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Twins Notebook 9/30: Rebound or Retire


Ted Schwerzler
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Despite being the favorite in the opening game of the Wild Card round against the Houston Astros, Minnesota dropped their 17th straight Postseason contest. Now up against two straight elimination games, it’s time to rebound or call it a season for the Twins.Yesterday’s Game Recap

HOU 4, MIN 1: Defensive Lapses, Lack of Offense Lead to Another Twins Loss

 

Today

Twins vs. Astros 12:08pm CDT

TV Broadcast: ESPN2

Betting Lines: MIN -149, O/U 8.0

 

Twins Starter: Jose Berrios, RHP 4.00 ERA

 

In game one Rocco Baldelli went with the guy who emerged as the Twins staff ace. That was intended to be Jose Berrios, but Kenta Maeda came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers and ate his lunch in year one. This was the first season of his career in which the Puerto Rican has taken a step backwards, but as a traditional streaky starter, 12 games of runway were tough to work with.

 

Going into his final start of the season Berrios had strung together six outings of mastery. Minnesota went 4-2 in that stretch while Berrios worked to a 4-0 record. He posted a 2.14 ERA and allowed just a .547 OPS against. Looking to ride that momentum into the Postseason, the Cincinnati Reds gave him a bit of a fit in his final outing. Lasting just five innings, he allowed four runs on five hits. The whiffs were there as he punched out seven, but dominance was nowhere to be found.

 

Download attachment: Berrios.PNG

 

There’s been a bit of everything this season from Berrios. We’ve seen increased fastball velocity, but command has not been as sharp. Stuff has looked great at times, but missing bats has been less frequent. Minnesota got the pitching in game one and the lineup failed. In game two, they’ll need a complete effort if Houston is going to be pushed to game three.

 

Astros Starter: Jose Urquidy, RHP 2.73 ERA

 

Still working in what amounts to his rookie season, Urquidy has some flashy numbers that aren’t back by anything overpowering. He made just five starts and worked one out shy of 30 innings this season. The ERA is a glowing 2.73, but the FIP is a less positive 4.71. He struck out just 5.2 per nine and limited damage by avoiding free passes.

 

It was up in the air as to what Houston would do in game two, also deciding on lefty Framber Valdez. The southpaw piggybacked Greinke in game one however, leaving Urquidy to take the ball. The Twins have struggled mightily against lefties this season, but the expected potency of the group has been missing against righties too.

 

Download attachment: Urquidy.PNG

 

Urquidy resides just outside of Houston’s top 10 prospects, and it’s because the sum of all parts is better than any one aspect. He’s not a hard thrower, doesn’t miss many bats, and spinning the ball isn’t his thing. He does a good job making you beat him however, and working around trouble isn’t something that phases him. Look for Houston’s Jose to make Minnesota capitalize rather than playing into any of their strengths.

 

Twins Lineup

 

 

News & Notes

 

- Prior to game one Rocco Baldelli noted he wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Alex Kirilloff make an appearance in this series. As a bopping left-handed bat, that may come into play today against Houston.

 

- The matchup in Cleveland turned out to be more bats than pitching as both aces gave up a run. Unfortunately for the Indians it was expected AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber that was beat around a bit, and New York jumped ahead in that series.

- As the only lower seed favored in their matchup, the White Sox held serve as expected. Moving to 15-0 against lefties this season, Chicago dispersed of rookie Jesus Luzardo. Adam Engel started the scoring and Jose Abreu kept up his hot hitting in 2020.

 

See Also

5 Overreactions to the Twins Game 1 Loss

4 Head Scratchers for Baldelli Against Astros

 

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

 

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Today we will see what the Twins are made of. Forget the regular season. Forget everything that has come before. Our team should be better than their opponents but our team has this awful propensity to beat themselves.

Yesterday's game was one of the worst played, worst executed games of the year...maybe THE worst.  Our hitters didn't hit; our bullpen didn't shut the door..our 'd' let us down at the very worst time of the game. A routine toss to 2nd in the 9th would have gotten us to the bottom of the 9th still tied.

Byron Buxton, mired in a batting slump that has seen him swing at most pitches outside the zone did not utilize his speed to bunt over runners at 1st and 2nd and instead stuck out looking bad doing it.

Garver, pinch hits for Jeffers and never takes the bat off his shoulders....Garver's season has been one complete epic fail.

Houston removes their ace after 4 and replaces him with another lefty ace...and he pitches the rest of the game. One wonders if Jake O should have come in after Maeda...to give our gassed bullpen a bit of a break.

While Polanco's error was death dealing (he isn't hitting and now he also blows a game deciding play) Romo couldn't throw strikes to an equally struggling Altuve. You just don't walk in the go ahead run in the 9th, no matter what. Romo has become useless.

 

Can the Twins win today? Yeah, they could but the way they are playing doesn't recommend it at all...does it honestly? If this team wants to advance against a team that they should be eating for breakfast,m they will need to wake up fast and start playing fundamentally sound baseball. With hands tightly gripping around their necks, Berrios will have a ton of pressure on him today....possibly to be mostly perfect to give our crumbling offense a chance to steal the game.

 

Disappointed? You bet. I did not expect what I saw yesterday. It was just totally unacceptable at every level. The fat lady is standing and warming up her vocal chords Twins.....please make her sit down!!!

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One wonders if Jake O should have come in after Maeda...to give our gassed bullpen a bit of a break.

I don't buy the premise that the bullpen is overworked. And bringing in Odo would have been playing a bigger hunch than pinch-hitting the Turtle - Jake's not been right all season, so hoping for multiple innings of shutdown ball out of the blue like that would be odds-against.

 

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Disagree about Jake...our pen IS overworked. I'm sure you are watching the games like all of us. I doubt Jake would have been any worse than the guys who have failed lately...assuming his finger is OK. But we'll never know.

 

What is likely today is that the Twins are not going to be loosy-goosy. No matter how much music was played in the lockerroom...no matter what the manager and/or players are saying publicly...these guys are feeling extreme pressure to win a playoff game. It is weighing on them and it can't be denied..and it may affect their play. What they need to do is get an early big lead and then not take feet off the gas. Too many more bases loaded, or men in scoring position with no runs will sink them.

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Buck on the bench might be concussion related...clearly his AB's yesterday were awful. The hit he got was being lucky connecting with a pitch way out of the strike zone. We did his 'd' though, so I suspect not playing him in the most important game of the season has to be health related.

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So are they just giving up? Buxton on the bench? I mean cruz has been slumping too, he didn't get benched? Buxton is the most dynamic player on the team speed wise and defensively. IDK, doesn't make much sense to me to start a guy who hasn't played in a real game all year?

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There is nothing to lose by trying anything, but removing Buxton's defense in CF is questionable.  And please no more ROMO!!!  This has been a terrible year in all aspects for Polanco, but to put Adrianza at short is like having the pitcher hit in the NL.  

 

I do not want to go into the off season with a hopeless feeling again.  It has happened to often.  I am hoping the great odds maker in the sky, dirt, dugout says the Twins have to win someday - why not now?

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Disagree about Jake...our pen IS overworked. I'm sure you are watching the games like all of us. I doubt Jake would have been any worse than the guys who have failed lately...assuming his finger is OK. But we'll never know.

 

What is likely today is that the Twins are not going to be loosy-goosy. No matter how much music was played in the lockerroom...no matter what the manager and/or players are saying publicly...these guys are feeling extreme pressure to win a playoff game. It is weighing on them and it can't be denied..and it may affect their play. What they need to do is get an early big lead and then not take feet off the gas. Too many more bases loaded, or men in scoring position with no runs will sink them.

Which of our relief pitchers have been "overworked"? I understand that there is a narrative that a certain segment of fans like to push that because our starters don't pitch as deep into games as they would like, it means that the bullpen is being overworked. There's just no evidence to support this. Strategies change over time, and the days when starters pitch 7-8 innings and teams only have 2-3 reliable relievers are largely gone.

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I do think our chances are much improved today. They used their best starters and they only have one good bullpen arm. We just need to get to their starter early, then have a lead late, so we don't see their closer.

 

Lance McCullers and Christian Javier are both available today. Even if Uriquidy gets bounced early, I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing as yesterday where one of them comes out of the pen and throws a few innings. That was obviously their plan ahead of time, keeping 5 starters on the roster for a 3 game series, and it worked to perfection yesterday. 

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Well, with Buxton and Donaldson both out and Berrios wound tighter than a spring....I think the guys would be safe scheduling tee times starting tomorrow.

 

The already routine incompetence of this FO to field competitive playoff teams is getting tiresome. I’ve heard enough excuses. If they can’t find the players to get it done, find someone who can.

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Apparently Buxton came in not feeling well.

Alternate phrasing, "seeing cross-eyed from the migraines." He's always been vulnerable to pitch-recognition issues, but yesterday's game (after an early good PA) suggested he might have been becoming an actual danger to himself standing in at the plate.

 

I am rarely one to challenge a player's courage, and today is not such a day.

 

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Yesterday's game was one of the worst played, worst executed games of the year...maybe THE worst.  Our hitters didn't hit; our bullpen didn't shut the door..our 'd' let us down at the very worst time of the game. A routine toss to 2nd in the 9th would have gotten us to the bottom of the 9th still tied.

 

Byron Buxton, mired in a batting slump that has seen him swing at most pitches outside the zone did not utilize his speed to bunt over runners at 1st and 2nd and instead stuck out looking bad doing it.

 

Garver, pinch hits for Jeffers and never takes the bat off his shoulders....Garver's season has been one complete epic fail.

 

Houston removes their ace after 4 and replaces him with another lefty ace...and he pitches the rest of the game. One wonders if Jake O should have come in after Maeda...to give our gassed bullpen a bit of a break.

 

While Polanco's error was death dealing (he isn't hitting and now he also blows a game deciding play) Romo couldn't throw strikes to an equally struggling Altuve. 

 

 

I agree with a lot of this.  I'm not a fan of the bunt, but 1st and 2nd with no one out is THE time to do it, especially with Buxton's speed.  

Garver just doesn't have it this year.  Was last year lightning in a bottle, or will he come back strong in '21?  Don't know, but I do know what I'm seeing this year didn't warrant pulling Jeffers at that point--or at any point. 

As for bringing in Odorizzi, I have to defer to Wes Johnson on that--he has seen him in the bullpen and maybe on the mound at St. Paul.  Any time the one on the mound doesn't do well, it's natural to think someone else would.  But the way the Astros used their reliever was what I wanted to see the Twins do--May was throwing well, leave him in and don't worry about tomorrow.  He could be back for game 3 if needed. 

I disagree that it was a "game deciding" play by Polanco.  There's no reason to think the Twins would have scored in the bottom of the 9th, given they didn't; yeah, maybe playing for one run would have worked, but that's not the smart play. 

JcS

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'overworked bullpen' is definitely subjective...but I believe that having these guys constantly up and warming seemingly every game puts extra wear on the arms. then they come in and give up a couple hits, walks and a run or two in key spots. Since Twins starters aren't going deep into games, the pen is always on the alert.

Look, anyone can disagree with this, or not. It doesn't matter. The proof is in the execution. Are they getting it done? Is the manager using them properly? thats what he gets paid to do. I'm just a fan, so as an armchair manager I would say....please don't use Romo anymore. No more.

 

OK back to business. Jose had a very good 1st inning. thats a good sign.

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