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For much of the early part of 2021, the relief pitching let Rocco Baldelli’s club down. Alex Colome was no longer close to his career numbers, and Tyler Duffey had seen substantial regression. The guys expected to step up failed to do so, and the Twins were left searching for answers on a near-nightly basis. There are a few givens are going into 2022, but a couple of guys have made cases for themselves to stick around despite potentially being on the outs previously. Derek Falvey has his work cut out for him, but the more he can count on internally, the less turnover the roster will ultimately need to experience. Here’s how I see the group: The Veterans - Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey It looked like a near-certainty that Rogers would be dealt at the deadline. That was before injury put him on the shelf and ended his season. He’ll return in 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly be hoping that he returns to form as one of the best lefties in the game. Duffey’s 3.45 ERA is fine on its own, but it’s a far cry from the 1.88 mark he put up just a year ago. Strikeouts are down, and walks are way up. If the Twins have a better unit, they need his best during the final year of arbitration. The Surprises - Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya, Luke Farrell, Danny Coulombe Thielbar has been the best of this group. All but retired from baseball and moving onto coaching, he emerged as an option in 2020. This season hasn’t been quite as good, but the 11.2 K/9 is going to play. He’s given up too many dingers, but as a crafty lefty option, there’s plenty to like here. Minaya made his way back to the big leagues this season and has a career-best 2.70 ERA. He’s not dominant by any means, but as a middle-inning guy that’s gotten it done before, he certainly could stick. Both Farrell and Coulombe were depth types for the Twins. Each has seen stretches of effectiveness, and while their ceilings are admittedly limited, one could lay claim to a spot in 2022. The Youth - Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza, Jovani Moran Minnesota counted on Alcala to take a step forward this season. As a whole, the results have been underwhelming given the 4.20 ERA. However, his last 15 games have resulted in a 1.00 ERA and .501 OPS against. He has a 21/3 K/BB in his last 18 innings pitched. That’s the arm the Twins need out of the gate. Garza was a nice get from the Astros, and he’s been effective with the organization. His strikeout numbers are down some, but he’s looked the part of a middle reliever that can get big leaguers out. Moran isn’t yet established as a future fixture, but he dominated on the farm again this year, and getting a taste going into the offseason should help him prepare to stick in the future. Minnesota used 22 different relievers in 2021, and the pen was often constructed with eight or nine arms. They’ll need better depth and higher ceilings if there’s any interest in being a better unit a year from now. Maybe Alex Colome is asked back as well, but they’ll need to be picky with who is counted upon from a group that severely underwhelmed out of the gate. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
Taylor Rogers was the choice for Twins Daily Pitcher of the Month in both May and June, and Kenta Maeda ‘received’ the award in August. Who will take home the prestigious award in their minds (because we haven’t come up with any sort of physical trophy or plaque or piece of paper). Now, before we get too far into this, I will debunk a rumor that was going around the Twitter-sphere on Wednesday afternoon. Sure, he had a 0.00 ERA and just a 1.00 WHIP, and opponents didn’t get a single hit off of him all month, but here are some candidates that finished ahead of La Tortuga in voting. Before even getting to the Honorable Mentions and the Winner, there were several strong pitching performances by the Twins in August, particularly out of the bullpen. Unfortunately, the starting pitching was not as good. First, Andrew Albers posted a 0.96 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP in his two appearances and 9 1/3 innings. Jorge Alcala had a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in August, but he pitched in just five games and spent half of the month on the Injured List. Tyler Duffey had a 2.25 ERA and 12 strikeouts but had just eight innings and a 1.75 WHIP. Caleb Thielbar became one of the most reliable arms out of the team’s bullpen. He had 14 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. His WHIP was just 0.95. Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner! Honorable Mention #3: RHP Ralph Garza, Jr. The Twins claimed the 27-year-old right-hander after the Astros DFA’d him on August 1st. He was called up to the Twins on August 14th and has been impressive since. In eight games and 10 1/3 innings, he posted a 1.74 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. He gave up just two earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out nine batters. Opponents hit just .167 against him. The Twins have claimed several players off waivers over the past couple of months and signed a few others to minor league deals. Several have already been DFAd and weren’t claimed by another team, hence, they remain in St. Paul (Beau Burrows, Edgar Garcia, Nick Vincent). However, Garza, with his multiple side-winding arm angles and pitch movement, has made a good first impression. Honorable Mention #2: RHP Alexander Colome Colome hasn’t been good in 2021. It would be tough to argue that he has been. However, he was solid in August. Following the trade of Hansel Robles at the July 30th trade deadline and the season-ending injury to Taylor Rogers, Colome has returned to the closer’s role and generally been good. Of his 13 appearances in August, ten of them provided him with a save opportunity. He converted eight of them. And he had a solid month in Alexander Colome fashion. In his 12 2/3 innings, he had a 1.22 WHIP. He gave up some hits, and he issued five walks to go with just five strikeouts. Honorable Mention #1: Bailey Ober Ober made his big-league debut in May. He had some ups and downs along the way, but overall, the Twins have to be thrilled with his performance. In his five August starts, he went 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In 27 1/3 innings, he gave up 27 hits, walked just three and struck out 26 batters. As important, Ober has been very consistent and reliable over the past month. He pitched at least five innings in all five starts. His ERA dropped from 4.94 to 3.98 over the course of the month. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since July 10. The Twins are now 10-6 in games started by Ober in 2021. The only rookie starters whose teams have a better winning percentage in their games started are Alek Manoak of the Blue Jays and Shane McClanahan of the Rays. Twins Starting Pitcher of the Month: Juan Minaya Minaya has been with the Twins since the beginning of the 2020 season. Before that, he had spent much of the previous four seasons in the White Sox bullpen. He had recorded 142 strikeouts over 128 1/3 innings with Chicago. He signed a minor league signed a minor league deal with the Twins and went to spring training 2020. He then participated at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. In fact, he was called up to the Twins once last year, but a day or two later, he was DFAd without pitching in a game. He went unclaimed and stayed in the organization. He signed back with the Twins in 2021 and began the season in St. Paul. He was called up to the Twins at the end of May and pitched in four games before being DFAd on June 5th to make room for Griffin Jax. He was again unclaimed and returned to St. Paul. However, in mid-July, he was called up one more time, and after sporadic appearances, he got thrown into more proverbial fires following the trade deadline, and he has been very good. In August, Minaya worked in ten games. He went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Opponents hit just .180 off of him. He walked eight, but struck out 16 batters in his 14 innings. Still just 30-years-old, Minaya has a chance to keep himself on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason and in the plans for the team’s 2022 bullpen. August was a good month for that endeavor. Congratulations to Juan Minaya on a great month, as well as the other Honorable Mentions. Do you agree that Minaya is the choice? Should Bailey Ober have been the recipient? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
Box Score Griffin Jax: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 5 K, 3 BB, 65.0% strikes Homeruns: Sano (23) Bottom 3 WPA: Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Griffin Jax Struggles with Control If you’ve followed me long enough, you know how much emphasis I put on pitchers being efficient. Well, unfortunately for Jax he was almost too efficient today throwing 65-percent strikes and 76-percent first pitch strikes, but leaving too many pitches over the middle of the plate. Those six extra-base hits could have easily been up to nine extra-base hits but each of the three starting outfielders made nice running catches to limit the Brewers' damage against Jax, including the ball off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr which Byron Buxton snagged with ease. If you were listening to the Bally Sports North broadcast, you heard former Twins All-Star reliever Glen Perkins mention Ryan Jeffers glove “drifting” from where he set up due to Jax missing his spots, which is why he got tagged all day. With a wide-open rotation for 2022, Jax will continue to get an opportunity to prove he can stick, but this is now back-to-back starts for Jax where he got absolutely shelled after a string of five solid starts. In today’s game particularly, his pitch movement was on par with where he’s been all season so it’s just a matter of bearing down and hitting the mitt where the catcher sets up. This leaves me a little optimistic that he can rebound the next time he’s on the bump. Sano Moons One while Rest of Offense is Grounded It was a solid day from left-hander Aaron Ashby, but his one mistake was hanging a curveball to Miguel Sano who hit his fourth blast in the last eight games. This was Sano’s 23rd of the season and “only” traveled 420 feet. The rest of the offense was pretty quiet with each of Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Rob Refsnyder, and Willians Astudillo being the only other players to reach base. In the last twelve plate appearances of the game, the Twins struck out nine times including 1-2-3 in the eighth inning and three straight to end the game. In short, there wasn't ever much from the Twins throughout the entirety of the game. Bullpen Usage Ian Gibaut made his season debut, providing the Twins with three scoreless innings despite not having a clean inning and getting hit hard. Ralph Garza Jr came on in the 9th inning with two strikeouts on 11 pitches and not allowing anyone to reach base. WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Albers 0 0 88 0 0 88 Garza Jr. 24 4 0 0 11 39 Coulombe 19 0 20 0 0 39 Thielbar 22 0 0 23 0 45 Duffey 9 0 6 0 0 15 Colomé 20 0 13 13 0 46 Minaya 0 0 0 17 0 17 Gibaut 0 0 0 0 33 33 Alcalá 0 0 12 0 0 12