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  • Twins at Risk of Sinking to New Low with October Woes


    Nick Nelson

    This was going to be different. So insisted everyone involved with these 2019 Twins, who entered the postseason looking to upend an October narrative that's haunted the franchise for 15 years.

     

    So far, they're right. It has been different. It's been worse.

    Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Losing against the Yankees in the playoffs is a painfully familiar experience for Twins fans, but this is as bad as we've seen it. While Minnesota entered this ALDS on a 13-game postseason losing streak, none of those losses were as lopsided or all-around uninspiring as the two duds we just witnessed in the Bronx.

     

    None of the Twins' 13 consecutive playoff losses dating back to 2004 were by a margin of more than five runs. Each of the first two drubbings in this ALDS have been by six. The Yankees have dismantled, outsmarted, and dominated at almost every turn. Few observers truly expected the Twins to win this series but for the club to be so woefully uncompetitive is beyond disheartening.

     

    It starts with the pitching staff, of course. In two games at Yankee Stadium, the Twins gave up 18 runs on 18 hits and 16 walks. Previously reliable arms imploded. No one had any answers for the patience and power of New York's lineup. Multiple defensive mistakes contributed to the meltdown.

     

    Bafflingly, the Twins allowed all of this damage without three of their best relievers even taking the mound. Trevor May and Sergio Romo didn't appear until Game 2 was already well out of hand. Taylor Rogers, Minnesota's most valuable reliever all year long, still hasn't pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees have gone to their top guys in every important spot and it has paid off; their bullpen – which was arguably at a slight disadvantage on paper – has allowed only two runs on four hits over 8 1/3 innings.

     

    And while it's always easy to second-guess managerial bullpen moves in retrospect, that's the nature of a playoff series, and rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli has made some especially questionable calls that have gone about as poorly as possible. He pulled strings as if operating in regular-season mode, saving bullets for late-game opportunities that never materialized.

     

    Why was Zack Littell the first man out of the bullpen on Friday night, in the fifth inning of a 3-3 tie? As effective as Littell has been, he's a rookie who rarely threw in high-leverage spots all year. And on Saturday, why was Tyler Duffey called into an intensely stressful situation, one day after throwing 25 pitches in Game 1? Rogers, May and Romo were all completely fresh. Duffey had a 7.45 ERA and 1.56 WHIP when pitching on zero days rest this season, and he never once made such an appearance after throwing as many pitches as he did on Friday.

     

    Baldelli has had a commendable first year at the helm but his decision-making in this series – and particularly those choices, with their utterly disastrous results – will be rightfully scrutinized for some time.

     

    At the end of the day, though, the biggest letdown for the Twins in this heralded slugging showdown has been their largely absent offense. Six runs on 13 hits in 18 innings, against a vulnerable pitching staff in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly yards. Completely inadequate and underwhelming.

     

    Now, the Twins return home with their backs against the wall. Win or it's over. Given the total breakdowns we've seen in every phase thus far, there's not much cause for confidence, but Monday is a new day, in a new ballpark, in front of a packed home crowd.

     

    This team is almost out of chances to not just put an end to the longest stretch of postseason futility against a single opponent in MLB history, but to avoid imprinting 2019 as the new low point in this languishing legacy of losing when it matters most.

     

    Coming home, down 0-2, with elimination feeling almost like a forgone conclusion. We've been here before. Will this time be different?


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    Dear FO,

     

    You need 2 starting pitchers better than Berrios and chances are ownership won't be able to find their wallet much less know what is in it

     

    Time to start figuring out which top ten prospects (or current outfielders)  you are willing to trade for pitching.

     

    Love,

    Any Future Season Ticket Holders

    I think there’s only one pitcher better than Berríos on the free agent market next year.

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    I think there’s only one pitcher better than Berríos on the free agent market next year.

    True, but he's WAY better.

     

    I don't even need Cole, though. Find a way to acquire a good pitcher like Minor, retain Odorizzi, and the Twins are most of the way to a good rotation.

     

    But fer chrissakes, don't just sit on their effing hands for an entire offseason again when it comes to pitching.

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    I didn't expect the Twins to win over 100 games and break the home run record.  I had more fun watching Twins baseball this year than I have in years.

     

    But man, another loss tomorrow, particularly if it's another loss of the non-competitive variety, and it will be hard to look back on it positively.

     

    At least initially, when it's still raw and emotions are running high.  I'm sure I'll feel differently as the off-season progresses and the conversation shifts to talking about 2020.

     

    I agree that a win tomorrow would be huge, even if that's all we win. I just don't see beating the Yankees 3 straight.  But for the love of God, rise up and win one effing game.

     

    Give the home fans something to cheer about.

     

    End the historic postseason losing streak so we don't have that hanging over us next time we play October baseball.

     

    And show the world we at least belong on the same field as the Yankees, cuz we sure didn't look like it this weekend.

     

    Severino is a beatable pitcher.  Odo is capable of throwing a good game.  Get it done.

     

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    True, but he's WAY better.

     

    I don't even need Cole, though. Find a way to acquire a good pitcher like Minor, retain Odorizzi, and the Twins are most of the way to a good rotation.

     

    But fer chrissakes, don't just sit on their effing hands for an entire offseason again when it comes to pitching.

    Still need one more, plus whatever current guy.

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    if the twins could get their hands on a shut-down playoff pitcher like anibal sanchez i’m sure they’d never let go.

     

    LOL - Yeah, we're too deep with starting pitching to ever consider ever bringing in Anibal Sanchez and if we were lucky enough to get him on the cheap, surely we'd never, ever let him go (even if he looks pretty good in spring training!). 

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    Still need one more, plus whatever current guy.

    Yeah, they need three starters. But if they start with a trade for a guy like Minor (basically, someone Berrios equivalent) and keep Odorizzi, they can then try a reclamation guy and probably be okay.

     

    Given how Smeltzer, Thorpe, and Graterol have looked, I'm optimistic one of them (probably two in rotation) can hold down the fifth spot for the season. I'm okay with running through a bunch of guys in the fifth spot for the 2020 season. The farm has enough talent, they should be able to find a guy who sticks.

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    are trades still legal?

    If Berrios isnt the third starter in next season's opening rotation, the off season is a failure.

    You're underrating Berrios. Do you realize just how good he was this season? The Yankees didn't have a single starter as good as he was this season.

     

    Berrios, second starter? Yes, absolutely. But even if you pick up someone better than Berrios, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he's better than what you picked up by season's end.

     

    But aim, at the minimum, Berrios or better for a starting pitcher acquisition.

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    We have pitched scared...trying to make the perfect pitch.  That plays into their strength which is a patient approach at the plate.  Meanwhile, they have taken away our strength of hitting fastballs in fastball counts over the fence by throwing off speed pitches to get ahead, a fastball or two out of the strike zone to set up another off speed pitch to finish us off.  If we don't adapt, we are done.

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    The Twins can pull this off but it will require something like we saw last time NY was in town, so I am guessing we will see a 8-7, 10-8 or maybe even a 12-11 game.

     

    Yeah I don't see us beating the Yankees 2-1 or 3-2.  

     

    I think they key will be jumping on Severino to build a healthy lead and let Odo relax a bit while forcing the Yankees to go to their pen early.

     

    A close game in the late innings does not favor us.

     

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    I'm just sick of it.

     

    And I'm old. '65 World Series is my first baseball memory. I grew up with those power-hitting and power-pitching Twins of the mid-60's, suffered through the 70's and especially early 80's, before our brief moments in the sun. Then, those 2000's, where we bent over for the Yanks and others every dang first round, save once. 

     

    This season took me, and lots of others, pleasantly by surprise. What a wonderful ride, even through the tight days of late Aug- early September. But just playing meaningful games that late in the year was such a gas!

     

    And now, we're one step away from tarnishing that whole year. Having it rendered meaningless. 

     

    I'm also a massive rugby fan, and still and active player. Right now, the Rugby World Cup is going on, and the USA is once again a 'guest.' Cup after Cup, the US has been involved, but on the receiving end of horrid beatings that would make the Yanks' dominance seem mild. This year, I thought, they've been coming on since the last Cup, have a pro league now in the US, and tons of players overseas in prestigious leagues- this year, maybe we won't be beaten like a drum by everyone.

     

    Nope. Blasted away by England, torched by France, about to be smacked down by Argentina, then Tonga, probably, because we get them on a short turnaround. Just like the Twins, a long road of bright play and good results all thrown away under the hot lights. It's like all that progress over the past years didn't even happen. When the time comes to show what you can do, too many guys show what they can't do.

     

    Yes, this season will be a good memory. But unless we make a massive sucking-up and come out on a mission from God, it's just another remake of the same crappy movie.

     

     

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