On May 24th, the Twins defeated the Tigers 2-0 in a seven-inning masterpiece from Sonny Gray. The Twins won their sixth straight game and nine of their last 11. They opened up a 5.5 game lead in the division and had 10 straight games against the Royals and Tigers to boot.
Things started to unravel the next day. Trevor Megill gave up a game-winning two-run homer to Jeimer Candelario in the 10th and the Twins lost 4-2. Unfortunately, that was more of a foreshadow than an anomaly. Since that day, the Twins have given up 93 homers, tied for the third-most in baseball.
The Twins are 30-37 since Gray’s 10-strikeout, shutout gem. They have a team ERA of 4.59 in that span, the fifth-highest in baseball. Their team Win Probability Added of negative-5.44 is the second-lowest in the majors. The pitching staff has been a borderline disaster, evidenced by Joe Ryan’s 5.33 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Recognizing these major holes, the Twins’ braintrust went out and got three good pitchers in Jorge López, Tyler Mahle, and Michael Fulmer. A shaky staff now looks more stable, at least on paper. Of course, the guys need to perform on the field.
López has already blown a save, Mahle gave up three homers in his Twins’ debut, and Fulmer gave up a critical homer to Chris Taylor in Wednesday’s loss. Beyond them, Griffin Jax has been anything but his solid self from the first half. Jax now has a 4.03 ERA in 42 appearances, thanks to three blowups in his last 10 outings.
Add in the inconsistent playing time of Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa’s struggles, and myriad injuries, and it’s not difficult to see why the Twins have scuffled. The good news? The season doesn’t end today. If it did, the Twins wouldn’t make the playoffs.
Max Kepler isn't hitting, Correa hasn't hit since May, and Alex Kirilloff's wrist injury evaporated some much-needed left-handed upside in the lineup. Even then, the Twins are tied with Houston for the 8th-highest team wOBA (.326) since May 25th. They're tied with the Cardinals for the seventh-highest Weighted Runs Created Plus (113) in that span. While sometimes inconsistent, the offense has mostly done its part.
The worst of the six division winners in 2022 will certainly come out of the American League Central. It's unlikely the Twins, White Sox, or Guardians would make a run in October. Even then, it's absolutely worth the excitement of ending the treacherous 18-game Postseason losing streak. Playoff games at Target Field is the goal.
So What’s Next?
If this is truly the low point for the 2022 Twins, that’s good news. They have 52 games remaining, including 17 against the Guardians and White Sox (33%). 16 of the Twins’ next 19 games are against teams currently below .500, with 13 of those at Target Field. The Twins have 28 games, or roughly 54% of their schedule, against teams currently below .500.
Of the Twins’ final 26 games, 14 are against the White Sox or Guardians. There’s plenty of opportunites to make up ground. For as rough as the Twins have looked, no one remembers what the standings were on August 11th.
Of the 16 games in September/October that aren’t against their two divisional threats, 12 are against the Royals, Tigers, and Angels. The other four are at Yankee Stadium. The Twins have the 10th-easiest remaining schedule entering play Thursday. They need to perform.
The Twins have the most head-to-head games remaining among the three contenders in the Central, which ultimately gives them an advantage. They control their own destiny here. Will they seize the moment?
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