VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Rocco Baldelli Regaining 'Manager of the Year' Form, to the Dismay of Haters
Baldelli had the makings of a slam-dunk hire in 2019, when he became the youngest recipient of Manager of the Year in history, leading the Twins to a historic 101-win season. He followed with another division title in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
One would think such an impressive start to his managerial career would earn the guy a bit of leeway in the eyes of fans. Turns out, not so much.
While experiencing his first rocky year at the helm, Rocco was routinely derided by a large portion of the fanbase and columnist hive in 2021's last-place debacle. Never mind he was supplied by the front office with Alex Colomé as his closer and the Happ-maker combo as his rotation reinforcements. Never mind dealing with a rotten hand injury-wise.
Baldelli took major heat nonetheless. It's the name of the game.
As this 2022 season got off to similarly ugly start, with a 4-8 record two weeks in, fans on Twitter were calling for Rocco's head and a certain desperate-for-attention local media outlet was hilariously attempting to manufacture a manager controversy.
Since that 4-8 start, Baldelli's Twins are 17-7. They're winning tight games. They're playing far cleaner, crisper ball than opponents. And they're bouncing back from adversity.
Tactically, Baldelli has been pressing the right buttons and his decision have paid off time and time again. Here are three examples from Monday's 3-1 victory:
1: Chris Archer pulled after four innings.
It wasn't an obvious call by any means. Archer had allowed only one run on two hits over four innings. He was at just 62 pitches when Baldelli made the decision to pull him. The Twins were in the midst of a stretch with nine games in nine days. They could've tried to squeeze another inning or two.
The skipper did not want to see Archer face Oakland's lineup for a third time and that was absolutely the right call. Yennier Canó came in and mowed down the next two frames, giving hitters a very different look from the starter.
Griffin Jax followed with two scoreless frames, and then Tyler Duffey closed things out in a clean ninth. Another shutout showing from the relief corps.
Minnesota's bullpen, despite losing one of the best relievers in baseball on the eve of Opening Day, has been phenomenal. Elite by any measure. Elite! Who would've expected this based on the personnel we saw forming this unit?
Twins relief pitchers – from Canó to Jax to Joe Smith to Jhoan Duran to Emilio Pagán and beyond – are getting it done. Rocco is putting them in spots to succeed, as has been his trademark. His bullpen ranked third in the majors in WAR in 2019, and second in 2020.
Baldelli quietly has an argument as the best bullpen manager in baseball.
2: Small ball pays off in the 5th inning.
I'm not a big fan of small-ball tactics generally, and based on his tendencies I think it's safe to say Baldelli feels the same. (I mean, that 2019 team was basically a giant middle-finger to small ball as a concept.)
But both of us could agree that it made sense to take such an approach in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game after Royce Lewis drew a leadoff walk. Nick Gordon, the #9 hitter who entered with a paltry .596 OPS, stepped in and got the bunt call. He executed, bringing up the team's best hitter with one out and a man in scoring position.
Byron Buxton? Oh, you know he executed.
Even if it hadn't worked out, bunting with Gordon there is a move that simply made sense. Baldelli has shown he'll go that route when it's warranted. You wonder if the dead-ball trend might compel this calculating manager to keep adjusting in that direction.
3: Buxton was on the field.
There's been a whole bunch of grumbling lately about the team's "kid-gloves treatment" of Buxton. (Much of it, you'll be shocked to learn, coming from the aforementioned desperate-for-attention outlet.) Apparently it is now controversial to take a cautious approach in a 162-game season with your vitally important superstar who also happens to be banged up, and maybe the most injury-prone player in the league.
Yes, Baldelli and the Twins have opened up about their intentions to manage Buxton's workload this year in hopes of keeping him off the injured list. Their plan has been successful so far, in every way. Buxton has avoided the IL – despite a few scares that continue to affect him – and the Twins are six games above .500, leading the division, even with him playing only two-thirds of the time.
Winning the division and having Buxton healthy for the playoffs should be this team's utmost aspiration. It's a combination they haven't yet been able to achieve yet. Right now, Baldelli has the Twins on track to do both. And people are still complaining. SMH.
Some of us appreciate you, Rocco, and see the things you're doing to help this team exceed expectations. Many won't. But that's the name of the game.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Cody Christie for an article, 3 Ways Joe Smith Is Better Than Advertised
One of Minnesota's most significant needs this winter was bullpen depth, but the team's biggest free-agent acquisition was a veteran pitcher with 14-years of big-league experience. Like many relievers, Joe Smith has gone through some volatility, but there are some signs that his 2022 performance is sustainable.
At the end of 2021, Smith posted some impressive numbers with Seattle as he posted a 2.00 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP. While those numbers are great, he has improved on them to start the 2022 campaign. His WHIP has dropped to 0.68, and he has yet to allow an earned run in 12 appearances. Smith also has a .155 WOBA, which ranks in the top 2% of the league. He has surrendered two walks, and one of them was intentional.
Batters haven't been able to make consistent contact against him. Right-handed batters have gone 2-for-23 (.087 BA) with a 5-to-0 strikeout to walk ratio and a .130 SLG. Lefties have hit 3-for-12 (.250 BA) without allowing an extra-base hit. Both walks he has allowed have come against southpaws, and he only has one strikeout versus lefties. Obviously, these numbers are likely not sustainable throughout an entire season, but some other signs indicate him having more success in 2022.
Smith doesn't have the velocity many associate with chasing pitches, but he is among baseball's best at inducing swings at these pitches. So far in 2022, he has a chase rate that ranks in the 94th percentile. If batters are chasing pitches out of the zone, it is unlikely for them to make consistent contact, which is tied to his pitch usage (see below). While this is a great outcome, he has struggled to get swings and misses on pitches in the zone.
Smith is not getting strikeouts, which can be problematic for a reliever. His K% is 7% lower than his career mark, and his Whiff% is in the 28th percentile. Over his last three seasons, he has averaged 8.3 K/9, but that total has dropped to 5.2 K/9. However, his slider and sinker have resulted in a 25 Whiff%, which is an increase over 2021.
Change in Pitch Usage
Minnesota has done an excellent job with relievers and helping them identify the best pitch mix to maximize their value. Smith continues to use his sinker nearly 40% of the time, which matches his recent track record. However, he has flipped how much he is using his slider and his fastball. Last season, he used his slider nearly 35% of the time, but he is using it 22% this season. His fastball usage jumped from 23.4% last year to 38.1% in 2022. Both his sinker and four-seamer have produced a .125 SLG, while his slider was responsible for the only extra-base hit he has allowed.
Overall, his velocity has dropped on all of his pitches, but he has increased the active spin% to keep hitters off-balanced. His fastball and slider have declined by 1.8 mph, and his slider has declined by 0.5 MPH. Smith has been able to use his change in pitch mix to coax hitters into making poor contact. They have posted a 48.3 topped %, which is 10% higher than what he produced in 2021. Some of these topped pitches may find holes, but the results have been successful so far this season.
Do you think Smith will be able to continue these trends? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Is Danny Coulombe For Real?
The first sign of evolution for a reliever is always velocity—is he throwing harder in a pitching landscape so focused on the radar gun? To end this streak of questions, no. His average fastball has reached a new high in 2022 (91.6 MPH), but the sample of 11 innings is negligible. Looking at 2021, the year featuring the bulk of his Twins innings, the fastball remained unchanged from his “heyday” with Oakland: 90.6 MPH sitting in a sea of relative sameness.
The secret sauce in Danny Coulombe’s recipe is his off-speed collection. Unique amongst most bullpen arms, he often spins both a curve and a slider (with a healthy seasoning of changeups in 2022), giving Coulombe plenty of options to net his outs. When talking to David Laurila, Coulombe mentioned that he developed the slider to throw off hitters able to key in on the “hump” noticeable in most curveballs. The new pitch was not specifically for aiding in platoon splits, but more valuable weapons are never bad for a pitcher.
Coulombe is the kind of arm who could use as many options as possible. The public movement data from Statcast paints a rather average portrait of a reliever. Despite having enough red in his percentile rankings to make Senator Joseph McCarthy irate, his curveball’s vertical movement is the only pitch with outstanding characteristics. In fact, most of his pitches are pretty poor by advanced movement measurements.
Let’s talk about the slider. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Twins have coaxed him into tossing it more often than before. In Minnesota, Coulombe has thrown 36.5% sliders against 31.7% with the Dodgers and Athletics before 2020. But, oddly, the slider is not that great of a pitch. It produced a .304 xwOBA in 2021, which is fine but nowhere near elite; his curveball was far better at a .169 xwOBA mark. What gives?
Command might be the answer. Movement profiles and batted ball data are great, but the goal of all pitchers is still to throw the ball where they want. The first two heatmaps are for his slider and curveball locations respectively before joining the Twins, the next two afterward.
Aha! That looks significant. The Twins have moved Coulombe towards throwing his breaking balls more off the plate rather than in the strike zone. The reason should be apparent; off-speed pitches thrown for strikes are dangerous when not adequately commanded, and hitters across the board perform worse against breaking balls outside of the zone.
So what do we make of this? To venture a guess, Coulombe will generally avoid loud contact thanks to his decision to now throw breakers out of the zone, but he may run an elevated walk rate because of it. The aforementioned plan is excellent when the pitcher is working ahead, but without an 0-1 or 1-2 count, Coulombe may struggle more than your average arm. At the moment, his first-pitch strike % sits a touch below the league average for relievers (58.1% vs. 60.2%).
Gripping stuff, yes. “A pitcher needs to get ahead to succeed” isn’t new knowledge by any stretch of the imagination, but this is more “Coulombe’s entire plan succeeds or fails depending on whether he can get ahead of the count.” So far this year, the philosophy has yielded iffy xFIP numbers, and his early-count strike rate may reveal a house of cards. As always, though, it is still May, and performances can vary in the coming months. We shall see how successful Coulombe is in the future with the Twins plan, but he is undeniably a different pitcher.
So what do you think? Can Danny Coulombe be a reliable arm out of the Twins bullpen all season, or maybe even longer? Leave your COMMENTS below.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Change of Luck
Last Week's Game Results:
Game 23 | MIN 2, BAL 1: Paddack, Bullpen Power Twins in Win
Game 24 | MIN 7, BAL 2: Twins Stay Hot Behind Ryan, Bats
Game 25 | BAL 9, MIN 4: Bad Start, Bad Defense, Bad Luck
Game 26 | BAL 5, MIN 3: Solo Shots Shatter Twins
Game 27 | MIN 2, OAK 1: Game of Firsts Ends in Victory
Game 28 | MIN 1, OAK 0: Polanco and Pitching Power Another Win
Game 29 | MIN 4, OAK 3: Bullpen Completes Sweep of Oakland
Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/2 through Sun, 5/8
Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 18-11)
Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: +25)
Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (3.0 GA)
NEWS & NOTES
Things looked grim after Carlos Correa took a pitch off the hand on Thursday night in Baltimore, with post-game X-rays suggesting the potential of a non-displaced fracture. Twins fans couldn't be blamed for their incredulity ... another HBP knocking out a superstar player for an extended period??
But unlike last year, when Byron Buxton's broken hand was just another big ol' drop in the endless bucket of bad luck, the Twins again got some unexpected positive news upon further testing, with a Friday CT scan showing only a bruise. Correa avoided the injured list, just like Buxton did last month after his scary slide into second at Fenway.
Even with Correa staying active, the Twins still called up top prospect Royce Lewis to fill in at shortstop over the weekend, adding an extra level of energy to their home series against Oakland. Lewis has gotten his MLB career off to a solid start, with three hits in his first 10 at-bats.
Buxton himself appears to have dodged another scary setback. He left Saturday's game due to tightness in his right hip – the same spot where a significant strain cost him six weeks last year – but the the new issue was described as "very low level" and he too avoided an IL trip.
The good breaks in the wake of bad news didn't stop there.
COVID reared its ugly head in the Twins clubhouse once again, with manager Rocco Baldelli as well as Luis Arraez and Dylan Bundy all testing positive on Thursday. But by the end of the weekend, no one else on the team had registered a positive test, which qualifies as a big relief given the level of contagion we've seen with this virus.
It wasn't all happy outcomes, however.
Trevor Larnach suffered a groin strain that forced him to IL, which is especially unfortunate because he was really cooking (as we'll cover shortly). The team is confident that his absence will be a short one – hopefully only around the 10-day minimum – but still the Twins will be without one of their most effective hitters of late. Alex Kirilloff has activated after a rehab stint in St. Paul, but the jury is very much out on his ability to make an impact with his balky wrist.
And, ss it turns out, Miguel Sanó's balky left knee was serious enough to require a surgical remedy. He underwent a procedure to repair torn meniscus, and figures to be out for a couple of months, though no firm timetable has been established. With top prospect José Miranda called up to replace him and likely to see a bulk of time at first base, it's possible that Sanó will return to find his job taken. He may be reaching the end of the road in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Chris Paddack left Sunday's start with inflammation in his right elbow, which was a big issue last year when he battled a partially torn UCL that required a PRP injection. Very unsettling, but we'll see what comes out from further exams on Sunday. I guess we've learned better than to jump to negative conclusions.
This pitching staff is incredible. What else can you say? Even within the context of a drastic decline in offense across the league, Twins pitchers are simply crushing it. The past week featured four games in which opponents were held to two runs or fewer, including a pair of 2-1 squeakers and a 1-0 victory.
A certain amount of good luck is inherently at play when you're scratching out wins like these. But the staff is legitimately winning games, and it's valuable to bank them while the bats continue to lag amidst a league-wide hitting scourge.
Great performances are coming from all corners of the rotation and bullpen. Sonny Gray returned from the injured list on Saturday with an electric performance against Oakland, striking out seven over four scoreless innings. The previous day saw Josh Winder obliterate the A's in his second MLB start: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. The combination of he and Joe Ryan, who looked good once again in Tuesday's win over Baltimore and now sports a 1.63 ERA, is almost too much to handle. This franchise has been starved for impact rookie pitchers. Now we've got ALL the impact rookie pitchers.
Of course, this conversation wouldn't be complete without a mention of Jhoan Duran, who's been just as uplifting to the bullpen as Ryan and Winder in the rotation.
Duran was on his way to an appearance in the Lowlights column this week after allowing two homers and taking the loss on Thursday. Then he went out on Saturday and cemented a 1-0 win with two absurdly dominant innings. He allowed no hits. He struck out five. He got nine whiffs on 32 pitches.
I'm not sure prime Aroldis Chapman comparisons are out of bounds at this point. Duran is lighting up the radar gun and flat-out blowing people away. His only weakness so far has been an odd proneness to the long ball – with four of the 10 hits he's allowed in 14 ⅔ leaving the yard – but that seems very flukish to me.
The bullpen, in general, has been simply phenomenal. Over the past week Twins relievers allowed just three earned runs in 33 innings, good for a 0.87 ERA with a 38-to-6 K/BB ratio in 31 innings. The shockingly effective relief unit was absolutely pivotal in a weekend sweep of the Athletics.
While the offense has been underwhelming overall, it's nice to see some secondary contributors stepping up, especially with Correa and Buxton hobbled.
Larnach has been making a very strong impression, and getting plenty of tread. He started five of seven games last week before the groin injury surfaced, going 6-for-15 with a pair of doubles and five runs scored. Jorge Polanco notched nine hits in 25 at-bats, including the decisive solo shot in Saturday's win. José Miranda launched his first career home run and made it count in a 2-1 Friday win. Gilberto Celestino tallied six hits in 15 at-bats to push his average to .324.
It was a tough week for Bundy. His positive COVID diagnosis came on the heels of a nightmare outing against his former team in Baltimore. Over 3 ⅔ innings, he was touched up for a career-high nine earned runs, with the Orioles piling up 11 hits, two walks and two home runs in a ballpark that had been suppressing offense to the extreme.
Bundy had given up six earned runs over six innings in his previous start, so he's seen his ERA balloon from 0.59 to 5.76 in a span of two outings. No one expected the extraordinarily strong start to sustain, but this is a jarring regression to the mean by any standard.
It's the kind of all-out implosion that can put an inexpensive back-of-rotation flier like Bundy on the ropes very quickly in a suddenly crowded rotation.
Rotation adjustments lie ahead of the Twins. Even with Paddack going down, their starting mix is full between Gray, Ryan, Winder, Bundy, and Chris Archer. Bailey Ober is expected back in relatively short order.
An overabundance of starting pitching depth is certainly not a "problem" anyone expected the Twins to deal with, and it's almost funny we're discussing it. Nevertheless, here we are.
Even if they're cool to continue rolling with six, what happens when Ober is ready to come back? How many more bad outings can Bundy afford? Is it possible a move to the bullpen might breathe some life into his upper-80s fastball?
Things get a bit more challenging this week with the Astros and Guardians coming to town. The Twins will need to play better ball than they did against Oakland if they want to win these series. How much will Buxton and Correa play? We shall see.
TUESDAY, 5/10: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Justin Verlander v. RHP Joe Ryan
WEDNESDAY, 5/11: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Jose Urquidy v. RHP Chris Archer
THURSDAY, 5/12: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Luis Garcia v. RHP Josh Winder
FRIDAY, 5/13: GUARDIANS @ TWINS – RHP Shane Bieber v. RHP Sonny Gray
SATURDAY, 5/14: GUARDIANS @ TWINS – RHP Triston McKenzie v. TBD
SUNDAY, 5/15: GUARDIANS @ TWINS – RHP Zach Plesac v. RHP Joe Ryan
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nash Walker for an article, 3 Reasons to Believe in These Twins
1. The Central looks weak
Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming.
Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early.
The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City.
The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited.
The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup.
2. They have a competent starting rotation
It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape.
Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3.
There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality.
3. They have depth, with more on the way
In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed.
Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart.
The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen.
The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins 7, Tigers 1: Twins Complete Sweep, Correa Comes up Clutch
SP Bailey Ober: 3.2 IP,6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 49 strikes (67.1%)
Home Runs: None
Top 3 WPA: Trevor Larnach (.150), Gilberto Celestino (.141), Cody Stashak (.096)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Pregame Notes/Lineup Decisions (with Results)
#1: Facing left-hander Tarik Skubal, Rocco Baldelli started Luis Arraez, Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler.
How it went? Against Skubal, Arraez and Kepler each went 0-for-3. Larnach, however, went 2-for-2.
#2: After DHing on Tuesday and playing center field on Wednesday, Byron Buxton was not in the starting lineup on Thursday afternoon. Gilberto Celestino, who is certainly a candidate to be sent back to St. Paul when rosters are reduced after Sunday’s games, is making his second start in center field in the past three games.
How it went? Celestino reached base in each of his first three plate appearances. He had an RBI infield single in his first at-bat. He laid down a nice bunt in his second plate appearance and reached on a throwing error. In his third at-bat, he hit a 100 mph line drive down the right-field line for a double. With Celestino, the defense is always solid. In addition, he ranged to the gap to make a very nice sliding catch in the 8th inning.
#3: There were hopes that Gary Sanchez could start behind the plate on Thursday. He was not quite ready so Ryan Jeffers started his third straight game behind the plate, including the day game after the night game.
How it went? Well, Jeffers was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, but he did a nice job behind the plate.
Miguel Sano has a minor knee strain. That is why he is not starting against the left-hander and Arraez is back at first base.
Ober Labors, Leaves with Injury
Bailey Ober clearly didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday afternoon. It’s not that he was bad. He wasn’t. He threw strikes at a good rate (67%). He missed 12 bats. But he really had to work to strand base runners. He gave up six hits and two walks and somehow worked his way out of those situations and gave up just one run.
Unfortunately, Ober left the game early. With two outs in the top of the fourth inning, right after a balk, he gave up a single that gave the Tigers their first (and only) run. After the pitch, Ober hobbled off the mound, grabbed his upper right leg, and bent at the waist. Clearly, he was not going to proceed. Cody Stashak came in and stranded another Tigers runner. Tyler Duffey worked a scoreless inning.
Griffin Jax ended the game with three strong innings to record the save.
The team, a couple of innings later, confirmed that it was right groin tightness for Ober.
Correa’s Biggest Hit… So far.
Yeah, I know that his home run was crushed and immensely impressive, but Carlos Correa came through with the biggest hit of his short Twins career. Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Correa came up with the bases loaded. In his two previous at-bats, he had exit velocities of 95 and 106 mph. On a 3-2 count, Correa hit a ball 108 mph toward the gap in left-center field, over Willi Castro’s head. With the Tigers’ fourth error of the game tacked on, the bases were emptied and the Twins led 5-1. Gio Urshela followed with a single to left field for a 6-1 Twins lead.
To this point, Correa is hitting the ball really hard, as you can see from the top row in the chart below. However, it appears that he is hitting a lot of ground balls. He also came into Thursday’s game having struck out 32.8% of the time. For his career, Correa has struck out just under 21% of his plate appearances. In 2021, he struck out just over 18% of the time. In other words, he's going to be just fine.
Three hits and four balls hit over 100 mph on this day should help him relax and start putting up the numbers that he has over his career.
In addition, despite his offensive woes early in the season, Correa's defense has been consistently terrific.
The Twins will travel to Tampa to take on the Rays this weekend. Pitching matchups for the series include:
Friday 6:10: Dylan Bundy (3-0, 0.59 ERA) vs RHP Corey Kluber (0-1, 3.68 ERA) Saturday 3:10: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs LHP Shane McClanahan (1-1, 2.45 ERA) Sunday 12:10: Chris Paddack (0-2, 3.68 ERA) vs TBD Postgame Interviews
SUN MON TUE WED THUR TOT Winder 61 0 0 0 0 61 Jax 0 0 10 0 46 56 Thielbar 0 0 27 0 0 27 Duffey 0 0 19 0 8 27 Pagán 0 0 23 0 0 23 Smith 13 0 0 10 0 23 Coulombe 0 0 0 20 0 20 Duran 18 0 0 0 0 18 Stashak 0 0 0 0 18 18
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to David Youngs for an article, Twins 1, Royals 0: Joe Cool Dazzles, Slough of Singles
Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan. 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K (65 pitches, 57 strikes, 67%)
Home Runs: none
Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.383), Emilio Pagan (.181), Joe Smith (.137)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
The Joe Ryan Experience was in mid-season form on Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Coming off a stellar start at Fenway on April 15th, the young Twins' ace mirrored his performance in America's Heartland...only better. Ryan notched his first shutout appearance of the season against the Royals, giving up only two hits to a sneaky-good Kansas City offense. The only two hits for the Royals came on a Michael Taylor single in the third inning and a one-out Andrew Benintendi triple in the fourth.
And while the fourth inning triple provided a threat, Nick Gordon caught a Salvador Perez pop-out in center field and gunned Benintendi out at the plate to extinguish the fire.
Ryan may not have the 'ace aura' that is associated with a team's top arm, but the numbers shun the doubters. Through three starts and 14 innings, the San Francisco native has held hitters to a .168 batting average with 11 strikeouts and just four walks. All signs are pointing towards an incredible 2022 season for the 25-year-old.
The Twins' offense was far from perfect but showed great poise after a pair of dry games at the plate. The one through five hitters in the Twins batting order each notched singles along with two from nine-hitter Nick Gordon. Trevor Larnach continued his impressive start to the season when he roped a line-drive single to left field in the seventh inning. Despite an overall offensive slump from the team, Larnach's start to the season has been incredibly promising.
Just one week after a frightening injury while sliding into second base, franchise staple Byron Buxton returned to the lineup in the DH role on Thursday. Buxton laced a single in the fifth inning that sent Nick Gordon to third and reinstated his hitting ways. As noted on the broadcast from Dick Bremer, the combo of Nick Gordon and Buxton as nine-hitter and leadoff man has the potential to be incredibly exciting.
While the Twins' offense continues to warm up, the pitching staff has done an incredible job pulling their weight. The bullpen was no exception in the late innings on Thursday afternoon. The legend of Jhoan Duran pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning with a pair of strikeouts on just 15 pitches. There's no doubt that the organization has found Duran's home as a rock-solid, late-inning flame thrower.
Submariner Joe Smith followed suit with a scoreless eighth inning while Emilio Pagan garnered his first save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning.
After a week-long road trip, the Twins head back home to Target Field to take on division-foe Chicago at 7:10 pm CST. Bailey Ober (1-1, 3.27 ERA) will square off against Michael Kopech (0-0, 1.00 ERA) in a matchup between arguably the two best teams in the AL Central. It's also Grateful Dead night..buy those tickets!
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to renabanena for an article, 15 Things More Pleasant than this Twins/Dodgers Series
THE Gary Sánchez bat flip When you order buffalo wings with ranch but accidentally get blue cheese instead Seeing a beardless Josh Donaldson for the first time Going to the dentist, which is a wholly underrated experience. Every Eddie Rosario error ever made Gotti The week after the Will Smith slap, when no one talked about everything except for the Will Smith slap Whatever this was Losing on Opening Day Going to the game on Dollar Dog Night only to realize Dollar Dog Night is tomorrow Leaving your Eddie Rosario bobblehead at the office before the pandemic only to have it stolen *Sigh* Accidentally doing weird things with your mouth in public because you forgot that you’re not wearing a mask The ACT’s AND the SAT’s Somehow this too, because time heals all wounds
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, So... Why Trade Taylor Rogers?
By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete.
The Pursuit of Value
By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from.
In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless.
When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him
Relievers are Unpredictable
Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle.
Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade.
In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt.
That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run.
Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below!
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Assessing the Twins Trade for Chris Paddack
First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers.
Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there.
Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him.
Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move.
Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks.
Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal.
Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year.
The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around.
A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around.
Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys.
When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance.
Time to play ball.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Area Fan Transitions Seamlessly from Lockout Panic to Roster Panic
Lisa Edmund is just about to lose it.
“Where are the pitchers? Where’s the shortstop? Do we have any catchers left?”
Edmund, 44, is a Minnesota Twins fan since childhood. She spent most of her winter fretting about the owners’ lockout. As the rhetoric grew harsher and games started getting canceled, she “totally panicked.” When the two sides finally came to an agreement last week, the Belle Plaine native was profoundly relieved, right?
“The regular season starts tomorrow, basically. They made a bunch of trades and still have gaping holes in the roster. This cannot possibly be the plan. I feel like I am taking crazy pills.”
When it was pointed out that the Twins did acquire a top-of-the-rotation starter in Sonny Gray, Edmund grew agitated.
“Did they get four more Sonny Grays? Can he come out of the bullpen on his off-days? Do they really expect to contend this year? And if they don’t, why did they trade Chase Petty? I’m trying to find any sort of road map here and I’m coming up wanting.”
While the front office has urged patience, Edmund refuses to heed that advice.
“I’ve seen this before. Remember when they brought up Jason Bartlett as the 25th man even though it made no sense and then he just went, 'Oops, retired, smell ya later' and we all just had to deal with the fact that they only had 24 guys to bring north and just started asking around if anyone else felt like going? That’s where we’re at now. We just dumped all of Josh Donaldson’s contract, we have money to burn and spaces to fill. Last I checked, we picked up Jose Godoy to be a less-swole Ben Rortvedt. Terrific. I should get season tickets because I’ve never seen a team play without a shortstop for 81 games, oughta be a blast. This is madness.”
When asked if she was actually happy that the season was saved, Edmund took a moment to ponder the question and light another cigarette.
“I guess so? I would have been miserable if the owners banged the season, but I’m miserable now, too. It’s like riding a bike, but the bike is existential sadness and it doesn’t have a bullpen.”
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to renabanena for an article, Which Twins Made Santa's Nice List?
The man is the definition of nice. It was nice when St. Pohlad pulled through by resigning Buxton to ten more Christmases. Buxton was a lock for the nice list this year.
During the darkest days of doom and gloom, Joe Ryan’s fastball lit up the room. Without Ryan on the team, we may have burst at the seam. We can’t wait for next season, with Ryan’s continued dominance as the main reason. Thank you for coming to Minnesota, Joe. Our favorite starting pitcher with a sick flow.
Uber is often attached to another Twins’ starting pitcher, but now this term also applies to the savior of the Twins’ starting pitching this season. This young rookie stood up to the test when the entire rotation fell to injury. This made Ober a no-brainer as our Rookie of the Year.
No one said they had to be current Twins. Morneau’s soothing voice of reason pacified the crowds during every blowout. Without Morneau behind the booth, chaos may have erupted among Twins fans. Each game without him felt more like a grind than some of the worst games of the season. Even years after retirement, Morneau continues to be the MVP.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
You may be wondering to yourself, where are the Olsen twins? The notoriously anonymous sisters have been quietly building their fashion empire, Elizabeth and James, behind the scenes. We miss seeing the sisters together on screen, but we respect their wishes for confidentiality.
Taylor and Tyler Rogers
Tyler isn’t a Twin, but it felt appropriate to include him on the list as well. The warm and fuzzies that fans felt watching Taylor and Tyler support each other throughout the season warranted a spot for both twins. In addition, Taylor’s All-Star season and Tyler’s snubbed All-Star season made them a lock on every baseball fan’s list.
No explanation needed
Ralph Garza Jr.
He’s simply Santa’s favorite. (Author's Edit: We’re wondering if there’s some nepotism at play.)
Gray Duck Tavern at Target Field
Maybe not a Twin on paper, but this is Santa’s list, and he will do whatever he darn pleases. Without Gray Duck Tavern, the Twins Daily staff’s summer get-together would’ve been about 100 bomba juices short, which actually might’ve been a good thing.
Thank you all for reading this year. May you all have a wonderful holiday and only receive season’s wishes for baseball purposes.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat Elected to the Hall of Fame
Tony Oliva's playing career was over in 1976, and Jim Kaat's career ended in 1983. Neither was able to garner the support needed on the BBWAA's ballots, as both were well short of the 75% required for election. For many players, this signals the end of their chances to get the call from Cooperstown. However, Oliva and Kaat have gotten a second chance through the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Era Committee elections.
The Golden Days Era ballot consists of 10 candidates that the BBWAA's Historical Overview Committee nominates. A 16-person committee of Hall of Famers, veteran baseball executives, and historians/media members is charged with voting on the candidates. Twelve votes are needed for a player to reach the 75% threshold required for induction.
On Sunday, Oliva and Kaat finally received the call. Both were named on 12 of the 16 ballots. Each will be inducted to Cooperstown as part of the induction ceremony on July 24, 2022.
Now in both in their 80s, frustration has likely followed each as they dealt with the election process in parts of nearly four decades. Another level of frustration was added back in the summer of 2020 as the National Baseball Hall of Fame decided to postpone the Era Committee elections due to the COVID pandemic. Although there is still uncertainty about the pandemic, this winter was acceptable for the committee votes to occur,
Oliva's playing career statistics haven't changed since 1976, but he has become so much more than the player he was on the field. His career accolades include AL Rookie of the Year, three batting titles, eight-time All-Star, led the AL in hits five times, and a Gold Glove. Oliva finished runner-up for the AL MVP in two different seasons, and he was in the top-20 in eight other campaigns. He played at a Hall of Fame level for eight years before his right knee slammed into a sprinkler head while diving for a line drive in 1971.
Knee injuries plagued Oliva throughout much of his career. When the AL adopted the designated hitter role in 1973, Oliva never played in the field again during a regular-season game. During the 1976 season, he struggled to a .494 OPS in 67 games. His playing career was done, but he joined the team's coaching staff the following year.
For 15-years, he spent time as a first base coach, hitting coach, and roving minor-league instructor. Oliva served as the hitting coach when the Twins won the 1987 World Series, and he was the bench coach for the 1991 World Series team. Oliva is the only individual who had an on-field role in all three of the team's World Series appearances.
Off the field, Oliva became an ambassador to baseball throughout the upper Midwest. He provides Spanish-language broadcasting for the Twins. Oliva is a staple as part of the team's Twins Caravan, making trips to small towns throughout Twins Territory. He and his wife, Gordette, have lived in Minnesota for over five decades as the Olivas impacted the community.
Kaat's resume also puts him among the best all-time. His longevity is something to behold and it was a large part of his Cooperstown case. During a 25-year career, he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 2,461 strikeouts in 4,530 1/3 innings. He was an original member of the Twins franchise as he came with the club when they relocated from Washington. His first 15 big-league seasons were spent in the Senator/Twins organization. He was a two-time All-Star with the Twins, and he led the AL in wins, starts, and innings pitched back in 1966.
He played with five different organizations by the end of his career and averaged over 180 innings per season. His defensive prowess puts him into rarified air. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards, which is tied with Brooks Robinson for second all-time. Only Greg Maddux and his 18 Gold Gloves rank ahead of Kaat on the all-time list.
Congratulations to both players and their families. It was a long time coming, but the honor is well deserved.
What is your favorite memory of Tony-O or Jim Kaat? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, CBA Musings (12/2): What’s Happening and What’s Next?
As we’ve discussed for weeks, the basic premise is that all Major League Baseball functions relating to teams and players at the highest level have ceased. Ownership and Rob Manfred are an entity, while the players and their union are the other. Everything else hangs in the balance. Despite the free-agent frenzy we’ve had the past week, or so, team sites are desolate wastelands giving nods only to Manfred's statement and players of yesteryear. Rosters are all but wiped out, and it’s as if the players do not exist (unless, of course, MLB can profit off of their likenesses through the official shop).
There’s plenty of talking points to go over from the last week, and while free agency took most of the headlines, each of these subjects should be touched on. In no particular order, let’s get into it.
The Ball Problem
All year long, Major League Baseball was working through issues with the chief instrument in play during a game, the ball. First looking to rid the use of sticky substances and then going through in-game checks to verify compliance, new instructions had been introduced to the playing field. The only problem was that the league itself was playing unfairly.
Thanks to research from astrophysicist Meredith Wills, a story broke regarding baseball using two different balls during the 2021 season. We had no-hitters popping off like crazy, and then all of a sudden, they were gone. In Bradford William Davis’ piece for Insider, he talks about the distrust the implications surrounding the ball have brought for players. MLB could be incentivized to create more offense in high-profile games. The league has many gambling partnerships, and changing the chief implement could also work to their benefit. With a lockout looming, cheating players out of a level of consistency when their entire earning power comes from statistical performance seems disingenuous at best. Everyone should be operating on a level playing field, but the league itself decided to tamper with the main component.
In a piece filed to ESPN by Jesse Rogers, we are given a general idea of the negotiations regarding a new CBA center around. Major League Baseball has proposed expanded playoffs, going to 14 teams, which would benefit ownership with increased opportunities for revenue. The expanded playoffs would allow for division winners to pick their Wild Card opponents.
With 14 teams making the Postseason, players are worried about a lack of competitive drive for organizations. Half of the league making the final tournament could depress a reason to spend in the offseason and further stifle wages for players.
Another proposal from the league is to add a lottery system, giving each non-playoff organization a shot at the number one pick. The top three selections would become a part of this lottery with the hopes of removing a desire to tank and generate a beneficial draft standing.
Evan Drellich’s piece at The Athletic talks about the issues creating the most discourse between the two sides. For the players, things are focused on the years it takes to reach free agency and revenue sharing implications. The owners are concerned about the luxury tax and raising the minimum salary thresholds. Proposals are often presented in a give-and-take scenario. The players will need to get creative regarding free agency and compensation as ownership has dug in on their stance regarding those topics.
Understanding the Lockout
With baseball currently shelved, there are some principles to understand as we move forward. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich put together an excellent primer earlier this week. By definition, a lockout is the work of ownership or the league. Those in charge have effectively told players, or their workers, that they are unwilling to work together unless the players accept their deal. On the flip side, a strike would be the players suggesting their services are no longer available until an agreement favors their position. Up until games are missed, a strike is not on the table.
Because of the lockout, we will not see traditional offseason events take place. The Winter Meetings have been canceled, and that at least temporarily includes a postponement of the Rule 5 draft. Pitchers and catchers are set to report for Spring Training beginning on February 14, 2022. If we are still in this holding pattern come mid-to-late January, that’s when worry will start to feel real.
This lockout is the first work stoppage in 26 years, going back to the 1994-95 strike. Lockouts, rather than strikes, are more capable of being overcome. To the average fan, anything missed in the offseason generally flies under the radar. Bud Selig needed Cal Ripken Jr.’s Iron Man streak and the Home Run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to save his sport last time. Rob Manfred would need something similar to draw fans’ interest back in should a strike commence, and it would be in the best interest of both parties to avoid that outcome.
While locked out, the intention of collective bargaining must be to negotiate in good faith. This will be interesting as Major League Baseball is coming off a Covid-shortened season in which both sides put many of their concerns and qualms out in public. It was evident that there was a wide gap and plenty of distrust between the two parties during Spring 2020, and that was before the CBA had expired. What About the FA Frenzy
As the lockout loomed, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA decided to move the non-tender deadline to November 30. With the December 1 deadline for a work stoppage effectively implemented, we saw free agents signing at a blistering pace. This is something baseball has often lagged behind the NBA and NFL. With free agency becoming an event this season, The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli wondered if a transaction deadline isn’t necessary.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told her, “When you have an ending, it forces decisions, like the trade deadline. Nothing ever gets done until that last week, and then it’s a flurry of deals the last two days because people know it’s game over, so they are forced to make a decision. I like that, it makes people just finally get in the game and pick a spot. Pick a lane to drive in. You are either in it or not in it, you are either in for a penny or a pound or whatever it is. I like that aspect of it.”
Players have previously shot down the idea that a deadline would be a good thing as it would force them into decisions when time is the only thing on their side. One key difference between baseball and other sports is that MLB doesn’t have a salary cap. The piece highlighted agents and executives' stances, providing many different ways to think about a deadline. At its core, though, we are left with this parting thought, “It gets talked about a lot, but it’s never been something that seemingly has momentum,” (Ross) Atkins said. “So, what is the reason for that?”
What’s On the Other Side?
We’ve seen a busy couple of weeks with the lockout looming, but it could very well pale in comparison to what happens following the resumption of work. Travis Sawchik went back in time to look at what took place following the 1994 work stoppage.
Although we’ve had a glut of free-agent signings in recent days, the reality is that there’s still so much yet to do. Arbitration figures must be exchanged, and hundreds of players are still looking for new homes in 2022. All of that must be completed, and we have no idea how long this lockout process will take.
The calendar should be what we look to when trying to understand what’s to come. January is a crucial month, and where the divide lies then will likely determine future action for the sport. Spring Training games are the most reasonable to miss, and players would probably welcome that situation. Should business not commence until February, though, fans will likely experience one of the busiest months in history should the league look to start on time. Teams that have shopping yet to do, or transactions needing to be made, could be in for complete chaos with hopes of getting everything accomplished. As Twins fans, that’s potentially exciting with a payroll sitting at just $91 million and a roster yet to be filled out.
We’re just getting started in this process, and so much more will be publicly available through the coming weeks and months. It will be challenging to determine what’s tactic and what has merit, but make no mistake that the league is set to use its platform as their megaphone. With MLB Network becoming an ownership talk show, MLB.com removing the workers, and teams disassociating from their talent, the players union will need to sway public perception with a much smaller outlet.
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VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Offseason Status Update: Early Maneuvering and Rumors
Roster and Payroll Outlook as of Nov 10th, 2021
In each of these "status update" posts, we'll share an up-to-the-moment look at the 40-man roster as well as the projected 2022 roster/payroll.
On the 40-man front, we've already seen a cascade of cuts, with the Twins needing to create significant room for new acquisitions, 60-day Injured List activations, and protecting key prospects from the Rule 5 draft.
Since season's end, the team has already removed Drew Maggi, Rob Refsnyder, John Gant, Andrew Albers, Kyle Barraclough, Nick Vincent, Ian Gibaut and Luke Farrell. That's in addition to Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colome and Michael Pineda, who all exited via free agency.
That's eight cuts to go along with one addition (which we'll cover shortly), leaving the number of spaces currently occupied at 30. However, this doesn't account for players who will need to be re-added from the 60-day IL (Dobnak, Kirilloff and Maeda at the very least) nor the prospects who need to be added (Lewis, Miranda, Sands, Winder -- jury's out on Enlow).
Several key questions emerge in looking at this current breakdown. Will any of Smeltzer, Stashak or Thorpe be re-added after totally lost years? Are the Twins going to retain Garlick? Will any prospects other than the aforementioned handful be protected?
Regardless, it's clear that there are still cuts yet to come, because one way or another, the front office will need more than 2-3 open spots to work with. Astudillo, Cave, Barnes, and Strotman strike me as players who are especially at risk, on the fringe of the team's plans.
Here's a look at the 2022 squad as it currently projects, from my view (courtesy of our Roster & Payroll tool😞
Cotton Claimed Off Waivers
The Twins added the former Rangers reliever on Friday, and as you'll notice above, we've now got Jharel Cotton penciled into the 2022 bullpen. That's not a lock by any means, but I don't think Minnesota would've committed a roster spot to him unless they intended to keep him. The right-hander is projected to make around $1.2M in his coming first year of arbitration eligibility.
That price tag likely compelled Texas to part ways. Cotton is coming off a solid but shortened season in the majors (30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.72 FIP) and his track record is riddled with injuries, so he's far from a sure thing. It would be tremendously disappointing if he turns out to be anywhere near the club's biggest bullpen addition, but Cotton's a clear upgrade over much of the flotsam that comprised their relief depth in 2021.
It's a bold strategy, Cotton. We'll see if it pays off.
Twins Exploring SS Market
No surprise here, but Jon Heyman reports that Minnesota is among the 13 teams "at least gauging the SS market."
As Heyman notes, the level of early competition for this group is good news for an historically great class of free agent shortstops, but less so for any needy team like the Twins that might've hoped to strike a bargain.
Aaron Gleeman has a great new piece at The Athletic analyzing this winter's SS class in depth.
Oakland Open for Business
Another development that Twins fans should have eyes on: the Athletics appear ready to blow it up. This became somewhat evident when they let their world-class manager leave for San Diego, and quotes from their GM only serve to confirm that an offseason of scaled-back spending and talent-dumping is ahead.
For teams like the Twins that are in the market for pitching and possessing robust farm systems, this is a big moment of opportunity. Oakland, as usual, is deep on arms, and there are a few specific names that jump out as candidates for immediate and dramatic impact in the rotation. Per Heyman, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea are all on the table.
Montas and Bassitt bordered on ace status in 2021. Manaea was one step behind, but still very good with a 3.91 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 9.7 K/9 rate. Because he's entering his final year of team control, and will be fairly expensive next year (~$10M), Manaea is someone the A's will be motivated to move, and will come at a lower price than the other two.
Regardless of whom they're targeting, it's a no-brainer for the Twins to engage in talks and make a push for at least one of these quality starters. The more they can reduce their reliance on the free agent pitching market, the better.
Heaney Comes Off the SP Market
There was a sense that free agency would remain in mostly a holding pattern throughout November as teams brace for an expected lockout in December. But while there certainly has been no rush out of the gates, there's already been one significant starting pitcher signing that puts the Twins on notice: Andrew Heaney inked a one-year, $8.5M deal with the Dodgers.
I don't know if Heaney was a target of particular interest to the Twins, but he's certainly the type of guy they should be eyeing as a secondary free agent addition for the rotation, given his age and upside. The fact that Los Angeles jumped on him so aggressively hints that it may not be wise to wait on other players in this range, who won't be as inclined to wait out a slow offseason as the top names.
Speaking of which, that top tier of potential FA starters might get thinned out a bit more in the coming week. Robbie Ray, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez were among the 14 players to receive qualifying offers. If any of them take it, they'll cease to be options for the Twins and others. Their deadline to make a decision is November 17th.
2 Key Additions to the Coaching Staff
Finally, in non-roster news, the Twins have already filled the two biggest needs on their coaching staff, adding a bench coach and hitting coach to replace Mike Bell (R.I.P.) and Edgar Varela. The addition of David Popkins leaked in late October but was made official on Monday, when the Twins also announced the hiring of former Padres manager Jayce Tingler.
Tingler, 40, is of a similar ilk to Rocco Baldelli in that he's relatively young (40) and was considered a rising managerial star in the game before things went sideways in 2021. He was NL Manager of the Year runner-up in 2020.
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VivaBomboRivera! reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, How Does the 2021 Eddie Rosario Experience End?
Atlanta is getting their first taste of the very best part of the ERE, as he demolishes whatever Los Angeles throws at him and puts the Dodgers on the brink of elimination. This is the Eddie that we all grew to love in Minnesota.
We know what comes next.
I shouldn’t say we know exactly what comes next. The beauty of the ERE is not knowing how he comes crashing back to earth. Sometimes it’ll be a garden variety mistake like missing a cutoff man or blowing through a stop sign. Others are things that approach art. Given the stakes, it seems obvious that the latter is more likely. Here are my three best guesses as to what comes next:
Absolutely nothing. Eddie Rosario continues his blistering pace and carries Atlanta to a World Series title. Minnesota let him walk and Cleveland traded him for the ghost of Pedro Sandoval, of course two of America’s most cursed sports cities would give Eddie extra mojo. An outfield assist goes horribly wrong. There’s a play at the plate. Eddie fields the liner on one hop, winds up, misses the cutoff man, misses the catcher, misses the entire stadium, sails the ball into traffic, hits a city bus, sends the bus into a transformer, causes a chain reaction power outage that exposes dire flaws in the Atlanta electrical grid, sends entire region into chaos and vandalism, Atlanta reverts to subsistence farming and bartering with a collection of feudal lords clashing over control of the humid land. Dodgers advance due to forfeit. A crucial plate appearance goes sideways. A mighty swing and there it goes, a walk-off HR! But no. The bat has also flown out of Eddie’s hands. It connects a second time with the ball in flight, sending it into the waiting talons of a migratory bird. The bird carries it for miles before dropping it over Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. It falls through a hole in the roof and hits the catwalk in foul territory. Foul ball. Eddie strikes out on the next pitch, ending the rally and Atlanta’s season. That said, I’d like to hear your thoughts below. How do these playoffs end for Eddie Rosario? Does he quit in the middle of a game to become an HVAC repair tech? Wear a Hawaiian shirt to the plate? Hide all of Atlanta’s bats and gloves before the game because he “just loves pranks.” It’s the only interesting thing left in this postseason, and I can’t wait to find out.
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VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Catcher May Be Marlins Perfect Catch
It's clear that starting pitching is Minnesota's biggest priority this winter, and the team will have to be creative to fill all the starting rotation needs. One of the avenues will undoubtedly be to explore the trade market. Free-agent starting pitching costs a premium, and the current regime hasn't been successful signing players in the past.
Enter the Miami Marlins and their surplus of starting pitching. It seems like no team can have too much starting pitching, but the Marlins have a strong farm system and other MLB-ready options. According to MLB Pipeline, six of their top-10 prospects are pitchers, including four pitchers at the Double-A level or higher.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly made it clear that upgrading catcher is a priority for the club this winter. "It's an area we're looking at," Mattingly said. "It's fairly safe to say it was some kind of message when we grabbed two catchers at the trade deadline and we also have Nick Fortes up here."
Fortes, a 2018 MLB Draft pick, posted a 1.030 OPS in 34 plate appearances. However, he has a .651 OPS in 190 minor league games. Alex Jackson and Payton Henry, both catchers acquired at the deadline, struggled after joining the Marlins organization. With no clear long-term option, the Marlins can look to the free-agent class, but Yan Gomes (98 OPS+) is the best option.
Minnesota entered the season with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos, but there were some struggles along the way. Ryan Jeffers struggled offensively at the Triple-A and MLB-level. Mitch Garver found his swing after a rough first month, but he was limited to 68 games. Minnesota's catching future is uncertain with both players' inconsistent 2021 campaign.
From the Twins' perspective, Garver seems like the more likely player to be traded. He is six years older than Jeffers, and he has multiple years of team control remaining. Trading Garver allows the Twins to give Jeffers more regular at-bats, and it also provides the team with an opportunity to bring in a left-handed veteran catcher to serve in a back-up role (unless they feel that Ben Rortvedt is ready for such a role).
Other teams with established catchers are likely to reach out to the Marlins. Last winter, Miami had discussions about acquiring Willson Contreras from the Cubs, but he is only one year away from free agency. MLB Trade Rumors identified Arizona's Carson Kelly and Pittsburgh's Jacob Stallings as other possible trade candidates. Kelly posted a 104 OPS+ in 98 games, while Stallings finished the year with a 92 OPS+ in 112 games. There's also no guarantee either of those teams are interested in trading their catchers.
To be competitive in 2022, the Twins will need to trade MLB-level assets to acquire starting pitching. Besides the catchers, other established players like Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez will likely hear their names in the rumor mill. For now, the Twins and Marlins seem like a strong match to make a trade this winter.
Do you think the Marlins and the Twins will be able to work out a deal? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Twins 5, Tigers 2
Starting Pitcher: Pineda 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Homeruns: Polanco (32)
Top 3 WPA: Pineda (0.181), Polanco (0.163), Duffey (0.121)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Jorge Polanco Give Twins Early Lead
The Twins bats got off to a quick start in this ballgame providing some instant offensive support for Michael Pineda. Luis Arraez got things started with a single and advanced to second on a weakly-hit infield single from Byron Buxton. This set the table for Jorge Polanco, who promptly drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
Michael Pineda Has Strong Final Start of the Season
With the Twins season coming to an end on Sunday, this was almost assuredly the final start of Michael Pineda’s season, and potentially his final start in a Twins uniform, as he will be a free agent at season’s end.
Pineda held the Tigers offense scoreless on three singles through the first three innings of the ballgame, before surrendering his lone run of the game in the fourth. Robbie Grossman got the Tigers fourth started with a single, before Pineda struck Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Grossman advanced to third on a Jeimer Candelario fly out, and then scored on this comebacker that struck Pineda.
Twins Add Insurance Runs in the 8th
Protecting small leads in the 9th have plagued the Twins all season, so the offense adding two insurance runs in the 8th inning to double their lead felt bigger than they usually would. After making a great catch to end the top of the inning, Byron Buxton led off the bottom of the inning and was hit by the first pitch he saw. Buxton then stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tigers catcher Eric Haase. Buxton would later come in to score on an RBI base-hit from Max Kepler.
Miguel Sano followed the Kepler hit with a one-out walk to load the bases for Nick Gordon who hit a shallow fly ball to center that did not appear deep enough to score Josh Donaldson from third, but he tagged up anyway and scored the Twins fifth run of the game thanks to an off target throw home.
Bullpen Usage Chart
FRI SAT SUN TUE WED TOT Garza Jr. 0 0 18 19 0 37 Vincent 0 0 33 0 0 33 Thielbar 0 0 17 13 0 30 Coulombe 0 37 0 0 0 37 Farrell 0 18 0 0 0 18 Duffey 17 0 0 18 21 56 Barraclough 0 33 0 0 0 33 Colomé 5 0 0 26 18 49 Minaya 19 0 0 0 22 41 Moran 0 19 0 0 0 19 Alcalá 6 0 0 10 0 16
The Twins have their final home game of the 2021 season on Thursday night, as they look to complete the three-game sweep of the Tigers. Joe Ryan is scheduled to pitch for the Twins opposite Tarik Skubal. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT.
Post Game Interviews
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Max-imizing Kepler's Value
Max Kepler was a catalyst for the record-breaking Twins in 2019, bashing 36 homers while mostly leading off for the 101-win division champions. Kepler had been a below-average hitter (96 OPS+) in 419 games before his magical hiatus from the trenches of BAbip hell.
It was somewhat odd to see. Kepler hit a modest .233/.313/.417 over the first three-plus years of his career. His 93 wRC+ paled in comparison to other right fielders, as the position hit .261/.333/.441 (107 wRC+) leaguewide over that same span.
Even with his relative struggles at the plate, Kepler provided value with a strong glove. He saved 22 runs from 2016-2018, tying him for third among qualified right fielders. Kepler was worth 5.4 Wins Above Replacement even with a negative WAR mark offensively.
Recognizing a chance for upside, the Twins inked the instant fan-favorite to an extension and initially looked brilliant for doing so. Kepler broke out in 2019 with elite power and an increased ability to reach base.
But it wasn't a breakout. Kepler has since gone back to his unremarkable roots at the plate.
There’s no doubt that the numbers look uglier than they should. His barrel rate is higher than ever. He’s hitting the ball harder and more than he did in 2019. His strikeout rate is fantastic, and he’s walking in nearly 12% of his plate appearances.
So what happened?
Outside of the obvious in 2019 (juiced ball), his few weaknesses have capped his upside overall. He's pulling and pulling rather weakly, contributing to that previously-mentioned BAbip purgatory. Plus, there’s the deadly platoon factor. Kepler's line is impacted by his inability to hit lefties, but even if he were facing only right-handers this season, he'd still be below-average among left-handed right fielders in those matchups.
Kepler leads right fielders this year in Outs Above Average (7) and is tied for 10th among all qualified outfielders. Even though he’s well below the position average offensively, he ranks 21st out of 30 right fielders with at least 300 plate appearances in fWAR (1.5). He’s not a hindrance per se, but he’s no longer a solid plus-piece in his current spot.
Often lost in value analysis is his ability to play centerfield. In 80 games in centerfield since 2019, Kepler’s been worth three Outs Above Average. Still, the Twins have often turned to others when Byron Buxton is out, focusing on keeping Kepler fresh.
There’s room for increased value here. If the Twins decide to trade Byron Buxton, wouldn’t Kepler then become the centerfielder where his subpar bat would play much better? In this case, he’s much more valuable. Kepler would be close to an average hitter as a primary centerfielder in 2021 but is 16% below league average in right.
Understandably, the Twins want to keep him fresh, especially since he’s had a history of hamstring injuries. Winning in baseball also requires maximum value at each position. Kepler, while still passable in right, is not being maximized. Keeping him in a corner will limit the Twins offensively unless he finds a way to beat the shift or hit lefties again.
On the flip side, if the Twins keep Buxton, marketing Kepler as a centerfielder via trade will help them reach his maximum value in return. It’s great to have both in the outfield, but it’s been more a defensive luxury than a damaging duo in the lineup.
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VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Game Score: Twins 3, Cleveland 0
Starting Pitcher: Gant 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
Homeruns: Rooker (11)
Top 3 WPA: Gant .300, Simmons .135, Thielbar .098
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
The Twins looked to build on their Labor Day win over Cleveland on Tuesday. They sent John Gant to the mound to face Aaron Civale, who returned from the IL to provide a boost to a beleaguered Cleveland rotation. Here’s how the Twins lined up for the game.
Gant, fighting for 2022 rotation consideration, got off to a solid start. He threw two clean innings, working particularly effectively with his changeup and generating extra ride on his fastball, before running into trouble in the third inning. After getting a double play, Gant surrendered two singles and a walk to load the bases. Franmil Reyes missed a grand slam by five feet to keep the game tied, flying out to deep center field. Meanwhile through three innings, Civale showed no signs of rust. Other than giving up singles to Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano, he looked highly effective. Civale worked consistently up in the strike zone, throwing a wide variety of breaking balls keeping Twins hitters off balance, and off the bases.
Gant returned for a more efficient and effective fourth inning. Despite walking three through four innings, Gant generated nine swings and misses and four strikeouts in as many innings. Is Gant working himself into consideration for a job with the Twins in 2022?
The deadlock was finally broken in the sixth inning. After Max Kepler drew a walk to lead off the inning, Andrelton Simmons singled up the middle to drive home Kepler, give the Twins a one to nothing lead, and force Civale from the game. A walk to Luis Arraez put runners on first and second with two out, but Byron Buxton flew out to shallow center field to end the inning one to nothing in favor of the Twins.
After walking the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning, Gant returned to strike out the side. He completed five inning, struck out seven batters, and generated twelve swings and misses. Despite walking four Cleveland hitters, Gant has improved noticeably in each of his starts with the Twins. Gant will be an interesting sub-plot to monitor in the remaining four weeks of the season.
Jorge Alcala relieved Gant in the sixth inning. He got Franmil Reyes swinging on a beautiful sinking fastball at 97mph. He followed up with back to back ground-outs, preserving the Twins one run lead heading to the seventh inning.
In the seventh inning, Brent Rooker crushed a home run to right center field to increase the lead to two. Juan Minaya pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh, striking out two, to preserve the Twins lead.
An infield single and an Oscar Mercado double high off the left-field wall created a threat for Cleveland in the eighth inning. With runners on second and third and two out, Yu Chang struck out swinging to take the game to the ninth inning.
Luis Arraez tripled home Andrelton Simmons to extend the lead to three to nothing in the ninth. Alexander Colome entered to close the game for the Twins. Owen Miller grounded out, before Amed Rosario singled on a fly ball to center field. A Miles Straw flyout and a Bobby Bradley strikeout brought the Twins their third consecutive win.
Bullpen Usage Chart
THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Colomé 0 0 11 23 9 17 60 Thielbar 0 0 0 28 0 25 53 Minaya 0 0 21 0 0 21 42 Alcalá 0 0 0 15 0 19 34 Garza Jr. 0 8 23 0 0 0 31 Duffey 0 0 0 10 8 0 18 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
On Wednesday, the Twins continue their series with Cleveland. Joe Ryan will take on Triston McKenzie. First pitch is at 5:10 CST.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Game Score: Twins 2, Brewers 0
Andrew Albers: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Home Runs: Donaldson (20)
Top 3 WPA: Albers .306, Donaldson .177, Coulombe .080
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Before either team even took the field, two special stories were already on display. First, third baseman Eduardo Escobar, now with the Brewers, made his first visit to Target Field as an opposing player since he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. He got a warm welcome from Twins fans!
The other story, the most important one, was also about a player’s return. After spending over two months on the injured list recovering from a hand fracture caused by a hit-by-pitch, Byron Buxton was activated by the Twins roughly an hour before the game. He took the leadoff spot in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup, starting what might be a crucial stretch for his continuity as a Twin.
While Buxton’s first plate appearance in the majors since Jun. 22 was unimpressive, with a three-pitch strikeout, that didn’t mean Minnesota’s offense wasn’t going to make some noise early. With two outs in the first, Rob Refsnyder singled, reaching with a head-first slide. Josh Donaldson hit a line drive home run to left in the following at-bat, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. This was Donaldson’s fourth home run in the last six games.
Even though they came out of the second inning empty-handed, the Twins offense kept Brewers starter Eric Lauer on the ropes. They loaded the bases with only one out and suddenly had the chance to blow this game wide open. One of those runners was Buxton himself, who worked a five-pitch walk after getting ahead in the count with 3-0. Refsnyder hit a ground ball to left that would’ve cleared the bases had it stayed fair. But it landed inches into foul territory, and he ended up being struck out briefly after that to end the inning.
Albers picks up where he left off
Meanwhile, Andrew Albers began putting together a nice start. Over a week after his relief appearance in New York, where he provided four innings of one-run ball, he dominated Milwaukee’s lineup the first time through the order. He retired nine of his first 11 batters faced, pitching three shutout innings on 41 pitches.
He pitched himself into a jam during the fourth inning. After allowing only one hit through three, he gave up two and hit a batter, loading the bases. But he managed to induce weak enough contact to get out of it. In fact, this is what he was able to do a lot tonight. His stuff wasn’t electric, but everything was well located, causing Brewers batters to ground out multiple times. With an arsenal of five pitches, very few of them were not thrown for a strike. According to Statcast, he didn’t give up a single barrel during this outing.
After a shaky fourth inning, he returned to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth and retired one batter in the sixth before being removed from the game. Jorge Alcala, also making his return to the team from the IL, came in in his relief and finished off the Brewers on ten pitches.
Offense quiets down, but the bullpen is lights out
Minnesota didn’t get a lot done on offense for the remainder of the game. The only time they could pose a threat was during the sixth inning when Buxton had men in the corners with two outs. Kirk Cousins’ cousin, Jake, painted the inside part of the strike zone to strike him out.
Fortunately for the Twins, their bullpen was lights out. Jorge Alcala and Danny Coulombe held the Brewers scoreless until the eighth before Tyler Duffey came in to get the final out of the inning. Duffey, in fact, caught a huge break with a slow curveball out of the zone that was called for a strike – framed brilliantly by Ryan Jeffers. But on the previous pitch, a pitch that painted the lower corner of the zone and got called for a ball should’ve ended the inning.
Alexander Colomé pitched the ninth inning, looking to bounce back from his previous two disastrous outings. This time, he was able to retire the side on only 13 pitches (10 strikes) to earn his eighth save of the year.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
SAT TUE WED THU FRI TOT Albers 0 0 0 0 88 88 Garza Jr. 31 0 24 4 0 59 Coulombe 0 0 19 0 20 39 Thielbar 0 14 22 0 0 36 Duffey 0 19 9 0 6 34 Colomé 0 0 20 0 13 33 Minaya 0 30 0 0 0 30 Gibaut 0 23 0 0 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 0 0 12 12 Barnes 0 0 0 0 0 0
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Twins 9, Red Sox 6
Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
Home runs: Sano (22), Polanco (24), Donaldson (19), Cave (3)
Top 3 WPA: Ober (.257), Donaldson (.130) Polanco (.118)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Miguel Sano Hits Longest Home Run in MLB This Season
Last week Miguel Sano blasted a 475 foot bomb as part of the Twins extra inning win against Cleveland. At the time, it was the longest home run hit by a Minnesota Twin this season. Well... Sano wasn’t content with just having the Twins longest home run of the season, he wanted more and tonight he did just that as he blasted a 495 foot home run not just over the monster, but the billboards at the back of the deepest part of the monster. Truly a majestic home run that you need to see to believe.
Jorge Polanco Hits 24th Home Run of the Season
After failing to come through with bases loaded and just one out in the second, Jorge Polanco redeemed himself in his next at-bat. With one on and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Polanco became the second Twins hitter in as many innings to take Nick Pivetta deep.
Bailey Ober Has Another Strong Outing
While Griffin Jax has gotten more recognition for his performance of late, Bailey Ober has quietly been very good over the past month as he carried a 2.81 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday night’s game. Those numbers only continued to improve after Ober went five shutout innings against the Red Sox.
Tonight’s outing was as impressive as any he has made in his young Major League career. The only inning where the Red Sox put together a scoring threat was in the third. Christian Vasquez got the threat started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout from Enrique Hernandez. Kyle Schwarber then came through with a two-out hit, but poor baserunning from Vasquez caused him to be held up a third. This was the second chance Bailey Ober needed, as he got Xander Bogaerts to fly out to right to end the threat.
Alex Colome Blows Yet Another Save
If there has been one single theme to this disappointing season from the Twins, it has been Alex Colome blowing save after save. It started from day one and it hasn’t stopped as he blew yet another great performance from his teammates that should have led to a Twins 4-2 victory. Instead, he gave up this game-tying two-run blast to Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the ninth.
Colome then gave up a single and a walk to put the winning run on second base with still nobody out. However, he was able to work out of the jam and send this game to extra innings.
Donaldson and Cave Go Yard in the 10th
Just when all hope seemed lost, the Twins bats took back the lead with a five-run 10th inning. The inning got started with a two-run home run from Josh Donaldson.
While those two runs were nice, it hardly felt like a safe lead for the Twins to hold in the bottom of the inning. Luckily, the Twins were not done hitting. With two outs in the inning, Rob Refsnyder got on base with a line drive single to center. Ryan Jeffers followed by getting hit by his second pitch of the game, setting the stage for Jake Cave who crushed a no-doubter over the bullpen in right, giving the Twins a much more comfortable 9-4 lead.
Ralph Garza gave up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, but the Twins won 9-6.
Bullpen Usage Chart
THURS FRI SAT TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 109 0 0 0 109 Minaya 0 16 0 30 0 46 Albers 63 0 0 0 0 63 García 0 0 28 0 0 28 Gant 61 0 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 0 0 31 0 24 55 Barraclough 0 46 0 0 4 50 Duffey 0 0 0 19 9 33 Colomé 0 0 0 0 20 0 Coulombe 19 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 0 0 14 22 23 What's Next?
The Twins will face the Red Sox in Game 3 of the series on Thursday night. John Gant is the scheduled Twins pitcher, and he will square off against Chris Sale.
Post Game Interviews
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Andrelton Simmons Isn’t Good Enough to Get Away with This
Remember Steve Carlton? The not-very-integral member of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins was, at one time, the best pitcher in baseball. Four Cy Youngs, five years leading the National League in strikeouts (the fifth time at age 38), last pitcher to throw 300 innings a season, led the Phillies to their first title in 1980. A remarkable career.
He was also completely out of his mind.
Carlton never spoke to the media, which means we didn’t learn until he was long retired that he built a mountain lair with a 7000-foot storage cellar loaded to the gills with guns and bottled water for “The Revolution.” That revolution was coming thanks to Russian sound waves, the Skull and Bones Society, the Elders of Zion, the National Education Association, and more. I’m aware this qualifies him to represent the state of Georgia in Congress today, but in 1994 this was wild stuff.
One assumes that the Phillies knew that Steve was off his nut, but when you can produce like he did, you let that stuff slide a little bit, especially if he keeps it quiet. By the time he was failing to make the Minnesota Twins playoff roster because he wasn’t as good as Lester Straker, he was just a cooked 43-year-old with weirdly anti-Semitic ideas about how the world works. He never pitched again.
Which brings me to Andrelton Simmons.
Already the COVID patient zero of the Twins locker room, he took to social media on Thursday to let the world know, and I quote:
I’m not going to debate the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines with Simmons or anyone else, as there is no debate to be had. They work. Please shut up and let the horses have their wormer paste. (Also, it’s “effects.”)
Across town, the Vikings are dealing with a similar situation. A handful of their best players (Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, I guess Kirk Cousins if you squint hard enough) apparently won’t get the vacc either. It presents some hard choices for them, as they don’t have quality replacements for any of them as the regular season looms, and the NFL will make teams forfeit games if they can’t field a lineup due to COVID quarantines.
The Twins face no such dilemma.
The season is over. Simmons is an offensive liability and a good-to-excellent defender, which basically makes him a better Jeff Reboulet, if Jeff Reboulet thought Jurassic Park was real. He’s on a one-year deal. Maybe if he was the standout player in a disappointing season you could let his idiocy slide. Or maybe if it was something less harmful and kind of quirky, like thinking the earth was flat or dedicating his Instagram Stories to proving that birds are a deep-fake.
He’s not good enough to get away with this. Let the summer of Drew Maggi begin.
Image license here.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Twins 1, White Sox 0
Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Homeruns: Polanco (21)
Top 3 WPA: Ober (0.284), Minaya (0.188), Polanco (0.154)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Bailey Ober’s Excellent Start
After a shaky first month or so of his MLB career, Bailey Ober has settled in nicely since the start of July, as he has posted a respectable 4.23 ERA with solid strikeout and walk numbers in his last six starts coming into today. Those number’s got even better after Ober put up what may have been his best start of the season.
Ober had a strong first inning, as he got Cesar Hernandez to strikeout to leadoff the ball game. Then, after an Andrew Vaughn strikeout, he struck out Jose Abreu to end the first. In the second, Eloy Jimenez got a leadoff single to begin the inning, before Brian Goodwin flew out to center field for the first out of the inning. Ober then made a great play on a weak comebacker off the bat of Adam Engel that set up the 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.
After two smooth innings to start the game, Bailey Ober found himself in a big spot facing Andrew Vaughn with runners on the corners and two outs. Ober was up for the challenge, however, and got Vaughn to swing and miss on three straight 94 MPH fastballs to get out of the jam.
After another strong inning in the fourth, where he gave up just a lone single, Ober found himself in another dicey spot in the fifth. After a leadoff single, followed by one out walk, the White Sox were threatening with the top of their order due up. Pitching coach Wes Johnson came out to settle down his young right-hander. Like many times before it, whatever Johnson said must have worked, as Ober came back with two more strikeouts to get out of the jam once again.
Jorge Polanco Goes Deep Again
One of the few bright spots for Twins fans this season has been the play of Jorge Polanco, who has returned to his early 2019 form over the past three plus months of this season. Entering play today, Polanco had an OPS of .885 since the start of May.
Polanco has taken that to a whole new level so far in August, as he already had five home runs in just nine games entering play today. That hot streak continued again today, as Polanco went deep to the opposite field in the bottom of the sixth to give the Twins the 1-0 lead.
He almost followed that up with another home run in the bottom of the eighth, that would have given the Twins a potentially huge insurance run. However, the ball hit right off of the top of the wall in right, and Polanco had to settle for a two out triple. Luis Arraez made a strong bid to drive him in, but his line drive held up just enough to be caught by White Sox center fielder Adam Engel.
Twins Bats Were Cold
Outside of the Jorge Polanco home run and triple, it was a rough day for Twins hitters at the plate. The other eight hitters in the Twins lineup went just 2-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and four walks.
Luis Arraez got one of those two hits, drilled a leadoff double to the left-center field gap to leadoff the second. However, the Twins failed to cash in on the early opportunity.
The other hit came from Trevor Larnach who got a two-out threat started with a single in the fifth. Andrelton Simmons followed that with a walk, before a wild pickoff attempt from White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet allowed both Larnach and Simmons to advance. Unfortunately, that opportunity would not be taken advantage of as Max Kepler struck out to end the inning.
The Bullpen Shuts the Door
After Bailey Ober’s strong start, it was the bullpen’s job to seal the deal for the Twins win and that is exactly what they did today. Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alex Colome all deserve some credit, as they each pitched exceptionally well. Collectively, they combined to go 3 and ⅔ innings, allowing zero runs on zero hits while striking out four and walking two.
Bullpen Usage Chart
After back-to-back series wins against American League division leaders, the Twins will have an off day on Thursday before welcoming another American League division leader in the Tampa Bay Rays to town on Friday. Michael Pineda is scheduled to get the start for the Twins, while the Rays starter is still TBD.
VivaBomboRivera! reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office
The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball.
The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title.
To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four.
Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies.
What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter?
"No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take.
Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years.
The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors.
Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails.
Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project.
This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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