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Game Score: Rays 5, Twins 3


Randy Dobnak returned to the mound for the Twins for the first time in 2 1/2 months on Friday night. He gave the Twins seven innings, but early defensive miscues and another game with little offensive production and the Twins fell to the Rays in Tampa. 

Box Score 
SP: Randy Dobnak: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (88 pitches, 53 strikes (60.2%))
Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (25), Ryan Jeffers (12)
Bottom 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (-0.287), Josh Donaldson (-0.084), Byron Buxton (-0.067)

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
chart (7).png
 

Hip... Hip...
Jorge Polanco gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 25th home run of the season. 

Polanco cut the Twins deficit to just two runs (5-3) with a two-out bloop double that scored Luis Arraez in the 8th inning.

In between, Ryan Jeffers launched his 12th homer with the Twins this season. 

The Fu Manchu Returns
For the first time since June 19th, Randy Dobnak took the mound for the Twins. While it may be impossible to make a start in which one gives up five runs a good start, Dobnak did figure things out and provided the Twins with seven innings. Yes, he gave up five runs before recording the first out of the third inning. However, he retired the next 15 batters he faced. He got weak contact. He induced ground balls. He recorded 17 of his 21 outs on ground balls. He worked efficiently, and gave the bullpen a second straight day off... well, except for the eight-pitch outing from Ralph Garza. 

It's hard not to wonder if things might have been different that Miguel Sano simply recorded the out at first bases on the Randy Arozarena broken-bat grounder to first. Obviously it's impossible to know, but Arozarena wouldn't have scored on Kevin Keirmeier's double that followed. Maybe that means one less run. Maybe two? Who knows, but the tone of the game sure changed at that point. 

Here are some of Dobnak's postgame thoughts:


Postgame Interview 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
Colomé 23 0 0 0 0 23
Thielbar 0 26 0 0 0 26
Minaya 0 24 11 0 0 35
Alcalá 25 0 0 0 0 25
Gibaut 0 0 24 0 0 24
Garza Jr. 0 17 0 0 8 25
Duffey 0 16 0 0 0 16
Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10

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Couldn’t watch the game and came here to see how Dobber did.  At first glance, not so good.  You talk about early defensive miscues.  Didn’t see any unearned runs, did the defense lead to some runs?

Did check and saw he settled down with four innings of shutout ball with the last seven outs on ground balls.  That’s more like the Dobber of old.

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Watched and listened to most all the game. Dobnak wasn't exactly perfect, far from it. But I was impressed. While he was high with his pitches in the 2nd and 3rd and was knocked around, he was also let down by his defense. 

But he also had a great 1st inning. He also had a fine 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th inning. His first game back. Call me encouraged!

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I like Dobnak, and I'm glad he's back from injury, but the offseason extension seemed like a very questionable deal at the time ... and seems so much worse since then. Add it to the list of unforced errors by the FO.

But we'll see if Dobnak has the fire - and talent - to prove his doubters wrong.

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Getting a bit distressed at the brutal slump Buxton has been mired in since returning to the lineup. So far 2-27 with a lot of k's. This isn't exactly what the doctor ordered...guess Buck is allowed to be a it rusty, but its time to snap out of it. I wonder if his hand still hurts bad enough to be affecting his swings?

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29 minutes ago, insagt1 said:

Getting a bit distressed at the brutal slump Buxton has been mired in since returning to the lineup. So far 2-27 with a lot of k's. This isn't exactly what the doctor ordered...guess Buck is allowed to be a it rusty, but its time to snap out of it. I wonder if his hand still hurts bad enough to be affecting his swings?

Buxton is making that $80 million Twins offering look tempting to himself!

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1 hour ago, peterb18 said:

Not impressed by Dobnak at all. When our front signs a Uber driver to pitch in a big league game it shows you how far we have fallen.

A fairly large percentage of minor leaguers work for Uber or similar in the offseason... most minor leaguers (those without the big bonuses) have to get jobs in the offseason. 

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1 hour ago, LastOnePicked said:

I like Dobnak, and I'm glad he's back from injury, but the offseason extension seemed like a very questionable deal at the time ... and seems so much worse since then. Add it to the list of unforced errors by the FO.

But we'll see if Dobnak has the fire - and talent - to prove his doubters wrong.

We've seen what Dobnak is capable of in 2019. We saw it the first 70% of the 2020 season. What happened to him this year was equal parts poor pitching, injury and weird usage. Spent the offseason and spring training starting.. They start him in the bullpen and rarely use him. He not-surprisingly struggled, and then had the injury that cost him 2 1/2 months. No reason to give up on him at this point. 

I think he needs to go into the offseason knowing his 2022 role (and in my mind, that should be in the rotation), and they should stick with that. 

The dollars on the extension are so low that even if he's a long-reliever, the Twins won't lose any money on it. 

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4 runs in 7 innings (as my own official score keeper I refuse to charge him with Sano's brain fart) will keep us in most games.  We would be happy with this out of most other starters on this club; I am going to be happy with it in September of a lost season. 

Funny, isn't it, that when Ryan gives up 3 in 5, we give kudos but when Dobnak gives up 4 in 7 (again, Sano gets the 5th) we hesitate.  Both had a bad inning and otherwise did great, but one is judged differently.  I suspect there is no right or wrong here, just what each person sees for themselves.  I love reading the folks here; keeps things in perspective.    

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2 hours ago, Bill Tanner said:

Yeah, I was wondering how Sano's play wasn't an error.  Passing up the sure out for a throw home that has absolutely no chance.

Agreed!  I know some home town official scorers like to give hits to their guys instead of errors to the other guys for the home team stats, but a fielders choice goes against a batting average just as much as an error does. And it sticks the pitcher with an earned run he doesn't deserve.  Maybe they should give one challenge per game on the official scorer, too.  

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Not a Dobnak fan but I'll admit he pitched well after the 3rd inning. If we are going to blame Sano (defense) for a run then keep in mind that both Buxton and Kepler took hits away on great catches (defense) in the outfield or the score and Dob's performance might have been worse. Sorry, I just can't get excited about him pitching. He reminds me of any "flash in the pan" player who gets lucky with a few good games, then goes on to be an average to below average player that an organization just can't move on from based on those few games. Jake Cave is another one. Had 2 reasonably decent seasons in 2018 and 2019 as a part-time player and has been worthless ever since. Kepler and Sano aren't far behind. Teams don't win championships with a lot of mediocre players. That's where I put Dobnak and half of the current Twins team.

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6 hours ago, Mark G said:

4 runs in 7 innings (as my own official score keeper I refuse to charge him with Sano's brain fart) will keep us in most games.  We would be happy with this out of most other starters on this club; I am going to be happy with it in September of a lost season. 

Funny, isn't it, that when Ryan gives up 3 in 5, we give kudos but when Dobnak gives up 4 in 7 (again, Sano gets the 5th) we hesitate.  Both had a bad inning and otherwise did great, but one is judged differently.  I suspect there is no right or wrong here, just what each person sees for themselves.  I love reading the folks here; keeps things in perspective.    

Really good point. If Griffin Jax had put up Randy's numbers last night, the main argument on this forum would be whether he should be our #2 or #3 starter going into next season.

If we can give Buxton a pass on his 2-27 effort since coming back, we can give Dobnak a mulligan on this outing as well. He's been a disappointment to be sure, but in my mind he is a big league pitcher and can be effective at this level. There's a microscopic chance this Twins team can compete in 2022, Randy returning to form is a big part of that.

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Two strikeouts, no homers, a 2:25 game time, and 8 pitches on the BP usage chart going into 13 more games in 12 days: Those all seem like numbers and events that either fans have been wanting more of or would be helpful to a team if the stretch wasn't in September of a lost season. A healthy Dobnak is the anti-TTO pitcher, and watching a defense work quickly is a welcome change of pace. I would also guess that the two managers involved in last night's game would be the only two that wouldn't have let him go back out for the eighth. Let's be realistic and understand that us Twins fans will be lucky if the ceiling on a pitching free agent is higher that 5+ ERA E-Rod. For 2022, put Dobnak in the five-hole and forget about it. 

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Watching the game last night I found it interesting to hear Perkins talk about how the type of pitcher Dobnak is with the sinker makes it tough for them to be in a bullpen role.  As he is talking about this I'm thinking of the Happ/Shoemaker moves along with the contract extension they give Dobnak in the off season only to put him in the bullpen.  IMO it just adds to the pitching cluster this FO made of the season.  While I realize hindsight is 20/20 the FO and coaches are supposed to know this type of stuff right?  I mean, if Perkins is sitting there talking about it it's not like this was some hidden pitching secret no one but him is aware of.  

Hearing this type of analysis makes me wonder about who's really responsible for the analysis that led to this pitching mess.  I'm having the same reaction to this I had when the Nishioka fiasco played out.  Every person on the team that had their fingerprints on that decision should have been fired immediately.  If you're going to self impose a limit on your payroll budget you just can't make these type of blunders. 

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That 3rd innings was hard to watch. Things might have been quite different if Sano makes the throw, Gordon plays that double better and it's a single and if Jeffers blocks that slider (it didn't look that difficult). Randy was all over the place there, though. Let's watch him make a few more starts he might surprise the doubters.

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47 minutes ago, MMMordabito said:

Two strikeouts, no homers, a 2:25 game time, and 8 pitches on the BP usage chart going into 13 more games in 12 days: Those all seem like numbers and events that either fans have been wanting more of or would be helpful to a team if the stretch wasn't in September of a lost season. A healthy Dobnak is the anti-TTO pitcher, and watching a defense work quickly is a welcome change of pace. I would also guess that the two managers involved in last night's game would be the only two that wouldn't have let him go back out for the eighth. Let's be realistic and understand that us Twins fans will be lucky if the ceiling on a pitching free agent is higher that 5+ ERA E-Rod. For 2022, put Dobnak in the five-hole and forgetaboutit

FTFY

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50 minutes ago, heresthething said:

Every person on the team that had their fingerprints on that decision should have been fired immediately

Thankfully you are not in charge. 

 

Look at Happ's track record. Seems like a solid choice for your 4th starter. He just got old this year and that was exactly the risk with him. Signing Shoemaker for your #5 is reasonable. The problem with that is you can't just send him down if he struggles, but I would have had a shorter leash on him and had Randy in AAA starting and ready. His cheap contract is actually perfect for a guy you stash in the minors. He has 3 options left.

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11 hours ago, insagt1 said:

Getting a bit distressed at the brutal slump Buxton has been mired in since returning to the lineup. So far 2-27 with a lot of k's. This isn't exactly what the doctor ordered...guess Buck is allowed to be a it rusty, but its time to snap out of it. I wonder if his hand still hurts bad enough to be affecting his swings?

Hands are incredibly important to hitting and usually a lengthy rehab on the minors when recovering. He is doing that rehab here and it shows. When he was in the minors on his short rehab stay some wondered why he wouldn’t be up in the majors rehabbing given this is a lost season.

His return this month is not predictive of his future and if the Twins front office use it to project his future value they will be mistaken.

I think back to David Ortiz who suffered both a hamate injury early and wrist injury later in his time with the Twins. He did not perform well in return from either of those injuries and I think it led the Twins to project him as an inconsistent hitter that could not be counted on to perform well consistently. 

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15 hours ago, insagt1 said:

Getting a bit distressed at the brutal slump Buxton has been mired in since returning to the lineup. So far 2-27 with a lot of k's. This isn't exactly what the doctor ordered...guess Buck is allowed to be a it rusty, but its time to snap out of it. I wonder if his hand still hurts bad enough to be affecting his swings?

He's not rusty. It's regression. People believing Buxton was suddenly the best hitter in MLB history weren't being reasonable. He's not as bad as the 2/27 slump, but he was utterly no where near the slash line he brought into August.

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14 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

We've seen what Dobnak is capable of in 2019. We saw it the first 70% of the 2020 season. What happened to him this year was equal parts poor pitching, injury and weird usage. Spent the offseason and spring training starting.. They start him in the bullpen and rarely use him. He not-surprisingly struggled, and then had the injury that cost him 2 1/2 months. No reason to give up on him at this point. 

He started 10 games in the shortened '20 season and managed to loss his spot in the rotation/be optioned within those two months. Half of his appearances during his celebrated '19 stint were in relief, after he spent an entire summer starting in the minors, so I don't know why we're blaming his usage. What happened to him this year is that he has pitched poorly. 

 

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11 hours ago, heresthething said:

Watching the game last night I found it interesting to hear Perkins talk about how the type of pitcher Dobnak is with the sinker makes it tough for them to be in a bullpen role.  As he is talking about this I'm thinking of the Happ/Shoemaker moves along with the contract extension they give Dobnak in the off season only to put him in the bullpen.  IMO it just adds to the pitching cluster this FO made of the season.  While I realize hindsight is 20/20 the FO and coaches are supposed to know this type of stuff right?  I mean, if Perkins is sitting there talking about it it's not like this was some hidden pitching secret no one but him is aware of.  

Hearing this type of analysis makes me wonder about who's really responsible for the analysis that led to this pitching mess.  I'm having the same reaction to this I had when the Nishioka fiasco played out.  Every person on the team that had their fingerprints on that decision should have been fired immediately.  If you're going to self impose a limit on your payroll budget you just can't make these type of blunders. 

There were conversations around here at the time about Dobnak in the bullpen and Shoemaker being here at all.  Happ as well.  It gives me hope that the Twins will get the message now that we are hearing others speak up about it. 

Choosing how to use Dobnak and Shoemaker was probably a Baldelli decision.  Signing Shoemaker and Happ was probably a consensus among several people, including Baldelli.  After seeing so many, "What were they thinking?" moments this year, Baldelli has a lot to prove in the future as far as I am concerned.  There is a 0% chance that the team is signing players without Baldelli's consent/approval/input, in spite of what some may choose to believe.

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