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  1. You all thought there were going to lose, didn't you? Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nick Gordon (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.359), Jhoan Duran (.188), Joe Smith (.094) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer faced off against seatbelt-enthusiast Zach Plesac in the final game of the series against the Cleveland Guardians. It was a beautiful day game; people around the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, while Twins fans looked to celebrate a victory after pulling defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday and Tuesday. The first few innings breezed by before Nick Gordon blasted a hanging curveball deep into center field for his second homer of the season. The opportunity for Gordon to play centerfield and start in the lineup existed in the vacuum left by Byron Buxton’s mysterious, nagging injury. The team’s caution is Gordon’s advantage; the extra playing time has allowed him and Gilberto Celestino to flex their usefulness until Buxton returns. Smeltzer was the story on Thursday. The often-leaned on lefty came up clutch again, firing off 6 shutout innings with three strikeouts to stymy Cleveland’s bats. The Guardians were confounded all day, sending balls directly toward defenders without recourse; their BABIP against Smeltzer was a paltry .167. No one knows how he continues to do this, but few will dare be anything but grateful for the boost Smeltzer has given to the starting rotation in the absence of multiple starters. But this is a Twins game in 2022, and we know better than to get our hopes up after a great start; the bullpen must do their job, after all. Joe Smith started the 7th inning, and while he loaded the bases before netting out, he somehow wriggled out of the situation, and the team walked away unscathed. Jhoan Duran had the 8th inning and was considerably less noisy in his work. He “hit” Amed Rosario in the hand with a fastball—Rosario’s hands would no longer exist if that were true—but had an otherwise clean inning. Duran then entered the 9th inning, looking to end the game possibly. He obliterated Franmil Reyes before Rocco Baldelli halted the game and began a slow walk to the mound. It’s unclear what Baldelli said—us mere regulars don’t earn the privilege of knowing—but Caleb Thielbar then came bounding out of the bullpen to the sounds of exhausted boos anticipating the future. Andrés Giménez plopped a double into left field, of course, before Ernie Clement dribbled a ball 50 feet; Thielbar threw him out at 1st. Steven Kwan, the nuisance of the series, stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit. Thielbar peppered him with fastballs around the perimeter, daring the rookie to trust his strike zone instincts before blowing a fastball by him for strike three. After two barn-burners, Thursday's game was a tame palate cleanser. Both teams collected just five hits⁠—Carlos Correa had three of them for the Twins⁠—and pitchers issued just three walks on the day. If there was ever a dictionary definition of a getaway day-game, this would be it. Outside of Gordon's homer, the only extra-base hit for the Twins belonged to Gio Urshela, who earned credit for a "double" that Reyes brutally fumbled. Apparently the official scorer felt lenient on Thursday. What’s Next? The Twins will remain in Minnesota and host the Colorado Rockies on Friday, the first time Colorado has played at Target Field since 2017. Dylan Bundy is set to face off against Germán Márquez. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  2. The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians went toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow the first two games of their series, leaving both pitching staffs depleted. So, naturally, the series finale was a 1-0 game. Baseball is ridiculous. Here are highlights of that game plus some more of Jordan Balazovic and Spencer Steer from today's Saints game
  3. The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians went toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow the first two games of their series, leaving both pitching staffs depleted. So, naturally, the series finale was a 1-0 game. Baseball is ridiculous. Here are highlights of that game plus some more of Jordan Balazovic and Spencer Steer from today's Saints game View full video
  4. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nick Gordon (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.359), Jhoan Duran (.188), Joe Smith (.094) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer faced off against seatbelt-enthusiast Zach Plesac in the final game of the series against the Cleveland Guardians. It was a beautiful day game; people around the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, while Twins fans looked to celebrate a victory after pulling defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday and Tuesday. The first few innings breezed by before Nick Gordon blasted a hanging curveball deep into center field for his second homer of the season. The opportunity for Gordon to play centerfield and start in the lineup existed in the vacuum left by Byron Buxton’s mysterious, nagging injury. The team’s caution is Gordon’s advantage; the extra playing time has allowed him and Gilberto Celestino to flex their usefulness until Buxton returns. Smeltzer was the story on Thursday. The often-leaned on lefty came up clutch again, firing off 6 shutout innings with three strikeouts to stymy Cleveland’s bats. The Guardians were confounded all day, sending balls directly toward defenders without recourse; their BABIP against Smeltzer was a paltry .167. No one knows how he continues to do this, but few will dare be anything but grateful for the boost Smeltzer has given to the starting rotation in the absence of multiple starters. But this is a Twins game in 2022, and we know better than to get our hopes up after a great start; the bullpen must do their job, after all. Joe Smith started the 7th inning, and while he loaded the bases before netting out, he somehow wriggled out of the situation, and the team walked away unscathed. Jhoan Duran had the 8th inning and was considerably less noisy in his work. He “hit” Amed Rosario in the hand with a fastball—Rosario’s hands would no longer exist if that were true—but had an otherwise clean inning. Duran then entered the 9th inning, looking to end the game possibly. He obliterated Franmil Reyes before Rocco Baldelli halted the game and began a slow walk to the mound. It’s unclear what Baldelli said—us mere regulars don’t earn the privilege of knowing—but Caleb Thielbar then came bounding out of the bullpen to the sounds of exhausted boos anticipating the future. Andrés Giménez plopped a double into left field, of course, before Ernie Clement dribbled a ball 50 feet; Thielbar threw him out at 1st. Steven Kwan, the nuisance of the series, stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit. Thielbar peppered him with fastballs around the perimeter, daring the rookie to trust his strike zone instincts before blowing a fastball by him for strike three. After two barn-burners, Thursday's game was a tame palate cleanser. Both teams collected just five hits⁠—Carlos Correa had three of them for the Twins⁠—and pitchers issued just three walks on the day. If there was ever a dictionary definition of a getaway day-game, this would be it. Outside of Gordon's homer, the only extra-base hit for the Twins belonged to Gio Urshela, who earned credit for a "double" that Reyes brutally fumbled. Apparently the official scorer felt lenient on Thursday. What’s Next? The Twins will remain in Minnesota and host the Colorado Rockies on Friday, the first time Colorado has played at Target Field since 2017. Dylan Bundy is set to face off against Germán Márquez. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  5. The Twins played their first game in Arizona since 2011 on Friday night. On the second pitcher of the game, Byron Buxton tied his career-high in home runs, but from there the Diamondbacks, took control of the game. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 62 strikes (64.5 strike %)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (19) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer -.406, Gilberto Celestino -.207, Carlos Correa -.103 Following Buxton’s homer, Gary Sanchez and Luis Arraez reached base on a single and double but were unable to score as Jose Miranda lined out to center field. . After Buxton put the Twins up 1-0 in the top of the first, Arizona responded in the bottom of the inning.. Twins starter Devin Smeltzer allowed a lead-off single to D-Backs catcher Carson Kelly. One out later, Smeltzer met a new yet familiar foe; former Cleveland Guardian Jordan Luplow. Prior to their first match-up for the evening, Luplow was 0-for-3 in his career against Smeltzer. That changed with one swing of the bat as Luplow connected with a Smeltzer fastball right down the middle for his eighth home run of the year putting the D-Backs up 2-1. Smeltzer retired the next two batters in the bottom of the first on groundouts, escaping further base runners. In the top of the second, the Twins had two base runners reach thanks to a Max Kepler single and Buxton double. But again the Twins couldn’t get the runners home to retake their lead. Once the top of the third came around, the Twins were finally able to capitalize on their runners. Gio Urshela led off the inning with a double and was able to advance to third on an Arraez single. Following Arraez was Miranda and he capitalized with an RBI single to score Urshela and tie the game at 2-2. Just as it looked like the Twins were back in the game, Luplow had other plans. Up for his second at-bat and with two outs, Luplow hit another home run off of Smeltzer to give the Diamondbacks the lead once more. With the score still 3-2 going into the bottom of the fourth the Diamondbacks were able to capitalize and run away with a lead, It all started with a leadoff walk to D-Backs designated hitter Bobby Kennedy. Following Kennedy, right fielder Alek Thomas hit a single, setting up the D-Backs for an opportunity to take the lead. And take the lead the D-Backs did. In a bizarre outcome, Diamondbacks second baseman Jake Hager offered a sacrifice bunt that could have kept runners on second and third with one out for Smeltzer. Instead, Smeltzer threw the ball away at first resulting in an error that allowed both Kennedy and Thomas to score and extend Arizona’s lead to 5-2. Hager was able to score later in the inning on a Carson Kelly single making the game 6-2 D-Backs, and as Jordan Luplow got to the plate for his third at-bat against Smeltzer. Twins fans wondered if Smeltzer could record the final out of the inning. Fortunately for Smeltzer, he was able to retire Luplow on a groundout to Urshela, but not without 4 runs, (3 earned) surrendered to the Diamondbacks. Even after a rough fourth inning, Smeltzer returned to the mound to start the bottom of the fifth. But he would not find his way out of the inning as he surrendered two more hits, both singles, to Daulton Varsho and Kennedy. This ended Smeltzer's outing for the evening as Rocco Baldelli called on Tyler Thornburg to get the Twins out of the inning. Thornburg got the Twins out of the inning but not before giving up another RBI single to Hager with the run charged to Smeltzer. As the Twins left the field in the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks held a 7-2 lead against them. The remainder of the game was uneventful for the Twins at the plate but Byron Buxton kept fans entertained with four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Although Buxton was 2-for-4 for the night, Star Tribune beat writer Phil Miller noted on Twitter that Buxton had four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Even topping Luplow’s second home run’s exit velocity. The bullpen held together for the Twins following Smeltzer’s outing. Thornburg completed 2 2/3 innings allowing only one single after the fifth and allowed no further base runners or runs in his frame of work. In the bottom of the eighth, Tyler Duffey threw a 1, 2, 3 inning to keep the Diamondbacks lead at five runs. The Twins had one last chance for runs in the bottom of the ninth but fell up short as Alex Kirilloff pinch hit in his return only to strike out. Trevor Larnach grounded out on a bouncer to third base, and Byron Buxton ended the game on a groundout to short, giving the D-Backs a 7-2 win over the Twins. What’s Next? The Twins play a late one Saturday night with a 9:10 p.m. start for their second game against the Diamondbacks in the three-game series. Dylan Bundy will start for the Twins while Diamondbacks hurler Luke Weaver. Postgame Interview Bullpen Availability MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 18 0 16 0 0 34 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 33 33 Duran 13 0 13 0 0 26 Jax 12 0 11 0 0 23 Pagán 18 0 0 0 0 18 Smith 1 0 15 0 0 16 Megill 0 14 0 0 0 14 Thielbar 8 0 4 0 0 12 Duffey 0 0 0 0 9 9 View full article
  6. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 62 strikes (64.5 strike %)) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (19) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer -.406, Gilberto Celestino -.207, Carlos Correa -.103 Following Buxton’s homer, Gary Sanchez and Luis Arraez reached base on a single and double but were unable to score as Jose Miranda lined out to center field. . After Buxton put the Twins up 1-0 in the top of the first, Arizona responded in the bottom of the inning.. Twins starter Devin Smeltzer allowed a lead-off single to D-Backs catcher Carson Kelly. One out later, Smeltzer met a new yet familiar foe; former Cleveland Guardian Jordan Luplow. Prior to their first match-up for the evening, Luplow was 0-for-3 in his career against Smeltzer. That changed with one swing of the bat as Luplow connected with a Smeltzer fastball right down the middle for his eighth home run of the year putting the D-Backs up 2-1. Smeltzer retired the next two batters in the bottom of the first on groundouts, escaping further base runners. In the top of the second, the Twins had two base runners reach thanks to a Max Kepler single and Buxton double. But again the Twins couldn’t get the runners home to retake their lead. Once the top of the third came around, the Twins were finally able to capitalize on their runners. Gio Urshela led off the inning with a double and was able to advance to third on an Arraez single. Following Arraez was Miranda and he capitalized with an RBI single to score Urshela and tie the game at 2-2. Just as it looked like the Twins were back in the game, Luplow had other plans. Up for his second at-bat and with two outs, Luplow hit another home run off of Smeltzer to give the Diamondbacks the lead once more. With the score still 3-2 going into the bottom of the fourth the Diamondbacks were able to capitalize and run away with a lead, It all started with a leadoff walk to D-Backs designated hitter Bobby Kennedy. Following Kennedy, right fielder Alek Thomas hit a single, setting up the D-Backs for an opportunity to take the lead. And take the lead the D-Backs did. In a bizarre outcome, Diamondbacks second baseman Jake Hager offered a sacrifice bunt that could have kept runners on second and third with one out for Smeltzer. Instead, Smeltzer threw the ball away at first resulting in an error that allowed both Kennedy and Thomas to score and extend Arizona’s lead to 5-2. Hager was able to score later in the inning on a Carson Kelly single making the game 6-2 D-Backs, and as Jordan Luplow got to the plate for his third at-bat against Smeltzer. Twins fans wondered if Smeltzer could record the final out of the inning. Fortunately for Smeltzer, he was able to retire Luplow on a groundout to Urshela, but not without 4 runs, (3 earned) surrendered to the Diamondbacks. Even after a rough fourth inning, Smeltzer returned to the mound to start the bottom of the fifth. But he would not find his way out of the inning as he surrendered two more hits, both singles, to Daulton Varsho and Kennedy. This ended Smeltzer's outing for the evening as Rocco Baldelli called on Tyler Thornburg to get the Twins out of the inning. Thornburg got the Twins out of the inning but not before giving up another RBI single to Hager with the run charged to Smeltzer. As the Twins left the field in the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks held a 7-2 lead against them. The remainder of the game was uneventful for the Twins at the plate but Byron Buxton kept fans entertained with four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Although Buxton was 2-for-4 for the night, Star Tribune beat writer Phil Miller noted on Twitter that Buxton had four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Even topping Luplow’s second home run’s exit velocity. The bullpen held together for the Twins following Smeltzer’s outing. Thornburg completed 2 2/3 innings allowing only one single after the fifth and allowed no further base runners or runs in his frame of work. In the bottom of the eighth, Tyler Duffey threw a 1, 2, 3 inning to keep the Diamondbacks lead at five runs. The Twins had one last chance for runs in the bottom of the ninth but fell up short as Alex Kirilloff pinch hit in his return only to strike out. Trevor Larnach grounded out on a bouncer to third base, and Byron Buxton ended the game on a groundout to short, giving the D-Backs a 7-2 win over the Twins. What’s Next? The Twins play a late one Saturday night with a 9:10 p.m. start for their second game against the Diamondbacks in the three-game series. Dylan Bundy will start for the Twins while Diamondbacks hurler Luke Weaver. Postgame Interview Bullpen Availability MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 18 0 16 0 0 34 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 33 33 Duran 13 0 13 0 0 26 Jax 12 0 11 0 0 23 Pagán 18 0 0 0 0 18 Smith 1 0 15 0 0 16 Megill 0 14 0 0 0 14 Thielbar 8 0 4 0 0 12 Duffey 0 0 0 0 9 9
  7. In yet another inspired night by the offense, who had Byron Buxton homer twice, the Twins got a convincing win against the Rays to start the series. Devin Smeltzer had a quality start, despite not finishing it the way he wanted. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 61 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton, 2 (17), Carlos Correa (5) Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.198), Devin Smeltzer (.110), Jorge Polanco (.082) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Over the last seven days, the Twins offense has experienced a spike in productivity. Coming into this game, they had baseball’s second-best OPS in that span, at .945. The bats continued to impress at the beginning of this game. Despite capitalizing on only one run, five of the first eleven Minnesota batters reached safely. They quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead with a second-decker from Byron Buxton five pitches into the game. According to Aaron Gleeman, that home run raised Buxton’s SLG to .702 since May 26, when he snapped a 0-for-30 slump. It was Byron’s fifth homer in the past six games – only his second of the season as a designated hitter. Despite having several batters reach base, the Twins failed to bring them home. Through four innings, Minnesota went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Fortunately for them, Devin Smeltzer put together another lovely outing. The Rays tied the game in the top of the second on an Isaac Paredes long solo home run. Smeltzer gave up a leadoff walk to start the third but then followed that up brilliantly: he retired nine consecutive batters on only 35 pitches. He completed five innings of one-run ball with only 70 pitches. All he needed at that moment was some run support. Twins explode for six runs in the fifth Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen kept the Twins scoring on a leash during the first four innings, but his start was wrecked in the fifth inning. Minnesota crushed him scoring four runs on six hits, four of them for extra bases – not to mention a walk drawn by Trevor Larnach. Buxton led the way hitting his second solo home run of the night, smashing a low-hanging slider for a line drive that barely cleared the centerfield wall into the Twins bullpen. With that dinger, Buxton became only the fourth player in Twins history with back-to-back multi-homer games, joining Don Mincher, Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Rosario. Two more runs came in the following three at-bats when Carlos Correa hit a double to left, then was pushed across by Max Kepler, thanks to a fielding error. Kepler himself scored next, with Jorge Polanco hitting a double to left, making it 4-1 Minnesota. A mound visit didn’t help Rasmussen, as he gave up a walk to Trevor Larnach. Gary Sánchez then hit a grounder to left that third baseman Yandy Díaz couldn’t glove, allowing Polanco to score the fifth run and Larnach to go to third. That was the end of the night for Rasmussen, but not the end of the Twins' scoring spree. Now facing old friend Ralph Garza Jr., Nick Gordon got a two-out single off the end of the bat to bring home Sánchez. At this point, Luis Arráez was the only Twin not to reach base on the night. That, of course, would change as he followed Gordon’s RBI single with one of his own. He hit a liner to right that scored Gio Urshela from second, making 7-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the seventh, departs after being roughed up After five brilliant innings, Smeltzer pitched yet another scoreless frame in the sixth inning. His streak of consecutive retired batters reached eleven before he gave up a two-out single to Harold Ramírez. He struck out Díaz to end the inning with a healthy 84-pitch count, which made the decision to bring him back for the seventh a no-brainer. Unfortunately for him, his almost impeccable start was stained, and he had to leave the game before he could record a single out in the inning. Randy Arozarena hit a long flyball to deep center that could’ve been gloved, but Gordon failed to. It took Kepler too long to get to the ball that bounced off the centerfield wall, which allowed Arozarena to score an inside-the-park home run. On the very next pitch, Vidal Bruján hit a bullet to deep left, out of Larnach’s reach, for another home run. Even after a mound visit, Smeltzer seemed a bit off, and after an eight-pitch at-bat, he gave up a walk to Paredes, prompting Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and, with three strikeouts, made sure the Rays didn’t score anymore. The Twins bullpen needed some damage control after Thursday’s meltdown against the Yankees. Jax striking out the side and preventing a Rays rally in the seventh was a good start. Then, in the eighth, Baldelli made the odd choice of bringing Joe Smith into the game (he tossed 26 pitches the night before). He had a blown save on Thursday night, giving up a game-tying two-run home run. Maybe one way to reason for bringing Smith into this game is that he could regain some confidence. Coming into tonight’s game, he had an awful 8.44 ERA in his previous seven appearances. He could use a good outing here. But he wasn’t off to a good start, giving up back-to-back singles to Manuel Margot and Ramírez. Margot would end up scoring on an Arozarena groundout, but Smith managed to keep the damage to the one run. Correa adds on some insurance Garza Jr. settled down and finished his outing by retiring seven out of eight batters, keeping the Twins offense scoreless in the sixth and the seventh innings. But once he departed the game, the Twins bats were back at scoring some more runs. Arráez hit a leadoff single to open the eighth and, a couple of at-bats later, Correa took reliever Calvin Faucher deep for his fifth home run of the year, breaking the game open once again. Then, it was up to Emilio Pagán, who had no trouble closing out the game with a perfect ninth, making it his fourth scoreless appearance in the last five games. What’s Next? Both teams are back on the field tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. No starter has been officially determined by the Twins yet, while the Rays will turn to rookie righty Shane Baz, who will be making his season debut. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 0 26 24 50 Cano 0 33 0 13 0 46 Jax 0 0 27 0 14 41 Megill 0 38 0 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 36 0 36 Pagán 0 0 15 0 15 30 Duffey 0 19 0 0 0 19 Duran 0 0 0 15 0 15 Thielbar 0 0 14 0 0 14 Cotton 0 0 0 13 0 13 View full article
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 61 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton, 2 (17), Carlos Correa (5) Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.198), Devin Smeltzer (.110), Jorge Polanco (.082) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Over the last seven days, the Twins offense has experienced a spike in productivity. Coming into this game, they had baseball’s second-best OPS in that span, at .945. The bats continued to impress at the beginning of this game. Despite capitalizing on only one run, five of the first eleven Minnesota batters reached safely. They quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead with a second-decker from Byron Buxton five pitches into the game. According to Aaron Gleeman, that home run raised Buxton’s SLG to .702 since May 26, when he snapped a 0-for-30 slump. It was Byron’s fifth homer in the past six games – only his second of the season as a designated hitter. Despite having several batters reach base, the Twins failed to bring them home. Through four innings, Minnesota went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Fortunately for them, Devin Smeltzer put together another lovely outing. The Rays tied the game in the top of the second on an Isaac Paredes long solo home run. Smeltzer gave up a leadoff walk to start the third but then followed that up brilliantly: he retired nine consecutive batters on only 35 pitches. He completed five innings of one-run ball with only 70 pitches. All he needed at that moment was some run support. Twins explode for six runs in the fifth Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen kept the Twins scoring on a leash during the first four innings, but his start was wrecked in the fifth inning. Minnesota crushed him scoring four runs on six hits, four of them for extra bases – not to mention a walk drawn by Trevor Larnach. Buxton led the way hitting his second solo home run of the night, smashing a low-hanging slider for a line drive that barely cleared the centerfield wall into the Twins bullpen. With that dinger, Buxton became only the fourth player in Twins history with back-to-back multi-homer games, joining Don Mincher, Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Rosario. Two more runs came in the following three at-bats when Carlos Correa hit a double to left, then was pushed across by Max Kepler, thanks to a fielding error. Kepler himself scored next, with Jorge Polanco hitting a double to left, making it 4-1 Minnesota. A mound visit didn’t help Rasmussen, as he gave up a walk to Trevor Larnach. Gary Sánchez then hit a grounder to left that third baseman Yandy Díaz couldn’t glove, allowing Polanco to score the fifth run and Larnach to go to third. That was the end of the night for Rasmussen, but not the end of the Twins' scoring spree. Now facing old friend Ralph Garza Jr., Nick Gordon got a two-out single off the end of the bat to bring home Sánchez. At this point, Luis Arráez was the only Twin not to reach base on the night. That, of course, would change as he followed Gordon’s RBI single with one of his own. He hit a liner to right that scored Gio Urshela from second, making 7-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the seventh, departs after being roughed up After five brilliant innings, Smeltzer pitched yet another scoreless frame in the sixth inning. His streak of consecutive retired batters reached eleven before he gave up a two-out single to Harold Ramírez. He struck out Díaz to end the inning with a healthy 84-pitch count, which made the decision to bring him back for the seventh a no-brainer. Unfortunately for him, his almost impeccable start was stained, and he had to leave the game before he could record a single out in the inning. Randy Arozarena hit a long flyball to deep center that could’ve been gloved, but Gordon failed to. It took Kepler too long to get to the ball that bounced off the centerfield wall, which allowed Arozarena to score an inside-the-park home run. On the very next pitch, Vidal Bruján hit a bullet to deep left, out of Larnach’s reach, for another home run. Even after a mound visit, Smeltzer seemed a bit off, and after an eight-pitch at-bat, he gave up a walk to Paredes, prompting Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and, with three strikeouts, made sure the Rays didn’t score anymore. The Twins bullpen needed some damage control after Thursday’s meltdown against the Yankees. Jax striking out the side and preventing a Rays rally in the seventh was a good start. Then, in the eighth, Baldelli made the odd choice of bringing Joe Smith into the game (he tossed 26 pitches the night before). He had a blown save on Thursday night, giving up a game-tying two-run home run. Maybe one way to reason for bringing Smith into this game is that he could regain some confidence. Coming into tonight’s game, he had an awful 8.44 ERA in his previous seven appearances. He could use a good outing here. But he wasn’t off to a good start, giving up back-to-back singles to Manuel Margot and Ramírez. Margot would end up scoring on an Arozarena groundout, but Smith managed to keep the damage to the one run. Correa adds on some insurance Garza Jr. settled down and finished his outing by retiring seven out of eight batters, keeping the Twins offense scoreless in the sixth and the seventh innings. But once he departed the game, the Twins bats were back at scoring some more runs. Arráez hit a leadoff single to open the eighth and, a couple of at-bats later, Correa took reliever Calvin Faucher deep for his fifth home run of the year, breaking the game open once again. Then, it was up to Emilio Pagán, who had no trouble closing out the game with a perfect ninth, making it his fourth scoreless appearance in the last five games. What’s Next? Both teams are back on the field tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. No starter has been officially determined by the Twins yet, while the Rays will turn to rookie righty Shane Baz, who will be making his season debut. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 0 26 24 50 Cano 0 33 0 13 0 46 Jax 0 0 27 0 14 41 Megill 0 38 0 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 36 0 36 Pagán 0 0 15 0 15 30 Duffey 0 19 0 0 0 19 Duran 0 0 0 15 0 15 Thielbar 0 0 14 0 0 14 Cotton 0 0 0 13 0 13
  9. The Minnesota Twins are now through the first third of their 2022 Major League Baseball season. There’s been ups and downs, but ultimately this club is leading the AL Central division and working to suggest that many national expectations of them were too low. There’s been no shortage of situations that Rocco Baldelli and the front office have had to deal with. Between injury, both short and long term, and recent restrictions, the roster has largely remained in flux. While there’s been contributors from some less than expected names, there’s also been guys performing right to where you would hope they’d be. Based on fWAR, here are the Twins three leaders from the first third of the season: Trevor Larnach 1.2 fWAR Coming into the season there was hope that Alex Kirilloff would return healthy and take a step forward as Minnesota’s left fielder and first basemen. That hasn’t been the case thus far, and Trevor Larnach has risen to the occasion. Early signs suggested there was a breakout for the former top prospect, and now it’s worth wondering just how good he can be. Larnach has always scalded the fastball, but he’s been better against offspeed this season and his .796 OPS represents a 134 OPS+. Larnach did start slow in the results column, but his process has been strong from the jump. He’s starting to see the ball leave the yard and was arguably Minnesota’s best hitter before landing on the injured list with a groin injury. He’s slumped a bit since returning, but the defense has been a pleasant surprise to his game as well. Both from an OAA (outs above average) and outfield assist perspective, he’s been among the most impressive corner outfielders in the game. Max Kepler 1.3 fWAR Playing on the opposite corner of Larnach for most of the season, Kepler is figuring out how to do damage with the deadened baseball. For a guy who has been averse to lifting the leather for so long, he’s seeing results not evident since he earned MVP votes in 2019. Kepler owns a .786 OPS which checks in just behind Larnach in the OPS+ category, registering 133. Minnesota has always known they could count on Kepler in the outfield, and that’s remained a constant this season. Although left and center have seen rotating faces at times, Kepler has been a mainstay and ultimately a pillar of health. His six home runs through 47 games don’t put him on pace to equal the 36 that went out during the Bomba Squad season, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the 20’s by the time the dust settles. Byron Buxton 1.5 fWAR Minnesota paid the man this offseason, and it’s immediately paid dividends. Very few people in baseball can provide the value Buxton does on a per game basis, and he was again a front running MVP candidate out of the gate. The OPS has dropped down to .802 after a significant slump, but the strong start still has him owning an .833 OPS+ with 12 homers on the year. He shouldn’t have any problem setting a new career high in terms of big flies. As has been the case throughout his career, Buxton has seen injury impact his performance. He’s playing through knee tendonitis and not being utilized on a daily basis. Despite the management program, it’s an understandable plan with focus being emphasized on having the Twins best talent in the Postseason. A game changer in every aspect of the word, Buxton can be the reason Minnesota wins a series in October this year. The next highest fWAR this season thus far comes from Opening Day starting pitcher Joe Ryan. He’s helped to validate the belief from the front office this offseason, which has been incredible to see. Although his dominance is noteworthy, it may be fair to argue the next closest hero has been the emergence of Devin Smeltzer. Thrust into the rotation as the Twins saw options dwindle, he’s taken the ball and been incredibly consistent while giving Minnesota good outings and looking better than he ever has at any point in his career. What are your thoughts? Who would you have as the Twins MVP through the first third of the season? Share your comments below! View full article
  10. There’s been no shortage of situations that Rocco Baldelli and the front office have had to deal with. Between injury, both short and long term, and recent restrictions, the roster has largely remained in flux. While there’s been contributors from some less than expected names, there’s also been guys performing right to where you would hope they’d be. Based on fWAR, here are the Twins three leaders from the first third of the season: Trevor Larnach 1.2 fWAR Coming into the season there was hope that Alex Kirilloff would return healthy and take a step forward as Minnesota’s left fielder and first basemen. That hasn’t been the case thus far, and Trevor Larnach has risen to the occasion. Early signs suggested there was a breakout for the former top prospect, and now it’s worth wondering just how good he can be. Larnach has always scalded the fastball, but he’s been better against offspeed this season and his .796 OPS represents a 134 OPS+. Larnach did start slow in the results column, but his process has been strong from the jump. He’s starting to see the ball leave the yard and was arguably Minnesota’s best hitter before landing on the injured list with a groin injury. He’s slumped a bit since returning, but the defense has been a pleasant surprise to his game as well. Both from an OAA (outs above average) and outfield assist perspective, he’s been among the most impressive corner outfielders in the game. Max Kepler 1.3 fWAR Playing on the opposite corner of Larnach for most of the season, Kepler is figuring out how to do damage with the deadened baseball. For a guy who has been averse to lifting the leather for so long, he’s seeing results not evident since he earned MVP votes in 2019. Kepler owns a .786 OPS which checks in just behind Larnach in the OPS+ category, registering 133. Minnesota has always known they could count on Kepler in the outfield, and that’s remained a constant this season. Although left and center have seen rotating faces at times, Kepler has been a mainstay and ultimately a pillar of health. His six home runs through 47 games don’t put him on pace to equal the 36 that went out during the Bomba Squad season, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the 20’s by the time the dust settles. Byron Buxton 1.5 fWAR Minnesota paid the man this offseason, and it’s immediately paid dividends. Very few people in baseball can provide the value Buxton does on a per game basis, and he was again a front running MVP candidate out of the gate. The OPS has dropped down to .802 after a significant slump, but the strong start still has him owning an .833 OPS+ with 12 homers on the year. He shouldn’t have any problem setting a new career high in terms of big flies. As has been the case throughout his career, Buxton has seen injury impact his performance. He’s playing through knee tendonitis and not being utilized on a daily basis. Despite the management program, it’s an understandable plan with focus being emphasized on having the Twins best talent in the Postseason. A game changer in every aspect of the word, Buxton can be the reason Minnesota wins a series in October this year. The next highest fWAR this season thus far comes from Opening Day starting pitcher Joe Ryan. He’s helped to validate the belief from the front office this offseason, which has been incredible to see. Although his dominance is noteworthy, it may be fair to argue the next closest hero has been the emergence of Devin Smeltzer. Thrust into the rotation as the Twins saw options dwindle, he’s taken the ball and been incredibly consistent while giving Minnesota good outings and looking better than he ever has at any point in his career. What are your thoughts? Who would you have as the Twins MVP through the first third of the season? Share your comments below!
  11. The Twins got great starting pitching, some great defense, and a few timely hits, and they were able to tie the series up at one in game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader with an easy 8-2 victory. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, (101 pitches, 71 strikes (70.3 %)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (6) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.154), Trevor Larnach (.140), Max Kepler (.135) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes After a tough loss Monday, the day got even tougher as it was announced that during Monday’s game, the Twins received news that Carlos Correa had tested positive for COVID. This will be extremely difficult given that the Twins play seven games in the next six days and Correa is such a vital piece of the team. This news would be easier to handle if the Twins hadn’t recently placed Royce Lewis on the injured list due to a bone bruise in his right knee. This leaves the Twins sparse with shortstop options, as they will probably give some games at shortstop to Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco. A minor league option that they recalled Tuesday morning is Jermaine Palacios, who has hit .262/.325/.376 (.701) with eight doubles and three home runs through 163 plate appearances in St. Paul thus far in 2022. Palacios will make his debut Tuesday, batting ninth and playing shortstop. With the debut, Palacios will become the first Twin to ever wear the number 87. This is also increasingly difficult because the Twins will travel to Toronto to play three games starting on Friday, and five unvaccinated Twins will be unable to travel with the team, leaving them with major questions about their depth and they will have to bring several inexperienced players across the northern border with them. Smeltzer Excellent Once Again Left-hander Devin Smeltzer turned in another very good outing for the Twins, going six and ⅔ innings while only allowing two earned runs, walking no batters, and striking out four. In 2022, Smeltzer has allowed only four earned runs in 24 innings, good for an ERA of 1.50. With uncertainty about Sonny Gray’s health, the Twins need someone to step up in a starter role, and they should look no further than Smeltzer, who has been excellent. Larnach Stays Hot Smeltzer was gifted a two-run lead before ever taking the mound in the top of the first when Trevor Larnach roped a double off the wall in right-center, scoring Luis Arraez and Max Kepler who both singled. Larnach is now hitting .259/.382/.667 (1.049) with five extra-base hits in nine games since returning from the injured list on May 22. Quad Not a Problem For Kepler After leaving Saturday’s game due to an issue with his right quad, Max Kepler took Sunday and Monday off. In game one Tuesday, he returned to the lineup as the designated hitter, and his impact was immediately felt, as he singled and came around to score in his first at-bat on Larnach’s double. In his second at-bat, he roped the first pitch he saw into the right-field corner for a double to score Byron Buxton from first base and later came around to score. In the seventh inning, Kepler came up with two runners in scoring position and hammered a single through a drawn-in infield to extend the Twins’ lead to seven runs. Kepler has absolutely destroyed Tiger pitching this year, going 8-for-25 (.320) with two doubles, four homers, 12 RBI, and eight runs scored. He has posted a 1.313 OPS against the Tigers in 2022, his best against any opponent. Don’t Let Gary Get Hot The last thing that opposing pitchers want to see is Gary Sanchez on fire. After homering Monday, Sanchez came up with two runners on base in the third inning on Tuesday, got a hanging curveball, and didn’t miss it. Gary unloaded on it and hit it 381 feet to left field for a three-run homer to give the Twins an early six-run lead. Sanchez now has six home runs on the year. Other Notes - Luis Arraez went 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. - Devin Smeltzer got the sixth win of his career and his second career win against the Tigers. What’s Next? The Twins will have a quick turnaround, as they take on the Tigers again at 6:10 CST. Right-hander Cole Sands (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins as they hope to complete the doubleheader sweep. The Tigers will counter with left-hander Joey Wentz (0-1, 20.25 ERA). Wentz only has two and ⅔ career MLB innings, so the Twins will look to feast on an inexperienced pitcher and go deep into the Tiger bullpen in game two. On Wednesday, the Twins play the Tigers at 6:10 CST as they send 6’9” Bailey Ober (1-1, 3.25 ERA) to the mound against the Tiger ace Tarik Skubal (3-2, 2.44 ERA) who enters Wednesday’s contest with the second-best FIP among qualified major league pitchers. He is also second among all major league pitchers in fWAR at 2.0 only two months into the season. On Thursday, the Twins will finish their series with Detroit at 12:10 CST. The Twins will send right-hander Chris Archer (0-2, 4.19 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Tigers' right-hander Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.00 ERA) And on Friday, the Twins head north of the border for a tough three-game set with the Blue Jays. The Twins will have a depleted team because of COVID restrictions, so it will be interesting to see the roster moves made for the weekend. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Megill 26 0 0 34 0 60 Moran 0 34 0 0 0 34 Smith 18 0 0 16 0 34 Minaya 0 31 0 0 0 31 Thielbar 1 0 22 0 0 23 Duffey 0 20 0 0 0 20 Jax 0 0 20 0 33 53 Duran 19 0 0 0 0 19 Pagán 3 0 12 0 0 15 View full article
  12. Devin Smeltzer provided the Minnesota Twins with a quality start in the first game of their doubleheader Tuesday against the Tigers. With the Twins dealing with so many injuries and illness, the St. Paul Saints roster was left extremely thin. After Caleb Hamilton exited with an injury of his own, several players were pressed into action in unfamiliar roles, including several pitchers hitting and catcher David Bañuelos making his first career appearance at second base. Bañuelos homered earlier in the game and even made a couple plays at second base. All that and much more in tonight's Twins System Recap.
  13. Devin Smeltzer provided the Minnesota Twins with a quality start in the first game of their doubleheader Tuesday against the Tigers. With the Twins dealing with so many injuries and illness, the St. Paul Saints roster was left extremely thin. After Caleb Hamilton exited with an injury of his own, several players were pressed into action in unfamiliar roles, including several pitchers hitting and catcher David Bañuelos making his first career appearance at second base. Bañuelos homered earlier in the game and even made a couple plays at second base. All that and much more in tonight's Twins System Recap. View full video
  14. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, (101 pitches, 71 strikes (70.3 %)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (6) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.154), Trevor Larnach (.140), Max Kepler (.135) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes After a tough loss Monday, the day got even tougher as it was announced that during Monday’s game, the Twins received news that Carlos Correa had tested positive for COVID. This will be extremely difficult given that the Twins play seven games in the next six days and Correa is such a vital piece of the team. This news would be easier to handle if the Twins hadn’t recently placed Royce Lewis on the injured list due to a bone bruise in his right knee. This leaves the Twins sparse with shortstop options, as they will probably give some games at shortstop to Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco. A minor league option that they recalled Tuesday morning is Jermaine Palacios, who has hit .262/.325/.376 (.701) with eight doubles and three home runs through 163 plate appearances in St. Paul thus far in 2022. Palacios will make his debut Tuesday, batting ninth and playing shortstop. With the debut, Palacios will become the first Twin to ever wear the number 87. This is also increasingly difficult because the Twins will travel to Toronto to play three games starting on Friday, and five unvaccinated Twins will be unable to travel with the team, leaving them with major questions about their depth and they will have to bring several inexperienced players across the northern border with them. Smeltzer Excellent Once Again Left-hander Devin Smeltzer turned in another very good outing for the Twins, going six and ⅔ innings while only allowing two earned runs, walking no batters, and striking out four. In 2022, Smeltzer has allowed only four earned runs in 24 innings, good for an ERA of 1.50. With uncertainty about Sonny Gray’s health, the Twins need someone to step up in a starter role, and they should look no further than Smeltzer, who has been excellent. Larnach Stays Hot Smeltzer was gifted a two-run lead before ever taking the mound in the top of the first when Trevor Larnach roped a double off the wall in right-center, scoring Luis Arraez and Max Kepler who both singled. Larnach is now hitting .259/.382/.667 (1.049) with five extra-base hits in nine games since returning from the injured list on May 22. Quad Not a Problem For Kepler After leaving Saturday’s game due to an issue with his right quad, Max Kepler took Sunday and Monday off. In game one Tuesday, he returned to the lineup as the designated hitter, and his impact was immediately felt, as he singled and came around to score in his first at-bat on Larnach’s double. In his second at-bat, he roped the first pitch he saw into the right-field corner for a double to score Byron Buxton from first base and later came around to score. In the seventh inning, Kepler came up with two runners in scoring position and hammered a single through a drawn-in infield to extend the Twins’ lead to seven runs. Kepler has absolutely destroyed Tiger pitching this year, going 8-for-25 (.320) with two doubles, four homers, 12 RBI, and eight runs scored. He has posted a 1.313 OPS against the Tigers in 2022, his best against any opponent. Don’t Let Gary Get Hot The last thing that opposing pitchers want to see is Gary Sanchez on fire. After homering Monday, Sanchez came up with two runners on base in the third inning on Tuesday, got a hanging curveball, and didn’t miss it. Gary unloaded on it and hit it 381 feet to left field for a three-run homer to give the Twins an early six-run lead. Sanchez now has six home runs on the year. Other Notes - Luis Arraez went 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. - Devin Smeltzer got the sixth win of his career and his second career win against the Tigers. What’s Next? The Twins will have a quick turnaround, as they take on the Tigers again at 6:10 CST. Right-hander Cole Sands (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins as they hope to complete the doubleheader sweep. The Tigers will counter with left-hander Joey Wentz (0-1, 20.25 ERA). Wentz only has two and ⅔ career MLB innings, so the Twins will look to feast on an inexperienced pitcher and go deep into the Tiger bullpen in game two. On Wednesday, the Twins play the Tigers at 6:10 CST as they send 6’9” Bailey Ober (1-1, 3.25 ERA) to the mound against the Tiger ace Tarik Skubal (3-2, 2.44 ERA) who enters Wednesday’s contest with the second-best FIP among qualified major league pitchers. He is also second among all major league pitchers in fWAR at 2.0 only two months into the season. On Thursday, the Twins will finish their series with Detroit at 12:10 CST. The Twins will send right-hander Chris Archer (0-2, 4.19 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Tigers' right-hander Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.00 ERA) And on Friday, the Twins head north of the border for a tough three-game set with the Blue Jays. The Twins will have a depleted team because of COVID restrictions, so it will be interesting to see the roster moves made for the weekend. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Megill 26 0 0 34 0 60 Moran 0 34 0 0 0 34 Smith 18 0 0 16 0 34 Minaya 0 31 0 0 0 31 Thielbar 1 0 22 0 0 23 Duffey 0 20 0 0 0 20 Jax 0 0 20 0 33 53 Duran 19 0 0 0 0 19 Pagán 3 0 12 0 0 15
  15. One month ago, the Twins were the lone AL Central team with a record above .500. Minnesota has stretched its division lead over the last month, and the pitchers below played a role in the team's success. At the season's start, questions swirled about whether or not the Twins starting rotation had enough to compete in the AL Central. Minnesota sits atop the division two months into the season thanks to multiple pitchers producing at a higher level than anticipated. As the calendar turns to June, here are the pitchers that provided the most value to the team over the last month. Honorable Mention #3: Jhoan Duran Minnesota’s bullpen struggled through different parts of May, but Jhoan Duran continues to be a bright spot. In 10 appearances during May, he posted a 1.59 ERA with a 11.1 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. He leads all Twins pitchers in Win Probability Added for the month as his 0.87 WPA is 13 points higher than the next closest pitcher. It’s amazing to think about what condition the Twins bullpen would be in if not for Duran’s dominance. He is transitioning from starter to reliever and he is doing it for a first-place team that desperately needs him. Honorable Mention #2: Devin Smeltzer Last month, Devin Smeltzer wasn't a candidate for this honor because he was pitching in the Saints rotation. In fact, the team outrighted Smeltzer off the 40-man roster in November, so he had to earn his way back to the big leagues. He pitched well enough in spring training for the team to consider him for the bullpen, but he went to Triple-A and posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Since being recalled, Smeltzer has been a shot in the arm for the Twins rotation. He's made four starts and pitched into the fifth inning or later in every appearance. On May 26th against Kansas City, Smeltzer was masterful as he pitched seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and only two hits allowed. He ended the month with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP, proving the team should continue giving him a more extended look. Honorable Mention #1: Joe Ryan Joe Ryan was named the TD April Pitcher of the Month, so he has been near the top of this list for the entire year. Ryan made four starts in May and posted a 3.54 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. For the month, his strikeout numbers decreased, and his walks increased, but his overall performance still puts him among the team's best. He pitched into the fifth inning in all four starts, and he has pitched into the sixth inning in five of his eight starts this season. His lone poor start this month came at the hands of the potent Astro's line-up. He surrendered four earned runs on four hits in that outing and allowed a career-high five walks. Out of Twins players, Baseball-Reference still has him valued at a 1.4 WAR for the season, which is over half of a win higher than any other pitcher. Pitcher of the Month: Sonny Gray Sonny Gray has been everything the Twins hoped he could be when they dealt Chase Petty for him this spring. He led the team in nearly every pitching category during April, including innings pitched, wins, games started, and WAR. In five starts (27 1/3 IP), he posted a 1.65 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and a 34-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. His 11.2 K/9 for the month is 2.5 strikeouts higher than his career mark. In four of his five starts, he pitched into the fifth inning or longer, with the lone exception being his first start back off the injured list. Over his final three starts, he averaged over six innings per appearance, and he didn't allow more than two earned runs in any May outing. Among qualified starters, he had the AL's fourth-lowest ERA and the fourth-best K/9. Not only was he the Twins' best pitcher over the last month, but he was also one of the best pitchers in the entire league. Do you agree with the rankings? Should someone else have been an honorable mention? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  16. At the season's start, questions swirled about whether or not the Twins starting rotation had enough to compete in the AL Central. Minnesota sits atop the division two months into the season thanks to multiple pitchers producing at a higher level than anticipated. As the calendar turns to June, here are the pitchers that provided the most value to the team over the last month. Honorable Mention #3: Jhoan Duran Minnesota’s bullpen struggled through different parts of May, but Jhoan Duran continues to be a bright spot. In 10 appearances during May, he posted a 1.59 ERA with a 11.1 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. He leads all Twins pitchers in Win Probability Added for the month as his 0.87 WPA is 13 points higher than the next closest pitcher. It’s amazing to think about what condition the Twins bullpen would be in if not for Duran’s dominance. He is transitioning from starter to reliever and he is doing it for a first-place team that desperately needs him. Honorable Mention #2: Devin Smeltzer Last month, Devin Smeltzer wasn't a candidate for this honor because he was pitching in the Saints rotation. In fact, the team outrighted Smeltzer off the 40-man roster in November, so he had to earn his way back to the big leagues. He pitched well enough in spring training for the team to consider him for the bullpen, but he went to Triple-A and posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Since being recalled, Smeltzer has been a shot in the arm for the Twins rotation. He's made four starts and pitched into the fifth inning or later in every appearance. On May 26th against Kansas City, Smeltzer was masterful as he pitched seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and only two hits allowed. He ended the month with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP, proving the team should continue giving him a more extended look. Honorable Mention #1: Joe Ryan Joe Ryan was named the TD April Pitcher of the Month, so he has been near the top of this list for the entire year. Ryan made four starts in May and posted a 3.54 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. For the month, his strikeout numbers decreased, and his walks increased, but his overall performance still puts him among the team's best. He pitched into the fifth inning in all four starts, and he has pitched into the sixth inning in five of his eight starts this season. His lone poor start this month came at the hands of the potent Astro's line-up. He surrendered four earned runs on four hits in that outing and allowed a career-high five walks. Out of Twins players, Baseball-Reference still has him valued at a 1.4 WAR for the season, which is over half of a win higher than any other pitcher. Pitcher of the Month: Sonny Gray Sonny Gray has been everything the Twins hoped he could be when they dealt Chase Petty for him this spring. He led the team in nearly every pitching category during April, including innings pitched, wins, games started, and WAR. In five starts (27 1/3 IP), he posted a 1.65 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and a 34-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. His 11.2 K/9 for the month is 2.5 strikeouts higher than his career mark. In four of his five starts, he pitched into the fifth inning or longer, with the lone exception being his first start back off the injured list. Over his final three starts, he averaged over six innings per appearance, and he didn't allow more than two earned runs in any May outing. Among qualified starters, he had the AL's fourth-lowest ERA and the fourth-best K/9. Not only was he the Twins' best pitcher over the last month, but he was also one of the best pitchers in the entire league. Do you agree with the rankings? Should someone else have been an honorable mention? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. Recently, reporters questioned Rocco's decision to pull starter Devin Smeltzer after 80 pitches and 7 innings of scoreless baseball. Despite the success over the first 2 months of the season, that response is worrisome for his long-term outlook for the Minnesota Twins and just confirms what the Rocco doubters have been saying since 2019.
  18. Recently, reporters questioned Rocco's decision to pull starter Devin Smeltzer after 80 pitches and 7 innings of scoreless baseball. Despite the success over the first 2 months of the season, that response is worrisome for his long-term outlook for the Minnesota Twins and just confirms what the Rocco doubters have been saying since 2019. View full video
  19. An incredible outing on the bump from Devin Smeltzer wasn't enough to propel the Twins to a series-opener victory against the Royals. Get all the details on Thursday night's game. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (80 pitches, 52 strikes (65.0%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Duffey (-0.590), Max Kepler (-0.208), Nick Gordon (-0.197) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Despite a ninth-inning rally and a stellar outing from Devin Smeltzer, the Twins fell short to Kansas City by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night. The Twins outhit the Royals 12 to 6 and left 12 runners on base but ultimately fell short thanks to a three-run eighth inning from Kansas City. And while the loss was a tough one, starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer was an incredible icing on the cake for the Twins on the night. Called up from St. Paul to start for Joe Ryan (who was placed on the Covid IL), Smeltzer wasn’t just a replacement; he provided one of the strongest pitching outings the Twins have seen all year. After a quarter of the season spent flirting between Triple-A St. Paul and the Twins, Thursday evening proved that Smeltzer deserves a permanent spot on the Major League Roster. Smeltzer pitched seven innings of shutout ball while only allowing two hits and one walk, striking out six. The crafty lefty has started three games for the parent club this season and has passed the test with flying colors. Through those three games, Smeltzer has a 1.74 ERA in 17 ⅓ innings while only allowing two runs. Keep the man up. The Twins plated their first run in the second inning when Ryan Jeffers laced an RBI single to left field that scored Luis Arraez from second base. Originally perceived as a downgrade from Mitch Garver, Jeffers has been absolutely rock-solid all season. Thursday’s RBI was his fourth in his last three games and the Raleigh, NC native sits in the 95th percentile for pitch framing behind the plate. Not too shabby. The Twins struck again in the fourth inning. Jose Miranda put his recent slump in the rearview with a leadoff double (5) and was later scored by a Gilberto Celestino line-drive single to right field to put the Twins up 2-0. As highly-touted a prospect there is, Miranda’s woes at the plate drew attention from Twins Territory. Yet the 23-year-old rookie has excelled recently. Miranda notched a second-inning single in addition to his double on Thursday and has recorded two multi-hit games in the past week. There’s still a ways to go, but it’s relieving to see the young slugger find his footing. Following Smeltzer’s stellar outing, Tyler Duffey struggled in the bullpen, allowing three runs on four hits in the top of the eighth inning to give Kansas City the lead. The Twins mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a string of singles from Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, and Arraez. Yet with the bases loaded, the Twins were unable to plate a run. Rookie Yennier Cano had his first solid outing of the season, pitching the top of the ninth inning. After giving up a leadoff walk, Cano retired the next three batters to keep the Twins within a run going into the ninth inning. After a ninth-inning infield single from Byron Buxton, the Twins fell just short due to a pair of Fielders Choices and a sharply hit ball by Gary Sanchez that found the glove of Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. Gio with the Glove Despite the loss, Gio Urshela made one of the finest plays the league has seen all season in the second inning. Web gem! What’s Next? The Twins continue their Memorial Day weekend series against the Royals tomorrow night at 6:40 p.m. CST at Target Field. Young talent Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.85 ERA) will face off against Brad Kelly (1-4, 3.40 ERA) on what is supposed to be a gorgeous night in Minneapolis. You can buy tickets to tomorrow night's game here. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  20. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (80 pitches, 52 strikes (65.0%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Duffey (-0.590), Max Kepler (-0.208), Nick Gordon (-0.197) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Despite a ninth-inning rally and a stellar outing from Devin Smeltzer, the Twins fell short to Kansas City by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night. The Twins outhit the Royals 12 to 6 and left 12 runners on base but ultimately fell short thanks to a three-run eighth inning from Kansas City. And while the loss was a tough one, starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer was an incredible icing on the cake for the Twins on the night. Called up from St. Paul to start for Joe Ryan (who was placed on the Covid IL), Smeltzer wasn’t just a replacement; he provided one of the strongest pitching outings the Twins have seen all year. After a quarter of the season spent flirting between Triple-A St. Paul and the Twins, Thursday evening proved that Smeltzer deserves a permanent spot on the Major League Roster. Smeltzer pitched seven innings of shutout ball while only allowing two hits and one walk, striking out six. The crafty lefty has started three games for the parent club this season and has passed the test with flying colors. Through those three games, Smeltzer has a 1.74 ERA in 17 ⅓ innings while only allowing two runs. Keep the man up. The Twins plated their first run in the second inning when Ryan Jeffers laced an RBI single to left field that scored Luis Arraez from second base. Originally perceived as a downgrade from Mitch Garver, Jeffers has been absolutely rock-solid all season. Thursday’s RBI was his fourth in his last three games and the Raleigh, NC native sits in the 95th percentile for pitch framing behind the plate. Not too shabby. The Twins struck again in the fourth inning. Jose Miranda put his recent slump in the rearview with a leadoff double (5) and was later scored by a Gilberto Celestino line-drive single to right field to put the Twins up 2-0. As highly-touted a prospect there is, Miranda’s woes at the plate drew attention from Twins Territory. Yet the 23-year-old rookie has excelled recently. Miranda notched a second-inning single in addition to his double on Thursday and has recorded two multi-hit games in the past week. There’s still a ways to go, but it’s relieving to see the young slugger find his footing. Following Smeltzer’s stellar outing, Tyler Duffey struggled in the bullpen, allowing three runs on four hits in the top of the eighth inning to give Kansas City the lead. The Twins mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a string of singles from Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, and Arraez. Yet with the bases loaded, the Twins were unable to plate a run. Rookie Yennier Cano had his first solid outing of the season, pitching the top of the ninth inning. After giving up a leadoff walk, Cano retired the next three batters to keep the Twins within a run going into the ninth inning. After a ninth-inning infield single from Byron Buxton, the Twins fell just short due to a pair of Fielders Choices and a sharply hit ball by Gary Sanchez that found the glove of Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. Gio with the Glove Despite the loss, Gio Urshela made one of the finest plays the league has seen all season in the second inning. Web gem! What’s Next? The Twins continue their Memorial Day weekend series against the Royals tomorrow night at 6:40 p.m. CST at Target Field. Young talent Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.85 ERA) will face off against Brad Kelly (1-4, 3.40 ERA) on what is supposed to be a gorgeous night in Minneapolis. You can buy tickets to tomorrow night's game here. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  21. Devin Smeltzer provided seven shutout innings for the Minnesota Twins Thursday but got little support from his teammates. The Royals prevailed as Tyler Duffey gave up three runs in relief and the bats went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Down on the farm, Steve Hajjar continued to dominate for Fort Myers, striking out 10 more batters, Royce Lewis had a web gem at third base and both Alex Kirilloff and Spencer Steer homered for the Saints. All that and more in tonight’s system recap.
  22. Devin Smeltzer provided seven shutout innings for the Minnesota Twins Thursday but got little support from his teammates. The Royals prevailed as Tyler Duffey gave up three runs in relief and the bats went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Down on the farm, Steve Hajjar continued to dominate for Fort Myers, striking out 10 more batters, Royce Lewis had a web gem at third base and both Alex Kirilloff and Spencer Steer homered for the Saints. All that and more in tonight’s system recap. View full video
  23. Minnesota’s pitching staff has started the year off strongly, but multiple unexpected arms have contributed this season. Devin Smeltzer is on the road back to prove he belongs at the MLB level. Minnesota acquired Devin Smeltzer as part of the Brian Dozier trade back in 2018. At the time of the trade, he was a middling prospect who had yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA in any professional season. Smeltzer made some adjustments with the Twins and became one of the team’s biggest surprises during the 2019 season. At Double- and Triple-A, the 23-year-old combined for a 2.76 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. His first taste of the big leagues went well as he posted 118 ERA+ with a 1.27 WHIP. One of the most significant issues in his rookie campaign was that he allowed eight home runs in 11 games, but he limited other damage, and it looked like he might fit into the team’s future plans. The 2020 season was strange for many reasons, and Smeltzer’s numbers in seven appearances don’t tell the whole story. He allowed five earned runs on six hits in two innings of work in his first outing. Five of the six outs he recorded were on strikeouts, but he surrendered two home runs. It was a disastrous start to his season, but he made six more appearances and never allowed more than two earned runs in any outing. Smeltzer also didn’t allow a home run during that stretch. All of 2020 was a small sample size, but there were positives to improve upon for 2021. Unfortunately, Smeltzer couldn’t build off those successes during the 2021 season. During spring training, he lost feeling in three fingers on his pitching hand, which impacted his control. He was limited to one appearance for the Twins in April, but multiple injuries kept him out for the remainder of the year. By season’s end, he dealt with elbow inflammation, a herniated disc, and long-term side effects from his childhood chemotherapy. In November, the Twins removed him from the 40-man roster. Now 26-years old, Smeltzer entered spring training this year with a clear goal of making it back onto the team’s roster. He made four appearances and didn’t allow a run in 11 innings. His velocity was back into the 90s, and his command and control were back to his pre-injury form. Smeltzer didn’t crack the Opening Day roster, so he went to St. Paul with something to prove. In his first four starts (19 IP), Smeltzer posted a 1.42 ERA and limited batters to hitting .194/.260/.254 (.514). In his last Triple-A appearance, he allowed six earned runs on eight hits in two innings. It was his first hiccup since spring training started, but the Twins needed another arm at the big-league level, and the team added him back to the 40-man roster. Earlier this week, Smeltzer made his first MLB start since August 7, 2020. He pitched five innings and limited the Guardians to one earned run on three hits. In that start, he showcased a pitch mix change similar to his breakout 2019 campaign. Smeltzer used his fastball over 46% of the time, with his curveball (31.2%) being used the most out of his secondary pitches. It’s only one spot start, but it was a long journey back to the big-league level for Smeltzer. In the last week, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy returned from the injured list, and Bailey Ober is nearing a return. Some assumed Smeltzer was out of minor league options, but his demotions in 2020 were too short to count. As the rotation starts to look crowded, the Twins need to decide the best role for Smeltzer. Following Thursday's off-day, Minnesota is entering a portion of their schedule with 18 games in 17 days. This schedule quirk includes a scheduled doubleheader in Detroit and no off-day until June 6. The Twins will need plenty of pitching depth to make it through the upcoming weeks, and Smeltzer deserves the opportunity to keep pitching at the big-league level. Can Smeltzer provide value out of the MLB bullpen, or should he continue to start games at Triple-A? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. The Twins put together a good offensive performance early and survived a late rally from the Royals to take game one of the series in Kansas City. Devin Smeltzer had another convincing start and rookie Jose Miranda hit a clutch double late. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (74 pitches, 47 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.180), Jose Miranda (.180), Jhoan Duran (.170) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After dropping two out of three in their last series against the Royals, the Twins were poised not to let that happen again this time. To try and accomplish that, they picked up where they left off in Oakland on Wednesday and put together a great offensive display early. Despite posting a solid 3.30 ERA for the year, Royals starter Daniel Lynch was over the place to begin this game. Only two of his thirteen pitches were strikes, allowing the first three Minnesota batters to reach. After Byron Buxton walked and Carlos Correa singled to lead off, Kyle Garlick grounded to left to easily score Buxton from second. One at-bat later, Gary Sánchez refused to slow down and hit yet another extra-base hit, making it four games in a row with at least one such hit. He doubled to left to score Correa. Then, Gio Urshela scored Garlick from third on a sac-fly, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Royals got one run back on three hits against Devin Smeltzer in the bottom of the first, but the Twins immediately responded in the second. Once again Lynch struggled with his command and three of the first four Minnesota batters reached, loading the bases for Garlick. Coming into this game, Garlick was posting a 1.187 OPS against lefties. Despite not getting a hit, he did get a good enough contact to score Jose Miranda from third on a sac-fly, making it 4-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the sixth with the help of stellar defense behind him Smeltzer’s night could’ve gone downhill very early in this game, as he gave up three hits in the first inning. Fortunately, he was able to limit the damage to only the one run, stranding two runners. Then he would go on to toss 4 1/3 solid innings, with great help from his fielders. He retired the side on ten pitches in the second and pitched around a leadoff walk in the second. Jorge Polanco provided a great contribution when he started a lovely 4-3 double play on an Andrew Benintendi grounder. After another quick inning in the fourth, the Twins defense continued flashing the leather. The first two outs of the fifth inning came on a couple of great defensive plays. Polanco got Nicky Lopez on a beautiful throw to first and Gilberto Celestino caught Dairon Blanco trying to stretch a single into a double. Smeltzer came back to face only one batter in the sixth and he was removed from the game with only 74 pitches. He probably never looked more comfortable on the big league level than he does right now, with his ERA dropping to 1.74 after two starts. Is he here to stay? Do his low strikeouts numbers so far worry you at all? Royals get within one, but Miranda comes up clutch The bullpen looked shaky right from the get-go, with Griffin Jax giving up a walk against the first batter he saw and getting behind 2-0 in the count against the next one. He came around and ended up striking out both remaining batters to end the fifth, but the struggles continued in the next inning. Tyler Duffey had allowed only one run in his previous ten outings. Before this ten-game stretch, he had given up two runs in a game on April 19, against this same Royals team, also at Kauffman Stadium, in a blown save that eventually would represent the series loss for Minnesota. Two pitches into the game, Duffey gave up a leadoff home run to Carlos Santana to cut the Twins lead to one. Failing to get ahead on the counts, gave up a single to Emmanuel Rivera and a double to Kyle Isbel. Rocco Baldelli had enough and pulled him. Jhoan Duran came in in his relief inheriting two runners in scoring position. Whit Merrifield scored Rivera from third on a sac-fly before Duran could end the inning, making it a one-run game. Polanco and Sánchez were quickly retired to start the eighth inning, but the Twins offense still had some fight in them. Urshela and Max Kepler worked out crucial two-out walks against reliever Dylan Coleman, allowing Miranda to come up clutch. With his second-inning single, Miranda snapped an 0-for-20 slump, and this time he wanted more. He stepped up to the plate and jumped on the second pitch for a double, lining to center where Isbell couldn’t make the play, allowing both runners to score. It was up to Emilio Pagán in the ninth to try and secure the win. He had yet to allow an earned run this month and that happened on a Rivera one-out, solo home run to deep center. With already two outs, he allowed back-to-back singles, to Isbell and Merrifield, bringing the winning run to the plate. After a mound visit, he got behind in the count 3-0 against Benintendi, but beautifully came back to strike him out looking to end the ball game. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams will be back on the field for game 2. The Twins turn to Joe Ryan (2.39 ERA), who will face Brad Keller (2.89 ERA). Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Winder 0 78 0 0 0 78 Cano 25 0 19 0 0 44 Jax 25 0 0 0 18 43 Duran 0 0 23 0 16 39 Duffey 20 0 0 0 18 38 Pagán 0 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 16 0 0 0 16 Stashak 0 0 13 0 0 13 Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  25. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (74 pitches, 47 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.180), Jose Miranda (.180), Jhoan Duran (.170) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After dropping two out of three in their last series against the Royals, the Twins were poised not to let that happen again this time. To try and accomplish that, they picked up where they left off in Oakland on Wednesday and put together a great offensive display early. Despite posting a solid 3.30 ERA for the year, Royals starter Daniel Lynch was over the place to begin this game. Only two of his thirteen pitches were strikes, allowing the first three Minnesota batters to reach. After Byron Buxton walked and Carlos Correa singled to lead off, Kyle Garlick grounded to left to easily score Buxton from second. One at-bat later, Gary Sánchez refused to slow down and hit yet another extra-base hit, making it four games in a row with at least one such hit. He doubled to left to score Correa. Then, Gio Urshela scored Garlick from third on a sac-fly, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Royals got one run back on three hits against Devin Smeltzer in the bottom of the first, but the Twins immediately responded in the second. Once again Lynch struggled with his command and three of the first four Minnesota batters reached, loading the bases for Garlick. Coming into this game, Garlick was posting a 1.187 OPS against lefties. Despite not getting a hit, he did get a good enough contact to score Jose Miranda from third on a sac-fly, making it 4-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the sixth with the help of stellar defense behind him Smeltzer’s night could’ve gone downhill very early in this game, as he gave up three hits in the first inning. Fortunately, he was able to limit the damage to only the one run, stranding two runners. Then he would go on to toss 4 1/3 solid innings, with great help from his fielders. He retired the side on ten pitches in the second and pitched around a leadoff walk in the second. Jorge Polanco provided a great contribution when he started a lovely 4-3 double play on an Andrew Benintendi grounder. After another quick inning in the fourth, the Twins defense continued flashing the leather. The first two outs of the fifth inning came on a couple of great defensive plays. Polanco got Nicky Lopez on a beautiful throw to first and Gilberto Celestino caught Dairon Blanco trying to stretch a single into a double. Smeltzer came back to face only one batter in the sixth and he was removed from the game with only 74 pitches. He probably never looked more comfortable on the big league level than he does right now, with his ERA dropping to 1.74 after two starts. Is he here to stay? Do his low strikeouts numbers so far worry you at all? Royals get within one, but Miranda comes up clutch The bullpen looked shaky right from the get-go, with Griffin Jax giving up a walk against the first batter he saw and getting behind 2-0 in the count against the next one. He came around and ended up striking out both remaining batters to end the fifth, but the struggles continued in the next inning. Tyler Duffey had allowed only one run in his previous ten outings. Before this ten-game stretch, he had given up two runs in a game on April 19, against this same Royals team, also at Kauffman Stadium, in a blown save that eventually would represent the series loss for Minnesota. Two pitches into the game, Duffey gave up a leadoff home run to Carlos Santana to cut the Twins lead to one. Failing to get ahead on the counts, gave up a single to Emmanuel Rivera and a double to Kyle Isbel. Rocco Baldelli had enough and pulled him. Jhoan Duran came in in his relief inheriting two runners in scoring position. Whit Merrifield scored Rivera from third on a sac-fly before Duran could end the inning, making it a one-run game. Polanco and Sánchez were quickly retired to start the eighth inning, but the Twins offense still had some fight in them. Urshela and Max Kepler worked out crucial two-out walks against reliever Dylan Coleman, allowing Miranda to come up clutch. With his second-inning single, Miranda snapped an 0-for-20 slump, and this time he wanted more. He stepped up to the plate and jumped on the second pitch for a double, lining to center where Isbell couldn’t make the play, allowing both runners to score. It was up to Emilio Pagán in the ninth to try and secure the win. He had yet to allow an earned run this month and that happened on a Rivera one-out, solo home run to deep center. With already two outs, he allowed back-to-back singles, to Isbell and Merrifield, bringing the winning run to the plate. After a mound visit, he got behind in the count 3-0 against Benintendi, but beautifully came back to strike him out looking to end the ball game. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams will be back on the field for game 2. The Twins turn to Joe Ryan (2.39 ERA), who will face Brad Keller (2.89 ERA). Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Winder 0 78 0 0 0 78 Cano 25 0 19 0 0 44 Jax 25 0 0 0 18 43 Duran 0 0 23 0 16 39 Duffey 20 0 0 0 18 38 Pagán 0 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 16 0 0 0 16 Stashak 0 0 13 0 0 13 Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0
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