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  • Game Recap: Astros 6, Twins 4


    Thiéres Rabelo

    Bailey Ober had his best outing in the majors and the Twins once again showed they had some fight in them late, but the now reliever Matt Shoemaker allowed Houston to regain the lead with a two-run ninth and Minnesota drops the series opener against the Astros at Target Field.

    Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    Ober: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (71,2% strikes)
    Home Runs: Cruz (12), Sanó (13), Donaldson 2 (10)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Shoemaker -.352, Duffey -.174, Larnach -.130

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    chart.png.976704c1a2d4a2703f9070d7de08804f.png

    Some great news brought in some optimism for Twins fans earlier today. The club announced that struggling starter Matt Shoemaker would be sent to the bullpen and rookie Bailey Ober would start tonight’s game. Could this mean that Shoemaker’s stint in Minnesota is close to an end?

    Ober took advantage of another opportunity, making his third start of the season. It didn’t take very long for this one to become special for him. He pitched through the first two innings quickly, on only 28 pitches. After giving up a leadoff single to Martín Maldonado in the third, he struck out the next batter, then his fifth punchout of the game, already his career-high.

    However, he did pitch himself into a small jam during that same inning. Michael Brantley doubled on a 0-2 curveball, putting two runners in scoring position right away. No team in baseball has allowed more 0-2 hits than the Twins this season. Alex Bregman pushed a run across on a sac-fly, but Ober limited the damage to that one run.

    Fortunately, while Ober navigated through his ups and downs, he got some early run support to make things a bit less difficult for him. Minnesota hit a solo home run in each of the first three innings. Nelson Cruz picked up right where he left off on Thursday night, taking José Urquidy deep after a nice, seven-pitch at-bat. With that dinger, his 12th of the year, he tied Miguel Sanó for the team-lead.

    But Miggy wouldn’t just sit there and take that. He had something to say about that.

    Then, when Houston cut the Twins’ lead in half in the top of the third, Josh Donaldson brought the rain and with a solo shot of his own, he gave Ober the two-run lead back, making it 3-1 Minnesota.

    After pitching a quick, scoreless fourth, Ober’s pitch count was still under 60. He earned himself the chance to pitch into the fifth inning for the first time in his big league career. José Altuve homered to the corner of the left field, on a ball that ricocheted off the foul pole into the limestone. Immediately after that, Brantley singled and suddenly Ober was in a potentially tough situation.

    Ober didn’t shy away from the challenge, as he managed to retire both batters that followed, including a strikeout against red-hot Yordan Álvarez (Ober’s seventh in the game) to close the inning, after a tough seven-pitch at-bat with a man on. You couldn’t ask for a better learning opportunity for the rookie, who was pulled right after this, in line for his first major league win.

    Rocco Baldelli decided not to bring Ober back to the sixth, even though he was still at 73 pitches (52 for strikes). Jorge Alcalá took over, making his fourth appearance in the last five days. After falling behind 3-0 on the count, he was later taken deep by Yuli Gurriel, who tied the game with a leadoff home run. He retired the side on ten pitches next. In spite of the game-tying home run, Alcalá is still having a very positive month of June, in which he has as many strikeouts as innings pitched (five) and has yet to give up a walk.

    While the offense struggled to produce baserunners, Tyler Duffey took over to pitch the seventh. He looked off from the beginning and even got one of the trainers to check on him on the mound after he retired the leadoff man. Command started to elude him and the inning became really sloppy. He walked Altuve and hit Brantley just before Bregman grounded out to bring Altuve home, making it 4-3 Astros.

    Donaldson ties the game, Shoemaker chokes it

    After the offense went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, it was time for Shoemaker’s first appearance out of the bullpen in a Twins uniform. Very convincingly, he pitched a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. Which immediately raised the question: could the Twins find value (or trade value, for that matter) for him in relief pitching?

    Donaldson decided he wasn’t done being on fire, so in the bottom of the eighth, he brought the rain again. That’s three home runs in less than 24 hours for him, or five at-bats, to be more precise.

    But the question some of us were asking ourselves about Shoemaker after the eight was quickly answered in the ninth. Looking completely lost, he gave up two runs on three hits, in what seemed to be one of his worst outings as a Twin. A leadoff single to Myles Straw, followed by an RBI-double to Maldonado, and an RBI-single to Brantley later, while recording only one out. Former Twin Ryan Pressly didn’t have an easy task, as it took him 20 pitches to close out the game, but he did manage to retire Minnesota batters in order.

    Postgame Interviews
    Bailey Ober:

    Rocco Baldelli:

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      SUN TUE WED THU FRI TOT
    Jax 0 23 51 0 0 74
    Duffey 14 0 0 20 22 56
    Farrell 13 19 0 23 0 55
    Alcalá 10 21 0 7 15 53
    Shoemaker 0 0 0 0 35 35
    Colomé 0 9 25 0 0 34
    Robles 15 0 0 11 0 26
    Rogers 0 20 0 0 3 23
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    4 hours ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    Why not take the chance that the FO can identify a pitcher and salvage something, even if it's only temporary? That was a large part of their selling point. Worst case scenario, as you put it, we watch a Shoemaker-esque performance in the short term. If there isn't anybody on the 40 man at this exact moment there are 5ish arms that'll be available in the near future that can at minimum eat some innings. 

    The league has a record number of injuries after a year of no minor leagues. There aren’t guys just waiting to be claimed, not guys any better than Shoemaker, anyway. 

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    46 minutes ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    Me neither, but in the specific case you brought up we're talking about a 26 year old college arm that's a fringe prospect at best. I think the 3.5 months remaining are more valuable than the likely limited opportunities he'd likely get if the Twins were to wait and bring him up when they had to add him. 

    They don’t necessarily have to add Barnes, that’s the thing — I don’t think he looks like a particularly likely Rule 5 pick. So the Twins can take their time with him — he is still just 25 and left handed. If they don’t think he’s likely to be successful in MLB at the moment, why should they betray that judgement just because Shoemaker has been a disaster and postseason is unlikely? In that case, Barnes likely blocks a better prospect from being added to the 40-man this winter, or gets claimed on waivers if we try to remove him. That sounds like compounding one mistake with another, and a poor use of resources. They could just follow their present judgement on Barnes, keep him in AAA off the 40-man roster, perhaps even into next season, and continue working on new things with him until they think his odds of MLB success have improved.

    I get it, you are frustrated by Shoemaker. We all are. But he’s not going to be allowed to put up numbers like this for the next 3.5 months. He’s already been bounced from the rotation. He’s not going to block anybody who really needs a look.

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    13 hours ago, theBOMisthebomb said:

    I'm blowing out the bullpen Friday night and going with Berrios and Jax on Saturday. If Berrios gets knocked out early on Saturday then Jax is throwing until he hits his pitch limit.  Three pitches from Rogers and zero from Robles and Colome (I can't believe I'm saying that) is unacceptable. Tomorrow will never come if they don't start stringing wins together and if it does it will be meaningless. Screw the stupid win probability chart, one run down is one swing from a tie game. 

    Good evening.  Kept my powder dry until we could see the result of the second game of the series.  To be clear, it did not have to work out the way I called it, so this post is not a bat flip.  However, it does appear that there was a better chance for a W with the three arms in combination today than there was when the Twins were a run down yesterday.

    The main reason why yesterday was not a win-at-all-costs situation is because there were still 99 games left, and it is still possible (not probable) for the Twins to play .600 ball through the rest of the season and end up with 85 or more wins.  Had that been a 2019 or a 2020 playoff game I would have been on your side of the argument.

    See you for the rubber game - takeoff point for our wildcard drive!  🤪💣😎

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    29 minutes ago, spycake said:

    They don’t necessarily have to add Barnes, that’s the thing — I don’t think he looks like a particularly likely Rule 5 pick. So the Twins can take their time with him — he is still just 25 and left handed. If they don’t think he’s likely to be successful in MLB at the moment, why should they betray that judgement just because Shoemaker has been a disaster and postseason is unlikely? In that case, Barnes likely blocks a better prospect from being added to the 40-man this winter, or gets claimed on waivers if we try to remove him. That sounds like compounding one mistake with another, and a poor use of resources. They could just follow their present judgement on Barnes, keep him in AAA off the 40-man roster, perhaps even into next season, and continue working on new things with him until they think his odds of MLB success have improved.

    I get it, you are frustrated by Shoemaker. We all are. But he’s not going to be allowed to put up numbers like this for the next 3.5 months. He’s already been bounced from the rotation. He’s not going to block anybody who really needs a look.

    I think it's more about a reluctance to admit defeat with Shoemaker than it is about concern over Barnes preparedness. I don't think he'd be selected in the the Rule V either, but if he was, a soft tossing guy with modest numbers isn't someone even this site would be up in arms over. If you're concerned over him blocking actual prospects on the 40 man that kind of says it all about his standing in the organization. I'm with you, I'd rather not see this team use their resources poorly, but I don't think his addition right now would fall into that category. What kind of leash do you think a guy like Barnes would have in a season where the Twins aren't fighting for the 1st pick in the draft? Is it any better to be a 40 man casualty because he was forced to be added and opportunities were limited? He spent three years in college, he's soon to be 26, he's on his second run in AAA, and he's nowhere near prized prospect status. I don't think the situation is all that fragile. 

    It isn't really a matter of whether he continues to be this bad for 3 more months, it's more a question of what allowing him to be this bad at the present time does for this organization. We clearly have different views on that. 

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    2 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    The league has a record number of injuries after a year of no minor leagues. There aren’t guys just waiting to be claimed, not guys any better than Shoemaker, anyway. 

    Old friend Homer Bailey is still unsigned. Rick Porcello, Mike Leake if he's open to playing, Cole Hamels if he's healthy enough. Not exactly appealing options, but it doesn't have to be a starter, just find a mop up bullpen arm. I just don't believe the Twins simply can't do better than what Shoemaker has given them. 

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    1 minute ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    I just don't believe the Twins simply can't do better than what Shoemaker has given them. 

    Neither do I but all those names you listed are likely to be just as bad as Shoemaker. Different isn't better.

    The thing is that you can't predict literally half your 26 man roster being on the injured list at once. Shoemaker has been absolutely awful, we can all agree on that. If the Twins don't move on from him in the next 7-10 days as formerly injured players return to the team, I'll be right there with you.

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    7 hours ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    I think it's more about a reluctance to admit defeat with Shoemaker than it is about concern over Barnes preparedness.

    This was the fan complaint a week ago when they didn’t DFA Shoemaker or announce his removal from the rotation immediately after his implosion vs KC. But guess what? They added Jax to the 40-man immediately after that game, they bounced Shoemaker from the rotation before his next turn, and Jax ended up with over twice the innings of Shoemaker for the week.

    This front office has promoted pitchers aggressively when they believe they are ready — Dobnak and Ober as chief examples on the current roster. Barnes himself went from high-A to AAA in 2019. There is no evidence that they are withholding a ready MLB promotion to anyone out of some obligation toward Shoemaker, just because they are not rushing to satisfy your DFA bloodlust after a single Shoemaker relief appearance.

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    8 hours ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    Old friend Homer Bailey is still unsigned. Rick Porcello, Mike Leake if he's open to playing, Cole Hamels if he's healthy enough. Not exactly appealing options, but it doesn't have to be a starter, just find a mop up bullpen arm. I just don't believe the Twins simply can't do better than what Shoemaker has given them. 

    As of tomorrow (Maeda activation), the Twins will have 6 starters plus Duran still in AAA. We could probably use a few relief innings covered over the next few weeks, but a handful of veteran SP with $100+ mil in career earnings who haven't thrown as much as a spring training pitch in 2021 do not represent better or more realistic options to fill that need than simply giving a second relief appearance to Shoemaker.

    Just like I correctly suggested last week, that Shoemaker may not make his next start even though he wasn't officially bounced yet, I'm going to guess that Shoemaker won't have a long leash in the pen either if our need for higher leverage innings persists and his upcoming relief performances look more like his 9th inning Friday night rather than his 8th.

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    12 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Neither do I but all those names you listed are likely to be just as bad as Shoemaker. Different isn't better.

    The thing is that you can't predict literally half your 26 man roster being on the injured list at once. Shoemaker has been absolutely awful, we can all agree on that. If the Twins don't move on from him in the next 7-10 days as formerly injured players return to the team, I'll be right there with you.

    Not necessarily, but it's at least an attempt to be better. 

    If he's a lame duck then cut bait and bring in a stop gap to mop up for a week. Setting a date by which he needs to be out isn't really a defense of his continued presence on the roster. 

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    5 hours ago, spycake said:

    This was the fan complaint a week ago when they didn’t DFA Shoemaker or announce his removal from the rotation immediately after his implosion vs KC. But guess what? They added Jax to the 40-man immediately after that game, they bounced Shoemaker from the rotation before his next turn, and Jax ended up with over twice the innings of Shoemaker for the week.

    This front office has promoted pitchers aggressively when they believe they are ready — Dobnak and Ober as chief examples on the current roster. Barnes himself went from high-A to AAA in 2019. There is no evidence that they are withholding a ready MLB promotion to anyone out of some obligation toward Shoemaker, just because they are not rushing to satisfy your DFA bloodlust after a single Shoemaker relief appearance.

     

    4 hours ago, spycake said:

    As of tomorrow (Maeda activation), the Twins will have 6 starters plus Duran still in AAA. We could probably use a few relief innings covered over the next few weeks, but a handful of veteran SP with $100+ mil in career earnings who haven't thrown as much as a spring training pitch in 2021 do not represent better or more realistic options to fill that need than simply giving a second relief appearance to Shoemaker.

    Just like I correctly suggested last week, that Shoemaker may not make his next start even though he wasn't officially bounced yet, I'm going to guess that Shoemaker won't have a long leash in the pen either if our need for higher leverage innings persists and his upcoming relief performances look more like his 9th inning Friday night rather than his 8th.

    Yet even in those innings Shoemaker found a way to cost this team another game. Barnes is on a very similar progression path and he's been pretty damn good at AAA, similar to Ober. Yeah, I think it's odd that a pitching starved team like the Twins haven't tried to get him some innings, particularly when his track closely matches those who have gotten that opportunity. Bloodlust? How far backwards are you willing to bend to defend the FO's decision to continue with Shoemaker? How much longer do we need to watch these performances before "bloodlust," becomes necessity for you?

    The names are irrelevant, the point was that any replacement represents a chance to see improvement from that roster spot. Short leash, few days, ect was the defense last week....

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    As Shoemaker's relief leash draws near its close, I'll drop this line of debate, but I just want to clarify that I wasn't trying to diss Barnes upthread! If the season ended today and he wasn't on the 40-man, I don't think he'd be a likely Rule 5 loss, but of course the season doesn't end today -- Barnes may get a chance very soon and do well.

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    What is really baffling about this is that Baldelli repeated an error that no one else on the planet would have done in the first place.

    When he put Dobnak in the pen to start the year, he bounced him out there in the 8th and 9th innings.  He did the exact same thing for Shoemaker.

    The 8th and 9th innings are for your best bullpen guys, not your experiments, not your reclamation projects.  Losing games at the end affects the pitcher involved very negatively, and can also have a negative impact on the entire team.

     

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    45 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

    What is really baffling about this is that Baldelli repeated an error that no one else on the planet would have done in the first place.

    When he put Dobnak in the pen to start the year, he bounced him out there in the 8th and 9th innings.  He did the exact same thing for Shoemaker.

    The 8th and 9th innings are for your best bullpen guys, not your experiments, not your reclamation projects.  Losing games at the end affects the pitcher involved very negatively, and can also have a negative impact on the entire team.

     

    The only time Dobnak has pitched in the 8th inning of a close game this season, he started the 6th and pitched through the 8th pretty well vs Boston (3 IP, 2 H, 1 R). He has not pitched the 9th inning of any close games. He did pitch the 10th inning on opening day, but extra innings is a traditional spot to use a long reliever when necessary (we already went through 5 relievers that game after Maeda only went 4.1 innings):

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=dobnara01&t=p&year=2021

    image.png.561e95e891a4cba42ba12fd5c30a75a9.png

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    You missed some data there.  Of Dobnak's 7 relief appearances, he pitched in the 8th four times.  He pitched in the 9th or 10th three times.

    Here are some highlights.

    April 1st, pitched in the 10th, takes the loss.
    April 5th, pitched in the 8th and 9th, allowed 5 runs.
    April 13th, pitched in the 8th, takes the loss.
    April 28th, pitched in the 8th and 9th.  Did a good job!
    May 1st, pitched in the 8th, allowed 2 runs.
     

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    49 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

    You missed some data there.  Of Dobnak's 7 relief appearances, he pitched in the 8th four times.  He pitched in the 9th or 10th three times.

    Here are some highlights.

    April 1st, pitched in the 10th, takes the loss.
    April 5th, pitched in the 8th and 9th, allowed 5 runs.
    April 13th, pitched in the 8th, takes the loss.
    April 28th, pitched in the 8th and 9th.  Did a good job!
    May 1st, pitched in the 8th, allowed 2 runs.
     

    You claimed Dobnak pitched in the 8th and 9th when Baldelli should have used our "best bullpen guys". 

    So I listed "the only time he pitched in the 8th inning of a close game". That was the April 13th game I mentioned. Dobnak pitched the 6th and 7th of a tie game, retiring all 6 batters he faced on only 15 pitches. He did give up 2 doubles and 1 run to begin the 8th and ultimately took the loss despite completing that inning with no further runs allowed. Dobnak never pitched the 9th of a close game this season.

    Surely you are not arguing that the 8th inning leading by 14 (April 5th), leading by 8 (April 28th) and trailing by 10 (May 1st) should be the exclusive innings of our "best bullpen guys"?

    And when Dobnak pitched the 10th on opening day, the only other relievers left were Alcala and Thielbar. Dobnak was not selected over our "best bullpen guys" that day.

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