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  1. The Twins’ bullpen has leaked runs and caused headaches all year long, motivating the front office to improve it at the deadline. They filled the holes with a bang, and now the arm barn looks like a real strength. Despite all the issues and the 19 crippling blown saves, the Twins had one advantage in their bullpen: a young, terrific weapon in Jhoan Durán, who’s carried the late-innings all year. Griffin Jax, another first-year reliever, has been more than serviceable with a 3.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. It’s Durán, though, who made fixing the bullpen woes at the deadline easier than it appeared. Durán is tied with Guardians’ generational closer Emmanuel Clase for the most Win Probability Added among relievers in the American League (2.80). He owns a sterling 2.15 ERA in 46 innings, striking out 58 and walking only 10. Durán’s emergence is a primary reason why the Twins are in first place. It’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him. Durán’s excellence allowed the Twins to flip the bullpen picture completely. They already had one outstanding right-handed reliever and then traded for another. Jorge Lopez, who now has a 1.64 ERA in nearly 50 innings, completes one of the more overwhelming duos in baseball. López and Durán have combined for a 1.87 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 96 ⅓ innings. While Durán wows with one of the hardest four-seam fastballs in baseball, López induces chopper after chopper with a turbo sinker at 98-100 mph. It’s a deadly combo for opposing hitters. The late innings will primarily belong to the two flamethrowers, but Michael Fulmer is an under-the-radar pickup for the Twins. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 batting average and zero homers in 102 plate appearances. Fulmer has given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season, a double from his new teammate Gio Urshela on July 24th. No righty has barreled Fulmer this season. In a division and league loaded with right-handed talent, he should continue to thrive in those matchups. Fulmer and Jax both have elite sliders, holding opponents to a combined .170 batting average. Depth is as important as the stars, and Trevor Megill has filled in wonderfully. Megill has a sub-2 ERA in 19 outings, regularly reaching 100 with his fastball while showing good command. Megill, Durán, and López all average over 97 mph with their primary fastballs. When’s the last time the Twins had three high-velocity arms in their bullpen? Caleb Thielbar hasn’t shined in the ERA department, but his 3.09 Fielding Independent Pitching shows he’s been unlucky. Thielbar has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and a 2.90 ERA over his last 34 outings. He’s a reliable lefty and has held left-handed hitters to a .180/.281/.260 line. Even Emilio Pagán, who the Twins demoted to a lower-leverage role, has a 3.18 ERA and 2.23 FIP with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 outings. This bullpen picture gets even brighter if he can fill a vital sixth-inning role. Pagán could redeem some of his value with a solid final two months. It’s impossible to ignore the bullpen’s issues up to this point. Pagán and Tyler Duffey have allowed 40 earned runs in 79 ⅓ innings. Joe Smith, while excellent early, was so poor that the Twins DFA’ed him despite being the largest bullpen acquisition of the offseason. Even with the much-improved outlook, there’s still hope and depth outside the 26-man roster. If Jorge Alcalá can return, he’d provide Rocco Baldelli with another high-octane option for the late innings. Alcalá posted a 0.82 ERA with 27 strikeouts over his final 22 innings of 2021. Jovani Moran, who the Twins optioned Wednesday, has a 1.93 ERA in 20 outings with the Twins this year. Kenta Maeda, a relief ace for the Dodgers in the past, is working to return for the stretch run in the Twins’ bullpen. They still have to play the games and stay healthy, but this group looks excellent. The Twins have seldom had this many reliable relievers in one bullpen, and they’ve never had a duo with the weaponry of Durán and López. If the Twins win the division and make a run into October, the bullpen will be a crucial reason why. What do you think of the Twins’ revamped bullpen? Comment below! View full article
  2. Despite all the issues and the 19 crippling blown saves, the Twins had one advantage in their bullpen: a young, terrific weapon in Jhoan Durán, who’s carried the late-innings all year. Griffin Jax, another first-year reliever, has been more than serviceable with a 3.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. It’s Durán, though, who made fixing the bullpen woes at the deadline easier than it appeared. Durán is tied with Guardians’ generational closer Emmanuel Clase for the most Win Probability Added among relievers in the American League (2.80). He owns a sterling 2.15 ERA in 46 innings, striking out 58 and walking only 10. Durán’s emergence is a primary reason why the Twins are in first place. It’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him. Durán’s excellence allowed the Twins to flip the bullpen picture completely. They already had one outstanding right-handed reliever and then traded for another. Jorge Lopez, who now has a 1.64 ERA in nearly 50 innings, completes one of the more overwhelming duos in baseball. López and Durán have combined for a 1.87 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 96 ⅓ innings. While Durán wows with one of the hardest four-seam fastballs in baseball, López induces chopper after chopper with a turbo sinker at 98-100 mph. It’s a deadly combo for opposing hitters. The late innings will primarily belong to the two flamethrowers, but Michael Fulmer is an under-the-radar pickup for the Twins. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 batting average and zero homers in 102 plate appearances. Fulmer has given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season, a double from his new teammate Gio Urshela on July 24th. No righty has barreled Fulmer this season. In a division and league loaded with right-handed talent, he should continue to thrive in those matchups. Fulmer and Jax both have elite sliders, holding opponents to a combined .170 batting average. Depth is as important as the stars, and Trevor Megill has filled in wonderfully. Megill has a sub-2 ERA in 19 outings, regularly reaching 100 with his fastball while showing good command. Megill, Durán, and López all average over 97 mph with their primary fastballs. When’s the last time the Twins had three high-velocity arms in their bullpen? Caleb Thielbar hasn’t shined in the ERA department, but his 3.09 Fielding Independent Pitching shows he’s been unlucky. Thielbar has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and a 2.90 ERA over his last 34 outings. He’s a reliable lefty and has held left-handed hitters to a .180/.281/.260 line. Even Emilio Pagán, who the Twins demoted to a lower-leverage role, has a 3.18 ERA and 2.23 FIP with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 outings. This bullpen picture gets even brighter if he can fill a vital sixth-inning role. Pagán could redeem some of his value with a solid final two months. It’s impossible to ignore the bullpen’s issues up to this point. Pagán and Tyler Duffey have allowed 40 earned runs in 79 ⅓ innings. Joe Smith, while excellent early, was so poor that the Twins DFA’ed him despite being the largest bullpen acquisition of the offseason. Even with the much-improved outlook, there’s still hope and depth outside the 26-man roster. If Jorge Alcalá can return, he’d provide Rocco Baldelli with another high-octane option for the late innings. Alcalá posted a 0.82 ERA with 27 strikeouts over his final 22 innings of 2021. Jovani Moran, who the Twins optioned Wednesday, has a 1.93 ERA in 20 outings with the Twins this year. Kenta Maeda, a relief ace for the Dodgers in the past, is working to return for the stretch run in the Twins’ bullpen. They still have to play the games and stay healthy, but this group looks excellent. The Twins have seldom had this many reliable relievers in one bullpen, and they’ve never had a duo with the weaponry of Durán and López. If the Twins win the division and make a run into October, the bullpen will be a crucial reason why. What do you think of the Twins’ revamped bullpen? Comment below!
  3. Sunday afternoon. I’m making PB and J sandwiches for my daughter, my wife, and myself. I turn the game on the radio for a little bit and it’s the third inning. No runs in at this point. The Twins had already won the series, so I kind of wonder if we were due to lose one. The sandwiches made, I turn off the radio and go into the living room with lunch. My wife cleans up from mowing the lawn and I’m watching a JoJo Siwa special. I’m thinking about how much I’d rather be watching the Twins play baseball. JoJo slides around the stage in her heelies. My daughter watches and plays Legos. JoJo keeps talking about how you can be whatever you want to be. If that were true, I’d be The Man Not Watching JoJo. My wife is ready to go so we get our daughter to tidy up and turn off the TV. She says she’s getting a little tired of JoJo, which brings peace to my troubled heart. I don’t hate JoJo, but I do hope for smaller doses. She’s much better than the YouTube show my daughter calls The Grown-Ups and the Kids. That show kills my soul. I check the score. 6-0, Royals. Just like I thought. We were going to win the series but lose the last game. Still a good showing. We drive to Target and arrive, with our shopping list on my wife’s phone. She returns some shoes. We go to buy a present for Evie to give the host of the first birthday party she’s ever been invited to. She’s thrilled, but mostly because she wants us to buy all of the toys for her. Fortunately, she corrects herself on that mistaken belief relatively quickly. I try to sneak a Jason Voorhees action figure into the cart for my Friday the 13th collection, but my wife shuts that down real quick. This will all come back to the Twins. I just need to set the stage. The biggest surprises of the trip to Target were the lack of shoes and softballs. I recently started playing in a very relaxed (no strikeouts, not a lot of running) softball game and I need new shoes and a softball to practice. I’m currently sporting an ovoid-shaped scrape on my right knee that looks like someone slapped a slice of Italian deli meat to my leg. I need better traction. There are very few shoes, and nary a softball. Not sure how Target can be softball-less in late May, but here we are. Nearing the end of our Target trip, we are shopping for a birthday card when I succumb to a nagging temptation to check the Twins score. I assume they already lost and, for whatever reason, the Athletic app just failed to notify me of the final score. I check my phone and see the Twins have tied the game. I show the phone to my wife. My jaw hangs open. I shove the phone further into her face. She agrees this is good news, but her eyes tell me two things. First, I need to pay attention to my family and not become obsessed with my phone, watching the updates come through pitch by pitch. Secondly, I need to get the phone out of her face and quit acting like a goober in public. Now I’m smiling and walking up the main aisle of Target. I’m nodding at other people because the Twins are winning. In fact, they are going to win. I know this in my heart, and I’m so happy I feel like everyone else is happy for me. Like we could all break into a musical number celebrating the approaching victory. We make it to the car before I check my phone again – this takes a lot of self-discipline. I sit down in the passenger seat and see it’s the bottom of the ninth. Duran is in, and Gamecast tells me those first two strikes get in there at over one hundred miles an hour. He gets an out and then the next batter fouls off a million pitches. There’s a mound visit and I worry about a potential injury to Duran. I worry, but I have to pocket my phone and unload sundries from Target. We get inside just in time to see the last out come up on GameCast. Comeback achieved. Twins sweep the Royals. I feel worn out from getting worked up over the game. I cook up some supper, get my daughter ready for bed, and relax. There are a lot of baseball games in a season. The Twins will need me to monitor the games closely, wherever I may be.
  4. The Twins won two out of three in their series against the Guardians. As luck would have it, we managed to go to the game they lost. It would’ve been much more fun if we attended the game where the Twins put up twelve and Royce hit his first home run, but we did not. We got the low scoring game, where the teams went into extra innings tied one-all. The cliché holds true, though. A bad night at the ballpark is still a good night. I went in good company and enjoyed the conversation. The weather was nearly perfect – just a little cold when we staggered into extra innings. The skyline, and the pale blue sky above it, deepened into darkness in a beautiful, natural way. Target Field is home for me. Now that we only get to one or two games a year, I have to drink in all of the experience and savor it for months. I will hold on to memories, like the cheeseburger and root beer I missed Urshela’s solo shot while buying. Seeing Rocco Baldelli get ejected after a Guardian baserunner crashed into Miranda and went bam-kaboom down into the dirt. Rolling my eyes when fans tried to start the wave and refusing to clap along with clap-along songs – Are there two clap-along songs now? Terrified of Kris Lindahl’s stretchy, seventh-inning arms. Wondering what that woman was doing, waggling a stuffed fish near the Twins’ dugout. Taking pictures of Duran, who I just found out is referred to as the “Durantula,” and I like that. Being annoyed with fans who walk in front of me while the ball is in play. I’ve noticed I have a very specific response to good plays. I yell “yup!” and clap my hands a few times. Same word, same claps. Same vocal inflection. Nice and understated, like a Midwesterner should cheer. As Meat Loaf said, two out of three ain’t bad. But it wasn’t enough to wash the taste of that Astros sweep from my mouth. Especially because of the game we watched. The Twins got hits. They put people on the bases. They just couldn’t get them across home plate. My wife said they didn’t have a lot of pop, and as she is in most things, my wife is right. This is a good team. They just need to get better at administering the coup de gras when they have the chance. Of course, there were a lot of young players on the field last night. Buxton didn’t play Saturday night, even though I wished really, really hard he’d show up to pinch hit in the ninth or tenth. Correa is still out. I find myself silently willing Miranda to start hitting well. Like he’s my younger brother. I just don’t want him to get discouraged. We need to all chip in on a basket of muffins or something. Now it’s time to take the Twins show on the road. We’d better do well against Oakland, even though the games will start too late for an old man like me to listen to. I’ll hold onto my memories and check the scores in the morning.
  5. Jim Bowden is releasing his top 200 on the Athletic. I am comparing where he ranks our players in order, since he has the entire MLB our numbers will not conform to his ranks, but will the sequence of ranking conform to our numbers? In the second 200 he has our number seven Jhoan Duran ranked 181. #11 Nick Gordon - Bowden has at 177. At 170, obviously above the last two is Jordan Balazovic. Why isn't he on our list? Bowden has Lewis Thorpe at 162 we have him at #8. Bowden had none of the Twins in his 101 – 150 Rating. Do we have that many in the top 100 or are we just a long way from Bowden’s perspective. Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects and Bowden rating. 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS - 177 10. Akil Baddoo, OF 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP - 162 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP - 181 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis Bowden Unrated by TD - Balazovic 170
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