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  1. Royce Lewis was the spark to the Minnesota Twins offense early, scoring the Twins first two runs. Gary Sanchez added some power, and the Twins bullpen was lights out once again as the Twins won the first game of their west coast road trip. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (62 pitches, 37 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (3) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez (0.143), Griffin Jax (0.143), Jorge Polanco (0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Garlick activated The Twins sent out their patented righty heavy lineup with lefty Zach Logue on the mound for the Athletics. It was a perfect opportunity for the healthy Kyle Garlick to return to the Twins after spending time on the IL with an injured calf. Coming into Monday night, Garlick has hit .357/.500/1.000 with a 1.500 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Archer gives the Twins four innings Chris Archer did exactly what 2022 Archer does. He gave the Twins four full innings of work and left the game with the Twins in a position to win the game. It was an uneasy beginning as it seemed Archer was trying to nibble around the edges of the plate. Once the right-hander could locate some pitches better, he went through a stretch of sending nine straight A's batters back to the dugout. Lewis makes his case As Carlos Correa draws closer to returning from his finger injury, Royce Lewis isn’t ready to go back to St. Paul just yet. The Twins shortstop is doing everything to make sure he stays in the majors. Lewis accounted for two Twins runs. He was first driven home by Jorge Polanco after his third-inning double and then Byron Buxton after a fifth-inning walk. While Lewis will need to find a new defensive home if he and Correa are to coexist in the same lineup, his bat may force just that to happen. Lewis is now hitting .286/.306/.457 since his call up. Gary brings the power While the Twins needed to employ small-ball tactics of what feels like an era forgotten for their second run, Gary Sanchez brought us right back to present-day baseball. Sanchez smashed a ball to center field in the sixth inning for the Twins third run. His home run measured at 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph. Cano, Jax, Duffey impress out of the bullpen Yennier Cano has seen the Twins bullpen roles be shuffled around, and now he is staking his claim to a role of his own. Cano once again was asked to pitch two innings as he came on in relief of Archer. As he sat mid-90s with his fastball, Cano only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. Cano is turning heads early on in his major league career. Griffin Jax was the next man up out of the bullpen and added his own two innings following Cano. Allowing only one hit, Jax has continued to be trusted by his manager and has become a real asset for the Twins. Tyler Duffey followed to get the save on a night in which Emilio Pagan was unavailable. It is also interesting that the choice was Duffey and not Jhoan Duran, but now Duran will be available for the rest of the series. What’s Next? The Twins will go to bed likely with the sounds of drums and horns bouncing in their heads. It was announced Dylan Bundy will return from the COVID IL to make the start on Tuesday. Bundy brings into the game a 5.76 ERA on the season in his five starts. The A’s will send James Kaprielian to the mound. The right-hander has made three starts in 2022 and currently owns a 4.97 ERA. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Jax 0 50 0 0 25 75 Cano 36 0 0 0 25 61 Stashak 46 0 0 13 0 59 Duffey 33 0 5 0 20 58 Pagán 0 22 9 10 0 41 Thielbar 23 0 15 2 0 40 Smith 0 4 15 9 0 28 Duran 0 10 12 0 0 22 Cotton 0 0 17 0 0 17 View full article
  2. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (62 pitches, 37 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (3) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez (0.143), Griffin Jax (0.143), Jorge Polanco (0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Garlick activated The Twins sent out their patented righty heavy lineup with lefty Zach Logue on the mound for the Athletics. It was a perfect opportunity for the healthy Kyle Garlick to return to the Twins after spending time on the IL with an injured calf. Coming into Monday night, Garlick has hit .357/.500/1.000 with a 1.500 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Archer gives the Twins four innings Chris Archer did exactly what 2022 Archer does. He gave the Twins four full innings of work and left the game with the Twins in a position to win the game. It was an uneasy beginning as it seemed Archer was trying to nibble around the edges of the plate. Once the right-hander could locate some pitches better, he went through a stretch of sending nine straight A's batters back to the dugout. Lewis makes his case As Carlos Correa draws closer to returning from his finger injury, Royce Lewis isn’t ready to go back to St. Paul just yet. The Twins shortstop is doing everything to make sure he stays in the majors. Lewis accounted for two Twins runs. He was first driven home by Jorge Polanco after his third-inning double and then Byron Buxton after a fifth-inning walk. While Lewis will need to find a new defensive home if he and Correa are to coexist in the same lineup, his bat may force just that to happen. Lewis is now hitting .286/.306/.457 since his call up. Gary brings the power While the Twins needed to employ small-ball tactics of what feels like an era forgotten for their second run, Gary Sanchez brought us right back to present-day baseball. Sanchez smashed a ball to center field in the sixth inning for the Twins third run. His home run measured at 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph. Cano, Jax, Duffey impress out of the bullpen Yennier Cano has seen the Twins bullpen roles be shuffled around, and now he is staking his claim to a role of his own. Cano once again was asked to pitch two innings as he came on in relief of Archer. As he sat mid-90s with his fastball, Cano only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. Cano is turning heads early on in his major league career. Griffin Jax was the next man up out of the bullpen and added his own two innings following Cano. Allowing only one hit, Jax has continued to be trusted by his manager and has become a real asset for the Twins. Tyler Duffey followed to get the save on a night in which Emilio Pagan was unavailable. It is also interesting that the choice was Duffey and not Jhoan Duran, but now Duran will be available for the rest of the series. What’s Next? The Twins will go to bed likely with the sounds of drums and horns bouncing in their heads. It was announced Dylan Bundy will return from the COVID IL to make the start on Tuesday. Bundy brings into the game a 5.76 ERA on the season in his five starts. The A’s will send James Kaprielian to the mound. The right-hander has made three starts in 2022 and currently owns a 4.97 ERA. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Jax 0 50 0 0 25 75 Cano 36 0 0 0 25 61 Stashak 46 0 0 13 0 59 Duffey 33 0 5 0 20 58 Pagán 0 22 9 10 0 41 Thielbar 23 0 15 2 0 40 Smith 0 4 15 9 0 28 Duran 0 10 12 0 0 22 Cotton 0 0 17 0 0 17
  3. Over 19 hours after it started, the second game of the Twins-Astros series mercifully came to an end. Tornado warnings and an impressive storm in the Twin Cities area on Wednesday night caused the suspension of the game after just three innings. On Thursday afternoon, the game finished in a decisive fashion. The final game of the series will begin in approximately 30 minutes. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (75 pitches, 42 strikes, 56%) Home Runs: none Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Offense shows some encouraging signs early, but Archer can't come through Apparently, not having to face Justin Verlander makes a huge difference – who knew? Contrary to Tuesday night, when Minnesota’s first hit of the game came only in the eighth inning, the bats were off to a good start early. Max Kepler doubled to deep right in the Twins’ second at-bat of the game and scored moments later when Jorge Polanco hit a double to the right corner. Starting this game with a couple of good, extra-base hits was a relief for this offense. The Twins hadn’t scored a run since the third inning of the final game of the Oakland series. Polanco hit an RBI single on Sunday, and the Twins went on to hit .137 since. But the Twins needed their starting pitcher to pick up as well, and that didn’t come close to happening tonight. Making his sixth start of the season, Chris Archer hadn’t given up more than two runs in any of his previous five starts, but things were about to change. After a long 1-2-3 first inning, Archer struggled with his command and very quickly gave up the Twins' one-run lead. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel hit back-to-back singles to open the second inning, and both of them scored later on, on a sac fly and a single. José Altuve hit a leadoff home run to right to open the third, and then things definitely spiraled out of control for Archer. He gave up back-to-back walks after the home run, then loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Kyle Tucker. Jeremy Peña hit a liner to right to score two more runs, making it 5-1 Houston. That concluded Archer’s night, making it the fourth consecutive game in which a Twins starter pitches four innings or less. A storm breaks out, and the game gets suspended, set to resume on Thursday A Royce Lewis single to lead off the bottom of the third brought some hope that the Twins could build some momentum offensively, with the top of the order coming next. But José Urquidy retired the side on 13 pitches to end the threat and… the night at Target Field. Before the fourth inning started, with Yennier Cano warming up to make his big league debut, a storm broke out, and the game went into a weather delay. Fans were evacuated from the stands into the concourses and had to wait until the announcement of the game suspension came, roughly one hour after the interruption of the game. Here we go again... After a 15-hour weather delay (aka, suspended game), the Twins and Astros resumed play at 12:10. Big-League Debuts Technically, Yennier Cano made his MLB debut on Wednesday night because he was announced. However, the reality is that he actually made his MLB debut when the game resumed on Thursday. Cano, who had all night to think about it, was impressive. He struck out the first batter he faced, catcher Martin Maldanado. Then he got Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley quickly. In the fifth inning, he got through Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Guerriel without breaking a sweat. He went out for a third inning. Kyle Tucker hit a high home run over the wall in right field to lead off the sixth frame. He got one out in that inning but after a couple of singles, Cody Stashak came on and allowed both inherited runners to score. So in his 2 1/3 innings, he was charged with three runs on three hits. That line is so much worse than how Cano performed. The Twins had a second player make his MLB debut in the game too. When play resumed, Gilberto Celestino had moved from left to center field. Mark Contreras took over in left field. Contreras came to the plate with runners on first and third and nobody out. He swung at the first pitch and hit a ball 105 mph to center. It was caught just in front of the warning track, but the run scored, so Contreras was awarded an RBI on the sacrifice fly. In his next at-bat, Contreras saw a handful of pitches before hitting a bounding grounder up the middle. Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena misplayed it for an error. Contreras later came around to score a run too. His final at-bat ended with a fielder's choice. The Twins are off to a very nice start to their season, but playing against a strong, veteran Astros team without Carlos Correa, and with young pitchers, was always going to be a bit of a reality check. Again, consider the amount of MLB time and at-bats that Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Gilberto Celestino, Royce Lewis, Mark Contreras, and even Ryan Jeffers have. Yet each of them contributed something in this game and are holding their own. So, you can say it's a reality check to see the Twins lose by a big margin, and that's fair. You can also be really excited about the future of this club, not only this year when Correa and Byron Buxton are back at full strength but for years to come. Along with the pitching pipeline that we are starting to see contribute to the Twins, there are hitters too. It's also OK to acknowledge both. Speaking of firsts... Nick Gordon has played all over the place since joining the Twins last summer. On Thursday, he made his pitching debut. The son of the former All-Star and long-time reliever Tom Gordon, Nick came in to face the Astros with the Twins down 11-3. And, he kept the score right there. For the most part, he lobbed in pitches at 70 mph or so. That said, he hit 87 with one pitch and 88 with another. He got a little help from Gio Urshela, but threw a scoreless frame. What’s Next? In approximately 30 minutes, Josh Winder (1.61 ERA) will try to snap the sequence of bad starts as he takes the mound for the third and final game of this series, facing Luis Garcia (3.45 ERA). Postgame Interview No postgame interviews due to the quick turn-around. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Stashak 34 0 0 0 46 80 Cotton 0 0 58 0 0 58 Cano 0 0 0 0 36 36 Coulombe 0 0 29 IL IL 29 Pagán 28 0 0 0 0 28 Thielbar 20 0 3 0 0 23 Smith 12 0 0 0 0 12 Duffey 9 0 0 0 0 9 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0 Jax 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  4. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (75 pitches, 42 strikes, 56%) Home Runs: none Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Offense shows some encouraging signs early, but Archer can't come through Apparently, not having to face Justin Verlander makes a huge difference – who knew? Contrary to Tuesday night, when Minnesota’s first hit of the game came only in the eighth inning, the bats were off to a good start early. Max Kepler doubled to deep right in the Twins’ second at-bat of the game and scored moments later when Jorge Polanco hit a double to the right corner. Starting this game with a couple of good, extra-base hits was a relief for this offense. The Twins hadn’t scored a run since the third inning of the final game of the Oakland series. Polanco hit an RBI single on Sunday, and the Twins went on to hit .137 since. But the Twins needed their starting pitcher to pick up as well, and that didn’t come close to happening tonight. Making his sixth start of the season, Chris Archer hadn’t given up more than two runs in any of his previous five starts, but things were about to change. After a long 1-2-3 first inning, Archer struggled with his command and very quickly gave up the Twins' one-run lead. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel hit back-to-back singles to open the second inning, and both of them scored later on, on a sac fly and a single. José Altuve hit a leadoff home run to right to open the third, and then things definitely spiraled out of control for Archer. He gave up back-to-back walks after the home run, then loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Kyle Tucker. Jeremy Peña hit a liner to right to score two more runs, making it 5-1 Houston. That concluded Archer’s night, making it the fourth consecutive game in which a Twins starter pitches four innings or less. A storm breaks out, and the game gets suspended, set to resume on Thursday A Royce Lewis single to lead off the bottom of the third brought some hope that the Twins could build some momentum offensively, with the top of the order coming next. But José Urquidy retired the side on 13 pitches to end the threat and… the night at Target Field. Before the fourth inning started, with Yennier Cano warming up to make his big league debut, a storm broke out, and the game went into a weather delay. Fans were evacuated from the stands into the concourses and had to wait until the announcement of the game suspension came, roughly one hour after the interruption of the game. Here we go again... After a 15-hour weather delay (aka, suspended game), the Twins and Astros resumed play at 12:10. Big-League Debuts Technically, Yennier Cano made his MLB debut on Wednesday night because he was announced. However, the reality is that he actually made his MLB debut when the game resumed on Thursday. Cano, who had all night to think about it, was impressive. He struck out the first batter he faced, catcher Martin Maldanado. Then he got Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley quickly. In the fifth inning, he got through Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Guerriel without breaking a sweat. He went out for a third inning. Kyle Tucker hit a high home run over the wall in right field to lead off the sixth frame. He got one out in that inning but after a couple of singles, Cody Stashak came on and allowed both inherited runners to score. So in his 2 1/3 innings, he was charged with three runs on three hits. That line is so much worse than how Cano performed. The Twins had a second player make his MLB debut in the game too. When play resumed, Gilberto Celestino had moved from left to center field. Mark Contreras took over in left field. Contreras came to the plate with runners on first and third and nobody out. He swung at the first pitch and hit a ball 105 mph to center. It was caught just in front of the warning track, but the run scored, so Contreras was awarded an RBI on the sacrifice fly. In his next at-bat, Contreras saw a handful of pitches before hitting a bounding grounder up the middle. Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena misplayed it for an error. Contreras later came around to score a run too. His final at-bat ended with a fielder's choice. The Twins are off to a very nice start to their season, but playing against a strong, veteran Astros team without Carlos Correa, and with young pitchers, was always going to be a bit of a reality check. Again, consider the amount of MLB time and at-bats that Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Gilberto Celestino, Royce Lewis, Mark Contreras, and even Ryan Jeffers have. Yet each of them contributed something in this game and are holding their own. So, you can say it's a reality check to see the Twins lose by a big margin, and that's fair. You can also be really excited about the future of this club, not only this year when Correa and Byron Buxton are back at full strength but for years to come. Along with the pitching pipeline that we are starting to see contribute to the Twins, there are hitters too. It's also OK to acknowledge both. Speaking of firsts... Nick Gordon has played all over the place since joining the Twins last summer. On Thursday, he made his pitching debut. The son of the former All-Star and long-time reliever Tom Gordon, Nick came in to face the Astros with the Twins down 11-3. And, he kept the score right there. For the most part, he lobbed in pitches at 70 mph or so. That said, he hit 87 with one pitch and 88 with another. He got a little help from Gio Urshela, but threw a scoreless frame. What’s Next? In approximately 30 minutes, Josh Winder (1.61 ERA) will try to snap the sequence of bad starts as he takes the mound for the third and final game of this series, facing Luis Garcia (3.45 ERA). Postgame Interview No postgame interviews due to the quick turn-around. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Stashak 34 0 0 0 46 80 Cotton 0 0 58 0 0 58 Cano 0 0 0 0 36 36 Coulombe 0 0 29 IL IL 29 Pagán 28 0 0 0 0 28 Thielbar 20 0 3 0 0 23 Smith 12 0 0 0 0 12 Duffey 9 0 0 0 0 9 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0 Jax 0 0 0 0 0 0
  5. Do the Twins actually have a good pitching staff? Twins fans have asked this question in various forms, attempting to grapple with a group of arms currently sitting with the fourth-lowest ERA in baseball. Usually, one does not question a good thing, but Minnesota sports fans know better than to buy into any hype. This author cannot answer for sure, but it does appear that the team has purposely constructed a stable of pitchers perfectly suited for a new Twins pitching style. Let’s dive in. The ball is dead. The ball remains dead. And Rob Manfred has killed it. One can barely watch a game or read a baseball article without someone mentioning just how short baseballs are flying compared to previous years. Perhaps MLB wanted to counter-act the previous “rabbit ball” era, perhaps they wanted to de-incentivize home runs to move away from three-true-outcome baseball, or perhaps Manfred is a foolish stooge. One cannot say with authority which statement is true, or if the answer includes some combo of the three, but the reality is thus: baseballs in 2022 are not flying as far as before. If the baseballs are dead, and they are, then flyball pitchers have the most to gain from such a development; their main weakness—one of those flyballs landing behind the fence—is neutered. The term “flyball pitcher” has become something of a swear in the juiced-ball age, implying a deficiency rather than describing a strategy. The main plus to being a flyball pitcher is that most true flyballs end up in gloves; flyballs held a .117 BABIP in 2018, and that number barely moves yearly. If flyballs are no longer as threatening as before, a team in 2022 could be more liberal with allowing them. For the Twins, that’s an important note. The team has the seventh-highest flyball rate in baseball, and many of the culprits holding that number up—Joe Ryan, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray—the team targeted over the past year. Those pitchers have other desirable traits, so their flyball rate could be a secondary thought, but that consideration looms especially large this season. Of course, presumably, part of why the Twins targeted them involved other details; Target Field and outfield defense. If Target Field feels like it’s on the cavernous side of ballparks, that’s because it is. Statcast’s park factors claim that the stadium was the 10th best at suppressing homers between 2019-2021 and is generally slightly more of a pitcher’s park. That feels right. The high walls in right field block homers that would go out in the wiffleball field that is Yankee Stadium, while centerfield often plays like Death Valley, eating up flyballs for dinner. Righties have it better for hitting doubles, but it’s also the most challenging park for them to single in. A secondary point: that 2019 team looks even more impressive when you consider that the team hit many of those homers in a park that is bad for power. The exact characteristics that define Target Field aside, there’s one glaring, painfully obvious reason Target Field is more challenging for hitters: Byron Buxton. Buxton’s defense needs no introduction, so it won’t get one. Buxton is an out machine, whether you like OAA, UZR, DRS, or any other suspiciously New Deal Program-sounding acronyms. His presence in center is world-altering, attracting fly balls to his person so he can gobble them up in a SportsCenter Top 10-esque diving catch or during a mid-sprint effort that only looks easy because Buxton makes it look so. Even his backup, Gilberto Celestino, currently is in the 84th percentile of outfielders by OAA, albeit in a minuscule sample size. In fact, let’s talk about those other outfielders; Max Kepler has long been one of the finest defensive right fielders in the game, ranking in the top 15 in MLB in OAA every full year since its introduction. Trevor Larnach is messier to analyze given his small sample, but Statcast at least thinks his route-running is good enough for an NFL wide receiver. Nick Gordon holds the least attractive numbers, but he has the athleticism to play in the outfield and should improve with more reps. It should be unsurprising that the Twins outfield is currently 1st in MLB in DRS, 3rd in OAA, and 3rd in UZR/150 innings. The ball does not fly as far as before, Twins pitchers are good at allowing fly balls, Target Field suppresses those fly balls, and the Twins outfield will probably catch them. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are either cracked-out geniuses or fortunate individuals because they have quietly built a perfect relationship between the ball, pitcher, park, and defense. That combination has not only fueled their success so far in 2022, but it will probably carry them to many victories as the season continues. View full article
  6. The ball is dead. The ball remains dead. And Rob Manfred has killed it. One can barely watch a game or read a baseball article without someone mentioning just how short baseballs are flying compared to previous years. Perhaps MLB wanted to counter-act the previous “rabbit ball” era, perhaps they wanted to de-incentivize home runs to move away from three-true-outcome baseball, or perhaps Manfred is a foolish stooge. One cannot say with authority which statement is true, or if the answer includes some combo of the three, but the reality is thus: baseballs in 2022 are not flying as far as before. If the baseballs are dead, and they are, then flyball pitchers have the most to gain from such a development; their main weakness—one of those flyballs landing behind the fence—is neutered. The term “flyball pitcher” has become something of a swear in the juiced-ball age, implying a deficiency rather than describing a strategy. The main plus to being a flyball pitcher is that most true flyballs end up in gloves; flyballs held a .117 BABIP in 2018, and that number barely moves yearly. If flyballs are no longer as threatening as before, a team in 2022 could be more liberal with allowing them. For the Twins, that’s an important note. The team has the seventh-highest flyball rate in baseball, and many of the culprits holding that number up—Joe Ryan, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray—the team targeted over the past year. Those pitchers have other desirable traits, so their flyball rate could be a secondary thought, but that consideration looms especially large this season. Of course, presumably, part of why the Twins targeted them involved other details; Target Field and outfield defense. If Target Field feels like it’s on the cavernous side of ballparks, that’s because it is. Statcast’s park factors claim that the stadium was the 10th best at suppressing homers between 2019-2021 and is generally slightly more of a pitcher’s park. That feels right. The high walls in right field block homers that would go out in the wiffleball field that is Yankee Stadium, while centerfield often plays like Death Valley, eating up flyballs for dinner. Righties have it better for hitting doubles, but it’s also the most challenging park for them to single in. A secondary point: that 2019 team looks even more impressive when you consider that the team hit many of those homers in a park that is bad for power. The exact characteristics that define Target Field aside, there’s one glaring, painfully obvious reason Target Field is more challenging for hitters: Byron Buxton. Buxton’s defense needs no introduction, so it won’t get one. Buxton is an out machine, whether you like OAA, UZR, DRS, or any other suspiciously New Deal Program-sounding acronyms. His presence in center is world-altering, attracting fly balls to his person so he can gobble them up in a SportsCenter Top 10-esque diving catch or during a mid-sprint effort that only looks easy because Buxton makes it look so. Even his backup, Gilberto Celestino, currently is in the 84th percentile of outfielders by OAA, albeit in a minuscule sample size. In fact, let’s talk about those other outfielders; Max Kepler has long been one of the finest defensive right fielders in the game, ranking in the top 15 in MLB in OAA every full year since its introduction. Trevor Larnach is messier to analyze given his small sample, but Statcast at least thinks his route-running is good enough for an NFL wide receiver. Nick Gordon holds the least attractive numbers, but he has the athleticism to play in the outfield and should improve with more reps. It should be unsurprising that the Twins outfield is currently 1st in MLB in DRS, 3rd in OAA, and 3rd in UZR/150 innings. The ball does not fly as far as before, Twins pitchers are good at allowing fly balls, Target Field suppresses those fly balls, and the Twins outfield will probably catch them. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are either cracked-out geniuses or fortunate individuals because they have quietly built a perfect relationship between the ball, pitcher, park, and defense. That combination has not only fueled their success so far in 2022, but it will probably carry them to many victories as the season continues.
  7. Despite a flurry of middle-inning runs, five solo homers from the Orioles plagued the Twins from getting a series victory in Baltimore before heading home to Minneapolis. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (76 pitches, 52 strikes (68.4%)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (8) Bottom 3 WPA: Jhoan Duran (-0.263), Gio Urshela (-0.2.52), Jorge Polanco (-0.80) Game Score: Orioles 5, Twins 3 Game Notes Alongside Rocco Baldelli, Luis Arraez and Dylan Bundy tested positive for Covid prior to Thursday night's game. Bench Coach Jayce Tingler filled in as manager for Thursday's game. Star shortstop Carlos Correa left the game in the seventh inning after being hit in the wrist and hand in consecutive at-bats. Nick Gordon replaced Correa. Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Twins got on the board in the third inning thanks to a pair of singles, an error, and a force out. Trevor Larnach led off the inning with a sharp single to right that was followed by a blooper single courtesy of Jose Miranda. Larnach advanced on the hit to second and later to third on a Baltimore throwing error. The error would cost the Orioles. On the next at-bat, Byron Buxton grounded into a force out that scored Larnach from third. Miranda's hit was the second of his young MLB career. In a world of quick judgment, it should be applauded that Miranda has two hits in his first three MLB games. Buxton's third-inning RBI was just the start. After a Ryan Jeffers walk, Buxton crushed his eighth homer of the year over the infamous left-field wall at Camden Yards to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Buxton's launch came off the bat at 113 MPH and traveled a whopping 452 feet. Buxton is tied for second-most homers among all of MLB so far this season. Starting pitcher Chris Archer lasted four innings on the night, giving up five hits. The two runs that he surrendered came on solo home runs from the Orioles. Archer struck out six and failed to give up a walk in an outing that was mostly admirable minus the two homers. Caleb Thielbar followed Archer in the pen and was solid minus a solo shot given up to Jorge Mateo. Thielbar hit his target on the 1-2 pitch but Mateo eyed the pitch well and won the battle. Griffin Jax followed Thielbar and kept the Orioles from scoring through 1 2/3 innings. Flamethrower Jhoan Duran followed suit to finish off the inning in the seventh, but the haunting of the solo shot returned in the eighth. Ryan Hayes launched a go-ahead homer to put the O's ahead and Ryan Mountcastle followed suit with his second shot of the day to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead that would hold to the end. What’s Next? After a 4-3 road trip, the first place Twins will return home to Target Field to take on the Oakland A's tomorrow evening at 7:10 pm CST. Young sensation Josh Winder (1-0, 2.20 ERA) will make his second MLB start against Oakland's Cole Irvin (2-1, 2.93 ERA). It's supposed to be a beautiful evening, buy your tickets here! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (76 pitches, 52 strikes (68.4%)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (8) Bottom 3 WPA: Jhoan Duran (-0.263), Gio Urshela (-0.2.52), Jorge Polanco (-0.80) Game Score: Orioles 5, Twins 3 Game Notes Alongside Rocco Baldelli, Luis Arraez and Dylan Bundy tested positive for Covid prior to Thursday night's game. Bench Coach Jayce Tingler filled in as manager for Thursday's game. Star shortstop Carlos Correa left the game in the seventh inning after being hit in the wrist and hand in consecutive at-bats. Nick Gordon replaced Correa. Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Twins got on the board in the third inning thanks to a pair of singles, an error, and a force out. Trevor Larnach led off the inning with a sharp single to right that was followed by a blooper single courtesy of Jose Miranda. Larnach advanced on the hit to second and later to third on a Baltimore throwing error. The error would cost the Orioles. On the next at-bat, Byron Buxton grounded into a force out that scored Larnach from third. Miranda's hit was the second of his young MLB career. In a world of quick judgment, it should be applauded that Miranda has two hits in his first three MLB games. Buxton's third-inning RBI was just the start. After a Ryan Jeffers walk, Buxton crushed his eighth homer of the year over the infamous left-field wall at Camden Yards to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Buxton's launch came off the bat at 113 MPH and traveled a whopping 452 feet. Buxton is tied for second-most homers among all of MLB so far this season. Starting pitcher Chris Archer lasted four innings on the night, giving up five hits. The two runs that he surrendered came on solo home runs from the Orioles. Archer struck out six and failed to give up a walk in an outing that was mostly admirable minus the two homers. Caleb Thielbar followed Archer in the pen and was solid minus a solo shot given up to Jorge Mateo. Thielbar hit his target on the 1-2 pitch but Mateo eyed the pitch well and won the battle. Griffin Jax followed Thielbar and kept the Orioles from scoring through 1 2/3 innings. Flamethrower Jhoan Duran followed suit to finish off the inning in the seventh, but the haunting of the solo shot returned in the eighth. Ryan Hayes launched a go-ahead homer to put the O's ahead and Ryan Mountcastle followed suit with his second shot of the day to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead that would hold to the end. What’s Next? After a 4-3 road trip, the first place Twins will return home to Target Field to take on the Oakland A's tomorrow evening at 7:10 pm CST. Young sensation Josh Winder (1-0, 2.20 ERA) will make his second MLB start against Oakland's Cole Irvin (2-1, 2.93 ERA). It's supposed to be a beautiful evening, buy your tickets here! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  9. In the late innings of Thursday afternoon's Twins win over the Tigers to complete their sweep of a homestand, Justin Morneau posed a question that comes up from time to time. It comes up when a team is doing well and is questioned if teams are playing poorly. Does winning create chemistry, or does chemistry come with wins? Many articles that you read here at Twins Daily or other sports or news sites may use data or reasoning to push a reader toward an opinion. Sometimes it's as black and white as right or wrong. Other times, statistics or scenarios can push a narrative. That isn't what this article is going to be. Frankly, I don't know what this article is going to be. I haven't written a Stream of Consciousness article for quite some time. While trying to organize my thoughts, I realized that there are many angles and factors to be considered. So, let's see where this takes us. Does team chemistry help with Winning, or does it take Winning to create team chemistry? I think looking at the 2022 Minnesota Twins can undoubtedly help the conversation, or it can just give more data points or concepts to consider. There is no doubt that the chemistry of this team was altered with all of the February and March transactions. Trading popular, positive team leaders like Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers certainly affects chemistry. Trading Rogers literally on opening day and welcoming Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the team the next day had to be jarring. On the other side of the equation, it's possible that team chemistry improved with a bit of Addition by Subtraction. It is clear (after the fact) that trading away Josh Donaldson was a positive for team chemistry. Still, Gio Urshela's struggles in 2021, and Gary Sanchez's unfortunate negative relationship with Yankees fans, could have made both players bitter. Instead, they have been happy, excited teammates since Day 1, and the change of scenery could be a blessing in disguise. Urshela has been competing against the Twins for many years, going back to his time in Cleveland. Gary Sanchez has been friends with Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco for over a dozen years. As exciting as it is that the Twins signed Carlos Correa, it sure could have gone a number o ways. He could have come in and acted entitled. He could have been a prima donna. Instead, from Day 1, he has said all the right things. He hasn't tried to take over a leadership role, but his leadership qualities showed when he told everybody that this is Byron's (Buxton) team. Despite his slow start, it's clear that he is leading in the dugout. He has been a supportive teammate. He has taken the time to help and offer ideas to teammates. And Byron Buxton? There is a legitimate question of if he is the best player in baseball or at least the most talented player. He had every right to be upset at the Twins and this front office for their manipulation of his service time. He couldn't have handled it any better than he did, starting the following year. And last year, amid rumors of broken contract talks and trade talk, Buxton made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Twins. And ultimately, that's what happened. He could have waited and become a free agent after this season. He likely could have doubled the guaranteed money he received from the Twins or another team. Instead, he took an offer that he could be happy with, his family and the Twins' front office should be thrilled with. Fans should be thrilled with the deal. But, maybe more important, Buxton made playing in Minnesota a good thing. Signing him probably helped Carlos Correa's interest in the team. In coming offseasons, could his presence factor into decisions of other free agents, like it did when Kirby Puckett roams the outfield for the Twins? And how much fun is it to see him having a blast playing with this group? It's clear that he is everything you would want in a superstar, and seeing him smiling in the dugout, and joking with teammates, is encouraging. Sonny Gray came to the Twins in a trade, a veteran with a terrific track record over his career. We have frequently heard about how Gray has encouraged (if not made it mandatory) all of the starting pitchers to be there for each other's bullpen sessions. First, they can watch what the other pitchers are working on and how they work. Second, they can pass on information and learn from each other—veterans leading the way and veterans who seem to enjoy learning. Chris Archer was great with Tampa. However, once he was traded to the Pirates, he started fighting injuries and struggling on the mound. He talked to former teammates who played in Minnesota or for Baldelli and was told it's a great place. Dylan Bundy has faced injuries throughout his decade in pro ball, and he's had some ups and some real lows. Aside from pitching well, these guys are leaders and articulate lessons well to teammates. You have heard consistently from all new players to the organization is the atmosphere facilitated by the front office, Rocco Baldelli, and his coaching staff. It is an atmosphere of professionalism and working on getting ready for every game and scenario. It's an atmosphere that will also treat them as men, with dignity and respect. Baldelli's leadership has created an environment of communication and makes sure players and their families are comfortable. These are things that I know some people will roll their eyes when they read it. I get that. No one wants to think that touchy-feely stuff affects adults. They are incredibly well-compensated adults playing a kids' game. I get it. We've all heard people say that. Regardless of our job or our role in life, we all want to be respected. We all want to work in a comfortable environment, an environment where everyone feels heard, and increased compensation is available through hard work and challenging yourself. Maybe not everyone wants those things, but like the big leagues, those people are often weeded out. So, again, let's bring it back to this season. With a short spring training and new teammates coming in over that three-week period, it had to take time to get to know each other, much less develop chemistry on the field, in the clubhouse. Again, the roster moves continued right up until Opening Day. Should we be surprised that they struggled out of the gate? Should we be impressed that they only needed 12 games (4-8 start) to turn things around? With their seven-game win streak and sweeps of the White Sox and Tigers, the Twins are now 11-8 and sit atop the AL Central at this very early stage. Players talk about the chemistry the team felt even through their early struggles. So, was it that Chemistry that allowed the Twins to start winning? Or was it the Winning (and a couple of wild wins) that made the chemistry stronger? How much does the front office affect team chemistry? Well, probably primarily by getting reports about players from people who have been their teammates or coaches, or even opponents (along with all of the statistical and analytical stuff). It seems that is part of the role of special advisors to Baseball Operations like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, and Justin Morneau. Part of their job description, when hired, was that they could speak to this type of information on players they played with or against or use their relationships around the game to get information on the interpersonal skills of players the Twins might consider acquiring. But that can go both ways. Was Donaldson a detriment to team chemistry? What kind of atmosphere could devolve when popular teammates are traded right before a season starts? How much does the manager, Rocco Baldelli, deserve credit for the chemistry? This is where it's at. Since he was hired, he has set the atmosphere and the expectations. He has been a players' coach, but he's led the Twins through some challenging situations, from Covid to the riots in Minneapolis, to a labor lockout. He's hired coaches, with help from the front office obviously, who are good teachers, know their technical stuff, and listen. Proof of that is that several coaches from his staff have been hired away over the years. Finally, you probably would never hear a player badmouth his manager. Still, the sense is that there is genuine respect for Baldelli, his intelligence, his playing, scouting, coaching background, and more. With replay, there aren't as many opportunities for a manager to "back his players" by getting ejected with silly arguments with umps on close plays. So again, is it chemistry that helps a team relax and perform better and win... or does a team need to experience success (usually in Wins) for chemistry to develop better? And let's be honest. It's easy right now to tout the team's chemistry. They held on early and are currently pitching well and winning games. I'm sure that they will lose their ninth game of the year at some point. The winning streak will likely come to an end. And, like most other teams, the Twins will have a couple more rough patches throughout the season. They are likely to have another 4-8 stretch or two. That's part of the beauty of baseball. It's a marathon, filled with ups and downs. I think chemistry is essential in any part of life, especially in team sports. But it isn't everything. There have been teams that hated each other, got in fights with each other (think 1970s A's, or pretty much any Billy Martin-led team), and won. There have been teams that got along great, had great relationships, and lost a lot of games. And, of course, there are close teams with great chemistry that have won and bad chemistry teams that have lost. So, does that mean that chemistry has nothing to do with winning or losing? There are many examples of teams that won that hated each other. The questions for you to consider include: 1.) What work atmosphere do you personally prefer in your life? 2.) How does that compare to your thoughts on chemistry in professional (or any) sports? 3.) What are your thoughts on the team chemistry of the Twins this year, and where that credit lies? (Front office, manager, coaches, players) 4.) And what are your thoughts on the question: Does Winning create chemistry, or does team chemistry help a team Win? Here are a few final thoughts - and if you've made it this far, thank you, or I'm sorry Ranking keys to success on a baseball team #3 - Chemistry #2 - Talent #1 - Having Byron Buxton on your team and on the field. View full article
  10. The Twins seven-game winning streak came to an end in Tampa Bay on Friday night as Dylan Bundy gave up six runs in the first inning and the offense just couldn’t seem to battle back. Chris Archer made his return to Tropicana Field as a Minnesota Twin. Archer, the bullpen, and the lineup all came to play and started a new winning streak. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (79 pitches, 46 strikes (58.2%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick 2 (3), Max Kepler (5) Top 3 WPA: Kyle Garlick (.316), Gilbert Celestino (.73), Carlos Correa (.60) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Chris Archer Returns to Tampa Bay Chris Archer was acquired by the Twins from Tampa Bay on March 28 of this season, Saturday, he pitched against the team that he spent eight seasons with. While the asset for the Twins was knowing that Archer knows what to throw to his former teammates, the Rays also know what he will throw, which caught up to the pitcher in the bottom of the second when Taylor Walls hit a home run into right-center field off Archer’s slider in the second inning but is the only run that he gave up during his return to Tropicana. In Archer’s first start against his former team, the Rays lineup made him work for every pitch that was thrown, but he completed four innings with the help of his defense and certainly calm demeanor. Rocco Baldelli has been limiting his pitches to around 60 during his first three games this season. The Twins are easing Archer into the season after spending most of 2021 injured with right forearm tenderness. Archer’s confidence continued to grow, allowing him to throw a season-high of 79 pitches. He managed to work through four innings and only allowed two hits and one solo-home run before being relieved by Cody Stashak. The Bullpen did an amazing job of going five scoreless innings holding Tampa Bay to just one run for this game. Last Minute Roster Changes Assist in Game Win The further the Twins have gone into April, the more injuries have popped up along the way. This series both Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton missed starting different games due to injuries. In their absence, other players have been stepping up figuratively and literally to get their chance at staying on the roster. Trevor Larnach replaced Buxton today in the lineup. Buxton was a late scratch for today’s game after he received a contusion from being hit in the hand during the game Friday. Larnach’s hitting against lefties has continued to improve and in his first at-bat, he walked, making McClannahan work. The Twins kept Larnach in the line-up even after the McClannahan had retired, allowing him to help the Twins continue to work towards the win, getting a double in the top of the seventh scoring Celestino giving the Twins a little padding with a 4-1 lead. Larnach’s performance has continued to improve substantially over the past two weeks as he puts in the work to show why he should stay after they reduce the roster in May. Sano is back in the lineup after missing games with a sore knee. Batting eighth in the lineup, he wasn’t able to find his stride in the game and struck out with each at-bat. Frustrating, for not only Sano, but for the team as well. Sano typically thrives at Tropicana Field with hits and RBIs, making it one of his more successful parks to play in, but just couldn’t seem to get anything going. Bailey Ober was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday and brought up Cole Sands to take his place. Sands most likely will be making his MLB debut with the team after the Rays series when they travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles. Kyle Garlick was the MVP of the game today as he smashed two home runs, a solo homer in the first inning, and a two-run shot in the sixth inning to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. Garlick had his first career multi-home run game of his career today and after his second home run, the Rays removed McClannahan bringing out JP Feyereisen to finish out the inning. Kyle Garlick was taken out after hitting his second home run. He returned to the dugout and the Twins brought in Max Kepler for defensive purposes, and because they would be facing right-handed pitchers the rest of the game. Kepler wasted no time getting in on the action hitting a single in his first at-bat and joining the player he replaced by hitting a home run deep to right-centerfield. Not Finished YET The Twins used the ninth inning to give Twins fans a show, getting seven hits and four runs before leaving the bases loaded. The Twins have been on a hot streak lately winning eight of their last nine decisions and potentially could close out this series with a win. What’s Next? The Twins have a get-away day game tomorrow to complete the series with the Rays before heading to the east coast for a four-game series against the Orioles at historic Camden Yards. Pitching matchups for tomorrow: Sunday 12:10: Chris Paddack (0-2, 5.00) vs Josh Flemming LHP (2-2) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  11. Kyle Garlick hit two home runs off lefty Shane McClanahan as the Twins picked up a victory over the Rays. Chris Archer returned to the Trop and Jhoan Duran helped with an impressive day for the bullpen. Also featured in this video are Royce lewis, Matt Wallner, Alex Isola, Sawyer Gipson-Long and more.
  12. Kyle Garlick hit two home runs off lefty Shane McClanahan as the Twins picked up a victory over the Rays. Chris Archer returned to the Trop and Jhoan Duran helped with an impressive day for the bullpen. Also featured in this video are Royce lewis, Matt Wallner, Alex Isola, Sawyer Gipson-Long and more. View full video
  13. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (79 pitches, 46 strikes (58.2%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick 2 (3), Max Kepler (5) Top 3 WPA: Kyle Garlick (.316), Gilbert Celestino (.73), Carlos Correa (.60) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Chris Archer Returns to Tampa Bay Chris Archer was acquired by the Twins from Tampa Bay on March 28 of this season, Saturday, he pitched against the team that he spent eight seasons with. While the asset for the Twins was knowing that Archer knows what to throw to his former teammates, the Rays also know what he will throw, which caught up to the pitcher in the bottom of the second when Taylor Walls hit a home run into right-center field off Archer’s slider in the second inning but is the only run that he gave up during his return to Tropicana. In Archer’s first start against his former team, the Rays lineup made him work for every pitch that was thrown, but he completed four innings with the help of his defense and certainly calm demeanor. Rocco Baldelli has been limiting his pitches to around 60 during his first three games this season. The Twins are easing Archer into the season after spending most of 2021 injured with right forearm tenderness. Archer’s confidence continued to grow, allowing him to throw a season-high of 79 pitches. He managed to work through four innings and only allowed two hits and one solo-home run before being relieved by Cody Stashak. The Bullpen did an amazing job of going five scoreless innings holding Tampa Bay to just one run for this game. Last Minute Roster Changes Assist in Game Win The further the Twins have gone into April, the more injuries have popped up along the way. This series both Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton missed starting different games due to injuries. In their absence, other players have been stepping up figuratively and literally to get their chance at staying on the roster. Trevor Larnach replaced Buxton today in the lineup. Buxton was a late scratch for today’s game after he received a contusion from being hit in the hand during the game Friday. Larnach’s hitting against lefties has continued to improve and in his first at-bat, he walked, making McClannahan work. The Twins kept Larnach in the line-up even after the McClannahan had retired, allowing him to help the Twins continue to work towards the win, getting a double in the top of the seventh scoring Celestino giving the Twins a little padding with a 4-1 lead. Larnach’s performance has continued to improve substantially over the past two weeks as he puts in the work to show why he should stay after they reduce the roster in May. Sano is back in the lineup after missing games with a sore knee. Batting eighth in the lineup, he wasn’t able to find his stride in the game and struck out with each at-bat. Frustrating, for not only Sano, but for the team as well. Sano typically thrives at Tropicana Field with hits and RBIs, making it one of his more successful parks to play in, but just couldn’t seem to get anything going. Bailey Ober was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday and brought up Cole Sands to take his place. Sands most likely will be making his MLB debut with the team after the Rays series when they travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles. Kyle Garlick was the MVP of the game today as he smashed two home runs, a solo homer in the first inning, and a two-run shot in the sixth inning to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. Garlick had his first career multi-home run game of his career today and after his second home run, the Rays removed McClannahan bringing out JP Feyereisen to finish out the inning. Kyle Garlick was taken out after hitting his second home run. He returned to the dugout and the Twins brought in Max Kepler for defensive purposes, and because they would be facing right-handed pitchers the rest of the game. Kepler wasted no time getting in on the action hitting a single in his first at-bat and joining the player he replaced by hitting a home run deep to right-centerfield. Not Finished YET The Twins used the ninth inning to give Twins fans a show, getting seven hits and four runs before leaving the bases loaded. The Twins have been on a hot streak lately winning eight of their last nine decisions and potentially could close out this series with a win. What’s Next? The Twins have a get-away day game tomorrow to complete the series with the Rays before heading to the east coast for a four-game series against the Orioles at historic Camden Yards. Pitching matchups for tomorrow: Sunday 12:10: Chris Paddack (0-2, 5.00) vs Josh Flemming LHP (2-2) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  14. Many articles that you read here at Twins Daily or other sports or news sites may use data or reasoning to push a reader toward an opinion. Sometimes it's as black and white as right or wrong. Other times, statistics or scenarios can push a narrative. That isn't what this article is going to be. Frankly, I don't know what this article is going to be. I haven't written a Stream of Consciousness article for quite some time. While trying to organize my thoughts, I realized that there are many angles and factors to be considered. So, let's see where this takes us. Does team chemistry help with Winning, or does it take Winning to create team chemistry? I think looking at the 2022 Minnesota Twins can undoubtedly help the conversation, or it can just give more data points or concepts to consider. There is no doubt that the chemistry of this team was altered with all of the February and March transactions. Trading popular, positive team leaders like Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers certainly affects chemistry. Trading Rogers literally on opening day and welcoming Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the team the next day had to be jarring. On the other side of the equation, it's possible that team chemistry improved with a bit of Addition by Subtraction. It is clear (after the fact) that trading away Josh Donaldson was a positive for team chemistry. Still, Gio Urshela's struggles in 2021, and Gary Sanchez's unfortunate negative relationship with Yankees fans, could have made both players bitter. Instead, they have been happy, excited teammates since Day 1, and the change of scenery could be a blessing in disguise. Urshela has been competing against the Twins for many years, going back to his time in Cleveland. Gary Sanchez has been friends with Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco for over a dozen years. As exciting as it is that the Twins signed Carlos Correa, it sure could have gone a number o ways. He could have come in and acted entitled. He could have been a prima donna. Instead, from Day 1, he has said all the right things. He hasn't tried to take over a leadership role, but his leadership qualities showed when he told everybody that this is Byron's (Buxton) team. Despite his slow start, it's clear that he is leading in the dugout. He has been a supportive teammate. He has taken the time to help and offer ideas to teammates. And Byron Buxton? There is a legitimate question of if he is the best player in baseball or at least the most talented player. He had every right to be upset at the Twins and this front office for their manipulation of his service time. He couldn't have handled it any better than he did, starting the following year. And last year, amid rumors of broken contract talks and trade talk, Buxton made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Twins. And ultimately, that's what happened. He could have waited and become a free agent after this season. He likely could have doubled the guaranteed money he received from the Twins or another team. Instead, he took an offer that he could be happy with, his family and the Twins' front office should be thrilled with. Fans should be thrilled with the deal. But, maybe more important, Buxton made playing in Minnesota a good thing. Signing him probably helped Carlos Correa's interest in the team. In coming offseasons, could his presence factor into decisions of other free agents, like it did when Kirby Puckett roams the outfield for the Twins? And how much fun is it to see him having a blast playing with this group? It's clear that he is everything you would want in a superstar, and seeing him smiling in the dugout, and joking with teammates, is encouraging. Sonny Gray came to the Twins in a trade, a veteran with a terrific track record over his career. We have frequently heard about how Gray has encouraged (if not made it mandatory) all of the starting pitchers to be there for each other's bullpen sessions. First, they can watch what the other pitchers are working on and how they work. Second, they can pass on information and learn from each other—veterans leading the way and veterans who seem to enjoy learning. Chris Archer was great with Tampa. However, once he was traded to the Pirates, he started fighting injuries and struggling on the mound. He talked to former teammates who played in Minnesota or for Baldelli and was told it's a great place. Dylan Bundy has faced injuries throughout his decade in pro ball, and he's had some ups and some real lows. Aside from pitching well, these guys are leaders and articulate lessons well to teammates. You have heard consistently from all new players to the organization is the atmosphere facilitated by the front office, Rocco Baldelli, and his coaching staff. It is an atmosphere of professionalism and working on getting ready for every game and scenario. It's an atmosphere that will also treat them as men, with dignity and respect. Baldelli's leadership has created an environment of communication and makes sure players and their families are comfortable. These are things that I know some people will roll their eyes when they read it. I get that. No one wants to think that touchy-feely stuff affects adults. They are incredibly well-compensated adults playing a kids' game. I get it. We've all heard people say that. Regardless of our job or our role in life, we all want to be respected. We all want to work in a comfortable environment, an environment where everyone feels heard, and increased compensation is available through hard work and challenging yourself. Maybe not everyone wants those things, but like the big leagues, those people are often weeded out. So, again, let's bring it back to this season. With a short spring training and new teammates coming in over that three-week period, it had to take time to get to know each other, much less develop chemistry on the field, in the clubhouse. Again, the roster moves continued right up until Opening Day. Should we be surprised that they struggled out of the gate? Should we be impressed that they only needed 12 games (4-8 start) to turn things around? With their seven-game win streak and sweeps of the White Sox and Tigers, the Twins are now 11-8 and sit atop the AL Central at this very early stage. Players talk about the chemistry the team felt even through their early struggles. So, was it that Chemistry that allowed the Twins to start winning? Or was it the Winning (and a couple of wild wins) that made the chemistry stronger? How much does the front office affect team chemistry? Well, probably primarily by getting reports about players from people who have been their teammates or coaches, or even opponents (along with all of the statistical and analytical stuff). It seems that is part of the role of special advisors to Baseball Operations like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, and Justin Morneau. Part of their job description, when hired, was that they could speak to this type of information on players they played with or against or use their relationships around the game to get information on the interpersonal skills of players the Twins might consider acquiring. But that can go both ways. Was Donaldson a detriment to team chemistry? What kind of atmosphere could devolve when popular teammates are traded right before a season starts? How much does the manager, Rocco Baldelli, deserve credit for the chemistry? This is where it's at. Since he was hired, he has set the atmosphere and the expectations. He has been a players' coach, but he's led the Twins through some challenging situations, from Covid to the riots in Minneapolis, to a labor lockout. He's hired coaches, with help from the front office obviously, who are good teachers, know their technical stuff, and listen. Proof of that is that several coaches from his staff have been hired away over the years. Finally, you probably would never hear a player badmouth his manager. Still, the sense is that there is genuine respect for Baldelli, his intelligence, his playing, scouting, coaching background, and more. With replay, there aren't as many opportunities for a manager to "back his players" by getting ejected with silly arguments with umps on close plays. So again, is it chemistry that helps a team relax and perform better and win... or does a team need to experience success (usually in Wins) for chemistry to develop better? And let's be honest. It's easy right now to tout the team's chemistry. They held on early and are currently pitching well and winning games. I'm sure that they will lose their ninth game of the year at some point. The winning streak will likely come to an end. And, like most other teams, the Twins will have a couple more rough patches throughout the season. They are likely to have another 4-8 stretch or two. That's part of the beauty of baseball. It's a marathon, filled with ups and downs. I think chemistry is essential in any part of life, especially in team sports. But it isn't everything. There have been teams that hated each other, got in fights with each other (think 1970s A's, or pretty much any Billy Martin-led team), and won. There have been teams that got along great, had great relationships, and lost a lot of games. And, of course, there are close teams with great chemistry that have won and bad chemistry teams that have lost. So, does that mean that chemistry has nothing to do with winning or losing? There are many examples of teams that won that hated each other. The questions for you to consider include: 1.) What work atmosphere do you personally prefer in your life? 2.) How does that compare to your thoughts on chemistry in professional (or any) sports? 3.) What are your thoughts on the team chemistry of the Twins this year, and where that credit lies? (Front office, manager, coaches, players) 4.) And what are your thoughts on the question: Does Winning create chemistry, or does team chemistry help a team Win? Here are a few final thoughts - and if you've made it this far, thank you, or I'm sorry Ranking keys to success on a baseball team #3 - Chemistry #2 - Talent #1 - Having Byron Buxton on your team and on the field.
  15. The Twins may have put the finishing touches on their rotation on Monday, agreeing to terms with veteran right-hander Chris Archer on a one-year deal. Can the two-time All-Star rediscover his game? Jeff Passan reports that the deal is worth $3.5 million in guaranteed money, with Archer being able to earn up to $6 million in incentives. There's a mutual option of $10 million for 2023. Archer was once a dominant force for the Rays, named to the AL All-Star team in both 2015 and 2017, but of late he's been hampered by injuries and poor performance. After an unfulfilling run with the Pirates, he re-signed with Tampa last year but threw only 19.1 IP due to elbow issues. The 33-year-old Archer is, much like Dylan Bundy, a bounce-back candidate and projected back-end starter. It's not the kind of splashy move most Twins fans were hoping for, but it doesn't fill out the final obvious opening in the rotation while adding a needed dash of veteran experience. The structure of the deal creates plenty of motivation for Archer, who can nearly triple his base salary by reaching certain workload bonuses (games started or outings with nine or more outs recorded). He owns a career 3.87 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate over nine MLB seasons. We'll update with more details soon, so make sure to check back. In the meantime, what are your immediate thoughts on Archer to the Twins? View full article
  16. Three pitchers. Three different contracts. How do they all figure into the Twins future beyond this year?
  17. Three pitchers. Three different contracts. How do they all figure into the Twins future beyond this year? View full video
  18. The Twins lost to Kansas City, 4-3 on Tuesday night. After a hot start, the offense went quiet in the late innings and a Tyler Duffey implosion allowed the Royals a come-from-behind win. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Archer 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO Homeruns: None Bottom WPA: Duffey -.305, Jeffers -.204, Polanco -.177 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday night, the Twins opened up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. This is the first series against an AL Central opponent in the young season and offers an opportunity to see Bobby Witt Jr. for the first time. With Byron Buxton not yet ready to return to the lineup, much of the pregame banter ahead of the opening game of the series surrounded Luis Arraez and his first career start at first base. Shifting to first base allows the Twins a respite from Miguel Sano’s cold bat while navigating Arraez’s defensive struggles at third base. It also marked the highest Nick Gordon has hit in a lineup at the major league level. The Twins almost struck early, facing Carlos Hernandez, who came in with an ERA north of 8.00. Jorge Polanco reached on a walk and made second base on a Carlos Correa groundout. Max Kepler then flew out to Whit Merrifield on the edge of the warning track on a ball that seemed destined to be a home run before it hung up in the wind. Kepler’s 107 mph fly ball had an xBA of .720. Coming off a strong first start of the season against the Dodgers, Chris Archer struggled to find the zone in the first inning. He threw 10 of his first 22 pitches for strikes, giving up a single to Nicky Lopez and a walk to Salvador Perez, before Hunter Dozier struck out to end the threat after an early mound visit by Wes Johnson. The Twins were in business in the third inning. Gary Sanchez led off with a double. Ryan Jeffers immediately followed up with a single, and Tommy Watkins sent Sanchez home. Sanchez was thrown out by Michael Taylor on a close play at the plate. It was a questionable decision to send Sanchez, with no outs and Arraez up, not the first by Watkins this season. The error would prove costly. Despite an Arraez single, two quick outs resulted in a scoreless inning. The Twins finally broke through in the fourth. Nick Gordon hit a one-out triple after Max Kepler was given out on a questionable bang-bang play at first base (the Twins had used their challenge). A Gio Urshela scored Gordon, and Gary Sanchez’s second double scored Urshela, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. The Royals cut the lead to 2-1 after a Salvador Perez home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Twins finally chased Hernandez in the fifth, when an Arraez double and a Correa single increased the lead to 3-1. When Hernandez left the game, the Twins had eight hits and nine batted balls over 100 mph, despite just three runs to show for it. Baldelli chose to pinch-hit Garlick for Gordon in the fifth to try and add more insurance, but he struck out to end the inning. Archer ran into trouble in the fifth. A soft Taylor single was followed up by another from Cam Gallagher. Archer then walked Merrifield to load the bases with one out. Archer then walked Lopez scoring a run to cut the lead to 3-2 and force Archer from the game. Mercifully, Joe Smith continued his ability to escape jams, getting Bobby Witt Jr to ground into an inning-ending double play. On the second pitch of the sixth inning, Salvador Perez deposited a Tyler Duffey fastball into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the day, tying the game at three. Andrew Benintendi was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Hunter Dozier gave the Royals a 4-3 lead, crushing another home run. Duffey gave up exit velocities of 104.9 mph, 104 mph, 109.8 mph, and 105.7 mph to the first four hitters he faced, a second brutal appearance this season, again surrendering a Twins lead. The Twins threatened at the top of the seventh when a Correa walk and Kepler single put two runners on. Garlick flew out to centerfield to end the inning. Jhon Romero pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh and eighth for the Twins. The Twins' bats went quiet in the second half of the game. After recording eight hits in the first five innings the Twins managed one more in the final four. Fans can point to the base-running send error by Watkins or another implosion by Duffey. Either way, they lost another winnable game. Instead of losing to a team making a playoff push, they dropped a game they should have had against a team who should be propping up the AL Central basement at the end of the season. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 28 0 66 0 0 0 94 Romero 34 0 11 0 0 30 75 Jax 0 22 0 0 47 0 69 Duran 0 34 0 0 23 0 57 Thielbar 18 0 0 17 0 0 35 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 15 33 Pagán 20 11 0 0 0 0 31 Stashak 0 0 0 17 0 0 17 Coulombe 14 0 0 0 0 0 14 Smith 3 0 0 0 6 2 11 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their short series against the Royals. Chris Paddack aims to bounce back from a shaky first start against lefty Daniel Lynch. First pitch is at 7:10 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  19. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Archer 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO Homeruns: None Bottom WPA: Duffey -.305, Jeffers -.204, Polanco -.177 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday night, the Twins opened up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. This is the first series against an AL Central opponent in the young season and offers an opportunity to see Bobby Witt Jr. for the first time. With Byron Buxton not yet ready to return to the lineup, much of the pregame banter ahead of the opening game of the series surrounded Luis Arraez and his first career start at first base. Shifting to first base allows the Twins a respite from Miguel Sano’s cold bat while navigating Arraez’s defensive struggles at third base. It also marked the highest Nick Gordon has hit in a lineup at the major league level. The Twins almost struck early, facing Carlos Hernandez, who came in with an ERA north of 8.00. Jorge Polanco reached on a walk and made second base on a Carlos Correa groundout. Max Kepler then flew out to Whit Merrifield on the edge of the warning track on a ball that seemed destined to be a home run before it hung up in the wind. Kepler’s 107 mph fly ball had an xBA of .720. Coming off a strong first start of the season against the Dodgers, Chris Archer struggled to find the zone in the first inning. He threw 10 of his first 22 pitches for strikes, giving up a single to Nicky Lopez and a walk to Salvador Perez, before Hunter Dozier struck out to end the threat after an early mound visit by Wes Johnson. The Twins were in business in the third inning. Gary Sanchez led off with a double. Ryan Jeffers immediately followed up with a single, and Tommy Watkins sent Sanchez home. Sanchez was thrown out by Michael Taylor on a close play at the plate. It was a questionable decision to send Sanchez, with no outs and Arraez up, not the first by Watkins this season. The error would prove costly. Despite an Arraez single, two quick outs resulted in a scoreless inning. The Twins finally broke through in the fourth. Nick Gordon hit a one-out triple after Max Kepler was given out on a questionable bang-bang play at first base (the Twins had used their challenge). A Gio Urshela scored Gordon, and Gary Sanchez’s second double scored Urshela, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. The Royals cut the lead to 2-1 after a Salvador Perez home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Twins finally chased Hernandez in the fifth, when an Arraez double and a Correa single increased the lead to 3-1. When Hernandez left the game, the Twins had eight hits and nine batted balls over 100 mph, despite just three runs to show for it. Baldelli chose to pinch-hit Garlick for Gordon in the fifth to try and add more insurance, but he struck out to end the inning. Archer ran into trouble in the fifth. A soft Taylor single was followed up by another from Cam Gallagher. Archer then walked Merrifield to load the bases with one out. Archer then walked Lopez scoring a run to cut the lead to 3-2 and force Archer from the game. Mercifully, Joe Smith continued his ability to escape jams, getting Bobby Witt Jr to ground into an inning-ending double play. On the second pitch of the sixth inning, Salvador Perez deposited a Tyler Duffey fastball into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the day, tying the game at three. Andrew Benintendi was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Hunter Dozier gave the Royals a 4-3 lead, crushing another home run. Duffey gave up exit velocities of 104.9 mph, 104 mph, 109.8 mph, and 105.7 mph to the first four hitters he faced, a second brutal appearance this season, again surrendering a Twins lead. The Twins threatened at the top of the seventh when a Correa walk and Kepler single put two runners on. Garlick flew out to centerfield to end the inning. Jhon Romero pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh and eighth for the Twins. The Twins' bats went quiet in the second half of the game. After recording eight hits in the first five innings the Twins managed one more in the final four. Fans can point to the base-running send error by Watkins or another implosion by Duffey. Either way, they lost another winnable game. Instead of losing to a team making a playoff push, they dropped a game they should have had against a team who should be propping up the AL Central basement at the end of the season. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 28 0 66 0 0 0 94 Romero 34 0 11 0 0 30 75 Jax 0 22 0 0 47 0 69 Duran 0 34 0 0 23 0 57 Thielbar 18 0 0 17 0 0 35 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 15 33 Pagán 20 11 0 0 0 0 31 Stashak 0 0 0 17 0 0 17 Coulombe 14 0 0 0 0 0 14 Smith 3 0 0 0 6 2 11 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their short series against the Royals. Chris Paddack aims to bounce back from a shaky first start against lefty Daniel Lynch. First pitch is at 7:10 CT. Postgame Interviews
  20. The Twins front office has been averse to committing to free agent starting pitchers. Why? Clues can be found in the development of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. The void in quality in the rotation of the Minnesota Twins was obvious looking back on a miserable 2021 season. Derek Falvey, arriving from the Guardians with a sterling reputation for developing a pipeline of pitching talent, presided over a season in which everything went wrong, particularly pitching. Most Twins fans assumed the rotation would be a priority in a truncated off-season before 2022. At the very least, the Twins would strengthen their rotation with a solid mid-rotation free-agent starter, right? Wrong. While Twins territory lamented, the organization passed on the likes of Jon Gray, Carlos Rodon, Kevin Gausman, and Robbie Ray. Instead, the Twins signed Dylan Bundy before the lockout. Since the lockout ended, they added Chris Archer as a free agent and traded for Chris Paddack. While this iteration of the rotation is undoubtedly improved, it hardly inspires confidence. Twins fans know arms are on the way; Cole Sands, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Matt Canterino, to name a few. But why do the Twins seem so averse to committing to free-agent pitchers for any length of time? While it is likely that part of the reason is simply striking out on free agent offers, other clues lie in the development of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Derek Falvey uttered his now-famous desire to ‘build a sustainable winner’ in Minnesota upon arriving at Target Field. It’s accepted that developing a pipeline of pitching talent takes 5-6 years. The Twins' front office is now entering year six, and fans are starting to see the impact of that development. My argument is that the Twins are attempting to be loosely competitive in 2022; their real goal is a window of 2023 and beyond. We can examine the development of Ryan and Ober as a proxy for organization principles of pitcher development. Here are three common practices the Twins have leveraged to maximize Ryan and Ober that will be evident in the next wave of starting pitching talent that hits Target Field. Maximize Velocity Bailey Ober has a unique set of tools. He amassed a 32% K% throughout his MiLB career, an impressive number he combined with a 3.4% BB%. While Ober has had strong command since being drafted in the 12th round in 2017 (Falvey’s first draft), his fastball velocity was consistently at or below 90 mph throughout his MiLB career. When he reached the majors, Ober’s fastball velocity had increased to 92.3 mph. Ober’s height (he’s 6’9) allows him a top ten release extension in major league baseball. Put simply, Ober’s so tall he releases the ball closer to the plate than most pitchers, speeding batters up. Adding velocity, (via release extension or refining mechanics) is a skill-set the Twins have mastered and shown an ability help their pitchers translate onto the field. Work the Fastball Up It’s notable that five out of six members of the Twins rotation in 2022 have a track record of excellent control. In 2021 the average BB/9 across major league baseball was 3.3. Consider the Twins' internal rotation members and their numbers in 2021; Ryan 1.69, Ober 1.85. Ryan and Ober have fastball spin percentiles of 34 and 38, respectively. While it’s been well documented that Ryan has a flat fastball, his VAA (vertical attack angle) allows it to thrive and gives it a rising effect, a tendency that is maximized with fastballs up in the zone. While not all fastballs have the ability to outperform their inputs in the way Ryan’s does, the Twins have found success in going up in the zone, particularly for pitchers who don’t have elite velocity. You can see how this plays out in how Ober leverages his excellent control to locate his fastball up The Slider Revolution Throwing fastballs up in the strike zone is not a good plan in isolation, particularly if the pitch doesn’t benefit from the deception that Joe Ryan’s does. For Ober, this meant revamping his slider. Midway through 2021, he debuted a new slider, reworked to appear more distinct in velocity than his curveball. Ober added velocity to the pitch and more depth to the break. In the final month of Ober’s old slider, it surrendered a .294 xBA; this dropped to .270 the following month and .215 the month after that. In his first start of 2022, he threw the pitch 29%, compared to just 18% in 2021. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are good pitching prospects and will likely have long, meaningful MLB careers with Minnesota. The Twins development staff has done excellent work with both, turning them into roughly 1.5 fWAR pitchers. Ultimately, they serve as placeholders at the front of the Twins' rotation. Soon they will be supplemented by Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands, and Jordan Balazovic. A number of the pitchers joining Ryan and Ober have the better raw velocity and stuff and, therefore, a higher ceiling as starting pitchers. It’s easy not to believe in the pitching factory Falvey has worked to develop in Minnesota. I do. It’s likely we’ll know who will lead the front of the Twins rotation by the end of 2022. View full article
  21. The void in quality in the rotation of the Minnesota Twins was obvious looking back on a miserable 2021 season. Derek Falvey, arriving from the Guardians with a sterling reputation for developing a pipeline of pitching talent, presided over a season in which everything went wrong, particularly pitching. Most Twins fans assumed the rotation would be a priority in a truncated off-season before 2022. At the very least, the Twins would strengthen their rotation with a solid mid-rotation free-agent starter, right? Wrong. While Twins territory lamented, the organization passed on the likes of Jon Gray, Carlos Rodon, Kevin Gausman, and Robbie Ray. Instead, the Twins signed Dylan Bundy before the lockout. Since the lockout ended, they added Chris Archer as a free agent and traded for Chris Paddack. While this iteration of the rotation is undoubtedly improved, it hardly inspires confidence. Twins fans know arms are on the way; Cole Sands, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Matt Canterino, to name a few. But why do the Twins seem so averse to committing to free-agent pitchers for any length of time? While it is likely that part of the reason is simply striking out on free agent offers, other clues lie in the development of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Derek Falvey uttered his now-famous desire to ‘build a sustainable winner’ in Minnesota upon arriving at Target Field. It’s accepted that developing a pipeline of pitching talent takes 5-6 years. The Twins' front office is now entering year six, and fans are starting to see the impact of that development. My argument is that the Twins are attempting to be loosely competitive in 2022; their real goal is a window of 2023 and beyond. We can examine the development of Ryan and Ober as a proxy for organization principles of pitcher development. Here are three common practices the Twins have leveraged to maximize Ryan and Ober that will be evident in the next wave of starting pitching talent that hits Target Field. Maximize Velocity Bailey Ober has a unique set of tools. He amassed a 32% K% throughout his MiLB career, an impressive number he combined with a 3.4% BB%. While Ober has had strong command since being drafted in the 12th round in 2017 (Falvey’s first draft), his fastball velocity was consistently at or below 90 mph throughout his MiLB career. When he reached the majors, Ober’s fastball velocity had increased to 92.3 mph. Ober’s height (he’s 6’9) allows him a top ten release extension in major league baseball. Put simply, Ober’s so tall he releases the ball closer to the plate than most pitchers, speeding batters up. Adding velocity, (via release extension or refining mechanics) is a skill-set the Twins have mastered and shown an ability help their pitchers translate onto the field. Work the Fastball Up It’s notable that five out of six members of the Twins rotation in 2022 have a track record of excellent control. In 2021 the average BB/9 across major league baseball was 3.3. Consider the Twins' internal rotation members and their numbers in 2021; Ryan 1.69, Ober 1.85. Ryan and Ober have fastball spin percentiles of 34 and 38, respectively. While it’s been well documented that Ryan has a flat fastball, his VAA (vertical attack angle) allows it to thrive and gives it a rising effect, a tendency that is maximized with fastballs up in the zone. While not all fastballs have the ability to outperform their inputs in the way Ryan’s does, the Twins have found success in going up in the zone, particularly for pitchers who don’t have elite velocity. You can see how this plays out in how Ober leverages his excellent control to locate his fastball up The Slider Revolution Throwing fastballs up in the strike zone is not a good plan in isolation, particularly if the pitch doesn’t benefit from the deception that Joe Ryan’s does. For Ober, this meant revamping his slider. Midway through 2021, he debuted a new slider, reworked to appear more distinct in velocity than his curveball. Ober added velocity to the pitch and more depth to the break. In the final month of Ober’s old slider, it surrendered a .294 xBA; this dropped to .270 the following month and .215 the month after that. In his first start of 2022, he threw the pitch 29%, compared to just 18% in 2021. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are good pitching prospects and will likely have long, meaningful MLB careers with Minnesota. The Twins development staff has done excellent work with both, turning them into roughly 1.5 fWAR pitchers. Ultimately, they serve as placeholders at the front of the Twins' rotation. Soon they will be supplemented by Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands, and Jordan Balazovic. A number of the pitchers joining Ryan and Ober have the better raw velocity and stuff and, therefore, a higher ceiling as starting pitchers. It’s easy not to believe in the pitching factory Falvey has worked to develop in Minnesota. I do. It’s likely we’ll know who will lead the front of the Twins rotation by the end of 2022.
  22. The brutality of the Dodger series certainly will outweigh the few shining bright spots, but I managed to find a few, but kept it real as we lick our wounds and move forward to Boston. Kepler Got His Groove Back? Max Kepler had a rough season after contracting the Covid-19 virus in early 2021. Not only was his physical appearance worn and thin, but his defense and at-bats were also not what they used to be. Over the past two series, Kepler has increased his plate discipline. Savant showed his zone contact is 90.9% which helped him at least in this series, garnering him both a home run and a double. He may be batting .188 right now, but the average doesn't say it all. He is on track for a good season and getting better the more plate appearances he has, and he's undoubtedly rounding out his efforts by adding in good defensive play. Kepler has been making impressive defensive plays in the right field in a Buxton-like fashion. He is not Buxton, but his commitment to the hustle and making key plays like the out in the bottom of the fifth getting Chris Taylor out was beautiful. Admittedly I thought trading Kepler would have been a good idea at the beginning of the season, but he continues to show the staff and the fans that he is not done yet and won't go down without a fight, or up his trade value. Situational Hitting Gets an "F" The Dodgers pitching lineup was too much for the Twins bats. Over the two-game series, the Twins' offense could only get six hits. I'd rather get a root canal than sit through another series like that again. The Dodgers' pitching is one of the best in the league, but there is no reason the Twins bats couldn't make contact more than they did, at a minimum in game one. Byron Buxton and Gio Urshella went 0-for-4, and Luis Arraez, who has been a bright spot, went a dismal 0-for-3. Thank God at least Kepler and Nick Gordon were able to get runs, or this would have been a shutout series, and that's not a good look. Clayton Kershaw, who had never pitched before at Target Field, got comfortable really quick and was off to a combined perfect game, but thankfully Gary Sanchez came into the batter's box in the eighth inning and broke it up with a single to right field. That's probably the best news of the series, considering no one else could get anything going, and the frustration mounted to a peak when Miguel Sano busted his bat after going 0-for-3 and striking out twice. We are all Miguel Sano right now. I like Josh Winder, but... It was not a shock to me when Josh Winder made the 28-man roster out of spring training. During the shortened spring training, Winder showed confidence and capability to be a part of the rotation. Coming into his first MLB appearance facing one of the best lineups in MLB was not an easy task. He pitched to Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, and his first MLB strikeout went to Will Smith in his debut. Of all the hitters he had to debut with, he kept his head together, not getting phased and letting the defense do their part. Even if a sacrifice fly earned one run, that's all the rookie allowed in his first appearance. Winder's fastball averaged 94.5 MPH, which is excellent, but he needs to keep it in the zone. As he continues to have more mound appearances, there is room for control growth. As he can get control of his fastball, he will be a great mid-reliever. The rest of the pitching was sad. Chris Archer held his own after a jittery first inning, but Chris Paddack had one of the worst first innings I have seen in a while. While he was able to calm himself down and get out of the innings and continue on, both days the bullpen allowed multiple runs. Dereck Rodriguez looked like he was going to be able to keep it together and then gave up three home runs in a row in his fourth inning of the day. The bullpen definitely needs to see more batters to improve thanks to a lockout and short spring training but hopefully not at the cost of losing multiple series. I couldn't imagine that there would be a worse series for the Twins the rest of the season, but I have been wrong before. What's next? Hopefully, a series win in Boston instead of a repeat of last season where Boston won four of the series' five games. What were your lasting impressions from the Dodgers series? Leave a comment below. View full article
  23. On Tuesday night, the Twins opened up a lightning-fast two-game set against the Dodgers. The Twins fell to the Dodgers 7-2 after a 90 minute rain delay. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Homeruns: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jeffers -.151, Buxton -.144, Polanco -.103 Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Chilly temperatures and rain were not enough to prevent baseball at Target Field, with the Dodgers eager to get home on time for their home opener on Thursday. Here’s how the Twins lined up against one of the most formidable teams in baseball. Twins fans continued to see their remade rotation on Tuesday as Chris Archer took the mound against Andrew Heaney. Archer came out strong and effective, with his fastball reaching 95 mph in a scoreless first inning on just 13 pitches. A 105 mph double off the bat of Carlos Correa amounted to nothing in the bottom of the first inning for the Twins. Indeed, Heaney’s three-quarter, across the body action appeared to be deceiving Twins hitters early, as he induced seven swings and misses in the bottom of the first inning. The teams traded scoreless second innings that were uneventful, save for Byron Buxton doing Byron Buxton things. Gavin Lux, Freddie Freeman, and Carlos Correa doubles were the only offense for both teams in innings three and four, as Archer left the game having thrown 63 pitches and limiting the best lineup in baseball to two hits and zero runs. Archer was relieved in the fifth inning by Josh Winder to make his major league debut with the Twins. Like Bundy on Monday night, Archer’s debut will give Twins fans optimism that their new-look rotation can be effective against good offenses. After benefiting from a generous called third strike on Dodgers catcher Will Smith, Winder struggled for command in the fifth inning. He managed just 12 strikes on his first 28 pitches, walking Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor before a double steal and a Gavin Lux sac fly allowed Bellinger to score. Winder managed to limit the damage to one run. One could wonder why making his MLB debut on a cold, wet Tuesday, in a close game against the best lineup in baseball, was preferential to any game against the Mariners from the previous series? To Winder’s credit, he battled through it. With rain imminent, the Twins posed their first threat in the fifth. A Kepler double to right-center field, and Sano hit-by-pitch put runners at first and second with one out. Rocco Baldelli opted to pinch-hit Luis Arraez for Gilberto Celestino. A routine ground ball to Trea Turner resulted in a Twins run. Turner slipped, overthrew Gavin Lux at second, allowing Kepler to score and putting runners at the corners with one out. Heaney was relieved by old friend Brusdar Graterol. A Byron Buxton pop out and Carlos Correa ended an excellent scoring opportunity for Minnesota. Struggling with the increasing rain, Danny Coulombe managed just five strikes on 14 pitches, managing two-thirds of an inning before being relieved by Joe Smith. Smith struck out Justin Turner to end the top of the sixth inning. Despite getting two men aboard in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Jeffers popped out to end the inning. Mookie Betts walked to lead off the eight for the Dodgers. Caleb Thielbar relieved Pagan, walking Freddie Freeman before a ground ball rolled under Luis Arraez’s glove for an error, scoring Betts. While it was scored as a single, it was a brutal play by Arraez, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Thielbar then walked Max Muncy to load the bases before being pulled for Jhon Romero. Romero immediately surrendered a single to Justin Turner, increasing the lead to 3-1. The Dodgers began to pour it on, adding hits and benefiting from a second Arraez error. After the top of the eighth, the score was 7-1, and the game was put to bed. Except it wasn't. The game was delayed in the bottom of the eight inning due to inclement weather. After a 90 minute rain delay, play resumed at around 11:35 CT. Nick Gordon walked to lead off the eighth for the Twins, before Jorge Polanco singled. Max Kepler singled to bring home Nick Gordon to make the score 7-2. Ryan Jeffers struck out to end the inning. Jharel Cotton managed a scoreless ninth despite walking three Dodgers in the inning. The Twins bullpen walked nine hitters and threw 142 pitches in five innings of work. The Twins went quietly in the bottom of the ninth, falling to 2-3 on the young season. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Coulombe 27 0 15 0 14 56 Thielbar 0 18 0 19 18 55 Romero 0 0 15 0 34 49 Cotton 0 20 0 0 25 45 Duran 31 0 0 11 0 42 Smith 0 20 0 19 3 42 Duffey 0 18 0 14 0 32 Pagán 0 0 10 0 20 30 Winder 0 0 0 0 28 28 Jax 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their short series against the Dodgers. Chris Paddack will take the mound against Clayton Kershaw. First pitch is at 12:10 CST. Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon View full article
  24. Kepler Got His Groove Back? Max Kepler had a rough season after contracting the Covid-19 virus in early 2021. Not only was his physical appearance worn and thin, but his defense and at-bats were also not what they used to be. Over the past two series, Kepler has increased his plate discipline. Savant showed his zone contact is 90.9% which helped him at least in this series, garnering him both a home run and a double. He may be batting .188 right now, but the average doesn't say it all. He is on track for a good season and getting better the more plate appearances he has, and he's undoubtedly rounding out his efforts by adding in good defensive play. Kepler has been making impressive defensive plays in the right field in a Buxton-like fashion. He is not Buxton, but his commitment to the hustle and making key plays like the out in the bottom of the fifth getting Chris Taylor out was beautiful. Admittedly I thought trading Kepler would have been a good idea at the beginning of the season, but he continues to show the staff and the fans that he is not done yet and won't go down without a fight, or up his trade value. Situational Hitting Gets an "F" The Dodgers pitching lineup was too much for the Twins bats. Over the two-game series, the Twins' offense could only get six hits. I'd rather get a root canal than sit through another series like that again. The Dodgers' pitching is one of the best in the league, but there is no reason the Twins bats couldn't make contact more than they did, at a minimum in game one. Byron Buxton and Gio Urshella went 0-for-4, and Luis Arraez, who has been a bright spot, went a dismal 0-for-3. Thank God at least Kepler and Nick Gordon were able to get runs, or this would have been a shutout series, and that's not a good look. Clayton Kershaw, who had never pitched before at Target Field, got comfortable really quick and was off to a combined perfect game, but thankfully Gary Sanchez came into the batter's box in the eighth inning and broke it up with a single to right field. That's probably the best news of the series, considering no one else could get anything going, and the frustration mounted to a peak when Miguel Sano busted his bat after going 0-for-3 and striking out twice. We are all Miguel Sano right now. I like Josh Winder, but... It was not a shock to me when Josh Winder made the 28-man roster out of spring training. During the shortened spring training, Winder showed confidence and capability to be a part of the rotation. Coming into his first MLB appearance facing one of the best lineups in MLB was not an easy task. He pitched to Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, and his first MLB strikeout went to Will Smith in his debut. Of all the hitters he had to debut with, he kept his head together, not getting phased and letting the defense do their part. Even if a sacrifice fly earned one run, that's all the rookie allowed in his first appearance. Winder's fastball averaged 94.5 MPH, which is excellent, but he needs to keep it in the zone. As he continues to have more mound appearances, there is room for control growth. As he can get control of his fastball, he will be a great mid-reliever. The rest of the pitching was sad. Chris Archer held his own after a jittery first inning, but Chris Paddack had one of the worst first innings I have seen in a while. While he was able to calm himself down and get out of the innings and continue on, both days the bullpen allowed multiple runs. Dereck Rodriguez looked like he was going to be able to keep it together and then gave up three home runs in a row in his fourth inning of the day. The bullpen definitely needs to see more batters to improve thanks to a lockout and short spring training but hopefully not at the cost of losing multiple series. I couldn't imagine that there would be a worse series for the Twins the rest of the season, but I have been wrong before. What's next? Hopefully, a series win in Boston instead of a repeat of last season where Boston won four of the series' five games. What were your lasting impressions from the Dodgers series? Leave a comment below.
  25. You’ve had four days to marinade in every delicious note. With the departures of Taylor Rogers (The Chain), pre-extension Byron Buxton, (Return of the Mack), and Mitch Garver (Shining Star), the best tune is anybody's to take. Author’s Note: you may be wondering, my incredibly strong musical credentials include playing the violin for twelve years, which led me to eventually sit near Twins’ beat writer Do-Hyoung Park when we participated in the same orchestra eleven years ago. He doesn't remember this. 10. Jorge Polanco - “Te Siento en Para” by Liro Shaq, Ceky Viciny, Bulin 47 Is this song actually good, or has it just been around long enough that we can’t live without it? The number of times I’ve hummed the hook to myself in the past few years was enough to secure a spot for this tune, tattooed forever in our eardrums. This music video has a modest 8.8M views on YouTube, with at least half contributed to the Twins’ gameday staff themselves. We do not recommend watching this video at work or in public. 9. Max Kepler - “London Calling” by The Clash This song was re-released twice before Kepler himself was born. This was the highest-charting single by The Clash until their monstrous hit, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Rolling Stone has it ranked as one of their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” I can’t argue with greatness, but this tune doesn’t have the average fan busting out of their seat quite like some of the others on this list. Or at least this fan, who is under the age of 50 (sorry). The intro is catchy, though. 8. Nick Gordon - “Came and Saw (feat. Rowdy Revel)” by Young Stoner Life & Young Thug Full disclosure, I didn’t know this song or any of these artists before today. However, this made me root for more Gordon at-bats. The background trumpets and strong beat bring any couch potato to their feet. 7. Bailey Ober - “Public Service Announcement” - Jay-Z “Public Service Announcement” was one of the many hits from Jay-Z’s 2003 album, “The Black Album,” which included other hits such as "Encore" and "Dirt off Your Shoulder." As YouTube user NATO FORCE RECORDS said three months ago, “2022 and I’m still here.” Allow Ober to reintroduce himself this season as one of the aces of this pitching staff. 6. Luis Arraez - “Ojos Colorau” by Mora “Ojos Colorau”, which translates to “colored eyes”, starts off as a slow ballad but abruptly picks up the pace after the first chorus. Mora is a young artist, hailing from Bayamón, PR, the hometown of José Berríos. May all of our young rookies who start the season off slowly also abruptly pick up the pace. 5. Josh Winder - “Please Take Me Home” by Blink 182 Like many others born between 1990 and 1998, Winder is an elder millennial who stomped around their bedroom listening to the greatest genre of all time, emo pop. Although this isn’t one of Blink 182’s bigger hits, “Please Take Me Home” has everything you’d need in one stop. With Travis Barker drum riffs and “my” pronounced like “moye”, your head will uncontrollably bop when Winder takes the mound. 4. Caleb Thielbar - “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine Great alarm clock song. Great tune all around by an all-time band. Fun fact, this song was never released as a single, but it is usually played as the final song of every Rage Against the Machine show. All Thielbar needs now is a trench coat and black sunglasses. Kashmir is a no-go for that trench coat. 3. Danny Coulombe - “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone Even if you don’t think you know this one, you absolutely do. This kid-friendly tune will bring a smile to every face in the ballpark, and how can you not love that? Thank you, Danny…and Starlord. 2. Carlos Correa - “25/8” by Bad Bunny Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist on Spotify in the last two years and is one of the best-selling Latin artists of all time. Unfamiliarity with Bad Bunny is a character flaw, and Correa’s pick of "25/8" brings us one of his best sleeper hits. This music video has 88.3M views on YouTube, and while I didn’t do the math, that is probably more views than most of this list combined. 1.5 Chris Archer - “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix Full disclosure, the announcement of this walk-up song came after I was already done writing this. I couldn’t pick a tune to remove from the list nor disrespect Hendrix. Therefore, I made an executive decision to put him here. Please send all complaints to renabanenacomplaints@gmail.com. Honorable Mentions: Joe Ryan - “Fire on the Mountain” by the Grateful Dead Self-explanatory. Kenta Maeda - “Hikoutei” by King Gnu This song would’ve topped the list if Maeda was in the rotation this season, but it didn’t feel right putting this one in if it couldn’t be heard at a ballpark. Spotify just isn’t the same. Jorge Alcala - “Entro Con la U” by Monkey Black This one has arguably the most catchy beat out of this entire list, but the repetitiveness took it out of the top ten. 1. Tyler Duffey - “Electric Feel” by MGMT I didn’t read into the lyrics until I had to take a deep dive into the list of walk-up songs, and I’d recommend against doing so. Your toes will uncontrollably tap, and your mood will instantaneously lift anytime this tune comes on. It’s the perfect vibe for a Sunday afternoon at the ballpark. Check out the full list of all the Twins’ 2022 Walkup music: And teammates supporting one another is always good! View full article
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