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  1. Blayne Enlow and Cody Stashak are separated by five years of age and 72 MLB innings, with Enlow having yet to debut. Despite their stark differences, they both find themselves on the 40-man bubble this winter. What might the future hold for these two wild card bullpen options for 2023? Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports The Twins have a returning base for their bullpen in theory, though it could be argued that one more dependable arm would be a good addition. Still, this year we saw how important it is for the fringes of your bullpen to have depth and talent in addition to the back end. For that reason, the Twins have some difficult decisions to make on a pair of relievers already holding 40-man spots this winter who are far from sure things. Cody Stashak Stashak at his best is the perfect reliever to occupy the fringes of a good team’s bullpen. His low velocity, two-pitch mix has been plenty effective with a career 27.6% K-rate and 4.7% walk rate. He established himself enough in both 2019 and 2020 to make appearances in the postseason. For a reliever that seems to have endeared himself to the Twins in his career, why does he find himself on the bubble? We haven’t heard Stashak’s name in a long time, as he was shut down after just 16 1/3 innings this year with shoulder issues that turned out to be a torn labrum. Pitchers do make their returns from such an injury, but with the question marks the recovery process raises, 28-year-old Stashak is far from a sure thing. Plenty of players will have to be trimmed from the 40-man to fit all of the returning 60-Day IL players back onto the team. With no-brainers including Jorge Alcala, Kenta Maeda, etc., Stashak's limited role and ceiling even when at 100% could make him a 40-man casualty. Also consider that it likely wasn’t a given that Stashak would return at all after a 2021 season in which he posted a near 7.00 ERA, due mostly to the fact that his impeccable walk rate swelled to 13.3%. It would be awesome to see Stashak return and fill a middle relief spot, but the fact of the matter is even though he’s a solid arm for the middle innings, his ceiling is limited, his health is in question, and it may not be hard to fill his role with upcoming players such as Ronny Henriquez or Cole Sands if either get moved to the bullpen full time. The Twins will have a tough decision to make on one of the few remaining pieces of the 2019 Bomba Squad bullpen. Blayne Enlow It feels like we’ve heard Enlow’s name for years… because we have. Despite being selected 76th overall in 2017, Enlow is still just 23 years old. One of their top pitching prospects for several years, Enlow’s prospect stock has taken a hit. Having missed 2021 with Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2022 making a few starts before finishing the season out of the bullpen, making it Double-A Wichita. At 23, it’s likely Enlow could build back up and have a normal career as a starting pitcher. His move to the bullpen, however, is an indication that the clock is ticking and that the Twins were hoping to see a shortened path for the 6’3 right-hander to the majors. Having made his last start on August 6, Enlow made 12 appearances out of the bullpen. He went 1-1 with 3 saves, but his 6.06 ERA with a 22.2% K rate and 12.3% BB rate doesn’t exactly indicate that he’ll be close to the majors to start 2023. It’s easy to argue that given his new role, he needs more time to adjust to the routines of a starting pitcher, but the biggest concern in terms of Enlow’s future as a Twin is how long such an adjustment could take. It’s possible he spends the winter adjusting and comes out of the gate more well-prepared for a short-stint role in 2023. It’s also possible that the Twins decide they don’t have the 40-man roster space to make such a gamble. At this point, the best-case scenario is that everything goes perfectly and he can debut in the Twins bullpen in mid-to-late 2023. Having only periodically flashed the high-end talent that compelled the Twins to take a prep pitcher early in the 2017 draft, it’s certainly possible that they see better uses for the 40-man spot he currently possesses. For two fringe bullpen pieces, it may not seem like that impactful of a decision for the Twins to make in regards to keeping them on the 40-man roster. Still though, their decisions on these two likely impact whether the team goes out and brings in external help or possibly impacts other players who will be on the 40-man roster bubble. Should the Twins keep one or both around for one more year? Should they let them go? Let us know below. View full article
  2. The Twins have a returning base for their bullpen in theory, though it could be argued that one more dependable arm would be a good addition. Still, this year we saw how important it is for the fringes of your bullpen to have depth and talent in addition to the back end. For that reason, the Twins have some difficult decisions to make on a pair of relievers already holding 40-man spots this winter who are far from sure things. Cody Stashak Stashak at his best is the perfect reliever to occupy the fringes of a good team’s bullpen. His low velocity, two-pitch mix has been plenty effective with a career 27.6% K-rate and 4.7% walk rate. He established himself enough in both 2019 and 2020 to make appearances in the postseason. For a reliever that seems to have endeared himself to the Twins in his career, why does he find himself on the bubble? We haven’t heard Stashak’s name in a long time, as he was shut down after just 16 1/3 innings this year with shoulder issues that turned out to be a torn labrum. Pitchers do make their returns from such an injury, but with the question marks the recovery process raises, 28-year-old Stashak is far from a sure thing. Plenty of players will have to be trimmed from the 40-man to fit all of the returning 60-Day IL players back onto the team. With no-brainers including Jorge Alcala, Kenta Maeda, etc., Stashak's limited role and ceiling even when at 100% could make him a 40-man casualty. Also consider that it likely wasn’t a given that Stashak would return at all after a 2021 season in which he posted a near 7.00 ERA, due mostly to the fact that his impeccable walk rate swelled to 13.3%. It would be awesome to see Stashak return and fill a middle relief spot, but the fact of the matter is even though he’s a solid arm for the middle innings, his ceiling is limited, his health is in question, and it may not be hard to fill his role with upcoming players such as Ronny Henriquez or Cole Sands if either get moved to the bullpen full time. The Twins will have a tough decision to make on one of the few remaining pieces of the 2019 Bomba Squad bullpen. Blayne Enlow It feels like we’ve heard Enlow’s name for years… because we have. Despite being selected 76th overall in 2017, Enlow is still just 23 years old. One of their top pitching prospects for several years, Enlow’s prospect stock has taken a hit. Having missed 2021 with Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2022 making a few starts before finishing the season out of the bullpen, making it Double-A Wichita. At 23, it’s likely Enlow could build back up and have a normal career as a starting pitcher. His move to the bullpen, however, is an indication that the clock is ticking and that the Twins were hoping to see a shortened path for the 6’3 right-hander to the majors. Having made his last start on August 6, Enlow made 12 appearances out of the bullpen. He went 1-1 with 3 saves, but his 6.06 ERA with a 22.2% K rate and 12.3% BB rate doesn’t exactly indicate that he’ll be close to the majors to start 2023. It’s easy to argue that given his new role, he needs more time to adjust to the routines of a starting pitcher, but the biggest concern in terms of Enlow’s future as a Twin is how long such an adjustment could take. It’s possible he spends the winter adjusting and comes out of the gate more well-prepared for a short-stint role in 2023. It’s also possible that the Twins decide they don’t have the 40-man roster space to make such a gamble. At this point, the best-case scenario is that everything goes perfectly and he can debut in the Twins bullpen in mid-to-late 2023. Having only periodically flashed the high-end talent that compelled the Twins to take a prep pitcher early in the 2017 draft, it’s certainly possible that they see better uses for the 40-man spot he currently possesses. For two fringe bullpen pieces, it may not seem like that impactful of a decision for the Twins to make in regards to keeping them on the 40-man roster. Still though, their decisions on these two likely impact whether the team goes out and brings in external help or possibly impacts other players who will be on the 40-man roster bubble. Should the Twins keep one or both around for one more year? Should they let them go? Let us know below.
  3. Twins rookie Joe Ryan took the mound on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to finish out the Twins' longest homestand of the season. Thanks to Ryan’s first 100-pitch start of the season and a couple of solo shots from Gio Urshela and Byron Buxton, the Twins were able to complete a series victory over Cleveland and finish their homestand 5-4. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (103 pitches, 70 strikes (68 strike %)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (3), Byron Buxton (11) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.204), Gio Urshela (.119), Byron Buxton (.081) After a low-scoring game Saturday that was decided by a questionable rule that just won’t go away, the Twins got on the first run on the board against Guardians starter Tristen McKenzie with an RBI single from Max Kepler that scored Luis Arraez. Kepler was able to drive in Arraez because he stole his first base of the season and adding the Twins' season total stolen bases to seven. Clearly a sign of the times. The game remained scoreless through the next two innings thanks to Ryan’s pitching. Ryan cruised his way through the Guardians lineup until the top of the fourth when, with one out, Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to right-center field tying the game 1-1. Even after the Ramirez homer, Ryan remained in control for the remainder of his start. Ryan had his first start with more than 100 pitches this season and kept his strike percentage at 68 percent, totaling five strikeouts. He also only allowed base runners via hits making Sunday his second start without a walk this season. With the game tied going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins found a way to retake the lead thanks to a two-out solo home run from Gio Urshela. An inning later, the Twins' unofficial captain Byron Buxton added to the lead with his 11th home run of the season making it a 3-1 game. Buxton’s home run was called to be the 1,000th home run ever hit at Target Field by the Twins. However, thanks to research from Twins Dingers on Twitter, the home run was corrected to be the 999th home run by a Twin in Target Field’s history. Twins beat writer for MLB.com, Do Hyoung Park retweeted this finding by Twins Dingers to remind everyone the next home run hit by a Twin at Target Field will be the 1,000th. The Twins bullpen kept the Guardians scoreless in the seventh inning thanks to a perfect inning from Cody Stashak who struck out two of three batters faced. In the eighth inning, Joe Smith did allow one base runner, a Richie Palacios single, but Palacios did not score thanks to the relief effort of Smith and Caleb Theilbar. Emilio Pagan was given the ball for the save in the ninth inning and his third consecutive day with a relief appearance. Pagan had thrown 22 pitches Friday but only nine on Saturday making his availability to come into Sunday’s game for the save acceptable to Rocco Baldelli. Pagan completed the save giving up only one hit. He was helped by an outstanding defensive play at third base from Gio Urshela. The win brings the Twins record to 20-15 through their first 35 games this season and extends their lead over the Guardians for first place in the American League Central to three games. What’s Next? The Twins make their first road trip west this season. On Monday night, they begin another three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. Chris Archer is scheduled to go against Athletics 26-year-old lefty rookie Zach Logue. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Stashak 0 46 0 0 13 59 Jax 0 0 50 0 0 50 Pagán 0 0 22 9 10 41 Thielbar 0 23 0 15 2 40 Duffey 0 33 0 5 0 38 Cano 0 36 0 0 0 36 Smith 0 0 4 15 9 28 Duran 0 0 10 12 0 22 Cotton 0 0 0 17 0 17 View full article
  4. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (103 pitches, 70 strikes (68 strike %)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (3), Byron Buxton (11) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.204), Gio Urshela (.119), Byron Buxton (.081) After a low-scoring game Saturday that was decided by a questionable rule that just won’t go away, the Twins got on the first run on the board against Guardians starter Tristen McKenzie with an RBI single from Max Kepler that scored Luis Arraez. Kepler was able to drive in Arraez because he stole his first base of the season and adding the Twins' season total stolen bases to seven. Clearly a sign of the times. The game remained scoreless through the next two innings thanks to Ryan’s pitching. Ryan cruised his way through the Guardians lineup until the top of the fourth when, with one out, Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to right-center field tying the game 1-1. Even after the Ramirez homer, Ryan remained in control for the remainder of his start. Ryan had his first start with more than 100 pitches this season and kept his strike percentage at 68 percent, totaling five strikeouts. He also only allowed base runners via hits making Sunday his second start without a walk this season. With the game tied going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins found a way to retake the lead thanks to a two-out solo home run from Gio Urshela. An inning later, the Twins' unofficial captain Byron Buxton added to the lead with his 11th home run of the season making it a 3-1 game. Buxton’s home run was called to be the 1,000th home run ever hit at Target Field by the Twins. However, thanks to research from Twins Dingers on Twitter, the home run was corrected to be the 999th home run by a Twin in Target Field’s history. Twins beat writer for MLB.com, Do Hyoung Park retweeted this finding by Twins Dingers to remind everyone the next home run hit by a Twin at Target Field will be the 1,000th. The Twins bullpen kept the Guardians scoreless in the seventh inning thanks to a perfect inning from Cody Stashak who struck out two of three batters faced. In the eighth inning, Joe Smith did allow one base runner, a Richie Palacios single, but Palacios did not score thanks to the relief effort of Smith and Caleb Theilbar. Emilio Pagan was given the ball for the save in the ninth inning and his third consecutive day with a relief appearance. Pagan had thrown 22 pitches Friday but only nine on Saturday making his availability to come into Sunday’s game for the save acceptable to Rocco Baldelli. Pagan completed the save giving up only one hit. He was helped by an outstanding defensive play at third base from Gio Urshela. The win brings the Twins record to 20-15 through their first 35 games this season and extends their lead over the Guardians for first place in the American League Central to three games. What’s Next? The Twins make their first road trip west this season. On Monday night, they begin another three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. Chris Archer is scheduled to go against Athletics 26-year-old lefty rookie Zach Logue. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Stashak 0 46 0 0 13 59 Jax 0 0 50 0 0 50 Pagán 0 0 22 9 10 41 Thielbar 0 23 0 15 2 40 Duffey 0 33 0 5 0 38 Cano 0 36 0 0 0 36 Smith 0 0 4 15 9 28 Duran 0 0 10 12 0 22 Cotton 0 0 0 17 0 17
  5. Chris Paddack had a short start, but the Twins bullpen continued to be incredible. They threw six zeroes on the board to close out the win on Sunday. Jorge Polanco had the big hit in the third inning. The Twins won their ninth straight game at Target Field. The A's lost their ninth straight game. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18 View full article
  6. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18
  7. Roster sizes for all MLB teams will be shrinking by two spots on May 2nd, limiting teams to 26 players until September. Yesterday, Theodore Tollefson looked at which hitters may be on the chopping block, and now I will look at a few pitchers on the fringe. The Twins took advantage of the 28-man rosters by supplementing their bullpen with extra arms. Especially with a lockout-shortened Spring Training, this was crucial as it allowed for Twins starting pitchers to have a reasonable ramp-up period. Now that we are three weeks into the season and starters are beginning to reach their “Opening Day form,” I think we will see at least one bullpen pitcher be sent down to St. Paul and possibly two. With that said, let's look at the pitchers who might be on the outside looking in. Josh Winder I think this is the most obvious choice and would go as far as issuing a guarantee that he makes his way down to St. Paul. Winder is a promising 25-year-old prospect who has found success as a starter at every level, not to mention providing the Twins with some effective relief innings so far in 2022. The long-term picture for Winder is that of a mid-rotation arm, not a long reliever out of the pen, whose only “red flag” is being shut down in July last year due to a shoulder injury. While he should be the first to be sent down to St. Paul, he’s likely also the first to earn a spot start when the Twins have a need in the big league rotation. Griffin Jax Although he’s older than Winder, Jax is another one who needs to get innings, and I think it’s time to groom him as a reliever. In the last year or so, Jax has developed a slider that is now his best pitch and mixes that with a mid-90s fastball that seems to add a couple of ticks when he comes out of the pen. As noted by Nick, it’s a small sample, but the Twins have starting depth in their minors which provides them the flexibility to give Jax some run as a reliever. If the long-term plan is a reliever role, I could see him sticking in Minneapolis as he’s been one of the few non-starter bright spots in 2022. Cody Stashak He seems older than 27 because he’s pitched parts of four seasons at the Major League level. I’m conflicted with Stashak as I don’t see any upside to him taking a spot in St. Paul, but I don’t know how effective he can be in Minneapolis. He showed promise over 40 relief innings in 2019 and 2020, but the road has been rocky for Stashak since dealing with ineffective pitching and, of course, a strained bicep that cost him most of last season. So far, 2022 hasn’t been kind to Stashak, but I’d instead give him some time in Minneapolis in low leverage spots than any role across town with the Saints. If you are the Twins, who would your two roster cuts be next week? View full article
  8. The Twins took advantage of the 28-man rosters by supplementing their bullpen with extra arms. Especially with a lockout-shortened Spring Training, this was crucial as it allowed for Twins starting pitchers to have a reasonable ramp-up period. Now that we are three weeks into the season and starters are beginning to reach their “Opening Day form,” I think we will see at least one bullpen pitcher be sent down to St. Paul and possibly two. With that said, let's look at the pitchers who might be on the outside looking in. Josh Winder I think this is the most obvious choice and would go as far as issuing a guarantee that he makes his way down to St. Paul. Winder is a promising 25-year-old prospect who has found success as a starter at every level, not to mention providing the Twins with some effective relief innings so far in 2022. The long-term picture for Winder is that of a mid-rotation arm, not a long reliever out of the pen, whose only “red flag” is being shut down in July last year due to a shoulder injury. While he should be the first to be sent down to St. Paul, he’s likely also the first to earn a spot start when the Twins have a need in the big league rotation. Griffin Jax Although he’s older than Winder, Jax is another one who needs to get innings, and I think it’s time to groom him as a reliever. In the last year or so, Jax has developed a slider that is now his best pitch and mixes that with a mid-90s fastball that seems to add a couple of ticks when he comes out of the pen. As noted by Nick, it’s a small sample, but the Twins have starting depth in their minors which provides them the flexibility to give Jax some run as a reliever. If the long-term plan is a reliever role, I could see him sticking in Minneapolis as he’s been one of the few non-starter bright spots in 2022. Cody Stashak He seems older than 27 because he’s pitched parts of four seasons at the Major League level. I’m conflicted with Stashak as I don’t see any upside to him taking a spot in St. Paul, but I don’t know how effective he can be in Minneapolis. He showed promise over 40 relief innings in 2019 and 2020, but the road has been rocky for Stashak since dealing with ineffective pitching and, of course, a strained bicep that cost him most of last season. So far, 2022 hasn’t been kind to Stashak, but I’d instead give him some time in Minneapolis in low leverage spots than any role across town with the Saints. If you are the Twins, who would your two roster cuts be next week?
  9. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 5.0 IP,4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 59 strikes (74.7%)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (4), Ryan Jeffers (1) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.186), Byron Buxton (.171), Luis Arraez (.130) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Injury Updates Before the game on Saturday, the Twins announced that Gary Sanchez's abdominal injury was fairly minor but that he would need to be out a few days. That is good news. Of course, it still required some roster moves. The Twins selected the contract of catcher Jose Godoy to have a backup backstop for the next few games. It will be interesting because since they have already DFAd him. If they decide to DFA him again when he gets sent down, he will have the right to become a free agent rather than accept an outright if he cleared waivers. That said, he has options, so the Twins could do that. To make room on the 28-man roster, reliever Jhon Romero was placed on the 10-day Injured List with biceps tendinitis. But to make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins placed reliever Jorge Alcala on the 60-Day Injured List. We had heard that he had a setback in his recovery from an elbow injury. Moving him to the 60-Day IL means he won't pitch in the big leagues for at least six weeks. It also allows him to be more patient with his rehab and hopefully return. Bundy Rolls As we all expected when news of the Dylan Bundy signing broke just before the lockout began, he has started the season by going 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. I mean, that’s what you expected, right? Bundy was the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft out of high school in Oklahoma. He was a hard-throwing righty who often hit triple-digits. He made his MLB debut in late 2012, but then he was injured and didn’t get back to the big leagues until 2016. Short story long, Bundy has certainly faced ups and downs throughout his career, both in terms of health and production. What Bundy appears to have done, or at least has been doing at the start of this season, is completely buy into a mindset of who he is and what he can be as a pitcher. Instead of reaching back and throwing fastballs in the upper 90s, he is now mixing all of his pitches and relying heavily on his breaking pitches. On Saturday afternoon, he threw just 32% four-seam fastballs. He threw 30% sliders, 16% changeups, 13% curveballs, and 9% sinkers. Most importantly, he has been throwing strikes and working ahead in the count. In 15 1/3 innings this season, he has struck out 12 batters while walking just one batter. Likely the credit needs to be split. We assume that he has worked with pitching coaches Wes Johnson, Luis Ramirez, and Pete Maki to develop a strategy and game plan. But Bundy has bought into it, and he is executing the plan and the pitches. While it isn’t fair to expect this kind of performance from Bundy every start or all season long, it certainly has earned him some lengthy leash. Byron Buxton is Back! The Twins and Buxton were wise to be patient with Byron Buxton following his scare last Sunday. Initially, the fear was he would be out for a whole, but when an MRI came back that it was “just inflammation,” they could have pushed him back. Instead, they gave him the necessary rest. He played on Thursday night, and then they gave him Friday night off to see how he responded. He was back in the lineup on Saturday night, and the response was tremendous. He hit a single in his first at-bat. In his second at-bat, he hit a line drive to right field (at 108 mph), and when the throw to the infield came to first base, he kept running and turned a single into a double. Third at-bat? He destroyed a ball into the 2nd deck in left field, a two-run homer. He was hit by a pitch in the ribs his next time to the plate (clearly unintentional), and with the right side of the infield open, he slapped a single to right field. It’s good to have Byron Buxton at the top of the lineup, making things happen and clearly having a lot of fun. He is now hitting .344/.400/.844 (1.244) on the season. All Rise for Arraez Following Buxton in the Twins lineup on Saturday was Luis Arraez. Like Buxton, Arraez had a four-hit game. Arraez used the whole field to record his 4-for-5 day. But, he was able to still drive in three runs in the game, nearly doubling his season total to seven RBI. Arraez is now hitting .364/.429/.477 (.906) through 14 games. Arraez returned to third base in this game. To be honest, he has been really poor defensively at that position in the early season. On Saturday, he made all of the plays. Jeffers Jolt The Twins decided to trade catchers Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt before the season, which really showed their confidence in Ryan Jeffers. He is off to a slow start this season, but things may have turned around in the late innings on Friday night. In the 8th inning on Friday, he hit a double, which started the unlikely (and unusual) rally. He advanced to third base on a wild pitch that didn’t get too far away from the catcher, which made for a tougher play on The Play With Two Errors. Then, protecting a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, he blocked a couple of balls in the dirt, a breaking ball that landed about four feet in front of the plate with a runner on third base. Finally, he framed the final pitch, a borderline fastball on the inside corner at the knees to end the game. I remind you of all of that because contributing to an unlikely, fun, important win against a divisional competitor can absolutely alter the momentum of your season, in large part by helping him regain confidence. In each of his Saturday at-bats, Jeffers hit the ball hard. After not having an extra-base hit on the season until Friday night’s double, he hit a double at 101.7 mph in his first at-bat on Saturday. A couple of innings later, Jeffers hit a ball 102.4 mph into the bleachers in left field for his first home run of the season. He added a walk and a strikeout to end the day 2-for-3. Respect the Competition On Saturday afternoon, Detroit Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera lined a single to right field. It’s something he has done so many times in his career. This one was special for him, his teammates, and the Tigers' fans, especially those who were at Comerica Park on Saturday. This was his 3,000th hit. Cabrera became the 33rd player in MLB history to join the 3,000 Hit Club. He is one of seven players in MLB history to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He joins Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players in MLB history to have 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and a .300 batting average. Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera! What’s Next? The Twins will finish their series at home against the White Sox at Target Field at 1:10 pm. The Twins will send right-hander Chris Archer (0-0, 2.16 ERA) to the mound. The White Sox will counter with Lucas Giolito, who will be making his first start of the season. He has been out with an abdominal injury. On Tuesday, he threw about 50 pitches in a simulated game in Arizona, so he could potentially throw 70-75 pitches on Sunday. For the record, I am also OK with 9-2 wins. Maybe another tomorrow? Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Pagán 0 0 9 34 0 43 Stashak 0 21 0 0 22 43 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 22 37 Romero 30 0 0 0 IL 30 Jax 0 0 0 29 0 29 Duffey 15 0 0 13 0 28 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 28 28 Smith 2 0 16 0 0 18 Duran 0 0 15 0 0 15 Winder 0 0 0 0 0 0
  10. The Twins offense has certainly struggled. Even in their Wins on Thursday and Friday ,they scored a combined three runs. What they needed on Saturday was a nice, relaxing game with more solid pitching and a breakout from the offense. Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Ryan Jeffers and Dylan Bundy provided the Twins with exactly what they needed in a nice, comfortable win. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 5.0 IP,4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 59 strikes (74.7%)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (4), Ryan Jeffers (1) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.186), Byron Buxton (.171), Luis Arraez (.130) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Injury Updates Before the game on Saturday, the Twins announced that Gary Sanchez's abdominal injury was fairly minor but that he would need to be out a few days. That is good news. Of course, it still required some roster moves. The Twins selected the contract of catcher Jose Godoy to have a backup backstop for the next few games. It will be interesting because since they have already DFAd him. If they decide to DFA him again when he gets sent down, he will have the right to become a free agent rather than accept an outright if he cleared waivers. That said, he has options, so the Twins could do that. To make room on the 28-man roster, reliever Jhon Romero was placed on the 10-day Injured List with biceps tendinitis. But to make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins placed reliever Jorge Alcala on the 60-Day Injured List. We had heard that he had a setback in his recovery from an elbow injury. Moving him to the 60-Day IL means he won't pitch in the big leagues for at least six weeks. It also allows him to be more patient with his rehab and hopefully return. Bundy Rolls As we all expected when news of the Dylan Bundy signing broke just before the lockout began, he has started the season by going 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. I mean, that’s what you expected, right? Bundy was the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft out of high school in Oklahoma. He was a hard-throwing righty who often hit triple-digits. He made his MLB debut in late 2012, but then he was injured and didn’t get back to the big leagues until 2016. Short story long, Bundy has certainly faced ups and downs throughout his career, both in terms of health and production. What Bundy appears to have done, or at least has been doing at the start of this season, is completely buy into a mindset of who he is and what he can be as a pitcher. Instead of reaching back and throwing fastballs in the upper 90s, he is now mixing all of his pitches and relying heavily on his breaking pitches. On Saturday afternoon, he threw just 32% four-seam fastballs. He threw 30% sliders, 16% changeups, 13% curveballs, and 9% sinkers. Most importantly, he has been throwing strikes and working ahead in the count. In 15 1/3 innings this season, he has struck out 12 batters while walking just one batter. Likely the credit needs to be split. We assume that he has worked with pitching coaches Wes Johnson, Luis Ramirez, and Pete Maki to develop a strategy and game plan. But Bundy has bought into it, and he is executing the plan and the pitches. While it isn’t fair to expect this kind of performance from Bundy every start or all season long, it certainly has earned him some lengthy leash. Byron Buxton is Back! The Twins and Buxton were wise to be patient with Byron Buxton following his scare last Sunday. Initially, the fear was he would be out for a whole, but when an MRI came back that it was “just inflammation,” they could have pushed him back. Instead, they gave him the necessary rest. He played on Thursday night, and then they gave him Friday night off to see how he responded. He was back in the lineup on Saturday night, and the response was tremendous. He hit a single in his first at-bat. In his second at-bat, he hit a line drive to right field (at 108 mph), and when the throw to the infield came to first base, he kept running and turned a single into a double. Third at-bat? He destroyed a ball into the 2nd deck in left field, a two-run homer. He was hit by a pitch in the ribs his next time to the plate (clearly unintentional), and with the right side of the infield open, he slapped a single to right field. It’s good to have Byron Buxton at the top of the lineup, making things happen and clearly having a lot of fun. He is now hitting .344/.400/.844 (1.244) on the season. All Rise for Arraez Following Buxton in the Twins lineup on Saturday was Luis Arraez. Like Buxton, Arraez had a four-hit game. Arraez used the whole field to record his 4-for-5 day. But, he was able to still drive in three runs in the game, nearly doubling his season total to seven RBI. Arraez is now hitting .364/.429/.477 (.906) through 14 games. Arraez returned to third base in this game. To be honest, he has been really poor defensively at that position in the early season. On Saturday, he made all of the plays. Jeffers Jolt The Twins decided to trade catchers Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt before the season, which really showed their confidence in Ryan Jeffers. He is off to a slow start this season, but things may have turned around in the late innings on Friday night. In the 8th inning on Friday, he hit a double, which started the unlikely (and unusual) rally. He advanced to third base on a wild pitch that didn’t get too far away from the catcher, which made for a tougher play on The Play With Two Errors. Then, protecting a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, he blocked a couple of balls in the dirt, a breaking ball that landed about four feet in front of the plate with a runner on third base. Finally, he framed the final pitch, a borderline fastball on the inside corner at the knees to end the game. I remind you of all of that because contributing to an unlikely, fun, important win against a divisional competitor can absolutely alter the momentum of your season, in large part by helping him regain confidence. In each of his Saturday at-bats, Jeffers hit the ball hard. After not having an extra-base hit on the season until Friday night’s double, he hit a double at 101.7 mph in his first at-bat on Saturday. A couple of innings later, Jeffers hit a ball 102.4 mph into the bleachers in left field for his first home run of the season. He added a walk and a strikeout to end the day 2-for-3. Respect the Competition On Saturday afternoon, Detroit Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera lined a single to right field. It’s something he has done so many times in his career. This one was special for him, his teammates, and the Tigers' fans, especially those who were at Comerica Park on Saturday. This was his 3,000th hit. Cabrera became the 33rd player in MLB history to join the 3,000 Hit Club. He is one of seven players in MLB history to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He joins Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players in MLB history to have 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and a .300 batting average. Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera! What’s Next? The Twins will finish their series at home against the White Sox at Target Field at 1:10 pm. The Twins will send right-hander Chris Archer (0-0, 2.16 ERA) to the mound. The White Sox will counter with Lucas Giolito, who will be making his first start of the season. He has been out with an abdominal injury. On Tuesday, he threw about 50 pitches in a simulated game in Arizona, so he could potentially throw 70-75 pitches on Sunday. For the record, I am also OK with 9-2 wins. Maybe another tomorrow? Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Pagán 0 0 9 34 0 43 Stashak 0 21 0 0 22 43 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 22 37 Romero 30 0 0 0 IL 30 Jax 0 0 0 29 0 29 Duffey 15 0 0 13 0 28 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 28 28 Smith 2 0 16 0 0 18 Duran 0 0 15 0 0 15 Winder 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  11. After ranking 24th as a whole when it came to pitching in 2021, the Minnesota Twins were 20th in terms of fWAR for just relievers. While slightly better than the starting staff being 25th, relief efforts took a significant step backward last year. In 2020 Wes Johnson coached the 2nd-best bullpen in baseball, and his group was 3rd overall in 2019. Getting back to that level is where things need to be focused for 2022. How can we get there? New Years Resolutions: Starting Pitching Taylor Rogers He’s here because he’s the best thing Minnesota’s bullpen has going. They could’ve decided to non-tender him if there was fear Rogers’ injury situation was grave, but that doesn’t appear to be reality. He was named an All-Star for the first time and got to show up for the game in his home state. In 2020 Rogers didn’t benefit from a season that allowed his numbers to normalize. In 2021, his 2.13 FIP was the best number of his career, and the strikeout rate was unmatched. If there’s something that Rogers needs to do in 2022, it’s be healthy and repeat as a dominant force. Lefties this good don’t grow on trees, and the Twins have one. Cody Stashak Once looking like a substantial bullpen piece, Stashak fell off the tracks significantly last year. He posted a 25/1 K/BB in his first 25 big-league innings and followed that up with a 17/3 K/BB in 15 innings during 2020. In 2021 Stashak had a 26/10 K/BB, and his ERA ballooned to 6.89. The homers and hits didn’t get out of whack, and his FIP was still solid at 3.62. In short, the pitcher he once was is still there, and we’re still dealing with a small sample size as a whole. Minnesota needs Stashak to again be a high command, big strikeout arm that can pitch in the middle innings. Tyler Duffey It wasn’t that Duffey was awful in 2021, but the pitcher Duffey became in 2019, and 2020 looked a whole lot different. Although Duffey did allow the lowest home run rate of his career, he also walked four batters per nine, easily a career-high, and his strikeouts dropped below double-digits per nine. Duffey is now 31, and while his velocity isn’t what it was in 2019, it did stay consistent from a year ago. Adding back to that number or staying consistent is a must. Generating chase swings again on his curveball has to happen, and if it’s not coming by pairing fastball velocity, then sequencing and tunneling are avenues he can further explore. Jorge Alcala We’ve been waiting for Alcala to break out over a whole year for a while. It looked like it would happen in 2021 after a strong showing in 2020. Pitching in nearly 60 innings last year, Alcala sat with a 5.54 ERA through his first 42 appearances. From there, he made 18 more appearances and tallied a 0.87 ERA and a 26/3 K/BB. That stretch was dominant and where Minnesota needs him to come out starting the season. At 26, Alcala isn’t exactly young anymore, but he certainly could be coming into his own. Juan Minaya This is maybe less about Minaya than the concept of his addition. The Twins did a good job finding the former White Sox arm as they also did with Danny Coulombe. Minaya contributed 40 innings with a 2.48 ERA. He’s always walked too many guys, but the strikeouts were there. Jharel Cotton was claimed by Minnesota, while Ralph Garza Jr. was a late-season addition. It’d be great for the Twins to hit on a handful of these types, especially if they aren’t going to add a higher tier reliever or two. At this point, these aren’t non-roster guys, and being correct on a few wouldn’t hurt. We’re now through the pitching side of things and will turn it over to the bats for the final installment. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Continuing the theme of keying in on current assets and their focus for the season ahead, the Twins next area to come under fire for 2022 resolutions is the bullpen. The group wasn’t as expected last season, as was the case for most of the team as a whole, but where do we go from here? After ranking 24th as a whole when it came to pitching in 2021, the Minnesota Twins were 20th in terms of fWAR for just relievers. While slightly better than the starting staff being 25th, relief efforts took a significant step backward last year. In 2020 Wes Johnson coached the 2nd-best bullpen in baseball, and his group was 3rd overall in 2019. Getting back to that level is where things need to be focused for 2022. How can we get there? New Years Resolutions: Starting Pitching Taylor Rogers He’s here because he’s the best thing Minnesota’s bullpen has going. They could’ve decided to non-tender him if there was fear Rogers’ injury situation was grave, but that doesn’t appear to be reality. He was named an All-Star for the first time and got to show up for the game in his home state. In 2020 Rogers didn’t benefit from a season that allowed his numbers to normalize. In 2021, his 2.13 FIP was the best number of his career, and the strikeout rate was unmatched. If there’s something that Rogers needs to do in 2022, it’s be healthy and repeat as a dominant force. Lefties this good don’t grow on trees, and the Twins have one. Cody Stashak Once looking like a substantial bullpen piece, Stashak fell off the tracks significantly last year. He posted a 25/1 K/BB in his first 25 big-league innings and followed that up with a 17/3 K/BB in 15 innings during 2020. In 2021 Stashak had a 26/10 K/BB, and his ERA ballooned to 6.89. The homers and hits didn’t get out of whack, and his FIP was still solid at 3.62. In short, the pitcher he once was is still there, and we’re still dealing with a small sample size as a whole. Minnesota needs Stashak to again be a high command, big strikeout arm that can pitch in the middle innings. Tyler Duffey It wasn’t that Duffey was awful in 2021, but the pitcher Duffey became in 2019, and 2020 looked a whole lot different. Although Duffey did allow the lowest home run rate of his career, he also walked four batters per nine, easily a career-high, and his strikeouts dropped below double-digits per nine. Duffey is now 31, and while his velocity isn’t what it was in 2019, it did stay consistent from a year ago. Adding back to that number or staying consistent is a must. Generating chase swings again on his curveball has to happen, and if it’s not coming by pairing fastball velocity, then sequencing and tunneling are avenues he can further explore. Jorge Alcala We’ve been waiting for Alcala to break out over a whole year for a while. It looked like it would happen in 2021 after a strong showing in 2020. Pitching in nearly 60 innings last year, Alcala sat with a 5.54 ERA through his first 42 appearances. From there, he made 18 more appearances and tallied a 0.87 ERA and a 26/3 K/BB. That stretch was dominant and where Minnesota needs him to come out starting the season. At 26, Alcala isn’t exactly young anymore, but he certainly could be coming into his own. Juan Minaya This is maybe less about Minaya than the concept of his addition. The Twins did a good job finding the former White Sox arm as they also did with Danny Coulombe. Minaya contributed 40 innings with a 2.48 ERA. He’s always walked too many guys, but the strikeouts were there. Jharel Cotton was claimed by Minnesota, while Ralph Garza Jr. was a late-season addition. It’d be great for the Twins to hit on a handful of these types, especially if they aren’t going to add a higher tier reliever or two. At this point, these aren’t non-roster guys, and being correct on a few wouldn’t hurt. We’re now through the pitching side of things and will turn it over to the bats for the final installment. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. ...and last week. Back by popular demand, this local Twins fan (internet lurker) is bringing you another edition of what your favorite current and former Twins did this week in the off-season. You thought that the Twins were going to disappear from your lives until next year? Think again. Contrary to popular belief, your favorite players don’t retreat into a Jake cave until spring training. Fall/Halloween Roundup Baseball players, they’re just like us, posing in pumpkin patches and dressing up in adorable Halloween costumes. Here’s is a roundup of all of our fall favorites: Cody Stashak is Enjoying the Offseason with his Family and the Cutest Little Pumpkin Kyle Gibson and the Chocolate Factory Josh Donaldson has the Cutest Unicorn Family The Twins’ Uniform is Looking Different Nowadays Byron Buxton watched the Braves in the World Series And spoiler alert, they won! Brent Rooker shared our Daylight Savings woes. Baseball players, they’re just like us And same…. Welcome to Minnesota, Jayce Tingler and David Popkins Jayce Tingler and David Popkins will bring their impressive resumes to Minnesota next season as the Twins’ new bench coach and hitting coach, respectively. They will be replacing the late Mike Bell and Edgar Varela. Tingler comes to Minnesota from the San Diego Padres, where he spent two seasons as their manager. Prior to San Diego, he spent some time as a coach for the Texas Rangers. Popkins comes from the Dodgers organization, where two years coaching for the Arizona Dodgers and the Great Lakes Loons. Check out Aaron & John’s reaction on their latest episode of Gleeman & the Geek. Cody Laweryson is a Fall Star This 22-year-old has had a great Fall League thus far, and he was the sole Twin named on the Fall Star game roster today. In his 13 innings pitched this fall, he has struck out 17 while allowing just one home run. Congrats Cody! Check out the remaining Fall Star game roster below: View full article
  14. Fall/Halloween Roundup Baseball players, they’re just like us, posing in pumpkin patches and dressing up in adorable Halloween costumes. Here’s is a roundup of all of our fall favorites: Cody Stashak is Enjoying the Offseason with his Family and the Cutest Little Pumpkin Kyle Gibson and the Chocolate Factory Josh Donaldson has the Cutest Unicorn Family The Twins’ Uniform is Looking Different Nowadays Byron Buxton watched the Braves in the World Series And spoiler alert, they won! Brent Rooker shared our Daylight Savings woes. Baseball players, they’re just like us And same…. Welcome to Minnesota, Jayce Tingler and David Popkins Jayce Tingler and David Popkins will bring their impressive resumes to Minnesota next season as the Twins’ new bench coach and hitting coach, respectively. They will be replacing the late Mike Bell and Edgar Varela. Tingler comes to Minnesota from the San Diego Padres, where he spent two seasons as their manager. Prior to San Diego, he spent some time as a coach for the Texas Rangers. Popkins comes from the Dodgers organization, where two years coaching for the Arizona Dodgers and the Great Lakes Loons. Check out Aaron & John’s reaction on their latest episode of Gleeman & the Geek. Cody Laweryson is a Fall Star This 22-year-old has had a great Fall League thus far, and he was the sole Twin named on the Fall Star game roster today. In his 13 innings pitched this fall, he has struck out 17 while allowing just one home run. Congrats Cody! Check out the remaining Fall Star game roster below:
  15. Coming into 2021, the Minnesota Twins looked to have an inside track within the AL Central division, mainly due to their depth. They had plenty of options on the pitching side, and before being exposed, lots of those names seemed plenty capable. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. The Twins might have a bit of a 40 man roster crunch in 2022. The Rule 5 eligible players are one consideration, but the six players on the 60 day IL are another. Not all of these players should necessarily be back. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  18. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  19. Minnesota’s bullpen has been a mess to start the year, but Rocco Baldelli is going to need to rely on arms with some important up-coming series. Who is in the bullpen circle of trust? 1. Taylor Rogers Much like in 2019, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few options Baldelli can trust in the late innings of games. At season’s start, it seemed like Rogers would be used in more of a set-up role with Colomé getting more of the closing opportunities. Until Colomé can figure it out, Rogers will be used as the closer and he has the team’s highest level of trust. 2. Hansel Robles Robles was brought in to help add veteran depth to the bullpen and he has made a good impression so far this year. His xBA ranks in the 82nd percentile and his wOBA ranks in the top 7% of the league. One of the biggest changes for him this season is his pitch usage. From 2015-18, he used his changeup less than 10% of the time. So far in 2021, he has used his changeup over 50% with his fastball usage dropping from 45% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. 3. Tyler Duffey Duffey has been one of the baseball’s best relievers over the last two seasons. In fact, MLB Network had him in their top-10 relievers entering the season. So far this year, he hasn’t looked like his dominating self as he ranks in the 24th percentile or lower in nearly every Statcast metric. Baldelli still shows trust in Duffey with the hope that he can make some adjustments moving forward. 4. Cody Stashak Stashak is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career with a K% north of 36% that ranks him in the top 6% of the league. On the other hand, batters are barreling up the ball against him quite regularly. His 20 barrel% is in the bottom 1% of the league and it is 6.5 percentage points higher than his previous career high. 5. Jorge Alcala Alcala might have the best raw stuff in the Twins bullpen and an argument can be made for him being given more high leverage spots as the season progresses. One of the toughest things for Alcala has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. For his career, lefties have a 1.178 OPS against him in 55 plate appearances. If he wants to earn more high leverage appearances, he needs to improve against southpaws. 6. Caleb Thielbar With Rogers moving into the closer role, Thielbar will be critical for when the team is facing lefties before the ninth inning. Since rejoining the Twins last year, he has posted a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings. 7. St. Paul Train (Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer) The Twins will likely continue to shuffle through players at the backend of the bullpen, especially if a player pitches multiple innings the previous day. These players aren’t going to be relied on for high leverage situations, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of trust in using them. 8. Alexander Colomé Colomé’s start to the season has been disastrous. Until he shows signs of improvement, the teams should have little trust in him. How would you rank the bullpen by level of trust? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. 1. Taylor Rogers Much like in 2019, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few options Baldelli can trust in the late innings of games. At season’s start, it seemed like Rogers would be used in more of a set-up role with Colomé getting more of the closing opportunities. Until Colomé can figure it out, Rogers will be used as the closer and he has the team’s highest level of trust. 2. Hansel Robles Robles was brought in to help add veteran depth to the bullpen and he has made a good impression so far this year. His xBA ranks in the 82nd percentile and his wOBA ranks in the top 7% of the league. One of the biggest changes for him this season is his pitch usage. From 2015-18, he used his changeup less than 10% of the time. So far in 2021, he has used his changeup over 50% with his fastball usage dropping from 45% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. 3. Tyler Duffey Duffey has been one of the baseball’s best relievers over the last two seasons. In fact, MLB Network had him in their top-10 relievers entering the season. So far this year, he hasn’t looked like his dominating self as he ranks in the 24th percentile or lower in nearly every Statcast metric. Baldelli still shows trust in Duffey with the hope that he can make some adjustments moving forward. 4. Cody Stashak Stashak is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career with a K% north of 36% that ranks him in the top 6% of the league. On the other hand, batters are barreling up the ball against him quite regularly. His 20 barrel% is in the bottom 1% of the league and it is 6.5 percentage points higher than his previous career high. 5. Jorge Alcala Alcala might have the best raw stuff in the Twins bullpen and an argument can be made for him being given more high leverage spots as the season progresses. One of the toughest things for Alcala has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. For his career, lefties have a 1.178 OPS against him in 55 plate appearances. If he wants to earn more high leverage appearances, he needs to improve against southpaws. 6. Caleb Thielbar With Rogers moving into the closer role, Thielbar will be critical for when the team is facing lefties before the ninth inning. Since rejoining the Twins last year, he has posted a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings. 7. St. Paul Train (Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer) The Twins will likely continue to shuffle through players at the backend of the bullpen, especially if a player pitches multiple innings the previous day. These players aren’t going to be relied on for high leverage situations, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of trust in using them. 8. Alexander Colomé Colomé’s start to the season has been disastrous. Until he shows signs of improvement, the teams should have little trust in him. How would you rank the bullpen by level of trust? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. This week is quite possibly the most important the Minnesota Twins will have embarked upon in 2020. Monday represents the halfway point in the 60-game sprint, while a week from then is the 2020 Trade Deadline. With plenty of guys on the shelf, it’s imperative Rocco’s boys keep winning and get healthy. Starting out with three games on the road against the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota will miss both Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac but deal with Shane Bieber anyways. After leaving Ohio, they’ll travel to Michigan for a four-game set with the lowly Detroit Tigers. In terms of opponents, there couldn’t be more of a stark contrast, but putting distance between themselves and The Tribe will be reliant on early week wins and later expected results. Leading the division by 1.5 games as of August 24, Minnesota is in a very good position to make the Postseason. This team’s goals are significantly loftier than that however, and it’s in that reality that the situation off the field may prove even more dire. Right now, Baldelli’s lineup is void of 33% of the Opening Day group, and the pitching staff seems to take a new hit each day. The latter is an issue, but the former could prove to be a real problem. Josh Donaldson has been shelved since July 31, playing just seven games in his debut season with his new team. Miguel Sano swapped positions to accommodate him, and following a COVID positive, it took Sano roughly two weeks into the season to get his bat going. Donaldson currently owns a .614 OPS on the year and hasn’t settled in at the plate. If he misses much more beyond this week, expecting him to be acclimated and contribute from the outset of October would be somewhat of a fool’s errand. Ryan Jeffers is the future tandem partner with Mitch Garver anyways, so ushering him in hasn’t been a problem. Garver also hasn’t gotten going however, and while it looked like he was starting to find it, the intercostal injury could cost him ample time to lock in. The injury is just a grade 1 problem, but it still remains to be seen when he’ll be back on the field. In the outfield Byron Buxton has been among the Twins greatest assets this season. It’s a sigh of relief that his shoulder injury doesn’t involve the surgically repaired labrum, but it seemed to come out of nowhere and anything more than a 10-day breather would seem problematic. Jake Cave has not stepped up at the plate, and both Rosario and Kepler on the corners have yet to consistently contribute. On the mound there’s a reinforcement coming in the form of Michael Pineda. However, Cody Stashak has been one of the club’s best relievers and him going down out of nowhere was a blow. Zack Littell worked plenty of high leverage a season ago, and now an elbow injury could prove to be a serious problem. Tyler Clippard gets bit by unluckiness being hit by a comebacker, and Homer Bailey has yet to do anything of substance for Minnesota. To say that the shuffling on the mound is starting to wear thing would probably be putting it lightly. There’s not much in the form of starting pitching options that will be available at the deadline, and that means Minnesota will either need to stay internal or go the route of relief to bolster their staff for the stretch run. I’m not yet considering who is brought in being impactful to the same extent as who can get healthy. This week is a critical juncture for the players and training staff to get bodies back on the field. Ideally Buxton misses the minimum, Donaldson returns to the lineup, and Clippard has now more than a bruise needing to heal. This club has all the talent in the world, but there’s only so many injuries one roster can truly withstand. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  22. It took until the fifth game of the season for Twins closer Taylor Rogers to get into a game. In the team’s first eight games, he has now pitched three times and recorded three saves for the Twins. He has a pretty well defined role on this team, but the roles of the rest of the bullpen appear to be ever-changing.Going back a decade or more, the concept of Closer-by-Committee was met with disdain by many inside baseball circles. Meanwhile, the concept behind it was certainly sound. Use your best bullpen arms in the best positions for them to succeed. In other words, if your opponent has Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton coming up to start the eighth inning, you might want to use your closer in that situation, especially if you’ve got a closer that dominates right-handed hitters. Get through that situation, and bring in the most logical next reliever for that ninth-inning save. It has also always been tradition that the better bullpens have a ninth inning guy, an eighth inning guy and maybe even a seventh inning guy. That is their role in a game that the team is winning. The role is based on the inning, not necessarily on the matchups coming during that inning. Through admittedly just eight games this season, it appears that Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and the Twins have decided not to give pitcher roles by innings but instead by situation. Here is a quick breakdown of which innings the relievers have been used in so far. Taylor Rogers: 9th/Save (3) Sergio Romo: 7th (1), 8th (1), 9th/Save (1), Trevor May: 5th (1),7th (1), 8th (1), Tyler Duffey: 6th (1), 7th (2), Tyler Clippard: 6th (3), 8th (1), Cody Stashak: 8th and 9th (1), 7th (1), 8th (1) Zack Littell: 5th (1), 6th and 7th (1), Devin Smeltzer: 6th and 7th (1), Matt Wisler: 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Lewis Thorpe: 6th, 7th and 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Kenta Maeda became the first Twins starting pitcher to throw a pitch in the six innings. In games that the Twins have won, we have seen Clippard, Duffey, May, Romo, Stashak and Rogers. As interesting, pitchers have been used in a variety of roles. Trevor May has pitched in the fifth inning and in the eighth inning. On Sunday, Tyler Clippard will be used as an Opener after being used in either the sixth or eighth innings previously. Tyler Duffey has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. Duffey said on Saturday afternoon that Baldelli has been up front with the relievers about their roles. “Rocco did a good job. Before we got started, he kind of made the rounds and talked to guys. He said, ‘Hey, situations are gonna call for guys to pitch. Just be ready.’” Earlier in the week, Sergio Romo hesitated when asked about reliever roles, but said, “We all have an ability to get hitters out in a unique way, in a different way from each other. The situations that Rocco’s been putting us in is a compliment to that, to each one of our strengths. Each one of us has been put in situations where I feel Rocco - maybe beyond 100% - knows we’re going to succeed. I think you’ll see more of that.” And succeed they have. Duffey (3 IP), Rogers (3 IP), Romo (3 IP), Stashak (4 IP), Thorpe (4 ⅔ IP) and Wisler (2 ⅓ IP) have combined to throw 20 innings with a combined 0.00 ERA. Clippard (4 IP) and May (3 IP) have each given up just one earned run. Zack Littell threw two scoreless innings in his most recent outing after giving up four runs in his first inning. Devin Smeltzer gave up five earned run in two innings in his lone outing. Combined, the bullpen has pitched 32 innings and has a 3.09 ERA. If you remove Littell’s and Smeltzer’s first outings, the bullpen has thrown 29 innings and has a 0.62 ERA. In short, outside of one game, this bullpen has been remarkable! We knew coming into the season that the bullpen was expected to be a strength of for the Twins. Many national sports media sites ranked the Twins bullpen among the Top 5 in MLB. There is talent. There are veterans like Romo and Clippard who have performed over their dozen-plus big league seasons. Taylor Rogers emerged the last two seasons as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game, if not one of the best relievers period. Trevor May and Tyler Duffey each have electric stuff and seemingly put it together in 2019s second half. Both are much more confident early this season. Zack Littell and Cody Stashak were rookies last year who were a big boost to the late-season improvements of the Twins bullpen. Stashak has been terrific early this year. Stashak said, “It (bullpen’s confidence) is pretty high. I’m sure the word’s gone around that we’ve got a solid ‘pen.” Littell struggled in his first outing, then threw two scoreless innings on Thursday night. He has now been put on the Injured List with a hamstring injury. Baldelli said of Littell, “Zack came out of his last outing with just a little bit of a hamstring tightness. You could call it an injury. You could call it just a minor incident. Really, what it comes down to, is you probably don't want to have to put a guy on the IL for something like this, but it probably would have been a couple of days before he would have seen game action again. So, does he need the full 10 days to feel better and be able to get out there on the mound? I don't know. Probably not. But to have a spot in the bullpen where you're not going to pitch a guy for a handful of days right now is also not a place where we really want to be. ” That gives Jorge Alcala, whose stuff the team has been raving about throughout summer camp, an opportunity. Before Saturday’s game, Baldelli noted, “We had some videos of him throwing at home, and he looked really, really impressive. The velocity was good and was up from what we saw in the big leagues last year. We know he has a big arm and some added depth to the breaking ball was apparent. More than anything, I think his confidence in what he's doing when he steps on the mound against hitters, against big league hitters, even against his own teammates in some of these outings and Summer Camp sessions.” So now maybe Alcala assumes the role and gets the situations that Littell had pitched. With the innings not being the determining factor for when a pitcher comes in, how does a pitcher know, or anticipate, when he might be called upon? In Saturday’s pre-game Zoom Meetings, I asked Duffey if he just needs to start getting ready earlier or if it causes him to pay attention to things like the opponent’s batting order and such. He said, “Obviously we’re not locked in for nine innings, but you kind of look at the lineup and say, ‘OK, there are some righties, or I’ve done well against that lefty in the past, or maybe we need to turn this switch-hitter around,’ something like that. Those are thoughts that go through your mind.” Duffey added, “You can’t really expect anything, and I think that’s good. It keeps everyone on their toes and mentally ready. I can’t say it enough, this is a really, really good group of guys. A lot of talent, a lot of different looks, especially out of our bullpen. I think that’s why we’re gonna have a lot of success.” Sergio Romo agrees, and is looking forward to seeing how it plays out. “It’s going to be fun to see the combinations that Rocco puts together with us. Again, it’s more of a compliment to us when he has so many different ways to use us and is so willing to do it confidently. It’s fun to be a part of again.” While the starters will, hopefully, continue to eat more innings as the season moves on, Baldelli and Johnson have to feel really good about their bullpen, knowing whoever they put into a game is fully capable of shutting the door. And having one of the top closers in the game certainly doesn’t hurt either. Click here to view the article
  23. Going back a decade or more, the concept of Closer-by-Committee was met with disdain by many inside baseball circles. Meanwhile, the concept behind it was certainly sound. Use your best bullpen arms in the best positions for them to succeed. In other words, if your opponent has Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton coming up to start the eighth inning, you might want to use your closer in that situation, especially if you’ve got a closer that dominates right-handed hitters. Get through that situation, and bring in the most logical next reliever for that ninth-inning save. It has also always been tradition that the better bullpens have a ninth inning guy, an eighth inning guy and maybe even a seventh inning guy. That is their role in a game that the team is winning. The role is based on the inning, not necessarily on the matchups coming during that inning. Through admittedly just eight games this season, it appears that Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and the Twins have decided not to give pitcher roles by innings but instead by situation. Here is a quick breakdown of which innings the relievers have been used in so far. Taylor Rogers: 9th/Save (3) Sergio Romo: 7th (1), 8th (1), 9th/Save (1), Trevor May: 5th (1),7th (1), 8th (1), Tyler Duffey: 6th (1), 7th (2), Tyler Clippard: 6th (3), 8th (1), Cody Stashak: 8th and 9th (1), 7th (1), 8th (1) Zack Littell: 5th (1), 6th and 7th (1), Devin Smeltzer: 6th and 7th (1), Matt Wisler: 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Lewis Thorpe: 6th, 7th and 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Kenta Maeda became the first Twins starting pitcher to throw a pitch in the six innings. In games that the Twins have won, we have seen Clippard, Duffey, May, Romo, Stashak and Rogers. As interesting, pitchers have been used in a variety of roles. Trevor May has pitched in the fifth inning and in the eighth inning. On Sunday, Tyler Clippard will be used as an Opener after being used in either the sixth or eighth innings previously. Tyler Duffey has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. Duffey said on Saturday afternoon that Baldelli has been up front with the relievers about their roles. “Rocco did a good job. Before we got started, he kind of made the rounds and talked to guys. He said, ‘Hey, situations are gonna call for guys to pitch. Just be ready.’” Earlier in the week, Sergio Romo hesitated when asked about reliever roles, but said, “We all have an ability to get hitters out in a unique way, in a different way from each other. The situations that Rocco’s been putting us in is a compliment to that, to each one of our strengths. Each one of us has been put in situations where I feel Rocco - maybe beyond 100% - knows we’re going to succeed. I think you’ll see more of that.” And succeed they have. Duffey (3 IP), Rogers (3 IP), Romo (3 IP), Stashak (4 IP), Thorpe (4 ⅔ IP) and Wisler (2 ⅓ IP) have combined to throw 20 innings with a combined 0.00 ERA. Clippard (4 IP) and May (3 IP) have each given up just one earned run. Zack Littell threw two scoreless innings in his most recent outing after giving up four runs in his first inning. Devin Smeltzer gave up five earned run in two innings in his lone outing. Combined, the bullpen has pitched 32 innings and has a 3.09 ERA. If you remove Littell’s and Smeltzer’s first outings, the bullpen has thrown 29 innings and has a 0.62 ERA. In short, outside of one game, this bullpen has been remarkable! We knew coming into the season that the bullpen was expected to be a strength of for the Twins. Many national sports media sites ranked the Twins bullpen among the Top 5 in MLB. There is talent. There are veterans like Romo and Clippard who have performed over their dozen-plus big league seasons. Taylor Rogers emerged the last two seasons as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game, if not one of the best relievers period. Trevor May and Tyler Duffey each have electric stuff and seemingly put it together in 2019s second half. Both are much more confident early this season. Zack Littell and Cody Stashak were rookies last year who were a big boost to the late-season improvements of the Twins bullpen. Stashak has been terrific early this year. Stashak said, “It (bullpen’s confidence) is pretty high. I’m sure the word’s gone around that we’ve got a solid ‘pen.” Littell struggled in his first outing, then threw two scoreless innings on Thursday night. He has now been put on the Injured List with a hamstring injury. Baldelli said of Littell, “Zack came out of his last outing with just a little bit of a hamstring tightness. You could call it an injury. You could call it just a minor incident. Really, what it comes down to, is you probably don't want to have to put a guy on the IL for something like this, but it probably would have been a couple of days before he would have seen game action again. So, does he need the full 10 days to feel better and be able to get out there on the mound? I don't know. Probably not. But to have a spot in the bullpen where you're not going to pitch a guy for a handful of days right now is also not a place where we really want to be. ” That gives Jorge Alcala, whose stuff the team has been raving about throughout summer camp, an opportunity. Before Saturday’s game, Baldelli noted, “We had some videos of him throwing at home, and he looked really, really impressive. The velocity was good and was up from what we saw in the big leagues last year. We know he has a big arm and some added depth to the breaking ball was apparent. More than anything, I think his confidence in what he's doing when he steps on the mound against hitters, against big league hitters, even against his own teammates in some of these outings and Summer Camp sessions.” So now maybe Alcala assumes the role and gets the situations that Littell had pitched. With the innings not being the determining factor for when a pitcher comes in, how does a pitcher know, or anticipate, when he might be called upon? In Saturday’s pre-game Zoom Meetings, I asked Duffey if he just needs to start getting ready earlier or if it causes him to pay attention to things like the opponent’s batting order and such. He said, “Obviously we’re not locked in for nine innings, but you kind of look at the lineup and say, ‘OK, there are some righties, or I’ve done well against that lefty in the past, or maybe we need to turn this switch-hitter around,’ something like that. Those are thoughts that go through your mind.” Duffey added, “You can’t really expect anything, and I think that’s good. It keeps everyone on their toes and mentally ready. I can’t say it enough, this is a really, really good group of guys. A lot of talent, a lot of different looks, especially out of our bullpen. I think that’s why we’re gonna have a lot of success.” Sergio Romo agrees, and is looking forward to seeing how it plays out. “It’s going to be fun to see the combinations that Rocco puts together with us. Again, it’s more of a compliment to us when he has so many different ways to use us and is so willing to do it confidently. It’s fun to be a part of again.” While the starters will, hopefully, continue to eat more innings as the season moves on, Baldelli and Johnson have to feel really good about their bullpen, knowing whoever they put into a game is fully capable of shutting the door. And having one of the top closers in the game certainly doesn’t hurt either.
  24. The Twins topped the Cardinals 6-3 in their home opener at Target Field on Tuesday night to move to 3-1 on the season. I watched the game and jotted down a specific note or thought based on the events of each inning. Let's run it back.1st Inning: Making Martínez Sweat The bottom of the first was not a great showing for the Twins offense. They missed some big opportunities. Nelson Cruz popped out to foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in scoring position, and later Mitch Garver grounded out to third on 3-1 with the bases juiced. No one hit anything particularly hard. And yet ... this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who needed 21 pitches to get through the frame. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it's the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher that can set up an inning like the second, where Minnesota took off and pushed across five runs. Martínez, a very good pitcher with a 3.36 career ERA, was soon chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings. 2nd Inning: Hip Hip, Jorge Punctuating the five-run outburst in the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer into the right field plaza. He very nearly followed with another bomb from the other side in his following at-bat, two innings later, though Cards left fielder Tyler O'Neill was able to track it down at the warning track. It was a bit strange to see from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative outcomes of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we'll take. It was a tough break for May, but he recovered nicely by striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely filthy, as he induced seven swinging strikes on 21 pitches. 9th Inning: Where is Rogers? With the exception of Rich Hill (who starts tomorrow) only two players on the active roster had yet to see game action by this point: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation – albeit on the less-intense side – the Twins' top-tier closer remained unused. Romo tossed a clean ninth to close out the 6-3 victory. That leaves Rogers, one of the team's best and long-tenured players, as the only reliever we've yet to see. It doesn't necessarily point to any error in judgment from Baldelli, as there's been no real need to turn to the team's highest-leverage arm, but still it seems strange that Rogers hasn't even gotten in an inning of work while several others have made multiple appearances. Hopefully there's nothing bothering the southpaw physically, and this is all situational and strategic. Through the team's first four games in 2019, Rogers had already thrown four innings across three appearances. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  25. 1st Inning: Making Martínez Sweat The bottom of the first was not a great showing for the Twins offense. They missed some big opportunities. Nelson Cruz popped out to foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in scoring position, and later Mitch Garver grounded out to third on 3-1 with the bases juiced. No one hit anything particularly hard. And yet ... this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who needed 21 pitches to get through the frame. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it's the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher that can set up an inning like the second, where Minnesota took off and pushed across five runs. Martínez, a very good pitcher with a 3.36 career ERA, was soon chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings. 2nd Inning: Hip Hip, Jorge Punctuating the five-run outburst in the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer into the right field plaza. He very nearly followed with another bomb from the other side in his following at-bat, two innings later, though Cards left fielder Tyler O'Neill was able to track it down at the warning track. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1288280300909400066 Polanco tends to get lost in a shuffle a bit for this offense, as a steadily solid hitter amidst a sea of flashy sluggers. He ranked sixth on the team in OPS+ last year, and he was a bit quiet down the stretch. It can be easy to forget he was the lone All-Star on a historic 2019 offense. One person who does not lose sight of Polanco's abilities at the plate is his manager. Polanco batted cleanup in the second game of this season in Chicago. That marks the only time since Rocco Baldelli took over as skipper that the shortstop has hit anywhere below third in the lineup. 3rd Inning: Living on the Edge The last time we saw Homer Bailey, it wasn't such a pretty sight. The newly signed right-hander got knocked around in his final tune-up start at Wrigley, as the Cubs took advantage of too many hittable pitches left up around the belt. His official debut was a different story. While he wasn't immune to mistakes, Bailey was executing far better this time out, peppering the borders of FSN's strike zone visualization to maximize the effectiveness of a so-so fastball. Here in the third inning, he was at the height of his prowess for the evening, striking out the side with some stellar pitch sequences. Impressively, it was his slider and not his highly-touted splitter doing much of the work. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1288281129947148289 Bailey had a crisp outing, allowing four hits and two walks over five innings, with four strikeouts. It's a continuation of the trend we saw in 2019, which saw noticeable improvement in many indicators of hard contact (Barrel %, Sweet Spot %, XBA, XSLG). If he can keep dancing around the edges, while dropping the occasional slow breaking ball over the plate to catch a hitter off-guard, he's gonna be in good shape. 4th Inning: Here Comes the Rain It was a picture-perfect summer evening for the opener at Target Field, although the Bringer of Rain did make his first splash in the bottom of the fourth. Josh Donaldson watered the plants on the right-field overhang with an oppo shot that just barely cleared the wall. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1288285962984984576 One thing that's really struck me about Donaldson is that even when he doesn't square it up – and so far he hasn't done so much; prior to the bomb, he was 2-for-11 with two infield singles – he still puts a charge into the ball. That home run came on a ripe pitch over the middle, but he really didn't seem to get all of it. There have been a few other occasions, including his sacrifice fly earlier in the game, where the ball has carried surprisingly far off Donaldson's bat. This guy is as strong and powerful as advertised. 5th Inning: Bailey Bounces Back The lone blemish in Bailey's outing came here in the fifth, where he left a hanging offspeed pitch over the dish and O'Neill destroyed it for a two-run homer. Following a well-struck single to open the inning, it looked like the Twins starter might be starting to lose steam. But he buckled down and rattled off three straight outs – a pop-out to first and two grounders. That's the resiliency you like to see from a back-end starter. It was maybe more encouraging to me than his triple-K third. 6th Inning: Pesky Arráez The sixth was fairly uneventful, with Tyler Clippard entering to pitch a clean top half and Minnesota going down 1-2-3 in the bottom. But one guy who did not go easily was Luis Arráez. As ever. The scrappy second baseman drove a pitch the other way and nearly had extra bases, but O'Neill was able to chase it down in left with a diving grab near the line. Arráez makes pitchers and defenders work awfully hard to get him out. He still has yet to strike out through 12 plate appearances, and he's been hitting the ball pretty dang hard. To have a player like this near the bottom of your lineup (he's hit seventh twice and ninth once) is just an unbelievable advantage. 7th Inning: Stashak and Bullpen Depth Bailey was out of the game for Minnesota after five, but the Twins had no trouble filling in the remaining innings. Second out of the bullpen was Cody Stashak, who delivered his second scoreless outing of the young season. With the exception of a ground-ball double, Stashak was basically flawless, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes and retiring the side with little trouble. Just as Arráez is a major asset at the lower part of the order, Stashak is a major asset in the middle of the bullpen. He's looked every bit as good as the 3.24 ERA and 25-to-1 K/BB ratio in last year's MLB debut suggested. 8th Inning: Buxton Drops the Ball Trevor May followed Stashak in the eighth. Leading off against him was Tommy Edman, who lifted a deep fly to center field. Byron Buxton, making his first appearance of the season, sprinted back, reached the wall, and had it measured. He leapt up, had it in his glove, and the ball glanced right off it over the fence. https://twitter.com/cjzer0/status/1288302537221832707 It was a bit strange to see from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative outcomes of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we'll take. It was a tough break for May, but he recovered nicely by striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely filthy, as he induced seven swinging strikes on 21 pitches. 9th Inning: Where is Rogers? With the exception of Rich Hill (who starts tomorrow) only two players on the active roster had yet to see game action by this point: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation – albeit on the less-intense side – the Twins' top-tier closer remained unused. Romo tossed a clean ninth to close out the 6-3 victory. That leaves Rogers, one of the team's best and long-tenured players, as the only reliever we've yet to see. It doesn't necessarily point to any error in judgment from Baldelli, as there's been no real need to turn to the team's highest-leverage arm, but still it seems strange that Rogers hasn't even gotten in an inning of work while several others have made multiple appearances. Hopefully there's nothing bothering the southpaw physically, and this is all situational and strategic. Through the team's first four games in 2019, Rogers had already thrown four innings across three appearances. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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