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  • Guardians 3, Twins 2: Pagán Melts Down Again as Smeltzer Gem is Wasted


    Jamie Cameron

    The Twins lost to the Guardians in familiarly frustrating fashion on Tuesday. The third Emilio Pagán meltdown in a week wasted a gem by Devin Smeltzer and a huge home run by Carlos Correa. 

    Image courtesy of Ken Blaze - USA Today Sports

    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO (95 pitches, 63 strikes)
    Homeruns: Carlos Correa (9)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Emilio Pagán -.538, Gio Urshela -.236, Luis Arraez -.161
    Bottom Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
    1282939836_chart(14).png.8cec57e4c172cbe51e31f6728eb8b425.png

    On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins kicked off an important double header against Cleveland, after a commanding win on Monday night. Here’s how they lined up for game one of their split doubleheader. 

    On the mound, the game offered a rematch of the final game of the last series between the two teams. On that occasion, a Nick Gordon solo home run provided the lone scoring punctuating a pair of strong pitching performances, Tuesday provided more of the same.

    Zach Plesac struggled for command early, walking Carlos Correa and Max Kepler in the top of the first inning, but inducing a weak ground ball from hit-hitting Alex Kirilloff to end the moderate first-inning threat. In the bottom of the frame, the Guardians got on the board in bizarre fashion. After Ahmed Rosario singled on a ground ball to left field Franmil Reyes doubled on a ball to shallow right field. Alex Kirilloff clearly lost the ball in the sun and Max Kepler, jogging in casually from the outfield, looked like he assumed Kirilloff would make the play. The batted ball, with an xBA of .010, traveled 65 feet but landed for a double, scoring Rosario all the way from first base.

    After a hit-by-pitch in the second inning and a single in the third inning, Smeltzer really settled in and found a groove. He retired ten consecutive batters (six by strikeout) before allowing a Jose Ramirez double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Smeltzer relied heavily on his changeup and kept Cleveland’s offense off balance, inducing 12 swings and misses in his outing.

    The Minnesota offense, meanwhile, looked destined to be shut out for a league-leading eleventh time by the Guardians. Through six innings, Plesac had accumulated a whopping 17 swings and misses. Aside from a pair of fourth-inning singles, the Twins weren’t able to muster much offensively, a continued, frustrating trend of an up and down Twins offense.

    Finally, in the seventh inning, the offense broke through. Jose Miranda laced a 109 mph double down the left field line for a double before Gilberto Celestino crushed a triple to left center field off outstanding Guardians reliever Evan Morgan, tying the game at 1-1. 

    In the bottom of the seventh, Griffin Jax relieved Smeltzer. After quickly retiring Oscar Gonzalez, Jax dropped a flip from Alex Kirilloff while covering first base, allowing Andres Gimenez to reach first on an error. Jax quickly recovered to induce two ground outs to end the seventh inning.

    In the top of the eighth, the Twins took their first lead of the game. Minnesota native Sam Hentges came out in relief for Cleveland. Carlos Correa took an elevated fastball deep to left field for his ninth home run of the year. Max Kepler reached second base on a Hentges throwing error a batter latter, on an excuse me infield dribbler from Kepler. Garlick drilled a 107 mph line drive straight at the center fielder, before Byron Buxton pinch hit for Alex Kirilloff. Buxton and Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning.

    Predictably, Emilio Pagán immediately undid all of the momentum, and all of the hard work. After entering in the bottom of the eighth inning against the bottom of the Cleveland lineup, he surrendered two walks, a wild pitch, and a single, to give the Guardians the lead at 3-2 and put Emmanuel Clase on deck to close the game. It was yet another late-inning meltdown against the Guardians, yet another wasted big moment, and yet another example of how fragile, inconsistent, and lacking in quality the Twins bullpen is. Caleb Thielbar relieved Pagán and cleaned up the mess, but the damage was already done. Clase closed the game for Cleveland, marking the third time in a week the Twins bullpen, Pagán specifically, has thrown away a game close and late. Game two will follow tonight.

    Bullpen Usage Chart

      FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT
                 
    Cotton 0 25 0 24 0 49
    Pagan 0 0 22 0 22 44
    Duffey 28 0 15 0 0 43
    Thornburg 7 35 0 0 0 42
    Jax 0 12 0 0 21 33
    Theilbar 0 0 19 0 10 29
    Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18
    Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0

    Next Up
    On Tuesday night, the Twins will conclude their double header against Cleveland. Josh Winder gets the start for the Twins, against Konnor Pilkington of the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT.

    On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against Cleveland. Dylan Bundy goes for the Twins, against Cal Quantrill for the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT.

    Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon

     

     

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    I posted this in the Forum. I would politely suggest to Mr. Baldelli that past performance can, in fact, indicate future results and I humbly suggest it was perhaps unwise to leave a 102MPH heater idling in the bullpen in a game I would consider critical come September. It is why his WAR as the manager of the Twins is -43. Go Twins!

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    Fantastic outing from Smeltzer. Big hit from Correa.

    Pagán has regressed to the pitcher he was in San Diego. Command problems either lead to walk or fat pitches and hard contact. Early in the season he had a very high LOB rate that isn’t a skill. Now that it is around league average we see the pitcher San Diego tried to include in every deal.

    Twins ERA in the 8th inning is 5.38. That is on the Falvey. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

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    Frustrating day to be a Twins fan.  Max's lost ball in the sun led to the Guardian's 1st run.  The Twins can't take advantage of two Cleveland errors and go 1-8 with RISP.  Correa's shot in the 4th would have left the park on almost any other day in Cleveland.  Emilio Pagan had a rough 10 minutes and that's putting it nicely.  Hard to win with 2 runs scored.

    Let's hope for a better offensive showing in the nightcap.

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    3 minutes ago, SwainZag said:

    Frustrating day to be a Twins fan.  Max's lost ball in the sun led to the Guardian's 1st run.  The Twins can't take advantage of two Cleveland errors and go 1-8 with RISP.  Correa's shot in the 4th would have left the park on almost any other day in Cleveland.  Emilio Pagan had a rough 10 minutes and that's putting it nicely.  Hard to win with 2 runs scored.

    Let's hope for a better offensive showing in the nightcap.

    Agree with all of it. A win tonight will soften the blow significantly.

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    Baldelli has blown so many games this year he's catching up to Pagan.  Pagan blew two games to Cleveland just last week.  But Rocco insisted on sending him back out again.  Same team, same result.  Not surprising.  Just keeps showing how shaky the bullpen is.  That part is on Falvey.  This game, and that 11-10 losing debacle to Cleveland last week may look huge at the end of the year.  Another good game by Smeltzer.  Where would we be without him this year?  Remember he was the best starter we had in spring training.  He was sent down to start the season.  This FO has made some very strange roster moves this year.  Yes we are still in first place and yes I'm happy about that.  But I look at where we should be given how we have blown so many games. Instead of 2 games in front we should be seven or eight.  A lot of missed opportunities

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    Very winnable game lost on a couple of fronts.  This team simply can't manufacture runs on a even a semi-consistent basis.  As often as the pitching staff holds teams to 3 runs or fewer, this team wastes many of them by their inability to get runners across the plate without the benefit of the long ball.  

    And the bullpen has to hold leads.  It's so frustrating to see this team squander opportunities.  

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    You can blame the manager, but he just doesn't have the horses. Two of the relievers who were given to him as key arms for this bullpen, Pagán and Duffey, are unusable in high leverage spots. He's basically got Duran, a big gap, and then Jax and Thielbar, then another big gap.

    Re: this afternoon, despite what people seem to think, you can't use Duran every game for two innings. With the the #9 guy coming up to start the 8th, it's not an obvious situation to throw in your best arm. Pagán was put in a position to succeed and he didn't. Eventually someone else has to step up. I'd like to see Moran get more play. Hamilton and Sisk are pitching well in St. Paul. Cotton has been decent with the Twins, but not exactly high leverage. Sooner rather than later there needs to be a trade for that second high leverage arm.

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    Smeltzer pitched a great game. Defense wasn't great. Offense wasn't that great, although I loved Celestino triple and Correa HR was hugh. All that was good enough to win the game except that they bypassed our sure closer Duran to showcase Pagan again and again it failed. When are they going put the good of the team over them trying to justify their Rogers/ Paddack trade?

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    36 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    The bottom of the eighth was the inning to go to your second best high leverage reliever. Unfortunately that is Pagán. The bullpen needs reinforcements 

    As an option you ask someone with blistering stuff to get 6 outs, knowing you would not have him tomorrow. But if you win the opener that is almost irrelevant. Better management of the pitching staff would currently have Cleveland 8 games out. Instead it's two and I firmly believe that WILL matter in September.

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    This Pagan guy can't be trusted more than Duffey can. They both led us easily to at least 5 or 6 losses this season and this can be the difference between winning the division or being left off the playoffs this year (even with the expanded playoffs, the AL Central is on pace to have only one team represented in the postseason - the bottom seeded division winner).

    This FO have to make a decision: compete this year and trade for a real bullpen (this current bullpen is a joke) OR stop pretending, assume this is a preparation for 2023 and stop throwing garbage arms and start to develop guys for the years to come.

    If I had 3 meltdowns in the same week at my job, I'd probably be without it right now...

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    30 minutes ago, Alex Schieferdecker said:

    You can blame the manager, but he just doesn't have the horses. Two of the relievers who were given to him as key arms for this bullpen, Pagán and Duffey, are unusable in high leverage spots. He's basically got Duran, a big gap, and then Jax and Thielbar, then another big gap.

    Re: this afternoon, despite what people seem to think, you can't use Duran every game for two innings. With the the #8 and #9 guys coming up to start the 8th, it's not an obvious situation to throw in your best arm. Pagán was put in a position to succeed and he didn't. Eventually someone else has to step up. I'd like to see Moran get more play. Hamilton and Sisk are pitching well in St. Paul. Cotton has been decent with the Twins, but not exactly high leverage. Sooner rather than later there needs to be a trade for that second high leverage arm.

    A high leverage reliever with a propensity to issue free passes cannot be trusted. And no you cannot use Duran for two innings EVERY game. But you could have used him today and the lead would be 4 games instead of 2. As an aside a fellow named Worthington would routinely be asked to get 9 outs.

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    Considering Duran pitched all of 16 innings last year, knock on wood, I'm pleasantly surprised on all fronts with him and hoping for more. Too bad he can't pitch 3 innings every game. Losing Alcala hurts, but there were no guarantees with him either, the depth just wasn't there. Duffey continuing to decline really isn't a big surprise and Pagan is not showing any more than he has most of his career. He just doesn't have the command of his good looking stuff. The deadline and a couple of good arms can't come soon enough.

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    The “fire Rocco” stuff is gonna be all over this website every time they lose until he’s no longer the manager, isn’t it?

     The fact of the matter is that players are paid to be effective. The one person with by far the most control over Pagan’s performance is Pagan himself. This is Major League Baseball. There’s no blaming the coach when you fail. 
     

    As for Baldelli, who is also the main factor in his own performance, I think it’s perfectly defensible not to use Duran in that situation. If he goes two innings, he may not be available for the rest of the series. If he only pitches the 8th, then it’s probably Pagan in the ninth and neither are available for the nightcap. 
     

    I’m sure it feels good to call for Baldelli’s head every single time they lose a game.

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    15 minutes ago, Brazilian Twins Fan said:

    This Pagan guy can't be trusted more than Duffey can. They both led us easily to at least 5 or 6 losses this season and this can be the difference between winning the division or being left off the playoffs this year (even with the expanded playoffs, the AL Central is on pace to have only one team represented in the postseason - the bottom seeded division winner).

    This FO have to make a decision: compete this year and trade for a real bullpen (this current bullpen is a joke) OR stop pretending, assume this is a preparation for 2023 and stop throwing garbage arms and start to develop guys for the years to come.

    If I had 3 meltdowns in the same week at my job, I'd probably be without it right now...

    Today marks the 7th game that the Twins have lost when they held a lead after 7 innings.  Duffey was responsible for 2 of those games (4-29 at home vs. SEA and May 26th vs. KC).  The remaining 5 have all been on Pagan.  4 of those coming over the last 26 days-----1 against DET and as we all know too well the last 3 against CLE.

    Considering Falvey/ Baldelli (seemingly) have turned the corner to allow Duran to close, I have to ask why Jax is not being used in the 8th inning to set Duran up?  Other than a small number of hiccups, his late game performance, imo, has earned him that role!  Pagan (the human sacrifice) has dissipated in the pecking order behind Thielbar (gulp), Smith and Cotton.  He should not be used in ANY game with a lead after the 6th inning.

    Saying that------AGAIN, I have to call on Falvey/Levine to DO THEIR JOB and find some quality help for Baldelli NOW!  I mean NOW....not waiting another 5 weeks till the trade deadline is upon us.  I've posted numerous times in various threads that there are multiple quality LH and RH RPs from LOSING TEAMS that have zero chance at making the playoffs that have to have GMs willing to pick up the phone.  As much as I blame Baldeilli for his bullpen decisions-------the bigger share of the blame falls on our front office that did squat in the offseason to upgrade this bullpen.  Time to DO YOUR JOB Falvey!

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    9 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    I have to ask why Jax is not being used in the 8th inning to set Duran up?

    I’m guessing this will start happening more often. 

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    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

     

    29 minutes ago, prouster said:

    The “fire Rocco” stuff is gonna be all over this website every time they lose until he’s no longer the manager, isn’t it?

     The fact of the matter is that players are paid to be effective. The one person with by far the most control over Pagan’s performance is Pagan himself. This is Major League Baseball. There’s no blaming the coach when you fail. 

    This is now Levine’s problem. The Twins needs a shutdown late inning reliever, and he’s the one in the org responsible for making that happen.  

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    6 minutes ago, HokieRif said:

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

     

    This is now Levine’s problem. The Twins needs a shutdown late inning reliever, and he’s the one in the org responsible for making that happen.  

    We had one, we traded him for a SP with a known physical issue who is now done for the season.

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    I've actually defended Pagan numerous times when he had us on the edge of our seats at times because I saw velocity and some quality pitches and end results and I felt a little more time to settle in, work on his new split change, and we might just have a pretty decent "later" inning guy on our hands.

    But after so many disasters the past 20+ days....I just never want to see him pitch a high leverage situation again. How about 5th or 6th inning only. (At least until he's replaced by better sooner or later). And if I never have to watch this kind of disaster from a pitcher over and over agian, it will be too soon. 

    I hate to sound harsh....but....damn!

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    13 minutes ago, prouster said:

    I’m guessing this will start happening more often. 

    It better start tonight.  As many have noted-----Pagan's regression combined with Duffey being unusable in late innings have hamstrung Rocco to the point of having only 6 RPs---with Duran and Jax as his--ONLY 2 late game reliable options.  They cannot pitch every day----especially Duran.  Hence, time for Falvey (as I just posted) to do his J-O-B and get Rocco some desperately needed help.  This needs to happen NOW---not 5 weeks from now.

    FYI regarding Jax vs. Pagan through games in June

    Pagan

    Games:  9

    IP: 9.33:

    ER allowed:  9...yes 9!

    ERA:  8.68

    WHIP:  1.18

    Jax----June Stats

    Games:  11

    IP:  12.0

    ER allowed:  2.....1 of which was last week when he took loss/BS after Pagan left him that mess-runners on 2nd and 3rd-none out.

    ERA:  1.50

    WHIP:  0.42

    K to BB in June:  17-1

    Absolute justification with above stats that Jax needs promotion to 8th inning set up role.

     

     

     

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    Two things.

     

    First, why is Garlick hitting 4th as the DH against a RHP? If you're going to insist on using him, at least bat him in the bottom third of the lineup. His OPS+ against RHP is somewhere in the 50s last I checked.

     

    Second, please, just please use Duran for the 8th and 9th innings. I understand you don't want to overwork him, but against your division rival in a doubleheader is a great time to make an exception.

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