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  1. Right before the 2022 Major League Baseball season was set to commence, the Minnesota Twins decided to shake up their roster. Flipping closer Taylor Rogers to the San Diego Padres for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, it’s now on the latter to provide value for the season ahead. It’s understandable that a controllable starter like Chris Paddack may have been available for a lesser return given his elbow issues. Unfortunately, they reared their head just a few starts into 2022 and now it appears he’ll undergo surgery to fix the problem that was already there. Emilio Pagan was hardly a throw-in, however, and despite his 4.83 ERA last season, he’s just a few years removed from being one of baseball’s more dominant relievers. Pagan, who recently turned 31-years-old, posted a 2.31 ERA in his lone season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Acting as their closer that year, he recorded 20 saves and worked 70 innings. His 12.3 K/9 was a career-high, and the 1.7 BB/9 was near a career-low. The 3.30 FIP suggested it was all pretty solidly rooted in advanced statistics as well. Of course, he wasn’t the same pitcher the past two seasons for the Padres, and that’s likely why they were willing to upgrade the back end of their pen. For Minnesota, needing to replace Rogers, Pagan would immediately become an option should he find a way to harness his former glory. Things started ugly for the Twins' new closer as he took the loss in his second appearance, and blew a save in just his third try. Through his first six outings this year Pagan had just a 7/6 K/BB and appeared to be doing a tightrope act each time he took the mound. Since that point though, Pagan has pitched another six innings and has not allowed an earned run. His 8/4 K/BB is more manageable and the ERA is down to 1.54. While the free passes remain an issue, he’s worked around the danger thanks to a career-best 5.4 H/9. It’s not as though Pagan simply lost the ability to find the zone. He’s an established veteran with more than 200 Major League innings under his belt, and in that time he surrendered just a 2.3 BB/9. The gaudy 7.7 BB/9 comes from something else, and he was asked about it following his fifth save of the season. Having basically always been a two-pitch pitcher, and really only one when you consider the secondary offering is a version of the other, Pagan changed his repertoire this season. He’s traditionally been categorized as a fastball and slider guy, although most reporting systems call his secondary offering a cutter. This offseason he added a splitter and it’s drastically different from what he already brings to the table. During Spring Training, and still then with the Padres, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “He’s coming up with a new pitch. He’s throwing a split(-fingered fastball) a lot. … I think a third pitch will serve him well. Typically, a bullpen guy, especially late innings, is more of a two-pitch guy. But I think a third pitch will be good for him. Fastball, sliders are mostly hard (stuff). This is kind of a slower pitch, goes in a different direction, and gives the hitter something else to think about. He’s thrown it in a game and feels confident about it.” To this point in 2022, the splitter has been a focal point for Pagan. He’s thrown it over 17% of the time, and it’s drastically changed the cutter usage. In developing a new pitch and then utilizing it in games, it’s understandable there would be some hiccups and likely control or command issues. As he continues to find comfort with the offering, the walks should subside back down to his career norms. Rocco Baldelli has a very good thing going at the back of his pen right now. Whether going with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran, or veteran-tested Pagan, he’s got capable arms to mix and match for any situation. The more Minnesota can lean into both of them shutting down the opposition, the better they’ll find themselves positioned to close out games in routine fashion. View full article
  2. It’s understandable that a controllable starter like Chris Paddack may have been available for a lesser return given his elbow issues. Unfortunately, they reared their head just a few starts into 2022 and now it appears he’ll undergo surgery to fix the problem that was already there. Emilio Pagan was hardly a throw-in, however, and despite his 4.83 ERA last season, he’s just a few years removed from being one of baseball’s more dominant relievers. Pagan, who recently turned 31-years-old, posted a 2.31 ERA in his lone season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Acting as their closer that year, he recorded 20 saves and worked 70 innings. His 12.3 K/9 was a career-high, and the 1.7 BB/9 was near a career-low. The 3.30 FIP suggested it was all pretty solidly rooted in advanced statistics as well. Of course, he wasn’t the same pitcher the past two seasons for the Padres, and that’s likely why they were willing to upgrade the back end of their pen. For Minnesota, needing to replace Rogers, Pagan would immediately become an option should he find a way to harness his former glory. Things started ugly for the Twins' new closer as he took the loss in his second appearance, and blew a save in just his third try. Through his first six outings this year Pagan had just a 7/6 K/BB and appeared to be doing a tightrope act each time he took the mound. Since that point though, Pagan has pitched another six innings and has not allowed an earned run. His 8/4 K/BB is more manageable and the ERA is down to 1.54. While the free passes remain an issue, he’s worked around the danger thanks to a career-best 5.4 H/9. It’s not as though Pagan simply lost the ability to find the zone. He’s an established veteran with more than 200 Major League innings under his belt, and in that time he surrendered just a 2.3 BB/9. The gaudy 7.7 BB/9 comes from something else, and he was asked about it following his fifth save of the season. Having basically always been a two-pitch pitcher, and really only one when you consider the secondary offering is a version of the other, Pagan changed his repertoire this season. He’s traditionally been categorized as a fastball and slider guy, although most reporting systems call his secondary offering a cutter. This offseason he added a splitter and it’s drastically different from what he already brings to the table. During Spring Training, and still then with the Padres, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “He’s coming up with a new pitch. He’s throwing a split(-fingered fastball) a lot. … I think a third pitch will serve him well. Typically, a bullpen guy, especially late innings, is more of a two-pitch guy. But I think a third pitch will be good for him. Fastball, sliders are mostly hard (stuff). This is kind of a slower pitch, goes in a different direction, and gives the hitter something else to think about. He’s thrown it in a game and feels confident about it.” To this point in 2022, the splitter has been a focal point for Pagan. He’s thrown it over 17% of the time, and it’s drastically changed the cutter usage. In developing a new pitch and then utilizing it in games, it’s understandable there would be some hiccups and likely control or command issues. As he continues to find comfort with the offering, the walks should subside back down to his career norms. Rocco Baldelli has a very good thing going at the back of his pen right now. Whether going with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran, or veteran-tested Pagan, he’s got capable arms to mix and match for any situation. The more Minnesota can lean into both of them shutting down the opposition, the better they’ll find themselves positioned to close out games in routine fashion.
  3. Twins rookie Joe Ryan took the mound on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to finish out the Twins' longest homestand of the season. Thanks to Ryan’s first 100-pitch start of the season and a couple of solo shots from Gio Urshela and Byron Buxton, the Twins were able to complete a series victory over Cleveland and finish their homestand 5-4. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (103 pitches, 70 strikes (68 strike %)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (3), Byron Buxton (11) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.204), Gio Urshela (.119), Byron Buxton (.081) After a low-scoring game Saturday that was decided by a questionable rule that just won’t go away, the Twins got on the first run on the board against Guardians starter Tristen McKenzie with an RBI single from Max Kepler that scored Luis Arraez. Kepler was able to drive in Arraez because he stole his first base of the season and adding the Twins' season total stolen bases to seven. Clearly a sign of the times. The game remained scoreless through the next two innings thanks to Ryan’s pitching. Ryan cruised his way through the Guardians lineup until the top of the fourth when, with one out, Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to right-center field tying the game 1-1. Even after the Ramirez homer, Ryan remained in control for the remainder of his start. Ryan had his first start with more than 100 pitches this season and kept his strike percentage at 68 percent, totaling five strikeouts. He also only allowed base runners via hits making Sunday his second start without a walk this season. With the game tied going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins found a way to retake the lead thanks to a two-out solo home run from Gio Urshela. An inning later, the Twins' unofficial captain Byron Buxton added to the lead with his 11th home run of the season making it a 3-1 game. Buxton’s home run was called to be the 1,000th home run ever hit at Target Field by the Twins. However, thanks to research from Twins Dingers on Twitter, the home run was corrected to be the 999th home run by a Twin in Target Field’s history. Twins beat writer for MLB.com, Do Hyoung Park retweeted this finding by Twins Dingers to remind everyone the next home run hit by a Twin at Target Field will be the 1,000th. The Twins bullpen kept the Guardians scoreless in the seventh inning thanks to a perfect inning from Cody Stashak who struck out two of three batters faced. In the eighth inning, Joe Smith did allow one base runner, a Richie Palacios single, but Palacios did not score thanks to the relief effort of Smith and Caleb Theilbar. Emilio Pagan was given the ball for the save in the ninth inning and his third consecutive day with a relief appearance. Pagan had thrown 22 pitches Friday but only nine on Saturday making his availability to come into Sunday’s game for the save acceptable to Rocco Baldelli. Pagan completed the save giving up only one hit. He was helped by an outstanding defensive play at third base from Gio Urshela. The win brings the Twins record to 20-15 through their first 35 games this season and extends their lead over the Guardians for first place in the American League Central to three games. What’s Next? The Twins make their first road trip west this season. On Monday night, they begin another three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. Chris Archer is scheduled to go against Athletics 26-year-old lefty rookie Zach Logue. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Stashak 0 46 0 0 13 59 Jax 0 0 50 0 0 50 Pagán 0 0 22 9 10 41 Thielbar 0 23 0 15 2 40 Duffey 0 33 0 5 0 38 Cano 0 36 0 0 0 36 Smith 0 0 4 15 9 28 Duran 0 0 10 12 0 22 Cotton 0 0 0 17 0 17 View full article
  4. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (103 pitches, 70 strikes (68 strike %)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (3), Byron Buxton (11) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.204), Gio Urshela (.119), Byron Buxton (.081) After a low-scoring game Saturday that was decided by a questionable rule that just won’t go away, the Twins got on the first run on the board against Guardians starter Tristen McKenzie with an RBI single from Max Kepler that scored Luis Arraez. Kepler was able to drive in Arraez because he stole his first base of the season and adding the Twins' season total stolen bases to seven. Clearly a sign of the times. The game remained scoreless through the next two innings thanks to Ryan’s pitching. Ryan cruised his way through the Guardians lineup until the top of the fourth when, with one out, Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to right-center field tying the game 1-1. Even after the Ramirez homer, Ryan remained in control for the remainder of his start. Ryan had his first start with more than 100 pitches this season and kept his strike percentage at 68 percent, totaling five strikeouts. He also only allowed base runners via hits making Sunday his second start without a walk this season. With the game tied going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins found a way to retake the lead thanks to a two-out solo home run from Gio Urshela. An inning later, the Twins' unofficial captain Byron Buxton added to the lead with his 11th home run of the season making it a 3-1 game. Buxton’s home run was called to be the 1,000th home run ever hit at Target Field by the Twins. However, thanks to research from Twins Dingers on Twitter, the home run was corrected to be the 999th home run by a Twin in Target Field’s history. Twins beat writer for MLB.com, Do Hyoung Park retweeted this finding by Twins Dingers to remind everyone the next home run hit by a Twin at Target Field will be the 1,000th. The Twins bullpen kept the Guardians scoreless in the seventh inning thanks to a perfect inning from Cody Stashak who struck out two of three batters faced. In the eighth inning, Joe Smith did allow one base runner, a Richie Palacios single, but Palacios did not score thanks to the relief effort of Smith and Caleb Theilbar. Emilio Pagan was given the ball for the save in the ninth inning and his third consecutive day with a relief appearance. Pagan had thrown 22 pitches Friday but only nine on Saturday making his availability to come into Sunday’s game for the save acceptable to Rocco Baldelli. Pagan completed the save giving up only one hit. He was helped by an outstanding defensive play at third base from Gio Urshela. The win brings the Twins record to 20-15 through their first 35 games this season and extends their lead over the Guardians for first place in the American League Central to three games. What’s Next? The Twins make their first road trip west this season. On Monday night, they begin another three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. Chris Archer is scheduled to go against Athletics 26-year-old lefty rookie Zach Logue. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Stashak 0 46 0 0 13 59 Jax 0 0 50 0 0 50 Pagán 0 0 22 9 10 41 Thielbar 0 23 0 15 2 40 Duffey 0 33 0 5 0 38 Cano 0 36 0 0 0 36 Smith 0 0 4 15 9 28 Duran 0 0 10 12 0 22 Cotton 0 0 0 17 0 17
  5. Jhoan Duran has melted faces, Emilio Pagán has given everyone heart attacks, and Joe Smith has rumbled on, continuing his excellence with a fastball that wouldn’t get pulled over on most highways. Yet, Griffin Jax has quietly emerged as a reliable stud in the bullpen, giving the team desperately needed bridge-outs in the middle innings with relative ease. Let’s talk about Jax, the relief ace. Griffin Jax had a poor 2021 season by just about any stat you prefer. He struck out just 18.1% of batters, walked them at an 8.1% clip, and gave up 23 home runs in 82 innings, a total high enough to make Bert Blyleven blush. Unsurprisingly, his ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line looked more like the price of gas these days, as it went 6.37/6.47/5.75. Outside of a surprise, 10 strikeout game against the White Sox on August 10th, outings of upside were few and far between. Jax always had a trick up his sleeve: his slider. The pitch was a bright spot in an otherwise bland repertoire, running a .275 xWOBA with characteristics favorable in Eno Sarris' pitch data collection. Ironically, his popular slide piece only recently joined his repertoire. You can read Jax himself describe the pitch to David Laurila in possibly the greatest baseball information series known to mankind. According to Jax, the pitch came as a fluke; “I was toying around in catch-play, right before I was about to go on the mound, and was like, ‘What if I just turned my curveball a little bit?’ That’s how I got the slider I have now.” Coaches immediately caught on to the pitch and encouraged him to continue using it. In its horizontal break, the pitch perfectly fits with the sweeper revolution in baseball, and it has buoyed Jax’s 2022 season so far. With his two-pitch (basically one-pitch) mix, Jax became a reliever. His velocity has bumped up two ticks to 94.7 MPH, and he has thrown his slider a Matt Wisler-like 52.7% of the time. While the fastball remains hittable, the breaker is anything but. He owns a .195 xWOBA with it, while hitters are whiffing 47.3% of the time they swing at it. That’s good. In fact, that’s good for 11th best amongst all pitchers in MLB who have faced 25 hitters in 2022. The total numbers are inspiring; an ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 1.35/2.43/2.83 that looks great in any era, dead ball or not. The only two criticisms are ‘it’s early’ and ‘it’s not sustainable.’ The first point is fair, but the second one may not be true in the age of breakers. Matt Wisler, Amir Garrett, Andrés Muñoz, Diego Castillo, and the Rogers twins are all quality relievers throwing sliders more often this season than Jax. And, well, just look at the pitch! Hitters may eventually key in on the pitch, but its movement combined with Jax’s command makes it a safe bet that he’ll continue to succeed in the majors. Like we talked about with Danny Coulombe, where a pitch ends up matters as much, if not more than any movement profile. Jax knows how to put his slider juuuuuuuust in the precise place to fool hitters. Yeah, that’ll work. Griffin Jax has become a revelation, finding his proper place in the bullpen where he can unleash as many sliders as humanly possible. It has only been a handful of innings, but Jax has wholly changed course from 2021; his performance is much improved, and his stuff suggests that this will be a permanent change. View full article
  6. The Twins likely felt they were getting a closing candidate in return from the Taylor Rogers trade. In their defense, they weren’t wrong. For Emilio Pagán to remain in the high-leverage mix, however, he has a massive issue to fix. If you’ve watched every outing of Emilio Pagán’s this season, you’re probably in a constant state of indigestion at this point. Time and time again he’s been trusted with high leverage after Tyler Duffey ceded such opportunities early in the season. Time and time again he’s flirted with disaster. Pagán’s struggles are no secret: Every time he takes the mound the opponent gets one free base runner at the very least. Pagán’s free passes have spiraled out of control in his last 6 outings in particular, in which he’s issued nine walks in 5 2/3 innings. To this point, he’s gotten the job done, although this stretch includes two saves recorded on full counts with bases loaded in one-run games, while another involved runners on 2nd and 3rd. After watching such outings, it’s fair to wonder when Pagán’s luck is going to run out. Emilio Pagán was always something of a reclamation project for the Twins after being acquired on Opening Day. After shining in Tampa Bay’s bullpen, he posted ERAs north of 4.50 in 2020 and 2021 in San Diego and quickly fell out of favor with the Padres. In San Diego, Pagán’s strikeouts dropped considerably from a 36% rate to a rate of about 26% during his two years with the Padres. More notably, Pagán started getting absolutely crushed. All of his quality of contact measurements such as hard-hit rate, barrels etc. cratered. Home runs became his Achilles Heel, although his walk rates still remained respectable at 10.3% in 2020 and just 6.8% in 2021. So where does Pagán’s near 25% walk rate come from in 2022? Before any trade talk even started, Pagán noted that he had planned to start throwing a splitter he learned from former all-star closer Kirby Yates this season. Long just a fastball/cutter pitcher, it sounded like a great idea as his lack of variety in his repertoire likely led to his loud contact issues. His early returns are good as the pitch has a 40% whiff rate and he has yet to allow a hit on it. It’s worth wondering however whether this new pitch has thrown him off his game a bit. This could be a case where the new splitter is directly accounting for more balls in Pagán’s appearances. The pitch is rarely actually in the strike zone, and all it takes is a scouting report and the ability to recognize it’s not a fastball or cutter, and hitters can sit back and watch it go by. It’s also worth noting that individual pitches can actually affect a pitcher’s overall repertoire. Chris Paddack is famous for losing a tremendous amount of ride on his fastball in San Diego after adding his curveball. Whether it’s psychological or physical, adding a pitch isn’t always just a plug-and-play situation. At any rate, Pagán appears to be making significant strides in the direction of becoming a valuable reliever again… except the disastrous walk rate. His whiffs are fantastic, his quality of contact has been much improved, and he now possesses a pitch mix that should conceivably be able to get hitters out on both sides of the plate. The question is whether he can once again figure out how to throw strikes. If not, all of his improvements become a moot point, as sooner or later his free passes will start crossing home plate. For a pitcher with a 7% career walk rate, it may be worth betting on Pagán’s recent issues being a blip on the radar rather than a crippling problem developed at the age of 31 after six seasons in the MLB. That being said, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP, and likely shouldn’t be done in the 9th inning with games on the line. The streak of “effectiveness” we’ve recently seen keeps looking more and more like good luck, and carrying these issues into the remaining four and a half months of the season simply will not end well. Emilio Pagán is doing a lot right, but it’s what he’s doing wrong that’s drawing the most attention. Can he get his walks under control or will his improvements from the last two years be wasted by too many free passes? — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  7. Griffin Jax had a poor 2021 season by just about any stat you prefer. He struck out just 18.1% of batters, walked them at an 8.1% clip, and gave up 23 home runs in 82 innings, a total high enough to make Bert Blyleven blush. Unsurprisingly, his ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line looked more like the price of gas these days, as it went 6.37/6.47/5.75. Outside of a surprise, 10 strikeout game against the White Sox on August 10th, outings of upside were few and far between. Jax always had a trick up his sleeve: his slider. The pitch was a bright spot in an otherwise bland repertoire, running a .275 xWOBA with characteristics favorable in Eno Sarris' pitch data collection. Ironically, his popular slide piece only recently joined his repertoire. You can read Jax himself describe the pitch to David Laurila in possibly the greatest baseball information series known to mankind. According to Jax, the pitch came as a fluke; “I was toying around in catch-play, right before I was about to go on the mound, and was like, ‘What if I just turned my curveball a little bit?’ That’s how I got the slider I have now.” Coaches immediately caught on to the pitch and encouraged him to continue using it. In its horizontal break, the pitch perfectly fits with the sweeper revolution in baseball, and it has buoyed Jax’s 2022 season so far. With his two-pitch (basically one-pitch) mix, Jax became a reliever. His velocity has bumped up two ticks to 94.7 MPH, and he has thrown his slider a Matt Wisler-like 52.7% of the time. While the fastball remains hittable, the breaker is anything but. He owns a .195 xWOBA with it, while hitters are whiffing 47.3% of the time they swing at it. That’s good. In fact, that’s good for 11th best amongst all pitchers in MLB who have faced 25 hitters in 2022. The total numbers are inspiring; an ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 1.35/2.43/2.83 that looks great in any era, dead ball or not. The only two criticisms are ‘it’s early’ and ‘it’s not sustainable.’ The first point is fair, but the second one may not be true in the age of breakers. Matt Wisler, Amir Garrett, Andrés Muñoz, Diego Castillo, and the Rogers twins are all quality relievers throwing sliders more often this season than Jax. And, well, just look at the pitch! Hitters may eventually key in on the pitch, but its movement combined with Jax’s command makes it a safe bet that he’ll continue to succeed in the majors. Like we talked about with Danny Coulombe, where a pitch ends up matters as much, if not more than any movement profile. Jax knows how to put his slider juuuuuuuust in the precise place to fool hitters. Yeah, that’ll work. Griffin Jax has become a revelation, finding his proper place in the bullpen where he can unleash as many sliders as humanly possible. It has only been a handful of innings, but Jax has wholly changed course from 2021; his performance is much improved, and his stuff suggests that this will be a permanent change.
  8. If you’ve watched every outing of Emilio Pagán’s this season, you’re probably in a constant state of indigestion at this point. Time and time again he’s been trusted with high leverage after Tyler Duffey ceded such opportunities early in the season. Time and time again he’s flirted with disaster. Pagán’s struggles are no secret: Every time he takes the mound the opponent gets one free base runner at the very least. Pagán’s free passes have spiraled out of control in his last 6 outings in particular, in which he’s issued nine walks in 5 2/3 innings. To this point, he’s gotten the job done, although this stretch includes two saves recorded on full counts with bases loaded in one-run games, while another involved runners on 2nd and 3rd. After watching such outings, it’s fair to wonder when Pagán’s luck is going to run out. Emilio Pagán was always something of a reclamation project for the Twins after being acquired on Opening Day. After shining in Tampa Bay’s bullpen, he posted ERAs north of 4.50 in 2020 and 2021 in San Diego and quickly fell out of favor with the Padres. In San Diego, Pagán’s strikeouts dropped considerably from a 36% rate to a rate of about 26% during his two years with the Padres. More notably, Pagán started getting absolutely crushed. All of his quality of contact measurements such as hard-hit rate, barrels etc. cratered. Home runs became his Achilles Heel, although his walk rates still remained respectable at 10.3% in 2020 and just 6.8% in 2021. So where does Pagán’s near 25% walk rate come from in 2022? Before any trade talk even started, Pagán noted that he had planned to start throwing a splitter he learned from former all-star closer Kirby Yates this season. Long just a fastball/cutter pitcher, it sounded like a great idea as his lack of variety in his repertoire likely led to his loud contact issues. His early returns are good as the pitch has a 40% whiff rate and he has yet to allow a hit on it. It’s worth wondering however whether this new pitch has thrown him off his game a bit. This could be a case where the new splitter is directly accounting for more balls in Pagán’s appearances. The pitch is rarely actually in the strike zone, and all it takes is a scouting report and the ability to recognize it’s not a fastball or cutter, and hitters can sit back and watch it go by. It’s also worth noting that individual pitches can actually affect a pitcher’s overall repertoire. Chris Paddack is famous for losing a tremendous amount of ride on his fastball in San Diego after adding his curveball. Whether it’s psychological or physical, adding a pitch isn’t always just a plug-and-play situation. At any rate, Pagán appears to be making significant strides in the direction of becoming a valuable reliever again… except the disastrous walk rate. His whiffs are fantastic, his quality of contact has been much improved, and he now possesses a pitch mix that should conceivably be able to get hitters out on both sides of the plate. The question is whether he can once again figure out how to throw strikes. If not, all of his improvements become a moot point, as sooner or later his free passes will start crossing home plate. For a pitcher with a 7% career walk rate, it may be worth betting on Pagán’s recent issues being a blip on the radar rather than a crippling problem developed at the age of 31 after six seasons in the MLB. That being said, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP, and likely shouldn’t be done in the 9th inning with games on the line. The streak of “effectiveness” we’ve recently seen keeps looking more and more like good luck, and carrying these issues into the remaining four and a half months of the season simply will not end well. Emilio Pagán is doing a lot right, but it’s what he’s doing wrong that’s drawing the most attention. Can he get his walks under control or will his improvements from the last two years be wasted by too many free passes? — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  9. Three baseball games. Three consecutive one-run victories. All around Twins territory, fans’ brains are secreting happy hormones. Last year was such a different story. I had a dry-erase board at work. I drew the Twins logo on it and then two numbers underneath that logo. One for wins, one for losses. We all remember which number grew the fastest. Every day, it seemed like I’d be adding one to the loss column. “They lost again?” the people I worked with asked. “Your team sucks,” came next. It wasn’t a question. I didn’t argue with it. I’m so much happier this year. I have a Twins buddy at work.I usually don’t bring up a victory right away. I start with a pleasant greeting, then a little bit of small talk. I’m waiting, though. I’m waiting for the right moment. I’m smiling already. I’m thinking it, and I know he’s thinking it, too. “How ‘bout them Twins?” I say. And whammo! There we are! Joyously reveling in the glory of another Twins victory. Today, there was a scary side to the victory - Pagan has the potential to give both of us heart attacks. But it’s fun to be a little scared when there’s a happy ending, right? Meaningful baseball is like a campfire. It brings everyone into its glow. It inspires conversation. In our age, that conversation can happen in person, on social media, or through podcasts. When the message is winning, people want to keep spreading the message.The fire is warm; all fans are welcome. Last year, instead of a campfire, we had a desperate fan rubbing two soggy sticks together for warmth. We had cold, raw hot dogs and nothing to talk about. I firmly believe a meaningful summer of baseball adds a whole other level to the season. It’s the B story for the rest of your life. And it’s better shared with other fans.
  10. Chris Paddack had a short start, but the Twins bullpen continued to be incredible. They threw six zeroes on the board to close out the win on Sunday. Jorge Polanco had the big hit in the third inning. The Twins won their ninth straight game at Target Field. The A's lost their ninth straight game. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18 View full article
  11. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18
  12. The Twins extended their win streak to five games on a chilly Tuesday night, beating the Tigers 5-4 in bizarre fashion in the series opener on a final play you have to see to believe. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  13. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews
  14. On yet another terrible game by the Twins offense, Bailey Ober and the bullpen kept chances alive until the end. The White Sox made a horrific defensive blunder and allowed Minnesota to steal the game in the eighth. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Bailey Ober, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 56 strikes, 70.8%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.462), Emilio Pagán (.152), Bailey Ober (.104) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Ober pitches solid five innings, but gets no help from the offense Earlier today, the Twins official Twitter account sent out the tweet below, which could’ve somehow put a little pressure on young starter Bailey Ober: But that’s exactly what didn't happen. The sophomore had a solid start to this game, dominating the White Sox lineup. With solid command, he threw over 72% strikes in the first three innings allowing only two hits. Unfortunately for the Twins, Chicago’s starter Michael Kopech also feasted off recently weakened Minnesota’s offense through the first portion of the game. Luis Arráez opened up the first inning with a leadoff single, but Carlos Correa grounded into a double play immediately afterward. In that same inning, Jorge Polanco reached on a walk but was caught trying to steal second, ending the threat. The first man in scoring position of the game was a Twin. Trevor Larnach hit a two-out double in the second, but Kopech followed that up by retiring the next eight batters, including four strikeouts. Ober pitched a clean fourth inning, but the White Sox got to him in the fifth, with Andrew Vaughn smashing a leadoff home run to center to make it 1-0 Chicago. Ober got into a bad spot when Reese McGuire followed that homer with a double, prompting an immediate mound visit by Wes Johnson. That helped him get back on track and he retired the next three batters to limit the damage to just the one run. Ober’s night was done after that inning, with Griffin Jax coming in to pitch the sixth. With tonight’s outing, Ober lowered his season ERA to 2.81 and the Twins rotation continues to be one of the best in the majors. You know, as we all have predicted a month ago, right? Jax, Bullpen perform brilliantly; wild defense from Chicago gives Twins the lead Griffin Jax came in trying to keep this a one-run game and he couldn’t have done a better job. He threw two scoreless and hitless frames on 29 pitches – 24 sliders (83%). He pitched around a leadoff walk in the sixth and went on to retire the next six batters, causing them to swing and miss 46% of the time. After a rough outing in Kansas City on Tuesday that cost the Twins a win, Tyler Duffey got a much-needed clean inning in the eighth. He retired the top of Chicago’s lineup in order on 13 pitches, including two strikeouts, giving the offense a chance to redeem itself in the bottom of the inning. Could they do it? Well, yes and no. The inning started out atrociously for Minnesota, with Miguel Sanó and Nick Gordon quickly retired on ten pitches. Ryan Jeffers stepped up to the plate and, also quickly, was down 0-2 in the count. Suddenly, things started to change in a wild way. In the third pitch of the at-bat, Jeffers crushed a ground-rule double to left-center, bringing Arráez to the plate. Luis worked a nice six-pitch walk to keep the inning alive and bring Correa to the plate. Slumping really hard on the season so far, “C4” swung on the second pitch and grounded to the hole in deep shortstop, enough to score Jeffers. But to make things better, Tim Anderson and José Abreu made a couple of awful throws that allowed Arráez to also score and Correa to make second. (Just watch this...) Emilio Pagán was brought in to pitch the ninth and try to earn the save, but things didn’t start well for him. He gave up a leadoff double to Eloy Jiménez and loaded the bases with only one out. After a hard-fought, nine-pitch at-bat, he got McGuire to pop out. Then, he almost lost Jake Burger for the last out but managed to strike him out on a full count. What’s Next? Game two of the series is tomorrow at 3:05 pm CDT, when Dylan Bundy (2-0, 0.87 ERA) tries to keep his hot start going facing righty Vince Velasquez (0-1, 4.15 ERA). Byron Buxton is expected to be back in the lineup. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Jax 47 0 0 0 29 76 Pagán 0 0 0 9 34 43 Duran 23 0 0 15 0 38 Romero 0 30 0 0 0 30 Duffey 0 15 0 0 13 28 Smith 6 2 0 16 0 24 Stashak 0 0 21 0 0 21 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Winder 0 0 0 0 0 0 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  15. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Bailey Ober, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 56 strikes, 70.8%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.462), Emilio Pagán (.152), Bailey Ober (.104) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Ober pitches solid five innings, but gets no help from the offense Earlier today, the Twins official Twitter account sent out the tweet below, which could’ve somehow put a little pressure on young starter Bailey Ober: But that’s exactly what didn't happen. The sophomore had a solid start to this game, dominating the White Sox lineup. With solid command, he threw over 72% strikes in the first three innings allowing only two hits. Unfortunately for the Twins, Chicago’s starter Michael Kopech also feasted off recently weakened Minnesota’s offense through the first portion of the game. Luis Arráez opened up the first inning with a leadoff single, but Carlos Correa grounded into a double play immediately afterward. In that same inning, Jorge Polanco reached on a walk but was caught trying to steal second, ending the threat. The first man in scoring position of the game was a Twin. Trevor Larnach hit a two-out double in the second, but Kopech followed that up by retiring the next eight batters, including four strikeouts. Ober pitched a clean fourth inning, but the White Sox got to him in the fifth, with Andrew Vaughn smashing a leadoff home run to center to make it 1-0 Chicago. Ober got into a bad spot when Reese McGuire followed that homer with a double, prompting an immediate mound visit by Wes Johnson. That helped him get back on track and he retired the next three batters to limit the damage to just the one run. Ober’s night was done after that inning, with Griffin Jax coming in to pitch the sixth. With tonight’s outing, Ober lowered his season ERA to 2.81 and the Twins rotation continues to be one of the best in the majors. You know, as we all have predicted a month ago, right? Jax, Bullpen perform brilliantly; wild defense from Chicago gives Twins the lead Griffin Jax came in trying to keep this a one-run game and he couldn’t have done a better job. He threw two scoreless and hitless frames on 29 pitches – 24 sliders (83%). He pitched around a leadoff walk in the sixth and went on to retire the next six batters, causing them to swing and miss 46% of the time. After a rough outing in Kansas City on Tuesday that cost the Twins a win, Tyler Duffey got a much-needed clean inning in the eighth. He retired the top of Chicago’s lineup in order on 13 pitches, including two strikeouts, giving the offense a chance to redeem itself in the bottom of the inning. Could they do it? Well, yes and no. The inning started out atrociously for Minnesota, with Miguel Sanó and Nick Gordon quickly retired on ten pitches. Ryan Jeffers stepped up to the plate and, also quickly, was down 0-2 in the count. Suddenly, things started to change in a wild way. In the third pitch of the at-bat, Jeffers crushed a ground-rule double to left-center, bringing Arráez to the plate. Luis worked a nice six-pitch walk to keep the inning alive and bring Correa to the plate. Slumping really hard on the season so far, “C4” swung on the second pitch and grounded to the hole in deep shortstop, enough to score Jeffers. But to make things better, Tim Anderson and José Abreu made a couple of awful throws that allowed Arráez to also score and Correa to make second. (Just watch this...) Emilio Pagán was brought in to pitch the ninth and try to earn the save, but things didn’t start well for him. He gave up a leadoff double to Eloy Jiménez and loaded the bases with only one out. After a hard-fought, nine-pitch at-bat, he got McGuire to pop out. Then, he almost lost Jake Burger for the last out but managed to strike him out on a full count. What’s Next? Game two of the series is tomorrow at 3:05 pm CDT, when Dylan Bundy (2-0, 0.87 ERA) tries to keep his hot start going facing righty Vince Velasquez (0-1, 4.15 ERA). Byron Buxton is expected to be back in the lineup. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Jax 47 0 0 0 29 76 Pagán 0 0 0 9 34 43 Duran 23 0 0 15 0 38 Romero 0 30 0 0 0 30 Duffey 0 15 0 0 13 28 Smith 6 2 0 16 0 24 Stashak 0 0 21 0 0 21 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Winder 0 0 0 0 0 0 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0
  16. Emilio Pagán was brought back as part of the Taylor Rogers trade to give the Twins a late-inning bullpen option. Unfortunately, some signs and projection systems point to him being a potential bullpen bust. Are they right? Pagán is entering his age-31 season, and he has bounced around MLB over the last six seasons. His first two seasons were in AL West as he pitched in relief for Seattle and Oakland. In 112 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.85 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. Tampa Bay added him for the 2019 season, and he posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category, including 20 saves. Like many relievers, the Rays were able to get the best out of him before shipping him away. His time in San Diego pointed to a few concerning trends as he posted a 4.75 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 85 1/3 innings. In Tampa, he was able to keep the ball in the park, avoid hard contact, and miss enough bats to be effective. There's a reason the Padres were looking for a different late-inning reliever, and Minnesota is searching for the 2019 version of Pagán. During the 2021 season, there were plenty of things that went wrong in San Diego, and Pagán may have played a role in the team's downfall. His Hard Hit % and Barrel % ranked in the 7th percentile or lower, which resulted in him allowing one of baseball's worst average exit velocities. Batters posted a .538 SLG against his fastball last season, so changing his pitch mix may be something the Twins examine with him. Giving up that much hard contact also results in more home runs. Last season, he posted a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 after posting a 1.6 HR/9 for his career. His 13 home runs allowed in 2021 may have been higher had he not been pitching with San Diego's spacious outfield behind him. Home run rates can be unstable, especially for relievers, but it will be something to watch this season. Another concern from 2021 was his lack of first-pitch strikes, which tends to increase a pitcher's walk rate. Last season, he posted a 2.6 BB/9, which was slightly above his 2.3 BB/9 for his career. Many projection systems viewed his walk rate as an area of concern for the 2022 campaign. If a reliever can't throw first-pitch strikes, there is a good chance he will allow more base runners, which is a recipe for disaster. FanGraphs’s ZiPs projection identified Pagán as a potential bust candidate. According to them, “A bust is a player who will step down a tier in performance or who is in a down cycle and has passed the window to get back to what they used to be. None of the players involved are literally without value, and some of them are still really good.“ There is still an opportunity for Pagán to provide value to the Twins this season. In limited action this season, the Twins have already attempted to make some changes with Pagán. His fastball usage has decreased while his cutter has stayed the same. So, what's the most significant change? For the first time in his career, he is using a split-finger pitch. Relievers tend to have such a small sample size throughout a season, but it will be interesting to see his success in adding this pitch to his repertoire. Even with some struggles last season, Pagán showcased some strong areas on which the Twins can capitalize. His fastball spin ranked in the 91st percentile, even with MLB cracking down on the use of sticky substances. His Whiff% ranked in the 74th percentile, his K% ranked in the 67th percentile, and his xBA ranked in the 65th percentile. If Minnesota trusts Pagán in late-inning situations, he needs to continue to improve in these areas. Do you think Pagán is destined to be a bust this season, or do you think he can be a reliable option in the back of the Twins' bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. View full article
  17. Pagán is entering his age-31 season, and he has bounced around MLB over the last six seasons. His first two seasons were in AL West as he pitched in relief for Seattle and Oakland. In 112 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.85 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. Tampa Bay added him for the 2019 season, and he posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category, including 20 saves. Like many relievers, the Rays were able to get the best out of him before shipping him away. His time in San Diego pointed to a few concerning trends as he posted a 4.75 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 85 1/3 innings. In Tampa, he was able to keep the ball in the park, avoid hard contact, and miss enough bats to be effective. There's a reason the Padres were looking for a different late-inning reliever, and Minnesota is searching for the 2019 version of Pagán. During the 2021 season, there were plenty of things that went wrong in San Diego, and Pagán may have played a role in the team's downfall. His Hard Hit % and Barrel % ranked in the 7th percentile or lower, which resulted in him allowing one of baseball's worst average exit velocities. Batters posted a .538 SLG against his fastball last season, so changing his pitch mix may be something the Twins examine with him. Giving up that much hard contact also results in more home runs. Last season, he posted a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 after posting a 1.6 HR/9 for his career. His 13 home runs allowed in 2021 may have been higher had he not been pitching with San Diego's spacious outfield behind him. Home run rates can be unstable, especially for relievers, but it will be something to watch this season. Another concern from 2021 was his lack of first-pitch strikes, which tends to increase a pitcher's walk rate. Last season, he posted a 2.6 BB/9, which was slightly above his 2.3 BB/9 for his career. Many projection systems viewed his walk rate as an area of concern for the 2022 campaign. If a reliever can't throw first-pitch strikes, there is a good chance he will allow more base runners, which is a recipe for disaster. FanGraphs’s ZiPs projection identified Pagán as a potential bust candidate. According to them, “A bust is a player who will step down a tier in performance or who is in a down cycle and has passed the window to get back to what they used to be. None of the players involved are literally without value, and some of them are still really good.“ There is still an opportunity for Pagán to provide value to the Twins this season. In limited action this season, the Twins have already attempted to make some changes with Pagán. His fastball usage has decreased while his cutter has stayed the same. So, what's the most significant change? For the first time in his career, he is using a split-finger pitch. Relievers tend to have such a small sample size throughout a season, but it will be interesting to see his success in adding this pitch to his repertoire. Even with some struggles last season, Pagán showcased some strong areas on which the Twins can capitalize. His fastball spin ranked in the 91st percentile, even with MLB cracking down on the use of sticky substances. His Whiff% ranked in the 74th percentile, his K% ranked in the 67th percentile, and his xBA ranked in the 65th percentile. If Minnesota trusts Pagán in late-inning situations, he needs to continue to improve in these areas. Do you think Pagán is destined to be a bust this season, or do you think he can be a reliable option in the back of the Twins' bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
  18. With 31 hours until their first game, the Twins traded away their closer, Taylor Rogers. With the season starting very soon, the Twins now have a few big question marks in their bullpen. Who will they rely on to get big outs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings? What roles will each reliever play in the bullpen? How confident are we in each arm? Here are confidence rankings in the Twins bullpen. Minnesota has made a plethora of moves in the offseason in hopes of going from worst to first in the AL Central. The most recent of these moves was trading away Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker to the San Diego Padres for right-handed pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán. The Twins added some starting pitching depth with Paddack but downgraded their bullpen when they went from one of the better closers in the game in Rogers to a reliever looking to get back to his 2019 self, Pagán. With the Twins figuring to start the year with a six-man rotation, they will have ten bullpen arms. Here are my confidence rankings of the ten. 10. Jhon Romero Romero was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals on March 21, and he will serve primarily to eat innings in Minnesota. Romero throws in the mid-90s with a ton of vertical break on his fastball, so he may need to develop a plus-offspeed pitch, but he is a promising reliever for the Twins. Romero made five appearances for the Nationals in 2021, giving up two earned runs and striking out three batters in four innings of work. He will need to earn the trust of the Twins and the Twins fan base before they can gain confidence in him pitching in big spots. 9. Danny Coulombe A pleasant surprise in 2021, the left-handed Coulombe threw 34.1 innings for the Twins with a 3.67 ERA and a 3.75 FIP. The 32-year-old journeyman is an offspeed pitcher, throwing 66 percent of his pitches as either sliders or curveballs in 2021. Coulombe was also very good at controlling free passes, as he only walked five percent of opposing batters. In 2022, I see the Twins using Coulombe against left-handed batters, as he and Caleb Thielbar are now the only left-handers in their bullpen. Coulombe still needs to prove that he can sustain this level of success, but he could quickly jump up these rankings. 8. Josh Winder Along with teammate Jhoan Duran, Winder displayed some of the best stuff in big league spring training out of all pitchers in 2022. Injuries shortened Winder's 2021 season, but he still managed to go 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA between AA and AAA. He had a sub-1 WHIP, and the hard-throwing righty limits walks and strikes guys out, leading me to believe that he will have no problem transferring his game to the big league level. Winder will be a long reliever, and he will probably make some spot starts in 2022. 7. Jharel Cotton A pitcher nobody is talking about, Jharel Cotton could be the most underrated pitcher in the Twins bullpen. Cotton has the most vertical break on his fastball out of any pitcher in MLB and a highly effective changeup to pair with it. He had a 3.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2021. Cotton will be used in primarily lower leverage situations to start, and his workload could see an uptick with good performance. 6. Caleb Thielbar Despite not having an overwhelming fastball, Caleb Thielbar has done one thing very well over the past two seasons with the Twins. And that is preventing runs. Thielbar only averages 91 miles per hour on his fastball, but it pairs well with his loopy 72 mile per hour curveball. Since 2020, Thielbar has had a 3.00 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 84 innings. Although he was used in low leverage situations in 2020, with the subtraction of Taylor Rogers, the Twins will turn to Thielbar to get crucial outs against left-handed hitters, who batted .214 against him in 2021. 5. Joe Smith An under-the-radar signing for the Twins this offseason, the Twins signed former Astro Joe Smith to a one-year deal. Despite his unorthodox delivery, the 38-year-old has always had major league-level success. His 4.99 ERA in 2021 was misleading, as poor batted-ball luck inflated his ERA. His xERA was 3.55, and he has a 3.08 career ERA. Smith should slot nicely into a middle relief role, especially against righties, against whom he has allowed a .607 OPS in his career. 4. Jhoan Duran As pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, the Twins' only fireballer on the staff in 2021 was Jorge Alcalá. Until now. Jhoan Duran made the Twins opening day roster, and when he debuts, he will be electric. The centerpiece of the Eduardo Escobar trade in 2018, Duran sits in the upper 90s with his fastball, topping at 101 miles per hour in spring training. Duran had the highest STUFF+ ratings in spring training despite a small sample size. For years to come, Duran's nasty stuff could lead to him being a weapon at the back of the Twins bullpen. 3. Emilio Pagán One of the more intriguing pitchers on Minnesota's roster, Pagán will look to return to his Tampa Bay form. In 2019, Pagán was one of the best relievers in baseball as he struck out 96 batters in 70 innings with the Rays. He also had a 2.31 ERA and recorded 20 saves. He struck out 36 percent of batters and only walked 4.9 percent. When he got to San Diego, he took a step back. In 2021, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 63 innings. He gave up 16 home runs in those 63 innings, and he ranked in the seventh percentile of all pitchers in xSLG. Pagán, like the next pitcher on this list, will look to get back to his former self. Pagán will most likely start the year as the Twins' closer. 2. Tyler Duffey After being one of the best relievers in baseball in 2019 and 2020, Duffey took a significant step back in 2021 and will need to rediscover his success for the Twins to have a shutdown bullpen in 2022. In 2019-20, Duffey was in the 93rd percentile of pitchers in strikeout percentage and the 92nd percentile in xERA. He also had a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. In 2021, Duffey was in the 54th percentile in strikeout percentage and the 66th percentile in xERA. He had a 3.18 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 innings. While Duffey was by no means terrible in 2021, he was a different pitcher than he was in 2019 and 2020. Duffey will be a significant part of the Twins bullpen in 2022, especially if he can regain his old form. 1. Jorge Alcalá Alcalá has always been a high octane arm who has shown flashes of dominance, and he offered three signs he was on the verge of breaking out in 2021. Alcalá has a 3.48 ERA in 85 career innings, and his stuff plays very well, as he is in the 96th percentile of all MLB pitchers in fastball velocity and chase rate. This combination could be due to him using his fastball less and his changeup more. He was also in the 86th percentile of pitchers in walk percentage in 2021. This combination of good stuff and low walk rates could lead to Alcalá being a force in the back of the Twins bullpen in 2022. With Taylor Rogers gone, I look for Alcalá to take over the closer role in 2022. Who are your top three relievers for the Twins in 2022? What would you change about these rankings? Are there any guys currently in the minors who you think will majorly impact the bullpen? Let me know in the comments and start a discussion. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  19. So the day before the season starts the Twins traded away the head of their bullpen and supposed closer. Taylor Rogers made up half of the projected fWAR of the Twins bullpen per Fangraphs. What was the front office thinking? By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below! View full article
  20. Rumors started last night. It appears both sides took the night to sleep on it, and on Thursday morning have finalized a deal that sends Twins top reliever Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker to the Padres in exchange for starter Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal? View full article
  21. While Opening Day was bearing down on the Minnesota Twins, weather delayed things just a bit. With the schedule now set to open on Friday, the front office continued working as they acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan from the Padres in exchange for closer Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. What does that do to the roster? First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball. View full article
  22. Minnesota has made a plethora of moves in the offseason in hopes of going from worst to first in the AL Central. The most recent of these moves was trading away Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker to the San Diego Padres for right-handed pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán. The Twins added some starting pitching depth with Paddack but downgraded their bullpen when they went from one of the better closers in the game in Rogers to a reliever looking to get back to his 2019 self, Pagán. With the Twins figuring to start the year with a six-man rotation, they will have ten bullpen arms. Here are my confidence rankings of the ten. 10. Jhon Romero Romero was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals on March 21, and he will serve primarily to eat innings in Minnesota. Romero throws in the mid-90s with a ton of vertical break on his fastball, so he may need to develop a plus-offspeed pitch, but he is a promising reliever for the Twins. Romero made five appearances for the Nationals in 2021, giving up two earned runs and striking out three batters in four innings of work. He will need to earn the trust of the Twins and the Twins fan base before they can gain confidence in him pitching in big spots. 9. Danny Coulombe A pleasant surprise in 2021, the left-handed Coulombe threw 34.1 innings for the Twins with a 3.67 ERA and a 3.75 FIP. The 32-year-old journeyman is an offspeed pitcher, throwing 66 percent of his pitches as either sliders or curveballs in 2021. Coulombe was also very good at controlling free passes, as he only walked five percent of opposing batters. In 2022, I see the Twins using Coulombe against left-handed batters, as he and Caleb Thielbar are now the only left-handers in their bullpen. Coulombe still needs to prove that he can sustain this level of success, but he could quickly jump up these rankings. 8. Josh Winder Along with teammate Jhoan Duran, Winder displayed some of the best stuff in big league spring training out of all pitchers in 2022. Injuries shortened Winder's 2021 season, but he still managed to go 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA between AA and AAA. He had a sub-1 WHIP, and the hard-throwing righty limits walks and strikes guys out, leading me to believe that he will have no problem transferring his game to the big league level. Winder will be a long reliever, and he will probably make some spot starts in 2022. 7. Jharel Cotton A pitcher nobody is talking about, Jharel Cotton could be the most underrated pitcher in the Twins bullpen. Cotton has the most vertical break on his fastball out of any pitcher in MLB and a highly effective changeup to pair with it. He had a 3.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2021. Cotton will be used in primarily lower leverage situations to start, and his workload could see an uptick with good performance. 6. Caleb Thielbar Despite not having an overwhelming fastball, Caleb Thielbar has done one thing very well over the past two seasons with the Twins. And that is preventing runs. Thielbar only averages 91 miles per hour on his fastball, but it pairs well with his loopy 72 mile per hour curveball. Since 2020, Thielbar has had a 3.00 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 84 innings. Although he was used in low leverage situations in 2020, with the subtraction of Taylor Rogers, the Twins will turn to Thielbar to get crucial outs against left-handed hitters, who batted .214 against him in 2021. 5. Joe Smith An under-the-radar signing for the Twins this offseason, the Twins signed former Astro Joe Smith to a one-year deal. Despite his unorthodox delivery, the 38-year-old has always had major league-level success. His 4.99 ERA in 2021 was misleading, as poor batted-ball luck inflated his ERA. His xERA was 3.55, and he has a 3.08 career ERA. Smith should slot nicely into a middle relief role, especially against righties, against whom he has allowed a .607 OPS in his career. 4. Jhoan Duran As pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, the Twins' only fireballer on the staff in 2021 was Jorge Alcalá. Until now. Jhoan Duran made the Twins opening day roster, and when he debuts, he will be electric. The centerpiece of the Eduardo Escobar trade in 2018, Duran sits in the upper 90s with his fastball, topping at 101 miles per hour in spring training. Duran had the highest STUFF+ ratings in spring training despite a small sample size. For years to come, Duran's nasty stuff could lead to him being a weapon at the back of the Twins bullpen. 3. Emilio Pagán One of the more intriguing pitchers on Minnesota's roster, Pagán will look to return to his Tampa Bay form. In 2019, Pagán was one of the best relievers in baseball as he struck out 96 batters in 70 innings with the Rays. He also had a 2.31 ERA and recorded 20 saves. He struck out 36 percent of batters and only walked 4.9 percent. When he got to San Diego, he took a step back. In 2021, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 63 innings. He gave up 16 home runs in those 63 innings, and he ranked in the seventh percentile of all pitchers in xSLG. Pagán, like the next pitcher on this list, will look to get back to his former self. Pagán will most likely start the year as the Twins' closer. 2. Tyler Duffey After being one of the best relievers in baseball in 2019 and 2020, Duffey took a significant step back in 2021 and will need to rediscover his success for the Twins to have a shutdown bullpen in 2022. In 2019-20, Duffey was in the 93rd percentile of pitchers in strikeout percentage and the 92nd percentile in xERA. He also had a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. In 2021, Duffey was in the 54th percentile in strikeout percentage and the 66th percentile in xERA. He had a 3.18 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 innings. While Duffey was by no means terrible in 2021, he was a different pitcher than he was in 2019 and 2020. Duffey will be a significant part of the Twins bullpen in 2022, especially if he can regain his old form. 1. Jorge Alcalá Alcalá has always been a high octane arm who has shown flashes of dominance, and he offered three signs he was on the verge of breaking out in 2021. Alcalá has a 3.48 ERA in 85 career innings, and his stuff plays very well, as he is in the 96th percentile of all MLB pitchers in fastball velocity and chase rate. This combination could be due to him using his fastball less and his changeup more. He was also in the 86th percentile of pitchers in walk percentage in 2021. This combination of good stuff and low walk rates could lead to Alcalá being a force in the back of the Twins bullpen in 2022. With Taylor Rogers gone, I look for Alcalá to take over the closer role in 2022. Who are your top three relievers for the Twins in 2022? What would you change about these rankings? Are there any guys currently in the minors who you think will majorly impact the bullpen? Let me know in the comments and start a discussion. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  23. By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below!
  24. First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball.
  25. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal?
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