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  1. With Cleveland losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Minnesota Twins looked to do their part in lowering the magic number in game three of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals. Jose Berrios was on the bump for Minnesota, looking to pitch his third straight great game. Things didn’t go as well as Berrios and the Twins would have hoped as he gave up five runs in six innings and Taylor Rogers and the Twins bullpen imploded in the ninth inning, turning a tied game into a seven-run deficit.Box Score Berrios: 6IP, 8H, 5 ER, 1BB, 5K, 68% strikes (66 of 97 pitches) Bullpen: 3IP, 8H, 7ER,2 BB, 2K Home Runs: Wade Jr. (2) Multi-Hit Games: Wade Jr. (2-for-3 HR, 3B, BB), Arraez (2-for-5, 2B), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers (-0.43), Berrios (-0.24), Rosario (-0.14) Kansas City Strikes First In the top of the second inning, with one out, Jose Berrios hit Alex Gordon in the foot. After a bloop single, Ryan O’Hearn doubled, scoring Gordon. Meibrys Viloria then hit a shallow fly ball to Eddie Rosario and Ryan McBroom tagged from third. Rosario’s throw was slightly off-line, but appeared good enough to get McBroom. However, after reaching across to tag McBroom the ball popped out of the webbing of Jason Castro’s mitt when it hit the ground. Berrios was able to strike out Brett Phillips and keep the score at 2-0. Rookies Spark the Offense, Man With Dick Bremer lamenting about how many first pitch fastballs Twins hitters were taking, LaMonte Wade Jr. came up in the bottom of the third and turned on the first pitch Glenn Sparkman had to offer. 416 feet later Kansas City’s lead was cut to one. The home run was the second of Wade Jr.’s young Twins MLB career. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  2. After a big series win in Cleveland, the Twins welcomed the White Sox to town Monday night. The lineup continued to get healthy as Marwin Gonzalez returned to the lineup and Jose Berrios looked good again as the Twins won 5-3.Box Score Starter Jose Berrios: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 69% strikes (65 of 94 pitches) Bullpen: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Luis Arraez (3-for-4), Mitch Garver (2-for-3) Top 3 WPA: Mitch Garver (.205), Jose Berrios (.204), Luis Arraez (.182) Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Cave (-.197), Eddie Rosario (-.109), Sergio Romo (-.002) It took Jose Berrios some time to get locked in, resulting in the White Sox taking an early 2-0 lead. The first coming off of a sacrifice fly from Jose Abreu and the second from a Jame McCann home run. That lead didn’t last long as the Twins strung some singles together to get runners on base and tie the game up 2-2 after a Jorge Polanco sac fly and a Nelson Cruz single. It was from that point on that Berrios settled in and wouldn’t allow the White Sox to produce any more runs off. A Garver RBI double in the fifth and the strangest two-run single by Luis Arraez put the Twins up 5-2 after six innings. That lead backed Berrios as he continued to pitch well with good velocity and made it into the eighth inning before giving way to the bullpen. Romo giving up a home run late is depressing but all in all a solid game by the Twins. It was fun watching Marwin play again especially his reaction to the successful pick-off from Berrios. The big take away as we look to the postseason is that Berrios is looking more and more like a pitcher who can help lead the team in some big games. And apparently the Twins don't need to hit home runs to win games. Who knew? Postgame With Baldelli Coming Soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  3. Box Score Starter Jose Berrios: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 69% strikes (65 of 94 pitches) Bullpen: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Luis Arraez (3-for-4), Mitch Garver (2-for-3) Top 3 WPA: Mitch Garver (.205), Jose Berrios (.204), Luis Arraez (.182) Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Cave (-.197), Eddie Rosario (-.109), Sergio Romo (-.002) It took Jose Berrios some time to get locked in, resulting in the White Sox taking an early 2-0 lead. The first coming off of a sacrifice fly from Jose Abreu and the second from a Jame McCann home run. That lead didn’t last long as the Twins strung some singles together to get runners on base and tie the game up 2-2 after a Jorge Polanco sac fly and a Nelson Cruz single. It was from that point on that Berrios settled in and wouldn’t allow the White Sox to produce any more runs off. A Garver RBI double in the fifth and the strangest two-run single by Luis Arraez put the Twins up 5-2 after six innings. That lead backed Berrios as he continued to pitch well with good velocity and made it into the eighth inning before giving way to the bullpen. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1173772586251182081 Romo giving up a home run late is depressing but all in all a solid game by the Twins. It was fun watching Marwin play again especially his reaction to the successful pick-off from Berrios. The big take away as we look to the postseason is that Berrios is looking more and more like a pitcher who can help lead the team in some big games. And apparently the Twins don't need to hit home runs to win games. Who knew? Postgame With Baldelli Coming Soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  4. With the emergence of quality relief arms like Tyler Duffey and Trevor May, who are capable of pitching late in the game, and the addition of late-inning arms in Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson (if he’s ever healthy), the Twins haven’t felt as much need to pitch Rogers multiple days in a row. Add in Zack Littell, who has also been really solid down the stretch, and the Minnesota bullpen appears to be in good shape, especially relative to starting pitching and the dearth of healthy position players. With a bullpen that is overflowing with arms due to September call-ups, I was curious to see how the aforementioned relievers have performed while pitching on back-to-back days. With so many quality relief options and the September additions, it seems less necessary than ever to pitch anyone without a day of rest between outings. Of course, rosters will contract prior to the postseason, but with so many good relievers right now (and problems in the rotation), the Twins would do well to consider the best usage of the bullpen. Let’s take a look at how the top six relievers have performed both on zero-days rest (in the left-side of the box) compared to their overall numbers on the season (on the right-side). Yikes! Those numbers on zero days of rest are pretty atrocious across the board. The one glaring exception is Trevor May, who contrary to the trend, actually has pitched much better without a day off between appearances. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size of just 9 2/3 innings, but compared to his peers it seems that May is the man to go to if you need someone to pitch two days in a row. However, in the course of a full season the Twins would have to be careful not to overuse May if he was to be relied on to go back-to-back days more often than the others. As far as the others go, the numbers while pitching with no rest really stand out compared to their overall numbers, especially considering that the no-rest performances are also included in the overall numbers, causing them to be a bit bloated. Looking at the differences in OPS allowed shows that the pitchers are making hitters look below replacement level overall, while Rogers, Duffey, and Littell are allowing batters to look like MVP-caliber hitters when pitching on back-to-back days. The diminished strikeout-to-walk ratios of Rogers and Duffey point to a lack of control potentially due to the extra fatigue of pitching without a day of rest. Before the trade deadline, Minnesota rode Rogers hard out of necessity, but it is really no longer advisable to do so. With five to six high quality relief arms (depending on Dyson’s health) the Twins don’t really need to use any reliever on back to back days. Rocco Baldelli deserves credit for the overall fluidity of the bullpen roles, but the Twins can afford to be even less strict with the positioning of their best arms. Although Rogers is the preferred reliever to bring in to close out the game, Romo has done so on occasion since joining the team, and both Duffey, and to a lesser extent May, can be trusted in the highest-leverage situations. And if the Twins aren’t married to Rogers in save situations, he can be brought in to late-inning situations with more lefties due up or when facing the heart of an opposition’s order prior to the ninth. While the Twins might not want to bring Littell in to end the game, he has pitched really well and seems to be at the point where he can be trusted in the late innings of a close game. Dyson is a bit of a wildcard as he hasn’t pitched in a while due to injury, but if he comes back strong he also has closer experience and is capable of being a late-inning weapon. Minnesota currently has a plethora of lesser relief options that should be considered before pitching anyone other than May on zero rest days. Relievers like Cody Sashak, Ryne Harper, or possibly even Brusdar Graterol could be preferable to the non-rested options. Depending on how the opener role is used going forward, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer would also be viable options out of the pen. The Twins would then be able to use three of their superior options for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, saving the other two or three for the next game whenever possible. They could also let one of the top relievers go more than one inning on occasion, especially if they are not asked to pitch in the next game. And while the “lesser options” may not be as attractive as the top five or six, when compared with the numbers of the “superior” pitchers with no rest, they don’t look so bad, and their effectiveness could be further enhanced by being utilized against the bottom of opposing team’s lineups. The Twins have yet to clinch the division, but they are well on their way to doing so and with the number of relievers that they have available there is really no reason to run out any relievers on back-to-back days. The postseason is a completely different animal, and with the current lack of starting pitching the bullpen will be paramount if the Twins hope to advance. The good news is that there are plenty of days off between games in the postseason, which should prevent the top bullpen options from too much overuse. Obviously, Minnesota wants its best pitchers throwing in the postseason, but they only seem to be at their best when they are properly rested. It will certainly help to have such a high number of quality late-inning arms, and hopefully an extra lefty or two. Beyond this season, Minnesota may be able to take advantage of limiting the use of relievers on back-to-back days next season as well. Sergio Romo is the only impending free agent of the top six arms, so the Twins should have plenty of good options for high-leverage situations. They also have plenty of young arms with options left, so they will be likely to keep the Rochester-Minneapolis shuttle going strong, making it easier to have fresh arms available. Beyond that, the new rules for 2020 could also lead to less reliever overuse. With pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters (unless the inning ends first) there should be fewer situational pitcher changes, although the Twins don’t do a whole lot of that due to the lack of LOOGYs in their pen. Rosters will also expand to 26 players which will make it all the easier to carry an extra arm. Utilizing the bullpen is essential not only for the remainder of the regular season, but for the postseason if the Twins are to go anywhere at all. After much fan dissatisfaction with the bullpen in the first half of the year, the Twins now have one of the best pens in all of baseball and are poised to be strong in 2020 as well. It’s always nice to have your best pitcher in the game, especially when the game is on the line, but it appears that the best are only the best when they have proper rest (all you coaches out there feel free to use that handy rhyme with the youngsters). It’s already a huge advantage to have such a large quantity of quality arms, and if the Twins are able to fully utilize their relievers with rest between outings, the bullpen will that much more of a weapon going forward.
  5. As the season winds down there has been some talk about Taylor Roger’s ineffectiveness when pitching in back to back games. A quick glance at his numbers will confirm what the eye has observed as Rogers has pitched to a 7.71 ERA on zero-days of rest while pitching to a 2.45 ERA overall on the season, and to their credit, the Twins have shied away from overusing Rogers of late.With the emergence of quality relief arms like Tyler Duffey and Trevor May, who are capable of pitching late in the game, and the addition of late-inning arms in Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson (if he’s ever healthy), the Twins haven’t felt as much need to pitch Rogers multiple days in a row. Add in Zack Littell, who has also been really solid down the stretch, and the Minnesota bullpen appears to be in good shape, especially relative to starting pitching and the dearth of healthy position players. With a bullpen that is overflowing with arms due to September call-ups, I was curious to see how the aforementioned relievers have performed while pitching on back-to-back days. With so many quality relief options and the September additions, it seems less necessary than ever to pitch anyone without a day of rest between outings. Of course, rosters will contract prior to the postseason, but with so many good relievers right now (and problems in the rotation), the Twins would do well to consider the best usage of the bullpen. Let’s take a look at how the top six relievers have performed both on zero-days rest (in the left-side of the box) compared to their overall numbers on the season (on the right-side). Download attachment: BullpenSheet.png Yikes! Those numbers on zero days of rest are pretty atrocious across the board. The one glaring exception is Trevor May, who contrary to the trend, actually has pitched much better without a day off between appearances. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size of just 9 2/3 innings, but compared to his peers it seems that May is the man to go to if you need someone to pitch two days in a row. However, in the course of a full season the Twins would have to be careful not to overuse May if he was to be relied on to go back-to-back days more often than the others. As far as the others go, the numbers while pitching with no rest really stand out compared to their overall numbers, especially considering that the no-rest performances are also included in the overall numbers, causing them to be a bit bloated. Looking at the differences in OPS allowed shows that the pitchers are making hitters look below replacement level overall, while Rogers, Duffey, and Littell are allowing batters to look like MVP-caliber hitters when pitching on back-to-back days. The diminished strikeout-to-walk ratios of Rogers and Duffey point to a lack of control potentially due to the extra fatigue of pitching without a day of rest. Before the trade deadline, Minnesota rode Rogers hard out of necessity, but it is really no longer advisable to do so. With five to six high quality relief arms (depending on Dyson’s health) the Twins don’t really need to use any reliever on back to back days. Rocco Baldelli deserves credit for the overall fluidity of the bullpen roles, but the Twins can afford to be even less strict with the positioning of their best arms. Although Rogers is the preferred reliever to bring in to close out the game, Romo has done so on occasion since joining the team, and both Duffey, and to a lesser extent May, can be trusted in the highest-leverage situations. And if the Twins aren’t married to Rogers in save situations, he can be brought in to late-inning situations with more lefties due up or when facing the heart of an opposition’s order prior to the ninth. While the Twins might not want to bring Littell in to end the game, he has pitched really well and seems to be at the point where he can be trusted in the late innings of a close game. Dyson is a bit of a wildcard as he hasn’t pitched in a while due to injury, but if he comes back strong he also has closer experience and is capable of being a late-inning weapon. Minnesota currently has a plethora of lesser relief options that should be considered before pitching anyone other than May on zero rest days. Relievers like Cody Sashak, Ryne Harper, or possibly even Brusdar Graterol could be preferable to the non-rested options. Depending on how the opener role is used going forward, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer would also be viable options out of the pen. The Twins would then be able to use three of their superior options for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, saving the other two or three for the next game whenever possible. They could also let one of the top relievers go more than one inning on occasion, especially if they are not asked to pitch in the next game. And while the “lesser options” may not be as attractive as the top five or six, when compared with the numbers of the “superior” pitchers with no rest, they don’t look so bad, and their effectiveness could be further enhanced by being utilized against the bottom of opposing team’s lineups. The Twins have yet to clinch the division, but they are well on their way to doing so and with the number of relievers that they have available there is really no reason to run out any relievers on back-to-back days. The postseason is a completely different animal, and with the current lack of starting pitching the bullpen will be paramount if the Twins hope to advance. The good news is that there are plenty of days off between games in the postseason, which should prevent the top bullpen options from too much overuse. Obviously, Minnesota wants its best pitchers throwing in the postseason, but they only seem to be at their best when they are properly rested. It will certainly help to have such a high number of quality late-inning arms, and hopefully an extra lefty or two. Beyond this season, Minnesota may be able to take advantage of limiting the use of relievers on back-to-back days next season as well. Sergio Romo is the only impending free agent of the top six arms, so the Twins should have plenty of good options for high-leverage situations. They also have plenty of young arms with options left, so they will be likely to keep the Rochester-Minneapolis shuttle going strong, making it easier to have fresh arms available. Beyond that, the new rules for 2020 could also lead to less reliever overuse. With pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters (unless the inning ends first) there should be fewer situational pitcher changes, although the Twins don’t do a whole lot of that due to the lack of LOOGYs in their pen. Rosters will also expand to 26 players which will make it all the easier to carry an extra arm. Utilizing the bullpen is essential not only for the remainder of the regular season, but for the postseason if the Twins are to go anywhere at all. After much fan dissatisfaction with the bullpen in the first half of the year, the Twins now have one of the best pens in all of baseball and are poised to be strong in 2020 as well. It’s always nice to have your best pitcher in the game, especially when the game is on the line, but it appears that the best are only the best when they have proper rest (all you coaches out there feel free to use that handy rhyme with the youngsters). It’s already a huge advantage to have such a large quantity of quality arms, and if the Twins are able to fully utilize their relievers with rest between outings, the bullpen will that much more of a weapon going forward. Click here to view the article
  6. The Twins defeated the Indians 2-0 in the first game of their doubleheader Saturday. Devin Smeltzer set the tone with three scoreless innings and the rest of the bullpen continued to shut out Cleveland. Jorge Polanco provided the big blow, hitting a two-run homer in the third inning.Box Score Smeltzer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 59% strikes (29 of 49 pitches) Bullpen: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4), Arraez (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.209), Smeltzer (.162), Littell (.135) Devin Smeltzer entered this start with 14 2/3 innings pitched against Cleveland. Smeltzer had allowed 17 hits, 13 runs and six homers, including three from Francisco Lindor. Smeltzer’s success against Lindor on Saturday was a reflection of his outing. He held the All-Star to two foul pop-outs and the Indians to just one hit and no runs in three innings. Mike Clevinger started with his 11-2 record and 2.49 FIP. Luckily for the Twins, Jorge Polanco was not fazed. His two-run shot and dazzling diving stop in the third were decisive. Hitting home runs is vital in beating dominant pitchers, and Minnesota proved that on Saturday. Clevinger struck out 10 in eight strong innings. The Twins were planning on one bullpen game Saturday, but not two. After Jake Odorizzi’s start was washed away, Minnesota knew they would need 18 innings from the second-best bullpen in the American League since Aug. 1. They did not disappoint in game one. Zack Littell made his case to be a primary set-up man down the stretch with two scoreless innings. Littell could fill in for Sam Dyson after the former Giant was shut down and will undergo evaluation on his right arm. Taylor Rogers is seemingly unavailable for tonight's game after completing the five-out save. Rogers was huge once again, and is further submitting himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. This win means Minnesota will lead the AL Central by at least 2.5 games heading into the final 13-game stretch with the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. The Twins can smell the ALDS. The magic number is 11. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  7. Box Score Smeltzer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 59% strikes (29 of 49 pitches) Bullpen: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4), Arraez (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.209), Smeltzer (.162), Littell (.135) Devin Smeltzer entered this start with 14 2/3 innings pitched against Cleveland. Smeltzer had allowed 17 hits, 13 runs and six homers, including three from Francisco Lindor. Smeltzer’s success against Lindor on Saturday was a reflection of his outing. He held the All-Star to two foul pop-outs and the Indians to just one hit and no runs in three innings. Mike Clevinger started with his 11-2 record and 2.49 FIP. Luckily for the Twins, Jorge Polanco was not fazed. His two-run shot and dazzling diving stop in the third were decisive. Hitting home runs is vital in beating dominant pitchers, and Minnesota proved that on Saturday. Clevinger struck out 10 in eight strong innings. The Twins were planning on one bullpen game Saturday, but not two. After Jake Odorizzi’s start was washed away, Minnesota knew they would need 18 innings from the second-best bullpen in the American League since Aug. 1. They did not disappoint in game one. Zack Littell made his case to be a primary set-up man down the stretch with two scoreless innings. Littell could fill in for Sam Dyson after the former Giant was shut down and will undergo evaluation on his right arm. Taylor Rogers is seemingly unavailable for tonight's game after completing the five-out save. Rogers was huge once again, and is further submitting himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. This win means Minnesota will lead the AL Central by at least 2.5 games heading into the final 13-game stretch with the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. The Twins can smell the ALDS. The magic number is 11. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  8. On the morning of Sept. 3, 2019 the Minnesota Twins have a 99.7% chance to make the playoffs and 94.5% chance of winning the division. Of course the division race is not mathematically over, but with just under a month to go and a 6.5 game lead, you have to feel good about where the Twins are. Just look at this fun graph from Fangraphs. The Twins have not been under 50% since May 7 and even when Cleveland took the lead the Twins still had a better chance. With the Twins all but guaranteed to go to the playoffs, a lot of talk about the potential playoff roster has been heating up. With a current 36-man roster including fifteen pitchers after September call-ups, the Twins will have a few tough decisions. Who will be in a playoff rotation? Will Kyle Gibson make the roster? How many bullpen pitchers will the Twins carry? I think the Twins will go with a three-man rotation, Kyle Gibson will still be recovering, and the Twins will have nine in the bullpen. Who will make the Twins playoff bullpen? After months of questioning if the Twins would even have enough pitchers to make up a competent playoff bullpen, the script has been completely flipped. The Twins now have about ten to twelve guys with a real shot to make an impact in the playoffs, but it will likely come down to about eight or nine. With five guys being locked in, who else has a shot? This list will assume Berrios, Pineda, and Odorizzi make the roster. Locks: 1. Taylor Rogers 2. Tyler Duffey 3. Sergio Romo 4. Sam Dyson 5. Trevor May Most likely: 6. Zack Littell 7. Brusdar Graterol 8. Martin Perez 9. Ryne Harper 10. Lewis Thorpe Unlikely: 11. Devin Smeltzer 12. Cody Stashak 13. Trevor Hildenberger 14. Jorge Alcala 15. Fernando Romero 16. Randy Dobnak 17. Kohl Stewart Going off of these rankings, creating a playoff bullpen will be tough and that is a good problem to have. With a three-man rotation, the Twins can likely afford to have nine men in the playoff bullpen, but who will they be? Zack Littell is probably the easiest answer at this point. Since being transferred to the bullpen full time, he has pitched 19 2/3 innings and given up just two runs on two solo home runs. That is good for a 0.92 ERA to go with a 1.12 WHIP, 22.4 K%, and .675 OPS. The Twins have used him in a set-up role lately, showing him that they trust him. He gets the sixth spot in my way too early playoff bullpen. Next up, the Twins will probably want at least one more left-hander to be used as a lefty specialist to go get an out against Didi Gregorius even though it seems impossible. The three competitors will be Perez, Smeltzer, and Thorpe. The best OPS against left handed hitters this season from that group belongs to Perez at just .583 (Thorpe at .929 and Smeltzer at .816) so I expect him to be an effective bullpen arm. He gets bullpen spot number seven. That leaves two more. The eighth guy in my bullpen is someone who the Twins and everyone around them have been talking about for months, and that is the flame-throwing right-hander Brusdar Graterol. Honestly I don’t think I would be able to forgive myself if I didn’t put him here. The upside for Graterol has already been expressed by everyone around Twins Territory but even Thad Levine was saying this is definitely a special pitcher. He made these comments about him to the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “In my entire career, I’ve never seen a pitcher other than [Yankees All-Star closer] Aroldis Chapman sit above 100 MPH for an entire inning,” Levine said. “I think he threw one fastball that was timed at 99, and it was almost disappointing.” The final spot in my early bullpen is completely up for grabs from anyone remaining. The player who outperforms the rest this month will get a playoff job so you may want to keep your eyes out for the hot hand. It could really be any of these players, but my best guess would have to be Lewis Thorpe. His 2.76 FIP and 9.2 K/9 are extremely impressive, and his best games have been against the Yankees and Red Sox. Sign me up for some more Thorpedo. Final bullpen: 1 Taylor Rogers 2 Tyler Duffey 3 Sergio Romo 4 Sam Dyson 5 Trevor May 6 Zack Littell 7 Martin Perez 8 Brusdar Graterol 9 Lewis Thorpe What would you change about the bullpen? Let me know in the comments below.
  9. Box Score Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 67% strikes (66 of 99 pitches) Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (28) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3), Astudillo (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .248, Schoop .196, Sano .081 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.171, Rosario -.121, Polanco -.020 Garver scored the lone run off Cleveland starter Aaron Civale on a solo shot in the first inning. Garver’s 27th homer set the record for the most in a season by a Twins catcher. Earl Battey hit 26 in 1963. Jake Odorizzi threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, falling one short of his career high with 10 strikeouts. The start held more weight, as Michael Pineda was handed a 60-game suspension today for violating the league’s drug policy. Pineda had been the most reliable Twins starter since the break, posting a 3.04 ERA and striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings. The Twins bullpen has been one of the best in the last month. Tyler Duffey continued his success, holding Cleveland to just one run on a wild pitch. Duffey struck out two in his relief of Odorizzi. With Sam Dyson uncertain to return, the Twins are exploring other options out of the pen. Zack Littell allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning. Sergio Romo limped off the mound after setting up in the eighth. Taylor Rogers was great again, retiring the side in order to secure the win and his 25th save. The win was important for Minnesota. Avoiding the potential sweep with Indians ace Mike Clevinger on the mound tomorrow, the Twins are more than treading water to win the division. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  10. The Twins offense cracked open in Saturday night’s 5-3 victory. Mitch Garver drove in four runs, including the game-winning three-run shot in the seventh inning.The win increased Minnesota’s AL Central lead to 6.5 games.Box Score Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 67% strikes (66 of 99 pitches) Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (28) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3), Astudillo (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .248, Schoop .196, Sano .081 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.171, Rosario -.121, Polanco -.020 Garver scored the lone run off Cleveland starter Aaron Civale on a solo shot in the first inning. Garver’s 27th homer set the record for the most in a season by a Twins catcher. Earl Battey hit 26 in 1963. Jake Odorizzi threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, falling one short of his career high with 10 strikeouts. The start held more weight, as Michael Pineda was handed a 60-game suspension today for violating the league’s drug policy. Pineda had been the most reliable Twins starter since the break, posting a 3.04 ERA and striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings. The Twins bullpen has been one of the best in the last month. Tyler Duffey continued his success, holding Cleveland to just one run on a wild pitch. Duffey struck out two in his relief of Odorizzi. With Sam Dyson uncertain to return, the Twins are exploring other options out of the pen. Zack Littell allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning. Sergio Romo limped off the mound after setting up in the eighth. Taylor Rogers was great again, retiring the side in order to secure the win and his 25th save. The win was important for Minnesota. Avoiding the potential sweep with Indians ace Mike Clevinger on the mound tomorrow, the Twins are more than treading water to win the division. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  11. Not As Bad As They Seem Around the trade deadline, Minnesota knew it would need a bullpen upgrade to have any semblance of a chance in October. Adding Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo has certainly calmed some of the storm, but things haven’t exactly been perfect for the new dynamic duo. Dyson spent time on the injured list and Romo has seen some rough appearances. They might not be perfect, but they are better than some of the team’s other options. Even with the flaws of these two players, the Twins bullpen has been one of the best in baseball this year. Minnesota’s relief corps ranks as the fourth best in baseball according to FIP. The only AL team ahead of them on the list is Cleveland, the team they are fighting with for the AL Central. FIP stands for fielding independent pitching and it converts a pitcher’s outcomes that don’t involve defense (strikeouts, walks, HBP, and home runs) and turns it into an ERA like number. FIP isn’t the only area where Twins relievers shine. According to FanGraphs’ version of WAR, Minnesota’s relievers have accumulated 5.4 WAR, which is tied with Tampa Bay for the second most in baseball. The Yankees have accumulated the most WAR (6.8), but both the Rays and the Yankees have over 530 relief innings. Meanwhile, the Twins had yet to crack the 450 mark, which is the eighth fewest in baseball. Minnesota’s Fearsome Foursome Before acquiring Dyson and Romo, the Twins used a heavy dose of Taylor Rogers. He seemed untouchable in the first half and an argument could be made for him being the American League’s most valuable reliever. Tyler Duffey has also become a much more important part of the bullpen since the All-Star break. In 20 second-half appearances (16.2 IP), he has compiled a 1.62 ERA and a 22 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio. As the Baseball Savant graphics show below, all four of these relievers have posted better than average numbers in exit velocity and hard-hit rate. Rogers and Romo both rank as “great” in hard-hit rate with Romo also ranking there in exit velocity. In Monday’s victory over the White Sox, the Twins might have laid out the blueprint for how this team could be successful in October. Michael Pineda started and was asked to make it through five frames. He did so by limiting a sub-par White Sox line-up to one run on four hits. From there the Fearsome Foursome came in and shut down the Chicago offense. Duffey was the only reliever to allow a baserunner while Romo struck out the side in the eighth inning. Chicago isn’t exactly a playoff caliber team, but the Twins relief corp seems much more prepared for potential playoff matchups with the likes of New York and Houston. Playoff baseball is an entirely different animal than the regular season and each relief outing is magnified because of the importance of each game. That being said, Minnesota fans have to feel more confident in the top four arms coming out of the bullpen. Every team’s bullpen is bad, but Minnesota’s might be just good enough to make some noise in October. What are your thoughts on the Twins bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Around Twins Daily Stop Throwing the Twins Fastballs The Hazy Future of Fernando Romero 4 Questions the Twins Need to Address Concerning Their Potential Playoff Roster
  12. The Twins bullpen has been among the best in the entire league. Still, many Twins fans don’t seem to like the team’s chances against the American League’s powerhouses in the postseason. With the inevitable arrival of the most-hyped Twins pitching prospect in the last decade, however, there’s an argument to be made that the depth of the Twins bullpen matches up with anybody.Since the All-Star break, the Twins have baseball’s best SIERRA (a better or more comprehensive branch of FIP), and K-BB% a very good indicator of sustainably- sterling pitching, even while posting baseball’s highest zone per pitch%. We expected Wes Johnson to initiate some velocity increases, but he’s also helped a few relievers unleash some more bite on their breaking pitches. Download attachment: RogersDuffeyMay.png Velocity has risen, the sharpness of break along with the tunneling of those pitches in relation to fastball location has improved, and in turn that’s led to more strikeouts and weaker contact. Tyler Duffey is an interesting experiment, and they’ve built a rapport with using the fastball as a catalyst to set up the wipeout slider, a new pitch he believes is just a harder thrown version of his former knucklecurve. With improved control, Trevor May has been an appealing seventh-inning guy to watch. Taylor Rogers, once was a generic LOOGY, is now perhaps the most impactful left-handed reliever in baseball excluding Felipe Vazquez. A 1.9 WAR is absolutely insane! Do you remember the old Rogers, Duffey, and May? They all relied on softer secondary stuff to get away with the weaker fastballs they had previously. Now armed and loaded with fastball velocity, they still haven’t ventured too far (apart from May) from their old plan of attack. What’s important to note is the current assembly of Twins pitchers is perfectly able at proving capable in the postseason. In Extra Innings, a book by Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh advocated for relievers to be picked at the margins or be groomed through the system once failing as starting pitchers. It’s an interesting proposal. Don’t ever buy a reliever because he'll often turn out to be a poor investment. Instead, build your bullpen with roster casualties and scuffling relievers that good teams feel they can’t wait to get better. Download attachment: FA contract WAR.png The Twins haven’t been the most hardcore adherents to this system of thinking. They jettisoned Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi, JT Chargois and others for guys that may or may not have been past their primes on the free-agent market. That Addison Reed, Matt Belisle, Dillon Gee and Craig Breslow were all acquired under the Falvine regime, might be the result of fan pressure than actual thorough analysis on the makings of on-the-margin acquisitions. Guys like Tanner Rainey, Nick Anderson, Brendan Brennan, Austin Adams and Ty Buttrey were all traded in low-profile deals and turned out to be dynamic relievers. The Twins found innovative ways to hire intuitive and introspective thinkers to take on these projects in Duffey, May, Rogers and others. This bullpen is stacked with assorted gadgets and analytical fireman. So here’s my postseason bullpen predictions…. Multi Inning Firemen; Brusdar Graterol (RHP) / Taylor Rogers (LHP) Set Up; Sam Dyson (RHP) / Trevor May (RHP) Situational; Tyler Duffey (RHP) / Trevor Hildenberger (RHP) / Sergio Romo (RHP) Swiss Army Knife; 1 OF EITHER Martin Perez (LHP) / Zack Littell (RHP) Not included on the postseason roster: Randy Dobnak (RHP), Sean Poppen (RHP), Cody Stashak (RHP), Lewis Thorpe (LHP), Ryan Harper (RHP), Devin Smetlzer (LHP). Click here to view the article
  13. Since the All-Star break, the Twins have baseball’s best SIERRA (a better or more comprehensive branch of FIP), and K-BB% a very good indicator of sustainably- sterling pitching, even while posting baseball’s highest zone per pitch%. We expected Wes Johnson to initiate some velocity increases, but he’s also helped a few relievers unleash some more bite on their breaking pitches. Velocity has risen, the sharpness of break along with the tunneling of those pitches in relation to fastball location has improved, and in turn that’s led to more strikeouts and weaker contact. Tyler Duffey is an interesting experiment, and they’ve built a rapport with using the fastball as a catalyst to set up the wipeout slider, a new pitch he believes is just a harder thrown version of his former knucklecurve. With improved control, Trevor May has been an appealing seventh-inning guy to watch. Taylor Rogers, once was a generic LOOGY, is now perhaps the most impactful left-handed reliever in baseball excluding Felipe Vazquez. A 1.9 WAR is absolutely insane! Do you remember the old Rogers, Duffey, and May? They all relied on softer secondary stuff to get away with the weaker fastballs they had previously. Now armed and loaded with fastball velocity, they still haven’t ventured too far (apart from May) from their old plan of attack. What’s important to note is the current assembly of Twins pitchers is perfectly able at proving capable in the postseason. In Extra Innings, a book by Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh advocated for relievers to be picked at the margins or be groomed through the system once failing as starting pitchers. It’s an interesting proposal. Don’t ever buy a reliever because he'll often turn out to be a poor investment. Instead, build your bullpen with roster casualties and scuffling relievers that good teams feel they can’t wait to get better. The Twins haven’t been the most hardcore adherents to this system of thinking. They jettisoned Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi, JT Chargois and others for guys that may or may not have been past their primes on the free-agent market. That Addison Reed, Matt Belisle, Dillon Gee and Craig Breslow were all acquired under the Falvine regime, might be the result of fan pressure than actual thorough analysis on the makings of on-the-margin acquisitions. Guys like Tanner Rainey, Nick Anderson, Brendan Brennan, Austin Adams and Ty Buttrey were all traded in low-profile deals and turned out to be dynamic relievers. The Twins found innovative ways to hire intuitive and introspective thinkers to take on these projects in Duffey, May, Rogers and others. This bullpen is stacked with assorted gadgets and analytical fireman. So here’s my postseason bullpen predictions…. Multi Inning Firemen; Brusdar Graterol (RHP) / Taylor Rogers (LHP) Set Up; Sam Dyson (RHP) / Trevor May (RHP) Situational; Tyler Duffey (RHP) / Trevor Hildenberger (RHP) / Sergio Romo (RHP) Swiss Army Knife; 1 OF EITHER Martin Perez (LHP) / Zack Littell (RHP) Not included on the postseason roster: Randy Dobnak (RHP), Sean Poppen (RHP), Cody Stashak (RHP), Lewis Thorpe (LHP), Ryan Harper (RHP), Devin Smetlzer (LHP).
  14. So... the Twins have never actually had a set of Twins on their roster, correct? Think the team should make a trade for Taylor's brother, Tyler? https://www.mlb.com/twins/news/twin-brothers-in-mlb-history
  15. While many players have undoubtedly contributed to the Twins success, today we will look at the players who have done the most to help the Twins win. This is obviously subjective in nature, but to be as objective as possible we will use win probability added (WPA) to gauge which players have most increased the Twins ability to win ball games. WPA is simply the difference in win expectancy between the start and end of each play that occurs in a game. So when Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game against the White Sox with the score even at three apiece, the Twins had a 59.4% win expectancy. Cruz went on to double in two runs and the Twins win expectancy rose to 81.4%, an increase of 22%. Therefore, Cruz is credited with +.220 WPA on the play (and the pitcher is docked the same amount). WPA is cumulative, so the difference in WPA after each play is either added or subtracted from the hitter/pitcher and it builds up throughout the game and season (the winning team gains .500 WPA between its players, while the loser subtracts .500). The nice thing about WPA is that it is a contextual statistic. In the aforementioned game where Cruz doubled in two runs with in the fifth inning, C.J. Cron also doubled with the bases juiced in the eighth inning, except Cron was able to clear the bases so he picked up an extra RBI. However, Cron’s base-clearing double came with the Twins already up 8-4 and a 98.8% win expectancy. With the Twins lead growing to 11-4, the expectancy went up to 99.9%, so Cron only gained .011 of WPA. Cruz’s double came in a big moment, greatly increasing the Twins chances to pick up the victory, and he was rewarded accordingly. Before we move on, there are a few caveats with using WPA to determine how much a player helped the team win. All defensive plays either help or hurt the pitcher, so a fielder’s defensive efforts do not contribute to their WPA. This obviously diminishes the value of someone like Byron Buxton (who brings extraordinary value to the Twins as their center fielder) while increasing the value of Nelson Cruz. Also, WPA generally varies greatly for individual players from season to season and it is not a great predictor of future success. Good players tend to be good independent of the context and wins above replacement (WAR) is a better way to value a player overall. With that said, the top three MLB players in WPA in 2019 are Christian Yelich (6.40), Mike Trout (5.42), and Cody Bellinger (5.24) who are arguably having the three best individual seasons in baseball (also the top three in bWAR, though not in the same order). Now that we have that out of the way, here are the Twins top six performers according to WPA: 6. Jorge Polanco – 1.43 WPA Polanco has been one of the handful of younger core players to take a great leap forward in 2019. Offensively, Polanco has been very impressive, slashing.295/.358/.496 with a wRC+ of 121. He is tied for second on the team with 3.5 fWAR and the team friendly extension that he signed in the offseason (5yr, 25.75M with two club options) is looking like a real steal for the Twins. Polanco hasn’t been quite as good in the second half and his defense has looked rather shaky of late (he’s made some highlight-reel plays but botched several routine ones) but there is no doubt that he has been a big part of Minnesota’s success. 5. Luiz Arraez – 1.53 WPA Anyone who has watched Arraez play cannot possibly deny his value in big moments. The rookie seems unshakable, working MLB pitchers into deep pitch counts and ending many of those battles with huge hits or walks. The 22-year-old didn’t make his MLB debut until May 18th and has only played in 61 games, making his inclusion on this list all the more impressive. Arraez has been good for 1.5 bWAR, hitting .341/.408/.445 with a wRC+ of 128. Like Polanco, Arraez seems somewhat limited defensively, but the two are quite the up-the-middle tandem offensively. 4. Jake Odorrizi – 1.69 WPA Most Twins fans would probably guess Jose Berrios if they knew that only one starting pitcher would be included in this list, but it is Odorrizi coming in at number four (Berrios just missed with a 1.39 WPA). Odorrizi has been much improved in 2019. He was named to the all-star team and he leads the Twins rotation in K/9 (9.41), HR/9 (1.03) and has been the best Twins starter in stranding base runners (76.7% LOB %). Odorizzi trails only Jose Berrios amongst Twins starters in fWAR (3.5 to 2.8) and has the rotation’s best FIP at 3.78. Odorizzi becomes a free agent at the end of the season and it will be interesting to see if Minnesota tries to resign him. 3. Taylor Rogers – 1.80 WPA While Odorrizi may be somewhat of a surprise as the top starter on the list, to expect any reliever other than Taylor Rogers to be the sole bullpen representative would be lunacy. Rogers has struggled a bit in the second half after being lights out prior to the All-Star break, but the Twins have been able to get their star reliever some more rest of late. Rogers forms a formidable late-inning trio with Minnesota’s trade-deadline acquisitions, Sergio Romo (2.04 WPA) and Sam Dyson (1.47 WPA). On the year Rogers has pitched to a 2.59 ERA (2.83 FIP), has stranded 86.8 % of base runners, and has accumulated a 1.7 bWAR. 2. Nelson Cruz – 2.43 WPA Nelson Cruz will go down as one of, if not the best-ever Twins free agent signing. The now 39-year-old has been nothing short of amazing. He is currently hitting .303/.389/.662 with a wRC+ of 168. Cruz has been absolutely on fire in the second half hitting 17 home runs in 28 games (244 wRC+) and has shown no signs of rust since returning from his wrist injury. Cruz’s veteran presence has been noted in the clubhouse and his dedicated work ethic has undoubtedly had a positive effect on his younger teammates. But most importantly, he has been one of the best hitters in the MLB. Cruz is tied with Polanco and Berrios for second on the team with 3.5 bWAR despite being a DH and only playing in 90 games. 1. Max Kepler – 2.53 WPA Of all the Twins young core players, perhaps none have taken as big of a step forward as Max Kepler has this year. After showing flashes but not quite reaching his potential in his first three seasons with Minnesota, Max Kepler leads the team in both WPA and bWAR (3.9). Kepler has hit plenty of big homers when the Twins needed a boost and leads the team with 34 long balls in 2019. Kepler and Cruz (33 HRs) both have a good chance of reaching 40 this year. Although it doesn’t show up in his WPA, Kepler has been great in right field and has provided invaluable depth in center while filling in for the oft-injured Bryon Buxton. Like Polanco, the Twins were able to extend Kepler for cheap (5yr, 35M with one club option) and he has paid the Twins back with interest by hitting .256/.337/.537 with a 123 wRC+. Kepler has hit leadoff when the team faces right-handed pitching and hasn’t buckled under the pressure. Kepler’s BABIP is just .241, so if it ever normalizes, watch out. Overall, it is encouraging to see that so many of the Twins younger players have been able to shine when it mattered the most. There will be plenty of big moments to come as the Twins look to hold off the Cleveland Indians and win the AL Central for the first time since 2010. What do you think? Which players were included or excluded from the list who you thought would make it? Who do you think has done the most to contribute to the Twins winning ways in 2019?
  16. Box Score Gibson: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 62.1% strikes (59 of 95 pitches) Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Kepler (35), Sano (26), Cave (5) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (3-for-5, 2B, HR), Cave (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB) Top 3 WPA: Sano .308, Cave .213, Kepler .177 All’s well that ends well, but the Twins were not having a very encouraging showing through the first handful of innings tonight. There was plenty of traffic on the bases for Detroit and the Twins made several mishaps in the field, though were only charged with one official error. Right when worries of the Twins dropping a home series to the Tigers started to creep in, everything flipped. The Twins had a five-run fifth inning capped by a mammoth Sano bomba. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1165430698242502662 Kyle Gibson went only 5 1/3 innings, but luckily the bullpen was up to the task of holding on. Sam Dyson allowed an inherited runner to score, but he recorded the next five outs. Sergio Romo allowed the first two runners of the eighth inning to reach before picking up a huge strikeout. At that point, Rocco Baldelli decided there would be no more messing around. He brought in a very well-rested Taylor Rogers to cover the final five outs. Rogers didn’t allow a baserunner, struck out three batters and threw 17 of his 23 pitches for strikes (73.9%). Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1165460029354303489 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  17. The Twins trailed the Tigers 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning tonight at Target Field, but Miguel Sano smashed a go-ahead three-run homer to turn the game and the bullpen held on as Minnesota prevailed 8-5. Taylor Rogers was perfect over the final 1 2/3 innings to slam the door shut.Box Score Gibson: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 62.1% strikes (59 of 95 pitches) Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Kepler (35), Sano (26), Cave (5) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (3-for-5, 2B, HR), Cave (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB) Top 3 WPA: Sano .308, Cave .213, Kepler .177 All’s well that ends well, but the Twins were not having a very encouraging showing through the first handful of innings tonight. There was plenty of traffic on the bases for Detroit and the Twins made several mishaps in the field, though were only charged with one official error. Right when worries of the Twins dropping a home series to the Tigers started to creep in, everything flipped. The Twins had a five-run fifth inning capped by a mammoth Sano bomba. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  18. Box Score Perez: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 65% strikes (65 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Polanco .426, Castro .162, Gonzalez .130 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -172, Rosario -.134, Cave -.131 Lance Lynn does Lance Lynn things as Twins take early lead This game started with the narrative of Lance Lynn pitching against the Twins and Twins fans everywhere wanted to score 30 runs on this guy but he just reminded us of his tenure in Minnesota. The first two innings took him fifty seven pitches to get through and the laboring was caused by rough fielding all around from Texas. The Twins scored on him immediately on a Kepler walk, Sano single and then an RBI double from Marwin Gonzalez on a ball that had an expected batting average of .120 off the bat. A poorly played ball in left led to an early two-run lead for the Twins. Marwin continued his insane tear against Texas with this RBI double https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1163170800901300224?s=21 Martin Perez has his second straight solid start For the second straight start, Martin Perez was able to prove he can stay in that fifth spot in the rotation for now. He didn’t have his best control throughout the game, walking four guys and striking out just two while leaving seven on base, but he ultimately got the job done. He left his long-time home ballpark in line for the win and was noticeably ecstatic while leaving the mound for his last two innings. This will almost certainly be the last game he pitches in this stadium so it was good to see him pitching well. Texas comes back but Polanco gets the bit hit In the bottom of the seventh inning, Shin Soo Choo led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game at three and it wasn’t looking great for the Twins. In case you missed it, or you weren’t sure if it was a home run, this Indians announcer has you covered. https://twitter.com/jlewfifty/status/1163206484139945984?s=21 The Twins bounced back in a huge way the next innings. After a single, double and walk to load the bases, Jorge Polanco came up huge with a bases-clearing triple to give the Twins a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. I decided to continue the new score keeping method on Twitter. https://twitter.com/carlson_mntwins/status/1163215469614120966?s=21 Oh, here is the clutch triple. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1163213212311068674?s=21 Romo and Rogers close out the sweep The Twins high-leverage relievers once again got the job done. Sergio Romo came in for the eighth, allowed a base runner, but ultimately walked off the mound with the lead and pumped up as always. Taylor Rogers came in for the ninth inning, gave up a couple of hits but ultimately got the save. The Twins completed the sweep over Texas and held on to their 2.5 game lead in the division. They will welcome the White Sox to Target Field for the next series. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  19. The Twins stayed as hot as the scorching weather today as they completed the sweep over the Texas Rangers. Martin Perez made his second straight good start and a huge triple from Jorge Polanco led the Twins to the 6-3 win. The division lead remains at 2.5 games and the Twins will host Chicago next.Box Score Perez: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 65% strikes (65 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Polanco .426, Castro .162, Gonzalez .130 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -172, Rosario -.134, Cave -.131 Lance Lynn does Lance Lynn things as Twins take early lead This game started with the narrative of Lance Lynn pitching against the Twins and Twins fans everywhere wanted to score 30 runs on this guy but he just reminded us of his tenure in Minnesota. The first two innings took him fifty seven pitches to get through and the laboring was caused by rough fielding all around from Texas. The Twins scored on him immediately on a Kepler walk, Sano single and then an RBI double from Marwin Gonzalez on a ball that had an expected batting average of .120 off the bat. A poorly played ball in left led to an early two-run lead for the Twins. Marwin continued his insane tear against Texas with this RBI double Martin Perez has his second straight solid start For the second straight start, Martin Perez was able to prove he can stay in that fifth spot in the rotation for now. He didn’t have his best control throughout the game, walking four guys and striking out just two while leaving seven on base, but he ultimately got the job done. He left his long-time home ballpark in line for the win and was noticeably ecstatic while leaving the mound for his last two innings. This will almost certainly be the last game he pitches in this stadium so it was good to see him pitching well. Texas comes back but Polanco gets the bit hit In the bottom of the seventh inning, Shin Soo Choo led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game at three and it wasn’t looking great for the Twins. In case you missed it, or you weren’t sure if it was a home run, this Indians announcer has you covered. The Twins bounced back in a huge way the next innings. After a single, double and walk to load the bases, Jorge Polanco came up huge with a bases-clearing triple to give the Twins a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. I decided to continue the new score keeping method on Twitter. Oh, here is the clutch triple. Romo and Rogers close out the sweep The Twins high-leverage relievers once again got the job done. Sergio Romo came in for the eighth, allowed a base runner, but ultimately walked off the mound with the lead and pumped up as always. Taylor Rogers came in for the ninth inning, gave up a couple of hits but ultimately got the save. The Twins completed the sweep over Texas and held on to their 2.5 game lead in the division. They will welcome the White Sox to Target Field for the next series. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  20. Stop me if you have heard this before. The Minnesota Twins could use some better pitching performances. Early in the season all the focus was on the bullpen, and while it has more recently shifted to the starters and a stretch of dismal starts, all the changes with the relievers do cause us to wonder what should the Twins bullpen look like for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. The good news (if there can be such thing about something you struggle with) about the Twins bullpen struggles is that they are not alone in those struggles. The Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Padres, and even the Yankees among others have had their own hiccups along the way, whether it be performance or injury related. As a reminder to ourselves, here is what the bullpen looked like coming into Opening Day 2019. RHP Trevor May LHP Taylor Rogers RHP Blake Parker RHP Trevor Hildenberger RHP Ryne Harper LHP Martin Perez LHP Adalberto Mejia IL-RHP Matt Magill Now Perez’s inclusion was obviously the early season luxury of being able to roll with a four-man rotation. Besides Perez’s move to the rotation we have also seen Parker, Mejia, and Magill all let loose and Hildy has been sent down, hurt, and is now trying to make a comeback. The task at hand today is trying to assemble the best bullpen with what is available to the Twins for the stretch run as they try to outpace the Indians once again like they did to begin the season. Constructing the Bullpen for the Rest of 2019 For starters, Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, and Ryne Harper will have a place in the bullpen barring any injury. Even after allowing a grand slam to Carlos Santanna Sunday, Rogers is still the best reliever this team has and still one of the best in the league at what he does. As food for thought, there was this informative tweet from Aaron Gleeman regarding Rogers’ usage. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1160928760255746048 This makes it all the more important to find reinforcements for the bullpen so that Rocco can give Rogers some rest. Romo was brought in to be part of the backend of the bullpen and has a 1.59 ERA since coming on the scene. He has only allowed the one run since joining the Twins. Harper has done nothing but get the job done this season holding a 2.96 ERA in 51 games. While he is the third reliever mentioned here, the Twins need Harper to fill a role in the sixth and seventh innings and not end up as the third-best reliever on this list in order for the team to be competitive with playoff caliber teams. The polarizing Sam Dyson will and needs to be part of this bullpen as well for the Twins to be competitive. They went out and traded three prospects for him for a reason. While Rogers is the Twins best reliever and Romo can and has saved out some games, Dyson is really the guy that can help effectively take a load off of Rogers. The good news is Dyson looks ready to come off the IL as soon as Tuesday. Now just hopefully whatever needed to happen during those 10 days happened and he is ready to be the good Sam Dyson the Twins traded for. Tyler Duffey and Trevor May are two that carry baggage of memories with them for fans. It is sometimes hard to shake the memories of bad Duffey from our minds and see that he has continued to pitch well in relief in 2019. His ERA is a respectable 3.23 even if his 4.11 FIP gives a little reason for concern. Duffey has also turned in seven straight scoreless appearances and hasn’t given up multiple runs since July 6. Giving Duffey a run of 13 appearances with one run or less. Right role, Duffey has value for a competitive team. May had us all excited when he pulled back and nearly hit 100 mph on the radar gun. Unfortunately that has been bookended by a stretch toward the end of July where he took a loss, blew a lead, and blew a save and allowed seven runs over three games and on the other end the solo shot he allowed to Tyler Naquin. May is likely the best representation of a power arm this bullpen currently has and his 3.74 ERA and K/9 north of 10 lands him a spot here. That gives us a foundation of Rogers, Romo, Dyson, Harper, Duffey, and May in the bullpen for the stretch run, but this is where I would like to do some searching to see if we can put someone else in that final spot or two for the bullpen. Cody Stashak, Zack Littell, and Randy Dobnak have all had some flashes but when I am looking at the Astros and Yankees come postseason, if I could get a different pitcher in their spot that would be great. Quest for Outside Help The Twins could always look outside of the organization to the waiver wire to see if they could pick up a veteran reliever who has been cast off by his club. I would have been all on board the Twins taking a chance on Kyle Barraclough but he wound up with the Giants on a waiver claim. That leaves at last check relievers like Tony Sipp, Greg Holland, Trevor Rosenthal, and David Hernandez to look at. Obviously none of these guys are having great seasons and come with risk and that is why they were sent through waivers. Sipp and Holland feel like the most likely to gain some attention out of this group (Holland to the Nationals is currently drawing some strong steam). Sipp purely because he is a lefty and Holland because he is a “proven closer.” Neither looks to have much upside as Sipp may just be nearing the end at 36 and Holland looks to have lost velocity and is being hit as hard as ever in his career. I think the Twins should and will pass here. Turning to the Farm That leaves in-house options to round out the bullpen. The safe in-house option is to continue rotating Triple-A arms like the Twins have been and maybe add Ryan O’ Rourke, who was recently brought back into the system. If we are willing to not keep it safe this seems like the spot where we lean on some Rob Antony steam and call on Brusdar Graterol. We are all likely familiar with Graterol as the top arm in the Twins farm system. While he has generally been working as a starter, his shoulder injury will cause him to need to rebuild some strength to regain length to his outings, making a bullpen role perfect for him down the stretch. Graterol would add plenty of velocity to the bullpen since as a starter he can regularly hit triple digits. The shorter appearances out of the pen would also allow him to maintain extra velocity on his slider making it that much more effective of a pitch. At 20-years-old it feels very anti-Twins, but this is a new regime and they seem ready to unleash Graterol if it helps the team compete. It may even be worth taking a look further down the line of Double-A Twins pitchers. Jorge Alcala, who was acquired in the Ryan Pressly trade, has the velocity that is exciting for a bullpen arm as he can also touch triple digits. The problem is, like Fernando Romero who I haven’t included on this list, he hasn’t fully harnessed his pitch arsenal and is struggling with a 5.96 ERA. Another 2018 trade deadline acquisition in Jhoan Duran (Eduardo Escobar trade) could be someone who the Twins could try. Duran joins Graterol and Alcala as someone in the Twins system who can hit triple digits on the radar gun. He has had a solid season as a starter even though he has struggled since being promoted to Double-A Pensacola with his ERA jumping to 5.29 over three games from 3.23 over 16 at High-A Fort Myers. If he can smooth things out in the next couple weeks the No. 9 prospect by both Twins Daily and MLB Pipeline could join Graterol as an aggressive promotion to the major league pen. If I am the Twins, I believe this is the bullpen I am rolling with going forward. CL Taylor Rogers CL Sam Dyson RHP Sergio Romo RHP Ryne Harper RHP Trevor May RHP Tyler Duffey RHP Brusday Graterol (if Twins stay with a three-man bench) RHP Jhoan Duran or Triple-A rotation This obviously hopes for a Dyson return to form to take some pressure off of Rogers, but Taylor is still the shutdown guy whenever that is needed. The biggest weakness in this pen is that there is still only one lefty. So I wouldn’t hate it if someone wanted to try to shift Martin Perez or Devin Smeltzer into the bullpen. I just don’t know if I am convinced about either of them being great bullpen arms. I would also tread very carefully with Duran, but I am very curious to know how the front office views both him and Graterol. I would hate to mess with either of their developments for a handful of bullpen innings. Let me know how you would construct the Twins bullpen moving forward. Nicely call me crazy if necessary, or high fives are always nice as well.
  21. The Minnesota Twins have struggled to find a completely effective bullpen mix in 2019. With all the moving pieces recently and an overused Taylor Rogers, here is an attempt to find a competitive bullpen for the stretch run.Stop me if you have heard this before. The Minnesota Twins could use some better pitching performances. Early in the season all the focus was on the bullpen, and while it has more recently shifted to the starters and a stretch of dismal starts, all the changes with the relievers do cause us to wonder what should the Twins bullpen look like for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. The good news (if there can be such thing about something you struggle with) about the Twins bullpen struggles is that they are not alone in those struggles. The Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Padres, and even the Yankees among others have had their own hiccups along the way, whether it be performance or injury related. As a reminder to ourselves, here is what the bullpen looked like coming into Opening Day 2019. RHP Trevor May LHP Taylor Rogers RHP Blake Parker RHP Trevor Hildenberger RHP Ryne Harper LHP Martin Perez LHP Adalberto Mejia IL-RHP Matt Magill Now Perez’s inclusion was obviously the early season luxury of being able to roll with a four-man rotation. Besides Perez’s move to the rotation we have also seen Parker, Mejia, and Magill all let loose and Hildy has been sent down, hurt, and is now trying to make a comeback. The task at hand today is trying to assemble the best bullpen with what is available to the Twins for the stretch run as they try to outpace the Indians once again like they did to begin the season. Constructing the Bullpen for the Rest of 2019 For starters, Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, and Ryne Harper will have a place in the bullpen barring any injury. Even after allowing a grand slam to Carlos Santanna Sunday, Rogers is still the best reliever this team has and still one of the best in the league at what he does. As food for thought, there was this informative tweet from Aaron Gleeman regarding Rogers’ usage. This makes it all the more important to find reinforcements for the bullpen so that Rocco can give Rogers some rest. Romo was brought in to be part of the backend of the bullpen and has a 1.59 ERA since coming on the scene. He has only allowed the one run since joining the Twins. Harper has done nothing but get the job done this season holding a 2.96 ERA in 51 games. While he is the third reliever mentioned here, the Twins need Harper to fill a role in the sixth and seventh innings and not end up as the third-best reliever on this list in order for the team to be competitive with playoff caliber teams. The polarizing Sam Dyson will and needs to be part of this bullpen as well for the Twins to be competitive. They went out and traded three prospects for him for a reason. While Rogers is the Twins best reliever and Romo can and has saved out some games, Dyson is really the guy that can help effectively take a load off of Rogers. The good news is Dyson looks ready to come off the IL as soon as Tuesday. Now just hopefully whatever needed to happen during those 10 days happened and he is ready to be the good Sam Dyson the Twins traded for. Tyler Duffey and Trevor May are two that carry baggage of memories with them for fans. It is sometimes hard to shake the memories of bad Duffey from our minds and see that he has continued to pitch well in relief in 2019. His ERA is a respectable 3.23 even if his 4.11 FIP gives a little reason for concern. Duffey has also turned in seven straight scoreless appearances and hasn’t given up multiple runs since July 6. Giving Duffey a run of 13 appearances with one run or less. Right role, Duffey has value for a competitive team. May had us all excited when he pulled back and nearly hit 100 mph on the radar gun. Unfortunately that has been bookended by a stretch toward the end of July where he took a loss, blew a lead, and blew a save and allowed seven runs over three games and on the other end the solo shot he allowed to Tyler Naquin. May is likely the best representation of a power arm this bullpen currently has and his 3.74 ERA and K/9 north of 10 lands him a spot here. That gives us a foundation of Rogers, Romo, Dyson, Harper, Duffey, and May in the bullpen for the stretch run, but this is where I would like to do some searching to see if we can put someone else in that final spot or two for the bullpen. Cody Stashak, Zack Littell, and Randy Dobnak have all had some flashes but when I am looking at the Astros and Yankees come postseason, if I could get a different pitcher in their spot that would be great. Quest for Outside Help The Twins could always look outside of the organization to the waiver wire to see if they could pick up a veteran reliever who has been cast off by his club. I would have been all on board the Twins taking a chance on Kyle Barraclough but he wound up with the Giants on a waiver claim. That leaves at last check relievers like Tony Sipp, Greg Holland, Trevor Rosenthal, and David Hernandez to look at. Obviously none of these guys are having great seasons and come with risk and that is why they were sent through waivers. Sipp and Holland feel like the most likely to gain some attention out of this group (Holland to the Nationals is currently drawing some strong steam). Sipp purely because he is a lefty and Holland because he is a “proven closer.” Neither looks to have much upside as Sipp may just be nearing the end at 36 and Holland looks to have lost velocity and is being hit as hard as ever in his career. I think the Twins should and will pass here. Turning to the Farm That leaves in-house options to round out the bullpen. The safe in-house option is to continue rotating Triple-A arms like the Twins have been and maybe add Ryan O’ Rourke, who was recently brought back into the system. If we are willing to not keep it safe this seems like the spot where we lean on some Rob Antony steam and call on Brusdar Graterol. We are all likely familiar with Graterol as the top arm in the Twins farm system. While he has generally been working as a starter, his shoulder injury will cause him to need to rebuild some strength to regain length to his outings, making a bullpen role perfect for him down the stretch. Graterol would add plenty of velocity to the bullpen since as a starter he can regularly hit triple digits. The shorter appearances out of the pen would also allow him to maintain extra velocity on his slider making it that much more effective of a pitch. At 20-years-old it feels very anti-Twins, but this is a new regime and they seem ready to unleash Graterol if it helps the team compete. It may even be worth taking a look further down the line of Double-A Twins pitchers. Jorge Alcala, who was acquired in the Ryan Pressly trade, has the velocity that is exciting for a bullpen arm as he can also touch triple digits. The problem is, like Fernando Romero who I haven’t included on this list, he hasn’t fully harnessed his pitch arsenal and is struggling with a 5.96 ERA. Another 2018 trade deadline acquisition in Jhoan Duran (Eduardo Escobar trade) could be someone who the Twins could try. Duran joins Graterol and Alcala as someone in the Twins system who can hit triple digits on the radar gun. He has had a solid season as a starter even though he has struggled since being promoted to Double-A Pensacola with his ERA jumping to 5.29 over three games from 3.23 over 16 at High-A Fort Myers. If he can smooth things out in the next couple weeks the No. 9 prospect by both Twins Daily and MLB Pipeline could join Graterol as an aggressive promotion to the major league pen. If I am the Twins, I believe this is the bullpen I am rolling with going forward. CL Taylor Rogers CL Sam Dyson RHP Sergio Romo RHP Ryne Harper RHP Trevor May RHP Tyler Duffey RHP Brusday Graterol (if Twins stay with a three-man bench) RHP Jhoan Duran or Triple-A rotation This obviously hopes for a Dyson return to form to take some pressure off of Rogers, but Taylor is still the shutdown guy whenever that is needed. The biggest weakness in this pen is that there is still only one lefty. So I wouldn’t hate it if someone wanted to try to shift Martin Perez or Devin Smeltzer into the bullpen. I just don’t know if I am convinced about either of them being great bullpen arms. I would also tread very carefully with Duran, but I am very curious to know how the front office views both him and Graterol. I would hate to mess with either of their developments for a handful of bullpen innings. Let me know how you would construct the Twins bullpen moving forward. Nicely call me crazy if necessary, or high fives are always nice as well. Click here to view the article
  22. Box Score Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 60.7% strikes (62 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Kepler (32), Gonzalez (13) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco, Gonzalez, Adrianza Top 3 WPA: Odorizzi (.300), Arraez (.110), Rogers (.082) Odo inefficient, yet effective Per the FSN broadcast, this was the fourth consecutive start that Odorizzi had thrown 100+ pitches but of the four only his last start versus Atlanta lasted six innings. Part of this is due to Odorizzi’s lack of success the third time through the line up, which seems to be the reason, in most of the cases, he’s been pulled mid- inning, as was the case tonight. Although he struck out six and induced mostly weak contact, Odorizzi also walked four and faced eight three-ball counts while allowing six hits. All that said, he did his job by stranding all nine baserunners and giving the Twins a much needed solid outing from their starter. Twins offense breaks through Despite having only one hit through three innings, the Twins entered the fourth with an xBA of .290 per Baseball Savant. That coupled with an average 92.7 mph exit velocity meant that it was only a matter of time before the balls started falling for hits. With two-outs in the fourth, Garver snuck a ball past Jose Ramirez down the third base line for a double which was then followed by Arraez’s first career triple. Back-to-back singles by Gonzalez and Adrianza made the game 2-0 before C.J. Cron was thrown out at the plate for the third out. After lead off home runs in the fifth and seventh innings by Kepler and Gonzalez, respectively, the Twins took a 4-1 lead. Other notes Puig’s 455 foot home run was Sergio Romo’s first run given up in his last 16 innings The Indians finished with eight hits, despite an xBA of .222, per Baseball Savant Twins were 3-for-3 with RISP while the Indians were just 1-for-12 and left 20 runners on base Per FSN broadcast, this was Taylor Rogers seventh save of six or more outs this year Twins are now 6-6 versus the Indians this year and 27-30 against teams at or above .500 This was a much needed win for the Twins who have now gone 2-4 during a week many touted as the most important of their season. They will look to secure a series tie on Sunday and move the lead back to two games over the Indians as Berrios draws the start. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1160412638330806272 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  23. The Twins and Indians faced off in the third game of their four-game series that was delayed by two hours because of the rain on Saturday night. Jake Odorizzi provided the Twins with six solid innings, while Adam Plutko rolled through three innings on 40 pitches before the Twins hit him hard for two runs in the fourth. Minnesota prevailed, winning 4-1.Box Score Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 60.7% strikes (62 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Kepler (32), Gonzalez (13) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco, Gonzalez, Adrianza Top 3 WPA: Odorizzi (.300), Arraez (.110), Rogers (.082) Odo inefficient, yet effective Per the FSN broadcast, this was the fourth consecutive start that Odorizzi had thrown 100+ pitches but of the four only his last start versus Atlanta lasted six innings. Part of this is due to Odorizzi’s lack of success the third time through the line up, which seems to be the reason, in most of the cases, he’s been pulled mid- inning, as was the case tonight. Although he struck out six and induced mostly weak contact, Odorizzi also walked four and faced eight three-ball counts while allowing six hits. All that said, he did his job by stranding all nine baserunners and giving the Twins a much needed solid outing from their starter. Twins offense breaks through Despite having only one hit through three innings, the Twins entered the fourth with an xBA of .290 per Baseball Savant. That coupled with an average 92.7 mph exit velocity meant that it was only a matter of time before the balls started falling for hits. With two-outs in the fourth, Garver snuck a ball past Jose Ramirez down the third base line for a double which was then followed by Arraez’s first career triple. Back-to-back singles by Gonzalez and Adrianza made the game 2-0 before C.J. Cron was thrown out at the plate for the third out. After lead off home runs in the fifth and seventh innings by Kepler and Gonzalez, respectively, the Twins took a 4-1 lead. Other notes Puig’s 455 foot home run was Sergio Romo’s first run given up in his last 16 inningsThe Indians finished with eight hits, despite an xBA of .222, per Baseball SavantTwins were 3-for-3 with RISP while the Indians were just 1-for-12 and left 20 runners on basePer FSN broadcast, this was Taylor Rogers seventh save of six or more outs this yearTwins are now 6-6 versus the Indians this year and 27-30 against teams at or above .500This was a much needed win for the Twins who have now gone 2-4 during a week many touted as the most important of their season. They will look to secure a series tie on Sunday and move the lead back to two games over the Indians as Berrios draws the start. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  24. Standings Check-In The Twins enter play on Thursday with a three-game lead in the AL Central. At the beginning of June, the Twins were up 10.5 games as Cleveland had squeaked out a .500 record up to that point. By the end of June, Minnesota still had a comfortable eight game lead, but then Cleveland really turned on the heat. The Indians have gone 13-4 in July with two of their losses coming against the Twins. Some will point to Cleveland’s recent opponents as the reasons for their success, but they are winning the games in front of them. According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have a 96.2% chance of making the playoffs and a 90.9% chance of winning the division. They put Cleveland’s odds at 9.1% to win the division and 41.1% to make the playoffs. Also, the site projects Minnesota’s best possible record as 104-58 and their worst record as 91-71. On the flip side, Cleveland’s best record is projected as 96-66 and their worst record could be 83-79. Cleveland’s best and Minnesota’s worst would put the Twins back into the AL Wild Card Game. Cleveland currently sits in the first Wild Card spot with Oakland trailing by one game. Twins fans saw how good Oakland has been in their recent match-up and the A’s have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Boston and Tampa Bay sit two games behind the A’s, which means the Twins are six games up from being on the outside looking in. Multiple Weaknesses Minnesota has been running through a steady group of relievers from Rochester over the last couple weeks. This comes on the heels of the club parting ways with Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota cleared multiple roster spots without making any immediate additions to the bullpen. Cody Stashak made his MLB debut last night and he might have been the most effective Twins pitcher in a crazy game. Other players like Lewis Thorpe and Kohl Stewart are also getting some relief opportunities. Twins relievers have seen some struggles in recent weeks albeit it has come against some strong opponents. Trevor May has given up multiple leads with some hanging breaking balls that ended up over the fence. He was even asked to pitch over 50 pitches in one game. On Thursday, Blake Parker was designated for assignment or release. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have also had some blemishes on their record as of late. Even the team’s best reliever, Taylor Rogers, has seen some leads slip through his hands. Realistically, the bullpen needs some help and Rochester might not have the pieces the team needs. The bullpen hasn’t been Minnesota’s only weakness. Fans have been frustrated with the Twins inability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded. Twins batters have combined for an .820 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, the club has had 91 at-bats with the bases loaded this season while hitting .195/.213/.286 with only four extra-base hits. There seems to be some kind of hang-up when three men are on base instead of just having runners in scoring position. Looming Trade Deadline Minnesota could address some of their issues through trades in the next seven days. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey joined Darren Wolfson on his podcast to discuss the upcoming trade deadline. This year’s deadline is different since team’s cant make waiver trades after July 31. Falvey believes there will be a flurry of moves right before the deadline. Minnesota has given some consideration to being the first team to pull the trigger on a big trade, but that likely would mean the team is going to have to overpay to set the market. Falvey went on to say, the Twins are interested in improving “overall pitching depth.” This could be starters, relievers or maybe the team can get creative. He mentioned, “If there are ways to add to our starting rotation, our pitching depth, is there a way to add to the bullpen at the same time?” Fans might not want to hold out for any blockbuster trade. He believes the team is most likely looking for “supplements” to the current roster. If the team is going to win this year, it is going to be because of “the group that’s in the clubhouse right now.” To some, that might not exactly be a vote of confidence. However, the Twins need to avoid doing anything brash, because those type of trades can come back to haunt an organization. Do you think there’s a chance the Twins don’t make the playoffs? What would the repercussions be for the organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Byron Buxton’s Not So Secret Value Twins Getting Greatness from Utility Buyer Beware: Avoiding a Chris Archer Trade
  25. Aside from adding Blake Parker, who seemed like a rather marginal upgrade, the Twins really didn’t do much to address the bullpen during the offseason. Instead they extended Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler and made several key offensive additions). Rather than adding any big-named, high-priced relievers, the Twins have chosen to roll with minor league free agent signings and their own internal candidates. In some cases it worked remarkably well (as expected with Taylor Rogers and somewhat surprisingly with Ryne Harper), others have been serviceable but haven’t quite taken the step forward that we would have hoped (Trevor May), and some have been a disaster (Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger). The Twins have relied upon the Rochester/Minneapolis shuttle and found some useful pieces, most recently in Zack Littell. Tyler Duffey has also been pretty good for the most part and Devin Smeltzer, Kohl Stewart, and Sean Poppen have provided some useful outings, both starting and in relief. The bullpen is currently sixth in the American League in ERA and first in WPA (Thanks Taylor Rogers!). Although the Twin’s bullpen has been surprisingly effective this year, I don’t think anyone would argue that they couldn’t use at least one more late-inning shut-down reliever along with a quality middle reliever, preferably a lefty. However, not jumping in to make a big off-season reliever signing or two is looking more and more prudent. A quick glance at the stat lines of the top free agent relievers will show how inconsistent the signings were, Well, outside of the Yankees, unfortunately. In general, signing free agent relievers seems to be a crapshoot, as the past couple of seasons have shown. Even with the somewhat suppressed contract amounts of the last two seasons, staying clear of the FA reliever market was shrewd in that Twins avoided the burden of being committed to a potentially ineffective reliever for multiple years. This of course saves the Twins money, but more importantly it keeps them from feeling an obligation to continue running out an ineffective reliever because of money owed, as it is much easier to cut a player who isn’t tied to a large salary (as we’ve seen recently with Matt Magill and Mike Morin). It also makes it more palatable to take on added salary in a trade, whether starter or reliever. This brings us to the potential beauty of the Twins’ plan, if it is in fact their plan. If they do decide to add relievers through trades they have a much better idea of what they are getting than they would through free agency. The Twins are obviously closely monitoring potential trade targets and are aware of how relievers have pitched recently. Although there is always the risk that a player could regress for the remainder of the regular season and/or in the postseason, the odds are certainly lower than that of an off-season acquisition. Plus, relievers who have some years of team control left tend to be younger and therefore less likely for regression than more volatile, older free agents through the remainder of their time with the Twins. Waiting gives the Twins the advantage of seeing the direction in which the potential trade target is trending. They have the luxury of going after the hot hand(s). The Twins are in a great position to make some trades. With a stacked farm system, the Twins can afford to part with a few quality prospects to go after a high-quality reliever or two with some years of team control left, and/or go after upcoming free agents without giving up any top prospects. Falvey and Levine have done a nice job of building the farm system and definitely place a high value on prospects. They undoubtedly have a notion of which prospects are untouchable and seem unlikely to needlessly give away prospects. The front office seems keen to keep the best long- term interests of the team intact (as they should), but with a first place team they are almost obligated to strengthen the pen through some trades. Whether or not this is something the front office cleverly plotted out or just fell into. That is, staying away from free agent relievers, testing/developing internal options, and waiting to make a trade or two (or three) appears ingenious in hindsight. We’ll find out soon enough.
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