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Dman

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  1. Like
    Dman reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Don't You... Forget About AK   
    Eddie Rosario’s postseason heroics for the Atlanta Braves remind fans of similar electric moments he provided for years as a Twin. Rosario’s vintage game two in the ALCS, where he wreaked havoc on the base paths, made a leaping play in left and walked off Kenley Jansen, was tabbed by Twins fans long before Sunday as The Eddie Rosario Experience™.
    The Experience carries clear positives, many of which were on display Sunday night. But his downfalls as a player - a lack of plate discipline chief among them - ultimately drove the Twins to non-tender him last winter rather than pay an estimated $10 million in his final year of arbitration. 
    An equally-strong force was the emergence of Alex Kirilloff, the Twins’ top prospect who destroyed the minors in 2018 and charged his way up the rankings as a potential elite left-handed outfielder. While unproven, Kirilloff’s track record was sterling outside of a rough start in 2019 when he was hampered by a wrist injury (more on that later). 
    Kirilloff didn’t make the team out of spring training, another questionable decision by a front office that has raised plenty over the last year. Kirilloff indeed hit just .129/.182/.258 in 33 spring plate appearances, raising doubts about whether he could help the two-time defending division champions win right out of the gate. 
    "AK" ultimately received The Call on April 15th for a doubleheader against Boston. His start was anything but ordinary. He began his MLB career going 0-for-15 with more hard-hit outs than there are stars in the sky. 
    His quality of contact finally equaled results over an excellent seven-game stretch. Kirilloff hit .321/.333/.857 with four homers and three doubles over that span. He had arrived, and at a time when the Twins needed some juice. AK looked as advertised. 
    But of course, this was the 2021 Twins, and Kirilloff could not escape their misfortune. He injured his wrist sliding into second base amid his torrid stretch and missed nearly three weeks of action. 
    The injury mostly sapped Kirilloff's power for the rest of the summer, and he finally opted for surgery in July. Kirilloff’s season was that rare mix of both excitement and disappointment. He crushed when healthy, but only for a few weeks. 
    As Nick pointed out in this outstanding piece, Kirilloff is still only 23 and already showing massive power potential when that was his main question as a prospect. On the flip side, he’s had wrist issues in each of the last two seasons (spanning three years). That’s not great.
    Here’s what is: Kirilloff’s expected slugging percentage in 2021 (.532) was one point less than Juan Soto, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Robert’s (.533). 
    Kirilloff was the unluckiest hitter in baseball by many measures. There was a 109-point difference between his actual and expected slugging percentage, the most in baseball. 
    The difference between Kirilloff’s actual and expected batting average was the third-highest behind fellow Twin Max Kepler and the struggling Cody Bellinger. 
    We often attribute things to bad luck when that’s not the case. It is here. Kirilloff can only hit the ball hard for so long before results reveal themselves. Those results could be waiting for AK in 2022. The sky remains the limit. 
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  2. Like
    Dman reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins AFL Report - Week 1: Wallner, Helman, Laweryson Come Out Hot   
    Matt Wallner: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K; .273/.385/.545 (.930 OPS) overall.
    After missing about half of the 2021 minor league season with a hand injury, Matt Wallner is looking to make up development time in the AFL. He got off to a pretty good start.
    In the AFL season’s opening game that Scottsdale lost to Glendale 4-3, Wallner batted third in the lineup (which is a good indication of his talent level on a team with Marco Luciano and Triston Casas in the same lineup) and played in right field. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but notched a single in the third inning that put runners on the corners for a Scorpions scoring threat they didn’t cash in. His other at-bat was a lineout to left field in the fifth.
    After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Friday for the Scorpions first win, a reverse of their opener where they defeated the Desert Dogs 4-3. Wallner batted fifth and switched sides in the outfield, getting the nod in left in this one. He finished 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and was on base when Curtis Mead clubbed the deciding three-run homer in the top of the seventh.
    In his final game of the week, an 8-2 victory over Peoria, Wallner was again batting fifth and was the designated hitter. Down 1-0 after three innings, Wallner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first before putting the Scorpions ahead for good with one swing of the bat. His homer to left-center field made the score 2-1. 
    He got another RBI opportunity in the ninth, and delivered a run-scoring single to account for the Scorpions eighth and final run. It was an exclamation point game for the slugger to end his first week of action on a high note.
    Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP overall.
    Zach Featherstone was an excellent part of the Cedar Rapids Kernels bullpen during the 2021 season, amassing 93 strikeouts in 55 innings with a 2.13 ERA and nine saves. He came in third in Twins Daily’s 2021 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. While he definitely walked too many (42 batters) and is likely part of the reason he’s in Arizona, hoping to learn some new tricks when it comes to his command and control.
    He appeared in two games on the week, the first of which came in the season opener against Glendale. He was tabbed for the sixth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced before allowing a double and single that put runners on the corners. He recovered nicely, striking out the next hitter on three pitches for a scoreless frame and a nice start to his AFL ledger when it comes to strikeouts.
    His second appearance of the AFL season came in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas. He was the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions and came on to start the fifth inning. It wasn’t as clean as his first game, as he allowed a leadoff single where the runner ended up coming around to score on a double three batters later. He walked one and struck out one in his inning, being credited with a hold, and will look to continue racking up strikeouts in week 2.
    Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-8, 2B, 0 BB, 3 K; .250/.250.375 (.625 OPS) overall.
    Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in the 2017 draft after an excellent season at Chipola College. He was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 minor league season with 18 in 99 games for Wichita. One interesting development for Bechtold that he will continue in the AFL, is the Twins working with him at the catcher position, where he advanced enough during the year that they got him in a single game there late.
    Bechtold had to wait for the Scorpions third game to get his first AFL action, and he was tabbed to play third base and bat seventh in the lineup in their 4-3 win over Glendale. He finished the game 1-for-4, clubbing a two-out double in the fifth inning before being stranded. His other three at-bats included three ground balls, including two that ended in double-plays. 
    In Saturday’s 8-2 win, Bechtold again was batting seventh and got the start behind the dish for the Scorpions. I’m sure he’d like to have been better than his first three at-bats in his first game as the catcher for the Scorpions that all ended in strikeouts, but he got another chance in the eighth, where he singled to put a runner in scoring position. As the catcher, Bechtold allowed one stolen base with an errant throw, but later also threw a runner out at second. Scorpions pitchers walked eight Javelinas and had two wild pitches, but Bechtold surely contributed to them scoring just two runs calling the game as they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
    Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.50 WHIP overall.
    After finishing the 2021 season as a reliever with Wichita, Kody Funderburk is tabbed as a starter for the Scorpions in the AFL. He did make 10 starts for Cedar Rapids before his promotion to Wichita where he was used only as a reliever. However, he was a long reliever and averaged more than three innings per appearance. He also had a sub 1.00 WHIP with Wichita and is likely in Arizona in part due to his limited innings as a professional, as he’s thrown just 155 innings since being drafted in 2018.
    Funderburk was on the mound to start Scottsdale’s second game of the season on Thursday, a game they lost big. You might think Funderburk was the biggest reason for that after you see he allowed four runs on six hits in his two innings, but those that followed him on the mound were infinitely worse as the Scorpions lost 13-5 behind a nine-run third inning after Funderburk’s day was over. He pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing only an infield single, but with a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, Funderburk wasn’t able to keep runners off the bases in the bottom half. Two doubles, three singles, and a walk in the inning led to the score being tied at four, but he did end his outing with his second strikeout of the frame and his outing. When I used that term “infinitely” above I was being quite literal, as the next two pitchers for Scottsdale in the third inning didn’t record a single out and were charged with nine earned runs.
    Michael Helman: 2 games, 3-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 0 K; .500/.625/.667 (1.292 OPS) overall.
    Like Bechtold, Michael Helman was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 season, slugging 19 with the Kernels in 111 games. He was an infielder when drafted and played mostly second base in his first two seasons, but in 2021 was primarily an outfielder (all three positions) with some middle-infield mixed in. He’ll likely play all around the diamond in Arizona, but I’ll be watching for his opportunities in center field especially.
    His first game of the week came in Thursday’s big loss to Mesa, but it wasn’t because of anything he did as he reached base three times and scored a run. He batted eighth in the lineup and played third base, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks. He drew his first base on balls in the second inning and later scored on a Jeter Downs single. In the fourth inning, he singled to right field and was on third base when the bases were loaded, but was forced out at home on a comebacker to the pitcher. His second walk of the game came in the eighth inning, but he was again the force out on a double-play ball that ended the inning.
    Helman was tabbed for center field in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas, and batted eighth in the lineup behind his organizational teammate Andrew Bechtold. He singled in the fifth inning and later scored Scottsdale’s third run of the game on a double. In the seventh inning, his first double of the AFL season put a runner on third that later scored on a sacrifice fly from the next hitter. He finished the game 2-for-4 and his first week with an excellent batting line.
    Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP overall.
    After a strong debut season in 2019 in which he struck out 63 batters in 46 innings with a 0.80 WHIP and 1.57 ERA, Cody Laweryson missed some time to start the 2021 and wasn’t back to pitching until June. The strikeouts were still there as he racked up 73 in just 58 2/3 innings with the Kernels over 15 games (14 starts), but the missed 2020 season and injury loomed large as his ERA was 4.91 with a 1.33 WHIP. He’s looking to make up some innings and gain confidence in the AFL.
    Laweryson’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 13-5 loss to Mesa. After his team fell behind so big he was one of the stabilizing forces, along with another of his organizational teammates, as he entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He struck out both hitters he faced to squash that threat, and followed that up by striking out all three hitters in the fifth. Back out for the sixth he got two more outs, including another strikeout, before losing some steam and walking his final two hitters before being removed. I say that last bit a little tongue in cheek, as if you believe the data available, he should have gotten his seventh strikeout of the night on multiple pitches in the at-bat resulting in the first of those walks:

    In all, Laweryson struck out six hitters and walked two in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and if this game is any indication his confidence should be sky high moving forward.
    Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 1 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB; 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP overall.
    Evan Sisk is new to the Twins organization, coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade of J.A. Happ during the 2021 season. He pitched in 14 games with the Wichita Wind Surge that resulted in a 4.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Like Featherstone he’ll need to work to cut down his walks and the AFL gives him a good opportunity to hone those skills against top competition.
    Sisk’s only outing of the week also came in the Scorpions blowout loss to Mesa, but he was the pitcher who picked up where Laweryson left off after those walks in the sixth inning. He did issue another walk to the first hitter he faced to load the bases, but got a fly out to escape that jam. Back out for the seventh, Sisk gave up a leadoff single and a walk later in the inning, but otherwise got three ground ball outs to finish his game with a scoreless outing. In total, he allowed no runs on one hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.
    Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
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  3. Like
    Dman reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Pitching Prospect Louie Varland Tells All   
    Varland was selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, and after just a brief debut in that season, he showed out in a big way this year. Putting in a ton of work during the shutdown for minor league baseball in 2020, results showed in a big way for the up-and-coming pitcher.
    I checked in with him to see why he thought there was so much success this season, talk baseball, the offseason, and pick his brain. Here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: You didn't get much of a debut for Elizabethton following your selection in the 2019 draft. With minor league baseball shut down last season, how did you go about improving and gearing up for the season?
    Louie Varland: After pitching 8 2/3 innings and the season getting canceled, I really did exactly what the Twins asked of me, and it spiraled into improving my mechanics and staying healthy. I threw pretty much all COVID year with two short shutdown periods. When I was throwing, I was working on stuff, whether it was mechanics or pitch development. I worked with Richard Salazar, Mark Moriarty, Martijn Verhoeven, the Twins coordinators, and Kevin Walsh with Starters. 
    TD: With the dust settled in 2021, you were among the best minor league pitchers in baseball. What was your focus, and what did you feel helped you take the most significant step forwards?
    LV: My focus was getting outs and putting my team in a position to win. In order to do that, I had to throw my pitches in my strikeout zones; Fastball top of the zone, changeup bottom right and slider bottom left. What really helped me take that next step and making it easy for me was an arm path fix. Working a lot with Martijn, Zach Bove, and my pitching coaches, I was able to clean it up and make it more efficient and easily repeatable.

    TD: Having pitched at two levels this season, you saw equal success in both places. What did you feel was the most significant difference at Low-A and High-A?

    LV: The biggest difference that I noticed was the batters not swinging at balls out of the zone as much. I got away with more balls out of the zone being swung at in Low-A than High-A. Batters also had a better approach looking for specific pitches during different innings depending on what pitches I have working. A little more patience, I would say. They barreled more balls as well. 
    TD: You've now picked up a few different Pitcher of the Year awards, both from the Twins and Twins Daily. What do those mean to you?
    LV: It’s always nice to get awards. I look at them as a reward for my hard work. I do have to give credit to my fielders making great plays behind me. Nonetheless, it is a satisfying feeling even though I have a lot more work to do and more to prove.
    TD: As someone from Minnesota and played their college career at Concordia in St. Paul, what would it mean for you to make the big leagues with your hometown team? What steps do you need to take in preparation for Double and Triple-A next season?

    LV: It would mean a lot. It was a dream come true to be drafted by the Twins, but it would be more of a dream come true to make the big leagues with them. I need to fine-tune some pitches and continue to improve my pitching in general. Like I said earlier, I need to dial in my pitches and throw them in the strike-out zones when I want. Consistency with my three pitches.
    TD: How much of the Major League Baseball postseason are you tuning into? Is there a guy or two you like to key in on and try to learn from their stuff?
    LV: I need to be watching more, but I’ve tuned in a little here and there. I always love watching (Gerrit) Cole, (Max) Scherzer, (Liam) Hendriks, and (Josh) Hader.  
    TD: Although the offseason doesn't mean the work ends, what are you most looking forward to in terms of recharging and relaxation?
    LV: I like to fish, so I will be fishing around Minnesota. Also, a little hunting. I took a couple of weeks off, and I’m back to training now, but I will enjoy the outdoors in the weekends to come before the snow flies. Then I’ll be ice fishing.
    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
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  4. Like
    Dman reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, Giants, Red Sox Proving You Don’t Need These 3 Things   
    Before we get into those three items, here’s a video that takes a bit of a deeper look at where the Giants and Red Sox were the past couple years and how they re-emerged after quiet offseasons.
    You Don’t Need A Rebuild
    All that recent success makes it easy to forget neither the Giants or Red Sox made the postseason the past two years (four years for the Giants). That’s especially noteworthy since 16 teams qualified for the playoffs in last year’s shortened season.
    With aging rosters and former stars on bloated contracts, both orgs were in the type of position where rebuilding had to have been considered. Yes, Boston traded away Mookie Betts prior to last season, but they never turned it into a full-on tear down, throw in the towel type situation.
    Meanwhile, several of the league’s bottom teams repeat their place in the standings year after year. Some organizations like the Houston Astros have made rebuilds work in the not-so-distant past, but they are looking more like the exception than the rule.
    Re-tooling can work.
    You Don’t Need A Flashy Offseason
    The Twins spent more on free agents this past offseason than both the Giants and Red Sox. The Twins shelled out $41.75 million while the Giants spent $41.35 million and the Red Sox were at $38.95 million. On the flip side, those teams actually acquired a greater number of players (10 signed for the Giants and eight for Boston), choosing to spread the wealth more than the Twins (six players).
    Meanwhile, the top two spending teams last winter (the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies) and three of the top-five spenders (adding the New York Mets) all missed the playoffs. And if there’s any team that “won” the 2020-21 offseason it was the San Diego Padres. That’s where their winning streak ended.
    The offseason most definitely matters — the 2021 Twins are as much proof of that as any team — but big splashes and flashy signings (or lack thereof) still don’t guarantee anything.
    You Don’t Need A Lavish Bullpen
    There are some expensive, big-name bullpens among this year’s playoff participants but Boston and San Francisco are not among them. 
    The Red Sox have a couple of highly-paid members of their bullpen, but Garrett Richards isn’t there by design (he was signed as a starter) and Adam Ottavino was acquired as a salary dump. It’s not as if either of those guys is exactly a difference-maker, either.
    In fact, the Red Sox bullpen leader in WAR was Garrett Whitlock, their Rule 5 pick. They had eight different pitchers record saves in the second half alone, including former Twins great Hansel Robles.
    The Giants have done even more with a great deal less invested. They signed Jake McGee to a modest two-year, $7 million deal, just $2 million of which was paid this season. Oh, and he was their highest-paid reliever. McGee ended up as one of only nine pitchers to save 30 games this season. 
    San Francisco had a handful of underpaid studs in their pen including Tyler Rogers, Jarlin Garcia, Jose Alvarez, Zack Littell (ouch) and Dominic Leone. When McGee went down, however, it was rookie Camilo Doval who stepped up and was the National League reliever of the month for September. He had a 4.99 ERA and a 7.0 BB/9 in 28 games at Triple-A this season!
    Sometimes a reliever just happens. That’s exactly the kind of thing the Twins need next year.
    The Giants ranked sixth in bullpen WAR (per FanGraphs) and the Red Sox were ninth, a spot ahead of the Mets, who ended the year with four of the top-20 paid relievers in baseball (Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Trevor May and Edwin Diaz). The Mets also only won four more games than the Twins this year.
    The Twins have a long way to go from 89 losses back to contention, but they don’t need to tear it down, have an extravagant offseason or spend big on risky bullpen arms to do so. The Giants and Red Sox are proof of that.
  5. Like
    Dman reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year   
    JUDGE: It is my understanding that six different parties would like to have their petitions heard before us. Is that correct? 
    COLLECTIVE MURMURING: Yah
    JUDGE [fidgeting with reading glasses]: Okay, first name I have here is ... Ryan Jeffers, catcher.
    [JEFFERS REP APPROACHES THE PODIUM, SHUFFLES PAPERS]
    JEFFERS REP: Ahem. Your Honor. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good evening. My client Ryan Jeffers might have won this award last year, but dang it folks he deserves it once again. He still technically qualified as a rookie and he was a very reliable one, starting nearly half the team's games at catcher and putting up some very strong defensive metrics! Jeffers was also an offensive force, launching 13 home runs ...
    OPPOSING COUNCIL: Objection, Your Honor! [Glances at data sheet] Jeffers batted .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, negating much of the value from his power. 
    JEFFERS REP: Ah, be that as it may ...
    OPPOSING COUNCIL [heightening intensity]: Furthermore, Your Honor, Jeffers struck out at the highest rate on the team and his OPS+ of 83 shows he was in fact substantially below-average as an offensive producer. 
    JUDGE [banging gavel]: I've heard enough! Thank you Mr. Jeffers, but you've had your day in this spotlight, you may move along. Who's next?
    [LARNACH'S REP LOOKS UP FROM FILES, SLOWLY STEPS TO PODIUM AND BEGINS SPEAKING]
    LARNACH REP: Production speaks for itself folks. And my client, Trevor Larnach, is a producer, despite his lack of experience. He came up far earlier than expected and proved he's a major-league player. In his first 50 games with the Twins, Mr. Larnach batted .261 with a .361 on-base percentage and .445 slugging. By this time his advanced and mature approach at the plate was earning him regular appearances at the No. 3 spot in the batting order. A remarkable rookie effort without question, and as such, I rest my case.
    JUDGE [peering skeptically]: Mm-hm. And as for the period following this 50-game sample?
    LARNACH REP: Come again, Your Honor?
    JUDGE: Your case seemed to conspicuously exclude any results beyond July the 7th, when your client hit his last home run. I'm just wondering what happened afterward.
    LARNACH REP: ... Afterward? Well [chuckles nervously]
    OPPOSING COUNCIL: If I may, Your Honor, I have the numbers here. [Starts reading] Following the date of July 7th: 29 games, a .156 batting average and .188 slugging percentage, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. This stretch lowered Mr. Larnach's overall OPS to a decidedly sub par .672, prompting a demotion to Triple-A in mid-August. 
    JUDGE [considers briefly]: Mmm, yes. A promising showing in some regards but not the stuff Rookies of the Year are made of. Thank you, Mr. Larnach, you may depart. [Glances at agenda] It sounds as if a Mr. Ryan would like to be heard?
    [SILENCE]
    JUDGE [gazes around room, looks back at list]: A Mister ... Joe Ryan?
    [INCREASINGLY AWKWARD SILENCE]
    JUDGE [taps finger impatiently]: Well, if Mr. Ryan's case is not ready ...
    [RYAN'S REP BURSTS THROUGH DOOR, SHIRT HALF-TUCKED AND TIE HANGING LOOSELY ASTRAY]
    RYAN REP: Your Honor! Fine people of the jury! How are you all doing. Listen, I know I'm a little late, and that's true of my client as well. Let's get down to brass tacks. Was Joe Ryan a member of the Twins organization in March? No he wasn't. Was he here in June? He was not folks! Was Mr. Ryan in the big leagues in August, even? [Locks eyes with random elderly woman in jury] Was he Doris? Was he??
    [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD]
    RYAN REP: He wasn't! My client did not receive an opportunity in the majors until the month of September! But that's only because he was busy representing our wonderful country in the world's greatest international competition, the Olympics. And you know what? He kicked some ass. For America! Do you love America or don't you, Doris??
    [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY NODS]
    RYAN REP: Then all he did was come back, acclimate instantly to a new organization, debut with amazing poise, flirt with a perfect game in his second MLB start, strike out seven straight men in his fourth, and altogether rack up six times as many walks as strikeouts. That fastball is something, ain't it!
    [SPORADIC APPLAUSE RISES FROM COURTROOM]
    JUDGE [bangs gavel]: Order, ORDER! You said your client made how many major-league starts this year?
    RYAN REP: I didn't, Your Honor, but thanks for inquiring!
    OPPOSING COUNCIL: Five starts, Your Honor. Twenty-six total innings. 
    JUDGE: Too little volume for legitimate consideration I'm afraid, Mr. Ryan. But please, try again next year. Who do we have next?
    [GORDON REP STANDS, CLEARS THROAT]
    GORDON REP: What is a Rookie of the Year, really? Is it the player who has the best stats? The guy with the gaudy heralded status who brings all the buzz? Is this award made for the silver spoon prospect who's been on cruise control through the minors and into majors? Or are we trying to recognize the underdog who overcame the odds and silenced the doubters? The kid who went through hell and was written off, only to re-emerge as a legitimate factor in the team's plans. My client, Nick Gordon, did everything that was asked of him, even learning entirely new positions on the fly. He sat silently while less deserving players got opportunities. He fought and clawed his way to at-bats and increasingly made the most of them, posting a .752 OPS in September while earning the team's confidence at shortstop. He brought speed and athleticism to a team that was sorely lacking in both, stealing 10 bases on 11 tries. If that's not a Rookie of the Year, well I don't know what is.
    JUDGE [leans back in chair pensively]: You make a good argument, and recent trends work in your favor. The young man certainly looked more impressive as time passed. However, it is this court's duty to look at the full body of evidence and so we cannot ignore that a .647 overall OPS is rather lackluster. And while Mr. Gordon's versatility is noted, it doesn't seem clear to me that he truly excelled at any of these positions. I'm afraid that this worthy candidate cannot be our choice. Thus it comes down to the final two. 
    [KIRILLOFF REP PACES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE, FINALLY WALKS TO PODIUM, SETS STACK OF NOTES FACE-DOWN]
    KIRILLOFF REP: May I ask you a question, Your Honor?
    JUDGE [impatiently]: You may not. On with it, please.
    KIRILLOFF REP: Oh. Fine then. Well if I WERE to ask you a question I'd inquire about how well you could bang your little gavel there with a torn tendon in your wrist, and I bet the answer would be, not very well! My client, Alex Kirilloff, carried enormous expectations as the team's No. 1 prospect and he was sure making good on them before this whole wrist thing came along and threw a wrench. Prior to that he was launching missiles all over the field and lighting up the Statcast charts. Mr. Kirilloff slugged .500 in his first 18 MLB games and that's WITH an 0-for-14 start to his career! He looked good in left, and like an absolute natural at first base. Even while hampered by the wrist injury, he posted an OPS+ of 99 overall, meaning he was basically a league-average MLB hitter at age 23 despite no real experience at Triple-A. Pretty good, right?
    JUDGE: Pretty good indeed. There's a lot to like here. I just wonder about the lack of total volume combined with numbers that can only be described as ordinary. Fifty-nine games and an average OPS? What's special about this season? I'd like to hear the final case.
    [OBER'S REP STRIDES UP CONFIDENTLY]
    OBER REP: Good day Your Honor. And to all of you in the jury as well. What we have here is really an open-and-shut case. While many of the previous candidates we've heard from showed positive signs and offered heartwarming stories this year, could any of their seasons really be described as 'good'? Let's be honest with ourselves. The data is clear on this matter.
    [PULLS UP A POWERPOINT THAT SIMPLY LISTS TWINS ROOKIES AND THEIR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT FOR 2022]
    OBER REP: As we can see, according to the website FanGraphs.com, my client Bailey Ober was worth one full win above a replacement player this year, a mark that no other rookie came close to matching. After stepping into a needy rotation in early June, he took the ball every fifth day, becoming a stable and steadfast presence in a unit that otherwise lacked for one entirely. Mr. Ober's 5.05 K/BB ratio was one of the best in major-league history for a first-year starter. All this from a former 12th-round pick who wasn't on the prospect radar prior to this season. Whether you want to talk about situational impact, inspirational narrative, long-term implications, or simply pure performance, my client is the obvious choice for best Twins rookie. Thank you.
    JUDGE [deliberates briefly]: I don't think we're even going to need to send this one to the jury. I agree with the ultimately conclusion that Mr. Ober is a clear choice for this award. Congratulations sir on this well deserved honor. This court is now adjourned ... We'll see you all tomorrow when we convene to settle upon a Most Improved Twin of 2021.
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  6. Like
    Dman reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Three Indicators that Jorge Alcala has Broken Out   
    This week, Brock Beauchamp posted in the Twins Daily forums on the increasing value of the Ryan Pressly trade. While the irony of the Twins bullpen performing strongly long after they were out of contention is not lost on most Twins fans, Alcala’s breakout may have been. In the second half of 2021, he made the leap to bona-fide high-leverage relief pitcher.
    Let’s begin by considering the big picture before we dive into the minutiae. Alcala may not have remained with the big league team all season given his first half if the rest of the Twins pitching wasn’t struggling so much. He put up a 4.67 ERA, 2.3 HR/9, 5.53 FIP, and just a 23% K%, pretty underwhelming for someone who can throw 100 mph. The second half, however, was a different story, Alcala managed a 2.88 ERA, 0.36 HR/9, 2.01 FIP, and a 32% K%, (Wow!) Alcala massively improved his ability to limit hard contact, keep the ball in the ballpark, and strike opposing hitters out, so, what changes led to this development?
    Tweaking his Pitch Mix
    Let’s start with Alcala’s pitch mix. In order for him to become a consistent back-end bullpen arm, Alcala has been working on incorporating a changeup into his pitching repertoire since the beginning of the 2020 season. Early in his career (and the first half of 2021), Alcala’s fastball was prone to be hit hard due to poor control and command.
    Alcala has reduced his use of his fastball from around 65% when he broke into the league in 2019 to just 36.6% at the end of the 2021 season. Similarly, he has increased his changeup usage to 16%, as his comfort with the pitch has grown.

    The value and effectiveness of Alcala’s changeup has increased significantly, due to his improved command and ability to keep the pitch down in the zone, and his ability to develop arm-side run when throwing it.
    A More Effective 4-Seam Fastball
    In addition to tweaking his pitch mix, Alcala’s fastball has become significantly more effective in 2021. Alcala has pushed the location of his four seam fastball further up the strike zone.

    Additionally, Alcala has developed over three inches more horizontal movement when throwing this pitch. Velocity in the high 90s with no lateral movement is one thing. Velocity in the high 90s with four inches of horizontal movement is another. This is leading to less consistent contact on the pitch.

    Improved Command
    If you want overall indicators of improved control from Alcala in 2021, they are everywhere. His first-pitch strike% improved 11.4%, his in-zone% improved 6.7%. What the Twins now have on their hands is a reliever who throws in the high 90s, has two strong complimentary pitches, an excellent BB%, and has shown the ability to implement changes which improve his command, and the movement of his pitches. A dominant Jorge Alcala, coming to a bullpen near you in 2022.
     
  7. Like
    Dman reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, 3 Things Learned About the Twins' Farm System in 2021   
    1. Pitching Depth is the Strength... 
    For years, the Twins were known for producing soft-tossing pitchers and preaching a pitch-to-contact approach. However, if one needs an example to display that is no longer the case, it would be challenging to produce a more blatant example than the 2021 season.

    Partially due to the natural evolution of the game as well as the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime's propensity to select hard-throwing high schoolers and college arms with solid reputations, the Twins farm system is currently replete with pitching talent.

    Jhoan Duran and Chase Petty are among those who sit in the upper 90s and touch 100 mph with regularity. Sawyer Gipson-Long, Matt Canterino, and Louie Varland all boasted K% north of 30%. There's so much talent in the system that top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, and Simeon Woods Richardson couldn't even be bothered to pop up until the fifth paragraph of this article!

    And the talent doesn't stop at the backend of the starting rotation. While Jovani Moran and his 42% strikeout rate earned a promotion to the big league club by the end of the season, he was only one of a handful of genuine bullpen arms that excelled over the summer.

    Zach Featherstone, Jordan Gore, Osiris German, Aaron Rozek, Yennier Cano, and Denny Bentley put up huge strikeout numbers across various levels, and all boasted ERAs below 3.40. Ian Hamilton, a former top prospect in the White Sox system, put together a strong season at Triple-A, and it could be argued that he deserved a call-up at multiple points this season.

    In short, this is no longer your Dad's Twins farm system. Their approach to acquiring and developing pitching is night and day from 5-10 years ago. In short order, the team will be reaping the benefits of what they sowed, whether by advancing critical pieces to the majors or by swapping prospects for MLB-ready talent.
    2. …, However, Offensive Depth is Lacking
    It's well known at this point that infield prospect Jose Miranda had one of the best seasons in all of MiLB this past summer. The 23-year-old slashed .344/.401/.572 to go along with 30 home runs, 32 doubles, and a 158 wRC+ across Double- and Triple-A en route to garnering numerous awards.

    Besides Miranda, who could play a prominent role on the Twins as early as next spring, the system lacks definite MLB-caliber offensive talent, particularly up the middle. Top prospects Royce Lewis and Austin Martin possess the raw talent to succeed at the MLB level for years to come. However, Lewis has not played organized baseball for nearly two years due to COVID and injury, and neither are guaranteed to stick at shortstop. (In fact, Martin played the majority of his innings in centerfield after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios trade.)

    Utility guy Edouard Julien put together arguably the most potent offensive season besides Miranda — he posted a 154 wRC+ due largely to his absurd 21.4% walk rate. He also showed more pop (18 home runs, 28 doubles) and base stealing ability (34 in 39 attempts) at Low- and High-A than he did while at Auburn University. However, he lacks a true defensive home, having appeared all over the diamond this past summer, though he is most robust at second base.

    Beyond the two, the Twins top offensive performers, according to FanGraphs, were a who’s-who of borderline top 30 prospects and minor league veterans. 



    Luckily for the Twins, the majority of their offense at the big league level comprises established athletes who are under contract, so the need for prospects to reach the majors next summer is at a minimum. However, beyond the summer of 2022, the lack of offensive depth in the system may begin to rear its head unless key pieces are retained or a few of the borderline prospects breakout. 
    3. Watching Minor League Ball was a Good Distraction
    Perhaps distraction isn't the correct term here. The Twins were terrible this year and, at many points, virtually unwatchable. But their minor league teams all performed well this year and served as an excellent alternative for the baseball hungry. 

    There are many issues with minor league baseball — the players are poorly compensated, the life is a grind, the production value of non-Twins streams was often pretty bad, etc. — but baseball is baseball at the end of the day. Few teams across MLB put forth a better minor league product than the Twins, which made the summer much more enjoyable.
     
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  8. Like
    Dman reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Looking Back at Michael Pineda’s Twins Tenure   
    Leading into the 2018 season, the Twins took a unique approach to add to the starting rotation. Michael Pineda was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he didn't appear in a game for the club that season. Minnesota was showing faith in Pineda, and he rewarded that faith during his Twins tenure. 

    There are usually struggles in a player’s first season back from Tommy John surgery, but Pineda slid into the Twins rotation and posted a 113 ERA+. His 4.01 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in a heightened offensive atmosphere helped the Twins clinch the AL Central for the first time since 2010.

    Unfortunately, Pineda wasn’t able to help the Twins in October. He was handed an 80-game suspension in early September for taking a banned diuretic. The suspension was later reduced to 60 games after he and his representation argued that he was using it to control his weight, not as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. It was still a blow to the Twins as the team started rookie Randy Dobnak in the ALDS Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. 

    Entering that off-season, Pineda was a free agent, and his Twins tenure could have ended at that point. However, Minnesota showed confidence in him and his abilities by signing him to another two-year deal. He missed the start of the 2020 campaign, but the team thought they’d have him to upgrade the rotation before the All-Star Break. 

    The 2020 season didn’t start like anyone planned, which meant Pineda couldn’t debut until the season’s final month. He made five starts and allowed three earned runs or fewer in each appearance. Pineda didn’t have a chance to make an October start, but he ended the year with a 3.38 ERA and a 25 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio in 26 2/3 innings. His performance gave hope that he could help the Twins contend again in 2021. 

    Things haven’t gone perfectly for Pineda in 2021, as he missed six weeks on the injured list with an oblique strain and forearm inflammation. When on the mound, he provided value with 117 ERA+. He made 53 appearances with the Twins and held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 83% of those outings. His strikeout per nine is lower than his career total, but he has also reduced his walk rate.   
    His steadying presence is something the organization might need moving forward. Looking to 2022, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan are the only starters penciled into the starting rotation. Pineda is a veteran that can add depth to a rotation even if he isn’t a high-end starter that can push the Twins back into contention. 

    “He’s been about as important of a member of this group over the last three years as anyone,” Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “He’s been a constant, his performance has been a constant, his leadership has been a constant, and his personality, too, which matters.”
    Pineda isn’t an ace, but the Twins need pitching depth, and he is a known quantity. He’s made it clear that he wants to stay in Minnesota, but the two sides will need to work out a fair deal for each sides.

    Do you think Pineda has made his last start in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
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  9. Like
    Dman reacted to David Youngs for an article, Minor League Report (9/16): Wichita Surges Into Playoffs, Kernels Playoff Push   
    TRANSACTIONS
    Wichita Wind Surge activated RHP Adam Lau from the temporarily inactive list. Cedar Rapids Kernels activated RHP Ryan Shreve from the 7-day injured list. Cedar Rapids Kernels placed RHP Steven Cruz on the 7-day injured list. RHPs Travis Adams and Johnathan Lavallee, both 2021 draft picks, were assigned to the FCL Twins.  SAINTS SENTINAL
    St. Paul 8, Indianapolis 0
    Box Score
    Jose Miranda had another big game for the Saints, but when a team tosses a two-hit shutout, we'll lead with that. 
    Veteran Derek Law could have become a free agent when the Twins DFAd him for a second time this season recently. Instead, he accepted his assignment to the Saints and has been extended. In his career, he had pitched in 231 minor league games, all out of the bullpen. On this night, he made the start and worked a career-high four innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out six batters. Chandler Shepherd came on, and despite walking three batters and giving up a hit, he did not allow a run. Vinny Nittoli tossed two scoreless before Robinson Leyer completed the shutout with a perfect ninth inning. 
    Back to Miranda because, let's be honest, that's what we're all here for. Miranda went 3-for-5 with his 19th Saints double, and his 15th Saints home run (28th overall). He drove in four of the team's runs. Jimmy Kerrigan was also 3-for-5 on the night. BJ Boyd drove in two runs with a double. Mark Contreras his his 25th double of the season. 
    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 3, Arkansas 2
    Box Score
    Chris Vallimont has had his ups and downs this season, but on Thursday night, he was on the mound with the opportunity to put the Wind Surge in the playoffs. He put together a very solid start. He started with five scoreless innings before allowing a solo homer to Jack Larsen in the top of the sixth inning. Overall, he gave up just the one run in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up just two hits, walked four and struck out four batters.
    Down 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Ernie de la Trinidad gave the Wind Surge a 2-1 lead with a two-run single. Later in the inning, the Arkansas catcher tried to pick off Andrew Bechtold at third base, but he threw it away allowing Bechtold to score and put Wichita ahead by a score of 3-1. 
    Erik Manoah got the final out of the sixth inning and then worked two more scoreless frames. He struck out four and walked none. Adam Lau came off the IL earlier in the day got the ninth inning. He got the first two outs, on a fly out and a strikeout. However, he walked the next batter. That brought up pinch hitter Joe Rizzo representing the game-tying run. Rizzo drove in a run to cut the lead to 3-2 with a bloop single to center. However, the next batter - another pinch hitter - popped out to center fielder Austin Martin to end the game and place the Wind Surge in the playoffs. 
    Trey Cabbage and Jermaine Palacios each went 2-for-4 in the game. Palacios hit his 17th double. Stevie Berman not only caught a great game, but he went 2-for-3 at the plate with his sixth double. 
    Congratulations to the Wichita Wind Surge on making the playoffs in their first season as a Twins affiliate! 
    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 3, Peoria 1
    Box Score
    Coming into this game, the Kernels were tied with Lake County for second place in the High-A Central League. They were one game ahead of Great Lakes. Just one of those teams will make the playoffs. 
    The game was pretty quiet early. Through the sixth inning, the Kernels found themselves down by a score of 3-1. However, Edouard Julien came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a bases-clearing double to give Cedar Rapids a 4-3 lead. Aaron Sabato then drove in Julien with a sacrifice fly to give the Kernels a 5-3 lead. It was a lead that the Kernels bullpen was able to hold. 
    It was an important win as both Lake County and Great Lakes won their games on Thursday as well. Each team has three games remaining on their schedules. 
    Sean Mooney got the start for the Kernels. He worked the first five innings and did not give up a hit. He was charged with one run on two walks and a hit batter. He struck out seven hitters. Lefty Denny Bentley came in to start the sixth inning. He recorded just one out and was charged with two runs on four hits. Osiris German came on and gave up just one hit over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Zach Featherstone recorded the final out of the eighth inning before striking out the side in the ninth inning for the Save. All four outs he recorded came on strikeouts. 
    Matt Wallner went 2-for-3 with a walk and drove in the team's first run with a single in the fourth inning. Jair Camargo was also 2-for-3 with a walk. 
    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Fort Myers, Tampa (Suspended in 1st inning)
    Box Score
    Rains have won the day most of the time in recent weeks down in Florida. On Thursday, night, right-hander Jackson Hicks made his Mussels debut, but after just seven pitches and a single to the one batter he faced, the game was suspended. It will be continued on Friday. Unfortunately, the second game of Thursday's doubleheader has simply been cancelled. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday night. 
    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    FCL Rays 6, FCL Twins 4
    Box Score
    Two extra-base hits from Endy Rodriguez wasn't enough to propel the FCL Twins to a win on Thursday afternoon in the Sunshine State. Rodriguez tallied two hits and two runs in the loss. The first of those hits came in the third inning when Rodriguez launched a triple to right field. He scored on the next at-bat thanks to a single from Noah Miller. 
    After walking in the seventh, Rodriguez scored on a groundout fielder's choice from Kal'ai Rosario, who had a double on the day. Rodriguez also doubled with two outs in the ninth inning but did not score.
    Twins starter Travis Adams went 1 1/3 innings in his professional debut. He gave up three runs on two hits while walking two and striking out three batters. Jordan Carr came on and was charged with an unearned run in 1 2/3 innings. Johnathan Lavallee came on for his pro debut. He worked two innings. He gave up one run on two hits over two innings. He struck out three batters with no walks. Erasmo Moreno carried the bulk of the Twins bullpen, tossing four innings of one-run, two hit ball while striking out four hitters.
    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day - Derek Law (St. Paul) - 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-3, BB
    #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain)
    #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI
    #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch
    #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch
    #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Temporarily Inactive List
    #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement)
    #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 2-3, BB, RBI, K
    #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 1-4, BB, K
    #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch
    #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 1-4, R, RBI, BB, K
    #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - No Game (Paternity List)
    #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery)
    #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - Rained Out
    #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-4 
    FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Jason Garcia (0-0, 14.40 ERA)
    Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (3-2, 2.63 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Casey Legumina (First Kernels Start, 4-2, 3.02 ERA in Ft. Myers)
    Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 1 (6:00 PM CST) - TBD
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
  10. Like
    Dman reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Randy Dobnak and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season   
    Randy Dobnak had to be feeling pretty good about himself entering spring training this year. The Twins had given him some financial certainty by signing him to a five-year extension worth a guaranteed $9.25 million and a chance to earn close to $30 million if the team picks up his three option years. His spring performance also stood out as he unveiled a new pitch.

    Minnesota’s front office worked with Dobnak in the spring to adjust his slider. By moving his hand position, he can get more break on his pitch to allow it to dip out of the zone. The results were tremendous as he posted a 0.57 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP while striking out 19 batters in 15 2/3 innings. Dobnak seemed poised for a breakout season. 
    The Twins had signed two veteran pitchers, JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker, to fill out the rotation, and this meant Dobnak moved to the bullpen for Opening Day. Unfortunately, this is where his trouble began. He made eight appearances as a reliever and posted a 10.47 ERA and 1.71 WHIP with 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. It was pretty that Dobnak wasn’t a reliever, and by early May, he was headed to St. Paul to be stretched out as a starter.

    Dobnak returned to the big leagues a couple of weeks later and had his most impressive start of the year. Over six shutout innings, he scattered three hits and struck out five Cleveland batters. In his next five appearances (23 1/3 innings), he allowed 25 earned runs, including seven home runs with a 9 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. He pitched with a fake fingernail against the Yankees, and they tagged him for eight earned runs.

    Dobnak tried to pitch through a finger injury by the middle of June, but he ended up on the IL. At the time, it was listed as a right middle finger strain. In early July, there were reports of a setback in his rehab as he felt discomfort while attempting to throw. He slowly ramped it back up and made a couple of rehab starts before returning to the Twins in September.
    Remember that new and improved slider from spring training? Opponents have posted a .333 BA and a .815 SLG when facing that pitch. He has thrown the pitch over a third of the time, posting a healthy 37.3 Whiff%. However, he has given up 11 extra-base hits, including seven home runs in 54 at-bats using his slider. The magic he showed this spring just hasn’t materialized with the pitch. 

    Dobnak has been a feel-good story over the last two years with the Twins. He took an unconventional route to the big leagues, and the Twins rewarded his performance with a long-term contract. Minnesota needs as much rotation help as possible for 2022, so the Twins can hope Dobnak helps the cause next season.

    For now, Dobnak can hope his last few starts show a glimmer of hope. That way, he can end his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season on a high note.

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  11. Like
    Dman reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Minor League Report 9/4 Simeon Woods Richardson Debuts   
    TRANSACTIONS
    OF Trevor Larnach placed on the 7-day IL at AAA St. Paul retroactive to 9/2 (Left-hand contusion)
    RHP Alex Phillips placed on the IL at AA Wichita 
    RHP Simeon Woods Richardson activated from development list at AA Wichita
    Saints Sentinel
    St. Paul 0, Columbus 5 (7 innings)
    Box Score
    Beau Burrows: 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: None
    The Saints lost firmly on Saturday.
    Beau Burrows kicked off a quasi-bullpen game by allowing three home runs in his effort. Really, Columbus just needed one of them, so this was a real rude thing for them to do.
    The Saints knocked out just three hits in this game as they were unable to put up any runs against Heath Fillmyer and Kyle Nelson. On the bright side, two of those hits were doubles (by Drew Stankiewicz and Mark Contreras.) 
    Ryan Mason’s scoreless outing in relief of Burrows is just about the only solid positive that came out of this game, unfortunately.
    This was also supposed to be the first of an eventual doubleheader, but that game actually was rained out, so there will be a doubleheader (attempt, at least) on Sunday. 
    Wind Surge Wisdom
    Wichita 0, Arkansas 1
    Box Score
    Simeon Woods Richardson: 1 ⅓ IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-3)
    Wichita lost on a walk-off on Saturday.
    Simeon Woods Richardson made his debut for the Twins organization on Saturday and, well, the start could have gone better. The righty needed 40 pitches to get four outs and the Wind Surge decided that it was not worth it to push him any farther. The good news is this is probably the worst start he will ever make for the team so, you know, silver linings and all that.
    Tyler Beck saved the day in relief of Woods Richardson. He took over and swiftly established order with five shutout innings. Now that’s what we call a good teammate.
    Offensively, Wichita could not get anything going. Roy Morales knocked the lone extra-base hit while Ernie De La Trinidad reached base twice. In total, the team struck out 14 times without taking a single walk.
    Hector Lujan was pushing to send the game into extras when David Shaeffer sent a homer over the wall to end the game. 
    Kernels Nuggets
    Cedar Rapids 8, Quad Cities 7
    Box Score
    Aaron Rozek: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
    HR: Alex Isola (13), Yunior Severino (3)
    Multi-hit games: Alex Isola (2-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI)
    Cedar Rapids won a barn-burner on Saturday.
    Aaron Rozek effectively held the River Bandits’ offense at bay for five quality innings. The Burnsville native has pitched quite well this season, and he could potentially find himself placed on the back end of some Twins prospect lists. 
    Despite putting up eight runs, the Kernels’ offense was somewhat unusual. They were actually out-hit on the night, but they were able to bunch their scoring and knock in runs when it mattered. Alex Isola continued his ridiculous power stretch with his 13th home run of the season, Yunior Severino blasted a three-run shot of his own, and Edouard Julien set the table for the rest of the offense. All seven RBIs came from Aaron Sabato, Severino, and Isola.
    The lesson to take away from this is that if a team wants to win, they should bunch their hits together (wow, what wisdom, Matt.) 
    Mussel Matters
    Fort Myers 4, Daytona 6 
    Box Score
    Cade Povich: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (3-for-4, R, RBI)
    Fort Myers lost a close one on Saturday.
    Cade Povich made his Fort Myers debut on Saturday. The 3rd round pick from the 2021 draft impressed with six strikeouts over three innings of work in what was the best outing from any Mighty Mussels pitcher. He will certainly be an interesting arm to keep track of.
    Just two players stood out offensively for Fort Myers. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, another 2021 pick, dropped in three singles while Will Holland reached base twice. Unfortunately, it was another game in the system tonight where offense was hard to come by.
    Complex Chronicles
    FCL Twins 3, FCL Red Sox 4 (8 innings)
    Box Score
    Brent Headrick: 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
    HR: Noah Cardenas (1)
    Multi-hit games: Argenis Jimenez (2-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI)
    The FCL Twins were walked-off in “extras” on Saturday.
    The pitching effort by the Twins was commendable. Five different pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings of work. Develson Aria was especially impressive as he threw three shutout innings with six punch outs and only two baserunners allowed.
    The struggle was for naught, though. The FCL Red Sox pitching staff pitched just as well as the Twins and the two teams were locked in a Cold War stalemate for much of the game. The game was finally decided when Phillip Sikes knocked in the extra-innings runner in the 8th. 
    The good news is that Noah Cardenas, the Twins’ 8th round pick in the 2021 draft, launched his first career professional homer on Saturday. The catcher out of UCLA blasted a solo shot in the 2nd in what was one of two extra-base hits for the team on Saturday.
    The FCL Twins were also supposed to play a doubleheader but the second game was rained out as well. Mother nature was not born a baseball fan. 
    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Beck
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Christian Encarnacion-Strand
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - Did not play
    #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
    #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain)
    #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-3
    #7 – Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch
    #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain)
    #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - 
    #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Did not play
    #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement)
    #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play
    #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-2, BB, K
    #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch
    #15 – Noah Miller (FCL Twins) - Did not play
    #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play
    #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
    #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-5, 2B, R
    #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-4, 2 K
    SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (1:05 PM) LHP Tyler Watson
    Wichita @ Arkansas (1:10 PM) RHP Jordan Balazovic
    St. Paul @ Columbus (2:05 PM) RHP Jason Garcia 
    St. Paul @ Columbus (30 minutes following the end of game one) LHP Charlie Barnes
    Fort Myers @ Daytona (3:35 PM) RHP Regi Grace
  12. Like
    Dman reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Envisioning a Good Twins Rotation in 2022 (For Real!)   
    Below I will outline a plausible path to a good Twins rotation in 2022. Not an elite rotation – that's probably a bridge too far at this point – but a good one with five solid-or-better starters, capable of competing for a postseason spot and maybe more.
    There is inherently some optimistic thinking involved here, but I don't think any of these scenarios are out of question. 
    1. Bailey Ober proves to be the real deal
    Among starting pitchers currently controlled by the Twins, Ober is the only stable fixture looking ahead to 2022. But he's establishing himself as a pretty viable building block.
    How did the big right-hander go from relative unknown to indispensable rotation cornerstone in one year's time? By adding 3-4 MPH to his fastball and shedding his label as a "soft-tosser." A few extra ticks of velocity have made a world of difference for the rookie, who is now sneaking heaters past MLB hitters and playing up his lesser offspeed stuff. Toss in excellent command, and you've got a good recipe for success. As we've seen.
    Ober's overall numbers with the Twins this year are good – 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77-to-17 K/BB ratio in 74 ⅔ innings – but even better when you break them down to parse out his progression. 
    His K/BB ratio in the latter sample is legitimately elite (only two qualified MLB starters are averaging more than six strikeouts per walk, and they are Cy Young candidates Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole). When you're missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the hits in check, you're in line for good outcomes. Ober has shown the ability to do all these things, and he's only getting better at each of them. 
    Home runs will be something to monitor, and could sidetrack him if they re-emerge as a weakness, but at this point there's no reason to think a healthy Ober won't be at least a quality #3 or 4 starter in 2022.
    2. Twins sign a #2/3 starter in free agency
    No, they're not going to sign Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. Probably not Noah Syndergaard either. Even someone like Marcus Stroman or Justin Verlander may be a tad too ambitious. But with ample flexibility (should they choose to keep payroll steady or raise it slightly), there are several names in the next tier that should be within range, and it's not that hard to see one of them settling in as a mid-rotation caliber starter or better. 
    Names in this category include Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and others.
    3. Acquire a #2/3 starter via trade
    Last year, the Twins acquired Maeda and watched him blossom into a Cy Young caliber performer. This year, their division rivals have done the same with Lance Lynn. 
    We don't need to set our sights that high, though it'd be nice. Jameson Taillon is a less idealistic example. He wasn't a star for Pittsburgh, and the Yankees didn't have to part with top-tier prospect talent to acquire him. But he has served as a very solid mid-rotation arm for New York, at a low price and with multiple years of control remaining.
    The Twins didn't trade away any of their system's depth last winter, and have only added to it this year by selling at the deadline. Additionally, they have a few semi-redundant pieces at the major-league level that could have value to other clubs (Max Kepler, Mitch Garver ... Luis Arraez?) The front office will have assets to deal for pitching if they are so inclined. 
    4. Re-sign Michael Pineda
    The door definitely seems wide open for a reunion, as each side has openly expressed affinity for the other, and with Pineda's challenges this year, he should be pretty affordable – maybe $4-5 million. 
    Given those challenges, I'm sure most Twins fans aren't enthused about the idea of bringing back Pineda. But let's look at the big picture here: the 32-year-old has posted a 3.98 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 during his time with the Twins. That includes his recent struggles, which can likely be attributed somewhat to health. In his first 36 starts with Minnesota, the team went 24-12. 
    His circumstances, and a theoretical desire to return here, could enable the Twins to score Pineda at the cost of a back-end starter, while hoping an offseason of rest and strengthening returns him to his previous state or close to it. 
    5. Get Randy Dobnak back on track
    As with Pineda, it's easy to get caught up in Dobnak's recent struggles while losing sight of his previous success. In fact, it's a lot easier, because Dobnak does not have nearly the track record of Pineda. But through the first 14 outings of his MLB career, the Dobber was simply phenomenal, posting a 1.69 ERA with four home runs allowed over 58 ⅔ innings. This after a tremendous minor-league career that saw him perform well at every level. Dobnak's effectiveness was no accident – the bottom simply fell out on his pitches, making them excruciatingly difficult to lift, and he consistently threw them in the zone.
    Things went south late in the 2020 season, but Dobnak rebounded with a dominant spring that compelled the Twins to invest with a modest long-term contract. And then the bottom fell out on Dobnak. We all know this season has been a complete and total disaster for the right-hander, but it's unclear to what it extent that owes to injury issues. 
    When you're a slider-reliant sinkerballer who goes from allowing four homers in your first two seasons to allowing 11 in your third, before going on IL for multiple months with a strain in the middle finger that is so crucial in creating that sink ... Well, it points to a natural explanation.
    There's no guarantee that time off will correct this issue, but we'll at least start to get an idea when Dobnak returns to the rotation on Friday. Regardless of how things go for the rest of this season, he'll most likely get a crack at the 2022 rotation given that he's under guaranteed contract. If he gets back on track and is anywhere close to the version we saw early on in his big-league career, well that's a hell of a good fifth starter.
    6. The minors provide depth and jolts
    Above, we've accounted for all five season-opening rotation spots. And we haven't yet tapped into the impressive minor-league pipeline this front office has built up. Between Joe Ryan, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino and Josh Winder, you have a bevy of high-upside arms that are all verging on MLB-ready, if not already there. 
    Granted, it's tough to depend on any of these prospects short-term, given that none have yet appeared in the majors (save Ryan, who debuted impressively on Wednesday) and the group is riddled with significant injury concerns. But that's why I'm not penciling them into any of the top five spots. We can account for those otherwise and keep these exciting arms in reserve, while knowing that just about any one of them has the potential to be a game-changing force for the Twins pitching staff if things break right.
    Look, I get that it's hard to envision multiple positive scenarios playing out in this fashion, especially with the way faith has been understandably eroded in the this front office over the past year. But one thing I find myself frequently reminding others – and myself – is that things change fast in this game. In 2016 and 2018, nobody was foreseeing good things on the near horizon. 
    The Twins made some mistakes last offseason, but have also been the victims of absolutely horrible luck. This front office and coaching staff have proven their mettle in the past. If they can learn from those mistakes and the pendulum of fortune swings in the other direction, it's not all that difficult to envision a pitching staff capable of supporting what could be a very strong offense to push Minnesota back into contender status. 
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  13. Like
    Dman reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2021   
    Taylor Rogers was the choice for Twins Daily Pitcher of the Month in both May and June, and Kenta Maeda ‘received’ the award in August. Who will take home the prestigious award in their minds (because we haven’t come up with any sort of physical trophy or plaque or piece of paper). 
    Now, before we get too far into this, I will debunk a rumor that was going around the Twitter-sphere on Wednesday afternoon. 
     Sure, he had a 0.00 ERA and just a 1.00 WHIP, and opponents didn’t get a single hit off of him all month, but here are some candidates that finished ahead of La Tortuga in voting. 
    Before even getting to the Honorable Mentions and the Winner, there were several strong pitching performances by the Twins in August, particularly out of the bullpen. Unfortunately, the starting pitching was not as good. 
    First, Andrew Albers posted a 0.96 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP in his two appearances and 9 1/3 innings.  Jorge Alcala had a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in August, but he pitched in just five games and spent half of the month on the Injured List.  Tyler Duffey had a 2.25 ERA and 12 strikeouts but had just eight innings and a 1.75 WHIP. Caleb Thielbar became one of the most reliable arms out of the team’s bullpen. He had 14 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. His WHIP was just 0.95.  Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner!
    Honorable Mention #3: RHP Ralph Garza, Jr. 
    The Twins claimed the 27-year-old right-hander after the Astros DFA’d him on August 1st. He was called up to the Twins on August 14th and has been impressive since. In eight games and 10 1/3 innings, he posted a 1.74 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. He gave up just two earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out nine batters. Opponents hit just .167 against him. 
    The Twins have claimed several players off waivers over the past couple of months and signed a few others to minor league deals. Several have already been DFAd and weren’t claimed by another team, hence, they remain in St. Paul (Beau Burrows, Edgar Garcia, Nick Vincent). However, Garza, with his multiple side-winding arm angles and pitch movement, has made a good first impression. 
    Honorable Mention #2: RHP Alexander Colome 
    Colome hasn’t been good in 2021. It would be tough to argue that he has been. However, he was solid in August. Following the trade of Hansel Robles at the July 30th trade deadline and the season-ending injury to Taylor Rogers, Colome has returned to the closer’s role and generally been good. Of his 13 appearances in August, ten of them provided him with a save opportunity. He converted eight of them. And he had a solid month in Alexander Colome fashion. In his 12 2/3 innings, he had a 1.22 WHIP. He gave up some hits, and he issued five walks to go with just five strikeouts. 
    Honorable Mention #1: Bailey Ober
    Ober made his big-league debut in May. He had some ups and downs along the way, but overall, the Twins have to be thrilled with his performance. In his five August starts, he went 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In 27 1/3 innings, he gave up 27 hits, walked just three and struck out 26 batters.
    As important, Ober has been very consistent and reliable over the past month. He pitched at least five innings in all five starts. His ERA dropped from 4.94 to 3.98 over the course of the month. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since July 10. The Twins are now 10-6 in games started by Ober in 2021. The only rookie starters whose teams have a better winning percentage in their games started are Alek Manoak of the Blue Jays and Shane McClanahan of the Rays. 
    Twins Starting Pitcher of the Month: Juan Minaya 
    Minaya has been with the Twins since the beginning of the 2020 season. Before that, he had spent much of the previous four seasons in the White Sox bullpen. He had recorded 142 strikeouts over 128 1/3 innings with Chicago. He signed a minor league signed a minor league deal with the Twins and went to spring training 2020. He then participated at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. In fact, he was called up to the Twins once last year, but a day or two later, he was DFAd without pitching in a game. He went unclaimed and stayed in the organization. 
    He signed back with the Twins in 2021 and began the season in St. Paul.  He was called up to the Twins at the end of May and pitched in four games before being DFAd on June 5th to make room for Griffin Jax. He was again unclaimed and returned to St. Paul. However, in mid-July, he was called up one more time, and after sporadic appearances, he got thrown into more proverbial fires following the trade deadline, and he has been very good. 
    In August, Minaya worked in ten games. He went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Opponents hit just .180 off of him. He walked eight, but struck out 16 batters in his 14 innings.  
    Still just 30-years-old, Minaya has a chance to keep himself on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason and in the plans for the team’s 2022 bullpen. August was a good month for that endeavor. 
     
    Congratulations to Juan Minaya on a great month, as well as the other Honorable Mentions. Do you agree that Minaya is the choice? Should Bailey Ober have been the recipient? 
     
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  14. Like
    Dman reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Hitter of the Month - August 2021   
    August represented the first month of the season in which Minnesota had a winning record. Curiously enough, according to several metrics, it was also the month in which they had their lowest offensive productivity. This controversy (given that their pitching wasn’t substantially better either) could be explained by the fact that Twins hitters performed very well in clutch situations, making the difference between losing and winning in at least a handful of games.
    Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner!
    Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez
    This is how good Luis Arraez is: despite having a slight dip in productivity during August, he still had one of the top 15 batting averages in baseball. Also, by slashing .291/.371/.384 (.755), he finished the month with the highest batting average on the team. Unsurprisingly, his power numbers aren’t impressive, but he compensates for that with a ton of plate discipline. Among all qualified batters in August, Arraez’s strikeout rate (8.2%) ranked fourth-best in baseball. He only struck out more than one of his teammates in August: bullpen legend Willians Astudillo (2.9%).
    It should be brought to your attention that Arraez’s final numbers in August started to drop only during the last week of the month. Until Aug 24, he was slashing .314/.381/.404 (.785) before an 0-for-16 slump. Hopefully, the turn of the calendar will help him get back on track.
    Honorable Mention #2: Miguel Sanó
    Miguel Sanó’s mere presence in this Twins lineup was a question mark for quite some time. When he struggles, as he did during April and May, many people are vocal about it. Well, for the past three months, he’s been proving many people wrong, having a very consistent, above league average productivity. His highlight of the month happened last week, when he hit the longest home run in all of baseball this year, sending the poor baseball completely out of Fenway Park.
    During August, Sanó had his highest number of plate appearances of the season (106), and he was able to sustain a season-best .820 OPS while also having a .344 wOBA and 118 wRC+. It seems as if consistent playing time makes all the difference for the big fellow. Sanó had the team’s second-most extra-base hits (11) and third-highest SLG (.489) in August. Not to mention that he stepped up when the team needed him the most, putting the ball in play 50% of the time in high-leverage situations, the eighth-best BABip in all of baseball in such situations.
    Honorable Mention #1: Josh Donaldson
    “The Bringer of Rain” had an incredible month of August, possibly his best in a Twins uniform. Donaldson led the team in batting average for the month, slashing .278/.360/.519 (.878) while also posting .376 wOBA and 140 wRC+, both ranking second-best on the team and considerably above league average. This was the fourth month out of five this year in which he maintained a wRC+ of at least 125.
    For those who believe the Twins should pursue a trade involving him next winter, his improved second half of the season can seriously increase his trade value.
    Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco
    For the first time since we’ve established the hitter of the month award, we have a player to be named for a second time. In August, Jorge Polanco was easily the Twins’ best hitter, leading the team in fWAR, with 1.1 and also most of the other relevant offensive metrics, including .945 OPS, .612 SLG, .390 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. But what was even more impressive about Polanco’s August was how clutch and decisive he was! He was responsible for three consecutive walk-off RBI hits for Minnesota this month alone. Check out this video from Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming with every one of his five walk-off hits this season.
    Given his track record and expected statistics, his current power surge is probably unsustainable over an entire season. He slugged .421 for the first three months of 2021 before jumping to .548 in July and .612 in August. Nonetheless, Polanco’s August was just the icing on the cake of what has been one of his best seasons as a major-leaguer, entitling him to be a front-runner to be named the Twins’ hitter of the year.
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  15. Like
    Dman reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Game Score: Twins 6, Brewers 4   
    Box Score
    SP: Charlie Barnes: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (64 pitches, 47 strikes (73.4%))
    Home Runs: None 
    Top 3 WPA: Miguel Sano (.184), Juan Minaya (.177), Josh Donaldson (.119)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    As the game proceeded, it was as if the goal was to get through five innings to make the game complete. Through the game’s first four innings, Charlie Barnes took advantage of aggressive Brewers hitters. Before the rains came, Barnes was sharp with his fastball, changeup and slider, coaxing a lot of weak content. Through four innings, he had allowed only one hit. 
    In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins scored four runs. With the bases loaded, Miguel Sano grounded a 3-0 pitch past shortstop and turned it into a double. (some might say very similar to Byron Buxton)
    Adrian Houser's control was certainly affected by the wet conditions. He hit two batters and had a couple of walks. 
    Unfortunately, with a 4-0 lead and the rains continuing to come down, harder than previously, Barnes took the mound needing three outs to qualify for his first MLB Win. He issued his first walk to the leadoff batter. It was followed with three soft singles. Barnes left the game with the Twins holding on to a 4-2 lead. Caleb Thielbar came on and got a pop out for the first out. Willy Adames singled to load the bases for Christian Yelich. Thielbar got the former MVP to fly out to medium-deep right field. Max Kepler caught and threw toward home. Miguel Sano cut it off and threw wildly to third base allowing a second run to score on the error. Thielbar got the team out of the inning with a strikeout.
    Thielbar recorded a 1-2-3 sixth inning, striking out two batters. 
    In the bottom of the sixth inning, Miguel Sano singled, Brent Rooker was hit by a pitch, and Ryan Jeffers singled to load the bases. Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play, but the Twins did re-take the lead at 5-4. 
    Veteran Juan Minaya came on for the seventh inning. He needed just six pitches to get three outs that inning. 
    In the bottom of the seventh inning, Josh Donaldson drove in Jorge Polanco with a double to give the Twins a two-run lead. 
    Despite a one-out single to Yelich, Minaya needed just 11 pitches to complete a scoreless eighth inning. 
    Alexander Colome came in for the ninth inning, looking to record the save after a couple of bad outings earlier in the week. He got one out, but then things got interesting by walking a batter and serving up a single to Omar Narvaez. However, before Twins fans were even starting to get too nervous, Jace Peterson grounded out to Simmons who turned the double play to end the game. 
    The Twins will play the Brewers on Sunday afternoon, having already won the series, and they lead the season series 4-1. This month, the Twins are 13-11 and have series wins over the Astros, the White Sox, Cleveland, the Rays and the Brewers. 
    Bullpen Notes
    Caleb Thielbar gets the win to improve to 6-0. 
    Juan Minaya threw two scoreless innings. He hasn't allowed a run in nine of his past ten appearances. In that time frame, his ERA is just 1.29. In 14 innings, he has 17 strikeouts and the opponents are hitting just .128. The 30-year-old pitched in 125 games for the White Sox between 2016 and 2019. He spent 2020 at the Twins alternate site. He was actually called up for a couple of games, but before he got into a game, he was DFAd. He re-signed with the Twins on a minor league deal, and since his promotion, he has now pitched to a 3.20 ERA over 17 games and 25 1/3 innings. 
     
    Postgame Interview
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Albers 0 0 0 88 0 88 Garza Jr. 0 24 4 0 0 28 Coulombe 0 19 0 20 0 39 Thielbar 14 22 0 0 23 59 Duffey 19 9 0 6 0 34 Colomé 0 20 0 13 13 46 Minaya 30 0 0 0 17 47 Gibaut 23 0 0 0 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 0 12 0 12 Barnes 0 0 0 0 64 64
  16. Like
    Dman reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Can the Pitching Staff Compete in 2022?   
    The Twins had a tall order when it came to the 2022 pitching staff even when Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda were slotted into the first two spots. Berrios has since been traded and we’ve received word that Maeda has an ominous elbow injury and will have exploratory surgery next week which could turn into Tommy John.
    Kenta Maeda
    That brings us to the number one factor in the Twins rotation rebuild in 2022: Kenta Maeda needs to be anchoring it. The Twins can’t really affect whether Maeda is healthy and at this point it appears him being relied on in 2022 is a long shot, but not having a single veteran arm returning creates a scenario in which some might call it nearly impossible to field a reliable 1-5. Even if Maeda isn’t the bona fide ace we hoped, having him at 2 or 3 in the rotation would at least give the Twins something to work with. Without Maeda, the rotation troubles likely become too much to recover from.
    Build From Within There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine pitching pipeline is growing ever closer to MLB ready and some of it has already arrived. Bailey Ober is likely a favorite to shore up the rotation on Opening Day after he put up an ERA around 4.00 in his first 68 innings. Griffin Jax will likely finish the season in the rotation, and Randy Dobnak should be back in the rotation before year’s end. Joe Ryan may be up in short order as well. Additionally, the Twins do have Duran and Winder at the AAA level with newly-acquired Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands and Jordan Balazovic at AA.
    The issue with using internal options is it largely depends on youth, much of which hasn’t even pitched in the majors yet. For as talented as many of the Twins young arms might be, there’s no telling how they’ll perform in their first taste of the big leagues. Furthermore, the Twins simply won’t let any of these young arms throw enough innings to take the ball every fifth day through season’s end even if they are effective.
    Duran threw over 100 innings in 2019, had 2020 off, and has thrown 16 innings this season. Winder followed a similar trend and has thrown 72 innings this season. Bailey Ober, whose fans typically express their disgust with his limited innings in starts, leads this group with 84 innings in 2021. It would be simply shocking to see any of these young arms reach even 150 innings in 2022. Some innings will be filled internally, but it will likely take some of them debuting down the stretch rather than being leaned on throughout the entire season.
    Outside Help
    The Twins are going to have a heavy offseason of trying to acquire pitching on the free agent and hopefully trade market. Even coming into this year they preferred to spend $10m on a combination of Happ and Shoemaker to take up two spots rather than spending on a higher quality arm and dedicating a rotation spot to a young arm like Dobnak. Picking up two free agent starters with three already penciled in in 2021 hints that the Twins will likely pursue three to four starting pitchers this winter at the very least.
    There are some high level free agent arms available this offseason, but it’s hard to see the Twins pursuing any of them. Spending $15-20m on one single pitcher would limit the Twins ability to effectively fill 3-4 other rotation spots. Instead the Twins will likely have to fill their rotation with middling arms that they can try to tweak and unlock something with. Their rotation’s success will likely have everything to do with their ability to effectively identify some under the radar arms and make the necessary tweaks.
    So essentially the Twins are relying on a miracle when it comes to Maeda and their effectiveness in bringing in outside options when it comes to their pitching rebound. They’ll certainly be counting on some younger pitchers contributing, but they’re almost certainly going to try to make them complementary pieces. 
    In short, the Twins are in a difficult spot no matter how you spin it. They’re likely going to be headed into 2022 with either four or five starting pitchers in the rotation that weren’t there on Opening Day 2021. That’s an incredibly steep mountain to climb for any front office trying to compete, let alone one that missed on nearly every pitching decision they made just last winter. 
    It’s no fun being negative, but 2022 may be a year to just sit back and enjoy whatever positives shake out with this pitching staff rather than having soaring expectations. There will be a fair share of excitement along the way, but it may be wise for Twins fans to temper expectations. 
     
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  17. Like
    Dman reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Scouting Twins Prospects: Sawyer Gipson-Long   
    Gipson-Long stands at a robust and athletic 6-foot-4-inches tall with long arms and legs. His windup is smooth, athletic, and repeatable, and he utilizes a three-quarter arm slot for all three of his pitches.
    Gipson-Long's pitch mix consists primarily of a fastball and slider, though he does throw in an occasional changeup as well. What makes the former Mercer Bear stand out from most of his fellow pitching prospects is his overall command and control. To put it bluntly, the kid doesn't throw balls. In his 102 1/3 total innings in the minors, Gipson-Long has walked a total of 24 batters, has hit only two, and has issued a mere six wild pitches. 
     
     
    However, Gipson-Long's impressiveness doesn't stop there. He's also struck out 144 and has never posted a FIP above 3.34, despite owning ERAs of 5.40 and 4.54 at rookie ball and Low-A. Since being called up to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9, Gipson-Long has struck out 26 batters, walked two, and glided to a 1.86 FIP. 
    In short, Gipson-Long has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the Twins system since 2019. And, yet, you won't find his name on any top prospect list, not even Twins Daily's.
    While being able to watch Gipson-Long's starts has been difficult due to Low-A Ft. Myers not broadcasting their games, leaving his name outside of the Twins' top 30 prospects has been a grand oversight, in my opinion. His fastball has pop and plays well up in the zone. His slider is a solid strikeout pitch that often leaves opposing batters flailing. And he's shown some signs of having a decent changeup. 
    It would not surprise me if Gipson-Long quickly rises through the Twins system and begins making appearances on the top prospect lists in the not-so-distant future. What he is doing is truly not that different from, say, Louie Varland, and, frankly, Gipson-Long's stuff may be better, particularly when considering his command.
    There is no such thing as a sure-thing baseball prospect, especially concerning pitchers. However, what Gipson-Long has done this season should not be ignored. He's been great and should be considered among the likes of Varland, Drew Strotman, and Chris Vallimont as good, under-the-radar pitching prospects. 
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  18. Like
    Dman reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Getting Jhoan Duran Back on Track   
    The team has not yet announced that Duran will miss the rest of 2021, but, given the nature of elbow strains, I find it difficult to see him returning to the mound in any meaningful way. There's just no decent reason to push him. Now, 2022 will be about rebuilding (essentially) two years of missed time while juggling playing time at both the AAA and major league levels. That sounds like quite a challenge. Fortunately, there is another player that the Twins can mimic in how they build Duran back up. Unfortunately, that player is on a rival squad.
    Michael Kopech; you probably know him. The White Sox brought him over with Yoán Moncada when they traded scissors-enthusiast Chris Sale to Boston as a kick-start to their rebuild. Kopech debuted in 2018 with mild success-barely any walks, but a ton of homers-and emerged as something of a budding ace. The following two years were less kind. Kopech missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and then he opted out of the 2020 season for 'personal reasons'. Kopech was still more-or-less as talented as when he debuted, but he faced an uphill climb in 2021 to build back the stamina needed to be a successful starter. What has been the plan?
    Use him as a reliever, of course. Kopech has started just three games against 27 relief appearances as of August 23rd. Oddly enough, Chicago immediately threw Kopech into the heat of battle-eight of his first ten appearances lasted longer than one inning-before reining him in afterward. Since May 18th, he has thrown multiple innings just three times, with none of those outings lasting longer than two innings. 
    Perhaps part of that is caution. MLB teams are notorious for treating young pitchers like buried treasure, but I think there's a somewhat different philosophy at play here. Yes, the White Sox want to be careful with Kopech, but they want to get him cheap playing time. Relief pitchers are much easier to command because the manager can control the situations they find themselves in. Do you want to avoid using a guy in a high-leverage context? Then don't. Do you want to get him multiple innings? Go right ahead. The reliever moniker allows the team to be flexible in a way that starters cannot be.
    I believe that the Twins should follow suit with Duran. His lack of innings perfectly mirrors the situation Kopech was in, and the 2021 season has been fantastic for Chicago's righty (I wrote this sentence before he gave up five earned runs in one inning, whoops.) The team should use Duran as a sort of swingman or as a piggybacker at the major league level as soon as they can. Forcing Duran to burn time at AAA in a vain effort to build back his stamina will only cause the team to avoid utilizing one of their most exciting pitching prospects.
    "But Matt," you say, "why not just keep him as a starter in AAA? Why force him into the bullpen? What difference does it make?" These are fair questions. 
    The Twins will strongly limit Duran in 2022. My guess is 80 innings-it could be more but likely not by much. Why, then, should Duran waste innings at AAA when he could instead get accustomed to major league talent while also building back his innings? The team will not be competitive in 2022, so Duran taking his occasional licks will hurt no one.
    Keep in mind that Duran will be 24 when the 2022 season begins, and if they keep him as a starter that season, he likely will not be up in any significant fashion until 2023, when he's 25. That's far from old, but he's getting to the point where his prospect status needs to become actual tangible major league ability. The Twins should be looking solely to prep Duran for 2023, and I see a spot in the major league bullpen as a better alternative than more time at AAA.
  19. Like
    Dman reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Why Get a Second Opinion For an Elbow Injury?   
    Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. 
    The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball.

    Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. 
    Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.)
    However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.)
    Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL.
    Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). 
    The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process.
    Again, theoretically.
    The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be.
    So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion?
    Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year.
    The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. 
    Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. 
    At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system.
    I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do.
  20. Like
    Dman reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Predicting Minnesota’s Next 4 Top Prospects to Debut   
    Joe Ryan, RH SP
    Ryan was one of the key pieces as part of the Nelson Cruz trade and he made his organizational debut last week after returning from the Olympics. His Saints debut was ridiculous as he struck out nine batters in four innings. Ryan, a former water polo player, is known for the life on his fastball and his command of the strike zone. He led the minor-league baseball in strikeout rate in 2019 by fanning 183 batters in 123 2/3 innings. As a 25-year-old, he has already found success in the high minors, and the Twins may want to give him a September audition for the 2022 rotation. 
    Jose Miranda, INF
    Miranda is having one of the best offensive seasons in team history among players in the high minors, and he is a lock to be the team’s Minor League Player of the Year. There are multiple ways to get him to Minneapolis before the season’s end. Entering 2021, he had struggled with working counts in his favor, which led to a lot of weak contact. Minnesota worked on his approach last season, and the results speak for themselves. St. Paul has been a remarkably better team with Miranda in the line-up, and the team has taken over first place in the division.  
    Jovani Moran, LHRP
    Moran was left unprotected during this past season’s Rule 5 Draft (and the year before), but he went unselected, which looks like a mistake by MLB’s other organizations. Moran’s stock rose significantly this season as he has compiled strong numbers at Double- and Triple-A. He’s held opponents to hitting .115/.213/.230 (.443) as he has collected 97 strikeouts in 60 innings. His dominant change-up is how he misses bats, as MLB Pipeline calls it a double-plus pitch. Moran is big-league ready, but the Saints are fighting for a division title so the Twins may want to keep him in St. Paul. 
    Austin Martin, SS/CF
    Martin, one of the pieces of the Jose Berrios trade, is the only player on this list not at Triple-A. He has been playing well at Double-A, and the argument can be made for him as the organization’s top prospect. He is an on-base machine, but there have been some questions raised this year about his power. Defensively, he can play multiple infield positions and centerfield, so this flexibility can allow him to reach the big leagues more quickly. Minnesota has two series against the Blue Jays near the end of September, and that might make for an intriguing big-league debut for Martin.
    There are a few things to consider when looking at the names above. Three of the players are currently at Triple-A, and St. Paul is in the playoff hunt. Also, none of the players are currently on the 40-man roster, but all but Martin will need to be added this winter. There will be plenty of 40-man roster clean-up to do during the off-season, so the team might not want to add another wrinkle to that equation. 
    All four of these players look more than ready to help the big-league squad. Now the question remains, who will be the first to make it to the show?

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  21. Like
    Dman reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Luis and the Legends: A Twins Great Coming?   
    Never a top prospect or one worthy of national attention, Arraez has long gone about his business quietly. He put up a .331 average across more than 300 minor league games, and the Venezuelan has continued to replicate that success at the Major League level. He’s a second baseman by trade, but not in the same vein that Minnesota has seen in recent seasons. He’s not a great defender, but it matters a whole lot less when the stick keeps him producing.
    Ever since Jorge Polanco moved off of shortstop for the Twins and Josh Donaldson took over at the hot corner, Rocco Baldelli has needed to get creative in deploying his best batting average hitter. Arraez has adapted to playing a utility role, which has included time in the outfield and given some additional rest for a balky knee issue. Playing multiple positions has allowed for offensive flexibility, and really, that’s why he’s here in the first place.
    To date Luis Arraez owns a .326/.388/.421 career slash line. The power production will likely never trend towards a .500 slugging mark, but it’s that average that has Twins fans dreaming of two All-Time greats. Rod Carew is a legend among these parts, and the late Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters ever to play the game. Between the two of them, both Hall of Famers, there’s a total of 15 batting titles. Minnesota hasn’t had a player accomplish that feat since future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer did so in 2009.
    Dreaming on Arraez with a career trajectory like that of Carew or Gwynn is probably far-fetched, but expecting similar offensive accomplishments is far from hyperbole. Right now, Arraez is just 24-years-old. Carew debuted at 21, while Gwynn showed up at 22. In his first three big-league seasons, the former owned a .299 average, while the latter put up a .329 mark. Both captured their first batting crown in year three.
    Right now, Arraez doesn’t have the plate appearances to qualify for the award, but he trails only the Astros Michael Brantley (.325) in the American League. Neither Carew nor Gwynn would win their second award for another three seasons but then did pull off a run of multiple years in a row. Hoping that Arraez takes crowns year over year before grabbing his first is putting the cart before the horse, but it’s clear the recipe is there.
    Carew had virtually the same strikeout to walk tallies, while Gwynn loaded up on free passes and went back to the dugout just over half as often. Minnesota’s two-bagger owns the same on-base percentage as the Padres legend, and the parallels run deep between this threesome. If we can separate career expectations from production viewed at the moment in time, it’s fun to see just how closely this trio is related.
    There’s a lot of career left for Luis Arraez, and as long as the knee issues subside or stay at bay, there’s plenty of reason to believe that one thing he’ll always do is hit for average. Maybe Minnesota wasn’t banking on him working out like this, but he’s made his mark and established it as truth. This is the type of guy you describe as rolling out of bed and being ready to hit. He’ll continue to put up the numbers in a Twins uniform, and one can only hope that there’s a shoulder full of batting titles at rest when it’s all said and done.
    Make no mistake about it, comparing Arraez to the best average hitters of All-Time is fairer than you may think. He’s got the goods, and they keep on coming.
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  22. Like
    Dman reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, A Heartfelt Apology to Jorge Polanco   
    May 5th was a bad day. I attended the Twins game at Target Field and watched a lifeless team sink to 11-18 with a 3-1 loss against the last-place Rangers. Polanco and Max Kepler went a combined 0-for-8 with six strikeouts. I came home grumpy, and lamented that the Twins had seemingly founded their team-building strategy upon faulty cornerstones. In my frustration, I may or may not have fired out a tweet labeling Polanco and a couple other laggards "garbage."  That same night, I declared I had seen enough, and wrote off the 2021 Twins as contenders.
    Sadly I was not wrong on the latter assertion, but the unkind assessment of Polanco looks downright silly in the wake of his dramatic and remarkable turnaround.
    In my defense, there was plenty of validity in the expression of doubt. Polanco became a heightened subject of my scrutiny, in part because his swing looked so blatantly bad and in part because his manager seemed oddly unconcerned.
    In mid-April, I wrote an article here wondering when Rocco Baldelli's faith in Polanco's bat would be shaken, noting the mounting evidence of his diminished offensive ability. At that point, Polanco owned a .358 OPS and had slashed .260/.313/.393 over his previous 164 games – good for a .303 wOBA that was nearly identical to Andrelton Simmons over the same time period. 
    Given this evidence, there was just no real reason to believe in Polanco. I didn't doubt that his poor production was more a reflection of ongoing health issues than his true talent, but there were no signs of improvement on that front. Even after a second consecutive offseason ankle surgery, he was still unable to put his lower half into his left-handed swing, and thus, his numbers against right-handed pitchers remained abysmal. 
    What's happened since is a good reminder that the body can sometimes take a long time to get right, and patience is generally a good policy. 
    Since my aforementioned cranky tweet on May 5th, Polanco has slashed .290/.351/.533 with 20 home runs in 86 games, and lately he's turned into a walk-off machine. His Statcast metrics look radically different from the ones I shared in April. He's hitting for as much power as anyone in the league.
    Polanco is not just playing at an All-Star level; he'd be right in the MVP conversation if the Twins weren't so bad.
    Most importantly, Polanco has re-established himself as a high-quality building block and a key fixture in the club's contention hopes going forward. 
    Hard to remember another time when I've been this delighted to be this wrong. Sorry again, Jorge. 
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  23. Like
    Dman reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Scouting Twins Prospects: RHP Ben Gross   
    The New Jersey native had a solid if unremarkable college career, pitching for three seasons for the Princeton Tigers — where he achieved Second Team All-Ivy League honors in 2018 — before registering a 4.40 ERA in 75 innings for the Blue Devils during his senior year. Gross went undrafted out of high school and was selected with pick 1,032 in the 2018 draft by the Houston Astros before signing with the Twins.
    Gross pitches solely from the stretch and utilizes a three-quarter arm slot. His delivery is compact and fluid, with good push off his back leg. 
    The Duke product primarily employs a fastball-slider pitch mix with the occasional changeup, though "occasional" might be a bit of an overestimate. His fastball touches the low- to mid-90s, sitting around 92-93 mph, and is … alright. It doesn't have a ton of ride, nor does it sink. However, on most nights, he can command it pretty well, placing it where he wants to and using it to get ahead in the count. It plays best up in the zone, but it will likely be an average pitch at best at the major league level.
    Gross's best offering, by far, is his slider. While his command of it sometimes waxes and wanes throughout a game, hitters have a tough time making any contact at all when it's working.
    Gross has struck out 98 batters in 77 innings this season for High-A Cedar Rapids, the majority of which have been a result of his slider. His 11.5 K/9 rate is among the best in the Twins' system, and his 2.7 BB/9 is a good indication of his overall control. Before his most recent start when he walked three batters, Gross had only walked more than two batters in an outing on one occasion this summer. 
    In all likelihood, the role in which Gross would find the most success should he make it to the big leagues would be out of the bullpen. The limited upside of his fastball in combination with his lack of a third pitch makes it highly unlikely that he will stick as a starter. However, his slider has true MLB potential, particularly if he hones in his command.
    Hear more from Ben in his conversation with Seth on Twins Spotlight this past offseason. 
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  24. Like
    Dman reacted to Nate Palmer for an article, Game Score: Twins 5, Cleveland 4   
    Box Score
    Starter: Griffin Jax 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
    Home Runs: Max Kepler (16), Ryan Jeffers (11)
    Top 3 WPA: Thielbar (.486), Polanco(.241), Colome (.144)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    In case you missed it, the Twins have been pretty good as of late. They have won a series against three first-place teams in the last week and carrying a record of 7-3 in their previous ten games. Tonight’s starter, Griffin Jax, also had himself a great outing on August 10th against the White Sox, going 6.0 innings with ten strikeouts and three earned runs. 
    With Cleveland coming to town Monday night, the hope for the Twins would be that they could carry all those good fortunes into the new week as they play a rare series against another non-competitive team. The game did start on the right foot for the Twins. 
    After a scoreless first by Jax, Max Kepler led off the Twins half of the 1st with a home run off of Cal Quantrill to put the Twins up 1-0 early. Kepler would also make a tremendous foul territory catch in the 3rd over some fans and finish the game going 1- with a walk and an RBI on a fielder’s choice on the weirdest 6-4 putout ever. 
    By the second inning, some of those good vibes started to wear off. If there was one thing in Jax’s last outing that was a negative, it was the two home runs he surrendered. It was a home run that would get Jax in Monday night’s game as well. After giving up a walk to Franmil Reyes, Bradley Zimmer smashed a 446-foot no-doubter to center field, putting Cleveland up 2-1. 
    Polanco ties the game with his wheels
    After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Polanco was standing on first with two outs in the third inning. Josh Donaldson was the next batter and just blooped a single into right-center field. Everything looked pretty routine until Polanco rounded third and blew through Tony Diaz’s somewhat casual stop sign.
    Something about the play even caused Cleveland’s defense to be somewhat lulled into a daze, allowing Polanco to score and tie up the game 2-2 on a play that results typically in him still standing at third base at its conclusion. 
    Twins Out Run Defensive Miscues, Until They Didn’t
    While Jax didn’t pitch with the strikeout dominance, he did last week. He still did well to pitch around a lot of defensive miscues. Beginning with the second inning, the Twins had three consecutive innings with defensive miscues that extended the inning. 
    The fifth inning included another miscue that didn’t extend the inning but allowed Ahmed Rosario to take an extra-base as Jake Cave overran a ball in the outfield that turned a double into a triple. Rosario would score on a single by the next batter, Jose Ramirez. 
    The sixth inning brought another one of those inning extending plays as Andrelton Simmons committed an error trying to pick up a grounder to short. This miscue led to an Andres Gimenez walk and then a single down the left-field line by Austin Hedges to bring Gimenez to the plate and give Cleveland a 4-3 lead. 
    Jeffers To The Rescue
    After allowing Cleveland to go ahead in the top part of the inning, Ryan Jeffers didn’t want to leave his pitcher hanging out there with the chance of getting the “L.” Jeffers took a Justin Garza pitch and relocated it to the other side of the outfield fence. 
    Another One for Jorge
    If the Twins were going to walk off this game, it seemed only fitting that it would be Jorge Polanco once again. After a deflating double play masterfully put together by Cleveland's Ramirez, Polanco ended the game by driving home Kepler. 
    Sound off in the comments about the win, and get ready for another game tomorrow night! The Twins will look to keep the winning ways going tomorrow, with Bailey Ober slated to take the mound against Cleveland's Eli Morgan. 
    Postgame Interview 
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
      THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Barnes 0 0 0 73 0 73 Gant 0 41 0 0 17 58 García 0 27 0 21 0 48 Vincent 0 37 0 0 0 37 Thielbar 0 0 0 15 19 34 Duffey 0 0 0 27 0 27 Colomé 0 0 0 13 10 23 Minaya 0 0 0 0 19 19 Garza Jr. 0 0 16 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10
     
  25. Like
    Dman 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.
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