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Game Score: Twins 4, Royals 0


Griffin Jax and the Twins offense powered the Twins past the Royals to stave off a 90-loss season for one more day.

Box Score
Griffin Jax: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Josh Donaldson (26)
Top 3 WPA: Griffin Jax .290, Josh Donaldson .058, Caleb Thielbar .056

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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For all of his ups and downs this season, Griffin Jax ended his rookie campaign on a high note as the Minnesota Twins brushed past the Kansas City Royals Saturday night.

Jax tossed five innings of one-hit, scoreless ball and was bolstered by the hot bats of Miguel Sano (2-for-4, 2B), Luis Arráez (2-for-3, 2 RBI), and Josh Donaldson (1-for-3, HR) as the Twins picked up their 72nd win of the season, keeping them at 89 losses headed into Sunday's regular season finally.

Jax was once thought of as a long shot to ever reach the major leagues after posting mediocre strikeout numbers during his minor league career. However, while he likely won't be counted on as a starter in the long run due to his propensity to surrender home runs his second time through the order, Jax displayed enough talent to warrant a shot in next season's bullpen, one that figures to look much different than the 2021 iteration.

Byron Buxton (1-for-5) also continued his success at the plate by connecting for his 22nd double of the season. Entering play, Buxton had accumulated 4.0 fWAR in 59 games, which is an MVP-caliber pace when extrapolated over the course of a full season (i.e. 120 or so games). 

Buxton's status will be one of the biggest talking points this offseason as he figures to be one of the most sought after names on the trade market. The Twins could — and arguably should — off him a contract extension as well.

While many will bring up his injury history as a reason not to extend him, Buxton will be worth every penny of his next contract extension, regardless of the dollar amount and regardless of which team it is with. As a reference, Jorge Polanco has been the Twins’ most valuable player this season and likely would garner MVP votes if his team wasn’t one of the 10 worst in all of baseball. Entering play on Saturday, he had accumulated 4.1 fWAR. 

The Twins conclude the 2021 season on Sunday when Charlie Barnes (0-3, 5.86 ERA) goes up against Jackson Kowar (0-5, 11.28 ERA). First pitch is slated for 2:10 p.m. CT.

Postgame Interviews

Griffin Jax on his final start.

Tyler Duffey on the bullpen's performance and more.

Finally, Rocco Baldelli's postgame comments.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT
Duffey 18 21 0 0 15 54
Thielbar 13 0 14 0 26 53
Colomé 26 18 0 0 7 51
Farrell 0 0 0 38 0 38
Moran 0 0 0 38 0 38
Garza Jr. 19 0 12 0 0 31
Alcalá 10 0 13 0 0 23
Minaya 0 22 0 0 0 22
Vincent 0 0 16 0 0 16
Coulombe 0 0 0 15 0 15
Barraclough 0 0 14 0 0 14

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One of Jax's performances to end the season. Good for him! I think he is, unfortunately, a victim of circumstance. Not sure everyone realizes or appreciates that when the Twins drafted him they thought the military obligation was going to change at that time. It didn't for about 3yrs. So he barely pitched until 2018 when he got a half season and 2019 he finally got a full year. And then, of course he lost2020 like so many others. 

He's actually been promoted rather aggressively, all things considered, but will be 27yo when 2022 starts. But I think the arm talent, maturity and intelligence are there mixed with so-so results and coaching as well as adjustments made on the fly that he's protected going forward. Whether a SP or BP option, I think he's a late blooming option that has a possible future and deserves to be kept and protected. Not his fault he's been behind the 8 ball to start his career initially. I think there's something worthwhile to still work with.

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10 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

One of Jax's performances to end the season. Good for him! I think he is, unfortunately, a victim of circumstance. Not sure everyone realizes or appreciates that when the Twins drafted him they thought the military obligation was going to change at that time. It didn't for about 3yrs. So he barely pitched until 2018 when he got a half season and 2019 he finally got a full year. And then, of course he lost2020 like so many others. 

He's actually been promoted rather aggressively, all things considered, but will be 27yo when 2022 starts. But I think the arm talent, maturity and intelligence are there mixed with so-so results and coaching as well as adjustments made on the fly that he's protected going forward. Whether a SP or BP option, I think he's a late blooming option that has a possible future and deserves to be kept and protected. Not his fault he's been behind the 8 ball to start his career initially. I think there's something worthwhile to still work with.

Griffin Jax reminds me a lot of Duffey coming up.  A solid pitcher but really only has a 2 pitch mix and doesn’t have a dominate fastball.  If going to bullpen may help give him a couple mph 

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It's so interesting about Buxton.  You always brush off his injuries and the people who bring them up.  I hope they sign him as well.  But get serious.  He's us a great center fielder with a career .247 average.  You can't just ignore that nor the fact he's missed more than half the games the past few years.  Those missed games are as real as all of the great catches he has made.  But to pay him whatever he wants or whatever it takes is irresponsible!  And those that keep ignoring his injuries and massive games missed over the years need a dose of reality.  Sign Buxton to a reasonable extension for a good player that seldom plays.  

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53 minutes ago, Whitey333 said:

It's so interesting about Buxton.  You always brush off his injuries and the people who bring them up.  I hope they sign him as well.  But get serious.  He's us a great center fielder with a career .247 average.  You can't just ignore that nor the fact he's missed more than half the games the past few years.  Those missed games are as real as all of the great catches he has made.  But to pay him whatever he wants or whatever it takes is irresponsible!  And those that keep ignoring his injuries and massive games missed over the years need a dose of reality.  Sign Buxton to a reasonable extension for a good player that seldom plays.  

I would put more emphasis in his injuries if they were something chronic, like Donaldson calves. But  in case of Buxton they were more freak things than anything else. So, nobody knows the future, but, to put an example, the possibility of him breaking his toe again is not greater than any other player. Sure, probably injury history can be used in negotiations, but up to a point. 

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Doc hit it right on when talking about how little Jax has pitched and how aggressively he has been promoted.  Many of us heard the Wichita announcer rave this summer about Winder and his make up in part due to his experiences at VMI.  The same is true for Jax and I would expect the AFA is even tougher than VMI.  No reason we won’t see an improved starter next year who has addressed some of those concerns from this year.  
 

Four of Ober, Ryan, Pineda, Jax and Dobnak works for me.  Add Winder and a few others who are close for early depth and Maeda in August.  Go out and sign or trade for that top guy after resigning Pineda, which I expect to happen this month.

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1 hour ago, adjacent said:

I would put more emphasis in his injuries if they were something chronic, like Donaldson calves. But  in case of Buxton they were more freak things than anything else. So, nobody knows the future, but, to put an example, the possibility of him breaking his toe again is not greater than any other player. Sure, probably injury history can be used in negotiations, but up to a point. 

Some of the injuries may be freak things, but the migraines are not and the running into the wall seems to be a habit that's hard for him to break. I love the defense that Buxton brings but I've heard, "Next year..." so many times now, it seems like a "skipping record" (or for the youngsters, "buffering") There are players that are injury prone. I often think of Jacoby Ellsbury as a comparison because of his position and the potential upside he had as well. I hope that's not the case for Buxton and maybe next year will be the year. Let's hope, but you certainly can't count on it IMHO.

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The reports published around the trade deadline indicate that there is near agreement on a base contract for Buxton. The next discussions will revolve around incentives related to at bats and games played. The Twins will want some give if they provide a guaranteed base of $10-11 million per year and Buxton's agent will argue for a high dollar ceiling for incentives. The Twins are probably less worried about injuries than many fans. They need some protection because of his career thus far. 

Regarding injuries ... Buxton is healthy and athletic enough to maintain his current condition for at least five years. We are not seeing him bang into walls any longer and he is more restrained in his daily play than previously. Some of this intentional and some is due to gained experience. The hit by pitch injuries are not predicable. Finally, it seems like several years have passed since Buxton has had debilitating migraines. In sum, Byron Buxton is a solid bet for the next seven years within the context of a contract that contains a base plus incentives. This type of contract recognizes that there have been previous concerns which management must consider. The question is how high will the Twins go with incentives. Will they pay $35 million if Buxton wins an MVP? I cannot see why the Twins shouldn't be able to work out a deal but there is always the slim  possibility to let the contract play out. Pitching is the primary need for next season but the last week has shown how valuable Byron Buxton is to the Minnesota Twins. 

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