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  1. Imagine a pitcher who can touch 104 mph, throws strikes and combines it with elite offspeed stuff. The Twins have never had such an arm… until now. Twins Daily’s 2022 pick for Pitcher of the Year is rookie sensation Jhoan Duran. While the majority of the Twins’ bullpen struggled to close games, Duran was invaluable all season long. He led American League relievers in Win Probability Added (4.59), frequently facing the opponent’s best hitters in the highest leverage spots. Duran’s “clutch” score registered at 1.26, also the highest in the AL. If you looked only at Duran on the surface, you’d crown him as one of the best relievers in baseball. His incredible season was impressive without context. The context, however, is where the magic lies. Duran was a rookie thrust into the tightest spots for a team fighting for the playoffs. He had never pitched in relief before 2022, save for a couple games at Triple-A in 2019 and 2021. After working at the Twins' alternate site in 2020, Duran threw only 16 innings a season ago in St. Paul. He had a 5.06 ERA before an elbow injury shut down his season, putting his future in question. Duran dazzled in spring training and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even the most optimistic believers in Duran’s incredible stuff couldn’t have predicted what came next. Among pitchers who threw at least 250 offerings in 2022, Duran’s four-seamer ranked first in average velocity (100.8). His splitter also paced the league at a ridiculous 96.4 mph. Duran unquestionably has the best raw stuff in Twins history and one of the most electrifying repertoires the game has ever seen. There have been plenty of young pitchers with electric arms but Duran’s command is the separator. His 27.4% strikeout-to-walk rate was tied for 10th among qualified relievers, ahead of Cleveland phenom Emmanuel Clase. Duran throws extremely hard and he throws strikes. That combo led to nearly three Wins Above Replacement at Baseball Reference. Duran worked through early pitch-selection pains and got better as the season went on. Only two AL relievers had a lower ERA than Duran in the second half (1.05), minimum of 25 innings. The rookie was also lights-out in front of the home crowd, posting a 0.83 ERA at Target Field, the lowest in a season in the park’s history. Handing your most pivotal bullpen spot to a rookie can be a risky proposition, given the pressure of that role. Duran was unfazed. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Duran held opponents to a 1-for-25 mark, with the lone hit a single. In high-leverage situations, opponents hit .180 with a .489 OPS. Duran’s pulse is impossible to see. Twins fans were understandably sad to see the team trade Eduardo Escobar at the 2018 deadline. The reward, however, looks to be potentially game-changing. Duran has instantly become one of the game’s best relievers and he’s under contract with the Twins through at least 2027. He’s a joy to watch. HONORABLE MENTIONS Sonny Gray The Twins traded their first-round pick from a year ago for Sonny Gray, who was very good when healthy in his first season as a Twin. Gray had trouble staying healthy and pitching deep into games, but his 3.08 ERA and 3.41 FIP show he’s still a frontline starter. Griffin Jax Also in his first season as a full-time reliever, Griffin Jax enjoyed a massive spike in velocity and effectiveness. Jax posted a solid 3.36 ERA in 65 games, regularly setting up Duran as the second-best reliever in the bullpen. Jax averaged over 95 mph with his four-seamer and produced a 37% whiff rate on his elite, high-spin slider. Caleb Thielbar Caleb Thielbar is another example of why we should trust the expected statistics. A ballooned ERA was backed by much better metrics early in 2022. Thielbar was outstanding in the second half with a 1.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. The lefty filled in more than admirably for Taylor Rogers. Joe Ryan Joe Ryan set the Twins’ single-season rookie record for strikeouts, backed by a 3.55 ERA in a team-leading 147 innings. Ryan was exceptional down the stretch with a 2.81 ERA over his last nine starts. Still just a rookie, Ryan has been impressive for many of his now 32 starts in the big leagues. View full article
  2. The Twins technically did improve on their record in 2021, and with that came several players taking steps forward. Nobody made a bigger leap than late-bloomer Nick Gordon. Before we pay our dues to the Twins former top prospect, several others deserve some love as well. Honorable Mentions: Griffin Jax: 72.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 26.9% K rate, 6.9% BB rate, 0.9 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR At the end of 2021, it became clear Jax lacked the pitch mix to thrive as a starter so he made the switch to the bullpen. It’s hard to expect more than what he provided the Twins. Arguably a Top 3 reliever for the team for most of the year, Jax turned to his wipeout slider nearly 50% of the time and the pitch was dominant in every way. Headed into 2023, it’ll be interesting to see if Jax can continue improving in his new role. Luis Arraez: .316/.375/.420, 8.3% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 3.2 fWAR, 4.4 bWAR It’s hard for one of the team’s best players over the last few years to get “most improved” consideration but Arraez has earned it. Not only did he take his offense to the next level by winning a batting title and slugging a career-high eight home runs, but he also had an underrated season defensively. After struggling to stick at any one position, Arraez found himself playing first base for the first time in his career and more than held his own. Though his hamstring caused him issues at season’s end, he played a career-high 144 games. Hopefully, we can see more of the same moving forward. Gilberto Celestino: .238/.313/.302, 9.2% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, 0 fWAR, 0.5 bWAR To be fair, Celestino didn’t look to be an MLB-caliber player in 2021, and so even his modest 2022 numbers got him some love as one of the Twins most improved players. He showed flashes throughout the year that hint at his ability to at least become a solid fourth outfielder. He put up comfortably positive defensive metrics in center field across the board, and any kind of power development would be huge. Still just 23 years old, Celestino may very well find himself on this list again next year. Twins Daily's Most Improved Player Nick Gordon: .272/.316/.427, 4.3% BB rate, 23.7% K rate, 1.5 fWAR, 1.6 fWAR So much to be impressed by with Gordon’s 2022 season. Early calls to jettison him off the roster in favor of Royce Lewis were quickly rescinded, as Gordon found himself in a trial by fire due to injuries and came out on the other side looking like a legitimate piece of the Twins future. Gordon showed contact ability and power like never before and even did a little bit of damage against left-handed pitching on occasion. Though the Twins tailed off at the beginning of September, they’d have been out of the race well before without their former 2014 1st round pick. Gordon pivoted off of his longtime position in the middle infield and is likely a better defensive outfielder at this point, a testament to the work he put in and his raw physical ability. The Twins outfield has plenty of left-handed hitters, but Gordon is a nice complement to the hulking sluggers such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner. He seems like a favorite to fill a platoon-type role moving forward, finding himself in the lineup regularly when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. One thing that should really be appreciated about Gordon is the joy he plays with. Perhaps stemming from the long path to get to this point, Gordon isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve in every situation. From a huge smile on his face following a big hit to his visible frustration when being pulled for a pinch hitter, you just have to love how invested he looks no matter the situation. With team control until 2028 and a versatile skill set, Nick Gordon may just be getting started. In the midst of a disappointing season, the development he’s shown was truly a bright spot. For that reason, join us in congratulating Nick Gordon as Twins Daily’s Most Improved Player! View full article
  3. While the majority of the Twins’ bullpen struggled to close games, Duran was invaluable all season long. He led American League relievers in Win Probability Added (4.59), frequently facing the opponent’s best hitters in the highest leverage spots. Duran’s “clutch” score registered at 1.26, also the highest in the AL. If you looked only at Duran on the surface, you’d crown him as one of the best relievers in baseball. His incredible season was impressive without context. The context, however, is where the magic lies. Duran was a rookie thrust into the tightest spots for a team fighting for the playoffs. He had never pitched in relief before 2022, save for a couple games at Triple-A in 2019 and 2021. After working at the Twins' alternate site in 2020, Duran threw only 16 innings a season ago in St. Paul. He had a 5.06 ERA before an elbow injury shut down his season, putting his future in question. Duran dazzled in spring training and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even the most optimistic believers in Duran’s incredible stuff couldn’t have predicted what came next. Among pitchers who threw at least 250 offerings in 2022, Duran’s four-seamer ranked first in average velocity (100.8). His splitter also paced the league at a ridiculous 96.4 mph. Duran unquestionably has the best raw stuff in Twins history and one of the most electrifying repertoires the game has ever seen. There have been plenty of young pitchers with electric arms but Duran’s command is the separator. His 27.4% strikeout-to-walk rate was tied for 10th among qualified relievers, ahead of Cleveland phenom Emmanuel Clase. Duran throws extremely hard and he throws strikes. That combo led to nearly three Wins Above Replacement at Baseball Reference. Duran worked through early pitch-selection pains and got better as the season went on. Only two AL relievers had a lower ERA than Duran in the second half (1.05), minimum of 25 innings. The rookie was also lights-out in front of the home crowd, posting a 0.83 ERA at Target Field, the lowest in a season in the park’s history. Handing your most pivotal bullpen spot to a rookie can be a risky proposition, given the pressure of that role. Duran was unfazed. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Duran held opponents to a 1-for-25 mark, with the lone hit a single. In high-leverage situations, opponents hit .180 with a .489 OPS. Duran’s pulse is impossible to see. Twins fans were understandably sad to see the team trade Eduardo Escobar at the 2018 deadline. The reward, however, looks to be potentially game-changing. Duran has instantly become one of the game’s best relievers and he’s under contract with the Twins through at least 2027. He’s a joy to watch. HONORABLE MENTIONS Sonny Gray The Twins traded their first-round pick from a year ago for Sonny Gray, who was very good when healthy in his first season as a Twin. Gray had trouble staying healthy and pitching deep into games, but his 3.08 ERA and 3.41 FIP show he’s still a frontline starter. Griffin Jax Also in his first season as a full-time reliever, Griffin Jax enjoyed a massive spike in velocity and effectiveness. Jax posted a solid 3.36 ERA in 65 games, regularly setting up Duran as the second-best reliever in the bullpen. Jax averaged over 95 mph with his four-seamer and produced a 37% whiff rate on his elite, high-spin slider. Caleb Thielbar Caleb Thielbar is another example of why we should trust the expected statistics. A ballooned ERA was backed by much better metrics early in 2022. Thielbar was outstanding in the second half with a 1.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. The lefty filled in more than admirably for Taylor Rogers. Joe Ryan Joe Ryan set the Twins’ single-season rookie record for strikeouts, backed by a 3.55 ERA in a team-leading 147 innings. Ryan was exceptional down the stretch with a 2.81 ERA over his last nine starts. Still just a rookie, Ryan has been impressive for many of his now 32 starts in the big leagues.
  4. Honorable Mentions: Griffin Jax: 72.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 26.9% K rate, 6.9% BB rate, 0.9 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR At the end of 2021, it became clear Jax lacked the pitch mix to thrive as a starter so he made the switch to the bullpen. It’s hard to expect more than what he provided the Twins. Arguably a Top 3 reliever for the team for most of the year, Jax turned to his wipeout slider nearly 50% of the time and the pitch was dominant in every way. Headed into 2023, it’ll be interesting to see if Jax can continue improving in his new role. Luis Arraez: .316/.375/.420, 8.3% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 3.2 fWAR, 4.4 bWAR It’s hard for one of the team’s best players over the last few years to get “most improved” consideration but Arraez has earned it. Not only did he take his offense to the next level by winning a batting title and slugging a career-high eight home runs, but he also had an underrated season defensively. After struggling to stick at any one position, Arraez found himself playing first base for the first time in his career and more than held his own. Though his hamstring caused him issues at season’s end, he played a career-high 144 games. Hopefully, we can see more of the same moving forward. Gilberto Celestino: .238/.313/.302, 9.2% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, 0 fWAR, 0.5 bWAR To be fair, Celestino didn’t look to be an MLB-caliber player in 2021, and so even his modest 2022 numbers got him some love as one of the Twins most improved players. He showed flashes throughout the year that hint at his ability to at least become a solid fourth outfielder. He put up comfortably positive defensive metrics in center field across the board, and any kind of power development would be huge. Still just 23 years old, Celestino may very well find himself on this list again next year. Twins Daily's Most Improved Player Nick Gordon: .272/.316/.427, 4.3% BB rate, 23.7% K rate, 1.5 fWAR, 1.6 fWAR So much to be impressed by with Gordon’s 2022 season. Early calls to jettison him off the roster in favor of Royce Lewis were quickly rescinded, as Gordon found himself in a trial by fire due to injuries and came out on the other side looking like a legitimate piece of the Twins future. Gordon showed contact ability and power like never before and even did a little bit of damage against left-handed pitching on occasion. Though the Twins tailed off at the beginning of September, they’d have been out of the race well before without their former 2014 1st round pick. Gordon pivoted off of his longtime position in the middle infield and is likely a better defensive outfielder at this point, a testament to the work he put in and his raw physical ability. The Twins outfield has plenty of left-handed hitters, but Gordon is a nice complement to the hulking sluggers such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner. He seems like a favorite to fill a platoon-type role moving forward, finding himself in the lineup regularly when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. One thing that should really be appreciated about Gordon is the joy he plays with. Perhaps stemming from the long path to get to this point, Gordon isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve in every situation. From a huge smile on his face following a big hit to his visible frustration when being pulled for a pinch hitter, you just have to love how invested he looks no matter the situation. With team control until 2028 and a versatile skill set, Nick Gordon may just be getting started. In the midst of a disappointing season, the development he’s shown was truly a bright spot. For that reason, join us in congratulating Nick Gordon as Twins Daily’s Most Improved Player!
  5. Break out the brooms. Thanks to early-inning heroics from Carlos Correa and Nick Gordon, the Twins notched a critical win on Thursday night against the Royals. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 4 IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K (60 pitches, 41 strikes, 68.3%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (21), Nick Gordon (7) Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.155), Jhoan Duran (.153), Michael Fulmer (.115) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) In Honor of 21 Some things are bigger than the result on the field. 50 years following his passing, six Twins players donned #21 for Roberto Clemente Day on Thursday night. Puerto Rican natives Carlos Correa, Jose Miranda, Jorge López and Jovani Moran all donned #21 for the man who was arguably the father of baseball for the country. Emilio Pagán, who is of Puerto Rican descent (his father is from Puerto Rico) and Byron Buxton, who is the Twins' nominee for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award also wore #21 on their jerseys. Early Action After the White Sox crunched the Guardians on Thursday afternoon, the Twins wasted no time to hop on top of the Royals on Thursday. Carlos Correa launched a full-count fastball over the left-field wall to put the Twins up 1-0. That homer was Correa's fifth in the last seven games. A clubhouse leader showing up when it matters? Absolutely. Nick Gordon added to the fun in the second inning. After Gilberto Celestino tallied a double (which really could have been a triple (or more) without an unfortunate trip), Nick "Flash G" Gordon launched a slider over the right-center field wall to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. Cy Bundy Twins starter Dylan Bundy was adequate through four innings, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking none. The real show was the Twins bullpen, who posted five innings of scoreless innings. Trevor Megill posted a perfect fifth inning followed by a perfect sixth from Griffin Jax. Caleb Thielbar and Michael Fulmer combined for perfect seventh and eighth innings with three strikeouts and flamethrower Jhoan Duran made things interesting, but he posted a two-strikeout ninth inning to secure the win for the Twins. Defense Wins! Perhaps the most brilliant play on the night came in the third inning. With Nicky Lopez at the plate, Jake Cave made arguably his best defensive play of his career with an extra-base stealer in front of the right field wall. Postgame Interviews What’s Next? This is when it counts. Four games down in the AL Central, the Twins head to Cleveland for a five-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 pm tomorrow night. As you can hear in the Baldelli interview above, Bailey Ober returns to the Twins and will start Game 1 in Cleveland. To make room for Ober to come off of the 60-Day IL and join the 28-man roster, RHP Jharel Cotton was again DFAd. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  6. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 4 IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K (60 pitches, 41 strikes, 68.3%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (21), Nick Gordon (7) Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.155), Jhoan Duran (.153), Michael Fulmer (.115) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) In Honor of 21 Some things are bigger than the result on the field. 50 years following his passing, six Twins players donned #21 for Roberto Clemente Day on Thursday night. Puerto Rican natives Carlos Correa, Jose Miranda, Jorge López and Jovani Moran all donned #21 for the man who was arguably the father of baseball for the country. Emilio Pagán, who is of Puerto Rican descent (his father is from Puerto Rico) and Byron Buxton, who is the Twins' nominee for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award also wore #21 on their jerseys. Early Action After the White Sox crunched the Guardians on Thursday afternoon, the Twins wasted no time to hop on top of the Royals on Thursday. Carlos Correa launched a full-count fastball over the left-field wall to put the Twins up 1-0. That homer was Correa's fifth in the last seven games. A clubhouse leader showing up when it matters? Absolutely. Nick Gordon added to the fun in the second inning. After Gilberto Celestino tallied a double (which really could have been a triple (or more) without an unfortunate trip), Nick "Flash G" Gordon launched a slider over the right-center field wall to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. Cy Bundy Twins starter Dylan Bundy was adequate through four innings, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking none. The real show was the Twins bullpen, who posted five innings of scoreless innings. Trevor Megill posted a perfect fifth inning followed by a perfect sixth from Griffin Jax. Caleb Thielbar and Michael Fulmer combined for perfect seventh and eighth innings with three strikeouts and flamethrower Jhoan Duran made things interesting, but he posted a two-strikeout ninth inning to secure the win for the Twins. Defense Wins! Perhaps the most brilliant play on the night came in the third inning. With Nicky Lopez at the plate, Jake Cave made arguably his best defensive play of his career with an extra-base stealer in front of the right field wall. Postgame Interviews What’s Next? This is when it counts. Four games down in the AL Central, the Twins head to Cleveland for a five-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 pm tomorrow night. As you can hear in the Baldelli interview above, Bailey Ober returns to the Twins and will start Game 1 in Cleveland. To make room for Ober to come off of the 60-Day IL and join the 28-man roster, RHP Jharel Cotton was again DFAd. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  7. In a four-hour marathon, the Yankees walked off the Twins in 12 innings at the Bronx. Louie Varland had a lovely big-league debut, but the bullpen relinquished the lead twice. Image courtesy of Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  9. We’re now into the final month of the 2022 Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Twins are trying to do everything they can to make the Postseason. While that result hangs in the balance, there’s been plenty to like after an uninspiring 2021 season. Image courtesy of Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports Rocco Baldelli’s club has seen debuts of multiple rookies this season, while also enjoying the play of superstar Carlos Correa. Despite dealing with plenty of injuries and adversity, bright spots have been aplenty for a club looking to re-establish itself atop the American League Central division. Here are five of the best developments for the Minnesota Twins in 2022: Griffin Jax A year ago Griffin Jax was a starter that had next to nothing going for him. He had an ERA over 6.00 and was giving up homers at an alarming rate. Converted to a full-time reliever this season, Jax has arguably been one of the most underrated arms in baseball. Baldelli went to him often in high-leverage situations, and he worked as a setup guy for the club’s best relief arms. Now striking out over 10.0 per nine innings, he’s emerged as a weapon in relief for quite some time. Nick Gordon Finally healthy, and experiencing a full season, Gordon has emerged as a true asset as a utility player. Byron Buxton played through an immense amount of pain this season and put up All-Star numbers while doing so, but when he missed time it was Gordon who stepped up. Royce Lewis’ injury gave Gordon even more run, and having filled in all over the place, Gordon has done more than his part with both the bat and the glove. Luis Arraez There was no doubt that Minnesota’s Arraez could hit. He spent a good deal of the year batting north of the .330 mark, and he was a deserving All-Star. The shocking part is that he stepped up at first base, despite never playing there before, and has held down the role for months. No Alex Kirilloff and no Miguel Sano meant Minnesota was in dire straits. Arraez has never been considered a good defender at second base, and he’s not exceptional at first, but to pick it up on the fly and keep hitting has been nothing short of amazing. Jose Miranda There’s no argument to be made that Miranda earned his demotion. He posted a .484 OPS through 19 games and it was time to head back to St. Paul. When the roster spot opened after Lewis’ injury, he turned the car around and never made it back to CHS Field. He’s been on fire since, deserves some votes for Rookie of the Year consideration, and leads Minnesota in runs batted in. He’s not a good defender and has played a decent amount as the designated hitter down the stretch, but you have to be thrilled with the continuation of what was an amazing minor league season in 2021. Jhoan Duran Enough can’t possibly be said about Jhoan Duran. He came into the season as a starting pitching prospect and was not expected to make the Opening Day roster. A dominant showing in Fort Myers forced the organization’s hand, and he looked electric in a late-inning role. With the fastest pitches not only in Twins history, but among Major League Baseball as a whole, he’s become one of the best relief arms the sport has seen. Duran has closed out games but has given Baldelli an arm to rely on in the highest leverage scenarios and has provided Minnesota with more value than they ever could have imagined. View full article
  10. Rocco Baldelli’s club has seen debuts of multiple rookies this season, while also enjoying the play of superstar Carlos Correa. Despite dealing with plenty of injuries and adversity, bright spots have been aplenty for a club looking to re-establish itself atop the American League Central division. Here are five of the best developments for the Minnesota Twins in 2022: Griffin Jax A year ago Griffin Jax was a starter that had next to nothing going for him. He had an ERA over 6.00 and was giving up homers at an alarming rate. Converted to a full-time reliever this season, Jax has arguably been one of the most underrated arms in baseball. Baldelli went to him often in high-leverage situations, and he worked as a setup guy for the club’s best relief arms. Now striking out over 10.0 per nine innings, he’s emerged as a weapon in relief for quite some time. Nick Gordon Finally healthy, and experiencing a full season, Gordon has emerged as a true asset as a utility player. Byron Buxton played through an immense amount of pain this season and put up All-Star numbers while doing so, but when he missed time it was Gordon who stepped up. Royce Lewis’ injury gave Gordon even more run, and having filled in all over the place, Gordon has done more than his part with both the bat and the glove. Luis Arraez There was no doubt that Minnesota’s Arraez could hit. He spent a good deal of the year batting north of the .330 mark, and he was a deserving All-Star. The shocking part is that he stepped up at first base, despite never playing there before, and has held down the role for months. No Alex Kirilloff and no Miguel Sano meant Minnesota was in dire straits. Arraez has never been considered a good defender at second base, and he’s not exceptional at first, but to pick it up on the fly and keep hitting has been nothing short of amazing. Jose Miranda There’s no argument to be made that Miranda earned his demotion. He posted a .484 OPS through 19 games and it was time to head back to St. Paul. When the roster spot opened after Lewis’ injury, he turned the car around and never made it back to CHS Field. He’s been on fire since, deserves some votes for Rookie of the Year consideration, and leads Minnesota in runs batted in. He’s not a good defender and has played a decent amount as the designated hitter down the stretch, but you have to be thrilled with the continuation of what was an amazing minor league season in 2021. Jhoan Duran Enough can’t possibly be said about Jhoan Duran. He came into the season as a starting pitching prospect and was not expected to make the Opening Day roster. A dominant showing in Fort Myers forced the organization’s hand, and he looked electric in a late-inning role. With the fastest pitches not only in Twins history, but among Major League Baseball as a whole, he’s become one of the best relief arms the sport has seen. Duran has closed out games but has given Baldelli an arm to rely on in the highest leverage scenarios and has provided Minnesota with more value than they ever could have imagined.
  11. With the chance of tying Cleveland for the AL Central first place, the Twins had the lead twice against the White Sox in Chicago, but they ended up giving up both those leads and ended up being walked off in the series opener. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4 IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2K (59 pitches, 40 strikes, 67.8%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Jorge Lopez (-.367), Caleb Thielbar (-.205), Gary Sanchez (-.116) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gordon, Offense Put Chicago on the Ropes Early Nick Gordon has been living what can perhaps be considered the hottest offensive streak of his major league career – and he simply doesn’t look like he wants to slow down. Coming into tonight’s game, he had been slashing .364/.391/.682 (1.073) for his previous seven games. The White Sox decided to have a bullpen game, bringing Joe Kelly to open the game. Gordon and the Twins took advantage of that. After the four first batters faced by Kelly, Minnesota had loaded the bases with one out, bringing red-hot Gordon to the plate. The Twins’ second baseman smacked his 22nd double to the right field corner, scoring Carlos Correa and Max Kepler. That was all the Twins could get, as Kelly stranded both remaining runners with a couple of strikeouts, but it was a great start for Minnesota nonetheless. Davis Martin, who was originally scheduled to start tonight’s game for Chicago, took over in relief of Kelly in the second inning. Still, Minnesota’s offense continued to push forward but failed to add on. Luis Arraez, who singled in the first, hit a two-out double, seemingly putting the August slump behind him. Correa drew a walk after him, and suddenly, the Twins were posing a threat once again, but Kepler lined out, and the inning was over. Gray Tosses Three Solid but Struggles with Command in the Fourth Sonny Gray gave up a two-out single in the bottom of the first, but that was pretty much all the White Sox could get off him for the first three innings, as he retired seven consecutive batters after that single. Then, in the fourth inning, things abruptly changed for him. Andrew Vaughn led off the inning with a double, but it didn’t look too serious after Gray induced back-to-back ground ball outs. But Yasmani Grandal hit a bloop single off the glove of Gio Urshela to score Vaughn. That was when things spiraled out of control for Gray, who started having command issues. Grandal moved to second on a wild pitch, then A.J. Pollock and Leury Garcia reached on a walk and a single, respectively, to load the bases. Facing Josh Harrison, all Gray needed was another out to end the threat. Instead, he (barely) brushed Harrison’s forearm with a fastball, and the game was tied. Gray got the final out to limit the damage, but, despite his pitch count not having reached 60, Rocco Baldelli decided he was done. At four innings pitched, this was Gray’s shortest start since July 14, tied for his third shortest start of the season. During the seventh inning, it was reported that Gray left the game due to some right hamstring tightness. The injury must have been caused by the last play of the third inning when Gray fielded a comebacker on the infield before throwing to Arráez at first. He clearly grabbed his hamstring after the play. Bullpen does a Good Job, Gordon Comes Through Again… After Gray’s injury, the bullpen had their work cut out for them, having to throw at least five innings. Michael Fulmer gave up back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth but eventually got the final out. Then, Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran combined for a couple of quick, scoreless frames. Came the eighth inning, with the game tied, the offense showed up again. After the productive first two innings, the Twins’ lineup went quietly for most of the game, going 2-for-17 after Correa’s second-inning walk. But the bats came back to life in the eighth. Facing reliever Jimmy Lambert, Kepler got an infield leadoff single but ended up at second base on a throwing error from Harrison. Jose Miranda followed that with a single of his own, moving Kepler to third. Gordon stepped up to the plate and got his third run batted in on a ground out, putting the Twins back in front. …but the Sox Tied the Game, Walk it off After four consecutive scoreless appearances and nine out of the previous ten, Caleb Thielbar came in to try and keep the one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. After retiring Eloy Jimenez to open the inning, he couldn’t get past Grandal, who crushed a game-tying solo shot to the left field corner. Gilberto Celestino got a single in the top of the ninth, but the Twins couldn’t capitalize. Then, with Jorge López pitching in the bottom of the inning, Chicago loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a hit batter that caused the benches to clear. Next, López seemingly hit Abreu, ending the game, but after a challenge, the call was overturned, as the ball actually hit Abreu’s bat. It was no use, though. As the Abreu at-bat continued, the former AL MVP hit into a groundout that could’ve led to an inning-ending double play, but Correa couldn’t fire the throw to first, allowing Romy Gonzalez to score the winning run. Postgame interview What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow, with the first pitch at 6:15 pm CDT. Tyler Mahle (4.17 ERA) toes the rubber for Minnesota, while Dylan Cease (2.27 ERA) gets the start for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Moran 0 0 52 0 0 52 Jax 17 8 0 0 20 45 Thielbar 15 13 0 0 13 41 Megill 0 23 14 0 0 37 Fulmer 0 13 0 0 17 30 Duran 14 0 0 0 11 25 López 9 0 0 0 13 22 Pagán 0 21 0 0 0 21 View full article
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4 IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2K (59 pitches, 40 strikes, 67.8%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Jorge Lopez (-.367), Caleb Thielbar (-.205), Gary Sanchez (-.116) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gordon, Offense Put Chicago on the Ropes Early Nick Gordon has been living what can perhaps be considered the hottest offensive streak of his major league career – and he simply doesn’t look like he wants to slow down. Coming into tonight’s game, he had been slashing .364/.391/.682 (1.073) for his previous seven games. The White Sox decided to have a bullpen game, bringing Joe Kelly to open the game. Gordon and the Twins took advantage of that. After the four first batters faced by Kelly, Minnesota had loaded the bases with one out, bringing red-hot Gordon to the plate. The Twins’ second baseman smacked his 22nd double to the right field corner, scoring Carlos Correa and Max Kepler. That was all the Twins could get, as Kelly stranded both remaining runners with a couple of strikeouts, but it was a great start for Minnesota nonetheless. Davis Martin, who was originally scheduled to start tonight’s game for Chicago, took over in relief of Kelly in the second inning. Still, Minnesota’s offense continued to push forward but failed to add on. Luis Arraez, who singled in the first, hit a two-out double, seemingly putting the August slump behind him. Correa drew a walk after him, and suddenly, the Twins were posing a threat once again, but Kepler lined out, and the inning was over. Gray Tosses Three Solid but Struggles with Command in the Fourth Sonny Gray gave up a two-out single in the bottom of the first, but that was pretty much all the White Sox could get off him for the first three innings, as he retired seven consecutive batters after that single. Then, in the fourth inning, things abruptly changed for him. Andrew Vaughn led off the inning with a double, but it didn’t look too serious after Gray induced back-to-back ground ball outs. But Yasmani Grandal hit a bloop single off the glove of Gio Urshela to score Vaughn. That was when things spiraled out of control for Gray, who started having command issues. Grandal moved to second on a wild pitch, then A.J. Pollock and Leury Garcia reached on a walk and a single, respectively, to load the bases. Facing Josh Harrison, all Gray needed was another out to end the threat. Instead, he (barely) brushed Harrison’s forearm with a fastball, and the game was tied. Gray got the final out to limit the damage, but, despite his pitch count not having reached 60, Rocco Baldelli decided he was done. At four innings pitched, this was Gray’s shortest start since July 14, tied for his third shortest start of the season. During the seventh inning, it was reported that Gray left the game due to some right hamstring tightness. The injury must have been caused by the last play of the third inning when Gray fielded a comebacker on the infield before throwing to Arráez at first. He clearly grabbed his hamstring after the play. Bullpen does a Good Job, Gordon Comes Through Again… After Gray’s injury, the bullpen had their work cut out for them, having to throw at least five innings. Michael Fulmer gave up back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth but eventually got the final out. Then, Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran combined for a couple of quick, scoreless frames. Came the eighth inning, with the game tied, the offense showed up again. After the productive first two innings, the Twins’ lineup went quietly for most of the game, going 2-for-17 after Correa’s second-inning walk. But the bats came back to life in the eighth. Facing reliever Jimmy Lambert, Kepler got an infield leadoff single but ended up at second base on a throwing error from Harrison. Jose Miranda followed that with a single of his own, moving Kepler to third. Gordon stepped up to the plate and got his third run batted in on a ground out, putting the Twins back in front. …but the Sox Tied the Game, Walk it off After four consecutive scoreless appearances and nine out of the previous ten, Caleb Thielbar came in to try and keep the one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. After retiring Eloy Jimenez to open the inning, he couldn’t get past Grandal, who crushed a game-tying solo shot to the left field corner. Gilberto Celestino got a single in the top of the ninth, but the Twins couldn’t capitalize. Then, with Jorge López pitching in the bottom of the inning, Chicago loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a hit batter that caused the benches to clear. Next, López seemingly hit Abreu, ending the game, but after a challenge, the call was overturned, as the ball actually hit Abreu’s bat. It was no use, though. As the Abreu at-bat continued, the former AL MVP hit into a groundout that could’ve led to an inning-ending double play, but Correa couldn’t fire the throw to first, allowing Romy Gonzalez to score the winning run. Postgame interview What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow, with the first pitch at 6:15 pm CDT. Tyler Mahle (4.17 ERA) toes the rubber for Minnesota, while Dylan Cease (2.27 ERA) gets the start for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Moran 0 0 52 0 0 52 Jax 17 8 0 0 20 45 Thielbar 15 13 0 0 13 41 Megill 0 23 14 0 0 37 Fulmer 0 13 0 0 17 30 Duran 14 0 0 0 11 25 López 9 0 0 0 13 22 Pagán 0 21 0 0 0 21
  13. There were moments of brilliance. Yet the Twins dropped another game to the Houston Astros on Thursday evening in the series finale against Houston. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, BB, 2 K (86 pitches, 55 strikes, 64%) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (16) Bottom 3 WPA: Chris Archer (-.351), Luis Arraez (-.128), Carlos Correa (-.089) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Things looked sweet off the bat when Jorge Polanco put the Twins in front with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning, launching a 1-0 fastball from Luis Garcia over the right field wall. The lead didn't last for long. Chris Archer gave up five hits and four in the bottom of the first, including a three-run homer from Trey Mancini to put the Astros up 4-1. Minnesota stabbed back in the second thanks to the hitting and speed of Nick "Flash G" Gordon. Gordon crushed the first pitch of the inning to center field for a leadoff triple. On the next pitch, Gordon scored on a wild pitch to bring the Twins within two. A run scored before Garcia could even register a strike? Not too shabby! After surrendering a run in the third, The Twins brought the deficit back to two with a sac-fly from Luis Arraez that scored Gary Sanchez. Arraez's sac-fly would be the last laugh from the Twins' offense. The Twins recorded leadoff singles in both the sixth and seventh innings but failed to record any runs. Minnesota recorded only seven hits on the night and left three runners on base. Bending Arch Thursday night wasn't the cleanest day at the office for Twins starter Chris Archer. Through four innings, Archer allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking one. The outing was a stark contrast from his last start when he threw five innings of three-hit, one-run ball against the Rangers. Thursday's five runs were the most that Archer has given up since his July 27th start against the Brewers, when he gave up six runs on three hits through three innings. Archer has recorded a 3.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in the month of August. Bullpen Battles Despite the loss, the Twins' bullpen was rock solid on the evening. Jhoan Duran made his earliest appearance of the year, pitching a scoreless fifth inning. Griffin Jax followed suit with a perfect sixth inning; Jax now has six straight scoreless appearances, spanning six combined innings. Seven of Jax's 11 outings in the month of August have kept the opposition from touching home. Despite giving up two hits, trade deadline addition Jorge Lopez pitched a scoreless seventh inning, Trevor McGill gave up a two-out run in the eighth but managed to record all three outs on strikeouts. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet What's Next For the first time ever, the San Francisco Giants will head to Target Field to take on the Twins starting tomorrow night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm CST. View full article
  14. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, BB, 2 K (86 pitches, 55 strikes, 64%) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (16) Bottom 3 WPA: Chris Archer (-.351), Luis Arraez (-.128), Carlos Correa (-.089) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Things looked sweet off the bat when Jorge Polanco put the Twins in front with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning, launching a 1-0 fastball from Luis Garcia over the right field wall. The lead didn't last for long. Chris Archer gave up five hits and four in the bottom of the first, including a three-run homer from Trey Mancini to put the Astros up 4-1. Minnesota stabbed back in the second thanks to the hitting and speed of Nick "Flash G" Gordon. Gordon crushed the first pitch of the inning to center field for a leadoff triple. On the next pitch, Gordon scored on a wild pitch to bring the Twins within two. A run scored before Garcia could even register a strike? Not too shabby! After surrendering a run in the third, The Twins brought the deficit back to two with a sac-fly from Luis Arraez that scored Gary Sanchez. Arraez's sac-fly would be the last laugh from the Twins' offense. The Twins recorded leadoff singles in both the sixth and seventh innings but failed to record any runs. Minnesota recorded only seven hits on the night and left three runners on base. Bending Arch Thursday night wasn't the cleanest day at the office for Twins starter Chris Archer. Through four innings, Archer allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking one. The outing was a stark contrast from his last start when he threw five innings of three-hit, one-run ball against the Rangers. Thursday's five runs were the most that Archer has given up since his July 27th start against the Brewers, when he gave up six runs on three hits through three innings. Archer has recorded a 3.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in the month of August. Bullpen Battles Despite the loss, the Twins' bullpen was rock solid on the evening. Jhoan Duran made his earliest appearance of the year, pitching a scoreless fifth inning. Griffin Jax followed suit with a perfect sixth inning; Jax now has six straight scoreless appearances, spanning six combined innings. Seven of Jax's 11 outings in the month of August have kept the opposition from touching home. Despite giving up two hits, trade deadline addition Jorge Lopez pitched a scoreless seventh inning, Trevor McGill gave up a two-out run in the eighth but managed to record all three outs on strikeouts. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet What's Next For the first time ever, the San Francisco Giants will head to Target Field to take on the Twins starting tomorrow night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm CST.
  15. Last night, the Twins secured their first series win in almost two weeks. Today, despite losing starter Tyler Mahle to an injury during the third inning, they closed out the series with another win, representing their first three-game sweep since May 22. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Tyler Mahle, 2 1/3 IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K (42 pitches, 29 strikes, 69.0%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (12) Top 3 WPA: José Miranda (.177), Tyler Mahle (.115), Max Kepler (.069) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Twins jump to an early three-run lead Coincidentally, the last time the Twins swept an opponent in a three-game set was against this same Royals team. Having won eight of the previous twelve matchups against Kansas City on the year, Minnesota would guarantee at least a season series tie with a win this afternoon. In order to do that, they quickly jumped to an early lead on a couple of swings in the first two innings of the game. After Twins starter Tyler Mahle pitched around a leadoff walk to conclude the top of the first inning, the offense was off to a slow start to the bottom half. Royals’ Daniel Lynch got two outs on two pitches to begin his start, and the opening inning seemed doomed for Minnesota right away. However, Luis Arráez worked a short single against Lynch to keep the inning alive, and cleanup hitter José Miranda followed him with a two-run home run to left center. Mahle threw a scoreless 1-2-3 top of the second, and the bats responded with more run support. Gilberto Celestino lined a leadoff single to center, and the Twins cashed in on a Royals fielding blunder. When Michael Massey made a throwing error to second on a Max Kepler hit, Celestino was able to move to third and be waved in by third base coach Tommy Watkins, scoring Minnesota’s third run of the matchup. Mahle leaves the game in the third inning Other than the leadoff walk in the first, Mahle navigated through the first two innings rather uneventfully, but something seemed off with his velocity. He struck out Nate Eaton on three pitches to start the third inning, but in the middle of his next at-bat, he departed the game with an apparent injury. Later on, the clubhouse announced that he left the game due to some right shoulder fatigue. Having tossed 42 total pitches, his overall velocity averaged 86.1 MPH, with his four-seamer averaging 89.3 MPH. Compared to his season averages, his overall average was down over a full mile per hour (87,2 MPH on the year), and the four-seamer specifically was down over four miles per hour (93,4 MPH on the year). Making his first appearance since Sunday’s nightmarish outing, Emilio Pagán bounced back nicely and delivered two scoreless frames in relief of Mahle. Bullpen, outstanding defense, hold on to the win Pagán allowed a couple of hits during the fourth inning, but he was bailed out by some fantastic defense behind him. First, Nick Gordon stole a deep single from Bobby Witt Jr. with a tremendous diving catch in the corner of the left field. Then, after Salvador Pérez and Vinnie Pasquantino hit back-to-back one-out singles, Pagán induced a groundball double play against Brent Rooker, beautifully turned in by Arráez and Miranda to end the inning. Fortunately for Pagán and whoever came in to pitch after him, the offense added one more run to the Twins’ lead. After flashing the leather at the top of the fourth, Gordon also made his offensive contribution. Gary Sánchez drew a one-out walk, and a couple of at-bats later, Gordon jumped on the first pitch he saw for a double that brought Sánchez home, making it 4-0 Minnesota. Pagán departed the game in the fifth, after getting the inning’s first out, with Griffin Jax taking over. With an inherited runner, he induced an inning-ending groundball double play on his first pitch. He also breezed through the sixth, tossing a 1-2-3 inning on eleven pitches and two strikeouts. Pagán and Jax nearly completed four innings of shutout ball, making for a brilliant afternoon by the bullpen. When Jhoan Duran took over to pitch the seventh, it seemed like things were about to change. Pérez and Pasquantino, once again, hit back-to-back singles to open the inning and suddenly had the chance to make this a one-run game with a swing of the bat. Duran struck out the next batter before Celestino made yet another brilliant defensive move for the Twins defense, taking a hit away from Massey with a diving catch. Michael Fulmer was made to work hard to get through the eighth, but eventually stranded two runners to give Trevor Megill a four-run lead in the ninth. Topping at 100.5 MPH, Megill had no trouble to toss a 1-2-3 inning and secure the win. With its first three-game winning streak since June 27, Minnesota now improves to 61-55 and have the chance to climb into a virtual tie at first place of the American League Central with the Cleveland Guardians later tonight, in case of a Cleveland loss. Postgame interviews What’s Next? Minnesota has the day off tomorrow, and they begin a four-game set against the Texas Rangers on Friday, also at Target Field. Game one is scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT on Friday, and neither team has named a starter just yet. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Pagán 9 10 0 0 35 54 Fulmer 0 20 0 7 23 50 Duran 19 0 10 0 18 47 Jax 13 0 14 0 12 39 Megill 0 26 0 0 13 39 Thielbar 13 0 8 17 0 38 López 19 0 13 0 0 32 Sands 0 0 0 19 0 19 View full article
  16. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Tyler Mahle, 2 1/3 IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K (42 pitches, 29 strikes, 69.0%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (12) Top 3 WPA: José Miranda (.177), Tyler Mahle (.115), Max Kepler (.069) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Twins jump to an early three-run lead Coincidentally, the last time the Twins swept an opponent in a three-game set was against this same Royals team. Having won eight of the previous twelve matchups against Kansas City on the year, Minnesota would guarantee at least a season series tie with a win this afternoon. In order to do that, they quickly jumped to an early lead on a couple of swings in the first two innings of the game. After Twins starter Tyler Mahle pitched around a leadoff walk to conclude the top of the first inning, the offense was off to a slow start to the bottom half. Royals’ Daniel Lynch got two outs on two pitches to begin his start, and the opening inning seemed doomed for Minnesota right away. However, Luis Arráez worked a short single against Lynch to keep the inning alive, and cleanup hitter José Miranda followed him with a two-run home run to left center. Mahle threw a scoreless 1-2-3 top of the second, and the bats responded with more run support. Gilberto Celestino lined a leadoff single to center, and the Twins cashed in on a Royals fielding blunder. When Michael Massey made a throwing error to second on a Max Kepler hit, Celestino was able to move to third and be waved in by third base coach Tommy Watkins, scoring Minnesota’s third run of the matchup. Mahle leaves the game in the third inning Other than the leadoff walk in the first, Mahle navigated through the first two innings rather uneventfully, but something seemed off with his velocity. He struck out Nate Eaton on three pitches to start the third inning, but in the middle of his next at-bat, he departed the game with an apparent injury. Later on, the clubhouse announced that he left the game due to some right shoulder fatigue. Having tossed 42 total pitches, his overall velocity averaged 86.1 MPH, with his four-seamer averaging 89.3 MPH. Compared to his season averages, his overall average was down over a full mile per hour (87,2 MPH on the year), and the four-seamer specifically was down over four miles per hour (93,4 MPH on the year). Making his first appearance since Sunday’s nightmarish outing, Emilio Pagán bounced back nicely and delivered two scoreless frames in relief of Mahle. Bullpen, outstanding defense, hold on to the win Pagán allowed a couple of hits during the fourth inning, but he was bailed out by some fantastic defense behind him. First, Nick Gordon stole a deep single from Bobby Witt Jr. with a tremendous diving catch in the corner of the left field. Then, after Salvador Pérez and Vinnie Pasquantino hit back-to-back one-out singles, Pagán induced a groundball double play against Brent Rooker, beautifully turned in by Arráez and Miranda to end the inning. Fortunately for Pagán and whoever came in to pitch after him, the offense added one more run to the Twins’ lead. After flashing the leather at the top of the fourth, Gordon also made his offensive contribution. Gary Sánchez drew a one-out walk, and a couple of at-bats later, Gordon jumped on the first pitch he saw for a double that brought Sánchez home, making it 4-0 Minnesota. Pagán departed the game in the fifth, after getting the inning’s first out, with Griffin Jax taking over. With an inherited runner, he induced an inning-ending groundball double play on his first pitch. He also breezed through the sixth, tossing a 1-2-3 inning on eleven pitches and two strikeouts. Pagán and Jax nearly completed four innings of shutout ball, making for a brilliant afternoon by the bullpen. When Jhoan Duran took over to pitch the seventh, it seemed like things were about to change. Pérez and Pasquantino, once again, hit back-to-back singles to open the inning and suddenly had the chance to make this a one-run game with a swing of the bat. Duran struck out the next batter before Celestino made yet another brilliant defensive move for the Twins defense, taking a hit away from Massey with a diving catch. Michael Fulmer was made to work hard to get through the eighth, but eventually stranded two runners to give Trevor Megill a four-run lead in the ninth. Topping at 100.5 MPH, Megill had no trouble to toss a 1-2-3 inning and secure the win. With its first three-game winning streak since June 27, Minnesota now improves to 61-55 and have the chance to climb into a virtual tie at first place of the American League Central with the Cleveland Guardians later tonight, in case of a Cleveland loss. Postgame interviews What’s Next? Minnesota has the day off tomorrow, and they begin a four-game set against the Texas Rangers on Friday, also at Target Field. Game one is scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT on Friday, and neither team has named a starter just yet. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Pagán 9 10 0 0 35 54 Fulmer 0 20 0 7 23 50 Duran 19 0 10 0 18 47 Jax 13 0 14 0 12 39 Megill 0 26 0 0 13 39 Thielbar 13 0 8 17 0 38 López 19 0 13 0 0 32 Sands 0 0 0 19 0 19
  17. The Twins added Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer to a bullpen that has struggled for most of the 2022 campaign. Jhoan Duran has been unbelievable during his rookie campaign, and Griffin Jax has emerged as a late-inning weapon. How do these pieces fit into the new bullpen hierarchy? The Closer: Jorge López Baseball has gotten away from a traditional closer role, and the Twins have followed this trend under Rocco Baldelli. So far in 2022, seven different relievers have earned a save, with Emilio Pagan (9 saves) and Jhoan Duran (6 saves) leading the team. In his first full season as a reliever, López became an All-Star, and now he finds himself in the middle of the pennant race. It seems likely for him to get the majority of the save situations down the stretch. The Fireman: Jhoan Duran Adding López allows the Twins to use Duran in each game's most important moments. For instance, the team can use him when the middle of the line-up is scheduled to bat in the sixth inning or if the starter runs into trouble in a tight game. Duran has also shown the ability to pitch more than one inning as he has recorded more than three outs in 11 of his 38 appearances. Duran will still get some save opportunities, but now Baldelli has more flexibility regarding when to use him. The Set-Up Men: Michael Fulmer, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar Minnesota relied on Jax and Thielbar in roles they weren't expected to fill at the season's start. Thielbar has more appearances than anyone on the team, and Jax has been the team's most successful reliever outside of Duran. According to fWAR, Thielbar and Jax only trail Duran among Twins relievers. Since June 22, Thielbar has an ERA under 2.00 while holding opponents to a .539 OPS. Jax has a 53-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio in 49 innings while holding batters to a .363 SLG. Fulmer's addition allows Thielbar and Jax to be pushed down the bullpen hierarchy in roles they were expected to occupy earlier in the season. First Out of the Pen: Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, Jovani Moran, Cole Sands The Twins used Pagán, Megill and Tyler Duffey in Thursday's loss, where they combined to allow nine runs (eight earned). Pagán hasn't been a good reliever since 2019, and he continues to be dreadful for the Twins. Duffey saw his velocity drop for the third consecutive season and the team waived him on Friday. According to Win Probability Added, Pagán and Duffey have been worth -2.12 wins for the Twins in 2022. Megill has only allowed multiple earned runs in three of his 20 appearances, and he wasn't expected to fit a high leverage role. Moran has struggled with control at the big-league level, but his change-up can be a bullpen weapon. Sands struggled with the Twins but he has done so in a small sample size of just over 16 innings. Minnesota's bullpen significantly improves with the addition of López and Fulmer. Moving other players down the bullpen hierarchy will hopefully be able to find more success in less high leverage situations. The Twins have led the AL Central for most of the season, and the bullpen will be essential if the team wants to win their third division title in the last four years. How would you organize the new bullpen hierarchy if you were the manager? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  18. Minnesota's bullpen received an influx of talent at the trade deadline. How will Rocco Baldelli organize the Twins' new bullpen hierarchy? The Twins added Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer to a bullpen that has struggled for most of the 2022 campaign. Jhoan Duran has been unbelievable during his rookie campaign, and Griffin Jax has emerged as a late-inning weapon. How do these pieces fit into the new bullpen hierarchy? The Closer: Jorge López Baseball has gotten away from a traditional closer role, and the Twins have followed this trend under Rocco Baldelli. So far in 2022, seven different relievers have earned a save, with Emilio Pagan (9 saves) and Jhoan Duran (6 saves) leading the team. In his first full season as a reliever, López became an All-Star, and now he finds himself in the middle of the pennant race. It seems likely for him to get the majority of the save situations down the stretch. The Fireman: Jhoan Duran Adding López allows the Twins to use Duran in each game's most important moments. For instance, the team can use him when the middle of the line-up is scheduled to bat in the sixth inning or if the starter runs into trouble in a tight game. Duran has also shown the ability to pitch more than one inning as he has recorded more than three outs in 11 of his 38 appearances. Duran will still get some save opportunities, but now Baldelli has more flexibility regarding when to use him. The Set-Up Men: Michael Fulmer, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar Minnesota relied on Jax and Thielbar in roles they weren't expected to fill at the season's start. Thielbar has more appearances than anyone on the team, and Jax has been the team's most successful reliever outside of Duran. According to fWAR, Thielbar and Jax only trail Duran among Twins relievers. Since June 22, Thielbar has an ERA under 2.00 while holding opponents to a .539 OPS. Jax has a 53-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio in 49 innings while holding batters to a .363 SLG. Fulmer's addition allows Thielbar and Jax to be pushed down the bullpen hierarchy in roles they were expected to occupy earlier in the season. First Out of the Pen: Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, Jovani Moran, Cole Sands The Twins used Pagán, Megill and Tyler Duffey in Thursday's loss, where they combined to allow nine runs (eight earned). Pagán hasn't been a good reliever since 2019, and he continues to be dreadful for the Twins. Duffey saw his velocity drop for the third consecutive season and the team waived him on Friday. According to Win Probability Added, Pagán and Duffey have been worth -2.12 wins for the Twins in 2022. Megill has only allowed multiple earned runs in three of his 20 appearances, and he wasn't expected to fit a high leverage role. Moran has struggled with control at the big-league level, but his change-up can be a bullpen weapon. Sands struggled with the Twins but he has done so in a small sample size of just over 16 innings. Minnesota's bullpen significantly improves with the addition of López and Fulmer. Moving other players down the bullpen hierarchy will hopefully be able to find more success in less high leverage situations. The Twins have led the AL Central for most of the season, and the bullpen will be essential if the team wants to win their third division title in the last four years. How would you organize the new bullpen hierarchy if you were the manager? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  19. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning.
  20. The team has a solid foundation from which other additions can improve. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning. View full article
  21. The chart above lists the current options in the Twins bullpen ranked from top to bottom by their measures in three underlying statistics: strike percentage, whiff rate (the fraction of swings that are misses), and average exit velocity. Red circles are good, blue circles are not so good. There's a simple rule of thumb for reading these statistics. A pitcher ought to have strong measures in two of the three statistics to be effective. For example, Jhoan Duran can give up hard contact as shown by his team-average exit velocity. But he pounds the strike zone and hitters rarely catch up to him. That's effective. Using similar assessments, the Twins ought to carve out roles for Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax. Jovani Moran may prove to be a bit of a wild card. He has a team-high 38% whiff rate and limits hard contact. If he can keep the ball in the strike zone often enough to avoid costly walks, he would prove valuable. Danny Coulombe may also warrant another shot when he returns to full health. What about Emilio Pagán, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith? Have they simply gotten unlucky in big moments despite pitching well? Not exactly. Pagán gets hit harder than any other Twins reliever and doesn't miss bats often enough to hide that. Duffey's numbers paint him as a poor man's Pagán. Smith has a paltry 13% whiff rate, which means he rarely misses bats. That's a big problem since his exit velocities are also quite high. The Twins will surely add to their bullpen through trades. But they can also get more out of their bullpen by redefining roles, tweaking pitcher usage, and perhaps letting go of a few veterans.
  22. With the trade deadline in less than a month, the Twins will be out looking for bullpen help in the trade market. But they can only acquire so many new arms. Some of the in-house options will have to fill important roles down the stretch. Who should they turn to? The chart above lists the current options in the Twins bullpen ranked from top to bottom by their measures in three underlying statistics: strike percentage, whiff rate (the fraction of swings that are misses), and average exit velocity. Red circles are good, blue circles are not so good. There's a simple rule of thumb for reading these statistics. A pitcher ought to have strong measures in two of the three statistics to be effective. For example, Jhoan Duran can give up hard contact as shown by his team-average exit velocity. But he pounds the strike zone and hitters rarely catch up to him. That's effective. Using similar assessments, the Twins ought to carve out roles for Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax. Jovani Moran may prove to be a bit of a wild card. He has a team-high 38% whiff rate and limits hard contact. If he can keep the ball in the strike zone often enough to avoid costly walks, he would prove valuable. Danny Coulombe may also warrant another shot when he returns to full health. What about Emilio Pagán, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith? Have they simply gotten unlucky in big moments despite pitching well? Not exactly. Pagán gets hit harder than any other Twins reliever and doesn't miss bats often enough to hide that. Duffey's numbers paint him as a poor man's Pagán. Smith has a paltry 13% whiff rate, which means he rarely misses bats. That's a big problem since his exit velocities are also quite high. The Twins will surely add to their bullpen through trades. But they can also get more out of their bullpen by redefining roles, tweaking pitcher usage, and perhaps letting go of a few veterans. View full article
  23. Three Twins pitchers stood out with their help keeping the team at the .500 mark over the course of the month. Sonny Gray dominated in his three starts for the month of June with a 1.69 ERA in those starts, but being on the IL for half of the month kept him out of the voting for pitcher of the month. Without further adieu, here are the top two honorable mentions and winner for the Twins Daily Pitcher of the Month. Honorable Mention Two: Jhoan Duran The rookie phenom Jhoan Duran has had another stellar month keeping up his case to make it to the all-star game in July. Duran made ten relief appearances for the Twins in the month of June posting a 1.42 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 1.63 FIP, and 14 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances. The one outing that kept Duran from being placed higher on this list was his first real scuffle with big-league hitting. It came in his June 9th outing against the New York Yankees where he surrendered two runs to the Evil Empire while only retiring one batter. Since that outing, Duran has not given up a run in 8 1/3 innings of work. There’s no telling if Duran will experience burnout next month or continue his dominance as the fastest pitcher in baseball, but Twins fans can take solace in the fact he has been the best reliever for the team during the first three months of the season. Honorable Mention One: Griffin Jax Leading the way for the Twins bullpen in a rocky month of June was sophomore Griffin Jax. In his 12 relief appearances throughout the month, Jax led all Twins relievers in ERA (1.38), opponent AVG (.098), WHIP (0.38), and strikeouts (18). Jax’s month of June alone has shown how far he’s come since he was a rookie starter with the team last year. Where Jax previously struggled just to get through more than three innings, he has now become the Twins most effective long reliever. The Twins bullpen has many fixes needed for the remainder of the season, but both Jax and Duran have proven themselves as the most reliable arms out of the pen. The Twins will not use them every day during the month of July, but Twins fans should be grateful for what these two provided while other members of the bullpen struggled often. Twins Pitcher of the Month: Chris Archer The resurgence of Chris Archer with the Twins has been a great surprise to many in baseball. Now with the man who has turned Archer’s career around, Wes Johnson, leaving Minnesota for Louisiana State University, it’s only fair to dub Archer as the Twins pitcher of the month for June. Archer was the anchor of the Twins rotation when Gray and Joe Ryan were on the IL for the first half of the month. June has been Archer’s greatest month of the season to date, even with his innings still limited as he compiled a total of 27 innings, in six starts for the month. In those six starts, Archer posted a 1.67 ERA, .156 AVG, 1.04 WHIP, and only gave up two home runs. Archer’s best start of the month came on June 8th against the best team in baseball, the Yankees, where he only allowed two hits and one run in five innings of work. Yes, Archer does still have a high walk rate and that was showcased in his final start of the month on June 30 against the Guardians where he walked six batters. But the high walk rate should not be reason to ignore the recognition that Archer deserves for being the stabilizing force of the Twins' starting rotation during a rocky month of pitching. What do you think? Would you vote for Archer for Twins pitcher of the month in June, or would you vote for one of the relievers?
  24. The month of June was a bit of a roller coaster for the Twins pitching staff, but the team maintained their first-place lead in the American League Central even as they had a losing record on the month of 13-15. Three Twins pitchers stood out with their help keeping the team at the .500 mark over the course of the month. Sonny Gray dominated in his three starts for the month of June with a 1.69 ERA in those starts, but being on the IL for half of the month kept him out of the voting for pitcher of the month. Without further adieu, here are the top two honorable mentions and winner for the Twins Daily Pitcher of the Month. Honorable Mention Two: Jhoan Duran The rookie phenom Jhoan Duran has had another stellar month keeping up his case to make it to the all-star game in July. Duran made ten relief appearances for the Twins in the month of June posting a 1.42 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 1.63 FIP, and 14 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances. The one outing that kept Duran from being placed higher on this list was his first real scuffle with big-league hitting. It came in his June 9th outing against the New York Yankees where he surrendered two runs to the Evil Empire while only retiring one batter. Since that outing, Duran has not given up a run in 8 1/3 innings of work. There’s no telling if Duran will experience burnout next month or continue his dominance as the fastest pitcher in baseball, but Twins fans can take solace in the fact he has been the best reliever for the team during the first three months of the season. Honorable Mention One: Griffin Jax Leading the way for the Twins bullpen in a rocky month of June was sophomore Griffin Jax. In his 12 relief appearances throughout the month, Jax led all Twins relievers in ERA (1.38), opponent AVG (.098), WHIP (0.38), and strikeouts (18). Jax’s month of June alone has shown how far he’s come since he was a rookie starter with the team last year. Where Jax previously struggled just to get through more than three innings, he has now become the Twins most effective long reliever. The Twins bullpen has many fixes needed for the remainder of the season, but both Jax and Duran have proven themselves as the most reliable arms out of the pen. The Twins will not use them every day during the month of July, but Twins fans should be grateful for what these two provided while other members of the bullpen struggled often. Twins Pitcher of the Month: Chris Archer The resurgence of Chris Archer with the Twins has been a great surprise to many in baseball. Now with the man who has turned Archer’s career around, Wes Johnson, leaving Minnesota for Louisiana State University, it’s only fair to dub Archer as the Twins pitcher of the month for June. Archer was the anchor of the Twins rotation when Gray and Joe Ryan were on the IL for the first half of the month. June has been Archer’s greatest month of the season to date, even with his innings still limited as he compiled a total of 27 innings, in six starts for the month. In those six starts, Archer posted a 1.67 ERA, .156 AVG, 1.04 WHIP, and only gave up two home runs. Archer’s best start of the month came on June 8th against the best team in baseball, the Yankees, where he only allowed two hits and one run in five innings of work. Yes, Archer does still have a high walk rate and that was showcased in his final start of the month on June 30 against the Guardians where he walked six batters. But the high walk rate should not be reason to ignore the recognition that Archer deserves for being the stabilizing force of the Twins' starting rotation during a rocky month of pitching. What do you think? Would you vote for Archer for Twins pitcher of the month in June, or would you vote for one of the relievers? View full article
  25. Throughout any baseball season, bullpen roles and responsibilities are going to shift. Sometimes a pitcher has a great stretch and starts pitching in more high-leverage spots. Other times, a pitcher struggles, and the team attempts to find a new role for that arm. One bad outing doesn’t necessarily shift a player lower on the list, but an accumulation of bad performances impacts the team’s bullpen pecking order. 1. Jhoan Duran (2.15 Win Probability Added) Realistically, Jhoan Duran is the lone bullpen arm that has been consistent throughout the season. His transition to the bullpen has been electric, with 46 strikeouts in 33 innings. The team is using him in the highest leverage situations, and he has responded with only four appearances where he has allowed an earned run or more. Duran has also proven he can be relied on to pitch in multiple innings as he has recorded more than three outs in nine appearances. He’s been a lifesaver for the 2022 Twins, and the team will continue to trust him in late-inning roles. 2. Griffin Jax (0.50 WPA) Griffin Jax has been a surprise late-inning contributor to the Twins. Outside of Duran, Jax might be the most trusted name in the Twins bullpen. One of his most significant changes this season has been an increase in his slider usage. Batters have posted a slugging percentage over 175 points lower when facing his slider compared to his fastball. Jax will continue to see an increase in his WPA as he is used in higher leverage situations. 3. Caleb Thielbar (0.43 WPA) There have been three outings where Thielbar has allowed three earned runs or more, but outside of those appearances, he has been terrific. In high leverage situations, opponents are hitting .143/.294/.179 (.473) with eight strikeouts in 38 at-bats. He’s the lone left-handed reliever on a first-place team, which is quite the switch from how bullpens have traditionally been built. For the Twins to succeed, Thielbar must continue to pitch well. 4. Emilio Pagan (0.03 WPA) Pagan has been used in many high-leverage situations, and the results have been mixed. In his first 25 appearances, he posted a 99 ERA+ with 2.1 HR/9. His strikeouts per nine innings have jumped from under 10.0 K/9 over the last two seasons to over 12.1 K/9 in 2022. Without other options, Pagan will continue to get high leverage opportunities, especially on nights when Duran is unavailable. 5. Tyler Thornburg (0.07 WPA) Earlier in the season, names like Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith would be included in the team’s most trusted bullpen arms. Both have struggled through different parts of the season, which has allowed players like Thornburg to take on even more critical roles. Since joining the Twins, he has yet to allow an earned run in four appearances. Nearly all of his appearances have been low leverage this season, but he has held opponents to a .254 slugging percentage without allowing a home run. How would you rank the players above? Who are your Top 5, or even Top 9? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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