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  1. The Twins have struggled in adding effective relief pitchers in the past two off-seasons. Here are three next steps that would indicate a change in approach to bullpen building. Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson, USA Today Sports I’d argue that bullpen construction is one of the areas in which Derek Falvey-led Twins front office has consistently failed in executing since taking over in Minnesota. In 2021, the pen was marred by repeated first-half meltdowns from Alexander Colomé. That unit ranked 22nd by fWAR, 21st by FIP, and 16th by K/9 after a second-half recovery. In 2022, Emilio Pagán single-handedly blew a handful of games to eventual AL Central champion Cleveland Guardians. The 2022 unit ranked 20th by fWAR, 14th by FIP, and 12th by K/9. At least a modicum of improvement. Overall, however, this front office has taken the ‘building the plane while flying it approach’ to bullpen construction. While 2022 went as badly as it could for a variety of reasons, most notably player health, here are three trends to look for that might indicate a different approach to bullpen construction in 2023. Shop for Relievers, Earlier than Later This front office has shied away from any spending on relief arms. Prior to 2022, Joe Smith was the lone bullpen addition signed to a major league contract (Pagan was acquired by trade). I’m not advocating for the Twins to put together an Edwin Díaz-type contract for a relief pitcher, but $6-9 million can buy you a lot of arm. This front office typically waits until late in free agency to extract contract value. I’d like to see them add to the bullpen, aggressively, targeting velocity and stuff. The Twins couple easily push toward a top-ten bullpen by raising the floor on what they ran out in 2022, and it shouldn’t cost that much. Stop valuing good contracts over good players. There’s No Such Thing as too Many Options The Twins have several exciting internal options for the bullpen. Matt Canterino, Ronny Henriquez, Blayne Enlow, even Josh Winder. All of these options have something in common, they were either hurt in 2022 or unproven in a bullpen role in 2022. I’d bet that at least one of these names becomes a Griffin Jax type in 2023. That is to say, a solid mid-to-high-end reliever who can work in some mid-to-high leverage situations. If the Twins learned anything in 2023, however, it should be not to count on anyone or anything going to plan. The Twins need to have a semi-established bullpen pecking order by the end of April, not by the All-Star Break. Buy-Low Arms for Depth Only The Twins should never have an arm like Joe Smith in their bullpen if they want to be taken seriously. The best bullpens in MLB are stacked with velocity, movement, and high-caliber arms. The Twins capacity to reach that ceiling is pretty exciting (imagine a back end of Canterino, Alcala, López, and Duran). With that in mind, and learning and building from the best models available (Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, etc.) the Twins should only be bringing in ‘buy-low’ type arms as competition in spring training, and depth throughout the season. If the Twins front office did nothing to the bullpen between now and opening day, the ceiling is high, and the potential is exciting. The observable difference in behavior ahead of 2023 is whether they choose to raise the floor, and account for the unexpected. What changes would you like to see from the front office in how approach building their bullpen ahead of 2023? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts below. View full article
  2. I’d argue that bullpen construction is one of the areas in which Derek Falvey-led Twins front office has consistently failed in executing since taking over in Minnesota. In 2021, the pen was marred by repeated first-half meltdowns from Alexander Colomé. That unit ranked 22nd by fWAR, 21st by FIP, and 16th by K/9 after a second-half recovery. In 2022, Emilio Pagán single-handedly blew a handful of games to eventual AL Central champion Cleveland Guardians. The 2022 unit ranked 20th by fWAR, 14th by FIP, and 12th by K/9. At least a modicum of improvement. Overall, however, this front office has taken the ‘building the plane while flying it approach’ to bullpen construction. While 2022 went as badly as it could for a variety of reasons, most notably player health, here are three trends to look for that might indicate a different approach to bullpen construction in 2023. Shop for Relievers, Earlier than Later This front office has shied away from any spending on relief arms. Prior to 2022, Joe Smith was the lone bullpen addition signed to a major league contract (Pagan was acquired by trade). I’m not advocating for the Twins to put together an Edwin Díaz-type contract for a relief pitcher, but $6-9 million can buy you a lot of arm. This front office typically waits until late in free agency to extract contract value. I’d like to see them add to the bullpen, aggressively, targeting velocity and stuff. The Twins couple easily push toward a top-ten bullpen by raising the floor on what they ran out in 2022, and it shouldn’t cost that much. Stop valuing good contracts over good players. There’s No Such Thing as too Many Options The Twins have several exciting internal options for the bullpen. Matt Canterino, Ronny Henriquez, Blayne Enlow, even Josh Winder. All of these options have something in common, they were either hurt in 2022 or unproven in a bullpen role in 2022. I’d bet that at least one of these names becomes a Griffin Jax type in 2023. That is to say, a solid mid-to-high-end reliever who can work in some mid-to-high leverage situations. If the Twins learned anything in 2023, however, it should be not to count on anyone or anything going to plan. The Twins need to have a semi-established bullpen pecking order by the end of April, not by the All-Star Break. Buy-Low Arms for Depth Only The Twins should never have an arm like Joe Smith in their bullpen if they want to be taken seriously. The best bullpens in MLB are stacked with velocity, movement, and high-caliber arms. The Twins capacity to reach that ceiling is pretty exciting (imagine a back end of Canterino, Alcala, López, and Duran). With that in mind, and learning and building from the best models available (Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, etc.) the Twins should only be bringing in ‘buy-low’ type arms as competition in spring training, and depth throughout the season. If the Twins front office did nothing to the bullpen between now and opening day, the ceiling is high, and the potential is exciting. The observable difference in behavior ahead of 2023 is whether they choose to raise the floor, and account for the unexpected. What changes would you like to see from the front office in how approach building their bullpen ahead of 2023? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts below.
  3. After a second consecutive disappointing season, the Minnesota Twins front office has come under plenty of fire. There is one area in particular, though, where this front office has especially hurt the Twins’ chances. Image courtesy of Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports Matt Shoemaker. J.A. Happ. Alexander Colomé. Chris Archer. Dylan Bundy. Emilio Pagán. Each of these players are veteran pitchers who struggled mightily out of the gate in a Twins’ uniform, yet were given a leash long enough to pitch well into the Summer (in the cases of Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ) or for the entirety of the season (for the rest of the players listed). The Derek Falvey-led front office of the Minnesota Twins has repeatedly shown an affinity for signing aging middle-tier pitchers and a hesitancy to move on from those veteran pitchers, even when those pitchers are performing especially poorly. In 2021, this issue was seen all over the roster. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were giving up 5+ earned runs per start for months and Alexander Colomé was continuously trotted out to the mound to blow game after game. Rather than learning from those mistakes in 2021, Falvey’s propensity for sticking with veterans too long was even more prominent in 2022. Both Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy somehow made it through the entire season on the roster, despite both of them being terrible all season and each finishing with ERAs in the high 4’s. And then there’s Emilio Pagán. We all know of the struggles that Pagán had in 2022, yet he was continuously relied upon in big moments throughout the season, and the Twins suffered mightily as a result. One would think that after the Alexander Colomé disaster of 2021 that Falvey would have learned his lesson, but things only got worse this season, as Pagán finished third on the team in innings pitched despite having the 8th worst win probability added in the American League. The most common rebuttal that I’ve heard from Twins fans defending Derek Falvey for sticking with his veterans is that there were so many injuries that the Twins had no choice but to stick with these guys. The final months of the 2022 season for the Twins, though, proved otherwise. Over the final months of the season, the Minnesota Twins saw impressive debuts from rookies such as Louie Varland, Ronny Henriquez, and Simeon Woods Richardson. They also had other arms in the minors performing well, namely Evan Sisk, who posted a 2.00 ERA over 63 innings in Double-A and Triple-A. Not only were the Minnesota Twins trotting out pitchers day after day that were actively losing them baseball games, but they proved at the end of the year that they had plenty of talent in the minor leagues that could have performed better and also gotten valuable experience they needed as part of the long-term future of this ball club. Looking ahead to free agency of 2023, let’s hope that the Twins front office has finally learned from their mistakes with trusting middle-tier veteran pitchers. Time and time again, we have learned that veteran-ness does not automatically make you a better player and that by giving an opportunity to younger pitchers, you are unlocking opportunity and ceiling that simply isn’t there with the Dylan Bundy’s and Matt Shoemaker’s of the world. View full article
  4. Matt Shoemaker. J.A. Happ. Alexander Colomé. Chris Archer. Dylan Bundy. Emilio Pagán. Each of these players are veteran pitchers who struggled mightily out of the gate in a Twins’ uniform, yet were given a leash long enough to pitch well into the Summer (in the cases of Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ) or for the entirety of the season (for the rest of the players listed). The Derek Falvey-led front office of the Minnesota Twins has repeatedly shown an affinity for signing aging middle-tier pitchers and a hesitancy to move on from those veteran pitchers, even when those pitchers are performing especially poorly. In 2021, this issue was seen all over the roster. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were giving up 5+ earned runs per start for months and Alexander Colomé was continuously trotted out to the mound to blow game after game. Rather than learning from those mistakes in 2021, Falvey’s propensity for sticking with veterans too long was even more prominent in 2022. Both Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy somehow made it through the entire season on the roster, despite both of them being terrible all season and each finishing with ERAs in the high 4’s. And then there’s Emilio Pagán. We all know of the struggles that Pagán had in 2022, yet he was continuously relied upon in big moments throughout the season, and the Twins suffered mightily as a result. One would think that after the Alexander Colomé disaster of 2021 that Falvey would have learned his lesson, but things only got worse this season, as Pagán finished third on the team in innings pitched despite having the 8th worst win probability added in the American League. The most common rebuttal that I’ve heard from Twins fans defending Derek Falvey for sticking with his veterans is that there were so many injuries that the Twins had no choice but to stick with these guys. The final months of the 2022 season for the Twins, though, proved otherwise. Over the final months of the season, the Minnesota Twins saw impressive debuts from rookies such as Louie Varland, Ronny Henriquez, and Simeon Woods Richardson. They also had other arms in the minors performing well, namely Evan Sisk, who posted a 2.00 ERA over 63 innings in Double-A and Triple-A. Not only were the Minnesota Twins trotting out pitchers day after day that were actively losing them baseball games, but they proved at the end of the year that they had plenty of talent in the minor leagues that could have performed better and also gotten valuable experience they needed as part of the long-term future of this ball club. Looking ahead to free agency of 2023, let’s hope that the Twins front office has finally learned from their mistakes with trusting middle-tier veteran pitchers. Time and time again, we have learned that veteran-ness does not automatically make you a better player and that by giving an opportunity to younger pitchers, you are unlocking opportunity and ceiling that simply isn’t there with the Dylan Bundy’s and Matt Shoemaker’s of the world.
  5. A handful of relievers have taken the blame for Minnesota's relief issues this season, but deeper issues compound the problem. Can the Twins solve their bullpen problems before the season's end? Fans focus on relief pitcher performance because of when those pitchers come into a game. In high leverage situations, each pitch has magnified importance on the game's outcome. Relievers also pitch a small number of innings per season, and a small sample size magnifies their flaws. Here are three bullpen issues that have transpired over the last handful of seasons. Strike 1: Sticking with Struggling Veterans During the 2021 season, the Twins signed Alex Colome as a veteran pitcher with a strong track record as a late-inning reliever. Minnesota gave him the bulk of the save opportunities in April, and he proceeded to have one of the worst months of any pitcher in Twins history. He blew three saves while posting an 8.31 ERA and allowing a .952 OPS to opposing batters. The Twins were out of the division race, and Colome's performance was one of the biggest reasons for the team's struggles. It could have been easy for the Twins to cut Colome, but it no longer mattered what he did on a team heading for a last-place finish. After trading Taylor Rogers, Minnesota expected to get crucial innings from veterans like Emilio Pagan, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith. Duffey and Smith struggled significantly, but the team was forced to keep them on the roster until players were acquired at the trade deadline. Pagan continues to get opportunities because he has strong strikeout numbers. However, he has been one of baseball's worst relievers in recent years, and the team has hung on to him for too long. Strike 2: Short Starts Mean More Bullpen Innings Minnesota acquired two veteran pitchers to add to the back of the rotation this season, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. They are tied for the team lead in games started because the Twins have continued to manage their workload. Archer has averaged just over four innings per start, and he has yet to pitch into the sixth inning. Bundy has averaged 4.91 innings per appearance with four starts of six innings or more. This strategy has kept both players on the field but also puts added pressure on the bullpen. Baseball's evolving usage of starters will continue to have long-term effects on how bullpens are structured. Few teams want their starters to face a line-up for the third time, which results in relievers entering the game in the fifth or sixth inning. When this happens, three or four relievers are asked to finish the game. That scenario can work in a team's favor for one game, but the next day there is a domino effect as the bullpen's backend will need to be exposed even if it is a close game. Strike 3: Not Addressing the Bullpen in the Offseason Looking at the Twins' current front office, it is clear that they don't prioritize bullpen acquisitions in the offseason. In 2022, the Twins made Joe Smith their lone free agent addition to the bullpen while also swapping Rogers for Pagan before Opening Day. Last season, Alex Colome and Hansel Robles were acquired on cheap one-year deals, and neither was particularly effective. Luckily, Jhoan Duran emerged as a dominant late-inning option this season, or the team might be in an even more precarious position. Signing free agent relievers is not an exact science. Some top free agent relievers have become strong contributors recently, while others have faded away. Minnesota's front office hasn't prioritized bullpen acquisitions, so the team was forced to address the relief core at the trade deadline. In the long run, the Twins need to adjust their relief pitcher philosophy, or these issues will continue to follow the team in the years ahead. Do you think there are any other problems with the team's bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Fans focus on relief pitcher performance because of when those pitchers come into a game. In high leverage situations, each pitch has magnified importance on the game's outcome. Relievers also pitch a small number of innings per season, and a small sample size magnifies their flaws. Here are three bullpen issues that have transpired over the last handful of seasons. Strike 1: Sticking with Struggling Veterans During the 2021 season, the Twins signed Alex Colome as a veteran pitcher with a strong track record as a late-inning reliever. Minnesota gave him the bulk of the save opportunities in April, and he proceeded to have one of the worst months of any pitcher in Twins history. He blew three saves while posting an 8.31 ERA and allowing a .952 OPS to opposing batters. The Twins were out of the division race, and Colome's performance was one of the biggest reasons for the team's struggles. It could have been easy for the Twins to cut Colome, but it no longer mattered what he did on a team heading for a last-place finish. After trading Taylor Rogers, Minnesota expected to get crucial innings from veterans like Emilio Pagan, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith. Duffey and Smith struggled significantly, but the team was forced to keep them on the roster until players were acquired at the trade deadline. Pagan continues to get opportunities because he has strong strikeout numbers. However, he has been one of baseball's worst relievers in recent years, and the team has hung on to him for too long. Strike 2: Short Starts Mean More Bullpen Innings Minnesota acquired two veteran pitchers to add to the back of the rotation this season, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. They are tied for the team lead in games started because the Twins have continued to manage their workload. Archer has averaged just over four innings per start, and he has yet to pitch into the sixth inning. Bundy has averaged 4.91 innings per appearance with four starts of six innings or more. This strategy has kept both players on the field but also puts added pressure on the bullpen. Baseball's evolving usage of starters will continue to have long-term effects on how bullpens are structured. Few teams want their starters to face a line-up for the third time, which results in relievers entering the game in the fifth or sixth inning. When this happens, three or four relievers are asked to finish the game. That scenario can work in a team's favor for one game, but the next day there is a domino effect as the bullpen's backend will need to be exposed even if it is a close game. Strike 3: Not Addressing the Bullpen in the Offseason Looking at the Twins' current front office, it is clear that they don't prioritize bullpen acquisitions in the offseason. In 2022, the Twins made Joe Smith their lone free agent addition to the bullpen while also swapping Rogers for Pagan before Opening Day. Last season, Alex Colome and Hansel Robles were acquired on cheap one-year deals, and neither was particularly effective. Luckily, Jhoan Duran emerged as a dominant late-inning option this season, or the team might be in an even more precarious position. Signing free agent relievers is not an exact science. Some top free agent relievers have become strong contributors recently, while others have faded away. Minnesota's front office hasn't prioritized bullpen acquisitions, so the team was forced to address the relief core at the trade deadline. In the long run, the Twins need to adjust their relief pitcher philosophy, or these issues will continue to follow the team in the years ahead. Do you think there are any other problems with the team's bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. According to Robert Murray, the Minnesota Twins have claimed RHP Jharel Cotton from the Texas Rangers. Today, the Twins announced that Alexander Colome has become a free agent after his mutual option for 2022 was not picked up. Teams are making roster moves, as they do every year at this time. Players are being removed from the 40-man rosters and teams will be making claims. Cotton has been in the majors since 2016, but underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2018 and hadn't returned to the majors until this year. The most impressive of his 2021 work happened in AAA-Round Rock, where he pitched in 24 games, and in 42 innings, he walked 17 and struck out 57 batters. That's an eye-popping strikeout rate. He was promoted to the Rangers on July 30th and struggled initially, ballooning to a 6.23 ERA towards the end of August. But he had a September to remember, posting a 1.62 ERA and just a 465 OPS against. Most significantly, he walked fewer batters. He also seemingly changed his third pitch mix from when he last appeared in the majors. He's still throwing his fastball about half the time, but he has completely give up on a cutter to throw a standout changeup more often and .... surprise, surprise ... mix in a slider. He also occasionally throws a curveball. He won't blow batters away with his velocity. Cotton averaged about 93.5 mph on his fastball, and that matches what he did before Tommy John. As mentioned, he had not pitched in the big leagues since 2017 when he made 24 starts for the Oakland A's. He has missed a lot of time due to injuries, mostly to his elbow even after surgery, but the 29-year-old has always had an intriguing arm. Cotton is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting a $1.2M salary for next year. The increased price tag likely contributed to Texas parting ways. The Twins have also announced the move. In addition, Rob Refsnyder was outrighted. View full article
  8. Today, the Twins announced that Alexander Colome has become a free agent after his mutual option for 2022 was not picked up. Teams are making roster moves, as they do every year at this time. Players are being removed from the 40-man rosters and teams will be making claims. Cotton has been in the majors since 2016, but underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2018 and hadn't returned to the majors until this year. The most impressive of his 2021 work happened in AAA-Round Rock, where he pitched in 24 games, and in 42 innings, he walked 17 and struck out 57 batters. That's an eye-popping strikeout rate. He was promoted to the Rangers on July 30th and struggled initially, ballooning to a 6.23 ERA towards the end of August. But he had a September to remember, posting a 1.62 ERA and just a 465 OPS against. Most significantly, he walked fewer batters. He also seemingly changed his third pitch mix from when he last appeared in the majors. He's still throwing his fastball about half the time, but he has completely give up on a cutter to throw a standout changeup more often and .... surprise, surprise ... mix in a slider. He also occasionally throws a curveball. He won't blow batters away with his velocity. Cotton averaged about 93.5 mph on his fastball, and that matches what he did before Tommy John. As mentioned, he had not pitched in the big leagues since 2017 when he made 24 starts for the Oakland A's. He has missed a lot of time due to injuries, mostly to his elbow even after surgery, but the 29-year-old has always had an intriguing arm. Cotton is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting a $1.2M salary for next year. The increased price tag likely contributed to Texas parting ways. The Twins have also announced the move. In addition, Rob Refsnyder was outrighted.
  9. Nash Walker breaks down the performances of the 2021 Twins bullpen, one of the most disappointing aspects of the 2021 squad, particularly the first two months of the season.
  10. Nash Walker breaks down the performances of the 2021 Twins bullpen, one of the most disappointing aspects of the 2021 squad, particularly the first two months of the season. View full video
  11. The World Series kicks off on Tuesday night, and following its completion (which could be as early as Saturday), Minnesota will experience an exodus of players hitting free agency. How will the roster look different a week or so from now? Before taking a look at the upcoming Rule 5 draft, and the players Minnesota will need to protect, it’s worth getting the lay of the land for guys headed onto the open market. Minnesota has a handful of 40 man players that will be on their way out, and some minor leaguers will also be worth keeping tabs on once they exit the organization. First, let’s take a look at the guys currently on the 40 man roster: Michael Pineda, Alexander Colome*, Andrelton Simmons Both Pineda and Simmons are sure to be jettisoned this week. The former is a strong candidate to re-sign with the Twins, while the latter should be expected to wind up elsewhere. Given Minnesota’s 2022 pitching outlook, bringing Pineda back to bolster the starting rotation would be an excellent decision. The one uncertain candidate here is closer Alexander Colome. He fell flat for Minnesota but did rebound somewhat down the stretch. His career numbers have been better than in 2021, and free agency isn’t a straightforward process for him. Both parties have a mutual option for 2022, and the value checks in at $5.5 million. His $1.25 million buyout is forfeited if Minnesota exercises their option but Colome declines (which would seem the least likely scenario). Notable Minor Leaguers: Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Trey Cabbage, Wander Javier, Hector Lujan, Carlos Suniaga, Aaron Whitefield, B.J. Boyd The three most prominent names in this group are sandwiched in the middle. Trey Cabbage was a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft. He reached Double-A Wichita this season and posted an .882 OPS over 68 games. It was a solid season for the 24-year-old. Minnesota could consider a 40 man roster addition, but if not, he’ll reach the open market for the first time. Once a top prospect, Wander Javier finds himself at a critical juncture in his career. He’ll be 23-years-old next season and has played in just 226 professional games. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, things just have never followed the tools that have impressed through evaluations. Javier was at Cedar Rapids last season, although it did represent High-A this time around. He posted a sub-.700 OPS but did show flashes after a very slow start. He may find a better path forward in a different organization. Lujan represents a definite grinder when it comes to prospects. He was a 35th round pick back in 2015 but reached Double-A during the 2019 season. Pitching all of 2021 for Wichita, the numbers looked good enough for Triple-A or big-league consideration. Nothing is extremely flashy for the reliever, but there are solid numbers across the board, and he could factor as a depth middle-reliever. The other pitchers noted above have shown flashes of capability that could be useful at the big league level. Acosta, Bray, and Suniaga are more unknown names but have made a presence for themselves through performance. In the box, Whitefield has previously debuted with the Twins while Boyd put up strong numbers at Double-A in 2021. A whole host of veteran or non-prospect types will also hit free agency as Minnesota needs to decide who will be offered deals for the upcoming year. Free agency could also look slightly different this offseason, with the CBA negotiations likely dictating the ultimate timeline for players. 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
  12. Before taking a look at the upcoming Rule 5 draft, and the players Minnesota will need to protect, it’s worth getting the lay of the land for guys headed onto the open market. Minnesota has a handful of 40 man players that will be on their way out, and some minor leaguers will also be worth keeping tabs on once they exit the organization. First, let’s take a look at the guys currently on the 40 man roster: Michael Pineda, Alexander Colome*, Andrelton Simmons Both Pineda and Simmons are sure to be jettisoned this week. The former is a strong candidate to re-sign with the Twins, while the latter should be expected to wind up elsewhere. Given Minnesota’s 2022 pitching outlook, bringing Pineda back to bolster the starting rotation would be an excellent decision. The one uncertain candidate here is closer Alexander Colome. He fell flat for Minnesota but did rebound somewhat down the stretch. His career numbers have been better than in 2021, and free agency isn’t a straightforward process for him. Both parties have a mutual option for 2022, and the value checks in at $5.5 million. His $1.25 million buyout is forfeited if Minnesota exercises their option but Colome declines (which would seem the least likely scenario). Notable Minor Leaguers: Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Trey Cabbage, Wander Javier, Hector Lujan, Carlos Suniaga, Aaron Whitefield, B.J. Boyd The three most prominent names in this group are sandwiched in the middle. Trey Cabbage was a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft. He reached Double-A Wichita this season and posted an .882 OPS over 68 games. It was a solid season for the 24-year-old. Minnesota could consider a 40 man roster addition, but if not, he’ll reach the open market for the first time. Once a top prospect, Wander Javier finds himself at a critical juncture in his career. He’ll be 23-years-old next season and has played in just 226 professional games. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, things just have never followed the tools that have impressed through evaluations. Javier was at Cedar Rapids last season, although it did represent High-A this time around. He posted a sub-.700 OPS but did show flashes after a very slow start. He may find a better path forward in a different organization. Lujan represents a definite grinder when it comes to prospects. He was a 35th round pick back in 2015 but reached Double-A during the 2019 season. Pitching all of 2021 for Wichita, the numbers looked good enough for Triple-A or big-league consideration. Nothing is extremely flashy for the reliever, but there are solid numbers across the board, and he could factor as a depth middle-reliever. The other pitchers noted above have shown flashes of capability that could be useful at the big league level. Acosta, Bray, and Suniaga are more unknown names but have made a presence for themselves through performance. In the box, Whitefield has previously debuted with the Twins while Boyd put up strong numbers at Double-A in 2021. A whole host of veteran or non-prospect types will also hit free agency as Minnesota needs to decide who will be offered deals for the upcoming year. Free agency could also look slightly different this offseason, with the CBA negotiations likely dictating the ultimate timeline for players. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. After being an All-Star for the first time in 2021, Minnesota Twins reliever Taylor Rogers also found himself a first-time participant on the Injured List. With a middle finger injury that ended his season, uncertainty abounds as he enters arbitration, but Minnesota needs him. It’s not just that the Twins pitching was in chaos for large portions of the 2021 season, that the starting rotation will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, or that the bullpen seemed to have a different trusted arm blow up every week. While all of those things are true, the more significant takeaway for Minnesota is that a guy like Taylor Rogers fits for this club, and his production is only heightened by the impact he has elsewhere. Although Alexander Colome was hardly the reliever expectations suggested when he signed with the Twins, that acquisition gave Rocco Baldelli more reason to utilize his best arm in non-save situations. Rogers had been the Twins closer for the past couple of seasons. Being removed from the rigid use solely in the 9th inning, Minnesota could deploy the talented lefty in critical spots as they presented themselves. He’ll be 31-years-old in 2022 and did see an ERA north of 4.00 for the first time in his career during the truncated 2020 season. However, his 13.2 K/9 in 2021 was a new career-high, and it came with a ridiculous 2.13 FIP. Although the 3.35 ERA was above the stellar marks from 2018 and 2019, it was clear Rogers was being done in by a combination of bad luck and bad fielding. Minnesota can’t afford the uncertainty of their pitcher having a finger injury that saps effectiveness as a whole. Still, the hope would be that an offseason of rest and recovery provides a runway for Taylor to be back on the bump as expected. Should that be the case, the only decision comes down to an arbitration valuation that currently projects just shy of $7 million. Entering the final year of team control, Rogers would be due for a payday that falls short of a $1 million raise over his 2021 season. Considering the injury and time missed, that would seem like a steal and no-brainer for the Twins. Unfortunately, paying relievers is a fickle beast, and you’re going to get burned more often than not. Minnesota handed the aforementioned Colome $6.25 million on a one-year pact this past season and was rewarded with the worst season of his career. Rogers being in that same boat is unlikely, and it’s hard to suggest that an arm with more upside is less deserving of the dollars. When the dust settles on this decision, it will largely represent the Twins plans for the offseason. Again, there has to be faith in Rogers being healthy and ready to contribute. Still, if that’s there, it’s hard to suggest that saving roughly $7 million would represent anything but cost-cutting for a team that has publicly indicated they intend to compete. Minnesota needs to add and supplement talent this offseason, and parting with their best reliever doesn’t seem like a good plan of attack. The opportunity to deal him passed them by when Rogers was put on the shelf, but giving him up for nothing would be a worst-case scenario to this saga. 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
  14. It’s not just that the Twins pitching was in chaos for large portions of the 2021 season, that the starting rotation will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, or that the bullpen seemed to have a different trusted arm blow up every week. While all of those things are true, the more significant takeaway for Minnesota is that a guy like Taylor Rogers fits for this club, and his production is only heightened by the impact he has elsewhere. Although Alexander Colome was hardly the reliever expectations suggested when he signed with the Twins, that acquisition gave Rocco Baldelli more reason to utilize his best arm in non-save situations. Rogers had been the Twins closer for the past couple of seasons. Being removed from the rigid use solely in the 9th inning, Minnesota could deploy the talented lefty in critical spots as they presented themselves. He’ll be 31-years-old in 2022 and did see an ERA north of 4.00 for the first time in his career during the truncated 2020 season. However, his 13.2 K/9 in 2021 was a new career-high, and it came with a ridiculous 2.13 FIP. Although the 3.35 ERA was above the stellar marks from 2018 and 2019, it was clear Rogers was being done in by a combination of bad luck and bad fielding. Minnesota can’t afford the uncertainty of their pitcher having a finger injury that saps effectiveness as a whole. Still, the hope would be that an offseason of rest and recovery provides a runway for Taylor to be back on the bump as expected. Should that be the case, the only decision comes down to an arbitration valuation that currently projects just shy of $7 million. Entering the final year of team control, Rogers would be due for a payday that falls short of a $1 million raise over his 2021 season. Considering the injury and time missed, that would seem like a steal and no-brainer for the Twins. Unfortunately, paying relievers is a fickle beast, and you’re going to get burned more often than not. Minnesota handed the aforementioned Colome $6.25 million on a one-year pact this past season and was rewarded with the worst season of his career. Rogers being in that same boat is unlikely, and it’s hard to suggest that an arm with more upside is less deserving of the dollars. When the dust settles on this decision, it will largely represent the Twins plans for the offseason. Again, there has to be faith in Rogers being healthy and ready to contribute. Still, if that’s there, it’s hard to suggest that saving roughly $7 million would represent anything but cost-cutting for a team that has publicly indicated they intend to compete. Minnesota needs to add and supplement talent this offseason, and parting with their best reliever doesn’t seem like a good plan of attack. The opportunity to deal him passed them by when Rogers was put on the shelf, but giving him up for nothing would be a worst-case scenario to this saga. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Blankenhorn and Arraez Make Back-to-Back Errors to Lose to Oakland Everyone remembers this game in Oakland. In fact, it was such an important inflection point in the season that Nick Nelson chose it as the most important moment of April. As season-defining as it was, the bottom of the tenth of that game was equally embarrassing. After a tough start, the Twins battled back to take a 10-7 lead in the game, and then promptly blew about three different chances to win the game and it went to (the dreaded) tenth inning. Byron Buxton bent the universe to his will (as he does) with a two-run homer in the top of the tenth, but it only set the stage for a meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Alex Colome, who had already blown a save, had loaded the bases, but there were two outs and the Twins still led by two, so any ball in the infield would surely end the game, right? Wrong. Travis Blankenhorn basically farted on a grounder to second that scored one run. Then Luis Arraez fielded a bouncer to third, but missed first base by a good six feet on his throw, and just like that, the Twins blew their fourth and fifth chances to win the game and Oakland was dogpiling. Pathetic. Rob Refsnyder Introduces Himself to the Camden Yards Wall Remember when Rob Refsnyder was a thing? The 30-year-old journeyman was filling in at the center field spot for Buxton and for a second there, you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Refsnyder was swinging a scorching bat and had some timely hits that helped the Twins to a 10-6 record in his first sixteen games in the lineup. However, in that sixteenth game, Rob took his Buxton impression a little too far and freight-trained himself into the center field wall, injuring himself and ruining the Refsnyder-as-cult-hero vibe the Twins had going on. Also, no image encapsulates the 2021 Twins better than this: ...and getting clowned on by one of the worst teams in baseball didn’t help. Yermin Mercedes Tees Off on Astudillo Okay, this one isn’t even really about the Twins, as it has more to do with infighting between Tony La Russa and his players. But the only issue the White Sox had all year was played out over the backdrop of them consistently brutalizing the Twins on the field, and that’s a tough look. As a reminder, the Twins were getting shellacked by Chicago and sent Willians Astudillo out to the mound while they limped through the final innings. Yermin Mercedes came up with two outs and on a 3-0 count, he deposited Astudillo’s 47-mile-per-hour offering into the shrubs in center. La Russa, Roy Smalley, and basically nobody else got mad about it, but it became a sports news cycle topic for a few days, reminding the national audience that the Twins stank and the White Sox, even with their (invented) issues, didn’t. Also, all that stuff aside, you can’t watch this as a Twins fan and not be a little embarrassed: Almost Getting No-Hit at Home Against Angels On July 24th, Patrick Sandoval took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Twins that was broken up by a Brent Rooker double with two outs left to get. I was at the game that night, so maybe that’s why this sticks with me, but the offense almost could not have looked worse. They struck out thirteen times against Sandoval and the mental gymnastics I was doing to justify buying a ten dollar beer was more entertaining than watching the at-bats the Twins were putting up on the field. It was a clown show. Then, Rooker and Donaldson turned two doubles into one run to make it 2-1, but they couldn’t complete the comeback and somehow that was even worse than getting no-hit. The Ones That Got Away Okay, these next two aren't really moments, but it’s my article, so who’s going to stop me from breaking my own rules? (Editor's Note: Ahem...) Anyway, Whether it’s star players traded away or cut-bait guys who find a huge role elsewhere, perhaps nothing haunts us as Twins fans more than former Twins finding success elsewhere. And there was plenty more of that again this year. Nelson Cruz is hitting homers in the playoffs for the Rays. José Berríos was dicing guys in meaningful games down the stretch for Toronto. Freaking Lamonte Wade Jr. just can’t stop getting big hits in big spots for the 107-win Giants. Even guys like Matt Wisler and Hansel Robles are giving playoff teams important innings this postseason. Also Eddie Rosario is on the Braves, but that one honestly doesn't feel so bad. Seeing the pieces of what should have been your contending team make a difference for real contenders throughout the league is especially humiliating. Signing Andrelton Simmons and Alex Colomé When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine brought Colomé and Simmons to the club, I, along with many others, was pumped. Here was our big late-inning guy and the shortstop upgrade we needed; let’s go win a division. Uh huh. Colomé was sneakily not bad over the second half of the year, but he blew enough games early in the year that his success later in the year (when the games didn’t really matter) will be forgotten. It turns out the the secondary numbers and, you know, every other team in the league was right: he’s not that good. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons wasn’t just not that good, he was a dumpster fire. Expected to be at least capable at the plate and excellent at shortstop, Simmons slashed a putrid .223/.283/.274 and was nearly special enough in the field to make up for it. He was completely and entirely awful. Falvey and Levine were roundly praised for bringing these guys in, but now they’re facing unfamiliar criticism partially due to these guys’ falling well short of their expectations. Were you able to laugh a little about it? What moments did I miss? Let me know in the comments!
  16. If I had to use one word to describe the 2021 Minnesota Twins it would be embarrassing. The team was expected to win the division, and they finished last and narrowly avoided 90 losses. That’s, in a word, embarrassing. Let’s relive some of the most shameful moments in hopes that, now that it’s all over, we can laugh about it. Maybe. Blankenhorn and Arraez Make Back-to-Back Errors to Lose to Oakland Everyone remembers this game in Oakland. In fact, it was such an important inflection point in the season that Nick Nelson chose it as the most important moment of April. As season-defining as it was, the bottom of the tenth of that game was equally embarrassing. After a tough start, the Twins battled back to take a 10-7 lead in the game, and then promptly blew about three different chances to win the game and it went to (the dreaded) tenth inning. Byron Buxton bent the universe to his will (as he does) with a two-run homer in the top of the tenth, but it only set the stage for a meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Alex Colome, who had already blown a save, had loaded the bases, but there were two outs and the Twins still led by two, so any ball in the infield would surely end the game, right? Wrong. Travis Blankenhorn basically farted on a grounder to second that scored one run. Then Luis Arraez fielded a bouncer to third, but missed first base by a good six feet on his throw, and just like that, the Twins blew their fourth and fifth chances to win the game and Oakland was dogpiling. Pathetic. Rob Refsnyder Introduces Himself to the Camden Yards Wall Remember when Rob Refsnyder was a thing? The 30-year-old journeyman was filling in at the center field spot for Buxton and for a second there, you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Refsnyder was swinging a scorching bat and had some timely hits that helped the Twins to a 10-6 record in his first sixteen games in the lineup. However, in that sixteenth game, Rob took his Buxton impression a little too far and freight-trained himself into the center field wall, injuring himself and ruining the Refsnyder-as-cult-hero vibe the Twins had going on. Also, no image encapsulates the 2021 Twins better than this: ...and getting clowned on by one of the worst teams in baseball didn’t help. Yermin Mercedes Tees Off on Astudillo Okay, this one isn’t even really about the Twins, as it has more to do with infighting between Tony La Russa and his players. But the only issue the White Sox had all year was played out over the backdrop of them consistently brutalizing the Twins on the field, and that’s a tough look. As a reminder, the Twins were getting shellacked by Chicago and sent Willians Astudillo out to the mound while they limped through the final innings. Yermin Mercedes came up with two outs and on a 3-0 count, he deposited Astudillo’s 47-mile-per-hour offering into the shrubs in center. La Russa, Roy Smalley, and basically nobody else got mad about it, but it became a sports news cycle topic for a few days, reminding the national audience that the Twins stank and the White Sox, even with their (invented) issues, didn’t. Also, all that stuff aside, you can’t watch this as a Twins fan and not be a little embarrassed: Almost Getting No-Hit at Home Against Angels On July 24th, Patrick Sandoval took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Twins that was broken up by a Brent Rooker double with two outs left to get. I was at the game that night, so maybe that’s why this sticks with me, but the offense almost could not have looked worse. They struck out thirteen times against Sandoval and the mental gymnastics I was doing to justify buying a ten dollar beer was more entertaining than watching the at-bats the Twins were putting up on the field. It was a clown show. Then, Rooker and Donaldson turned two doubles into one run to make it 2-1, but they couldn’t complete the comeback and somehow that was even worse than getting no-hit. The Ones That Got Away Okay, these next two aren't really moments, but it’s my article, so who’s going to stop me from breaking my own rules? (Editor's Note: Ahem...) Anyway, Whether it’s star players traded away or cut-bait guys who find a huge role elsewhere, perhaps nothing haunts us as Twins fans more than former Twins finding success elsewhere. And there was plenty more of that again this year. Nelson Cruz is hitting homers in the playoffs for the Rays. José Berríos was dicing guys in meaningful games down the stretch for Toronto. Freaking Lamonte Wade Jr. just can’t stop getting big hits in big spots for the 107-win Giants. Even guys like Matt Wisler and Hansel Robles are giving playoff teams important innings this postseason. Also Eddie Rosario is on the Braves, but that one honestly doesn't feel so bad. Seeing the pieces of what should have been your contending team make a difference for real contenders throughout the league is especially humiliating. Signing Andrelton Simmons and Alex Colomé When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine brought Colomé and Simmons to the club, I, along with many others, was pumped. Here was our big late-inning guy and the shortstop upgrade we needed; let’s go win a division. Uh huh. Colomé was sneakily not bad over the second half of the year, but he blew enough games early in the year that his success later in the year (when the games didn’t really matter) will be forgotten. It turns out the the secondary numbers and, you know, every other team in the league was right: he’s not that good. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons wasn’t just not that good, he was a dumpster fire. Expected to be at least capable at the plate and excellent at shortstop, Simmons slashed a putrid .223/.283/.274 and was nearly special enough in the field to make up for it. He was completely and entirely awful. Falvey and Levine were roundly praised for bringing these guys in, but now they’re facing unfamiliar criticism partially due to these guys’ falling well short of their expectations. Were you able to laugh a little about it? What moments did I miss? Let me know in the comments! View full article
  17. April: That Loss in Oakland (4/21) In Twins lore, this was a game that will forever live in infamy. In fact, it probably needs a nickname for eternal reference. Bayside Blunderfest? Catastrophe in the Coliseum? The Oaktown Meltdown? Whatever you want to call it, this was the clear low point in a gut-punch of a first month for the Twins. I don't say so lightly, because there was no shortage of brutal blows from which to choose, but this game was the cream of the crap. It wasn't just the dire implications of that 13-12 result itself, sealing a sweep for the A's and marking Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. No, what made this one an L for the ages – to the extent you knew exactly which game I was talking about when you read "that loss in Oakland" – was the almost comically painful way in which it all unfolded. I won't torture you with a full recap, but the gist is this: With the team playing short-handed due to a COVID outbreak, Kenta Maeda digs a deep hole by allowing seven runs (an early sign something is amiss for the reigning Cy Young runner-up); the offense mounts a big rally; Byron Buxton attempts to will the team to victory single-handed with a huge catch and home run; and then ... Alex Colomé happens. As these Twins stumbled out of the gates and fell flat on their faces, Colomé was a deserving figurehead for the failure. The front office's big-ticket bullpen pickup was an incomprehensible disaster, repeatedly giving away games that were in hand. On this special occasion, he did so twice in a two-inning span! Minnesota led 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Colomé entered. He gave up a run. The game went to extras. Buxton launched a dramatic two-run homer in the 10th. Then Colomé promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom half, and watched the infield defense implode behind him as the A's rallied to score three runs on back-to-back errors and walk it off. *chef's kiss* May: Twins Drop 12th Out of 15 Games (5/20) Damaging to our collective psyches as it may have been, the above game was not fatal to the team's hopes of contending. While a 6-11 start wasn't ideal, the Twins were padded by a strong first week. This was just a good team going through an ugly April funk ... right? Nah. Turns out they were just bad. From May 8th through May 20th they went 3-12, turning in lifeless outing after lifeless outing as their season crumbled into nothingness, a mere seven weeks after getting started. Prior to this stretch the Twins were modestly climbing toward .500; by the end they were 14-28, and 11 ½ games out of first place. The last of the dozen losses during this 16-day stretch – a 7-1 doubleheader matinee against the Angels – was not especially noteworthy, save for how typical it was. Lewis Thorpe made a spot start and got lit up. The bullpen was bad. The offense did nothing. It was obvious from early on the Twins were going nowhere in this one, which is a suitable summarization of their season as a whole. June: Buxton Breaks His Hand (6/21) As things devolved in the early weeks, there was one redeeming storyline for Twins fans. Buxton was playing out of his mind. In April he became the first Twins player to earn Player of the Month honors in more than a decade. Unlocking his long-simmering potential at last, the center fielder was a must-watch attraction on a team that was otherwise hard to stomach. In early May, a hip injury shut Buxton down, leading to more than a month on the Injured List. He returned in mid-June, fighting through obvious pain and physical limitation, but was nonetheless productive for three games. Then, a freaking fastball hit his hand and fractured it. The team's fate was already more or less sealed by this point, but seeing their most likable player suffer another unthinkable setback was almost too much to take. I'll never forget Rocco Baldelli's somber postgame press conference, which conveyed empathy for his snakebit center fielder, as well as a general sense of dazed bewilderment at the state of his club's shattered season. This was going to be the year Buxton pulled it all together. Instead, it'll go down as yet another fleeting glimmer of greatness. And perhaps his final hurrah in a Twins uniform. July: Berríos Dealt on Deadline Day (7/30) We've already seen that final hurrah from José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and rose to similarly impressive heights. The blockbuster deal that sent Berríos to Toronto for two top prospects was among the most significant deadline trades in franchise history, and a bellwether moment. Trading Berríos affirmed a full-on changing of the guard, following the less surprising Nelson Cruz trade a week earlier. Factor in coinciding reports of fruitless extension negotiations with Buxton, and this year's deadline openly signaled an oncoming identity shift for the Twins. This changing identity was evident in the final two months, during which we'd see these Twins play some of their very best ball. August: Ober Blanks Boston at Fenway (8/25) No Berríos. No Cruz. No Maeda. No Taylor Rogers. And yet the Twins were a .500 team after the trade deadline. That's not anything to write home about but, all things considered, it's kind of eyebrow-raising. How'd they do it? Bailey Ober played a big part (figuratively and literally) in the quality results, and the long-term implications of his sudden ascent from organization filler to rotation fixture are difficult to overstate. The month of August saw Ober pitch to a 2.30 ERA and 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 27 ⅓ innings. The Twins went 4-1 in his five starts. While veteran pitchers around him got injured, got traded, and got blown up, Ober remained steady, with his newfound velocity boost and 6-foot-9 frame proving a sustainable formula. His most memorable outing in an excellent month came in Boston on the 25th. One year prior, no one would've realistically expected Ober to be pitching in the big leagues, so the rookie must've been feeling some nerves as he took the mound against a powerhouse at legendary Fenway Park for his 15th MLB start. You would've never known it from the way he pitched. Ober tossed a leisurely five shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. At this moment he's the presumed Opening Day starter in 2022. September: Polanco Tallies 4 Extra-Base Hits (9/6) While Ober's emergence as a rotation staple was the most consequential unexpected development of the 2021 season, Jorge Polanco's rejuvenated slugging prowess may be a close second. For better or worse, the Twins are contractually tied to Polanco through at least 2023, and that was tilting in the "or worse" direction when his punchless 2020 production spilled over to April. But as he became more comfortable on his twice-surgically-repaired ankle, and began to find his stride once again, Polanco's long-absent power came rushing back. Suddenly, the switch-slugging All-Star from early 2019 was back and better than ever. And this was no flash in the pan. Polanco consistently kept pounding baseballs for the rest of the season – reflected by the fact that his most memorable highlight arrived in September. On this day in Cleveland, Polanco tallied a season-high four of his 70 extra-base hits, doubling three times and homering in a 5-2 win. During the previous series in Tampa, he launched two home runs and two doubles. Five days later against the Royals, he'd go deep twice. Polanco relentlessly slugged and produced all the way through to the end, playing at an MVP level while the team around him acquiesced to sub-mediocrity. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of Brian Dozier in 2016. One year later, Dozier was the veteran star and leader on a team that shocked everyone, improving by 26 wins and reaching the postseason. A precedent that is perhaps worth carrying forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. The Minnesota Twins 2021 season is now in the books, and most of us will be more than happy to leave it there. With that said, as a postmortem, I'd like to document six milestones that will define this immensely disappointing campaign when we look back at it. These are the lasting memorable moments from a forgettable year. April: That Loss in Oakland (4/21) In Twins lore, this was a game that will forever live in infamy. In fact, it probably needs a nickname for eternal reference. Bayside Blunderfest? Catastrophe in the Coliseum? The Oaktown Meltdown? Whatever you want to call it, this was the clear low point in a gut-punch of a first month for the Twins. I don't say so lightly, because there was no shortage of brutal blows from which to choose, but this game was the cream of the crap. It wasn't just the dire implications of that 13-12 result itself, sealing a sweep for the A's and marking Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. No, what made this one an L for the ages – to the extent you knew exactly which game I was talking about when you read "that loss in Oakland" – was the almost comically painful way in which it all unfolded. I won't torture you with a full recap, but the gist is this: With the team playing short-handed due to a COVID outbreak, Kenta Maeda digs a deep hole by allowing seven runs (an early sign something is amiss for the reigning Cy Young runner-up); the offense mounts a big rally; Byron Buxton attempts to will the team to victory single-handed with a huge catch and home run; and then ... Alex Colomé happens. As these Twins stumbled out of the gates and fell flat on their faces, Colomé was a deserving figurehead for the failure. The front office's big-ticket bullpen pickup was an incomprehensible disaster, repeatedly giving away games that were in hand. On this special occasion, he did so twice in a two-inning span! Minnesota led 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Colomé entered. He gave up a run. The game went to extras. Buxton launched a dramatic two-run homer in the 10th. Then Colomé promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom half, and watched the infield defense implode behind him as the A's rallied to score three runs on back-to-back errors and walk it off. *chef's kiss* May: Twins Drop 12th Out of 15 Games (5/20) Damaging to our collective psyches as it may have been, the above game was not fatal to the team's hopes of contending. While a 6-11 start wasn't ideal, the Twins were padded by a strong first week. This was just a good team going through an ugly April funk ... right? Nah. Turns out they were just bad. From May 8th through May 20th they went 3-12, turning in lifeless outing after lifeless outing as their season crumbled into nothingness, a mere seven weeks after getting started. Prior to this stretch the Twins were modestly climbing toward .500; by the end they were 14-28, and 11 ½ games out of first place. The last of the dozen losses during this 16-day stretch – a 7-1 doubleheader matinee against the Angels – was not especially noteworthy, save for how typical it was. Lewis Thorpe made a spot start and got lit up. The bullpen was bad. The offense did nothing. It was obvious from early on the Twins were going nowhere in this one, which is a suitable summarization of their season as a whole. June: Buxton Breaks His Hand (6/21) As things devolved in the early weeks, there was one redeeming storyline for Twins fans. Buxton was playing out of his mind. In April he became the first Twins player to earn Player of the Month honors in more than a decade. Unlocking his long-simmering potential at last, the center fielder was a must-watch attraction on a team that was otherwise hard to stomach. In early May, a hip injury shut Buxton down, leading to more than a month on the Injured List. He returned in mid-June, fighting through obvious pain and physical limitation, but was nonetheless productive for three games. Then, a freaking fastball hit his hand and fractured it. The team's fate was already more or less sealed by this point, but seeing their most likable player suffer another unthinkable setback was almost too much to take. I'll never forget Rocco Baldelli's somber postgame press conference, which conveyed empathy for his snakebit center fielder, as well as a general sense of dazed bewilderment at the state of his club's shattered season. This was going to be the year Buxton pulled it all together. Instead, it'll go down as yet another fleeting glimmer of greatness. And perhaps his final hurrah in a Twins uniform. July: Berríos Dealt on Deadline Day (7/30) We've already seen that final hurrah from José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and rose to similarly impressive heights. The blockbuster deal that sent Berríos to Toronto for two top prospects was among the most significant deadline trades in franchise history, and a bellwether moment. Trading Berríos affirmed a full-on changing of the guard, following the less surprising Nelson Cruz trade a week earlier. Factor in coinciding reports of fruitless extension negotiations with Buxton, and this year's deadline openly signaled an oncoming identity shift for the Twins. This changing identity was evident in the final two months, during which we'd see these Twins play some of their very best ball. August: Ober Blanks Boston at Fenway (8/25) No Berríos. No Cruz. No Maeda. No Taylor Rogers. And yet the Twins were a .500 team after the trade deadline. That's not anything to write home about but, all things considered, it's kind of eyebrow-raising. How'd they do it? Bailey Ober played a big part (figuratively and literally) in the quality results, and the long-term implications of his sudden ascent from organization filler to rotation fixture are difficult to overstate. The month of August saw Ober pitch to a 2.30 ERA and 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 27 ⅓ innings. The Twins went 4-1 in his five starts. While veteran pitchers around him got injured, got traded, and got blown up, Ober remained steady, with his newfound velocity boost and 6-foot-9 frame proving a sustainable formula. His most memorable outing in an excellent month came in Boston on the 25th. One year prior, no one would've realistically expected Ober to be pitching in the big leagues, so the rookie must've been feeling some nerves as he took the mound against a powerhouse at legendary Fenway Park for his 15th MLB start. You would've never known it from the way he pitched. Ober tossed a leisurely five shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. At this moment he's the presumed Opening Day starter in 2022. September: Polanco Tallies 4 Extra-Base Hits (9/6) While Ober's emergence as a rotation staple was the most consequential unexpected development of the 2021 season, Jorge Polanco's rejuvenated slugging prowess may be a close second. For better or worse, the Twins are contractually tied to Polanco through at least 2023, and that was tilting in the "or worse" direction when his punchless 2020 production spilled over to April. But as he became more comfortable on his twice-surgically-repaired ankle, and began to find his stride once again, Polanco's long-absent power came rushing back. Suddenly, the switch-slugging All-Star from early 2019 was back and better than ever. And this was no flash in the pan. Polanco consistently kept pounding baseballs for the rest of the season – reflected by the fact that his most memorable highlight arrived in September. On this day in Cleveland, Polanco tallied a season-high four of his 70 extra-base hits, doubling three times and homering in a 5-2 win. During the previous series in Tampa, he launched two home runs and two doubles. Five days later against the Royals, he'd go deep twice. Polanco relentlessly slugged and produced all the way through to the end, playing at an MVP level while the team around him acquiesced to sub-mediocrity. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of Brian Dozier in 2016. One year later, Dozier was the veteran star and leader on a team that shocked everyone, improving by 26 wins and reaching the postseason. A precedent that is perhaps worth carrying forward. 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  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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