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  1. If the opening day lineup was healthy, with the version of Correa...it could have done great things in September.
  2. The Kansas City Royals come into town, and they will either allow the Twins to live a little longer or squash their last breath of postseason hopes. The Twins currently have a 6.2% chance of making the playoffs, per FanGraphs, after being swept by Cleveland at home. Cleveland went on to win again last night, so the Twins are 5 games back with 23 to play. Han Solo says, "Never Tell Me The Odds", but I hate those odds. This matchup should be favorable for the Twins, as the Royals are a distance 4th in the Central Division, but they've outplayed the Twins in September with a 4-6 record. Yuck. The Matchup: Kris Bubic (2-11, 5.40 ERA, 88K, 0.3 fWAR) vs Joe Ryan (10-8, 4.05 ERA, 124K, 1.2 fWAR) Kris Bubic does not appear intimidating, but he is a lefty. Other than that, his metrics are fairly pedestrian. On the other hand, Joe Ryan has been fairly solid as a rookie, but definitely has had some walk/HR issues in the second half. The young Royals lineup is no walk-in-the-park, so it'll be another test. With a well-rested bullpen, we'll see how long Rocco's leash is. The Lineups: Rocco is rolling out a familiar lineup that we've seen against left-handed pitchers in September. With so many injuries, there's no way NOT to include left-on-left matchups for Jake Cave, Luis Arraez, and Nick Gordon. Hopefully we see some Garlick Mashed Taters with Kyle in the 3-Hole... Twins: Luis Arraez - DH (L) Carlos Correa - SS (R) Kyle Garlick - RF (R) Jose Miranda - 1B (R) Nick Gordon - 2B (L) Gio Urshela - 3B (R) Jake Cave - LF (L) Gary Sanchez - C (R) Gilberto Celestino - CF (R) Royals: MJ Melendez - LF (L) Bobby Witt Jr. - SS (R) Salvador Perez - C (R) Vinnie Pasquantino - DH (L) Nick Pratto - 1B (L) Nate Eaton - 3B (R) Kyle Isbel - RF (L) Drew Waters - CF (R) Nicky Lopez - 2B (L)
  3. It's August 24th, but the urgency to end the current four-game skid makes it feel like September 24th. Cleveland keeps winning (and are on their way to another victory today), and the injured Twins are lifeless. The only silver lining is that the White Sox are in the doldrums as well. Upon checking FanGraphs this afternoon, both the short term chance of a victory tonight and overall playoff odds appear bleak. Not impossible.... but bleak. FanGraphs Probabilities: Twins Win: 31% Astros Win: 69% Twins Playoff Odds: 28.6% A series against the Astros in Houston is never an easy feat, but the timing could not have been worse. Injuries are racking up, as the Twins announced that Cole Sands will be heading to the 15 day IL in the latest transaction, with Devin Smeltzer taking his spot on the active roster. The Matchup: Dylan Bundy (7-5, 4.60 ERA, 77K, 1.1 fWAR) vs Framber Valdez (12-4, 2.72 ERA, 3.0 fWAR) This is the reason why the Twins are heavy underdogs tonight. Valdez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he's a lefty. The Twins have forgotten to hit left-handed pitching entirely, and one of their best right-handed bats in Byron Buxton is on the injured list. Bundy has been durable as a back-end starter, but I hate his chances of avoiding hard contact against a supreme Houston offense. If the Twins win this, it'll be because of a battle of the bullpens. The Lineups: The Twins are only including two lefties in the lineup today, as Tim Beckham is getting a rare start in the outfield. Honestly, this is the best they can do with the current roster against a tough lefty. No major news quite yet on Nick Gordon, who was removed from the game yesterday. Twins: Jorge Polanco - 2B (S) Carlos Correa - SS (R) Jose Miranda - 1B (R) Gio Urshela - 3B (R) Luis Arraez - DH (L) Gilberto Celestino - CF (R) Tim Beckham - LF (R) Max Kepler - RF (L) Sandy Leon - C (S) Astros: Jose Altuve - 2B (R) Yuli Gurriel - 1B (R) Yordan Alvarez - DH (L) Alex Bregman - 3B (R) Kyle Tucker - RF (L) Trey Mancini - LF (R) Jeremy Pena - SS (R) Chas McCormick - CF (L) Martin Maldonado - C (R)
  4. Twins will either come back with a vengeance, or sacrifice an arm in the bullpen to eat innings and punt this game for the rest of the series.
  5. Urshela is the Twins worst baserunner, according to FanGraphs. We saw a bit of why and how there.
  6. Bad BABIP luck there, but Gray does NOT look great tonight. He had 2 outs with 5 pitches at one point
  7. The Twins and the White Sox will kick off a four-game series tonight at Target Field. This is a very important series for both teams, but more pressure is on the White Sox, as they are currently 5 games back in the AL. The spectrum of outcomes this series can either have Chicago 1 game out or 9 games back from the Twins. With all the managerial firings this year, one has to wonder if this series could determine Tony La Russa's fate. The Twins have done their part in managing the White Sox this season, with a 5-1 record that could have been 6-0 if the bullpen was firing on all cylinders last Wednesday. The last time Chicago was at Target Field was April 22nd-24th, in which the Twins swept the Sox away. That was an early pivotal point in the season, as the Twins were 8-8 after that sweep, helped by the White Sox handing several runs to the Twins with poor defense. THE MATCHUP: RHP Sonny Gray (4-2, 3.03 ERA, 59.1 IP, 54K, 1.06 WHIP, 1.1 bWAR) vs. Johnny Cueto (3-4, 2.91 ERA, 68 IP, 53K, 1.15 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR) The stats are fairly similar for both pitches, but Sonny Gray has better stuff than Cueto at this point in his career and his numbers were strongly inflated by his last start in Texas. Gray has not hand a great July to this point, giving up 8 ER in 9.2 IP with only 5Ks. This will be his first start against the White Sox this year, and the element of surprise might help. As for Cueto, I'm surprised he's had this level of success. It's a bit ironic, as the Twins were rumored to be in on Cueto during Spring Training, but didn't sign him due to concerns of his availability early in the season: If the Twins signed Cueto, would they have made the trade with San Diego for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan? It's possible... I do think Cueto is in line for some regression, but he's still very solid. FanGraphs has his xFIP at 4.08 and Baseball Savant has his xERA at a nearly identical 4.09. That's still a very decent starting pitcher to have in the back half of the rotation. Here's how Savant compares Sonny Gray (Right) and Cueto (Left) The Lineups: The Twins are rewarding Miranda with a start against a RHP after his heroic walk-off yesterday. This is clearly Rocco's "A-Game" lineup, as he hopes to pad a divisional lead. On the other hand, the White Sox lineup is quite right-handed, which plays into Gray's favor. WHITE SOX LINEUP (43-45) 1. SS Tim Anderson (R) 2. 3B Yoan Moncanda (S) 3. CF Luis Robert (R) 4. 1B Jose Abreu (R) 5. RF Gavin Sheets (L) 6. DH Andrew Vaughn (R) 7. LF AJ Pollock (R) 8. 2B Josh Harrison (R) 9. C Seby Zavala (R) TWINS LINEUP (49-41) 1. 1B Luis Arraez (L) 2. SS Carlos Correa (R) 3. CF Byron Buxton (R) 4. RF Max Kepler (L) 5. 2B Jorge Polanco (S) 6. LF Alex Kirilloff (L) 7. DH Jose Miranda (R) 8. 3B Gio Urshela (R) 9. C Ryan Jeffers (R) THE PREDICTION: I think this will be a good game for the pitching staff, and hopefully there are no late inning dramatics. I'm going to say the Twins win 5-1, due to a nice bounce back start from Sonny Gray, and Buxton will find his swing again after a prolonged slump.
  8. I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Twins are bad at baserunning this year. It's easy to find that they are terrible at stealing bases, as they rank 30th in both total stolen bases (14) and stolen base percentage (58%). After watching Nick Gordon turn errantly around first base only to get thrown out on this play, I decided to look up the numbers to see if there was a quantifiable baserunning metric beyond stolen base percentage that would prove my eyes correct. And boy, did the numbers confirm the eye test. According to FanGraphs, the Twins rank 28th in MLB with a -9.7 BSR (baserunning metric). Only the Washington Nationals (-10.6) and the Detroit Tigers (-12.5) have a lower team BSR. The definition of BSR can be found here, but it essentially combines everything that does or doesn't happen on the base paths. These actions can include stolen bases, being caught stealing, grounding into double plays, getting thrown out, taking/not taking an extra base, and more. A BSR of zero is league average, and every ten runs is equal to one additional win. The fact that the Twins have a -9.7 BSR as a team indicates that their baserunning has nearly taken off a win from their record. That's beyond awful, according to this chart. Baseball Reference also has another stat called Runs From Baserunning (Rbaser). The Twins rank 29th with -7, matching what FanGraphs is reporting with BSR. Multiple sources have confirmed the Twins have some work to do when it comes to running the bases this year, and that it is impacting their run scoring. This raises the question: How long has baserunning been a problem, and will it hurt the Twins in the standings? The answer is that the Twins' baserunning metrics have been completely random over the last few years. Paul Molitor stressed baserunning excellence during his time as a manager, but that didn't reflect well in the standings. The Twins were also awful at baserunning in 2019, but that didn't stop them from recording 103 wins. The 2022 Twins have been absolutely frustrating on the basepaths, but it's not strongly correlated with overall winning percentage. I'm not saying you shouldn't pull your hair out when you see an out on the bases. Stolen bases are incredibly fun. But in the long grind of 162 games, there are many other factors that will contribute more heavily to the end result of a team having a successful season. Rocco and his coaching staff are going to keep rocking on instead of running on.
  9. We have already hit my prediction for Twins runs! I hope I don't jinx anything, but I'll take the over on 5 today
  10. I have him and Rowdy Tellez on the same Fantasy Team. Conflicting emotions...
  11. Great play by Kirilloff. I really like his defense over at 1B, but see him playing LF once Polanco comes back.
  12. The LH splits are haunting Feltner. Nice to see both Kepler and Kirilloff hit him right back up the middle.
  13. The Rockies and Twins will play the rubber match today, and the matchup heavily favors the Twins. After allowing 1 run over the last three games, the Twins will send out RHP Joe Ryan. Ryan had a very ugly start to his matchup against Cleveland, but corrected course to eventually provide the Twins with a quality start that the bullpen would wipe away. But we don't need to rehash that game at the moment. In terms of transactions, it appears that LHP Jovani Moran will be added to the roster, according to Phil Miller of the Strib. The Twins have not made an official move as of this moment. EDIT: The Twins are placing RHP Joe Smith on the 15-day IL with upper trap tightness. Hopefully Smith returns as a usable reliever - something he really has not been in a month. Moran is now approaching the new limit of callups in one season (I believe this has to be the third time?). THE MATCHUP: RHP Joe Ryan (5-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 54 IP, 52K) vs. RHP Ryan Feltner (1-2. 5.46 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 31K) Joe Ryan will battle another Ryan (Feltner) today. Feltner is 25 years old, and ranked as the 17th ranked Colorado prospect coming into the season by FanGraphs. So far, his overall stats have been ugly, but his xERA (4.57) and xFIP (3.53) indicate he's been better than appears. However, Feltner does struggle against LH Hitters, so that is why Baldelli has 5 in the lineup today. Feltner vs RH: .226/.395/.332 Feltner vs LH: .278/.322/.630 For (Joe) Ryan, I'll be watching his velocity closely. He has averaged just over 92 MPH for 2022, but has been a bit below that in his first two starts comin off the COVID IL. Let's see if he can touch 93/94 MPH today with his classic control. The Rockies lineup is not that intimidating, particularly the bottom half. The Lineups: ROCKIES LINEUP: 1. LF Connor Joe (R) 2. CF Yonathon Daza (R) 3. RF Charlie Blackmon (L) 4. 1B C.J. Cron (R) 5. 2B Brendan Rodgers (R) 6. DH Ryan McMahon (L) 7. 3B Elehuris Montero (R) 8. C Brian Serven (R) 9. SS Garrett Hampson (S) TWINS LINEUP: 1. 2B Luis Arraez (L) 2. DH Byron Buxton (R) 3. SS Carlos Correa (R) 4. RF Max Kepler (L) 5. 1B Alex Kirilloff (L) 6. 3B Gio Urshela (R) 7. LF Nick Gordon (L) 8. C Ryan Jeffers (R) 9. CF Mark Contreras (L) THE PREDICTION: Mark Contreras leads a triumphant Twins offense to score just enough runs for a rested Jhoan Duran to pull out a save today. Twins 5, Rockies 3.
  14. I think this game is out of reach, with the current state of the bullpen. I'd imagine we'd see Duffey after Thornburg. The Twins offense has been able to bail out a few bad starts in the last week, but appears lifeless today.
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