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  1. Not much went right for the Twins during the 2021 campaign. Injuries and pitching issues were just some of the problems that pushed the Twins to the bottom of the AL Central. So, what went wrong with the 2021 Twins? When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Every season in baseball history, some players have underperformed. Most of the Minnesota Twins' roster fits into this category in 2021, but who are the top candidates to bounce back? Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? 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 View full article
  3. When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? 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
  5. Plenty has gone wrong for the Twins during the 2021 season, and these players have been adding to the trouble. Which Twins have been the least valuable so far in 2021? WAR According to FanGraphs, the Twins have four players that have accumulated a negative WAR total in 2021. Gilberto Celestino ranks lowest with a -0.7 WAR, but that was expected for a player forced into the big leagues before he had significant time in the high minors. Brent Rooker is just slightly negative at -0.1 WAR, with most of his negative value coming on the defensive side of the ball. The other two players with negative WAR are polarizing for Twins fans. Willians Astudillo and Andrelton Simmons are tied with -0.5 WAR, but their path to those totals is entirely different. Simmons posts strong defensive numbers, and his offense has been atrocious. His -23.0 OFF ranking is the lowest on the team, and it’s more than double the next closest player. Astudillo doesn’t have a perfect defensive home, and his offensive skills are limited. He even has a negative WAR as a relief pitcher. On the mound, Matt Shoemaker accumulated a negative WAR in his time as a starter (-0.2 WAR) and as a reliever (-0.5 WAR). Griffin Jax, Beau Burrows, and Andrew Albers are all tied with a -0.3 WAR among players classified as starters. Minnesota’s bullpen has been a mess as 12 players have a negative WAR total. Randy Dobnak, Brandon Waddell, Hansel Robles, and Edgar Garcia all have a -0.3 WAR as relievers. WPA Four Twins players have accumulated a Win Probability Added of more than -0.75. Andrelton Simmons has been worth -3.03 WPA, which is the team’s lowest total. Trevor Larnach ranks the second lowest (-1.78 WPA), with all his negative value coming on the defensive side. Miguel Sano (-1.44), Willians Astudillo (-1.48), and Ryan Jeffers (-1.59) round out the bottom five when it comes to WPA among position players. Among pitchers, J.A. Happ was worth -1.87 WPA during his Twins tenure, and the Twins were still able to get something for him at the trade deadline. Randy Dobnak is in the middle of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. His -1.42 WPA is the second-worst and ranks just below Griffin Jax (-1.23 WPA) and Alex Colome (-1.26 WPA). Surprisingly, Matt Shoemaker only has the tenth worst WPA among Twins pitchers. Ranking the Top-5 Least Valuable Twins 5. Willians Astudillo: He can certainly be entertaining, and his relief appearances have added some fun to a disappointing season. Overall, his lack of defensive home and low offensive ceiling put him on this list. 4. J.A. Happ: In 19 starts for the Twins, he accumulated a 6.20 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings. Minnesota’s lack of pitching depth meant they had to keep trotting him out there. 3. Alex Colome: Colome would have topped this list in the early part of the season. However, he has been better lately (Editor's Note: For instance, he has recorded saves in four straight games), but it doesn’t take away from his disastrous start to the season. 2. Matt Shoemaker: Shoemaker didn’t cut it as a starter or a reliever. He claimed the Twins tried to make some adjustments during spring training that hurt his performance. 1. Andrelton Simmons: He ranks among baseball’s best defensive shortstops, which shows how inept his offense has been this year. His 57 OPS+ is 18 points lower than his previous career low. How would you rank these 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 View full article
  6. WAR According to FanGraphs, the Twins have four players that have accumulated a negative WAR total in 2021. Gilberto Celestino ranks lowest with a -0.7 WAR, but that was expected for a player forced into the big leagues before he had significant time in the high minors. Brent Rooker is just slightly negative at -0.1 WAR, with most of his negative value coming on the defensive side of the ball. The other two players with negative WAR are polarizing for Twins fans. Willians Astudillo and Andrelton Simmons are tied with -0.5 WAR, but their path to those totals is entirely different. Simmons posts strong defensive numbers, and his offense has been atrocious. His -23.0 OFF ranking is the lowest on the team, and it’s more than double the next closest player. Astudillo doesn’t have a perfect defensive home, and his offensive skills are limited. He even has a negative WAR as a relief pitcher. On the mound, Matt Shoemaker accumulated a negative WAR in his time as a starter (-0.2 WAR) and as a reliever (-0.5 WAR). Griffin Jax, Beau Burrows, and Andrew Albers are all tied with a -0.3 WAR among players classified as starters. Minnesota’s bullpen has been a mess as 12 players have a negative WAR total. Randy Dobnak, Brandon Waddell, Hansel Robles, and Edgar Garcia all have a -0.3 WAR as relievers. WPA Four Twins players have accumulated a Win Probability Added of more than -0.75. Andrelton Simmons has been worth -3.03 WPA, which is the team’s lowest total. Trevor Larnach ranks the second lowest (-1.78 WPA), with all his negative value coming on the defensive side. Miguel Sano (-1.44), Willians Astudillo (-1.48), and Ryan Jeffers (-1.59) round out the bottom five when it comes to WPA among position players. Among pitchers, J.A. Happ was worth -1.87 WPA during his Twins tenure, and the Twins were still able to get something for him at the trade deadline. Randy Dobnak is in the middle of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. His -1.42 WPA is the second-worst and ranks just below Griffin Jax (-1.23 WPA) and Alex Colome (-1.26 WPA). Surprisingly, Matt Shoemaker only has the tenth worst WPA among Twins pitchers. Ranking the Top-5 Least Valuable Twins 5. Willians Astudillo: He can certainly be entertaining, and his relief appearances have added some fun to a disappointing season. Overall, his lack of defensive home and low offensive ceiling put him on this list. 4. J.A. Happ: In 19 starts for the Twins, he accumulated a 6.20 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings. Minnesota’s lack of pitching depth meant they had to keep trotting him out there. 3. Alex Colome: Colome would have topped this list in the early part of the season. However, he has been better lately (Editor's Note: For instance, he has recorded saves in four straight games), but it doesn’t take away from his disastrous start to the season. 2. Matt Shoemaker: Shoemaker didn’t cut it as a starter or a reliever. He claimed the Twins tried to make some adjustments during spring training that hurt his performance. 1. Andrelton Simmons: He ranks among baseball’s best defensive shortstops, which shows how inept his offense has been this year. His 57 OPS+ is 18 points lower than his previous career low. How would you rank these 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
  7. Alex Colome blew yet another save in the bottom of the 9th, but Josh Donaldson and Jake Cave both homered in the Twins five-run 10th inning to claim victory! Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO Home runs: Sano (22), Polanco (24), Donaldson (19), Cave (3) Top 3 WPA: Ober (.257), Donaldson (.130) Polanco (.118) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Miguel Sano Hits Longest Home Run in MLB This Season Last week Miguel Sano blasted a 475 foot bomb as part of the Twins extra inning win against Cleveland. At the time, it was the longest home run hit by a Minnesota Twin this season. Well... Sano wasn’t content with just having the Twins longest home run of the season, he wanted more and tonight he did just that as he blasted a 495 foot home run not just over the monster, but the billboards at the back of the deepest part of the monster. Truly a majestic home run that you need to see to believe. Jorge Polanco Hits 24th Home Run of the Season After failing to come through with bases loaded and just one out in the second, Jorge Polanco redeemed himself in his next at-bat. With one on and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Polanco became the second Twins hitter in as many innings to take Nick Pivetta deep. Bailey Ober Has Another Strong Outing While Griffin Jax has gotten more recognition for his performance of late, Bailey Ober has quietly been very good over the past month as he carried a 2.81 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday night’s game. Those numbers only continued to improve after Ober went five shutout innings against the Red Sox. Tonight’s outing was as impressive as any he has made in his young Major League career. The only inning where the Red Sox put together a scoring threat was in the third. Christian Vasquez got the threat started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout from Enrique Hernandez. Kyle Schwarber then came through with a two-out hit, but poor baserunning from Vasquez caused him to be held up a third. This was the second chance Bailey Ober needed, as he got Xander Bogaerts to fly out to right to end the threat. Alex Colome Blows Yet Another Save If there has been one single theme to this disappointing season from the Twins, it has been Alex Colome blowing save after save. It started from day one and it hasn’t stopped as he blew yet another great performance from his teammates that should have led to a Twins 4-2 victory. Instead, he gave up this game-tying two-run blast to Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the ninth. Colome then gave up a single and a walk to put the winning run on second base with still nobody out. However, he was able to work out of the jam and send this game to extra innings. Donaldson and Cave Go Yard in the 10th Just when all hope seemed lost, the Twins bats took back the lead with a five-run 10th inning. The inning got started with a two-run home run from Josh Donaldson. While those two runs were nice, it hardly felt like a safe lead for the Twins to hold in the bottom of the inning. Luckily, the Twins were not done hitting. With two outs in the inning, Rob Refsnyder got on base with a line drive single to center. Ryan Jeffers followed by getting hit by his second pitch of the game, setting the stage for Jake Cave who crushed a no-doubter over the bullpen in right, giving the Twins a much more comfortable 9-4 lead. Ralph Garza gave up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, but the Twins won 9-6. Bullpen Usage Chart THURS FRI SAT TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 109 0 0 0 109 Minaya 0 16 0 30 0 46 Albers 63 0 0 0 0 63 García 0 0 28 0 0 28 Gant 61 0 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 0 0 31 0 24 55 Barraclough 0 46 0 0 4 50 Duffey 0 0 0 19 9 33 Colomé 0 0 0 0 20 0 Coulombe 19 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 0 0 14 22 23 What's Next? The Twins will face the Red Sox in Game 3 of the series on Thursday night. John Gant is the scheduled Twins pitcher, and he will square off against Chris Sale. Post Game Interviews View full article
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO Home runs: Sano (22), Polanco (24), Donaldson (19), Cave (3) Top 3 WPA: Ober (.257), Donaldson (.130) Polanco (.118) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Miguel Sano Hits Longest Home Run in MLB This Season Last week Miguel Sano blasted a 475 foot bomb as part of the Twins extra inning win against Cleveland. At the time, it was the longest home run hit by a Minnesota Twin this season. Well... Sano wasn’t content with just having the Twins longest home run of the season, he wanted more and tonight he did just that as he blasted a 495 foot home run not just over the monster, but the billboards at the back of the deepest part of the monster. Truly a majestic home run that you need to see to believe. Jorge Polanco Hits 24th Home Run of the Season After failing to come through with bases loaded and just one out in the second, Jorge Polanco redeemed himself in his next at-bat. With one on and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Polanco became the second Twins hitter in as many innings to take Nick Pivetta deep. Bailey Ober Has Another Strong Outing While Griffin Jax has gotten more recognition for his performance of late, Bailey Ober has quietly been very good over the past month as he carried a 2.81 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday night’s game. Those numbers only continued to improve after Ober went five shutout innings against the Red Sox. Tonight’s outing was as impressive as any he has made in his young Major League career. The only inning where the Red Sox put together a scoring threat was in the third. Christian Vasquez got the threat started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout from Enrique Hernandez. Kyle Schwarber then came through with a two-out hit, but poor baserunning from Vasquez caused him to be held up a third. This was the second chance Bailey Ober needed, as he got Xander Bogaerts to fly out to right to end the threat. Alex Colome Blows Yet Another Save If there has been one single theme to this disappointing season from the Twins, it has been Alex Colome blowing save after save. It started from day one and it hasn’t stopped as he blew yet another great performance from his teammates that should have led to a Twins 4-2 victory. Instead, he gave up this game-tying two-run blast to Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the ninth. Colome then gave up a single and a walk to put the winning run on second base with still nobody out. However, he was able to work out of the jam and send this game to extra innings. Donaldson and Cave Go Yard in the 10th Just when all hope seemed lost, the Twins bats took back the lead with a five-run 10th inning. The inning got started with a two-run home run from Josh Donaldson. While those two runs were nice, it hardly felt like a safe lead for the Twins to hold in the bottom of the inning. Luckily, the Twins were not done hitting. With two outs in the inning, Rob Refsnyder got on base with a line drive single to center. Ryan Jeffers followed by getting hit by his second pitch of the game, setting the stage for Jake Cave who crushed a no-doubter over the bullpen in right, giving the Twins a much more comfortable 9-4 lead. Ralph Garza gave up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, but the Twins won 9-6. Bullpen Usage Chart THURS FRI SAT TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 109 0 0 0 109 Minaya 0 16 0 30 0 46 Albers 63 0 0 0 0 63 García 0 0 28 0 0 28 Gant 61 0 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 0 0 31 0 24 55 Barraclough 0 46 0 0 4 50 Duffey 0 0 0 19 9 33 Colomé 0 0 0 0 20 0 Coulombe 19 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 0 0 14 22 23 What's Next? The Twins will face the Red Sox in Game 3 of the series on Thursday night. John Gant is the scheduled Twins pitcher, and he will square off against Chris Sale. Post Game Interviews
  9. Offense has been down across baseball this year as pitchers have dominated for much of the 2021 campaign. This can be directly related to an increase in pitch velocity, movement, and spin rates. Some of these increases are tied to sticky substances used by pitchers to increase their control and spin rate. Minnesota’s pitchers haven’t been taking advantage of this decrease in offense, so how does spin rate factor into their results? Starting in 2020, Statcast posted an active spin leaderboard, which can also include an active spin %. They offer a longer explanation at their site, but the nuts-and-bolts description is the spin that contributes to movement including up or down and side to side. Twins Four-seam Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Hansel Robles (99 %), Cody Stashak (98 %), Alex Colome (97 %) Currently, Robles ranks as the player getting the 12th most active spin on his four-seam fastball. Batters have posted a .200 BA and a .360 SLG when facing this pitch, which are far superior to the numbers he saw last year (.355 BA, .742 SLG). Stashak’s fastball hasn’t been as effective this year and he has switched to using his slider more than his four-seamer. Colome uses his cutter almost twice as much as his four-seamer, but opponents have combined for a .500 SLG when getting a fastball to hit. Twins Changeup Leaderboard (Active Spin %) J.A. Happ (98 %), Jose Berrios (95%), Hansel Robles (94%) For the second consecutive season, Happ is using his changeup less often, but opponents are hitting about 90 points lower against this pitch. Berrios has been known for the movement on his pitches since he was an amateur so it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to multiple pitches in his repertoire. Berrios uses his changeup mainly against lefties as batters have posted a .636 SLG against it so far in 2021. Robles uses his changeup 44% of the time and he has generated a 26% Whiff% with this pitch. Twins Slider Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Taylor Rogers (43%), Caleb Thielbar (42%), Jorge Alcala (32%) Even though these are the leaders on the Twins, none of these pitchers rank in the top-100 compared to the rest of baseball. Rogers and his lanky frame/delivery make for a slider that is tough for both righties and lefties in the batter’s box. For the first time in his career, Rogers is using his slider more than his sinker. Alcala ranks well on the Twins, and he might be the team’s closer of the future if he can continue to develop another pitch. Twins Sinker Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Jose Berrios (95%), Taylor Rogers (95%), Matt Shoemaker (92%) At this point, Minnesota fans might want to avoid any leaderboard with Matt Shoemaker. However, Berrios and Rogers have been two of the most consistent Twins pitchers this season as they rank near baseball’s top-30 in this category. Also, Berrios has seen increased sinker usage in each of the last two seasons. Batters posted a .561 SLG against Rogers’ sinker last season and he has improved that number by nearly 160 points in 2021. The Twins don’t have a pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer that rely heavily on spin to be effective. Maybe this crackdown will help level the playing field for Twins pitchers and batters. Will baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances impact the Twins? 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
  10. Major League Baseball is in a bit of a self-made crisis when it comes to pitchers and their use of substances to generate spin. With baseball starting to crack down, are the Twins not using enough spin to try and win? Offense has been down across baseball this year as pitchers have dominated for much of the 2021 campaign. This can be directly related to an increase in pitch velocity, movement, and spin rates. Some of these increases are tied to sticky substances used by pitchers to increase their control and spin rate. Minnesota’s pitchers haven’t been taking advantage of this decrease in offense, so how does spin rate factor into their results? Starting in 2020, Statcast posted an active spin leaderboard, which can also include an active spin %. They offer a longer explanation at their site, but the nuts-and-bolts description is the spin that contributes to movement including up or down and side to side. Twins Four-seam Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Hansel Robles (99 %), Cody Stashak (98 %), Alex Colome (97 %) Currently, Robles ranks as the player getting the 12th most active spin on his four-seam fastball. Batters have posted a .200 BA and a .360 SLG when facing this pitch, which are far superior to the numbers he saw last year (.355 BA, .742 SLG). Stashak’s fastball hasn’t been as effective this year and he has switched to using his slider more than his four-seamer. Colome uses his cutter almost twice as much as his four-seamer, but opponents have combined for a .500 SLG when getting a fastball to hit. Twins Changeup Leaderboard (Active Spin %) J.A. Happ (98 %), Jose Berrios (95%), Hansel Robles (94%) For the second consecutive season, Happ is using his changeup less often, but opponents are hitting about 90 points lower against this pitch. Berrios has been known for the movement on his pitches since he was an amateur so it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to multiple pitches in his repertoire. Berrios uses his changeup mainly against lefties as batters have posted a .636 SLG against it so far in 2021. Robles uses his changeup 44% of the time and he has generated a 26% Whiff% with this pitch. Twins Slider Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Taylor Rogers (43%), Caleb Thielbar (42%), Jorge Alcala (32%) Even though these are the leaders on the Twins, none of these pitchers rank in the top-100 compared to the rest of baseball. Rogers and his lanky frame/delivery make for a slider that is tough for both righties and lefties in the batter’s box. For the first time in his career, Rogers is using his slider more than his sinker. Alcala ranks well on the Twins, and he might be the team’s closer of the future if he can continue to develop another pitch. Twins Sinker Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Jose Berrios (95%), Taylor Rogers (95%), Matt Shoemaker (92%) At this point, Minnesota fans might want to avoid any leaderboard with Matt Shoemaker. However, Berrios and Rogers have been two of the most consistent Twins pitchers this season as they rank near baseball’s top-30 in this category. Also, Berrios has seen increased sinker usage in each of the last two seasons. Batters posted a .561 SLG against Rogers’ sinker last season and he has improved that number by nearly 160 points in 2021. The Twins don’t have a pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer that rely heavily on spin to be effective. Maybe this crackdown will help level the playing field for Twins pitchers and batters. Will baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances impact the Twins? 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 View full article
  11. 3. Trusting the Bullpen Castoffs Wes Johnson has done some amazing things with bullpen arms in the past and the Twins entered 2021 thinking that he would be able to replicate these results with a new group of bullpen castoffs. Now it’s the beginning of June and Minnesota has rotated through Shaun Anderson, Derek Law, Juan Minaya, and Brandon Waddell. There were some big shoes to fill in the bullpen (see below), but all these new additions faced struggles. From season’s start, almost nothing seemed to work when it came to the bullpen. It’s also tough to adequately assess relievers when they have such a small sample size of work. It also didn’t help that Randy Dobnak was pushed from the rotation and didn’t really find success in a relief role. One light at the end of the tunnel might be Luke Farrell as he is the lone bullpen castoff that has found success. However, it might be too little, too late for Minnesota this year. 2. Signing Alex Colome Minnesota lost multiple bullpen arms during the winter and there needed to be some replacements found for Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Matt Wisler. None of these players have shined with their new teams. Clippard is on the 60-day injured list with a shoulder issue. Both Romo and Wisler have ERAs north of 5.80. May’s strikeout numbers have dropped, and he has the highest WHIP since his rookie season. Needless to say, relief pitchers can be fickle especially on the heels of a shortened 2020 campaign. Colome looked like a savvy signing at the time as he was coming off two tremendous seasons in Chicago. In 83 1/3 innings, he had a 2.27 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and 42 saves. Overall, the results were certainly there since he moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2016. Maybe the White Sox knew a little bit more about Colome’s current situation as they let him go after two tremendous seasons. Minnesota certainly hasn’t seen the previous version of Colome this season. He has a -2.24 win probability added (WPA), which means he’s cost the Twins over two wins so far this season. Also, he has the lowest WAR in baseball among relief pitchers. Things have gone better recently as he has posted a 3.09 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings since the start of May. During that stretch, he has still provided negative WPA and it’s not like the Twins have a lot of other bullpen options. 1. Signing Matt Shoemaker The Matt Shoemaker experience has been a rough one and it seems likely that his time with the Twins will quickly be coming to an end. He leads the American League in losses and earned runs. Among AL starters with more than 50 innings pitched, he is the only pitcher with a negative WAR total for the year. Unfortunately, the Twins have six pitchers currently on the IL including starters like Kenta Maeda, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer so the club has to keep him around for depth. Entering the season, he had a 3.86 career ERA, but he had been limited to 18 starts since the end of 2017. His list of injuries including multiple forearm injuries, a torn ACL, shoulder inflammation, and a fractured skull from a line drive off his head. Injuries haven’t been the issue this year as he already pitched more innings than his totals in each of the last three years. It’s not as if a lot was expected from Shoemaker. He was signed for $2 million and was coming of a string of significant injury issues over the last several years. There were signs of hope as his fastball velocity increased last year and his sinker and splitter were improving. Obviously, those things haven’t worked out like the front office had planned. How would you rank the Twins offseason mistakes? 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
  12. Something went wrong with Minnesota’s offseason blueprint in 2021. There is plenty of blame to be shared, but here are the Twins top three offseason mistakes. 3. Trusting the Bullpen Castoffs Wes Johnson has done some amazing things with bullpen arms in the past and the Twins entered 2021 thinking that he would be able to replicate these results with a new group of bullpen castoffs. Now it’s the beginning of June and Minnesota has rotated through Shaun Anderson, Derek Law, Juan Minaya, and Brandon Waddell. There were some big shoes to fill in the bullpen (see below), but all these new additions faced struggles. From season’s start, almost nothing seemed to work when it came to the bullpen. It’s also tough to adequately assess relievers when they have such a small sample size of work. It also didn’t help that Randy Dobnak was pushed from the rotation and didn’t really find success in a relief role. One light at the end of the tunnel might be Luke Farrell as he is the lone bullpen castoff that has found success. However, it might be too little, too late for Minnesota this year. 2. Signing Alex Colome Minnesota lost multiple bullpen arms during the winter and there needed to be some replacements found for Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Matt Wisler. None of these players have shined with their new teams. Clippard is on the 60-day injured list with a shoulder issue. Both Romo and Wisler have ERAs north of 5.80. May’s strikeout numbers have dropped, and he has the highest WHIP since his rookie season. Needless to say, relief pitchers can be fickle especially on the heels of a shortened 2020 campaign. Colome looked like a savvy signing at the time as he was coming off two tremendous seasons in Chicago. In 83 1/3 innings, he had a 2.27 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and 42 saves. Overall, the results were certainly there since he moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2016. Maybe the White Sox knew a little bit more about Colome’s current situation as they let him go after two tremendous seasons. Minnesota certainly hasn’t seen the previous version of Colome this season. He has a -2.24 win probability added (WPA), which means he’s cost the Twins over two wins so far this season. Also, he has the lowest WAR in baseball among relief pitchers. Things have gone better recently as he has posted a 3.09 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings since the start of May. During that stretch, he has still provided negative WPA and it’s not like the Twins have a lot of other bullpen options. 1. Signing Matt Shoemaker The Matt Shoemaker experience has been a rough one and it seems likely that his time with the Twins will quickly be coming to an end. He leads the American League in losses and earned runs. Among AL starters with more than 50 innings pitched, he is the only pitcher with a negative WAR total for the year. Unfortunately, the Twins have six pitchers currently on the IL including starters like Kenta Maeda, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer so the club has to keep him around for depth. Entering the season, he had a 3.86 career ERA, but he had been limited to 18 starts since the end of 2017. His list of injuries including multiple forearm injuries, a torn ACL, shoulder inflammation, and a fractured skull from a line drive off his head. Injuries haven’t been the issue this year as he already pitched more innings than his totals in each of the last three years. It’s not as if a lot was expected from Shoemaker. He was signed for $2 million and was coming of a string of significant injury issues over the last several years. There were signs of hope as his fastball velocity increased last year and his sinker and splitter were improving. Obviously, those things haven’t worked out like the front office had planned. How would you rank the Twins offseason mistakes? 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 View full article
  13. This race wasn’t as clear cut as the race for hitters was, and I found it a challenge trying to value starters versus relievers especially between the Pitcher of the Month and the 1st Honorable Mention. Honorable Mention #3: Alex Colomé This honorable mention feels a lot like writing Sano down in my last piece...not great….BUT I felt it was important to recognize Colomé for the marked improvement since March/April. After all, did you know… ...and on top of that he was statistically the worst reliever in all of baseball for the first month of the season. Woof. On the other hand, in the month of May he made 11 appearances only giving up two earned runs and striking out more than one hitter per inning. Unfortunately, some of his metrics (i.e. BB/9 and FIP) don’t really support the improvement so we’ll see how long it lasts. You could argue Michael Pineda or Randy Dobnak deserve a little recognition and that’s where I struggled valuing relievers versus starters, but ultimately neither of those made more than two appearances in the month. Honorable Mention #2: Hansel Robles Aside from the first couple sentences, I feel like I could copy and paste what I said about Colomé right here. Even down to the “I don’t know how long this will last” comment. With only two clean innings in the month, Tom provided us with a new, yet familiar moniker for his appearances. Honestly, you could use the same monker for Colomé and most of the bullpen, but it feels better fitting for Robles given how he ended the month against the Orioles on Monday. What’s worse about Robles is his penchant for walking people has been a career long issue aside from his career year in 2019, and even in the month of May his FIP is more than a run worse than his ERA. I think the best case scenario for Robles and Colomé is that they remain serviceable enough to provide value at the trade deadline, but I wouldn’t count on it. Honorable Mention #1: José Berríos Berríos made a strong case to win the pitcher of the month with his second best start of the year on Memorial Day against the Orioles, but he was pretty subpar in the first half of the month to take the cake. That said, it was great to see Berríos have an efficient and effective outing against one of the worst hitting teams against right handed pitchers. That’s not to diminish his start but to suggest that he did exactly what he needed to on Monday...attack the zone, let them put the ball in-play, and have the defense do the work for you. Consistency has been Berríos biggest issue throughout his career and this month was no different where he had three starts allowing three or more earned runs and three starts earning two or less earned runs. His next start will likely come against the Royals which he faced on May 2nd and got tagged for four runs over six innings. Pitcher of the Month: Taylor Rogers Take out his first two appearances in the first four days of the month and Rogers puts up a 2.53/1.81 ERA/FIP, a 15.2 K/9, and accruing four holds+saves over 10.1 innings pitched. Even considering those first two appearances where he gave up four earned runs in 2.1 innings, he still was my choice for the first Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month. Rogers has had a nice bounce back season in 2020 and that can be at least partially attributed to the location of his sinker. From the GIF above, you can see he has been locating his sinker on the edges of the plate and the results are noticeable. In 2020, batters slugged .561 against the pitch while in this season they are down to .400 and the putaway rate on the pitch has increased by 57% between the last two seasons. What’s more is that Rogers is currently at the 100th percentile in chase rate this year thanks to his command of the zone with that pitch despite his batted ball data being roughly similar over the last two seasons. The Twins still have another year of Rogers after this season, so him coming back to his pre-2020 form is good to see. Congrats to Taylor Rogers on winning the first Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month! 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. After naming Mitch Garver the first Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Hitter of the Month, it is now time to look at the first pitcher who earned the distinguished honor of being recognized by Twins Daily. Come for the award announcement and stay for the debate in the comments! This race wasn’t as clear cut as the race for hitters was, and I found it a challenge trying to value starters versus relievers especially between the Pitcher of the Month and the 1st Honorable Mention. Honorable Mention #3: Alex Colomé This honorable mention feels a lot like writing Sano down in my last piece...not great….BUT I felt it was important to recognize Colomé for the marked improvement since March/April. After all, did you know… ...and on top of that he was statistically the worst reliever in all of baseball for the first month of the season. Woof. On the other hand, in the month of May he made 11 appearances only giving up two earned runs and striking out more than one hitter per inning. Unfortunately, some of his metrics (i.e. BB/9 and FIP) don’t really support the improvement so we’ll see how long it lasts. You could argue Michael Pineda or Randy Dobnak deserve a little recognition and that’s where I struggled valuing relievers versus starters, but ultimately neither of those made more than two appearances in the month. Honorable Mention #2: Hansel Robles Aside from the first couple sentences, I feel like I could copy and paste what I said about Colomé right here. Even down to the “I don’t know how long this will last” comment. With only two clean innings in the month, Tom provided us with a new, yet familiar moniker for his appearances. Honestly, you could use the same monker for Colomé and most of the bullpen, but it feels better fitting for Robles given how he ended the month against the Orioles on Monday. What’s worse about Robles is his penchant for walking people has been a career long issue aside from his career year in 2019, and even in the month of May his FIP is more than a run worse than his ERA. I think the best case scenario for Robles and Colomé is that they remain serviceable enough to provide value at the trade deadline, but I wouldn’t count on it. Honorable Mention #1: José Berríos Berríos made a strong case to win the pitcher of the month with his second best start of the year on Memorial Day against the Orioles, but he was pretty subpar in the first half of the month to take the cake. That said, it was great to see Berríos have an efficient and effective outing against one of the worst hitting teams against right handed pitchers. That’s not to diminish his start but to suggest that he did exactly what he needed to on Monday...attack the zone, let them put the ball in-play, and have the defense do the work for you. Consistency has been Berríos biggest issue throughout his career and this month was no different where he had three starts allowing three or more earned runs and three starts earning two or less earned runs. His next start will likely come against the Royals which he faced on May 2nd and got tagged for four runs over six innings. Pitcher of the Month: Taylor Rogers Take out his first two appearances in the first four days of the month and Rogers puts up a 2.53/1.81 ERA/FIP, a 15.2 K/9, and accruing four holds+saves over 10.1 innings pitched. Even considering those first two appearances where he gave up four earned runs in 2.1 innings, he still was my choice for the first Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month. Rogers has had a nice bounce back season in 2020 and that can be at least partially attributed to the location of his sinker. From the GIF above, you can see he has been locating his sinker on the edges of the plate and the results are noticeable. In 2020, batters slugged .561 against the pitch while in this season they are down to .400 and the putaway rate on the pitch has increased by 57% between the last two seasons. What’s more is that Rogers is currently at the 100th percentile in chase rate this year thanks to his command of the zone with that pitch despite his batted ball data being roughly similar over the last two seasons. The Twins still have another year of Rogers after this season, so him coming back to his pre-2020 form is good to see. Congrats to Taylor Rogers on winning the first Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. I wrote a few days ago on starting pitchers that we are likely to see in the dog days of summer. This of course assumes that the Twins are going to continue down the horrid path that they've gotten off to in the first 40 games of the season, and expiring deals like Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ are moved. The bullpen also contains two names who were brought in on one year deals, one throwing very well, and the other getting off to a horrid start. If someone told you that one would be good and one would be bad, you may not be shocked, but the fact that Robles has outperformed Colome is surprising. If the Twins do decide that they are going to sell, those two will certainly be moved. Some other names like Tyler Duffey or Taylor Rogers could also find themselves being traded, but as I'm writing this I don't foresee it happening. Either way, with injuries, taxing bullpen arms, or relievers not performing, there will be plenty of chances for the Twins brass to bring up some young, intriguing arms. RHP Yennier Cano Cano was signed as an older international free agent in 2018 for 750,000 dollars, just before the international period was about to end. The Twins essentially traded OF Zack Granite to the Rangers for Cano, as 750,000 in international money is what the Twins received in compensation. Cano was ranked as the #2 player in the international class, behind OF Victor Victor Mesa. Cano features a unique three-quarters delivery in which he features a fastball sitting in the mid-90's, topping out at 97 MPH. Cano also features a heavy sinker which induces a lot of ground balls, and works a slider and splitter for strikeouts. Cano is currently in AA Wichita, and has gotten off to a torrid start. At the time of this writing, he's worked 6.2 innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks, and no home runs. Cano is likely going to be called up to Saint Paul in the near future, and if things go well, there is no doubt that the 27 year old will be up with the Twins. Due to his age, the ceiling is limited, but Cano could prove to be a useful middle reliever on a team the could badly use one. RHP Dakota Chalmers Chalmers was acquired as a lottery ticket arm in the 2018 trade that sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A's, after being a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, being signed way over slot at 1.2M. Chalmers battled injury issues early in his career, and received the dreaded Tommy John Surgery in 2018. Due to Chalmers missing much of the 2018 season, the Twins sent Chalmers to the Arizona Fall League in 2019, where things didn't go according to plan. Chalmers made 6 starts, totaling 17.2 IPs, allowing 17 hits and 12 walks. However, Chalmers, who has always had 80 grade stuff, struck out 25 batters. Despite the rough outing in 2019, the Twins added Chalmers to the 40 man roster. Chalmers has continued to work as a starter in 2021 at AA Wichita, but the results still haven't turned around. Chalmers has walked 4 in 8.2 innings, and given up 8 hits, including 4 home runs. Due to Chalmers having 20 or 25 grade control, his chances at starting seem slim to none. Getting Chalmers in the bullpen as an effectively wild pitcher is the best hope for both him and the Twins brass. RHP Tom Hackimer Hackimer is an under the radar pitcher within the Twins organization, not appearing on any top prospect list on any site. However, Hackimer has been a very effective reliever in the minors, largely due to his unique delivery. The Twins righty throws with a submarine type wind-up, which he compares to former Astros reliever Joe Smith. Hackimer doesn't have blow you away type stuff, with a fastball that sits around 90 MPH, topping out at 94 MPH, but due to the spin rate and unique arm angle, it plays faster than it is. He also features a big, sweeping slider that can get right handed hitters out. He is also working on developing a changeup in order to get left handed hitters out more effectively, but it's a work in progress. If Hackimer is ever going to crack the big leagues, at least with the Twins, this is going to be the year he does so. He is not on the 40 man roster as of now, but with the expected trades, the Twins can make a move to get him a look if they feel like he can succeed. Hackimer is currently at AAA Saint Paul, putting up a scoreless 7.1 innings pitched, and 11 strikeouts. During his minor league career, he's thrown 176.1 innings of 2.65 ERA, while striking out 204 batters.
  16. Tuesday night's ugly loss felt like a replay of the same episode with a slightly different script. Alex Colomé, the team's 1A closer coming into the season, had been so inconceivably bad in his first 10 appearances that he was deemed off-limits despite being the most well-rested pitcher in the bullpen. And so, when the Twins reached the ninth inning with a two-run lead, it was closer 1B getting the ball. Naturally, Taylor Rogers gave up two runs, allowing the last-place Rangers to tie the game and force extra innings. Rogers has been the team's best reliever this year but has now given up monster homers while protecting slim leads in back-to-back games. Just the latest in an endless barrage of bullpen misfortunes. These woes of course continued in the 10th, when Brandon Waddell was clobbered for a second straight night to drop the Twins to 0-6 in extra innings. One can quibble with Rocco Baldelli's choice to go with Waddell in that spot, and indeed he was a bad option, but the bottom line is this: they were all bad options. Jorge Alcala has been horrendous against lefties and the team – for whatever reason – doesn't trust him in leverage. Colomé, the bullpen's marquee free agent addition during the offseason, is unusable, but occupying an active roster spot and handcuffing Baldelli. This bullpen is in a dire, dire state. The relief corps is not showing any signs of turning around – quite the contrary. And frankly it's hard to feel like Shaun Anderson or Ian Hamilton or Derek Law or whatever other fringy pickup they made last winter is going to make any significant difference. The Twins have already erased most of their margin for error by banking nonstop losses in the early weeks. They need to take bold action on this bullpen before it's too late. This could mean one (or both) of two things: A: Sign a free agent. Shane Greene is the big remaining name. He inexplicably went unsigned during the offseason, despite posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 90 innings in the past two seasons. Greene has a rep as a righty silencer, which the Twins could very much use. Jon Heyman reported on Sunday that Greene "is having ongoing discussions with multiple teams." https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1388848337139421185 It's an option with its share of appeal. But the 32-year-old Greene isn't an overwhelmingly dominant arm, and bringing him in at this point in the season, hoping he just picks up the ball and quickly assume his top form ... that's a gamble in its own right. The better bet? B: Trade for a bad team's best reliever. It's unusual for trades to happen this early in the season. Buyers almost always opt to wait until the deadline is closer, and asking prices come down. The Twins don't have that luxury. They need to spend what it takes in prospect capital to bring in a difference-maker. The good news is that they've retained almost all of said prospect capital, by passing up any major trades during the winter. It's time for the front office to set aside its value-seeking philosophy and put some of that built-up talent equity to use by making a splash. Waiting until the deadline would be akin to saving your closer until the ninth inning for a save opportunity that may never materialize. At this rate the Twins will be dead in the water by late July. 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. Break the glass. Sound the alarm. Mash the panic button. The Twins have a full-on crisis in their bullpen. They don't have the benefit of time to sort it out internally, or wait for a favorable upgrade opportunity. They need to go get help, now.Tuesday night's ugly loss felt like a replay of the same episode with a slightly different script. Alex Colomé, the team's 1A closer coming into the season, had been so inconceivably bad in his first 10 appearances that he was deemed off-limits despite being the most well-rested pitcher in the bullpen. And so, when the Twins reached the ninth inning with a two-run lead, it was closer 1B getting the ball. Naturally, Taylor Rogers gave up two runs, allowing the last-place Rangers to tie the game and force extra innings. Rogers has been the team's best reliever this year but has now given up monster homers while protecting slim leads in back-to-back games. Just the latest in an endless barrage of bullpen misfortunes. These woes of course continued in the 10th, when Brandon Waddell was clobbered for a second straight night to drop the Twins to 0-6 in extra innings. One can quibble with Rocco Baldelli's choice to go with Waddell in that spot, and indeed he was a bad option, but the bottom line is this: they were all bad options. Jorge Alcala has been horrendous against lefties and the team – for whatever reason – doesn't trust him in leverage. Colomé, the bullpen's marquee free agent addition during the offseason, is unusable, but occupying an active roster spot and handcuffing Baldelli. This bullpen is in a dire, dire state. The relief corps is not showing any signs of turning around – quite the contrary. And frankly it's hard to feel like Shaun Anderson or Ian Hamilton or Derek Law or whatever other fringy pickup they made last winter is going to make any significant difference. The Twins have already erased most of their margin for error by banking nonstop losses in the early weeks. They need to take bold action on this bullpen before it's too late. This could mean one (or both) of two things: A: Sign a free agent. Shane Greene is the big remaining name. He inexplicably went unsigned during the offseason, despite posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 90 innings in the past two seasons. Greene has a rep as a righty silencer, which the Twins could very much use. Jon Heyman reported on Sunday that Greene "is having ongoing discussions with multiple teams." It's an option with its share of appeal. But the 32-year-old Greene isn't an overwhelmingly dominant arm, and bringing him in at this point in the season, hoping he just picks up the ball and quickly assume his top form ... that's a gamble in its own right. The better bet? B: Trade for a bad team's best reliever. It's unusual for trades to happen this early in the season. Buyers almost always opt to wait until the deadline is closer, and asking prices come down. The Twins don't have that luxury. They need to spend what it takes in prospect capital to bring in a difference-maker. The good news is that they've retained almost all of said prospect capital, by passing up any major trades during the winter. It's time for the front office to set aside its value-seeking philosophy and put some of that built-up talent equity to use by making a splash. Waiting until the deadline would be akin to saving your closer until the ninth inning for a save opportunity that may never materialize. At this rate the Twins will be dead in the water by late July. 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
  18. Three offensive explosions became three victories in a week where the Twins finally started to emerge from their profound funk. Much work still lies ahead, but their first series victory in three weeks is a start. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/26 through Sun, 5/2 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 10-16) Run Differential Last Week: +12 (Overall: +3) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central (6.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 21 | CLE 5, MIN 3: Twins Fall to 0-5 in Extras as Colomé Takes 3rd Loss Game 22 | CLE 7, MIN 4: Maeda Can't Find Answers, Slump Drags On Game 23 | MIN 10, CLE 2: Buxton Keys Offense in Dominant Victory Game 24 | MIN 9, KC 1: Pineda Rolls as Kirilloff Breaks Out with 2 HR Game 25 | KC 11, MIN 3: Twins Blown Out as Shoemaker Implodes Game 26 | MIN 13, KC 4: Another Big Day for the Twins Bats NEWS & NOTES Last week in this space, I broke down Minnesota's immense difficulties at catcher, noting that while both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers were looking totally lost, the struggles of the latter were more pressing given his status as a developing 23-year-old player. "The Twins may need to start thinking about how they'll proceed at the catcher position," I wrote, "if they determine Jeffers needs more time in the minors." It took only a few more days, and one more start from Jeffers – he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Cleveland on Monday – for the Twins to decide they'd seen enough. On Friday he was optioned to the alternate site, and replaced by the team's other top catching prospect, Ben Rortvedt. Optioned alongside Jeffers on Friday was Brent Rooker, who has largely struggled during his time with the Twins. Concurrently, JT Riddle and Tzu-Wei Lin were designated for assignment to open space on the 40-man roster for the returns of Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick from COVID-IL. Miguel Sanó is reportedly ready to go with the hamstring that placed him on IL, but the Twins are going to give him a few days to take swings and get his timing back. (To the extent he ever had it to begin with.) He figures to be activated midway through the upcoming week. HIGHLIGHTS How about that Byron Buxton? He wrapped up the greatest month in Twins history with another phenomenal week, highlighted by Wednesday's 5-for-5 explosion in Cleveland. In five games, Buxton went 10-for-21 with two home runs, three doubles, and two stolen bases. TRENDING STORYLINE This team doesn't have the luxury of giving away games right now. The offense shows signs of turning a corner, but Baldelli can't afford to be trotting pitchers out to the mound he can't trust. Which brings us to the names mentioned above. Maeda's not going anywhere, and we'll just have to hope he can find himself in a hurry. Shoemaker, as a one-year signing who looked like a temporary plug to begin with, has a far shorter leash, especially considering how irredeemably bad he's looked. While Dobnak might not be the most appealing replacement at this time, Lewis Thorpe looked good in his spot start a few weeks ago, and we know the club was high on him in spring training. How much longer will they wait to make a move? As for Colomé, it's probably still too early to be thinking about a DFA, but there is certainly some urgency for the Twins to address their bullpen issues and he's clearly the primary culprit. This is a stickier situation than Shoemaker; replacing your closer is obviously tougher than replacing your fifth starter. While Taylor Rogers is now assuming ninth-inning duties, the Twins have key high-leverage innings to backfill. Unfortunately, their minimal margin for error makes it tough to audition uncertain commodities – such as Shaun Anderson, Brandon Waddell, or Ian Hamilton – on the fly. There simply aren't enough low-leverage innings to go around for testing these fringe arms and also accommodating Colomé. You can't count on the continuance of lopsided margins like we saw all weekend against Kansas City. We'll see where the Twins go from here. Trusting the bullpen to fix itself seems unwise. LOOKING AHEAD I can't stress this enough: it is CRUCIAL for the Twins to take advantage of the upcoming soft patch in their schedule. With a full slate in the week ahead, they'll be hosting last-place Texas for four games before traveling to Detroit for three against the lowly Tigers. After that, things get a whole lot tougher and the stakes will be raised considerably: 14 games against the White Sox (6), Cleveland (3), Oakland (3), and Los Angeles (2). We haven't seen the Sox yet but the Twins are thus far 1-6 against the other three clubs. If they can't make some inroads toward .500 in these next seven days, they'll be putting themselves in a very, very precarious position. Of note: On Tuesday, Kyle Gibson makes his return to Target Field as a Ranger. He's riding a hell of a hot streak: 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his past five starts. Gibby has allowed zero home runs all season. Can his former team solve him? MONDAY, 5/3: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Dane Dunning v. RHP Kenta Maeda TUESDAY, 5/4: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP J.A. Happ WEDNESDAY, 5/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kohei Arihara v. RHP Michael Pineda THURSDAY, 5/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jordan Lyles v. RHP Matt Shoemaker FRIDAY, 5/7: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Spencer Turnbull SATURDAY, 5/8: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Jose Urena SUNDAY, 5/9: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Casey Mize 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
  19. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/26 through Sun, 5/2 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 10-16) Run Differential Last Week: +12 (Overall: +3) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central (6.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 21 | CLE 5, MIN 3: Twins Fall to 0-5 in Extras as Colomé Takes 3rd Loss Game 22 | CLE 7, MIN 4: Maeda Can't Find Answers, Slump Drags On Game 23 | MIN 10, CLE 2: Buxton Keys Offense in Dominant Victory Game 24 | MIN 9, KC 1: Pineda Rolls as Kirilloff Breaks Out with 2 HR Game 25 | KC 11, MIN 3: Twins Blown Out as Shoemaker Implodes Game 26 | MIN 13, KC 4: Another Big Day for the Twins Bats NEWS & NOTES Last week in this space, I broke down Minnesota's immense difficulties at catcher, noting that while both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers were looking totally lost, the struggles of the latter were more pressing given his status as a developing 23-year-old player. "The Twins may need to start thinking about how they'll proceed at the catcher position," I wrote, "if they determine Jeffers needs more time in the minors." It took only a few more days, and one more start from Jeffers – he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Cleveland on Monday – for the Twins to decide they'd seen enough. On Friday he was optioned to the alternate site, and replaced by the team's other top catching prospect, Ben Rortvedt. Optioned alongside Jeffers on Friday was Brent Rooker, who has largely struggled during his time with the Twins. Concurrently, JT Riddle and Tzu-Wei Lin were designated for assignment to open space on the 40-man roster for the returns of Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick from COVID-IL. Miguel Sanó is reportedly ready to go with the hamstring that placed him on IL, but the Twins are going to give him a few days to take swings and get his timing back. (To the extent he ever had it to begin with.) He figures to be activated midway through the upcoming week. HIGHLIGHTS How about that Byron Buxton? He wrapped up the greatest month in Twins history with another phenomenal week, highlighted by Wednesday's 5-for-5 explosion in Cleveland. In five games, Buxton went 10-for-21 with two home runs, three doubles, and two stolen bases. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1388486584605896705 Buxton is making the Twins a must-watch even when the team at large has been hard to watch. He's an incredibly dynamic player and an early MVP frontrunner. But up until very recently, he wasn't getting much help. Alex Kirilloff is among those flipping the script for a languishing lineup. Given that he was hitting the ball harder than any Twins hitter, save for Buxton and Nelson Cruz, it felt like only a matter of time until Kirilloff broke through. That happened on Friday night at Target Field, when the rookie launched a pair of home runs against Kansas City, and he added another on both Saturday and Sunday. The big series lifted his OPS from .269 to .726. https://twitter.com/BallySportsNOR/status/1388963101970771968 One thing to note is that Kirilloff has been extremely aggressive at the plate, which has always been his M.O., but you do wonder if it's going to start to catch up with him. Dating back to spring training, he has drawn only two walks in 69 plate appearances. Then again, it's working just fine for his teammate Buxton, who ranks in the 11th percentile for chase rate and BB% but continues to dominate nonetheless. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1388902804517920771 Comparatively speaking, Garver's ongoing struggles were quite a bit more concerning than Kirilloff's. He was 0-for-his-last 17 with 11 strikeouts when he came to the plate for a third time in Cleveland on Wednesday. The catcher proceeded to launch a mammoth home run. Then, he did it again in his next AB. Garver added a three-run blast against the Royals on Sunday, and it was what we'd call a no-doubter. https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1388931880054104064 I'm not going to feel especially confident in Garver until he starts showing some dimensionality in his offensive game – in his past eight contests, he has four hits (three monster home runs and a ground ball single), zero walks, and 12 strikeouts. This all-or-nothing dynamic is very dependent on finding a mistake to destroy, which is not necessarily a sustainable formula. That said, it's good to see him unloading on some baseballs after a lengthy skid. Garver regaining his confidence (and competence) at the plate is especially critical with Jeffers now out of the mix. LOWLIGHTS Midway through March, reigning Cy Young runner-up Kenta Maeda looked more impervious than ever. Having not allowed a run or hit through his first few spring outings, the right-hander expressed concern he was having "too good" of a spring and – with tongue in cheek – yearned for a bit of adversity. In April, he got more than he bargained for. Through five starts, Maeda has a 6.56 ERA, with opponents crushing him to the tune of .350/.391/.641. His past two turns, which saw him surrender 12 earned runs on 16 hits and six homers in 8 ⅔ innings, represent the worst we've seen Maeda in a Twins uniform. In fact, you won't find a worse pair of back-to-back outings in his career. Last year, Maeda gave up six or more hits in only one of his 11 starts This year, he's allowed 6+ hits in every start. Meanwhile, Matt Shoemaker has completely fallen apart after a strong start to his Twins career. The righty gave up just one earned run through his first 11 innings, but has since coughed up an astounding 20 earned runs over 12 innings, with two strikeouts, seven walks, and six home runs allowed. The Twins have lost four straight with him on the mound. Saturday's outing was a nightmare as Shoemaker was obliterated by the Royals for nine runs, and his day ended on a sour note when he failed to back up home plate on overthrow. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1388606757740683264 It's going to be hard to send Shoemaker and his 8.22 ERA out for another start at this point. Unfortunately the top candidate to replace him, Randy Dobnak, has an 8.16 ERA so he's not the most inspiring alternative at this time. And in a further bit of unfortunate news, it'll be a while before either of the Twins' top two pitching prospects are even ready to start making their cases for a look. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1388890802940792832 Meanwhile, a lingering headache in the bullpen won't go away. The Twins are trying their hardest to get Alex Colomé right, but the prized offseason bullpen addition continues to look unusable at every turn. He came in for the 10th inning on Monday against Cleveland and immediately gave up a walk-off homer. The following night, Rocco Baldelli sent him right back out in a lower-leverage "get-right" spot with the Twins trailing by a run in the eighth. Colomé looked perhaps the worst he has all season, laboring through six batters while issuing three walks (one with bases loaded) and an HBP. He appeared in a lower-stakes spot on Saturday, working a scoreless ninth but giving up plenty of hard contact in a blowout loss. Colomé seems incapable of throwing the ball in the zone without hanging it in a batter's wheelhouse. He's getting hit harder than any pitcher in the big leagues. No reliever in MLB history has had a more negative impact through his first 10 appearances with a new team. Truly an epic disaster of a free agent signing, unless Colomé can find a way to reverse course dramatically. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1387219157729480707 TRENDING STORYLINE This team doesn't have the luxury of giving away games right now. The offense shows signs of turning a corner, but Baldelli can't afford to be trotting pitchers out to the mound he can't trust. Which brings us to the names mentioned above. Maeda's not going anywhere, and we'll just have to hope he can find himself in a hurry. Shoemaker, as a one-year signing who looked like a temporary plug to begin with, has a far shorter leash, especially considering how irredeemably bad he's looked. While Dobnak might not be the most appealing replacement at this time, Lewis Thorpe looked good in his spot start a few weeks ago, and we know the club was high on him in spring training. How much longer will they wait to make a move? As for Colomé, it's probably still too early to be thinking about a DFA, but there is certainly some urgency for the Twins to address their bullpen issues and he's clearly the primary culprit. This is a stickier situation than Shoemaker; replacing your closer is obviously tougher than replacing your fifth starter. While Taylor Rogers is now assuming ninth-inning duties, the Twins have key high-leverage innings to backfill. Unfortunately, their minimal margin for error makes it tough to audition uncertain commodities – such as Shaun Anderson, Brandon Waddell, or Ian Hamilton – on the fly. There simply aren't enough low-leverage innings to go around for testing these fringe arms and also accommodating Colomé. You can't count on the continuance of lopsided margins like we saw all weekend against Kansas City. We'll see where the Twins go from here. Trusting the bullpen to fix itself seems unwise. LOOKING AHEAD I can't stress this enough: it is CRUCIAL for the Twins to take advantage of the upcoming soft patch in their schedule. With a full slate in the week ahead, they'll be hosting last-place Texas for four games before traveling to Detroit for three against the lowly Tigers. After that, things get a whole lot tougher and the stakes will be raised considerably: 14 games against the White Sox (6), Cleveland (3), Oakland (3), and Los Angeles (2). We haven't seen the Sox yet but the Twins are thus far 1-6 against the other three clubs. If they can't make some inroads toward .500 in these next seven days, they'll be putting themselves in a very, very precarious position. Of note: On Tuesday, Kyle Gibson makes his return to Target Field as a Ranger. He's riding a hell of a hot streak: 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his past five starts. Gibby has allowed zero home runs all season. Can his former team solve him? MONDAY, 5/3: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Dane Dunning v. RHP Kenta Maeda TUESDAY, 5/4: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP J.A. Happ WEDNESDAY, 5/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Kohei Arihara v. RHP Michael Pineda THURSDAY, 5/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jordan Lyles v. RHP Matt Shoemaker FRIDAY, 5/7: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Spencer Turnbull SATURDAY, 5/8: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Jose Urena SUNDAY, 5/9: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Casey Mize MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Traditional Five-Man Rotation Minnesota is going with a traditional five-man pitching staff to start the 2021 season and they are expected to stick with a five-man rotation for the majority of the season. That doesn’t mean the same five pitchers will occupy the rotation as the innings start to add up. Minnesota signed Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ to add rotational depth, and this is only going to help in a season like the current one. The Twins can use multiple strategies throughout the season to keep the starting staff rested. One option is to have a player skip a start. In this situation, the team can call-up a starter from St. Paul or the team can go with a bullpen game, which has become more common in recent years. There’s also a good chance a starter will need some time on the injured list at some point, so this allows the team to utilize some of their pitching depth. Rotating Relievers After signing an extension this spring, Randy Dobnak has struggled to start the 2021 season by allowing five earned runs in three innings. Obviously, this is a very small sample size, and the Twins are confident in Dobnak finding success this season. He is the natural choice to be the team’s sixth starter if needed, but he isn’t the only reliever that will eat innings this season. Last year, only two Twins relievers threw more than 25 innings and both of those players, Matt Wisler and Tyler Clippard, are no longer with the team. Minnesota has used Alex Colomé for multiple innings this year and that might hint at some of Rocco Baldelli’s strategy this season. The team has also switched to a 14-man pitching staff with the addition of Brandon Waddell, who will help cover more innings. He can also occupy a spot that is sent back and forth between Triple-A and the big-leagues. Options Outside the 26-Man Roster Outside the names mentioned above, there is certainly other options not currently on the 26-man roster. Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer are stretched out to be starters and they can be called on to take over a starting role. Top pitching prospects like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are also expected to make their debuts in 2021. Hopefully, they aren’t needed for extended innings, but they are waiting in the wings. Other names on the 40-man roster include Shaun Anderson, Dakota Chalmers and Bailey Ober. Each of these arms can fit into the bullpen picture at some point this season. There are also other options outside the 40-man roster including this year’s Sire of Fort Myers, Derek Law. The Twins have liked to use a steady stream of players from the minors to supplement the big-league relief core in recent years and that trend will likely continue in 2021. Other Teams’ Strategies Last week, MLB.com ran through the different strategies teams will utilize in 2021. Teams like the Angels, Mariners, and Pirates are all planning on using six-man rotations, but none of these clubs are expected to be fighting for a World Series title. Some teams, like the Dodgers, Rangers, and Tigers are going to use a piggybacking strategy where some starters are used in a traditional manner and other appearances they use multiple starters that follow one another. The Rays utilize openers and bullpen games quite often and that expects to be the case again, especially with Blake Snell and Charlie Morton no longer part of the rotation. A lot of teams will be using a revolving five-man rotation which will include skipped starts and other pitchers filling into the rotation’s fifth spot. Minnesota is penciled into another large group of 10 teams that will use a traditional five-man rotation for as long as it will last, but it’s clear the team will be open to using multiple pitching strategies this year. What strategies will the Twins use to cover 1,458 innings this year? Leave 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
  21. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/5 through Sun, 4/11 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 5-4) Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +21) Standing: T-2nd Place in AL Central Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 4 | MIN 15, DET 6: Cruz Leads Trouncing of Tigers Game 5 | DET 4, MIN 3: Twins Fail to Execute in Extras Game 6 | MIN 3, DET 2: Colomé Holds on for 6-Out Save Game 7 | MIN 10, SEA 2: Twins Treat Returning Fans With Dominant Victory Game 8 | SEA 4, MIN 3: Another Loss in Extra Innings Game 9 | SEA 8, MIN 6: Mariners Score Eight Unanswered Runs NEWS & NOTES It's been a rough go for Brent Rooker. The slugging prospect looked quite good upon arriving in the major leagues last year, but broke his arm on an HBP in just his seventh game. This spring he missed out on a roster spot that many expected him to claim, with left field open, but quickly got his chance when Josh Donaldson went down in the opener. Unfortunately, Rooker just never looked right, going 1-for-11 with six strikeouts before being placed on the Injured List with a cervical strain ahead of Wednesday's game. Brandon Waddell replaced him on the roster, adding a 14th reliever. HIGHLIGHTS It is all coming together for Byron Buxton. We've seen torrid stretches from the center fielder before, but never in his career has he been so visibly confident, casual, and carefree while straight-up obliterating the competition. He looks like a fully-realized Neo in The Matrix right now, seeing ones and zeros. It's magical. Last week Buxton went 10-for-19 with three home runs and three doubles, lifting his seasonal hitting line to a hysterical .481/.548/1.185 while cementing his status as bona fide cleanup hitter. Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz continues to be an astounding offensive force as he approaches age 41. Finally joining the starting lineup with the Twins escaping NL rules, he launched two homers, including a grand slam, in his first start of the season in Detroit. He added another the following day and then went deep on Saturday at Target Field, totaling 11 hits and nine RBIs in six starts for the week. Buxton and Cruz are leading the charge for a lineup that has been locked in and routinely destroying the ball. There have been plenty of promising early signs suggesting the offensive powerhouse of 2019 has returned – in the past week alone, the Twins recorded more runs in a game (15 against Detroit on Monday) and more hits in a game (16 against Seattle on Thursday) than they ever did during the 2020 season. In the early going, these boys are hitting the ball HARD. Pitching continues to be a tremendous positive overall, albeit one that hit a snag with the unraveling midway through Sunday's game. Prior to that, the unit had been nothing short of incredible. Minnesota entered Sunday leading the American League in ERA (2.20), and trailing only Boston and New York in FIP (3.19). The starting pitching especially was exemplary, with an MLB-leading 1.88 ERA. Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, and Michael Pineda all contributed last week with strong showings, and Matt Shoemaker had allowed only one through 11 innings before things went south in the sixth on Sunday. We'll get a couple of looks at J.A. Happ in the week ahead, but so far this rotation has been highly impressive and even better than advertised. Excellent work from Wes Johnson and all involved. LOWLIGHTS Alex Colomé is a problem. The centerpiece of Minnesota's offseason bullpen overhaul has now been directly responsible for two of their four losses. While the blown three-run save in the season opener could be chalked up in part to defensive lapses and bad luck, there's no sugarcoating the meltdown that took place in the ninth inning Sunday, which cost the Twins a game and series against Seattle. Colomé looked flat-out brutal. He faced five hitters, induced zero swinging strikes on 17 pitches, and gave up contact of 99.9+ MPH on three of four balls in play. That includes Kyle Seager's game-winning home run, on a pitch very similar to the back-breaking Christian Yelich drive in Milwaukee: a 90 MPH cutter in the heart of the zone that basically grooved right into the sweet spot of the bat. It was the second consecutive day where Colomé surrendered a late-game lead. On Saturday he gave up a go-ahead single to Seager, on yet another crushable meatball right over the plate. These are frankly inexcusable pitches in key spots and he's been serving them up continually. Of all the front office's offseason moves, the Colomé signing was the one that gave me most pause. As good as his numbers on looked on paper, it was hard not to feel apprehensive about the fact that the White Sox – who watched him achieve near-perfection as closer in 2020 – spent $50 million for his replacement while seemingly making no effort to retain him. Likewise, the rest of the league showed lukewarm interest at best in Colomé, who ended up signing for less than almost anyone expected. It feels like we're quickly seeing why. TRENDING STORYLINE When will Donaldson return? From the sound of it, his activation from IL could be imminent. The Twins described his hamstring strain as "minor" from the start, and sure enough, he was running on treadmills and testing his legs just days after being placed on the shelf. On Sunday he went through a full battery of live baseball activities at the alternate site in St. Paul and reportedly came out of it feeling fine. It sounds like there's a very real chance he'll rejoin the team this week, if not on Monday. With Miguel Sanó, Jorge Polanco, and basically everyone who sets foot in left field failing to do much offensively, the lineup could use JD's boost. LOOKING AHEAD The first full-slate week of the season is on tap, with seven games in seven days. First, the Twins will welcome the Red Sox for four at Target Field. Then it's off to Southern California for three against the Angels. It's unclear whether Shohei Ohtani, who missed his last start with a blister, might be ready to take the mound in one of those contests. MONDAY, 4/12: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Martin Perez v. LHP J.A. Happ TUESDAY, 4/13: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Nathan Eovaldi v. RHP Kenta Maeda WEDNESDAY, 4/14: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Jose Berrios THURSDAY, 4/15: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Garrett Richards v. RHP Michael Pineda FRIDAY, 4/16: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. TBD SATURDAY, 4/17: TWINS @ ANGELS – LHP J.A. Happ v. TBD SUNDAY, 4/11: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. TBD 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. The game outcomes were disappointing in a 3-3 stretch marked by late-game lapses, but the biggest story of the first full week Twins action in 2021 was Byron Buxton and his relentless dominance. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/5 through Sun, 4/11 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 5-4) Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +21) Standing: T-2nd Place in AL Central Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 4 | MIN 15, DET 6: Cruz Leads Trouncing of TigersGame 5 | DET 4, MIN 3: Twins Fail to Execute in ExtrasGame 6 | MIN 3, DET 2: Colomé Holds on for 6-Out SaveGame 7 | MIN 10, SEA 2: Twins Treat Returning Fans With Dominant VictoryGame 8 | SEA 4, MIN 3: Another Loss in Extra InningsGame 9 | SEA 8, MIN 6: Mariners Score Eight Unanswered Runs NEWS & NOTES It's been a rough go for Brent Rooker. The slugging prospect looked quite good upon arriving in the major leagues last year, but broke his arm on an HBP in just his seventh game. This spring he missed out on a roster spot that many expected him to claim, with left field open, but quickly got his chance when Josh Donaldson went down in the opener. Unfortunately, Rooker just never looked right, going 1-for-11 with six strikeouts before being placed on the Injured List with a cervical strain ahead of Wednesday's game. Brandon Waddell replaced him on the roster, adding a 14th reliever. HIGHLIGHTS It is all coming together for Byron Buxton. We've seen torrid stretches from the center fielder before, but never in his career has he been so visibly confident, casual, and carefree while straight-up obliterating the competition. He looks like a fully-realized Neo in The Matrix right now, seeing ones and zeros. It's magical. Last week Buxton went 10-for-19 with three home runs and three doubles, lifting his seasonal hitting line to a hysterical .481/.548/1.185 while cementing his status as bona fide cleanup hitter. It sounds like there's a very real chance he'll rejoin the team this week, if not on Monday. With Miguel Sanó, Jorge Polanco, and basically everyone who sets foot in left field failing to do much offensively, the lineup could use JD's boost. LOOKING AHEAD The first full-slate week of the season is on tap, with seven games in seven days. First, the Twins will welcome the Red Sox for four at Target Field. Then it's off to Southern California for three against the Angels. It's unclear whether Shohei Ohtani, who missed his last start with a blister, might be ready to take the mound in one of those contests. MONDAY, 4/12: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Martin Perez v. LHP J.A. Happ TUESDAY, 4/13: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Nathan Eovaldi v. RHP Kenta Maeda WEDNESDAY, 4/14: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Jose Berrios THURSDAY, 4/15: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Garrett Richards v. RHP Michael Pineda FRIDAY, 4/16: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. TBD SATURDAY, 4/17: TWINS @ ANGELS – LHP J.A. Happ v. TBD SUNDAY, 4/11: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. TBD 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
  23. There's no two ways about it: on paper, Minnesota's bullpen picture is high on risk and low on assurance. Strategizing around a series of rebound performances and coaching-related glow ups, the message being sent to fans by the front office is essentially: trust us, we got this. Frankly, they've earned some faith.Projected Bullpen: Taylor Rogers, Alex Colomé, Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcalá, Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe Depth: Shaun Anderson, Ian Hamilton, Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut Prospects: Jhoan Duran, Edwar Colina, Dakota Chalmers, Josh Winder THE GOOD The top of Minnesota's bullpen is well stocked with proven high-caliber arms. Taylor Rogers (3rd), Tyler Duffey (13th) and newcomer Hansel Robles (19th) all rank among the top 20 major-league relief pitchers in fWAR since 2019. Alex Colomé isn't rated quite as highly by that metric (42nd), but is a more conventionally appealing back-end arm: 15th in ERA, fourth in saves (with a 91% conversion rate), and seventh in Win Probability Added. Backfilling May's overpowering presence, along with the functional reliability of Clippard and Wisler (who ranked first and second among MN relievers in innings pitched), will be a tall task. While the Twins have a large quantity of talented arms for the task, there are legit question marks surrounding most of them. Rogers is coming off a tough year, in which hitters seemingly caught on to his previously baffling repertoire. Robles is trying to rebound from an unmitigated disaster that got him non-tendered by the Angels. Colomé was ditched by the White Sox and generated little demand in free agency, despite the gaudy numbers. It's hard to look at any of these pitchers with the same confidence as Rogers, May and Romo a year ago. THE BOTTOM LINE Great bullpens are requisite for transcendent teams, especially in the modern game. Year after year, when you look at MLB's leading teams in bullpen fWAR, you find clubs that made the playoffs and often made deep runs. (Last year, the Dodgers and Rays ranked first and second, respectively.) The Twins ranked third, for a second consecutive year, and they've achieved all this success by following their own model. They identify impact relievers (often below-the-radar types), develop customized plans, and execute. They've done it time and time again, and for that reason they've earned a good amount of faith. But leaps of faith are definitely required to see this bullpen maintaining the elite level of performance that's now become the norm. They lost a lot of quality during the offseason, and are gambling heavily on their secret sauce in this 2021 bullpen recipe. READ OTHER 2021 POSITION ANALYSIS ARTICLES CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopLeft FieldCenter FieldRight FieldDesignated HitterStarting Pitcher Click here to view the article
  24. Projected Bullpen: Taylor Rogers, Alex Colomé, Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcalá, Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe Depth: Shaun Anderson, Ian Hamilton, Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut Prospects: Jhoan Duran, Edwar Colina, Dakota Chalmers, Josh Winder THE GOOD The top of Minnesota's bullpen is well stocked with proven high-caliber arms. Taylor Rogers (3rd), Tyler Duffey (13th) and newcomer Hansel Robles (19th) all rank among the top 20 major-league relief pitchers in fWAR since 2019. Alex Colomé isn't rated quite as highly by that metric (42nd), but is a more conventionally appealing back-end arm: 15th in ERA, fourth in saves (with a 91% conversion rate), and seventh in Win Probability Added. The team's second tier of relievers also offers plenty of prowess. Jorge Alcalá posted a 2.63 ERA and 10.1 K/9 rate as a rookie in 2020, flashing the potential to join the tier above. Cody Stashak has a 3.15 ERA and 42-to-4 K/BB ratio in 40 major-league innings. Caleb Thielbar put up a 2.25 ERA and 9.9 K/9 rate last year in his triumphant resurgence at age 33. On the fringe of the reliever mix are a number of interesting waiver adds and fixer-upper projects. Names like Shaun Anderson, Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut, Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Juan Minaya and Ian Hamilton give Minnesota considerable depth – all pitchers with some big-league experience and intriguing traits pinpointed by the front office. Given the success we've seen the Twins have with guys like Matt Wisler and Ryne Harper, none of those names can be discounted as potential impact relievers in the coming year. And that's before you get to the prospect pipeline, which packs some serious punch. The Twins have a deep well of relief pitchers, rich with impressive track records, closing experience, and appealing strengths. They'll have a lot of options to get them through a long season, in which much will likely be asked of the bullpen. It's easy to have faith in the people running this ship to keep it sailing smoothly. THE BAD By parting with Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, and Wisler during the offseason, the Twins lost 95 of their 231 bullpen innings from 2020. That's about 40% of the unit's total output, and a much higher share of the high-leverage work. With the help of those key contributors, Minnesota ranked fourth in the American League in bullpen ERA and second in fWAR. Now the relief corps will be looking to build upon that success through major turnover. It's hard to make a case on the surface that the Twins' incoming talent comes anywhere close to matching what exited; those four combined last year for a 2.85 ERA while averaging 11.6 K/9. May, in particular, was a flamethrowing strikeout machine whose dominant edge will be tough to replace. Backfilling May's overpowering presence, along with the functional reliability of Clippard and Wisler (who ranked first and second among MN relievers in innings pitched), will be a tall task. While the Twins have a large quantity of talented arms for the task, there are legit question marks surrounding most of them. Rogers is coming off a tough year, in which hitters seemingly caught on to his previously baffling repertoire. Robles is trying to rebound from an unmitigated disaster that got him non-tendered by the Angels. Colomé was ditched by the White Sox and generated little demand in free agency, despite the gaudy numbers. It's hard to look at any of these pitchers with the same confidence as Rogers, May and Romo a year ago. THE BOTTOM LINE Great bullpens are requisite for transcendent teams, especially in the modern game. Year after year, when you look at MLB's leading teams in bullpen fWAR, you find clubs that made the playoffs and often made deep runs. (Last year, the Dodgers and Rays ranked first and second, respectively.) The Twins ranked third, for a second consecutive year, and they've achieved all this success by following their own model. They identify impact relievers (often below-the-radar types), develop customized plans, and execute. They've done it time and time again, and for that reason they've earned a good amount of faith. But leaps of faith are definitely required to see this bullpen maintaining the elite level of performance that's now become the norm. They lost a lot of quality during the offseason, and are gambling heavily on their secret sauce in this 2021 bullpen recipe. READ OTHER 2021 POSITION ANALYSIS ARTICLES Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base Shortstop Left Field Center Field Right Field Designated Hitter Starting Pitcher
  25. To be clear, the Twins and manager Rocco Baldelli aren’t going to name a closer. As baseball continues to rethink how bullpens can best be utilized, the Twins are going to look at matchups and put their players in the best opportunities to succeed. That being said, the four players below are the likely candidates to be considered the team’s closer. Taylor Rogers, LHP Career Saves: 41 Rogers was one of the most dominant relievers during the 2018 and 2019 seasons as he took over Minnesota’s closer role. Even with struggles last season, his peripheral numbers point to some bad luck leading to his poor performance. His .400 BABIP was over 70 points higher than any other season. Also, his 10.8 SO/9 was his second highest rate of his career. One pitch to keep an eye on is his slider and the results have been good so far this spring. Twins fans can hope he is back to his old self and the rest of the players on this list are used as set-up men leading into Rogers. Alex Colome, RHP Career Saves: 138 Chicago’s loss is Minnesota’s gain as Colome has been one of the best relievers in recent years. He has the most saves of any player on the Twins staff and he won’t shy away from a late-inning role. With uncertainly surrounding other players on this list, Colome seems like the natural choice to pick up most of the team’s save opportunities. However, relief pitchers can be fickle and maybe there is a bigger reason the White Sox let him go. His 6.4 SO/9 mark from last year was his lowest total since becoming a full-time reliever. If Wes Johnson can work his magic, Colome has a chance to be the team’s leader in saves. Tyler Duffey, RHP Career Saves: 1 Duffey was the team’s best relief pitcher in 2020 and the second half of 2019, but he has been given limited save opportunities. One of the reasons he hasn’t gotten those chance is because he has been so successful being used in a fireman role. Because of the other names on this list, he will likely stay in that role. So far this spring, his velocity has been lower than the team might like, but there is still time to figure it out before the team heads north. If he can’t figure it out, the Twins will have to rely on other arms to take over his important innings. https://twitter.com/IAmRickGraham/status/1370476048488529929?s=20 Hansel Robels, RHP Career Saves: 27 Robels struggled in 2020 and that’s one of the reasons the Twins were able to sign him for a relatively cheap deal. Back in 2019, he compiled strong numbers as the Angels primary closer with a 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 9.3 SO/9. Last year, albeit in on 16.2 innings, he allowed 19 earned runs, but he posted a career high 10.8 SO/9. It seems more likely for the players listed above to get the majority of the save opportunities, but Robels has some experience, and the Twins can always turn to him if other relievers are struggling at some point during the season. Who do you think will be considered Minnesota’s primary closer in 2021? 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
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