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  1. Max Kepler found his bat, and Caleb Thielbar got two huge outs as the Twins open the home series with a win. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (80 pitches, 54 strikes (67.5%)) Home Runs: N/A Top 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (.226), Max Kepler (.158), Jose Miranda (.136) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After a rough road trip to LA, the Minnesota Twins needed to return home and find some home cooking. A familiar division foe in the Kansas City Royals awaited them. Only playing the game would let us know if the Twins would take advantage of an easy stretch in their schedule. Royals New and Old A familiar Royals bat and a new royals bat teamed up in the first inning to give the visiting team an early lead. Joe Ryan has struggled as of late and was looking to find the front-line starter form that he had exhibited early in the season. That form looked to have returned as Ryan struck out the first two batters of the night. That changed as usual Twins killer Salvador Perez, broke open the hitting with an opposite-field single. Something the Twins will take as Perez has made loud contact against the Twins more often than anyone wants to remember. While Ryan avoided loud contact against Perez, he didn't, with Vinny Pasquantino facing the Twins for the first time. Pasquantino squared up a Ryan fastball and dropped it in the right field bleachers to give the Royals an early 2-0 lead. Breaking Streaks Max Kepler’s bat has been absent since coming back to action after breaking his toe. Coming into the evening, Kepler was 0 for 29. With runners on first and second, Kepler would slap the ball to the opposite field. The hit had just enough run to bring Jorge Polanco around to score and bring the Twins within one run. While snapping his individual hitless streak, Kepler also snapped the Twins 0-19 streak with runners in scoring position. The new haircut Kepler was sporting will certainly receive lots of attention and credit through the evening as Kepler went on to go 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI. Ryan hits the century-inning mark As Ryan steadied his form after the first inning home run, in the middle of the fifth inning, he hit a significant number on the season. Ryan became the first Twins pitcher to log 100 innings in 2022. The Minnesota Twins were also the last remaining MLB team to have a pitcher hit that mark. A further display of the struggles in the rotation when it comes to both health and having any starters who can pitch deep into games. The Rookie and Polanco show up in the fifth As the Twins bats struggled through much of the game to get going against Royals starter Kris Bubic, in the fifth, the Twins finally began to string some hits together. Jose Miranda added an exclamation point by singling to right-field to score Luis Arraez to tie the game. Polanco followed with a sac-fly to score Carlos Correa to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Thielbar slams the door in the sixth As Ryan was making his way a third time through the Royals lineup, he ran into trouble. After a walk to Pasquantino and a near homerun to Michael Massey there were runners on second and third with no outs. Ryan was able to strike out Nate Eaton before being lifted for Caleb Thielbar. Thielbar came into the game to face former Twin Brent Rooker and forced him to fly out. The lefty then slammed the door on the Royals scoring opportunity by striking out Michael A. Taylor to strand two Royals runners in scoring position. That outing from Thielbar set up the bullpen to do what it is designed to do. That is shut down the opposing lineup as it goes through Griffin Jax, Jhoan Duran, and lastly Jorge Lopez to finish out the win. What’s Next? Tomorrow evening the Twins will send Sonny Gray to the mound. Gray will be looking to put together a complete outing after falling apart late last time out. The Royals will counter with veteran Zack Greinke. Greinke has not been the same pitcher as he has been in previous seasons, and the Twins bats will look to capitalize on that. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Duran 0 15 19 0 10 44 López 0 10 19 0 13 42 Fulmer 0 12 0 20 0 32 Jax 0 0 13 0 14 27 Megill 0 0 0 26 0 26 Thielbar 0 0 13 0 8 21 Pagan 0 0 9 10 0 19 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  2. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (80 pitches, 54 strikes (67.5%)) Home Runs: N/A Top 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (.226), Max Kepler (.158), Jose Miranda (.136) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After a rough road trip to LA, the Minnesota Twins needed to return home and find some home cooking. A familiar division foe in the Kansas City Royals awaited them. Only playing the game would let us know if the Twins would take advantage of an easy stretch in their schedule. Royals New and Old A familiar Royals bat and a new royals bat teamed up in the first inning to give the visiting team an early lead. Joe Ryan has struggled as of late and was looking to find the front-line starter form that he had exhibited early in the season. That form looked to have returned as Ryan struck out the first two batters of the night. That changed as usual Twins killer Salvador Perez, broke open the hitting with an opposite-field single. Something the Twins will take as Perez has made loud contact against the Twins more often than anyone wants to remember. While Ryan avoided loud contact against Perez, he didn't, with Vinny Pasquantino facing the Twins for the first time. Pasquantino squared up a Ryan fastball and dropped it in the right field bleachers to give the Royals an early 2-0 lead. Breaking Streaks Max Kepler’s bat has been absent since coming back to action after breaking his toe. Coming into the evening, Kepler was 0 for 29. With runners on first and second, Kepler would slap the ball to the opposite field. The hit had just enough run to bring Jorge Polanco around to score and bring the Twins within one run. While snapping his individual hitless streak, Kepler also snapped the Twins 0-19 streak with runners in scoring position. The new haircut Kepler was sporting will certainly receive lots of attention and credit through the evening as Kepler went on to go 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI. Ryan hits the century-inning mark As Ryan steadied his form after the first inning home run, in the middle of the fifth inning, he hit a significant number on the season. Ryan became the first Twins pitcher to log 100 innings in 2022. The Minnesota Twins were also the last remaining MLB team to have a pitcher hit that mark. A further display of the struggles in the rotation when it comes to both health and having any starters who can pitch deep into games. The Rookie and Polanco show up in the fifth As the Twins bats struggled through much of the game to get going against Royals starter Kris Bubic, in the fifth, the Twins finally began to string some hits together. Jose Miranda added an exclamation point by singling to right-field to score Luis Arraez to tie the game. Polanco followed with a sac-fly to score Carlos Correa to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Thielbar slams the door in the sixth As Ryan was making his way a third time through the Royals lineup, he ran into trouble. After a walk to Pasquantino and a near homerun to Michael Massey there were runners on second and third with no outs. Ryan was able to strike out Nate Eaton before being lifted for Caleb Thielbar. Thielbar came into the game to face former Twin Brent Rooker and forced him to fly out. The lefty then slammed the door on the Royals scoring opportunity by striking out Michael A. Taylor to strand two Royals runners in scoring position. That outing from Thielbar set up the bullpen to do what it is designed to do. That is shut down the opposing lineup as it goes through Griffin Jax, Jhoan Duran, and lastly Jorge Lopez to finish out the win. What’s Next? Tomorrow evening the Twins will send Sonny Gray to the mound. Gray will be looking to put together a complete outing after falling apart late last time out. The Royals will counter with veteran Zack Greinke. Greinke has not been the same pitcher as he has been in previous seasons, and the Twins bats will look to capitalize on that. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Duran 0 15 19 0 10 44 López 0 10 19 0 13 42 Fulmer 0 12 0 20 0 32 Jax 0 0 13 0 14 27 Megill 0 0 0 26 0 26 Thielbar 0 0 13 0 8 21 Pagan 0 0 9 10 0 19 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  3. With the Minnesota Twins through the first third of their 2022 Major League Baseball season, they are leading the AL Central and challenging expectations from national outlets. While plenty of good has taken place, it hasn’t quite been an equal effort thus far. While we now routinely use the acronym G.O.A.T. to signify greatness, this time the word is neither shortened or capitalized. Minnesota has gotten plenty from the best on their roster, but there’s been a few players that have left plenty to be desired. In terms of fWAR, here’s who Minnesota will hope to get more from the rest of the way. Alex Kirilloff -0.3 fWAR If you expected someone to breakout this season there’s a pretty good argument that it should have or could have been Alex Kirilloff. He was coming off wrist surgery that was intended to fix the ailment sapping his performance and ending his season last year. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with the same pain and ultimately wound up with a trip back to Triple-A after posting a despicable .398 OPS through 10 games. Obviously Minnesota needed him to either get right, or figure out how to play through something that seemingly isn’t still injured. The positive news here is that Kirilloff seems to have done just that. He’s heated up in a big way for St. Paul, and is beating the ball around the ballpark. Generating loud contact, driving gap doubles, and lifting home runs, there’s no reason this version of Minnesota’s former star rookie can’t help the club in a big way the rest of the season. Emilio Pagan -0.6 fWAR Acquired for Taylor Rogers, along with Chris Paddack, right before Opening Day from San Diego, Pagan has all but settled in as the Twins closer. While Pagan has recorded seven saves and owns a 3.00 ERA for Minnesota, the scary part is that things may get worse before they get better. A lot of Pagan’s negative WAR is generated from blown saves or late game situations. He pitches in high leverage, so any time things go south it is going to be in the worst way. Pagan still owns a 6.15 FIP though, which suggests that his ERA is representative of an arm pitching well over its head. The walks remain an issue, even if the command isn’t now as bad as it was the first week. Given how many home runs he allows though, the additional traffic on the base paths will never be of benefit to him. Maybe Baldelli pushes him into middle inning relief for a while, but that would be reflective of the Twins finding more late inning arms. Miguel Sano -0.7 fWAR It’s relatively impressive Sano was able to generate such a negative impact in so little time. He’s played just 17 games this season for Minnesota, and his .379 OPS is laughable. If there was anything going his way it’s that he was crushing the ball and just not seeing the results. We won’t know where he’ll pick back up coming off surgery for a torn meniscus, and while the Twins have used non-traditional first basemen in his absence, they’ve been less of a zero in the lineup. Sano has shown some of the best plate discipline in his career this season, and while there will likely be no certainties when he returns, the streaky hitter could throw one of his patented hot stretches in at the right time. Sano probably won’t be back for the Twins until July, but there’s worse things you could get for a stretch run than a power bat capable of making that type of an impact. Although he has a 0.8 fWAR thus far, it is worth noting just how little Jorge Polanco has brought to the plate for Minnesota. A season after a career best 126 OPS+, he’s been worth just 102 OPS+ this season and has an OPS lower than that of soft hitting teammate Nick Gordon. Polanco has been a nice up the middle partner with superstar free agent Carlos Correa, but this lineup needs more from him the rest of the way. On the flip side, I'd love to see Caleb Thielbar work into his expected numbers. His ERA is a gaudy 5.59 bit the 3.67 FIP suggests plenty of bad luck. He's been on the wrong end of a lot of issues this season, but Minnesota seeing his numbers normalize some would bring another veteran arm to the middle innings. What are your thoughts? Who have you been most disappointed with this season for the Twins? Can they turn it around? View full article
  4. While we now routinely use the acronym G.O.A.T. to signify greatness, this time the word is neither shortened or capitalized. Minnesota has gotten plenty from the best on their roster, but there’s been a few players that have left plenty to be desired. In terms of fWAR, here’s who Minnesota will hope to get more from the rest of the way. Alex Kirilloff -0.3 fWAR If you expected someone to breakout this season there’s a pretty good argument that it should have or could have been Alex Kirilloff. He was coming off wrist surgery that was intended to fix the ailment sapping his performance and ending his season last year. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with the same pain and ultimately wound up with a trip back to Triple-A after posting a despicable .398 OPS through 10 games. Obviously Minnesota needed him to either get right, or figure out how to play through something that seemingly isn’t still injured. The positive news here is that Kirilloff seems to have done just that. He’s heated up in a big way for St. Paul, and is beating the ball around the ballpark. Generating loud contact, driving gap doubles, and lifting home runs, there’s no reason this version of Minnesota’s former star rookie can’t help the club in a big way the rest of the season. Emilio Pagan -0.6 fWAR Acquired for Taylor Rogers, along with Chris Paddack, right before Opening Day from San Diego, Pagan has all but settled in as the Twins closer. While Pagan has recorded seven saves and owns a 3.00 ERA for Minnesota, the scary part is that things may get worse before they get better. A lot of Pagan’s negative WAR is generated from blown saves or late game situations. He pitches in high leverage, so any time things go south it is going to be in the worst way. Pagan still owns a 6.15 FIP though, which suggests that his ERA is representative of an arm pitching well over its head. The walks remain an issue, even if the command isn’t now as bad as it was the first week. Given how many home runs he allows though, the additional traffic on the base paths will never be of benefit to him. Maybe Baldelli pushes him into middle inning relief for a while, but that would be reflective of the Twins finding more late inning arms. Miguel Sano -0.7 fWAR It’s relatively impressive Sano was able to generate such a negative impact in so little time. He’s played just 17 games this season for Minnesota, and his .379 OPS is laughable. If there was anything going his way it’s that he was crushing the ball and just not seeing the results. We won’t know where he’ll pick back up coming off surgery for a torn meniscus, and while the Twins have used non-traditional first basemen in his absence, they’ve been less of a zero in the lineup. Sano has shown some of the best plate discipline in his career this season, and while there will likely be no certainties when he returns, the streaky hitter could throw one of his patented hot stretches in at the right time. Sano probably won’t be back for the Twins until July, but there’s worse things you could get for a stretch run than a power bat capable of making that type of an impact. Although he has a 0.8 fWAR thus far, it is worth noting just how little Jorge Polanco has brought to the plate for Minnesota. A season after a career best 126 OPS+, he’s been worth just 102 OPS+ this season and has an OPS lower than that of soft hitting teammate Nick Gordon. Polanco has been a nice up the middle partner with superstar free agent Carlos Correa, but this lineup needs more from him the rest of the way. On the flip side, I'd love to see Caleb Thielbar work into his expected numbers. His ERA is a gaudy 5.59 bit the 3.67 FIP suggests plenty of bad luck. He's been on the wrong end of a lot of issues this season, but Minnesota seeing his numbers normalize some would bring another veteran arm to the middle innings. What are your thoughts? Who have you been most disappointed with this season for the Twins? Can they turn it around?
  5. The Twins extended their win streak to five games on a chilly Tuesday night, beating the Tigers 5-4 in bizarre fashion in the series opener on a final play you have to see to believe. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  6. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews
  7. The day before the Minnesota Twins were set to kick off their 2022 Major League Baseball season, closer and clubhouse veteran Taylor Rogers was traded. There was internal confidence in this bullpen, and it seemed warranted, but Rocco Baldelli has had the group out of whack at times. One of the easiest things to complain about regarding a manager is their bullpen usage. There was always going to be opportunity for that this season, given the relative uncertainty of the group, and Baldelli was always going to need time to let arms filter into their spots. Only a couple of weeks into the season, there’s no reason for any severe hand-wringing, but a couple of observations opportunities have presented themselves. Jhoan Duran is maybe the most exciting arm in Minnesota Twins pitching history. He’s certainly not going to be the best, but the velocity is unmatched and may forever be. It’s something this organization had never seen before and also a great outcome from the trade that sent Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Early returns have suggested he can be an impact thrower at the back end of the Twins bullpen. He may even have taken over the closer role for the departed Rogers by the end of the season. But should he be a multi-inning reliever? That’s questionable, and it’s something worth keeping an eye on. Working two innings against the Red Sox, there was a notable dip in Duran’s velocity when he came back out. It’s not as though he wasn’t still throwing hard, but the consistency in which triple-digits were reached wasn’t maintained. Some arms are more impacted by a total number of pitches, while others could be deterred more by coming off the bench for a second inning. Whatever Duran’s role going forward is, the goal will be to get the best and most effective version of him. Only two lefties are available in Minnesota’s bullpen as it’s currently constructed, and Caleb Thielbar is probably the better of them. Not only is he a great story, but the 3.00 ERA and 10.6 K/9 over the past two seasons have been suggestive of a great arm. Even with that production, he’s still best suited in ideal spots, and that’s why Baldelli’s decision to go with him in the 8th inning of a one-run game against two righties against Boston was odd. Minnesota’s offense was non-existent on Easter Sunday, but trailing by just one looking to get their final at-bats, Thielbar was tasked with protecting a lead. He came in against Kike Hernandez and was also set to face Xander Bogaerts. Both of them are solid hitting right-handers, and they did predictable damage. Giving up four runs generating just a single out, Thielbar was ineffective in a suboptimal situation. That outing leaves us to question what the back-end of the bullpen will look like going forward and how Baldelli will choose spots. Tyler Duffey was given the first save opportunity and blew it, but he’s a good arm even with declined velocity. Jorge Alcala isn’t going to factor in for some time, and Emilio Pagan could step into those high-leverage shoes. Joe Smith is a tested veteran who has previously performed well on good teams, and the aforementioned Duran will always be in the mix. It seems that this front office is intent on avoiding paydays for relievers, but the pen they have constructed is a solid one. Give Baldelli some time to decide how he and Wes Johnson will run these arms out, and I think there’s an opportunity for it to be one of baseball’s better units. View full article
  8. One of the easiest things to complain about regarding a manager is their bullpen usage. There was always going to be opportunity for that this season, given the relative uncertainty of the group, and Baldelli was always going to need time to let arms filter into their spots. Only a couple of weeks into the season, there’s no reason for any severe hand-wringing, but a couple of observations opportunities have presented themselves. Jhoan Duran is maybe the most exciting arm in Minnesota Twins pitching history. He’s certainly not going to be the best, but the velocity is unmatched and may forever be. It’s something this organization had never seen before and also a great outcome from the trade that sent Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Early returns have suggested he can be an impact thrower at the back end of the Twins bullpen. He may even have taken over the closer role for the departed Rogers by the end of the season. But should he be a multi-inning reliever? That’s questionable, and it’s something worth keeping an eye on. Working two innings against the Red Sox, there was a notable dip in Duran’s velocity when he came back out. It’s not as though he wasn’t still throwing hard, but the consistency in which triple-digits were reached wasn’t maintained. Some arms are more impacted by a total number of pitches, while others could be deterred more by coming off the bench for a second inning. Whatever Duran’s role going forward is, the goal will be to get the best and most effective version of him. Only two lefties are available in Minnesota’s bullpen as it’s currently constructed, and Caleb Thielbar is probably the better of them. Not only is he a great story, but the 3.00 ERA and 10.6 K/9 over the past two seasons have been suggestive of a great arm. Even with that production, he’s still best suited in ideal spots, and that’s why Baldelli’s decision to go with him in the 8th inning of a one-run game against two righties against Boston was odd. Minnesota’s offense was non-existent on Easter Sunday, but trailing by just one looking to get their final at-bats, Thielbar was tasked with protecting a lead. He came in against Kike Hernandez and was also set to face Xander Bogaerts. Both of them are solid hitting right-handers, and they did predictable damage. Giving up four runs generating just a single out, Thielbar was ineffective in a suboptimal situation. That outing leaves us to question what the back-end of the bullpen will look like going forward and how Baldelli will choose spots. Tyler Duffey was given the first save opportunity and blew it, but he’s a good arm even with declined velocity. Jorge Alcala isn’t going to factor in for some time, and Emilio Pagan could step into those high-leverage shoes. Joe Smith is a tested veteran who has previously performed well on good teams, and the aforementioned Duran will always be in the mix. It seems that this front office is intent on avoiding paydays for relievers, but the pen they have constructed is a solid one. Give Baldelli some time to decide how he and Wes Johnson will run these arms out, and I think there’s an opportunity for it to be one of baseball’s better units.
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