Jump to content
  • Create Account

Three offensive explosions became three victories in a week where the Twins finally started to emerge from their profound funk.

 

Much work still lies ahead, but their first series victory in three weeks is a start.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/26 through Sun, 5/2

***

Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 10-16)

Run Differential Last Week: +12 (Overall: +3)

Standing: 4th Place in AL Central (6.0 GB)

Last Week's Game Recaps:

 

Game 21 | CLE 5, MIN 3: Twins Fall to 0-5 in Extras as Colomé Takes 3rd Loss

Game 22 | CLE 7, MIN 4: Maeda Can't Find Answers, Slump Drags On

Game 23 | MIN 10, CLE 2: Buxton Keys Offense in Dominant Victory

Game 24 | MIN 9, KC 1: Pineda Rolls as Kirilloff Breaks Out with 2 HR

Game 25 | KC 11, MIN 3: Twins Blown Out as Shoemaker Implodes

Game 26 | MIN 13, KC 4: Another Big Day for the Twins Bats

 

NEWS & NOTES

Last week in this space, I broke down Minnesota's immense difficulties at catcher, noting that while both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers were looking totally lost, the struggles of the latter were more pressing given his status as a developing 23-year-old player. "The Twins may need to start thinking about how they'll proceed at the catcher position," I wrote, "if they determine Jeffers needs more time in the minors."

 

It took only a few more days, and one more start from Jeffers – he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Cleveland on Monday – for the Twins to decide they'd seen enough. On Friday he was optioned to the alternate site, and replaced by the team's other top catching prospect, Ben Rortvedt.

 

Optioned alongside Jeffers on Friday was Brent Rooker, who has largely struggled during his time with the Twins. Concurrently, JT Riddle and Tzu-Wei Lin were designated for assignment to open space on the 40-man roster for the returns of Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick from COVID-IL.

 

Miguel Sanó is reportedly ready to go with the hamstring that placed him on IL, but the Twins are going to give him a few days to take swings and get his timing back. (To the extent he ever had it to begin with.) He figures to be activated midway through the upcoming week.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

How about that Byron Buxton? He wrapped up the greatest month in Twins history with another phenomenal week, highlighted by Wednesday's 5-for-5 explosion in Cleveland. In five games, Buxton went 10-for-21 with two home runs, three doubles, and two stolen bases.

 

 

Buxton is making the Twins a must-watch even when the team at large has been hard to watch. He's an incredibly dynamic player and an early MVP frontrunner. But up until very recently, he wasn't getting much help. Alex Kirilloff is among those flipping the script for a languishing lineup.

 

Given that he was hitting the ball harder than any Twins hitter, save for Buxton and Nelson Cruz, it felt like only a matter of time until Kirilloff broke through. That happened on Friday night at Target Field, when the rookie launched a pair of home runs against Kansas City, and he added another on both Saturday and Sunday. The big series lifted his OPS from .269 to .726.

 

 

One thing to note is that Kirilloff has been extremely aggressive at the plate, which has always been his M.O., but you do wonder if it's going to start to catch up with him. Dating back to spring training, he has drawn only two walks in 69 plate appearances. Then again, it's working just fine for his teammate Buxton, who ranks in the 11th percentile for chase rate and BB% but continues to dominate nonetheless.

 

 

Comparatively speaking, Garver's ongoing struggles were quite a bit more concerning than Kirilloff's. He was 0-for-his-last 17 with 11 strikeouts when he came to the plate for a third time in Cleveland on Wednesday. The catcher proceeded to launch a mammoth home run. Then, he did it again in his next AB. Garver added a three-run blast against the Royals on Sunday, and it was what we'd call a no-doubter.

 

 

I'm not going to feel especially confident in Garver until he starts showing some dimensionality in his offensive game – in his past eight contests, he has four hits (three monster home runs and a ground ball single), zero walks, and 12 strikeouts. This all-or-nothing dynamic is very dependent on finding a mistake to destroy, which is not necessarily a sustainable formula.

 

That said, it's good to see him unloading on some baseballs after a lengthy skid. Garver regaining his confidence (and competence) at the plate is especially critical with Jeffers now out of the mix.

 

LOWLIGHTS

Midway through March, reigning Cy Young runner-up Kenta Maeda looked more impervious than ever. Having not allowed a run or hit through his first few spring outings, the right-hander expressed concern he was having "too good" of a spring and – with tongue in cheek – yearned for a bit of adversity.

 

In April, he got more than he bargained for.

 

Through five starts, Maeda has a 6.56 ERA, with opponents crushing him to the tune of .350/.391/.641. His past two turns, which saw him surrender 12 earned runs on 16 hits and six homers in 8 ⅔ innings, represent the worst we've seen Maeda in a Twins uniform. In fact, you won't find a worse pair of back-to-back outings in his career.

 

Last year, Maeda gave up six or more hits in only one of his 11 starts This year, he's allowed 6+ hits in every start.

 

Meanwhile, Matt Shoemaker has completely fallen apart after a strong start to his Twins career. The righty gave up just one earned run through his first 11 innings, but has since coughed up an astounding 20 earned runs over 12 innings, with two strikeouts, seven walks, and six home runs allowed. The Twins have lost four straight with him on the mound. Saturday's outing was a nightmare as Shoemaker was obliterated by the Royals for nine runs, and his day ended on a sour note when he failed to back up home plate on overthrow.

 

 

It's going to be hard to send Shoemaker and his 8.22 ERA out for another start at this point. Unfortunately the top candidate to replace him, Randy Dobnak, has an 8.16 ERA so he's not the most inspiring alternative at this time. And in a further bit of unfortunate news, it'll be a while before either of the Twins' top two pitching prospects are even ready to start making their cases for a look.

 

 

Meanwhile, a lingering headache in the bullpen won't go away. The Twins are trying their hardest to get Alex Colomé right, but the prized offseason bullpen addition continues to look unusable at every turn. He came in for the 10th inning on Monday against Cleveland and immediately gave up a walk-off homer. The following night, Rocco Baldelli sent him right back out in a lower-leverage "get-right" spot with the Twins trailing by a run in the eighth. Colomé looked perhaps the worst he has all season, laboring through six batters while issuing three walks (one with bases loaded) and an HBP. He appeared in a lower-stakes spot on Saturday, working a scoreless ninth but giving up plenty of hard contact in a blowout loss.

 

Colomé seems incapable of throwing the ball in the zone without hanging it in a batter's wheelhouse. He's getting hit harder than any pitcher in the big leagues. No reliever in MLB history has had a more negative impact through his first 10 appearances with a new team. Truly an epic disaster of a free agent signing, unless Colomé can find a way to reverse course dramatically.

 

 

TRENDING STORYLINE

This team doesn't have the luxury of giving away games right now. The offense shows signs of turning a corner, but Baldelli can't afford to be trotting pitchers out to the mound he can't trust. Which brings us to the names mentioned above.

 

Maeda's not going anywhere, and we'll just have to hope he can find himself in a hurry. Shoemaker, as a one-year signing who looked like a temporary plug to begin with, has a far shorter leash, especially considering how irredeemably bad he's looked. While Dobnak might not be the most appealing replacement at this time, Lewis Thorpe looked good in his spot start a few weeks ago, and we know the club was high on him in spring training. How much longer will they wait to make a move?

 

As for Colomé, it's probably still too early to be thinking about a DFA, but there is certainly some urgency for the Twins to address their bullpen issues and he's clearly the primary culprit. This is a stickier situation than Shoemaker; replacing your closer is obviously tougher than replacing your fifth starter. While Taylor Rogers is now assuming ninth-inning duties, the Twins have key high-leverage innings to backfill. Unfortunately, their minimal margin for error makes it tough to audition uncertain commodities – such as Shaun Anderson, Brandon Waddell, or Ian Hamilton – on the fly. There simply aren't enough low-leverage innings to go around for testing these fringe arms and also accommodating Colomé. You can't count on the continuance of lopsided margins like we saw all weekend against Kansas City.

 

We'll see where the Twins go from here. Trusting the bullpen to fix itself seems unwise.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

I can't stress this enough: it is CRUCIAL for the Twins to take advantage of the upcoming soft patch in their schedule. With a full slate in the week ahead, they'll be hosting last-place Texas for four games before traveling to Detroit for three against the lowly Tigers. After that, things get a whole lot tougher and the stakes will be raised considerably: 14 games against the White Sox (6), Cleveland (3), Oakland (3), and Los Angeles (2). We haven't seen the Sox yet but the Twins are thus far 1-6 against the other three clubs.

 

If they can't make some inroads toward .500 in these next seven days, they'll be putting themselves in a very, very precarious position.

 

Of note: On Tuesday, Kyle Gibson makes his return to Target Field as a Ranger. He's riding a hell of a hot streak: 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his past five starts. Gibby has allowed zero home runs all season. Can his former team solve him?

 

MONDAY, 5/3: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Dane Dunning v. RHP Kenta Maeda

TUESDAY, 5/4: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP J.A. Happ

WEDNESDAY, 5/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kohei Arihara v. RHP Michael Pineda

THURSDAY, 5/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jordan Lyles v. RHP Matt Shoemaker

FRIDAY, 5/7: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Spencer Turnbull

SATURDAY, 5/8: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Jose Urena

SUNDAY, 5/9: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Casey Mize

 

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

 

Click here to view the article

Link to post
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

For a team just trying to get back into it, 5-2 seems to be a must this week. That means winning all the Berrios, Pineda and Happ starts and somehow squeezing a win out of Maeda or Shoemaker. I'd bring Thorpe up tomorrow and be ready for a quick hook on Maeda, if he keeps getting shelled.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

For a team just trying to get back into it, 5-2 seems to be a must this week. That means winning all the Berrios, Pineda and Happ starts and somehow squeezing a win out of Maeda or Shoemaker. I'd bring Thorpe up tomorrow and be ready for a quick hook on Maeda, if he keeps getting shelled.

Agreed, we've got to win at least 5 this week. Thorpe should be up too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

For a team just trying to get back into it, 5-2 seems to be a must this week. That means winning all the Berrios, Pineda and Happ starts and somehow squeezing a win out of Maeda or Shoemaker. I'd bring Thorpe up tomorrow and be ready for a quick hook on Maeda, if he keeps getting shelled.

Probably a little early for musts but as always, a good week now makes the battle easier later.   Also, it could work the way you  outlined but, it being baseball, it could just as easily be Maeda winning twice, Shoemaker once, Thorpe once and squeezing a win out of Berrios, Pineda and Happ.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Shoemaker gets 1 more start. If he doesn't look decent, DFA him.

 

Morneau mentioned on last night's broadcast how strange it felt to note May games seemed like "must-wins," but damnit they absolutely have to go at least 5-2 this week. Here's hoping for the best.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gleeman reports Dobnak sent down to AAA.  I'm sure this is a precursor to get him back in the rotation to replace the Shoe.  If Maeda returns to form, this is a strong rotation.  If not, you can probably forget about the playoffs.  This is why many Twins fans were vehement about FO adding a top-of-the-rotation arm in case Maeda regressed.  Wouldn't a Snell, Darvish, Lynn or Sonny Gray have made a sizable difference in the team's outlook now?

 

But the real problem is the pen, of course.  Colome was found wanting in Chicago so why did the Whiz Kids sign him as their top offseason bullpen addition?  Relievers are notably erratic from year to year, but there were clearly better choices this offseason.  Losing May and knowing Rogers was iffy should have been enough warning signs that a couple high upside FAs were critical to a successful 2021 season.  When you add in our continued inability to develop pitching in he minors and Rocky's poor decision-making, the bullpen was on everyone's worry list.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's hope next week's summary is uplifting. There are too many storylines right now. And you didn't even get to Cave who looked bad in LF last night and still hasn't found his bat. Rooker down so does Larnach get a chance? Will Sano come back and give us a boost or continue to be the opposing pitcher's Best friend? I like Arraez at 2B and Polanco at U.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Let's hope next week's summary is uplifting. There are too many storylines right now. And you didn't even get to Cave who looked bad in LF last night and still hasn't found his bat. Rooker down so does Larnach get a chance? Will Sano come back and give us a boost or continue to be the opposing pitcher's Best friend? I like Arraez at 2B and Polanco at U.

Wow! Six identical comments! Driving home your point or is the TD changeover not going well?  Just funning. I like your title for Sano.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let Thorpe take Shoemaker's spot in the rotation. Send Shoemaker to the bullpen to be the long reliever. Release Colome. Release Cave. Call up Broxton to take Cave spot on the roster. When Sano comes back, let Garlick go.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They will give Shoemaker another chance or two before cutting him loose.  They could use Thorpe and\or Dobnak in the 5th spot if they need to.  The Shoe has looked they can't do any worse.  I am really surprised at how poorly he has pitched.  I guess there was a reason he was signed for just a couple Mil.  I just don't think they will give up on him this early though.

 

I agree we need a good week as it is a long road back to 500 right now.  Happy they took the three game series with the Royals but could have really used a sweep right there as well.

 

At least it has been back to watchable baseball.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice to see the bats waking up. We need a red hot month of play in May. Every week needs to be above .500. Preferably a few games above .500.

 

There’s certainly an opportunity for one of Thorpe or Smeltzer seizing the 5th spot in the rotation. I’d like to see if they can be legitimate starters while they still have 1 option year remaining. If they’re not considered starters, get them prepped as a reliever. We could use help in that area as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, I'm a huge Kirilloff fan like everyone else but just wanted to point this out:

 

It's worth noting that Kirilloff had no other hits in his 12 at-bats this weekend beyond the home runs, and he posted a 1:6 BB:K in the series. He's now sporting a .184 average, .200 on-base percentage, 2.6 percent walk rate and 30 percent strikeout rate on the season.

 

Yes we should be encouraged. But let's keep things realistic. He could go 2 weeks before his next home run - let's hope he's able to get some singles and doubles to fall and start walking as well. He's still a rookie.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

But the real problem is the pen, of course.  Colome was found wanting in Chicago so why did the Whiz Kids sign him as their top offseason bullpen addition?  Relievers are notably erratic from year to year, but there were clearly better choices this offseason.  Losing May and knowing Rogers was iffy should have been enough warning signs that a couple high upside FAs were critical to a successful 2021 season.  

Like Kirby Yates or Trevor Rosenthal? 

I don't disagree with your premise about Colome but signing "high upside FAs" in the bullpen is not quite as simple as you make it sound, even if you're willing to spend. The bet on Robles has looked decent so far, fwiw.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am hoping for a new arm or 2 to get the call. Unfortunately, there has not been any MiLB games so not much to go on. Wish they would have at least started AAA 2 weeks ago. Let one spot in BP be a rotation of pitchers-Stashek, Anderson, Waddell, Smeltzer, Thorpe. Twins tend to be loyal to veteran players, Shoemaker may get more starts for a while.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Hypothetically, what would an extension look like for Buxton? Whatever it was talked about before the season started is certainly out the window now that he's been playing like an MVP. 

 

Unofficial reports have been saying that Buxton wasn't interested in talking about it when the Twins approached him to talk about his contract. If true, I doubt that has changed in the past month.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Shoemaker and Colome signings surprised all of us.

 

I suspected Shoemaker would block Dobnak and that Dobnak would fail in the bullpen, but most people but a more positive spin on it. Either way, it certainly did not feel to me like Shoemaker was going to succeed as a starter. Honestly I thought he would be cut after spring training. Dobnak and Shoemaker should have their roles switched, at a minimum. Like it or not, Shoemaker is here now and the Twins may as well try to find a spot for him that works before they cut him loose.

 

As for Colome, I felt the only reason he could have been on the market was if he had an attitude issue. By "attitude issue" I am not saying he is a poison in the clubhouse, although that's possible, I'm saying he might have a reputation of not being a hard worker. I have never read anything like this about him, mind you, this is just my suspicion. Colome has been traded a couple of times for some very unexciting players, and the Rays of all teams even ate his salary in one of those trades. Seattle could not trade him fast enough even though he had a very good year for them. The White Sox had no interested in bringing him back, he sat on the free market for a long time, and the Twins got a very team-friendly deal. There is something going on with him that doesn't show up on the stat sheet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Gleeman reports Dobnak sent down to AAA.  I'm sure this is a precursor to get him back in the rotation to replace the Shoe. 

I was going to comment that the Twins probably send down Dobnak to get a start or two before having him replace Shoemaker. Good to hear the Twins are already on this.

It seems like I am in the minority here, but I would much rather hand the keys to Dobnak vs Thorpe as a permanent replacement. Track record means a lot more to a team like the Twins. 

I will not argue upside being in Dobnak's favor, but the data suggests the floor for Dobnak is MUCH higher at this stage. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Again, I'm a huge Kirilloff fan like everyone else but just wanted to point this out:

 

It's worth noting that Kirilloff had no other hits in his 12 at-bats this weekend beyond the home runs, and he posted a 1:6 BB:K in the series. He's now sporting a .184 average, .200 on-base percentage, 2.6 percent walk rate and 30 percent strikeout rate on the season.

 

Yes we should be encouraged. But let's keep things realistic. He could go 2 weeks before his next home run - let's hope he's able to get some singles and doubles to fall and start walking as well. He's still a rookie.

 

I agree the K rate is something to keep an eye on.  With AK hitting HR's they will throw him even more breaking stuff as he is already K'ing on that stuff.  I think one of the reasons he is swinging early and for the fences is I believe they have been been throwing him first pitch fastballs and even when he hits it hard they have been hard outs.  With HR's you don't have to worry about it being caught.

 

To your point I think K's are going to be a problem for him just like they were for Rosario as they are close to the same player.  Hers's hoping AK can adjust.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Again, I'm a huge Kirilloff fan like everyone else but just wanted to point this out:

 

It's worth noting that Kirilloff had no other hits in his 12 at-bats this weekend beyond the home runs, and he posted a 1:6 BB:K in the series. He's now sporting a .184 average, .200 on-base percentage, 2.6 percent walk rate and 30 percent strikeout rate on the season.

 

Yes we should be encouraged. But let's keep things realistic. He could go 2 weeks before his next home run - let's hope he's able to get some singles and doubles to fall and start walking as well. He's still a rookie.

Nice comment. Here's hoping his HR streak continues this week, but one thing I'm encouraged by is that his BABIP is at an unsustainably low .130 right now. Also, his expected batting average is about 180 points higher than his actual batting average. This tells me that we should expect more of those singles and doubles to start falling soon. I agree that the K/BB rate has to improve, but I think that will happen as he gains more experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...