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  • The 2022 Twins Are at a Low Point


    Nash Walker

    A drubbing by the Dodgers in L.A. felt like enough to wipe away the positive vibes for the Twins after a competitive split with the Blue Jays at Target Field. It wasn’t just the two-game set at Dodger Stadium that brought us here, though. This low point has been building for weeks.

    Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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    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?

    Comment your thoughts below!

     

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    Are we at the low point or are we sinking fast?  Are the three new pitchers going to turn things around for us?  That is a lot to ask. 52 games - Mahle will pitch in 10?  Times 4.5 innings that is 45 innings out of 468.  Lopez gets in 1/3 - 14 games, 14 innings, same with Fulmer.  That is a total of 73/468 innings (15.5%).  Will they all be great innings? Tyler Mahle has an ERA of 4.49 and a whip of 1.233 and he is our savior.

    Is Ryan cooked?  Will he come back, will the BP hold up for the non-Lopez innings?  Can we afford more 4 inning starts?  The more I look at this staff the more I like Verlander and Alacantra!  

    I really am not concerned about the offense (except Kepler), but the pitching situation is always the most important in playoffs and champions.  In one rotation ranking the Twins have dropped out of the top 10 - I was surprised that we were ever in it.  Of course the ten that are in it are probably all going to the playoffs (the top nine for sure).

    In another statistical chart we are number 20 in era for the season. We are number five in HR allowed.  

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    21 minutes ago, dberthia said:

    Low point or not, it's hard to imagine this team breaking their consecutive loss streak in the postseason, and that's assuming they can even qualify.

    On the flip side, the Twins won't be facing the Yankees or Astros, the obvious two top teams in the AL.  And they should be hosting the entire 3 game series. (Ryan has done well at home, depending on what you make of that.)  If they make the playoffs, it means they showed at least something against Cleveland and Chicago.  I'd still give them a chance to win 1 of the first 2 games against the wild card team.

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    I sure hope this is the low point. If they don't win the division it is probably time to re-evaluate the manger and coaching staff. Are they getting all they can out of this roster? Also take a look at some of the philosophy in creating and handling the pitching staff. Is this staff capable of giving another inning or two in their starts? If not, then they need to restructure the pen or trade for some starters that can. The offense has been pretty good but so up and down, can that be improved on by changing the way the lineups are structured? I understand the positives of using computer based stats to make lineups and create matchups but is it time to get someone with more "feel" for the game to blend with the statistical info?

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    It does feel like the low point for the Twins. This also means that the way forward will be up and up. We have seen snippets of Polanco reversing course and hope Correa and Buxton will follow. Baseball has a long season and the grind is real. Today is a good opportunity to see the positive possibilities of the remaining schedule.

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    The rest of the season will be a difficult climb out of this low point for the team.  If Buxton's knee does not come around we cannot count much on him.  We really need Larnach and Meada back and no more injuries.  I'm not even thinking of the playoffs.  I will be happy if they win the division at this point.  The positive is that we should have some fun games to watch this year down the stretch.

    Long-term they need quality SP's who can go 6-7 at a minimum.  The low quality of SP requires too much from the BP and given the number of pitchers that are allowed on a team we cannot keep up with the number of quality innings required.  We must get #1 & #2 starters or be content with the lower quality starters and get some higher quality long-inning RP's.  The FO/Manager strategy of 2 times through the order worked great at the start of the year when everybody was fresh, but is obviously not the long-term solution.

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    Twins have been trending down for a long time now. Too many key players are having off years. You can usually compensate when one, maybe even two key players struggle, but Twins have several, in the lineup and on the mound.

    Rocco stated he isn't focused on the standings or post season. Thats totally Bull. Of course he and the players are focused on making post season. If not, why even play the games when you have been in 1st most the season. I assume he is simply saying 'all the right things' publicly, even though we fans know its crapola.

    Buxton's knee issues aren't going to go away by giving him a day or two off. This is now a chronic problem...added to his litany of injuries that have robbed him of his incredible skills. While its not fair to ignore the 27 dingers, its also not fair to ignore the strikeouts, the low BA and OBA and his diminished value on the bases and in CF. Correa has not been a bust, but he has been quite a disappointment, especially offensively. Polanco hasn't come out of his season long funk yet and we're running out of time. Kepler has been a disaster. There has been little offense from the catchers. Even our bright light Arraez wasn't Arraez for an entire month. (he does seem to have snapped out of his slump)

    Playing teams under .500 in the final 6 weeks isn't always a free pass to victory.  Twins need to figure it all out pretty soon or all those head to head games in September will be meaningless. If you are 5 or 6 games back by then, its really lights out.

    If this team finishes a tad over .500, it will have been a decent improvement from last year. But after a 4 month tease in 1st place, it wont seem like an improvement at all.

    They must be gnashing their teeth in Chicago these days too. That team has yet to wake up. That leaves Cleveland. Are they the favorites now? But what we have seen of the Twins these past several weeks does not in any way engender confidence that they can turn the corner. guess we'll just have to see.

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    If things went differently we could have won the series against TOR & split w/ LAD. We still have a great team that needs to work out a few things and get fired up. Until we do we'll have our ups & downs, hopefull we'll get it straight when face NYY & HOU.

    When I read your title Nash, I thought also that the race is close and we have several games with CLE & CWS , IMO we'll come out on top in those games to win the divisional title.

     

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    Injuries have been a Twins problem for several years.  If they're consistently above the MLB team average of player days on the disabled list (for which confirmation or refutation is appreciated), some fundamental changes to conditioning strategy are essential.

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    SP going 6-7 innings is now the exception rather than the norm, and we should no longer expect that. Our SP are not traditional SP anymore. Now somewhere between an "opener" and a SP. Because pitchers stats are much worse 3rd time through the line-up. But the Twins have not adjusted the relief pitching. They continue to generally send guys out for 1, maybe two innings. They need to have the second pitcher pitch 2-3 innings. Try to get close to once though the line-up. Then back to the set-up and closer roles for guys like Duran and Lopez.

     

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    I don't think 30-22 will get it done. Hedging that bet, if the top 3 in the Central just beat each other up, and its still a close horse race on Labour Day ....then maybe it could do the job.

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    This isn't a recent phenomenon by the Twins playing poor baseball.  They have been playing below .500 baseball for 60 games.  They are 2-12 against first place teams.  They have a lot of issues.  The starting pitching has been flawed all season.  The 5 inning plan is as much an organizational plan as it is by poor performance.  If this was indeed the plan then the FO did a lousy job of building the bullpen.  If you only let your starters go 4-5 innings your bullpen needs to be solid.  Ours has been a joke.  People rightfully bring up an easier schedule upcoming.  Yes but you still have to win a majority of those games to be taken seriously.  This year, overall they haven't done that.  Plus we have baseballs worst field manager and his computer making out lineups with no feel for the game and very poor in game adjustments.  We need to win at least 2 of 3 or sweep these next two series.  

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    I just think the injury's to this team along with the un-timely pen implosions has been and will be too much to overcome. With injuries to Buxton, Kirilloff, Jeffers, Larnach, Lewis, and others it is surprising how well this team has performed.  It just kind of feels like this is a team on the down swing right now.  There is time to wake up but given all the trends I wouldn't be surprised to see this team 5 games back before long.

    In the mean time Cleveland is on a roll and finding its groove.  They split with Houston and their pitching seems to be back to elite status and they actually have a team that can hit now so I think they take the division not that that means much this year but they remind me of the piranha Twins of years past where they just wear you down and find ways to win.

    I don't know what the deal is with Chicago.  They have the most talent in the division and a decent pitching staff but they haven't made a run all year.  They can still do it but I like Cleveland the best out of all three right now and unless the Guardian's face injuries to their pitching staff I think they are the team to beat.  

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    I'm not as negative as the last two posters but I do agree that these next 3 series are pretty critical. We have 3 against the LAA, 3 at home vs. KC, and 4 at home vs. Texas. All sub .500 yet all dangerous.  We need to go 6-4 minimum, 7-3 or better realistically. 

    I also agree that he injuries have just killed us. I think the plan was to contend for and maybe get a playoff spot this year as we built the team for "real" contention next year. The hope at the beginning of the season was that the 2022 lineup would have some combination of Miranda, Lewis, Kirilloff and Larnach getting the necessary experience so they could be the 4-7 spots in the batting order in 2023 after Arraez, Polanco and Buxton.. Now, we'll be lucky to have Miranda there plus Larnach, with Lewis and especially Kirilloff complete questions marks. That means another year we have to rely on guys like Kepler and Urshela who otherwise should be the 4th OF and gone respectively.  This was the year Ryan, Ober, Winder and Paddack would be making their bones in the starting rotation and be solid to good pieces next year. So far Ryan is it, with Ober maybe coming back so the best case scenario is that those 2 are the 3 and 4 starters next year.  That meant we had to trade some prospects to get Mahle - great move, by the way - and will probably need to keep Archer or Bundy, or maybe even both, to get a competitive rotation for 2023. 

    Still, I remain optimistic. I say that the 2022 Twins somehow slip into the playoffs, win a home series against Tampa or Toronto, and then get blown out by Houston. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

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    Lifelong TWINS fan……tired of the, “we won’t win a playoff game anyway” comments. I live in Cincinnati and how would you like to have been 3-22 at one point? Traded Gray to us prior to season & best other 2 starters at the deadline. Red’s fans have reason to seem bitter!…….The Twins went out & got guys at the deadline and our bats have been silent. Particularly our $35 million shortstop. Management isn’t to blame - they didn’t hurt Kirriloff’s wrist or Kepler’s toe or Buxton’s knee. We have a great opportunity to win the Division. We were/are supposed to have Ober & Paddock on this staff in 2022. Nobody’s fault that didn’t play out………

    29-23 wins the Division!

    Kirriloff - Buxton - Celestino - Kepler - Gordon in outfield……..Larnach added to current infield guys……..new SS more than likely.

    Kepler’s a .275-.280 guy once the shift is illegal!! Buxton for 125 games plus next year. Arraez wherever needed.

    Next year, Maeda with the best 3 of the current rotation and possibly $35 million to work on pitching………😎😎get some shades for the future!

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    Low point?  This team is an average team at best and has been all year.   They benefitted early on from a very easy schedule playing in the weakest division in baseball.  I am not sure how anybody thought this team was going anywhere this year.  We gutted our farm system out of desperation and our going to regret it down the road.  

     

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    TK always said momentum is today’s starting pitcher. In other words they can come out and turn this thing around. They just need to be the best team in the division the rest of the way and they are in. After last year being essentially tied for first on August 12 th sounds pretty good. 
     

    They haven’t been sharp for a while but that can change. A good place to start is to start playing cleaner baseball. 

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    Twins M.O. not just this year: Starting pitching come out looking real, good, bats are silent; Bats come out putting a good run number up early, pitching stinks.

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    Fielding has been at little league level for several games now and unless that stops (runners not on base from errors cannot score) other teams will still see the Twins as no challenge.

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    8 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    If things went differently we could have won the series against TOR & split w/ LAD. We still have a great team that needs to work out a few things and get fired up. Until we do we'll have our ups & downs, hopefull we'll get it straight when face NYY & HOU.

    When I read your title Nash, I thought also that the race is close and we have several games with CLE & CWS , IMO we'll come out on top in those games to win the divisional title.

     

    this is NOT a great team...

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    After seeing how Mahle can pitch I think with what we have we will win the division. After that we will get a home game probably against either toronto or Tampa. I think Seattle with there new pitcher will finish ahead of all of us record wise. That means we play Houston most likely. That is where our season ends unless the hitters all break out of there slumps at the same time.

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    On 8/12/2022 at 10:07 AM, Rosterman said:

    Is 30-22 too much to ask and would it win the division?

    Close…if I had to bet, I’d say YES. Especially assuming that a proportional share of those wins come against CHI/CLE.

    And unlikely, but possible to achieve. In which case, winning A playoff game definitely possible. (Yay!) Sniffing anything close to the WS? No.

    I’ll just do my best to enjoy however it plays out.

    Meanwhile, I’m strangely optimistic regarding 2023. I think they have it in them to be good. And at some point luck has to show up with injuries, etc.

    Doesn’t it?

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