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  1. In his fourth offseason at the head of the Minnesota Twins, there are two words Derek Falvey wishes he could take back, "Impact Pitching". It's all the casual Twins fan has been talking about this offseason, up until the Josh Donaldson signing, of course. The fact of the matter is that the Twins were agressive in pursuing their "Plan A" options for the offseason in free agents Ryu, Bumgarner, and Wheeler. It just didn't work out, mostly because of forces outside of their control. To me, the Josh Donaldson signing signaled that the front office is pushing their chips to the middle of the table in 2020. At 34 years old, Donaldson might only have two years of elite production left. Now might be the time to capitalize in making that final offseason move for "impact pitching" right?; not necessarily. The Twins made a pair of early offseason moves to their staff with Odorizzi accepting their Qualifying Offer, Pineda coming back on a two year deal, and a pair of New Years Eve signings in Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. There is no doubt the Opening Day pitching staff still has some question marks but on paper this is a fine starting 5. The question marks of course come from Pineda who is suspended for the first 39 games of 2020 and Rich Hill, who had "primary and revision" surgery and won't be back until "June or July". Per Fangraphs Team Depth Charts 2020 Projections, the Twins starting staff projects to have a total WAR of 11.6, ranked 21st in MLB. Now, like I mentioned, this is because of the starts that should be made by Pineda and Hill in April - June will have to be made up by the likes of Dobnak, Smeltzer, and Thorpe. Fangraphs projects that this trio will pitch 169 total innings - which may be too many for a team with deep playoff run aspirations. But if things shake out like the Twins hope, they will have a fine starting 5 for the second half of the year, not even factoring in a potential July 31st trade. But they have to get there first. That's the key. As of right now there are two options the Twins have to add to their existing rotation, trade or sign a remaining free agent. Sure, trading for a Robbie Ray, Matthew Boyd, or Jon Gray would be nice. However, it seems that with each day closer to Spring Training, that possibility dwindles. What if they went a different direction... What if they were able to sign a pitcher with starting experience who can bridge the gap in April and May to fill in until Pineda's return? What if once he is not needed in the rotation anymore he can be added to the bullpen to strengthen the back end of baseball games? What if he actually happens to be a very good reliever? Enter, Collin McHugh. Collin McHugh - The Starter In 2016 - 2017, McHugh started 45 games for the Astros. In 248 innings, McHugh posted a 4.14 ERA, 3.92 FIP, and a 8.7 k/9. He missed quite a bit of time in 2017 with right shoulder tendonitis. In 2018 he pitched only in the bullpen (more on that in a minute). In 2019, the Astros put McHugh in the rotation on Opening Day. On the surface his numbers are ugly as a starter. In 8 starts, he posted a 6.37 ERA in 41 innings with a 9.2 k/9 allowing an OPS of .808 (yikes). But let's break this down a bit and only focus on the first six starts he made in 2019, as that really is all the Twins would need out of him before Pineda is back on May 10th. McHugh only had one rough start. If you eliminate that outing, 5 of those 6 starts were very good. He threw 28.2 innings, struck out 36 batters, had three quality starts (one out away from 4), and allowed 8 runs - a 2.51 ERA. That tells a much different story. Collin McHugh - The Reliever As stated earlier, in 2018 McHugh became a full time reliever. He was outstanding posting a 1.99 ERA, 2.72 FIP, a 11.7 k/9 in 72.1 innings. He also pitched in 4 playoff games that year allowing zero runs in 4 innings. After he was done starting in 2019, he went back to the Astros bullpen posting a 2.67 ERA, a 10.7 k/9, in 27 appearances across 33.2 innings. Solid. Do I think the Twins still need an "impact" SP to propel them to postseason success? Sure. Do I think the July 2019 Twins rotation could be very solid? Of course. But, they have to get there. Collin McHugh would help the Twins do that and add depth to an already established bullpen core for the second half of the season. A very hybrid and cost effective approach to bolstering the Opening Day Twins rotation. They can always wait to make their "impact pitching" move until the July 31st deadline. Signing McHugh would allow them the flexibility to do that.
  2. Here are a few relievers who will be available on the market who would make great additions to the Twins’ bullpen: Drew Pomeranz The Giants moved Pomeranz to the bullpen after an ineffective stint as a starter in the first half of 2019 and he became death, destroyer of worlds because of it. After throwing a fastball with an average speed of ~92 MPH as a starter, his velocity jumped to the point where it was ~95 in the month of September. His curveball saw a similar boost as it went from sitting ~81 MPH as a starter to ~84 MPH when he was used fully out of the bullpen in September. The end result was a plain cartoonish strikeout rate of 47.2% as a reliever that came with a modest walk rate of 7.6%. Pomeranz will be 31 heading into 2020 and with Taylor Rogers already firmly cemented in the bullpen, the Twins could decide to make any left-handed hitter want to crawl back into the dugout with another nasty lefty reliever in the back-end of their bullpen. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1189992958524715008 Héctor Rondón You may know Rondón as the guy who threw as many innings in Game 7 of the World Series as Gerrit Cole, but he is more than just that. Rondón signed with the Astros in 2018 after an OK year with the Cubs and surprise surprise, he did much better. 2018 saw a career high in swinging strike % for Rondón as the Astros worked their magic with him and it seemed like his career was back on the upswing. 2019 was less kind to Rondón as his K% dropped to the lowest rate since his rookie season, his swinging strike% was at a career low, and his zone% was also at a career low. His average fastball velocity dropped a hair from 97.2 MPH in 2018 to 96.7 MPH in 2019 but his stuff still seems to be all there. Rondón will be 32 to start the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me if a change of scenery sparks a bounce-back season for the flame-throwing reliever. Hopefully that scenery is the aesthetic of Target Field. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1189997947607343104 Collin McHugh McHugh is another Astros reliever set to become a free agent this winter but why not pick up the parts dropped by the development machine that is Houston? McHugh also had a rougher 2019 than 2018 as he struggled out of the gate in a starting rotation role and missed time with some elbow problems. While a pitcher with elbow problems is a bigger red flag than someone being a Cowboys fan, I can’t help but look at McHugh’s 2018 season and imagine what a full, healthy season back in the bullpen will look like. McHugh’s 2018 was the stuff of legends as the righty put up a 1.99 ERA and 2.72 FIP over 72 1/3 innings pitched. His swinging strike% was a career high 13.3% and nearly 1/3 (33.2%) of all batters who faced McHugh went back to the dugout with a strikeout on their ledger. Maybe McHugh just needs a fresh start somewhere else to regain his old self and Minnesota should be open to allowing McHugh to flourish. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1190002824584683520 Tony Cingrani Cingrani never threw a pitch in the majors in 2019 due to injury but had been phenomenal since being traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2017. After holding a career FIP of 4.62 with the Reds, Cingrani knocked it down all the way to 2.11 over his 42 innings with the Dodgers. His strikeout rate jumped and his walk rate plummeted which is a pretty good combo if you’re a pitcher. You can read more here if you want to know specifically what the Dodgers changed about his game to make him more effective. In any case, Cingrani could prove to be a forgotten reliever this offseason and potentially get lost in the shuffle of other relievers with bigger names. The Twins might be wise to take a close look at this lefty looking to get healthy again in 2020. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1190006483104124928 Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Offseason Handbook Preview: Everything You'll Find Inside — How the Washington Nationals Built Their World Series Roster — 3 Pitchers Who Complement the Twins Defensive Strengths
  3. A majority of the discourse surrounding the offseason for the Twins will be focused on the starting rotation. Of course, this makes sense as José Berríos can’t throw 1,000 innings by himself, but for this article, I am more interested in the relief pitching side of the pitching staff.Here are a few relievers who will be available on the market who would make great additions to the Twins’ bullpen: Drew Pomeranz The Giants moved Pomeranz to the bullpen after an ineffective stint as a starter in the first half of 2019 and he became death, destroyer of worlds because of it. After throwing a fastball with an average speed of ~92 MPH as a starter, his velocity jumped to the point where it was ~95 in the month of September. His curveball saw a similar boost as it went from sitting ~81 MPH as a starter to ~84 MPH when he was used fully out of the bullpen in September. The end result was a plain cartoonish strikeout rate of 47.2% as a reliever that came with a modest walk rate of 7.6%. Pomeranz will be 31 heading into 2020 and with Taylor Rogers already firmly cemented in the bullpen, the Twins could decide to make any left-handed hitter want to crawl back into the dugout with another nasty lefty reliever in the back-end of their bullpen. Héctor Rondón You may know Rondón as the guy who threw as many innings in Game 7 of the World Series as Gerrit Cole, but he is more than just that. Rondón signed with the Astros in 2018 after an OK year with the Cubs and surprise surprise, he did much better. 2018 saw a career high in swinging strike % for Rondón as the Astros worked their magic with him and it seemed like his career was back on the upswing. 2019 was less kind to Rondón as his K% dropped to the lowest rate since his rookie season, his swinging strike% was at a career low, and his zone% was also at a career low. His average fastball velocity dropped a hair from 97.2 MPH in 2018 to 96.7 MPH in 2019 but his stuff still seems to be all there. Rondón will be 32 to start the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me if a change of scenery sparks a bounce-back season for the flame-throwing reliever. Hopefully that scenery is the aesthetic of Target Field. Collin McHugh McHugh is another Astros reliever set to become a free agent this winter but why not pick up the parts dropped by the development machine that is Houston? McHugh also had a rougher 2019 than 2018 as he struggled out of the gate in a starting rotation role and missed time with some elbow problems. While a pitcher with elbow problems is a bigger red flag than someone being a Cowboys fan, I can’t help but look at McHugh’s 2018 season and imagine what a full, healthy season back in the bullpen will look like. McHugh’s 2018 was the stuff of legends as the righty put up a 1.99 ERA and 2.72 FIP over 72 1/3 innings pitched. His swinging strike% was a career high 13.3% and nearly 1/3 (33.2%) of all batters who faced McHugh went back to the dugout with a strikeout on their ledger. Maybe McHugh just needs a fresh start somewhere else to regain his old self and Minnesota should be open to allowing McHugh to flourish. Tony Cingrani Cingrani never threw a pitch in the majors in 2019 due to injury but had been phenomenal since being traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2017. After holding a career FIP of 4.62 with the Reds, Cingrani knocked it down all the way to 2.11 over his 42 innings with the Dodgers. His strikeout rate jumped and his walk rate plummeted which is a pretty good combo if you’re a pitcher. You can read more here if you want to know specifically what the Dodgers changed about his game to make him more effective. In any case, Cingrani could prove to be a forgotten reliever this offseason and potentially get lost in the shuffle of other relievers with bigger names. The Twins might be wise to take a close look at this lefty looking to get healthy again in 2020. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — OffseasonHandbook Preview: Everything You'll Find Inside — How the Washington Nationals Built Their World Series Roster — 3 Pitchers Who Complement the Twins Defensive Strengths Click here to view the article
  4. Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Feb. 9 to Thursday, Feb. 15. The Darvish Contingency Plan | Cody Christie The Twins Almanac for February 11–17 | Matt Johnson Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 355: General Malaise | John Bonnes Don't Panic Over Bad Breaks For Twins Rotation | Nick Nelson Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow | Nick Nelson Trade Target: Collin McHugh (McWho?) | Seth Stohs Spring Training Storylines: Pitchers And Catchers | Cody Christie Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker | Seth Stohs Seth's Twins On Deck Podcast (Episode 6) | Seth Stohs Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier | Nick Nelson Scouting Target Field’s Biggest Games of 2018 | Tom Froemming Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #5 Alex Kirilloff | Cody Christie The Wall Of Ground Ball Prevention | Parker Hageman Minnesota's Winter Of Discontent | Nick Nelson Minnesota and Mauer Facing Important 2018 | Ted Schwerzler Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #4 Stephen Gonsalves | Seth Stohs Twins Daily Bloggers on the Darvish Fallout State of the Twins - Pitching Rotation edition By JohnOlson So, where does that leave us? Well, there was always an opportunity for in-house competition for the 5th starting pitching spot, we'll start there. Phil Hughes, off of his second rib surgery, will be in the mix, along with a post-Tommy John Trevor May. Among those who had a cup of coffee in the majors last year, Aaron Slegers and probably to a lesser extent Felix Jorge, and exciting young pitchers Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Zach Littell. Adalberto Mejia, who had a fairly up and down 2017, also projects to be competing for a spot - he would be the lone left hander in the rotation, with his experience in 2017 and flashes of ability, I expect him to be among the favorites.We should Be Happy Darvish Signed Elsewhere By Twins in 6 Now that we Twins fans have had a few days to take in (and get over) the fact that Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs we can start thanking the Falvey and Levine brain-trust for saving the Pohlad dollars. It’s easy to say “Darvish was never going to come here” or “the Pohlads were never going to cough up what it takes to sign a real star” but let’s think about this for a moment… Not signing Darvish was the smart move.To Trade or not to Trade? That is the Question By TwinsO’Holic Adding 1 or better yet, TWO, starters no doubt helps this team try to get back to the postseason in 2018. Yu Darvish signing with the Cubs on Saturday left Twins fans shattered, as their #1 option went off the board. This leaves Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb as the top remaining free agents. While there are many blogs that have speculated on how those three would contribute to the team, I will be focusing on the Twins trade options.Video of the Week Good news: Actual Baseball things are happening!!! https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger/status/964157473811820544 Item of the Week Single-game tickets for all the Twins home games become available for purchase tomorrow morning, and there are some sweet bobblehead giveaways.With that in mind, check out this sweet lot of three Twins bobbleheads from the early 2000s: Corey Koskie, Doug Mientkiewicz and Cristian Guzman. At the time of posting, these babies could be had for just $19.99. Free shipping even! That’s it for this edition of Twins Weekly. Have a wonderful weekend.
  5. You might have heard the news already, but Yu Darvish followed Chris Gimenez and signed with the Chicago Cubs. There are many contingencies. But at this point, a trade may make more sense for the Twins than signing any of the remaining free agents. There are several trade targets that should be considered. Today, we consider Astros right-hander Collin McHugh. There are still the bigger named free agents from this year’s class, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Signing any of them would cost the Twins their third draft pick in 2018. There are the third-tier free agent pitchers like Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas. They won’t cost a draft pick, but there is minimal upside. There are several other free agent starters that are back end of the rotation types at best.Background Collin McHugh made 15 big league appearances in 2012 and 2013 for the Mets and Rockies. Following that 2013 season, Colorado waived him and the Astros claimed him. As a 27-year-old rookie in 2014, he made 25 starts for Houston and went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA. In 2015, he went 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. In 2016, he made 33 starts and went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA. Last year, he missed a lot of time due to a posterior impingement of his right elbow. He made 12 starts and went 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA. However, last August, the Astros acquired Justin Verlander and went on to win the World Series. Then this offseason, they traded for Gerrit Cole. Their rotation going into spring training is Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. McHugh provides depth, but he would be outside of the rotation. McHugh is not a flamethrower. His average fastball is just over 90 mph. He throws a cutter in the mid-80s and also has a good slow curveball. McHugh will turn 31 in mid-June. Last week, he lost his arbitration hearing and will make $4.55 million in 2018. He will have one more year of arbitration in 2019, so acquiring him gives you two years of control. Risk As I see it, there are a few risks with McHugh. First and foremost, the elbow is a concern. I get that as of last season his injury had nothing to do with his ulnar collateral ligament, but sometimes pain in that area can lead to other issues in related structures. Reward Collin McHugh is not Chris Archer. Acquiring him would give the Twins a real solid #3 pitcher (if healthy). A top three of Santana, Berrios and McHugh is pretty solid. Kyle Gibson bumps down to the #4 starter and then you’ve got depth of young pitchers with varying levels of upside competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. That depth then moves down to Rochester where they continue to work to move their way up. Secondly, he provides a quality starter at likely two years and maybe $10-13 million. Despite not having big velocity, McHugh finds a way to miss bats. Over his four previous seasons, his K/9 numbers have been 9.1, 7.6, 8.6 and 8.8. Those numbers would be at the top of Twins starters in recent years. Potential Cost McHugh has two more years of team control, likely in the $10-13 million range. He doesn’t have a spot in the Astros starting rotation. The Astros have used a lot of minor leaguers in the last couple of years to acquire players like Verlander and Cole. They will likely want to acquire prospects for McHugh, but the haul for him should be far less than a trade for Chris Archer. In other words, the Twins should be able to pick any 6-8 prospects that they say are untouchable, and then the conversation can start. That would mean that the Twins may have to give up one quality prospect, but not a top 100 type of prospect. At that point, if I’m the Astros, I’m wanting quantity as much as quality. They should take advantage of the Twins minor league depth. Maybe they would want three prospects in the 16-30 range as opposed to the Twins #11 prospect alone. By comparison, acquiring Chris Archer is likely to cost a young major leaguer, two top five prospects and maybe two more prospects. But instead of getting a guy similar to Ervin Santana, you would be getting an absolute ace who is young and under team control for four more years for about $30 million. It’s an important distinction when comparing two potential trade targets. Is Collin McHugh a guy you think that the Twins should consider acquiring? Click here to view the article
  6. Background Collin McHugh made 15 big league appearances in 2012 and 2013 for the Mets and Rockies. Following that 2013 season, Colorado waived him and the Astros claimed him. As a 27-year-old rookie in 2014, he made 25 starts for Houston and went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA. In 2015, he went 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. In 2016, he made 33 starts and went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA. Last year, he missed a lot of time due to a posterior impingement of his right elbow. He made 12 starts and went 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA. However, last August, the Astros acquired Justin Verlander and went on to win the World Series. Then this offseason, they traded for Gerrit Cole. Their rotation going into spring training is Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. McHugh provides depth, but he would be outside of the rotation. McHugh is not a flamethrower. His average fastball is just over 90 mph. He throws a cutter in the mid-80s and also has a good slow curveball. McHugh will turn 31 in mid-June. Last week, he lost his arbitration hearing and will make $4.55 million in 2018. He will have one more year of arbitration in 2019, so acquiring him gives you two years of control. Risk As I see it, there are a few risks with McHugh. First and foremost, the elbow is a concern. I get that as of last season his injury had nothing to do with his ulnar collateral ligament, but sometimes pain in that area can lead to other issues in related structures. Reward Collin McHugh is not Chris Archer. Acquiring him would give the Twins a real solid #3 pitcher (if healthy). A top three of Santana, Berrios and McHugh is pretty solid. Kyle Gibson bumps down to the #4 starter and then you’ve got depth of young pitchers with varying levels of upside competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. That depth then moves down to Rochester where they continue to work to move their way up. Secondly, he provides a quality starter at likely two years and maybe $10-13 million. Despite not having big velocity, McHugh finds a way to miss bats. Over his four previous seasons, his K/9 numbers have been 9.1, 7.6, 8.6 and 8.8. Those numbers would be at the top of Twins starters in recent years. Potential Cost McHugh has two more years of team control, likely in the $10-13 million range. He doesn’t have a spot in the Astros starting rotation. The Astros have used a lot of minor leaguers in the last couple of years to acquire players like Verlander and Cole. They will likely want to acquire prospects for McHugh, but the haul for him should be far less than a trade for Chris Archer. In other words, the Twins should be able to pick any 6-8 prospects that they say are untouchable, and then the conversation can start. That would mean that the Twins may have to give up one quality prospect, but not a top 100 type of prospect. At that point, if I’m the Astros, I’m wanting quantity as much as quality. They should take advantage of the Twins minor league depth. Maybe they would want three prospects in the 16-30 range as opposed to the Twins #11 prospect alone. By comparison, acquiring Chris Archer is likely to cost a young major leaguer, two top five prospects and maybe two more prospects. But instead of getting a guy similar to Ervin Santana, you would be getting an absolute ace who is young and under team control for four more years for about $30 million. It’s an important distinction when comparing two potential trade targets. Is Collin McHugh a guy you think that the Twins should consider acquiring?
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