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  1. Jovani Moran is far from a Twins top prospect. He’s slowly worked his way up the system since being drafted in 2015 and will be 26 years old in 2023. He averaged just a bit above 93 mph on his fastball and lacks the nasty wipeout slider to truly dominate same handed hitters as you normally see in left handed relievers. He’s not currently an impactful part of the 2023 Twins pitching staff, but he could be. By now we all know the deal with Jovani Moran. He walks too many hitters and his main out pitch is a changeup, making him almost more of a right handed reliever due to the pitches harsh splits against right handed hitters (.458 OPS allowed in 2022). He’s a bit of an enigma due to his lack of velocity and pitch mix that still resulted in an incredible 32.9% K rate. With being somewhat of a unicorn, can Moran continue succeeding at the MLB level if he’s given a true opportunity in 2023? We’ve seen the worst of Moran, at times appearing to have no idea how to find the strike zone. This is easily the number one concern, as on occasion we’ve seen him walk the bases loaded and look completely uncompetitive. It’s always been a part of his game and his 11% BB rate in 2022 was a bit of a tightrope act. Consider however that that 11% rate was his best since 2019 in AA, and was a significant improvement on his 18.4% BB rate in 2021. Moran appears to have improved, and while his career has been up and down, it’s at least encouraging to see. Some would argue that Moran’s 2.21 ERA in 2022 was unsustainable not only because of his walk rates, but because he performed much worse with a 6.00 ERA in AAA which could be the true indicator of his abilities. Consider however that the 6.00 ERA in AAA was backed up by a 3.01 FIP and 2.75 xFIP. Moran had an unsustainable 65.4 left on base % and 16.7 homer to flyball rate. While he walked more batters with the Saints, it looks like what could go wrong did. Furthermore, his 2.21 ERA with the Twins was backed up by a 2.28 xERA, 1.78 FIP, and 2.88 xFIP. These aren’t predictive stats, but looking at his ERAs in AAA and at the MLB level, it sure seems the latter was the more legitimate outcome. It’s hard to call Moran the second lefty in the Twins bullpen, and he certainly shouldn’t be trusted in high leverage immediately. Moran has earned an opportunity to be a bullpen regular however. Any pitch with a near 50% whiff rate should immediately earn a pitcher an extended look, and Moran’s changeup has posted this mark in both of his MLB seasons. In 2022 the pitch allowed a .101/.158/.139 line, and his fastball was a great pitch as well. He also gets a decent amount of ground balls and he’s allowed just 14 homers in his entire 200+ professional innings. With such standout characteristics in his profile, Moran should easily be ahead of relievers such as Trevor Megill for low leverage spots. This isn’t a call to make Moran a featured reliever out of the Twins bullpen in 2023. He has several elite skills however and if he can improve on his walk rate just a bit more, he’s flashed the ability to thrive in a high leverage role. Being used as he was in 2022 however will certainly not bring that possibility to fruition. As a home grown talent on a team that doesn’t invest in the bullpen, there’s simply no reason to continue bouncing him in between the majors and minors while giving fringe MLB pitchers opportunities. 2023 should bring opportunity for Jovani Moran who arguably should’ve earned more of it in 2022. If he even hits his 60th percentile, the Twins would have a unique weapon out of the bullpen and would make playing the matchups an absolute nightmare for opposing clubs. It’s time for Jovani Moran to get some respect.
  2. MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins have re-signed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, as reported by Betsy Helfand of the Pioneer Press. Coulombe, 33, has been with the Twins organization since 2020, appearing in 41 relief appearances over the last three season and posting a 2.92 ERA in 49.1 innings pitched in that time. The Twins bullpen is still light on left-handed relievers with Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran as the only two with MLB service time on the 40-man roster. The other lefty currently on the 40-man is Brent Headrick, who spent his 2022 season as a starter between High A Cedar Rapids and Double A Wichita. Coulombe pitched in only 10 games for the Twins in 2022 before being shutdown for the season due to injury.
  3. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan, 6 IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 8K (91 pitches, 65 strikes, 71.4%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (22) Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.302), Mark Contreras (.162), Ryan Jeffers (.081) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Already out of playoff contention, the Twins headed for Detroit for their final road trip of the year, with a couple of three-game sets. Tonight, they kicked off the Tigers series, and, without the postseason prospect, the focus turned to a final, unlikely goal: finishing the season at .500 or better. Already with 80 losses, they entered tonight’s game needing to win at least five of their remaining six games to finish at .500. They got off on the right foot, and with some early offense, they were able to jump to a quick three-run lead. Jermaine Palacios snapped a personal 0-for-33 funk dating back to the beginning of the month with a single in the third inning. On the very next at-bat, he scored on a Mark Contreras double, his first in the majors. That was all the offense could garner on that inning, but they would at it again on the next one. After giving up a leadoff single in the first, Joe Ryan went on to retire nine in a row, preserving the lead for the offensive turn in the fourth. Gio Urshela drew a leadoff walk, and a couple of at-bats later, Ryan Jeffers smacked a long ground ball to corner left, which was called a double for fan interference at first. Rocco Baldelli challenged the call, and it got overturned, as the two fans who tried to catch the ball whiffed on it. The call overturn turned Jeffers’ double into a triple, and it scored Urshela. A few moments later, Jake Cave, who’s been having a solid month, particularly as of late (he came into tonight’s game posting a .897 OPS in his previous seven games), hit a grounder to center, allowing Jeffers to score easily from third, making it 3-0 Twins. Ryan allowed a couple of singles in the bottom of the fourth but eventually got out of the jam to keep the shutout going into the fifth. Despite not scoring, the offense continued hot in the fifth, creating a bases-loaded situation against Tigers’ starter Tyler Alexander: walks by José Miranda and Gary Sánchez and a single by Carlos Correa. Ryan finishes off strong; offense puts the game out of reach Making the final start of his first full season in the majors, Ryan was looking for a solid start to wrap up a season full of ups and downs. Struggling against good times more times than not but dominating lesser teams, he came into tonight’s game with the chance to secure a season ERA in the mid-3s. For that, he needed to finish strong, but he looked a bit shaky in the sixth. Riley Greene drew a leadoff walk, and after a strikeout, Ryan lost Harold Castro to a single right before Miguel Cabrera stepped up to the plate representing the tying run. The Tiger legend got ahead on the count 2-0, with Ryan failing to get him to chase down and away, but eventually, Ryan got him to ground into a force out. Greene moved up to third, and Spencer Torkelson had one last chance to ruin Ryan’s start, also representing the tying run, but Ryan fanned him for his eighth punchout of the night, ending the threat. With tonight’s shutout, Ryan brings his September ERA down to 2.19, and he finishes his first full season in the majors with a solid 3.55 ERA over 147 innings of work, which is probably the most exciting start to a big league career from any Twins starter since maybe the 2017 season by José Berríos. Further proof of that is that with his eight strikeouts tonight, Ryan reached 151 punchouts, breaking the record for most strikeouts in a season by a Twins rookie pitcher, surpassing Francisco Liriano’s 144 back in 2006. To thank Ryan for his brilliant start, the offense put together another good inning in the top of the seventh to basically put the game out of reach. Detroit reliever Miguel Díaz did a fine job tossing a 1-2-3 sixth, but he couldn’t keep that same energy. Contreras drew a leadoff walk, his first one in the majors, then added some pressure on Diaz by stealing second, also his first stolen base in the big leagues. So much so that Diaz threw a wild pitch next, allowing him to reach third. Detroit made a pitching change, but it didn’t matter anyway, as Correa took reliever Will Vest deep on his very first pitch, a bomb to left, making it 5-0 Minnesota. The offense didn’t settle for just the two runs, and after Urshela and Jeffers hit a couple of singles, Gilberto Celestino hit a double to bring Urshela home and make this a six-run game. The offense added on in the eighth, with Palacios and Miranda hitting a couple of singles and Urshela pushing Palacios across with a single of his own, scoring the game’s final run. After Emilio Pagán had a hard time getting through the seventh (30 pitches), Jovani Moran slammed the door with a couple of hitless, scoreless innings. Postgame interview What’s Next? To open their version of October baseball, the Twins turn to Dylan Bundy (4.93 ERA) to start game two on Saturday, while the Tigers will try to even the series with Drew Hutchison (4.54 ERA) on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 pm CDT. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Moran 0 0 12 0 23 35 Thielbar 0 0 15 18 0 33 López 0 0 16 14 0 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 30 30 Fulmer 0 0 22 5 0 27 Jax 0 10 0 14 0 24 Megill 0 0 0 17 0 17 Duran 0 15 0 0 0 15 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0
  4. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K Homeruns: Correa (20), Miranda (15), Urshela (12) Top 3 WPA: Ryan .285, Correa .243, Arraez .137 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to face the Kansas City Royals in the opening game of a three game series at Target Field on Tuesday night. Remaining Big Bats Bop The Twins offense rolled against Kansas City on Monday night. Although he runs didn’t come immediately, they kept at it, and were eventually rewarded. The Twins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning with a double from Carlos Correa and a single from Jose Miranda scoring Gilberto Celestino and Luis Arraez. The Twins added to their lead in the middle innings. Correa continued his torrid hitting, clubbing his 20th home run of the season into the left-field seats. Miranda followed with the second home run of the inning, his 15th overall. Miranda’s production (125 wRC+) and continued health have been one of the few kindnesses Twins fans have experienced in a deflating second half of the season. His performance has surely cemented his standing as an organizational lynchpin for the Twins moving forwards. Gio Urshela added a home run, his 12th, in the sixth inning, taking the Twins tally to 11 hits on the night. Four players had at least two hits, led by Arraez and Correa with three each. Joe Ryan Carries No-Hitter Through Seven Innings Joe Ryan has not been the same pitcher for the Minnesota Twins since an early season bout with COVID. His velocity was down for a time afterwards, his command and control more shaky. Not tonight (insert Kurt Russell Miracle gif). Tonight, Ryan was dominant. Ryan threw seven no-hit innings for the Twins, tallying nine strikeouts on 106 pitches. Ryan showed good command and control throughout his start, generating 13 swings and misses. The crowd let the Twins hear about it when he was pulled for Jovani Moran at the top of the eighth inning. With a 99% win probability, Ryan desperately needed in the next series against Cleveland, and having thrown over 100 pitches, it was a sensible call. While Burnsville armchair GMs were lamenting Rocco Baldelli’s decision to pull Ryan from the game, Jovani Moran struck out two batters on his way to a scoreless eighth inning. The Twins were three outs away from a combined no-hitter. Moran returned in the ninth inning, striking out Drew Waters before walking Hunter Dozier and MJ Melendez. Moran then gave up a double to Bobby Witt Jr to get the Royals on the board and end the no-hit bid with one out in the ninth inning. Moran gave up another two runs, cutting the lead to 6-3, before finally slamming the door with his fourth strikeout. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Sands 0 77 0 0 0 77 Lopez 0 0 18 0 0 18 Duran 0 0 27 0 0 27 Pagán 0 33 0 0 0 33 Moran 17 0 0 0 40 57 Sanchez 46 0 0 0 0 46 Fulmer 0 0 18 0 0 18 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Davis 0 0 0 0 0 0 Jax 0 0 8 0 0 8 Megill 0 14 0 0 0 14 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Royals. Sonny Gray starts for Minnesota, against Zack Greinke for the Royals. First pitch is a 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews
  5. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K ( 89 pitches, 57 strikes (64%)) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (17) Bottom 3 WPA: Kyle Garlick (-0.77), Jose Miranda (-0.65), Gilberto Celestino (-0.50) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Yankees have been floundering for the past six weeks, but Aaron Judge and a gang of "Who's That" swept the Twins and have won all three games of this series. The Yankees had not seen Joe Ryan before, so maybe the advantage was in Ryan’s favor. Ryan started the game with a 13-pitch at-bat against Aaron Hicks before getting a ground out. He left the mound having issued 34 pitches in the first inning. He had two walks and faced six batters, but no runs scored. Ryan has been struggling with his off-speed pitches as of late, not breaking where they should or where he wants them to, leaving hanging sliders in prime territory for hitting. The Twins attempted to get something going in the fourth inning and just like the earlier game, they got on the board first thanks to a solo home run from Carlos Correa, but the score didn’t stay there for long. Ryan managed to gather himself, retiring six hitters in a row in the 2nd and 3rd innings. As he crept toward 70 pitches in the bottom of the fourth, with no outs, he loaded the bases. Isiah Kiner-Falefa stepped up to the plate and on pitch one, a slider, he hit the ball deep into left field for his first career grand slam to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. The most painful part? According to Aaron Gleeman, with runners in scoring position, IFK has now hit more home runs against the Twins than Correa has hit for the Twins. Jovani Moran came in to relieve Ryan in the fifth inning. The lefty kept things copesetic for the club through the sixth inning. The only threat from the Yankees was Estevan Florial hitting a line drive to Jake Cave in left field and Marwin Gonzalez advanced from third to home, but Cave fired off a cannon to home plate, getting Gonzalez out to end the inning. Moran has been exceptional in the past few games that he has made appearances in. In this game, he didn’t allow a run in the two innings and has only allowed seven runs overall this season (in the big leagues, that is), and has a 2.05 ERA. He is effective and gets the job done despite his ERA of 6+ at St. Paul this year. Even Emilio Pagan had an effective outing, not allowing any runs. The Twins offense has been really bad. The Twins tried to manufacture runs throughout the evening, but couldn’t get past the Yankees pitching, led by Gerrit Cole. The seventh inning showed promise with runners on the corners and Correa back up at bat, but Lucas Luetge went hard on Correa and struck him out swinging. Even if the Twins wanted to try and come back into the game, the bottom of the eighth all but sealed the deal for the team when Austin Davis loaded the bases with three walks after two outs. Aaron Hicks hit a line drive to left field for a double to score Kiner-Falefa, Florial, and Oswald Peraza stretching the lead to 7-1. Five of the seven earned runs in this game came from walks. They are right, walks will haunt, especially five of them. As the Twins finish up the series with the Yankees and move into all divisional games coming up, the fight to stay in the race is going to be brutal. Do you think the Twins can pull out of this and still take the division? Final Pitching Match-Up for this Series: Monday 6:40 pm CST: Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.10 ERA) vs. RHP Nestor Cortes (9-4, 2.68 ERA) Postgame Interview Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  6. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan, 5 IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 8K (100 pitches, 69 strikes, 69.0%) Home Runs: Luis Arraez (8) Bottom 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (-.335), Joe Ryan (-.263), Luis Arráez (-.137) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Boston burns Ryan early Things didn’t click for Joe Ryan on Wednesday night, and his start was stained pretty early in the game. After a couple of scoreless innings, including a 1-2-3 second, the Twins’ starter was ambushed in the top of the third. Despite getting ahead on the count against all of them, Ryan failed to retire the first four batters he faced, and Boston took advantage of that. Kevin Plawecki and Tommy Pham got back-to-back singles to start the inning, the latter with a tough eight-pitch at-bat. When Alex Verdugo hit a grounder towards first, Jose Miranda decided to throw home to prevent Plawecki from scoring, allowing Verdugo to reach and load the bases with no outs. Xander Bogaerts wasted no time and destroyed a low-hanging slider down the middle for a grand slam. A flyout following the grand slam didn’t help much: despite getting ahead J.D. Martinez 0-2, Boston’s designated hitter took him deep for a second time in the evening, making it 5-0 Red Sox. With Michael Wacha having tossed two perfect innings to start the game, it was hard to imagine Minnesota would have the energy for a comeback. Their only chance would be to do some damage quickly. Twins get two runs back, can’t complete a rally By retiring Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino to open the bottom of the third, Wacha made it eight consecutive batters retired to start the game. Sandy Leon broke the streak with a bloop single to center and salvaged the inning, with Luis Arráez stepping up to the plate. He fought hard to turn a 1-2 count into a full count before hitting a liner to right for a two-run shot to put the Twins back in contention. Ryan remained in the game and pitched for two more innings. He got into a jam to begin the fourth, when he gave up a leadoff single and hit a batter, but pitched around those to end the inning. The offense started putting together another potential rally in the bottom of the inning when Kyle Garlick reached on a fielding error from second, and Gio Urshela singled, but Gordon struck out, ending the inning. Ryan also tossed a scoreless fifth to conclude his outing at exactly 100 pitches, his highest-scoring start in over three weeks. Moran has another good outing, maintains great season numbers Making his first big league appearance since August 2, Jovani Moran seemed to have picked up right where he left off when he last appeared in the majors. He couldn’t prevent Boston from scoring, with Plawecki hitting a leadoff double in the sixth and scoring later on a Bogaerts two-out double to right. Outside of those two extra-base hits allowed, Moran’s outing was brilliant. He struck out five batters through the sixth and seventh innings, then induced three groundball outs in a 1-2-3 eighth to complete three innings of one-run ball without any walks. He now has a 2.05 ERA through 21 appearances this season, making up for a fantastic second season in the majors. Too bad the offense couldn’t capitalize on several opportunities they’ve created. They had two men on in the sixth after a Correa walk and a Max Kepler double but came out empty-handed. Then, in the seventh, the Twins had men on the corners with one out after a Gordon leadoff double and a Gary Sanchez one-out walk. However, all they could get was a single run that came on an Arráez sac-fly. Gordon comes through again, but it’s not enough Gordon’s epic display last night was an indicator that this kid is ready for stardom, and he continued to swing the bat brilliantly tonight. His second hit of the night was a huge one in the eighth inning that made things very interesting. Kepler and Urshela both reached with a single each, making Gordon the tying run when he stepped up to the batter’s box. Gordon jumped on the first pitch for a long double that hit the right field wall, deep enough to push both runners across and make this a one-run game. Unfortunately, Gordon was caught at third trying to stretch a double into a triple, and the inning was over. Despite Gordon’s baserunning blunder, his two runs batted in in the eighth proved vital for Minnesota’s chances. After Trevor Megill delivered a scoreless top of the ninth (throwing 12 strikes in 14 pitches), Celestino led off the bottom of the inning with a chopper that Bogaerts couldn’t glove in time. Then, Sánchez drew a five-pitch walk, his second of the night, to put two men on with no outs for Arráez. Sadly, for Minnesota, Arráez flied out, and Correa grounded into a double play next, ending the game. The offense finished the night going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position after Correa's double play. What’s Next? On Thursday, the Twins have a day off that they’ll use to travel to South Side Chicago, where they’ll begin a three-game set against the White Sox. Game one of the series is scheduled for Friday, with first pitch at 7:10 pm CDT. Sonny Gray (3.04 ERA) takes the mound for the Twins, with Davis Martin (4.62 ERA) starting for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Megill 35 0 0 23 14 72 Moran 0 0 0 0 52 52 Thielbar 22 0 15 13 0 50 Pagán 0 22 0 21 0 43 Jax 8 0 17 8 0 33 Fulmer 0 15 0 13 0 28 Duran 13 0 14 0 0 27 López 0 0 9 0 0 9
  7. The Boston Red Sox DFAd Austin Davis on Sunday. On the season, the lefty had worked in 54 1/3 innings over 50 appearances. He was 2-1 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 29 walks but also struck out 61 batters. The 29-year-old has pitched in 134 big-league games dating back to his 2018 MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. He remained with them until 2020 when he was traded to the Pirates. He remained with Pittsburgh until last year's trade deadline when he was traded to the Red Sox for Michael Chavis. Originally drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB draft from Cal State-Bakersfield, he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season. In other works, in theory, the Twins could keep him through the 2026 season. While the numbers haven't been great, it might be clear why the Twins specifically would have interest in him. In three career games against the Twins, Davis has given up just one hit. Twins batters have hit .067/.125/.133 (.258) against him. He has struck out seven Twins batters in 4 2/3 innings (16 batters faced). Davis has thrown his fastball, which has averaged 94.1 mph, 45.4% of the time. He has thrown 39.5% sliders this year which have averaged 90.6 mph. He also has a mid-80s changeup that he'll throw occasionally. As you can see from his StatCast numbers over at Baseball Savant, he hasn't allowed a lot of hard contact, but other than that, he doesn't have any carrying traits. That said, the Twins need a left-hander to team with Caleb Thielbar in the Twins bullpen, and Davis could fill that role. It's a role I'm sure they'd love to just let Jovani Moran take and run with, and frankly, he has while with the Twins. In 23 1/3 innings, he has posted a 1.93 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He has struck out 31 batters. However, he has also walked 15 batters. Hence the concern. In addition, he has posted a 6.00 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in his 24 innings with the Saints this year. However, it is possible that all three will remain on the roster throughout September. With rosters expanding to 28 players on Thursday, the Twins will be able to add one pitcher. Austin Davis will likely be that guy. He won't have to travel far. In fact, he was traveling with the Red Sox and is at Target Field. He just has to pack up a bag and head over to the home clubhouse. A few days ago, Tim Beckham was designated for assignment, so the Twins did not need to make an additional 40-man roster move to clear space for Davis. Speaking of Beckham, he did clear waivers and was outrighted to St. Paul. However, he elected free agency. According to Darren Wolfson, he could be back. In addition, Tyler Duffey has a new home. He opted out of his minor-league deal with the Rangers and has now signed with the New York Yankees.
  8. The Twins drafted Jovani Moran in the 7th round of the 2015 MLB Draft as a high schooler from Puerto Rico. Arm issues limited him to fewer than 20 innings in his first two seasons, but he had a breakout season in 2017. He put himself on the prospect radar with a dominant performance in the Appalachian League, where he accumulated 45 strikeouts in 24 innings. All those appearances were in a relief role, but his dominant performance earned him the Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year. Moran hasn't been flawless as he has climbed the organizational ladder. His early included elbow and shoulder injuries like removing bone chips, but he has been able to avoid Tommy John surgery. In six minor league seasons, there has only been one season where he has pitched more than 70 innings. On the field, his 4.3 BB/9 rate is too high, and that trait has followed him to the big-league level. Throughout the 2021 season, Moran has pushed himself into the conversation at the big-league level. Last year, he won the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Moran posted a 2.54 ERA and a 14.6 K/9 in 35 appearances between Double- and Triple-A. By the season's end, he made his big-league debut, but he surrendered seven runs in eight innings. His small sample size with the Twins didn't take away from him being in the team's long-term bullpen plans. During the 2022 campaign, the Twins have shuffled Moran between St. Paul and Minneapolis. At Triple-A, his appearances haven't been as clean as one would like to see. He has a 5.09 ERA with a 1.52 WHIP, but he has only allowed more than two runs in two appearances. He's posted a 15.8 K/9 which is nearly as high as when he dominated the Appy League as a 20-year-old. Even with time spent at multiple levels, Moran has been nearly flawless at the big-league level this season. Three of the six earned runs he has allowed came in less than an inning against the Tigers. He's allowed one hit or fewer in all but two appearances, and he has multiple strikeouts in half of his appearances. In his professional career, Moran's changeup has been his dominant pitch, and that has continued this year, with 20 of his 31 strikeouts coming on the changeup. However, his fastball has also improved with a .202 xBA and a .278 SLG. The Twins' bullpen has multiple long-term problems, including sticking with veteran relievers too long. Emilio Pagan has been pushed into a low-leverage role even though he has been one of baseball's worst relievers over the last two seasons. Pagan is likely out of the team's plans after this season, and Moran is a 25-year-old with the potential to impact Minnesota's bullpen for the long term. It's time Moran got a more extended look. Do you think Moran deserves a longer look in the Twins bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. Emilio Pagán has not only been bad this season for the Minnesota Twins, but has been one of the worst relievers in baseball going on three seasons now. Our friend Aaron Gleeman said it best: Continuing to trot out Pagán every few days is actively harming the Minnesota Twins. He continues to harm the team and his upside is certainly not high enough to warrant the catastrophic performances we see from him on a weekly basis. Additionally, the Minnesota Twins have plenty of players just 15 minutes away from Target Field who could fill in for Pagán. There’s a great chance that these players would perform better than Pagán, and would give each of them valuable experience with an eye toward sticking in the bullpen for years to come. These four players are better options for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán: Jovani Moran Jovani Moran should be a familiar name for Minnesota Twins fans as he has been up with the Twins many times this season. In his time with the Twins, Moran has been more than solid, owning a 1.93 ERA in 23 1/3 innings in 2022. Moran is a left-handed pitcher who possesses a nasty changeup that can neutralize right-handers. Moran is certainly a pitcher who has a future in this Twins bullpen and the fact that Emilio Pagán is getting more play than him isn’t right. Ronny Henriquez Ronny Henriquez was acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Mitch Garver/Isaiah Kiner-Falefa swap early in the 2022 offseason. Henriquez has not been amazing for the Twins in 2022, owning a 5.90 ERA for the AAA affiliate, but he has been better as of late. In 26 innings since June 21, the right-hander owns a 3.12 ERA with a 29/8 K/BB ratio. What makes Henriquez an intriguing option for the Minnesota Twins bullpen is that he has yet to be tested in a true 1-2 inning bullpen role. Henriquez can get to the upper 90s with his fastball and his pitch repertoire might just be one that thrives in a bullpen role rather than the 4-5 inning stretches that he has been pitching with the Saints this season. Henriquez is currently on the 40-man roster with the Minnesota Twins. Evan Sisk The Minnesota Twins acquired Evan Sisk in its trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 for J.A. Happ. Sisk performed extremely well this season in Wichita and was moved up to the St. Paul Saints where he has continued his great pitching out of the bullpen. In 14 innings with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, Sisk owns a 2.57 ERA with a K/9 of 9.6. Sisk is not currently on the 40-man roster for the Twins so would need to be added if he were to be called up to the big-league club. Drew Strotman Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade last summer, Drew Strotman struggled mightily as a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins in 2021. Coming into 2022, the Twins opted to convert Strotman into a reliever and he continued to struggle in the early months of this season. Over the past month and a half, though, Strotman appears to have turned a corner and become somewhat of a weapon for the St. Paul Saints. Over his last 10 appearances, Strotman has a 1.32 ERA and opponents are hitting just .180 off of him. On the season, Strotman has demonstrated the ability to miss bats, boasting a K/9 in the double digits. Control can be an issue for Strotman, but when he’s able to locate his pitches, he can be really solid. Strotman is already on the 40-man roster, so no roster finagling would need to be done with a Strotman call-up. Do you agree that these options would be better for the Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán? How would you rank your confidence in these names? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  10. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 4.2 IP, 8 H, 10 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (81 pitches, 57 strikes (70%)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (25) Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-.350), Gilberto Celestino (-.101), Miguel Sano (-.081) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) More Pitching Woes The Twins gave up the lead early in the game when Luke Voit hit a home run to center field after a lead off walk to Jurickson Profar, scoring both players in the bottom of the first. What looked like a fluke early on, spiraled quickly into pitching misery for Joe Ryan. In an uncharacteristic game, Ryan gave up five home runs and had ten earned runs overall. This writer noticed early on that Ryan struggled with command, some of his pitches lacking movement and speed making him extremely hittable for the Padres. Ryan has not given up more than four runs a game this season and was the first Twins since 2003 to give up 10+ runs in a game. Manager Rocco Baldelli finally pulled Ryan after being shelled and going through the order three times by the fifth inning. The fifth inning was the worst for the rookie pitcher. He saw all nine hitters, gave up six runs pushing the lead to ten for the Padres. Needless to say, it was a rough game, one of the hardest we’ve seen for him this season. Jovani Moran came in to relieve Ryan and quickly closed out the inning with four pitches allowing the game to move to the next inning. Moran and Jharel Cotton did a great job keeping their pitch counts low and moving swiftly through the innings. In a complete change of pace, the bullpen managed to move quickly through the game and manage any further damage incurred by the starter. The offense was as dismal as the pitching tonight. Unable to produce any runs, The Twins bats stayed quiet until Byron Buxton hit his 25th home run of the season at the top of the fourth inning, finally getting them on the board, trailing only by two with plenty of game left. Blake Snell, who has had a rough season for the Padres, held the Twins to just one run before being relieved by Dinelson Lamet, a RHP who was recalled from Triple-A El Paso for Mackenzie Gore. Lamet handled business for the Padres keeping the Twins off the board. Twins fans have been seeing Miguel Sano in the line-up since the Milwaukee series. Sano came in as the Designated Hitter again and completed his first full game today, and while he was doing well in Triple-A Saint Paul, the Twins have been easing him back into the game, he’s yet to get a hit, and Twins fans took to Twitter to express their frustration with Sano on top of the already mounting frustration with the pitching. The game overall was dismal, but the eighth inning was entertaining. While the Padres were pitching, the crowd came to a roar and Dick Bremer and Roy Smalley continued to talk about the game, while security wrestled a streaker. To add to the excitement, the Twins brought in Nick Gordon as a relief pitcher. Gordon started the mound appearance with the umpire staff giving him a hard time about his glove. The glove Gordon had evidently looked similar to the color of a baseball masking the pitch. While the staff found Gordon a new glove, the Padres staff loudly blasted “what’s going on” by 4Non Blondes in the background. Gordon went with the flow: smiling during ‘glove gate’, took calls from Sanchez and had a scoreless eighth inning. The Twins were quickly shut down in the ninth inning by Tim Hill, ending the game and the frustration for the evening. After a couple tough losses in Milwaukee, this was not a great way to start a comeback. With the trade deadline looming, the Twins need to make some moves that will benefit the team. Even if the play-offs aren't in the future this season, the pitching core needs help. What’s Next? Pitching matchup for the rest of the series: Saturday 6:15 pm CST: Sonny Gray (5-3, 3.52ERA) vs RHP Joe Musgrove (8-3, 2.63 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm CST: TBD vs RHP Sean Manaea (5-5, 4.33 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  11. Relief prospects rarely get a whole lot of hype, which may be why Jovani Moran seemed to come out of nowhere in 2021 when he dominated AA and AAA by limiting homers and striking out everyone in sight. As the Twins approach the trade deadline that hopefully brings several acquisitions to their MLB bullpen, Moran has proven to be one of the only current relievers that has proven he needs to stick around for the long haul. Moran is something of a unicorn. Throwing left-handed and averaging around 93 mph with the fastball, he’s not exactly Aroldis Chapman blowing smoke by batters en route to his current 37% K rate. Nor does he attack hitters with a lights-out breaking pitch to take advantage of lefty on lefty matchups. Instead, he just pairs his modest fastball with a changeup of all pitches and has absolutely dominated the majors so far this season. Moran has translated this dominance into a 0.96 ERA. He’s been lucky, although just to a small extent. His xERA is 2.40 and FIP is 1.88, both numbers would be much preferred to any other option in the bullpen aside from Jhoan Duran. His track record of high strikeouts and limiting homers has shone brightly with a 13.50 K/9 and having not allowed a single long ball in 18.2 innings. The common knock on Moran is obviously his walk rate. His 14.7% mark in the MLB thus far is actually one of his better jobs of limiting free passes in recent years. It’s hard to deny that this can be a significant issue. Unlike pitchers such as Emilio Pagan however, Moran doesn’t allow historically high home run rates to pair with it which can only result in disaster. In fact, Moran has allowed less than 4.0 hits per 9 innings so far this season which is why despite the walks, his WHIP is still a fantastic 1.02. Many great relievers get by allowing high home run rates while avoiding free passes to get by. While unusual, it appears Moran is capable of dominating by doing the opposite. In short, Jovani Moran has essentially duplicated what he’s been able to do in most of his MiLB career on the biggest stage. Despite a glaring flaw in his skillset, the rest of his abilities appear to outweigh his deficiency. He was a high-leverage, back-end of games type reliever in AA and AAA, and although it remains to be seen whether he can fill that role against the game's best hitters, it appears he can be an effective and dominant reliever in some fashion as is. In a time where praise is hard to come by in the Twins bullpen, Jovani Moran deserves some attention. Not just for being flat out dominant, but for doing so in such an interesting way. Despite his limited and scattered opportunities, he’s been worth the same amount of Wins Above Replacement (0.4) as Griffin Jax and Caleb Thielbar. He’s been more valuable than several starting pitchers who have thrown many more innings such as Devin Smeltzer, Chris Archer and Josh Winder. This isn’t necessarily a call for Moran to be moved into the 7th or 8th inning. Fill those spots at the deadline with proven options. Instead, it’s worth recognizing him for what he is: One of the few middle relievers who has actually done their job for the Twins this season. If he can stay right where he is and continue his absolute dominance, the Twins just may hold on to win some games in the second half. And that would be pretty cool.
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 2 HR (85 pitches, 55 strikes) Homeruns: Jorge Polanco (13) Bottom 3 WPA: Josh Winder -.349, Gio Urshela -.169, Byron Buxton -.100 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday evening, after an off day, the Twins opened a two-game series against the Brewers, as part of a six-game homestand leading into the All-Star break. Here’s how the Twins lined up behind Josh Winder. Josh Winder, coming off a strong performance last time out, was looking to help the Twins rotation get back on track after significant recent struggles. In the top of the first inning, Andrew McCutchen drilled a two-run home run into the flower boxes in right field, giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. Brewers starting pitcher Jason Alexander hardly looked impressive to begin the game, almost beginning the game with back to back walks but being bailed out by some poor Twins at bats. In the second inning, the Twins cut the lead to one, with a solo shot to right field from Jorge Polanco, who has been incandescent since returning from the IL. Rain was the other significant factor early in the game Both of Gio Urshela’s first two at-bats were interrupted for the first two rain delays of the game, in the second and fourth inning respectively. After returning from the second rain delay, Winder ran into trouble. He walked Jace Peterson to lead off the inning, before a Jonathan Davis single scored Peterson from second. Willy Adames then hit his 18th home run of the year, a two run shot, to increase the lead to 5-2. It was a poor inning from Winder to cap what has been a desperate stretch from the rotation. Therein lies the frustration of the 2022 Twins at the moment. One phase of the team always seems to be struggling. After Carlos Correa hit into a double play to quickly cancel out a Luis Arraez walk in the bottom of the fifth inning, the game went into its third rain delay. After a 66 minute break, the teams resumed in the top of the sixth inning, with Trevor Megill relieving Josh Winder. Andrew McCutchen led off with a single before a throwing error from Megill on a pickoff attempt moved him to second base. Megill then threw a middle-middle fastball to Jace Peterson, who singled, extending the lead to 6-2. The Twins had a rally going in the sixth inning, with a two out walk to Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff getting grazed by a pitch. Kyle Garlick pinch-hit for Nick Gordon and was hit to load the bases. Gio Urshela grounded to short to end the threat and keep the lead 6-2. Megill and Jovani Moran combined for a scoreless seventh inning. The Twins clawed a run back in the bottom of the seventh. Luis Arraez just missed a home run to right center field, settling for a double. After a Carlos Correa single and a Byron Buxton fielders choice, the score was trimmed to 6-3 in favor of the Brewers. Moran added a scoreless eight inning before the Brewers bullpen heavy hitters went to work. Devin Williams entered the game and made the Twins look silly, inducing two weak groundouts and striking out Kyle Garlick in the eighth. Josh Hader entered the game in the ninth and that was the game. The loss drops the Twins to 48-41. Cleveland and Chicago split a double header. The Twins lead the AL Central by 3.5 games over Cleveland and 5 over the White Sox. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN TUE TOT Duffey 0 0 26 21 0 47 Megill 0 0 22 0 24 46 Cotton 0 42 0 0 0 42 Thielbar 0 13 0 23 0 36 Duran 0 0 14 16 0 30 Jax 0 0 15 11 0 26 Pagan 0 10 0 0 13 23 Moran 0 0 0 0 22 22 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series against the Brewers. Joe Ryan goes for Minnesota against Aaron Ashby for Milwaukee. First pitch is 12:10 CT. Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon
  13. The chart above lists the current options in the Twins bullpen ranked from top to bottom by their measures in three underlying statistics: strike percentage, whiff rate (the fraction of swings that are misses), and average exit velocity. Red circles are good, blue circles are not so good. There's a simple rule of thumb for reading these statistics. A pitcher ought to have strong measures in two of the three statistics to be effective. For example, Jhoan Duran can give up hard contact as shown by his team-average exit velocity. But he pounds the strike zone and hitters rarely catch up to him. That's effective. Using similar assessments, the Twins ought to carve out roles for Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax. Jovani Moran may prove to be a bit of a wild card. He has a team-high 38% whiff rate and limits hard contact. If he can keep the ball in the strike zone often enough to avoid costly walks, he would prove valuable. Danny Coulombe may also warrant another shot when he returns to full health. What about Emilio Pagán, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith? Have they simply gotten unlucky in big moments despite pitching well? Not exactly. Pagán gets hit harder than any other Twins reliever and doesn't miss bats often enough to hide that. Duffey's numbers paint him as a poor man's Pagán. Smith has a paltry 13% whiff rate, which means he rarely misses bats. That's a big problem since his exit velocities are also quite high. The Twins will surely add to their bullpen through trades. But they can also get more out of their bullpen by redefining roles, tweaking pitcher usage, and perhaps letting go of a few veterans.
  14. Box Score SP: Chris Archer 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2 K (90 pitches, 45 strikes 50%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (.233), Tyler Duffey (.215), Chris Archer (0.92) Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Thornburg (-.715), Alex Kirilloff (-.114), Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino (-.89) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) If you feel like you've seen this movie before, it's because you have. The names may have changed, but a late-inning bullpen implosion occurred yet again on Thursday afternoon in Cleveland. In fact, the Twins lost three games in this five-game series, all because of late-inning bullpen implosions. What could have been a nine-game lead and a sweep is now a one-game lead. Let's jump right to it. The Twins carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. Tyler Thornburg, who had not pitched since Saturday, was finally used. The former Brewers' closer really struggled. He loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before an infield single coupled with Carlos Correa's second error of the game tied the game at three after eight innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Left with few options, Thornburg was back for the ninth frame. He walked Jose Ramirez to lead off the inning. A ground out to second advanced him to second base and brought Andrew Gimenez to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, he launched a walkoff homer for the Guardians. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== The Twins hit former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber hard in the first two innings but were unable to come away with a run. That changed in the third frame. After failing to convert with a runner in scoring position in the first inning, José Miranda delivered. Just a day after his 24th birthday, the rookie laced a two-out, bases-clearing double to the right-field gap to put the Twins on the board and give them a 3-1 lead. Miranda continues to impress after a rough start with the Twins, batting safely in all five games of the series against the Guardians. Chris Archer showed both mountains and valleys in his four-inning outing on Thursday. Despite allowing just one run and one hit, Archer walked a season-high six batters. Four of those came in the second inning. After recording the first two outs of the inning, Archer walked four consecutive batters to put the Guardians on the board. Archer allowed two more walks in the third inning but escaped the inning with no runs. The outing was uncharacteristic for Archer; the electric righty allowed just three walks in his past three starts and has only walked four-plus batters once this season prior to Thursday. And while the damage wasn't brutal, Archer sat at 90 pitches after four innings. the highest number he's thrown all year. With the Twins monitoring his pitch count adamantly given prior injuries, there was no shot that Archer could go longer. A seasoned veteran and talented arm, Thursday's outing was likely just a spur in the road for Archer. Expect the 33-year-old to make some adjustments and come back strong in his next start. LHP Jovani Moran followed Archer with a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts. After Carlos Correa booted a ground ball to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Moran struck out a batter followed by a walk, prompting Rocco Baldelli to bring in Tyler Duffey. Few players have been ridiculed as much as Duffey has in recent weeks. Yet despite the noise, Duffey prevailed in the sixth with runners on first and second, striking out Myles Straw and drawing groundout from Steven Kwan to escape the inning. It got better in the seventh. Facing the top of the Cleveland lineup, Duffey struck out the Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez, and Josh Naylor, getting ahead of the hitter in all three at-bats. Then came the eighth inning, and we already talked about that and don't want to talk about it any more. Luis Arraez recorded two on the day, bringing his batting average up to .340, just one point behind league leader Paul Goldschmidt. Correa, Max Kepler, and Gilberto Celestino also tallied singles in the game. What's Next? The Twins head home for the Fourth of July weekend against the Orioles. Despite being in the cellar of the AL East, the Orioles just posted their first winning month since 2017 and are playing competitive baseball in the league's strongest division. Coming off a win over the Rockies, RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.20 ERA) will face off against RHP Spenser Watkins (1-1, 5.14 ERA) in tomorrow night's tilt. First pitch at Target Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CST. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Pagan 22 0 22 14 0 58 Duffey 15 0 12 0 28 55 Moran 0 0 34 0 20 54 Duran 18 0 0 33 0 51 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 48 48 Theilbar 19 0 10 11 0 40 Jax 0 0 21 16 0 37 Cotton 0 24 0 8 0 32
  15. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins recalled LHP Jovani Moran from St. Paul Saints. SAINTS SENTINAL Buffalo 2, St. Paul 1 Box Score Despite a solid outing from Mario Sanchez, the Saints lost their series finale against Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Sanchez (L, 4-2) struck out six through six innings while allowing two runs on only three hits. The 27-year-old now has a 3.00 ERA and 0.84 WHIP through 12 games and six starts. The Saints scored their lone run on a Jake Cave solo home run (7) in the first inning. Cave has now hit safely in his last eight games and has a monstrous 41-game on-base streak! Cave also singled in the sixth inning to bring his batting average up to .270 and OPS to .831. Curtis Terry and Tim Beckham each knocked two singles, accounting for the only other four hits the Saints tallied all day. WIND SURGE WISDOM San Antonio 2, Wichita 1 Box Score Out-hitting the opposition and a solid start from Sawyer Gipson-Long wasn't enough to propel the Wind Surge to a win against the Missions on Sunday. In a pitching showdown, the Surge tallied six hits but left four baserunners in scoring position and were only able to plate one run on the day. That run came in the second inning when Leobaldo Cabrera drilled an RBI double (3) to center field to score DaShawn Keirsey from second. Keirsey was the only Wichita player to record multiple hits with a pair of singles in the second and fourth innings. Keirsey is now slashing .231/.300/.659 on the season and Sunday's singles were his first hits since the series opener on June 22. A staple for the Surge all season, Sawyer Gipson-Long was solid through five innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out five. The bullpen tandem of Jordan Gore, Bryan Sammons, and Denny Bentley were even more impressive, pitching four combined shutout innings while allowing just two hits. At the end of the day, the Surge just weren't able to get the bats going. KERNELS NUGGETS West Michigan 4, Cedar Rapids 3 (10 Innings) Box Score A pair of extra-inning runs kept the Kernels from the win column on Sunday afternoon in Cedar Rapids. Similar to the Saints and Wind Surge, the Kernels' pitching staff was rock-solid but the team ultimately fell short due to dry bats at the plate. Starting pitcher John Stankiewicz allowed one run on three hits while striking out three through six innings. After Stankiewicz's masterpiece, Derek Molina tossed two innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits. Bradley Hanner (L, 4-2) pitched a scoreless ninth inning but surrendered two runs in the 10th, ultimately taking the loss. Cedar Rapids scored its first two runs in the 8th inning thanks to a two-run homer from Pat Winkel (3). The Kernels added another run in their final frame when Dylan Neuse punched an RBI single that scored Wander Javier. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 2, Lakeland 0 Box Score A two-hit beauty from the pitching staff and a pair of timely runs drove the Mussels to a shutout victory on Sunday in the Sunshine State. Things didn't look promising right away; after striking out the first two batters of the game prized prospect Marco Raya left the game for undisclosed reasons. That didn't matter to RHP Mike Paredes. Coming in on short notice, the 21-year-old pitched 4 1/3 of perfect baseball, allowing no walks or hits while striking out two. Paredes (W, 3-2) has been stellar all season for the Mussels and now touts an impressive 2.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP through 13 appearances. Following Paredes' showcase, Josh Wilson (H, 3) and Niklas Rimmel combined for two stellar innings to finish the game, each allowing only one hit. Fort Myers scored their first run in the opening frame when Noah Cardenas grounded into a double play with two men on that allowed Jake Rucker to score. In the fourth inning, Mikey Perez laced his 16th double of the season to left field. Perez would then advance to third on a wild pitch and scored on a failed pick-off attempt to give Fort Myers its second and final run. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Jake Cave (St. Paul)- 2-4, HR, R, RBI, K Pitcher of the Day: Mike Paredes (Fort Myers)- 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-1, BB #7 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 0-3 BB #9 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, K #10 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 0.2 IP, 2 K #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-4, K #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, K TOMORROW'S STARTERS Mondays are off for the Minor Leaguers! Be sure to check out our Minor League Week in Review tomorrow!
  16. After opening the season in near spotless fashion, the Twins bullpen has shown some significant blemishes in the form of late-blown leads in particular. Help appeared to be on the way in the form of Jorge Alcala before his rehab stint was paused due to recurring elbow pain. The pipe dream of Matt Canterino coming to save the bullpen is also on hold as he was recently placed on the IL with elbow issues. What we’re left with is Jhoan Duran appearing to be the one and only high leverage option we can trust with little internal help on the way. The Twins however have a few pitchers who could change that belief. Jharel Cotton Once a top starting pitching prospect, Cotton dealt with a plethora of injuries before taking off in the Ranger’s bullpen in 2021 only to be DFAed despite solid results. The Twins saw an opportunity and have bounced him on and off the 40 man in 2022, recently adding him back on Wednesday. Unlike his first few stints in the Twins pen, this time there’s ample opportunity for him to stick. Cotton has an unspectacular profile for a reliever with his low 90s fastball and changeup as a primary offspeed. Unlike most changeups however, Cotton’s is relatively effective against both right and left handed hitters. The pitch is good enough to carry his entire repertoire with its 44% whiff rate, and neither his fastball or changeup have allowed hitters any opportunities for success in his 10.2 innings thus far. He may not be a closer or even setup man in waiting, but Cotton came out and performed when the Twins needed it most during the Toronto series. We saw DJ LeMahieu touch him up for a homer on Thursday after a borderline call that could have ended the at bat, but Cotton looked like one of the better relievers in that game and his peripherals still look great. Caleb Thielbar Many were quick to call for Thielbar’s release after four bad outings to start the year despite his massive contributions to the Twins bullpen in seasons past. Unsurprisingly, the 35 year old appeared to be missing some feel in those appearances following a shortened Spring Training which resulted in some uncharacteristic walks. Since then, Thielbar has been incredible. Thielbar may currently hold the “lefty specialist role” to an extent due to his devastating numbers against left handed hitters (.154/.313/.154). That being said, he’s far from your typical fastball/slider lefty. He mixes in a curveball with differing speeds and an occasional changeup to help equalize right handed hitters. He doesn’t have a single pitch that’s allowed a batting average above .240 or slugging percentage above .400 despite 63% of his opposing hitters being righties. With the current state of the bullpen, Thielbar’s stuff may be too good to pigeonhole him into lefty/lefty matchups. As we saw early in Taylor Rogers’ relief career, if the opportunity and talent are there, being left handed doesn’t have to mean you need to be used as a matchup reliever. Jovani Moran Perhaps the favorite of this group, Moran could legitimately find himself shooting up the depth chart with just a few successful outings. The left hander simply dominated the minors last year with a K rate of around 40% between AA and AAA. After taking his lumps in his debut in 2021, his unbelievable stuff has been on full display in his 8 plus innings so far in 2022. Walks will always be a part of Moran’s game and he’s walked 17% of hitters so far this year. That being said he’s always limited home runs and hard contact to cancel it out. Furthermore, his 37% K rate so far shows that his raw stuff should be good enough to make this work despite the free baserunners. Regardless of the small sample, Moran has a whiff rate of over 44% on both his fastball and changeup which he uses to give opposing hitters absolute fits. He rarely uses his slider, but so far every opposing hitter who’s swung has come up empty. While such dominance simply cannot hold up to that extent, stretches like this don’t happen by accident. Jovani Moran is absolutely nasty. It’s possible the Twins have a big move in them to provide the bullpen with a huge boost. I’d argue such a move is a must. That being said, the team has a month plus worth of games to play before even considering such an addition. We’ve tried Tyler Duffey, we’ve tried Pagan, it may be time to look at some unlikely candidates to pick up some high-leverage work. Do you think any of these arms can grab the job and run with it?
  17. On Sunday, in a series against a red hot playoff contender, Tyler Duffey entered the game with a 8-3 lead, courtesy of solid pitching, some good luck, and a remarkable offensive performance by the Twins against Kevin Gausman. He left it having given up a walk, three hits, a three-run home run, and recording just two outs. Jovani Moran replaced Duffey to get the final out for the Twins and secure an unlikely series win in Toronto. I’m not usually one to advocate for reactionary moves or cut bait on long-time contributors to the team, but it’s time to move on from Tyler Duffey. Duffey By the Numbers Let’s start by putting some of Duffey’s 2022 numbers in perspective. Out of 193 qualified relievers, he ranks 172nd in ERA, 187th in xERA, and 170th in HR/9. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice to say, there are a lot of categories in which Duffey ranks in the bottom handful of relievers in the league. If we look into more advanced numbers, we see a similar story. Looking at his Statcast profile percentiles, Duffey is 6th percentile in average exit velocity, first percentile in HardHit%, first percentile is xBA. The list goes on, and it does not make for encouraging reading. Results and Process Duffey’s numbers may be poor, but perhaps a peek under the hood tells a story his numbers do not? After all, we’re talking about the same reliever who managed a 33.6 K% and 2.79 xERA in 2020, and was even better in 2019. Duffey’s command tells the story of his 2022. Here’s the location of his four seam fastball in 2022. Here’s the location of his curveball in 2022. Let’s compare the curveball to that of Jhoan Duran in 2022. There are two major takeaways here. Duffey is leaving his fastball out over the heart of the plate far too often. He has some of the poorest velocity and stuff in the Twins bullpen. Duffey’s fastball location is a non-starter. Simply put, it is not a good enough pitch to have location this poor. Opposing hitters are teeing off on it, to the tune of a .649 SLG and 64% hard hit %. Additionally, he’s throwing too many uncompetitive curveballs. There are too many breaking pitches starting off the plate and finishing way off the plate. Hitters are picking up on this and sitting on his fastball because his curveball often starts slightly too low or too far outside. Roster Crunch Duffey earns $3.2 million in 2022, hardly expensive for a reliever. Even though from a performance perspective I think he should be DFA'd, I think it’s unlikely the Twins will. He has a lengthy tenure with the team and is a strong presence in the clubhouse. The challenge becomes, who do you send down to the minors to keep Duffey on the roster? Every option I can think of has an advantage in velocity or stuff that I wouldn’t sacrifice to keep Duffey on the team. Trevor Megill? Throws 98 mph and has a 36% K% in his first 8 innings. Jharel Cotton? 3.22 xERA so far in 2022. Jovani Moran? 46% K% and a legitimately dominant left-handed changeup. Throw into the mix that Jorge Alcala will return to the team in the next week and give the bullpen a much needed boost and the Twins could have a bullpen crunch in the near future. Duffey has been an incredible servant to the Twins and burned brightly in 2019 and 2020 as a legitimately dominant reliever. But now is not a time for sentimentality. The AL Central is there for the taking. Which inning of a close game do you want Tyler Duffey pitching in September against the White Sox?
  18. Box Score SP:Chris Archer 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (78 pitches, 50 strikes (64.1%)) Home Runs: Trevor Larnach (2) Top 3 WPA: Trevor Larnach (.153), Ryan Jeffers (.104), Byron Buxton (.08) Bottom 3 WPA: Chris Archer (-.334), Jorge Polanco (-.109), Gio Urshela (-.103) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) He Was Inverted Chris Archer started out the first inning by attacking the strike zone and the Royals took advantage of that and got the first run of the game. Archer’s control has continued to trend upward as he settles into the club. Archer, who has been limited on innings because of having no spring training and pitching very little overall the past two seasons, has really continued to improve as he’s stretched out. He had an ERA of 3.86 prior to today’s game, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Archer has kept his pitching consistent with each performance and the only thing hurting his ERA up until now is his only registered loss, which came against Houston, but all of the Twins' pitchers struggled that series. Archer has not been allowed to go past four innings all season and today we saw why. By the fourth inning, Archer seemed to lose a little of the command he had in the second and third innings and gave up a run before Wes Johnson made a visit to the mound. After the visit, Archer gave up another two runs before getting the third out which was the 28th pitch of the inning. A Jorge Polanco error could have been the third out. Instead, it was followed by a two-run double. Dick Bremer and LaTroy Hawkins both talked about how Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been taking his time with the RHP who has spent a lot of time in the past three years injured and only pitched 19 ¾ innings last season. As much as Archer wants to go out and bring the heat full send, the plan that Rocco has him on to help him stretch out and work on his command has proven that not only does Baldelli know what his team needs, but what it is going to take to be competitive. "Remember, Boys, no points for Second Place" The Twins may have lost the game, but they still have the chance to tie the series on Sunday. The first hit of the game looked promising as Byron Buxton ran out a double with his first at-bat of the day as he poked a ball out to right field. Frustratingly Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa left him stranded, but Trevor Larnach answered the Royals with a home run deep to center field. Larnach has had two home runs for the season, both within the past two series and since returning from the IL. It seemed like every time there was a glimmer of hope, there was a sigh of frustration. The Twins have only started out behind in 17 of the 46 games they have played so far this season. In the other 29 games, they scored first and in 24 of those, they won. The Twins certainly did have quiet bats Saturday against Kansas City’s pitchers. There have been a lot of moves lately with injuries, COVID and giving players rest. Baldelli mentioned prior to the game today that even with all the moves lately, the guys continue to stay ready, work hard and show up when they need to. A lot of the guys have not had much rest so far this season. Max Kepler, who has been amazing this season both in the field and at the plate, seemed to gingerly run to first base and left the game with right leg tightness. Kyle Garlick came in for Kepler. While the bats seemed to pick up a small amount in the sixth inning with a hit from Arraez and Garlick following up with a single advancing Arraez to third, the Royals pulled Brady Singer to preserve their lead. Larnach continued to battle at every at-bat and drew a walk against pitcher Dylan Coleman, helping to load the bases for Ryan Jeffers, who came in for Gary Sanchez, who left the game with a heat-related illness in between innings. Jeffers wasted no time in helping get the guys back on the board and hit a line drive up the middle scoring Arraez and Garlick before ending the inning bringing the Twins to only a two-run deficit with plenty of game left. The Twins looked like they were making a comeback in the ninth inning with Luis Arraez getting his third hit of the day, followed by Correa getting on base. Polanco came up to bat, hitless the entire game made Josh Staumont work his count, and drew a walk bringing Garlick up to hit with bases loaded and two outs and the fans to their feet. Garlick hit a beautiful fly ball to centerfield but was just short, ending the game 7-3. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with the Royals tomorrow at 1:10pm before flying off to play in Detroit. Pitching matchup tomorrow: Sunday 1:10 pm CST: Sonny Gray (21-1, 2.60 ERA) vs RHP Zack Grienke (0-3, 4.53 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Minaya 41 0 0 0 31 72 Moran 31 0 0 0 34 65 Duffey 12 0 31 0 20 63 Megill 0 8 0 26 0 34 Duran 14 0 0 19 0 33 Thielbar 0 30 0 1 0 31 Pagán 0 21 0 3 0 24 Jax 0 23 0 0 0 23 Smith 0 3 0 18 0 21
  19. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 3.2 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (74 pitches, 55 strikes, 74.3%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (2) Bottom 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (-.465), Gio Urshela (-.096), José Miranda (-.082) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Dylan Bundy was looking for a bounce-back start after the rough one he had against Tampa Bay last Friday. It was a good chance for him to regain some confidence, mainly because he would face an Orioles offense that had a team OPS of .609 coming into this game, the third-worst in the majors. Bundy managed to pitch a couple of clean innings despite a cold offense in his support early, but things completely derailed for him in the third. Gilberto Celestino couldn’t glove a playable fly ball from Jorge Mateo, who ended up at second. Cedric Mullins homered to right to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead in the next at-bat. That got to Bundy. He then gave up back-to-back walks, throwing only one strike in the next nine pitches. Baltimore kept the line moving with a pair of RBI singles from Austin Hays and Rougned Odor, making it 4-0 Orioles. Then, with Odor on, Ramón Urías smashed a two-run homer to center, making it 6-0 for Baltimore. The offense comes to life, give the Twins a chance After three innings of struggles, Minnesota’s offense finally got the ball rolling and put together a four-run fourth. After Luis Arráez worked a leadoff walk, Carlos Correa hit a two-run dinger off Kyle Bradish. Two other Twins batters reached before the Orioles starter could record an out, with Jorge Polanco drawing a walk and a Trevor Larnach single. They both scored with a Nick Gordon single and a Gio Urshela sac fly, and suddenly the Twins were back in the game. This could’ve been a five-run inning if the Twins weren’t so unlucky tonight. With Gary Sánchez at first and Gordon at third, Celestino hit a line drive that would've reached the outfield and scored Gordon, but the liner hit Sánchez on the base path, and the inning was over. Baltimore gets three runs back as defensive miscues continue The Orioles ambushed Bundy again in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs, also with a little help from some lousy fielding from Minnesota. After Bundy struck out the leadoff batter, he gave up back-to-back singles. The second one of those came on a throwing error by José Miranda, and both runners moved into scoring position. Then Bundy had another meltdown, giving up three more runs on a single, a sac fly, and a double, putting the Orioles ahead by 9-4. Bundy’s night was done before getting the inning’s final out, with Danny Coulombe coming in his relief. The Twins starter finished the night with ten hard-hit balls and an average exit velocity of 93.4 mph. Coulombe and Jovani Moran, who got called up earlier this week, did a fine job in relief of Bundy. They combined for 4 1/3 innings of shutout ball. So far in this series, Twins relievers have been doing a fantastic job, not allowing runs in 12 1/3 innings of work. What’s Next? The series final game is tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled to 6:05 pm CDT. The Twins turn to Chris Archer (2.93 ERA) to try to win the series against Spenser Watkins (2.55 ERA). Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Duffey 0 17 0 18 0 35 Thielbar 15 0 0 18 0 33 Duran 20 0 10 0 0 30 Pagán 0 0 27 0 0 27 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 26 26 Stashak 14 0 0 11 0 25 Moran 0 0 0 0 25 25 Jax 0 0 15 0 0 15 Smith 9 0 2 0 0 11
  20. Although your mileage may vary on the quality levels, there are a ton of different arms in the organization capable of contributing to the Twins bullpen. Some of them bring ample big-league experience, while others bring tantalizing upside. If just a few of these guys can hit, it'd make a huge difference for the Twins bullpen. Below you'll find 13 pitchers with a chance to join the fray this year, listed roughly in order of when you might expect to see them materialize in the big leagues. Jharel Cotton, RHP Cotton was of course a member of the Opening Day bullpen after being claimed off waivers from Texas during the offseason. He tossed a couple innings for the Twins before being sent down to Triple-A in a roster crunch. Coming off a 3.52 ERA in 30.1 IP for the Rangers last year, the 30-year-old is a candidate to return soon, although his removal from the 40-man roster complicates things. Devin Smeltzer, LHP The left-hander looked to be on his way to securing a roster spot this spring, allowing zero runs on five hits in 11 innings, but Smeltzer was surprisingly sent to Triple-A. There he has continued to excel with a 1.29 ERA in 14 frames. The Twins are keeping him stretched out for long relief duty – or possibly even another chance to start – and it's only a matter of time before he resurfaces in Minnesota. Juan Minaya, RHP He pitched extremely well out of the Twins bullpen last year, with a 2.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 rate in 40 innings. He's made more than 150 appearances in the majors. He currently has a 2.48 ERA and 8-to-0 K/BB ratio with the Saints. Doomed with a AAAA-player label he can't seem to shake, Minaya has to keep fighting for his chances, but like with Smeltzer, the good work should earn him another nod soon enough. Jovani Moran, LHP Compared to Cotton, Smeltzer and Minaya, Moran is much more of a prospect, and he has a leg up in that he's already on the 40-man roster. But it's the lack of polish that will force him to wait his turn. He struggled while debuting in the majors late last year, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits and seven walks in eight innings, and the control issues have persisted this year in St. Paul where he's allowed six walks in 6.1 IP. Ronny Henriquez, RHP He initially looked like a toss-in on top of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the Mitch Garver trade, but there was immediate buzz surrounding Henriquez as an arm the Twins really fancied. His first appearance at Triple-A for the Saints last week did nothing to silence the buzz – Henriquez struck out four over three hitless innings, notching 11 swinging strikes on 47 pitches. Oh, and he's on the 40-man. It wouldn't shock me to see him beat everyone else on this list to the majors, but the Twins probably want to give him some time to settle in and form a rhythm at Triple-A. Yennier Cano, RHP Signed out of Cuba for $750K back in the summer of 2019, Cano was viewed as a potential fast riser with a big heater touching the high 90s. The pandemic year slowed him down, but Cano was excellent in the minors last season with a 3.23 ERA and 11.1 K/9 rate in 69.2 IP between Double-A and Triple-A. Through five appearances at St. Paul this year, he has an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio with zero runs allowed. Cano is already 28, so there's no sense in waiting much longer to give him a look, although he's not yet on the 40-man. I think he and Henriquez are the two pitchers on this list I'm most excited about from a short-term perspective. Trevor Megill, RHP Megill is one of a handful of veteran-ish relievers signed by the Twins to minor-league contracts during the offseason. That group also includes the likes of Jake Petricka, Jake Faria, JC Ramirez, and Dereck Rodriguez (who we've already seen). They've all got their own strengths and weaknesses but are relatively similar in terms of quality and realistic upside. MLB experience is an asset for each. Drew Stotman, RHP The Nelson Cruz trade already looks like a slam-dunk win thanks to Joe Ryan. Imagine if Strotman, the second piece of the deal, develops into an impact reliever. The Twins seem to envision that path, since they kept him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason after he posted a 7.33 ERA in 12 starts for St. Paul following the trade. He has officially converted into relief duty now, and the early results at Triple-A have been meh (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). It might take a little time, but the 25-year-old former fourth-rounder has potential. Matt Canterino, RHP One of my favorite arms in the system. Canterino's off to a stellar start in the Wichita rotation, with with a 2.79 ERA and 13.0 K/9, but his innings are being managed with extreme caution (he has 9.2 IP in four starts). Moving him to relief is the only way the Twins can hope to get anything resembling a full season out of him. It wouldn't necessarily need to be a permanent pivot, and would set the stage for a fast track to the majors. Cole Sands, RHP A phenomenal 2021 season at Double-A (2.82 ERA, 10.8 K/9 in 80.1 IP) compelled the Twins to protect Sands from the Rule 5 draft, so he's on the 40-man roster. He reported to St. Paul as a starter and looked brilliant in his first couple turns, allowing one run over 10 innings with 12 strikeouts. Then he gave up 10 earned runs in 1.2 IP over his next two outings. Hopefully everything is okay physically, but either way his ascent to the majors has hit a major speed bump. Chris Vallimont, RHP Added to the 40-man alongside Sands during the offseason, Vallimont's campaign is off to a similarly ugly start, which may endanger his roster spot. He has a 10.29 ERA in three starts at Wichita. Either the Twins are going to try and switch gears with a bullpen role or they're gonna be forced to waive him, barring a drastic turnaround. Given he was already a marginal addition to the 40-man roster, there's no way the team can stay beholden to a 25-year-old who's getting blasted in a Double-A rotation. That said ... there's a reason they liked him. Louie Varland, RHP He was the organization's 2021 pitcher of the year thanks to a sterling 2.10 ERA and 12.4 K/9 across two levels of A-ball. Now Varland is getting his first taste of the upper minors at Wichita, and holding his own with a 4.11 ERA and 18-to-8 K/BB ratio in 15.1 IP. The Twins seem committed to him as a starter, in which case we probably won't see him this year, but a late-season look as a reliever is hardly out of the question. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Widely regarded as a top 100 prospect in the game a year ago, Woods Richardson came over alongside Austin Martin in the José Berríos trade. As one of the younger starting pitchers in Double-A last season, he struggled a fair amount, but this year he's off to a dazzling start at Wichita: 16.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 14 K, zero earned runs. He's only 22, and – like Varland – pretty firmly a starter. But he's got big stuff and composure, and he's also gonna be on a strict innings limit. If Woods Richardson keeps lighting it up all summer, he could be bringing gas out of the Twins bullpen in September.
  21. Why go with a flexible pitching staff? There are two significant reasons. The first stems from the natural volatility of relievers, something in the DNA of the position curses them with inconsistency more unusual than any other position in baseball. We see relievers rise and fall yearly, with only a handful of genuinely elite talents remaining at the top of the heap for more than a year at a time. They’re about as consistent as Ohio or Pennsylvania in an election year. That creates a significant challenge for team-building. Beyond occasionally being stuck with poor performances, the issue is the sunk-cost fallacy that comes with bringing in a free-agent reliever. The Twins know all about this. What do you do with a struggling reliever with a solid history of success? Alex Colomé was utterly dreadful in 2021, blowing saves in cartoonish fashion for three painful months before the sting of each loss numbed due to the team’s already poor record. If Colomé were some AAAA schlep, he would have been optioned before April ended, and a different arm would have had the chance to prove themselves. But Colomé didn’t have options, and the team owed him $5 million, so the Twins had to be as confident as humanly possible that Colomé was no longer worth the roster spot. The season was already a lost cause by that time, and Colomé remained on the team. Ensuring that you can quickly rid yourself of a poor-performing reliever is a wise strategy. The other main reason to have flexibility is rooted in pitching philosophy. For years, a pitcher was either a starter, an individual capable of pitching anywhere between five-to-nine innings every fifth day, or they were a reliever, an individual tasked with netting three outs on a moment's notice. The system does not make much sense if one thinks about it. There’s a significant grey area between “incapable of pitching deep into games” and “can only be relied upon for three outs.” Indeed, some of these arms could go for two or three innings, right? One could combine pitchers like Voltron to make a better, more complete staff out of pitchers with potential drawbacks. Fortunately, some more enlightened baseball philosophers have moved away from this rigid binary, and, in a move that harkens back to the pitching staffs of the 60s and 70s, labels like “starter” and “reliever” have merged into someone simply being an “out-getter.” A pitcher is no longer only good for one or five-to-nine innings; they are allowed to get as many outs as physically possible. A myriad of terms have grown into our shared baseball lexicon to describe this shift: “opener,” “piggy-backing,” uhhh, “two dogs and two cats.” While differing in their meaning, they all call back to the idea that pitchers differ in the duration of their effectiveness. The Rays are a masterclass in this style of strategy. In what feels like the millionth year in a row, the team owned a top-10 pitching staff in baseball by fWAR, struck out a small army, and barely walked anyone despite losing ace Tyler Glasnow to Tommy John surgery. Four pitchers, Shane McClanahan, Rich Hill, Glasnow, and Shane Baz, appeared solely as a starter. The 11 other pitchers who made a start for them in 2021 also appeared out of the bullpen at some point in 2021. Let’s take a look at their strategy in action. On July 28th, Michael Wacha pitched five solid innings before being followed by Drew Rasmussen, old friend Matt Wisler, Pete Fairbanks, and Andrew Kittredge. On August 12th, Rasmussen started the game and went four innings; he was followed by Collin McHugh, old friend J.T. Chargois, Louis Head, and Ryan Sheriff. Rasmussen both started and entered the game in the sixth inning in about a two-week period, and he netted significant innings in both roles. It’s a high-wire act for sure, a bad game or two could throw the entire staff into chaos, but a deft manager can properly tip-toe the line. In practice for the Twins, we may see something like Chris Archer going four innings, Jhoan Duran following with three innings of his own, and then the usual suspects of Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers cleaning up the game, assuming all went well. This style of pitching management will be even more necessary at the beginning of the season; starters are not yet ready for their usual pitch counts, and games have not yet been shortened (but I wouldn’t put anything by Rob Manfred). Expanded rosters will help alleviate the pitching roster crunch. As it stands, five relievers—Rogers, Duffey, Joe Smith, Jharel Cotton, and Danny Coulombe—are un-optionable (without the risk of losing them on waivers). The rest of the bullpen will be ushered into the continuous testing machinery to determine which arms can stay at the major league level. Think of it like the Hunger Games, but you’re sent to St. Paul instead of dying. Guys like Griffin Jax, Josh Winder, Cody Stashak, and Jovani Moran may or may not begin the season in the majors, but the team will certainly shuffle them in at some point in 2022. It may be for the best if you don’t get too attached to the names you see in the bullpen to begin the season. How would you like to see the pitching staff work, especially in the season's first month. Leave a COMMENT and discuss below.
  22. The Twins open their season on Thursday, and their Opening Day roster is becoming more clear today after three players were sent to minor-league camp. After throwing 11 scoreless innings this spring, Devin Smeltzer was sent to minor-league camp. He missed most of the 2021 season with a herniated disk in his neck. Now healthy, he was very impressive this spring and it is likely he will pitch for the Twins during the 2022 season. Jovani Moran is the Twins' top relief pitcher prospect. He made his MLB debut in September 2021, but he will begin his 2022 season in St. Paul with the Saints. And Jake Cave was outrighted to minor league camp as well. He will travel to Louisville where the Saints season begins on Tuesday. The Twins spring training roster now stands at 33. They will need to get down to 28 on the active roster before Thursday's opener. There are four non-roster players. Right-hander Jake Faria and lefty Danny Coulombe remain. Infielder Daniel Robertson and outfielder Kyle Garlick are also still in big-league camp. Will any of those four players make the Opening Day roster? Garlick and his ability to mash left-handed pitching would seem to be competing with Brent Rooker for one spot. With the 28-man roster only available to teams through May 1, it is a huge decision to add a non-roster player to the 40-man roster. Will they risk losing a couple of depth pieces by adding them to the 40-man roster for three to four weeks? Will they risk losing a player or two on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster. We may know the answer to those questions by the end of today, certainly within the next 36 hours. UPDATE Following Sunday's game, the Twins announced that Jake Faria was being sent to minor-league camp and will join the Saints in Louisville for the Triple-A opener. Also, Cody Stashak will remain in Ft. Myers to work through some biceps tendinitis. How do you think the Opening Day roster will shape up? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
  23. When evaluating players, scouts and front offices use a 20-80 scale to grade current and future value. The pitchers below still have development to complete, which points to their changeups being even better in the future. Here are the top-five changeups in the Twins organization. 5. Steven Hajjar, RHP Current Changeup/Future Changeup: 50/55 Minnesota selected Hajjar out of Michigan in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft. In his final college season, he led the Big Ten in strikeouts. Because of his full collegiate season, he has yet to make his pro debut. Since joining the Twins system, he has been able to add more velocity to his fastball, which will pair well with his changeup, which is considered a plus pitch. His college experience and solid stuff could make him a fast riser during the 2022 season. 4. Ronny Henriquez, RHP Current Changeup/Future Changeup: 55/55 Henriquez was the prospect the Twins received along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Mitch Garver. He already occupies a 40-man roster spot, so there is a chance he will make his big-league debut in 2022. Henriquez is under six feet tall, so his size leads to questions about his long-term durability as a starter. However, his fastball, slider, and changeup all have a chance to be plus pitches. He consistently throws strikes, so it will be intriguing to see what tweaks the Twins make to his repertoire this season. 3. Matt Canterino, RHP Current Changeup/Future Changeup: 55/60 Canterino’s changeup was one of the reasons he was able to strike out 100-plus batters in each of his collegiate seasons. His changeup may currently be his worst pitch out of his four pitches. He’s a talented player that the Twins have a lot of faith in, but there are health questions like many pitchers from Rice University. Injuries have limited him to 48 innings so far in his professional career. When healthy, he may be the system’s best pitching prospect, so 2022 will be a pivotal year to prove he can stay on the mound. 2. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Changeup/Future Changeup: 55/60 Wood Richardson may feel like the forgotten prospect in the José Berríos trade, but he is a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Last season, the Blue Jays were aggressive by sending him to Double-A as a 20-year-old. He posted a 5.91 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP, but he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition at his level. His fastball velocity dipped a little last season, so that is one of the things the Twins have worked to improve, and it will likely help improve his changeup. 1. Jovani Moran, RHP Current Changeup/Future Changeup: 70/70 Moran’s changeup led him to put up unheard-of strikeout numbers in the minors last season. He collected 109 strikeouts In 67 1/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. Minnesota called him up for his big-league debut, where he pitched in five games and allowed seven earned runs. Even with some rough outings, he posted an 11.3 K/9 which is just below his 13.3 K/9 from his time in the minors. Minnesota’s bullpen can take on a different look after 2022, and Moran has an opportunity to be part of the team’s long-term solution. Can anyone contend with Moran for the best changeup in the Twins system? Should someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Top Slider Prospects — Top Fastball Prospects — Top Power Tool Prospects — Top Hit Tool Prospects — Top Speed Tool Prospects
  24. Some questions surrounded Rogers returning from a finger injury that ended his 2021 season. Rogers has looked strong this spring, so there may be little to worry about for the 2022 campaign. However, the team will need to have a contingency plan if his finger injury acts up or if he suffers another injury. Here is how the team will likely use the bullpen in the late innings. 1. Taylor Rogers, LHP Rogers was a first-time All-Star during the 2021 season following a first-half where he posted a 3.35 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. It was a solid first half, but it was hardly the best version of Rogers. From 2018-19, Rogers pitched nearly 140 innings with a 2.62 ERA, a sub-1.00 WHIP, and 10.8 K/9. Before his injury, Minnesota was exploring trade options for Rogers, and there was no guarantee the team would offer him arbitration this year. He is entering his final year of team control, so he needs to prove that he can be a dominant back-end reliever as he hits free agency for the first time. As a 31-year-old, it might be his only chance at a big payday, but the Twins have other options if Rogers isn’t successful in 2022. 2. Tyler Duffey, RHP Duffey was one of baseball’s best relievers entering the 2021 season as the Twins used him to get out of plenty of late-inning jams. From 2019-20, Duffey pitched 81 2/3 innings, and he struck out 113 batters with a 0.94 WHIP. Last season, he struggled for the first time since 2018 as he posted a 3.18 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP. His strikeout rate dropped from 11.6 K/9 in 2020 to 8.8 K/9 in 2021. Besides his lack of strikeouts, there were some concerns with the number of hard hits and his change in pitch usage. However, Duffey seems like the best candidate to take over the closer role if Rogers misses time or is ineffective. 3. Jorge Alcalá, RHP Alcalá has been on the cusp of a breakout for multiple seasons, and there were signs he started to break out last season. He decreased his fastball usage and saw a big jump in his changeup usage. His fastball tends to be up, so his improved changeup has played even better down in the zone. Last year in the second half, he managed a 2.88 ERA, 0.36 HR/9, 2.01 FIP, and a 32% K%. If these trends continue, Alcalá may be evolving into Minnesota’s future closer, especially if he can lower his career .843 OPS versus left-handed batters. 4. Caleb Thielbar, LHP Thielbar has been a surprise contributor to the Twins bullpen over the last two seasons as he has become one of the team’s most reliable arms. Over the last two seasons, he has a 3.00 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 84 innings. He turned 35-years-old earlier this year, and he has previously been close to retirement. Outside of Rogers, he is the lefty with the most late-inning experience, so it will be intriguing to see how the Twins use him this season. Does he get the opportunity to earn his first big-league save? Dark Horse Candidate: Jovani Moran, LHP Moran was the Twins Daily 2022 Minor League Reliever of the Year, and his changeup has the potential to make him unhittable at the big-league level. He struck out nearly 41.8% of batters in the minors this season, and he will look to transition those numbers to the Twins. Like Alcalá, there may be some growing pains on the way to being a dominant late-inning arm. With Duffey and Rogers heading to free agency, Alcalá and Moran are part of the team’s long-term bullpen plans. How do you think the Twins will use the back-end of their bullpen this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. How do you compare starting pitchers to relievers? It's certainly not easy. For this series, we have separated hitters from pitchers, and yet, maybe in future years we will want the starters and relievers separated too. Who should rank higher? A potential #3 starting pitchers, or a potential late-inning reliever? On a real baseball team, both roles are important and complement each other. In prospect rankings, relievers often get overlooked. Why? Because over the past couple of decades, relievers may work 70-80 innings in a season whereas a #4 starter could pitch 150-180 innings. That may change over time as we see the roles a little less defined. Starters are often asked to go through an order twice, which generally will be less than five innings. As we move forward, there may be a few guys that reach 150 innings, but many starters may top out at 130 innings while many relievers could jump closer to 100 innings. We shall see. Today's five prospects include two relievers. Going behind the curtain a bit, this is the range the lefty Charlie Barnes would have fit into. As you know by now, he has signed to play in Korea in 2022. Remember, this is a prospect rankings, and it is significantly different than Nick's Twins Top Assets series that is running now too. Let's get to Twins pitching prospects that I have ranked 16th through 20th. #20 - RHP Osiris German 2021 STATS: 2-2, 4 saves, 3.34 ERA, 38/0 G/GS, 1.20 WHIP, 90/24 K/BB, 59.1 IP The Twins signed Osiris German from the Dominican Republic in July of 2016. He has slowly worked his way up the Twins’ organizational ladder. He had not pitched for a full-season affiliate before the 2021 season. He split the year between Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He has good control. While the 23-year-old sits in the low 90s with his fastball, he has a plus-plus changeup. That is the pitch that is intriguing and could keep him moving up the system, hopefully to the big leagues. He will need to continue to improve and gain confidence in all of his pitches, but there is a lot to work with. #19 - RHP Regi Grace 2021 STATS: 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 9/8 G/GS, 0.99 WHIP, 35/11 K/BB, 31.1 IP He had a scholarship offer to Mississippi State, but when the Twins made him their 10th round pick in the 2018 draft, Regi Grace signed quickly. A terrific athlete, Grace is very strong. While his velocity sat in the upper-80s and topped out around 90-91 in 2019, he was able to increase his fastball velocity, even touching 95 at times. The main thing holding him back to this point has been health. He missed time in 2021 with a shoulder impingement. However, after he came back, he gave up just three hits and struck out 12 batters over nine scoreless innings. He tossed the first three innings of a combined no hitter in his final start. #18 - RHP Chris Vallimont 2021 STATS: 5-7, 5.84 ERA, 22/22 G/GS, 1.64 WHIP, 136/61 K/BB, 94.0 IP After coming to the Twins from the Marlins in the July 2019 Lewin Diaz trade, Chris Vallimont made four starts for the Miracle. The former fifth-round pick from Mercyhurst didn’t pitch at all in 2020. He began the 2021 season with a few weeks on the Injured List but still made 21 starts. He certainly had his ups and downs. He had one stretch in which he gave up five or more earned runs in five of six starts. He also had 11 starts in which he gave up two runs or less. He was added to the 40-man roster in November because he has really good stuff. Vallimont sits in the mid-90s, and he’s got good (though inconsistent) secondary stuff. In the past, he has shown good control, but he struggled with that part of the game in 2021. That said, he was consistently able to miss bats. That is why he’s on the 40-man roster. #17 - RHP Casey Legumina 2021 STATS: 4-2, 3.28 ERA, 15/9 G/GS 1.07 WHIP, 63/16 K/BB, 49.1 IP Casey Legumina was drafted out of high school in Arizona but chose to go to Gonzaga instead. As a sophomore, he became a top closer in college baseball. He was set to be a starter for the ‘Zags in 2019, but after four starts, he needed Tommy John surgery. Still, the Twins had seen enough and selected him in the eighth round of the draft that year. He rehabbed the rest of that summer and into the 2020 season. That means 2021 was his professional debut. He worked 44 2/3 innings for Ft. Myers before ending the season with one start in Cedar Rapids before the playoffs. He throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and has a really good slider. He’s also continuing to work on his changeup. The Twins want to use him as a starter, but obviously they had to be careful with his innings in 2021. He could be a sleeper in 2022. #16 - LHP Jovani Moran 2021 MiLB STATS: 4-2, 2.41 ERA, 35/0 G/GS, 0.89 WHIP, 109/32 K/BB, 67.1 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 0-0, 7.88 ERA, 5/0 G/GS, 2.00 WHIP, 10/7 K/BB, 8.0 IP It took some time, but lefty Jovani Moran finally reached the big leagues in September of 2021. The southpaw had been the Twins seventh-round pick back in 2015 out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. When healthy, Moran has been quite successful in the minor leagues. He’s got a low-to-mid 90s fastball that touches 95, but it is his changeup that gets people talking. It is a plus-plus pitch and he gets a lot of swings and misses with it. Maybe sacrilege, but many compare it to Johan Santana’s changeup. He also has a slider that can be plus-plus at times. It was wise to get Moran some innings late in the 2021 season to help the nerves which can get to him at times. If he can throw strikes, Moran has a chance to be a long-term, late-inning, dominant relief option. This is another interesting group. There are a couple of relievers with plus-plus changeups, one of whom is ready to shine with the Twins. The other three have development to do, but the potential to be really good if they can stay healthy. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25
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