxton's surge.



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Is Baldelli aware of the fact that he is allowed to bring in one of his decent arms in a game they are trailing closely in the late innings to keep the game within reach? There was at least a little something going after getting runs back in the 6th and 7th but that momentum was killed after Sean Poppen struggled to throw strikes for the next 20 minutes (pitching on back to back days for the very first time in his professional career, I should add, something that made me question the move even more). What's the harm in bringing in, for instance, Trevor May, when your 5 best relievers have all had at least a day of rest, and May himself had 3? 

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More than the results, some bad baseball worries me. Poppen wasn't even pay attention to the bases. Garver was not even close on the steals and the 2 wild pitches were a little bit his fault too. And except for Gonzalez, Cruz, Kepler Polanco Buxton, the rest of the hitters are not contributing. I hope losing 3 in a row is a wake up call.

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No time to panic, but doffing11, is not to far off. My many Twins friends who watch obsessively like the rest of us, are wondering if who we pitch and when is confusing.

We will sacrifice the non proven guys for multiple innings, but not the quality guys.  It's a 60 game season.  Every game is 2.5 of a game.  


It's complicated and I'm mot sure what the right answer is, but sacrificing AAA players with this line up (Twins), we should not be out of any game, it's worth questioning,

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Do you want to be a pessimist after losing 3 in a row? It's easy to be one right now. And believe me, I'm NOT HAPPY choking 1 to the pirates and then losing 2 in a row to KC. Not happy at all!


(Deep breath)


The Twins are still 10-5.


Points to consider:


1] As good as the pen has been, not everyone will be perfect all the time. Witness the last Pirates game and tonight. Do we bail on Romo, Rogers and Stashak because they suddenly had a couple bad appearances? Absolutely not.


2] No matter the Twins pitching depth, at some point you get nailed when you have 3SP on the IL along with a RP you were counting on. Yes, Oddo is back now. But I'm not surprised his first game back was poor.


3] I am very disappointed in Thorpe so far. I think he needs to go down/over and work on his stuff. Something just isn't working right with him right now. On the other hand, Alcala was supposed to be the 8th or 9th option out of the pen, if not the 11th or 12th. (Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe ahead of him with a full rotation). But we have seen flashes that can't be denied. Is he here to stay?


4] The hitters are still not producing as they should be. Guess what? Offense all across MLB is down so far. Buxton is getting in to a groove and hit a HR in 3 straight games for the first time in his career. Arraez had a good game.


5] Despite disappointment and frustration and injury, the Twins are still 10-5.


BTW, despite some wildness, I've seen enough pure "stuff" from Poppen to think he's going to make it once he settles down. Sort of reminds me of Littell when he first came up.


I appreciate Rocco working with the lineup and mixing things up. For the most part, I think he's handled the pitching staff as well as be can considering some rotational issues.


As stupid as it may sound, this team needs something "silly" to happen to make everything come together. There is no Redmond to walk naked through the clubhouse and I doubt there will be a Hunter dance party anytime soon. But it feels to me as though this 10-5, deep and talented team is just waiting for a "spark" to just jump start them going forward.


(FWIW, I commented before the season began that I thought the Royals would be a thorn).

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Garvers hot bat covered his cold glove last year. While I am not sure if his one kneed catching stance is getting us more called strikes, it’s definitely getting Garver more exercise running to the backstop. With runners on  maybe he needs to return to a more basic stance. Neither his glove or his arm are good enough for him to crouch as he currently does. He is 28? 29? years old. His bat may return, but he will never be a decent defensive catcher.

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It stings losing three in a row, but as others have said, 10-5 is still where the Twins are sitting right now. If you look at this from another perspective, here's a quote about the Twins from the STL newspaper website, as they're discussing the Cardinals 5 total games played this season:


"Their only other games were two losses to the AL Central leading Twins, a powerhouse team that is once again running away with its division."


That was written last night, after the Twins 3rd straight loss. Yes, Minnesota is still considered a "powerhouse" by most people on the outside looking in.


I didn't expect much out of Jake last night. Happy to have the guy back, hopefully this was just shaking off rust.


Two words: Byron Buxton.




Rocco's carefree managing style is bugging me. Resting the "A" team (Cruz and Arraez Friday, Polanco Saturday) and rolling out Poppen, Wisler, Thorpe, Smeltzer, and Theilbar this series. Earth to Rocco. These games count, Rocco! You don't get more points for beating Cleveland.


Garver's just looking awful in every way right now. We all want him to succeed but it might be time to start curbing our expectations a bit. League appears to have figured him out OR he's just lost whatever mojo he had last year. Looks to be a shell of his former self in every aspect. Possible one-season wonder. Time to give Avila the reins and bring in Astudillo to take some more of Garv's at bats away. 

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Sloppy baseball.

Wild pitches, passed balls, stolen bases nearly uncontested. Godawful 0-2 pitches. Indifferent ABs.

Some really bad baseball.

Garver in particular is really playing poorly behind the plate.

Back when we were losing 90+ games a season I used to say the worst part was watching bad baseball.  You can have lesser talent but still hit  the cutoff, hustle on base paths, execute bunt defense, advance runners, battle every at bat.    It was hard to watch back then and its hard to watch now.    

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I too am frustrated.  we have so three batters hitting more than 250 and five batters hitting below 200.  Why not dip into the St Paul players?   Arraez, Kepler, Buxton all look like they are going to be doing well.


The rest days, the choice of reliever, the general blah approach after the first Pittsburgh games is disturbing.  We do need something to wake up the team.  


Let me add one more idea that probably has no support elsewhere - at a time when we are having trouble scoring and the hitters are struggling - how about bunching the hot hitters together?


TD articles were all about the great schedule we have, but if we allow the "poor teams" to beat us it does not look as favorable.

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