Dobnak: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Home Runs: Refsnyder (1)
Top 3 WPA: Dobnak .170, Refsnyder .142, Kepler .071
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
After seven unpleasant relief appearances that had him be optioned earlier this month, Randy Dobnak was called up from St. Paul this Friday to join the team in Cleveland. During his stint with the Saints, he had three starts, two of which were really solid, giving him a 3.38 ERA. From the looks of his outing tonight, the confidence he got from that Triple-A stint made all the difference.
It only took Dobber 38 pitches to get through the first three innings, in which he retired nine of the eleven batters he faced. He allowed only one hit, to José Ramírez in the first, but that was it. The only other Cleveland runner to reach in that span did so with the help of a Luis Arráez fielding error.
He missed bats quite nicely, causing Indian hitters to whiff four times. Also, he displayed an impressive improvement on his sinker, which touched 94mph on the radar gun. That’s nearly two miles per hour faster than the highest velocity he ever got from his two-seamer, back in 2019. At the top of the third, Rob Refsnyder hit his first home run as a Twin, to make it 1-0 Minnesota. That was home run number 60 for the Twins on the year, tying them for most in the American League with Boston.
His command started to slightly fail him late in the third, as he got behind in the count twice. Cesar Hernández reached on an Arráez error and old friend Eddie Rosario had the chance to put Cleveland ahead. The former Twin got ahead on the count, 2-0, which could potentially destabilize Dobnak. But Rosie’s trademark impatience had him grounding out to end the inning. Out of a potential jam, Dobber was about to receive an incredible welcome back to the majors gift.
The offense ambushes Cleveland pitching and scores nine runs in the fourth
Not even in his wildest dreams could Dobnak have asked for a better return to the majors. The Twins offense ganged up on Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie, loading the bases twice in the inning before he could record a second out. A couple of walks and a single in between to open the inning allowed Trevor Larnach to push two runs across on a groundout. Startled, McKenzie couldn’t find the zone anymore, allowing Mitch Garver and Refsnyder to walk and reload them up, with only one out.
McKenzie got pulled right there, but it was worthless. A single from Andrelton Simmons and a walk from Josh Donaldson and a double from Max Kepler scored four more runs against Cleveland reliever Phil Maton. Then, Alex Kirilloff joined the party.
The Twins weren’t done and Miguel Sanó doubled to score Kirilloff from second, making it 10-0 Twins. Minnesota nearly batted around twice in the inning and every Twin but Arráez and Larnach reached on either a single or a walk. This was the first time in almost four years that the Twins scored nine runs in one inning.
Now with substantial run support, Dobnak had the tranquility to go through the rest of his start unbothered. He wasn’t as sharp as in the first portion of the night, but he still delivered three scoreless innings, making this the third start of his career in which he pitched at least six innings without an earned run. The last time Dobber pitched at least six scoreless was on Aug. 5 of last year, against the Pirates. With the Twins rotation entering tonight’s game ranking dead last in the majors in fWAR during the month of May (-0.2), Dobnak just made his case for a permanent role in it. What do the Twins have to lose anyway?
Minnesota’s bullpen had yet another good performance on the week. Entering tonight, according to FanGraphs, Twins relievers had produced 0.3 fWAR in the previous seven days, while also striking out a league’s second-best 12.5 batters per nine. Jorge Alcalá and Luke Farrell took care of business in relief of Dobnak and retired nine of the final eleven batters they faced.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet