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  • Twins 4, Angels 0: Tyler Mahle Suffocates L.A's Bats


    Matt Braun

    Well, that was pleasant. 

    Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Box Score

    Tyler Mahle: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
    Home Runs: Gilberto Celestino (1), Gio Urshela (11)
    Top 3 WPA: Tyler Mahle (.332), Gilberto Celestino (.196), Gio Urshela (.096)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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    When the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle at the deadline, they likely envisioned him in a situation like this: working as the stopper in a crucial game down the stretch. He did not disappoint. The freshly-minted Twin commanded the ball with precision, striking out six batters over six shutout innings, with a handful of baserunners scattered around. Unlike his outing against Toronto, when the Blue Jays jumped on him late, Mahle fought back against the third-time-through-the-order frenzy and walked off the mound with a spotless ERA. Sure, maybe throwing six scoreless innings against an Angels lineup missing the golden boy isn’t as impressive as when John F. Kennedy negotiated the Russians out of world destruction, but it does have to count for something. 

    There are few guarantees in baseball; the sport thrives on chaotic, slimly un-random outcomes that provide the game intrigue—in what other sporting event can Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit three homers in a game? But there are some laws. Patrick Sandoval does not give up homers, and Gilberto Celestino does not hit them. Sandoval—the one of the lesser panda variety—had allowed just four balls to leave the park in 95 innings this season. Celestino—rumored to be incapable of pulling the ball with any authority—has yet to hit one this season. The outfielder owns two career homers—this author observed one in person—but power is not his forte. It is an impossibility that Celestino could hit a home run off Sandoval.

    Anyways, the scoring started when Celestino hit a homer off Sandoval.

    The game trudged on; the Twins occasionally threatened to score more, placing runners in ideal positions before failing to knock them in. A guy would walk; another one would leave him stranded on the bases, and the cycle repeated with dull consistency as the offense sputtered and whined. Sandy León found an occupied glove when steaming home. Gio Urshela broke through the stalemate with a solo homer in the 6th inning. 

    Urshela’s bat proved to be sorely needed, as his hits directly led to three of the Twins’ runs on Friday. It wasn’t the only active run engine, however; Jose Miranda doubled to right-center field in the 8th inning and trotted home after Luis Arraez poked a single beyond Jared Walsh’s grasp. 

    The new Twins bullpen triumvirate demonstrated their power; Michael Fulmer pitched a clean, scoreless 7th inning, carrying the shutout for at least one more frame. Jhoan Duran—still as hilariously dominant as always—melted a few faces for a clean 8th inning, setting the stage for the grand finale: Jorge López. López allowed a hit but found the time to catch Jo Adell window-shopping; Walsh grounded out to end the game.

     

    What’s Next?
    The Twins will play the Angels in another late-night matchup; Dylan Bundy will face off against Reid Detmers.

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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    Well written article Matt Braun! More please.

    Now let's watch Baldelli sit Miranda, Urshela & Celestino tomorrow. Hot batters need their scheduled rest afterall. And after 6 long innings of throwing a baseball, it's a virtual certainty that Mahle will need to skip his next turn in the rotation so the Twins can avoid overworking him.

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    Great start for Mahle; I think he would have done well no matter who he was pitching against the way he was going.  But you do have to take a look at that lineup and wonder how they score at all.  The bottom 5 range from .108 to .226.  The highest average in the lineup was .272 AFTER getting 2 hits.  Pretty pathetic.  I have high hopes for Bundy tomorrow and Archer after that.  

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    Nice start for Mahle, he'll be great to have in the rotation next year for sure. Fingers crossed no fluke injuries for this guy. 

    Clestino and Urshela with the big hits. Who'd a thunk it. Still waiting on Buxton and Correa to show up and carry the team for a 6-game win streak. 

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    6 hours ago, 3balls2strikes said:

    Well written article Matt Braun! More please.

    Now let's watch Baldelli sit Miranda, Urshela & Celestino tomorrow. Hot batters need their scheduled rest afterall. And after 6 long innings of throwing a baseball, it's a virtual certainty that Mahle will need to skip his next turn in the rotation so the Twins can avoid overworking him.

    They should probably schedule the Tommy John surgery for Monday! 6 whole innings - it's abuse I tell ya!

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    5 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    Could he have gone 7?  Never know, just glad to have him win against this lower rung team = we have to beat the bad teams if we are going to make a run.

    My thoughts exactly. Why try? Over at mlb.com/twins the headline is "Rocco sticks with Mahle". Yeah, for 1 whole inning more than the usual. He still only threw 86 pitches. No reason for him not to go out for the 7th. I can just imagine... the 6th inning must have felt like caffeine overload to Rocco, shaking in his boots, with the overwhelming feeling that he was going to soil his pants. I'm sure he couldn't bear the pressure to have him pitch the 7th inning.

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    2 hours ago, bighat said:

    Clestino and Urshela with the big hits. Who'd a thunk it. 

    Urshella has had big hits all year. And he has played a nice 3B. Has he had a prolonged hitting slump all year? How many errors? I can't remember many, but can remember some really nice plays.

    Also think he has been on the field alot, didn't check stats but I know I haven't heard of him out for any extended period or reports of him being banged up, etc.

    This guy is solid and exactly the type of dude teams need on their team. Hip hip hooray Gio. 

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    Finally a solid start. Then we go to our rested bulls in the bullpen and it's over. This is the formula.

    Let's see if Rocco uses any of them tonight if we are in another close game. I would if I am him. Hopefully we can turn some of those hits into more runs and not worry about it and can use Megill and Pagan to suck up innings good or bad.

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    1 hour ago, Battle ur tail off said:

    Urshella has had big hits all year. And he has played a nice 3B. Has he had a prolonged hitting slump all year? How many errors? I can't remember many, but can remember some really nice plays.

    Also think he has been on the field alot, didn't check stats but I know I haven't heard of him out for any extended period or reports of him being banged up, etc.

    This guy is solid and exactly the type of dude teams need on their team. Hip hip hooray Gio. 

    Unfortunately Urshela is blocking Miranda. Although we really don't have a true 1st baseman anymore with the departure of Sano who really wasn't a 1st baseman either. Maybe the answer is to let Miranda just take over 1st, learn the position on the fly and keep/extend Urshela to play 3rd. If some of these guys could actually get regular playing time everyday at one position they could maybe, just maybe, become consistantly good at the one position.  

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    Urshela is slugging .630 in August (SSS), but has only started 6 of 10 games. Most teams find a way to keep the hot bats in the line-up, but Beckham has started 3 games ( 2 @ DH, 1 @ 2B) while Urshela has sat on the bench. I understand that Miranda and Arraez are performing well, but Tim Beckham!!

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    13 minutes ago, mnfireman said:

    Urshela is slugging .630 in August (SSS), but has only started 6 of 10 games. Most teams find a way to keep the hot bats in the line-up, but Beckham has started 3 games ( 2 @ DH, 1 @ 2B) while Urshela has sat on the bench. I understand that Miranda and Arraez are performing well, but Tim Beckham!!

    At least 2 of the games was an ankle injury.

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    18 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    Unfortunately Urshela is blocking Miranda. Although we really don't have a true 1st baseman anymore with the departure of Sano who really wasn't a 1st baseman either. Maybe the answer is to let Miranda just take over 1st, learn the position on the fly and keep/extend Urshela to play 3rd. If some of these guys could actually get regular playing time everyday at one position they could maybe, just maybe, become consistantly good at the one position.  

    Make Miranda DH, his fielding is still sub-par.

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    4 hours ago, USAFChief said:

    I thought 6 complete was enough for Mahle.

    Actually, if I were managing, I might have thought 5 and 2/3rds was enough and not let him face the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 6th.

    And by the way, nice job Mahle. 

     

    I'm with you, Chief. Not to mention that confidence is a real thing. When you've just picked up a new guy, and he gives you six great innings (including getting out of a jam in that last inning) with a rested bullpen, don't play with fire. Leave him in a good mental spot and go to others who are in an excellent position to succeed. 

    I like where Mahle's head will be for the next four days as he gets ready for his next start. 

    And can you imagine the "Sure am glad Rocco left him out there for the seventh" comments if the seventh starts with a bloop and a blast in a 3-0 game? Yeah, me neither.

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    Good article. This game was definitely about pitching, and showed the best formula the Twins have had in a long time. Mahle for six, then Fulmer, Duran, and Lopez to finish it off. This is the way it's supposed to work in modern baseball without the game-finishing giants of yesteryear. This is what the Twins traded for. Is Mahle an ace? Not like Verlander, no. But there are so few such pitchers now, it's unfair to expect a guy to pitch 8 or 9 innings anymore. The new model of course has the starter pitch 5 or 6 innings, keeping his team no worse than a couple runs behind when he leaves. Mahle did much better than that today, but he didn't need to. 

    Looking forward, the Twins now have three starters that look like they can go five or six innings without digging too deep a hole. After that, it's Archer, Bundy and a rotating cast. This will continue to put a heavy burden on the bullpen. Thielbar seems pretty reliable for one inning, Magill looks capable, Jax can sometimes go two innings, and Pagan is a complete crapshoot. Jovani Moran should replace Pagan, who should be DFA'd. 

    Even if the bullpen pans out reasonably well, the starters will need to keep trying to finish 6 innings, or the pen will get worn out.

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    1 hour ago, IndianaTwin said:

    I'm with you, Chief. Not to mention that confidence is a real thing. When you've just picked up a new guy, and he gives you six great innings (including getting out of a jam in that last inning) with a rested bullpen, don't play with fire. Leave him in a good mental spot and go to others who are in an excellent position to succeed. 

    I like where Mahle's head will be for the next four days as he gets ready for his next start. 

    And can you imagine the "Sure am glad Rocco left him out there for the seventh" comments if the seventh starts with a bloop and a blast in a 3-0 game? Yeah, me neither.

    Yeah, nothing speaks like confidence knowing your Manager will let you pitch as long as you are capable of doing the job. All good pitchers get out of jams all the time. Issuing a leadoff walk followed by 2 outs and then a double and the 3rd out of the inning does not constitute struggling. It shows the ability to get out of trouble. Using 1 less pitcher from the bullpen when you had the chance NOT to, only makes the bullpen stronger the next couple days. His head would be in an even better place if his Manager showed the confidence in him to go 7 innings, not 6. So if the Saturday and Sunday games are close in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings and Fulmer, Duran and Lopez all get used again Saturday they likely won't be available for Sunday. If they end up losing Sunday because Rocco didn't have even 1 them available, remind me it wasn't Rocco's fault. 

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    20 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    Yeah, nothing speaks like confidence knowing your Manager will let you pitch as long as you are capable of doing the job. All good pitchers get out of jams all the time. Using 1 less pitcher from the bullpen when you had the chance NOT to, only makes the bullpen stronger the couple days. His head would be in an even better place if his Manager showed the confidence in him to go 7 innings, not 6. So if the Saturday and Sunday games are close in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings and Fulmer, Duran and Lopez all get used again Saturday they likely won't be available for Sunday. If they end up losing Sunday because Rocco didn't have them available or at least 1 of them, who's fault is it? 

    Obviously we're both playing "what ifs." We don't know what would have happened in seventh (mine), we don't what might happen today or tomorrow (yours), and we don't know the relationship between player and manager. 

    It's worth noting, though not mentioned above, that Rocco took the unusual step of visiting the mound with two outs and two runners on base in the sixth AND LEFT HIM IN. As Chief notes above, it would have been a perfectly logical time to take him out. I'd suggest that leaving him in at that point is exactly his manager letting him get out of the jam.

    But in situations like that, the conversation is rarely, "If you get this guy out, I'll let you pitch another inning." It's usually, "I've got confidence in you. Put all your focus on this guy, and we'll call it a day."

    I'd also say that the damage to his and the team's confidence and the gut punch it provides if he pitches poorly in the seventh is way more substantial than the gain that comes with him going one more successful seventh inning. 

    And lost in there is that up 3-0 in the seventh was a perfect time to get Fulmer back on the horse after a loss on Wednesday night. 

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    Being as efficient as possible with your pitchers is very important, especially when you only have a limited number of bullpen guys you can count on over a 2 or 3 day span. Which is how it is. Saving even just 1 inning from your bullpen whenever possible should be important. Sure they were rested. But just like us, Rocco doesn't know what tomorrow or the next day will bring. Instead he chooses not to look/plan ahead and use pitchers, especially starters, to their fullest. That's probably the #1 reason why the bullpen has been in shambles this entire season. He had been relying on one of the teams weakest assets to carry them almost every game up to the trade deadline. That is poor managing. Now overusing the better assests he has in Fulmer, Duran and Lopez for the rest of the season, will also be poor managing. 

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    And lost in there is that up 3-0 in the seventh was a perfect time to get Fulmer back on the horse after a loss on Wednesday night. 

    Using this ideology, you could argue that he should have all of his worst pitchers throw as soon as possible after losing a game or a poor performance. I wonder how many more games Pagan and Duffey would have been used in?

     

    Mahle is a workhorse. His stats show he is better third time thru the lineup than 2nd time thru. At 86 pitches, 1 more inning would have been Adell, Walsh and Stassi. who hadn't gotten a hit off of him previously. At the very least Rocco should have sent him out to start the 7th. 

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    I mean, that lineup (Angels) stars every game gagging on a face full of pillow. A pitcher just needs to hold it there for a bit.

    But, to his credit, Mahle reacted accordingly…didn’t play around much…pretty aggressive, fairly efficient.  Encouraging.

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    Not directed to anyone in particular, just in general.

    Mahle looked great! Ran in to some trouble in the 6th and got out of it. Great start! So many complaints about 4-5 IP...mostly about only 4 which I totally get...and we can't be happy with an outstanding 6 inning performance? 

    There are but a handful of pitchers in ALL of MLB that consistently toss 7 full innings in a game, much less average that per. Like it or not, the game has changed. For decades RP were like fill-in guys and long guys. Then RP became LOOGY'S and set-up men and closers. And then the entire "closer" mentality changed to having FIREMEN for high leverage because a 3 run lead save against the bottom of a lineup didn't mean as much as first perceived. 

    Forget the steroid era for a moment, though it had a pronounced affect on pitching changes. Today's ML position athlete trains and lifts weight and works on hitting year round. There is technology assisting batting stance and swing and upper cuts and exit velocity, etc, etc. Pitchers throw harder than ever, but the game has changed. Option and basic power I football has changed in college, and we're decades beyond 3 yards and a cloud of dust in the NFL. I do believe, 100%, that there is room in baseball to "retro fit" the game somewhat to integrate speed again, and to greater value the high BA/OB player. 

    But the game has changed. 5-6 quality IP is the norm now, not just the Twins. Little birdie of Rocco to a Gleeman comment offered recently was something to the fact that with "crunch time" coming that monitoring innings to this point may allow more free reign going forward. We'll see. The starters still need to produce. But I'd take a solid 6 IP most any day. The occasional 7 only helps mitigate the 5 IP starts, and helps the pen. Interesting that Baldelli has commented just recently about the need for a "length" arm or two in the pen. IMO, he's not talking 3-4, but rather, a good TWO innings arm or 2. 

    Fulmer and Lopez add and deepen the pen. But the issue is the middle 3 spots, not Mahle, Gray, and Ryan throwing 6, with the hopeful occasional 7. And believe it or not, Bundy has lead the team in IP most of the year thus far. Hopefully, it's time now for Archer to start delivering 5 IP each time with health, experience, and savy. But it comes down, a lot IMO, to those last 3 spots in the pen. I DON'T like sticking with Pagan as a 2 IP option because we just know how that turns out. I don't know that Sands is ready. I think Moran is needed. Injuries are really cramping options right now, and that imits and stinks. We don't need stud 6-7-8 arms, though that would be nice and the objective. But with injuries factored in, the question/problem is what is the best 1-2-3 the Twins can find over the next month and a half to fill the 6-7-8 spots in the pen?

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