Kepler Got His Groove Back?
Max Kepler had a rough season after contracting the Covid-19 virus in early 2021. Not only was his physical appearance worn and thin, but his defense and at-bats were also not what they used to be. Over the past two series, Kepler has increased his plate discipline. Savant showed his zone contact is 90.9% which helped him at least in this series, garnering him both a home run and a double. He may be batting .188 right now, but the average doesn't say it all. He is on track for a good season and getting better the more plate appearances he has, and he's undoubtedly rounding out his efforts by adding in good defensive play.
Kepler has been making impressive defensive plays in the right field in a Buxton-like fashion. He is not Buxton, but his commitment to the hustle and making key plays like the out in the bottom of the fifth getting Chris Taylor out was beautiful.
Admittedly I thought trading Kepler would have been a good idea at the beginning of the season, but he continues to show the staff and the fans that he is not done yet and won't go down without a fight, or up his trade value.
Situational Hitting Gets an "F"
The Dodgers pitching lineup was too much for the Twins bats. Over the two-game series, the Twins' offense could only get six hits. I'd rather get a root canal than sit through another series like that again.
The Dodgers' pitching is one of the best in the league, but there is no reason the Twins bats couldn't make contact more than they did, at a minimum in game one. Byron Buxton and Gio Urshella went 0-for-4, and Luis Arraez, who has been a bright spot, went a dismal 0-for-3. Thank God at least Kepler and Nick Gordon were able to get runs, or this would have been a shutout series, and that's not a good look.
Clayton Kershaw, who had never pitched before at Target Field, got comfortable really quick and was off to a combined perfect game, but thankfully Gary Sanchez came into the batter's box in the eighth inning and broke it up with a single to right field.
That's probably the best news of the series, considering no one else could get anything going, and the frustration mounted to a peak when Miguel Sano busted his bat after going 0-for-3 and striking out twice. We are all Miguel Sano right now.
I like Josh Winder, but...
It was not a shock to me when Josh Winder made the 28-man roster out of spring training. During the shortened spring training, Winder showed confidence and capability to be a part of the rotation.
Coming into his first MLB appearance facing one of the best lineups in MLB was not an easy task. He pitched to Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, and his first MLB strikeout went to Will Smith in his debut. Of all the hitters he had to debut with, he kept his head together, not getting phased and letting the defense do their part. Even if a sacrifice fly earned one run, that's all the rookie allowed in his first appearance.
Winder's fastball averaged 94.5 MPH, which is excellent, but he needs to keep it in the zone. As he continues to have more mound appearances, there is room for control growth. As he can get control of his fastball, he will be a great mid-reliever.
The rest of the pitching was sad. Chris Archer held his own after a jittery first inning, but Chris Paddack had one of the worst first innings I have seen in a while. While he was able to calm himself down and get out of the innings and continue on, both days the bullpen allowed multiple runs. Dereck Rodriguez looked like he was going to be able to keep it together and then gave up three home runs in a row in his fourth inning of the day.
The bullpen definitely needs to see more batters to improve thanks to a lockout and short spring training but hopefully not at the cost of losing multiple series.
I couldn't imagine that there would be a worse series for the Twins the rest of the season, but I have been wrong before.
What's next? Hopefully, a series win in Boston instead of a repeat of last season where Boston won four of the series' five games.
What were your lasting impressions from the Dodgers series? Leave a comment below.