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  • Around the AL Central (6/24): A Shakeup at the Top


    Ted Schwerzler

    For the first time since May the Minnesota Twins are not in sole possession of first place atop the AL Central division. After a series with the Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota found themselves in an otherwise unfamiliar position. The two meet later this week, and the jockeying for position has begun.

    Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Standings:

    • Cleveland 36-29
    • Minnesota 39-32
    • Chicago 33-35
    • Detroit 26-43
    • Kansas City 25-43

    Chicago continues to be a middling team dealing with a manager the fan base seems to want fired. The Guardians did a good job in Minnesota taking two of three from the Twins, but they have a brutal stretch of games to make up as the year goes on. Looking at current run differentials, it’s clear that the two teams pacing the division are in a league of their own.

    The Stories:
    Jorge Polanco was put on the injured list for the first time this week due to back issues, and that led to the promotion of Alex Kirilloff. So far the latter has looked like the slugging corner player he was always dreamed of being, and that’s a nice development given the wrist issues he’s dealt with. Byron Buxton has now missed consecutive games due to his knee injury worsening, and while Minnesota has tried to shield him from danger, this doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

    Chicago continues to be hit by the injury bug. Infielder Danny Mendick was placed on the IL alongside outfielder Adam Engel. Mendick is done for the season with a torn ACL. Star closer Liam Hendriks remains out and probably will be until early July. The White Sox face the Twins around that time, which could provide extra motivation for the Australian wanting to play against his former organization. Top-30 prospect Lenyn Sosa got the call to replace Mendick on the active roster and he’s hoping to make the most of an otherwise unexpected opportunity. Sosa was playing well at Double-A.

    The Guardians played a handful of close games in Minnesota and therefore both clubs burned through their pen. Having pitching limits go down to 13 on the active roster effective Monday, Terry Francona had to shuffle the deck. Yohan Ramirez was recalled taking the place of Anthony Castro. More importantly ,though, star reliever James Karinchak began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus. He hasn’t pitched in a game since October 1, 2021. With Cleveland streaking towards the top, adding that level of arm alongside Emmanuel Clase is a great get for the Guardians.

    There’s no denying that Javier Baez has been a colossal disaster thus far in Detroit. His average has never been a calling card, but he hasn’t hit for power either. Thankfully he broke out in a big way during a recent series against the Boston Red Sox, going 11-for-27, with seven extra-base hits. Detroit is in the doldrums of the division but they need to see more of that. Top prospect Riley Greene also has made his debut after suffering a foot injury prior to making the Opening Day roster. He’s looked the part and will continue trying to establish himself as a Major League threat in the lineup.

    Kansas City has brought up the rear in the Central for most of the season, and now they see their leader Salvador Perez injured again. M.J. Melendez was initially afforded opportunity the first time Perez went down, and now a thumb injury has the Royals starting backstop missing games again. They just announced he'll undergo thumb surgery, and that puts him out for quite some time. Looking for bright spots with this team, a series win over the Los Angeles Angels gave the Royals their first winning road trip of the season. They completed a 5-4 run against the Giants, Athletics, and Angels.

    The Week Ahead:
    Minnesota gets a weekend series with Colorado prior to a second date with Cleveland. The Twins and Guardians will play five games in four days with a previously scheduled doubleheader taking place on Tuesday. Minnesota will look to return the favor and take a series against their top competition on the road.

    The White Sox may be looking at one of their easier weeks of the season. Despite dropping the opener against Baltimore, Chicago has three more at home with the Orioles. They then travel to the west coast facing a tumbling Angels team for three before an off day on Friday.

    Terry Francona’s Guardians return home for a series with the Red Sox before they welcome Minnesota to town. Knowing what’s on tap, they can’t get caught looking ahead and forget how good Boston is right now.

    A.J. Hinch will look for his Tigers to pick up wins in Arizona against the Diamondbacks before a two game series with the Giants. Detroit has two off days this week.

    After facing Oakland on the road, Kansas City gets the Athletics at The K to start the weekend. That series is followed by the Rangers coming to town and then an off day. Looking to capitalize on the good run of late, maybe Kansas City can stack a few wins.

    What are you looking forward to this week? How big is the series between Minnesota and Cleveland?

     

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    Both Schoop and Grossman are in the pits after an excellent season last year and Badoo has turned into a Sano imitation.

    Only Cabrera is up to par; had Cabrera played like this last year, Detroit would have done better so to me Detroit is the surprise failure this year.

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    I feel like this season - plus the offseason - is giving me the worst case of whiplash:

    There WILL be lost games! --- There WON'T be lost games!

    The Twins will sign NO ONE! --- The Twins sign CARLOS CORREA!

    Taylor Rogers is healed and ready to go! --- Taylor Rogers is GONE!

    We're 4-8 and TERRIBLE! --- We're 11-8 and AWESOME!

    Our FA starters are HOT! --- Our FA starters are INEFFECTIVE!

    The pitching pipeline is FLOWING! --- the pitching pipeline is totally CLOGGED!

    Byron Buxton is healthy --- Byron Buxton has had knee issues since SPRING TRAINING!

    Our bullpen is GREAT! --- Our bullpen is HORRIFYINGLY BAD!

    Our guys CAN'T HIT! --- Our guys can MASH!

    Royce Lewis is an AMAZING STORY! --- Royce Lewis is another Twins rookie TRAGEDY!

    Am I happy about being tied for first? Yes. Kinda. But I also feel dizzy and need to lie down for awhile. Wake me up when Pagan and Duffey are gone, please.

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    18 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

    I feel like this season - plus the offseason - is giving me the worst case of whiplash:

    There WILL be lost games! --- There WON'T be lost games!

    The Twins will sign NO ONE! --- The Twins sign CARLOS CORREA!

    Taylor Rogers is healed and ready to go! --- Taylor Rogers is GONE!

    We're 4-8 and TERRIBLE! --- We're 11-8 and AWESOME!

    Our FA starters are HOT! --- Our FA starters are INEFFECTIVE!

    The pitching pipeline is FLOWING! --- the pitching pipeline is totally CLOGGED!

    Byron Buxton is healthy --- Byron Buxton has had knee issues since SPRING TRAINING!

    Our bullpen is GREAT! --- Our bullpen is HORRIFYINGLY BAD!

    Our guys CAN'T HIT! --- Our guys can MASH!

    Royce Lewis is an AMAZING STORY! --- Royce Lewis is another Twins rookie TRAGEDY!

    Am I happy about being tied for first? Yes. Kinda. But I also feel dizzy and need to lie down for awhile. Wake me up when Pagan and Duffey are gone, please.

    That is an excellent synopsis of this season so far.  Thanks for that!  Just when you think something good is happening something fails. Just when you resign the team to failure it finds success. 

    Still this is much better than last year when they were out of it from the beginning.  I feel for KC and Detroit but we paid our dues last year.  Hopefully the Twins find a way to put it all together and take the division.

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    2 hours ago, RpR said:

    Both Schoop and Grossman are in the pits after an excellent season last year and Badoo has turned into a Sano imitation.

    Only Cabrera is up to par; had Cabrera played like this last year, Detroit would have done better so to me Detroit is the surprise failure this year.

    Plus they gave $140M to Javy Baez who's basically turned into 2021 Andrelton Simmons... yikes. Only 2 qualified hitters are hitting over .700 OPS for them and they're both at .710. Woof!

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    2 hours ago, Dman said:

    Still this is much better than last year when they were out of it from the beginning.

    Yes, but what's odd is that I'm both grateful that we're a competitive team and also completely full of rage that we've lost our decent lead in the standings. And right when my doctor says I need to watch my blood pressure. Sheesh!

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    19 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

    Yes, but what's odd is that I'm both grateful that we're a competitive team and also completely full of rage that we've lost our decent lead in the standings. And right when my doctor says I need to watch my blood pressure. Sheesh!

    I am filled with rage that others are not taking the past span of games as calmly as I am!

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    2 hours ago, Danchat said:

    Plus they gave $140M to Javy Baez who's basically turned into 2021 Andrelton Simmons... yikes. Only 2 qualified hitters are hitting over .700 OPS for them and they're both at .710. Woof!

    Didn't a few here want the Twins to bring in Baez?👽

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    The frustration is when we go to Colorado and can't score and can't win against another team that has a losing record. I just don't know what to think of the twins. The year either can write itself in Cleveland or spin out of control

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