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Cody Pirkl

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  1. Gio Urshela has certainly been serviceable with the Twins this season but enters an uncertain offseason. With one more year of arbitration to run through, will the Twins bring him back in 2023? Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports The Twins front office has some decisions to make for 2023 with time likely running out on their job security. With so many players set to return, there are some tough decisions to be made in order to shake this roster up and try to build a winner following two massively disappointing seasons. Gio Urshela is one of those many decisions. Having made $6.55 million in 2022 and being a decent supporting piece, Urshela has likely set himself up for something like a $10m payday for 2023 if they run through the arbitration process. He’s done his part in making the team want to bring him back with a bounce-back season of being over 15% above league average. His Wins Above Replacement of over 2.0 would make a $10m salary a worthwhile investment. That being said, there are several independent factors that will determine how the Twins proceed with their current starting third baseman. First Base Jose Miranda was a third baseman throughout most of his minor league career. It was only after losing Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff that he made the switch to playing first for most of the season. As someone who had rarely played the position in his career, he was a bit rough around the edges and established himself as a terrible fielder in the eyes of fans. That being said, his numbers at third base were predictably better. Miranda was a neutral 0 Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average at the hot corner. It's possible the Twins don’t see him as a long-term third baseman, but if they have any hope at all of him holding down that position it’s easy to see them paying him the league minimum and spreading Urshela’s money around elsewhere. A lot has to do with health and other moves as well. Kirilloff in theory has the kind of bat you don’t platoon, and if he’s finally healthy in 2023, the goal is likely for him to play first every day. The Twins have also lacked some offensive thump against left-handed pitching for years. They could bring in several established options who play a legit first base such as Josh Bell or Trey Mancini to replace Urshela’s spot in the lineup while turning third base over to their star rookie. Their options are wide open. Free Agency In terms of sure-fire free agents, the best third baseman on the market this winter may be Matt Carpenter. It’s one of the worst free agent third base markets in recent history and could be an opportunity for Urshela to cash in if he’s cut loose. Instead, the Twins could play it smart and tender him a contract regardless of their plans. Teams are certain to be in need of third base help and the Twins could shop him around on the trade market to teams who are too competitive to pencil in Marwin Gonzalez as their everyday third baseman. Would Urshela bring some enormous haul back? Certainly not. Even something like a decent middle reliever or prospect facing a 40-man crunch would be a nice alternative to letting Urshela just walk away for free, however. They could still dump the $10ish million to spend elsewhere and get just a little something in return if that’s the route they choose to take. Gio Urshela is a likable player and has single-handedly made the Donaldson trade an inarguable win. That being said the Twins face a tricky offseason with the need to shake things up while having so many returning players in place. You don’t want him playing over Miranda, Polanco, or a healthy Kirilloff. It’ll be a difficult decision, but it’s just one of the many considerations this front office will have to take into account as they ponder how to restore the faith of the fanbase and ownership. How should the Twins handle Gio Urshela in 2023? Should he be the starting third baseman? Platoon/utility player? Should he perhaps be playing for another team entirely? View full article
  2. The Twins front office has some decisions to make for 2023 with time likely running out on their job security. With so many players set to return, there are some tough decisions to be made in order to shake this roster up and try to build a winner following two massively disappointing seasons. Gio Urshela is one of those many decisions. Having made $6.55 million in 2022 and being a decent supporting piece, Urshela has likely set himself up for something like a $10m payday for 2023 if they run through the arbitration process. He’s done his part in making the team want to bring him back with a bounce-back season of being over 15% above league average. His Wins Above Replacement of over 2.0 would make a $10m salary a worthwhile investment. That being said, there are several independent factors that will determine how the Twins proceed with their current starting third baseman. First Base Jose Miranda was a third baseman throughout most of his minor league career. It was only after losing Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff that he made the switch to playing first for most of the season. As someone who had rarely played the position in his career, he was a bit rough around the edges and established himself as a terrible fielder in the eyes of fans. That being said, his numbers at third base were predictably better. Miranda was a neutral 0 Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average at the hot corner. It's possible the Twins don’t see him as a long-term third baseman, but if they have any hope at all of him holding down that position it’s easy to see them paying him the league minimum and spreading Urshela’s money around elsewhere. A lot has to do with health and other moves as well. Kirilloff in theory has the kind of bat you don’t platoon, and if he’s finally healthy in 2023, the goal is likely for him to play first every day. The Twins have also lacked some offensive thump against left-handed pitching for years. They could bring in several established options who play a legit first base such as Josh Bell or Trey Mancini to replace Urshela’s spot in the lineup while turning third base over to their star rookie. Their options are wide open. Free Agency In terms of sure-fire free agents, the best third baseman on the market this winter may be Matt Carpenter. It’s one of the worst free agent third base markets in recent history and could be an opportunity for Urshela to cash in if he’s cut loose. Instead, the Twins could play it smart and tender him a contract regardless of their plans. Teams are certain to be in need of third base help and the Twins could shop him around on the trade market to teams who are too competitive to pencil in Marwin Gonzalez as their everyday third baseman. Would Urshela bring some enormous haul back? Certainly not. Even something like a decent middle reliever or prospect facing a 40-man crunch would be a nice alternative to letting Urshela just walk away for free, however. They could still dump the $10ish million to spend elsewhere and get just a little something in return if that’s the route they choose to take. Gio Urshela is a likable player and has single-handedly made the Donaldson trade an inarguable win. That being said the Twins face a tricky offseason with the need to shake things up while having so many returning players in place. You don’t want him playing over Miranda, Polanco, or a healthy Kirilloff. It’ll be a difficult decision, but it’s just one of the many considerations this front office will have to take into account as they ponder how to restore the faith of the fanbase and ownership. How should the Twins handle Gio Urshela in 2023? Should he be the starting third baseman? Platoon/utility player? Should he perhaps be playing for another team entirely?
  3. He's probably currently slotted in at the #5 spot for next season. Let's say they bring in another legit starting pitcher for next season. Who should go to the pen instead of Ober from the group of Mahle, Maeda, Gray and Ryan?
  4. Bailey Ober has missed plenty of time due to injury in his professional career, including the majority of 2022. He’s finally made it back just a bit too late. He’ll finish the year in the Twins rotation, but perhaps we could ask, should he stay there long term? Image courtesy of Nick Wosika, USA TODAY Sports The Twins have a lot of returning starting pitching going into 2023, though none of their arms carry too much confidence to be leaned on. Keep your fingers crossed that they bring in a new name that isn’t another Bundy or Archer type, but doing so will push some arms out of the Opening Day rotation. Bailey Ober may be the top candidate to be bumped from a starting role. Injury Concerns Bailey Ober has missed tremendous time in his career due to injury. In 2021, he blew his previous career high in Innings Pitched out of the water with 108. After looking like he had built a foundation to push off of, he followed it up with just 60 innings to date so far in 2022. The fallout from his lost season is that even if healthy in 2023, the Twins will have to handle him with kid gloves yet again. A jump in innings from 60ish to the mid-100s seems like a bit of a stretch. Also worth considering is that the likelihood that he’ll get healthier with age after having such a colorful injury history is incredibly low. Moving into a bullpen role where inning count won’t be an issue may be advantageous. Maximizing Pitch Mix Ober has a pitch mix that’s begging to be simplified, particularly in regard to his changeup. Each of his pitches gets a modest amount of whiffs, but the changeup is the one that has been crushed so far this season. The pitch has allowed a .391 BA and .522 SLG with expected numbers backing up these results. A move to the bullpen could mean he drops this pitch altogether. Plenty of pitchers go this route, and in Ober’s case with two definitive breaking balls, his splits in short stints against lefties shouldn’t be a disaster. His fastball may also play up higher, as we often already see awkward swings due to his size and extension on the pitch. Adding any more velocity in a transition could turn it into a legitimate weapon. The Clock is Ticking It may be a surprise to some, but Ober is already 27 years old. Look no further than top prospect Matt Canterino for an example of how time can catch up. The Twins toyed with Canterino as a starting pitcher through recurring injuries until his elbow finally fully gave way. He’ll now miss much of the 2023 season and will return at nearly 26 years of age having never established an innings floor or reached the majors. Ober is a less extreme example. He’s surpassed 100 innings in a season and made the majors, but it still seems like expecting a full starter's workload could become a futile effort very soon. He could similarly pull up with a significant injury one of these days if he continues to be pushed. A move to the bullpen doesn’t negate that chance, but it may pay off to change up what hasn’t worked to this point in his career while still providing value to the Twins. It also may take until 2024 if everything goes well for him to build up to even 150ish innings to be a starting pitcher, at which point he’ll be 29 years old. If he keeps losing seasons to injury as he nears his 30s, time is bound to eventually run out. Should the Twins actively look to move Ober to the bullpen next season? Not necessarily. He’s been relatively effective as a #3 or #4 starter and even that caliber of pitcher has been hard for the Twins to develop. That being said, in theory, the Twins have a returning staff of Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and eventually Chris Paddack with several younger pitchers from AAA in the mix. If the Twins can bring in another quality starting pitcher, somebody is going to lose out. There’s a case to be made that Ober is the prime option. Would you agree with a move to the bullpen for Ober? Has he shown enough to get one last shot in the rotation? View full article
  5. The Twins have a lot of returning starting pitching going into 2023, though none of their arms carry too much confidence to be leaned on. Keep your fingers crossed that they bring in a new name that isn’t another Bundy or Archer type, but doing so will push some arms out of the Opening Day rotation. Bailey Ober may be the top candidate to be bumped from a starting role. Injury Concerns Bailey Ober has missed tremendous time in his career due to injury. In 2021, he blew his previous career high in Innings Pitched out of the water with 108. After looking like he had built a foundation to push off of, he followed it up with just 60 innings to date so far in 2022. The fallout from his lost season is that even if healthy in 2023, the Twins will have to handle him with kid gloves yet again. A jump in innings from 60ish to the mid-100s seems like a bit of a stretch. Also worth considering is that the likelihood that he’ll get healthier with age after having such a colorful injury history is incredibly low. Moving into a bullpen role where inning count won’t be an issue may be advantageous. Maximizing Pitch Mix Ober has a pitch mix that’s begging to be simplified, particularly in regard to his changeup. Each of his pitches gets a modest amount of whiffs, but the changeup is the one that has been crushed so far this season. The pitch has allowed a .391 BA and .522 SLG with expected numbers backing up these results. A move to the bullpen could mean he drops this pitch altogether. Plenty of pitchers go this route, and in Ober’s case with two definitive breaking balls, his splits in short stints against lefties shouldn’t be a disaster. His fastball may also play up higher, as we often already see awkward swings due to his size and extension on the pitch. Adding any more velocity in a transition could turn it into a legitimate weapon. The Clock is Ticking It may be a surprise to some, but Ober is already 27 years old. Look no further than top prospect Matt Canterino for an example of how time can catch up. The Twins toyed with Canterino as a starting pitcher through recurring injuries until his elbow finally fully gave way. He’ll now miss much of the 2023 season and will return at nearly 26 years of age having never established an innings floor or reached the majors. Ober is a less extreme example. He’s surpassed 100 innings in a season and made the majors, but it still seems like expecting a full starter's workload could become a futile effort very soon. He could similarly pull up with a significant injury one of these days if he continues to be pushed. A move to the bullpen doesn’t negate that chance, but it may pay off to change up what hasn’t worked to this point in his career while still providing value to the Twins. It also may take until 2024 if everything goes well for him to build up to even 150ish innings to be a starting pitcher, at which point he’ll be 29 years old. If he keeps losing seasons to injury as he nears his 30s, time is bound to eventually run out. Should the Twins actively look to move Ober to the bullpen next season? Not necessarily. He’s been relatively effective as a #3 or #4 starter and even that caliber of pitcher has been hard for the Twins to develop. That being said, in theory, the Twins have a returning staff of Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and eventually Chris Paddack with several younger pitchers from AAA in the mix. If the Twins can bring in another quality starting pitcher, somebody is going to lose out. There’s a case to be made that Ober is the prime option. Would you agree with a move to the bullpen for Ober? Has he shown enough to get one last shot in the rotation?
  6. Trevor Larnach’s second half of the season will likely be a wash for the second consecutive year. In a season in which he could have established himself, he’s been missing again. Can the Twins rely on him moving forward? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports 2021 and 2022 held a lot of similarities for Trevor Larnach. In both cases, he burst onto the scene showing a glimpse of the lineup-changing hitter he’s capable of being. Unfortunately in both cases he tailed off in his production only for an injury to eventually come out as the main cause. So what do we think of Larnach moving forward? In 2021 Larnach began his season with a .845 OPS in May before the league adjusted. He posted a .704 mark in June and a brutal .518 in July. He would finish the season in St. Paul eventually being shut down with a hand issue, an injury that turned out to be nagging him for longer than Twins fans had known about. In 2022 Larnach looked even more encouraging. In March and April, Larnach posted a modest .703 OPS, actually above average for the offensive environment at the time. Then in May he posted an absurd 1.077 OPS. In addition to his hitting, his brief time in the majors was enough for teams to stop running on him in the outfield, as his throwing arm became a weapon against runners trying to get an extra base. Once again, however, he faded off in a huge way, posting an OPS of .429 in June before getting shut down at the end of the month for a core muscle injury he had been dealing with for the entire month. His timeline was 6-8 weeks putting him at a mid to late August return. At the time of this writing in mid-September, however, Larnach is finally making his first rehab appearance in the minors. With the calendar dwindling, it's likely at this point that Larnach’s 2022 season has come to an end, but he finishes with a modest .231/.306/.406 batting line which was heavily weighed down by a brutal final month. His 1.1 Wins Above Replacement in just 51 games played alludes to the possibility of an everyday regular in the lineup moving forward. But can we trust Larnach to fill such a role? The first concern at this point has to be health. Larnach has failed to reach 100 games played in each of the last two seasons due to injury. The hand contusion in 2021 may have been a fluke, but 2022's core muscle injury that cost him half the season is more of a concern. Larnach relies on such muscles for every swing he takes, every route to a fly ball he runs, and every rocket he throws into a base. The delay on his return alludes to the Twins making sure he’s at as little risk of aggravating this injury as possible. Headed into 2023 we have to hope it pays off. The second concern is whether Larnach can consistently channel his talent into on-field production. While injury has hampered his numbers to an extent these last two years, it’s easy to be concerned about him long-term given his swing-and-miss tendencies. Easily the biggest knock on his offensive profile, his incredible power and fantastic eye at the plate can easily be outweighed if he fails to make contact with pitches in the strike zone as we’ve seen at times in his young career. It would be nice if Larnach was more of a known commodity after two years of MLB exposure, especially given the murky futures of fellow top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Of the three, Larnach appears to be the most stable however due not only to the flashes of offensive and defensive value, but because of the nature of the injuries that have ended each of their seasons. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to be 100% confident in Larnach, but there has to be some hope that he can be the Opening Day left fielder and hold onto the job for the next 4-5 years. He’s shown a tremendous ceiling but he doesn’t have to reach it to be a valuable player. Max Kepler has spent the last three years providing league average offense at best and has still added value because of his defense. Larnach’s 2022 should provide hope that he can at the very least do the same while providing a much more balanced offensive profile aside from the strikeouts. Certainly, we have to be disappointed with Larnach’s 2022, but like most disappointing seasons, there are some redeeming qualities. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to argue against handing Larnach the keys to a starting job and seeing if it’s finally the year that it comes together. The Twins don’t have any immediate alternative options and it’s safe to say that if they want to prioritize replacing any outfielder, it should be the aforementioned Max Kepler. Larnach should be given another chance to make himself a piece of the Twins future. Do you agree? View full article
  7. 2021 and 2022 held a lot of similarities for Trevor Larnach. In both cases, he burst onto the scene showing a glimpse of the lineup-changing hitter he’s capable of being. Unfortunately in both cases he tailed off in his production only for an injury to eventually come out as the main cause. So what do we think of Larnach moving forward? In 2021 Larnach began his season with a .845 OPS in May before the league adjusted. He posted a .704 mark in June and a brutal .518 in July. He would finish the season in St. Paul eventually being shut down with a hand issue, an injury that turned out to be nagging him for longer than Twins fans had known about. In 2022 Larnach looked even more encouraging. In March and April, Larnach posted a modest .703 OPS, actually above average for the offensive environment at the time. Then in May he posted an absurd 1.077 OPS. In addition to his hitting, his brief time in the majors was enough for teams to stop running on him in the outfield, as his throwing arm became a weapon against runners trying to get an extra base. Once again, however, he faded off in a huge way, posting an OPS of .429 in June before getting shut down at the end of the month for a core muscle injury he had been dealing with for the entire month. His timeline was 6-8 weeks putting him at a mid to late August return. At the time of this writing in mid-September, however, Larnach is finally making his first rehab appearance in the minors. With the calendar dwindling, it's likely at this point that Larnach’s 2022 season has come to an end, but he finishes with a modest .231/.306/.406 batting line which was heavily weighed down by a brutal final month. His 1.1 Wins Above Replacement in just 51 games played alludes to the possibility of an everyday regular in the lineup moving forward. But can we trust Larnach to fill such a role? The first concern at this point has to be health. Larnach has failed to reach 100 games played in each of the last two seasons due to injury. The hand contusion in 2021 may have been a fluke, but 2022's core muscle injury that cost him half the season is more of a concern. Larnach relies on such muscles for every swing he takes, every route to a fly ball he runs, and every rocket he throws into a base. The delay on his return alludes to the Twins making sure he’s at as little risk of aggravating this injury as possible. Headed into 2023 we have to hope it pays off. The second concern is whether Larnach can consistently channel his talent into on-field production. While injury has hampered his numbers to an extent these last two years, it’s easy to be concerned about him long-term given his swing-and-miss tendencies. Easily the biggest knock on his offensive profile, his incredible power and fantastic eye at the plate can easily be outweighed if he fails to make contact with pitches in the strike zone as we’ve seen at times in his young career. It would be nice if Larnach was more of a known commodity after two years of MLB exposure, especially given the murky futures of fellow top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Of the three, Larnach appears to be the most stable however due not only to the flashes of offensive and defensive value, but because of the nature of the injuries that have ended each of their seasons. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to be 100% confident in Larnach, but there has to be some hope that he can be the Opening Day left fielder and hold onto the job for the next 4-5 years. He’s shown a tremendous ceiling but he doesn’t have to reach it to be a valuable player. Max Kepler has spent the last three years providing league average offense at best and has still added value because of his defense. Larnach’s 2022 should provide hope that he can at the very least do the same while providing a much more balanced offensive profile aside from the strikeouts. Certainly, we have to be disappointed with Larnach’s 2022, but like most disappointing seasons, there are some redeeming qualities. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to argue against handing Larnach the keys to a starting job and seeing if it’s finally the year that it comes together. The Twins don’t have any immediate alternative options and it’s safe to say that if they want to prioritize replacing any outfielder, it should be the aforementioned Max Kepler. Larnach should be given another chance to make himself a piece of the Twins future. Do you agree?
  8. One thing I didn't mention is that in addition to Ryan's good expected numbers on the slider, it's also his best whiff pitch at 30%. All of his offspeeds have performed poorly this year, but I'm very encouraged by the floor he's established on the slider after only one year of really using it. Hopefully the command of it improves.
  9. Joe Ryan looked like a front end starter to begin the year and has slowly trended in the wrong direction throughout the summer as many analysts predicted. As the Twins bottom out it’s fair to ask: Is Joe Ryan who we thought he was? Image courtesy of Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports A 7th-round pick taken by Tampa Bay, Joe Ryan was always an interesting prospect. Throwing his fastball as high as 70-80% of the time in the minors, he always dominated with solid ERAs, eye-popping strikeout numbers, and acceptable home run rates. Still, scouts just didn’t buy the long-term performance with Joe Ryan due to his lack of any kind of consistent secondary offerings to pair with his best pitch. As 2022 rolls on, he’s shown more and more that perhaps the league has caught up to him. Were we too quick to anoint him as a staple for the front of the rotation? When considering this question, there are a few factors we need to keep in mind. Offspeed Debut Joe Ryan was essentially a fastball-only pitcher in the minors because he could get away with it. His fastball is deceptive, and it appears that despite his numbers tailing off as the season went on, the league never really figured the pitch out. He’s thrown it three times as much as any of his other offerings and the pitch has allowed a .183 BA against and .328 slugging %. In order to maintain that effectiveness, however, Ryan has finally had to incorporate more offspeed pitches. Unfortunately, it could be going better. Ryan has allowed a .500+ SLG on every pitch but his fastball this season. As his home run issues have ballooned, the slider is typically the culprit. Having allowed nine HRs on 1,229 fastballs thrown, Ryan has allowed eight on just 431 sliders thrown. In fairness, this is the first Ryan has really had to rely on offspeed stuff, and it’s safe to still call his secondary pitches a work in progress that could easily improve. Bad Luck I hate chalking anything up to bad luck but Joe Ryan actually has dealt with quite a bit of it this season. Ryan posted a 2.28 ERA in eight starts leading up to May 21. He then missed three weeks with COVID and has since posted a 4.78 mark in 16 starts. His velocity and command were both notably lacking for some time following his absence as he was clearly hit hard by the virus considering the amount of time missed. He was due for a bit of regression, but things certainly seemed to snowball after the IL trip. Ryan also has an interesting gap in the expected results of his pitch mix versus the actual results. He’s allowed a SLG of .531 on his slider with a .368 expected SLG. His .538 SLG on his changeup is a far cry from the .443 expected mark. Even his curveball has allowed a .524 SLG compared to a .354 expected SLG. It’s hard to say what’s causing this discrepancy, but the expected stats point to Ryan being a much more effective pitcher than what his (still respectable) results have been. He’s a Rookie It’s easy to forget Joe Ryan is a rookie under control for five more seasons because the Twins have relied on him so heavily. Very rarely does a pitcher debut and provide consistent results. Many called the Twins front office out this spring for essentially hanging the hopes of the season on two pitchers with less than a year of experience (Ryan and Bailey Ober), and they turned out to be correct. While Ryan has worked out better than Ober due to the volume he’s provided, the Twins were always playing with fire. Ryan getting his feet wet to the tune of a low-4s ERA in what will probably be 140ish innings in his rookie season would typically be viewed as a massive success. Unfortunately, the Twins relied on him being a front-of-the-rotation starter. As he builds up a bigger workload and makes adjustments back to the league, it’s easy to see him building off of an up-and-down rookie season and at least providing middle-of-the-rotation value to the team in future years. In short, don’t let the Twins' disappointing end to the season affect your opinion of Joe Ryan. Whether he’s the pitcher we thought he was depends on what you were expecting. As fun as the idea was of a rookie coming up and co-leading the rotation with Sonny Gray en route to a comeback season, that was always the least likely scenario. Instead consider that Ryan has had a solid-to-good debut season, a rarity in Twins territory when it comes to pitchers. As he soars past his career highs in innings pitched, keep in mind that Joe Ryan still has a good chunk of his Twins career left to adjust and improve, and he’s got a nice foundation to build off of from his 2022 season. View full article
  10. A 7th-round pick taken by Tampa Bay, Joe Ryan was always an interesting prospect. Throwing his fastball as high as 70-80% of the time in the minors, he always dominated with solid ERAs, eye-popping strikeout numbers, and acceptable home run rates. Still, scouts just didn’t buy the long-term performance with Joe Ryan due to his lack of any kind of consistent secondary offerings to pair with his best pitch. As 2022 rolls on, he’s shown more and more that perhaps the league has caught up to him. Were we too quick to anoint him as a staple for the front of the rotation? When considering this question, there are a few factors we need to keep in mind. Offspeed Debut Joe Ryan was essentially a fastball-only pitcher in the minors because he could get away with it. His fastball is deceptive, and it appears that despite his numbers tailing off as the season went on, the league never really figured the pitch out. He’s thrown it three times as much as any of his other offerings and the pitch has allowed a .183 BA against and .328 slugging %. In order to maintain that effectiveness, however, Ryan has finally had to incorporate more offspeed pitches. Unfortunately, it could be going better. Ryan has allowed a .500+ SLG on every pitch but his fastball this season. As his home run issues have ballooned, the slider is typically the culprit. Having allowed nine HRs on 1,229 fastballs thrown, Ryan has allowed eight on just 431 sliders thrown. In fairness, this is the first Ryan has really had to rely on offspeed stuff, and it’s safe to still call his secondary pitches a work in progress that could easily improve. Bad Luck I hate chalking anything up to bad luck but Joe Ryan actually has dealt with quite a bit of it this season. Ryan posted a 2.28 ERA in eight starts leading up to May 21. He then missed three weeks with COVID and has since posted a 4.78 mark in 16 starts. His velocity and command were both notably lacking for some time following his absence as he was clearly hit hard by the virus considering the amount of time missed. He was due for a bit of regression, but things certainly seemed to snowball after the IL trip. Ryan also has an interesting gap in the expected results of his pitch mix versus the actual results. He’s allowed a SLG of .531 on his slider with a .368 expected SLG. His .538 SLG on his changeup is a far cry from the .443 expected mark. Even his curveball has allowed a .524 SLG compared to a .354 expected SLG. It’s hard to say what’s causing this discrepancy, but the expected stats point to Ryan being a much more effective pitcher than what his (still respectable) results have been. He’s a Rookie It’s easy to forget Joe Ryan is a rookie under control for five more seasons because the Twins have relied on him so heavily. Very rarely does a pitcher debut and provide consistent results. Many called the Twins front office out this spring for essentially hanging the hopes of the season on two pitchers with less than a year of experience (Ryan and Bailey Ober), and they turned out to be correct. While Ryan has worked out better than Ober due to the volume he’s provided, the Twins were always playing with fire. Ryan getting his feet wet to the tune of a low-4s ERA in what will probably be 140ish innings in his rookie season would typically be viewed as a massive success. Unfortunately, the Twins relied on him being a front-of-the-rotation starter. As he builds up a bigger workload and makes adjustments back to the league, it’s easy to see him building off of an up-and-down rookie season and at least providing middle-of-the-rotation value to the team in future years. In short, don’t let the Twins' disappointing end to the season affect your opinion of Joe Ryan. Whether he’s the pitcher we thought he was depends on what you were expecting. As fun as the idea was of a rookie coming up and co-leading the rotation with Sonny Gray en route to a comeback season, that was always the least likely scenario. Instead consider that Ryan has had a solid-to-good debut season, a rarity in Twins territory when it comes to pitchers. As he soars past his career highs in innings pitched, keep in mind that Joe Ryan still has a good chunk of his Twins career left to adjust and improve, and he’s got a nice foundation to build off of from his 2022 season.
  11. Some of the best relievers in baseball were awful starting pitchers which is what Lopez was up until this year. Josh Hader, Aroldis Chapman, etc. In terms of Twins, look at Taylor Rogers or even Griffin Jax this year. Once you take a starting pitcher, cut down their pitch mix, and add them to the bullpen where their velocity ticks up, their numbers as a starter are worthless.
  12. Jorge Lopez was a bullpen ace, even an All Star, for Baltimore before his trade to the Twins. His numbers have been fine since coming over, but the common feeling is that Lopez has been a huge disappointment. Why could that be? Image courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Jorge Lopez has posted a respectable 3.09 ERA in his 11+ innings since becoming a Twin, primarily serving as the Twins' closer. Though not the sub 2.00 ERA he posted in Baltimore, it’s difficult to expect much more results-wise from a reliever. Still, many including this author have been unimpressed and disappointed in the Twins supposed star-caliber reliever acquisition. Why might that be? The Bad Outweighs the Good Some studies have shown that human nature causes bad outcomes to carry more weight in our minds than the good. In Lopez’s case that’s a very unfortunate reality. In his twelve outings, he's allowed an earned run in only three. In two of those, Lopez was so unbelievably bad that it’s difficult to wipe away that memory. On August 13, the Twins blew a lead reminiscent of Emilio Pagan against Cleveland (He actually later got the loss). Leading 3-0, the Twins allowed a run in the 8th for Lopez to come on and blow a two-run save in tremendous fashion, his second to that point in five outings. On September 2, Lopez was even worse, allowing leadoff singles to the 8 and 9 hitters in the White Sox order in a tied game. He then went on to hit Andrew Vaughn to load the bases with one out. On the very next pitch, he barely missed yet another hit by pitch to Jose Abreu which extended the game after replay review. He was walked off later in the at bat. Is it fair to judge Lopez on just two outings? Absolutely not. But the meltdowns were simply unacceptable for Twins fans who have watched such outings 1-2 times per week all season and expected something different from a massive trade acquisition. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a very strong finish to the season to get rid of the aftertaste of the several games Lopez has already blown. Win Probability Added The general consensus has been that Lopez has hurt the team more than he’s helped since coming to the Twins despite his decent ERA. One way to tangibly measure this is to look at Win Probability Added (WPA) which looks at how much a player has positively or negatively impacted wins. In the case of Lopez, he’s had three games where he’s contributed negative value to a team win and he’s had no games in which he’s had a meaningfully positive WPA. As a whole, Lopez has accumulated -0.49 WPA thus far. Not only does this account for nearly a full loss in that time (Each team begins the game at .50), but this is the worst WPA on the Twins roster since Lopez was acquired. Yes, even worse than Emilio Pagan. In short, Lopez has fit right into this Twins bullpen, finding incredible ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Is any of this meaningful long term? Probably not. Lopez has had a few games where batted balls have found the grass as we often see with ground ball pitchers. His overall numbers are just fine for a late-inning reliever, and he hasn’t given up homers which would be the main red flag to look for. The unfortunate reality is that Lopez has dug himself a hole in the eyes of Twins fans as he joined a team whose fanbase is quite simply fed up with embarrassing late game losses and he’s added a few onto the list. The plus side is if you’re looking for a sign that Jorge Lopez joined the Twins and is now a broken pitcher, there isn’t one. The same skillset that he rode to an All Star bid earlier this summer remains completely intact in every facet aside from a few outings with poor outcomes. Furthermore, for as disappointing as he has been in the eyes of Twins fans, he’s under team control for the next two seasons, plenty of time to make good on the Twins investment. It’s hard to argue that Jorge Lopez has been disappointing so far in his Twins tenure. However, the level of disappointment may be amplified by Twins fans who have seen late heartbreaking losses play out far too many times. If Lopez continues to throw his high 90s turbo sinker and mix in his disgusting mix of offspeed options, it's hard to not see him flipping the script. View full article
  13. Jorge Lopez has posted a respectable 3.09 ERA in his 11+ innings since becoming a Twin, primarily serving as the Twins' closer. Though not the sub 2.00 ERA he posted in Baltimore, it’s difficult to expect much more results-wise from a reliever. Still, many including this author have been unimpressed and disappointed in the Twins supposed star-caliber reliever acquisition. Why might that be? The Bad Outweighs the Good Some studies have shown that human nature causes bad outcomes to carry more weight in our minds than the good. In Lopez’s case that’s a very unfortunate reality. In his twelve outings, he's allowed an earned run in only three. In two of those, Lopez was so unbelievably bad that it’s difficult to wipe away that memory. On August 13, the Twins blew a lead reminiscent of Emilio Pagan against Cleveland (He actually later got the loss). Leading 3-0, the Twins allowed a run in the 8th for Lopez to come on and blow a two-run save in tremendous fashion, his second to that point in five outings. On September 2, Lopez was even worse, allowing leadoff singles to the 8 and 9 hitters in the White Sox order in a tied game. He then went on to hit Andrew Vaughn to load the bases with one out. On the very next pitch, he barely missed yet another hit by pitch to Jose Abreu which extended the game after replay review. He was walked off later in the at bat. Is it fair to judge Lopez on just two outings? Absolutely not. But the meltdowns were simply unacceptable for Twins fans who have watched such outings 1-2 times per week all season and expected something different from a massive trade acquisition. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a very strong finish to the season to get rid of the aftertaste of the several games Lopez has already blown. Win Probability Added The general consensus has been that Lopez has hurt the team more than he’s helped since coming to the Twins despite his decent ERA. One way to tangibly measure this is to look at Win Probability Added (WPA) which looks at how much a player has positively or negatively impacted wins. In the case of Lopez, he’s had three games where he’s contributed negative value to a team win and he’s had no games in which he’s had a meaningfully positive WPA. As a whole, Lopez has accumulated -0.49 WPA thus far. Not only does this account for nearly a full loss in that time (Each team begins the game at .50), but this is the worst WPA on the Twins roster since Lopez was acquired. Yes, even worse than Emilio Pagan. In short, Lopez has fit right into this Twins bullpen, finding incredible ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Is any of this meaningful long term? Probably not. Lopez has had a few games where batted balls have found the grass as we often see with ground ball pitchers. His overall numbers are just fine for a late-inning reliever, and he hasn’t given up homers which would be the main red flag to look for. The unfortunate reality is that Lopez has dug himself a hole in the eyes of Twins fans as he joined a team whose fanbase is quite simply fed up with embarrassing late game losses and he’s added a few onto the list. The plus side is if you’re looking for a sign that Jorge Lopez joined the Twins and is now a broken pitcher, there isn’t one. The same skillset that he rode to an All Star bid earlier this summer remains completely intact in every facet aside from a few outings with poor outcomes. Furthermore, for as disappointing as he has been in the eyes of Twins fans, he’s under team control for the next two seasons, plenty of time to make good on the Twins investment. It’s hard to argue that Jorge Lopez has been disappointing so far in his Twins tenure. However, the level of disappointment may be amplified by Twins fans who have seen late heartbreaking losses play out far too many times. If Lopez continues to throw his high 90s turbo sinker and mix in his disgusting mix of offspeed options, it's hard to not see him flipping the script.
  14. His launch angle actually decreased from July though and his 13 degree launch angle in August isn't really a problem. His launch angle in all of 2020 for example was 12.1 degrees.
  15. Appreciate it! I dug quite a bit for any change in approach but there doesn't appear to be a whole lot there. His 13 degree launch angle in August was perfectly fine and was actually lower than it was in July. The same can be said for flyball rate and pull rate, the two things you typically see increase when a hitter is only worried about homers (see Buxton).
  16. Luis Arraez has had a tremendous season, likely earning the title of Twins MVP so far. He looked to be on track for a career year through the end of July, but then came a confusing August. What went wrong for the Twins leadoff man in the dog days of summer? In case you haven’t heard, Luis Arraez is an incredible hitter. In the era of trying to do as much damage as possible on every swing, Arraez waits out opposing pitchers and is just as happy to take a walk or squeak an opposite-field grounder through the hole as he is to drive the ball over the fence. In addition to how fun it is to watch his unique style, Arraez is also quite good. He’s been an above-average hitter by wRC+ in every month of 2022, which makes an August slump hard to complain too much about. Make no mistake, however, Arraez has hit a skid over the last month. What could be the cause? .269/.316/.394, a .710 OPS for Arraez in August. While still 4% above a league-average hitter in that time, it’s a far cry from the .338/.411/.445 line he posted in the first four months. Hitters slump, and oftentimes those slumps look a lot worse than what Arraez has done in August. Still, it’s worth exploring what could be going on. There have been a few narratives floated about Arraez’s struggles. The first of which has been an increase in fly balls, perhaps in pursuit of more power from the Twins leadoff man. Looking back, it’s easy to remember several lazy fly balls Arraez has produced. His 25.7% flyball rate in August is perfectly acceptable and is lower than the rate he produced in April and July in which he posted a .783 and .817 OPS respectively. The second has been a decline in the quality of his at-bats, particularly an increase in chase rate. Again, this mark has not seen a spike, and saw a decrease from July. And so it’s time to explore the simplest explanation for the decline in Arraez’s struggles: Impacting the baseball. His struggles are actually quite simple and yet very complicated. Arraez simply isn’t hitting the ball as hard. For the last three seasons, Arraez’s hard hit rate hovered just above 30% for reference. In August, he posted a 20.8% mark. While this explains his struggles, the complicated question becomes why. Of course all players are entitled to slumps, including the hitting machine Luis Arraez. It’s entirely possible that the calendar turns to September, and he’s exactly the same hitter he was for the first four months. That being said, it’s something to keep an eye on. Arraez suffered from what could be considered chronic knee issues every year of his career thus far… except for 2022. He famously spent last offseason working out with Nelson Cruz to strengthen his ailing knees and it’s hard to argue the results so far. That being said, Arraez is five games from tying his career high in games played with over a month left. He also hasn’t had any IL trips along the way to catch a breather and has nearly been an everyday player as we head into September. There’s no way to know for certain, but hopefully, his recent performance isn’t a result of his knees or any other nagging injury. If I had to guess, I think Arraez finds his way back to being tremendously productive in the batter's box in September. He’s a smart hitter who can likely find a way to adjust his approach to still succeed even if he can’t get his higher exit velocities to fully return. For a hitter who hits a noticeable skid and still posts an above-average batting line, it’s hard to be too concerned moving forward. Do you agree? View full article
  17. In case you haven’t heard, Luis Arraez is an incredible hitter. In the era of trying to do as much damage as possible on every swing, Arraez waits out opposing pitchers and is just as happy to take a walk or squeak an opposite-field grounder through the hole as he is to drive the ball over the fence. In addition to how fun it is to watch his unique style, Arraez is also quite good. He’s been an above-average hitter by wRC+ in every month of 2022, which makes an August slump hard to complain too much about. Make no mistake, however, Arraez has hit a skid over the last month. What could be the cause? .269/.316/.394, a .710 OPS for Arraez in August. While still 4% above a league-average hitter in that time, it’s a far cry from the .338/.411/.445 line he posted in the first four months. Hitters slump, and oftentimes those slumps look a lot worse than what Arraez has done in August. Still, it’s worth exploring what could be going on. There have been a few narratives floated about Arraez’s struggles. The first of which has been an increase in fly balls, perhaps in pursuit of more power from the Twins leadoff man. Looking back, it’s easy to remember several lazy fly balls Arraez has produced. His 25.7% flyball rate in August is perfectly acceptable and is lower than the rate he produced in April and July in which he posted a .783 and .817 OPS respectively. The second has been a decline in the quality of his at-bats, particularly an increase in chase rate. Again, this mark has not seen a spike, and saw a decrease from July. And so it’s time to explore the simplest explanation for the decline in Arraez’s struggles: Impacting the baseball. His struggles are actually quite simple and yet very complicated. Arraez simply isn’t hitting the ball as hard. For the last three seasons, Arraez’s hard hit rate hovered just above 30% for reference. In August, he posted a 20.8% mark. While this explains his struggles, the complicated question becomes why. Of course all players are entitled to slumps, including the hitting machine Luis Arraez. It’s entirely possible that the calendar turns to September, and he’s exactly the same hitter he was for the first four months. That being said, it’s something to keep an eye on. Arraez suffered from what could be considered chronic knee issues every year of his career thus far… except for 2022. He famously spent last offseason working out with Nelson Cruz to strengthen his ailing knees and it’s hard to argue the results so far. That being said, Arraez is five games from tying his career high in games played with over a month left. He also hasn’t had any IL trips along the way to catch a breather and has nearly been an everyday player as we head into September. There’s no way to know for certain, but hopefully, his recent performance isn’t a result of his knees or any other nagging injury. If I had to guess, I think Arraez finds his way back to being tremendously productive in the batter's box in September. He’s a smart hitter who can likely find a way to adjust his approach to still succeed even if he can’t get his higher exit velocities to fully return. For a hitter who hits a noticeable skid and still posts an above-average batting line, it’s hard to be too concerned moving forward. Do you agree?
  18. FWIW I wrote this prior to him being put on the IL which is what I wanted to see over them just sitting him for a day or 2 and sending him back out. The difference between the entire season of managing him and now is how bad he looked on Monday. They can't let him continue getting to that point, and if they're out of it by the time he's eligible to be back, there's no reason to risk it.
  19. Because they've been a straight up bad team since May and it comes down to more than just "giving up" as I've pointed out. I think we need to just agree to disagree on this one because I see you're quoting every single comment in the thread that slightly suggests that the team may not be very good.
  20. My point exactly. I wrote this prior to him going on the IL and I just didn't want to see them rest him for a day or 2 and send him back out given how rough he looked yesterday. They basically bought themselves 10 days at this point. If the team plays as poorly as they have been they could be 5+ games out of 1st at which point there's no reason to bring him back if he's not 100%.
  21. I think its probably safe to assume when they say "time off won't fix it" that it's going to require some kind of surgical procedure. And in regards to further injury, again, go back and watch him last night. He's running around on one leg which is how further injury happens. I don't think its that much of a stretch to draw these conclusions based on the info we have available.
  22. My point is I think the team and his body have reached the point where whatever procedure he needs done should probably just be done. He could barely walk last night and if guys like Correa and Polanco aren't going to do their jobs then there's nothing the Twins can do with or without Buxton that'll get them into the playoffs
  23. At no point do I cite the slump he's in for why he should be shut down. My point was A. That he could come back on fire and the team may still be bad enough to miss the playoffs and B. That it's not worth the risk of an injury that extends into 2023 which if you watched last night's game is a real possibility. He couldn't even camp under fly balls last night with his full weight on both legs. He's not helping anybody if that's where his body is at and he's just putting himself at additional risk.
  24. Byron Buxton has been playing injured literally since day one. He has grinded to be on the field as much as possible. As the season winds down and the Twins desperately need a star, however, it ironically may be time for Buxton to shut it down for good. The Twins have slowly sunk from their spot in first place and are months removed from looking like a quality baseball team. As crunch time nears it’s justifiably the first thought that we want Buxton on the field no matter what to provide whatever spark he has left. It’s becoming more and more apparent for several reasons however that the Twins should just play it safe and shut their star down. This Could Become a Bigger Injury Buxton has dealt with a nagging knee and hip injury all season which almost certainly will take some sort of clean-up procedure this offseason. That being said, we can hope at this point that the issue can be fixed and healed to kick off 2023. We saw on Monday night however just how hobbled he is, catching balls on one leg and taking awkward follow-throughs after swings. With how physically compromised he is, there’s no doubt he’s putting himself at risk of much more serious injury as he’s forced to modify his mechanics in everything he does on the field. An injury such as an ACL at this point would knock Buxton out for all of 2023, a season that should be prioritized at this point as the Twins are returning a better pitching staff on paper than they’ve had in several years. What Buxton has done this season is commendable, but it may have all come to a head on Monday night when he was pulled early and appeared to be completely incapable of continuing to play baseball any longer. He’s still a long-term asset for the Twins and we may have reached the point where that has to be valued above all else. Buxton May Not Matter Is there a case that the Twins best player not being in the lineup for the stretch run may not matter? I’d say yes given the context of the rest of the lineup. Buxton could go on an MVP level tear from now until the end of the season, and the Twins could still miss the playoffs because of what the rest of the lineup is doing. While Buxton has been struggling recently, the lineup’s inadequacies were front and center in a four-game series against the very bad Texas Rangers in which the Twins managed to score six runs total. Injuries play a part with several potential spark plugs missing such as Larnach, Kirilloff and Lewis, but it’s hard to argue that regulars such as Correa, Polanco and Kepler haven’t pulled their weight in months. After a trade deadline in which the team patched up the pitching issues that plagued them all season, the offense has become embarrassingly bad, oftentimes being unable to overcome nights where the pitchers allow more than one run. In short, regardless of how Buxton does if the Twins rush him back, he’ll be surrounded in the lineup by some of the most anemic and situationally poor hitters in baseball for the last few months. One player can’t win all of these games. Is that worth the risk? It would be a huge bummer to see yet another Byron Buxton season shut down by injury, but this is what we have to expect at this point. In many ways, it’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s time to set sights on 2023 with this very flawed team, and this is particularly true in the case of Byron Buxton. It’s a fact that a fundamentally sound roster would have opened up an insurmountable lead in the poor AL Central, and Buxton’s workload could have been managed more conservatively down the stretch as a result. Instead, the Twins are stuck in no man's land with a roster that’s difficult to take too seriously despite ample opportunity to control their own destiny. Their star was pushed beyond what should have been asked as a result. At this point, the overly aggressive push in regards to Byron Buxton should be done. The priority should be the long term. It’s time to shut him down and let the AL Central cards fall where they may. View full article
  25. The Twins have slowly sunk from their spot in first place and are months removed from looking like a quality baseball team. As crunch time nears it’s justifiably the first thought that we want Buxton on the field no matter what to provide whatever spark he has left. It’s becoming more and more apparent for several reasons however that the Twins should just play it safe and shut their star down. This Could Become a Bigger Injury Buxton has dealt with a nagging knee and hip injury all season which almost certainly will take some sort of clean-up procedure this offseason. That being said, we can hope at this point that the issue can be fixed and healed to kick off 2023. We saw on Monday night however just how hobbled he is, catching balls on one leg and taking awkward follow-throughs after swings. With how physically compromised he is, there’s no doubt he’s putting himself at risk of much more serious injury as he’s forced to modify his mechanics in everything he does on the field. An injury such as an ACL at this point would knock Buxton out for all of 2023, a season that should be prioritized at this point as the Twins are returning a better pitching staff on paper than they’ve had in several years. What Buxton has done this season is commendable, but it may have all come to a head on Monday night when he was pulled early and appeared to be completely incapable of continuing to play baseball any longer. He’s still a long-term asset for the Twins and we may have reached the point where that has to be valued above all else. Buxton May Not Matter Is there a case that the Twins best player not being in the lineup for the stretch run may not matter? I’d say yes given the context of the rest of the lineup. Buxton could go on an MVP level tear from now until the end of the season, and the Twins could still miss the playoffs because of what the rest of the lineup is doing. While Buxton has been struggling recently, the lineup’s inadequacies were front and center in a four-game series against the very bad Texas Rangers in which the Twins managed to score six runs total. Injuries play a part with several potential spark plugs missing such as Larnach, Kirilloff and Lewis, but it’s hard to argue that regulars such as Correa, Polanco and Kepler haven’t pulled their weight in months. After a trade deadline in which the team patched up the pitching issues that plagued them all season, the offense has become embarrassingly bad, oftentimes being unable to overcome nights where the pitchers allow more than one run. In short, regardless of how Buxton does if the Twins rush him back, he’ll be surrounded in the lineup by some of the most anemic and situationally poor hitters in baseball for the last few months. One player can’t win all of these games. Is that worth the risk? It would be a huge bummer to see yet another Byron Buxton season shut down by injury, but this is what we have to expect at this point. In many ways, it’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s time to set sights on 2023 with this very flawed team, and this is particularly true in the case of Byron Buxton. It’s a fact that a fundamentally sound roster would have opened up an insurmountable lead in the poor AL Central, and Buxton’s workload could have been managed more conservatively down the stretch as a result. Instead, the Twins are stuck in no man's land with a roster that’s difficult to take too seriously despite ample opportunity to control their own destiny. Their star was pushed beyond what should have been asked as a result. At this point, the overly aggressive push in regards to Byron Buxton should be done. The priority should be the long term. It’s time to shut him down and let the AL Central cards fall where they may.
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