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  1. Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021?
  2. Last season the Minnesota Twins played Houston in a three-game series and was swept, scoring just two runs in 18 innings of work. The 2020 club wasn’t the 2019 Bomba Squad, but they still won the division over Chicago and Cleveland while playing at a 97-win clip. The Twins looked well-positioned, with Kenta Maeda pitching like a Cy Young and Jose Berrios being a formidable starter in his own right. The lineup was still plenty scary, and distancing themselves from an insufferable Postseason losing streak was no doubt the goal. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, they needed to break in rookie Alex Kirilloff out of necessity, and star third basemen Josh Donaldson couldn’t go. Jorge Polanco made a critical throwing error, and the Twins were done in mainly by their ineffectiveness. This season, they were expected to compete for a third straight division title, but after fumbling out of the gate, the Chicago White Sox represented the Central against the same foe. This time around, a Chicago team looked plenty capable of knocking off Houston but yet has thus far suffered the same fate. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito should both get Cy Young votes this season. Along with Carlos Rodon, the South Siders have a trio of talented arms. Defense isn’t Tony La Russa’s club’s calling card, but the lineup is plenty potent. With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert back, Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal get help with the heavy lifting. It shouldn’t have been expected to go this way, but now down 2-0, Chicago is backed up against the wall. They won’t have a pitching advantage in game three but will get the game back at home. Barring a miraculous three-in-a-row run, the Central division winner will bow out quickly for the second year in a row. I’ve seen it suggested that the White Sox, and probably Minnesota last season, are just division-winning good. The AL Central was expected to be down this year, and given the Twins performance, it wasn’t as top-heavy as expected, but it’s hardly the doldrums of baseball. No team in the Central lost 90 games, the Royals got off to a strong start, and the Tigers finished playing good baseball. While the group as a whole didn’t have a herculean frontrunner, there’s no denying it played competitive baseball on a nightly basis. Suggesting that the White Sox weren’t in the same tier as Houston falls on deaf ears for this writer. The lineup, rotation, and pieces of the pen can compete with anyone. I think the Astros are being slept on some as they look to fly under the radar following the fallout of their cheating scandal. What takes place in a five-game series doesn’t define the body of work necessary to reach this point. Chicago dealt with some of the most crippling injuries this season and still ripped off 93 wins. Minnesota battled through a weird year a season ago and lost two in a row at the wrong time. Houston is good, the Central is OK, and the only problem may be Chicago returning this core next season. The Twins, and everyone else, are on notice. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  4. April: That Loss in Oakland (4/21) In Twins lore, this was a game that will forever live in infamy. In fact, it probably needs a nickname for eternal reference. Bayside Blunderfest? Catastrophe in the Coliseum? The Oaktown Meltdown? Whatever you want to call it, this was the clear low point in a gut-punch of a first month for the Twins. I don't say so lightly, because there was no shortage of brutal blows from which to choose, but this game was the cream of the crap. It wasn't just the dire implications of that 13-12 result itself, sealing a sweep for the A's and marking Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. No, what made this one an L for the ages – to the extent you knew exactly which game I was talking about when you read "that loss in Oakland" – was the almost comically painful way in which it all unfolded. I won't torture you with a full recap, but the gist is this: With the team playing short-handed due to a COVID outbreak, Kenta Maeda digs a deep hole by allowing seven runs (an early sign something is amiss for the reigning Cy Young runner-up); the offense mounts a big rally; Byron Buxton attempts to will the team to victory single-handed with a huge catch and home run; and then ... Alex Colomé happens. As these Twins stumbled out of the gates and fell flat on their faces, Colomé was a deserving figurehead for the failure. The front office's big-ticket bullpen pickup was an incomprehensible disaster, repeatedly giving away games that were in hand. On this special occasion, he did so twice in a two-inning span! Minnesota led 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Colomé entered. He gave up a run. The game went to extras. Buxton launched a dramatic two-run homer in the 10th. Then Colomé promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom half, and watched the infield defense implode behind him as the A's rallied to score three runs on back-to-back errors and walk it off. *chef's kiss* May: Twins Drop 12th Out of 15 Games (5/20) Damaging to our collective psyches as it may have been, the above game was not fatal to the team's hopes of contending. While a 6-11 start wasn't ideal, the Twins were padded by a strong first week. This was just a good team going through an ugly April funk ... right? Nah. Turns out they were just bad. From May 8th through May 20th they went 3-12, turning in lifeless outing after lifeless outing as their season crumbled into nothingness, a mere seven weeks after getting started. Prior to this stretch the Twins were modestly climbing toward .500; by the end they were 14-28, and 11 ½ games out of first place. The last of the dozen losses during this 16-day stretch – a 7-1 doubleheader matinee against the Angels – was not especially noteworthy, save for how typical it was. Lewis Thorpe made a spot start and got lit up. The bullpen was bad. The offense did nothing. It was obvious from early on the Twins were going nowhere in this one, which is a suitable summarization of their season as a whole. June: Buxton Breaks His Hand (6/21) As things devolved in the early weeks, there was one redeeming storyline for Twins fans. Buxton was playing out of his mind. In April he became the first Twins player to earn Player of the Month honors in more than a decade. Unlocking his long-simmering potential at last, the center fielder was a must-watch attraction on a team that was otherwise hard to stomach. In early May, a hip injury shut Buxton down, leading to more than a month on the Injured List. He returned in mid-June, fighting through obvious pain and physical limitation, but was nonetheless productive for three games. Then, a freaking fastball hit his hand and fractured it. The team's fate was already more or less sealed by this point, but seeing their most likable player suffer another unthinkable setback was almost too much to take. I'll never forget Rocco Baldelli's somber postgame press conference, which conveyed empathy for his snakebit center fielder, as well as a general sense of dazed bewilderment at the state of his club's shattered season. This was going to be the year Buxton pulled it all together. Instead, it'll go down as yet another fleeting glimmer of greatness. And perhaps his final hurrah in a Twins uniform. July: Berríos Dealt on Deadline Day (7/30) We've already seen that final hurrah from José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and rose to similarly impressive heights. The blockbuster deal that sent Berríos to Toronto for two top prospects was among the most significant deadline trades in franchise history, and a bellwether moment. Trading Berríos affirmed a full-on changing of the guard, following the less surprising Nelson Cruz trade a week earlier. Factor in coinciding reports of fruitless extension negotiations with Buxton, and this year's deadline openly signaled an oncoming identity shift for the Twins. This changing identity was evident in the final two months, during which we'd see these Twins play some of their very best ball. August: Ober Blanks Boston at Fenway (8/25) No Berríos. No Cruz. No Maeda. No Taylor Rogers. And yet the Twins were a .500 team after the trade deadline. That's not anything to write home about but, all things considered, it's kind of eyebrow-raising. How'd they do it? Bailey Ober played a big part (figuratively and literally) in the quality results, and the long-term implications of his sudden ascent from organization filler to rotation fixture are difficult to overstate. The month of August saw Ober pitch to a 2.30 ERA and 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 27 ⅓ innings. The Twins went 4-1 in his five starts. While veteran pitchers around him got injured, got traded, and got blown up, Ober remained steady, with his newfound velocity boost and 6-foot-9 frame proving a sustainable formula. His most memorable outing in an excellent month came in Boston on the 25th. One year prior, no one would've realistically expected Ober to be pitching in the big leagues, so the rookie must've been feeling some nerves as he took the mound against a powerhouse at legendary Fenway Park for his 15th MLB start. You would've never known it from the way he pitched. Ober tossed a leisurely five shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. At this moment he's the presumed Opening Day starter in 2022. September: Polanco Tallies 4 Extra-Base Hits (9/6) While Ober's emergence as a rotation staple was the most consequential unexpected development of the 2021 season, Jorge Polanco's rejuvenated slugging prowess may be a close second. For better or worse, the Twins are contractually tied to Polanco through at least 2023, and that was tilting in the "or worse" direction when his punchless 2020 production spilled over to April. But as he became more comfortable on his twice-surgically-repaired ankle, and began to find his stride once again, Polanco's long-absent power came rushing back. Suddenly, the switch-slugging All-Star from early 2019 was back and better than ever. And this was no flash in the pan. Polanco consistently kept pounding baseballs for the rest of the season – reflected by the fact that his most memorable highlight arrived in September. On this day in Cleveland, Polanco tallied a season-high four of his 70 extra-base hits, doubling three times and homering in a 5-2 win. During the previous series in Tampa, he launched two home runs and two doubles. Five days later against the Royals, he'd go deep twice. Polanco relentlessly slugged and produced all the way through to the end, playing at an MVP level while the team around him acquiesced to sub-mediocrity. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of Brian Dozier in 2016. One year later, Dozier was the veteran star and leader on a team that shocked everyone, improving by 26 wins and reaching the postseason. A precedent that is perhaps worth carrying forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Box Score Gant: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (63.3% strikes) Home Runs: Jeffers (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Gant -.291, Rooker -.088, Kepler -.082 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) A small disaster nearly struck the Twins early, as John Gant had a tough first inning. Granted, it could’ve been worse, but things were ugly. Command wasn’t there from the very beginning, and the strike zone eluded him. He loaded the bases before recording an out, then threw a wild pitch that allowed the Royals to score first. He loaded the bases immediately afterward, and Kansas City scored again on a force out. It was not before he tossed 29 pitches that the bottom of the first inning was finished. Weirdly enough, he came back to pitch a 1-2-3, six-pitch bottom of the second. That came with the help of some fancy defense from the Twins’ outfield, with Max Kepler making a beautiful, inning-ending diving catch. But that didn’t help Minnesota’s case much, as the offense couldn’t produce a baserunner before the third when Brent Rooker led off the inning with a single. Rooker got picked off, and the Twins couldn’t get anything going. That scoreless second inning from Gant turned out to be the exception, after all. It didn’t look like it at first, though. He did retire the first two batters he saw in the third on only seven pitches, right before giving up four consecutive hits to the heart of the Royals' lineup, allowing Kansas City to pushed a couple more runs across. Minnesota manufactured a run in the fourth after Byron Buxton hit a double and advanced on a fly out by Jorge Polanco and brought home by a Josh Donaldson two-out double, making it 4-1 Royals. Gant was back out for the fourth, and luck wasn’t on his side this time. In what was supposed to be a scoreless effort from him, the Royals scored two more runs on a pop up that landed between Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon, just tipping off the shortstop's glove. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez scored, making it 6-1 Kansas City. The offense continued to struggle against rookie Jon Heasley, who cruised through five innings on only 69 pitches. The Royals’ offense, on the other hand, added more runs. Hunter Dozier hit a leadoff home run in the fifth off Luke Farrell. Then, Adalberto Mondesí doubled and scored on a Cam Gallagher RBI-single, making it 8-1 Kansas City. Twins pick up three runs; Royals take them back Heasley dominated the Twins lineup for five innings. However, things started to change for the righty during the sixth inning. Ryan Jeffers crushed a leadoff, 429-feet home run to left that left his bat at 107 MPH. Minnesota kept pounding the rookie, and they loaded the bases with only one out: a Buxton double, a Polanco walk, and a Donaldson hit-by-pitch. Suddenly, the Twins could make this a two-run game on a swing of the bat. Royals manager Mike Matheny pulled Heasley from the game. Reliever Gabe Speier came into the game and got the second out with two pitches, but he couldn’t quite escape from the jam. Miguel Sanó stepped up to the plate and hit a liner to center to score Buxton and Polanco. Kansas City’s lead was down to four runs. But that rally didn’t last. Two men reached against Farrell in the bottom of the sixth, prompting Rocco Baldelli to remove him from the game. Jovani Moran couldn’t take care of the inherited runners, giving up three consecutive singles that scored three more runs to Kansas City, making it 11-4. The offense had some fight in them. With Speier still on the mound for the Royals, Minnesota hit three consecutive one-out singles (Jeffers, Luis Arráez, and Buxton) and loaded the bases for Polanco. Polo grounded into a force out to score Jeffers and Arráez and reach first himself on a throwing error by Merrifield. Polanco was credited with one RBI on that play which was his 95th of the season, tying the club record for most RBI in a season by a switch-hitter, previously held by Roy Smalley, in the 1979 season. Will he break the record in the two final games of the season? Minnesota threatened once again in the top of the eighth when they had men in the corners with two outs and Jeffers at the plate. He then swung on a 3-1 slider over the plate and gave it a ride, but the ball was caught just in front of the center field fence. Arráez led off the ninth with a single, but he was stranded by former Twin Ervin Santana and the Royals won the game. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 18 0 0 44 Duffey 0 18 21 0 0 39 Farrell 0 0 0 0 38 38 Moran 0 0 0 0 38 38 Garza Jr. 0 19 0 12 0 31 Thielbar 0 13 0 14 0 27 Alcalá 0 10 0 13 0 23 Minaya 0 0 22 0 0 22 Vincent 0 0 0 16 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 15 15 Barraclough 0 0 0 14 0 14
  6. Recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and the MLB Pipeline All-Prospect 1st Team, Miranda has picked up all of the accolades. It’s hard to be surprised, given his performance. For the season, he owns a .347/.403/.574 (.977) slash line along with 60 extra-base hits, of which 29 are home runs. His 73/41 K/BB rate suggests a strong eye and plate discipline ability, and despite the year with no minor league action, it’s hard to see anything but an immense amount of work put in. For a Minnesota Twins team that saw their season end essentially before it ever got off the ground, it’s worth wondering how Miranda wasn’t selected to see action at the big-league level. The role isn’t straightforward, though, and it’s something Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli will need to sort out for the year ahead. In 2021, Miranda played games at every infield position aside from catcher, and he even got three starts in left field. Primarily a third basemen, that role is currently occupied by Josh Donaldson, who has been one of the Twins better hitters and is signed to a large contract. Miranda is blocked at second base by one of the game’s best in Jorge Polanco, and he’s miscast playing shortstop. It appeared that the Twins wanted to see his abilities at first base, but that’s a role currently held down by Miguel Sano and likely Alex Kirilloff next season. So, where does he go? Had the Twins dealt Donaldson at the trade deadline, it essentially would’ve been to swing a cash dump. Donaldson, and more notably his contract, will never net the Twins anything close to an equal value. Given his uptick in production, it made sense to keep him around for the year ahead. If Minnesota is entering a rebuild, though, Donaldson’s services are much less needed, and he’d likely desire an opportunity to win elsewhere. The man at the hot corner remains much of the linchpin to this situation, though. Suppose Donaldson was out of the picture, an immediate opening is created for Miranda. He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen. The other option would be to roll with Jorge Polanco as the team’s shortstop next season. We’ve seen that he’s stretched defensively in that position, and for a guy who’s looked so good at second base, it’d be a tough sell to put him in that spot. With Polanco at short though, Miranda could draw the most starts at second base, with Luis Arraez continuing to operate in a super-utility role as he has. The other possibility is at first base, moving Miguel Sano to a full-time designated hitter role. That forces Alex Kirilloff into the outfield, however, and leaves Trevor Larnach or Max Kepler twisting in the wind. Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis. It's an option, but wouldn't strike me as a desirable one. No matter what the decision-making process is, the Twins need a solution. Miranda was not a top-100 prospect entering the season, but coming off his production at the highest levels and being just 23-years-old, forcing his way into the immediate plans has been accomplished. From my perspective, the Twins still need to sign a starting-caliber shortstop, preferably on a one-year deal. That doesn’t help the chances of Miranda making the Opening Day roster or squeezing his way in quickly, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that the roster turnover comes quickly and often. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Homeruns: Polanco (32) Top 3 WPA: Pineda (0.181), Polanco (0.163), Duffey (0.121) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Jorge Polanco Give Twins Early Lead The Twins bats got off to a quick start in this ballgame providing some instant offensive support for Michael Pineda. Luis Arraez got things started with a single and advanced to second on a weakly-hit infield single from Byron Buxton. This set the table for Jorge Polanco, who promptly drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead. Michael Pineda Has Strong Final Start of the Season With the Twins season coming to an end on Sunday, this was almost assuredly the final start of Michael Pineda’s season, and potentially his final start in a Twins uniform, as he will be a free agent at season’s end. Pineda held the Tigers offense scoreless on three singles through the first three innings of the ballgame, before surrendering his lone run of the game in the fourth. Robbie Grossman got the Tigers fourth started with a single, before Pineda struck Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Grossman advanced to third on a Jeimer Candelario fly out, and then scored on this comebacker that struck Pineda. Twins Add Insurance Runs in the 8th Protecting small leads in the 9th have plagued the Twins all season, so the offense adding two insurance runs in the 8th inning to double their lead felt bigger than they usually would. After making a great catch to end the top of the inning, Byron Buxton led off the bottom of the inning and was hit by the first pitch he saw. Buxton then stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tigers catcher Eric Haase. Buxton would later come in to score on an RBI base-hit from Max Kepler. Miguel Sano followed the Kepler hit with a one-out walk to load the bases for Nick Gordon who hit a shallow fly ball to center that did not appear deep enough to score Josh Donaldson from third, but he tagged up anyway and scored the Twins fifth run of the game thanks to an off target throw home. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN TUE WED TOT Garza Jr. 0 0 18 19 0 37 Vincent 0 0 33 0 0 33 Thielbar 0 0 17 13 0 30 Coulombe 0 37 0 0 0 37 Farrell 0 18 0 0 0 18 Duffey 17 0 0 18 21 56 Barraclough 0 33 0 0 0 33 Colomé 5 0 0 26 18 49 Minaya 19 0 0 0 22 41 Moran 0 19 0 0 0 19 Alcalá 6 0 0 10 0 16 What's Next? The Twins have their final home game of the 2021 season on Thursday night, as they look to complete the three-game sweep of the Tigers. Joe Ryan is scheduled to pitch for the Twins opposite Tarik Skubal. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Post Game Interviews
  8. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Box Score Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8) Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings. Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto. Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot. The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors. Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season. Pineda, bullpen finish off strong Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota. Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022? Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH. Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022? Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Duffey 38 0 0 0 16 54 Colomé 27 11 0 0 14 52 Barraclough 23 16 0 0 0 39 Farrell 34 0 0 0 0 34 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Coulombe 0 27 0 0 0 27 Vincent 0 0 21 0 0 21 Alcalá 0 8 0 0 13 21 Minaya 0 13 0 0 0 13 Thielbar 11 0 0 0 0 11 Garza Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 6
  10. Box Score Gant: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K Home Runs: Polanco (30), Sanó (27), Buxton (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Garza Jr. -.186, Sanó -.146, Donaldson -.110 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota struck first and took a four-run lead in the first inning, facing former member of the Twins organization Luis Gil. Luis Arráez snapped an 0-for-11 slump with a leadoff single and was later pushed across the plate by a home run from Jorge Polanco. This was his 30th dinger of the season, setting a record for most single-season home runs by a switch-hitter in Twins history, breaking the tie with Chili Davis in 1991. Gil lost Josh Donaldson on a seven-pitch walk immediately after Polanco’s home run. He managed to strike out Max Kepler next for the second out, but then another slumping Twin, Miguel Sanó, snapped his 0-for-13 funk with a high home run to center field which barely cleared the fence, making it 4-0 Minnesota. John Gant started out this game at the mound for Minnesota, but he was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury after throwing only 12 pitches and retiring two batters. Luke Farrell got called into the game and did a fine job, providing 2 1/3 hitless innings, helping to keep the Yankees scoreless through three innings. The Twins kept making good contact off Gil and, during the third inning, they added to their lead with another home run. Leading off the top-half of the inning, Byron Buxton jumped on the first pitch he saw, smashing it to a 106 MPH exit velocity, making it 5-0 Twins. Twins pitchers continued to dominate Yankees' hitting, keeping New York with one hit through 5 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar and Kyle Barraclough, who was recalled from Saint Paul earlier today (with Brent Rooker going on the paternity list), delivered two quick, scoreless innings in relief of Farrell. But in the sixth inning, Barraclough got huge help from the outfield defense behind him, as Max Kepler made some crucial plays in right field, robbing New York of at least an extra-base hit that could spark a rally. They did score a run on a sac-fly from DJ LeMahieu, scoring Tyler Wade from third. Terrible umpiring helps the Yankees to rally back Tyler Duffey came into the game to get the last out of the sixth immediately after Barraclough gave up a two-out hit. He opened the seventh fanning Giancarlo Stanton, but he gave up a solo home run to Joey Gallo, cutting Minnesota’s lead to three. He came back to pitch the eighth, but he got some awful calls from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed at least four calls during that inning. Brent Gardner “drew a walk” on a ball four that was most certainly a strike (pitch #6 below). That put two men on, and Rocco Baldelli pulled Duffey off the game. Alexander Colomé came in to face Aaron Judge, who hit a three-run home run, tying the game at five. Colomé struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, taking the game to extra innings. All Minnesota was able to do during the 10th inning was to move up the ghost runner on a sacrifice groundout. In the bottom half, Gary Sánchez hit a line drive to left, deep enough to score Gleyber Torres from second, winning the game for New York. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Farrell 32 0 12 0 34 78 Minaya 0 40 0 17 0 57 Duffey 0 11 0 0 38 49 Colomé 0 12 0 0 27 39 Coulombe 15 0 23 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 37 0 37 Thielbar 0 0 26 0 11 37 Garza Jr. 19 0 0 11 6 36 Alcalá 0 9 0 18 0 27 Barraclough 0 0 0 0 23 23
  11. Box Score Michael Pineda: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (13), Jorge Polanco 2 (29), Nick Gordon (2), Max Kepler (17) Top 3 WPA: Michael Pineda .169, Jorge Polanco .167, Byron Buxton .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco announced their presence in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs, setting the tone for the Twins’ offense for the remainder of the game. Nick Gordon followed with a solo shot of his own one inning later, and Max Kepler contributed another in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Polanco’s second dinger of the evening extended the Twins’ lead to 6-1, which was more than enough to propel them to victory. Polanco finished the evening with three hits in five plate appearances and raised his slash line to .280/.336/.520 in 133 games. His 29 home runs represent the most in franchise history by a switch-hitter and by a second baseman not named Brian Dozier. With his performance Saturday evening, Polanco eclipsed the 4.0 fWAR mark, placing him inside the top 25 performers on offense this season. While he did not make the All-Star team and got off to a slow start while still recovering from back-to-back ankles surgeries, Polanco’s second-half eruption is worthy of garnering MVP votes come season’s end despite the Twins being among the worst teams in all of baseball. He won’t get many — heck, there’s a good chance that he won’t get any — but few players have had a more impressive August and early September than the Twins’ second baseman. Even though Polanco and the Twins’ offense stole the show, Michael Pineda’s start should not be overlooked. The impending free agent lowered his ERA to 3.87 on the season and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last 10 appearances. His overall strikeout numbers are down this year, and some of his advanced metrics suggest that he hasn’t been quite as good as his box score numbers, but overall his performance this season, when healthy, has been admirable. The Twins and Royals conclude their series on Sunday afternoon when Bailey Ober (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is expected to face off against Kris Bubic (4-6, 5.07 ERA). First pitch is slated for 1:10 PM CST. Postgame Interviews Coming soon... Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Minaya 21 0 0 40 0 61 Thielbar 25 8 0 0 26 59 Farrell 0 0 32 0 12 44 Colomé 17 0 0 12 0 29 Coulombe 0 0 15 0 23 38 Duffey 0 17 0 11 0 28 Alcalá 19 0 0 9 0 28 Garza Jr. 0 0 19 0 0 19 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
  12. If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022. Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone. After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain. In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts. In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. After Jorge Polanco limped through 2020 with an ankle injury that required a second surgery, it became more than apparent that Rocco Baldelli needed a different option at shortstop. Before Royce Lewis was shelved with a torn ACL, the big league club needed a stabilizing presence at the most critical position on the infield. Casting a wide net made the most sense for the Twins. Marcus Semien was arguably the best option, and despite finishing a close runner-up for his services, the former Athletics infielder has posted an otherworldly season for the Blue Jays. Many players would qualify as fringe options, having one or more holes in their games. Falvey opted for a pact with Gold Glove-winning fielder Andrelton Simmons. The former Angels shortstop always carried a light bat, but his defense got the job done. Welcome to 2021. It’s not as though Simmons’ defense has fallen off a cliff; he’s still been a valuable commodity in the field for Minnesota. His 11 defensive runs saved rank third in baseball at the position, and he’s behind only Nick Ahmed and Francisco Lindor when it comes to outs above average at shortstop. Simmons has induced many highlight-reel plays this season behind Twins pitching, but his blunders have always been highly noticeable. Simmons has been miscast for a guy who needs to make an impact defensively to hide his bat, given the results Minnesota has generated on the season as a whole. He carries value for a good team that can afford to have a complete non-factor in the lineup. Given the Twins inability to pitch and often hit, the marginal defensive upgrade he has been only amplified the awful season of production. At -0.4 fWAR, Simmons has been Minnesota’s third-worst position player behind Willians Astudillo and Gilberto Celestino. Without finding a trade partner for him at the deadline, the Twins have allowed Simmons to play in 116 games despite being a free agent at year’s end. He’s being paid $10.5 million in 2021 and has been worse than a non-factor offensively. His .561 OPS is dead last in baseball among 154 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. He has a .286 OBP and has a whopping 14 extra-base hits. The most divisive contribution Simmons has made to the Twins clubhouse may have been a medical one. Just days after being outspoken regarding his stance on vaccines, the shortstop tested positive, and Minnesota soon experienced an outbreak. Without attributing fault to any one person, Simmons' brash nature and desire to publicly share his opinions on Twitter were undoubtedly met with backlash given how the season began to spiral. Over the years, plenty of front offices have missed when it comes to spending money on players leaving other organizations. Sometimes those players move on for the sake of a big contract. Other times it happens because the club is moving on before getting caught holding the bag. This may be more of the latter when considering the Angels situation, and Minnesota felt the wrath of a decision gone wrong. You could make a case for Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Ricky Nolasco when considering previous Twins missteps. Still, nothing about how Andrelton Simmons has fared in Minnesota is good, and it’s a shock he’ll survive the year without a DFA. Back to the drawing board at shortstop for 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Box Score Starter: Bailey Ober 4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (27), Byron Buxton (11) Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.240), Pineda (.192), Buxton (.096) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) At this point in the season, it feels like a Bailey Ober start is appointment viewing to get a further glimpse at what the Twins may have in him for next season. Pineda almost stole the headlines as he was activated from the IL to piggy-back Ober. Still, it was truly Polanco who once again stole all the attention away from anyone else on the field Monday night in Cleveland. The Twins got their scoring going early. Buxton was able to get an infield single to lead off the game. Polanco lined his 30th double of the season to advance Buxton to 3rd base. Then one of the more unusual 3-hole hitters for the Twins, Rob Refsnyder, drove both Twins base runners home with an opposite-field single to put the Twins up 2-0 over Cleveland. As the 3rd inning came around, so did Polanco’s spot in the lineup again. In his second at-bat as a righty against the left-handed Logan Allen, Polanco hit his 27th home run of the season. Polanco wasn’t finished for the night either. He would end the night going 4-for-5 with three doubles and a home run. Buxton is Back Buxton has looked good and healthy since returning from the injured list from the running and fielding standpoint. His bat has been quiet. Yesterday it began to awaken, and tonight that awakening continued. In addition to his 1st inning single, Buxton also hit his 11th home run of the season which gave the Twins a 4-2 lead in the 5th inning. Ober Continues His Growth One of the few storylines many fans are watching as the season winds down continues to be an impressive one. Ober continued his excellent stretch of pitching on a night he knew he would be limited and piggy-backed by Michael Pineda. Ober made a mistake with Franmil Reyes' at-bat, and he blasted a hanging slider for a 2-run home run. Besides that run-scoring opportunity, Ober continued to look strong as he challenged Cleveland batters inside, struck out four and walked none. Pineda Returns to the Mound With plenty of questions surrounding where Pineda will be for the 2022 season, Pineda made his return starting the 5th inning after Ober was finished for the evening. Big Mike put together a respectable line of 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 Ks, and 1 BB. The results were there, but questions still remain around the stuff and/or command being fully back. That is a question that will need to be answered as the Twins consider whether or not they will make Pineda a contract offer for 2022. It was a fun night in Cleveland for the Twins. They will go back at it tomorrow as John Gant takes the mound against Aaron Civale. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Gibaut 24 0 0 47 0 0 71 Colomé 0 0 0 11 23 9 43 Minaya 11 0 0 21 0 0 32 Garza Jr. 0 0 8 23 0 0 31 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 28 0 28 Duffey 0 0 0 0 10 8 18 Alcalá 0 0 0 0 15 0 15 Coulombe 10 0 0 0 0 0 10
  15. Box Score Andrew Albers: 3 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Miguel Sanó (24), Jorge Polanco (26) Bottom 3 WPA: Andrew Albers -.385, Luis Arraez -.046, Ryan Jeffers -.031 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The first inning didn’t exactly go well for Andrew Albers. The second inning was worse. The third inning was bad, too. The Rays jumped all over the Twins’ starter early, roughing him up for two runs on four hits, including a leadoff triple by rookie standout Randy Arozarena, in the opening frame. In the second, Arozarena (single), Wander Franco (double), Yandy Diaz (home run), and Jordan Luplow (home run) battered him up even more. Manuel Margot (home run) decided he had to get in on the fun in the third and Arozarena liked what he saw, so he added a dinger as well. Oh, and amid all the chaos, Albers was called for two balks, one that was ultimately rescinded while the other scored Tampa Bay a run. (Editor's Note - neither one was actually a balk.) It was that kind of game for the Twins who were thoroughly throttled by the Rays Saturday afternoon in Tampa. On the bright side, Jorge Polanco stayed hot, picking up hits — a single, his 29th double, and his 26th home run of the season — in his first three at-bats and Miguel Sanó hit a laser beam home run to center in the fourth. So, that was nice! (But because we can't have nice things, Sanó later exited the game following a collision with Rays’ catcher Mike Zunino. He was ruled day-to-day with a left shoulder contusion.) However, that’s about all that went well for Minnesota. All in all, it was a stinker of a game in which very little was learned, at least on the positive end of the spectrum. It’s probably for the best if we just agree to collectively pretend as though this one never happened. The Twins and Rays are back in action on Sunday when Griffin Jax (3-3, 6.71 ERA) faces off against Luis Patino (4-3, 4.24 ERA). First pitch is slated for 12:10 p.m. CST. Postgame Interviews Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Gibaut 0 0 24 0 0 47 71 Minaya 0 24 11 0 0 21 56 Garza Jr. 0 17 0 0 8 23 48 Colomé 23 0 0 0 0 11 34 Thielbar 0 26 0 0 0 0 26 Alcalá 25 0 0 0 0 0 25 Duffey 0 16 0 0 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 0 10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. August represented the first month of the season in which Minnesota had a winning record. Curiously enough, according to several metrics, it was also the month in which they had their lowest offensive productivity. This controversy (given that their pitching wasn’t substantially better either) could be explained by the fact that Twins hitters performed very well in clutch situations, making the difference between losing and winning in at least a handful of games. Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner! Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez This is how good Luis Arraez is: despite having a slight dip in productivity during August, he still had one of the top 15 batting averages in baseball. Also, by slashing .291/.371/.384 (.755), he finished the month with the highest batting average on the team. Unsurprisingly, his power numbers aren’t impressive, but he compensates for that with a ton of plate discipline. Among all qualified batters in August, Arraez’s strikeout rate (8.2%) ranked fourth-best in baseball. He only struck out more than one of his teammates in August: bullpen legend Willians Astudillo (2.9%). It should be brought to your attention that Arraez’s final numbers in August started to drop only during the last week of the month. Until Aug 24, he was slashing .314/.381/.404 (.785) before an 0-for-16 slump. Hopefully, the turn of the calendar will help him get back on track. Honorable Mention #2: Miguel Sanó Miguel Sanó’s mere presence in this Twins lineup was a question mark for quite some time. When he struggles, as he did during April and May, many people are vocal about it. Well, for the past three months, he’s been proving many people wrong, having a very consistent, above league average productivity. His highlight of the month happened last week, when he hit the longest home run in all of baseball this year, sending the poor baseball completely out of Fenway Park. During August, Sanó had his highest number of plate appearances of the season (106), and he was able to sustain a season-best .820 OPS while also having a .344 wOBA and 118 wRC+. It seems as if consistent playing time makes all the difference for the big fellow. Sanó had the team’s second-most extra-base hits (11) and third-highest SLG (.489) in August. Not to mention that he stepped up when the team needed him the most, putting the ball in play 50% of the time in high-leverage situations, the eighth-best BABip in all of baseball in such situations. Honorable Mention #1: Josh Donaldson “The Bringer of Rain” had an incredible month of August, possibly his best in a Twins uniform. Donaldson led the team in batting average for the month, slashing .278/.360/.519 (.878) while also posting .376 wOBA and 140 wRC+, both ranking second-best on the team and considerably above league average. This was the fourth month out of five this year in which he maintained a wRC+ of at least 125. For those who believe the Twins should pursue a trade involving him next winter, his improved second half of the season can seriously increase his trade value. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco For the first time since we’ve established the hitter of the month award, we have a player to be named for a second time. In August, Jorge Polanco was easily the Twins’ best hitter, leading the team in fWAR, with 1.1 and also most of the other relevant offensive metrics, including .945 OPS, .612 SLG, .390 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. But what was even more impressive about Polanco’s August was how clutch and decisive he was! He was responsible for three consecutive walk-off RBI hits for Minnesota this month alone. Check out this video from Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming with every one of his five walk-off hits this season. Given his track record and expected statistics, his current power surge is probably unsustainable over an entire season. He slugged .421 for the first three months of 2021 before jumping to .548 in July and .612 in August. Nonetheless, Polanco’s August was just the icing on the cake of what has been one of his best seasons as a major-leaguer, entitling him to be a front-runner to be named the Twins’ hitter of the year. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Box Score SP: Randy Dobnak: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (88 pitches, 53 strikes (60.2%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (25), Ryan Jeffers (12) Bottom 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (-0.287), Josh Donaldson (-0.084), Byron Buxton (-0.067) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Hip... Hip... Jorge Polanco gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 25th home run of the season. Polanco cut the Twins deficit to just two runs (5-3) with a two-out bloop double that scored Luis Arraez in the 8th inning. In between, Ryan Jeffers launched his 12th homer with the Twins this season. The Fu Manchu Returns For the first time since June 19th, Randy Dobnak took the mound for the Twins. While it may be impossible to make a start in which one gives up five runs a good start, Dobnak did figure things out and provided the Twins with seven innings. Yes, he gave up five runs before recording the first out of the third inning. However, he retired the next 15 batters he faced. He got weak contact. He induced ground balls. He recorded 17 of his 21 outs on ground balls. He worked efficiently, and gave the bullpen a second straight day off... well, except for the eight-pitch outing from Ralph Garza. It's hard not to wonder if things might have been different that Miguel Sano simply recorded the out at first bases on the Randy Arozarena broken-bat grounder to first. Obviously it's impossible to know, but Arozarena wouldn't have scored on Kevin Keirmeier's double that followed. Maybe that means one less run. Maybe two? Who knows, but the tone of the game sure changed at that point. Here are some of Dobnak's postgame thoughts: Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 23 0 0 0 0 23 Thielbar 0 26 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 24 11 0 0 35 Alcalá 25 0 0 0 0 25 Gibaut 0 0 24 0 0 24 Garza Jr. 0 17 0 0 8 25 Duffey 0 16 0 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10
  18. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO Home runs: Sano (22), Polanco (24), Donaldson (19), Cave (3) Top 3 WPA: Ober (.257), Donaldson (.130) Polanco (.118) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Miguel Sano Hits Longest Home Run in MLB This Season Last week Miguel Sano blasted a 475 foot bomb as part of the Twins extra inning win against Cleveland. At the time, it was the longest home run hit by a Minnesota Twin this season. Well... Sano wasn’t content with just having the Twins longest home run of the season, he wanted more and tonight he did just that as he blasted a 495 foot home run not just over the monster, but the billboards at the back of the deepest part of the monster. Truly a majestic home run that you need to see to believe. Jorge Polanco Hits 24th Home Run of the Season After failing to come through with bases loaded and just one out in the second, Jorge Polanco redeemed himself in his next at-bat. With one on and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Polanco became the second Twins hitter in as many innings to take Nick Pivetta deep. Bailey Ober Has Another Strong Outing While Griffin Jax has gotten more recognition for his performance of late, Bailey Ober has quietly been very good over the past month as he carried a 2.81 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday night’s game. Those numbers only continued to improve after Ober went five shutout innings against the Red Sox. Tonight’s outing was as impressive as any he has made in his young Major League career. The only inning where the Red Sox put together a scoring threat was in the third. Christian Vasquez got the threat started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout from Enrique Hernandez. Kyle Schwarber then came through with a two-out hit, but poor baserunning from Vasquez caused him to be held up a third. This was the second chance Bailey Ober needed, as he got Xander Bogaerts to fly out to right to end the threat. Alex Colome Blows Yet Another Save If there has been one single theme to this disappointing season from the Twins, it has been Alex Colome blowing save after save. It started from day one and it hasn’t stopped as he blew yet another great performance from his teammates that should have led to a Twins 4-2 victory. Instead, he gave up this game-tying two-run blast to Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the ninth. Colome then gave up a single and a walk to put the winning run on second base with still nobody out. However, he was able to work out of the jam and send this game to extra innings. Donaldson and Cave Go Yard in the 10th Just when all hope seemed lost, the Twins bats took back the lead with a five-run 10th inning. The inning got started with a two-run home run from Josh Donaldson. While those two runs were nice, it hardly felt like a safe lead for the Twins to hold in the bottom of the inning. Luckily, the Twins were not done hitting. With two outs in the inning, Rob Refsnyder got on base with a line drive single to center. Ryan Jeffers followed by getting hit by his second pitch of the game, setting the stage for Jake Cave who crushed a no-doubter over the bullpen in right, giving the Twins a much more comfortable 9-4 lead. Ralph Garza gave up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, but the Twins won 9-6. Bullpen Usage Chart THURS FRI SAT TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 109 0 0 0 109 Minaya 0 16 0 30 0 46 Albers 63 0 0 0 0 63 García 0 0 28 0 0 28 Gant 61 0 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 0 0 31 0 24 55 Barraclough 0 46 0 0 4 50 Duffey 0 0 0 19 9 33 Colomé 0 0 0 0 20 0 Coulombe 19 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 0 0 14 22 23 What's Next? The Twins will face the Red Sox in Game 3 of the series on Thursday night. John Gant is the scheduled Twins pitcher, and he will square off against Chris Sale. Post Game Interviews
  19. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Jax 4.2 IP, 7 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO Homeruns: Jorge Polanco (23), Donaldson (18) Bottom 3 WPA: Jax -.514, Cave -.146, Thielbar -.102 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Twins fans began the day wondering about the status of Kenta Maeda as he is seeking a second opinion on his injured arm. If this is true, the question that has to be answered as this situation plays out, is, why? The Twins have been out of contention for some time, why has Maeda been operating hurt? Here’s how the Twins lined up for their opening game against the Red Sox in Boston. The Twins got off to a fast start on Tuesday. Max Kepler missed a home run by inches, crushing a triple to right center-field to lead off the game. Jorge Polanco brought him home with a single to right field, giving the Twins an immediate one to nothing advantage. Initially, Griffin Jax showed the improved velocity and slider which have made him look like a possibility for the back end of the Twins rotation in 2022. Through three innings, Jax surrendered a solo home run to Travis Shaw to tie the game at one. In he fourth inning Miguel Sano followed up a Luis Arraez single and a Mitch Garver double with a two run singles, to restore the Twins lead. Jax began to lose command in the bottom of the fourth inning. After walking Rafael Devers and an Alex Verdugo double, Jax left a breaking ball middle in to Hunter Renfroe, who clubbed a three-run home run to give the Red Sox a four to three lead. Jax unraveled in the bottom of the fifth. He surrendered a single, ground-rule double, a walk, another double, and a two-run home run to Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe deposited his second home run of the night over the Green Monster. Juan Minaya relieved Griffin Jax and pitched an effective 1 ⅓ innings in relief. The Twins began to close the gap in the seventh inning. After Max Kepler reached on an error, Jorge Polanco walloped his twenty third home run of the year to left-center field. In a season of struggles for the Twins, Polanco has shown himself to be an elite player when healthy and locked in. A Josh Donaldson walk, Luis Arraez single, and a wild pitch, put runners on second and third with one out. Mitch Garver struck out, bringing Nick Gordon to the plate. Gordon took what should have been ball four for a strike, before a remarkable foul ball, keeping his at bat against Hirokazu Sawamura alive. Gordon punched a single straight back up the middle to cut the deficit to nine to eight. In the top of the eight inning, Jake Cave singled, before inexplicably attempting to steal second base. He was thrown out, and the Twins were retired without scoring. In the bottom of the inning, Kike Hernandez mashed a two-run home run off Caleb Thielbar, extending the lead to eleven to eight and putting the game out of reach of the Twins. The Twins continued to claw in the ninth. Josh Donaldson led off the inning with his 18th home run of the year. The Sox walked Luis Arraez and Mitch Garver to put the tying run at first base. Hansel Robles entered the game and got Nick Gordon and Miguel Sano to strike out, leaving Jake Cave as their last hope. Cave lined out to second base to end the game. Bullpen Usage Chart WED THURS FRI SAT TUE TOT Barnes 0 0 109 0 0 109 Minaya 40 0 16 0 30 86 Albers 0 63 0 0 0 63 García 35 0 0 28 0 63 Gant 0 61 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 23 0 0 31 0 54 Barraclough 0 0 46 0 0 46 Duffey 14 0 0 0 19 33 Colomé 31 0 0 0 0 31 Coulombe 7 19 0 0 0 26 Thielbar 9 0 0 0 14 23 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins continue their series with Red Sox. They send Bailey Ober to the mound to take on Nick Pivetta. First pitch is at 6:10 CST. Postgame Interviews - coming soon
  20. Box Score Maeda: 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Bottom 3 WPA: Donaldson -.148, Polanco -.127, Garcia -.100 Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) It was a pitcher’s duel early on in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon with team aces Gerrit Cole and Kenta Maeda exchanging great performances from each dugout. The New York Yankees got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning after a hit-by-pitch by Rougned Odor kicked off a rally for the Yankees, ending with a RBI single by Tyler Wade gave the New York Yankees an early 1-0 lead. The Minnesota Twins had a great chance to get on the board themselves in the top of the 5th inning when they had the bases loaded and Josh Donaldson up to the plate, but Donaldson took a called third strike to end the Twins rally and preserve Cole’s outstanding outing. Things took a turn for the worse for Maeda and the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the 5th inning, though, when Maeda lost all control of his pitches. Maeda allowed a double and a single before hitting Anthony Rizzo, throwing a wild pitch, and walking Aaron Judge on nine consecutive balls. Following the walk to Judge and a ball to the next hitter, Maeda motioned for the trainers to come out and Maeda was promptly removed from the game with what was called right forearm tightness. Responsible for all three runs on the bases after being removed from the game, Twins reliever Edgar Garcia allowed each of the runs to score on doubles from Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit to give the Yankees a five-run inning and push their lead to 6-0. On the day, Maeda pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on four hits, one walk and two hit batters. Across the diamond, Gerrit Cole was much more effective for the New York Yankees, limiting the Twins to just five hits across scoreless innings while striking out six. While the rest of the Twins’ offense struggled to push runs across the plate, Jorge Polanco stayed on his ridiculous hot streak at the plate, blasting a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the 8th to give the Twins their first (and only) run of the game. The Yankees sure didn’t need any insurance runs, but they got another one in the bottom of the 8th inning on a solo shot from backup shortstop, Andrew Velazquez. The Twins would wind up losing to the New York Yankees 7-1, making it three losses in a row and cementing yet another series loss to the Bronx Bombers. What’s Next? The Twins will look to avoid a 4-game sweep tomorrow afternoon when they send Griffin Jax to the mound to face off against old friend Luis Gil. Editor’s note: It has since been announced that Sunday’s game has been rained out. Bullpen Usage Chart
  21. May 5th was a bad day. I attended the Twins game at Target Field and watched a lifeless team sink to 11-18 with a 3-1 loss against the last-place Rangers. Polanco and Max Kepler went a combined 0-for-8 with six strikeouts. I came home grumpy, and lamented that the Twins had seemingly founded their team-building strategy upon faulty cornerstones. In my frustration, I may or may not have fired out a tweet labeling Polanco and a couple other laggards "garbage." That same night, I declared I had seen enough, and wrote off the 2021 Twins as contenders. Sadly I was not wrong on the latter assertion, but the unkind assessment of Polanco looks downright silly in the wake of his dramatic and remarkable turnaround. In my defense, there was plenty of validity in the expression of doubt. Polanco became a heightened subject of my scrutiny, in part because his swing looked so blatantly bad and in part because his manager seemed oddly unconcerned. In mid-April, I wrote an article here wondering when Rocco Baldelli's faith in Polanco's bat would be shaken, noting the mounting evidence of his diminished offensive ability. At that point, Polanco owned a .358 OPS and had slashed .260/.313/.393 over his previous 164 games – good for a .303 wOBA that was nearly identical to Andrelton Simmons over the same time period. Given this evidence, there was just no real reason to believe in Polanco. I didn't doubt that his poor production was more a reflection of ongoing health issues than his true talent, but there were no signs of improvement on that front. Even after a second consecutive offseason ankle surgery, he was still unable to put his lower half into his left-handed swing, and thus, his numbers against right-handed pitchers remained abysmal. What's happened since is a good reminder that the body can sometimes take a long time to get right, and patience is generally a good policy. Since my aforementioned cranky tweet on May 5th, Polanco has slashed .290/.351/.533 with 20 home runs in 86 games, and lately he's turned into a walk-off machine. His Statcast metrics look radically different from the ones I shared in April. He's hitting for as much power as anyone in the league. Polanco is not just playing at an All-Star level; he'd be right in the MVP conversation if the Twins weren't so bad. Most importantly, Polanco has re-established himself as a high-quality building block and a key fixture in the club's contention hopes going forward. Hard to remember another time when I've been this delighted to be this wrong. Sorry again, Jorge. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Box Score John Gant: 3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Jake Cave (2), Miguel Sanó (21) Bottom 3 WPA: John Gant -.211, Josh Donaldson -.107, Luis Arraez -.081 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Minnesota Twins fell to the New York Yankees Thursday night. The game functioned as the Twins’ second-straight bullpen game after Lewis Thorpe was removed early in Wednesday’s action with a shoulder injury. John Gant was the lone Twin that didn’t make an appearance during the series finale against the Cleveland Guardians and, thus, was awarded his 15th start of the season against the Yankees. How generous. Gant performed admirably in his 3 ⅓ innings, striking out four. However, the Bronx Bombers scored four runs in a third inning capped off by a Kyle Higashioka home run. The Twins’ bats were kept quiet by Jameson Taillon until the sixth inning when Jake Cave hit his second home run of the year to get them on the board. Jorge Polanco later doubled in Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler to cut the lead to 6-3. Polanco went 3-for-4 on the night with three RBI to raise his OPS to .822. However, Minnesota’s offense came a little too late. Miguel Sanó added his 21st dinger of the season to bring the Twins within two in the ninth, but they ultimately failed to capitalize further. One positive to arise Thursday night was the return of Andrew Albers to the Twins bullpen. Albers — who is 35-years-old and was called up for the first time this season on Thursday morning — last pitched for the Twins during the 2016 season and hadn’t thrown in the majors at all since 2017. After a rough start to the season at Triple-A, Albers pitched to a 3.86 ERA for the Saints in 15 starts. He also was a member of the Canadian national team who fell just short of an Olympic berth earlier this summer. He tossed four innings and struck out four while surrendering only a single earned run Thursday night. The Twins and Yankees return to action on Friday evening when Charlie Barnes (0-2, 4.91) is expected to go up against Nestor Cortes (1-1, 2.55). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED THURS TOT Gant 0 0 17 0 0 61 78 Barnes 0 73 0 0 0 0 73 Albers 0 0 0 0 0 63 63 Minaya 0 0 19 0 40 0 59 García 0 21 0 0 35 0 56 Colomé 0 13 10 0 31 0 54 Garza Jr. 16 0 0 13 23 0 52 Thielbar 0 15 19 0 9 0 43 Duffey 0 27 0 0 14 0 41 Coulombe 10 0 0 0 7 19 36 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Box Score Starter: Griffin Jax 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Max Kepler (16), Ryan Jeffers (11) Top 3 WPA: Thielbar (.486), Polanco(.241), Colome (.144) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) In case you missed it, the Twins have been pretty good as of late. They have won a series against three first-place teams in the last week and carrying a record of 7-3 in their previous ten games. Tonight’s starter, Griffin Jax, also had himself a great outing on August 10th against the White Sox, going 6.0 innings with ten strikeouts and three earned runs. With Cleveland coming to town Monday night, the hope for the Twins would be that they could carry all those good fortunes into the new week as they play a rare series against another non-competitive team. The game did start on the right foot for the Twins. After a scoreless first by Jax, Max Kepler led off the Twins half of the 1st with a home run off of Cal Quantrill to put the Twins up 1-0 early. Kepler would also make a tremendous foul territory catch in the 3rd over some fans and finish the game going 1- with a walk and an RBI on a fielder’s choice on the weirdest 6-4 putout ever. By the second inning, some of those good vibes started to wear off. If there was one thing in Jax’s last outing that was a negative, it was the two home runs he surrendered. It was a home run that would get Jax in Monday night’s game as well. After giving up a walk to Franmil Reyes, Bradley Zimmer smashed a 446-foot no-doubter to center field, putting Cleveland up 2-1. Polanco ties the game with his wheels After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Polanco was standing on first with two outs in the third inning. Josh Donaldson was the next batter and just blooped a single into right-center field. Everything looked pretty routine until Polanco rounded third and blew through Tony Diaz’s somewhat casual stop sign. Something about the play even caused Cleveland’s defense to be somewhat lulled into a daze, allowing Polanco to score and tie up the game 2-2 on a play that results typically in him still standing at third base at its conclusion. Twins Out Run Defensive Miscues, Until They Didn’t While Jax didn’t pitch with the strikeout dominance, he did last week. He still did well to pitch around a lot of defensive miscues. Beginning with the second inning, the Twins had three consecutive innings with defensive miscues that extended the inning. The fifth inning included another miscue that didn’t extend the inning but allowed Ahmed Rosario to take an extra-base as Jake Cave overran a ball in the outfield that turned a double into a triple. Rosario would score on a single by the next batter, Jose Ramirez. The sixth inning brought another one of those inning extending plays as Andrelton Simmons committed an error trying to pick up a grounder to short. This miscue led to an Andres Gimenez walk and then a single down the left-field line by Austin Hedges to bring Gimenez to the plate and give Cleveland a 4-3 lead. Jeffers To The Rescue After allowing Cleveland to go ahead in the top part of the inning, Ryan Jeffers didn’t want to leave his pitcher hanging out there with the chance of getting the “L.” Jeffers took a Justin Garza pitch and relocated it to the other side of the outfield fence. Another One for Jorge If the Twins were going to walk off this game, it seemed only fitting that it would be Jorge Polanco once again. After a deflating double play masterfully put together by Cleveland's Ramirez, Polanco ended the game by driving home Kepler. Sound off in the comments about the win, and get ready for another game tomorrow night! The Twins will look to keep the winning ways going tomorrow, with Bailey Ober slated to take the mound against Cleveland's Eli Morgan. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Barnes 0 0 0 73 0 73 Gant 0 41 0 0 17 58 García 0 27 0 21 0 48 Vincent 0 37 0 0 0 37 Thielbar 0 0 0 15 19 34 Duffey 0 0 0 27 0 27 Colomé 0 0 0 13 10 23 Minaya 0 0 0 0 19 19 Garza Jr. 0 0 16 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10
  24. Box Score (add link) SP: Charlie Barnes: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 44 strikes (60.3%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.327), Caleb Thielbar (.232), Charlie Barnes (.200) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Patience is a Virtue Luis Patino was the key piece the Rays received in return for former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Padres in the offseason. A top pitching prospect, he has certainly shown well for the Rays in 2020. Fortunately for the Twins, he was a bit wild on Sunday and the team took advantage. Patino walked Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco in the first inning, and Josh Donaldon singled in Kepler for the game’s first run. After a walk to Luis Arraez, Polanco scored on a Trevor Larnach fielder’s choice. The Twins went scoreless in the second innings, although Kepler had a double and Polanco walked again. There was one more walk in the third inning. Ryan Sherriff came on in the fourth inning. After getting the first two batters out, Kepler and Polanco walked. All Star Andrew Kittredge came on and Donaldson came through again with a big, two-run double to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. Barnes at his Best Lefty Charlie Barnes made his third MLB start on Sunday afternoon, and it’s fair to say that it was his best start to date. The southpaw was generally in control of the game for five innings. He gave up just three hits and only allowed one run, on a solo homer off the bat of Mike Zunino. Overall, his strike percentage was not real good, but instead of just missing over the middle of the plate, he was missing just outside the strike zone. This is definitely a start to build on. Middle Relief Struggles Edgar Garcia came on for the sixth inning. He quickly got the first two outs of the inning, but then issued a walk and a home run off to star rookie Wander Franco. That cut the Twins lead to 4-3. Tyler Duffey got the 7th inning. He started the inning with a walk. Then after a pop-out, he coaxed a potential ground ball double play. However, due to an error, no outs were recorded. Duffey walked another batter to load the bases. Randy Arozarena hit a little infield single to tie the game at four. Duffey did come up big by striking out Nelson Cruz, but bases were still loaded with one out yet to get. Clutch Caleb (Thielbar) Caleb Thielbar came in and, after falling behind 3-0, got All Star Austin Meadows to pop out to end the inning. He has now stranded his last seven inherited runners, a streak that began on June 21. With the game still tied in the top of the eight, Thielbar gave up a leadoff double to Franco. However, after a sacrifice bunt moved Franco to third, Thielbar got an infield pop out and a ground out to first base to keep the game tied. When you take a look below at the names available to Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson in the chart below, is Thielbar the team’s best, most-reliable bullpen arm right now? Well, another option for that title right now might be Alexander Colome who pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. It was his eighth straight scoreless appearance. In that stretch (7 1/3 innings), he is 1-0 with five saves. Klutch Kepler (and Polanco) Max Kepler reached base four times on Sunday. As mentioned above, he walked twice. He also had two doubles including an opposite-field double down the left field line to lead off the ninth inning. Bobbled by Austin Meadows, Kepler scampered to third base. Two pitches later, Jorge Polanco hit a fly ball deep enough to easily score Kepler from third and give the Twins the 5-4 win, and a third-straight series win. It was his fifth career walk-off plate appearance and third this season. The Twins are clearly playing their best baseball of the season as they have reached arguably the toughest part of their season. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Barnes 0 0 0 0 73 73 García 0 0 27 0 21 48 Gant 0 0 41 0 0 41 Vincent 0 0 37 0 0 37 Colomé 14 0 0 0 13 27 Thielbar 20 0 0 0 15 35 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 16 0 16 Duffey 0 0 0 0 27 27 Minaya 15 0 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 10 0 10
  25. When the Twins signed veteran Andrelton Simmons to a one-year, $10.5MM deal last offseason, it seemed like a perfect fit for a club that needed their top prospect to get an extra year of seasoning under his belt. A torn ACL and an anti-vaxxer later and what seemed like a perfect fit has turned into a complete disaster, and that’s before pointing out that Simmons has been one of the worst hitters in the league this year. Based on the latest Twitter mentions of Simmons, it’s pretty clear that the fans are ready to turn the page, although after not being dealt at the deadline, we’re likely stuck with him as there isn’t a suitable option to take his place at the moment. With Royce Lewis missing two full minor league seasons, he will need to start the year in Wichita or St. Paul and would probably spend the entire season between one of those two spots. Here are the short-term options for the position until he proves he’s ready. 40-man Roster Jorge Polanco - we’re well aware of his recent history with the position, and it’s not pretty. Moreover, I wonder if his 2021 rebound has anything to do with moving to second base. He’s had back-to-back offseasons that required minor ankle surgery but seems to be healthy playing a position that is a little less taxing than shortstop. Based on the season he’s having, I’d hope that Twins don’t push him back to shortstop in 2022, but he also might be the best option currently in the organization. Nick Gordon - after six-plus seasons in the minors, Gordon finally made his Major League debut but didn’t do a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity. In recent years he’s started mixing time in a second, but he does have over 4,500 minor league innings at short. From what we’ve seen so far, he’s not the long-term solution at the position, but he could be an upgrade over Simmons in a season where the Twins likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot. Non-40-man Roster Jose Miranda - nobody saw this coming from Miranda, but he’s burst onto the scene and is having arguably the best season of any minor leaguer. He’s crushing so much so that you have fans clamoring for him to be with the big league club right now. In the long run, he’s the current heir apparent to Josh Donaldson, but he’s almost forcing the Twins hand to add him to the 40-man and see what he can do in 2022. A lot of greats have moved from short to third...Ripken, Rodriguez, Machado...and in 2024 or 2025, maybe Miranda can add his name to that list. Austin Martin - the Twins shiny new prospect has done well since coming over in the José Berríos trade, but Ken Rosenthal reported that the front office views him as more of an outfield prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an opportunity in Spring Training next year, but I would be surprised if he were named the everyday shortstop for the big league club. Jermaine Palacios - he’s having a nice little season for AA-Wichita, but I don’t see him being a candidate for this job in 2022. Drew Maggi or JT Riddle - the two minor league veterans are in St. Paul, but like Palacios, I can’t imagine they’ll get much of a look with other, better options to fill in for a year. Free Agents Marcus Semien - he’s having a great season with Toronto after signing a one-year deal last offseason, and entering his age 32-season, I have to imagine he’ll be looking for a multi-year deal. Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez - I group these guys because they are the best young shortstops in the game, and all will be looking to cash in. Like Semien, I foresee them wanting a lot of money over multiple years. José Iglesias - if the Twins are going to hit free agency, this might be a good, cheap target. Iglesias has bounced around the league quite a bit with great defense and a passable bat. Andrelton Simmons - LOL. It comes down to the vision for the 2022 season, which I believe to be a rebuild or “retool” year. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense to spend in free agency when you have the opportunity to give some of your prospects time at the Major League level. No matter who they go with, they will be downgrading the defense, but that comes with an increase in offense. I think a mixture of Polanco, Gordon, Miranda, and Martin would be an okay choice while they spend money to rebuild their rotation and bullpen.
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