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  • PIT 5, MIN 4: Lynn Surrenders Grand Slam in Twins Debut


    Tom Froemming

    You only get one opportunity to make a first impression. Isn’t that unfortunate? Here’s how Lance Lynn’s tenure with the Twins started: walk, RBI double, walk, strikeout, groundout, walk, grand slam. Five-run first inning. He settled in, the bullpen worked out of jams and the bats got going, but the team’s comeback attempt fell just short.

    Image courtesy of Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)

    Snapshot42.png

    Trouble in the first frame is nothing new for Lynn. Over his career, the burly right-hander has a 5.11 ERA in the first inning and a 3.04 mark from there forward. Those splits were even more exaggerated last season, as Lynn posted a 5.79 ERA in the first and 2.93 in all other innings from there on.

    Fittingly, Lynn settled in after his rough start and held the Pirates scoreless for the next three innings he was on the mound. He only gave up three hits, but he also walked six batters.

    Brian Dozier got the Twins on the board in the sixth inning with his third home run of the season. He’s now on pace for 121 home runs this season. The Twins tacked on three more runs that inning to pull within a run of Pittsburgh. Eduardo Escobar and Max Kepler each delivered a two-out RBI double in that rally.

    Minnesota had a great opportunity to tie things up in the seventh. They had two on with nobody out, but Dozier grounded into a double play and Joe Mauer flied out to end the threat. Miguel Sano led off the eighth with a walk and advanced into scoring position on a two-out walk by Max Kepler, but Byron Buxton grounded out to end that inning.

    The comeback may have fell short, but it gave the bullpen another opportunity to work in a close ballgame.

    Taylor Rogers made his first appearance of the year, pitching a scoreless inning. Trevor Hildenberger helped alleviate concerns over his poor spring and shaky first outing by pitching a 1-2-3 inning today. Zach Duke also pitched, recording both of his outs on strikeouts while walking a pair of batters. He’s now thrown 1.2 innings and has six strikeouts. Baseball math.

    Addison Reed entered the game with two down in the seventh and walked the first batter he faced on five pitches to load the bases. He retired the next batter to end the threat.

    Reed stayed out there for the eighth inning and worked out of trouble again. He opened the inning by walking the leadoff batter and then gave up an infield single. The next batter laid down a sac bunt (thank you!), then Reed struck out Josh Harrison, intentionally walked Gregory Polanco and got Startling Marte to ground out, leaving the bases loaded for the second straight inning.

    Any way Lynn can get a mulligan on that grand slam? Otherwise it was a solid effort from the Twins. They battled admirably in both their losses so far this season.

    Postgame With Molitor

    https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/980914858366390272?s=20

    Bullpen Usage

    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:

    Bullpen42.png

    Last Three Games

    MIN 7, BAL 0: Berri0s

    MIN 6, BAL 2: Good Gibby Rides Again!

    BAL 3, MIN 2: Opening D’oh!

    Next Three Games

    WED: at PIT, 5:05 pm CT

    THU: vs. SEA, 3:10 pm CT

    SAT: vs. SEA, 1:10 pm CT

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    Mulligan on the slam? Not a biggy. But coupled with the rest of his performance, and the 6 walks? No way. Can you say Ricky Nolasco? And Duke 2, and Reed 3 walks. 11 walks by the newbies. 11! That is just gross. Between the 3 of them, today, we were lucky this game wasn't lost 10-4.

     

    What's 11.25, 10.80, 13.50? Lynn, Duke, and Rodney's Twins' debut ERAs.

    Hey, it can only get better, right? Duke's already came down 7.20 just today!

    Nothing to get excited about.

     

    Escobar and Dozier look like the leaders of this team right now.

    The MLB strike out record may fall. Looks like Sano wants a record. 10 Ks in 4 games. But Buxton may give him a run. 6 Ks in the 4 games.

    Kudos for the home grown products, Rodgers and Hildenberger having good innings.

    Kepler finally had a strikeout this season.

    Buxton better get some hits before his head gets confused, again. Sano, too.

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    They've lost to the two really good pitchers they've faced, on the road. Not ideal, but not the end of the world.

     

    Was never sure about the Duke and Rodney signings, but we'll see over time. Still waiting on Kinley to play......hello, are you there?

    Kinley's the rule 5 guy who hasn't had a good season above high A, so throwing him into a non-blowout isn't a wise idea. The less he plays, the better.

     

    The ump today had a tiny strike zone, so I'm not concerned with the walks, but Duke's pitching style seems to consist of 40% of the pitches landing in the dirt. That's probably just the small sample size but he needs to try and land more pitches in the strike zone.

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    Kinley's the rule 5 guy who hasn't had a good season above high A, so throwing him into a non-blowout isn't a wise idea. The less he plays, the better.

     

    The ump today had a tiny strike zone, so I'm not concerned with the walks, but Duke's pitching style seems to consist of 40% of the pitches landing in the dirt. That's probably just the small sample size but he needs to try and land more pitches in the strike zone.

    The Pirates pitchers only issued 3 walks today, so I'm not convinced the umpires strike zone was the problem.

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    Overall, Lance Lynn looked like a pitcher that was a couple weeks behind the others in his spring training preparations. Very shaky command, which comes down to finding his rhythm and pace. He should look a lot better next time out, and then be back to his normal self for his third start. He's got a live arm, good action on his off-speed pitches, and in about ten days he'll have his usual command back. Not worried. 

     

    This still looks like the most solid starting four I've seen for the Twins in many years, and the bullpen looks pretty well stocked, too. 

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    Lynn was signed late and this is really akin to a 3rd ST outing. But did anyone else notice that he looked kind of pudgy? Like 10 lbs overweight?  He couldn't find the strike zone and had little mound presence because of his struggles. The rookie hit a high and outside pitch that must have looked like a cantaloupe. Yet he pulled it, so it wasn't THAT outside.  But I am with Molitor, it was nice to see the kids battle back. Lynn will get better. 

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    I kinda thought Molly was going to run Adrianza for Sano and bunt him over to play a one run catch up strategy. Sano probably doesn't score from second (especially with his six foot lead) on a single. Then he used him to hit for the pitcher. But wasn't Grossman a better PH choice? Especially if Adrianza was on second?

     

    Oh well, no matter. 

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    I kinda thought Molly was going to run Adrianza for Sano and bunt him over to play a one run catch up strategy. Sano probably doesn't score from second (especially with his six foot lead) on a single. Then he used him to hit for the pitcher. But wasn't Grossman a better PH choice? Especially if Adrianza was on second?

     

    Oh well, no matter.

    Wasn’t Grossman used as the first pinch hitter in the 5th?

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    I kinda thought Molly was going to run Adrianza for Sano and bunt him over to play a one run catch up strategy. Sano probably doesn't score from second (especially with his six foot lead) on a single. Then he used him to hit for the pitcher. But wasn't Grossman a better PH choice? Especially if Adrianza was on second?

     

    Oh well, no matter. 

    He had already used Grossman. But I still would have pinch run Adrianza and used LaMarre to PH. 

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    OK, I missed Grossman's appearance because I watch the game in the background while I work. But your idea is better.  Note to Molly, use LaMarre. If you don't he may cool off just sitting. Besides, I think the PR, bunt him over, then PH strategy works better than having a 300 pound lawn ornament (Sano) as the lead runner.

    Edited by Kelly Vance
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    Not to make excuses but, it is cold out there. Some pitchers, more than others, need the "feel" of the ball and seams.

     

    Anyone want to work on a carburetor in those conditions?

     

    Well along in May we will see who is stepping up. But, unlike years past, we have options in AAA and AA.

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    Not to make excuses but, it is cold out there. Some pitchers, more than others, need the "feel" of the ball and seams.

     

    Anyone want to work on a carburetor in those conditions?

     

    Well along in May we will see who is stepping up. But, unlike years past, we have options in AAA and AA.

    Lynn has mentioned he likes the cold but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t having grip problems out there yesterday.

     

    Overall, a disappointing start in a really boring game but I’m not too worried about it yet.

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    Kinley's the rule 5 guy who hasn't had a good season above high A, so throwing him into a non-blowout isn't a wise idea. The less he plays, the better.

     

    The ump today had a tiny strike zone, so I'm not concerned with the walks, but Duke's pitching style seems to consist of 40% of the pitches landing in the dirt. That's probably just the small sample size but he needs to try and land more pitches in the strike zone.

     

    YES!  I agree 100% on this.  I watched this inning closely and Lynn threw several (as in three or four) strikes right down the middle of the strike zone and Chris Conroy called them all balls.  There was one point with two man on where Lynn threw a perfect strike right down broadway and Conroy called it a ball and Lynn just looked around at everyone like what the heck is this in absolute disbelief?  At that point Molitor should have gone out to home plate and talked to Conroy (just my opinion).  

    Edited by laloesch
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    It looks more like December 3 than April 3 as I look outside this morning.  11 walks? Gross!  Just like snow in April.  The Twins will be playing [expletive] weather games for awhile, so I expect a roller-coaster.  Hoping for a 3-2 road trip and a 6-4 home stand that include the champs, but 2-3/4-6 wouldn't be the end of the world.  Tied with Cleveland, so brand new season!

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    Looking at the Statcast data, it certainly appears the umpire did an excellent job of calling balls and strikes in that first inning. If anything, he gave Lynn three extra strikes that were out of the zone.

     

    https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/gamefeed?game_pk=529465&type=away_pitchers&chart_view=pitch&chart_type=sbp&inning=1&count=&batter_hand=&pitcher_hand=&filter=

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    The pitch f/x had exactly the same strike zone it always has. Funny how that works.

    We've all seen enough games to know that Blue was squeezing the zone or is just very conservative with his calls.   It wasn't horrible or unfair, just a very unforgiving zone.

     

    And yes, because my son pitches I'm rather biased towards pitchers :)

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    The strike zone map on brooks baseball. Seems like the umpire did a respectable job. One really noticeable ball called on a pitch in the middle of the plate thrown by a Pirates pitcher. A few pitches called ball at the bottom of the zone.

     

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=4&day=02&year=2018&game=gid_2018_04_02_minmlb_pitmlb_1/&prevDate=0402

     

    Lynn’s couldn’t command his fastball. He turned to the curve more often (17%) than he had in any game last year. He will find his fastball but his performance might hint why he had a hard time finding a long term contract. Like Phil Hughes, when his fastball loses effectiveness he will have a hard time finding major league success.

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    Like Phil Hughes, when his fastball loses effectiveness he will have a hard time finding major league success.

    Hughes may have control issues but his biggest problem is the loss of 2mph from his fastball after the injury (a drop from consistently 92mph to consistently 89-90mph).

     

    It's not really surprising if you see control issues after that point, as you have to pitch around almost every hitter you face and any hitter in MLB has no issues hitting a 90mph fastball.

     

    Lynn has sat 91-93mph every season of his career and that's where he sat yesterday as well. Given the guy's abbreviated spring and pitching in quite cold weather yesterday, it's too early to even suggest there's anything different about the guy that indicates he won't pitch somewhere near his career norms.

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    The first post on this topic mirrored my thoughts. Lynn, Rodney, and Duke have performed poorly so far, and Reed has been walking too many guys also. What gives? The Twins' old pitchers are doing great, but all the new bullpen guys and the big name starter (with apologizes to Mr. Odorizzi) have been disappointing so far. Twins pitchers last year didn't seem to walk many guys. The walks yesterday were a real shock to the system, not used to seeing that. I was clutching my pearls! What the heck?

     

    Offensively, I'm really hoping Sano's late-inning double yesterday gets him off his "HR or K" mentality. He's a great hitter when he's mixing in singles and doubles and not thinking about HRs only. That walk Sano took late in the game was also a step in the right direction. Similarly, Buxton didn't get hits in his two late ABs, but he also didn't strike out. In fact he put decent wood on the ball and got it in play. That GIDP by Dozier really took the wind out of the Twins' sails after a valiant comeback attempt.

     

    The upcoming weather forecast is just brutal. I realize the Astros and Mariners aren't scheduled to come back to Target Field, but I think that playing in 38 degrees with freezing rain simply isn't possible. I am guessing we'll see at least 2 games PPD in the homestand, if not more. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole M's series was cancelled and just rescheduled for the off days during the All-Star break or something. Crazy stuff.

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    Hughes may have control issues but his biggest problem is the loss of 2mph from his fastball after the injury (a drop from consistently 92mph to consistently 89-90mph).

     

    It's not really surprising if you see control issues after that point, as you have to pitch around almost every hitter you face and any hitter in MLB has no issues hitting a 90mph fastball.

     

    Lynn has sat 91-93mph every season of his career and that's where he sat yesterday as well. Given the guy's abbreviated spring and pitching in quite cold weather yesterday, it's too early to even suggest there's anything different about the guy that indicates he won't pitch somewhere near his career norms.

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to suggest there is anything to be concerned about short term. The one year deal is a great deal. His heavy reliance on the fastball I think made him a poor long term contract gamble. I have confidence he will find his fastball that has been very effective.

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    I'm not sure if Lynn threw a single offspeed pitch for a strike today. Some hitters bailed him out swinging at junk in the dirt, but not many.

    Even with the score 5-4 it was one of the most boring games I've watched.

    Yup, it was that bad. That's why I concluded he needs around ten more days of working on his form and rhythm to catch up to the rest of the pitching staff. Lynn's off-speed stuff was all over the place, which created walks, which created more pressure on him, which made him throw nothing but fastballs to the guy that hammered one of just two homers in his career with three men on base. 

     

    The good news is, Lynn clearly has excellent stuff. Once his command comes around, he should be a valuable arm in the middle of the rotation. 

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    Not to make excuses but, it is cold out there. Some pitchers, more than others, need the "feel" of the ball and seams.

     

    Anyone want to work on a carburetor in those conditions?

     

    Well along in May we will see who is stepping up. But, unlike years past, we have options in AAA and AA.

    Wasn't it well into the 40's in Pittsburgh? A bit too cool for shorts and sandals, sure, but not too cold to feel with your fingers by any means.

    And that's downright balmy if the sun is out.

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    Wasn't it well into the 40's in Pittsburgh? A bit too cool for shorts and sandals, sure, but not too cold to feel with your fingers by any means.
    And that's downright balmy if the sun is out.

    Any idea why there is a day off between a Monday day game and Wednesday night game?  Or for that matter, why the series in Seattle starts on Thursday, SKIPS FRIDAY, then continues on Saturday and Sunday?  

     

    Who made these schedules?

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    Any idea why there is a day off between a Monday day game and Wednesday night game? Or for that matter, why the series in Seattle starts on Thursday, SKIPS FRIDAY, then continues on Saturday and Sunday?

     

    Who made these schedules?

    I think there is always an off day scheduled after a home opener, because teams charge a premium for home openers, so they can make up a postponement on that off day, and it will still be the home opener.

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