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  1. Max Kepler, Right Field MLB Network Rank: NR Right field includes some of baseball’s most notable names like Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, and Bryce Harper along with young studs like Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. Since the beginning of 2018, Kepler ranks as one of the best right fielders in all of baseball. According to FanGraphs, Kepler has the eighth highest WAR among right fielders over the last three seasons. This puts him ahead of players on MLB’s list including Mike Yastrzemski, Jorge Soler, Joey Gallo, and Charlie Blackmon. Kepler’s defense helps to separate him from the other players on this list. According to SABR’s SDI rankings, Kepler was the AL’s second-best defensive right fielder in 2019 and the only player ahead of him on the list, Mookie Betts, has since been traded to the NL. He probably doesn’t have a chance to rank in the top-5, but there’s a solid argument for him being baseball’s sixth best right fielder. Ryan Jeffers, Catcher MLB Network Rank: NR Minnesota has a catcher rank in MLB’s top-10, but Mitch Garver might not even be the team’s best catcher in 2021. Garver entered the 2020 season as MLB’s fourth best catcher as he trailed J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, and Willson Contreras. Garver went from the AL’s Silver Slugger in 2019 to hitting .167/.247/.264 in 26 games last season. This allowed Jeffers his time to shine. Jeffers was seen as a bat first catcher coming out of college, but he has turned himself into a tremendous defensive asset. During his rookie season, he ranked seventh in baseball when it comes to strike rate which places him ahead of many names on MLB’s top-10 list. Offensively, he hit .273/.355/.436 with three home runs in 26 games. To top it off, Garver just turned 30 in January and Jeffers won’t turn 24 until June. Taylor Rogers, Relief Pitcher MLB Network Rank: NR Tyler Duffey represents Minnesota on MLB’s top-10 relief pitcher list and few question how valuable Duffey has been over the last two seasons. However, Rogers has a longer track record and there are some signs that point to his 2020 numbers being more of a fluke. His BABIP rose to a career high .400, but he was still striking out well over a batter per inning. With an even better defense behind him in 2021, there’s a clear opportunity for him to rebound. Since the start of 2018, Rogers ranks fourth among all relief pitchers in WAR including a tremendous 2019 campaign. In that season, he had the third highest win probability added among AL relievers. Many of the players on MLB’s list haven’t ranked in the top-10 before and. Also, their rankings seem to be relying a lot on numbers from last season when many relievers were limited in their number of appearances due to the shortened season. Who do you think are the Twins most underrated players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 16th-through-20th most valuable assets under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 2020 Ranking: NR The 20th spot in these rankings is one I always wrestle with most. There are so many different players with good arguments to appear on the list; this selection becomes a battle between many semi-critical assets, whose competing qualities are fundamental to this exercise. Which is more indispensable to the Twins' plans: a proven MLB commodity with a relatively low ceiling (i.e. Randy Dobnak, Jake Cave), versus a near-ready prospect with moderate upside (i.e. Travis Blankenhorn, Edwar Colina), versus a more distant and uncertain project with game-changing potential? Ultimately, I landed on the latter, best represented in the system by Keoni Cavaco. No, he hasn't done anything of note as a professional yet, posting a paltry .470 OPS in his first turn at rookie ball in 2019. But the Twins believed in him enough to take him 13th overall – the highest pick this regime has made outside of Royce Lewis (No. 1) in 2017 – because they so value Cavaco's athleticism and long-term ceiling. I have no special insight or information on the 19-year-old, especially coming off a lost minor-league season, but frankly I trust this front office enough to consider him an important part of the big picture going forward. Needless to say, 2021 will be a key year for Cavaco. 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 2020 Ranking: NR The former first-round pick reached the majors in 2020, just three years after being drafted, and was exactly as advertised: an advanced bat with big bop, exhibiting no signs of intimidation against MLB pitching. Rooker has factors working against him in the context of this list – namely, a lack of asset scarcity. Big, immobile sluggers who can only play first base and corner outfield are not hard to come by. He also happens to be a bit extreme in the traditional flaws of this profile: a sub-par defender and extremely strikeout prone. But on the flip side (pun intended), his raw power is at the highest end of the spectrum and Rooker shows potential to develop into a reasonably disciplined hitter. Although he only made 21 plate appearances as a rookie before breaking his forearm, he made a strong enough impression to solidify his place in the club's plans going forward. Rooker is inexpensively controllable for years to come. 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 2020 Ranking: NR Donaldson signed after this list came out last year, so I didn't have to struggle with the challenging task of ranking him as an asset. It goes without saying he would've been higher at that point then he is now. The first year of Donaldson's historic contract was theoretically supposed to deliver the greatest value for the Twins, but was mostly a bust. Now, he's entering his age 35 season with magnified durability concerns, still owed $70 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. In the scope of this discussion, Donaldson's huge salary is a significant drawback, limiting the front office's ability to build around him within payroll constraints. The need to prioritize adding depth behind him, due to his unreliable health, is also a negative. And yet ... to an extent, this is all counterbalanced by the monumental impact he's capable of making. Donaldson is the only former MVP on the roster, and someone who was elite both offensively and defensively just two years ago. He showed signs of being that same player while on the field in 2020. It's possible no other team would take on Donaldson's contract at this moment if they had the chance, which is why he ranks as low as he does here. But his presence will be crucial if Minnesota's is to capitalize on the current championship window. 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2020 Ranking: 12 One year ago, Rogers was a top-end closer, set to earn less than $5 million, yet he still didn't crack the top 10 in these rankings. That says a lot about the relative value of relief pitchers, who are – for better or worse – among the game's most fungible assets. (The Twins, having made a habit of letting quality bullpen arms walk, seem to live by this credo.) Rogers is now a year older and closer to free agency, although the Twins still control him for two more seasons. He's also coming off a tough campaign, albeit it a shortened one where his peripherals and underlying indicators remained strong. Set to earn $6 million, he's no longer the clear-cut bargain he once was. The lefty's value has surely dropped but his price isn't unreasonable, all things considered, and he remains an integral piece of this bullpen – especially with Trevor May moving on, and guys like Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard (for now) out of the picture. 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 2020 Ranking: NR Like Rogers, Alcala has shown the ability to dominate out of the bullpen. The similarities end there. Whereas Rogers is a polished, experienced, time-tested relief fixture, Alcala is an up-and-comer with a sparse MLB track record. But that track record has yielded a 2.45 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate in 25 ⅔ innings. The right-hander didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a big-ticket international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and was the prospect headliner in a trade that sent Ryan Pressly to Houston in 2018. Though he predictably fizzled out as a starter, Alcala shows all the signs of a quality back-end reliever, and he's under team control for the next five seasons. If he can firmly establish himself as a lights-out setup man or closer in 2021, he'll move up this list. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 11-15: Coming tomorrow! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. As we kick off our countdown of the Minnesota Twins' top 20 player assets, this first batch features a little of everything: from a raw and unproven teenaged prospect to a highly paid MVP-winning veteran. Let us begin.First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 16th-through-20th most valuable assets under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 2020 Ranking: NR The 20th spot in these rankings is one I always wrestle with most. There are so many different players with good arguments to appear on the list; this selection becomes a battle between many semi-critical assets, whose competing qualities are fundamental to this exercise. Which is more indispensable to the Twins' plans: a proven MLB commodity with a relatively low ceiling (i.e. Randy Dobnak, Jake Cave), versus a near-ready prospect with moderate upside (i.e. Travis Blankenhorn, Edwar Colina), versus a more distant and uncertain project with game-changing potential? Ultimately, I landed on the latter, best represented in the system by Keoni Cavaco. No, he hasn't done anything of note as a professional yet, posting a paltry .470 OPS in his first turn at rookie ball in 2019. But the Twins believed in him enough to take him 13th overall – the highest pick this regime has made outside of Royce Lewis (No. 1) in 2017 – because they so value Cavaco's athleticism and long-term ceiling. I have no special insight or information on the 19-year-old, especially coming off a lost minor-league season, but frankly I trust this front office enough to consider him an important part of the big picture going forward. Needless to say, 2021 will be a key year for Cavaco. 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 2020 Ranking: NR The former first-round pick reached the majors in 2020, just three years after being drafted, and was exactly as advertised: an advanced bat with big bop, exhibiting no signs of intimidation against MLB pitching. Rooker has factors working against him in the context of this list – namely, a lack of asset scarcity. Big, immobile sluggers who can only play first base and corner outfield are not hard to come by. He also happens to be a bit extreme in the traditional flaws of this profile: a sub-par defender and extremely strikeout prone. But on the flip side (pun intended), his raw power is at the highest end of the spectrum and Rooker shows potential to develop into a reasonably disciplined hitter. Although he only made 21 plate appearances as a rookie before breaking his forearm, he made a strong enough impression to solidify his place in the club's plans going forward. Rooker is inexpensively controllable for years to come. 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 2020 Ranking: NR Donaldson signed after this list came out last year, so I didn't have to struggle with the challenging task of ranking him as an asset. It goes without saying he would've been higher at that point then he is now. The first year of Donaldson's historic contract was theoretically supposed to deliver the greatest value for the Twins, but was mostly a bust. Now, he's entering his age 35 season with magnified durability concerns, still owed $70 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. In the scope of this discussion, Donaldson's huge salary is a significant drawback, limiting the front office's ability to build around him within payroll constraints. The need to prioritize adding depth behind him, due to his unreliable health, is also a negative. And yet ... to an extent, this is all counterbalanced by the monumental impact he's capable of making. Donaldson is the only former MVP on the roster, and someone who was elite both offensively and defensively just two years ago. He showed signs of being that same player while on the field in 2020. It's possible no other team would take on Donaldson's contract at this moment if they had the chance, which is why he ranks as low as he does here. But his presence will be crucial if Minnesota's is to capitalize on the current championship window. 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2020 Ranking: 12 One year ago, Rogers was a top-end closer, set to earn less than $5 million, yet he still didn't crack the top 10 in these rankings. That says a lot about the relative value of relief pitchers, who are – for better or worse – among the game's most fungible assets. (The Twins, having made a habit of letting quality bullpen arms walk, seem to live by this credo.) Rogers is now a year older and closer to free agency, although the Twins still control him for two more seasons. He's also coming off a tough campaign, albeit it a shortened one where his peripherals and underlying indicators remained strong. Set to earn $6 million, he's no longer the clear-cut bargain he once was. The lefty's value has surely dropped but his price isn't unreasonable, all things considered, and he remains an integral piece of this bullpen – especially with Trevor May moving on, and guys like Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard (for now) out of the picture. 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 2020 Ranking: NR Like Rogers, Alcala has shown the ability to dominate out of the bullpen. The similarities end there. Whereas Rogers is a polished, experienced, time-tested relief fixture, Alcala is an up-and-comer with a sparse MLB track record. But that track record has yielded a 2.45 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate in 25 ⅔ innings. The right-hander didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a big-ticket international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and was the prospect headliner in a trade that sent Ryan Pressly to Houston in 2018. Though he predictably fizzled out as a starter, Alcala shows all the signs of a quality back-end reliever, and he's under team control for the next five seasons. If he can firmly establish himself as a lights-out setup man or closer in 2021, he'll move up this list. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 11-15: Coming tomorrow! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  4. Aaron and John talk about Fernando Romero going to Japan, Thad Levine not going to Philadelphia, Rocco Baldelli's new plan for Taylor Rogers and the Twins' bullpen, and the odds of a minor-league signing making an impact. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Now Click here to view the article
  5. Aaron and John discuss the departure of Eddie Rosario, Trevor May, and Matt Wisler, the retention of Twins' General Manager Thad Levine, and how the Twins might fit into a flush free agent shortstop market. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click Here Now Click here to view the article
  6. While it seems to have been a slow offseason so far, there have been and will soon be several more bits of information around the Minnesota Twins. Here is a list of nine things for you to consider as a Twins fan today.I haven't done one of these Nine Innings bits in awhile... I wasn't sure how I would fill all nine innings, but we've done it. This has topics all across the board. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. First Inning - Eddie Rosario Outrighted Listen. No one thought that the #MNTwins were going to tender Eddie Rosario at the deadline Wednesday evening. But tonight, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Twins have put Rosario on outright waivers. I got to know JP when he was the pitching coach in Cedar Rapids in 2017. Had some great conversations with him. He went to the same high school in New Orleans that the Mannings went to. More important to his role as a coach, he knows how to pitch. He reached AAA as a player. He’s coached as well as been the assistant pitching coordinator the last couple of seasons with the Twins. He also speaks Spanish (and English) fluently which is helpful too.He was also placed in charge of the Twins alternate site this summer in St. Paul. The Twins have certainly lost their fair share of player development staff. Derek Falvey has talked about not only player development but coaching development, front office development, and providing opportunities for people to move up the ladder with the Twins or elsewhere. Derek Shelton went from Twins bench coach to Pirates manager. James Rowson went from Twins hitting coach to Marlins bench coach and hitting coordinator. Jeremy Hefner went from assistant pitching coach with the Twins to pitching coach of the Mets. Tanner Swanson went from Twins minor league catching coordinator to Yankees MLB coach. Peter Fatse went from Twins minor league hitting coordinator to Red Sox assistant hitting coach. Edgar Varela went from Twins minor league coordinator to Twins hitting coach. Sixth Inning - (Trevor) May to the Mets Reports started coming out mid-afternoon on Tuesday that the Mets were close to a deal with Trevor May. It wasn’t long after that we had verification that, pending a physical, the Mets and Trevor May had agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract. May is one of the team bullpen arms available on the free agent market, and with this move, he sets the tone for that market. In 2020, May struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings and that number has been over 11 the past two years. He clearly has great stuff and could thrive in the Big Apple where he will be reunited with former Twins bullpen coach Jeremy Hefner. May has been a great ambassador for Twins baseball throughout his tenure with the team, but this is a good opportunity for him and hopefully it works out well for him. Seventh Inning - Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Seasons in Minnesota E-Book Available In Case You Missed It… over the past month, I have been working with “Nate Tubbs Rules” on an e-book. NTR updates his Top 300 Twins Player rankings after every season and it is enjoyable to read through those updates each year. With the Twins having just completed their 60th season in Minnesota in 2020, we wrote The Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Season in Minnesota, and it is available now for just $7.99 (immediate download). It includes fun profiles of the Top 60 players on his list and yes, it does name all of his Top 300 players. Yes, my personal Top 60 rankings is in the back of the book too. Please consider this e-book. If you are interested, you can order here. Last night, we spent about 40 minutes on a bonus Twins Spotlight discussing some of the fun topics of the rankings. Please enjoy. (Seth on WJON in St. Cloudtoday.) Eighth Inning - Kirilloff Bumps Lewis from Baseball America Top Spot On Monday, Baseball America released its updated Minnesota Twins Prospect rankings. Of note, they have now bumped Alex Kirilloff up from #2 to the #1 Twins prospect, a spot Royce Lewis has held for the past three offseasons. And no surprise, the two have always been kind of a 1a and 1b. Kirilloff certainly was the talk of the alternate site, and when he became the first player in MLB history to make his MLB debut by starting in a playoff game, more people started talking about him. I think the key is that Lewis’s star hasn’t diminished as much as Kirilloff has now been talked about more, and deservedly so. That said, I will continue to say that Trevor Larnach should be discussed in the same range as Kirilloff and Lewis. Carlos Collazo, who worked on the rankings for Baseball America, wrote in the Twins chatthat he has Larnach lumped into a group that includes Ryan Jeffers, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. I personally have Larnach just a bit above that group, but that is a very good group. Literally all six of those guys should be in their Top 100 Prospect rankings when those come out in the spring. He then noted that there is a group from #7 through #12 or 13 that could be inter-changeable too, and I agree with that. That is an exciting group as well with both power hitters, strong offense/defense guys and about three more pitchers that all profile as potential big-league starters. Ninth Inning - A Minor Signing The Royals signed veteran lefty Mike Minor to a two-year, $18 million with a $13 million option for a third year. The Royals are adding a veteran to a staff that includes youngsters like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic and a plethora of pitching prospects that are potentially available in the next year or two. Danny Duffy becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. I have been a little surprised by the number of starting pitcher free agents who have already signed. Not sure what that will mean over the long course of an offseason, but it is encouraging. That’s all I’ve got. Nine innings worth. Hopefully you have enjoyed it, and I welcome any questions or comments that you have below. Click here to view the article
  7. I haven't done one of these Nine Innings bits in awhile... I wasn't sure how I would fill all nine innings, but we've done it. This has topics all across the board. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. First Inning - Eddie Rosario Outrighted Listen. No one thought that the #MNTwins were going to tender Eddie Rosario at the deadline Wednesday evening. But tonight, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Twins have put Rosario on outright waivers. https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1333948164244647937 I know I held out some hope that some team would be willing to give up a Low A pitching prospect for Rosario, and certainly the Twins tried, but they couldn’t find a taker. https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1333948257819631618 Instead of just non-tendering him tomorrow, and making him a free agent, the Twins are hoping to find a team that will take whatever number they agree to in arbitration. Rosario has been a controversial player. Ultimately, since he debuted in 2015, he has been a very productive player. While he comes with flaws that he just hasn’t been able to overcome, he has also produced in the middle of the Twins lineup. I know it has become cliche for me to do so, but I truly have enjoyed watching Eddie Rosario in a Twins uniform. He is absolutely entertaining when you just sit back and take the good with the bad. Most likely, he will go unclaimed by the 1:00 deadline on Wednesday and become a free agent. Second Inning - Wednesday is Decision Day Teams have until 7:00 central time on Wednesday night to decide whether to tender a 2021 contract for its arbitration eligible players. If they are non-tendered, they become a free agent. Taylor Rogers is the one other Twins player who some think could be non-tendered, but I think it’s most logical for the Twins to bring him back for 2021. The other players who are arbitration-eligible are: Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, Tyler Duffey, Mitch Garver, Caleb Thielbar, and Matt Wisler. I would be surprised if any of them were non-tendered. However, it is possible that the team agrees to terms with a player or two before the deadline as well. Of that group, which if any are most likely to sign a deal ahead of the deadline? Third Inning - Offseason Live TONIGHT (Reacting to the Non-Tender Deadline) Tonight at 8:00 central time, Nick Nelson, Seth Stohs and David Young will react to the day in Twins news, specifically to the arbitration decisions that are made. Join us live on Twins Daily’s Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages. Fourth Inning - Realigning the Minor Leagues The Star Tribune is reporting that the Twins and MLB will be announcing their re-aligned minor league system in the near future. In the worst kept secret in baseball, the St. Paul Saints will become the Twins Triple-A affiliate. The Wichita Wind Surge will become the Twins new Double-A affiliate. The two Twins Class A affiliates will switch levels. The Midwest League and the Cedar Rapids Kernels will move from Low-A to High-A with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels and the rest of the Florida State League moving to a Low-A affiliation. For much more on these changes, check out Tom’s Minor League Realignment article tonight. My thoughts? First and foremost, I will miss conversations with some really good people at both Rochester and at Pensacola. The Red Wings have such an incredible baseball history going back well over a century. The Blue Wahoos were only a Twins affiliate for two seasons, but their stadium is remarkable and the people there were so helpful. That said, there are obvious reasons for wanting their Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul, a dozen miles from Target Field. It’ll be much easier to call people up or send them down. It will be great for rehab assignments. And, with the Twins in a position to win and so many exciting prospects, it is great for baseball in Minnesota. As for Wichita, they built a new $75 million stadium just a year ago. It was supposed to be the Marlins AAA affiliate, but then came COVID, a missed season and re-alignment. Seems like it would be a great facility for Twins prospects. I am happy that Cedar Rapids remains an affiliate, and it’s exciting - I would think - for them and their fans to move up a level, to get a higher level of play with a more advanced league. I will always encourage baseball fans from the Twin Cities to try to make a trip or two each season to watch the Kernels. And, with the Twins player development site and the academy in Ft. Myers, it makes sense to keep players there for their first step up rather than sending them to Cedar Rapids right away. That will be good especially for transactions at that Low-A level. Easy to call guys up from across the parking lot. So overall, I am very comfortable with how this has played out, and over time I think it will prove itself to be a good thing for the organization. I just still feel bad about losing the Elizabethton affiliate and the great history of that team. And I feel worse that the Twins have just let go of long-time leaders and coaches in Ray Smith and Jeff Reed. Fifth Inning - Twins Lose Another Player Development Leader to Big-League Job JP Martinez was announced on Tuesday night as the new assistant pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants. A week earlier we had heard rumblings that he was seen as a favorite. Now it isi Twitter official. https://twitter.com/SFGiants/status/1333936170024140802 I got to know JP when he was the pitching coach in Cedar Rapids in 2017. Had some great conversations with him. He went to the same high school in New Orleans that the Mannings went to. More important to his role as a coach, he knows how to pitch. He reached AAA as a player. He’s coached as well as been the assistant pitching coordinator the last couple of seasons with the Twins. He also speaks Spanish (and English) fluently which is helpful too.He was also placed in charge of the Twins alternate site this summer in St. Paul. The Twins have certainly lost their fair share of player development staff. Derek Falvey has talked about not only player development but coaching development, front office development, and providing opportunities for people to move up the ladder with the Twins or elsewhere. Derek Shelton went from Twins bench coach to Pirates manager. James Rowson went from Twins hitting coach to Marlins bench coach and hitting coordinator. Jeremy Hefner went from assistant pitching coach with the Twins to pitching coach of the Mets. Tanner Swanson went from Twins minor league catching coordinator to Yankees MLB coach. Peter Fatse went from Twins minor league hitting coordinator to Red Sox assistant hitting coach. Edgar Varela went from Twins minor league coordinator to Twins hitting coach. Sixth Inning - (Trevor) May to the Mets Reports started coming out mid-afternoon on Tuesday that the Mets were close to a deal with Trevor May. It wasn’t long after that we had verification that, pending a physical, the Mets and Trevor May had agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract. May is one of the team bullpen arms available on the free agent market, and with this move, he sets the tone for that market. In 2020, May struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings and that number has been over 11 the past two years. He clearly has great stuff and could thrive in the Big Apple where he will be reunited with former Twins bullpen coach Jeremy Hefner. May has been a great ambassador for Twins baseball throughout his tenure with the team, but this is a good opportunity for him and hopefully it works out well for him. Seventh Inning - Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Seasons in Minnesota E-Book Available In Case You Missed It… over the past month, I have been working with “Nate Tubbs Rules” on an e-book. NTR updates his Top 300 Twins Player rankings after every season and it is enjoyable to read through those updates each year. With the Twins having just completed their 60th season in Minnesota in 2020, we wrote The Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Season in Minnesota, and it is available now for just $7.99 (immediate download). It includes fun profiles of the Top 60 players on his list and yes, it does name all of his Top 300 players. Yes, my personal Top 60 rankings is in the back of the book too. Please consider this e-book. If you are interested, you can order here. Last night, we spent about 40 minutes on a bonus Twins Spotlight discussing some of the fun topics of the rankings. Please enjoy. (Seth on WJON in St. Cloud today.) Eighth Inning - Kirilloff Bumps Lewis from Baseball America Top Spot On Monday, Baseball America released its updated Minnesota Twins Prospect rankings. Of note, they have now bumped Alex Kirilloff up from #2 to the #1 Twins prospect, a spot Royce Lewis has held for the past three offseasons. And no surprise, the two have always been kind of a 1a and 1b. Kirilloff certainly was the talk of the alternate site, and when he became the first player in MLB history to make his MLB debut by starting in a playoff game, more people started talking about him. I think the key is that Lewis’s star hasn’t diminished as much as Kirilloff has now been talked about more, and deservedly so. That said, I will continue to say that Trevor Larnach should be discussed in the same range as Kirilloff and Lewis. Carlos Collazo, who worked on the rankings for Baseball America, wrote in the Twins chat that he has Larnach lumped into a group that includes Ryan Jeffers, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. I personally have Larnach just a bit above that group, but that is a very good group. Literally all six of those guys should be in their Top 100 Prospect rankings when those come out in the spring. He then noted that there is a group from #7 through #12 or 13 that could be inter-changeable too, and I agree with that. That is an exciting group as well with both power hitters, strong offense/defense guys and about three more pitchers that all profile as potential big-league starters. Ninth Inning - A Minor Signing The Royals signed veteran lefty Mike Minor to a two-year, $18 million with a $13 million option for a third year. The Royals are adding a veteran to a staff that includes youngsters like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic and a plethora of pitching prospects that are potentially available in the next year or two. Danny Duffy becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. I have been a little surprised by the number of starting pitcher free agents who have already signed. Not sure what that will mean over the long course of an offseason, but it is encouraging. That’s all I’ve got. Nine innings worth. Hopefully you have enjoyed it, and I welcome any questions or comments that you have below.
  8. On Wednesday night, a major offseason milestone arrived with the non-tender deadline. This one loomed especially large for the Minnesota Twins, who are facing difficult stay-or-go arbitration decisions on two longtime fixtures. We reacted to those decisions, plus another out-of-nowhere shocker, and analyzed a wave of newly available free agents on Offseason Live.It looks like the Twins are moving on from longtime left fielder Eddie Rosario. But closer Taylor Rogers is sticking around. Shockingly, Matt Wisler was non-tendered despite a seemingly modest price tag coming off a breakout year. Download attachment: twinsinarb.png Minnesota wasn't the only team confronting tough calls on quality players – calls that would perhaps be no-brainers under different circumstances. Numerous players from other clubs suddenly became available, some of them logical fits for Minnesota. I was joined via live-stream by Seth Stohs and David Youngs on Wednesday night, an hour after the deadline, as we reacted to the news and broke it down. Tune into future live broadcasts on Twins Daily's Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube page. (Or by tuning into the YouTube stream above.) It's an interactive show where viewers help steer the conversation via comments and questions. You can also catch every episode via audio by subscribing to our podcast. In the meantime, check out previous episodes of Offseason Live and see what's upcoming: Ep 1: (Thurs, 10/8)Ep 2: (Tues, 10/13)Ep 3: (Thurs, 10/15)Ep 4: (Tues, 10/20)Ep 5: (Thurs, 10/22)Ep 6: (Tues, 10/27)Ep 7: (Thurs, 10/29)Ep 8: (Thurs, 11/5)Ep 9: (Thurs, 11/12)Ep 10: (Tues, 11/17)Ep 11: (Weds, 12/2) Click here to view the article
  9. It looks like the Twins are moving on from longtime left fielder Eddie Rosario. But closer Taylor Rogers is sticking around. Shockingly, Matt Wisler was non-tendered despite a seemingly modest price tag coming off a breakout year. Minnesota wasn't the only team confronting tough calls on quality players – calls that would perhaps be no-brainers under different circumstances. Numerous players from other clubs suddenly became available, some of them logical fits for Minnesota. I was joined via live-stream by Seth Stohs and David Youngs on Wednesday night, an hour after the deadline, as we reacted to the news and broke it down. Tune into future live broadcasts on Twins Daily's Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube page. (Or by tuning into the YouTube stream above.) It's an interactive show where viewers help steer the conversation via comments and questions. You can also catch every episode via audio by subscribing to our podcast. In the meantime, check out previous episodes of Offseason Live and see what's upcoming: Ep 1: (Thurs, 10/8) Ep 2: (Tues, 10/13) Ep 3: (Thurs, 10/15) Ep 4: (Tues, 10/20) Ep 5: (Thurs, 10/22) Ep 6: (Tues, 10/27) Ep 7: (Thurs, 10/29) Ep 8: (Thurs, 11/5) Ep 9: (Thurs, 11/12) Ep 10: (Tues, 11/17) Ep 11: (Weds, 12/2)
  10. Aaron and John explain why Eddie Rosario will probably not be a Minnesota Twin next week, other impacts of Wednesday's non-tender deadline, and a couple impact starting pitchers reportedly available in trades. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click Here To Listen Now Click here to view the article
  11. LA’s Superstars In baseball, superstar players can’t impact the game in the same way as some of the other major sports, but it certainly helps to have top tier players performing at their best. The Dodger outfield is anchored by two former MVPs in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw has been one of this generation’s best starting pitchers. Betts has been good throughout his career, but he has used this year’s World Series to put himself in the conversation as quite possibly the best player in baseball. Few teams have players in the same category as the names above, including Minnesota. The Twins signed Josh Donaldson, a former MVP winner, to help change that narrative. However, he was hurt for the majority of the 2020 season and the prime of his career might be behind him. Other players like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were touted as future superstars and both have suffered through some ups and downs in their career. Buxton might have the best chance to be Minnesota’s superstar player, but he will need to prove it again in 2021. Tampa’s Bullpen Well this is awkward. Two key members of the Rays bullpen, Nick Anderson and John Curtiss, were both drafted by the Minnesota Twins and neither was given much of an opportunity with the big-league club. Curtiss pitched 15 innings for the Twins and posted a 7.20 ERA while Anderson never made it out of Triple-A. Bullpen usage continues to increase as starters are asked to get fewer outs. Tampa Bay is in their current position because of a heavy reliance on their relief arms and other teams can follow this trend in the years ahead. The Twins have some tough choices with their own bullpen during the coming offseason. Taylor Rogers can make as much as $7 million through arbitration, but he is coming off his worst big-league season. Sergio Romo has a team option for $4.75 million, but he turns 38 in March. Other players like Tyler Clippard and Trevor May are free agents in what is expected to be an offseason where all team’s cut payroll. Minnesota might be able to find someone like Matt Wisler or Caleb Thielbar, but that might be even tougher following a year where there was no minor league season. Both Team’s Starting Pitching Depth Even with bullpens getting more usage, starting pitching is still such an important part of any extended playoff run. LA’s one-two punch of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw allow other pitchers to take on relief roles for the postseason. Add in the likes of Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May and it’s easy to see why the Dodgers were willing to part with Kenta Maeda. Tampa might not have some of the big names like LA, but many teams would love to have their top-4 pitchers (Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton). Minnesota is entering their second straight offseason with multiple openings in their starting rotation. Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, and Kenta Maeda are penciled into the top-3 spots, so how can the Twins find a way to complete their rotation. Trevor Bauer will be the biggest free agent starter this winter, but he is going to have multiple suitors and the Twins are unlikely to spend the money it takes to add him. Does it make sense to bring back someone like Jake Odorizzi or Rich Hill? Would those names put the Twins in the same territory as the Dodgers and the Rays? What do the Twins need to do to get to the same level as the Dodgers and the Rays? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. On Tuesday night's episode of Offseason Live, I talked through each of the Twins' arbitration-eligible players with Matt Braun and Matthew Trueblood. You can watch it below, or keep scrolling for a written breakdown. We know for sure that these seven players are eligible for arbitration: Mitch Garver, C (1st year of of 3) Tyler Duffey (2 of 3) Matt Wisler (2 of 3) Jose Berrios (2 of 3) Taylor Rogers (3 of 4) Byron Buxton (3 of 4) Eddie Rosario (3 of 3) We're not sure about Caleb Thielbar. His service time puts him right on the border of Super 2 status, but that's a murky line as is, made only cloudier by this shortened season. If he is arbitration-eligible for the first time, he is in line for about $1 million, and a no-brainer to bring back. Here's a look at the respective situations of the other seven players (2020 salaries based on full season, 2021 salary estimates via Twins Daily's guesses and those posted at MLB Trade Rumors): Mitch Garver, C 1st year of 3 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $600K Key Stat: Career .275/.371/.522 hitter versus left-handed pitchers. Arbitration Salary Estimates: Twins Daily: $2M | MLBTR: $1.9M The Lowdown: As he enters arbitration for the first time, Garver's price will be kept in check coming off a lost season. Despite his discouraging campaign, keeping the 2019 Silver Slugger around next year is clearly a no-brainer at this price point, barring a trade. His ability to hit southpaws (which endured through his struggles in 2020, as he stilled slashed .304/.385/.435 vs. LHP) is particularly valuable. At this point it seems likely he'll head into next season slated for a 50/50 timeshare with Ryan Jeffers at catcher. Tyler Duffey, RP 2nd Year of 3 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $1.2M Key Stat: Ranks 4th among MLB relievers in fWAR since 2019 All-Star break. Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $2.5M | MLBTR: $2.6M The Lowdown: Duffey was the Twins' best reliever and one of the best relievers in the American League, so he should at least double his 2020 salary in arbitration. Still, at somewhere in the range of $2.5 to $3 million, he'll be a tremendous bargain. With free agency only two years away, this might be an opportune time for the Twins to pitch his agent on an extension. Matt Wisler, RP 2nd Year of 3 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $725K Key Stat: 1.07 ERA and 12.4 K/9 in first year with Twins (25.1 IP) Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $1.5M | MLBTR: $1.8M The Lowdown: The Twins claimed Wisler off waivers last offseason, seeing promise in his slider, and were rewarded to the fullest. He threw that pitch a career-high 83% of the time in his first season as a Twin, and completely dominated with it, holding opponents to a .143/.141/.221 slash line. It was the nastiest pitch on the Twins and one of the nastiest in baseball. Due to his lack of a track record prior to 2020, Wisler will still be quite cheap – likely under $2 million. Obviously he's back, though it's worth wondering how highly the Twins are prepared to slot him in the bullpen hierarchy. José Berríos, SP Year 2 of 3 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $4.025M Key Stat: Since his debut on April 27th, 2016, only 11 MLB pitchers have logged more innings than Berríos. Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $7.5M | MLBTR: $7.5M The Lowdown: Durability has been Berríos' calling card as an MLB starter, and it shined through again in 2020 as he made a team-leading 12 starts. He took a bit of a step backward performance-wise (4.00 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were both the highest since his rookie year in 2016), but not enough to prevent him from getting a hefty raise. With free agency approaching at the end of 2022, the Twins are running out of leverage in extension talks, but they've had a hard time finding traction in those discussions during the past couple winters. Byron Buxton, CF Year 3 of 4 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $3.075M Key Stat: Since start of 2018, Twins are 102-52 (.662) with Buxton, and 113-117 (.491) without. Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $6M | MLBTR: $5.9M The Lowdown: Durability has ... not been Buxton's calling card. He's been one of the biggest difference-makers in the game when on the field over the past three years, but has missed about 60% of the team's games during that span. The 2020 season, like most others, ended with Buxton injured and unable to play. This both diminishes his earning power in arbitration, and complicates the long-term picture. Can the Twins afford to go all-in on him when he has so consistently proven unable to stay healthy? Will his injury history make him more open to the security of a contract extension? Taylor Rogers, RP Year 3 of 4 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $4.45M Key Stat: In 2018 & 2019, ranked 4th among MLB relievers in fWAR and 6th in WPA. In 2020, ranked 33rd and 169th (out of 173). Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $7M | MLBTR: $6.9M The Lowdown: For several years, Rogers was as good as it gets. He was a shutdown bullpen reliever, and essentially match-up proof, consistently coming through in the clutch to rank as one of the game's best high-leverage performers. In late 2019, that started to change, and this year the negative trend continued. His 2020 numbers weren't all that bad, on the surface – 4.05 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 6.00 K/BB ratio, just two home runs allowed – but Rogers was not a dependable back-end arm. And while there's a good chance he bounces back, the pricetag of around $7 million is quite high, especially with the Twins (probably) scaling back payroll and looking for cost savings. Eddie Rosario, LF Year 3 of 3 in Arbitration 2020 Salary: $7.75M Key Stat: Ranks 98th out of 128 qualified MLB players in fWAR since start of 2019. Arbitration Salary Estimates: TD: $10M | MLBTR: $12.9M The Lowdown: We were a little more conservative on Rosario's salary estimate than MLBTR, who foresees him making nearly $13 million in his final year of arbitration. At either number, it's going to be tough to justify keeping Rosario around. While he's been a reliable source of home runs and RBIs, he rates as a roughly average player overall, with poor defense and declining speed offsetting much of the (checkered) value he offers at the plate. Given the presence of multiple cheap replacement options – including Alex Kirilloff, who successfully debuted in the playoffs – it's tough to imagine the Twins keeping Rosario around ... unless they can non-tender him and reach agreement on a lower number. Would you keep Rosario and/or Rogers around at the heightened price tags? Where do you stand with the other arbitration-eligible players and contract extension candidates? Weigh in below. ~~~ You can tune into the next Offseason Live broadcast via Twins Daily's Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube page. It'll be an interactive show where viewers help steer the conversation via comments and questions. You'll also be able to watch the replay tomorrow here on the site, or via audio by subscribing to our podcast. In the meantime, check out previous episodes of Offseason Live and see what's upcoming: Ep 1: (Thurs, 10/8) Ep 2: (Tues, 10/13) Ep 3: (Thurs, 10/15) Ep 4: (Tues, 10/20) Ep 5: Free Agency – Catchers & Infield (Thurs, 10/22) Ep 6: Free Agency – Outfield & DH (Tues, 10/27) Ep 7: Free Agency – Starting Pitchers (Thurs, 10/29) Ep 8: Free Agency – Relief Pitchers (Thurs, 11/5) Ep 9: Twins Trade Targets (Tues, 11/10) Ep 10: Offseason Blueprints (Thurs, 11/12) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. October is going to look different this season with no off days in scheduled in each of the first three rounds. There is some time off between each round, but bullpens are going to be even more important in this tight schedule. These power rankings aren’t about who should be used in a specific spot because the manager can be creative in the playoffs. The rankings below are about who is pitching well and who has the best stuff to succeed in October. 10. Sean Poppen (4.70 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 10 K, 7 2/3 IP) Poppen has seen limited time for the Twins this year and it seems unlikely that he would be called on in October. His lone role might be to eat some innings if there was a blowout. He also hasn’t pitched in a game in nearly two weeks. Twins fans don’t want to see him on the mound in the playoffs, because that likely means something went wrong in the game. 9. Caleb Thielbar (1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20 K, 16 IP) Thielbar has been a feel-good story for the Twins this season as his pitching performance certainly has matched a player that hasn’t pitching in the big leagues since 2015. If you take out his first appearance, he has a 0.66 ERA while holding batters to a .149/.259/.149 (.408) slash-line. Also, he has been asked to get more than three outs four of his fourteen games, which is likely something he wouldn’t be asked to do in the postseason. On other teams, he’d rank much higher. 8. Cody Stashak (3.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 15 K, 11 2/3 IP) Stashak has been really good and him being this low shows the depth of the Twins bullpen. He’s only allowed runs in two of his nine appearances and he has multiple strikeouts in over half of his outings. His one bad appearance was an inning where he allowed three runs to Kansas City. Rocco Baldelli has shown faith in using him in the late innings of close games. With few off days in each series, Stashak might be needed for some big outs. 7. Jorge Alcala (2.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27 K, 21 2/3 IP) Alcala might have helped Twins fans to forget about Brusdar Graterol since he is basically filling the same role on the team. He’s also been better than Graterol this season. His fastball will certainly play in October and he’s used his slider nearly as often. His Baseball Savant page is also the thing of dreams as he ranks as ranks higher than the 80th percentile in all but one category. He could be the team’s closer of the future and October could be his month to shine on the big stage. 6. Matt Wisler (1.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 34 K, 24 1/3 IP) Wilser has been the Twins diamond in the rough this year. Claimed off waivers, the Twins have helped him to morph into one of the American League’s best relief pitchers. According to Baseball Reference, he is tied with Jose Berrios for the fourth highest WAR on the team behind Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, and Nelson Cruz. He’s been used as an opener, earned a save, and has five holds to his name. His versatility could be useful with how effective he continues to be. 5. Tyler Clippard (2.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 22 K, 22 2/3 IP) Minnesota saw plenty of Clippard last year in Cleveland and he’s been nearly as good so far this year. He could actually move down this list with some recent poor performances. In three of his last four appearances, runs have been scored against him, so his worst stretch of the season might be coming at the wrong time. Baldelli will likely continue to turn to him because he is a 14-year veteran with 14 playoff appearances during his career. 4. Sergio Romo (2.89 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 22 K, 18 2/3 IP) Since the Twins acquired him last year, Romo has been getting plenty of late inning opportunities out of the Twins bullpen. Taylor Rogers has struggled at times this year and this has led the Twins to continue to use Romo in late inning situations. Fans saw this as recently as Sunday night in Chicago with Rogers getting the eighth and Romo getting the ninth. Things got a little shaky in that game, but he has a long playoff track record and he’s going to be trusted to get outs in the eighth and ninth inning. 3. Taylor Rogers (4.58 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 22 K, 17 2/3 IP) Rogers and his struggles have been well documented throughout this season. In such a small sample size, luck might be accounting for some of his poor performance. His BABIP is one of the highest among all relief pitchers and his 4.58 ERA comes with a 2.84 FIP. Some of his issues this year might also be tied to the use of his breaking pitches. As Nick wrote about last week, his curve spin rate has flattened out and this could be one reason for more solid contact against him. Whether it’s luck or a poor breaking ball, the Twins need Rogers to be in peak form by the start of next week. 2. Trevor May (4.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 34 K, 20 2/3 IP) Back on September 6, May blew up in a loss to Detroit as he allowed three runs on four hits and saw his ERA rise to 5.74. In his last five appearances, he has been nearly unhittable with opponents limited to two hits, both singles. He has struck out eight in five innings and nearly 60% of his WPA for the season has come during this recent stretch. Even though his season hasn’t been perfect, he’s been Minnesota’s hottest reliever to end the season. 1. Tyler Duffey (1.69 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 28 K, 21 1/3 IP) Duffey is the Twins best relief pitcher and it might not be close. If an opponent’s heart of the line-up is coming up in a key spot, Duffey gets the call in the bullpen. These types of situations will only be more amplified in the upcoming postseason. So far this season, he has pitched in any inning from the fourth to the eighth, because Baldelli trusts him in any situation. He isn’t the Twins closer, because he is better than any of the closing options for the Twins. How would you rank the Twins bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. The Twins lost on Monday night and Taylor Rogers took the loss, falling to 1-4 and raising his ERA to 4.86 on the season. Ongoing struggles throw the former lockdown closer's status into question as October approaches. What to make of this situation?Before we go any further, let's get something clear: Taylor Rogers is a stud relief pitcher. Up until the 17-inning sample that represents this 2020 season, here's where he ranked across the two FULL seasons prior: Taylor Rogers, 2018-2019: 4th in fWAR among MLB relievers (4.0)6th in WPA among MLB relievers (6.15)5th in FIP among MLB relievers (2.59)4th in K/BB among MLB relievers (6.11)That's among ALL major-league relievers, y'all. The names accompanying him on these lists are the best of the best: Kirby Yates, Aroldis Chapman, Josh Hader, Felipe Vazquez, etc. So, I think it's important to keep that piece of context in mind as we proceed. It's been a struggle for Rogers in 2020. A disastrous eighth inning on Monday was just the latest in a string of rocky outings for the once-elite closer. With so many slip-ups in high-leverage spots, he now ranks 173rd out of 179 qualified relievers in Win Probability Added this year (-1.15). But even after crumbling against the White Sox in Chicago, the underlying numbers give almost every indication of a pitcher who's been performing well and experiencing rotten luck. Rogers has the seventh-highest BABIP (.412) among MLB relief pitchers. His K/BB ratio was second-best in the game before he issued a pair of walks on Monday, and is still quite strong at 20-to-3. His 4.86 ERA is accompanied by a 2.90 FIP. So what's contributing to this drop-off? Well, a look into the Statcast data reveals some noteworthy insights. Here are his three-year trends across a variety of metrics: Download attachment: rogersstatcast.png What catches my eye is the progressive decline in whiff rate (64th percentile to 51st to 35th) and Barrel % (79th percentile to 37th to 15th), which seem to correlate with the perception that hitters have been increasingly keyed in on his pitches dating back to midway through last season. And then there is his flattening curve spin, which has gravitated from top-shelf (89th percentile in 2018) to more ordinary (66th percentile in 2020). Here's a spot where the data matches the eye-test; Rogers has thrown a lot of breaking balls that hang in the zone and get crushed – his 0-2 pitch to Tim Anderson on Monday being a fine example. What's happened to Rogers' formerly phenomenal out pitch? Here we come across another odd finding in the Statcast data: it says Rogers ditched his slider this year and is only throwing the curve as his breaking pitch. Last year, 35.4% of the lefty's pitches were classified as sliders, and 14.7% as curveballs. This year, they've both melded into a single pitch being thrown 45.3% of the time. Download attachment: rogerspitchchart.png Is this meaningful? I don't know. Statcast isn't perfect at assigning pitch types and Rogers has always thrown hybrid-type breaking balls that dance between designations. But the addition of a slider to his repertoire in 2018 was a big story. Matthew Trueblood wrote about it here earlier this year: "By now, the story of Rogers’s transformation from fringy lefty specialist to formidable relief ace is familiar to nearly all Twins fans. During the first third of the 2018 season, Rogers tinkered with a new offering, a slider, which he then incorporated as an extra look for hitters hoping to lock in on his sinker and curveball. Since he became comfortable using that slider, he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball." I can't claim to classify Rogers' pitches by eye any better than Statcast does, but what I've seen sure seems to jibe with the data: Hitters are once again locking in on his sinker and curveball. If he's still throwing two different versions of a breaking ball, it doesn't look that way to me, the computer, or – evidently – opposing hitters. Possibly it's a change in the pitch's shape, or maybe a matter of release point. Either way, it's ceased to be a particularly effective weapon: opponents are holding their own against the curve with a .310 wOBA, and teeing off on the sinker at .409. Having said all this, it's worth circling back to that point made at the outset: Rogers is a stud relief pitcher. His poor results over less than a 17-inning sample do not outweigh a lengthy track record of excellence, especially when they bear so many signs of being flukey and unsustainable. But right now, he simply isn't getting the job done. While it's valid to discuss where he should sit in the bullpen hierarchy (and I'm curious to hear thoughts in the comments), there's no question that the Twins will be relying to Rogers as a late-inning crux in the playoffs. Whatever issues are plaguing him, time is running out to get them solved. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  15. Before we go any further, let's get something clear: Taylor Rogers is a stud relief pitcher. Up until the 17-inning sample that represents this 2020 season, here's where he ranked across the two FULL seasons prior: Taylor Rogers, 2018-2019: 4th in fWAR among MLB relievers (4.0) 6th in WPA among MLB relievers (6.15) 5th in FIP among MLB relievers (2.59) 4th in K/BB among MLB relievers (6.11) That's among ALL major-league relievers, y'all. The names accompanying him on these lists are the best of the best: Kirby Yates, Aroldis Chapman, Josh Hader, Felipe Vazquez, etc. So, I think it's important to keep that piece of context in mind as we proceed. It's been a struggle for Rogers in 2020. A disastrous eighth inning on Monday was just the latest in a string of rocky outings for the once-elite closer. With so many slip-ups in high-leverage spots, he now ranks 173rd out of 179 qualified relievers in Win Probability Added this year (-1.15). But even after crumbling against the White Sox in Chicago, the underlying numbers give almost every indication of a pitcher who's been performing well and experiencing rotten luck. Rogers has the seventh-highest BABIP (.412) among MLB relief pitchers. His K/BB ratio was second-best in the game before he issued a pair of walks on Monday, and is still quite strong at 20-to-3. His 4.86 ERA is accompanied by a 2.90 FIP. So what's contributing to this drop-off? Well, a look into the Statcast data reveals some noteworthy insights. Here are his three-year trends across a variety of metrics: What catches my eye is the progressive decline in whiff rate (64th percentile to 51st to 35th) and Barrel % (79th percentile to 37th to 15th), which seem to correlate with the perception that hitters have been increasingly keyed in on his pitches dating back to midway through last season. And then there is his flattening curve spin, which has gravitated from top-shelf (89th percentile in 2018) to more ordinary (66th percentile in 2020). Here's a spot where the data matches the eye-test; Rogers has thrown a lot of breaking balls that hang in the zone and get crushed – his 0-2 pitch to Tim Anderson on Monday being a fine example. What's happened to Rogers' formerly phenomenal out pitch? Here we come across another odd finding in the Statcast data: it says Rogers ditched his slider this year and is only throwing the curve as his breaking pitch. Last year, 35.4% of the lefty's pitches were classified as sliders, and 14.7% as curveballs. This year, they've both melded into a single pitch being thrown 45.3% of the time. Is this meaningful? I don't know. Statcast isn't perfect at assigning pitch types and Rogers has always thrown hybrid-type breaking balls that dance between designations. But the addition of a slider to his repertoire in 2018 was a big story. Matthew Trueblood wrote about it here earlier this year: "By now, the story of Rogers’s transformation from fringy lefty specialist to formidable relief ace is familiar to nearly all Twins fans. During the first third of the 2018 season, Rogers tinkered with a new offering, a slider, which he then incorporated as an extra look for hitters hoping to lock in on his sinker and curveball. Since he became comfortable using that slider, he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball." I can't claim to classify Rogers' pitches by eye any better than Statcast does, but what I've seen sure seems to jibe with the data: Hitters are once again locking in on his sinker and curveball. If he's still throwing two different versions of a breaking ball, it doesn't look that way to me, the computer, or – evidently – opposing hitters. Possibly it's a change in the pitch's shape, or maybe a matter of release point. Either way, it's ceased to be a particularly effective weapon: opponents are holding their own against the curve with a .310 wOBA, and teeing off on the sinker at .409. Having said all this, it's worth circling back to that point made at the outset: Rogers is a stud relief pitcher. His poor results over less than a 17-inning sample do not outweigh a lengthy track record of excellence, especially when they bear so many signs of being flukey and unsustainable. But right now, he simply isn't getting the job done. While it's valid to discuss where he should sit in the bullpen hierarchy (and I'm curious to hear thoughts in the comments), there's no question that the Twins will be relying to Rogers as a late-inning crux in the playoffs. Whatever issues are plaguing him, time is running out to get them solved. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/17 through Sun, 8/23 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 19-10) Run Differential Last Week: +5 (Overall: +40) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.5 GA) Bomba Counter: 42 (Pace: 90) It was not a great week healthwise for the Twins. Rich Hill returned from his hiatus on Wednesday but looked sluggish, allowing four earned runs on four hits and two walks in just 2⅔ innings. Homer Bailey was moved to the 45-day Injured List, confirming that his return is nowhere near. Jake Odorizzi took a line drive off the ribs in Friday's loss, and later in the same game Zack Littell exited with elbow soreness. Both landed on IL, replaced by relievers Sean Poppen and Danny Coulombe. Late in Sunday's game, Tyler Clippard took a line drive off his pitching arm, and while initial imaging came back negative, Rocco Baldelli said of Clippard after the game, "I can’t imagine he’s going to be throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future." So it'd be no surprise to see another reinforcement called in. Given the offense's continued struggles to find a rhythm, losses in the lineup loom even larger than the litany of injuries plaguing the pitching staff. Luis Arráez started just two games as he continues to battle knee soreness, but the team has bigger concerns. After Wednesday's game, Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver both landed on the Injured List, subtracting two right-handed bats from a unit that has been oddly ineffective against southpaws. There are silver linings with these two key cogs going on the shelf. Buxton has reportedly been bothered for some time by his surgically repaired shoulder, not to mention the foot he sprained during Summer Camp. And while there's been no indication that Garver was hampered by the intercostal muscles that left him wincing after a swing in Wednesday's game ... it would make a lot of sense, given his inexplicably extreme lack of production. A spell of rest may well do them both some good. And their departures create opportunities for deserving players in Ryan Jeffers and LaMonte Wade Jr., who shuttled over from the alternate site in St. Paul. Jeffers was put quickly to work, appearing in all four games since his call-up and starting three of them. Wade Jr. got his first start of the season on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with a double. HIGHLIGHTS The week started with ageless wonder Nelson Cruz once again leaving us in awe, notching his second two-homer game of the season in 4-1 victory over Kansas City. It was merely an appetizer. The following night, Kenta Maeda was pure magic. Taking his dominant start with the Twins to new levels, Maeda carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Milwaukee before giving up a weakly-hit single to Eric Sogard and exiting with a career-high 115 pitches. Along the way, Maeda set a franchise record by striking out eight consecutive hitters. He finished with 12 strikeouts and 21 whiffs in eight-plus innings. In this absolute gem, Maeda posted a Game Score of 86, which stands as the highest by a Twins starter since Jose Berríos put up the same number on Opening Day of 2018, with a three-hit shutout against the Orioles. Ranking seventh among major-league starters in fWAR, Maeda has embodied the ace label thus far by any definition. But speaking of Berríos, it was nice to see the rotation's presumed frontman finally look the part on Thursday, breaking off six shutout innings with nine strikeouts and only one hit allowed against Milwaukee. This big step forward for Berríos, combined with the continued excellence of Maeda and consistent quality from Randy Dobnak, makes the rotation's setbacks a bit easier to stomach. With all that being said, the most encouraging development over the past week from my view is Miguel Sanó's explosion at the plate. Last time in this space we pointed to his improving plate discipline as a hugely positive sign, even if the production wasn't quite showing up yet. "As he starts making more contact, Sanó is going to do immense damage." Since then, Sanó has done DAMAGE. (Literally.) Starting all seven games over the past week, the first baseman went 12-for-26 (.462) with eight doubles, five RBIs, and an atom bomb in KC that might've actually left a dent in the wall of Kauffman Stadium's Hall of Fame Museum: https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1297534058616905728 https://twitter.com/CoryProvus/status/1297331194808459264 At 115.8 MPH, it was the hardest hit ball of Sanó's career, the second-hardest hit home run by a Twins player in the Statcast era (c. 2015), and the highest exit velocity posted by a Twins hitter this year. Sanó dominates that list: https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1297330079861743616 He's crushing the meatballs and finally starting to make things happen with those offerings that aren't straight in his wheelhouse. It is almost as noteworthy to me that Sanó reached out and made solid contact on two pitches away and outside the zone in his first two ABs Sunday – resulting in a double and single – as his obliterating a mistake from Brady Singer on Saturday. To provide a sense of closure and cosmic balance, Cruz ended the week as he began it: homering off the Royals. This one, an eighth-inning solo shot off a 100-MPH fastball from Trevor Rosenthal, delivered crucial insurance in an eventual 5-4 victory. LOWLIGHTS The lineup as a whole is definitely starting to come on – they scored seven runs as many times last week (twice) as in the previous three weeks – but it's still been pretty choppy sailing for the bats. Ehire Adrianza, pushed into semi-regular duty with the all the attrition, hasn't risen to the occasion. He went 2-for-14 last week and is at .186/.271/.209 on the season. Newcomer Ildemaro Vargas has quickly established himself as a more intriguing option for the same role, so one wonders how secure Adrianza's roster spot will be as injured players begin returning the fold. Max Kepler went just 4-for-22 (.182) although he did draw six walks to keep the OBP pumping. He hasn't been bad by any means, but his power has conspicuously diminished; since homering his first two at-bats of the season, Kepler has a .379 slugging percentage. He's also 2-for-27 (.074) with a .272 OPS against lefties, so he's been a major contributor to the team-wide deficiency on this front. Seeing a big uptick in playing time with Buxton on the shelf, Jake Cave isn't bringing a lot of juice. He delivered an empty 5-for-18 with five singles last week, and is hitting .150/.227/.175 with one RBI in 44 PAs since a good opening weekend in Chicago. It's hard to see Cave finding much success with his utter lack of discipline at the plate – he struck out six times with no walks last week, and has a 20-to-2 ratio on the season. In this regard, Wade Jr. offers a big upgrade, so I'll be curious to see whether the balance of playing time shifts in the days ahead. Like the offense, the pitching staff experienced some rough patches to go along with the shining moments. Taylor Rogers swiftly sucked the energy out of Maeda's gem on Tuesday, coughing up three runs (one charged to Maeda) while blowing the save and forcing extra innings. Since opening his season with four scoreless appearances, Rogers has allowed six earned runs on 13 hits in 6⅓ innings, blowing two of five save chances and flirting with disaster in Sunday's successful conversion. As I wrote a few days ago, the left-hander had developed a reputation as one of the most reliable high-leverage relievers in baseball, but actually has a negative Win Probability Added since last year's All-Star break. This begs the question: Where should he sit in the current bullpen pecking order? Almost certainly not at the top. On the other end of the bullpen leverage spectrum, exploitable soft spots have begun to surface. Lewis Thorpe punched his ticket off the roster on Wednesday with a brutal outing: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. He has looked rough basically from the jump this season. So has Littell, who inflated his ERA to 9.95 while allowing another home run on Thursday before landing on IL with elbow inflammation. With a key reliever still sidelined in Cody Stashak, and alternate-siters like Poppen and Coulombe now occupying spots, the bullpen will be pressed to keep getting the job done as the grind of a 21-games-in-20-days stretch marches on. Ten straight days of games still remain in the gauntlet, with six coming against Minnesota's top challengers in the AL Central. TRENDING STORYLINE The trade deadline is now just a week away, coming up on Monday the 31st. The Hot Stove started to heat up over the weekend with Philadelphia pulling the trigger on a deal to acquire Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. Will the Twins be active in these next eight days as they set themselves up for the stretch run and postseason? It seems unlikely that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will give up any big-ticket prospects for a rented difference-maker in this abbreviated season. A playoff berth is all but assured, and it's clear that the Twins' best hope for a high-impact infusion is simply getting their own banged-up players back at full capacity. With that said, it wouldn't surprise me to see a lower-level or move or two as the team looks to navigate the final month at diminished strength. The move to acquire Vargas has already paid dividends, with the utility infielder playing a fairly significant role since coming from Arizona. Another pickup like that might make sense, depending on how things unfold over the next week. Of course, on the day of the trade deadline, Michael Pineda is eligible to return from his suspension, which will factor into the rotation's needs. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins will open this coming week with a monumental series against the Indians, representing the only visit to Cleveland this season. It's a key opportunity for Terry Francona's club, trailing Minnesota by just a game and a half in the standings. Shane Bieber looms in Game 2. From there, the Twins will head to Detroit to FINALLY see the division's weakest team. After facing them zero times in the first 32 games, Minnesota will get Ron Gardenhire and the Tigers 10 times in the final 28, accounting for roughly one-third of their remaining schedule. Theoretically this should be a very beneficial thing, but it requires capitalizing on the opportunity. The Twins will have their first chance in next weekend's four-game set. MONDAY, 8/24: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Aaron Civale TUESDAY, 8/25: TWINS @ INDIANS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Shane Bieber WEDNESDAY, 8/26: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Adam Plutko THURSDAY, 8/27: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Randy Dobnak v. LHP Matthew Boyd FRIDAY, 8/28: TWINS @ TIGERS – TBD v. LHP Tarik Skubal SATURDAY, 8/29: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Casey Mize SUNDAY, 8/30: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Spencer Turnbull Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 23 | MIN 4, KCR 1: Nelson Cruz Continues to Defy Logic Game 24 | MIN 4, MIL 3: Kenta Maeda Carries No-No Into 9th Inning; Twins Win In Extras Game 25 | MIL 9, MIN 3: Hill Follows Maeda's Gem With a Clunker Game 26 | MIN 7, MIL 1: It's a Blessed Jose Berríos Day! Game 27 | KC 7, MIN 2: Royal Pain Game 28 | MIN 7, KC 2: Rosario, Sano Power Twins Win in KC Game 29 | MIN 5, KC 4 : Bullpen Steps Up Again MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. It was a wild week for the Minnesota Twins, filled with invigorating highs, painful lows, and injury woes. One starting pitcher flirted with a no-no, as others were more of a no-go. The offense showed more glimpses, driven mainly by the Sanó show. (Yes, this is a rhyming roller coaster.) By the end of the ride, the Twins found themselves in first place still, with a critical series in Cleveland on deck. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/17 through Sun, 8/23 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 19-10) Run Differential Last Week: +5 (Overall: +40) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.5 GA) Bomba Counter: 42 (Pace: 90) It was not a great week healthwise for the Twins. Rich Hill returned from his hiatus on Wednesday but looked sluggish, allowing four earned runs on four hits and two walks in just 2⅔ innings. Homer Bailey was moved to the 45-day Injured List, confirming that his return is nowhere near. Jake Odorizzi took a line drive off the ribs in Friday's loss, and later in the same game Zack Littell exited with elbow soreness. Both landed on IL, replaced by relievers Sean Poppen and Danny Coulombe. Late in Sunday's game, Tyler Clippard took a line drive off his pitching arm, and while initial imaging came back negative, Rocco Baldelli said of Clippard after the game, "I can’t imagine he’s going to be throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future." So it'd be no surprise to see another reinforcement called in. Given the offense's continued struggles to find a rhythm, losses in the lineup loom even larger than the litany of injuries plaguing the pitching staff. Luis Arráez started just two games as he continues to battle knee soreness, but the team has bigger concerns. After Wednesday's game, Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver both landed on the Injured List, subtracting two right-handed bats from a unit that has been oddly ineffective against southpaws. There are silver linings with these two key cogs going on the shelf. Buxton has reportedly been bothered for some time by his surgically repaired shoulder, not to mention the foot he sprained during Summer Camp. And while there's been no indication that Garver was hampered by the intercostal muscles that left him wincing after a swing in Wednesday's game ... it would make a lot of sense, given his inexplicably extreme lack of production. A spell of rest may well do them both some good. And their departures create opportunities for deserving players in Ryan Jeffers and LaMonte Wade Jr., who shuttled over from the alternate site in St. Paul. Jeffers was put quickly to work, appearing in all four games since his call-up and starting three of them. Wade Jr. got his first start of the season on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with a double. HIGHLIGHTS The week started with ageless wonder Nelson Cruz once again leaving us in awe, notching his second two-homer game of the season in 4-1 victory over Kansas City. It was merely an appetizer. The following night, Kenta Maeda was pure magic. Taking his dominant start with the Twins to new levels, Maeda carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Milwaukee before giving up a weakly-hit single to Eric Sogard and exiting with a career-high 115 pitches. Along the way, Maeda set a franchise record by striking out eight consecutive hitters. He finished with 12 strikeouts and 21 whiffs in eight-plus innings. In this absolute gem, Maeda posted a Game Score of 86, which stands as the highest by a Twins starter since Jose Berríos put up the same number on Opening Day of 2018, with a three-hit shutout against the Orioles. Ranking seventh among major-league starters in fWAR, Maeda has embodied the ace label thus far by any definition. But speaking of Berríos, it was nice to see the rotation's presumed frontman finally look the part on Thursday, breaking off six shutout innings with nine strikeouts and only one hit allowed against Milwaukee. This big step forward for Berríos, combined with the continued excellence of Maeda and consistent quality from Randy Dobnak, makes the rotation's setbacks a bit easier to stomach. With all that being said, the most encouraging development over the past week from my view is Miguel Sanó's explosion at the plate. Last time in this space we pointed to his improving plate discipline as a hugely positive sign, even if the production wasn't quite showing up yet. "As he starts making more contact, Sanó is going to do immense damage." Since then, Sanó has done DAMAGE. (Literally.) Starting all seven games over the past week, the first baseman went 12-for-26 (.462) with eight doubles, five RBIs, and an atom bomb in KC that might've actually left a dent in the wall of Kauffman Stadium's Hall of Fame Museum: He's crushing the meatballs and finally starting to make things happen with those offerings that aren't straight in his wheelhouse. It is almost as noteworthy to me that Sanó reached out and made solid contact on two pitches away and outside the zone in his first two ABs Sunday – resulting in a double and single – as his obliterating a mistake from Brady Singer on Saturday. To provide a sense of closure and cosmic balance, Cruz ended the week as he began it: homering off the Royals. This one, an eighth-inning solo shot off a 100-MPH fastball from Trevor Rosenthal, delivered crucial insurance in an eventual 5-4 victory. LOWLIGHTS The lineup as a whole is definitely starting to come on – they scored seven runs as many times last week (twice) as in the previous three weeks – but it's still been pretty choppy sailing for the bats. Ehire Adrianza, pushed into semi-regular duty with the all the attrition, hasn't risen to the occasion. He went 2-for-14 last week and is at .186/.271/.209 on the season. Newcomer Ildemaro Vargas has quickly established himself as a more intriguing option for the same role, so one wonders how secure Adrianza's roster spot will be as injured players begin returning the fold. Max Kepler went just 4-for-22 (.182) although he did draw six walks to keep the OBP pumping. He hasn't been bad by any means, but his power has conspicuously diminished; since homering his first two at-bats of the season, Kepler has a .379 slugging percentage. He's also 2-for-27 (.074) with a .272 OPS against lefties, so he's been a major contributor to the team-wide deficiency on this front. Seeing a big uptick in playing time with Buxton on the shelf, Jake Cave isn't bringing a lot of juice. He delivered an empty 5-for-18 with five singles last week, and is hitting .150/.227/.175 with one RBI in 44 PAs since a good opening weekend in Chicago. It's hard to see Cave finding much success with his utter lack of discipline at the plate – he struck out six times with no walks last week, and has a 20-to-2 ratio on the season. In this regard, Wade Jr. offers a big upgrade, so I'll be curious to see whether the balance of playing time shifts in the days ahead. Like the offense, the pitching staff experienced some rough patches to go along with the shining moments. Taylor Rogers swiftly sucked the energy out of Maeda's gem on Tuesday, coughing up three runs (one charged to Maeda) while blowing the save and forcing extra innings. Since opening his season with four scoreless appearances, Rogers has allowed six earned runs on 13 hits in 6⅓ innings, blowing two of five save chances and flirting with disaster in Sunday's successful conversion. As I wrote a few days ago, the left-hander had developed a reputation as one of the most reliable high-leverage relievers in baseball, but actually has a negative Win Probability Added since last year's All-Star break. This begs the question: Where should he sit in the current bullpen pecking order? Almost certainly not at the top. On the other end of the bullpen leverage spectrum, exploitable soft spots have begun to surface. Lewis Thorpe punched his ticket off the roster on Wednesday with a brutal outing: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. He has looked rough basically from the jump this season. So has Littell, who inflated his ERA to 9.95 while allowing another home run on Thursday before landing on IL with elbow inflammation. With a key reliever still sidelined in Cody Stashak, and alternate-siters like Poppen and Coulombe now occupying spots, the bullpen will be pressed to keep getting the job done as the grind of a 21-games-in-20-days stretch marches on. Ten straight days of games still remain in the gauntlet, with six coming against Minnesota's top challengers in the AL Central. TRENDING STORYLINE The trade deadline is now just a week away, coming up on Monday the 31st. The Hot Stove started to heat up over the weekend with Philadelphia pulling the trigger on a deal to acquire Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. Will the Twins be active in these next eight days as they set themselves up for the stretch run and postseason? It seems unlikely that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will give up any big-ticket prospects for a rented difference-maker in this abbreviated season. A playoff berth is all but assured, and it's clear that the Twins' best hope for a high-impact infusion is simply getting their own banged-up players back at full capacity. With that said, it wouldn't surprise me to see a lower-level or move or two as the team looks to navigate the final month at diminished strength. The move to acquire Vargas has already paid dividends, with the utility infielder playing a fairly significant role since coming from Arizona. Another pickup like that might make sense, depending on how things unfold over the next week. Of course, on the day of the trade deadline, Michael Pineda is eligible to return from his suspension, which will factor into the rotation's needs. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins will open this coming week with a monumental series against the Indians, representing the only visit to Cleveland this season. It's a key opportunity for Terry Francona's club, trailing Minnesota by just a game and a half in the standings. Shane Bieber looms in Game 2. From there, the Twins will head to Detroit to FINALLY see the division's weakest team. After facing them zero times in the first 32 games, Minnesota will get Ron Gardenhire and the Tigers 10 times in the final 28, accounting for roughly one-third of their remaining schedule. Theoretically this should be a very beneficial thing, but it requires capitalizing on the opportunity. The Twins will have their first chance in next weekend's four-game set. MONDAY, 8/24: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Aaron Civale TUESDAY, 8/25: TWINS @ INDIANS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Shane Bieber WEDNESDAY, 8/26: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Adam Plutko THURSDAY, 8/27: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Randy Dobnak v. LHP Matthew Boyd FRIDAY, 8/28: TWINS @ TIGERS – TBD v. LHP Tarik Skubal SATURDAY, 8/29: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Casey Mize SUNDAY, 8/30: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Spencer Turnbull Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 23 | MIN 4, KCR 1: Nelson Cruz Continues to Defy LogicGame 24 | MIN 4, MIL 3: Kenta Maeda Carries No-No Into 9th Inning; Twins Win In ExtrasGame 25 | MIL 9, MIN 3: Hill Follows Maeda's Gem With a ClunkerGame 26 | MIN 7, MIL 1: It's a Blessed Jose Berríos Day!Game 27 | KC 7, MIN 2: Royal PainGame 28 | MIN 7, KC 2: Rosario, Sano Power Twins Win in KCGame 29 | MIN 5, KC 4 : Bullpen Steps Up AgainMORE FROM TWINS DAILY— Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. Box Score Wisler: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cruz (10) Bottom 3 WPA: Top 3 WPA: Tyler Clippard 0.153, Nelson Cruz 0.142, Sean Poppen 0.129 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): The Minnesota Twins kicked off the scoring in Sunday’s afternoon affair with a couple of 2-out hits in the first inning. The first, a 107 MPH double off the bat of Miguel Sanó to drive in Max Kepler, followed by a RBI single off the bat of Eddie Rosario to give the Twins a 2-0 lead to begin the game. The 2 first inning runs continued the Minnesota Twins’ strength of first inning scoring, as they have now scored 27 first inning runs in 29 games this season. The Twins then built on their lead in the 3rd inning in what was one of the more exciting innings you’ll see from the Minnesota Twins. The 3rd inning rally began with a rare infield single by Nelson Cruz. Following the Cruz single, the Twins got another single from Miguel Sanó, who has been on fire since shaking off his initial rust after a late start to the 2020 season. With runners on first and second, Eddie Rosario laid down a drag bunt for a single to load the bases for Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin wasted no time to tack onto the Twins lead, knocking a 2-run double on the first pitch to put the Twins up 4-0. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1297609595179892739?s=20 The Royals quickly began to chip away at Minnesota’s lead, though, as they strung together a hit by pitch, a Hunter Dozier double, and a 2-run Jorge Soler double in the bottom of the third inning to immediately cut the Twins lead in half. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Royals trimmed their deficit again after getting a 2-out RBI single from third baseman, Maikel Franco, cutting the Twins’ lead to just one run. In what became a much closer game than it had any business becoming, the Minnesota Twins needed some insurance and like a good neighbor, Nelson Cruz was there. In the top of the 9th inning in a one-run game, Nelson Cruz went yard off of the extremely tough Trevor Rosenthal, blasting a 107 MPH shot to center field to give the Twins a 2 run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th inning. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1297645764173234179?s=20 Taylor Rogers allowed for some 9th inning drama to creep in as he allowed one run and two hits (one double) and had the Royals with the winning run on 1st base with 2 outs. Rogers was able to escape from the jam, though, and get the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 series win. Should Taylor Rogers remain the team’s closer? Some additional notes: Bullpen Game Produces Another Win Because of all of the injuries to Minnesota’s starting rotation, the Twins have needed to turn to bullpen games throughout this shortened 2020 season. These bullpen games, however, have produced good results for the Twins, as they are now 3-1 in bullpen games this season. While Devin Smeltzer struggled a bit in innings 3-4 with taming Kansas City’s bats, the Twins got excellent appearances from each of the other relievers they turned to today, with Matt Wisler, Trevor May, Sean Poppen, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard and Taylor Rogers allowing a combined 2 earned runs in 8 innings pitched. Sanó Está En Fuego Miguel Sanó continued his absolute tear at the plate in today’s game, going 3-for-4 with a walk, 2 doubles, and an RBI. The big guy is now 15 for his last 38 (.395) with 10 extra base hits over his last 12 games. Miguel Sanó clearly had some rust to knock off after getting a late start to the season with his COVID-19 diagnosis, and has clearly knocked off that rust. For the season he now boasts a .879 OPS, second on the Minnesota Twins and only trailing Nelson Cruz for best on the team. Missed Opportunities In a game in which the Minnesota Twins chased the starting pitcher in 3.1 innings, posted 13 hits, and an expected batting average of .358, putting up just 5 runs is a disappointment. The story of the offense today was missed opportunities and leaving runners on base. The Twins left 11 runners on base in today’s game and were just 3-17 with runners in scoring position. Against a team like the Royals, you can survive without converting opportunities, but when fiercer competition comes their way, the Twins will have to convert on the opportunities that come their way. Another Injured Pitcher After throwing another scoreless inning in Sunday’s ballgame, the appearance for Tyler Clippard ended in scary fashion. On the final out of the bottom of the 8th inning, Clippard was drilled on the elbow with a 100 MPH liner from Whit Merrifield. Following the liner, Clippard slowly made his way back to the dugout with the type of body language that induces fear into a fanbase that has been able to rely on the right hander all season. In Rocco Baldelli's press conference, the managers said that initial imaging from Clippard didn't show anything serious but that he "doesn't anticipate (Clippard) throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future". To date, Clippard has a 1.42 ERA in 13.2 innings with the Twins Today marked the final game of the Minnesota Twins 10-game slate versus the Kansas City Royals in 2020. The Royals posed a much stiffer competition to the Twins than anyone anticipated, as the two teams split the season series 5-5, with the Twins scoring 36 runs over the 10 games compared to 38 for the Royals. The Minnesota Twins are now 19-10 on the season and lead the American League Central by 1.5 games. The Twins will continue their road trip Monday evening in a matchup against the second place Cleveland Indians — Minnesota will trout Kenta Maeda out on the hill to face Indians starter Aaron Civale. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet What were your takeaways from Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Royals? Who would you say was the player of the game? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. The Twins jumped out to an early lead again on Sunday, and they had plenty of opportunities to add on. Nelson Cruz added some insurance in the ninth, but things got interesting again in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, Taylor Rogers got the save and the Twins evened their season series with the Royals.Box Score Wisler: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cruz (10) Bottom 3 WPA: Top 3 WPA: Tyler Clippard 0.153, Nelson Cruz 0.142, Sean Poppen 0.129 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): The Minnesota Twins kicked off the scoring in Sunday’s afternoon affair with a couple of 2-out hits in the first inning. The first, a 107 MPH double off the bat of Miguel Sanó to drive in Max Kepler, followed by a RBI single off the bat of Eddie Rosario to give the Twins a 2-0 lead to begin the game. The 2 first inning runs continued the Minnesota Twins’ strength of first inning scoring, as they have now scored 27 first inning runs in 29 games this season. The Twins then built on their lead in the 3rd inning in what was one of the more exciting innings you’ll see from the Minnesota Twins. The 3rd inning rally began with a rare infield single by Nelson Cruz. Following the Cruz single, the Twins got another single from Miguel Sanó, who has been on fire since shaking off his initial rust after a late start to the 2020 season. With runners on first and second, Eddie Rosario laid down a drag bunt for a single to load the bases for Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin wasted no time to tack onto the Twins lead, knocking a 2-run double on the first pitch to put the Twins up 4-0. The Royals quickly began to chip away at Minnesota’s lead, though, as they strung together a hit by pitch, a Hunter Dozier double, and a 2-run Jorge Soler double in the bottom of the third inning to immediately cut the Twins lead in half. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Royals trimmed their deficit again after getting a 2-out RBI single from third baseman, Maikel Franco, cutting the Twins’ lead to just one run. In what became a much closer game than it had any business becoming, the Minnesota Twins needed some insurance and like a good neighbor, Nelson Cruz was there. In the top of the 9th inning in a one-run game, Nelson Cruz went yard off of the extremely tough Trevor Rosenthal, blasting a 107 MPH shot to center field to give the Twins a 2 run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th inning. Taylor Rogers allowed for some 9th inning drama to creep in as he allowed one run and two hits (one double) and had the Royals with the winning run on 1st base with 2 outs. Rogers was able to escape from the jam, though, and get the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 series win. Should Taylor Rogers remain the team’s closer? Some additional notes: Bullpen Game Produces Another Win Because of all of the injuries to Minnesota’s starting rotation, the Twins have needed to turn to bullpen games throughout this shortened 2020 season. These bullpen games, however, have produced good results for the Twins, as they are now 3-1 in bullpen games this season. While Devin Smeltzer struggled a bit in innings 3-4 with taming Kansas City’s bats, the Twins got excellent appearances from each of the other relievers they turned to today, with Matt Wisler, Trevor May, Sean Poppen, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard and Taylor Rogers allowing a combined 2 earned runs in 8 innings pitched. Sanó Está En Fuego Miguel Sanó continued his absolute tear at the plate in today’s game, going 3-for-4 with a walk, 2 doubles, and an RBI. The big guy is now 15 for his last 38 (.395) with 10 extra base hits over his last 12 games. Miguel Sanó clearly had some rust to knock off after getting a late start to the season with his COVID-19 diagnosis, and has clearly knocked off that rust. For the season he now boasts a .879 OPS, second on the Minnesota Twins and only trailing Nelson Cruz for best on the team. Missed Opportunities In a game in which the Minnesota Twins chased the starting pitcher in 3.1 innings, posted 13 hits, and an expected batting average of .358, putting up just 5 runs is a disappointment. The story of the offense today was missed opportunities and leaving runners on base. The Twins left 11 runners on base in today’s game and were just 3-17 with runners in scoring position. Against a team like the Royals, you can survive without converting opportunities, but when fiercer competition comes their way, the Twins will have to convert on the opportunities that come their way. Another Injured Pitcher After throwing another scoreless inning in Sunday’s ballgame, the appearance for Tyler Clippard ended in scary fashion. On the final out of the bottom of the 8th inning, Clippard was drilled on the elbow with a 100 MPH liner from Whit Merrifield. Following the liner, Clippard slowly made his way back to the dugout with the type of body language that induces fear into a fanbase that has been able to rely on the right hander all season. In Rocco Baldelli's press conference, the managers said that initial imaging from Clippard didn't show anything serious but that he "doesn't anticipate (Clippard) throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future". To date, Clippard has a 1.42 ERA in 13.2 innings with the Twins Today marked the final game of the Minnesota Twins 10-game slate versus the Kansas City Royals in 2020. The Royals posed a much stiffer competition to the Twins than anyone anticipated, as the two teams split the season series 5-5, with the Twins scoring 36 runs over the 10 games compared to 38 for the Royals. The Minnesota Twins are now 19-10 on the season and lead the American League Central by 1.5 games. The Twins will continue their road trip Monday evening in a matchup against the second place Cleveland Indians — Minnesota will trout Kenta Maeda out on the hill to face Indians starter Aaron Civale. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet What were your takeaways from Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Royals? Who would you say was the player of the game? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  20. From the start of the 2017 season to the end of the 2019 season, Taylor Rogers had been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. Over that timespan, Rogers ranked 15th in baseball in ERA (2.75) and 15th in fWAR (4.3). In what had been rollercoaster season for the Twins’ various relief groups, Rogers had been the steady force who could be counted on in the highest of leverage situations. Down the stretch run of 2019 and into the 2020 season, though, there have been some chinks in the armor. After an outstanding first half of the 2019 season (1.82 ERA), Taylor Rogers stumbled a bit down the stretch, posting a second half ERA of 3.68. Rogers has continued that poor stretch into the 2020 season as he now owns a 4.82 ERA through the first third of the season, while batters own a batting average north of .300 against him. Thus far in the 2020 season, the biggest difference in Taylor Rogers struggles have been the ability for opposing batters to square up and make hard contact on his pitches. In 2018 and 2019, Rogers ranked in the top 25% of baseball in limiting hard contact for opposing batters. Thus far in 2020, though, Rogers ranks in the bottom third in baseball in limiting hard contact, allowing a hard hit percentage of 40.7. The hard hits have led to some tough outings for Rogers, who has allowed runs in three of his 10 outings, two of them resulting in multiple runs, and all three of them blowing a tie or a lead. In addition to the runs allowed, Rogers has seemingly had to work his way through every outing. In 2019, Taylor Rogers got through 42% of his appearances without allowing a hit, while in 2020 he has allowed a hit in seven of his 10 outings. While Taylor Rogers has taken a small step back from his "eliteness" over the past 13 months, there have been several other arms in the Minnesota Twins bullpen that have made the leap forward to being outstanding relief options. https://twitter.com/MatthewTaylorMN/status/1296527817153421313?s=20 As you can see above, Taylor Rogers still has a very respectable 3.82 ERA since last July, but other arms have simply been better — namely, Trevor May and Tyler Duffey. Trevor May has the best pure “stuff” of anyone on the Minnesota Twins bullpen, utilizing a 98 MPH fastball and a slider that completely fools batters at the plate. Tyler Duffey, in the meantime, has developed into one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, becoming practically unhittable every time he takes the mound. May and Duffey both tout right handedness in an American League where the majority of the best hitters come from the right side of the plate. Taylor Rogers still has the command and the stuff to work his way back up the bullpen pecking order, but Trevor May and Tyler Duffey have done enough over what has worked out to be a half-season sample size to become the high leverage arms in this relief group. In a shortened season in which every game (theoretically) means 2.7 times more than it normally would, it’s time for the pecking order to be rearranged and for the Twins bullpen stars to get their time to shine. Do you think Taylor Rogers should be moved down the bullpen pecking order? Would you rather see Trevor May or Tyler Duffey as the “highest” leverage arm? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. When the All-Star Game rolled around last summer, Berríos was there representing the Twins, thanks to his 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 18 starts. The closer Rogers easily could have joined Minnesota's No. 1 starter on the All-Star roster with his 1.82 ERA and 2.84 Win Probability Added, which ranked fifth among MLB relievers. Since the 2019 All-Star break, Berríos has a 4.93 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 19 starts. Rogers has a 3.96 ERA with six homers allowed and a negative WPA (-0.18) in 38 2/3 innings. It's been strange and saddening to watch these former stalwarts stall out and show their warts. Both are great stories who've earned their way into the hearts of Twins fans – Berríos a scrappy spark plug known for his heart and relentless work ethic, Rogers a washed-out starter who reinvented himself as an elite bullpen arm. They were rightfully viewed coming into this season as the entrenched leaders on a staff poised for championship contention, but both have come up noticeably short during the first month of action. Whatever is afflicting these hurlers, the symptoms are similar. They're getting hit, hard. A look at their batted-ball profiles shows a clear shift away from soft/medium contact and toward harder contact. Berríos First Half 2019 – Soft: 21.0% | Medium: 43.7% | Hard: 35.3% Since Then – Soft: 15.4% | Medium: 44.2% | Hard: 40.4% Rogers First Half 2019 – Soft: 18.4% | Medium: 52.0% | Hard; 29.6% Since Then – Soft: 22.0% | Medium: 43.0% | Hard: 35.0% Last year, batters barreled up 6.5% of offering from Berríos, this year it's up to 12.3%. Rogers is up from 6.4% to 11.1%. What is at the root of these struggles? In neither case has there been a significant drop-off in velocity or stuff. Quite the opposite in Berríos' case; he's up a couple ticks of MPH across the board (perhaps to his detriment). Physically, these guys both seem okay, and whatever issues they're going through look to be correctable. Rogers in particular has been overtly a victim of bad luck, paper-cut to death by bleeders and bloopers in a couple of his rough outings. His 2.29 FIP and 2.36 xFIP, compared to a 4.82 ERA, serve as evidence. I can't say I'm especially worried about the long-term outlook for either of these pitchers. They're 26 and 29 years old, both healthy. The performance dips are ultimately covering small samples in contrast to their impressive bodies of work in years preceding, and neither has lost the ability to reach the mid-90s or miss bats. The real takeaway for me here is that even with the incumbent ringleaders on the Twins' pitching staff this year both dragging down rather than lifting up their respective units, this team is still shutting down opposing offenses consistently. Entering play Wednesday, Minnesota ranked second in the AL, behind Cleveland, in ERA and runs allowed. That speaks to the admirable job this front office has done in proactively adding talent to supplement Berríos and Rogers, as well as the coaching staff in developing pieces around him. The emergence of Randy Dobnak and Tyler Duffey during the same period as those two have slid, for instance, has provided a stark counterbalance – not to mention the additions of Kenta Maeda and Sergio Romo. The Twins now have a variety of "ace" candidates for both the rotation and bullpen, relieving pressure on Berríos and Rogers while also allowing the Twins to be patient as the duo seeks to find their grooves once again. With that said, it'd sure be nice to see the lapsed leaders of this pitching staff could emphatically reclaim their titles, and soon. I miss watching them dominate, and I know I'm not alone. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. On Opening Day last year, Jose Berríos pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings against Cleveland before giving way to Taylor Rogers, who notched the final four outs in perfect fashion to slam the door on a 2-0 victory. It was a fitting start in another season where Berríos would be the rotation's frontman and Rogers would anchor the bullpen. This year has been a very different story for the two. What gives?When the All-Star Game rolled around last summer, Berríos was there representing the Twins, thanks to his 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 18 starts. The closer Rogers easily could have joined Minnesota's No. 1 starter on the All-Star roster with his 1.82 ERA and 2.84 Win Probability Added, which ranked fifth among MLB relievers. Since the 2019 All-Star break, Berríos has a 4.93 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 19 starts. Rogers has a 3.96 ERA with six homers allowed and a negative WPA (-0.18) in 38 2/3 innings. It's been strange and saddening to watch these former stalwarts stall out and show their warts. Both are great stories who've earned their way into the hearts of Twins fans – Berríos a scrappy spark plug known for his heart and relentless work ethic, Rogers a washed-out starter who reinvented himself as an elite bullpen arm. They were rightfully viewed coming into this season as the entrenched leaders on a staff poised for championship contention, but both have come up noticeably short during the first month of action. Whatever is afflicting these hurlers, the symptoms are similar. They're getting hit, hard. A look at their batted-ball profiles shows a clear shift away from soft/medium contact and toward harder contact. Berríos First Half 2019 – Soft: 21.0% | Medium: 43.7% | Hard: 35.3% Since Then – Soft: 15.4% | Medium: 44.2% | Hard: 40.4% Rogers First Half 2019 – Soft: 18.4% | Medium: 52.0% | Hard; 29.6% Since Then – Soft: 22.0% | Medium: 43.0% | Hard: 35.0% Last year, batters barreled up 6.5% of offering from Berríos, this year it's up to 12.3%. Rogers is up from 6.4% to 11.1%. What is at the root of these struggles? In neither case has there been a significant drop-off in velocity or stuff. Quite the opposite in Berríos' case; he's up a couple ticks of MPH across the board (perhaps to his detriment). Physically, these guys both seem okay, and whatever issues they're going through look to be correctable. Rogers in particular has been overtly a victim of bad luck, paper-cut to death by bleeders and bloopers in a couple of his rough outings. His 2.29 FIP and 2.36 xFIP, compared to a 4.82 ERA, serve as evidence. I can't say I'm especially worried about the long-term outlook for either of these pitchers. They're 26 and 29 years old, both healthy. The performance dips are ultimately covering small samples in contrast to their impressive bodies of work in years preceding, and neither has lost the ability to reach the mid-90s or miss bats. The real takeaway for me here is that even with the incumbent ringleaders on the Twins' pitching staff this year both dragging down rather than lifting up their respective units, this team is still shutting down opposing offenses consistently. Entering play Wednesday, Minnesota ranked second in the AL, behind Cleveland, in ERA and runs allowed. That speaks to the admirable job this front office has done in proactively adding talent to supplement Berríos and Rogers, as well as the coaching staff in developing pieces around him. The emergence of Randy Dobnak and Tyler Duffey during the same period as those two have slid, for instance, has provided a stark counterbalance – not to mention the additions of Kenta Maeda and Sergio Romo. The Twins now have a variety of "ace" candidates for both the rotation and bullpen, relieving pressure on Berríos and Rogers while also allowing the Twins to be patient as the duo seeks to find their grooves once again. With that said, it'd sure be nice to see the lapsed leaders of this pitching staff could emphatically reclaim their titles, and soon. I miss watching them dominate, and I know I'm not alone. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
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