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  1. Minnesota failed to win any Gold Gloves this season, but there were plenty of improved defensive performances. A respected fielding metric from SABR helps illustrate the team's surprising proficiency with the glove. Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One metric developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, MLB has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. The rankings below are the final rankings for the 2022 campaign. Pitcher (AL Ranking): No Twins Pitchers Qualify Minnesota needed pitchers to throw more innings to qualify for the SDI leaderboard. Former Twin Jose Berrios has been known for his athletic ability, which helps him to field his position. He finished tied for fifth in the AL. According to SDI, Cleveland's Shane Bieber ranked as the best fielder, and he won the Gold Glove. Catcher (AL Ranking): Gary Sanchez 0.6 SDI (12th) Sanchez took over the full-time catching duties after Ryan Jeffers broke his thumb. Minnesota worked hard with Sanchez to improve his receiving this year. Last season, he ranked as the AL's worst catcher with a -8.2 SDI, and there are four players worse than him in 2022. Jeffers' last posted SDI total was 2.0, but his injury meant he didn't have enough innings to be on the leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez 2.1 SDI (1st) Arraez was a Gold Glove finalist at first base and led the league in SDI. However, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.was awarded the Gold Glove even though his SDI total was 1.9 points lower than Arraez. In the second half, Arraez moved from a -0.5 SDI to the league's best total while also playing through injury. It was a terrific defensive season for a player with limited first-base experience entering the 2022 campaign. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco -2.7 SDI (13th) Polanco gained rave reviews during his first season at second base in 2021, but the 2022 season was a different story. Only three qualified second basemen finished with a lower SDI. Polanco dealt with injuries during the season, which likely hindered his defensive performance. Minnesota can hope that Polanco is healthier in 2023 and can move back up the SDI leaderboard. Third Base (AL Ranking): Gio Urshela 0.8 SDI (T-5th) Urshela's defense was one of the most significant in-season improvements for the Twins. At the season's midway point, only one AL third baseman ranked lower than Urshela. He shot up the rankings in the second half and finished tied for fifth with Houston's Alex Bregman. Former Twin Josh Donaldson finished second among the AL's third basemen with a 7.3 SDI. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Carlos Correa 1.6 SDI (9th) Correa was a Gold Glove finalist, but his SDI ranking was a roller coaster throughout the season. His early season defensive numbers were disappointing, but he slowly climbed the SDI leaderboard and ranked in the AL's top-five shortstops at the end of August. His bat was terrific in September, but he posted a negative SDI and dropped four spots in the rankings. Houston's Jeremy Pena, Correa's replacement, became the first rookie shortstop to win the Gold Glove. Left Field (AL Ranking): Nick Gordon 0.1 SDI (5th) Gordon surprised the Twins in multiple ways this season on his way to becoming the team's most-improved player. He'd played infield for most of his professional career, but Minnesota needed him as an outfielder. According to SDI, he finished the year in the top 5 among AL left fielders, which is a testament to his athletic ability. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins Players Qualified Byron Buxton missed time at the season's end and started nearly 37% of his games as a designated hitter. When healthy, he is among baseball's best defensive outfielders. The AL Central had arguably the league's best centerfield defenders, with Cleveland's Myles Straw and Kansas City's Michael A. Taylor finishing 1-2 in the SDI rankings. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler 6.3 SDI (2nd) Like Correa and Arreaz, Kepler was a Gold Glove finalist. Kepler slowly increased his SDI rankings throughout the season but needed more to catch Houston's Kyle Tucker. In the final rankings, Kepler was 0.8 SDI points behind Tucker, who was awarded the Gold Glove. Kepler's defense has become his calling card. Will the Twins look to trade him this winter? Which rankings above surprise you the most? Did Arraez get robbed of a Gold Glove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. This offseason, the Twins could go after an upgrade at catcher. Instead, the Twins should enter 2023 with Ryan Jeffers as their primary catcher, here are three reasons why. Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports The offseason is nearly among us. Close to the top of the Twins offseason priority list is solidifying their plans for the catcher position. Essentially, the Twins have three options; move forwards with Ryan Jeffers as their primary catcher, sign a free agent to be their primary option, or trade for catching help. I’m for the former of these possibilities. Here’s three reasons why. The Twins have more pressing needs this offseason. Shortly after the conclusion of the World Series, Carlos Correa will opt out of the remaining two years of his deal with the Twins. It remains highly unlikely Minnesota will sign him to the type of extension his performance warrants. Concurrently, Minnesota’s internal options are either not ready (Lee), injured (Lewis), or not shortstops (Martin). The Twins should prioritize getting a long-term option at shortstop under contract this offseason. Additionally, the organization needs to add to the front end of the rotation, depth in the bullpen, and a right-handed power bat. While the offensive addition could also be a catcher, the quantity of injuries in 2022 to the likes of Buxton, Larnach, Kirilloff and co make outfield depth more a pressing need. Ryan Jeffers has shown he can be the primary catcher. Jeffers missed significant time in 2022 due to a broken thumb, an injury not easy to recover from or to account for. In his limited MLB service time, Jeffers has shown the ability to be an MLB starter. In 172 MLB games over three seasons, he’s amassed 2.2 fWAR. While it’s a common refrain to criticize Jeffers inability to throw out potential base stealers, he’s a capable defender. Jeffers typically puts together outstanding framing numbers and calls games expertly, a skill as unknown as it is underappreciated (just look at the numbers of pitchers when El Gary took over in the second half of 2022). Jeffers also has rare power for the position, and although prone to slumps at the plate, it feels like there is more upside and consistency to tap into there. Jeffers’ cost allows the Twins to prioritize payroll elsewhere. Whether we want to acknowledge this as a reality or not, it simply is. Jeffers isn’t arbitration eligible until 2024. On a Twins roster with so little elite upside, cost control is meaningful, and beneficial. Jeffers deserved a full season as the primary option (65% of games) to show what he is fully capable of. If he delivers, it’s a boon that could serve the Twins until 2027. What are your thoughts on how the Twins should move forward at catcher? Is Jeffers the best option? Or is there a better fit via trade or free agency? View full article
  3. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One metric developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, MLB has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. The rankings below are the final rankings for the 2022 campaign. Pitcher (AL Ranking): No Twins Pitchers Qualify Minnesota needed pitchers to throw more innings to qualify for the SDI leaderboard. Former Twin Jose Berrios has been known for his athletic ability, which helps him to field his position. He finished tied for fifth in the AL. According to SDI, Cleveland's Shane Bieber ranked as the best fielder, and he won the Gold Glove. Catcher (AL Ranking): Gary Sanchez 0.6 SDI (12th) Sanchez took over the full-time catching duties after Ryan Jeffers broke his thumb. Minnesota worked hard with Sanchez to improve his receiving this year. Last season, he ranked as the AL's worst catcher with a -8.2 SDI, and there are four players worse than him in 2022. Jeffers' last posted SDI total was 2.0, but his injury meant he didn't have enough innings to be on the leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez 2.1 SDI (1st) Arraez was a Gold Glove finalist at first base and led the league in SDI. However, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.was awarded the Gold Glove even though his SDI total was 1.9 points lower than Arraez. In the second half, Arraez moved from a -0.5 SDI to the league's best total while also playing through injury. It was a terrific defensive season for a player with limited first-base experience entering the 2022 campaign. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco -2.7 SDI (13th) Polanco gained rave reviews during his first season at second base in 2021, but the 2022 season was a different story. Only three qualified second basemen finished with a lower SDI. Polanco dealt with injuries during the season, which likely hindered his defensive performance. Minnesota can hope that Polanco is healthier in 2023 and can move back up the SDI leaderboard. Third Base (AL Ranking): Gio Urshela 0.8 SDI (T-5th) Urshela's defense was one of the most significant in-season improvements for the Twins. At the season's midway point, only one AL third baseman ranked lower than Urshela. He shot up the rankings in the second half and finished tied for fifth with Houston's Alex Bregman. Former Twin Josh Donaldson finished second among the AL's third basemen with a 7.3 SDI. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Carlos Correa 1.6 SDI (9th) Correa was a Gold Glove finalist, but his SDI ranking was a roller coaster throughout the season. His early season defensive numbers were disappointing, but he slowly climbed the SDI leaderboard and ranked in the AL's top-five shortstops at the end of August. His bat was terrific in September, but he posted a negative SDI and dropped four spots in the rankings. Houston's Jeremy Pena, Correa's replacement, became the first rookie shortstop to win the Gold Glove. Left Field (AL Ranking): Nick Gordon 0.1 SDI (5th) Gordon surprised the Twins in multiple ways this season on his way to becoming the team's most-improved player. He'd played infield for most of his professional career, but Minnesota needed him as an outfielder. According to SDI, he finished the year in the top 5 among AL left fielders, which is a testament to his athletic ability. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins Players Qualified Byron Buxton missed time at the season's end and started nearly 37% of his games as a designated hitter. When healthy, he is among baseball's best defensive outfielders. The AL Central had arguably the league's best centerfield defenders, with Cleveland's Myles Straw and Kansas City's Michael A. Taylor finishing 1-2 in the SDI rankings. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler 6.3 SDI (2nd) Like Correa and Arreaz, Kepler was a Gold Glove finalist. Kepler slowly increased his SDI rankings throughout the season but needed more to catch Houston's Kyle Tucker. In the final rankings, Kepler was 0.8 SDI points behind Tucker, who was awarded the Gold Glove. Kepler's defense has become his calling card. Will the Twins look to trade him this winter? Which rankings above surprise you the most? Did Arraez get robbed of a Gold Glove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. The offseason is nearly among us. Close to the top of the Twins offseason priority list is solidifying their plans for the catcher position. Essentially, the Twins have three options; move forwards with Ryan Jeffers as their primary catcher, sign a free agent to be their primary option, or trade for catching help. I’m for the former of these possibilities. Here’s three reasons why. The Twins have more pressing needs this offseason. Shortly after the conclusion of the World Series, Carlos Correa will opt out of the remaining two years of his deal with the Twins. It remains highly unlikely Minnesota will sign him to the type of extension his performance warrants. Concurrently, Minnesota’s internal options are either not ready (Lee), injured (Lewis), or not shortstops (Martin). The Twins should prioritize getting a long-term option at shortstop under contract this offseason. Additionally, the organization needs to add to the front end of the rotation, depth in the bullpen, and a right-handed power bat. While the offensive addition could also be a catcher, the quantity of injuries in 2022 to the likes of Buxton, Larnach, Kirilloff and co make outfield depth more a pressing need. Ryan Jeffers has shown he can be the primary catcher. Jeffers missed significant time in 2022 due to a broken thumb, an injury not easy to recover from or to account for. In his limited MLB service time, Jeffers has shown the ability to be an MLB starter. In 172 MLB games over three seasons, he’s amassed 2.2 fWAR. While it’s a common refrain to criticize Jeffers inability to throw out potential base stealers, he’s a capable defender. Jeffers typically puts together outstanding framing numbers and calls games expertly, a skill as unknown as it is underappreciated (just look at the numbers of pitchers when El Gary took over in the second half of 2022). Jeffers also has rare power for the position, and although prone to slumps at the plate, it feels like there is more upside and consistency to tap into there. Jeffers’ cost allows the Twins to prioritize payroll elsewhere. Whether we want to acknowledge this as a reality or not, it simply is. Jeffers isn’t arbitration eligible until 2024. On a Twins roster with so little elite upside, cost control is meaningful, and beneficial. Jeffers deserved a full season as the primary option (65% of games) to show what he is fully capable of. If he delivers, it’s a boon that could serve the Twins until 2027. What are your thoughts on how the Twins should move forward at catcher? Is Jeffers the best option? Or is there a better fit via trade or free agency?
  5. The Minnesota Twins will soon be without the services of Carlos Correa. Once he opts out of his contract, there is little inclination that he will return for 2023 on a new deal. Needing to replace the production, could Minnesota look behind the plate? Image courtesy of Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports Despite what looked to be like a quality lineup on paper, the 2022 Minnesota Twins found themselves struggling to put runs on the board. This issue only worsened as the injuries mounted, but losing one of their best offensive players in Carlos Correa certainly isn’t going to help things. Needing to replace his presence and improve upon what returns, maybe the Twins look to make a splash behind the dish. Last spring, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine swung a deal that sent Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers. Ultimately that made it possible to pivot from Josh Donaldson and land former slugger Gary Sanchez from New York. The hope was that a fresh start could bring better production. It flopped miserably as Sanchez posted a career-worst 89 OPS+. With Ryan Jeffers missing a substantial amount of the season due to injury, there was little offense from the catching position. As he returns in 2023, there remains plenty of promise in a bat that was his calling card when drafted. We have seen it produce in short bursts, and the front office is undoubtedly hoping 2023 is the breakout season. However, he needs someone to work alongside him, or potentially in front of him. Catcher doesn’t seem like a position the Twins will splurge on, and there are not a ton of options. Grabbing the best catcher available, Willson Contreras, could make some sense. There have been indications that the club would prefer a left-handed bat to platoon with Jeffers behind the plate, but the only free-agent options available are Omar Narvaez, Jason Castro, and Tucker Barnhart. Although Contreras is the same handedness as Jeffers, he would immediately represent a substantial upgrade at the position and give the Twins something similar to that of Garver’s Silver Slugger winning season. Contreras owns a career 115 OPS+ and has routinely launched 20 homers a season while producing a .349 career on-base percentage at a position that does not typically provide offensive production. Contreras is bucking the trend. The Twins signing Contreras would fulfill a need in the form of a big bat, and take them out of having to rotate in veteran retreads as they did with Sandy Leon a season ago. Contreras will be 32 next season, and he has spent a considerable amount of time behind the plate, but positional flexibility is something he has also shown over the course of his career with the Cubs. Ultimately it would seem like a longshot for the Twins to grab the top player on the market at a position, although it just happened eight months ago in the form of Correa. Contreras could help to soften that blow and bring stability to a position where the Twins haven’t had any since Joe Mauer moved to first base. View full article
  6. Despite what looked to be like a quality lineup on paper, the 2022 Minnesota Twins found themselves struggling to put runs on the board. This issue only worsened as the injuries mounted, but losing one of their best offensive players in Carlos Correa certainly isn’t going to help things. Needing to replace his presence and improve upon what returns, maybe the Twins look to make a splash behind the dish. Last spring, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine swung a deal that sent Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers. Ultimately that made it possible to pivot from Josh Donaldson and land former slugger Gary Sanchez from New York. The hope was that a fresh start could bring better production. It flopped miserably as Sanchez posted a career-worst 89 OPS+. With Ryan Jeffers missing a substantial amount of the season due to injury, there was little offense from the catching position. As he returns in 2023, there remains plenty of promise in a bat that was his calling card when drafted. We have seen it produce in short bursts, and the front office is undoubtedly hoping 2023 is the breakout season. However, he needs someone to work alongside him, or potentially in front of him. Catcher doesn’t seem like a position the Twins will splurge on, and there are not a ton of options. Grabbing the best catcher available, Willson Contreras, could make some sense. There have been indications that the club would prefer a left-handed bat to platoon with Jeffers behind the plate, but the only free-agent options available are Omar Narvaez, Jason Castro, and Tucker Barnhart. Although Contreras is the same handedness as Jeffers, he would immediately represent a substantial upgrade at the position and give the Twins something similar to that of Garver’s Silver Slugger winning season. Contreras owns a career 115 OPS+ and has routinely launched 20 homers a season while producing a .349 career on-base percentage at a position that does not typically provide offensive production. Contreras is bucking the trend. The Twins signing Contreras would fulfill a need in the form of a big bat, and take them out of having to rotate in veteran retreads as they did with Sandy Leon a season ago. Contreras will be 32 next season, and he has spent a considerable amount of time behind the plate, but positional flexibility is something he has also shown over the course of his career with the Cubs. Ultimately it would seem like a longshot for the Twins to grab the top player on the market at a position, although it just happened eight months ago in the form of Correa. Contreras could help to soften that blow and bring stability to a position where the Twins haven’t had any since Joe Mauer moved to first base.
  7. In terms of existential "needs" on the Twins roster, catcher ranks behind only shortstop on the offseason priority list. In determining the plan going forward, Minnesota's decision makers need to ask themselves a series of questions, with the answers pointing to various different sets of options. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports There are several different ways to view the catcher position, and they largely hinge on your opinion of Ryan Jeffers. Has he shown enough to remain entrenched as the 1A fixture behind the plate, or have his injuries and middling performance created the need to find a new catching cornerstone? In our new chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Framing the Catcher Market," we explore these two scenarios and everything in between, unpacking four questions and where they lead: Do you view Ryan Jeffers as your catcher of the future, and a viable primary starter in 2023? If the Twins want to more or less run back the same plan from 2022, while hoping Jeffers can stay healthier and take a step forward, there are a number of low-cost targets available in free agency, including the option to literally run it back with Gary Sánchez or Sandy León. Do you want to sign the top free agent catcher on the market and make him your new cornerstone behind the plate? The top name in this year's catching market, without question, is Willson Contreras, a three-time All-Star who gained notoriety with the Cubs. At age 30, coming off a season where he posted a career-high 128 OPS+, Contreras would satisfy the needs for both a primary catcher and a middle-of-the-order bat. (Plus, he could DH a fair amount and keep Jeffers solidly in the mix.) As I wrote in the Handbook, "If you're looking for a place the Twins could flex their ample spending flexibility if they miss out on the shortstop and pitching markets, this is the obvious answer." He'll be in high demand and certainly has his downsides, which are also explored in the chapter. So maybe you want to set your gaze slightly lower: Do you want to gamble on a free agent who could be your #1 primary catcher, but also could blow up entirely? Mike Zunino, Christian Vázquez, and Omar Narváez are examples of former standout – even star-caliber – catchers who are coming off down years. You'd be buying low on any of them and taking on a considerable amount of risk. But they'll also bring real upside while requiring short-term commitments. If none of the free agent options in these three categories are appealing, there's only one option remaining. You want to trade for a new primary catcher. Several intriguing options could be in play, with Sean Murphy of the Athletics being the most exciting. The Twins would need to pony up big-time in order to acquire a controllable catcher, but you can certainly make an argument it's justified given how heavily their organizational talent is distributed at other positions. If you're a Twins Daily Caretaker, you can download the full chapter and explore these questions more deeply. If you're not subscribed yet, you can sign up as a supporter of our community for as little as $6/month and get access to this plus all other Offseason Handbook content as it drops. Which of the four routes laid out above is most appealing to you when it comes to approaching the catcher market? View full article
  8. There are several different ways to view the catcher position, and they largely hinge on your opinion of Ryan Jeffers. Has he shown enough to remain entrenched as the 1A fixture behind the plate, or have his injuries and middling performance created the need to find a new catching cornerstone? In our new chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Framing the Catcher Market," we explore these two scenarios and everything in between, unpacking four questions and where they lead: Do you view Ryan Jeffers as your catcher of the future, and a viable primary starter in 2023? If the Twins want to more or less run back the same plan from 2022, while hoping Jeffers can stay healthier and take a step forward, there are a number of low-cost targets available in free agency, including the option to literally run it back with Gary Sánchez or Sandy León. Do you want to sign the top free agent catcher on the market and make him your new cornerstone behind the plate? The top name in this year's catching market, without question, is Willson Contreras, a three-time All-Star who gained notoriety with the Cubs. At age 30, coming off a season where he posted a career-high 128 OPS+, Contreras would satisfy the needs for both a primary catcher and a middle-of-the-order bat. (Plus, he could DH a fair amount and keep Jeffers solidly in the mix.) As I wrote in the Handbook, "If you're looking for a place the Twins could flex their ample spending flexibility if they miss out on the shortstop and pitching markets, this is the obvious answer." He'll be in high demand and certainly has his downsides, which are also explored in the chapter. So maybe you want to set your gaze slightly lower: Do you want to gamble on a free agent who could be your #1 primary catcher, but also could blow up entirely? Mike Zunino, Christian Vázquez, and Omar Narváez are examples of former standout – even star-caliber – catchers who are coming off down years. You'd be buying low on any of them and taking on a considerable amount of risk. But they'll also bring real upside while requiring short-term commitments. If none of the free agent options in these three categories are appealing, there's only one option remaining. You want to trade for a new primary catcher. Several intriguing options could be in play, with Sean Murphy of the Athletics being the most exciting. The Twins would need to pony up big-time in order to acquire a controllable catcher, but you can certainly make an argument it's justified given how heavily their organizational talent is distributed at other positions. If you're a Twins Daily Caretaker, you can download the full chapter and explore these questions more deeply. If you're not subscribed yet, you can sign up as a supporter of our community for as little as $6/month and get access to this plus all other Offseason Handbook content as it drops. Which of the four routes laid out above is most appealing to you when it comes to approaching the catcher market?
  9. Last offseason the Twins made a shocking trade with the Yankees, parting with one of their highest paid players and their assumed future shortstop for a couple of pieces back. Now that we have a full season of data, it’s time to revisit. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below! View full article
  10. The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below!
  11. The Minnesota Twins had a less-than-ideal catching situation at times throughout the 2022 season. As they turn the page to 2023, it’s become clear that the front office views Ryan Jeffers as the guy they’re all-in behind. Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports Prior to 2022, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made a somewhat surprising move in dealing Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers. Garver has had injuries throughout his career but was a Silver Slugger-winning backstop, and among the best offensive producers in the game when healthy. That left Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Not long after, Minnesota pivoted again when they sent Josh Donaldson and Rortvedt to the New York Yankees for Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez. The hope was that Sanchez would benefit from a change of scenery. He’s never been a good defensive player, but the Twins have done a great job coaching catchers, although Tanner Swanson was a leader in that department and is now with the Yankees. Sanchez had once flashed a big bat, however, and there was hope that it would return. Fast forward to where we are now, and Jeffers is the lone catcher on Minnesota’s 40-man roster. Sanchez will be a free agent after the World Series, as will Sandy Leon. Sanchez posted a career-worst season and shouldn’t be entertained as an option. Leon found himself injured down the stretch and wound up on the 60-day injured list. With Caleb Hamilton being designated for assignment and subsequently claimed by the Boston Red Sox, no immediate backup presents itself. Ultimately, the starting option is the way Falvey and Levine would have it. Jeffers was seen as a reach in the Major League Baseball draft, with some analysts not knowing if he could ever stick behind the plate. Since, he’s become a solid to above-average defender and the carrying tool has always been his bat. The .648 OPS in 2022 is not good by any means, but the .756 OPS across 24 games prior to his injury suggested the bat was heating up. Catcher is not traditionally a position of great offensive production across the Major Leagues. Only 10 teams generated more than 2.7 fWAR in 2022 from their backstops. Even with as bad or rotating as Minnesota’s situation was, the 1.8 fWAR from the catching position ranked 13th in the sport. It’s really a situation of a few haves, and a ton of have-nots. The have-nots come in varying degrees of success, however, and the Twins would like to remain in the middle of the pack, if not move up that list. With Jeffers, Rocco Baldelli has upside offensively while getting a strong defensive option. Behind him in 2023, it’s almost a guarantee that Minnesota will need another Leon type. There isn’t a single prospect in the Twins' Top 30 that calls behind the plate home, and the best-case player with upside is Jair Camargo, who experienced a breakout year at Single and Double-A as a 22-year-old. However, Camargo can be a free agent following the World Series too. There’s more than a handful of capable veterans to spell Jeffers on the open market, and while Willson Contreras is the gold standard, it would seem odd for the Twins to spring for such an expense behind the plate. Ultimately, this is now the 25-year-old Jeffers' position to be in for 120-plus games per season, and the front office wants to cash in on their belief from the 2018 draft. View full article
  12. Prior to 2022, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made a somewhat surprising move in dealing Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers. Garver has had injuries throughout his career but was a Silver Slugger-winning backstop, and among the best offensive producers in the game when healthy. That left Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Not long after, Minnesota pivoted again when they sent Josh Donaldson and Rortvedt to the New York Yankees for Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez. The hope was that Sanchez would benefit from a change of scenery. He’s never been a good defensive player, but the Twins have done a great job coaching catchers, although Tanner Swanson was a leader in that department and is now with the Yankees. Sanchez had once flashed a big bat, however, and there was hope that it would return. Fast forward to where we are now, and Jeffers is the lone catcher on Minnesota’s 40-man roster. Sanchez will be a free agent after the World Series, as will Sandy Leon. Sanchez posted a career-worst season and shouldn’t be entertained as an option. Leon found himself injured down the stretch and wound up on the 60-day injured list. With Caleb Hamilton being designated for assignment and subsequently claimed by the Boston Red Sox, no immediate backup presents itself. Ultimately, the starting option is the way Falvey and Levine would have it. Jeffers was seen as a reach in the Major League Baseball draft, with some analysts not knowing if he could ever stick behind the plate. Since, he’s become a solid to above-average defender and the carrying tool has always been his bat. The .648 OPS in 2022 is not good by any means, but the .756 OPS across 24 games prior to his injury suggested the bat was heating up. Catcher is not traditionally a position of great offensive production across the Major Leagues. Only 10 teams generated more than 2.7 fWAR in 2022 from their backstops. Even with as bad or rotating as Minnesota’s situation was, the 1.8 fWAR from the catching position ranked 13th in the sport. It’s really a situation of a few haves, and a ton of have-nots. The have-nots come in varying degrees of success, however, and the Twins would like to remain in the middle of the pack, if not move up that list. With Jeffers, Rocco Baldelli has upside offensively while getting a strong defensive option. Behind him in 2023, it’s almost a guarantee that Minnesota will need another Leon type. There isn’t a single prospect in the Twins' Top 30 that calls behind the plate home, and the best-case player with upside is Jair Camargo, who experienced a breakout year at Single and Double-A as a 22-year-old. However, Camargo can be a free agent following the World Series too. There’s more than a handful of capable veterans to spell Jeffers on the open market, and while Willson Contreras is the gold standard, it would seem odd for the Twins to spring for such an expense behind the plate. Ultimately, this is now the 25-year-old Jeffers' position to be in for 120-plus games per season, and the front office wants to cash in on their belief from the 2018 draft.
  13. Injuries have forced the Twins to dig deep into the organization to fill spots on the active roster. Before this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, Minnesota has some housecleaning to do on the 40-man roster. Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota has 18 players on the injured list, with 11 players on the 60-day IL. Because of these injuries, the team currently has 50 players on the 40-man roster. Before the team makes any moves this winter, the 40-man roster must be cleaned up. Here are the moves the Twins will need to explore before the offseason begins. Heading to Free Agency: Carlos Correa (player option), Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Billy Hamilton, Michael Fulmer, Miguel Sano (club option), Chris Archer (club option), Dylan Bundy (club option) Correa’s opt-out will be something fans eagerly watch, but all signs point to him opting out and looking for a significant free agent contract. Minnesota will need catching depth with Sanchez and Leon out of the picture, so the team may look to re-sign one of their veterans. Fulmer is an intriguing option if the club wants to add him to the bullpen mix for 2023. Based on their performances this season, it seems unlikely for the team to bring back Sano, Archer, or Bundy. 40-Man Roster: Down to 42 with these subtractions Designate for Assignment: Jake Cave, Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Emilio Pagan (arbitration-eligible), Kyle Garlick, Danny Coulombe, Jhon Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Trevor Megill There are some tough decisions in this group and some players many fans don’t want to see again. Cave was optioned off the 40-man roster earlier this season and stayed in the organization, so the Twins may try something similar this winter. Minnesota can attempt to trade Pagan for a low-level prospect, or the team might DFA him without receiving anything in return. Megill is also a tough call to make for the roster. Megill looked good at different points during the 2022 season, and certainly has some really good "stuff," but has struggled recently. 40-Man Roster: Down to 33 with these subtractions Prospects to Add: Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Edouard Julien, Misael Urbina Woods Richardson was added on Sunday before his MLB debut and is part of the team’s long-term pitching plans. Canterino will miss most of the 2023 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. However, he has one of the highest upsides of any prospect in the organization. Julien posted a .931 OPS at Double-A this season and has experience playing multiple defensive positions. According to MLB Pipeline, Urbina is a top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. He struggled in 2021 with a .585 OPS in Fort Myers, and his 2022 season started late because of visa issues. This year, he hit .247/.323/.407 (.730) with 26 extra-base hits in 60 games. Do the Twins still view him as highly as when he signed back in 2018? 40-Man Roster: Up to 37 with these additions The Twins will have room to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft by making these moves. This roster flexibility also allows the team to add other players via free agency when the World Series ends. Will Minnesota keep any of the players mentioned above on the 40-man roster? Has Urbina done enough to earn a 40-man spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  14. In the final game of their disappointing 2022 season, the Twins crushed the White Sox in Chicago, taking the season series against the Southsiders. The main highlight from this game was Luis Arráez officially winning the American League batting title – but it wasn’t the only one! Image courtesy of Thiéres Rabelo (graphics) Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K (78 pitches, 55 strikes, 70.5%) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (16), Jermaine Palacios (2) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.249), Jermaine Palacios (.088), Matt Wallner (.058) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Arráez is the American League batting champion! This is not breaking news, but… Luis Arraez has done it! Despite watching New York Yankee Aaron Judge briefly surpass him for the highest batting average in the American League, the Venezuelan hitting machine kept on hitting and regained first place, never letting it go again. He walked twice today before doubling to deep center in the third inning, raising his batting average to .316, and leaving the game after that. Even if he hadn’t doubled, his case for winning the crown was just too good. Coming into today, Arráez's batting average sat at .315, while Judge’s sat at .311. The Yankees outfielder would need to go 4-for-4 today just to match Arráez’s average while also hoping “La Regadera” would have some bad at-bats in Chicago. However, the Yankees decided not to play Judge for the day, making Arráez the batting champion right away. Even if Arráez had gone 0-for-4 for the day, his batting average would still be higher than that of Judge. Arráez becomes the fifth Twin to ever win the AL batting title, the first one since 2009, joining Tony Oliva (1964, 1965), Rod Carew (1969, 1971-75, 1977, 1978), Kirby Puckett (1989), and Joe Mauer (2006, 2008, 2009). He also becomes the sixth Venezuelan to win the distinction, the first one since 2017, joining Andres Galarraga, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Altuve. The offense gets the job done early The game was basically decided after just two innings. The Twins' offense knocked around Chicago starter Davis Martin right out of the gate, building a six-run lead in the first inning. After Arráez drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Gio Urshela single, Gary Sánchez obliterated a slider on the heart of the plate for a three-run rocket (106.2 MPH off his bat). On the very next at-bat, Jake Cave doubled to left, and he scored on a Matt Wallner single to center a couple of at-bats later. Then, Jermaine Palacios, who had hit his first major league home run on Tuesday night, made it back-to-back days with a dinger, taking Martin deep to left for a two-run jack, making it 6-0 Twins in the first. Three more runs scored in the second inning. Sánchez got another RBI with a double, bringing home Arráez from second after he got another leadoff walk and moved to second on a Nick Gordon single. That prompted a pitching change by Chicago, but it didn’t help. Both Sánchez and Gordon were pushed across by a Gilberto Celestino two-out single against reliever Vince Velasquez, making it 9-0 Minnesota. Things could’ve gotten even worse for Chicago in the third, as the offense loaded the bases with only one out against Velasquez. One of those runners was Arráez and his double, shortly before being lifted for pinch runner Jose Miranda. But this time, one run was all Minnesota could get after a Gordon sacrifice fly to score Caleb Hamilton. Varland takes advantage, secures first big league win Making his fifth start in the majors, rookie Louie Varland was still chasing his first big league win. Before today’s game, he had lost two and gotten a couple of no-decisions. Also, in his previous four starts, Varland had failed to prevent runs from scoring. He would reach both of those personal milestones by the end of the fifth inning today. Against an uninspired White Sox offense, Varland looked more comfortable than in any of his big league starts so far. He allowed a couple of hits early, one in each of the two first innings, including a leadoff double in the second. He pitched around that with three consecutive strikeouts. Despite not missing a lot of bats, Varland didn’t allow quality contact. Chicago hitters had an average 79.3 MPH exit velocity against him. Varland completed five on 78 pitches, throwing over 70% strikes. Also, this was the first start in his short big league career in which he didn’t allow a walk. Cole Sands pitched the rest of the way, and Chicago’s offense didn't pose a threat against him until the final inning, when they put two men on and scored a run, but Sands secured the four-inning save. With the win today, the Twins finish the season with a frustrating 78-84 record, but they do salvage one thing: they take the series season against the Sox with 10 wins in 19 games. Postgame interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 0 0 0 59 59 Jax 0 12 21 0 0 33 Sanchez 0 0 0 33 0 33 López 0 18 0 9 0 27 Fulmer 0 26 0 0 0 26 Moran 0 0 0 21 0 21 Pagán 0 0 5 15 0 20 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  15. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K (78 pitches, 55 strikes, 70.5%) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (16), Jermaine Palacios (2) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.249), Jermaine Palacios (.088), Matt Wallner (.058) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Arráez is the American League batting champion! This is not breaking news, but… Luis Arraez has done it! Despite watching New York Yankee Aaron Judge briefly surpass him for the highest batting average in the American League, the Venezuelan hitting machine kept on hitting and regained first place, never letting it go again. He walked twice today before doubling to deep center in the third inning, raising his batting average to .316, and leaving the game after that. Even if he hadn’t doubled, his case for winning the crown was just too good. Coming into today, Arráez's batting average sat at .315, while Judge’s sat at .311. The Yankees outfielder would need to go 4-for-4 today just to match Arráez’s average while also hoping “La Regadera” would have some bad at-bats in Chicago. However, the Yankees decided not to play Judge for the day, making Arráez the batting champion right away. Even if Arráez had gone 0-for-4 for the day, his batting average would still be higher than that of Judge. Arráez becomes the fifth Twin to ever win the AL batting title, the first one since 2009, joining Tony Oliva (1964, 1965), Rod Carew (1969, 1971-75, 1977, 1978), Kirby Puckett (1989), and Joe Mauer (2006, 2008, 2009). He also becomes the sixth Venezuelan to win the distinction, the first one since 2017, joining Andres Galarraga, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Altuve. The offense gets the job done early The game was basically decided after just two innings. The Twins' offense knocked around Chicago starter Davis Martin right out of the gate, building a six-run lead in the first inning. After Arráez drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Gio Urshela single, Gary Sánchez obliterated a slider on the heart of the plate for a three-run rocket (106.2 MPH off his bat). On the very next at-bat, Jake Cave doubled to left, and he scored on a Matt Wallner single to center a couple of at-bats later. Then, Jermaine Palacios, who had hit his first major league home run on Tuesday night, made it back-to-back days with a dinger, taking Martin deep to left for a two-run jack, making it 6-0 Twins in the first. Three more runs scored in the second inning. Sánchez got another RBI with a double, bringing home Arráez from second after he got another leadoff walk and moved to second on a Nick Gordon single. That prompted a pitching change by Chicago, but it didn’t help. Both Sánchez and Gordon were pushed across by a Gilberto Celestino two-out single against reliever Vince Velasquez, making it 9-0 Minnesota. Things could’ve gotten even worse for Chicago in the third, as the offense loaded the bases with only one out against Velasquez. One of those runners was Arráez and his double, shortly before being lifted for pinch runner Jose Miranda. But this time, one run was all Minnesota could get after a Gordon sacrifice fly to score Caleb Hamilton. Varland takes advantage, secures first big league win Making his fifth start in the majors, rookie Louie Varland was still chasing his first big league win. Before today’s game, he had lost two and gotten a couple of no-decisions. Also, in his previous four starts, Varland had failed to prevent runs from scoring. He would reach both of those personal milestones by the end of the fifth inning today. Against an uninspired White Sox offense, Varland looked more comfortable than in any of his big league starts so far. He allowed a couple of hits early, one in each of the two first innings, including a leadoff double in the second. He pitched around that with three consecutive strikeouts. Despite not missing a lot of bats, Varland didn’t allow quality contact. Chicago hitters had an average 79.3 MPH exit velocity against him. Varland completed five on 78 pitches, throwing over 70% strikes. Also, this was the first start in his short big league career in which he didn’t allow a walk. Cole Sands pitched the rest of the way, and Chicago’s offense didn't pose a threat against him until the final inning, when they put two men on and scored a run, but Sands secured the four-inning save. With the win today, the Twins finish the season with a frustrating 78-84 record, but they do salvage one thing: they take the series season against the Sox with 10 wins in 19 games. Postgame interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 0 0 0 59 59 Jax 0 12 21 0 0 33 Sanchez 0 0 0 33 0 33 López 0 18 0 9 0 27 Fulmer 0 26 0 0 0 26 Moran 0 0 0 21 0 21 Pagán 0 0 5 15 0 20 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  16. Minnesota has 18 players on the injured list, with 11 players on the 60-day IL. Because of these injuries, the team currently has 50 players on the 40-man roster. Before the team makes any moves this winter, the 40-man roster must be cleaned up. Here are the moves the Twins will need to explore before the offseason begins. Heading to Free Agency: Carlos Correa (player option), Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Billy Hamilton, Michael Fulmer, Miguel Sano (club option), Chris Archer (club option), Dylan Bundy (club option) Correa’s opt-out will be something fans eagerly watch, but all signs point to him opting out and looking for a significant free agent contract. Minnesota will need catching depth with Sanchez and Leon out of the picture, so the team may look to re-sign one of their veterans. Fulmer is an intriguing option if the club wants to add him to the bullpen mix for 2023. Based on their performances this season, it seems unlikely for the team to bring back Sano, Archer, or Bundy. 40-Man Roster: Down to 42 with these subtractions Designate for Assignment: Jake Cave, Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Emilio Pagan (arbitration-eligible), Kyle Garlick, Danny Coulombe, Jhon Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Trevor Megill There are some tough decisions in this group and some players many fans don’t want to see again. Cave was optioned off the 40-man roster earlier this season and stayed in the organization, so the Twins may try something similar this winter. Minnesota can attempt to trade Pagan for a low-level prospect, or the team might DFA him without receiving anything in return. Megill is also a tough call to make for the roster. Megill looked good at different points during the 2022 season, and certainly has some really good "stuff," but has struggled recently. 40-Man Roster: Down to 33 with these subtractions Prospects to Add: Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Edouard Julien, Misael Urbina Woods Richardson was added on Sunday before his MLB debut and is part of the team’s long-term pitching plans. Canterino will miss most of the 2023 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. However, he has one of the highest upsides of any prospect in the organization. Julien posted a .931 OPS at Double-A this season and has experience playing multiple defensive positions. According to MLB Pipeline, Urbina is a top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. He struggled in 2021 with a .585 OPS in Fort Myers, and his 2022 season started late because of visa issues. This year, he hit .247/.323/.407 (.730) with 26 extra-base hits in 60 games. Do the Twins still view him as highly as when he signed back in 2018? 40-Man Roster: Up to 37 with these additions The Twins will have room to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft by making these moves. This roster flexibility also allows the team to add other players via free agency when the World Series ends. Will Minnesota keep any of the players mentioned above on the 40-man roster? Has Urbina done enough to earn a 40-man spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. The Twins topped the Angels on the back of the bullpen and some big bats coming through in important situations. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (69 pitches, 41 strikes (59.4%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (15) Top 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (0.169), Gary Sanchez (0.146), Jake Cave (0.100) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Eight is Enough, at least tonight When a team's bats are struggling, as the Twins certainly have of late, it sure is nice to see a pitching staff toss a shutout. When a team gets a short start from a starter, it is really nice to have the offense provide a little cushion and help deliver the team a relatively easy, low-stress win. The Twins jumped on the board first in the bottom of the first when Gio Urshela ripped a ground-rule double to score Jose Miranda. Gary Sanchez followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. In the second frame, Carlos Correa singled to score Jermaine Palacios and give them a 3-0 lead. However, the Angels two big bats tied the game in the third inning. Mike Trout doubled to score Livan Soto. Shohei Ohtani followed with a two-run single. In the fourth inning, Jermaine Palacios just missed a home run but flew out deep enough to left field to score Jake Cave who had led off with a double. Palacios had some quality plate appearances on Saturday, but he is now hitless in his past 31 at-bats. It is the longest hitless streak since Oswaldo Arcia went 0-for-31 in 2014. The big blast came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Gary Sanchez came to the plate with two runners on base. He took a 3-0 pitch down the middle and crushed it well into the left field bleachers. Sanchez's 15th homer gave the Twins a little breathing room with a 7-3 lead. The Sanchez homer was the 153rd of his MLB career, so it is surprising that it was the first that he has hit on a 3-0 count. Gilberto Celestino drove in Urshela with a ground out to give the Twins their eighth run which proved to be enough on this night. The Twins snapped their five-game losing streak and can tie the season series with the Angels with a win on Sunday. Big Boppers Jose Miranda took off with a big July, and while he has still been quite solid in August and September, there is no question that he has cooled down. On Saturday night, Miranda had three hits in his first three at-bats. His first-inning single ended an 0-for-14 streak. In addition, Gio Urshela went 3-for-4, but as you can see from his WPA, he had a couple of big hits to help the team win. Luis Arraez had two hits, and clearly, the big hit of the game came off the bat of Sanchez. Arraez Watch Luis Arraez batted third and played first base on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 in the game so his average now sits at .313. He recorded multiple hits for the 46th time this season. Xander Bogaerts went 2-for 4. He is hitting .315. Aaron Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average is now down to .314. Jose Abreu went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .305. Nathaniel Lowe (Rangers) went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average fell to .305 as well. Bullpen Provides Zero(es) Joe Ryan went just four innings, but the bullpen really stepped it up in this game to help the team to a win. However, Ryan did record five strikeouts and is now one strikeout shy of setting the Twins rookie record. Francisco Liriano struck out 144 batters in his 2006 rookie season. Griffin Jax received his seventh win of the season. He walked one and struck out one in a scoreless fifth inning. Caleb Thielbar came in and looked dominant. He struck out the first two batters before the inning ended on a strikeout. Michael Fulmer only needed nine pitches to work a perfect seventh inning. Jorge Lopez got two groundouts and a strikeout in a perfect eighth frame. Thielbar, Fulmer and Lopez faced a total of nine batters and needed a combined 33 pitches. Then the Twins bullpen ace, Jhoan Duran came on and struggled, but didn’t really struggle. He gave up one run on three hits, though none of the three hits was hit hard. The bases were loaded with one out and Mike Trout coming to the plate. Duran had already thrown a lot of pitches, so I’m sure the bench was getting a little anxious. However, Duran got Trout to line out to right field for a sacrifice fly before getting Ohtani on a slow roller to end the game. What’s Next? The Twins will send RHP Dylan Bundy (8-7, 4.78 ERA) to the mound on Sunday to attempt to gain a series win over the Angels. The team will face Jose Suarez who is 6-8 with a 4.11 ERA. The game is scheduled for 1:10 pm. On Monday, the Twins will have their final off day of the year. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Thielbar 23 0 0 10 13 46 Megill 17 0 0 28 0 45 Fulmer 23 0 0 0 9 32 Moran 0 0 31 0 0 31 Jax 4 0 0 0 27 31 Duran 0 0 0 0 24 24 Pagán 0 0 0 23 0 23 López 0 0 0 0 11 11 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  18. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (69 pitches, 41 strikes (59.4%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (15) Top 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (0.169), Gary Sanchez (0.146), Jake Cave (0.100) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Eight is Enough, at least tonight When a team's bats are struggling, as the Twins certainly have of late, it sure is nice to see a pitching staff toss a shutout. When a team gets a short start from a starter, it is really nice to have the offense provide a little cushion and help deliver the team a relatively easy, low-stress win. The Twins jumped on the board first in the bottom of the first when Gio Urshela ripped a ground-rule double to score Jose Miranda. Gary Sanchez followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. In the second frame, Carlos Correa singled to score Jermaine Palacios and give them a 3-0 lead. However, the Angels two big bats tied the game in the third inning. Mike Trout doubled to score Livan Soto. Shohei Ohtani followed with a two-run single. In the fourth inning, Jermaine Palacios just missed a home run but flew out deep enough to left field to score Jake Cave who had led off with a double. Palacios had some quality plate appearances on Saturday, but he is now hitless in his past 31 at-bats. It is the longest hitless streak since Oswaldo Arcia went 0-for-31 in 2014. The big blast came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Gary Sanchez came to the plate with two runners on base. He took a 3-0 pitch down the middle and crushed it well into the left field bleachers. Sanchez's 15th homer gave the Twins a little breathing room with a 7-3 lead. The Sanchez homer was the 153rd of his MLB career, so it is surprising that it was the first that he has hit on a 3-0 count. Gilberto Celestino drove in Urshela with a ground out to give the Twins their eighth run which proved to be enough on this night. The Twins snapped their five-game losing streak and can tie the season series with the Angels with a win on Sunday. Big Boppers Jose Miranda took off with a big July, and while he has still been quite solid in August and September, there is no question that he has cooled down. On Saturday night, Miranda had three hits in his first three at-bats. His first-inning single ended an 0-for-14 streak. In addition, Gio Urshela went 3-for-4, but as you can see from his WPA, he had a couple of big hits to help the team win. Luis Arraez had two hits, and clearly, the big hit of the game came off the bat of Sanchez. Arraez Watch Luis Arraez batted third and played first base on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 in the game so his average now sits at .313. He recorded multiple hits for the 46th time this season. Xander Bogaerts went 2-for 4. He is hitting .315. Aaron Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average is now down to .314. Jose Abreu went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .305. Nathaniel Lowe (Rangers) went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average fell to .305 as well. Bullpen Provides Zero(es) Joe Ryan went just four innings, but the bullpen really stepped it up in this game to help the team to a win. However, Ryan did record five strikeouts and is now one strikeout shy of setting the Twins rookie record. Francisco Liriano struck out 144 batters in his 2006 rookie season. Griffin Jax received his seventh win of the season. He walked one and struck out one in a scoreless fifth inning. Caleb Thielbar came in and looked dominant. He struck out the first two batters before the inning ended on a strikeout. Michael Fulmer only needed nine pitches to work a perfect seventh inning. Jorge Lopez got two groundouts and a strikeout in a perfect eighth frame. Thielbar, Fulmer and Lopez faced a total of nine batters and needed a combined 33 pitches. Then the Twins bullpen ace, Jhoan Duran came on and struggled, but didn’t really struggle. He gave up one run on three hits, though none of the three hits was hit hard. The bases were loaded with one out and Mike Trout coming to the plate. Duran had already thrown a lot of pitches, so I’m sure the bench was getting a little anxious. However, Duran got Trout to line out to right field for a sacrifice fly before getting Ohtani on a slow roller to end the game. What’s Next? The Twins will send RHP Dylan Bundy (8-7, 4.78 ERA) to the mound on Sunday to attempt to gain a series win over the Angels. The team will face Jose Suarez who is 6-8 with a 4.11 ERA. The game is scheduled for 1:10 pm. On Monday, the Twins will have their final off day of the year. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Thielbar 23 0 0 10 13 46 Megill 17 0 0 28 0 45 Fulmer 23 0 0 0 9 32 Moran 0 0 31 0 0 31 Jax 4 0 0 0 27 31 Duran 0 0 0 0 24 24 Pagán 0 0 0 23 0 23 López 0 0 0 0 11 11 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0
  19. The Twins built an early lead but couldn’t hold on to it nor take advantage of the opportunities they created on offense, going 3-for-13 from scoring position. They drop the series opener in Kansas City and are now one step closer to mathematical elimination from playoff contention. Image courtesy of Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 4 2/3 IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K (65 pitches, 42 strikes, 64.6%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (-.197), Mark Contreras (-.195), Jose Miranda (-.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) For the second time in the past seven days, the Twins’ offense got the upper hand against Royals’ starting pitcher Zack Greinke in the early going and managed to build a nice three-run lead. When these two teams met last week, said three-run lead came right in the first inning, whereas tonight, it took Minnesota a little longer. Despite stranding a couple of runners in the first inning, after José Miranda and Nick Gordon hit back-to-back two-out singles, Minnesota’s lineup didn’t slow down. In the second inning, they were back at it with back-to-back singles from Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino. Matt Wallner then made it three hits in a row with a long double to the right field corner to score Cave. Celestino showed have scored on a Luis Arráez flyout, but somehow he decided not to tag up. No worries there because Carlos Correa did some two-out damage before the inning was over. He jumped on a 2-1 four-seamer to find the gap at short and score both runners. He continues to have his best month on the season, by far, slashing .361/.425/.667 (1.092) before tonight’s game. Too bad we most likely won’t be able to see if that hot streak would’ve extended into October… Bundy is solid at first, can’t hold on to the lead, and the game goes back and forth Meanwhile, Dylan Bundy delivered two perfect innings to open the game, but his shutout wouldn’t last long. After a leadoff double by Gordon went to waste in the top of the third, Bundy also allowed a leadoff double in the home half to Edward Olivares. He did strike out a pair after that, but he couldn’t shut the door on the inning, allowing a two-run home run to MJ Melendez that cut the Twins’ lead to one. Bundy settled in in the fourth but couldn’t deliver another scoreless frame in the fifth. Hunter Dozier tied the game with a one-out solo home run to left, shortly before Nate Eaton followed that with a single of his own. Eaton moved to third on a wild pitch by Bundy, and after the starter departed the game, he scored on a Bobby Witt Jr single off Griffin Jax that gave Kansas City their first lead of the night, 4-3. After the shaky start, Greinke found a way to keep the Twins offense on a leash for most of the time, despite allowing a few hits. It was only during the sixth inning that the bats were able to capitalize again: Urshela led off the inning with a double, and Greinke was done for the night after striking out Gary Sanchez. Against reliever Amir Garrett, doubled himself and scored Urshela to tie the game. The Twins also took the lead briefly when Wallner hit a ground ball that was initially called safe at first, scoring Cave from third. But Kansas City challenged the play, and it got overturned, ending the inning. Caleb Thielbar tossed a scoreless bottom of the sixth, but Michael Fulmer couldn’t keep the game tied in the seventh. He gave up back-to-back one-out doubles that nearly scored the go-ahead run for the Royals. Correa’s arm prevented Melendez from scoring with a phenomenal throw home. However, on the very next at-bat, Salvador Perez hit a flare to shallow right, scoring Witt Jr from second to put the Royals back on top. The Twins had a golden opportunity during the eighth inning when Urshela and Sánchez both reached after getting hit by pitches with only one out. Then both moved into scoring position on a Cave fly out but ended up stranded when Mark Contreras struck out. Despite having the top of their lineup back in the ninth, the Twins went down in order to end the game. What’s Next? The series continues on Wednesday night, with game two scheduled to start at 7:10 pm CDT. Minnesota will bring Bailey Ober (3.49 ERA) to the mound to square off Daniel Lynch (5.15 ERA). Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Henriquez 0 0 0 0 73 0 73 López 0 0 32 0 34 0 66 Moran 40 0 15 5 0 0 60 Fulmer 0 11 17 0 0 23 51 Sanchez 0 0 49 0 0 0 49 Pagán 0 0 31 0 15 0 46 Jax 0 22 13 0 0 4 39 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 0 23 38 Duran 0 16 0 17 0 0 33 Megill 0 0 0 0 0 17 17 View full article
  20. Last week, Major League Baseball unveiled three new rules that will take effect for the 2023 season. The group includes a pitch clock, bigger bases, and banning of a traditional shift. While everyone is set to play under them, which Twins benefit from each one the most? Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports As has been the case with virtually any new idea Major League Baseball has come up with, the minor leagues have served as a training ground. That means many of these new rules have already been practiced at some level by prospects that would hope to come through the system Now being implemented at the highest level, big leaguers will have their first exposure to them. When looking at each individually, it may be worth breaking down who is helped most by each new rule. Pitch Clock When runners are on base pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, and they’ll have just 15 seconds to do so when the bases are unoccupied. I have seen this firsthand plenty throughout St. Paul Saints' action this season. It seems to be integrated seamlessly and works well. There’s no doubt that pitchers will benefit most from the pitch clock. Yes, there has been pushback in regard to routines and timing, but for the most part, the arms have adapted. Specifically, pitchers without much of a Major League track record, or those that work quickly, will benefit from the change. It was widely apparent how quickly Minnesota Twins starter Louie Varland worked against the Yankees last week, and you’ll see plenty more of that from guys who come up off the farm. With batters only being allowed one timeout per plate appearance, there should be a substantial cut down on the ticks that emanate in the form of bat taps, adjusted batting gloves, and walks around the dish. Largely, the suggestion is now to get in the box and stay there. While stealing hasn’t been largely impacted at the minor league level with a set time to deliver a pitch, it’s not maybe more important than ever for pitchers to change up their looks. Minnesota has done a terrible controlling the running game, and while neither Gary Sanchez or Ryan Jeffers throw many base stealers out, their pitchers have to help them as well. Bigger Bases Going from 15” to 18” bases isn’t all of a sudden going to increase the running games. Steals haven’t spiked with bases being larger, but the amount of bang-bang plays directly correlates. There’s also the opportunity for slightly more real estate when two players are rushing to the same base. Plays at first base should have a bit more room for the runner to step through and keep pitchers or other fielders covering a bit safer. The bases being larger is something that fans and players won’t likely realize at all, but there will be multiple instances of different calls or spared injury that could be directly attributed to the change. Byron Buxton probably won’t start stealing 30 bases per year with the new size, but Billy Hamilton would’ve been safe at third base on his steal attempt. Oh, and while we’re here, home plate is not changing and Whit Merrifield was still out. Shift Restriction This change may have the greatest impact on players and the game itself. Teams will still find ways to shift, but now two infielders must be on each side of second base, and all four have to be touching the dirt when the pitcher is on the rubber. No longer will a defender be able to play a short outfield spot, and there won’t be an entire position on the infield unmanned. Joey Gallo is the first name that comes to mind across baseball, but for the Twins, this could actually make Max Kepler good again. He’s been awful about hitting into the shift for most of his career, and the problem is largely attributed to his launch angle. Opting for ground balls and low liners, he’s been easy to steal hits from. Ground balls still probably won’t find their way through, but being able to dump the ball into short right field may be of benefit. Ultimately, I’d expect teams to get creative with their outfielders when it comes to shifting. We may see three play on one half of the grass, and that’s probably how extreme-pull hitters are attacked. What rule are you most in favor of? Are there any you have concerns about? View full article
  21. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 4 2/3 IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K (65 pitches, 42 strikes, 64.6%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (-.197), Mark Contreras (-.195), Jose Miranda (-.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) For the second time in the past seven days, the Twins’ offense got the upper hand against Royals’ starting pitcher Zack Greinke in the early going and managed to build a nice three-run lead. When these two teams met last week, said three-run lead came right in the first inning, whereas tonight, it took Minnesota a little longer. Despite stranding a couple of runners in the first inning, after José Miranda and Nick Gordon hit back-to-back two-out singles, Minnesota’s lineup didn’t slow down. In the second inning, they were back at it with back-to-back singles from Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino. Matt Wallner then made it three hits in a row with a long double to the right field corner to score Cave. Celestino showed have scored on a Luis Arráez flyout, but somehow he decided not to tag up. No worries there because Carlos Correa did some two-out damage before the inning was over. He jumped on a 2-1 four-seamer to find the gap at short and score both runners. He continues to have his best month on the season, by far, slashing .361/.425/.667 (1.092) before tonight’s game. Too bad we most likely won’t be able to see if that hot streak would’ve extended into October… Bundy is solid at first, can’t hold on to the lead, and the game goes back and forth Meanwhile, Dylan Bundy delivered two perfect innings to open the game, but his shutout wouldn’t last long. After a leadoff double by Gordon went to waste in the top of the third, Bundy also allowed a leadoff double in the home half to Edward Olivares. He did strike out a pair after that, but he couldn’t shut the door on the inning, allowing a two-run home run to MJ Melendez that cut the Twins’ lead to one. Bundy settled in in the fourth but couldn’t deliver another scoreless frame in the fifth. Hunter Dozier tied the game with a one-out solo home run to left, shortly before Nate Eaton followed that with a single of his own. Eaton moved to third on a wild pitch by Bundy, and after the starter departed the game, he scored on a Bobby Witt Jr single off Griffin Jax that gave Kansas City their first lead of the night, 4-3. After the shaky start, Greinke found a way to keep the Twins offense on a leash for most of the time, despite allowing a few hits. It was only during the sixth inning that the bats were able to capitalize again: Urshela led off the inning with a double, and Greinke was done for the night after striking out Gary Sanchez. Against reliever Amir Garrett, doubled himself and scored Urshela to tie the game. The Twins also took the lead briefly when Wallner hit a ground ball that was initially called safe at first, scoring Cave from third. But Kansas City challenged the play, and it got overturned, ending the inning. Caleb Thielbar tossed a scoreless bottom of the sixth, but Michael Fulmer couldn’t keep the game tied in the seventh. He gave up back-to-back one-out doubles that nearly scored the go-ahead run for the Royals. Correa’s arm prevented Melendez from scoring with a phenomenal throw home. However, on the very next at-bat, Salvador Perez hit a flare to shallow right, scoring Witt Jr from second to put the Royals back on top. The Twins had a golden opportunity during the eighth inning when Urshela and Sánchez both reached after getting hit by pitches with only one out. Then both moved into scoring position on a Cave fly out but ended up stranded when Mark Contreras struck out. Despite having the top of their lineup back in the ninth, the Twins went down in order to end the game. What’s Next? The series continues on Wednesday night, with game two scheduled to start at 7:10 pm CDT. Minnesota will bring Bailey Ober (3.49 ERA) to the mound to square off Daniel Lynch (5.15 ERA). Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Henriquez 0 0 0 0 73 0 73 López 0 0 32 0 34 0 66 Moran 40 0 15 5 0 0 60 Fulmer 0 11 17 0 0 23 51 Sanchez 0 0 49 0 0 0 49 Pagán 0 0 31 0 15 0 46 Jax 0 22 13 0 0 4 39 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 0 23 38 Duran 0 16 0 17 0 0 33 Megill 0 0 0 0 0 17 17
  22. The Twins have continued to battle themselves and the Guardians for the division. Saturday's second game proved the Twins refuse to go down without a fight. Image courtesy of Ken Blaze, USA Today Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (82 pitches, 54 strikes (65%)) Home Runs: Nick Gordon (8) Top 3 WPA: Nick Gordon (0.435), Dereck Rodriguez (0.355), Griffin Jax (0.307), Michael Fulmer (0.307) Bottom 3 WPA: Matt Wallner (-0.377), Jermaine Palacios (-0.304), Sandy Leon (-0.286) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Josh Winder and Gary Sanchez started out the first inning finding a rhythm to their game. Winder let a run in immediately in the top of the first but managed to stay in control, finding that stride, and retired the next ten batters through the fourth inning. Winder started his third game against Cleveland this season and his second appearance since coming off the IL for shoulder tightness. The Twins let Winder try and work into the fifth, which was good until a slider to Amed Rosario backed up and didn't break. The red-hot Rosario crushed a three-run home run. Baldelli relieved Winder after Jose Ramirez hit a single and replaced him with Jovani Moran to finish the inning. The bullpen managed to keep the Guardians scoreless after their initial five runs. Even when it got exciting in the ninth and the Guardians made a push with players in scoring position. Steven Kwan was on second when Jorge Lopez uncoiled a wild pitch. Kwan rounded third and slid into home, not realizing that the pitch bounced into a dugout suite. Given another chance, Lopez closed out the inning and sent the game to the tenth. The Twins offense didn't get a hit off of Guardian starter Konor Pilkington until the sixth inning when Jose Miranda recorded a single. That ended the night for the Cleveland lefty. In the seventh inning, they threatened with one out and the bases loaded (after a pitch struck Nick Gordon) but left all three stranded. The Twins haven't been hitting much lately, and when they do get baserunners, they struggle with runners in scoring position. Due to the countless injuries and Triple-A players occupying the roster and line-up, the Twins have the youngest team in MLB. The rookies have received playing time and opportunities. Each has experienced some success to build upon, and each has found plenty of struggles and lessons learned. One player who has really taken advantage of his opportunity in 2022 is Nick Gordon. He regularly played in left of center field most of the season, but with Jorge Polanco on the Injured List and Luis Arraez hobbled, he's been playing a lot of second base of late. Check out this play. Since Terry Francona took over the Guardians coaching position in 2012, the Twins and Guardians have had 194 meetings, with the Twins winning 95 of those and the Guardians winning 99. The Guardians are one of the teams that have consistently given the Twins trouble getting past. The Guardians have been in 25 last-at-bat this season, and seven have been against the Twins. They have also won half of their walk-offs of the season against the Twins (3). Jake Cave came into the game as a pinch hitter and started a five-run eighth inning. After getting to first on an error, the bases loaded up again after Jose Miranda singled and Carlos Correa was hit by a pitch. A Gio Urshela single scored Cave and Miranda and cut the deficit to 5-2. Gary Sanchez scored Correa with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Nick Gordon crushed a two-run homer that tied the game at five. The Twins managed to stay solid, even bringing back veteran and former Twins farmhand Dereck Rodriguez who had one appearance with the big club back on April 13th against the Dodgers. "Son of Pudge" managed to keep the Guardians at bay, giving the Twins a chance. In the 13th inning, it was Gordon again who gave the Twins a short-lived lead at 6-5 with a sacrifice fly that scored Correa. In 89 2/3 innings this season with Saints this season, he had 88 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP to accompany a 7-4 record. Rodriguez wasn’t even at the stadium when the game started, He was on a plane from Minneapolis to Cleveland and suited up and took the field. Right-handed reliever Trevor Megill was placed on the COVID-IL between games with Rodriguez, who is not on the 40-man roster, taking his spot. The Twins management throughout today's games was fantastic and it showed through the remaining portion of the game, but after 24 innings of baseball, the game ended with a Guardians walk-off in the bottom of the 15th inning due to a Jermaine Palacios error on a hard-hit ball from Amed Rosario (of course) allowing Austin Hedges to score, ending the night. With two games left in the series, the Twins remain in an absolutely must-win situation to stay relevant in the division. Do you think they have it in them, or are they done for the season? Pitching Preview Match-Up Cleveland Series: Sunday 12:40pm CST: Joe Ryan (11-8,3.83 ERA) vs. RHP Cody Morris (0-1,2.79 ERA) Monday 12:10 pm CST: Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.91 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  23. Saturday was a long, tough day for the Twins and their fans, but the Twins woke up on Sunday, got dressed, went to the ballpark and just continued to show up. Joe Ryan was fantastic with some help from his defense. Jake Cave gave him an early lead, and they got a couple of huge insurance runs late from a likely source. Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes (67.4%) Home Runs: Jake Cave (5) Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (0.559), Carlos Correa (0.087), Luis Arraez (0.078) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but… Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season. Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins. After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing. Defense Comes Through Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense. In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play. Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead. But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again… Josh Naylor walked to lead off the seventh inning, but with one out, Richie Palacios grounded into an inning-ending double play. Captain Cave… Man! Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back. Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned. Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets. On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series. One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today. He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort. All Rise for Arraez Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice! The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases. That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead. In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month. Sanchez Helps Duran Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well. However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes. Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch. Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures. However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts. Pre-Game Transaction Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul. Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place. Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move. What’s Next? The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA). Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Moran 40 0 0 0 15 5 60 Jax 0 0 18 22 13 0 53 Duran 0 0 19 16 0 17 52 Sanchez 0 0 0 0 49 0 49 Fulmer 0 0 21 11 17 0 49 López 0 17 0 0 32 0 49 Thielbar 0 12 12 15 0 0 39 Pagán 0 0 0 0 31 0 31 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  24. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes (67.4%) Home Runs: Jake Cave (5) Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (0.559), Carlos Correa (0.087), Luis Arraez (0.078) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but… Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season. Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins. After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing. Defense Comes Through Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense. In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play. Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead. But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again… Josh Naylor walked to lead off the seventh inning, but with one out, Richie Palacios grounded into an inning-ending double play. Captain Cave… Man! Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back. Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned. Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets. On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series. One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today. He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort. All Rise for Arraez Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice! The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases. That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead. In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month. Sanchez Helps Duran Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well. However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes. Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch. Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures. However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts. Pre-Game Transaction Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul. Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place. Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move. What’s Next? The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA). Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Moran 40 0 0 0 15 5 60 Jax 0 0 18 22 13 0 53 Duran 0 0 19 16 0 17 52 Sanchez 0 0 0 0 49 0 49 Fulmer 0 0 21 11 17 0 49 López 0 17 0 0 32 0 49 Thielbar 0 12 12 15 0 0 39 Pagán 0 0 0 0 31 0 31 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
  25. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (82 pitches, 54 strikes (65%)) Home Runs: Nick Gordon (8) Top 3 WPA: Nick Gordon (0.435), Dereck Rodriguez (0.355), Griffin Jax (0.307), Michael Fulmer (0.307) Bottom 3 WPA: Matt Wallner (-0.377), Jermaine Palacios (-0.304), Sandy Leon (-0.286) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Josh Winder and Gary Sanchez started out the first inning finding a rhythm to their game. Winder let a run in immediately in the top of the first but managed to stay in control, finding that stride, and retired the next ten batters through the fourth inning. Winder started his third game against Cleveland this season and his second appearance since coming off the IL for shoulder tightness. The Twins let Winder try and work into the fifth, which was good until a slider to Amed Rosario backed up and didn't break. The red-hot Rosario crushed a three-run home run. Baldelli relieved Winder after Jose Ramirez hit a single and replaced him with Jovani Moran to finish the inning. The bullpen managed to keep the Guardians scoreless after their initial five runs. Even when it got exciting in the ninth and the Guardians made a push with players in scoring position. Steven Kwan was on second when Jorge Lopez uncoiled a wild pitch. Kwan rounded third and slid into home, not realizing that the pitch bounced into a dugout suite. Given another chance, Lopez closed out the inning and sent the game to the tenth. The Twins offense didn't get a hit off of Guardian starter Konor Pilkington until the sixth inning when Jose Miranda recorded a single. That ended the night for the Cleveland lefty. In the seventh inning, they threatened with one out and the bases loaded (after a pitch struck Nick Gordon) but left all three stranded. The Twins haven't been hitting much lately, and when they do get baserunners, they struggle with runners in scoring position. Due to the countless injuries and Triple-A players occupying the roster and line-up, the Twins have the youngest team in MLB. The rookies have received playing time and opportunities. Each has experienced some success to build upon, and each has found plenty of struggles and lessons learned. One player who has really taken advantage of his opportunity in 2022 is Nick Gordon. He regularly played in left of center field most of the season, but with Jorge Polanco on the Injured List and Luis Arraez hobbled, he's been playing a lot of second base of late. Check out this play. Since Terry Francona took over the Guardians coaching position in 2012, the Twins and Guardians have had 194 meetings, with the Twins winning 95 of those and the Guardians winning 99. The Guardians are one of the teams that have consistently given the Twins trouble getting past. The Guardians have been in 25 last-at-bat this season, and seven have been against the Twins. They have also won half of their walk-offs of the season against the Twins (3). Jake Cave came into the game as a pinch hitter and started a five-run eighth inning. After getting to first on an error, the bases loaded up again after Jose Miranda singled and Carlos Correa was hit by a pitch. A Gio Urshela single scored Cave and Miranda and cut the deficit to 5-2. Gary Sanchez scored Correa with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Nick Gordon crushed a two-run homer that tied the game at five. The Twins managed to stay solid, even bringing back veteran and former Twins farmhand Dereck Rodriguez who had one appearance with the big club back on April 13th against the Dodgers. "Son of Pudge" managed to keep the Guardians at bay, giving the Twins a chance. In the 13th inning, it was Gordon again who gave the Twins a short-lived lead at 6-5 with a sacrifice fly that scored Correa. In 89 2/3 innings this season with Saints this season, he had 88 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP to accompany a 7-4 record. Rodriguez wasn’t even at the stadium when the game started, He was on a plane from Minneapolis to Cleveland and suited up and took the field. Right-handed reliever Trevor Megill was placed on the COVID-IL between games with Rodriguez, who is not on the 40-man roster, taking his spot. The Twins management throughout today's games was fantastic and it showed through the remaining portion of the game, but after 24 innings of baseball, the game ended with a Guardians walk-off in the bottom of the 15th inning due to a Jermaine Palacios error on a hard-hit ball from Amed Rosario (of course) allowing Austin Hedges to score, ending the night. With two games left in the series, the Twins remain in an absolutely must-win situation to stay relevant in the division. Do you think they have it in them, or are they done for the season? Pitching Preview Match-Up Cleveland Series: Sunday 12:40pm CST: Joe Ryan (11-8,3.83 ERA) vs. RHP Cody Morris (0-1,2.79 ERA) Monday 12:10 pm CST: Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.91 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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