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  1. The Twins have seen a trio of talented outfielders move through the farm system in recent years. After a rough 2022 season, what does the future hold for these young players? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach both made top-100 prospect lists on their way to the big leagues. Minnesota expected both players to be in the middle of the order for the next decade. Over the last 12 months, Matt Wallner has put himself on the prospect map, and he may have altered the team’s future outfield outlook. Alex Kirilloff 2022 Stats (45 G): .250/.290/.361 (.651), 7 2B, 3 HR, 36 K, 5 BB Kirilloff’s 2022 season was plagued by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery. Each of his first two seasons has been cut short because of a wrist injury. His wrist surgery this season is unique in the fact that they are shortening his ulna, which is something that few MLB players have had done. Kirilloff showed signs of being able to play through the injury as he dominated at Triple-A with a 1.106 OPS in 35 games. Eventually, he wasn’t able to play through the injury. "Any time you're talking about shaving a bone down or shortening a bone, I mean that's a substantial procedure," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But we're hopeful that by getting it done now gives us a chance to use the offseason to get right, to start swinging the bat again, to feel good and to start getting ready for next year." Minnesota hopes Kirilloff is ready for the start of spring training, but there is no guarantee with this type of surgery. Out of these players, Kirilloff was seen as the best prospect, because Baseball America and MLB.com had him in their top-15 prospects leading into the 2019 campaign. Entering his age-25 season, questions will continue to follow him regarding his wrist and whether or not he can get his career back on track. Trevor Larnach 2022 Stats (51 G): .231/.306/.406 (.712), 13 2B, 5 HR, 57 K, 18 BB Like Kirilloff, injuries have impacted Larnach’s first two seasons in the majors. Last year, he posted an .806 OPS through his first 50 games, but things went south. His OPS dropped to .672 before the team eventually demoted him to Triple-A. He eventually revealed that a hand injury had bothered him through part of the season. Larnach started the 2022 season well and was one of the team’s best hitters during May as he posted a 1.077 OPS. By the end of June, his performance had suffered and the team announced he’d undergo a bilateral surgical repair to treat the core muscle strain. At the time, the team announced that he’d need about 6-8 weeks before returning, but he learned that he needed more time to recover. “You learn really quick that that’s not really even reasonable, especially for a professional athlete trying to play at their highest level,” Larnach said. “It wasn’t really relevant to me. I had to take a step back to look at what I needed to do to feel really good. I did that, and I learned a lot from it." During his rehab with the Saints, Larnach suffered a wrist injury that will end his season. He seemed close to returning, so this is likely a frustrating end for the 24-year-old. He has been limited to 130 games in his first two seasons, and injuries have stopped him from producing like he did in the minors. Matt Wallner 2022 Stats (AA/AAA 128 G): .277/.412/.542 (.953), 32 2B, 4 3B, 27 HR, 170 K, 97 BB Unlike Larnach and Kirilloff, Wallner is coming off a tremendous season where he played well in the upper minors and made his big-league debut. In 128 minor league games, Wallner posted a .953 OPS on his way to being named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. Kirilloff (2018) and Larnach (2019) were both previous winners of this award, but Wallner’s stock is on the rise. He’s seen limited action at the big-league level, but he has been on base over 30% of the time and three of his eight hits have been for extra bases. Wallner used last year’s Arizona Fall League to make adjustments for the 2022 season. “It’s just cool to bounce ideas off different guys and strategies that they have going into the game, at the plate, in the field, whatever,” Wallner said during last year’s AFL. “I’ve definitely learned a lot since I’ve been out here, even in a short six weeks. So, it’s definitely been good for me.” All three outfielders will be entering their age-25 season in 2023. Kirilloff and Larnach were seen as better prospects in the minors with both making top-100 lists before debuting. Now, Wallner may have passed them by, especially with the injury concerns facing the other two outfielders. There's no question that Minnesota’s future line-up is better with all three bats being healthy and hitting in the middle of the order. Do you think Wallner has passed Kirilloff and Larnach this season? Will all three players be able to stay healthy in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach both made top-100 prospect lists on their way to the big leagues. Minnesota expected both players to be in the middle of the order for the next decade. Over the last 12 months, Matt Wallner has put himself on the prospect map, and he may have altered the team’s future outfield outlook. Alex Kirilloff 2022 Stats (45 G): .250/.290/.361 (.651), 7 2B, 3 HR, 36 K, 5 BB Kirilloff’s 2022 season was plagued by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery. Each of his first two seasons has been cut short because of a wrist injury. His wrist surgery this season is unique in the fact that they are shortening his ulna, which is something that few MLB players have had done. Kirilloff showed signs of being able to play through the injury as he dominated at Triple-A with a 1.106 OPS in 35 games. Eventually, he wasn’t able to play through the injury. "Any time you're talking about shaving a bone down or shortening a bone, I mean that's a substantial procedure," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But we're hopeful that by getting it done now gives us a chance to use the offseason to get right, to start swinging the bat again, to feel good and to start getting ready for next year." Minnesota hopes Kirilloff is ready for the start of spring training, but there is no guarantee with this type of surgery. Out of these players, Kirilloff was seen as the best prospect, because Baseball America and MLB.com had him in their top-15 prospects leading into the 2019 campaign. Entering his age-25 season, questions will continue to follow him regarding his wrist and whether or not he can get his career back on track. Trevor Larnach 2022 Stats (51 G): .231/.306/.406 (.712), 13 2B, 5 HR, 57 K, 18 BB Like Kirilloff, injuries have impacted Larnach’s first two seasons in the majors. Last year, he posted an .806 OPS through his first 50 games, but things went south. His OPS dropped to .672 before the team eventually demoted him to Triple-A. He eventually revealed that a hand injury had bothered him through part of the season. Larnach started the 2022 season well and was one of the team’s best hitters during May as he posted a 1.077 OPS. By the end of June, his performance had suffered and the team announced he’d undergo a bilateral surgical repair to treat the core muscle strain. At the time, the team announced that he’d need about 6-8 weeks before returning, but he learned that he needed more time to recover. “You learn really quick that that’s not really even reasonable, especially for a professional athlete trying to play at their highest level,” Larnach said. “It wasn’t really relevant to me. I had to take a step back to look at what I needed to do to feel really good. I did that, and I learned a lot from it." During his rehab with the Saints, Larnach suffered a wrist injury that will end his season. He seemed close to returning, so this is likely a frustrating end for the 24-year-old. He has been limited to 130 games in his first two seasons, and injuries have stopped him from producing like he did in the minors. Matt Wallner 2022 Stats (AA/AAA 128 G): .277/.412/.542 (.953), 32 2B, 4 3B, 27 HR, 170 K, 97 BB Unlike Larnach and Kirilloff, Wallner is coming off a tremendous season where he played well in the upper minors and made his big-league debut. In 128 minor league games, Wallner posted a .953 OPS on his way to being named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. Kirilloff (2018) and Larnach (2019) were both previous winners of this award, but Wallner’s stock is on the rise. He’s seen limited action at the big-league level, but he has been on base over 30% of the time and three of his eight hits have been for extra bases. Wallner used last year’s Arizona Fall League to make adjustments for the 2022 season. “It’s just cool to bounce ideas off different guys and strategies that they have going into the game, at the plate, in the field, whatever,” Wallner said during last year’s AFL. “I’ve definitely learned a lot since I’ve been out here, even in a short six weeks. So, it’s definitely been good for me.” All three outfielders will be entering their age-25 season in 2023. Kirilloff and Larnach were seen as better prospects in the minors with both making top-100 lists before debuting. Now, Wallner may have passed them by, especially with the injury concerns facing the other two outfielders. There's no question that Minnesota’s future line-up is better with all three bats being healthy and hitting in the middle of the order. Do you think Wallner has passed Kirilloff and Larnach this season? Will all three players be able to stay healthy in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. Following a tilt against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 30, the Minnesota Twins announced first baseman Miguel Sano had a torn meniscus and would undergo knee surgery. He returned following the maximum rehab assignment and now is again back on the injured list after just three games. Is this the end of the line? Although Miguel Sano spent the maximum 20 days on the injured list, he played in just 12 games. The Twins curiously had part of his rehab assignment take place during the All-Star Break which ate up time that Sano could’ve gotten in at bats. Regardless, he performed extremely well on the farm, slashing .333/.422/.795 split across a few Complex League games and Triple-A. Relegated to the back-end of Minnesota’s lineup, Sano got in just six at-bats before returning to the injured list. Drawing two starts but playing just one complete game, it’s clear Rocco Baldelli sees the slugger as little more than a revolving piece at this point. Sano was hitless in his return to action and posted four strikeouts without generating a walk. There’s no denying that the front office took as much time as they could to look at options before activating Sano. It appeared a possible DFA was on the table, and that would’ve left the Twins on the hook for the remaining $7 million or so on his deal. In a perfect world, they’d find a trade partner to offload his remaining commitment, but there’s just little reason for anyone to pay for Minnesota’s anchor of an expense. So now it remains to be seen what an eventual timeline for a return to play looks like, but it’s hard not to imagine this being the end of the road. We’re into August and the 26-man roster needs to be best positioned for a Postseason run. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to make room for Sano initially, but it’s hard to argue he’s not of more value as a fourth outfielder. Even though Alex Kirilloff is hurt and that takes away an option at first base, the Twins have developed other depth there in the form of Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez. If the timeline is short, and it probably won’t be considering the previous handling of the same injury for Sano, a decision would need to be made as to how he factors back in. Another rehab stint could happen, but that would just be delaying the inevitable. If a return can happen in something like 10 days, Sano could find himself as an option given the health of the current roster. Even then, however, that DFA from before could again rear its head. Maybe Minnesota would rather not end this era of such a highly prized prospect on a whimper, but it didn’t seem to deter them before. Across 694 games with the Twins during his eight-year career in the big leagues, Sano has blasted 162 home runs. There’s been highs and lows, but I think it’s probably safe to assume this is where it ends. Should he not play another game in a Minnesota uniform, what would register as some of your favorite memories for the Dominican product that sparked an entire documentary and put the Twins farm system on the map? View full article
  4. When the regular season eventually expires on the 2022 Major League Baseball season, the Minnesota Twins will start preparing for 2023. While a postseason opportunity was once a possibility, making it a reality in the year ahead becomes the new goal. How much certainty should there be regarding the roster next season? Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports You could certainly argue the Minnesota Twins were hoping for better in 2022. Obviously, you don’t sign someone like Carlos Correa with the intention that he doesn’t wind up playing postseason baseball. However, virtually every move made by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine this year set up an opportunity for those players to impact outcomes in 2023 as well. As things stand, operating on a handful of assumptions, the Twins should have something like $100 million to spend in the offseason. They put forth a franchise-record payroll in 2022, but that was less about an indication they were going for it, than it was a response to inflation and simply keeping up with the market. Next season the dollars should check in somewhere between $140-160 million based on incentives and complete operating expenses to acquire talent. Minnesota also has a significant amount of the active roster penciled in as potential fits. While it wasn’t able to be as nuanced through a tweet, suggesting that the Twins are a shortstop and bullpen help from rounding out their roster holds some weight. Sure, they would absolutely benefit from a starting pitching acquisition. The problem is they have four guys that are all already givens, while being very good options. Any addition would need to be at the level of Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray or better. There aren’t a ton of those out there, and you’d be hard-pressed to suggest a Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer type of signing being understandable. Maybe another bat would help, but you also have to figure out where they’ll get regular at-bats. Rocco Baldelli has been afforded lineup flexibility without a static designated hitter this season. The outfield returns Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Max Kepler, and Matt Wallner. At least a few of those players are entrenched in a long-term role here, and while you may make a move, the youth is full of high hopes and expectations. On the infield, you aren’t likely going to see Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda or Luis Arraez jettisoned. The hope would be that Royce Lewis can return quickly (July?). Gio Urshela may be a non-tender candidate, but that’s a decision for the front office. Behind the plate, there’ll be an expectation for Ryan Jeffers to fulfill the belief in him, but he will need a backup. Through a quick roster rundown, it becomes pretty apparent that shortstop and bullpen help are the biggest areas of opportunity for Minnesota. Filling the hole left by Carlos Correa will be a massive task should he not return. The Twins made the relief unit better by adding Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline, and they should get Jorge Alcala back in 2023. Maybe Cody Stashak can be a weapon again, but either way, that unit needs some more horses. Before even considering names to fill the spots, it should be relatively straightforward to suggest that Minnesota has plenty of resources to round out a roster not needing a ton of help. If the 2022 Twins were marred by injuries and ineffectiveness on the edges, then raising the water level where there were deficiencies and spending to fill holes is a pretty fair suggestion. The AL Central shouldn’t be expected to take a massive leap ahead in the next year, and once again, Minnesota can position themselves to be right in the thick of it. View full article
  5. Trevor Larnach’s second half of the season will likely be a wash for the second consecutive year. In a season in which he could have established himself, he’s been missing again. Can the Twins rely on him moving forward? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports 2021 and 2022 held a lot of similarities for Trevor Larnach. In both cases, he burst onto the scene showing a glimpse of the lineup-changing hitter he’s capable of being. Unfortunately in both cases he tailed off in his production only for an injury to eventually come out as the main cause. So what do we think of Larnach moving forward? In 2021 Larnach began his season with a .845 OPS in May before the league adjusted. He posted a .704 mark in June and a brutal .518 in July. He would finish the season in St. Paul eventually being shut down with a hand issue, an injury that turned out to be nagging him for longer than Twins fans had known about. In 2022 Larnach looked even more encouraging. In March and April, Larnach posted a modest .703 OPS, actually above average for the offensive environment at the time. Then in May he posted an absurd 1.077 OPS. In addition to his hitting, his brief time in the majors was enough for teams to stop running on him in the outfield, as his throwing arm became a weapon against runners trying to get an extra base. Once again, however, he faded off in a huge way, posting an OPS of .429 in June before getting shut down at the end of the month for a core muscle injury he had been dealing with for the entire month. His timeline was 6-8 weeks putting him at a mid to late August return. At the time of this writing in mid-September, however, Larnach is finally making his first rehab appearance in the minors. With the calendar dwindling, it's likely at this point that Larnach’s 2022 season has come to an end, but he finishes with a modest .231/.306/.406 batting line which was heavily weighed down by a brutal final month. His 1.1 Wins Above Replacement in just 51 games played alludes to the possibility of an everyday regular in the lineup moving forward. But can we trust Larnach to fill such a role? The first concern at this point has to be health. Larnach has failed to reach 100 games played in each of the last two seasons due to injury. The hand contusion in 2021 may have been a fluke, but 2022's core muscle injury that cost him half the season is more of a concern. Larnach relies on such muscles for every swing he takes, every route to a fly ball he runs, and every rocket he throws into a base. The delay on his return alludes to the Twins making sure he’s at as little risk of aggravating this injury as possible. Headed into 2023 we have to hope it pays off. The second concern is whether Larnach can consistently channel his talent into on-field production. While injury has hampered his numbers to an extent these last two years, it’s easy to be concerned about him long-term given his swing-and-miss tendencies. Easily the biggest knock on his offensive profile, his incredible power and fantastic eye at the plate can easily be outweighed if he fails to make contact with pitches in the strike zone as we’ve seen at times in his young career. It would be nice if Larnach was more of a known commodity after two years of MLB exposure, especially given the murky futures of fellow top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Of the three, Larnach appears to be the most stable however due not only to the flashes of offensive and defensive value, but because of the nature of the injuries that have ended each of their seasons. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to be 100% confident in Larnach, but there has to be some hope that he can be the Opening Day left fielder and hold onto the job for the next 4-5 years. He’s shown a tremendous ceiling but he doesn’t have to reach it to be a valuable player. Max Kepler has spent the last three years providing league average offense at best and has still added value because of his defense. Larnach’s 2022 should provide hope that he can at the very least do the same while providing a much more balanced offensive profile aside from the strikeouts. Certainly, we have to be disappointed with Larnach’s 2022, but like most disappointing seasons, there are some redeeming qualities. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to argue against handing Larnach the keys to a starting job and seeing if it’s finally the year that it comes together. The Twins don’t have any immediate alternative options and it’s safe to say that if they want to prioritize replacing any outfielder, it should be the aforementioned Max Kepler. Larnach should be given another chance to make himself a piece of the Twins future. Do you agree? View full article
  6. You could certainly argue the Minnesota Twins were hoping for better in 2022. Obviously, you don’t sign someone like Carlos Correa with the intention that he doesn’t wind up playing postseason baseball. However, virtually every move made by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine this year set up an opportunity for those players to impact outcomes in 2023 as well. As things stand, operating on a handful of assumptions, the Twins should have something like $100 million to spend in the offseason. They put forth a franchise-record payroll in 2022, but that was less about an indication they were going for it, than it was a response to inflation and simply keeping up with the market. Next season the dollars should check in somewhere between $140-160 million based on incentives and complete operating expenses to acquire talent. Minnesota also has a significant amount of the active roster penciled in as potential fits. While it wasn’t able to be as nuanced through a tweet, suggesting that the Twins are a shortstop and bullpen help from rounding out their roster holds some weight. Sure, they would absolutely benefit from a starting pitching acquisition. The problem is they have four guys that are all already givens, while being very good options. Any addition would need to be at the level of Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray or better. There aren’t a ton of those out there, and you’d be hard-pressed to suggest a Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer type of signing being understandable. Maybe another bat would help, but you also have to figure out where they’ll get regular at-bats. Rocco Baldelli has been afforded lineup flexibility without a static designated hitter this season. The outfield returns Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Max Kepler, and Matt Wallner. At least a few of those players are entrenched in a long-term role here, and while you may make a move, the youth is full of high hopes and expectations. On the infield, you aren’t likely going to see Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda or Luis Arraez jettisoned. The hope would be that Royce Lewis can return quickly (July?). Gio Urshela may be a non-tender candidate, but that’s a decision for the front office. Behind the plate, there’ll be an expectation for Ryan Jeffers to fulfill the belief in him, but he will need a backup. Through a quick roster rundown, it becomes pretty apparent that shortstop and bullpen help are the biggest areas of opportunity for Minnesota. Filling the hole left by Carlos Correa will be a massive task should he not return. The Twins made the relief unit better by adding Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline, and they should get Jorge Alcala back in 2023. Maybe Cody Stashak can be a weapon again, but either way, that unit needs some more horses. Before even considering names to fill the spots, it should be relatively straightforward to suggest that Minnesota has plenty of resources to round out a roster not needing a ton of help. If the 2022 Twins were marred by injuries and ineffectiveness on the edges, then raising the water level where there were deficiencies and spending to fill holes is a pretty fair suggestion. The AL Central shouldn’t be expected to take a massive leap ahead in the next year, and once again, Minnesota can position themselves to be right in the thick of it.
  7. The Minnesota Twins are limping through September and it’s looking more like they’ll miss the postseason for a second straight year. Walking wounded and trying to make it through the finish line, there've been more than a handful of instances things have gone wrong. Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports Rocco Baldelli has done everything he can to hold this Twins team together. With the injured list total mounting, and lackluster output coming on the field, it’s been a perfect storm of negative outcomes this season. Unfortunately the bad omens came early on this year, and the hits really didn’t stop. Emilio Pagan takes his first loss On April 12 the Minnesota Twins faced the Los Angeles Dodgers at Target Field. It was an absolutely dominant series from the NL West champs, one in which Clayton Kershaw nearly threw a no-hitter. The front office flipped closers right before Opening Day, and Emilio Pagan was making his second appearance. He gave up a single hit and walk while being credited with a loss. The Dodgers rallied for six runs in the 8th inning and the game went up in smoke. In and of itself, that loss wasn’t entirely damning. It was foreshadowing though, and Pagan has all but sunk the Twins season. He’s racked up six blown saves and is also responsible for six losses. He’s routinely coughed up games against the Guardians, Minnesota’s toughest competition, and all season it’s been a belief in stuff that hasn’t provided any positive results. Byron Buxton jams his knee On April 15 playing against the Boston Red Sox, Byron Buxton slid awkwardly and jammed his knee into the ground. It looked awful and he reacted as such. Being lifted from the game, but walking off the field under his own power, Minnesota’s newly extended $100 million man seemed destined for the injured list. Instead, Buxton was back less than a week later and playing through general knee soreness. Sure, Byron has compiled 4.0 fWAR this season and has been worth every bit of his extension, but it’s been a constant battle as to whether the knee will hold up. He’s had it drained routinely throughout the year, and there have been fears of further damage due to the number of injections. Ultimately a hip injury landed him on the injured list and may end his season. Even with as good as he’s been, it’s hard not to think “what if” given a clean bill of health. There’s no denying the amount of strength this man has to play through what he did in 2022. Royce Lewis goes down The Minnesota Twins found themselves in a bind when record-setting free agent Carlos Correa was hit by a pitch. Despite having missed all of 2021 due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis established himself immediately on the farm this season and forced his debut at the highest level. In an 11-game cameo, he posted an .889 OPS and looked solid at shortstop. Sent back when Correa returned, Lewis then sought to enter the lineup elsewhere. Playing centerfield for Byron Buxton a leap at the wall on May 29 sent him to the ground. After some waiting on the swelling, it was determined he’d torn his ACL for a second time. Lewis looked like the breakout rookie Twins Territory could get behind. His debut had been heavily anticipated for some time, and then it all came crashing down in a matter of weeks. He’s on the road to recovery, but it’s not likely that he’ll be ready for Opening Day 2023. Minnesota will get their star prospect back, but waiting will be involved. Alex Kirilloff undergoes season-ending surgery, again On August 9 it was announced that Alex Kirilloff would again go under the knife in an attempt to fix his nagging wrist issues. After surgery last year shut him down, a more extensive procedure was required this time around. Kirilloff had looked like a shell of what expectations are, and aside from a brief hot stretch at Triple-A, he never found his power this year. After thinking things were trending in a better direction following the first surgery, Kirilloff revealed that his wrist had never fully recovered. He shut things down in the offseason, and was clearly bothered at the plate for Minnesota. After having to break and shorten his wrist, the hope would be that Kirilloff’s healing process goes smoothly and he can tap back into the player he was prior to the injury. Baserunning and Clutch Situations Without pointing to a specific circumstance, the Twins have been horrid once reaching base this year. Fangraphs keeps track of baserunning via the BsR metric, and only the Washington Nationals rank lower across the league than Minnesota this season. While aggressiveness is desirable, being thrown out by a longshot or running into outs has been something far too regular this season. There's also the ineptitude that Minnesota has displayed when hitting with runners in scoring position. Despite a lineup that should've been expected to score with regularity this season, the Twins have been shut out in nearly 10% of their games and routinely have taken poor at bats with runners in scoring position. What other lowlights come to mind for you this season? View full article
  8. Rocco Baldelli has done everything he can to hold this Twins team together. With the injured list total mounting, and lackluster output coming on the field, it’s been a perfect storm of negative outcomes this season. Unfortunately the bad omens came early on this year, and the hits really didn’t stop. Emilio Pagan takes his first loss On April 12 the Minnesota Twins faced the Los Angeles Dodgers at Target Field. It was an absolutely dominant series from the NL West champs, one in which Clayton Kershaw nearly threw a no-hitter. The front office flipped closers right before Opening Day, and Emilio Pagan was making his second appearance. He gave up a single hit and walk while being credited with a loss. The Dodgers rallied for six runs in the 8th inning and the game went up in smoke. In and of itself, that loss wasn’t entirely damning. It was foreshadowing though, and Pagan has all but sunk the Twins season. He’s racked up six blown saves and is also responsible for six losses. He’s routinely coughed up games against the Guardians, Minnesota’s toughest competition, and all season it’s been a belief in stuff that hasn’t provided any positive results. Byron Buxton jams his knee On April 15 playing against the Boston Red Sox, Byron Buxton slid awkwardly and jammed his knee into the ground. It looked awful and he reacted as such. Being lifted from the game, but walking off the field under his own power, Minnesota’s newly extended $100 million man seemed destined for the injured list. Instead, Buxton was back less than a week later and playing through general knee soreness. Sure, Byron has compiled 4.0 fWAR this season and has been worth every bit of his extension, but it’s been a constant battle as to whether the knee will hold up. He’s had it drained routinely throughout the year, and there have been fears of further damage due to the number of injections. Ultimately a hip injury landed him on the injured list and may end his season. Even with as good as he’s been, it’s hard not to think “what if” given a clean bill of health. There’s no denying the amount of strength this man has to play through what he did in 2022. Royce Lewis goes down The Minnesota Twins found themselves in a bind when record-setting free agent Carlos Correa was hit by a pitch. Despite having missed all of 2021 due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis established himself immediately on the farm this season and forced his debut at the highest level. In an 11-game cameo, he posted an .889 OPS and looked solid at shortstop. Sent back when Correa returned, Lewis then sought to enter the lineup elsewhere. Playing centerfield for Byron Buxton a leap at the wall on May 29 sent him to the ground. After some waiting on the swelling, it was determined he’d torn his ACL for a second time. Lewis looked like the breakout rookie Twins Territory could get behind. His debut had been heavily anticipated for some time, and then it all came crashing down in a matter of weeks. He’s on the road to recovery, but it’s not likely that he’ll be ready for Opening Day 2023. Minnesota will get their star prospect back, but waiting will be involved. Alex Kirilloff undergoes season-ending surgery, again On August 9 it was announced that Alex Kirilloff would again go under the knife in an attempt to fix his nagging wrist issues. After surgery last year shut him down, a more extensive procedure was required this time around. Kirilloff had looked like a shell of what expectations are, and aside from a brief hot stretch at Triple-A, he never found his power this year. After thinking things were trending in a better direction following the first surgery, Kirilloff revealed that his wrist had never fully recovered. He shut things down in the offseason, and was clearly bothered at the plate for Minnesota. After having to break and shorten his wrist, the hope would be that Kirilloff’s healing process goes smoothly and he can tap back into the player he was prior to the injury. Baserunning and Clutch Situations Without pointing to a specific circumstance, the Twins have been horrid once reaching base this year. Fangraphs keeps track of baserunning via the BsR metric, and only the Washington Nationals rank lower across the league than Minnesota this season. While aggressiveness is desirable, being thrown out by a longshot or running into outs has been something far too regular this season. There's also the ineptitude that Minnesota has displayed when hitting with runners in scoring position. Despite a lineup that should've been expected to score with regularity this season, the Twins have been shut out in nearly 10% of their games and routinely have taken poor at bats with runners in scoring position. What other lowlights come to mind for you this season?
  9. 2021 and 2022 held a lot of similarities for Trevor Larnach. In both cases, he burst onto the scene showing a glimpse of the lineup-changing hitter he’s capable of being. Unfortunately in both cases he tailed off in his production only for an injury to eventually come out as the main cause. So what do we think of Larnach moving forward? In 2021 Larnach began his season with a .845 OPS in May before the league adjusted. He posted a .704 mark in June and a brutal .518 in July. He would finish the season in St. Paul eventually being shut down with a hand issue, an injury that turned out to be nagging him for longer than Twins fans had known about. In 2022 Larnach looked even more encouraging. In March and April, Larnach posted a modest .703 OPS, actually above average for the offensive environment at the time. Then in May he posted an absurd 1.077 OPS. In addition to his hitting, his brief time in the majors was enough for teams to stop running on him in the outfield, as his throwing arm became a weapon against runners trying to get an extra base. Once again, however, he faded off in a huge way, posting an OPS of .429 in June before getting shut down at the end of the month for a core muscle injury he had been dealing with for the entire month. His timeline was 6-8 weeks putting him at a mid to late August return. At the time of this writing in mid-September, however, Larnach is finally making his first rehab appearance in the minors. With the calendar dwindling, it's likely at this point that Larnach’s 2022 season has come to an end, but he finishes with a modest .231/.306/.406 batting line which was heavily weighed down by a brutal final month. His 1.1 Wins Above Replacement in just 51 games played alludes to the possibility of an everyday regular in the lineup moving forward. But can we trust Larnach to fill such a role? The first concern at this point has to be health. Larnach has failed to reach 100 games played in each of the last two seasons due to injury. The hand contusion in 2021 may have been a fluke, but 2022's core muscle injury that cost him half the season is more of a concern. Larnach relies on such muscles for every swing he takes, every route to a fly ball he runs, and every rocket he throws into a base. The delay on his return alludes to the Twins making sure he’s at as little risk of aggravating this injury as possible. Headed into 2023 we have to hope it pays off. The second concern is whether Larnach can consistently channel his talent into on-field production. While injury has hampered his numbers to an extent these last two years, it’s easy to be concerned about him long-term given his swing-and-miss tendencies. Easily the biggest knock on his offensive profile, his incredible power and fantastic eye at the plate can easily be outweighed if he fails to make contact with pitches in the strike zone as we’ve seen at times in his young career. It would be nice if Larnach was more of a known commodity after two years of MLB exposure, especially given the murky futures of fellow top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Of the three, Larnach appears to be the most stable however due not only to the flashes of offensive and defensive value, but because of the nature of the injuries that have ended each of their seasons. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to be 100% confident in Larnach, but there has to be some hope that he can be the Opening Day left fielder and hold onto the job for the next 4-5 years. He’s shown a tremendous ceiling but he doesn’t have to reach it to be a valuable player. Max Kepler has spent the last three years providing league average offense at best and has still added value because of his defense. Larnach’s 2022 should provide hope that he can at the very least do the same while providing a much more balanced offensive profile aside from the strikeouts. Certainly, we have to be disappointed with Larnach’s 2022, but like most disappointing seasons, there are some redeeming qualities. Headed into 2023 it’s hard to argue against handing Larnach the keys to a starting job and seeing if it’s finally the year that it comes together. The Twins don’t have any immediate alternative options and it’s safe to say that if they want to prioritize replacing any outfielder, it should be the aforementioned Max Kepler. Larnach should be given another chance to make himself a piece of the Twins future. Do you agree?
  10. As we pick up the pieces on this 2022 Twins season, which looked so promising for so long, there will be plenty of hindsight analysis, parsing of blame. But it's all overshadowed by the ugly elephant in the room: a catastrophic, unrelenting onslaught of injuries. The reality is that, while this doesn't absolve the coaching staff or front office of any culpability, there was no preparing for this. No team could have survived the almost incomprehensible level of soul-crushing attrition the Twins faced this year. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker, USA Today Sports The purpose of this article is try and lay out, in no uncertain terms, the insurmountable magnitude of injuries and medical odysseys to which this year's Twins roster has been subjected. There are worthwhile conversations to be had about the way this team is managing players physically, evaluating new acquisitions, and handling rehab plans. But let's take a step back. When you acknowledge that, to a large degree, injury rates and recoveries are driven by luck and uncontrollable forces, I don't see much of a case for holding the manager or even the front office primarily accountable for what's gone down this season. There's no planning for, or adapting, to the way injuries have impacted this roster. There's no managing a bunch of backups and fourth-string options to sustained contention. I recognize this is very unsatisfying for those who demand accountability and want to see heads roll in the wake of such a disappointing turn of events. But when you remove emotion and try to see the situation objectively, I'm not sure how much more you could expect from the execs and decision makers dealt an unwinnable hand. Could they have done certain things better? Of course. Was it going to turn the unstoppable tide that has plunged this ship asunder? No. This side-by-side comparison of the injured lists for Cleveland and Minnesota, here in the heart of the stretch run, kind of says it all. Sixteen Twins players on IL, including several vital cornerstones, compared to three Guardians. How do you realistically overcome that? Let's review all these injuries that have torpedoed a promising season, and the context behind them. I've tried to order them from most devastating to least. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. When people talk about the 2022 season and what's gone wrong, I feel like this calamity gets glossed over way too much. To me, it is the '1A' headline for all the team's unmet potential. This horrible twist of fate is what I would categorize as unthinkably disastrous. Lewis and Kirilloff are two of the most important assets for this franchise. (I ranked them #3 and #4 during the offseason, behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco – also both currently on IL.) They are at the ages and junctures of development where you'd expect them to start making a real impact the major-league level, and both showed that ability in brief flashes this year. However, both of their seasons were ended in premature fashion. And in BOTH cases, major surgery was required to address the SAME injury that knocked them out for the previous season. (Did I mention this is essentially the third straight lost season for both?) Kirilloff's wrist surgery from last year didn't take, so now he's undergone a more invasive, last-ditch operation to try and alleviate the debilitating issue. Lewis, during his first game back in what appeared to be a permanent call-up, tore the very same ACL he had reconstructive surgery on last year. You can't make this stuff up. And what's most crushing about it all is that both of these absolutely critical players will inevitably be shrouded in doubt going forward. Can Lewis rebound from a second straight surgery on the same knee, especially when his game is founded on agility and foot speed? Will this somewhat experimental surgery for Kirilloff correct a problem that's been plaguing him for years now, sapping his most elite skill? Realistically, it's hard to feel much assurance on either front, and for that reason it's hard to feel optimistic about the Twins' immediate future. It really can't be overstated how disruptive these unforeseeable developments are for a front office trying to build a championship. Tyler Mahle and Chris Paddack. We all understand that Mahle and Paddack came with known injury risk to varying degrees. At the same time, so do a lot of trades. You've got to believe a club carefully reviews medicals and gains a level of comfort before pulling the trigger on significant deals like these ones. Yeah, it's easy to scream "incompetence" in hindsight. Too easy. There are a lot of top-of-field experts involved in these decisions. Maybe, taking each player on his own, it shouldn't be all that surprising that Mahle or Paddack succumbed to (likely) season-ending arm injuries. But for both to do so? And not only that, but for it happen SO quickly in both cases? Paddack made it to his fifth start before his partially torn UCL gave way, requiring elbow surgery. Mahle lasted only three before his velocity nosedived and a mysterious shoulder injury threatened to end his campaign. A combination of worst-case injury scenarios. Of course. And it really hurts, because the talent evaluation in both cases was sound. I genuinely believe that if healthy these would be the Twins' two best starters. Alas, much like Lewis and Kirilloff, their uncertain futures complicate the front office's planning going forward. Paddack will be coming back from a second Tommy John surgery. Who knows what's going on with Mahle but it seems impossible we'll go into the offseason feeling confident about his shoulder, with one year of team control left. Byron Buxton. Look, we know injuries for Buxton have to be expected and accounted for. They're baked into his legacy, and his new contract. Still, this year the gravity of his durability issues came into sharper focus than ever, primarily because it constitutes a "healthy" season for Buxton. He's already made the second-most plate appearances of his career. He avoided the injured list until August. He still might get to 100 games! And yet, that old injury phantom has conspicuously followed Buxton all year, ever since he came up slamming his hand into the dirt at Fenway one week in. Despite his mightiest efforts, he couldn't outrun his eternal tormentor, and now this season is wrapping up like so many before it: Buxton on the sidelines, watching his team fall short. I guess the point of this blurb is not so much about the micro misfortune of injuries sabotaging another year for Buxton, but more an observation about his appropriateness as face of the franchise: The Twins to lost their way into drafting one of the most talented, electric, special players in modern baseball history who also happens to be the (?) single-most injury prone at that level. Ryan Jeffers and Trevor Larnach. I group these two together because while neither injury was totally unforeseeable – catchers get hurt a lot by nature, and Larnach was also sidelined for much of last year – they definitely qualify as bad luck, and both absences led to huge drop-offs in terms of backup plans. Jeffers was having a reasonably solid season before suffering a thumb fracture in mid-July, which may cost him his entire second half. Larnach developed a sports hernia requiring surgery in mid-June, and still hasn't made it back yet. In both cases, the path to returning has arduously dragged well beyond original estimates, and continues to do so – another unfortunate commonality. With Jeffers sidelined, the Twins were left at catcher with the husk of Gary Sánchez and trade acquisition Sandy León, who'd been toiling in the minors for Cleveland. It's been ugly, much like the outfield in the absence of Larnach, Kirilloff and Buxton. Bailey Ober and Josh Winder. Winder is no longer on the injured list, but I view him much as the same as Ober: a homegrown talent, 25 years old and coming off a great season, clearly a core part of the Twins pitching plans. Granted, they both had their own warning labels coming into this season, but no clear red flags. As it turns out, both will end up maxing out around 50 innings pitched in the majors – big setback seasons for developing pitchers who will now be challenged to rebuild their workloads once again. In each case, the injury seems not well understood. Ober went down with a groin injury first framed as minor that never seemed to heal. Winder's had recurring bouts with an impinged, but structurally sound, shoulder dating back to last year. On their own, these are losses you could withstand, which is why they're relatively low on this list. But combined with all of the above? Getting almost nothing from Ober, or Winder, or Paddack, or their marquee deadline acquisition Mahle? How do you cobble together a decent rotation through all of that? The only Twins starting pitchers that have truly managed to stay healthy are the guys they signed cheaply to fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Jorgé Alcala and Matt Canterino. These two are lumped as high-upside relievers who could have had transformative impacts on the Twins bullpen, but instead fell victim to essentially worst-case scenarios with their elbows. Alcala missed all of this season; Canterino never made it to the majors and will likely miss all of the next one. Maybe these blows would've been easier to sustain if some of the relief contingency plans held up. However... Danny Coulombe, Cody Stashak, and Jhon Romero. None of these three were projected to be pivotal late-inning weapons, but they were all viewed as important parts of the depth mix. Coulombe and Romero were on the Opening Day roster, and Stashak a late cut. All suffered season-ending injuries early on. Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak. I have these two at the bottom because, unlike everyone above, no one realistically expected much out of them this year. But it would have been nice to get something, *anything* from either. Both have been derailed so much for both that it's easy to forget that, coming out of the 2020 season, we were envisioning each as key long-term pieces for the pitching staff. You can look back now and say, "Well the front office shouldn't have been planning around these guys." Or they shouldn't have traded for Paddack or Mahle and the associated risk. Or they shouldn't have committed to Buxton as a centerpiece, or they should have better medical personnel and training philosophies, and so on. There may be truth to these things. But you bet on players you like, and you accept a certain amount of risk. Otherwise, you end up where the previous front office was for so long, treading water in a pointless middle ground. At the end of the day, injuries happen. They're never as predictable or controllable or correctable as people want to believe. Sadly, this scourge has been especially prevalent for the Twins and, more sadly, a lot of these health woes are going to carry forward in terms of their implications. I firmly believe the front office built a team capable of winning the division this year, and Rocco Baldelli was the guy to lead that group. For a while, it was all coming together as planned. Unfortunately, the current team barely resembles what was built. View full article
  11. The purpose of this article is try and lay out, in no uncertain terms, the insurmountable magnitude of injuries and medical odysseys to which this year's Twins roster has been subjected. There are worthwhile conversations to be had about the way this team is managing players physically, evaluating new acquisitions, and handling rehab plans. But let's take a step back. When you acknowledge that, to a large degree, injury rates and recoveries are driven by luck and uncontrollable forces, I don't see much of a case for holding the manager or even the front office primarily accountable for what's gone down this season. There's no planning for, or adapting, to the way injuries have impacted this roster. There's no managing a bunch of backups and fourth-string options to sustained contention. I recognize this is very unsatisfying for those who demand accountability and want to see heads roll in the wake of such a disappointing turn of events. But when you remove emotion and try to see the situation objectively, I'm not sure how much more you could expect from the execs and decision makers dealt an unwinnable hand. Could they have done certain things better? Of course. Was it going to turn the unstoppable tide that has plunged this ship asunder? No. This side-by-side comparison of the injured lists for Cleveland and Minnesota, here in the heart of the stretch run, kind of says it all. Sixteen Twins players on IL, including several vital cornerstones, compared to three Guardians. How do you realistically overcome that? Let's review all these injuries that have torpedoed a promising season, and the context behind them. I've tried to order them from most devastating to least. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. When people talk about the 2022 season and what's gone wrong, I feel like this calamity gets glossed over way too much. To me, it is the '1A' headline for all the team's unmet potential. This horrible twist of fate is what I would categorize as unthinkably disastrous. Lewis and Kirilloff are two of the most important assets for this franchise. (I ranked them #3 and #4 during the offseason, behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco – also both currently on IL.) They are at the ages and junctures of development where you'd expect them to start making a real impact the major-league level, and both showed that ability in brief flashes this year. However, both of their seasons were ended in premature fashion. And in BOTH cases, major surgery was required to address the SAME injury that knocked them out for the previous season. (Did I mention this is essentially the third straight lost season for both?) Kirilloff's wrist surgery from last year didn't take, so now he's undergone a more invasive, last-ditch operation to try and alleviate the debilitating issue. Lewis, during his first game back in what appeared to be a permanent call-up, tore the very same ACL he had reconstructive surgery on last year. You can't make this stuff up. And what's most crushing about it all is that both of these absolutely critical players will inevitably be shrouded in doubt going forward. Can Lewis rebound from a second straight surgery on the same knee, especially when his game is founded on agility and foot speed? Will this somewhat experimental surgery for Kirilloff correct a problem that's been plaguing him for years now, sapping his most elite skill? Realistically, it's hard to feel much assurance on either front, and for that reason it's hard to feel optimistic about the Twins' immediate future. It really can't be overstated how disruptive these unforeseeable developments are for a front office trying to build a championship. Tyler Mahle and Chris Paddack. We all understand that Mahle and Paddack came with known injury risk to varying degrees. At the same time, so do a lot of trades. You've got to believe a club carefully reviews medicals and gains a level of comfort before pulling the trigger on significant deals like these ones. Yeah, it's easy to scream "incompetence" in hindsight. Too easy. There are a lot of top-of-field experts involved in these decisions. Maybe, taking each player on his own, it shouldn't be all that surprising that Mahle or Paddack succumbed to (likely) season-ending arm injuries. But for both to do so? And not only that, but for it happen SO quickly in both cases? Paddack made it to his fifth start before his partially torn UCL gave way, requiring elbow surgery. Mahle lasted only three before his velocity nosedived and a mysterious shoulder injury threatened to end his campaign. A combination of worst-case injury scenarios. Of course. And it really hurts, because the talent evaluation in both cases was sound. I genuinely believe that if healthy these would be the Twins' two best starters. Alas, much like Lewis and Kirilloff, their uncertain futures complicate the front office's planning going forward. Paddack will be coming back from a second Tommy John surgery. Who knows what's going on with Mahle but it seems impossible we'll go into the offseason feeling confident about his shoulder, with one year of team control left. Byron Buxton. Look, we know injuries for Buxton have to be expected and accounted for. They're baked into his legacy, and his new contract. Still, this year the gravity of his durability issues came into sharper focus than ever, primarily because it constitutes a "healthy" season for Buxton. He's already made the second-most plate appearances of his career. He avoided the injured list until August. He still might get to 100 games! And yet, that old injury phantom has conspicuously followed Buxton all year, ever since he came up slamming his hand into the dirt at Fenway one week in. Despite his mightiest efforts, he couldn't outrun his eternal tormentor, and now this season is wrapping up like so many before it: Buxton on the sidelines, watching his team fall short. I guess the point of this blurb is not so much about the micro misfortune of injuries sabotaging another year for Buxton, but more an observation about his appropriateness as face of the franchise: The Twins to lost their way into drafting one of the most talented, electric, special players in modern baseball history who also happens to be the (?) single-most injury prone at that level. Ryan Jeffers and Trevor Larnach. I group these two together because while neither injury was totally unforeseeable – catchers get hurt a lot by nature, and Larnach was also sidelined for much of last year – they definitely qualify as bad luck, and both absences led to huge drop-offs in terms of backup plans. Jeffers was having a reasonably solid season before suffering a thumb fracture in mid-July, which may cost him his entire second half. Larnach developed a sports hernia requiring surgery in mid-June, and still hasn't made it back yet. In both cases, the path to returning has arduously dragged well beyond original estimates, and continues to do so – another unfortunate commonality. With Jeffers sidelined, the Twins were left at catcher with the husk of Gary Sánchez and trade acquisition Sandy León, who'd been toiling in the minors for Cleveland. It's been ugly, much like the outfield in the absence of Larnach, Kirilloff and Buxton. Bailey Ober and Josh Winder. Winder is no longer on the injured list, but I view him much as the same as Ober: a homegrown talent, 25 years old and coming off a great season, clearly a core part of the Twins pitching plans. Granted, they both had their own warning labels coming into this season, but no clear red flags. As it turns out, both will end up maxing out around 50 innings pitched in the majors – big setback seasons for developing pitchers who will now be challenged to rebuild their workloads once again. In each case, the injury seems not well understood. Ober went down with a groin injury first framed as minor that never seemed to heal. Winder's had recurring bouts with an impinged, but structurally sound, shoulder dating back to last year. On their own, these are losses you could withstand, which is why they're relatively low on this list. But combined with all of the above? Getting almost nothing from Ober, or Winder, or Paddack, or their marquee deadline acquisition Mahle? How do you cobble together a decent rotation through all of that? The only Twins starting pitchers that have truly managed to stay healthy are the guys they signed cheaply to fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Jorgé Alcala and Matt Canterino. These two are lumped as high-upside relievers who could have had transformative impacts on the Twins bullpen, but instead fell victim to essentially worst-case scenarios with their elbows. Alcala missed all of this season; Canterino never made it to the majors and will likely miss all of the next one. Maybe these blows would've been easier to sustain if some of the relief contingency plans held up. However... Danny Coulombe, Cody Stashak, and Jhon Romero. None of these three were projected to be pivotal late-inning weapons, but they were all viewed as important parts of the depth mix. Coulombe and Romero were on the Opening Day roster, and Stashak a late cut. All suffered season-ending injuries early on. Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak. I have these two at the bottom because, unlike everyone above, no one realistically expected much out of them this year. But it would have been nice to get something, *anything* from either. Both have been derailed so much for both that it's easy to forget that, coming out of the 2020 season, we were envisioning each as key long-term pieces for the pitching staff. You can look back now and say, "Well the front office shouldn't have been planning around these guys." Or they shouldn't have traded for Paddack or Mahle and the associated risk. Or they shouldn't have committed to Buxton as a centerpiece, or they should have better medical personnel and training philosophies, and so on. There may be truth to these things. But you bet on players you like, and you accept a certain amount of risk. Otherwise, you end up where the previous front office was for so long, treading water in a pointless middle ground. At the end of the day, injuries happen. They're never as predictable or controllable or correctable as people want to believe. Sadly, this scourge has been especially prevalent for the Twins and, more sadly, a lot of these health woes are going to carry forward in terms of their implications. I firmly believe the front office built a team capable of winning the division this year, and Rocco Baldelli was the guy to lead that group. For a while, it was all coming together as planned. Unfortunately, the current team barely resembles what was built.
  12. Coming off a 2021 Major League Baseball season that the Minnesota Twins would like to forget, there’s no denying that this version of the club has been much better. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that didn’t expect more of this club, and while injuries have caused problems, there’s been performances leaving much to be desired. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports Plenty of blame has been placed on Rocco Baldelli and the combination of Derek Flavey and Thad Levine. Some of that may be warranted, but the production, or lack thereof, falls on the shoulders of players. Whether through injury or ineffectiveness, Minnesota was certainly hoping to get more than they did this season from several different talents. There have been a few guys that could find themselves contending for the least valuable player to the Twins this season, but these five are the ones that stick out to me. Joe Smith Over the offseason there was only one bullpen addition made to a team that needed a turnaround in relief. Smith came in as a 38-year-old with shaky peripherals from last season. He’s a slider pitcher with a funk delivery that relies on deception to carry him. At no point was anyone deceived and the modest strikeout totals he used to generate never were present. Smith gave up homers in bunches and the largest issue here was probably that the front office held on too long. Jorge Alcala Disappointing not for performance, but lack thereof, Alcala was expected to be a key contributor in this bullpen. He was arguably the guy expected to step up as Jhoan Duran has, but ultimately contributed just three innings this season. Alcala suffered an arm injury and then setback after setback before his continually delayed timeline was updated to be through the end of the season. He’d be a big boost for the 2023 squad, but it’s hard to count on what he may be at that point. Alex Kirilloff Another injury-riddled season, Kirilloff underwent season-ending wrist surgery a year ago. Then he shut down his offseason routine because it didn’t entirely heal. He played through it for a while with muted results, went to St. Paul figured out how to make it work, then saw it flare up to the point of being unusable. Kirilloff was expected to be the first baseman and play plenty for Minnesota. Instead he underwent an even more significant procedure and now is a massive question mark coming into 2023. Still young, he can be an integral part of this club’s future, but his health must get right first. Gary Sanchez Acquired to be a rotational catcher with Ryan Jeffers, Sanchez was billed as being a potential solution given a fresh chance. Despite leaving New York, he’s been the same bad catcher we’ve seen for years, and without the occasional longball, there’d be no highlights to touch on at all. Ryan Jeffers going down for a significant period of time has only highlighted how little Sanchez can be relied upon on a daily basis. Emilio Pagan Acquired the day before the season began, Minnesota saw an opportunity to acquire value in the form of Chris Paddack. Taylor Rogers didn’t work out for the Padres and was ultimately shipped to Milwaukee, but Pagan could single-handedly be blamed as the reason Minnesota would wind up losing the division. He’s been given opportunity because of his raw stuff, but with little ability to execute, he’s proven to be the same pitcher Tampa Bay gave up on a handful of years ago. View full article
  13. Plenty of blame has been placed on Rocco Baldelli and the combination of Derek Flavey and Thad Levine. Some of that may be warranted, but the production, or lack thereof, falls on the shoulders of players. Whether through injury or ineffectiveness, Minnesota was certainly hoping to get more than they did this season from several different talents. There have been a few guys that could find themselves contending for the least valuable player to the Twins this season, but these five are the ones that stick out to me. Joe Smith Over the offseason there was only one bullpen addition made to a team that needed a turnaround in relief. Smith came in as a 38-year-old with shaky peripherals from last season. He’s a slider pitcher with a funk delivery that relies on deception to carry him. At no point was anyone deceived and the modest strikeout totals he used to generate never were present. Smith gave up homers in bunches and the largest issue here was probably that the front office held on too long. Jorge Alcala Disappointing not for performance, but lack thereof, Alcala was expected to be a key contributor in this bullpen. He was arguably the guy expected to step up as Jhoan Duran has, but ultimately contributed just three innings this season. Alcala suffered an arm injury and then setback after setback before his continually delayed timeline was updated to be through the end of the season. He’d be a big boost for the 2023 squad, but it’s hard to count on what he may be at that point. Alex Kirilloff Another injury-riddled season, Kirilloff underwent season-ending wrist surgery a year ago. Then he shut down his offseason routine because it didn’t entirely heal. He played through it for a while with muted results, went to St. Paul figured out how to make it work, then saw it flare up to the point of being unusable. Kirilloff was expected to be the first baseman and play plenty for Minnesota. Instead he underwent an even more significant procedure and now is a massive question mark coming into 2023. Still young, he can be an integral part of this club’s future, but his health must get right first. Gary Sanchez Acquired to be a rotational catcher with Ryan Jeffers, Sanchez was billed as being a potential solution given a fresh chance. Despite leaving New York, he’s been the same bad catcher we’ve seen for years, and without the occasional longball, there’d be no highlights to touch on at all. Ryan Jeffers going down for a significant period of time has only highlighted how little Sanchez can be relied upon on a daily basis. Emilio Pagan Acquired the day before the season began, Minnesota saw an opportunity to acquire value in the form of Chris Paddack. Taylor Rogers didn’t work out for the Padres and was ultimately shipped to Milwaukee, but Pagan could single-handedly be blamed as the reason Minnesota would wind up losing the division. He’s been given opportunity because of his raw stuff, but with little ability to execute, he’s proven to be the same pitcher Tampa Bay gave up on a handful of years ago.
  14. The Pioneer Press’s Betsy Helfand—among others—relayed that Alex Kirilloff will have his ulna bone shortened during the procedure. The ulna is one of the two bones of the forearm and sits on the inner side when your palms are facing forward and hands are at your side. Kirilloff recently received a cortisone injection into his right wrist in an effort to reduce the pain he experienced while swinging and underwent surgery last summer to “separate a bone” from his ulna due to the forearm bone being atypically long as well as the presence of cartilage damage. The Twins and Kirilloff had been adamant since Spring Training that there has been no evidence of damage in his wrist since he underwent his first procedure despite lingering pain. As such, he was likely dealing with ideopathic ulnar impaction syndrome, a condition in which an individual experiences ulnar-sided wrist pain and reduced wrist range of motion despite a lack of anatomical damage. As a left-handed batter, Kirilloff’s right wrist undergoes ulnar deviation during each swing. This action pushes the bones of the wrist—specifically the lunate and triquetrum—against the ulna. Additionally, a structure known as the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC)—a mix of dense cartilage and ligaments—sits between the lunate, triquetrum, and ulna. In essence, the TFCC gets sandwiched between the three bones and is subjected to shearing and torsional forces during each swing, which increases the odds of tearing. An abnormally long ulna would only serve to increase the force placed on the TFCC, at least in theory. The most likely procedure that Kirilloff will have is known as ulnar shortening osteotomy, during which the ulna is fractured, manually shortened, and re-connected with plates and screws. (He will likely also have the TFCC either repaired or shaved.) This procedure reduces pressure on the TFCC and should, again theoretically, reduce the pain Kirilloff experiences with each swing. Ulnar shortening osteotomies have shown good promise in the general population, but there exists a dearth of evidence among athletes. As such, it’s unclear how long Kirilloff will remain sidelined, though the Twins are reportedly hopefully he will be ready by Spring Training 2023. Kirilloff joins Royce Lewis as top Twins prospects who have had back-to-back seasons compromised by season-ending surgery. Kirilloff also missed the 2017 season with Tommy John surgery and the 2020 campaign due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  15. The Minnesota Twins announced Sunday morning that promising first baseman Alex Kirilloff will be undergoing his second wrist surgery in as many seasons later next week in California and will miss the remainder of the season. The Pioneer Press’s Betsy Helfand—among others—relayed that Alex Kirilloff will have his ulna bone shortened during the procedure. The ulna is one of the two bones of the forearm and sits on the inner side when your palms are facing forward and hands are at your side. Kirilloff recently received a cortisone injection into his right wrist in an effort to reduce the pain he experienced while swinging and underwent surgery last summer to “separate a bone” from his ulna due to the forearm bone being atypically long as well as the presence of cartilage damage. The Twins and Kirilloff had been adamant since Spring Training that there has been no evidence of damage in his wrist since he underwent his first procedure despite lingering pain. As such, he was likely dealing with ideopathic ulnar impaction syndrome, a condition in which an individual experiences ulnar-sided wrist pain and reduced wrist range of motion despite a lack of anatomical damage. As a left-handed batter, Kirilloff’s right wrist undergoes ulnar deviation during each swing. This action pushes the bones of the wrist—specifically the lunate and triquetrum—against the ulna. Additionally, a structure known as the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC)—a mix of dense cartilage and ligaments—sits between the lunate, triquetrum, and ulna. In essence, the TFCC gets sandwiched between the three bones and is subjected to shearing and torsional forces during each swing, which increases the odds of tearing. An abnormally long ulna would only serve to increase the force placed on the TFCC, at least in theory. The most likely procedure that Kirilloff will have is known as ulnar shortening osteotomy, during which the ulna is fractured, manually shortened, and re-connected with plates and screws. (He will likely also have the TFCC either repaired or shaved.) This procedure reduces pressure on the TFCC and should, again theoretically, reduce the pain Kirilloff experiences with each swing. Ulnar shortening osteotomies have shown good promise in the general population, but there exists a dearth of evidence among athletes. As such, it’s unclear how long Kirilloff will remain sidelined, though the Twins are reportedly hopefully he will be ready by Spring Training 2023. Kirilloff joins Royce Lewis as top Twins prospects who have had back-to-back seasons compromised by season-ending surgery. Kirilloff also missed the 2017 season with Tommy John surgery and the 2020 campaign due to the Covid-19 pandemic. View full article
  16. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/1 through Sun, 8/7 *** Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 57-51) Run Differential Last Week: +1 (Overall: +27) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA) Last Week's Game Results: Game 102 | MIN 5, DET 3: Miranda and Urshela Deliver in the Clutch Game 103 | DET 5, MIN 3: Active Deadline Day Ends in Quiet Loss Game 104 | MIN 4, DET 1: Newcomers Contribute in Series Clincher Game 105 | TOR 9, MIN 3: Bullpen Breaks Down as Blue Jays Roll Game 106 | MIN 6, TOR 5: Twins Walk Off Toronto in Wild Win Game 107 | MIN 7, TOR 3: Revamped Pen Provides 5 Strong Innings Game 108 | TOR 3, MIN 2: Comeback Falls Short in Controversial Finish NEWS & NOTES The Twins front office made an emphatic statement at the trade deadline, leaning into the buyer position like never before with a string of significant moves while their competitors in the division were largely quiet. Here's a rundown of the prospect-for-vet deals that took place on Monday and Tuesday: Acquired starting pitcher Tyler Mahle from the Reds for IF Spencer Steer, OF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and LHP Steve Hajjar. Acquired closer Jorge López from the Orioles for LHPs Cade Povich and Juan Rojas, RHPs Yennier Canó and Juan Nunez. Acquired setup man Michael Fulmer from the Tigers for RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long. Acquired backup catcher Sandy León from Guardians for RHP Ian Hamilton. Through this assertive series of trades, the Twins effectively addressed every glaring weakness on their roster, fortifying their standing in the AL Central while the two teams chasing them – Chicago and Cleveland – showed minimal initiative. With a historically aggressive deadline coming on the heels of signing Carlos Correa just before the season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are redefining a traditionally passive franchise's mettle. The Minnesota Twins are officially swimming in the deep end, albeit perhaps struggling to stay afloat. Their deadline haul came at a cost. While the Twins were able to avoid parting with any of their very best prospects, they had to give up several good ones, some of whom are sure to haunt them down the road. But that's the cost of doing business. Speaking of which, the business side of baseball was felt be a couple of veteran relievers supplanted by these deadline additions. Joe Smith, the team's lone MLB free agent bullpen during the past offseason, was released after posting a 9.22 ERA in his last 18 appearances. Tyler Duffey was designated for assignment, his 11.81 post-break ERA convincing the Twins there was nothing left in the tank. Fellow veteran pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Jharrel Cotton were also ousted from the 40-man roster, but stuck in the organization at Triple-A after clearing DFA waivers. It's good news for the Twins from a depth perspective, because Cotton's been a solid piece when called upon and Sanchez actually looked mildly intriguing in his spot start on Monday. We could see either (or both) yet again this year. We probably won't be seeing Miguel Sanó, who landed on the 60-day IL with a flare-up of his knee injury. And we definitely won't be seeing Jorge Alcalá, who underwent season-ending elbow debridement surgery. Alex Kirilloff, sadly, is also done for the year. He's undergoing a rare surgery that involves deliberately breaking his ulna bone, shortening it, and then reconnecting it with plates and screws, in an effort to create space and reduce the painful friction impeding his swing. Needless to say it's a highly invasive procedure, of which Kirilloff said earlier this year, "I really hope it doesn't get to that." Well, here we are. The Twins are hopeful that Kirilloff will be ready for spring training next year, but there is no guarantee this course of action will deliver the desired results. It's rarely been done for baseball players. Hard as it is to say, this really feels like a last-ditch effort to save the 24-year-old's promising career. If it doesn't take ... then what? All we can do now is wait and hope, while reckoning with the reality that Minnesota will be without one of its most crucial bats the rest of the way. A colossal bummer. In other roster news: José Godoy was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh. He was no longer useful to the Twins following the addition of León. Kyle Garlick was placed on IL due to a ribcage injury suffered in a wall collision. Gilberto Celestino returned to the roster in his stead. Caleb Thielbar was activated from IL, with Jovani Moran optioned to Triple-A. Cole Sands was also recalled in place of Sanchez. Max Kepler was activated on Saturday, sending Mark Contreras back to Triple-A. HIGHLIGHTS Nick Gordon stole the show in Friday night's victory over Toronto at Target Field, delivering a huge three-run homer against José Berríos early on and sliding across home with the winning run in the 10th. Finally healthy after long bouts with digestive issues, Gordon is showing the power that made him a top draft pick and highly touted prospect in the low minors. While swinging at almost everything, he keeps on barreling up with amazing frequency, causing the ball to consistently jump off his bat. Starting all seven games last week, he went 10-for-30 with the homer, three doubles, five RBIs, and – most refreshingly – four walks. Also instrumental in Friday's victory was Fulmer, who's making his impact in the late innings felt since being acquired minutes ahead of Tuesday's deadline. After firing a scoreless inning in his first Twins appearance on Wednesday, Fulmer drew the tough assignment of pitching the 10th Friday with a runner starting on second. He worked around a walk and a single to strike out the side and set up a walk-off in the bottom half. The Twins found themselves needing to win in the 10th because the new closer López had experienced a blown save in the ninth. However, it wasn't the type of performance that raises alarm. Toronto was able to string together a few singles and get a run across, without much in the way of hard contact. Two days earlier, in his Minnesota debut, López pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on seven pitches to secure his first save as a Twin and a series win. He followed up with a clean ninth on Saturday, despite having thrown 30 pitches the previous night. It's immediately evident the Twins see in their new closer a rubber arm that hasn't existed in their bullpen up to this point. While the new guys flashed their stuff, the incumbents at the back end of the bullpen made sure to remind us they're still here, and still important. Jhoan Durán was his usual dominant self, tossing 3 ⅔ scoreless innings while unveiling a new intro experience at Target Field. With López (who also got a light-dimming walkout treatment) now aboard, Durán has been fully fitted into a fireman role where he can be deployed in the highest-leverage of situations at any time, without a thought to hold him back for a later tight lead. This was evident on Friday night, when he came in to pitch the eighth inning of a one-run game, and on Saturday night, when he relieved Griffin Jax amidst a threat with two on, one out, and a couple heavy hitters coming up. Durán leads all AL relievers in Win Probability Added and he only figures to further extend his margin in this role, so long as he can stay healthy and keep dominating. Pending the former, there is little doubt of the latter, given how Durán has managed to make us all forget about his one supposed weakness (proneness to home runs – remember that?). An unsung hero and emerging weapon in this bullpen is Thielbar, who came off the IL and immediately made his presence felt. The lefty tossed a scoreless seventh in Wednesday's series-clinching win over Detroit, and looked dominant while mowing down four Blue Jays hitters on Saturday. Thielbar has had a few random blow-ups on the mound this year, but he's nearly two months removed from the last one and has otherwise been downright excellent. His Statcast measurables portray a guy who is throwing top-notch stuff and stifling opposing hitters. Finally, we can't run through the week's bright spots without once again mentioning rookie sensation José Miranda, who just keeps on cooking. Now routinely batting cleanup against lefties, Miranda's living up to that billing as a run-producing machine, with eight RBIs in an 8-for-26 week that included a double and home run. Miranda has the third-highest OPS on the team, trailing only All-Stars Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez. He is 24 years old. LOWLIGHTS Even with all its upgrades, the pitching staff still has its warts. Those definitely showed through on Thursday, when Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, and Duffey gave up three runs apiece in relief of Sonny Gray, turning a 1-0 lead into a 9-3 blowout loss. Duffey's dud performance proved to be the final straw, as his DFA was announced the following day. Subtracting from the bottom of the bullpen while adding at the top is a good way to turn around a drastically underperforming unit, but the fact remains: lower-tier guys are going to need to throw some innings and the Twins need better out of them than we saw against Toronto. When you play a lot of close games, as Minnesota does, everyone's going to have to pitch in relatively high leverage at times. With Canó shipped out, and Alcalá and Danny Coulombe down for the year, reinforcements have grown thin. Pagán came out of Sunday's game after wincing on a pitch, so he might be at risk of joining the fallen. The long ball, which bit Pagán and Duffey on Thursday, has been an all-too-common culprit for the entire Twins staff. They've surrendered the second-most home runs in the American League. This affliction touched the newest member of the Twins rotation on Friday, when Mahle narrowed a 5-0 lead to 5-4 by giving up three homers against the Blue Jays. It was the most allowed in a start by Mahle since May 2nd of 2021 – kind of ironic given all the steam about escaping from Cincinnati's homer-happy ballpark being his ticket to the next level. Ultimately, it is not memories of any home runs allowed that leave the Twins and their fans shaking their heads in the wake of this eventful week. It's the way it ended: a highly controversial and game-altering overturn of an out call at home plate, after Tim Beckham threw a pea from left field that beat Whit Merrifield. Gary Sánchez's successful tag-out was denied on the grounds that he violated MLB's nebulous home-plate collision rule – a notion that manager Rocco Baldelli took issue with to say the least. He immediately charged on the field, whipped his hat, and exploded into an animated tirade like we've never seen from him before. In his post-game rant, the typically even-keeled Baldelli pulled no punches. I'm inclined to agree with his viewpoint. This sour finish to an otherwise entertaining and compelling series against one of Minnesota's key rivals in the American League leaves a bad taste as we turn the page to Monday. TRENDING STORYLINE Trevor Larnach is now officially six weeks removed from undergoing a surgery that was estimated to have a six-week recovery time. On Sunday, the Twins lumped him into a larger group of players they are "hopeful" to get back in September, which is interesting since there've been no reports of a setback (to my knowledge) and we've still got three weeks left of August. The Twins could certainly use Larnach's pre-injury bat because they've been thinned out significantly in the outfield with Garlick and Kirilloff both on the shelf and Buxton continuing to be limited by his knee (he's started in center field just three times since the All-Star break). While outfield fill-ins like Gordon, Contreras, and Jake Cave all deserve credit for stepping up at various moments, getting back Larnach would make a huge difference. For a stretch early on, he was arguably the best hitter in the lineup, slashing .300/.375/.511 in his first 30 games before the core injury seemed to start taking its toll. If that issue is fully corrected by the surgery, and Larnach quickly returns to full strength ... look out. Hopefully in the coming week we'll get a little more clarity on his specific situation and rehab timeline. LOOKING AHEAD Another week of ample rest lies ahead, with days off on both Monday and Thursday bookending a two-game road series against the Dodgers. The Twins would be wise to savor them, because after this they won't have another scheduled break in the month of August. With left-handers on the docket for at least four of five games in the coming week, Garlick's bat will be missed and Gordon's offensive impact will be negated. Can guys like Celestino and Tim Beckham step up on a big West Coast road trip? TUESDAY, 8/9: TWINS @ DODGERS – RHP Joe Ryan v. LHP Julio Urias WEDNESDAY, 8/10: TWINS @ DODGERS – RHP Sonny Gray v. TBD FRIDAY, 8/12: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Tyler Mahle v. LHP Patrick Sandoval SATURDAY, 8/13: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. LHP Reid Detmers SUNDAY, 8/14: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Tucker Davidson
  17. It was an eventful week that saw the Twins make several key additions at the trade deadline, part with multiple bullpen fixtures from the first half, and put forth a winning week on the field – dampened by a sour finish. Let's get caught up on all the action. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/1 through Sun, 8/7 *** Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 57-51) Run Differential Last Week: +1 (Overall: +27) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA) Last Week's Game Results: Game 102 | MIN 5, DET 3: Miranda and Urshela Deliver in the Clutch Game 103 | DET 5, MIN 3: Active Deadline Day Ends in Quiet Loss Game 104 | MIN 4, DET 1: Newcomers Contribute in Series Clincher Game 105 | TOR 9, MIN 3: Bullpen Breaks Down as Blue Jays Roll Game 106 | MIN 6, TOR 5: Twins Walk Off Toronto in Wild Win Game 107 | MIN 7, TOR 3: Revamped Pen Provides 5 Strong Innings Game 108 | TOR 3, MIN 2: Comeback Falls Short in Controversial Finish NEWS & NOTES The Twins front office made an emphatic statement at the trade deadline, leaning into the buyer position like never before with a string of significant moves while their competitors in the division were largely quiet. Here's a rundown of the prospect-for-vet deals that took place on Monday and Tuesday: Acquired starting pitcher Tyler Mahle from the Reds for IF Spencer Steer, OF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and LHP Steve Hajjar. Acquired closer Jorge López from the Orioles for LHPs Cade Povich and Juan Rojas, RHPs Yennier Canó and Juan Nunez. Acquired setup man Michael Fulmer from the Tigers for RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long. Acquired backup catcher Sandy León from Guardians for RHP Ian Hamilton. Through this assertive series of trades, the Twins effectively addressed every glaring weakness on their roster, fortifying their standing in the AL Central while the two teams chasing them – Chicago and Cleveland – showed minimal initiative. With a historically aggressive deadline coming on the heels of signing Carlos Correa just before the season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are redefining a traditionally passive franchise's mettle. The Minnesota Twins are officially swimming in the deep end, albeit perhaps struggling to stay afloat. Their deadline haul came at a cost. While the Twins were able to avoid parting with any of their very best prospects, they had to give up several good ones, some of whom are sure to haunt them down the road. But that's the cost of doing business. Speaking of which, the business side of baseball was felt be a couple of veteran relievers supplanted by these deadline additions. Joe Smith, the team's lone MLB free agent bullpen during the past offseason, was released after posting a 9.22 ERA in his last 18 appearances. Tyler Duffey was designated for assignment, his 11.81 post-break ERA convincing the Twins there was nothing left in the tank. Fellow veteran pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Jharrel Cotton were also ousted from the 40-man roster, but stuck in the organization at Triple-A after clearing DFA waivers. It's good news for the Twins from a depth perspective, because Cotton's been a solid piece when called upon and Sanchez actually looked mildly intriguing in his spot start on Monday. We could see either (or both) yet again this year. We probably won't be seeing Miguel Sanó, who landed on the 60-day IL with a flare-up of his knee injury. And we definitely won't be seeing Jorge Alcalá, who underwent season-ending elbow debridement surgery. Alex Kirilloff, sadly, is also done for the year. He's undergoing a rare surgery that involves deliberately breaking his ulna bone, shortening it, and then reconnecting it with plates and screws, in an effort to create space and reduce the painful friction impeding his swing. Needless to say it's a highly invasive procedure, of which Kirilloff said earlier this year, "I really hope it doesn't get to that." Well, here we are. The Twins are hopeful that Kirilloff will be ready for spring training next year, but there is no guarantee this course of action will deliver the desired results. It's rarely been done for baseball players. Hard as it is to say, this really feels like a last-ditch effort to save the 24-year-old's promising career. If it doesn't take ... then what? All we can do now is wait and hope, while reckoning with the reality that Minnesota will be without one of its most crucial bats the rest of the way. A colossal bummer. In other roster news: José Godoy was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh. He was no longer useful to the Twins following the addition of León. Kyle Garlick was placed on IL due to a ribcage injury suffered in a wall collision. Gilberto Celestino returned to the roster in his stead. Caleb Thielbar was activated from IL, with Jovani Moran optioned to Triple-A. Cole Sands was also recalled in place of Sanchez. Max Kepler was activated on Saturday, sending Mark Contreras back to Triple-A. HIGHLIGHTS Nick Gordon stole the show in Friday night's victory over Toronto at Target Field, delivering a huge three-run homer against José Berríos early on and sliding across home with the winning run in the 10th. Finally healthy after long bouts with digestive issues, Gordon is showing the power that made him a top draft pick and highly touted prospect in the low minors. While swinging at almost everything, he keeps on barreling up with amazing frequency, causing the ball to consistently jump off his bat. Starting all seven games last week, he went 10-for-30 with the homer, three doubles, five RBIs, and – most refreshingly – four walks. Also instrumental in Friday's victory was Fulmer, who's making his impact in the late innings felt since being acquired minutes ahead of Tuesday's deadline. After firing a scoreless inning in his first Twins appearance on Wednesday, Fulmer drew the tough assignment of pitching the 10th Friday with a runner starting on second. He worked around a walk and a single to strike out the side and set up a walk-off in the bottom half. The Twins found themselves needing to win in the 10th because the new closer López had experienced a blown save in the ninth. However, it wasn't the type of performance that raises alarm. Toronto was able to string together a few singles and get a run across, without much in the way of hard contact. Two days earlier, in his Minnesota debut, López pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on seven pitches to secure his first save as a Twin and a series win. He followed up with a clean ninth on Saturday, despite having thrown 30 pitches the previous night. It's immediately evident the Twins see in their new closer a rubber arm that hasn't existed in their bullpen up to this point. While the new guys flashed their stuff, the incumbents at the back end of the bullpen made sure to remind us they're still here, and still important. Jhoan Durán was his usual dominant self, tossing 3 ⅔ scoreless innings while unveiling a new intro experience at Target Field. With López (who also got a light-dimming walkout treatment) now aboard, Durán has been fully fitted into a fireman role where he can be deployed in the highest-leverage of situations at any time, without a thought to hold him back for a later tight lead. This was evident on Friday night, when he came in to pitch the eighth inning of a one-run game, and on Saturday night, when he relieved Griffin Jax amidst a threat with two on, one out, and a couple heavy hitters coming up. Durán leads all AL relievers in Win Probability Added and he only figures to further extend his margin in this role, so long as he can stay healthy and keep dominating. Pending the former, there is little doubt of the latter, given how Durán has managed to make us all forget about his one supposed weakness (proneness to home runs – remember that?). An unsung hero and emerging weapon in this bullpen is Thielbar, who came off the IL and immediately made his presence felt. The lefty tossed a scoreless seventh in Wednesday's series-clinching win over Detroit, and looked dominant while mowing down four Blue Jays hitters on Saturday. Thielbar has had a few random blow-ups on the mound this year, but he's nearly two months removed from the last one and has otherwise been downright excellent. His Statcast measurables portray a guy who is throwing top-notch stuff and stifling opposing hitters. Finally, we can't run through the week's bright spots without once again mentioning rookie sensation José Miranda, who just keeps on cooking. Now routinely batting cleanup against lefties, Miranda's living up to that billing as a run-producing machine, with eight RBIs in an 8-for-26 week that included a double and home run. Miranda has the third-highest OPS on the team, trailing only All-Stars Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez. He is 24 years old. LOWLIGHTS Even with all its upgrades, the pitching staff still has its warts. Those definitely showed through on Thursday, when Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, and Duffey gave up three runs apiece in relief of Sonny Gray, turning a 1-0 lead into a 9-3 blowout loss. Duffey's dud performance proved to be the final straw, as his DFA was announced the following day. Subtracting from the bottom of the bullpen while adding at the top is a good way to turn around a drastically underperforming unit, but the fact remains: lower-tier guys are going to need to throw some innings and the Twins need better out of them than we saw against Toronto. When you play a lot of close games, as Minnesota does, everyone's going to have to pitch in relatively high leverage at times. With Canó shipped out, and Alcalá and Danny Coulombe down for the year, reinforcements have grown thin. Pagán came out of Sunday's game after wincing on a pitch, so he might be at risk of joining the fallen. The long ball, which bit Pagán and Duffey on Thursday, has been an all-too-common culprit for the entire Twins staff. They've surrendered the second-most home runs in the American League. This affliction touched the newest member of the Twins rotation on Friday, when Mahle narrowed a 5-0 lead to 5-4 by giving up three homers against the Blue Jays. It was the most allowed in a start by Mahle since May 2nd of 2021 – kind of ironic given all the steam about escaping from Cincinnati's homer-happy ballpark being his ticket to the next level. Ultimately, it is not memories of any home runs allowed that leave the Twins and their fans shaking their heads in the wake of this eventful week. It's the way it ended: a highly controversial and game-altering overturn of an out call at home plate, after Tim Beckham threw a pea from left field that beat Whit Merrifield. Gary Sánchez's successful tag-out was denied on the grounds that he violated MLB's nebulous home-plate collision rule – a notion that manager Rocco Baldelli took issue with to say the least. He immediately charged on the field, whipped his hat, and exploded into an animated tirade like we've never seen from him before. In his post-game rant, the typically even-keeled Baldelli pulled no punches. I'm inclined to agree with his viewpoint. This sour finish to an otherwise entertaining and compelling series against one of Minnesota's key rivals in the American League leaves a bad taste as we turn the page to Monday. TRENDING STORYLINE Trevor Larnach is now officially six weeks removed from undergoing a surgery that was estimated to have a six-week recovery time. On Sunday, the Twins lumped him into a larger group of players they are "hopeful" to get back in September, which is interesting since there've been no reports of a setback (to my knowledge) and we've still got three weeks left of August. The Twins could certainly use Larnach's pre-injury bat because they've been thinned out significantly in the outfield with Garlick and Kirilloff both on the shelf and Buxton continuing to be limited by his knee (he's started in center field just three times since the All-Star break). While outfield fill-ins like Gordon, Contreras, and Jake Cave all deserve credit for stepping up at various moments, getting back Larnach would make a huge difference. For a stretch early on, he was arguably the best hitter in the lineup, slashing .300/.375/.511 in his first 30 games before the core injury seemed to start taking its toll. If that issue is fully corrected by the surgery, and Larnach quickly returns to full strength ... look out. Hopefully in the coming week we'll get a little more clarity on his specific situation and rehab timeline. LOOKING AHEAD Another week of ample rest lies ahead, with days off on both Monday and Thursday bookending a two-game road series against the Dodgers. The Twins would be wise to savor them, because after this they won't have another scheduled break in the month of August. With left-handers on the docket for at least four of five games in the coming week, Garlick's bat will be missed and Gordon's offensive impact will be negated. Can guys like Celestino and Tim Beckham step up on a big West Coast road trip? TUESDAY, 8/9: TWINS @ DODGERS – RHP Joe Ryan v. LHP Julio Urias WEDNESDAY, 8/10: TWINS @ DODGERS – RHP Sonny Gray v. TBD FRIDAY, 8/12: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Tyler Mahle v. LHP Patrick Sandoval SATURDAY, 8/13: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. LHP Reid Detmers SUNDAY, 8/14: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Tucker Davidson View full article
  18. Although Miguel Sano spent the maximum 20 days on the injured list, he played in just 12 games. The Twins curiously had part of his rehab assignment take place during the All-Star Break which ate up time that Sano could’ve gotten in at bats. Regardless, he performed extremely well on the farm, slashing .333/.422/.795 split across a few Complex League games and Triple-A. Relegated to the back-end of Minnesota’s lineup, Sano got in just six at-bats before returning to the injured list. Drawing two starts but playing just one complete game, it’s clear Rocco Baldelli sees the slugger as little more than a revolving piece at this point. Sano was hitless in his return to action and posted four strikeouts without generating a walk. There’s no denying that the front office took as much time as they could to look at options before activating Sano. It appeared a possible DFA was on the table, and that would’ve left the Twins on the hook for the remaining $7 million or so on his deal. In a perfect world, they’d find a trade partner to offload his remaining commitment, but there’s just little reason for anyone to pay for Minnesota’s anchor of an expense. So now it remains to be seen what an eventual timeline for a return to play looks like, but it’s hard not to imagine this being the end of the road. We’re into August and the 26-man roster needs to be best positioned for a Postseason run. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to make room for Sano initially, but it’s hard to argue he’s not of more value as a fourth outfielder. Even though Alex Kirilloff is hurt and that takes away an option at first base, the Twins have developed other depth there in the form of Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez. If the timeline is short, and it probably won’t be considering the previous handling of the same injury for Sano, a decision would need to be made as to how he factors back in. Another rehab stint could happen, but that would just be delaying the inevitable. If a return can happen in something like 10 days, Sano could find himself as an option given the health of the current roster. Even then, however, that DFA from before could again rear its head. Maybe Minnesota would rather not end this era of such a highly prized prospect on a whimper, but it didn’t seem to deter them before. Across 694 games with the Twins during his eight-year career in the big leagues, Sano has blasted 162 home runs. There’s been highs and lows, but I think it’s probably safe to assume this is where it ends. Should he not play another game in a Minnesota uniform, what would register as some of your favorite memories for the Dominican product that sparked an entire documentary and put the Twins farm system on the map?
  19. For now, the Twins have yet to place Alex Kirilloff on the injured list, but Rocco Baldelli indicated he would be re-evaluated prior to Minnesota facing the Detroit Tigers, and that the pain had gotten to the point where Kirilloff could again not swing a bat. When he was demoted to Triple-A earlier this season, Kirilloff owned a paltry .172/.226/.172 slash line. It was just a 10-game sample size, but he had zero extra-base hits and a 12/1 K/BB. By any statistical measure, it was a nightmare start. Considering last season's surgery was supposed to do the trick, it’s becoming increasingly worrisome that despite a recent check-in to suggest things were physically fine, he’s unable to perform to the fullest extent. Back in April, it was reported that Kirilloff had shut down his offseason training program due to pain, but was good to go to start Spring Training in March. Prior to playing for the Saints, Kirilloff received a cortisone shot in mid-April. That’s been largely a route for pain management rather than actually fixing the issue, so it always remained curious as to when this problem could again flare up. Returning to the Twins in mid-June, Kirilloff played 13 games for Minnesota throughout the month and posted a .790 OPS. The batting average was there, but he generated just six extra-base hits including only a single home run. The month of July went even worse, unfortunately. A .254/.303/.366 slash line suggested that the ability to drive the baseball was again all but gone. Kirilloff had just four extra-base hits in 21 games last month, split between doubles and homers. There does seem to be some understanding of his limitations while Kirilloff continues to utilize the whole field when facing opposing pitchers. If his wrist doesn’t allow for consistent forearm strength against velocity, utilizing the opposite field makes a ton of sense. He hasn’t been entirely pull happy since his return, and whether by design or happenstance, that’s a plan that can work. The problem for both Kirilloff and Minnesota is that this outcome saps production and so much of the value in his game as a whole. He’s not a defensive stalwart, even at first base where he should find a home, and being a singles hitter is not who he strives to be. Kirilloff has basically never been able to flash the power potential he provides due to lacking health from the moment he’s arrived in Minnesota. Where both parties go from here remains to be seen. During the season Minnesota’s goal was certainly to have the slugger available to him. He’s also been told through additional imaging that things remain status quo. There’s no reason to cut his hand open for the sake of doing so, but any number of new opinions must be sought in order to find the root issue. Give it to Kirilloff for attempting to play through the problem and seeking a better outcome. Both sides can try to limp this thing through the Postseason in hopes of finding whatever value there is to be had, but this isn’t something that can go on forever. For now, Minnesota has virtually never seen a fully healthy Alex Kirilloff at the Major League level, and the more this cycle goes on one has to wonder if we ever will.
  20. Last season, the Minnesota Twins watched as promising young slugger Alex Kirilloff had his power sapped due to a nagging wrist issue. Unfortunately, it never corrected itself and he underwent season-ending surgery. After a slow start again this year, he was jettisoned to Triple-A. After working through it, a fresh start was earned, but now we’re again back in the same place. For now, the Twins have yet to place Alex Kirilloff on the injured list, but Rocco Baldelli indicated he would be re-evaluated prior to Minnesota facing the Detroit Tigers, and that the pain had gotten to the point where Kirilloff could again not swing a bat. When he was demoted to Triple-A earlier this season, Kirilloff owned a paltry .172/.226/.172 slash line. It was just a 10-game sample size, but he had zero extra-base hits and a 12/1 K/BB. By any statistical measure, it was a nightmare start. Considering last season's surgery was supposed to do the trick, it’s becoming increasingly worrisome that despite a recent check-in to suggest things were physically fine, he’s unable to perform to the fullest extent. Back in April, it was reported that Kirilloff had shut down his offseason training program due to pain, but was good to go to start Spring Training in March. Prior to playing for the Saints, Kirilloff received a cortisone shot in mid-April. That’s been largely a route for pain management rather than actually fixing the issue, so it always remained curious as to when this problem could again flare up. Returning to the Twins in mid-June, Kirilloff played 13 games for Minnesota throughout the month and posted a .790 OPS. The batting average was there, but he generated just six extra-base hits including only a single home run. The month of July went even worse, unfortunately. A .254/.303/.366 slash line suggested that the ability to drive the baseball was again all but gone. Kirilloff had just four extra-base hits in 21 games last month, split between doubles and homers. There does seem to be some understanding of his limitations while Kirilloff continues to utilize the whole field when facing opposing pitchers. If his wrist doesn’t allow for consistent forearm strength against velocity, utilizing the opposite field makes a ton of sense. He hasn’t been entirely pull happy since his return, and whether by design or happenstance, that’s a plan that can work. The problem for both Kirilloff and Minnesota is that this outcome saps production and so much of the value in his game as a whole. He’s not a defensive stalwart, even at first base where he should find a home, and being a singles hitter is not who he strives to be. Kirilloff has basically never been able to flash the power potential he provides due to lacking health from the moment he’s arrived in Minnesota. Where both parties go from here remains to be seen. During the season Minnesota’s goal was certainly to have the slugger available to him. He’s also been told through additional imaging that things remain status quo. There’s no reason to cut his hand open for the sake of doing so, but any number of new opinions must be sought in order to find the root issue. Give it to Kirilloff for attempting to play through the problem and seeking a better outcome. Both sides can try to limp this thing through the Postseason in hopes of finding whatever value there is to be had, but this isn’t something that can go on forever. For now, Minnesota has virtually never seen a fully healthy Alex Kirilloff at the Major League level, and the more this cycle goes on one has to wonder if we ever will. View full article
  21. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/25 through Sun, 7/31 *** Record Last Week: 1-4 (Overall: 53-48) Run Differential Last Week: -14 (Overall: +26) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA) Last Week's Game Results: Game 97 | MIL 7, MIN 6: Bundy, Bullpen Let Down Bats in Loss Game 98 | MIL 10, MIN 4: Tellez Sinks Twins with Pair of 3-Run Homers Game 99 | SD 10, MIN 1: Ryan Gives up 5 Home Runs in Laugher Game 100 | MIN 7, SD 4: Sonny Plays Stopper, Correa Steps Up Game 101 | SD 3, MIN 2: Offense Goes Quietly, Twins Drop Series NEWS & NOTES Miguel Sanó was back ... then he wasn't. Following a three-month rehab from knee surgery, the slugger was activated ahead of Tuesday's game. Appearing in three games, he went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts, then went back on the injured list with knee inflammation. Evidently the injury flared up during a slide in the final game of his rehab. For Sanó, whose career was basically on the line this year, it's another terrible break. He was in need of a good season to resuscitate his sagging stock ahead of his date with free agency. Instead, his body is letting him down and he may find himself settling for a minor-league deal in the offseason. It seems likely (to me, anyway) we've seen him for the last time in a Twins uniform. Sanó was far from the biggest loss for the lineup. Max Kepler went on the injured list alongside him, with his fractured pinky toe proving too much to play through. Most perturbingly, Alex Kirilloff came out of Saturday's game with wrist soreness. More on that later. Filling in these key roster spots are names like Tim Beckham and Mark Contreras. They're deserving of chances, and both great stories in their own right, but it's tough to be leaning on unproven Triple-A players at a time like this. The Twins are in the grinder right now. Alas, the pitching staff also keeps getting blindsided by crushing blows. Danny Coulombe, who's been unable to fight his way back from a hip injury, is now out with season-ending surgery. Meanwhile, Josh Winder landed on the injured list again due to his recurring shoulder impingement. He's been shut down and sent to Fort Myers as the team tries to figure out what's going on. They aren't calling this a season-ending move for him, but it very well could be. HIGHLIGHTS For me personally, the biggest highlight of the week was traveling to San Diego and taking in a couple of games at Petco Park. The stadium lived up to the hype, and the downtown gameday experience far exceeded all expectations. Admittedly, it felt a lot easier to ride out a rotten week for the Twins while enjoying an incredible city and soaking in the vibes of sold-out summer games in perfect weather. I realize this does little for any of you. I'm sorry. My own experiences aside, there were some legitimately good moments on the field, even as the Twins bumbled through a sloppy 1-4 week. José Miranda stood out as the biggest bright spot, starting every game and going 8-for-19 with two homers and five RBIs. He has suddenly become the pivotal force in the middle of the order, with an aggressive free-swinging approach that yields powerful drive after powerful drive. Opposing pitchers just can't find a way to stop the kid. He even made a few nifty plays defensively at third base. Byron Buxton was the other explosive performer in a generally underwhelming week from the offense. He homered three times and stole a base (notable after the previous week's PRP injection in his knee). On the pitching side, Sonny Gray was good. LOWLIGHTS Gray's solid outing on Saturday – 5 IP, 1 ER – was much needed in the wake of three straight duds from the rapidly unraveling Twins rotation. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were bad against Milwaukee, but Joe Ryan's clunker to open the Padres series took the cake. In 4 ⅔ innings, the right-hander was knocked around for 10 earned runs on FIVE homers. It was a very odd game for Ryan, who also struck out seven and set a career high with 15 swings and misses. His stuff was either really working or really not working, and that's a scarily unpredictable proposition for a guy who'd likely be starting in the postseason. One could argue that Rocco Baldelli hung Ryan out to dry on Saturday night, but who can really blame him with a bullpen that continues to inspire zero confidence. Tyler Duffey has fallen back into the pits after a modest run of effectiveness – he took the loss with a brutal ninth-inning appearance in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and then endangered a six-run lead in the ninth on Saturday by coughing up a three-run HR. Caleb Thielbar is gearing up for a return, which will be helpful, but this bullpen continues to look direly undermanned, with a void of trustworthy options beyond Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax. The pitching staff needs impact reinforcements, and they'll likely get some within the next couple days. Even then, the Twins are clearly gonna need the offense to carry the load if they're going to hang on for a playoff berth and hope to make any noise. That's where the past week proved most unsettling. The team pitched well enough to win on Sunday for a change, but the offense could not answer the call in a 3-2 loss, coming up empty outside of solo homers from Miranda and Luis Arraez. Carlos Correa had a big two-run homer on Saturday night, but otherwise went 1-for-20 on the week. Gary Sanchez went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts, wrapping up a month of July in which the now-starting catcher slashed .149/.245/.234. The lineup is lagging and will now be without Kepler for however long it takes his toe to get right. Meanwhile any small hope of Sanó coming in and lighting any sort of spark is gone. But the Kirilloff news is easily the most gutting on the lineup front. I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but the revelation from Baldelli that "Kirilloff's wrist got to the point where he couldn't swing" strikes me with possible season-sinking implications. I had remarked a few days earlier about how Kirilloff was noticeably reverting to the habit of topping every pitch – that tendency was a clear indicator of how his wrist issues were impeding his swing before he went to the minors, received a cortisone shot, and got back on track. Following his initial power surge, he had one of the highest grounder rates in the league in July. Kirilloff was such a huge factor in the offense's midsummer success, slashing .307/.328/.548 with 17 RBIs in his first 18 games back after being recalled from Triple-A. But his gradual regression back into an unimposing ground-ball machine was painfully evident, and the numbers back it up. Sadly, news of his wrist re-emerging as a debilitating factor comes as no surprise. Several of the key young players that the Twins were hoping to rely on this year – Coulombe, Royce Lewis, Chris Paddack – are already gone for the season. Several others – Kirilloff, Winder, Jorge Alcala, Matt Canterino, Randy Dobnak – are persistently plagued and repeatedly sidelined by mysterious injuries and conditions that the players and medical staff can't seem to solve. It makes you wonder, at this critical moment ... is the structural core of this team good enough to be fixed up for a successful stretch run? Or are we flailing against inevitability? TRENDING STORYLINE That question weighs heavily with the trade deadline looming at 5:00 PM CT on Tuesday. The philosophical dilemma I pondered over the All-Star break – how much does it make sense to sacrifice key future capital in a leveraged market to aid a deeply flawed current roster? – has only grown murkier in two weeks since. The Twins have gone 3-4, watched their division lead shrink to one, and absorbed bad break after bad break on the health front, as outlined above. The Twins, Guardians and White Sox are bunched in the standings, each separated by a game apiece. They are all looking to add ahead of Tuesday's deadline, and are pretty much in direct competition to address semi-similar weaknesses in a finite seller's market. It's going to be fascinating to see how things play out between these three competing clubs as they set themselves up for the final stretch in a division that's very much there for the taking. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins have seven home games in the week ahead, setting the tone for a month in which 20 of their 28 games will be played at Target Field. MONDAY, 8/1: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. TBD TUESDAY, 8/2: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Matt Manning v. RHP Chris Archer WEDNESDAY, 8/3: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Joe Ryan THURSDAY, 8/4: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Alek Manoah v. RHP Sonny Gray FRIDAY, 8/5: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Ross Stripling v. RHP Dylan Bundy SATURDAY, 8/6: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Jose Berrios v. TBD SUNDAY, 8/7: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Kevin Gausman v. RHP Chris Archer
  22. The Minnesota Twins are falling apart and bottoming out as the trade deadline bears down, underscoring the desperate need for impact help in order to maintain their thin lead in the division and position themselves as a credible postseason threat. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/25 through Sun, 7/31 *** Record Last Week: 1-4 (Overall: 53-48) Run Differential Last Week: -14 (Overall: +26) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA) Last Week's Game Results: Game 97 | MIL 7, MIN 6: Bundy, Bullpen Let Down Bats in Loss Game 98 | MIL 10, MIN 4: Tellez Sinks Twins with Pair of 3-Run Homers Game 99 | SD 10, MIN 1: Ryan Gives up 5 Home Runs in Laugher Game 100 | MIN 7, SD 4: Sonny Plays Stopper, Correa Steps Up Game 101 | SD 3, MIN 2: Offense Goes Quietly, Twins Drop Series NEWS & NOTES Miguel Sanó was back ... then he wasn't. Following a three-month rehab from knee surgery, the slugger was activated ahead of Tuesday's game. Appearing in three games, he went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts, then went back on the injured list with knee inflammation. Evidently the injury flared up during a slide in the final game of his rehab. For Sanó, whose career was basically on the line this year, it's another terrible break. He was in need of a good season to resuscitate his sagging stock ahead of his date with free agency. Instead, his body is letting him down and he may find himself settling for a minor-league deal in the offseason. It seems likely (to me, anyway) we've seen him for the last time in a Twins uniform. Sanó was far from the biggest loss for the lineup. Max Kepler went on the injured list alongside him, with his fractured pinky toe proving too much to play through. Most perturbingly, Alex Kirilloff came out of Saturday's game with wrist soreness. More on that later. Filling in these key roster spots are names like Tim Beckham and Mark Contreras. They're deserving of chances, and both great stories in their own right, but it's tough to be leaning on unproven Triple-A players at a time like this. The Twins are in the grinder right now. Alas, the pitching staff also keeps getting blindsided by crushing blows. Danny Coulombe, who's been unable to fight his way back from a hip injury, is now out with season-ending surgery. Meanwhile, Josh Winder landed on the injured list again due to his recurring shoulder impingement. He's been shut down and sent to Fort Myers as the team tries to figure out what's going on. They aren't calling this a season-ending move for him, but it very well could be. HIGHLIGHTS For me personally, the biggest highlight of the week was traveling to San Diego and taking in a couple of games at Petco Park. The stadium lived up to the hype, and the downtown gameday experience far exceeded all expectations. Admittedly, it felt a lot easier to ride out a rotten week for the Twins while enjoying an incredible city and soaking in the vibes of sold-out summer games in perfect weather. I realize this does little for any of you. I'm sorry. My own experiences aside, there were some legitimately good moments on the field, even as the Twins bumbled through a sloppy 1-4 week. José Miranda stood out as the biggest bright spot, starting every game and going 8-for-19 with two homers and five RBIs. He has suddenly become the pivotal force in the middle of the order, with an aggressive free-swinging approach that yields powerful drive after powerful drive. Opposing pitchers just can't find a way to stop the kid. He even made a few nifty plays defensively at third base. Byron Buxton was the other explosive performer in a generally underwhelming week from the offense. He homered three times and stole a base (notable after the previous week's PRP injection in his knee). On the pitching side, Sonny Gray was good. LOWLIGHTS Gray's solid outing on Saturday – 5 IP, 1 ER – was much needed in the wake of three straight duds from the rapidly unraveling Twins rotation. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were bad against Milwaukee, but Joe Ryan's clunker to open the Padres series took the cake. In 4 ⅔ innings, the right-hander was knocked around for 10 earned runs on FIVE homers. It was a very odd game for Ryan, who also struck out seven and set a career high with 15 swings and misses. His stuff was either really working or really not working, and that's a scarily unpredictable proposition for a guy who'd likely be starting in the postseason. One could argue that Rocco Baldelli hung Ryan out to dry on Saturday night, but who can really blame him with a bullpen that continues to inspire zero confidence. Tyler Duffey has fallen back into the pits after a modest run of effectiveness – he took the loss with a brutal ninth-inning appearance in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and then endangered a six-run lead in the ninth on Saturday by coughing up a three-run HR. Caleb Thielbar is gearing up for a return, which will be helpful, but this bullpen continues to look direly undermanned, with a void of trustworthy options beyond Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax. The pitching staff needs impact reinforcements, and they'll likely get some within the next couple days. Even then, the Twins are clearly gonna need the offense to carry the load if they're going to hang on for a playoff berth and hope to make any noise. That's where the past week proved most unsettling. The team pitched well enough to win on Sunday for a change, but the offense could not answer the call in a 3-2 loss, coming up empty outside of solo homers from Miranda and Luis Arraez. Carlos Correa had a big two-run homer on Saturday night, but otherwise went 1-for-20 on the week. Gary Sanchez went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts, wrapping up a month of July in which the now-starting catcher slashed .149/.245/.234. The lineup is lagging and will now be without Kepler for however long it takes his toe to get right. Meanwhile any small hope of Sanó coming in and lighting any sort of spark is gone. But the Kirilloff news is easily the most gutting on the lineup front. I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but the revelation from Baldelli that "Kirilloff's wrist got to the point where he couldn't swing" strikes me with possible season-sinking implications. I had remarked a few days earlier about how Kirilloff was noticeably reverting to the habit of topping every pitch – that tendency was a clear indicator of how his wrist issues were impeding his swing before he went to the minors, received a cortisone shot, and got back on track. Following his initial power surge, he had one of the highest grounder rates in the league in July. Kirilloff was such a huge factor in the offense's midsummer success, slashing .307/.328/.548 with 17 RBIs in his first 18 games back after being recalled from Triple-A. But his gradual regression back into an unimposing ground-ball machine was painfully evident, and the numbers back it up. Sadly, news of his wrist re-emerging as a debilitating factor comes as no surprise. Several of the key young players that the Twins were hoping to rely on this year – Coulombe, Royce Lewis, Chris Paddack – are already gone for the season. Several others – Kirilloff, Winder, Jorge Alcala, Matt Canterino, Randy Dobnak – are persistently plagued and repeatedly sidelined by mysterious injuries and conditions that the players and medical staff can't seem to solve. It makes you wonder, at this critical moment ... is the structural core of this team good enough to be fixed up for a successful stretch run? Or are we flailing against inevitability? TRENDING STORYLINE That question weighs heavily with the trade deadline looming at 5:00 PM CT on Tuesday. The philosophical dilemma I pondered over the All-Star break – how much does it make sense to sacrifice key future capital in a leveraged market to aid a deeply flawed current roster? – has only grown murkier in two weeks since. The Twins have gone 3-4, watched their division lead shrink to one, and absorbed bad break after bad break on the health front, as outlined above. The Twins, Guardians and White Sox are bunched in the standings, each separated by a game apiece. They are all looking to add ahead of Tuesday's deadline, and are pretty much in direct competition to address semi-similar weaknesses in a finite seller's market. It's going to be fascinating to see how things play out between these three competing clubs as they set themselves up for the final stretch in a division that's very much there for the taking. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins have seven home games in the week ahead, setting the tone for a month in which 20 of their 28 games will be played at Target Field. MONDAY, 8/1: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. TBD TUESDAY, 8/2: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Matt Manning v. RHP Chris Archer WEDNESDAY, 8/3: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Joe Ryan THURSDAY, 8/4: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Alek Manoah v. RHP Sonny Gray FRIDAY, 8/5: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Ross Stripling v. RHP Dylan Bundy SATURDAY, 8/6: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Jose Berrios v. TBD SUNDAY, 8/7: BLUE JAYS @ TWINS – RHP Kevin Gausman v. RHP Chris Archer View full article
  23. Last week, I looked at what the Twins well has in it. The reality is this farm system checks in somewhere between 12-18 across the league. There’s depth, but with graduations, many of the high-level performers aren’t there. Royce Lewis is hurt. Austin Martin is underperforming. Matt Canterino is a reliever. Brooks Lee and Connor Prielipp aren’t being moved this quickly, probably. There’s no doubt Minnesota would hope that teams are interested in hitters Spencer Steer and Matt Wallner, but I think it’s safe to say their ceilings are somewhat muted. Any GM worth their salt is starting high-return discussions with the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda. Both of them are at the major-league level, and removing them would hurt, but it’s a decision that the Twins may need to weigh. On Kirilloff, Minnesota finally has a player that’s found out how to deal with his wrist issues. Whether he’s got a clean bill of health or not, he’s making things work. Kirilloff is an asset in both left field and at first base defensively, but it’s his bat that’s always been the carrying tool. Over his last 30 games since returning from Triple-A, Kirilloff is slashing .301/.339/.456 with seven doubles and three homers. Though the home run potential is nowhere near where it will likely be, Kirilloff has continued to drive the ball to all fields. He’s a middle-of-the-order hitter and still just 24 years old. Despite a horrid start, Kirilloff has rebounded well and is under team control through 2027. Baseball Trade Values puts Kirilloff’s median value at 24.3 which ranks him as the 6th most valuable Twins asset. There’s no denying that moving him would hurt, but if Minnesota did choose to do so, they’d be looking for a substantial haul. On the other side of the infield, or sometimes sharing the same position, Jose Miranda has established himself as a legitimate big-league talent. He put up a ridiculous .973 OPS across Double and Triple-A last season to really break out and put himself on the national scene. Things started extremely slow for him this season, and on May 29th he was optioned in favor of Royce Lewis. Miranda owned a .183/.216/.338 line through his first 20 games but things turned when he never actually made it to St. Paul. Immediately returned to the Twins, Miranda was again in the lineup on May 30. Since that point he’s played in 40 games and owns a .313/.358/.531 slash line. Miranda has seven doubles and seven homers in that span, and while the K/BB ratio isn’t great, he looks every bit the competent power hitter on a corner that he appeared to be during his breakout. There’s no denying that Minnesota has Miranda penciled as a long-term fit at the hot corner, considering his deficiencies at first base, but teams will be trying to acquire his services in any blockbuster type of deal. Miranda is just 24-years-old, still has three options remaining, and still has his rookie status intact. Seen slightly less valuable by Baseball Trade Values, Miranda’s 20.3 median value is 8th amongst Twins players. So, with the real answer being neither, which of these two untouchables are you willing to allow an opposing team to acquire if the return is everything you want?
  24. There’s no denying the Minnesota Twins are going to make at least one trade prior to the August 2nd deadline. What level of moves they make are yet to be seen, but if you want them to acquire something of substance, it will come with a cost. Are you really ok with either Alex Kirilloff or Jose Miranda being moved? Last week, I looked at what the Twins well has in it. The reality is this farm system checks in somewhere between 12-18 across the league. There’s depth, but with graduations, many of the high-level performers aren’t there. Royce Lewis is hurt. Austin Martin is underperforming. Matt Canterino is a reliever. Brooks Lee and Connor Prielipp aren’t being moved this quickly, probably. There’s no doubt Minnesota would hope that teams are interested in hitters Spencer Steer and Matt Wallner, but I think it’s safe to say their ceilings are somewhat muted. Any GM worth their salt is starting high-return discussions with the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda. Both of them are at the major-league level, and removing them would hurt, but it’s a decision that the Twins may need to weigh. On Kirilloff, Minnesota finally has a player that’s found out how to deal with his wrist issues. Whether he’s got a clean bill of health or not, he’s making things work. Kirilloff is an asset in both left field and at first base defensively, but it’s his bat that’s always been the carrying tool. Over his last 30 games since returning from Triple-A, Kirilloff is slashing .301/.339/.456 with seven doubles and three homers. Though the home run potential is nowhere near where it will likely be, Kirilloff has continued to drive the ball to all fields. He’s a middle-of-the-order hitter and still just 24 years old. Despite a horrid start, Kirilloff has rebounded well and is under team control through 2027. Baseball Trade Values puts Kirilloff’s median value at 24.3 which ranks him as the 6th most valuable Twins asset. There’s no denying that moving him would hurt, but if Minnesota did choose to do so, they’d be looking for a substantial haul. On the other side of the infield, or sometimes sharing the same position, Jose Miranda has established himself as a legitimate big-league talent. He put up a ridiculous .973 OPS across Double and Triple-A last season to really break out and put himself on the national scene. Things started extremely slow for him this season, and on May 29th he was optioned in favor of Royce Lewis. Miranda owned a .183/.216/.338 line through his first 20 games but things turned when he never actually made it to St. Paul. Immediately returned to the Twins, Miranda was again in the lineup on May 30. Since that point he’s played in 40 games and owns a .313/.358/.531 slash line. Miranda has seven doubles and seven homers in that span, and while the K/BB ratio isn’t great, he looks every bit the competent power hitter on a corner that he appeared to be during his breakout. There’s no denying that Minnesota has Miranda penciled as a long-term fit at the hot corner, considering his deficiencies at first base, but teams will be trying to acquire his services in any blockbuster type of deal. Miranda is just 24-years-old, still has three options remaining, and still has his rookie status intact. Seen slightly less valuable by Baseball Trade Values, Miranda’s 20.3 median value is 8th amongst Twins players. So, with the real answer being neither, which of these two untouchables are you willing to allow an opposing team to acquire if the return is everything you want? View full article
  25. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. Needing a spot on the 40-man roster as well, given Sano was placed on the 60-day injured list, the Twins transferred reliever Danny Coulombe to the 60-day injured list. At the time of Miguel Sano's knee injury, the Minnesota Twins were 12-9 with a three-game lead in the American League Central Division. Sano himself was carrying a terrible .093/.231/.148 (.379) slash line that saw him record just a single extra-base hit in 65 plate appearances. Although it was cold and the ball wasn’t flying to start the year, Rocco Baldelli needed Sano to step up at first base with second-year player Alex Kirilloff dealing with a nagging wrist issue. Minnesota saw Sano as the only true first baseman on the roster, and it wasn’t until Luis Arraez was forced into action at the position that he emerged as an eventual All-Star and held down the fort. The Twins are now 52-44 with a three-game lead in the division, but both the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Guardians continue to breathe down their neck. Horrible pitching performances have stunted the opportunity to expand on the lead over their competition, but far too often the lineup has gone dormant as well. Obviously, Sano would love to be returning to better numbers, but if you’ve been a fan of Minnesota for any amount of time, you know how quickly Sano can go on one of his hot streaks. He was making loud contact at the big league level prior to his knee injury, and the rehab stint has provided some room to hope. Across 12 games with the Triple-A Saints and FCL Twins, Sano owns a .333/.422/.795 line. He recorded three doubles and blasted five homers while compiling an 12/6 K/BB. Sano returns to somewhat of a crowded situation at first base with Kirilloff and Arraez now both being well established at the position. Rookie Jose Miranda has gone on a tear since a slow start, and while he's more suited at the hot corner, he too has provided value at first base. Sano will draw starts at designated hitter as well, and that role has become less crowded with the injury to Ryan Jeffers. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. The Twins have just five games left in the month of July. They remain on the road until August 1st, at which point they return home to face a bottom-feeding Detroit Tigers team. Minnesota would love for Sano to parlay hit hot-hitting during his rehab assignment into renewed production at the highest level. It would seem to be a fair assessment that Minnesota would be open to dealing Sano should an offer come their way. He’s still due roughly $12 million even with his 2023 buyout, and opening up the roster spot rather than DFA’ing him for nothing could be a positive outcome. The Major League Baseball trade deadline in 2022 is on August 2nd.
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