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  1. The ongoing joke about the Twins is how often they’re rumored to be in on a player but don’t wind up with them. This winter they have a chance to make good on their past links with three such pitchers. Corey Kluber Kluber was heavily linked to the Twins last winter before the Yankees threw $11m at the right hander. Kluber pitched quite well in his first year in the Bronx with a sub 4.00 ERA. Unfortunately after throwing just one inning in 2020, Kluber missed significant time and only reached 80 frames. Kluber is likely a candidate for another one year deal at age 36. He still looked like a valuable pitcher in a tough stadium and division, and a move back to the soft AL Central would do him wonders. He may not be counted on for a significant amount of innings, but pairing him with a pitcher like Michael Pineda would be valuable. There’s upside to be had similar to the Twins 2020 Rich Hill signing, upside the Twins will surely be looking for in order for a bounce back in their pitching staff. Marcus Stroman The Twins were bullish on Stroman in 2019 when the Blue Jays eventually shipped him to the Mets. The Twins claimed Toronto never returned their call for a counter offer. Stroman wasn’t much help in 2020 but performed exceptionally well in 2021 with a 3.02 ERA in almost 180 innings. Stroman would definitely require a long term deal with some good money attached. He may not be a flat out ace, but he’s a durable, experienced arm. His reliance on movement, location, and weak contact should make him a valuable pitcher for the foreseeable future now that he’s surpassed 30 years of age. He’d also immediately slot in as an Opening Day starter and top of the rotation anchor. Noah Syndergaard Digging way into the well here, remember when the Twins were in on Noah Syndergaard in 2019 and the Mets wanted Byron Buxton in exchange? I’m sure no fans were angry at the Twins for not pulling the trigger, right? Syndergaard has a storied past when it comes to injury, most recently returning from Tommy John just this year. The result of this being there isn’t much of a body of work to see since 2019. It’s hard to forget the arm they call “Thor” throwing one 100 mph fastball after another. While never quite an ace, it’s hard to deny that the upside is there. With Syndergaard's recent history, he’s another candidate for a one year “show me” deal. It may be high risk, but there may not be a pitcher on the market with a higher potential payoff. The Twins will be looking high and low on both the free agent and trade market this winter to try to fix a pitching staff that straight up cost them any shot at contending in 2021. It wouldn’t be the most surprising development to go back to the well and revisit some arms they were previously interested in. Is there any one of this trio that stands above the rest? Should these three be avoided altogether? 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
  2. Corey Kluber Kluber was heavily linked to the Twins last winter before the Yankees threw $11m at the right hander. Kluber pitched quite well in his first year in the Bronx with a sub 4.00 ERA. Unfortunately after throwing just one inning in 2020, Kluber missed significant time and only reached 80 frames. Kluber is likely a candidate for another one year deal at age 36. He still looked like a valuable pitcher in a tough stadium and division, and a move back to the soft AL Central would do him wonders. He may not be counted on for a significant amount of innings, but pairing him with a pitcher like Michael Pineda would be valuable. There’s upside to be had similar to the Twins 2020 Rich Hill signing, upside the Twins will surely be looking for in order for a bounce back in their pitching staff. Marcus Stroman The Twins were bullish on Stroman in 2019 when the Blue Jays eventually shipped him to the Mets. The Twins claimed Toronto never returned their call for a counter offer. Stroman wasn’t much help in 2020 but performed exceptionally well in 2021 with a 3.02 ERA in almost 180 innings. Stroman would definitely require a long term deal with some good money attached. He may not be a flat out ace, but he’s a durable, experienced arm. His reliance on movement, location, and weak contact should make him a valuable pitcher for the foreseeable future now that he’s surpassed 30 years of age. He’d also immediately slot in as an Opening Day starter and top of the rotation anchor. Noah Syndergaard Digging way into the well here, remember when the Twins were in on Noah Syndergaard in 2019 and the Mets wanted Byron Buxton in exchange? I’m sure no fans were angry at the Twins for not pulling the trigger, right? Syndergaard has a storied past when it comes to injury, most recently returning from Tommy John just this year. The result of this being there isn’t much of a body of work to see since 2019. It’s hard to forget the arm they call “Thor” throwing one 100 mph fastball after another. While never quite an ace, it’s hard to deny that the upside is there. With Syndergaard's recent history, he’s another candidate for a one year “show me” deal. It may be high risk, but there may not be a pitcher on the market with a higher potential payoff. The Twins will be looking high and low on both the free agent and trade market this winter to try to fix a pitching staff that straight up cost them any shot at contending in 2021. It wouldn’t be the most surprising development to go back to the well and revisit some arms they were previously interested in. Is there any one of this trio that stands above the rest? Should these three be avoided altogether? 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
  3. The good news is that the Twins will not lose more playoff games to the Yankees this season. The bad news is there can be multiple current Twins players that help the Yankees regain their October glory. What's Their Situation? In baseball's toughest division, the Yankees find themselves eight games out of first place, which puts them behind three other teams. New York would need to pass Tampa, Boston and Toronto to claim the AL East crown. They may need to turn their sights to one of the two Wild Card spots and that might be tough with the other teams in front of them. The last time the Yankees missed the playoffs was back in 2016, so to avoid that fate, the Bronx Bombers are going to have to go on a second-half run to get back in the race. At the All-Star break, New York was tied with Toronto and Cleveland at 4.5 games back of a playoff spot. That's a lot of ground to make up, especially with that many teams in contention. What Do They Need? New York's most significant need is clearly in center field after Aaron Hicks suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier have struggled to fill in, but outfield help isn't their only need. Starting pitching depth is vital for all contenders, and New York is missing Corey Kluber (shoulder) and Luis Severino (Tommy John). The Twins have a few players that fit these needs. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Byron Buxton is the player that can best fit the Yankees center field need, but he is still on his way back from a broken hand. Buxton can certainly still be part of a trade, but a team dealing for him likely wants to make sure he is completely healthy before pulling the trigger on a deal, especially since Buxton was bothered by a hip injury before he broke his hand. Buxton has been playing at an MVP level when on the field, which adds to his intrigue. Jose Berrios is Minnesota's most valuable trade target on the starting pitcher front, but the thought of him in a Yankee uniform is tough to swallow. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been clear that his team will be buyers at the deadline and trading for Berrios keeps him out of other AL contender's rotations. Besides Berrios, Michael Pineda is another starting pitcher option. He is familiar with the Yankee organization, but he will need to put together some strong starts leading into the deadline. Who Could The Twins Get Back? It seems unlikely that any teams will lay a hand on Jasson Dominguez, the Yankees' top prospect, but here are some other names to consider. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, 25yo – Schmidt has yet to appear in a game this year as he rehabs from an elbow strain. He was New York's first-round pick back in 2017, and he is one of their top pitching prospects. His medical records are essential to a trade, but the Twins need starting pitching help next season, and he is close to big-league ready. Deivi Garcia, RHP, 22yo – Garcia has made eight big-league starts and allowed six earned runs in 42 2/3 innings. He is significantly younger than Schmidt, and he might have a higher upside for the long term. Also, there aren't current injury concerns with Garcia like there are with Schmidt. On national prospect lists, he is at the back end of the top-100. Luis Gil, RHP, 23yo – Gil is an intriguing name because he was initially part of the Twins organization. Back in 2018, the Twins traded him to the Yankees for Jake Cave. Gil has developed into a borderline top-100 prospect, and the Twins are familiar with his background from signing him as a teenager. He has yet to make his big-league debut, but he has posted a 3.76 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings this year. Click here to read all of Twins Daily's trade deadline coverage. View full article
  4. What's Their Situation? In baseball's toughest division, the Yankees find themselves eight games out of first place, which puts them behind three other teams. New York would need to pass Tampa, Boston and Toronto to claim the AL East crown. They may need to turn their sights to one of the two Wild Card spots and that might be tough with the other teams in front of them. The last time the Yankees missed the playoffs was back in 2016, so to avoid that fate, the Bronx Bombers are going to have to go on a second-half run to get back in the race. At the All-Star break, New York was tied with Toronto and Cleveland at 4.5 games back of a playoff spot. That's a lot of ground to make up, especially with that many teams in contention. What Do They Need? New York's most significant need is clearly in center field after Aaron Hicks suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier have struggled to fill in, but outfield help isn't their only need. Starting pitching depth is vital for all contenders, and New York is missing Corey Kluber (shoulder) and Luis Severino (Tommy John). The Twins have a few players that fit these needs. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Byron Buxton is the player that can best fit the Yankees center field need, but he is still on his way back from a broken hand. Buxton can certainly still be part of a trade, but a team dealing for him likely wants to make sure he is completely healthy before pulling the trigger on a deal, especially since Buxton was bothered by a hip injury before he broke his hand. Buxton has been playing at an MVP level when on the field, which adds to his intrigue. Jose Berrios is Minnesota's most valuable trade target on the starting pitcher front, but the thought of him in a Yankee uniform is tough to swallow. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been clear that his team will be buyers at the deadline and trading for Berrios keeps him out of other AL contender's rotations. Besides Berrios, Michael Pineda is another starting pitcher option. He is familiar with the Yankee organization, but he will need to put together some strong starts leading into the deadline. Who Could The Twins Get Back? It seems unlikely that any teams will lay a hand on Jasson Dominguez, the Yankees' top prospect, but here are some other names to consider. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, 25yo – Schmidt has yet to appear in a game this year as he rehabs from an elbow strain. He was New York's first-round pick back in 2017, and he is one of their top pitching prospects. His medical records are essential to a trade, but the Twins need starting pitching help next season, and he is close to big-league ready. Deivi Garcia, RHP, 22yo – Garcia has made eight big-league starts and allowed six earned runs in 42 2/3 innings. He is significantly younger than Schmidt, and he might have a higher upside for the long term. Also, there aren't current injury concerns with Garcia like there are with Schmidt. On national prospect lists, he is at the back end of the top-100. Luis Gil, RHP, 23yo – Gil is an intriguing name because he was initially part of the Twins organization. Back in 2018, the Twins traded him to the Yankees for Jake Cave. Gil has developed into a borderline top-100 prospect, and the Twins are familiar with his background from signing him as a teenager. He has yet to make his big-league debut, but he has posted a 3.76 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings this year. Click here to read all of Twins Daily's trade deadline coverage.
  5. Filling Out the Line-Up Alex Kirilloff is going to be a big part of the 2021 Twins even if he isn’t in the line-up on Opening Day. The Twins thought highly enough of him to put him into the playoff line-up in a do-or-die situation and there have been other glowing reports out of the Twin Cities. He slides in nicely to the spot vacated after the Twins non-tender Eddie Rosario. Kirilloff is cheaper and has the potential to produce at a similar level for a fraction of the cost. Nelson Cruz has been amazing in a Twins uniform, but there are no certainties surrounding a player over the age of 40. Marcell Ozuna seems like a better option to fill the designated hitter role. He is a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a season where he hit .338/.431/.636 while leading the NL in home runs, RBI, and total bases. With Ozuna’s big contract, money is saved with the reserve players. Jake Cave can come back as a starting outfielder to begin the year before Kirilloff becomes the regular player. Travis Blankenhorn takes over the role vacated by Marwin Gonzalez as the super utility player. Ehire Adrianza steps back in as the back up player at multiple positions and Ryan Jeffers starts the season as the backup catcher with a good chance to be used more regularly than Garver. Rotation Roulette Three out of the five rotation spots for the Twins are decided with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda penciled in. This leaves decisions to make in the back half of the rotation. One strategy would be to sign someone big for the fourth spot in their rotation and leave the fifth spot to someone else already in the organization. The Texas Rangers already announced they would decline the option on Corey Kluber and it seems like a no-brainer for the Twins front office to be interested. Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s President of Baseball Operations, worked with the Kluber when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. Kluber was a three-time All-Star with Cleveland and won two Cy Young awards. The back of Minnesota’s rotation can easily be filled with a cornucopia of players from within the organization. Randy Dobnak seems like the logical first choice, but there are plenty of other options including Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. Teams don’t need a lot out of the fifth spot in the rotation and these players can more than fill that role. Completing the Bullpen Bullpens have become so important in the modern game especially with starters pitching fewer innings. This year’s playoffs were a prime example with the Dodgers and the Rays riding their bullpens to a thrilling World Series. While these teams relied on a variety of arms, the Twins strategy might need to change if they spend on the players mentioned above. The bullpen outlined above might be worse than last year’s conglomeration with Sergio Romo’s option declined and other players pushed into different roles. Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala will be absolute weapons in late innings. The Twins can hope for a bounce back year from Taylor Rogers. The front office might also be able to find another Matt Wisler type player from another organization. Do you think this blueprint pushes the Twins to the next level? 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
  6. Key Additions: Carlos Santana, Jake Bauers Santana played his first eight big league seasons in Cleveland before signing a three-year $60 million deal with Philadelphia. The Phillies traded him back to the Indians this off-season in a deal that sent Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. Santana offers some more line-up flexibility since he is a switch-hitter and he can play multiple positions. Jake Bauers was also part of the Santana trade. He could start the year in the Indians outfield or split time with Santana at first base. He’s only 23 years old and he hit 11 home runs last year for Tampa. Since Tampa was willing to part with him, one has to wonder if they know something that others do not. Key Departures: Yonder Alonso, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes, Yandy Diaz, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Donaldson, Melky Cabrera, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Josh Tomlin. A team could field a pretty good squad with the players that left the Indians from the end of last season. Heck, you might be able to win a Wild Card spot with this crew. Cody Allen and Andrew Miller were key late inning pieces for the Cleveland’s recent success. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will drive the offense but there are plenty of holes in the rest of the line-up. What if one of their key pieces gets hurt? This club might not score a ton of runs and they are going to rely on their strong starting staff to keep games close. Potential X-Factors: Trevor Bauer Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are going to be a strong one-two punch at the top of the rotation, but Trevor Bauer could be a difference maker as the club’s number three pitcher. He does some outlandish things on social media and has hurt his hand with a drone, but he could put together some solid numbers that help to prove he belongs with the top two Indians arms. FanGraphs Projected 2019 Record: 92-70 My Projected 2019 Record: 87-76 (Win Game 163 against the Twins) 2018 Record: 91-71 (1st Place AL Central, Lost ALDS to Astros) 2017 Record: 102-60, (1st Place AL Central, Lost ALDS to Yankees) 2016 Record: 94-67, (1st Place in the AL Central, Lost World Series to Cubs)
  7. The Minnesota Twins’ acquisition of second baseman Jonathan Schoop has been considered by most as a low-risk, high-reward move by general manager Thad Levine and president Derek Falvey. It is that, but going ignored is the immediate impact the move has on the Twins’ chances in the American League (AL) Central Division. The AL Central was really bad in 2018. Three teams posted winning percentages below .400, which was one more than the rest of Major League Baseball (MLB). Cleveland, the eventual division champions, were seven wins better than the Twins within the division despite winning the season series over Minnesota 10-9. The Twins just weren’t good enough in games against the AL Central’s worst teams in 2018, especially at the plate. The addition of Schoop for one season at an affordable $7.5 million salary addresses that issue. Schoop Scorches the AL Central The AL Central rosters as of this writing bode well for Schoop and the Twins. Over his career, Schoop has a combined batting average of .357 against Minnesota’s division opponents in 168 at-bats. In fact, the only team in the Central with which he’s “struggled” is the Twins, with a .275 batting average but .833 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Let’s look at how Schoop has fared against the AL Central teams the Twins will have to beat to make the playoffs. Kansas City Royals (32 AB, 12 H, .375/.394/.406) The Twins didn’t win nearly enough games against the AL Central’s worst team last season. Minnesota lost the season series to Kansas City 10-9, allowing four more runs than they scored over the course of those games. Minnesota was considerably worse on offense against the Royals than the rest of the league, as evidenced by its sOPS+ of 95. Schoop could make an immediate impact in games against the Royals. Schoop wouldn’t mind if Danny Duffy returns healthy for Kansas City, having accrued eight hits in 16 career at-bats against him. He has two hits in six at-bats against Ian Kennedy, too. While Schoop hasn’t shown much power against the Royals (0 HR, 1 2B) his .394 OBP would be a welcome addition for a team that only reached base at a .347 clip against the Royals last season. Chicago White Sox (28 AB, 12 H, .429/.433/.571) There wasn’t a divisional opponent the Twins struggled with more than the White Sox. Despite winning the season series 12-7, relative to the rest of the league, the Twins were terrible at the plate against the White Sox. The Twins’ sOPS+ of 91 was only better than their performances against five other teams. Schoop again can make an immediate impact. Schoop’s career batting average (.429) and on-base percentage (.433) against the White Sox is better than what he’s posted against any other AL team. Only his slugging percentages against Houston and Texas are better than the .571 slugging percentage he’s posted against White Sox pitching. Schoop especially likes hitting against Carlos Rodon and newly acquired closer Alex Colome, against whom he’s a combined seven of 19 with five RBI. Detroit Tigers (49 AB, 18 H, .367/.404/.531) The Twins were 12-7 against the Tigers in 2018, too, but only hit them as well as they did Cleveland relative to the rest of the league. Schoop, however, has hit Detroit pitching pretty well, especially Michael Fulmer. In eight at-bats, Schoop has four hits including a home run, a double, and four RBI. Schoop also has four hits in 12 at-bats against newly acquired free agent Matt Moore, whom the Tigers intend to use as a starter. Cleveland Indians (59 AB, 18 H, .305/.311/.441) While Schoop hasn’t hit Cleveland pitching like he has the rest of the AL Central, he’s still a potential upgrade at his position against them. With the performance the Twins got out of the second base position last season, it wouldn’t take much. Only production by Twins’ catchers and designated hitters were worse than the production they got from second basemen last season, and Minnesota’s .365 slugging percentage from second basemen was worst amongst its roster of hitters. Schoop will have an immediate impact on games against Cleveland’s ace, Corey Kluber, against whom he is four of 12 with a double and a homer in his career. He’s also six for 11 and has driven in four against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer. Against Danny Salazar, Schoop has two hits in five at-bats. Coincidence Schoop's now a Twin? I think not.
  8. I was on 670 The Score out of Chicago last week to help them preview the AL Central. TAKE A LISTEN HERE. Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to New York in ALDS Manager: Terry Fancona (sixth season) New Faces: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai David, RHP Alexi Ogando Key Losses: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw Outlook: Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series since 1948 and they’ve suffered through some postseason heartaches over the last two years. In the 2016 World Series, they blew a 3-1 to the Cubs. Last year, they were up 2-0 on the Yankees before losing in the divisional round. Cleveland might have the best pitching staff in all of baseball, including the reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Offensively, Jose Ramirez led the AL in doubles and Francisco Lindor smashed 33 home runs. Veteran players Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley need to stay healthy. It might be World Series or bust for Cleveland this year. Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to New York in Wild Card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). New Faces: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Michael Pineda. Key Losses: C Chris Gimenez, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins Outlook: Minnesota surprised the baseball world by becoming the first team to finish in the playoffs one year after losing 100 or more games. Now the Twins will need to try to surprise again as they attempt to hunt down the Indians. With a core of players under the age of 25, the Twins seem to rising at the right time. Adding Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn to the rotation helps to address a weakness and there are plenty of other arms populating the Rochester staff. While the American League looks a little top heavy, the Twins should have enough to fight for a Wild Card spot. Thankfully, the Twins are scheduled to play each of the teams listed below 19 times in 2018. Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). New Faces: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. Key Losses: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, DH Brandon Moss. Outlook: Out with the old and in with the new. Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain are off to greener pastures, which is going to put more pressure on new additions Jon Jay and Lucas Duda. Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar didn’t get great offers on the free agent market so they returned to Kansas City. Even with them back in Royals blue, it could be tough for this club to be around the .500 mark. There are holes in nearly every part of their roster. Look for them to be busy at the trade deadline as they might be forced to go into full rebuilding mode. Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). New Faces: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. Key Losses: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, C Geovany Soto. Outlook: While the Royals haven’t hit full rebuild mode yet, Chicago traded away plenty of pieces last season. This means the White Sox have a nice young core with players like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Miguel Gonzalez. There are other top prospects on the way but that could mean Chicago is still a year or two away from making a playoff push in the AL. A completely rebuilt bullpen makes it hard to know what to expect in late game situations. Chicago will likely continue to take its bruises this year while the young guns try to figure it all out at the big league level. Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). New Faces: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. Key Losses: 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Outlook: Ron Gardenhire’s return to managing doesn’t seem exactly like a dream job. He will have to piece together a roster that traded away Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler over the last calendar year. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are still part of this roster but no one is sure how much they have left in the tank. Gardy is very familiar with the AL Central but he is going to have his hands full in a division that looks top heavy entering 2018. What are your predictions for the AL Central? What will it take to catch the Indians? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. Cleveland has been at the top of the AL Central for two consecutive seasons and things seem to be trending that way again in 2018. By season's end, the AL Central might end up being the easiest division in baseball. Besides Minnesota and Cleveland, there are a lot of young, rebuilding clubs. This could help both the Indians and the Twins to separate themselves from the pack in the American League. Will Minnesota be able to catch Cleveland, the Kings of the AL Central?I was on 670 The Score out of Chicago last week to help them preview the AL Central. TAKE A LISTEN HERE. Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to New York in ALDS Manager: Terry Fancona (sixth season) New Faces: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai David, RHP Alexi Ogando Key Losses: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw Outlook: Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series since 1948 and they’ve suffered through some postseason heartaches over the last two years. In the 2016 World Series, they blew a 3-1 to the Cubs. Last year, they were up 2-0 on the Yankees before losing in the divisional round. Cleveland might have the best pitching staff in all of baseball, including the reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Offensively, Jose Ramirez led the AL in doubles and Francisco Lindor smashed 33 home runs. Veteran players Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley need to stay healthy. It might be World Series or bust for Cleveland this year. Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to New York in Wild Card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). New Faces: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Michael Pineda. Key Losses: C Chris Gimenez, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins Outlook: Minnesota surprised the baseball world by becoming the first team to finish in the playoffs one year after losing 100 or more games. Now the Twins will need to try to surprise again as they attempt to hunt down the Indians. With a core of players under the age of 25, the Twins seem to rising at the right time. Adding Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn to the rotation helps to address a weakness and there are plenty of other arms populating the Rochester staff. While the American League looks a little top heavy, the Twins should have enough to fight for a Wild Card spot. Thankfully, the Twins are scheduled to play each of the teams listed below 19 times in 2018. Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). New Faces: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. Key Losses: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, DH Brandon Moss. Outlook: Out with the old and in with the new. Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain are off to greener pastures, which is going to put more pressure on new additions Jon Jay and Lucas Duda. Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar didn’t get great offers on the free agent market so they returned to Kansas City. Even with them back in Royals blue, it could be tough for this club to be around the .500 mark. There are holes in nearly every part of their roster. Look for them to be busy at the trade deadline as they might be forced to go into full rebuilding mode. Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). New Faces: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. Key Losses: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, C Geovany Soto. Outlook: While the Royals haven’t hit full rebuild mode yet, Chicago traded away plenty of pieces last season. This means the White Sox have a nice young core with players like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Miguel Gonzalez. There are other top prospects on the way but that could mean Chicago is still a year or two away from making a playoff push in the AL. A completely rebuilt bullpen makes it hard to know what to expect in late game situations. Chicago will likely continue to take its bruises this year while the young guns try to figure it all out at the big league level. Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). New Faces: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. Key Losses: 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Outlook: Ron Gardenhire’s return to managing doesn’t seem exactly like a dream job. He will have to piece together a roster that traded away Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler over the last calendar year. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are still part of this roster but no one is sure how much they have left in the tank. Gardy is very familiar with the AL Central but he is going to have his hands full in a division that looks top heavy entering 2018. What are your predictions for the AL Central? What will it take to catch the Indians? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  10. As with any baseball game, there are usually a series of plays, calls or decisions that can affect the final outcome. In the playoffs in general, and especially in a World Series Game 7 atmosphere, the second-guessing is done by millions and millions of people across the country, around the globe. Let’s be honest, social media makes it very easy. Frankly, second-guessing (or first-guessing, if you prefer) is part of the allure of baseball. It’s a game that so many played when they were young. It’s a game that doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as hard as it is. It’s a game in which everyone can be questioned. It’s part of what makes Twins Daily successful. Every decision a GM makes can be argued and discussed. A manager’s lineup construction or in-game tendencies can be questioned. Pitcher-catcher pitch-selection is always up for debate. Generally speaking, I try not to take any real hard stands on those types of things. I may not understand, but I’d say with certainty that the person making the decision (GM, manager, player) did so with a lot more information at his fingertips than I would have had. The World Series provided plenty of opportunity for second guessing. Here are just some examples. It has been well over a decade since a starting pitcher has thrown games 1, 4 and 7 of the World Series. The game has changed and teams seem to prefer to use their pitchers on more rest rather than pitch their starters on short rest. Terry Francona chose to go with a three-man starting staff in the World Series (Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin) rather than go with a fourth starter. Meanwhile, Maddon’s Cubs rotation included Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. To be fair to Francona, he’s had to piece things together from a starting pitcher standpoint throughout the playoffs. He hasn’t been able to use two of his best starters, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, in that role. He used Ryan Merritt for one game in the ALCS. What will some fans may think? The game has changed. Starters don’t do this, and the numbers generally back up the fact that when a pitcher works on short-rest, the numbers aren’t as good. (What I was thinking? When Cleveland had a 3-1 series lead - after Kluber pitched well on short-rest in Game 4 - I may have gone back to Merritt to start Game 5. Bauer hasn’t been on - even when he wasn’t bleeding out - this postseason, and Tomlin wasn’t very good most of the year. I would have started Bauer in Game 6 with Tomlin in relief, if necessary. But I have no problem with going back to Kluber for Game 7.) What was Francona is thinking? He’s thinking that his starter only needs to give him five innings before he’ll start going to his dominant bullpen of Brian Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. In doing so, he is able to limit the number of pitches that his starter throws in each game and cumulatively. In Game 7, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks - who is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award this year - gave up one run over 4 ⅔ innings. He issued a walk - that should have been a strikeout if not for a missed strike call - and Joe Maddon removed him from the game. Hendricks isn’t dominant. He’s a pitcher in the Brad Radke mold. But Hendricks was pitching well. Jon Lester, who started Game 5, warmed up in the bullpen. For a long time. With Jason Kipnis coming up, Maddon went to Lester. How it panned out isn’t as important as the process (for this discussion, at least, obviously the results are all that matter in a Game 7 situation) for our discussion. Kipnis nubbed a ball down the third base line. David Ross, who came into the game when Lester did (replacing Willson Contreras), threw to first and it got away, allowing runners to go to 2nd and 3rd. Lester then bounced a slider that hit off of Ross’s helmet and toward the 1B dugout, far enough that two runs scored on it. In the moment, it didn’t look like the decision would pay off. (To make it more interesting, Ross hit a solo home run to dead center off of Andrew Miller to bump the Cubs lead back up to 6-3. Lester settled down and got out of the 5th inning. He worked scoreless 6th and 7th frames and got two outs in the 8th as well.) What are fans are thinking? Hendricks is pitching well, and he’s had a good year. We don’t care about pitcher wins, the stat, but it’s hard not to feel bad for Hendricks who deserved better. What’s Maddon’s thinking? This is Hendrick’s third time through the lineup. I’ve got Lester, who has been warming up a long time. If I don’t go to him now, he’ll have thrown too many pitches in the bullpen and won’t be available. In the end, Maddon’s job is to use information he has to make the best decision with the goal of winning that one game. And then the big one… In Game 6, the Cubs had a big lead in the 7th inning. Joe Maddon decided to bring Aroldis Chapman into the game. He got out of a situation, but then despite the Cubs adding on more runs, Chapman remained in the game. What do many fans think? Chapman isn’t really a multiple inning guy and what if he’s needed in an actually close game in Game 7? Will he be available to pitch? What was Maddon thinking? First and foremost, he’s thinking win Game 6. If they don’t do that, there is no Game 7. Win Game 6 and worry about Game 7 when it comes. The Result - Clearly Chapman was not himself in Game 7. Sure, he hit 101 and 102 a couple of times, but it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t as sharp. He looked tired. He gave up a two-run, game-tying home run to Rajai Davis. Then again, he got the final out of the eighth and worked a perfect ninth inning. Was it completely because of his excessive usage the night before? It’s impossible to say. It is something that Joe Maddon will likely ask himself over and over again in the offseason. Game 7s are always great. Do you ever wonder how the 1987 or 1991 World Series might have been different if Twitter and blogs would have been around then? Let’s be honest, Twitter was still in its infancy when the Twins were last in a playoff series. Remember when Grady Little decided to stick with his ace, Pedro Martinez. The decision backfired. The Red Sox lost. Little was fired. Joe Maddon made several very questionable decisions in Games 6 and 7. Using Chapman for so long in a blowout. Taking Hendricks out of the game in the 5th inning for no reason. Having Javier Baez attempt a safety squeeze bunt on a full-count with a runner on third and one out? The decision to fire Little, in my opinion, was silly. I’m certainly not advocating for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to fire Maddon. I do think that the playoffs magnify everything, and Maddon made some questionable choices. And you know what… he also helped bring the Chicago Cubs their first World Series title in 108 years! At the end of the day (or even into the morning of the next day), we were able to witness two great baseball teams who both had long World Series droughts play an epic Game 7. We are all winners for it, even the second-guessers. ---------------------------------------------------- Why did I write an article that really has little or nothing to do with the Minnesota Twins? Honestly, while watching Game 7, my thought was… this type of second-guessing of a manager is so much more fun than questioning whether Paul Molitor should bring in Pat Light or Pat Dean to replace Andrew Albers with the Twins down 8-2 in the 5th inning of a mid-September game. I long for the days of questioning Ron Gardenhire decisions in the playoffs!
  11. On Wednesday night, World Series Game 7 was played in Cleveland. And what a game it was. I’m biased as a Twins fans into saying that the 1991 World Series was the greatest of all-time. The 2016 Game 7 was right up there. There were big plays, big hits, big defensive plays. There was good pitching. There were questionable calls by umpires, and by the managers. The game had everything. Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs on their World Series championship.As with any baseball game, there are usually a series of plays, calls or decisions that can affect the final outcome. In the playoffs in general, and especially in a World Series Game 7 atmosphere, the second-guessing is done by millions and millions of people across the country, around the globe. Let’s be honest, social media makes it very easy. Frankly, second-guessing (or first-guessing, if you prefer) is part of the allure of baseball. It’s a game that so many played when they were young. It’s a game that doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as hard as it is. It’s a game in which everyone can be questioned. It’s part of what makes Twins Daily successful. Every decision a GM makes can be argued and discussed. A manager’s lineup construction or in-game tendencies can be questioned. Pitcher-catcher pitch-selection is always up for debate. Generally speaking, I try not to take any real hard stands on those types of things. I may not understand, but I’d say with certainty that the person making the decision (GM, manager, player) did so with a lot more information at his fingertips than I would have had. The World Series provided plenty of opportunity for second guessing. Here are just some examples. It has been well over a decade since a starting pitcher has thrown games 1, 4 and 7 of the World Series. The game has changed and teams seem to prefer to use their pitchers on more rest rather than pitch their starters on short rest. Terry Francona chose to go with a three-man starting staff in the World Series (Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin) rather than go with a fourth starter. Meanwhile, Maddon’s Cubs rotation included Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. To be fair to Francona, he’s had to piece things together from a starting pitcher standpoint throughout the playoffs. He hasn’t been able to use two of his best starters, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, in that role. He used Ryan Merritt for one game in the ALCS. What will some fans may think? The game has changed. Starters don’t do this, and the numbers generally back up the fact that when a pitcher works on short-rest, the numbers aren’t as good. (What I was thinking? When Cleveland had a 3-1 series lead - after Kluber pitched well on short-rest in Game 4 - I may have gone back to Merritt to start Game 5. Bauer hasn’t been on - even when he wasn’t bleeding out - this postseason, and Tomlin wasn’t very good most of the year. I would have started Bauer in Game 6 with Tomlin in relief, if necessary. But I have no problem with going back to Kluber for Game 7.) What was Francona is thinking? He’s thinking that his starter only needs to give him five innings before he’ll start going to his dominant bullpen of Brian Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. In doing so, he is able to limit the number of pitches that his starter throws in each game and cumulatively. In Game 7, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks - who is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award this year - gave up one run over 4 ⅔ innings. He issued a walk - that should have been a strikeout if not for a missed strike call - and Joe Maddon removed him from the game. Hendricks isn’t dominant. He’s a pitcher in the Brad Radke mold. But Hendricks was pitching well. Jon Lester, who started Game 5, warmed up in the bullpen. For a long time. With Jason Kipnis coming up, Maddon went to Lester. How it panned out isn’t as important as the process (for this discussion, at least, obviously the results are all that matter in a Game 7 situation) for our discussion. Kipnis nubbed a ball down the third base line. David Ross, who came into the game when Lester did (replacing Willson Contreras), threw to first and it got away, allowing runners to go to 2nd and 3rd. Lester then bounced a slider that hit off of Ross’s helmet and toward the 1B dugout, far enough that two runs scored on it. In the moment, it didn’t look like the decision would pay off. (To make it more interesting, Ross hit a solo home run to dead center off of Andrew Miller to bump the Cubs lead back up to 6-3. Lester settled down and got out of the 5th inning. He worked scoreless 6th and 7th frames and got two outs in the 8th as well.) What are fans are thinking? Hendricks is pitching well, and he’s had a good year. We don’t care about pitcher wins, the stat, but it’s hard not to feel bad for Hendricks who deserved better. What’s Maddon’s thinking? This is Hendrick’s third time through the lineup. I’ve got Lester, who has been warming up a long time. If I don’t go to him now, he’ll have thrown too many pitches in the bullpen and won’t be available. In the end, Maddon’s job is to use information he has to make the best decision with the goal of winning that one game. And then the big one… In Game 6, the Cubs had a big lead in the 7th inning. Joe Maddon decided to bring Aroldis Chapman into the game. He got out of a situation, but then despite the Cubs adding on more runs, Chapman remained in the game. What do many fans think? Chapman isn’t really a multiple inning guy and what if he’s needed in an actually close game in Game 7? Will he be available to pitch? What was Maddon thinking? First and foremost, he’s thinking win Game 6. If they don’t do that, there is no Game 7. Win Game 6 and worry about Game 7 when it comes. The Result - Clearly Chapman was not himself in Game 7. Sure, he hit 101 and 102 a couple of times, but it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t as sharp. He looked tired. He gave up a two-run, game-tying home run to Rajai Davis. Then again, he got the final out of the eighth and worked a perfect ninth inning. Was it completely because of his excessive usage the night before? It’s impossible to say. It is something that Joe Maddon will likely ask himself over and over again in the offseason. Game 7s are always great. Do you ever wonder how the 1987 or 1991 World Series might have been different if Twitter and blogs would have been around then? Let’s be honest, Twitter was still in its infancy when the Twins were last in a playoff series. Remember when Grady Little decided to stick with his ace, Pedro Martinez. The decision backfired. The Red Sox lost. Little was fired. Joe Maddon made several very questionable decisions in Games 6 and 7. Using Chapman for so long in a blowout. Taking Hendricks out of the game in the 5th inning for no reason. Having Javier Baez attempt a safety squeeze bunt on a full-count with a runner on third and one out? The decision to fire Little, in my opinion, was silly. I’m certainly not advocating for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to fire Maddon. I do think that the playoffs magnify everything, and Maddon made some questionable choices. And you know what… he also helped bring the Chicago Cubs their first World Series title in 108 years! At the end of the day (or even into the morning of the next day), we were able to witness two great baseball teams who both had long World Series droughts play an epic Game 7. We are all winners for it, even the second-guessers. ---------------------------------------------------- Why did I write an article that really has little or nothing to do with the Minnesota Twins? Honestly, while watching Game 7, my thought was… this type of second-guessing of a manager is so much more fun than questioning whether Paul Molitor should bring in Pat Light or Pat Dean to replace Andrew Albers with the Twins down 8-2 in the 5th inning of a mid-September game. I long for the days of questioning Ron Gardenhire decisions in the playoffs! Click here to view the article
  12. Earlier this morning, I dissected the Twins final slate of games. The rest of the way, they have a three-game home series with the Indians, travel to Detroit for three, then to Cleveland for four, before finishing with three against the Royals at home. Looking at what I believe it will take to play in October, here's where I see Minnesota needing wins: vs Indians win 2 @ Tigers win 3 @ Indians win 2 vs Royals win 2 In total, that would put Paul Molitor's squad at 85 wins and 77 losses. Detroit is all but cooked at 69-79, 17.5 games back in the AL Central. The Royals likely will be resting players in a meaningless series to end the regular season. That has the Twins postseason chances hanging in the balance with the Indians in their way. Picked by Sports Illustrated to win the World Series, the Indians are not going to make that a reality. What they could do though, playing Minnesota in over half of the Twins final games, is end the Cinderella run to the playoffs for their divisional foe. Coincidentally, it was the Indians pitching staff that was routinely noted as why Cleveland would be in the postseason hunt. Now that is the same group that could end the Twins chances. With the probables set for the home series, Minnesota will face Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Cody Anderson. That means the Twins should see Kluber, Anderson, Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin when the teams face of next week at Progressive Field. If Minnesota is going to go on a ridiculous 9-4 run to close out the season, they are absolutely going to have to earn it. On the year, Salazar has dominated the Twins. He's struck out 21 batters in 13 innings, and he's ceded just three runs across his two performances. Kluber got off to a rocky start in 2015, but has been lights out since. Despite coming off of the DL and likely having a pitch limit, he's always a threat to hold a team down. Both Carrasco and Tomlin have given the Indians quality production this season, and with the Twins all but knowing their fate during the four gamer in Ohio, both outings will be magnified. Minnesota and Cleveland have played 12 times this season. So far, the Twins have won seven of the matchups, and are 4-3 at home, while being 3-3 on the road. If Paul Molitor's club is going to follow the earlier proposed win schedule, they'll need to finish 11-8 against Terry Francona's club. Working in the Twins favor is the current offensive production from formerly slumping players. Torii Hunter, who slashed just .130/218/.246 in the month of August, has been on fire in September. The 40 year old has hit .356/.377/.559 with 3 HR and 11 RBI thus far this month. He's been joined by Trevor Plouffe, who just ended an 11 game hit streak in which he slashed .378/.439/.676 with 3 HR and 8 RBI. Add in the production of Miguel Sano, and the fact that Eduardo Escobar has hit .321/.353/.616 since Aug 18, and the Twins offense has pieces. For Minnesota, it will come down to the pitching matchups keeping them in the game. The three game home series will feature Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson. The first and last have been great of late, while Hughes has scuffled since coming off the DL. Knowing the importance of the road series as well, I'd hope Molitor is looking to get some order of Tyler Duffey, Santana, Gibson, and Hughes to square off during the road series. At this point, it's a definite uphill battle for the Twins to squeak their way into the postseason. If they can hold down their own win column, watching the Astros, Rangers and Angels beat each other up could be a lot of fun. Taking one game at a time, Minnesota has familiar foes ahead, the Indians most often. If Molitor's club has a few more dance parties left in the tank, it'd be best served to bring them all out now. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. Monday marked the Twins last off day before the end of the season and provided a good chance to take a step back and survey what lies ahead. Minnesota opens a three-game series with Cleveland coming to town, with Tuesday marking the first of seven remaining games between the Twins and the Tribe. So essentially, more than half the Twins’ remaining 13 games come against Cleveland, a team which has underachieved virtually the entire season, but finds itself a mere 1.5 games behind the local nine.The series matchups don’t favor the Twins, either. Danny Salazar takes the mound for Cleveland Tuesday night, and he’s proven to be one of the most physically gifted pitchers in the American League, with 9.7 strikeouts per nine, a league-average groundball rate and a 3.48 ERA to go along with legit 95 mph heat. His changeup (27.2 percent whiff rate) is absolutely devastating as well. Things get no easier with Corey Kluber starting on Wednesday. And while he’s taken a bit of a step back — far less than most think, however — from last year’s Cy Young pace, he’s still had the Twins’ number all season long. He’s held them to a .085/.128/.146 batting line with a 1.38 ERA across three starts. In 26 innings, he’s allowed only 11 baserunners. Cody Anderson starts on Thursday, and while he’s a total wild card — he’s faced the Twins just once, and they smoked him — keep in mind that manager Terry Francona was willing to bump Trevor Bauer from the rotation to keep him in there. After a rough August, Anderson has a 1.78 ERA in four September starts. And if that isn’t tough enough, the upcoming four-game series with Cleveland promises to be just as tough. Not only are the odds good that the Twins will get Kluber again in the series opener on Monday, but that’s four games in a row down the stretch against the team which ranks fourth in the AL in starter ERA, first in strikeouts and second in FIP. It’s pretty easy to make an argument that this rotation and the Rays’ are in a dogfight to be the best in the AL. It’s not certain which Tigers team the Twins will find at Comerica after the first Cleveland series, but there are a couple things at play here. The Twins lost two of three to Detroit at Target Field last week, and this is probably a Tigers team that hasn’t totally forgotten the thrashing they took to end last season. The Twins took two of three from the Tigers in Detroit in mid-September last year and split a four-game series to end the season with two blowout wins when they were jockeying for position in the playoffs. The Tigers were summarily bounced from the playoffs in three straight by the Orioles and find themselves fighting to get out of the cellar at the present time with a 69-79 record — a game back of fourth-place Chicago. The other team in the Twins’ way of the end of the season is Kansas City, and while an 11-game lead wouldn’t suggest a team needing to get things together, it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for the Royals for a while now. The Royals are 7-13 in their last 20 games and now are battling with Toronto for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Royals have a two-game lead as of this writing, and of course at this point it’s unclear where that’ll stand when they invade Target Field from Oct. 2-4, but ultimately it’d be ideal for the Twins if they have nothing left to play for. The odds don’t seem to favor it, however. So what’s a realistic need for the Twins record-wise in the 13 games that remain? Fangraphs’ Cool Standings presently gives the Twins a 6.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, and an expected final record of 82-80. That’s progress from the last four seasons, but disappointing to be sure. Not many teams get to the cusp of the playoffs after a rough stretch and revel in the fact that they almost made it, even if that represents considerable growth. Cool Standings projects 89 wins for the Yankees and the top Wild Card slot; the Twins would have to finish 13-0 to match that. So … that can clearly be ruled out. The projections suggest 85.4 wins for the Astros and 82.7 for the Angels; we’ll round to 85 and 83 for mathematical ease. At 76-73, the Twins would need to go 9-4 to match that projection for the Astros — and maybe 10-3 to be safe — and that’s assuming the Halos don’t flip the script. Going 7-6 would be enough to beat their projection and the Angels’ as well, but that would only claim the third Wild Card spot which, as of this writing, doesn’t exist. In short, the Twins are going to have to go all Chris Sale on Corey Kluber and friends if they’re going to punch their ticket into October. Well, further into October. The odds don’t favor it, but that’s why they play the games. This content originated at Cold Omaha here; please consider clicking through to support it. Click here to view the article
  14. The series matchups don’t favor the Twins, either. Danny Salazar takes the mound for Cleveland Tuesday night, and he’s proven to be one of the most physically gifted pitchers in the American League, with 9.7 strikeouts per nine, a league-average groundball rate and a 3.48 ERA to go along with legit 95 mph heat. His changeup (27.2 percent whiff rate) is absolutely devastating as well. Things get no easier with Corey Kluber starting on Wednesday. And while he’s taken a bit of a step back — far less than most think, however — from last year’s Cy Young pace, he’s still had the Twins’ number all season long. He’s held them to a .085/.128/.146 batting line with a 1.38 ERA across three starts. In 26 innings, he’s allowed only 11 baserunners. Cody Anderson starts on Thursday, and while he’s a total wild card — he’s faced the Twins just once, and they smoked him — keep in mind that manager Terry Francona was willing to bump Trevor Bauer from the rotation to keep him in there. After a rough August, Anderson has a 1.78 ERA in four September starts. And if that isn’t tough enough, the upcoming four-game series with Cleveland promises to be just as tough. Not only are the odds good that the Twins will get Kluber again in the series opener on Monday, but that’s four games in a row down the stretch against the team which ranks fourth in the AL in starter ERA, first in strikeouts and second in FIP. It’s pretty easy to make an argument that this rotation and the Rays’ are in a dogfight to be the best in the AL. It’s not certain which Tigers team the Twins will find at Comerica after the first Cleveland series, but there are a couple things at play here. The Twins lost two of three to Detroit at Target Field last week, and this is probably a Tigers team that hasn’t totally forgotten the thrashing they took to end last season. The Twins took two of three from the Tigers in Detroit in mid-September last year and split a four-game series to end the season with two blowout wins when they were jockeying for position in the playoffs. The Tigers were summarily bounced from the playoffs in three straight by the Orioles and find themselves fighting to get out of the cellar at the present time with a 69-79 record — a game back of fourth-place Chicago. The other team in the Twins’ way of the end of the season is Kansas City, and while an 11-game lead wouldn’t suggest a team needing to get things together, it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for the Royals for a while now. The Royals are 7-13 in their last 20 games and now are battling with Toronto for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Royals have a two-game lead as of this writing, and of course at this point it’s unclear where that’ll stand when they invade Target Field from Oct. 2-4, but ultimately it’d be ideal for the Twins if they have nothing left to play for. The odds don’t seem to favor it, however. So what’s a realistic need for the Twins record-wise in the 13 games that remain? Fangraphs’ Cool Standings presently gives the Twins a 6.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, and an expected final record of 82-80. That’s progress from the last four seasons, but disappointing to be sure. Not many teams get to the cusp of the playoffs after a rough stretch and revel in the fact that they almost made it, even if that represents considerable growth. Cool Standings projects 89 wins for the Yankees and the top Wild Card slot; the Twins would have to finish 13-0 to match that. So … that can clearly be ruled out. The projections suggest 85.4 wins for the Astros and 82.7 for the Angels; we’ll round to 85 and 83 for mathematical ease. At 76-73, the Twins would need to go 9-4 to match that projection for the Astros — and maybe 10-3 to be safe — and that’s assuming the Halos don’t flip the script. Going 7-6 would be enough to beat their projection and the Angels’ as well, but that would only claim the third Wild Card spot which, as of this writing, doesn’t exist. In short, the Twins are going to have to go all Chris Sale on Corey Kluber and friends if they’re going to punch their ticket into October. Well, further into October. The odds don’t favor it, but that’s why they play the games. This content originated at Cold Omaha here; please consider clicking through to support it.
  15. For instance, if the baseball gods were smiling on us, we would get to see our ace, Phil Hughes, face the Indians ace (and 2015 Cy Young winner) Corey Kluber. But Kluber pitches Friday versus Mike Pelfrey and Hughes doesn't pitch until Saturday. The day after each of them take the mound, both teams will be starting 25-year-old prospects(1) whose questionable control(2) led to them being last minute demotions in spring training(3) but who have been recalled quickly due to other pitcher's injuries(4). Wouldn't that have been fun? But the Twins version, Trevor May, pitches on Sunday while his karmic Twin, Danny Salazar, pitches on Saturday. Winner: Saturday, I suppose, since it means I don't need to watch Mike Pelfrey on Friday or TJ House on Sunday. But mostly I want to just pout. Which Game Will Have The Best Weather? There is a 100% chance of rain for Sunday, so let's toss that one out. I'll take a Minnesota Summer Night over a Minnesota Summer Afternoon - but it's not summer. Winner: Saturday Afternoon Game With The Highest Percentage Of Hard Core Baseball People Saturday afternoon's game starts at 1:00 and the Wild playoff game starts at 2:00. I suspect that Hrbeks' and Town Hall Tap are going to be ROCKING. Winner: Tie between Friday and Sunday Game With Best Giveaway All three days the first 15,000 fans get a Twins magnet schedule. Anyone else need a bigger fridge for all of the magnet schedules they're accumulated over the years, or is that just me? It is. OK then. Winner: 3 way tie. Game With Most Fun Crowd If you haven't heard, there is a new bar at Target Field: Barrion on the lower level near the left field foul pole where a Twins Pro Shop used to be. (Don't remember that place? That's why it's now a bar.) Anyway, they have a couple of levels of standing room for watching the game, signature "Trinity" margaritas and a happy hour on Fridays if you get there between 4:30 and 5:30. Winner: Friday night Game With The Best Seats Sunday has the most availability and the best prices across the board, including SIX Champions Club tickets. Love those. Winner: Sunday. Game Most Likely To Feature High Stirrup Socks In case you missed it, new Twins reliever J.D. Graham wears his stirrups high to help his legally blind mom see him on the field. Now don't you feel bad about booing him at the home opener? Don't be too hard on yourself. You're just a bad person. Winner: Friday. Mike Pelfrey is starting that game, which would seem to suggest we're most likely to see the backend of the bullpen that game. Game Twins Are Most Likely To Win It's possible the Twins could be favored in two of the three games this weekend. How often can you say that? Hughes vs. Salazar on Saturday seems to be in the Twins favor, especially if Salazar struggles with his command like he did in spring training (but not in his last AAA start). But if the weather holds up, I'll go with Sunday, because TJ House had a truly miserable outing in his last start, giving up six runs in just 1.1 innings vs. Detroit, which was also a Sunday afternoon game. On the other hand, he's left-handed and posted a 3.35 ERA last year. Winner: Me, for being so optimistic. Most Likely To See A Twins Team Not In Last Place If the Twins win on Friday night, they pass the Indians for fourth place in the AL Central. Doesn't that sound like a round of bad idea Friday night shots just waiting to be downed? Winner: Friday The winner is: Friday night. Also, us, for having this option this early in the spring. We’ll see you at the ballpark.
  16. Five words: weekend baseball at Target Field. I've been waiting six months for those words and they're finally here. Now to scientifically determine which game to attend: Best Pitching Matchup Sometimes things just line up right - and then there is this series. Everything is off by a day, and it's the schedule makers fault. For some reason, the Indian's last series was just two games, so the rotations don't match up.For instance, if the baseball gods were smiling on us, we would get to see our ace, Phil Hughes, face the Indians ace (and 2015 Cy Young winner) Corey Kluber. But Kluber pitches Friday versus Mike Pelfrey and Hughes doesn't pitch until Saturday. The day after each of them take the mound, both teams will be starting 25-year-old prospects(1) whose questionable control(2) led to them being last minute demotions in spring training(3) but who have been recalled quickly due to other pitcher's injuries(4). Wouldn't that have been fun? But the Twins version, Trevor May, pitches on Sunday while his karmic Twin, Danny Salazar, pitches on Saturday. Winner: Saturday, I suppose, since it means I don't need to watch Mike Pelfrey on Friday or TJ House on Sunday. But mostly I want to just pout. Which Game Will Have The Best Weather? There is a 100% chance of rain for Sunday, so let's toss that one out. I'll take a Minnesota Summer Night over a Minnesota Summer Afternoon - but it's not summer. Winner: Saturday Afternoon Game With The Highest Percentage Of Hard Core Baseball People Saturday afternoon's game starts at 1:00 and the Wild playoff game starts at 2:00. I suspect that Hrbeks' and Town Hall Tap are going to be ROCKING. Winner: Tie between Friday and Sunday Game With Best Giveaway All three days the first 15,000 fans get a Twins magnet schedule. Anyone else need a bigger fridge for all of the magnet schedules they're accumulated over the years, or is that just me? It is. OK then. Winner: 3 way tie. Game With Most Fun Crowd If you haven't heard, there is a new bar at Target Field: Barrion on the lower level near the left field foul pole where a Twins Pro Shop used to be. (Don't remember that place? That's why it's now a bar.) Anyway, they have a couple of levels of standing room for watching the game, signature "Trinity" margaritas and a happy hour on Fridays if you get there between 4:30 and 5:30. Winner: Friday night Game With The Best Seats Sunday has the most availability and the best prices across the board, including SIX Champions Club tickets. Love those. Winner: Sunday. Game Most Likely To Feature High Stirrup Socks In case you missed it, new Twins reliever J.D. Graham wears his stirrups high to help his legally blind mom see him on the field. Now don't you feel bad about booing him at the home opener? Don't be too hard on yourself. You're just a bad person. Winner: Friday. Mike Pelfrey is starting that game, which would seem to suggest we're most likely to see the backend of the bullpen that game. Game Twins Are Most Likely To Win It's possible the Twins could be favored in two of the three games this weekend. How often can you say that? Hughes vs. Salazar on Saturday seems to be in the Twins favor, especially if Salazar struggles with his command like he did in spring training (but not in his last AAA start). But if the weather holds up, I'll go with Sunday, because TJ House had a truly miserable outing in his last start, giving up six runs in just 1.1 innings vs. Detroit, which was also a Sunday afternoon game. On the other hand, he's left-handed and posted a 3.35 ERA last year. Winner: Me, for being so optimistic. Most Likely To See A Twins Team Not In Last Place If the Twins win on Friday night, they pass the Indians for fourth place in the AL Central. Doesn't that sound like a round of bad idea Friday night shots just waiting to be downed? Winner: Friday The winner is: Friday night. Also, us, for having this option this early in the spring. We’ll see you at the ballpark. Click here to view the article
  17. If you’re wondering who it is keeping Cleveland in contention, get a Klube, errr..., a Kluber. Corey Kluber to be more specific. Kluber is a little-known right-hander who is becoming an ace before our very eyes. Kluber is 13-6 this season for Cleveland with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In 26 starts, he has thrown 179.1 innings. He has walked just 38 and struck out 197 batters. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Kluber was the 4th round pick out of Stetson University way back in 2007. He has certainly paid his dues in the minor leagues. In fact, in 2010, he was part of a three-team trade that sent Jake Westbrook from Cleveland to St. Louis, Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals to the Padres, and Kluber went to Cleveland. One year later, in September of 2011 and at the age of 25, he made his debut. He posted a 2-5 record with a 5.14 ERA in 12 starts in 2012. However, in 2013, he started his ascent. He went 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA (a 99 ERA+) in 26 games with Cleveland. When he starts against the Twins on Thursday afternoon, it will be his 27th start of the season. He has been at his best since the beginning of July. In his last eight starts, he is 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA while averaging nearly eight innings per start. It’s fun to watch great pitching. It’s encouraging to see a guy become so great despite not debuting until he was 25 and even have a full-time starting role in the big leagues until he was nearly 27. It’s never too late. Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups of this three-game set. If you’re able, be sure to get to Target Field where there are still a lot of great tickets available for very reasonable prices. Leading their charge has been the same unit that has been doing so all year: their pitching. Overall, the Indians have a 3.56 ERA this year (compared to the Twins mark of 4.35) and they’ve been even better since the break, posting a 2.80 ERA over those 25 games. (You don’t want to know how THAT compares to the Twins.) Given those numbers, the pitching matchups look a little better than you might have hoped. Let’s go through them each and figure out which ticket you like the best: Tuesday 7:10 p.m. – Trevor Bauer vs Kyle Gibson This is an interesting matchup of former highly-touted college pitchers. Bauer was the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was dealt to Cleveland following the 2012 season. After a rocky 2013, he appears to be making some strides forward in 2014. He is 4-7 with a 4.35 ERA. Gibson was the Twins first-round pick in 2009 out of Missouri. If not for injury concerns, he would likely have been a top ten pick as well. He had his Tommy John surgery. He then struggled in his debut in 2013, but he has quietly been a very solid starter for the Twins in 2014. He is now 11-9 with a 3.96 ERA. Check out this pitching matchup for as little as $4! There are a lot of seats available for just four dollars. Wednesday 7:10 p.m. – TJ House vs Ricky Nolasco 24-year-old lefty TJ House will be making his 12th major league start for Cleveland in this game. He has a record of 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA. Ricky Nolasco will be making his second start since returning from his disabled list stint. He will be trying to keep his ERA below six. He is currently 5-8 with a 5.99 ERA. There are $4 tickets available for this game too. You might want some tickets in the outfield because this game could be high scoring! Thursday 12:10 p.m. – Corey Kluber vs Phil Hughes This is a terrific matchup between a couple of baseball’s most underrated starting pitchers in 2014. As mentioned above, Kluber is 13-6 with a 2.41 ERA. Hughes is 13-8 with a 3.76 ERA. There are a lot of tickets still available for this matinee. Might be a good day to play a little hooky from work and watch what should be a very good pitching matchup. There are even several box seats available for less than $80. ~~~ There are plenty of good seats available for this midweek series against Cleveland. Thursday afternoon’s game promises to be quite a pitcher’s duel. Tuesday’s game is a game of starters with high ceilings who should continue to get better. Wednesday night’s game has the potential to be a slugfest. This series means a lot to Cleveland, and the Twins will try to play spoiler. Check out which seats will work best for you and your family. And don’t forget! All of your seats are 10% cheaper and help support Twins Daily if you use the code DAILYDOUBLE. Whatever your needs (football is coming….), your local ticket supplier, Ticket King, can help.
  18. Starting on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Twins will begin a three-game series against Cleveland. Prior to the July 31 trade deadline, the team traded their top starting pitcher over the last several years (Justin Masterson) as well as their everyday shortstop for the better part of the last half-dozen years (Asdrubal Cabrera). With six weeks to play, they find themselves on the periphery of contention, 4.5 games behind Seattle, for a wild card spot.If you’re wondering who it is keeping Cleveland in contention, get a Klube, errr..., a Kluber. Corey Kluber to be more specific. Kluber is a little-known right-hander who is becoming an ace before our very eyes. Kluber is 13-6 this season for Cleveland with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In 26 starts, he has thrown 179.1 innings. He has walked just 38 and struck out 197 batters. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Kluber was the 4th round pick out of Stetson University way back in 2007. He has certainly paid his dues in the minor leagues. In fact, in 2010, he was part of a three-team trade that sent Jake Westbrook from Cleveland to St. Louis, Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals to the Padres, and Kluber went to Cleveland. One year later, in September of 2011 and at the age of 25, he made his debut. He posted a 2-5 record with a 5.14 ERA in 12 starts in 2012. However, in 2013, he started his ascent. He went 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA (a 99 ERA+) in 26 games with Cleveland. When he starts against the Twins on Thursday afternoon, it will be his 27th start of the season. He has been at his best since the beginning of July. In his last eight starts, he is 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA while averaging nearly eight innings per start. It’s fun to watch great pitching. It’s encouraging to see a guy become so great despite not debuting until he was 25 and even have a full-time starting role in the big leagues until he was nearly 27. It’s never too late. Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups of this three-game set. If you’re able, be sure to get to Target Field where there are still a lot of great tickets available for very reasonable prices. Leading their charge has been the same unit that has been doing so all year: their pitching. Overall, the Indians have a 3.56 ERA this year (compared to the Twins mark of 4.35) and they’ve been even better since the break, posting a 2.80 ERA over those 25 games. (You don’t want to know how THAT compares to the Twins.) Given those numbers, the pitching matchups look a little better than you might have hoped. Let’s go through them each and figure out which ticket you like the best: Tuesday 7:10 p.m. – Trevor Bauer vs Kyle Gibson This is an interesting matchup of former highly-touted college pitchers. Bauer was the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was dealt to Cleveland following the 2012 season. After a rocky 2013, he appears to be making some strides forward in 2014. He is 4-7 with a 4.35 ERA. Gibson was the Twins first-round pick in 2009 out of Missouri. If not for injury concerns, he would likely have been a top ten pick as well. He had his Tommy John surgery. He then struggled in his debut in 2013, but he has quietly been a very solid starter for the Twins in 2014. He is now 11-9 with a 3.96 ERA. Check out this pitching matchup for as little as $4! There are a lot of seats available for just four dollars. Wednesday 7:10 p.m. – TJ House vs Ricky Nolasco 24-year-old lefty TJ House will be making his 12th major league start for Cleveland in this game. He has a record of 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA. Ricky Nolasco will be making his second start since returning from his disabled list stint. He will be trying to keep his ERA below six. He is currently 5-8 with a 5.99 ERA. There are $4 tickets available for this game too. You might want some tickets in the outfield because this game could be high scoring! Thursday 12:10 p.m. – Corey Kluber vs Phil Hughes This is a terrific matchup between a couple of baseball’s most underrated starting pitchers in 2014. As mentioned above, Kluber is 13-6 with a 2.41 ERA. Hughes is 13-8 with a 3.76 ERA. There are a lot of tickets still available for this matinee. Might be a good day to play a little hooky from work and watch what should be a very good pitching matchup. There are even several box seats available for less than $80. ~~~ There are plenty of good seats available for this midweek series against Cleveland. Thursday afternoon’s game promises to be quite a pitcher’s duel. Tuesday’s game is a game of starters with high ceilings who should continue to get better. Wednesday night’s game has the potential to be a slugfest. This series means a lot to Cleveland, and the Twins will try to play spoiler. Check out which seats will work best for you and your family. And don’t forget! All of your seats are 10% cheaper and help support Twins Daily if you use the code DAILYDOUBLE. Whatever your needs (football is coming….), your local ticket supplier, Ticket King, can help. Click here to view the article
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