Starter: Jose Berrios 6.0 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Home Runs: Mitch Garver (9,10)
Bottom 3 WPA: Berrios (-.547), Simmons (-.060), Kirilloff/Larnach (-.057)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
After having to battle Lance Lynn in Game 1 Monday evening, a matchup with Reynaldo Lopez who was making the start for the White Sox appeared, on paper, to be a much easier task offensively for the Twins.
The Twins did get on the board in the 1st quickly. After Luis Arraez reached with a single, he advanced all the way to 3rd base on a throwing error. He wasn’t there very long as Josh Donaldson drove him home with a sacrifice fly to put the Twins up 1-0 early.
That lead didn’t last long. In the bottom half of the 1st, Twins nemesis Jose Abreu hit his 17th home run on the year off of Jose Berrios. Abreu has seen Berrios the 5th most of any pitcher over his career. Berrios has actually had decent “success” against Abreu as Monday night was the second home run he has allowed to last season's AL MVP.
Mitch Garver Returns BIG
The most exciting storyline of the game was by far the return of Mitch Garver who was activated between games. You may remember it was about 6 weeks ago that Garver had to have emergency surgery for a groin contusion/injury. While normally we would be worried about a player’s timing after that sort of layoff, Garver seemed to lock back in quickly.
In his first at-bat during the 2nd inning, Garver hit a solo home run for his 9th on the season to put the Twins back up 2-1.
Being a good catcher Garver couldn’t leave his night to just that. In his next at-bat, Garver gave his starter some more breathing room with his 10th home run of the season.
After that 2nd home run of the evening, Garver had brought his home run pace to a home run every 11.6 at-bats since the 2019 season.
Berrios deals, Berrios implodes
The storyline should have been dominated by Garver’s return. As a result, the story of Berrios’ stunning start should have flown under the radar. That was the truth through 6 innings aside from the solo shots from Abreu and Moncada. We of course know with that set up, a “but” is on its way.
It looked like Berrios was going to go the distance in Game 2. That would have been huge considering how the Twins high-leverage bullpen arms were all used in Game 1. With the way Berrios had been rolling and the bullpen's status, it made absolute sense to bring him back in for the 7th inning to finish out the game.
Those of us watching saw how things went south very quickly. Goodwin and Vaughn both reached base. With those two on 1st and 2nd, Berrios spiked a ball in the dirt allowing them to advance to 2nd and 3rd. With that clear sign that Berrios was rattled, rookie Gavin Sheets took Berrios long to walk-off the Twins.
This outing was another case study on the tough decision that lays in the hands of the front office as the trade deadline looms. Is Berrios a pitcher they can continue to build a playoff winning staff around for 2022? Or are the blowups just too much and it is time to capitalize on what would still be a potentially high return that could be had for the remaining time of control?
The Twins will see the White Sox and Dallas Keuchel again tomorrow night as Bailey Ober is scheduled to start opposite of Keuchel.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet