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The Replacements: 3 Key Injury Substitutions on the Twins Roster


Injuries have hit the Twins hard over the last week and now the club is entering a soft part of their schedule. All teams deal with injuries, but these three players showcase the Twins depth and will be key for the team’s success.

Randy Dobnak

Using Randy Dobnak as a reliever didn’t exactly go as planned at season’s start and he was sent to St. Paul to get stretched out as soon as the Triple-A season began. In the last couple weeks, Michael Pineda and Kenta Maeda have both ended up on the injured list so Dobnak’s spot in the rotation looks to be safe. In his first start, he pitched six shutout innings with a five to two strikeout to walk ratio. What might be the most encouraging sign is his 12 groundball outs including inducing a double play.

When Dobnak is at his best, he is working quickly and using his sinker to get batters to hit the ball on the ground. Minnesota’s improved defense can certainly help Dobnak especially since he is using his sinker almost 50% of the time, which is a 6% jump from 2020. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker both have ERAs north of 5.40, so Dobnak has the opportunity to take a rotation spot and run with it.  

Rob Refsnyder

Entering the 2020 season, Refsnyder was an afterthought that bounced around through four different organizations. He was a career .217/.205/.297 (.602) hitter with nearly twice as many strikeouts as walks. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal this winter, but injuries to Byron Buxton and Jake Cave made it necessary for Refsnyder to be added to the roster and he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Entering play on Monday, Refsnyder is hitting .375/.429/.542 (.970) in nine games with the Twins. Kyle Garlick has been dealing with a groin injury that may continue to hamper him and this means even more time for Refsnyder. He’s 30-years old and doesn’t exactly fit into the team’s long-term plans, but there’s hope the team can ride his hot streaks as long as possible. Maybe he can turn into the 2004 version of Lew Ford?

Luke Farrell

Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through most of the season and Farrell shouldn’t be seen as a savior, but he can certainly add depth. He is being used exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his career and there have been some positive signs. With St. Paul, he pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He needs to prove he can translate those strikeout numbers to the big-league level.

Guess what Wes Johnson has done with Ferrell? If you said increase his slider usage, you are correct. His slider usage has been increasing each year, but he took a big jump from 41.2% in 2020 to nearly 60% in 2021. His curveball has hardly been used at all as he almost exclusively uses his fastball and slider. His walk rate has been high throughout his big-league career so that will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Do you think these three players can help the Twins through their recent rash of injuries? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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Bandaids are nice to have, but eventually you have to have the real major leaguers on the roster.  Good luck to all of them - they have really done well with the opportunities that they have gotten.

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I've been predicting Dobbs as a mid-ro horse for a while, so no surprise there. Refsnyder? Never heard of him, but you can't help notice the non-stop hustle from the 30-year old journeyman. Luke Farrell? Another whiff on the name, but maybe Wes Johnson can forge something useful from just his heater and his slider. 

There are no sure things in baseball except retirement, but of these three, Dobnak seems the most likely to contribute long-term. His low-90's sinker bends arm-side almost like a screwball. He commands his slider decently well, and his change gets enough misses to be a third strikeout pitch. Best of all, his delivery is not max effort, which means he can work longer and command the zone better than the all-out hurlers.

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I thought Rocco whiffed on the way he handled Dobnak from the beginning.  In ST, Dobnak flat out earned the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation.  Happ was better than Shoemaker.  So I thought Dobs should have been #4 or #5 from the get go.  Lately, Shoemaker has been better than Happ who was pasted not once but TWICE against the White Sox.  It's too bad Alcala gave up the two run bomb last night.  he looked really NASTY before the rain delay, then BOOM !  We're down a run.

I would leave Dobnak in the rotation for some time and pay close attention to Happ & Shoemaker.  One of them eventually will have to go once Duran gets enough innings in and is brought up.

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Refsnyder hustling and taking advantage of an opportunity equals a guy working hard to earn the chance at the bigs level and to stay as long as he can.  Yes there are younger guys in the OF mix and most likely he is gone once injury prone buxton comes back, but I applaud the guy for living out his love for the game in front of us.  

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I am particularly enjoying Refsnyder's surprise showing.  Realize that is going against his track record, but he is taking quality at-bats and playing solid defense.   Not meaning to throw Cave under the bus and I know he is out hurt but I would rather see Refsnyder as the backup outfielder over him since he hits right and we have a lot of left-hand bats in the OF. 

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Will second TopGunn's comment about Dobber being mishandled from the start of the season.

Have been thinking for a bit that Refsnyder just may be winning that fourth outfield spot for the rest of the year.  Love the style of play he plays, something that would have been huge back when Gardy was running the ship.  Don't know what they do with Cave when he comes off the 60-day IL.  Maybe a nice three week rehab assignment to showcase him for a minor trade...assuming he is back before the trade deadline.

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26 minutes ago, wavedog said:

I am particularly enjoying Refsnyder's surprise showing.  Realize that is going against his track record... 

Yes, his MLB career line: .228/.313/.313

However, his AAA career line: .295/.372/.437

Of course there are always players who run that kind of disparity between AAA and MLB numbers and never break through in the majors (giving us the shorthand "AAAA guy.") But it seems like there's at least some base of skills to know what he's doing at the plate.

Maybe Refsnyder becomes the rare AAA veteran who finally figures it out at MLB, or maybe not, but it seems like there's no reason not to give him some run as long as he's hitting and the roster is still banged up.

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Not surprised one bit about Dobnak's successful outing, it was how he was used from the start. If Simmons is on the field he'll be our most reliable starter.

Refsnyder is much better than Cave. Cave should be DFA, no one would be stupid enough to take him now. Refsnyder is proof that you can't totally rely on stats. Although I really like Refsnyder, Broxton is a better choice if you can build up his confidence again.

Farrell, I hope he can find sustainable success with his changed pitching selection

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32 minutes ago, USNMCPO said:

If Garlick's groin issue persists I can see him on the IL when Buxton returns. Things like that seem to magically happen every year.

Did you mean Kepler?  Or is Garlick beat up also?

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At this point, there is no reason to take Dobnak out of the rotation the rest of the season, unless he gets injured.  I can almost guarantee he will get blown up a couple times when the BABIP gods frown upon him for the day, but who cares? I'll go out on a limb and predict that the Twins will win 4 of their next 7.  That would put them at .407 through the first third of the season. That's reality.  Dobnak should get the chance to pitch every fifth day, and if he has some bad outings, he should be given the chance to adjust.  Like Jimbo stated above, he looks like a guy that can pitch his stuff and not hurt himself doing it.  Give him 20-22 more starts this season and then evaluate the body of work.  He's also way more fun to watch than guys like Happ anyway.

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1 hour ago, roger said:

Did you mean Kepler?  Or is Garlick beat up also?

Garlick has been dealing with a groin injury for the past week or so. He is choosing to be a team player and play through it until we start getting some bodies back from the IL. Now that Kiriloff is back, I think you'll see him play just a bit less (due to injury). Maybe more PH situations. 

Now with Arraez out, we need another utility player outside of Austidillo, (as he is now our official back-up catcher) because Gordon just doesn't have the arm to play anywhere outside of 2nd. Maybe a spot defense switch in LF but IDK if he has any playing time there in the minors. 

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The future is now for Randy Dobnak.  His extension signaled that he is in the Twins' plans as a member of the Twins' rotation. Maeda's injury gives him the chance to lock-in a rotation spot permanently.  I think Shoemaker will need to continue to prove he is worthy of a spot and Happ needs to prove he can be consistent. If the Twins do return to contention - and that is a big if - I would not be shocked to see Maeda get moved to the pen to bolster the bullpen, much like he did for the Dodgers.  

If the Twins are contenders or pretenders at the All-Star break, either way, I expect Dobnak will be in the rotation moving forward.  

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9 hours ago, wavedog said:

I am particularly enjoying Refsnyder's surprise showing.  Realize that is going against his track record, but he is taking quality at-bats and playing solid defense.   Not meaning to throw Cave under the bus and I know he is out hurt but I would rather see Refsnyder as the backup outfielder over him since he hits right and we have a lot of left-hand bats in the OF. 

SSS aside, Refsnyder has been a pretty massive upgrade from Cave. Hits RH, seems to be better defensively, and has had competent ABs. Yes, he's not going to keep hitting .380, but I'd much prefer his approach to Cave's feeble 45 OPS+.

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Wholeheartedly agree with others that Dobnak should be in the rotation for the duration of this season.

If/when Buxton returns off IL, Refsynder has earned his chance to stay on the active roster.  Depending when that happens----later than sooner--with Buxton, Garlick should also remain on roster.  

Cave, if  not on 60-DL, should've been DFA'ed a month ago.  His time should be over with Twins.

If Arraez is IL bound, Gordon should receive everyday starts at 2B with Polanco filling in at 3B, SS and 2B.

Bullpen wise---- a continued cluster.  I'd like to see Tom Hackimer (recently promoted to AAA) get a shot.  Nothing against Luke Farrell, but at this point-----its EVALUATION TIME for next season.  If not a demotion of Farrell, then Stashak could be sent down as he's proved nothing of quality or consistency to me.  A big whiff on part of Falvey who envisioned him taking a big step forward this season.  Another bullpen arm I'd like to see promoted is 27-year old Cuban undrafted free agent, Yennier Cano.  Cano has put up outstanding numbers at Wichita:  1.00 ERA and WHIP with a 18/2 K to BB rate.  He needs a promotion to AAA in near future to get some seasoning there.  Would like to see what Cano could offer for next season getting regular innings after the All-Star break.

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, mac098 said:

because Gordon just doesn't have the arm to play anywhere outside of 2nd.  

Might want to check out Gordon's relay to the plate the other day and revaluate. He might not have a top SS cannon, but he could be more than serviceable. Labels get stuck on these guys.

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3 hours ago, wabene said:

Might want to check out Gordon's relay to the plate the other day and revaluate. He might not have a top SS cannon, but he could be more than serviceable. Labels get stuck on these guys.

I saw the play. They clocked it at about 82 mph. Which isn't bad, he just isn't enough to throw from deep in the hole. Is he quick enough and have good instincts to play SS? Yes. The only thing that will hinder him there is his arm. But I believe when Lewis gets back and able to fully recover, Gordon and Lewis might make a troublesome middle infield for a lot of teams. 

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