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  1. San Diego acquired the former Cy Young Award winner from the Tampa Bay Rays in a 4-for-1 swap. Blake Snell has been with the Padres for two seasons now, but is a free agent after the 2023 campaign. While he wasn’t one of the 49 names previously discussed as a trade candidate, it’s becoming more evident that even a winner like San Diego may be open to moving him. Dennis Lin covers the Padres for The Athletic and had this to say in his latest mailbag, “If the Padres trade a starting pitcher, they likely would prefer to move Blake Snell. He’s making $5 million more than Mike Clevinger, and unsurprisingly, the team has been frustrated with the left-hander’s lack of performance. It would be selling low on Snell, but the Padres want to clear payroll for other needs.” After posting a 1.89 ERA with the Rays during his Cy Young season in 2018, he’s since failed to post an ERA below 3.00. With the Padres, Snell has made 36 starts and owns a 4.32 ERA. His ERA+ in that time sits at only 90. The good news is that Snell has continued to be a dominant strikeout arm, and he’s actually been better at limiting the longball. His 3.75 FIP also suggests that he’s also a bit better than the ERA picture paints. San Diego has an embarrassment of riches on the mound right now, and that affords them the luxury of moving someone like Snell. While he’s not in a great place from a production standpoint, he’s still plenty capable of being a top-of-the-rotation arm. Mike Clevinger could be a name teams are interested in as well, but San Diego dumping Snell’s salary would be a benefit to a team dealing with Luxury Tax ramifications. Looking at Snell’s advanced analytics and underlying numbers, much of what made him a Cy Young winner still remains. His hard hit rate hasn’t fluctuated, and he’s actually shaved roughly eight percent from his line drive rate. The velocity is as good as it’s ever been and his swing rates are also strong. By virtually all measurements, there’s no reason why Snell can’t contribute to a higher level than he has been. Although San Diego would be selling low given the current performance, I’d imagine much of a return for Snell would be reflective of the money a team needs to take on. Under contract for $13.1 million this season, Snell is set to be paid $16.6 million next year. That’s a good amount of salary to take on in the middle of the season, and is also a motivating factor for him to be moved by the Padres. The more San Diego eats, the better their expected return should be. That works on the flip side too, however, in that an acquiring team like the Twins may need to give up considerably less if they take on the entirety of his bill. The reality is that high-level starters are going to be highly-coveted on the trade market and there aren’t a ton of options to work with. Luis Castillo remains amazing for the Reds, but teammate Tyler Mahle is now on the injured list. Frankie Montas had a scare for Oakland, and his arm now has plenty of questions around it. Teams could dip down a level to the Pirates Jose Quintana, but the emergence of other options is beneficial. The Twins dealt with San Diego prior to Opening Day this season when they acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan for Taylor Rogers. Maybe the two front offices get together again and can work out another pact for a second starter. What do you think? Would you be interested in the Twins adding Blake Snell? What level of a prospect are you comfortable giving up?
  2. Last Week's Game Results: Game 36 | MIN 3, OAK 1: Lewis, Sanchez Lead Twins Game 37 | OAK 5: MIN 2: Royce Rolls but Winder Wilts in Loss Game 38 | MIN 14, OAK 4: Bats Bust Out in Series Clincher Game 39 | MIN 6, KC 4: Smeltzer Solid, Miranda Clutch Game 40 | MIN 9, KC 2: Late-Inning Rally Fuels Blowout Win Game 41 | MIN 7, KC 6: Twins Score 7 Unanswered in Massive Comeback Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/16 through Sun, 5/22 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 25-16) Run Differential Last Week: +19 (Overall: +31) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Oh man, what a week. This first-place Twins are taking heat on multiple fronts, which I guess we can take as a positive. People care! My quick takes on both of the big talkers from last week: Royce Lewis demoted to make room for Carlos Correa. It stinks, I get it. Lewis is an electric young player who was coming off an outstanding game Tuesday night, so the timing could've hardly been worse. But the Twins called him up to fill in for Correa at shortstop, and they stuck with their plan. They want Lewis to play everyday and gain familiarity at some other positions in a lower-stakes environment. That's exactly what's happening – Lewis has already made starts at third base and left field in addition shortstop since going down. He'll be back soon enough. Chris Paddack undergoes Tommy John. The surgery was expected but became official on Wednesday. It's obviously a very unfortunate development, especially given the success Taylor Rogers is having in San Diego. The trade still has a chance to work out in Minnesota's favor – Emilio Pagán has been solid, and Paddack is under team control for the next two years. But without question, the Twins ended up downgrading their talent significantly in a contention year. We'll see how much it ends up hurting them. Kyle Garlick was activated from IL at the start of the week and Trevor Larnach at the end, backfilling some key outfield depth for the Twins. The rest of the week's moves mostly involved juggling the pitching staff. Here's a quick recap: IN: Dylan Bundy (activated from IL), Trevor Megill (added to 40-man and called up), Bailey Ober (activated from IL). OUT: Jharrel Cotton (DFA'ed, outrighted to St. Paul), Devin Smeltzer (optioned to St. Paul), Josh Winder (placed on IL with shoulder impingement), Cody Stashak (also placed on IL with shoulder impingement). Finally, Chris Vallimont was designated for assignment to create 40-man space (we'll learn soon if he gets claimed) and Danny Coulombe started a rehab stint at Wichita. HIGHLIGHTS It'll be awhile before the Twins have another opportunity to prove themselves against high-caliber competition, but one signature of good baseball teams is that they consistently take care of business against weaker opponents. Minnesota has been doing exactly that here in May, and it continued in a 5-1 week capped by a spectacular late-game comeback in Kansas City. Down 6-0 entering the eighth, the Twins scored seven unanswered in the last two innings to steal a victory and seal a sweep. Despite losing Paddack, the rotation kept up its surprisingly steady work, with effective returns to action for Bundy (3 IP, 0 ER on Tuesday) and Ober (5 IP, 1 ER on Sunday). Joe Ryan lowered his ERA to 2.38 on Saturday, tossing 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball. He's allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts, and has a 5-2 record to show for it. On offense, the Twins were very happy to get back Garlick, who drove in two runs in Friday 6-4 victory and launched a crucial homer (against a righty!) in Sunday's comeback. Gilberto Celestino continues to enjoy a major breakthrough, and owns a seven-game hitting streak after going 7-for-16 last week. He's batting .422 in the month of May. Gary Sánchez has come on in a hurry after starting slow. He went 7-for-24 last week with four doubles, two home runs, and eight RBIs while starting all six games. This is the Sánchez who had gone missing in New York, and you hope the slugging rejuvenation is here to stay. The Twins are surely happy enough to no longer have to deal with Josh Donaldson and his antics, but Sánchez is proving to be a very valuable asset on his own, delivering the power Minnesota was originally hoping to get from Mitch Garver (who's slugging .370 in Texas). While many of us questioned it at the time, that series of moves is looking extra sweet right now. Perhaps no Twins hitter is more fun to watch at this moment than Luis Arraez. He is absolutely on top of his game and providing a constant spark to the lineup in his unlikely new role as primary first baseman. Arraez struck out once all week and reached base in well over half of his 26 plate appearances, tallying nine hits and six walks. Since returning from a bout with COVID earlier in the month, Arraez is batting .382 with a 2-to-9 K/BB ratio and .545 on-base percentage in 10 games. LOWLIGHTS A pair of relief implosions were the biggest blemishes in a mostly outstanding week for Rocco Baldelli and the Twins. On Tuesday night, Winder was arguably hung out to dry in Oakland – pushed to throw 78 pitches in an extended relief outing behind Bundy. Winder managed to battle his way through three innings despite clearly not having his best command, but it all fell apart when he was sent back out for the seventh. The righty coughed up five earned runs in the inning, and finished the day with nine hits allowed and just one K. While I didn't love the decision to stick with the rookie so long, I sort of understood it, given that the Twins were a bit worn in the bullpen and they wanted to keep Winder stretched out as a starter. Still, it was clearly a questionable call, and it looks worse in hindsight, not just because of the results but because Winder went on the shelf days later with shoulder issues. He dealt with a similar injury late last year, so that's definitely worrisome, but hopefully the Twins are just getting out front of it. Yennier Canó impressed during a couple of outings in Oakland, allowing one run over three innings and notching his first big-league victory. But the bottom fell out on him in Kansas City with a disastrous appearance that saw him charged with five earned runs on four hits and two walks while recording just one out. He had no command and was offering up a ton of non-competitive pitches. Canó will be in danger of losing his bullpen spot quickly with Coulombe on the comeback trail and MLB clubs compelled to cut down to 13 pitchers in a week. Amidst all the roster juggling that took place last week, it was rather surprising to see José Miranda come out unscathed. He actually enjoyed one of his biggest moments as a big-leaguer on Saturday night, launching a key two-run double in the eighth inning of a close win, but overall he's been woefully unproductive. Miranda's slash line sits at .117/.159/.217 after a 2-for-16 week that saw him continue to flail away at everything while generating a ton of poor contact. If we accept that the Twins are trying to do right by Lewis' development in sending him to Triple-A to get defensive reps and gain comfort in a less pressurized setting, it's difficult to see the consistency in logic when they're leaving Miranda out there to get bullied by MLB pitchers. At the same time, one can also see the roster realities at play. The Twins are short on corner-infield depth, with Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff out of the picture indefinitely. Arraez had never played first base before a few weeks ago and now he's their sole option with any real experience there besides Miranda. Sánchez has taken some practice reps at first but he's already playing everyday in his current role. Gio Urshela could probably slide over but then your depth at third base is sapped. With all that being said, the Twins can't continue to run Miranda out there much longer as he struggles to stay afloat, so they're gonna need to figure something out. TRENDING STORYLINE The answer to the above dilemma could be solved by one (or both) of two players currently in Triple-A with the Saints. Kirilloff is trying to rediscover his swing and offensive ability as he fights his way through lingering wrist pain in the wake of last year's surgery. He offered some reason for encouragement on Wednesday when he went 4-for-6 with a home run and double – his first two extra-base hits of the season – but the rest of the week saw him tap five singles in 16 at-bats, and he struck out three times on Sunday. It looks as though it's going to be awhile for Kirilloff. That may not be the case for Lewis, who is getting a crash course in defensive versatility as the Twins prepare to recall him to play alongside Correa in a utility role. Lewis has continued to rake since going down, batting .375 with a double and home run in four games. He has amazingly seen no in-game action defensively yet at his new positions, but at least he's getting a feel for the hot corner and outfield. One wonders how just much the Twins want to see him get acclimated before they're comfortable bringing him back. They have the luxury of a continuing soft patch in the schedule, which might give them leeway in making the sacrifices required to keep Lewis' bat in the minors. I wonder if the goal is to have him dialed and ready to step in for good around the start of June, when the competition starts getting a whole lot tougher and they'll want to bring everything they've got. LOOKING AHEAD Tough competition won't be a factor in the coming week, as the Twins return home for seven games against the Tigers and Royals, against whom they are a combined 7-2 this season. They would need to go at least 7-3 in the next 10 games – all against Detroit and Kansas City – in order to complete a 20-win May, which the Twins previously accomplished in 2019 and 2015. MONDAY, 5/23: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Elvin Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Archer TUESDAY, 5/24: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Beau Brieske v. RHP Sonny Gray WEDNESDAY, 5/25: TIGERS @TWINS – TBD v. RHP Dylan Bundy THURSDAY, 5/26: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Daniel Lynch v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 5/27: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP Bailey Ober SATURDAY, 5/28: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brady Singer v. RHP Chris Archer SUNDAY, 5/29: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Zack Greinke v. RHP Sonny Gray
  3. It was always fair to question trading away Taylor Rogers before a season in which the Twins were expected to compete. Chris Paddack did his part to quiet those worries through his first four starts, pitching to a sub 4.00 ERA and looking like a solid mid-rotation, arm who was controlled for three years. Now that he’s certain to miss the remainder of 2022 however, frustrations with the trade have begun to boil over again. It’s worth considering however that several pieces of this trade have yet to play out. The full details of the trade involved the Twins shipping out Rogers and Brent Rooker and receiving Paddack, Emilio Pagán, and eventually player to be named later Brayan Medina. While the Twins have used Pagán in high leverage despite his tightrope act, the backbone of the trade was Rogers for Paddack. Admittedly this comparison is heavily skewed in the Padres favor, at least in the short term as we’re left with Pagan vs Rogers. Looking at the full picture however, we have a ways to go before declaring this trade a disaster. The mainstream belief at this point is the Twins traded their fan-favorite invaluable relief arm for five starts of Chris Paddack. What people seem to have missed is that in acquiring Paddack, the Twins were actually acquiring his services through 2024. This fact doesn’t help them currently, but it provides plenty of time for the right-hander to make good on the Twins attempt to acquire a valuable starting pitcher. Tommy John is still a dreaded announcement in baseball, but it’s not the boogeyman it once was. Even for players who have required it multiple times as Chris Paddack has, full recoveries have become the norm. This list includes Nate Eovaldi, Mike Clevinger, Drew Rasmussen, and many more. In addition to the overall effectiveness of the procedure, more and more cases have emerged where the pitcher returns in a much shorter time than what would have been expected even just a few years ago. Look no further than the Twins own Blayne Enlow in the minors who’s back on the mound after tearing his UCL about 10 months ago. In Paddack’s case, no timeline has been announced yet. The word on the street however is the Twins almost exclusively defer to a new procedure when it comes to their players which expects a 9-12 month recovery rather than the traditional 12-18. We may not have anything concrete yet, but it’s entirely possible that Chris Paddack is still able to return for a good chunk of 2023 and all of 2024. The context of the trade in which the Twins are now without the starting pitcher they wanted and without their best bullpen arm isn’t great, but in the aggregate, this trade still has the potential to be lopsided in their favor when all is said and done. Despite a high walk rate which we hope Pagán will iron out, he appears to have improved in multiple areas including strikeouts and limiting hard contact, and he’s controlled for two years. Paddack looked to have made improvements prior to injury that he could hopefully continue building off when once again healthy. Make no mistake, I loved the value of this deal at the time it was announced and personally I’d hit the “undo” button at this point. Any time a player is acquired who almost immediately loses their entire season to injury, it’s safe to say things didn’t go your way. It’s also entirely fair to question why the Twins were even engaging in talks for a pitcher with a well known partially torn UCL. That being said, there is no “undo” button. There’s nothing wrong with saying this trade is bad, but such statements have to include an understanding that we’re far from done here. If Paddack comes back and provides a year and a half of the performance he showed in his first few starts, the Twins still nailed this one overall, even if it may cost them in 2022. So what do you think? Is there still the potential we look back at some point and say the Twins won this trade? Without Rogers for this year does it even matter? Let us know below. — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  4. It’s understandable that a controllable starter like Chris Paddack may have been available for a lesser return given his elbow issues. Unfortunately, they reared their head just a few starts into 2022 and now it appears he’ll undergo surgery to fix the problem that was already there. Emilio Pagan was hardly a throw-in, however, and despite his 4.83 ERA last season, he’s just a few years removed from being one of baseball’s more dominant relievers. Pagan, who recently turned 31-years-old, posted a 2.31 ERA in his lone season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Acting as their closer that year, he recorded 20 saves and worked 70 innings. His 12.3 K/9 was a career-high, and the 1.7 BB/9 was near a career-low. The 3.30 FIP suggested it was all pretty solidly rooted in advanced statistics as well. Of course, he wasn’t the same pitcher the past two seasons for the Padres, and that’s likely why they were willing to upgrade the back end of their pen. For Minnesota, needing to replace Rogers, Pagan would immediately become an option should he find a way to harness his former glory. Things started ugly for the Twins' new closer as he took the loss in his second appearance, and blew a save in just his third try. Through his first six outings this year Pagan had just a 7/6 K/BB and appeared to be doing a tightrope act each time he took the mound. Since that point though, Pagan has pitched another six innings and has not allowed an earned run. His 8/4 K/BB is more manageable and the ERA is down to 1.54. While the free passes remain an issue, he’s worked around the danger thanks to a career-best 5.4 H/9. It’s not as though Pagan simply lost the ability to find the zone. He’s an established veteran with more than 200 Major League innings under his belt, and in that time he surrendered just a 2.3 BB/9. The gaudy 7.7 BB/9 comes from something else, and he was asked about it following his fifth save of the season. Having basically always been a two-pitch pitcher, and really only one when you consider the secondary offering is a version of the other, Pagan changed his repertoire this season. He’s traditionally been categorized as a fastball and slider guy, although most reporting systems call his secondary offering a cutter. This offseason he added a splitter and it’s drastically different from what he already brings to the table. During Spring Training, and still then with the Padres, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “He’s coming up with a new pitch. He’s throwing a split(-fingered fastball) a lot. … I think a third pitch will serve him well. Typically, a bullpen guy, especially late innings, is more of a two-pitch guy. But I think a third pitch will be good for him. Fastball, sliders are mostly hard (stuff). This is kind of a slower pitch, goes in a different direction, and gives the hitter something else to think about. He’s thrown it in a game and feels confident about it.” To this point in 2022, the splitter has been a focal point for Pagan. He’s thrown it over 17% of the time, and it’s drastically changed the cutter usage. In developing a new pitch and then utilizing it in games, it’s understandable there would be some hiccups and likely control or command issues. As he continues to find comfort with the offering, the walks should subside back down to his career norms. Rocco Baldelli has a very good thing going at the back of his pen right now. Whether going with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran, or veteran-tested Pagan, he’s got capable arms to mix and match for any situation. The more Minnesota can lean into both of them shutting down the opposition, the better they’ll find themselves positioned to close out games in routine fashion.
  5. Last Week's Game Results: Game 30 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Verlander Dominates Hapless Twins Game 31 | HOU 11, MIN 3: Astros Blast Twins in Suspended Game Game 32 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Lack of Luck, Lots of Runners Stranded Game 33 | MIN 12, CLE 8: Bats Awaken, Snap Losing Streak Game 34 | CLE 3, MIN 2: Offense Absent, Twins Fall in Extras Game 35 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Ryan Rebounds, Twins Take Series Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/9 through Sun, 5/15 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 20-15) Run Differential Last Week: -13 (Overall: +12) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (3.0 GA) NEWS & NOTES The list of news and moves from last week is a long one, so let's just try and rattle through it rapid-fire: Carlos Correa, whose bruised finger wasn't improving fast enough to facilitate a speedy return to action, was placed on the injured list for the sake of roster flexibility. He got in some work over the weekend and is expected to be back relatively soon. Luis Arraez was activated from COVID IL, and played throughout the latter part of the week while showing no ill effects. Dylan Bundy, however, remains sidelined as he recovers from his battle with the virus. He wasn't able to go on Saturday so Devin Smeltzer came up to make his 2022 Twins debut, hurling five innings of one-run ball. Alex Kirilloff returned from rehab, basically out of necessity, but looked completely ineffective as his wrist continues to restrict him. The Twins optioned him back to St. Paul on Saturday and he'll stay there until his bat shows signs of life. Meanwhile, Mark Contreras is up from Triple-A and temporarily providing some outfield depth. Danny Coulombe, whose season was off to a magnificent start, suffered a hip injury on Tuesday that forced him to the shelf. It's another blow to this bullpen, which hopes to get a boost from his replacement: 28-year-old Yennier Canó, called up after a strong run at Triple-A. Jhon Romero was moved to the 60-day IL to create 40-man space. Kyle Garlick embarked upon a rehab stint at Triple-A, with his calf apparently healed. He went 3-for-9 with a homer in St. Paul over the weekend and could rejoin the Twins for their coming road trip. They will be happy to get back his lefty-mashing stick. Also due back this week: Bailey Ober, who threw 72 pitches over five innings in a rehab start on Sunday. He struck out seven with no walks, although he did allow four earned runs. The most impactful health development of the week concerned starting pitcher Chris Paddack, but that one is discouraging enough that we'll save it for the Lowlights section. HIGHLIGHTS While the lineup has largely been struggling, a few players are stepping up in a big way. Jorge Polanco is at the head of that list, with his bat catching fire here in May following a fairly quiet first month. He contributed a homer and two doubles last week, and leads the team with 20 RBIs. In a lineup that's seen almost everyone else miss time, Polanco has been a steady and durable force, appearing in all but one of Minnesota's games so far while easily leading the team in plate appearances. His ankle has sometimes impeded his performance but Polanco's been able to battle through and stay on the field, and it's one of his defining qualities. Dating back to 2019 only eight MLB players have amassed more plate appearances. With Correa sidelined, Royce Lewis has been very impressive while filling in on the other side of second base. Although there have a been a few hiccups defensively, he's mostly made the plays and Lewis is swinging a good bat. The past week saw him notch six hits in 22 at-bats, including his first major-league home run – a grand slam that broke things open in Friday's win over Cleveland. It was a really awesome moment for a kid who is extremely easy to root for. Byron Buxton was great as usual when available, launching a pair of homers against Cleveland over the weekend, but he's still bothered by soreness and occasional swelling in his knee, which is keeping him out of the lineup semi-regularly. With that being the case, the emergence of Gilberto Celestino has been tremendously impactful. Celestino went 4-for-11 with a double last week and is now slashing .333/.396/.417 in 52 plate appearances this year. His defense in the outfield has been beyond exceptional (see below). It would've been hard to imagine, given how overmatched he looked as a rookie last year, but Celestino came right back to the big leagues and is giving the Twins everything they could want out of him as a fourth outfielder. On the pitching side, a heaping share of credit is due to Joe Smith, who's been absolutely brilliant out of the Twins bullpen. The front office's lone MLB free agent addition for this unit has been providing absurd value, making frequent yet short appearances and ALWAYS getting the job done. He worked all three games in the Cleveland series, pitching on back-to-back-to-back days and running his season-opening scoreless streak to 12 ⅓ innings. The two couldn't be much different stylistically, but the 38-year-old sidearmer Smith and the 24-year-old flamethrower Jhoan Duran – who worked two scoreless innings last week and rewrote the franchise record for pitch velocity multiple times – are leading the way in a surprisingly reliable bullpen, ranking first and second on the staff in Win Probability Added. LOWLIGHTS The Astros series served as a stark reality check for the Twins, who'd ridden a major hot streak into a multi-game division lead despite all of their injury trials and setbacks. One-run victories over soft competition will be happily banked, but they're not necessarily the most convincing displays. Facing one of the league's truly elite teams, Minnesota was barely competitive. Even at full strength the Twins are probably not at the level of Houston – yet – and all weaknesses were magnified in their undermanned state. Batting Gary Sánchez third in your lineup against Justin Verlander is ... not what you want. Options were limited, unfortunately, and to some extent they still are. Far from giving the lineup a boost, José Miranda has reverted to his old offensive profile – swing at everything, with lots of weak contact – and it's not playing in the majors, as evidenced by a .114/.152/.227 slash line. Meanwhile, the streaky Ryan Jeffers has gone cold again – he went 3-for-16 last week and doesn't have an XBH since his last homer on May 3rd. Sánchez and Gio Urshela have been mostly unproductive outside of the occasional long ball, with each sporting a sub-.290 OBP. The Twins could desperately use a healthy and effective Kirilloff in the middle of their lineup right now, but that simply isn't in the cards. He's in a weird purgatory with his ailing right wrist, where it's not "injured" enough to merit being on the IL, but it's clearly giving him no chance to succeed at the plate. During his time with the Twins, Kirilloff wasn't generating any loud contact. His batted ball metrics were brutal, with exit velos and launch angles ranking at the bottom of the team – not at all what you expect from a hitter of his caliber. Kirilloff still has not barreled a single ball in the majors this year. All the team can really do at this point is send him to a lower-pressure environment and hope the wrist progressively improves, with results turning around in kind. One wonders if it'd be wise to simply give him some time off from swinging. But that's a difficult ask of a 24-year-old who is trying like hell to get his career going. In addition to an offense that was shut out twice and nearly no-hit, the Houston series was also a harsh one for the rookies and reclamation project in Minnesota's rotation, with Joe Ryan, Chris Archer and Josh Winder all struggling to varying degrees. The patience of the Astros lineup proved too much for these starters. Ryan issued a career-high five walks on Tuesday while coughing up four earned runs in four innings. (To his immense credit, he bounced back with a clean and stellar performance on Sunday.) Archer threw just 42 of 75 pitches for strikes on Wednesday and lasted three laborious innings in a loss. Winder was touched up for four runs (three earned) over 3 ⅓ innings in the series finale, yielding six hits and three free passes. Twins pitching was completely outclassed by that of the Astros, with the rotation setting the tone for a lopsided series sweep. It was the type of stretch that leaves you yearning for a steady veteran hand to go along with the youth movement. Seemingly this was a big part of the motivation in acquiring Paddack just ahead of the season, but now that trade has taken a turn for the worse with his elbow issues resurfacing. Paddack exited his last start due to elbow inflammation, and has since been in the process of consulting specialists and gathering information to determine his next move. Having been placed on the 60-day IL, he'll miss at least a couple of months and it seems likely he'll undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of the season. Last year in San Diego, Paddack was diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL, which he tried to pitch through and remedy via non-surgical means. As such, this outcome is hardly shocking. The Twins knew the risks involved when they moved on Paddack, and now it looks like the worst-case scenario will be realized: he's going to contribute very little this year while Taylor Rogers is balling for the Padres. Presumably we'll get more clarity in the coming week concerning the plan for Paddack. If you're seeking an optimistic slant, you could take a look at the example of Twins prospect Blayne Enlow, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June and is now ramping up and returning to action, less than one year later. A similar timeline for Paddack could potentially have him back pitching for the Twins in the first half of next year. But again, we'll need to see the details. One way or another, he has a long road ahead of him. TRENDING STORYLINE With Correa set to return soon, perhaps even in the coming week, it will be interesting to see what the plan is for Lewis. He certainly looks like a guy who belongs in the majors and the Twins aren't necessarily in a position where they should feel comfortable losing his spark. But obviously their superstar free agent will resume everyday shortstop duties once activated. Lewis has the speed to be an asset in the outfield and could probably hold his own at third base, where Urshela hasn't been terribly impressive (offensively, anyway – the defense has been quite spectacular). But Lewis lacks much of any experience playing these positions, and you wonder if the Twins are comfortable letting him learn on the fly in the big leagues. I guess we'll find out soon enough. LOOKING AHEAD An extremely soft section of the schedule is underway, and the Twins need to make hay. They'll open the coming week with a trip out west to face the Athletics, who they swept at home a week ago. Then it's off to Kansas City for a match-up against the Royals. The following 12 games are all against Detroit and KC. After that, the Twins will be running through an AL East gauntlet featuring the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays, and at that point, they'll have a chance to show their mettle against strong competition after falling woefully short versus Houston. But until then, the goal is just to rattle off victories and build some distance in the Central standings. As I publish this, no starter has been officially announced for Friday but that nod will presumably go to Ober. MONDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Zach Logue TUESDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Josh Winder v. RHP James Kaprielian WEDNESDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Sonny Gray v. RHP Daulton Jefferies FRIDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – TBD v. LHP Daniel Lynch SATURDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Archer v. TBD
  6. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18
  7. Rather than opting for an ace on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon or Kevin Gausman, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine swung a deal for Sonny Gray. They flipped relief pitching for Chris Paddack. They came to terms on a low-risk offer for Dylan Bundy. They trusted both Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Now a month in, it’s hard to suggest they were anything but right. That said, there’s no denying that pitchers have had the upper hand thus far. When pitching in cooler temperatures the ball travels shorter distances and hitters are less comfortable. Those things will both change as the game-time temperatures warm up, so some level of regression is to be expected. How can each be evaluated individually thus far, though? Joe Ryan 5 G 27.2 IP 1.63 ERA 3.08 FIP 9.1 K/9 2.3 BB/9 The Twins Opening Day starter has done nothing to suggest he wasn’t deserving of that nod. He’s been all but dominant in each of his four turns, and despite a FIP that suggests some regression may come, he’s still pitching well above what you’d expect from a lower-velocity fastball. Ryan’s expected ERA is 2.94 which is a slight step backward, but still a dazzling number. Although he’s giving up slightly more hard-hit contact, he’s halved the barrel rate opponents are putting up against him from last season. He’s actually dialed back the fastball usage about 15% and poured it into his slider, a pitch Minnesota's coaches love. He’s throwing about one mph harder this season, and he’s upped the whiff rate to 12.7%. Ryan is giving up even less contact than last season, and although batters are chasing a bit less often, they just haven’t been able to figure him out. There’s little opportunity for Ryan not to go down as the greatest trade return in Twins history. Flipping two months of an aging veteran for a guy profiling as a staff ace is incredible. Statcast seems to agree, and no level of regression should knock him out of being a significant contributor. Sonny Gray 2 G 6.1 IP 5.68 ERA 7.03 FIP 7.1 K/9 4.3 BB/9 It’s pretty impossible to draw conclusions on Gray from two short starts and then a stint on the Injured List. If anything, it’s heartwarming to feel like a better version will return for Minnesota. Gray’s velocity was down in the time he has spent on the mound, but again he pitched in cold and through injury. There’s not much reason to spend time here breaking down what was. The Twins traded for Gray because getting him out of Cincinnati should mean better production in a more friendly ballpark. This is all still to be determined. Bailey Ober 4 G 19.2 IP 2.75 ERA 3.54 FIP 7.3 K/9 2.3 BB/9 Of the two Twins holdovers, it may have been Ober that was more questionable despite the longer track record. He had less prospect pedigree and made it work to the tune of a 4.19 ERA last season. In year two, he’s been more stingy with the home runs, although walks are up and strikeouts are down. That said, he’s still showing plenty of reason to believe in the FIP category and it’s because of deception. Ober has a fastball that plays up because of his stature. Being so tall means the 92 mph pitch gets on batters quicker. He’s limited hard-hit contact, and while his stuff isn’t overpowering, the 37.7% chase rate means batters are playing into his pitches. Allowing Ober to expand the zone gives him more ways to beat you, and he’s been successful doing that thus far. Like Ryan, Minnesota has taken a chunk of fastball usage and put it into Ober’s slider. The results have been positive so far, and it makes for a guy whose floor continues to rise. Dylan Bundy 4 G 21.1 IP 2.95 ERA 2.94 FIP 8.0 K/9 1.3 BB/9 A guy that finished in the top 10 for Cy Young voting just two seasons ago shouldn’t be considered a breakthrough, but Bundy looked lost last year with the Angels. Now he’s still striking guys out, not giving up walks, and being tight with the longball. Bundy’s velocity is about the only thing on his Statcast profile that doesn’t scream amazing. He’s avoiding the barrel, confusing batters, generating soft contact, and everything about the results suggests sustainability. The 89.7 mph average fastball velocity is a career-low, but he’s only using the pitch 38.9% of the time. The splitter/slider combination is serving him well and everything else aligns with career norms. Minnesota didn’t have Bundy reinvent the wheel, but sequencing and pitchability have led him to a place where contact has avoided an opportunity for damage. The Twins have a strong infield defense and generating ground balls 48% of the time is only going to help turn batted balls into outs. Chris Paddack 4 G 20.0 IP 3.15 ERA 1.93 FIP 7.2 K/9 0.9 BB/9 Swinging a deal for Paddack, the Twins sought to find the guy who posted a 3.33 ERA for the Padres as a rookie. A few tweaks in and they may have unlocked something. Rather than having him pitch in the middle of the zone, Minnesota has elevated his target on fastballs and the results have been encouraging. Despite pitching in cold weather to start the season for the first time, Paddack has only seen a minor dip in velocity. The Twins have also pushed their new arm to utilize a slider and his curveball more, which has taken focus away from an exceptional changeup. He’s been among the best in baseball when it comes to limiting walks, and keeping runners off the basepaths has allowed him to avoid significant damage. Paddack’s numbers are good as they are, and they’d be even better if not for bad 1st innings in each of his first two starts. Getting this type of pitcher under team control in exchange for a reliever was always going to be a win, but Minnesota’s changes could bear significant fruit for both parties. There’s a lot of good news across this rotation. That’s not to say steps backward won’t happen, because the level they are currently competing at is truly extraordinary. That being said, it’s not as though the numbers are backed by truth, and even a bit of evening out looks to stay within a good place. When everyone was clamoring for the big names, Minnesota’s front office instead trusted the process to show big improvements derived from their internal belief.
  8. Box Score SP Chris Paddack: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (81 pitches, 53 strikes (65.4%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Joe Smith (.208), Johan Duran (.191), Emilio Pagan (.137) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The storylines existed for this game before the teams even took the field for warm-ups. It all begins with the Baltimore starter and old friend, Tyler Wells, a Twins 15th-round draft pick from 2016. Wells was selected by the Orioles last offseason in the Rule V draft and has been starting for the Orioles this season, coming into the game with a 5.54 ERA over four starts, and 13.0 innings pitched. The other leading storyline for Monday night's game was that Twins prospect Jose Miranda got his call up to the majors. The Twins number three prospect in Twins Daily’s prospect rankings started at third base while batting sixth in the Twins lineup. While playing at AAA St. Paul Miranda hit .256/.295/.442 with a .737 OPS, two home runs, ten doubles, and twelve RBIs. Twins Bats Scuffle Early Against Former Twins Prospect Tyler Wells Early on, the game came easy for the former Twins farmhand. Wells worked quickly through the first two innings and put up a perfect first three innings. In those first three innings, Wells was able to create several harmless pop-ups and collect two strikeouts. Wells was spotting his pitches well for strikes, and it was apparent even from the television camera angle that he was getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Finally, Luis Arraez found good contact on a Wells’ pitch to break through for the Twins first hit of the night in the fourth inning. Paddack Up for the Challenge With Wells off to the perfect start, Chris Paddack gave the Twins 5.1 innings of a competitive start. There were plenty of long and loud outs throughout his start Monday night, but the key was most of them resulted in outs. Rougned Odor did get to Paddack for a triple which led to an Orioles run after Ramon Urias drove him home. Urias’ single led to the only earned run allowed by Paddack. The Twins right-hander did get into a bit of trouble in the fifth before Joe Smith came on to induce a ground ball double play and keep the Twins in front. Paddack collected eight swings and misses before leaving the game with the Twins leading the Orioles 2-1. Correa Continues to Deliver As Carlos Correa has been heating up over the past week, he continued to deliver for the Twins on Monday evening. This time it was in the form of an RBI single. Correa dropped the ball in the outfield grass with Byron Buxton standing on second base. This sixth inning scoring sequence feels like the situation envisioned when Correa was added to this lineup already featuring Buxton. Correa also flashed his glove again at a critical moment. Jorge Mateo drilled a line drive in the eighth inning with one on and no outs. Correa was there and able to snag the line drive out of the air for the first out and help Emilio Pagan complete the inning without allowing any runs. What’s Next? The Twins will look to pick up another win as they send Joe Ryan to the mound. Their hitters will hope to have better success against Bruce Zimmerman who is the scheduled starter for the Orioles. The Orioles lefty has been tough this year in 19 1/3 innings carrying a 0.93 ERA and 9.8 K/9 Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Jax 46 0 0 0 15 61 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 35 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 32 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 27 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 25 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  9. 1. The Central looks weak Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming. Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early. The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City. The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited. The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup. 2. They have a competent starting rotation It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape. Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3. There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality. 3. They have depth, with more on the way In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed. Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart. The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year.
  10. Chris Paddack burst onto the scene in 2019 posting a 3.33 ERA in San Diego over about 140 innings. He paired a dominant mid to high-90s fastball with a plus-plus changeup and fantastic command to put together a rookie campaign that hinted at a future ace-level pitcher. Over the next two years, however, Paddack came to find that the MLB is unforgiving toward starting pitchers with only two pitches. And so he went to work. Contrary to popular belief, Paddack wasn’t quite a two-pitch pitcher in 2021. He had incorporated a curveball 12% of the time and had fantastic results on the pitch. His 5+ ERA finish was instead a result of an underperforming fastball, although you could argue that Paddack wasn’t throwing the breaking ball nearly enough which could have helped the performance of the rest of his repertoire. Luckily, Paddack appears to have made significant adjustments to both pitches. This small change should pay off twofold. On one hand, getting the fastball away from the heart of the plate is always a good idea. Also consider the fact that he’s upped his breaking ball usage to over 20% so far, meaning it’s harder to look fastball. Mixing in more breaking balls typically makes any fastball more effective, but now that he has one to pair with a devastating changeup, his fastball at the top of the zone should be that much harder to get around on. We’ve seen early signs of hitters already having difficulties with this change. While it’s admittedly a small sample size, Paddack’s better overall performance appears to be tied to his once broken fastball making a huge rebound. After batters hit .314 on the pitch in 2021, they’re posting a .250 mark so far this year. More impressively, after allowing a .531 slugging % on the pitch last season, hitters have posted a .357 mark so far in 2022. This is all despite the fact that his average fastball velocity is down from 94.8 to 92.9 this year after a shortened spring and pitching in colder weather. It’s possible the pitch may actually improve as the season rolls on. The biggest Chris Paddack storyline to keep an eye on however is his development of yet another pitch. As a fastball/changeup pitcher for most of his career, Paddack has posted fantastic reverse splits as we often see with pitchers whose primary offspeed is a changeup. Holding left-handers to a .226/.273/.408 line is impressive for a right-handed pitcher, but in Paddack’s case his lack of an equalizer for right-handed hitters has resulted in them posting a healthy .742 OPS against him. Luckily it appears the Twins were two steps ahead on this one. In his third start with the Twins, Paddack threw what Statcast calls a cutter seven times. Whether it’s a cutter or a slider, this would really round out Paddack’s repertoire with a pitch that traditionally stifles right-handed pitching. It’s too small of a sample to draw any conclusions from the pitch, but the fact of the matter is if Paddack can make any strides in limiting right-handed hitters, it’s not hard to see him being one of the leaders in the rotation for the next three years. It was easy to question parting with Taylor Rogers for a struggling Chris Paddack at the time, but it’s become very clear in this early season that the Twins did so with a very specific plan in mind. At 26 years old after a few tough seasons, Paddack appears to still have the raw talent that once earned him the reputation as one of the up-and-coming stud pitchers in baseball. With a change in scenery, a change in pitch sequencing, and possibly a new trick or two up his sleeve, Chris Paddack could become the high-end pitcher fans were calling for all offseason. Do you agree? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  11. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Paddack, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (71 pitches, 52 strikes, 73.2%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (-.181), Gary Sánchez (-.154), Trevor Larnach (-.085) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Royals put pressure on Chris Paddack right out of the gate, as the righty gave up back-to-back hits to open the game, and the Royals had men on the corners eight pitches into the game. Paddack was able to induce a double play to get out of the jam partially, but not before leadoff man Whit Merrifield scored from third. Fortunately, that double play was the beginning of Paddack hottest streak. After the two hits he allowed early, he went on to retire the next eleven batters. The Royals manufactured another run in the fifth inning, again opening the inning with back-to-back hits. Adalberto Mondesí brought Andrew Benintendi home on a bunt single to make it 2-0 Kansas City. Paddack got right back on track and retired the next three batters to end the threat. Unfortunately, the offense was a no factor to back him up. Coming into this game, the Twins' offense had a poor OPS of .621 (ranking 19th in MLB) and struck out 26.8% of the time (ranking 22nd) when facing lefties this year. Minnesota’s bats were utterly dominated by Royals starter, lefty Daniel Lynch during the first five innings. The only time during that span the Twins posed a threat to Lynch was in the third inning, the only time they had two baserunners – a Miguel Sanó leadoff single and a Jorge Polanco walk. However, Minnesota couldn’t cash in, and they stranded both runners. In the sixth, a leadoff single by Carlos Correa took Lynch out of the game, but the pitching change didn’t do much for Minnesota’s offense, which continued struggling. Paddack closed out the game with a solid start, throwing 73.2% strikes over five innings of work. After two starts, he has yet to give up a walk in a Twins uniform. Is he becoming a reason for optimism for Twins fans? Caleb Thielbar and Cody Stashak combined for three solid shutout innings with no walks and four strikeouts, keeping the team alive came the ninth inning. But once again the cold bats couldn't provide the needed runs. According to Aaron Gleeman, this is the first time in Twins history they've had a batting average below .200 after 12 games. It can't get any worse than that. What’s Next? To conclude the road trip, the Twins will try to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon. Joe Ryan duels with Zack Greinke, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Winder 66 0 0 0 0 66 Jax 0 0 47 0 0 47 Romero 11 0 0 30 0 41 Stashak 0 17 0 0 21 38 Duffey 0 18 0 15 0 33 Thielbar 0 17 0 0 15 32 Duran 0 0 23 0 0 23 Smith 0 0 6 2 0 8 Pagán 0 0 0 0 0 0 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0
  13. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Paddack, 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 49 strikes, 67.1%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Chris Paddack (-.152), Byron Buxton (-.074), Miguel Sanó (-.058) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Paddack has a rough start, done after four Chris Paddack’s first start as a Twin got off to a rough start. With a career 7.07 ERA against the Dodgers, the Texas native struggled with his command and getting ahead in the counts right in the first inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases quickly, and Justin Turner pushed the first two runs across on a ground ball. It took Paddack thirty pitches to get through the first inning, and only 56.6% of them were strikes. His second time through the order, during the second inning, wasn’t any easier. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman reached, and Trea Turner hit a sac-fly to score Betts, making it 3-0 Dodgers. Thankfully, he settled down and tossed a couple of scoreless frames on 24 pitches – less than half of what it took him to pitch the first two innings, including a nine-pitch 1-2-3 fourth. With his pitch count surpassing 70, Rocco Baldelli decided to pull him. Kershaw pitches seven perfect frames. Pulled too early? Making his first start of the season and his first-ever start against the Twins, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was out of this world this afternoon. With a killer slider that resulted in swings and misses 63% of the time, he pitched seven perfect innings on 80 pitches, striking out 13 batters. The closest a Twins hitter got to breaking his perfect game bid was when Gio Urshela hit a grounder that ricocheted off the mound past Kershaw, but it was fielded in time by Gavin Lux. It had a .420 xBA, the highest against Kershaw in the game. To the disappointment of baseball fans all over the world, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided not to bring Kershaw back for the eighth inning. How did you feel about the move? Rodríguez tosses three solid innings, gets blown out in the eighth After Paddack was pulled from the game, righty Dereck Rodríguez took over, making his Twins debut almost 11 years after being drafted by Minnesota. He became a free agent and left the organization in 2017, and was signed to a minor league contract this summer. The Texas native no-hit the Dodgers for three innings and pretty much kept the Twins’ chances alive. However, everything fell apart in the eighth, when he gave up three consecutive home runs to the bottom third of the Dodger lineup, putting the game out of reach. Called up yesterday to replace Jorge Alcalá, Griffin Jax made his season debut in the ninth and allowed Los Angeles’ fourth home run of the game, a solo shot to Max Muncy, which gave the game its final numbers. What’s Next? The Twins have their first day off of the season this Thursday, and they start a four-game series against the Red Sox in Boston on Friday, their home opener. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Rodríguez 0 0 0 0 59 59 Thielbar 18 0 19 18 0 55 Romero 0 15 0 34 0 49 Smith 20 0 19 3 0 42 Duffey 18 0 14 0 0 32 Pagán 0 10 0 20 0 30 Coulombe 0 15 0 14 0 29 Winder 0 0 0 28 0 28 Jax 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 11 0 0 11
  14. By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below!
  15. Breaking Down the Opening Day Roster On Thursday, the Twins finalized their Opening Day roster, with a few surprises rounding out the fringes. The most noteworthy names on the official 28-man squad heading into the season are rookie Josh Winder (serving as a long man in relief), Gilberto Celestino serving as the fourth outfielder (very temporarily, I suspect), and newcomer Jhon Romero edging Griffin Jax for a final bullpen spot. Matthew Taylor wrote a great article posing one pivotal question for each player on the 28-man roster. Oh, and the shakeup we'll cover next also added a very surprising twist to the season-opening mix. Catch Up on the Last-Minute Trade Between Minnesota and San Diego You can never count this front office out. Just when it looked like they were going to roll into the regular season with a conspicuously thin starting rotation, the Twins pulled the trigger on a big trade on the morning of MLB Opening Day. In a last-minute stunner, the team traded its longtime closer and best reliever Taylor Rogers, along with Brent Rooker, to San Diego for starter Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagán. Seth Stohs offered some immediate reaction when the move was announced on Thursday morning, and Ted Schwerzler followed up with analysis of the trade's impact. Joe Ryan vs. Robbie Ray: How Big is Seattle's Matchup Edge? It has the makings of a serious mismatch on paper: the reigning Cy Young winner going up against a rookie with five MLB starts under his belt. JD Cameron has you covered with a full breakdown of the Ryan vs. Ray tilt. As he notes, "Ray could not contrast more markedly with Ryan in experience, build, or arsenal." Elsewhere, Andrew Mahlke wrote about how the Twins are showing major confidence in Ryan by giving him the Opening Day nod. Theo Tollefson pointed out that Ryan is in rare air as a rookie. Our Official Season Preview Guide The Twins experienced a lot of change over the past offseason. Your best bet for getting fully up to speed is by grabbing a copy of Twins Daily 2022 Season Preview. Featuring contributions from JD, Lucas, Nash, Rena, David, Seth, and myself, this PDF breaks down each of the club's biggest offseason moves – the Correa signing, the Buxton extension, the Gray trade, and much more – while also highlighting rookies who are likely to debut and laying out 22 crucial things to know before the first pitch. The guide is free to all caretakers. Buy in for a minimum of one month at six bucks, and it's yours. Stick with us if you're so inclined. But make sure you grab the guide. Position by Position Roster Analysis Over the past few weeks, I've been running through in-depth breakdowns of every position on the team as the season gets underway – from catchers to relievers. The questions we seek to answer in these pieces: What's the outlook? How's the depth? What's the plan going forward? Read up on the 2022 Minnesota Twins roster: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field Position Analysis: Right Field Position Analysis: Designated Hitter Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher Position Analysis: Relief Pitcher Get Acquainted with the Top Prospects We recently unveiled our Twins top prospects tracker. I highly recommend bookmarking it and checking back often. It'll be updated throughout the season as stocks rise and fall. If you're looking for a detailed analysis of the organization's best upcoming talent heading into this 2022 season, you can read my overview of the system or click through to profiles on each of the top 20 Twins prospects (spoiler alert: MANY of them are going to debut this year): 20. Steve Hajjar, LHP: Big 6-foot-5 southpaw drafted in the 2nd round last year, touted for his changeup. 19. Edouard Julien, INF: Versatile fielder drew 101 BB in 112 G last year at Single-A, good for a .434 OBP. 18. Spencer Steer, INF: Mashed 24 homers in a breakthrough power season, playing mostly 2B and 3B. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Looked to be clicking last year before TJ surgery, which will cost him '22 season. 16. Emmanuel Rodríguez, OF: Extreme contact woes marred otherwise highly encouraging rookie-ball debut. 15. Louie Varland, RHP: Honored as the org's top minor-league pitcher in '21 thanks to dazzling A-ball performance. 14. Cole Sands, RHP: Polished righty has posted a 2.53 ERA, 10.3 K/9 in two seasons since joining Twins system. 13. Matt Wallner, OF: Huge raw power will play if he can shore up his plate discipline and whiffing tendency. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Was overwhelmed during rushed MLB debut, but the skills are undeniable. 11. Noah Miller, SS: 38th pick in '21 draft out of HS swings from both sides with legit chance to stick at short. 10. Josh Winder, RHP: Absurdly dominant between AA/AAA last year, and is basically ready to go at 25. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: Team's top draft pick from last summer was a high-school phenom with 100-MPH heat. Traded to Reds for Sonny Gray. 8. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Mechanics and control hold back premium arsenal, but he's still young. 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Imposing flamethrower has makeup to dominate but must get past scary elbow issues. 6. Matt Canterino, RHP: His 1.13 ERA and 76 Ks in 48 IP since being drafted in 2019 say it all, good and bad. 5. Joe Ryan, RHP: Amazing numbers in minors were made to look legit during 5-start run with Twins. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Safest combination of ceiling, floor, and proven durability among arms in the system. 3. José Miranda, 2B/3B: Perennial breakthrough candidate broke through with minor-league season for the ages. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Missed 2 straight years, but has the elite skills, athleticism, and drive to catch up fast. 1. Austin Martin, SS/OF: Headliner of 2022 deadline sell-off is a worthy top prize, with evident star qualities. Finally, a Word to Our Community I originally published this stream of thoughts on Twitter, but figured I would do so here as well, because you all are the people I was really addressing: It's almost Opening Day. An Opening Day some of us (legitimately) thought would never come. I'm feeling really excited and just gonna gush a little bit. In February we celebrated the 10th birthday of Twins Daily. It's been a wild and amazing ride. I feel both proud and humbled to have played a small role in it. John Bonnes, Parker Hagemen, Seth Stohs and Brock Beauchamp are the best partners and friends a guy could ask for. We've developed something so special that we're hoping to extend it into new markets. We joined forces with a Brewers site, Brewer Fanatic, with the goal of bringing our same model of community-based independent coverage to fans in Milwaukee. It's a movement! We also just launched a "Caretaker" program at TD which gives members a way to financially support our operation, mainly because they want to see it sustain and grow while supporting our creators. The response has been unbelievable. Seriously. Twins Daily is, and always has been, driven by the talented and dedicated people that contribute their time and energy to its cause. We have assembled so many that I can't even try to fit them all in a series of tweets. Y'all are amazing. You are the future. Baseball is ultimately a small part of life. Following it closely is a hobby and diversion. But it matters, a lot, to so many of us. That's become clearer than ever over the past few years as fans have repeatedly grappled with the prospect of losing their beloved summer pastime. Personally, this sport has connected me to John, and Seth, and Parker, and Brock. And basically everyone I know on through this community. I never would've guessed when I started a blogspot in 2005 that this obsessive side hustle would turn into something so integral to who I am. Our site's success instills in me a deep faith that this model can keep carrying fandom and online coverage forward. I'm stoked. The internet, for all its imperfections, is perfect for bringing together all sorts of random folks around a shared passion and pursuit. We're not competing with mainstream media or traditional journalism. We're adding to them. Twins fans have never had access to more awesome content and diverse perspectives. That was the entire goal of this endeavor from the start. THANK YOU. See you at the ballpark.
  16. First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball.
  17. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal?
  18. Although Derek Falvey had suggested that the team was ready to roll with its existing group of starters, fans know better than to take such remarks at face value. On the eve of (postponed) Opening Day, the Twins look to be adding an intriguing asset in Paddack, who was a top prospect turned outstanding big-league starter not so long ago. Details are scant at this point, but Rosenthal reports that the Twins are "working to acquire" the right-hander, who was known to be available after the Padres traded for A's starter Sean Manaea (thought to be another Twins target) last weekend. That language does not suggest any finality, but Rosenthal is not the type to report something like this on a whim. It's likely a deal is about to materialize. Of note: Trevor Larnach was pulled from the St. Paul Saints lineup just ahead of game time tonight. Paddack was ranked by MLB.com as the 34th-best prospect in baseball ahead of 2019, and arrived in the majors that year with a bang, posting a 3.33 ERA and 2.4 fWAR over 26 starts (140 innings) for the Padres. He struggled a bit in the shortened 2020 season, posting a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts, and last year was rough – at least according to his 5.07 ERA. But his 3.78 FIP and 3.87 xFIP suggest a good amount of bad luck was at play. He kept the homers in check, kept his velocity steady (averaging 95 MPH with the fastball), and maintained his excellent control. With a few tweaks, the Twins could get Paddack back on track as a strong #2/3 type starter, and he's under team control for three more seasons. Don't be fooled by the numbers from last year – which new Minnesota bench coach Jayce Tingler saw play out first-hand as Padres manager. This would be a big get.
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