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  1. Why did you stay up to watch this? Alternate Intro: Congratulations on not staying up to watch this one, but check out what happened in the game anyway by clicking to read more. Box Score Joe Ryan: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (27) Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-.378), Max Kepler (-.050), Jose Miranda (-.049) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Individual games aren’t usually supposed to mirror the greater spiritual struggle between two teams, yet here we are. The Dodgers crushed the Twins on Wednesday, never allowing a moment of doubt regarding who the better team was. It started with Joe Ryan: the rookie righty repeated his past Southern California struggles, allowing an elite Dodgers lineup to ring extra-base hits across the outfield. Will Smith—allegedly going by W.D. Smith as he would rather others confuse him with a spray oil company than the actor—rifled an RBI double into right-center field to kick off the scoring. Ryan’s life on the mound remained challenging; the technically worse “bottom-half” of the Dodgers lineup—which includes an All-Star and an MVP—knocked balls into the corner pocket in the 2nd inning, scoring a few more runs. Trea Turner, with some help from Gilberto Celestino not being Byron Buxton, blooped in a double to end the frame at four total runs for the Dodgers. Max Muncy homered in the 3rd. So it goes. The Twins were not completely helpless during this onslaught; Gio Urshela muscled a triple into left-center field, and Celestino pulled him home with one of the shorter hits allowed by the rules. But they weren’t much better than overpowered; Julio Urías worked through early rust to command the ball incredibly in a dominating start. Urshela’s triple would be the only extra-base hit of the game off the Dodgers’ lefty; four lonely singles constituted the remaining Twins’ offense against him. While the Dodgers’ bats parried efficiently, the Twins found no such luck against Julio Urías for the entirety of his seven-inning start. The game slowly morphed into a countdown, with outs acting as a formality, not an accomplishment. Trevor Megill allowed two runs after the Twins attempted to extend him for a second inning; Emilio Pagán netted two outs to end that inning. Buxton provided a jolt—a small one, yes, but one nonetheless. With a man on in the 8th inning, Buxton scraped a low slider off the bottom of the strike zone and deposited it just far enough beyond home plate to count for two runs. The game was still 8-3. A fan ran onto the field. Even the joy from that play did not last long; the Dodgers immediately struck for two runs, hitting the double-digit threshold while claiming a seven-run lead. What’s Next? The Twins and Dodgers will play again on Wednesday at 9:10 PM Central. Sonny Gray will take the mound for Minnesota while Ryan Pepiot will (probably) start for Los Angeles. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Pagan 0 0 19 0 32 51 Sands 0 0 51 0 0 51 Megill 0 12 0 0 35 47 López 30 17 0 0 0 47 Thielbar 13 0 21 0 0 34 Fulmer 15 13 0 0 0 28 Duran 17 7 0 0 0 24 Jax 11 11 0 0 0 22 View full article
  2. Box Score Joe Ryan: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (27) Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-.378), Max Kepler (-.050), Jose Miranda (-.049) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Individual games aren’t usually supposed to mirror the greater spiritual struggle between two teams, yet here we are. The Dodgers crushed the Twins on Wednesday, never allowing a moment of doubt regarding who the better team was. It started with Joe Ryan: the rookie righty repeated his past Southern California struggles, allowing an elite Dodgers lineup to ring extra-base hits across the outfield. Will Smith—allegedly going by W.D. Smith as he would rather others confuse him with a spray oil company than the actor—rifled an RBI double into right-center field to kick off the scoring. Ryan’s life on the mound remained challenging; the technically worse “bottom-half” of the Dodgers lineup—which includes an All-Star and an MVP—knocked balls into the corner pocket in the 2nd inning, scoring a few more runs. Trea Turner, with some help from Gilberto Celestino not being Byron Buxton, blooped in a double to end the frame at four total runs for the Dodgers. Max Muncy homered in the 3rd. So it goes. The Twins were not completely helpless during this onslaught; Gio Urshela muscled a triple into left-center field, and Celestino pulled him home with one of the shorter hits allowed by the rules. But they weren’t much better than overpowered; Julio Urías worked through early rust to command the ball incredibly in a dominating start. Urshela’s triple would be the only extra-base hit of the game off the Dodgers’ lefty; four lonely singles constituted the remaining Twins’ offense against him. While the Dodgers’ bats parried efficiently, the Twins found no such luck against Julio Urías for the entirety of his seven-inning start. The game slowly morphed into a countdown, with outs acting as a formality, not an accomplishment. Trevor Megill allowed two runs after the Twins attempted to extend him for a second inning; Emilio Pagán netted two outs to end that inning. Buxton provided a jolt—a small one, yes, but one nonetheless. With a man on in the 8th inning, Buxton scraped a low slider off the bottom of the strike zone and deposited it just far enough beyond home plate to count for two runs. The game was still 8-3. A fan ran onto the field. Even the joy from that play did not last long; the Dodgers immediately struck for two runs, hitting the double-digit threshold while claiming a seven-run lead. What’s Next? The Twins and Dodgers will play again on Wednesday at 9:10 PM Central. Sonny Gray will take the mound for Minnesota while Ryan Pepiot will (probably) start for Los Angeles. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Pagan 0 0 19 0 32 51 Sands 0 0 51 0 0 51 Megill 0 12 0 0 35 47 López 30 17 0 0 0 47 Thielbar 13 0 21 0 0 34 Fulmer 15 13 0 0 0 28 Duran 17 7 0 0 0 24 Jax 11 11 0 0 0 22
  3. Out since April 30, Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano is set to return to the lineup. After suffering a knee injury which led to surgery repairing a meniscus injury, Sano completes his rehab assignment and rejoins a first place Twins club. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. Needing a spot on the 40-man roster as well, given Sano was placed on the 60-day injured list, the Twins transferred reliever Danny Coulombe to the 60-day injured list. At the time of Miguel Sano's knee injury, the Minnesota Twins were 12-9 with a three-game lead in the American League Central Division. Sano himself was carrying a terrible .093/.231/.148 (.379) slash line that saw him record just a single extra-base hit in 65 plate appearances. Although it was cold and the ball wasn’t flying to start the year, Rocco Baldelli needed Sano to step up at first base with second-year player Alex Kirilloff dealing with a nagging wrist issue. Minnesota saw Sano as the only true first baseman on the roster, and it wasn’t until Luis Arraez was forced into action at the position that he emerged as an eventual All-Star and held down the fort. The Twins are now 52-44 with a three-game lead in the division, but both the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Guardians continue to breathe down their neck. Horrible pitching performances have stunted the opportunity to expand on the lead over their competition, but far too often the lineup has gone dormant as well. Obviously, Sano would love to be returning to better numbers, but if you’ve been a fan of Minnesota for any amount of time, you know how quickly Sano can go on one of his hot streaks. He was making loud contact at the big league level prior to his knee injury, and the rehab stint has provided some room to hope. Across 12 games with the Triple-A Saints and FCL Twins, Sano owns a .333/.422/.795 line. He recorded three doubles and blasted five homers while compiling an 12/6 K/BB. Sano returns to somewhat of a crowded situation at first base with Kirilloff and Arraez now both being well established at the position. Rookie Jose Miranda has gone on a tear since a slow start, and while he's more suited at the hot corner, he too has provided value at first base. Sano will draw starts at designated hitter as well, and that role has become less crowded with the injury to Ryan Jeffers. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. The Twins have just five games left in the month of July. They remain on the road until August 1st, at which point they return home to face a bottom-feeding Detroit Tigers team. Minnesota would love for Sano to parlay hit hot-hitting during his rehab assignment into renewed production at the highest level. It would seem to be a fair assessment that Minnesota would be open to dealing Sano should an offer come their way. He’s still due roughly $12 million even with his 2023 buyout, and opening up the roster spot rather than DFA’ing him for nothing could be a positive outcome. The Major League Baseball trade deadline in 2022 is on August 2nd. View full article
  4. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. Needing a spot on the 40-man roster as well, given Sano was placed on the 60-day injured list, the Twins transferred reliever Danny Coulombe to the 60-day injured list. At the time of Miguel Sano's knee injury, the Minnesota Twins were 12-9 with a three-game lead in the American League Central Division. Sano himself was carrying a terrible .093/.231/.148 (.379) slash line that saw him record just a single extra-base hit in 65 plate appearances. Although it was cold and the ball wasn’t flying to start the year, Rocco Baldelli needed Sano to step up at first base with second-year player Alex Kirilloff dealing with a nagging wrist issue. Minnesota saw Sano as the only true first baseman on the roster, and it wasn’t until Luis Arraez was forced into action at the position that he emerged as an eventual All-Star and held down the fort. The Twins are now 52-44 with a three-game lead in the division, but both the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Guardians continue to breathe down their neck. Horrible pitching performances have stunted the opportunity to expand on the lead over their competition, but far too often the lineup has gone dormant as well. Obviously, Sano would love to be returning to better numbers, but if you’ve been a fan of Minnesota for any amount of time, you know how quickly Sano can go on one of his hot streaks. He was making loud contact at the big league level prior to his knee injury, and the rehab stint has provided some room to hope. Across 12 games with the Triple-A Saints and FCL Twins, Sano owns a .333/.422/.795 line. He recorded three doubles and blasted five homers while compiling an 12/6 K/BB. Sano returns to somewhat of a crowded situation at first base with Kirilloff and Arraez now both being well established at the position. Rookie Jose Miranda has gone on a tear since a slow start, and while he's more suited at the hot corner, he too has provided value at first base. Sano will draw starts at designated hitter as well, and that role has become less crowded with the injury to Ryan Jeffers. In order to make room for Sano, the Twins optioned Gilberto Celestino to Triple-A. After owning a .359 average and .860 OPS through his first 28 games this season, Celestino has hit .202 with just a .503 OPS across 38 games since. Celestino looks the part of a legitimate big league defender, but he may benefit from a reset similar to what he experienced last season with the Saints. The Twins have just five games left in the month of July. They remain on the road until August 1st, at which point they return home to face a bottom-feeding Detroit Tigers team. Minnesota would love for Sano to parlay hit hot-hitting during his rehab assignment into renewed production at the highest level. It would seem to be a fair assessment that Minnesota would be open to dealing Sano should an offer come their way. He’s still due roughly $12 million even with his 2023 buyout, and opening up the roster spot rather than DFA’ing him for nothing could be a positive outcome. The Major League Baseball trade deadline in 2022 is on August 2nd.
  5. Trading is all about dealing from a place of strength to address a weakness. In the Twins case, they have a strength at a very valuable position that they could deal from if they see fit. But should they? The Twins farm system has seen better days after multiple top prospects have graduated and several others have struggled in 2022. For that reason, it may be a bit tougher to stomach parting with the players who have been impressing in the lower levels. Perhaps the Twins can bridge that gap by dipping into their Major League center field depth, however. The Twins have an interesting roster, as where some teams struggle to find viable options in center field, the Twins have three. This strategy makes sense, as Byron Buxton requires more time off than the regular center fielder. Despite his regular absences, Buxton is tied for the lead in Outs Above Average among center fielders. The Twins of course miss his glove when it’s not out there, but not as much as you’d think. Gilberto Celestino has a 4 Outs Above Average, 10th overall in baseball. Even Nick Gordon, who profiles as a better corner outfielder, grades out at an average 0. And so the question becomes: Do the Twins need this much depth at center field? And if the answer is no, which player should the Twins part with? Gilberto Celestino A center fielder his entire career, Celestino is the much better defender between himself and Gordon. Long considered a glove-first prospect, Celestino has flashed plus offensive ability several times recently, including posting an .827 OPS in AAA last season after struggling mightily in his MLB debut. His 2022 slash of .274/.333/.336 is 5% below league average, but if the 23-year-old can tap into any kind of power, he likely becomes an everyday, starting-caliber center fielder. Celestino has undoubtedly raised his stock this year by holding his own at the big league level at only 23 years of age. While he doesn’t carry the kind of value to be the centerpiece of a trade for a controllable starter, he should get the Twins at least part way there if they choose to dangle him. That being said, it’s difficult to envision. Celestino could easily wind up being the future center fielder in a couple of years, and his right handedness is a good complement to the left handed heavy corner outfielders. Very few young players should be untradeable at this point, but the Twins would likely need to be working on quite the acquisition to drop Celestino on the table. Nick Gordon After an up and down career, Gordon has transformed himself into a valuable and versatile player in 2022. The former middle infielder rarely leaves the outfield grass these days, often filling in at left field and occasionally in center admirably. In addition, the light-hitting lefty has become a contributor on offense as well. Gordon is the type of player that makes up the fringes of a competitive roster. He’s been an above-average hitter this season and his versatility is a huge plus. That being said, at 26 years old, his stock may be at an all-time high. For as good as he’s been, it’ll be tough for him to win a playing-time battle with left-handed hitting Trevor Larnach when he returns from the IL. With several roster crunches on the horizon, Gordon has likely become too valuable to simply cut bait on. In terms of value, the former 1st round pick won’t move the needle much in a trade for a starting pitcher. That being said, he’s not a free agent until 2028. It’s not impossible that he could fetch the Twins a usable reliever or perhaps a more valuable one if they add onto their end with a middling prospect. We’ve seen before with players such as Jurickson Profar that the “jack of all trades, master of none” type player can appeal to a wide range of teams. Perhaps it’s a bit too risky to part with a centerfielder given Buxton’s health concerns but the Twins could possibly save a bit on prospects by doing so. Keep in mind also that Kepler has filled in at centerfield in a pinch before. Should the Twins consider dealing from their center field depth, or look to part with pieces elsewhere? Let us know below! View full article
  6. The Twins farm system has seen better days after multiple top prospects have graduated and several others have struggled in 2022. For that reason, it may be a bit tougher to stomach parting with the players who have been impressing in the lower levels. Perhaps the Twins can bridge that gap by dipping into their Major League center field depth, however. The Twins have an interesting roster, as where some teams struggle to find viable options in center field, the Twins have three. This strategy makes sense, as Byron Buxton requires more time off than the regular center fielder. Despite his regular absences, Buxton is tied for the lead in Outs Above Average among center fielders. The Twins of course miss his glove when it’s not out there, but not as much as you’d think. Gilberto Celestino has a 4 Outs Above Average, 10th overall in baseball. Even Nick Gordon, who profiles as a better corner outfielder, grades out at an average 0. And so the question becomes: Do the Twins need this much depth at center field? And if the answer is no, which player should the Twins part with? Gilberto Celestino A center fielder his entire career, Celestino is the much better defender between himself and Gordon. Long considered a glove-first prospect, Celestino has flashed plus offensive ability several times recently, including posting an .827 OPS in AAA last season after struggling mightily in his MLB debut. His 2022 slash of .274/.333/.336 is 5% below league average, but if the 23-year-old can tap into any kind of power, he likely becomes an everyday, starting-caliber center fielder. Celestino has undoubtedly raised his stock this year by holding his own at the big league level at only 23 years of age. While he doesn’t carry the kind of value to be the centerpiece of a trade for a controllable starter, he should get the Twins at least part way there if they choose to dangle him. That being said, it’s difficult to envision. Celestino could easily wind up being the future center fielder in a couple of years, and his right handedness is a good complement to the left handed heavy corner outfielders. Very few young players should be untradeable at this point, but the Twins would likely need to be working on quite the acquisition to drop Celestino on the table. Nick Gordon After an up and down career, Gordon has transformed himself into a valuable and versatile player in 2022. The former middle infielder rarely leaves the outfield grass these days, often filling in at left field and occasionally in center admirably. In addition, the light-hitting lefty has become a contributor on offense as well. Gordon is the type of player that makes up the fringes of a competitive roster. He’s been an above-average hitter this season and his versatility is a huge plus. That being said, at 26 years old, his stock may be at an all-time high. For as good as he’s been, it’ll be tough for him to win a playing-time battle with left-handed hitting Trevor Larnach when he returns from the IL. With several roster crunches on the horizon, Gordon has likely become too valuable to simply cut bait on. In terms of value, the former 1st round pick won’t move the needle much in a trade for a starting pitcher. That being said, he’s not a free agent until 2028. It’s not impossible that he could fetch the Twins a usable reliever or perhaps a more valuable one if they add onto their end with a middling prospect. We’ve seen before with players such as Jurickson Profar that the “jack of all trades, master of none” type player can appeal to a wide range of teams. Perhaps it’s a bit too risky to part with a centerfielder given Buxton’s health concerns but the Twins could possibly save a bit on prospects by doing so. Keep in mind also that Kepler has filled in at centerfield in a pinch before. Should the Twins consider dealing from their center field depth, or look to part with pieces elsewhere? Let us know below!
  7. The Twins' number one need as the trade deadline approaches is relievers. With much of the focus on high-leverage relievers from Twins Daily writers, one lefty reliever has not been discussed much in recent weeks. Maybe this is a guy who could pan out as a complement to Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. The Twins bullpen has been an endless discussion for fans the last month or more. Aside from Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax, almost every other Twins reliever has received criticism from the fan base. As the calendar has turned to July, some of the notorious Twins relievers who have struggled all season are beginning to turn this around. Tyler Duffey, for instance, has had 12 straight scoreless appearances including four games so far this month. Caleb Thielbar has improved from June, but his career trajectory is still showing he is not the same reliever he used to be. Thielbar has led the Twins in relief appearances this season with 38 could be an issue as the season goes on. In addition to all this, Thielbar has been the only lefty the Twins have consistently relied on in matchups this season. All other lefties, Jovani Moran, and Danny Coulombe, have combined for 23 games and none of them have had the chance to stay in the bullpen as long as him. The Twins bullpen is going to need another lefty reliever for the remainder of the season, one who can take some of the heavy load Thielbar has had to carry for the bullpen this year. One such option might just be closer to the homeland of Tony Oliva than he is to Minnesota right now. That man is Steven Okert of the Miami Marlins. Okert has been one of the sneaky good relievers in baseball the past two seasons. He had been away from the big leagues from 2019-20 after parts of three seasons with the Giants from 2016-18. The southpaw has been with the Marlins since the start of the 2021 season and has seen a resurgence in his career. Based on traditional pitching stats, Okert just might be the lefty the Twins need. This season, he has a 2.35 ERA in 36 relief appearances averaging 11 K/9, a .180 batting average on balls in play, and an overall opponent batting average of .158. What’s the potential downside with Okert? His control of the strike zone. He has a 2.33 K/BB ratio this season alongside a 5.03 FIP. Granted, Okert has only 16 walks in his 36 relief appearances so far this season, but he has done so in 28.2 innings pitched leading to a 4.7 BB per 9 rate. Does Okert's pitching arsenal correlate with his high walk rate? His go-to pitch is a slider, throwing it 70.1% of the time according to Baseball Info Solutions. The only other pitch Okert has thrown this season is his fastball, accounting for the remain 28.9% of his arsenal. The Twins are not unfamiliar with having pitchers with heavy slider usage in recent years; however, the slider-favored pitching coach, Wes Johnson, is gone and can't provide the same help in getting his strike zone control. Would Okert be another good lefty to compliment Thielbar the Twins could acquire this trade deadline? It’s possible. Okert is throwing better against hitters making contact against him than Thielbar as Thielbar has a .325 batting average with balls in play and overall opponents batting average .236. But Thielbar has better control of the strike zone as he has a 3.00 K/BB ratio and 3.47 FIP. The opposites that Okert and Thielbar are with their numbers presented could help provide a balance with left-handed relief options. Taking these things into consideration, the last factor to consider if Okert is worthwhile to pair up with Thielbar for the remainder of the season is age and contract status. Okert just turned 31 on July 9 and does not qualify for free agency until 2027 when he is 36. A trade for Okert could turn him into the next Thielbar with arbitration-friendly contract control until his mid 30’s. But having contract control for five more seasons could make Okert’s price tag high for Miami. The Marlins would likely want a player they need under team control for just as long or longer. There is a current Twins outfielder the Marlins may ask for in return for Okert that would be under contract with the team until 2028. And the Marlins do need an outfielder who is MLB ready for beyond 2022; that outfielder is Gilberto Celestino. Celestino is a fourth outfielder now with the Twins, and if he gets the opportunity to play every day, he could pan out to be a gold glover someday. Plus, Celestino has a higher OPS, .665, than two of the three everyday outfielders for the Marlins right now, Jesus Sanchez has a .649 OPS, and Avisail Garcia with a .594. But what if Miami would prefer a left handed hitting outfielder instead? The only one the Twins would be willing to provide out of the likes of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon, and Matt Wallner for a reliver like Okert could be Gordon. Gordon enters free agency the same year as Celestino and the bar for achievement at the Major League level is lower than that of the three other left handed hitting outfielders listed. Would the Twins make this trade both for short and long-term relief help? Only time will tell, but Twins fans should keep an eye on Okert in the weeks to come View full article
  8. The Twins bullpen has been an endless discussion for fans the last month or more. Aside from Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax, almost every other Twins reliever has received criticism from the fan base. As the calendar has turned to July, some of the notorious Twins relievers who have struggled all season are beginning to turn this around. Tyler Duffey, for instance, has had 12 straight scoreless appearances including four games so far this month. Caleb Thielbar has improved from June, but his career trajectory is still showing he is not the same reliever he used to be. Thielbar has led the Twins in relief appearances this season with 38 could be an issue as the season goes on. In addition to all this, Thielbar has been the only lefty the Twins have consistently relied on in matchups this season. All other lefties, Jovani Moran, and Danny Coulombe, have combined for 23 games and none of them have had the chance to stay in the bullpen as long as him. The Twins bullpen is going to need another lefty reliever for the remainder of the season, one who can take some of the heavy load Thielbar has had to carry for the bullpen this year. One such option might just be closer to the homeland of Tony Oliva than he is to Minnesota right now. That man is Steven Okert of the Miami Marlins. Okert has been one of the sneaky good relievers in baseball the past two seasons. He had been away from the big leagues from 2019-20 after parts of three seasons with the Giants from 2016-18. The southpaw has been with the Marlins since the start of the 2021 season and has seen a resurgence in his career. Based on traditional pitching stats, Okert just might be the lefty the Twins need. This season, he has a 2.35 ERA in 36 relief appearances averaging 11 K/9, a .180 batting average on balls in play, and an overall opponent batting average of .158. What’s the potential downside with Okert? His control of the strike zone. He has a 2.33 K/BB ratio this season alongside a 5.03 FIP. Granted, Okert has only 16 walks in his 36 relief appearances so far this season, but he has done so in 28.2 innings pitched leading to a 4.7 BB per 9 rate. Does Okert's pitching arsenal correlate with his high walk rate? His go-to pitch is a slider, throwing it 70.1% of the time according to Baseball Info Solutions. The only other pitch Okert has thrown this season is his fastball, accounting for the remain 28.9% of his arsenal. The Twins are not unfamiliar with having pitchers with heavy slider usage in recent years; however, the slider-favored pitching coach, Wes Johnson, is gone and can't provide the same help in getting his strike zone control. Would Okert be another good lefty to compliment Thielbar the Twins could acquire this trade deadline? It’s possible. Okert is throwing better against hitters making contact against him than Thielbar as Thielbar has a .325 batting average with balls in play and overall opponents batting average .236. But Thielbar has better control of the strike zone as he has a 3.00 K/BB ratio and 3.47 FIP. The opposites that Okert and Thielbar are with their numbers presented could help provide a balance with left-handed relief options. Taking these things into consideration, the last factor to consider if Okert is worthwhile to pair up with Thielbar for the remainder of the season is age and contract status. Okert just turned 31 on July 9 and does not qualify for free agency until 2027 when he is 36. A trade for Okert could turn him into the next Thielbar with arbitration-friendly contract control until his mid 30’s. But having contract control for five more seasons could make Okert’s price tag high for Miami. The Marlins would likely want a player they need under team control for just as long or longer. There is a current Twins outfielder the Marlins may ask for in return for Okert that would be under contract with the team until 2028. And the Marlins do need an outfielder who is MLB ready for beyond 2022; that outfielder is Gilberto Celestino. Celestino is a fourth outfielder now with the Twins, and if he gets the opportunity to play every day, he could pan out to be a gold glover someday. Plus, Celestino has a higher OPS, .665, than two of the three everyday outfielders for the Marlins right now, Jesus Sanchez has a .649 OPS, and Avisail Garcia with a .594. But what if Miami would prefer a left handed hitting outfielder instead? The only one the Twins would be willing to provide out of the likes of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon, and Matt Wallner for a reliver like Okert could be Gordon. Gordon enters free agency the same year as Celestino and the bar for achievement at the Major League level is lower than that of the three other left handed hitting outfielders listed. Would the Twins make this trade both for short and long-term relief help? Only time will tell, but Twins fans should keep an eye on Okert in the weeks to come
  9. Minnesota's front office didn't mess around at the 2018 trade deadline. Take a look back at the talent acquired during the last week in July. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota surprised many by being in contention during the 2017 season, with their front office shifting between buying and selling at the deadline. The 2018 season was a little easier because the team was below .500 but ended up in second place in the AL Central. The Twins made multiple moves before the deadline, and the big-league roster still feels these trades' impacts. Trade 1 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, P Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Diamondbacks Receive: INF Eduardo Escobar Escobar was on an expiring contract, so it made sense to deal the veteran who was in the middle of a tremendous season. Duran has turned into the team's dominant high-leverage reliever, which is more than enough for a couple of months of Escobar. De La Trinidad topped out at Double-A last season with the Twins, where he posted a .759 OPS in 80 games. Maciel played 73 games at Cedar Rapids last season with a .621 OPS. In December, he was selected in the minor-league Rule 5 draft by the Athletics organization and has a .733 OPS as he repeats High-A. Trade 2 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Astros Receive: P Ryan Pressly It was tough to see the Twins part with a reliever that wasn't on an expiring contract, but both prospects in the deal were viewed highly by evaluators. Pressly has stayed in Houston for the remainder of his career while turning into one of baseball's best late-inning arms. Alcala posted decent numbers as a reliever last season, and the team hopes he can return this year to help a struggling bullpen. Celestino has proven his value to the club as a strong center-field defender to complement a decent bat. Minnesota acquired two big-league assets for 14 months of Pressly, so this deal looks great for both teams. Trade 3 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: P Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Seattle Receive: P Zach Duke Duke was a strong left-handed specialist at a time when relievers could face fewer than three batters. Following the trade, he posted a 5.52 ERA in 27 appearances. De Jong made five appearances with the Twins and allowed 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. During the 2022 season, he found a role in the Pirates bullpen, having a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 32 innings. Costello posted a .755 OPS between High- and Double-A during the 2019 season. Tragically, he passed away on November 18, 2019, from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. (Learn more about The RC13 Foundation here.) Trade 4 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: 1B/OF Tyler Austin, P Luis Rijo Yankees Receive: P Lance Lynn Lynn has evolved into one of baseball's best pitchers over the last four seasons, but he was terrible for the Twins in 2018. It made sense to deal with his expiring contract, and the returning players offered some intrigue. Austin played parts of two seasons with the Twins and posted a .786 OPS. Rijo has been limited to nine appearances over the last two seasons as he dealt with right elbow UCL reconstruction. He is currently rehabbing with the FCL Twins. Trade 5 (July 31, 2018) Twins Receive: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, P Devin Smeltzer Dodgers Receive: 2B Brian Dozier One year after being vocal about the team trading away veterans, Dozier found himself dealt to a contender. After leaving the Twins, Dozier only played one more full season, but he won a World Series with the Nationals. Forsythe was included in the deal, so the Twins had someone to fill second base for the season's remaining games. Raley eventually was part of the Kenta Maeda trade as he returned to the Dodger organization. Smeltzer has been a surprise contributor to the Twins rotation in 2022. What do you remember about this trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline View full article
  10. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota surprised many by being in contention during the 2017 season, with their front office shifting between buying and selling at the deadline. The 2018 season was a little easier because the team was below .500 but ended up in second place in the AL Central. The Twins made multiple moves before the deadline, and the big-league roster still feels these trades' impacts. Trade 1 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, P Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Diamondbacks Receive: INF Eduardo Escobar Escobar was on an expiring contract, so it made sense to deal the veteran who was in the middle of a tremendous season. Duran has turned into the team's dominant high-leverage reliever, which is more than enough for a couple of months of Escobar. De La Trinidad topped out at Double-A last season with the Twins, where he posted a .759 OPS in 80 games. Maciel played 73 games at Cedar Rapids last season with a .621 OPS. In December, he was selected in the minor-league Rule 5 draft by the Athletics organization and has a .733 OPS as he repeats High-A. Trade 2 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Astros Receive: P Ryan Pressly It was tough to see the Twins part with a reliever that wasn't on an expiring contract, but both prospects in the deal were viewed highly by evaluators. Pressly has stayed in Houston for the remainder of his career while turning into one of baseball's best late-inning arms. Alcala posted decent numbers as a reliever last season, and the team hopes he can return this year to help a struggling bullpen. Celestino has proven his value to the club as a strong center-field defender to complement a decent bat. Minnesota acquired two big-league assets for 14 months of Pressly, so this deal looks great for both teams. Trade 3 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: P Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Seattle Receive: P Zach Duke Duke was a strong left-handed specialist at a time when relievers could face fewer than three batters. Following the trade, he posted a 5.52 ERA in 27 appearances. De Jong made five appearances with the Twins and allowed 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. During the 2022 season, he found a role in the Pirates bullpen, having a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 32 innings. Costello posted a .755 OPS between High- and Double-A during the 2019 season. Tragically, he passed away on November 18, 2019, from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. (Learn more about The RC13 Foundation here.) Trade 4 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: 1B/OF Tyler Austin, P Luis Rijo Yankees Receive: P Lance Lynn Lynn has evolved into one of baseball's best pitchers over the last four seasons, but he was terrible for the Twins in 2018. It made sense to deal with his expiring contract, and the returning players offered some intrigue. Austin played parts of two seasons with the Twins and posted a .786 OPS. Rijo has been limited to nine appearances over the last two seasons as he dealt with right elbow UCL reconstruction. He is currently rehabbing with the FCL Twins. Trade 5 (July 31, 2018) Twins Receive: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, P Devin Smeltzer Dodgers Receive: 2B Brian Dozier One year after being vocal about the team trading away veterans, Dozier found himself dealt to a contender. After leaving the Twins, Dozier only played one more full season, but he won a World Series with the Nationals. Forsythe was included in the deal, so the Twins had someone to fill second base for the season's remaining games. Raley eventually was part of the Kenta Maeda trade as he returned to the Dodger organization. Smeltzer has been a surprise contributor to the Twins rotation in 2022. What do you remember about this trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline
  11. Holy smokes, Jose Miranda! The Minnesota Twins beat the Brewers 4-1 thanks to a walk-off home run Miranda hit off Josh Hader. Down in the minors, Matt Wallner and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were at it again, each of them posting big offensive numbers for their respective teams. All that and more in tonight's Twins System Recap.
  12. Holy smokes, Jose Miranda! The Minnesota Twins beat the Brewers 4-1 thanks to a walk-off home run Miranda hit off Josh Hader. Down in the minors, Matt Wallner and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were at it again, each of them posting big offensive numbers for their respective teams. All that and more in tonight's Twins System Recap. View full video
  13. Wait, they didn't come back? Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.138), Carlos Correa (.132), Jose Miranda (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer, already established as the rotation’s savior, faced off against an ex-Twins farmhand, Tyler Wells. Smeltzer had just set a season-high in strikeouts (10) in his previous start; Wells looked to continue his effectiveness in the Orioles’ starting rotation. The game began sleepily and lazily; neither team scored until the 5th inning, and both the Twins and the Orioles committed a careless error in the 1st frame. Gilberto Celestino was the culprit for Minnesota; Rougned Odor was the one for Baltimore. The mistakes did not lead to runs. The Orioles struck in the 4th inning; Anthony Santander hit a Texas Leaguer over Alex Kirilloff’s head and reached 2nd base after Smeltzer uncharacteristically spiked a wild pitch into the dirt. Tyler Nevin—the son of former Twin and current red-ass Phil Nevin—smoked a single up the middle, forcing Santander to try his luck with Celestino’s arm from center field. In a close battle, Celestino’s throw beat Santander to the plate, and Gary Sánchez slapped the runner to secure the out and energize the crowd. But the Twins offense remained in a coma; Wells, typically not a strike-out pitcher, overwhelmed Minnesota’s bats with his rising fastball and darting slider. Hitters of all variety failed to fight back; the team’s array of lefties netted just one extra-base hit (a Nick Gordon double in the 6th inning), while many walked away with an extra strikeout or two on their ledger. Even Luis Arraez punched out. Something was not right. Fortune turned quickly in the middle innings. Odor smoked a solo homer to right field to net the first run of the ball game; Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle blasted off consecutively in the next frame. Suddenly, after Smeltzer appeared well in command of the game, the score ballooned to 3-0. After innings of nothingness, the Twins revved up their engines in the 6th, trampolining off a Celestino lead-off walk to plate a run. There was a slight feeling of disappointment amid the success; Carlos Correa grounded into a double-play following an Arraez single, eliminating a base-runner before Jorge Polanco singled home Celestino. Juan Minaya did his best to keep the Twins in the game; the often yo-yo-ed righty posted two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one hit allowed. On a team looking for relief help, such outings will help Minaya make a case for acquiring crucial innings down the stretch. The Twins could not find success even after Wells exited the game. A series of Baltimore relievers—Keegan Akin, Joey Krehbiel, and Dillon Tate—continued Wells’ dominance and shutout Minnesota’s offense in the final three frames. What’s Next? The Twins will travel to Chicago and take on the White Sox for the first a few series in July; Dylan Bundy will take the mound for Minnesota, while Johnny Cueto (yes, he’s still around) will toe the rubber for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  14. The Minnesota Twins couldn't finish off the sweep, falling to Baltimore 3-1 at Target Field. It was a frustrating day for the bats and an eventful day in the outfield, particularly for Gilberto Celestino, who made an error but followed that up with a great running catch and a tremendous throw to nail a runner at home. Tonight's minor league action includes highlights of Tim Beckham, Anthony Prato and Will Holland. Here's the Twins System Recap for Sunday, 7/3.
  15. The Minnesota Twins couldn't finish off the sweep, falling to Baltimore 3-1 at Target Field. It was a frustrating day for the bats and an eventful day in the outfield, particularly for Gilberto Celestino, who made an error but followed that up with a great running catch and a tremendous throw to nail a runner at home. Tonight's minor league action includes highlights of Tim Beckham, Anthony Prato and Will Holland. Here's the Twins System Recap for Sunday, 7/3. View full video
  16. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.138), Carlos Correa (.132), Jose Miranda (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer, already established as the rotation’s savior, faced off against an ex-Twins farmhand, Tyler Wells. Smeltzer had just set a season-high in strikeouts (10) in his previous start; Wells looked to continue his effectiveness in the Orioles’ starting rotation. The game began sleepily and lazily; neither team scored until the 5th inning, and both the Twins and the Orioles committed a careless error in the 1st frame. Gilberto Celestino was the culprit for Minnesota; Rougned Odor was the one for Baltimore. The mistakes did not lead to runs. The Orioles struck in the 4th inning; Anthony Santander hit a Texas Leaguer over Alex Kirilloff’s head and reached 2nd base after Smeltzer uncharacteristically spiked a wild pitch into the dirt. Tyler Nevin—the son of former Twin and current red-ass Phil Nevin—smoked a single up the middle, forcing Santander to try his luck with Celestino’s arm from center field. In a close battle, Celestino’s throw beat Santander to the plate, and Gary Sánchez slapped the runner to secure the out and energize the crowd. But the Twins offense remained in a coma; Wells, typically not a strike-out pitcher, overwhelmed Minnesota’s bats with his rising fastball and darting slider. Hitters of all variety failed to fight back; the team’s array of lefties netted just one extra-base hit (a Nick Gordon double in the 6th inning), while many walked away with an extra strikeout or two on their ledger. Even Luis Arraez punched out. Something was not right. Fortune turned quickly in the middle innings. Odor smoked a solo homer to right field to net the first run of the ball game; Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle blasted off consecutively in the next frame. Suddenly, after Smeltzer appeared well in command of the game, the score ballooned to 3-0. After innings of nothingness, the Twins revved up their engines in the 6th, trampolining off a Celestino lead-off walk to plate a run. There was a slight feeling of disappointment amid the success; Carlos Correa grounded into a double-play following an Arraez single, eliminating a base-runner before Jorge Polanco singled home Celestino. Juan Minaya did his best to keep the Twins in the game; the often yo-yo-ed righty posted two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one hit allowed. On a team looking for relief help, such outings will help Minaya make a case for acquiring crucial innings down the stretch. The Twins could not find success even after Wells exited the game. A series of Baltimore relievers—Keegan Akin, Joey Krehbiel, and Dillon Tate—continued Wells’ dominance and shutout Minnesota’s offense in the final three frames. What’s Next? The Twins will travel to Chicago and take on the White Sox for the first a few series in July; Dylan Bundy will take the mound for Minnesota, while Johnny Cueto (yes, he’s still around) will toe the rubber for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  17. The Twins lost to the Guardians in familiarly frustrating fashion on Tuesday. The third Emilio Pagán meltdown in a week wasted a gem by Devin Smeltzer and a huge home run by Carlos Correa. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO (95 pitches, 63 strikes) Homeruns: Carlos Correa (9) Bottom 3 WPA: Emilio Pagán -.538, Gio Urshela -.236, Luis Arraez -.161 Bottom Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins kicked off an important double header against Cleveland, after a commanding win on Monday night. Here’s how they lined up for game one of their split doubleheader. On the mound, the game offered a rematch of the final game of the last series between the two teams. On that occasion, a Nick Gordon solo home run provided the lone scoring punctuating a pair of strong pitching performances, Tuesday provided more of the same. Zach Plesac struggled for command early, walking Carlos Correa and Max Kepler in the top of the first inning, but inducing a weak ground ball from hit-hitting Alex Kirilloff to end the moderate first-inning threat. In the bottom of the frame, the Guardians got on the board in bizarre fashion. After Ahmed Rosario singled on a ground ball to left field Franmil Reyes doubled on a ball to shallow right field. Alex Kirilloff clearly lost the ball in the sun and Max Kepler, jogging in casually from the outfield, looked like he assumed Kirilloff would make the play. The batted ball, with an xBA of .010, traveled 65 feet but landed for a double, scoring Rosario all the way from first base. After a hit-by-pitch in the second inning and a single in the third inning, Smeltzer really settled in and found a groove. He retired ten consecutive batters (six by strikeout) before allowing a Jose Ramirez double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Smeltzer relied heavily on his changeup and kept Cleveland’s offense off balance, inducing 12 swings and misses in his outing. The Minnesota offense, meanwhile, looked destined to be shut out for a league-leading eleventh time by the Guardians. Through six innings, Plesac had accumulated a whopping 17 swings and misses. Aside from a pair of fourth-inning singles, the Twins weren’t able to muster much offensively, a continued, frustrating trend of an up and down Twins offense. Finally, in the seventh inning, the offense broke through. Jose Miranda laced a 109 mph double down the left field line for a double before Gilberto Celestino crushed a triple to left center field off outstanding Guardians reliever Evan Morgan, tying the game at 1-1. In the bottom of the seventh, Griffin Jax relieved Smeltzer. After quickly retiring Oscar Gonzalez, Jax dropped a flip from Alex Kirilloff while covering first base, allowing Andres Gimenez to reach first on an error. Jax quickly recovered to induce two ground outs to end the seventh inning. In the top of the eighth, the Twins took their first lead of the game. Minnesota native Sam Hentges came out in relief for Cleveland. Carlos Correa took an elevated fastball deep to left field for his ninth home run of the year. Max Kepler reached second base on a Hentges throwing error a batter latter, on an excuse me infield dribbler from Kepler. Garlick drilled a 107 mph line drive straight at the center fielder, before Byron Buxton pinch hit for Alex Kirilloff. Buxton and Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning. Predictably, Emilio Pagán immediately undid all of the momentum, and all of the hard work. After entering in the bottom of the eighth inning against the bottom of the Cleveland lineup, he surrendered two walks, a wild pitch, and a single, to give the Guardians the lead at 3-2 and put Emmanuel Clase on deck to close the game. It was yet another late-inning meltdown against the Guardians, yet another wasted big moment, and yet another example of how fragile, inconsistent, and lacking in quality the Twins bullpen is. Caleb Thielbar relieved Pagán and cleaned up the mess, but the damage was already done. Clase closed the game for Cleveland, marking the third time in a week the Twins bullpen, Pagán specifically, has thrown away a game close and late. Game two will follow tonight. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 25 0 24 0 49 Pagan 0 0 22 0 22 44 Duffey 28 0 15 0 0 43 Thornburg 7 35 0 0 0 42 Jax 0 12 0 0 21 33 Theilbar 0 0 19 0 10 29 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Tuesday night, the Twins will conclude their double header against Cleveland. Josh Winder gets the start for the Twins, against Konnor Pilkington of the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against Cleveland. Dylan Bundy goes for the Twins, against Cal Quantrill for the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon View full article
  18. Minnesota has some of baseball’s best up-the-middle defenders. So, why does the team continue to struggle on the defensive side of the ball? Defense wins championships is a common mantra in professional sports. In baseball, defensive metrics have taken time and technology to assist in evaluating the actual value provided by players. When the Twins signed Carlos Correa, Minnesota projected to have one of baseball’s best up-the-middle defensive groups. However, the team has struggled defensively this season, and most of the issues are tied to a few key players. According to Outs Above Average (OAA), the Twins rank 22nd in baseball, with only two American League clubs lower in the rankings. Four players have contributed -19 OAA to the team’s overall total, including Luis Arraez (-7), Gio Urshela (-5), Carlos Correa (-4), and Jose Miranda (-3). Correa’s inclusion on this list might be the most surprising as he was arguably baseball’s best defender in 2021 on his way to winning the AL’s Platinum Glove. Outs Above Average isn’t the only metric that paints the Twins negatively. Minnesota currently ranks 19th in runs prevented, slightly better than their OAA ranking. However, the Twins’ defenders have posted a -4 runs prevented with only three AL team’s currently ranking below them. One of the areas the Twins struggle with the most is coming in on the ball. Only one team, the Yankees (-9), has a lower ranking than the Twins (-8) when coming in on the ball. Behind the plate, Ryan Jeffers and Gary Sanchez have both made improvements. Sanchez came to the Twins as one of baseball’s worst defenders. His framing skills have jumped from the 17th percentile in 2021 to the 51st percentile in 2022. Jeffers has seen his framing move from the 74th percentile to the 78th percentile but is below average as he struggles to control the running game. Catching defense could have been an issue this year, but it’s hardly been the team’s biggest problem. FanGraphs utilizes multiple defensive metrics that also show Minnesota’s defensive flaws. According to FanGraphs DEF rankings, the Twins are currently the 22nd best team with a -5/2 DEF total. Out of AL squads, only the White Sox and the Rangers rank worse than the Twins. Minnesota ranks similarly bad in other more traditional defensive metrics like defensive runs saved (20th) and UZR (15th). Overall, not every Twins player is having a terrible defensive season. Five Twins players have a positive OAA total, including Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, who lead the team with five OAA each. Gilberto Celestino currently ranks third with three OAA; Royce Lewis and Trevor Larnach are tied with one OAA each. Buxton has been getting scheduled days off and time at DH, so his total likely would be higher with increased playing time. Kepler has been an above-average defender in the past, and the metrics prove that he is still doing well. Celestino was considered a good defender as a prospect, and that tool has transitioned to the big-league level. Minnesota’s biggest issue is the negative defensive totals compiled by Correa and Urshela. Arraez has been bad, but he’s also been playing significant time at first base, a new position for him. Correa’s bat continues to provide value, but he needs to produce at a high level on both sides of the ball. When the Twins acquired Urshela, he wasn’t considered an above-average defender, but he’s been one of the AL’s worst defenders at third. If the Twins want to improve defensively, it’s hard to pinpoint the best solution. Replacing Urshela at third isn’t an easy fix because the replacement options (Arraez and Miranda) aren’t considered strong defenders. Correa can improve his defensive numbers, which would alter the entire team’s defensive profile. Neither of these solutions is guaranteed to work, and none of these names will be voluntarily removed from the line-up. Bad defensive plays can lead to bad innings and a snowball effect for all players involved. How do you think the Twins can improve their defense? Have you noticed the team’s defensive struggles this year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  19. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO (95 pitches, 63 strikes) Homeruns: Carlos Correa (9) Bottom 3 WPA: Emilio Pagán -.538, Gio Urshela -.236, Luis Arraez -.161 Bottom Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins kicked off an important double header against Cleveland, after a commanding win on Monday night. Here’s how they lined up for game one of their split doubleheader. On the mound, the game offered a rematch of the final game of the last series between the two teams. On that occasion, a Nick Gordon solo home run provided the lone scoring punctuating a pair of strong pitching performances, Tuesday provided more of the same. Zach Plesac struggled for command early, walking Carlos Correa and Max Kepler in the top of the first inning, but inducing a weak ground ball from hit-hitting Alex Kirilloff to end the moderate first-inning threat. In the bottom of the frame, the Guardians got on the board in bizarre fashion. After Ahmed Rosario singled on a ground ball to left field Franmil Reyes doubled on a ball to shallow right field. Alex Kirilloff clearly lost the ball in the sun and Max Kepler, jogging in casually from the outfield, looked like he assumed Kirilloff would make the play. The batted ball, with an xBA of .010, traveled 65 feet but landed for a double, scoring Rosario all the way from first base. After a hit-by-pitch in the second inning and a single in the third inning, Smeltzer really settled in and found a groove. He retired ten consecutive batters (six by strikeout) before allowing a Jose Ramirez double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Smeltzer relied heavily on his changeup and kept Cleveland’s offense off balance, inducing 12 swings and misses in his outing. The Minnesota offense, meanwhile, looked destined to be shut out for a league-leading eleventh time by the Guardians. Through six innings, Plesac had accumulated a whopping 17 swings and misses. Aside from a pair of fourth-inning singles, the Twins weren’t able to muster much offensively, a continued, frustrating trend of an up and down Twins offense. Finally, in the seventh inning, the offense broke through. Jose Miranda laced a 109 mph double down the left field line for a double before Gilberto Celestino crushed a triple to left center field off outstanding Guardians reliever Evan Morgan, tying the game at 1-1. In the bottom of the seventh, Griffin Jax relieved Smeltzer. After quickly retiring Oscar Gonzalez, Jax dropped a flip from Alex Kirilloff while covering first base, allowing Andres Gimenez to reach first on an error. Jax quickly recovered to induce two ground outs to end the seventh inning. In the top of the eighth, the Twins took their first lead of the game. Minnesota native Sam Hentges came out in relief for Cleveland. Carlos Correa took an elevated fastball deep to left field for his ninth home run of the year. Max Kepler reached second base on a Hentges throwing error a batter latter, on an excuse me infield dribbler from Kepler. Garlick drilled a 107 mph line drive straight at the center fielder, before Byron Buxton pinch hit for Alex Kirilloff. Buxton and Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning. Predictably, Emilio Pagán immediately undid all of the momentum, and all of the hard work. After entering in the bottom of the eighth inning against the bottom of the Cleveland lineup, he surrendered two walks, a wild pitch, and a single, to give the Guardians the lead at 3-2 and put Emmanuel Clase on deck to close the game. It was yet another late-inning meltdown against the Guardians, yet another wasted big moment, and yet another example of how fragile, inconsistent, and lacking in quality the Twins bullpen is. Caleb Thielbar relieved Pagán and cleaned up the mess, but the damage was already done. Clase closed the game for Cleveland, marking the third time in a week the Twins bullpen, Pagán specifically, has thrown away a game close and late. Game two will follow tonight. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 25 0 24 0 49 Pagan 0 0 22 0 22 44 Duffey 28 0 15 0 0 43 Thornburg 7 35 0 0 0 42 Jax 0 12 0 0 21 33 Theilbar 0 0 19 0 10 29 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Tuesday night, the Twins will conclude their double header against Cleveland. Josh Winder gets the start for the Twins, against Konnor Pilkington of the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against Cleveland. Dylan Bundy goes for the Twins, against Cal Quantrill for the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon
  20. Defense wins championships is a common mantra in professional sports. In baseball, defensive metrics have taken time and technology to assist in evaluating the actual value provided by players. When the Twins signed Carlos Correa, Minnesota projected to have one of baseball’s best up-the-middle defensive groups. However, the team has struggled defensively this season, and most of the issues are tied to a few key players. According to Outs Above Average (OAA), the Twins rank 22nd in baseball, with only two American League clubs lower in the rankings. Four players have contributed -19 OAA to the team’s overall total, including Luis Arraez (-7), Gio Urshela (-5), Carlos Correa (-4), and Jose Miranda (-3). Correa’s inclusion on this list might be the most surprising as he was arguably baseball’s best defender in 2021 on his way to winning the AL’s Platinum Glove. Outs Above Average isn’t the only metric that paints the Twins negatively. Minnesota currently ranks 19th in runs prevented, slightly better than their OAA ranking. However, the Twins’ defenders have posted a -4 runs prevented with only three AL team’s currently ranking below them. One of the areas the Twins struggle with the most is coming in on the ball. Only one team, the Yankees (-9), has a lower ranking than the Twins (-8) when coming in on the ball. Behind the plate, Ryan Jeffers and Gary Sanchez have both made improvements. Sanchez came to the Twins as one of baseball’s worst defenders. His framing skills have jumped from the 17th percentile in 2021 to the 51st percentile in 2022. Jeffers has seen his framing move from the 74th percentile to the 78th percentile but is below average as he struggles to control the running game. Catching defense could have been an issue this year, but it’s hardly been the team’s biggest problem. FanGraphs utilizes multiple defensive metrics that also show Minnesota’s defensive flaws. According to FanGraphs DEF rankings, the Twins are currently the 22nd best team with a -5/2 DEF total. Out of AL squads, only the White Sox and the Rangers rank worse than the Twins. Minnesota ranks similarly bad in other more traditional defensive metrics like defensive runs saved (20th) and UZR (15th). Overall, not every Twins player is having a terrible defensive season. Five Twins players have a positive OAA total, including Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, who lead the team with five OAA each. Gilberto Celestino currently ranks third with three OAA; Royce Lewis and Trevor Larnach are tied with one OAA each. Buxton has been getting scheduled days off and time at DH, so his total likely would be higher with increased playing time. Kepler has been an above-average defender in the past, and the metrics prove that he is still doing well. Celestino was considered a good defender as a prospect, and that tool has transitioned to the big-league level. Minnesota’s biggest issue is the negative defensive totals compiled by Correa and Urshela. Arraez has been bad, but he’s also been playing significant time at first base, a new position for him. Correa’s bat continues to provide value, but he needs to produce at a high level on both sides of the ball. When the Twins acquired Urshela, he wasn’t considered an above-average defender, but he’s been one of the AL’s worst defenders at third. If the Twins want to improve defensively, it’s hard to pinpoint the best solution. Replacing Urshela at third isn’t an easy fix because the replacement options (Arraez and Miranda) aren’t considered strong defenders. Correa can improve his defensive numbers, which would alter the entire team’s defensive profile. Neither of these solutions is guaranteed to work, and none of these names will be voluntarily removed from the line-up. Bad defensive plays can lead to bad innings and a snowball effect for all players involved. How do you think the Twins can improve their defense? Have you noticed the team’s defensive struggles this year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. A few bad breaks on the bump and a dry spell at the plate plagued the Twins in a 5-0 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday night in Seattle. Here's what you need to know about game two of the series. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (75 pitches, 45 strikes (60%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-0.181), Max Kepler (-0.176), Luis Arraez (-0.071) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Making his first start since May 21, Joe Ryan hoped to mow down the Mariners in a late-night game on the west coast. A pair of middle-inning mistakes and lack of run support stopped that from happening. The Twins managed a meager four hits and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in a shutout loss to Seattle in Ryan's return. Ryan had moments of brilliance early on and was far from bad, but paid for a pair of poor pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. After 3 1/3 scoreless innings, the Mariners were able to get to Ryan. Following a double by Julio Rodriguez, Eugenio Suarez launched a 3-1 pitch over the left-field wall to put the Mariners up 2-0. Just an inning later, Ty France put a ball over the left-field wall to double Seattle's lead and end Ryan's night. All in all, Ryan's night was not as bad as the final score may indicate. The star rookie did an excellent job pounding the zone throughout the night, pitching to contact with an occasional strikeout. His only major blunders came on a few poor pitches in the fourth, ultimately leading to the Mariners' first four runs. Despite his velocity being down, expect Joe Cool to come back hot in his next outing as he eases his way back into the rotation as the team's ace. Trevor Megill was rock solid in relief, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout. It's his second consecutive scoreless appearance and Megill has only allowed two runs through four outings in the month of June. Jovani Moran followed Megill in the bullpen and pitched two innings of one-run ball with two strikeouts and a walk. After struggling to find the zone in the seventh Moran locked in and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Celestino Hits on Anniversary Despite the loss, center-fielder Gilberto Celestino tallied a multi-hit game on the one-year anniversary of his first MLB home run (which he hit off Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales at T-Mobile Park). Celestino punched singles in the third and sixth innings and is now hitting .333 on the season. For a fourth outfielder that sees a fair amount of action due to Byron Buxton's frequency at DH, the 23-year-old has gone above and behind. Carlos Correa also notched a multi-hit game, singling in the fourth and sixth inning. Correa has hit safely in all six games that he's played in June and is now hitting .309 on the season. What’s Next? The Twins square off against the Mariners in the series finale tomorrow afternoon at 3:10 pm CST. After returning from the IL, Sonny Gray (3-1, 2.41 ERA) will make his first start since May 29, squaring off against LHP Marco Gonzales (3-6, 3.63 ERA). Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  22. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (75 pitches, 45 strikes (60%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-0.181), Max Kepler (-0.176), Luis Arraez (-0.071) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Making his first start since May 21, Joe Ryan hoped to mow down the Mariners in a late-night game on the west coast. A pair of middle-inning mistakes and lack of run support stopped that from happening. The Twins managed a meager four hits and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in a shutout loss to Seattle in Ryan's return. Ryan had moments of brilliance early on and was far from bad, but paid for a pair of poor pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. After 3 1/3 scoreless innings, the Mariners were able to get to Ryan. Following a double by Julio Rodriguez, Eugenio Suarez launched a 3-1 pitch over the left-field wall to put the Mariners up 2-0. Just an inning later, Ty France put a ball over the left-field wall to double Seattle's lead and end Ryan's night. All in all, Ryan's night was not as bad as the final score may indicate. The star rookie did an excellent job pounding the zone throughout the night, pitching to contact with an occasional strikeout. His only major blunders came on a few poor pitches in the fourth, ultimately leading to the Mariners' first four runs. Despite his velocity being down, expect Joe Cool to come back hot in his next outing as he eases his way back into the rotation as the team's ace. Trevor Megill was rock solid in relief, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout. It's his second consecutive scoreless appearance and Megill has only allowed two runs through four outings in the month of June. Jovani Moran followed Megill in the bullpen and pitched two innings of one-run ball with two strikeouts and a walk. After struggling to find the zone in the seventh Moran locked in and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Celestino Hits on Anniversary Despite the loss, center-fielder Gilberto Celestino tallied a multi-hit game on the one-year anniversary of his first MLB home run (which he hit off Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales at T-Mobile Park). Celestino punched singles in the third and sixth innings and is now hitting .333 on the season. For a fourth outfielder that sees a fair amount of action due to Byron Buxton's frequency at DH, the 23-year-old has gone above and behind. Carlos Correa also notched a multi-hit game, singling in the fourth and sixth inning. Correa has hit safely in all six games that he's played in June and is now hitting .309 on the season. What’s Next? The Twins square off against the Mariners in the series finale tomorrow afternoon at 3:10 pm CST. After returning from the IL, Sonny Gray (3-1, 2.41 ERA) will make his first start since May 29, squaring off against LHP Marco Gonzales (3-6, 3.63 ERA). Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  23. No Buxton. No Correa. No Urshela. But Luis Arraez, the best hitter right now in baseball, was still in the lineup and provided the power. Chi Chi Gonzalez was promoted for his second start of the season, it was likely to be a bullpen-heavy game. The Twins faced Shane Baz, making his first start of the season after being on the IL all season. Box Score SP: Chi Chi Gonzalez: 4 IP, 8 H, 3R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (67 pitches, 46 strikes (68.6%)) Home Runs: Luis Arraez (Grand Slam) (3), Top 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (.265), Jorge Polanco (.133), Jhoan Duran (.117) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Rays wasted no time getting ahead of Chi Chi Gonzalez and the Twins with three runs in the first inning. . Gonzalez on Friday triggered a minor-league opt-out with the Twins forcing their hand to decide if they will keep the pitcher on the Major League roster or release him. Gonzalez has only one game in the Majors with the Twins, against the Blue Jays where he allowed three runs in three innings before being pulled. The Twins won that game 9-3. Gonzalez got out of the subsequent innings in a quick 1, 2, 3 fashion not allowing more runs during his four complete innings in the game before turning it over to the Bullpen at the top of the fifth. Where the Twins were not getting hits initially in the game, they capitalized on the Rays' mistakes. In the second inning, Kevin Keirmaier slid past second base followed by Randy Arozarena the next inning who got picked off at first base after attempting to take second base during a fly-out from Ji-Man Choi. Gonzalez settled down and settled into a rhythm to continue the game. The lineup for the game was something that felt a little like spring training. Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton were resting today giving the Twins game a small-ball feel as they started piecing runs together in the third inning. First, Gilberto Celestino got on first base. He took advantage of a wild pitch advancing to second base, while Gordon and Jeffers were walked as Baz struggled to maintain control of the strike zone, bringing up Arraez to bat and hitting a 403-foot grand slam, his first-ever, into the right-field seats to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Arraez raised his batting average up to .369 after his hit in the sixth inning, going 3-for-5 on the day. As odd as the lineup seemed, it worked. Audra Martin shared on the broadcast that during an interview with Rocco Baldelli before the game about resting both Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton on the same day. The Rays had used six pitchers by the sixth inning and the Twins took advantage of the rotating door of pitchers. Aside from Luis Arraez, Gilbert Celestino, Jorge Polanco and Ryan Jeffers had strong days at the plate. All three players were crucial in the success of today's outcome as they took turns bringing each other home in the third and sixth innings. Jeffers recently broke out of a 0-21 slump in the series against the Yankees and has continued to make contact with every at-bat. The Rays made an attempt to come back, but the Twins bullpen was on fire and managed to keep the Rays from garnering any more runs. Do you think the Twins should keep Chi Chi Gonzalez, or DFA him and put the decision back in the veteran's hands? Well, they quickly made their decision. Minutes after the game, it was announced. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with Tampa Bay before another series with the Mariners. Pitching matchups for Sunday: 1:05: Cole Sands (0-2, 8.49 ERA) vs LHP Jeffrey Springs (2-2, 1.62 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  24. Box Score SP: Chi Chi Gonzalez: 4 IP, 8 H, 3R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (67 pitches, 46 strikes (68.6%)) Home Runs: Luis Arraez (Grand Slam) (3), Top 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (.265), Jorge Polanco (.133), Jhoan Duran (.117) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Rays wasted no time getting ahead of Chi Chi Gonzalez and the Twins with three runs in the first inning. . Gonzalez on Friday triggered a minor-league opt-out with the Twins forcing their hand to decide if they will keep the pitcher on the Major League roster or release him. Gonzalez has only one game in the Majors with the Twins, against the Blue Jays where he allowed three runs in three innings before being pulled. The Twins won that game 9-3. Gonzalez got out of the subsequent innings in a quick 1, 2, 3 fashion not allowing more runs during his four complete innings in the game before turning it over to the Bullpen at the top of the fifth. Where the Twins were not getting hits initially in the game, they capitalized on the Rays' mistakes. In the second inning, Kevin Keirmaier slid past second base followed by Randy Arozarena the next inning who got picked off at first base after attempting to take second base during a fly-out from Ji-Man Choi. Gonzalez settled down and settled into a rhythm to continue the game. The lineup for the game was something that felt a little like spring training. Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton were resting today giving the Twins game a small-ball feel as they started piecing runs together in the third inning. First, Gilberto Celestino got on first base. He took advantage of a wild pitch advancing to second base, while Gordon and Jeffers were walked as Baz struggled to maintain control of the strike zone, bringing up Arraez to bat and hitting a 403-foot grand slam, his first-ever, into the right-field seats to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Arraez raised his batting average up to .369 after his hit in the sixth inning, going 3-for-5 on the day. As odd as the lineup seemed, it worked. Audra Martin shared on the broadcast that during an interview with Rocco Baldelli before the game about resting both Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton on the same day. The Rays had used six pitchers by the sixth inning and the Twins took advantage of the rotating door of pitchers. Aside from Luis Arraez, Gilbert Celestino, Jorge Polanco and Ryan Jeffers had strong days at the plate. All three players were crucial in the success of today's outcome as they took turns bringing each other home in the third and sixth innings. Jeffers recently broke out of a 0-21 slump in the series against the Yankees and has continued to make contact with every at-bat. The Rays made an attempt to come back, but the Twins bullpen was on fire and managed to keep the Rays from garnering any more runs. Do you think the Twins should keep Chi Chi Gonzalez, or DFA him and put the decision back in the veteran's hands? Well, they quickly made their decision. Minutes after the game, it was announced. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with Tampa Bay before another series with the Mariners. Pitching matchups for Sunday: 1:05: Cole Sands (0-2, 8.49 ERA) vs LHP Jeffrey Springs (2-2, 1.62 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  25. Minnesota's offense hasn't lit the world on fire so far in 2022, but the team has done enough to stay in first place. Here are the four hitters who most helped the club over the last month. It may surprise some fans to learn how good the Twins' offense performed during May. Minnesota ranked second in the American League in wRC+, OPS, and OBP. Minnesota has been very effective at the plate, which has helped the club stretch its lead in the AL Central. Each player below played a role in helping the Twins win over the last calendar month. Honorable Mention #3: Gilberto Celestino Gilberto Celestino quietly had a tremendous month at the plate. In 62 plate appearances, he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) with a 153 wRC+. Byron Buxton struggled throughout May, and Celestino was a worthy replacement in center field. Minnesota has been getting a ton of production from the bottom half of the line-up, and Celestino has provided some dynamic moments when he is on the field. He would likely have been named the team's best hitter in many other months, but Minnesota's line-up was firing on all cylinders. Honorable Mention #2: Carlos Correa Carlos Correa's first month with the Twins couldn't have gone much worse, as he ended April with a .633 OPS. Luckily, his bat began to turn it around in May. In 16 games, he hit .318/.384/.500 (.884) with a 159 wRC+. He was the only player on the team with over 60 plate appearances and a slugging percentage of .500 or higher. His entire slash line was higher than his career totals for the month, so the Twins are getting a better version of Correa than they could have expected. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch early in the month and spent time on the IL. Then COVID slowed him down at the month's end, or he might have been in the conversation for the top spot on this list. Honorable Mention #1: Trevor Larnach Since returning from the injured list, Trevor Larnach has been a man on a mission, and an actual argument can be made for him being the team's hitter of the month. In 50 plate appearances, he hit .333/.431/.646 (1.077) with a 209 wRC+. Those totals would lead the team, but he didn't appear in a game from May 6 to May 22. After struggling through much of his rookie season, he has rebounded nicely with a 162 OPS+. Larnach is developing into the type of hitter the team imagined when they drafted him in the first round out of Oregon State in 2018. If he continues to hit this well, Larnach will need to start moving up the team's line-up. Hitter of the Month: Luis Arraez Fans have envisioned a scenario where Luis Arraez would be fighting for a batting title since he made his big-league debut in 2019. It's hard to fathom what Arraez was able to accomplish during May. He got on base over 48% of the time. Let that sink in for a minute. His batting average was close to .380, and his OPS only trailed Larnach for the team lead. Out of players with more than 60 plate appearances, his 187 wRC+ ranks seventh in the AL for May. Also, he ended the month with baseball's best OBP. He rarely strikes out, and he's putting up numbers that haven't been seen in a Twins uniform in quite some time. Arraez or Larnach? That's a tough decision. By OPS and power production, Larnach might be the choice, but Arraez had 80% more plate appearances and a great on-base percentage Do you agree with the rankings? Should someone else have been an honorable mention? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
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