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The bats provided ample run support, and Michael Pineda stayed hot as the Twins took down the Royals with ease.

Box Score
Michael Pineda:
5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Byron Buxton (13), Jorge Polanco 2 (29), Nick Gordon (2), Max Kepler (17)
Top 3 WPA: Michael Pineda .169, Jorge Polanco .167, Byron Buxton .095

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

chart.png.441205b2ca0b20977c117282dca73c80.png

Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco announced their presence in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs, setting the tone for the Twins’ offense for the remainder of the game. Nick Gordon followed with a solo shot of his own one inning later, and Max Kepler contributed another in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Polanco’s second dinger of the evening extended the Twins’ lead to 6-1, which was more than enough to propel them to victory.

Polanco finished the evening with three hits in five plate appearances and raised his slash line to .280/.336/.520 in 133 games. His 29 home runs represent the most in franchise history by a switch-hitter and by a second baseman not named Brian Dozier.

With his performance Saturday evening, Polanco eclipsed the 4.0 fWAR mark, placing him inside the top 25 performers on offense this season. While he did not make the All-Star team and got off to a slow start while still recovering from back-to-back ankles surgeries, Polanco’s second-half eruption is worthy of garnering MVP votes come season’s end despite the Twins being among the worst teams in all of baseball. He won’t get many — heck, there’s a good chance that he won’t get any — but few players have had a more impressive August and early September than the Twins’ second baseman. 

Even though Polanco and the Twins’ offense stole the show, Michael Pineda’s start should not be overlooked. The impending free agent lowered his ERA to 3.87 on the season and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last 10 appearances. His overall strikeout numbers are down this year, and some of his advanced metrics suggest that he hasn’t been quite as good as his box score numbers, but overall his performance this season, when healthy, has been admirable. 

The Twins and Royals conclude their series on Sunday afternoon when Bailey Ober (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is expected to face off against Kris Bubic (4-6, 5.07 ERA). First pitch is slated for 1:10 PM CST.

Postgame Interviews

Coming soon...

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT
Minaya 21 0 0 40 0 61
Thielbar 25 8 0 0 26 59
Farrell 0 0 32 0 12 44
Colomé 17 0 0 12 0 29
Coulombe 0 0 15 0 23 38
Duffey 0 17 0 11 0 28
Alcalá 19 0 0 9 0 28
Garza Jr. 0 0 19 0 0 19
Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0


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1 hour ago, Rosterman said:

I'm seeing the Twins not having a .300 hitter come season's end (except for the departed Cruz). Arrgh! And so many in the low, low .200's, or fighting to get to that number. But, hey...as long as every player hits .200 and the team gets 200 homers........

 

Cruz was at .294 for the Twins when traded, and is hitting .245 for Tampa Bay - .277 on the season. So not except for Cruz, either. Arraez at .294 and Buxton at .290 (who, if he gets hot, with his low ABs, would surpass .300 easily) have the best chance to satisfy the mark. And if Polanco now at .280, stays torrid, he could do it, but not likely.

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1 hour ago, Rosterman said:

I'm seeing the Twins not having a .300 hitter come season's end (except for the departed Cruz). Arrgh! And so many in the low, low .200's, or fighting to get to that number. But, hey...as long as every player hits .200 and the team gets 200 homers........

 

I also value the .300 hitter - however, the game is changing.

Guess how many guys are hitting .300 as of today?

13, and only 5 over .310, topping out at Marte's ,320

I was shocked to learn a while back that the Twins .241 team BA puts them at 14th in MLB: better than the Padres, Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers,

I guess good pitching is the key today.

The Twins do rank well in HRs, SLG, OPS, so I think its clear where the problem lies.

4th worst team ERA. 2nd most gopher balls allowed, 8th fewest Ks, 7th worst BA against.

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3 minutes ago, Monkeypaws said:

I also value the .300 hitter - however, the game is changing.

Guess how many guys are hitting .300 as of today?

13, and only 5 over .310, topping out at Marte's ,320

I was shocked to learn a while back that the Twins .241 team BA puts them at 14th in MLB: better than the Padres, Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers,

I guess good pitching is the key today.

The Twins do rank well in HRs, SLG, OPS, so I think its clear where the problem lies.

 

They rank well in those categories, but the numbers can be misleading.  The number I look at the most is the old stat of the team scoring 3 runs or less and 4 runs or more, and what the records of each are.  We do things like today; 6 homeruns, 8 in the last two games, and that jacks up the numbers but not the record.  Through tonight the Twins have scored 3 runs or less in 47% of our games to date and that, more than anything, is why we are 16 games under .500.  I have never been much for the SLG and the OPS.  I look at runs produced, which comes from runs scored and RBI's.  And to do both, you need more than solo home runs now and then.  The launch angle and the MPH exiting the bat are fun to see once in a while, but I will take a good average hitter every day, and we just don't have enough.  Having said all that, yes, pitching is still a major problem we need to solve.

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I think its nice Kepler hit a bomb, but we all should be alarmed at how bad he has been this year.  One good year in minor leagues, and one good MLB season in 2019.  Plus he's regressed in his defense a bit..

 

If we can trade him in the off season we absolutely have to.  His price tag is very reasonable, but he just doesn't move the needle..

 

 

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Great to see a resounding win. Polanco, team MVP by a mile. One more year of Bux, let's enjoy it while we can. What a player.

Big picture stuff. The Twins currently own the 3rd worst record in the AL, and need to go 10-9 in their last 19 games to avoid 90 losses. Who's on tap:

Yanks (1)
Indians (2)
Cubbies (2)
Tigers (3)
Royals (4)
Blue Jays (7)

Not exactly an easy road for our boys. Seven games against the Jays in the last 3 weeks of the season is nuts, and Toronto is going to have their foot on the gas. They are looking at the upcoming games against the Twins as red meat and the Twins are going to need to dig in and play spoiler.

Twins are a sluggish 22-24 since the Nelson Cruz trade. They aren't really playing that much better than they have all season. But that's why we play the games, folks!

Enjoy the Vikes opener everyone.

 

 

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I thought that Gordon had a good debut at SS and if Simmons is not back he might start next season.  Simmons has such a high rating in fielding, but I see little things like messing up the throw into him from the OF in the previous game and I see too many moments of lost concentration that do not show up in fielding metrics for me to believe in him.

I assume we are out of OF options if Cave is starting - he is not our future.  

Only 19 left to play.  Who should be playing.  Glad Moran is called up.  Anyone else?

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6 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

I thought that Gordon had a good debut at SS and if Simmons is not back he might start next season.  Simmons has such a high rating in fielding, but I see little things like messing up the throw into him from the OF in the previous game and I see too many moments of lost concentration that do not show up in fielding metrics for me to believe in him.

I assume we are out of OF options if Cave is starting - he is not our future.  

Only 19 left to play.  Who should be playing.  Glad Moran is called up.  Anyone else?

I bet the Twins see Cave as a backup outfield option for next year.

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13 hours ago, Melissa said:

Thanks, Lucas! I only saw the last few innings, but noticed that Nick Gordon played shortstop. Did he have many fielding chances? Can anyone comment on how he looked out there?

I was pleasantly surprised by how fluid he looked on a couple of the double plays he was involved with. At the very least he didn't look overwhelmed.

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On 9/12/2021 at 8:42 AM, dogsday said:

Let's hope it's Celestino or someone more like that if he's starting in CF.

Why,  Cave II?     Cave is mobile, something most of the rookies are not.

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On 9/12/2021 at 12:23 PM, Lucas Seehafer PT said:

I was pleasantly surprised by how fluid he looked on a couple of the double plays he was involved with. At the very least he didn't look overwhelmed.

Thanks, Lucas! Good to hear.

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10 hours ago, yeahyabetcha said:

Could you be specific about the “other worthwhile options “?

Ok.......here you go:

#6  Trey Cabbage- Age 24

.257/.340/.869 this season between High A CR and AA Wichita

Has shown excellent pop with bat with 26 HRs and 79 RBI.

Probably needs more seasoning at AAA before a promotion to MLB roster

#5  Aaron Whitefield- Age 25

.252/.321/.670 at AA Wichita this season

Not the pop with his bat as others( 6 HRs with 54 RBI), but would add a HUGE element missing from this team--SPEED-------has 30 SBs this season.  Also, had a brief callup, I think last season

#4 Jimmy Kerrigan- Age 27

.251/.328/.810 this year at AAA- St. Paul

Solid numbers with Saints this year with 19 HRs and 53 RBI

#3 Mark Contreras- Age 26

Like Kerrigan has been at SP all season. Has produced  a line of .262/.345/.843

Solid production numbers with 17 HRs, 67 RBI and 15 SBs

#2  Gilberto Celestino- Age 22

After proving he wasn't ready to hit MLB pitching when pressed into service with injuries to Buxton & Cave (8-59/ .136 avg), Celestino has produced a .288/.379/.836 line at Saint Paul since demotion.

Power numbers aren't as strong as others, but has hit 7 HRs with 31 RBI

#1  Rob Refsnyder- Age 30

I know his production has slipped over the last 2 months, but I attribute that to recovery from injury.  His position versatility------playing  CF and either corner OF slots, imo, is his top asset heading into 2022.  He is a veteran who can handle getting sporadic ABs.  He also adds a RH bat to a team that has multiple LH hitters--Kepler, Larnach, Arraez--that struggle against southpaws.  Don't see Refsnyder as a long term 4th OFer solution as I see others previously listed being more suited to that role.  

 

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6 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

#2  Gilberto Celestino- Age 22

After proving he wasn't ready to hit MLB pitching when pressed into service 

 

 

 

Your reasoning the others you listed will do any better?

Refsnyder is falling like a rock, I an wondering why they do not play Cave.

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3 hours ago, darwin22 said:

Ok.......here you go:

#6  Trey Cabbage- Age 24

.257/.340/.869 this season between High A CR and AA Wichita

Has shown excellent pop with bat with 26 HRs and 79 RBI.

Probably needs more seasoning at AAA before a promotion to MLB roster

#5  Aaron Whitefield- Age 25

.252/.321/.670 at AA Wichita this season

Not the pop with his bat as others( 6 HRs with 54 RBI), but would add a HUGE element missing from this team--SPEED-------has 30 SBs this season.  Also, had a brief callup, I think last season

#4 Jimmy Kerrigan- Age 27

.251/.328/.810 this year at AAA- St. Paul

Solid numbers with Saints this year with 19 HRs and 53 RBI

#3 Mark Contreras- Age 26

Like Kerrigan has been at SP all season. Has produced  a line of .262/.345/.843

Solid production numbers with 17 HRs, 67 RBI and 15 SBs

#2  Gilberto Celestino- Age 22

After proving he wasn't ready to hit MLB pitching when pressed into service with injuries to Buxton & Cave (8-59/ .136 avg), Celestino has produced a .288/.379/.836 line at Saint Paul since demotion.

Power numbers aren't as strong as others, but has hit 7 HRs with 31 RBI

#1  Rob Refsnyder- Age 30

I know his production has slipped over the last 2 months, but I attribute that to recovery from injury.  His position versatility------playing  CF and either corner OF slots, imo, is his top asset heading into 2022.  He is a veteran who can handle getting sporadic ABs.  He also adds a RH bat to a team that has multiple LH hitters--Kepler, Larnach, Arraez--that struggle against southpaws.  Don't see Refsnyder as a long term 4th OFer solution as I see others previously listed being more suited to that role.  

 

#6. Even you state he is not ready.

#5 Speed is barely used by the Twins now.  Buxton and Gordon both have it and it doesn’t seem to be utilized.  This regime values homers.  And this guy hasn’t really hit that well at AA

#4 and #3 Don’t know a lot about these two, can they field the position?  IMO that is important.  Can they handle a part time position?  They did have nice seasons, but not sure they would be much of an improvement.

#2 if he isn’t playing every day, I would prefer he starts next year at SP

#1 I do like his versatility, has pretty much quit hitting though. And he bats right handed.  

I am not even that big of a fan of Cave, but he did hit right handers pretty good a couple of seasons back, and was playing hurt much of this season.

Wondering why you didn’t mention Larnach, Martin, Rooker or Garlick

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On 9/14/2021 at 8:47 PM, yeahyabetcha said:

#6. Even you state he is not ready.

#5 Speed is barely used by the Twins now.  Buxton and Gordon both have it and it doesn’t seem to be utilized.  This regime values homers.  And this guy hasn’t really hit that well at AA

#4 and #3 Don’t know a lot about these two, can they field the position?  IMO that is important.  Can they handle a part time position?  They did have nice seasons, but not sure they would be much of an improvement.

#2 if he isn’t playing every day, I would prefer he starts next year at SP

#1 I do like his versatility, has pretty much quit hitting though. And he bats right handed.  

I am not even that big of a fan of Cave, but he did hit right handers pretty good a couple of seasons back, and was playing hurt much of this season.

Wondering why you didn’t mention Larnach, Martin, Rooker or Garlick

I may be in the minority, but strongly believe Larnach will get things figured out and be not only our opening day LFer (or RFer if mgmt can find a trade partner for Kepler) but a mainstay in our lineup for many years to come.

I'm high on Martin, but until his "position" is figured out...SS/CF or other.......he's too valuable to be a 4th OFer

Rooker:  Hate to say it, but unless Sano totally craters next season as everyday DH (which is possible), I dont see a future for Rooker.  AAAA player.

Garlick--Age/ injury and inability to play CF in a backup role means he'll "at best" end up in SP or more likely with another organization next year.

 

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On 9/14/2021 at 5:05 PM, RpR said:

Your reasoning the others you listed will do any better?

Refsnyder is falling like a rock, I an wondering why they do not play Cave.

Say what you want about Refsnyder, but Cave is completely horrible---which he's proved over the last 2 seasons.  No way he should be on this team in any capacity next year.

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