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  1. Following the 2020 Major League Baseball season, we would get a year in which normalcy returned to ballparks. The Minnesota Twins had won two straight AL Central titles, and their offseason set up a three-peat opportunity. Then the games started. If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022. Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone. After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain. In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts. In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022. Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone. After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain. In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts. In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Down by four runs early on, the Twins never gave up and managed to rally back to beat the Angels and even the series, one game a piece. Ryan Jeffers' clutch hit and Nick Gordon's aggressive baserunning sealed the deal late. Box Score Happ: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (62.5% strikes) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .512, Rogers .169, Polanco .104 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Happ struggles early but settles in nicely Eight pitches. Eight pitches were all it took for this game to have its first runs on the board. Happ was off to a horrendous start, which is not news. Coming into tonight’s game, 21.3% of all earned runs given up by the southpaw in the season happened during the first inning of games. That became a little worse when Phil Gosselin doubled and then scored on a Jose Iglesias’ single. Then it became a lot worse a few moments later when old friend Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run bomb to the left field corner, making it 3-0 Angels. Facing righty Alex Cobb, the offense loaded the bases during the bottom of the first inning but couldn’t capitalize. They went down in order in the second frame, but not before Happ had given up yet another home run in the top of the inning to Jack Mayfield, extending the Angels’ lead to four. With the four early runs allowed, the Twins’ starter took the lead of Robbie Ray for most earned runs allowed by any left-handed pitcher in the American League. Minnesota got one run back in the third inning with Jorge Polanco keeping his hot streak alive and well with a double, and being pushed across by a single from Trevor Larnach. Fortunately, that was also the inning when Happ had started to settle in. After the awful first two innings, he went on to pitch four scoreless frames. Before he departed, the Twins manufactured another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Max Kepler hit a bullet to lead off the inning (110 MPH exit velocity), then Polanco singled to move him to third. With men on the corners, a fantastic defensive play from Mayfield at third prevented the Twins from maybe scoring a couple of runs. Instead, Josh Donaldson grounded into a double-play, but that was enough to score Kepler from third and cut Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2. Offense keeps pushing for a rally The Twins continued to peck their way into this game. Cobb came back to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, but he left the game with a blister before throwing a single pitch. With Steve Cishek pitching, Miguel Sanó led off the inning with a double, and Nick Gordon singled to right to bring the big man home, putting Minnesota within a run. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard. After Alexander Colomé delivered a scoreless seventh inning, Donaldson hit a single in the bottom of the inning, the Twins’ 11th hit of the night. However, they couldn’t add on, thanks to Mayfield’s impressive defensive display at the hot corner. While the Twins were able to produce baserunners, most of them were stranded by the Angel defense. Juan Minaya worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth to keep this a one-run game. Then, with a series of great at-bats, the offense came through in the home half. Sanó worked an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change. Joe Maddon brought in star closer Raisel Iglesias to try to keep the Angels ahead. After he got the first out of the inning, Gordon responded with a single, his second of the night. Then Ryan Jeffers came through with his most clutch hit yet! A single to left, just out of the reach of Mayfield, was enough to score Sanó from second. After an errant throw home, Suzuki tried to catch Gordon advancing to third base, but he was way off the mark, allowing the Twins’ rookie to score sliding and give the Twins their first lead of the night, 5-4. Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the ninth inning and, despite giving up a bloop single to David Fletcher, managed to retire the side and secure the Twins win. This was his ninth save of the season, the 50th in his career. He's now even closer to enter the top 10 in career saves in Senators/Twins franchise history, ranking 13th at the moment. Postgame Interviews Nick Gordon Ryan Jeffers Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 22 0 11 59 Duffey 16 0 38 0 0 54 Alcala 23 24 0 0 0 47 Coulombe 0 5 0 32 0 37 Rogers 19 0 0 0 18 37 Thielbar 0 17 16 0 0 33 Robles 19 7 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 0 0 0 20 20 View full article
  4. Box Score Happ: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (62.5% strikes) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .512, Rogers .169, Polanco .104 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Happ struggles early but settles in nicely Eight pitches. Eight pitches were all it took for this game to have its first runs on the board. Happ was off to a horrendous start, which is not news. Coming into tonight’s game, 21.3% of all earned runs given up by the southpaw in the season happened during the first inning of games. That became a little worse when Phil Gosselin doubled and then scored on a Jose Iglesias’ single. Then it became a lot worse a few moments later when old friend Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run bomb to the left field corner, making it 3-0 Angels. Facing righty Alex Cobb, the offense loaded the bases during the bottom of the first inning but couldn’t capitalize. They went down in order in the second frame, but not before Happ had given up yet another home run in the top of the inning to Jack Mayfield, extending the Angels’ lead to four. With the four early runs allowed, the Twins’ starter took the lead of Robbie Ray for most earned runs allowed by any left-handed pitcher in the American League. Minnesota got one run back in the third inning with Jorge Polanco keeping his hot streak alive and well with a double, and being pushed across by a single from Trevor Larnach. Fortunately, that was also the inning when Happ had started to settle in. After the awful first two innings, he went on to pitch four scoreless frames. Before he departed, the Twins manufactured another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Max Kepler hit a bullet to lead off the inning (110 MPH exit velocity), then Polanco singled to move him to third. With men on the corners, a fantastic defensive play from Mayfield at third prevented the Twins from maybe scoring a couple of runs. Instead, Josh Donaldson grounded into a double-play, but that was enough to score Kepler from third and cut Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2. Offense keeps pushing for a rally The Twins continued to peck their way into this game. Cobb came back to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, but he left the game with a blister before throwing a single pitch. With Steve Cishek pitching, Miguel Sanó led off the inning with a double, and Nick Gordon singled to right to bring the big man home, putting Minnesota within a run. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard. After Alexander Colomé delivered a scoreless seventh inning, Donaldson hit a single in the bottom of the inning, the Twins’ 11th hit of the night. However, they couldn’t add on, thanks to Mayfield’s impressive defensive display at the hot corner. While the Twins were able to produce baserunners, most of them were stranded by the Angel defense. Juan Minaya worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth to keep this a one-run game. Then, with a series of great at-bats, the offense came through in the home half. Sanó worked an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change. Joe Maddon brought in star closer Raisel Iglesias to try to keep the Angels ahead. After he got the first out of the inning, Gordon responded with a single, his second of the night. Then Ryan Jeffers came through with his most clutch hit yet! A single to left, just out of the reach of Mayfield, was enough to score Sanó from second. After an errant throw home, Suzuki tried to catch Gordon advancing to third base, but he was way off the mark, allowing the Twins’ rookie to score sliding and give the Twins their first lead of the night, 5-4. Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the ninth inning and, despite giving up a bloop single to David Fletcher, managed to retire the side and secure the Twins win. This was his ninth save of the season, the 50th in his career. He's now even closer to enter the top 10 in career saves in Senators/Twins franchise history, ranking 13th at the moment. Postgame Interviews Nick Gordon Ryan Jeffers Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 22 0 11 59 Duffey 16 0 38 0 0 54 Alcala 23 24 0 0 0 47 Coulombe 0 5 0 32 0 37 Rogers 19 0 0 0 18 37 Thielbar 0 17 16 0 0 33 Robles 19 7 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 0 0 0 20 20
  5. The Minnesota Twins established a new front office under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine with the expectation that organizational pitching woes would be averted. It started that way, but things flopped hard in 2021. Across the division in Cleveland, Falvey grew a reputation for being able to develop pitching. Minnesota needed to overhaul that aspect of their development, and the early returns were promising. Despite the Bomba Squad emerging in 2019, Minnesota also became the best pitching version of itself that the franchise had seen in years. Taylor Rogers was elite, Tyler Duffey was transformed, and a number of fliers worked out. Enter 2021 and things couldn’t be further from that reality. This Twins club owns the 29th overall fWAR mark from their pitching staff, and both starters and relievers have been collectively terrible. The lineup took a bit to get going, but it hasn’t been an issue for weeks. With the White Sox now having all but ended Minnesota’s chances in the year ahead, a look at 2022 puts both Falvey and Levine squarely on the hot seat. Given the amount of talent eyeing a return on this roster, and the unexpected nature of these results, a full rebuild should not be the course of action in 2022. Reloading and trying it again with some new pieces makes all the sense in the world. What the front office must not do again however, is look to shop in the bargain bin and think the process will entirely translate into results. I have long harped on the infrastructure brought in by this front office as being exceptional. That still rings true. Wes Johnson is a good pitching coach, and throughout the farm there’s intelligent instructors. At some point though, you can’t bank entirely on a blueprint squeeze more juice from an already cashed fruit. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were fine back-end additions, but they both relied entirely on depth with nothing done to raise the water level. From the vantage point we have now, walking through this smoldering warzone, Falvey has virtually nothing to show for this season. The plethora of waiver claims all failed to pan out, save for the small sample of Luke Farrell. Happ and Shoemaker have been terrible. Randy Dobnak was extended, then optioned, and has never had a real defined role. On the farm, each of the top prospects has now gone down with arm issues, likely due to the year off. Yes, Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic look good, but there’s more reason to be cautious than excited at this point. In the year ahead it will be on the Twins to use their depth as a fall back plan rather than seeing it as a source of reliance. Signings like Happ and Shoemaker indicated a belief one or both would soon be bumped as prospects came for their spots. Now Shoemaker is gone entirely, and the lack of options becomes even more glaring with yet another miss added to the books. Jose Berrios has been good, but not yet elevated to the next step, and now the talk of trading him lands even more into a questionable realm for me. Over the winter the plan has to be pitching, spending on it, and making sure it’s right. Relief arms are generally fickle year over year. Expecting Alexander Colome to fall this hard wasn’t a good bet. In 2022 you can reshuffle that group and bring in new faces, but they can’t be supplemented with a bunch of fall back options just ran out in case of emergency. The starting staff needs a legit arm that slots in to the top three, and that’s on top of paying or at least keeping Berrios. One bad season in the midst of such turnaround isn’t going to cost the front office their jobs, but there is plenty of reason to question why Derek Falvey hasn’t come through with his calling card should we see two years’ worth of these results. It’s time to right this ship, fix it, and prove the belief has been warranted. Dollars, development, whatever path you want to take, pitching can not be a problem for the Twins in the year ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Across the division in Cleveland, Falvey grew a reputation for being able to develop pitching. Minnesota needed to overhaul that aspect of their development, and the early returns were promising. Despite the Bomba Squad emerging in 2019, Minnesota also became the best pitching version of itself that the franchise had seen in years. Taylor Rogers was elite, Tyler Duffey was transformed, and a number of fliers worked out. Enter 2021 and things couldn’t be further from that reality. This Twins club owns the 29th overall fWAR mark from their pitching staff, and both starters and relievers have been collectively terrible. The lineup took a bit to get going, but it hasn’t been an issue for weeks. With the White Sox now having all but ended Minnesota’s chances in the year ahead, a look at 2022 puts both Falvey and Levine squarely on the hot seat. Given the amount of talent eyeing a return on this roster, and the unexpected nature of these results, a full rebuild should not be the course of action in 2022. Reloading and trying it again with some new pieces makes all the sense in the world. What the front office must not do again however, is look to shop in the bargain bin and think the process will entirely translate into results. I have long harped on the infrastructure brought in by this front office as being exceptional. That still rings true. Wes Johnson is a good pitching coach, and throughout the farm there’s intelligent instructors. At some point though, you can’t bank entirely on a blueprint squeeze more juice from an already cashed fruit. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were fine back-end additions, but they both relied entirely on depth with nothing done to raise the water level. From the vantage point we have now, walking through this smoldering warzone, Falvey has virtually nothing to show for this season. The plethora of waiver claims all failed to pan out, save for the small sample of Luke Farrell. Happ and Shoemaker have been terrible. Randy Dobnak was extended, then optioned, and has never had a real defined role. On the farm, each of the top prospects has now gone down with arm issues, likely due to the year off. Yes, Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic look good, but there’s more reason to be cautious than excited at this point. In the year ahead it will be on the Twins to use their depth as a fall back plan rather than seeing it as a source of reliance. Signings like Happ and Shoemaker indicated a belief one or both would soon be bumped as prospects came for their spots. Now Shoemaker is gone entirely, and the lack of options becomes even more glaring with yet another miss added to the books. Jose Berrios has been good, but not yet elevated to the next step, and now the talk of trading him lands even more into a questionable realm for me. Over the winter the plan has to be pitching, spending on it, and making sure it’s right. Relief arms are generally fickle year over year. Expecting Alexander Colome to fall this hard wasn’t a good bet. In 2022 you can reshuffle that group and bring in new faces, but they can’t be supplemented with a bunch of fall back options just ran out in case of emergency. The starting staff needs a legit arm that slots in to the top three, and that’s on top of paying or at least keeping Berrios. One bad season in the midst of such turnaround isn’t going to cost the front office their jobs, but there is plenty of reason to question why Derek Falvey hasn’t come through with his calling card should we see two years’ worth of these results. It’s time to right this ship, fix it, and prove the belief has been warranted. Dollars, development, whatever path you want to take, pitching can not be a problem for the Twins in the year ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. On Tuesday night, Twins fans that stayed up late to watch a West Coast game were treated with a real clunker. Minnesota faced off against a bad Seattle team and it escalated into an embarrassing loss. J.A. Happ allowed six earned runs in four innings to an anemic Mariners offense. Happ is only one issue with a pitching staff that might be the worst in franchise history. Out of the 15 American League teams, Minnesota ranks 13th or lower in ERA, hits, R, HR, and strikeouts, but it goes even further than that. While all those numbers show how bad the Twins have been this season, there are ways to compare the current team to former seasons. ERA- and FIP- are all statistics that allow fans to compare pitchers across different eras because it adjusts for the league and the park. For each area, 100 is league average and each point above or below 100 represents a percent above or below league average. If a team has a 90 ERA- that means they were 10 percentage points better than the league average. When it comes to ERA-, there is only one Minnesota team with a worse total than the 2021 Twins. The 1995 Twins finished the year with a 56-88 record and their starting staff was composed of a 22-year-old Brad Radke, Kevin Tapani, Mike Trombley, Frankie Rodriguez, Scott Erickson, and Jose Para. As a club, they had the ranked last or second to last in the American League when it came to ERA, HR, R, W, IP, and H. Entering play on Wednesday, the 2021 Twins (119 ERA-) were only one point behind the 1995 team (120 ERA-), so they certainly can end up in the bottom spot by season’s end. FIP is used to estimate a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the defensive performance behind the player. The 2021 Twins also have the second worse FIP- in team history, but this time the 1982 squad has the worst total. That squad finished 60-102, which was last place in the AL West. Starters on the team included Bobby Castillo, Brad Havens, Albert Williams, Frank Viola, and Jack O’Connor. Like the 1995 team, they ranked at or near the bottom of the AL in ERA, HR, ER, R, and BB. What makes it even more frustrating is how good last year’s staff was in comparison to the current team. Kenta Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young and he wasn’t the only one to find success. All four of Minnesota’s top four starters were above league average when it comes to ERA-. Minnesota’s bullpen also had many reliable arms whereas the 2021 team’s bullpen has been a train wreck. In the not-so-distant future, it seems likely for the 2021 Twins to cut ties to some of their veteran pitching options and start seeing what the team has for younger arms. Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax have been added to the staff and other prospects will be following closely behind. Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, have both showcased dominant stuff in the upper levels of the minors this season and their big-league debuts made come sooner rather than later. Do you think this is the worst pitching staff in team history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Derek Falvey was brought over from Cleveland to help the Twins build a pitching pipeline. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition as the 2021 Twins might be the worst pitching staff in team history. On Tuesday night, Twins fans that stayed up late to watch a West Coast game were treated with a real clunker. Minnesota faced off against a bad Seattle team and it escalated into an embarrassing loss. J.A. Happ allowed six earned runs in four innings to an anemic Mariners offense. Happ is only one issue with a pitching staff that might be the worst in franchise history. Out of the 15 American League teams, Minnesota ranks 13th or lower in ERA, hits, R, HR, and strikeouts, but it goes even further than that. While all those numbers show how bad the Twins have been this season, there are ways to compare the current team to former seasons. ERA- and FIP- are all statistics that allow fans to compare pitchers across different eras because it adjusts for the league and the park. For each area, 100 is league average and each point above or below 100 represents a percent above or below league average. If a team has a 90 ERA- that means they were 10 percentage points better than the league average. When it comes to ERA-, there is only one Minnesota team with a worse total than the 2021 Twins. The 1995 Twins finished the year with a 56-88 record and their starting staff was composed of a 22-year-old Brad Radke, Kevin Tapani, Mike Trombley, Frankie Rodriguez, Scott Erickson, and Jose Para. As a club, they had the ranked last or second to last in the American League when it came to ERA, HR, R, W, IP, and H. Entering play on Wednesday, the 2021 Twins (119 ERA-) were only one point behind the 1995 team (120 ERA-), so they certainly can end up in the bottom spot by season’s end. FIP is used to estimate a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the defensive performance behind the player. The 2021 Twins also have the second worse FIP- in team history, but this time the 1982 squad has the worst total. That squad finished 60-102, which was last place in the AL West. Starters on the team included Bobby Castillo, Brad Havens, Albert Williams, Frank Viola, and Jack O’Connor. Like the 1995 team, they ranked at or near the bottom of the AL in ERA, HR, ER, R, and BB. What makes it even more frustrating is how good last year’s staff was in comparison to the current team. Kenta Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young and he wasn’t the only one to find success. All four of Minnesota’s top four starters were above league average when it comes to ERA-. Minnesota’s bullpen also had many reliable arms whereas the 2021 team’s bullpen has been a train wreck. In the not-so-distant future, it seems likely for the 2021 Twins to cut ties to some of their veteran pitching options and start seeing what the team has for younger arms. Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax have been added to the staff and other prospects will be following closely behind. Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, have both showcased dominant stuff in the upper levels of the minors this season and their big-league debuts made come sooner rather than later. Do you think this is the worst pitching staff in team history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  9. Offense has been down across baseball this year as pitchers have dominated for much of the 2021 campaign. This can be directly related to an increase in pitch velocity, movement, and spin rates. Some of these increases are tied to sticky substances used by pitchers to increase their control and spin rate. Minnesota’s pitchers haven’t been taking advantage of this decrease in offense, so how does spin rate factor into their results? Starting in 2020, Statcast posted an active spin leaderboard, which can also include an active spin %. They offer a longer explanation at their site, but the nuts-and-bolts description is the spin that contributes to movement including up or down and side to side. Twins Four-seam Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Hansel Robles (99 %), Cody Stashak (98 %), Alex Colome (97 %) Currently, Robles ranks as the player getting the 12th most active spin on his four-seam fastball. Batters have posted a .200 BA and a .360 SLG when facing this pitch, which are far superior to the numbers he saw last year (.355 BA, .742 SLG). Stashak’s fastball hasn’t been as effective this year and he has switched to using his slider more than his four-seamer. Colome uses his cutter almost twice as much as his four-seamer, but opponents have combined for a .500 SLG when getting a fastball to hit. Twins Changeup Leaderboard (Active Spin %) J.A. Happ (98 %), Jose Berrios (95%), Hansel Robles (94%) For the second consecutive season, Happ is using his changeup less often, but opponents are hitting about 90 points lower against this pitch. Berrios has been known for the movement on his pitches since he was an amateur so it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to multiple pitches in his repertoire. Berrios uses his changeup mainly against lefties as batters have posted a .636 SLG against it so far in 2021. Robles uses his changeup 44% of the time and he has generated a 26% Whiff% with this pitch. Twins Slider Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Taylor Rogers (43%), Caleb Thielbar (42%), Jorge Alcala (32%) Even though these are the leaders on the Twins, none of these pitchers rank in the top-100 compared to the rest of baseball. Rogers and his lanky frame/delivery make for a slider that is tough for both righties and lefties in the batter’s box. For the first time in his career, Rogers is using his slider more than his sinker. Alcala ranks well on the Twins, and he might be the team’s closer of the future if he can continue to develop another pitch. Twins Sinker Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Jose Berrios (95%), Taylor Rogers (95%), Matt Shoemaker (92%) At this point, Minnesota fans might want to avoid any leaderboard with Matt Shoemaker. However, Berrios and Rogers have been two of the most consistent Twins pitchers this season as they rank near baseball’s top-30 in this category. Also, Berrios has seen increased sinker usage in each of the last two seasons. Batters posted a .561 SLG against Rogers’ sinker last season and he has improved that number by nearly 160 points in 2021. The Twins don’t have a pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer that rely heavily on spin to be effective. Maybe this crackdown will help level the playing field for Twins pitchers and batters. Will baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances impact the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Major League Baseball is in a bit of a self-made crisis when it comes to pitchers and their use of substances to generate spin. With baseball starting to crack down, are the Twins not using enough spin to try and win? Offense has been down across baseball this year as pitchers have dominated for much of the 2021 campaign. This can be directly related to an increase in pitch velocity, movement, and spin rates. Some of these increases are tied to sticky substances used by pitchers to increase their control and spin rate. Minnesota’s pitchers haven’t been taking advantage of this decrease in offense, so how does spin rate factor into their results? Starting in 2020, Statcast posted an active spin leaderboard, which can also include an active spin %. They offer a longer explanation at their site, but the nuts-and-bolts description is the spin that contributes to movement including up or down and side to side. Twins Four-seam Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Hansel Robles (99 %), Cody Stashak (98 %), Alex Colome (97 %) Currently, Robles ranks as the player getting the 12th most active spin on his four-seam fastball. Batters have posted a .200 BA and a .360 SLG when facing this pitch, which are far superior to the numbers he saw last year (.355 BA, .742 SLG). Stashak’s fastball hasn’t been as effective this year and he has switched to using his slider more than his four-seamer. Colome uses his cutter almost twice as much as his four-seamer, but opponents have combined for a .500 SLG when getting a fastball to hit. Twins Changeup Leaderboard (Active Spin %) J.A. Happ (98 %), Jose Berrios (95%), Hansel Robles (94%) For the second consecutive season, Happ is using his changeup less often, but opponents are hitting about 90 points lower against this pitch. Berrios has been known for the movement on his pitches since he was an amateur so it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to multiple pitches in his repertoire. Berrios uses his changeup mainly against lefties as batters have posted a .636 SLG against it so far in 2021. Robles uses his changeup 44% of the time and he has generated a 26% Whiff% with this pitch. Twins Slider Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Taylor Rogers (43%), Caleb Thielbar (42%), Jorge Alcala (32%) Even though these are the leaders on the Twins, none of these pitchers rank in the top-100 compared to the rest of baseball. Rogers and his lanky frame/delivery make for a slider that is tough for both righties and lefties in the batter’s box. For the first time in his career, Rogers is using his slider more than his sinker. Alcala ranks well on the Twins, and he might be the team’s closer of the future if he can continue to develop another pitch. Twins Sinker Leaderboard (Active Spin %) Jose Berrios (95%), Taylor Rogers (95%), Matt Shoemaker (92%) At this point, Minnesota fans might want to avoid any leaderboard with Matt Shoemaker. However, Berrios and Rogers have been two of the most consistent Twins pitchers this season as they rank near baseball’s top-30 in this category. Also, Berrios has seen increased sinker usage in each of the last two seasons. Batters posted a .561 SLG against Rogers’ sinker last season and he has improved that number by nearly 160 points in 2021. The Twins don’t have a pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer that rely heavily on spin to be effective. Maybe this crackdown will help level the playing field for Twins pitchers and batters. Will baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances impact the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. 5. Josh Donaldson (0.7 rWAR, 0.5 fWAR) .286/.368/.469 (.838), 2 HR, 3 2B, 7 BB, 5 K There are plenty of candidates to be on the back end of this ballot. Andrelton Simmons put together some strong numbers, but he missed time due to COVID. Taylor Rogers was a one of the lone bright spots in the bullpen, while Michael Pineda and Jose Berrios provided value in the rotation. However, Donaldson gets the nod after getting on base nearly 37% of the time and having more walks than strikeouts. His current 144 OPS+ is his highest total since the 2017 season. Many Twins fans would like to see him leading this list, but he ended the month healthy and that’s certainly a positive sign <knock on wood>. 4. J.A. Happ (0.6 rWAR, 0.2 fWAR) 2-0, 1.96 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 13 K, 7 BB, 199 ERA+ Other pitchers rank higher than him in WAR, but Happ’s value has come from what he has meant to the rotation this year. Happ took the mound on April 23rd with the team in the middle of a stretch where they had lost nine out of ten games. He took a no-hitter into the late innings and helped the club to their first victory in over a week. Minnesota lost the next four games before Happ took the mound again and righted the ship. He’s been a steadying veteran presence when the team has needed one the most. 3. Luis Arraez (1.0 rWAR, 0.9 fWAR) .289/.400/.373 (.773), 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 14 BB, 11 K Arraez started the season on fire by hitting safely in six of the team’s first eight games including three multi-hit games. On April 15, he almost single-handedly brought the Twins a victory by going 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Over his last 12 games, things haven’t gone as smooth. He’s gone 10-for-40 (.250 BA) during that stretch with two extra-base hits. Defensively, he’s also being moved all over the diamond including getting accustom to playing in the outfield for the first time in his career. If Arraez would have continued his hot start, he might have been higher on this list. 2. Nelson Cruz (1.1 rWAR, 1.1 fWAR) .321/.375/.655 (1.030), 8 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B(!!), 7 BB, 16 K Cruz, the team’s back-to-back team MVP, is right up there in the running again. Oh yeah, he’s also 40-years-old. He’s tied for second in the league in home runs and he is quietly climbing the all-time home run list. His next two home runs will move him into the top-50 all-time. If he ends the year with 30 homers, he’d jump to 41st all-time. If he can hit 40 homers, he’d move into 38th place. Even without defensive value, he provides leadership on and off the field and that’s one of the biggest reasons the Twins wanted to bring him back for the 2021 campaign. https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1388963798367801358?s=20 1. Byron Buxton (2.4 rWAR, 2.3 fWAR) .408/.444/.842 (1.287), 8 HR, 9 2B, 3 BB, 17 K By many accounts, Buxton just completed the best month in Twins’ history as his 1.363 OPS was higher than Joe Mauer’s (1.338 OPS) in 2009 and Rod Carew’s (1.313 OPS) in 1977. Good news is that Mauer and Carew would both go on to win MVPs in those seasons. Buxton might be on the same path as he leads the American League in WAR and slugging percentage. His defense continues to be otherworldly and his changes to his offensive approach look to be sustainable. Can he stay healthy? Can he play over 145 games? Those are questions that still remain to be answered. How would your ballot look at the end of the season’s first month? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Byron Buxton had a career day as part of the Twins offensive explosion. After some offensive woes, the Twins gave us a glimpse of the 2019 Twins offense. The question is, will this game be the launchpad for the season, or is it just a random one game explosion?Box Score Happ: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Buxton (8), Donaldson (2), Polanco (1), Astudillo (2), Garver 2 (4) Top 3 WPA: Buxton .137, Polanco .095, Happ .089 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Download attachment: chart.png The Twins home run derby Entering Wednesday’s ballgame, the Twins lineup had produced just 10 first inning runs in 22 ballgames, which was tied for 21st in Major League Baseball. That trend of first inning futility did not carry over into this game, as the Twins had already scored four runs just four batters into the ballgame. It all got started with this Byron Buxton opposite field home run. Josh Donaldson followed that up with a blast of his own in the very next at-bat. This one, however, was a no-doubter off the bat with an exit velocity of 106.3 MPH and carried 423 feet to left. Then, after a Nelson Cruz walk, it was Jorge Polanco’s turn to join the home run bigrade. Like Donaldson’s home run, Polanco’s home run also left the bat at 106.3 MPH, but this one traveled 426 feet to left-center field, giving the Twins a quick four run lead. The Twins early scoring did not stop in the first. In the top of the second, the Twins added a couple more runs to further extend their lead. Alex Kirilloff got things started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch during Byron Buxton’s at-bat that ended with a ground ball between second base and short, that turned into a double thanks to Buxton’s speed and hustle out of the box. Unfortunately, Kirilloff was unable to score after he misread the groundball and went back to second, before advancing to third. That would be a moot point two batters later, when Nelson Cruz delivered this two-run single. In the third, it was Willians Astudillo’s turn to join the party, after he hit the Twins fourth home run of the game. Not to be left out, Mitch Garver went deep in the fifth, giving the Twins an 8 to 1 lead on their fifth home run of the ballgame. A couple innings later, it was Garver again, this time a two-run shot to get the Twins to double-digits on their sixth home run of the game. J.A. Happ builds off great start last time out After a gem of a start last Firday, where J.A. Happ didn’t give up a hit until the 8th inning, he came back out Wednesday and gave the Twins another strong outing, giving up just two runs across seven innings of work. He did give up a number of deep flyballs, but with the exception of a Amed Rosario home run, they all came up short as warning track flyballs. A lot of Twins fans grumbled at the J.A. Happ signing when it happened this winter, but four starts in and it appears to be a great move for starting rotation depth. In total, Happ now has a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings of work and has yet to give up more than two runs in any of his starts. Byron Buxton’s career day Prior to today, Bryon Buxton had only ever had just one four-hit game, which came back in 2017 in Toronto when Buxton blasted three home runs on the way to a Twins 7-2 win. Today, Buxton recorded his first ever five-hit game, and came up just a triple shy of the cycle. We already mentioned the solo shot to leadoff the ballgame. On a couple of his hits later in the game, it was Buxton’s wheels, not his power that was on display. When all was said and done, Buxton had collected 10 total bases along with a stolen base on his way to earning the YouTube Player of the Game honors. Can we just give Buxton the MVP award already? Dobnak throws two shutout innings Thanks to the offensive explosion, the Twins did not need to rely on the bullpen to close out the game late, something the Twins have been unable to do at all this year. Instead, it gave Rocco Baldelli the flexibility to turn to Randy Dobnak, who produced his best outing of the season, giving up just a single to go along with three strikeouts in two shutout innings of work. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet). Click here to view the article
  13. Box Score Happ: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Buxton (8), Donaldson (2), Polanco (1), Astudillo (2), Garver 2 (4) Top 3 WPA: Buxton .137, Polanco .095, Happ .089 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): The Twins home run derby Entering Wednesday’s ballgame, the Twins lineup had produced just 10 first inning runs in 22 ballgames, which was tied for 21st in Major League Baseball. That trend of first inning futility did not carry over into this game, as the Twins had already scored four runs just four batters into the ballgame. It all got started with this Byron Buxton opposite field home run. https://twitter.com/JayCat11/status/1387455447494451207 Josh Donaldson followed that up with a blast of his own in the very next at-bat. This one, however, was a no-doubter off the bat with an exit velocity of 106.3 MPH and carried 423 feet to left. https://twitter.com/hr_mlb/status/1387457519648395270 Then, after a Nelson Cruz walk, it was Jorge Polanco’s turn to join the home run bigrade. Like Donaldson’s home run, Polanco’s home run also left the bat at 106.3 MPH, but this one traveled 426 feet to left-center field, giving the Twins a quick four run lead. https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1387458251931930629 The Twins early scoring did not stop in the first. In the top of the second, the Twins added a couple more runs to further extend their lead. Alex Kirilloff got things started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch during Byron Buxton’s at-bat that ended with a ground ball between second base and short, that turned into a double thanks to Buxton’s speed and hustle out of the box. Unfortunately, Kirilloff was unable to score after he misread the groundball and went back to second, before advancing to third. That would be a moot point two batters later, when Nelson Cruz delivered this two-run single. https://twitter.com/TwinsTakes_com/status/1387473827542671361 In the third, it was Willians Astudillo’s turn to join the party, after he hit the Twins fourth home run of the game. https://twitter.com/MLBHRVideos/status/1387472146427953160 Not to be left out, Mitch Garver went deep in the fifth, giving the Twins an 8 to 1 lead on their fifth home run of the ballgame. https://twitter.com/hr_mlb/status/1387479560195821573 A couple innings later, it was Garver again, this time a two-run shot to get the Twins to double-digits on their sixth home run of the game. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1387489332500393984 J.A. Happ builds off great start last time out After a gem of a start last Firday, where J.A. Happ didn’t give up a hit until the 8th inning, he came back out Wednesday and gave the Twins another strong outing, giving up just two runs across seven innings of work. He did give up a number of deep flyballs, but with the exception of a Amed Rosario home run, they all came up short as warning track flyballs. A lot of Twins fans grumbled at the J.A. Happ signing when it happened this winter, but four starts in and it appears to be a great move for starting rotation depth. In total, Happ now has a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings of work and has yet to give up more than two runs in any of his starts. Byron Buxton’s career day Prior to today, Bryon Buxton had only ever had just one four-hit game, which came back in 2017 in Toronto when Buxton blasted three home runs on the way to a Twins 7-2 win. Today, Buxton recorded his first ever five-hit game, and came up just a triple shy of the cycle. We already mentioned the solo shot to leadoff the ballgame. On a couple of his hits later in the game, it was Buxton’s wheels, not his power that was on display. https://twitter.com/bbletter/status/1387466340831842307 https://twitter.com/Cut4/status/1387485103983677442 When all was said and done, Buxton had collected 10 total bases along with a stolen base on his way to earning the YouTube Player of the Game honors. Can we just give Buxton the MVP award already? Dobnak throws two shutout innings Thanks to the offensive explosion, the Twins did not need to rely on the bullpen to close out the game late, something the Twins have been unable to do at all this year. Instead, it gave Rocco Baldelli the flexibility to turn to Randy Dobnak, who produced his best outing of the season, giving up just a single to go along with three strikeouts in two shutout innings of work. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet).
  14. Minnesota didn’t make an offseason splash like the previous winter’s signing of Josh Donaldson. However, the Twins added multiple pieces to supplement the roster. So how have those free agents done so far this year?Andrelton Simmons, SS Contract: 1-year/$10.5 million Minnesota signed Simmons for his elite defensive skills, but he has provided plenty of offensive value so far in 2021. In 10 games, he has hit .355/.474/.452 with three extra-base hits. His 0.6 WAR ranks fourth on the team and that total is already higher than his entire 2020 season. Obviously, his positive COVID test puts a damper on his start to the year, but hopefully he comes out of it healthy, and he can continue to produce at a high level. Alexander Colomé, RP Contract: 1-year/$6.25 million Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly so far during Colomé’s Twins tenure as he has posted a 5.68 ERA. He’s allowed four earned runs and seven runs have scored with him on the mound. Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through much of the season’s early innings especially in the last week when the bullpen’s ERA was north of 9.00. He has been a very successful closer in the past so Twins’ fans have to hope he finds his former form in the weeks ahead. J.A. Happ, SP Contract: 1-year/$8 million Happ missed time at the beginning of spring training as he tested positive for COVID. This set him back a little in his preparation, but his early results have been good, especially for a back of the rotation starter. Through two starts, he has allowed three runs on seven hits in 8 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks. This is more than adequate for a 38-year-old in his 15th big league season. Happ won’t light the world on fire, but he fills a role nicely for the Twins that can be supplemented by the likes of Randy Donak or Lewis Thorpe at different parts of the season. Matt Shoemaker, SP Contract: 1-year/$2 million Like Happ, Shoemaker was slated to be penciled into the back of the rotation with a hope that he could add some rotational depth. Randy Dobnak had a chance to fill in the final rotation spot, but many teams are struggling with how they will cover innings in 2021. So far in 2021, he has allowed five earned runs across 11 innings, which isn’t terrible for a number five starter. He hasn’t pitched over 78 innings since 2016, so the team will need to continue to monitor his health. Hansel Robles, RP Contract: 1-year/$2 million Robles was a little bit of a wild card when the Twins signed him as he struggled with a 10.26 ERA last year. This year he has made six appearances and allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. His role with the Twins might not yet be fully defined, but the Twins took a flyer on him. If the bullpen continues to struggle, Robles might get an opportunity to pitch in some higher leverage situations. The bullpen has been a mess, so Robles certainly hasn’t been the team’s biggest concern. What have been your impressions of these players so far in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  15. Andrelton Simmons, SS Contract: 1-year/$10.5 million Minnesota signed Simmons for his elite defensive skills, but he has provided plenty of offensive value so far in 2021. In 10 games, he has hit .355/.474/.452 with three extra-base hits. His 0.6 WAR ranks fourth on the team and that total is already higher than his entire 2020 season. Obviously, his positive COVID test puts a damper on his start to the year, but hopefully he comes out of it healthy, and he can continue to produce at a high level. Alexander Colomé, RP Contract: 1-year/$6.25 million Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly so far during Colomé’s Twins tenure as he has posted a 5.68 ERA. He’s allowed four earned runs and seven runs have scored with him on the mound. Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through much of the season’s early innings especially in the last week when the bullpen’s ERA was north of 9.00. He has been a very successful closer in the past so Twins’ fans have to hope he finds his former form in the weeks ahead. J.A. Happ, SP Contract: 1-year/$8 million Happ missed time at the beginning of spring training as he tested positive for COVID. This set him back a little in his preparation, but his early results have been good, especially for a back of the rotation starter. Through two starts, he has allowed three runs on seven hits in 8 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks. This is more than adequate for a 38-year-old in his 15th big league season. Happ won’t light the world on fire, but he fills a role nicely for the Twins that can be supplemented by the likes of Randy Donak or Lewis Thorpe at different parts of the season. Matt Shoemaker, SP Contract: 1-year/$2 million Like Happ, Shoemaker was slated to be penciled into the back of the rotation with a hope that he could add some rotational depth. Randy Dobnak had a chance to fill in the final rotation spot, but many teams are struggling with how they will cover innings in 2021. So far in 2021, he has allowed five earned runs across 11 innings, which isn’t terrible for a number five starter. He hasn’t pitched over 78 innings since 2016, so the team will need to continue to monitor his health. Hansel Robles, RP Contract: 1-year/$2 million Robles was a little bit of a wild card when the Twins signed him as he struggled with a 10.26 ERA last year. This year he has made six appearances and allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. His role with the Twins might not yet be fully defined, but the Twins took a flyer on him. If the bullpen continues to struggle, Robles might get an opportunity to pitch in some higher leverage situations. The bullpen has been a mess, so Robles certainly hasn’t been the team’s biggest concern. What have been your impressions of these players so far in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Entering the offseason, it seemed likely for Dobnak to be penciled into the back end of the Twins’ starting rotation. Minnesota had three pitchers slated to begin the year as starters and Dobnak seemed to be at least guaranteed a shot at the fifth rotational spot. That plan was altered after the club signed J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker. Then the question was raised about whether Dobnak should be pitching out of the bullpen or be sent to the alternate site to continue to be stretched out as a starter. The Twins’ brass felt like Dobnak and his newly signed contract were a better fit as the bullpen’s long man, but the numbers point to this being a poor decision. Entering play on Wednesday, Dobnak had appeared in 22 big-league games with 15 coming as a starter and seven coming in relief. As a starter, he has a 3.41 ERA with a 43 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio while holding batters to a .645 OPS. His relief appearances have resulted in a 4.20 ERA with batters compiling an .870 OPS in almost 70 plate appearances. This isn’t exactly a large sample size, but his numbers as a starter are clearly better. Also, Minnesota has been using Dobnak in situations where he can continue to stay stretched out. He has been limited to just three appearances this year, because the Twins have only seen three of their games decided by more than two runs. This doesn’t exactly lend itself to naturally using a long man out of the bullpen, because Rocco Baldelli has turned to more of his high leverage arms in close and late game scenarios. https://twitter.com/MatthewTaylorMN/status/1382323416234086407?s=20 Having Dobnak stretched out will be useful since the team has 11 games over the next 10 days and the current starters won’t be able to make all of those starts. On the TV broadcast, Justin Morneau alluded to the fact that Dobnak will make a start during the next week. That being said, it’s hard to imagine him being able to pitch deep into a game since he hasn’t started since early in spring training. For Dobnak to get more relief opportunities, it might be beneficial for the Twins to separate Happ and Shoemaker in the rotation. Those two starters are the ones he is most likely going to piggyback with since neither are expected to pitch deep into games on a regular basis. Currently, they pitch on back-to-back days and that doesn’t allow Dobnak to piggyback for both of them Teams are using a variety of strategies this year to cover innings and piggybacking those two starters might be a strategy the Twins will need to start using. There’s likely going to be a time this season where Dobnak is going to be needed in the rotation. For now, his role in the bullpen needs to be altered so he can find more success. Do you think Dobnak should continue to be used as a reliver? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Minnesota’s front office noticed some with Dobnak’s slider and suggest a small change. By keeping his hand in a more supinated position, he can get more break on his slider and keep hitters off balanced. Over the weekend, he threw three scoreless innings and struck out six of the 10 batters he faced. “It plays really well off my sinker, so we’re just trying to kind of get more break in between it,” Dobnak told reporters after the game. “Trying to create the tunnel and have it break apart more. But I threw it pretty well today, so I’m pretty satisfied with where I am with that.” Dobnak had been working on the tweak for a little over a week and batters were clearly not prepared for the pitch (even against last year’s AL pennant winners). He’s used it in two games so far and he has yet to allow a run in either appearance. While he has been pitching well this spring, Minnesota’s rotation seems to be full to start the year and this leaves Dobnak’s role up in the air. The five starters slated to be in Minnesota’s Opening Day rotation are Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker, and J.A. Happ. Out of those names, Happ is a little behind the others as he missed the beginning of camp after testing positive for COVID-19. Dobnak can follow Happ in his starts at the beginning of the year as he increases his workload, but even Twins manager Rocco Baldelli doesn’t quite know what role Dobnak will fill. “[Dobnak] has established himself as a quality member of our pitching staff,” Baldelli said. “One way or the other, wherever he slots in, however he gets his innings, I’m pretty sure we are going to find a way to get him involved and let him pitch us to some wins. Exactly how that’s going to go from Opening Day on, I couldn’t tell you at this moment.” Another wrinkle in the Dobnak’s roster spot is the yet to be decided fourth option for Lewis Thorpe. If Thorpe is out of options, the team may need to keep him on the 26-man roster to avoid losing him for on waivers. Dobnak has multiple options remaining and this would allow him to continue to be stretched out as a starter if an injury were to arise in the season’s early games. In the last Twins Daily roster projection, Dobnak made the Opening Day roster and Thorpe was left off, because it had been widely reported that he would be granted a fourth option. Dobnak and Thorpe can easily swap places as the bullpen’s long man. Caleb Thielbar, who appeared in his first spring game on Monday, has also been dealing with a back injury, so there’s a chance he starts the year on the IL. If that happened, Dobnak and Thorpe can both have bullpen spots. Over the course of the 2021 campaign, Dobnak’s role will likely take on multiple forms. Shoemaker is going to have to prove he deserves to stay in the rotation, because the Twins don’t have a ton invested in him. Dobnak will relieve and start at different parts of the season, but his new slider might make it tough to keep him in the bullpen for very long. What do you think Dobnak’s role will be in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. Randy Dobnak hasn’t exactly been known as a strikeout artist throughout his big-league career, but sometimes all it takes is one small adjustment. What will a new and improved slider mean for Dobnak’s role in 2021? Minnesota’s front office noticed some with Dobnak’s slider and suggest a small change. By keeping his hand in a more supinated position, he can get more break on his slider and keep hitters off balanced. Over the weekend, he threw three scoreless innings and struck out six of the 10 batters he faced. “It plays really well off my sinker, so we’re just trying to kind of get more break in between it,” Dobnak told reporters after the game. “Trying to create the tunnel and have it break apart more. But I threw it pretty well today, so I’m pretty satisfied with where I am with that.” Dobnak had been working on the tweak for a little over a week and batters were clearly not prepared for the pitch (even against last year’s AL pennant winners). He’s used it in two games so far and he has yet to allow a run in either appearance. While he has been pitching well this spring, Minnesota’s rotation seems to be full to start the year and this leaves Dobnak’s role up in the air. The five starters slated to be in Minnesota’s Opening Day rotation are Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker, and J.A. Happ. Out of those names, Happ is a little behind the others as he missed the beginning of camp after testing positive for COVID-19. Dobnak can follow Happ in his starts at the beginning of the year as he increases his workload, but even Twins manager Rocco Baldelli doesn’t quite know what role Dobnak will fill. “[Dobnak] has established himself as a quality member of our pitching staff,” Baldelli said. “One way or the other, wherever he slots in, however he gets his innings, I’m pretty sure we are going to find a way to get him involved and let him pitch us to some wins. Exactly how that’s going to go from Opening Day on, I couldn’t tell you at this moment.” Another wrinkle in the Dobnak’s roster spot is the yet to be decided fourth option for Lewis Thorpe. If Thorpe is out of options, the team may need to keep him on the 26-man roster to avoid losing him for on waivers. Dobnak has multiple options remaining and this would allow him to continue to be stretched out as a starter if an injury were to arise in the season’s early games. In the last Twins Daily roster projection, Dobnak made the Opening Day roster and Thorpe was left off, because it had been widely reported that he would be granted a fourth option. Dobnak and Thorpe can easily swap places as the bullpen’s long man. Caleb Thielbar, who appeared in his first spring game on Monday, has also been dealing with a back injury, so there’s a chance he starts the year on the IL. If that happened, Dobnak and Thorpe can both have bullpen spots. Over the course of the 2021 campaign, Dobnak’s role will likely take on multiple forms. Shoemaker is going to have to prove he deserves to stay in the rotation, because the Twins don’t have a ton invested in him. Dobnak will relieve and start at different parts of the season, but his new slider might make it tough to keep him in the bullpen for very long. What do you think Dobnak’s role will be in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  19. The Twins signed veteran starter J.A. Happ to a one-year, $8 million deal this afternoon. Happ is 38 years old and pitched to a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP in nine starts with the Yankees in 2020. At first glance, Happ’s addition feels like the kind of boring move that is necessary for contending teams to make. He’s not making national headlines, but he’ll slide right into the fourth spot in the rotation and he’ll get a lot of important outs throughout the year as long as he stays healthy. With the addition, the rotation looks as follows: Maeda/Berrios The other of Maeda/Berrios Pineda Happ Dobnak That’s all well and good. That’s a high-level American League rotation. The eight million feels a little steep and Happ wasn’t on many of our radars, but you can’t be too mad at a hole getting filled. Happ pitched well in 2020 and hopes to keep fans smiling in Minnesota It’s certainly still possible that the Twins still spend on another starter to get closer to a 2011 Phillies-esque “Four Aces” roster construction, but I just don’t see it. The rotation is seemingly set and there are bigger holes elsewhere. While Trevor Bauer was probably always going to be too spendy, guys like Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton no longer seem like possibilities for the Twins. Of course, Jake Odorizzi could come back into the fold and push Pineda and Happ down to the four and five slots respectively. But I think Dobnak and a number of capable arms in the Twins system would hold down that five spot pretty well, so I would argue that there’s more upside in leaving Odo on the market and spending money elsewhere. So, now that starting pitching is no longer much of a target position, the Twins’ intentions for the rest of the free agency period become a little bit clearer. We’ve been hearing about and hoping for the possibility of big moves in the coming weeks and months, and now we know better where the money will be spent. Before today, the holes in the roster were primarily at shortstop (or utility), DH, the four spot in the rotation, and in the bullpen. Falvey and Levine just filled the hole in the rotation with a somewhat cheap one-year deal. This limited commitment to the starting rotation suggests that the front office is saving money for big moves elsewhere. And it seems that any big commitments from the Twins’ will be made at short, DH or in the bullpen. Happ's low-commitment deal allows the Twins flexibility to acquire top talent At DH, the Twins are in position to bring back Nelson Cruz for one more ride or for a big multi-year investment in Marcell Ozuna. There are options at short too, such as Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, or blue-chip trade options Trevor Story or Javier Báez. They could also go out and get top relievers like Trevor Rosenthal and Brad Hand, but filling out the pen with cheap signings and homegrown talent is more Minnesota’s style. We could also see the club sprinkle money in a lot of places at once, signing a bunch of mid-level guys instead of one big-ticket player. There is, of course, a chance that the Twins remain pretty inactive, and rely on guys currently in the organization to make another playoff run. For most Twins fans, this would be a worst-case scenario and, as the days go on, our collective worries grow. For the most pessimistic fans, this signing will provide little comfort. J.A. Happ isn’t a big signing. But for me, he fills a hole that allows the Twins more flexibility to pursue the bigger fish in the free agency sea. And, they will make those big signings eventually…we hope.
  20. It's a new day in the United States, Joe Biden is now the President. It's also a new day for the back of the Minnesota Twins' rotation, J.A. Happ is now the number 4 starter. 38 year old J.A. (pronounced like "jay" not "j" "a") Happ has signed an $8 Million, 1 year deal to pitch in Minnesota. Happ isn't a particularly sexy signing, but he has been a productive middle/back of the rotation starter for several playoff teams throughout his career. Happ has accumulated 21.3 fWAR throughout his career, and is projected for about 1.5 more this year. Happ has a solid 150+ innings, sub 4 ERA pitcher ever since 2015 with the exception of 2019. Projections for Happ have him at a 4.5 ERA making him a dependable number 4 starter. There's no reason to expect anything worse from Happ than these projections as Happ's underlying numbers also rebounded in 2020, suggesting 2019 is an outlier and Happ is in line to be a more than capable 4 starter, and be serviceable as a number 3 should he need be. The Twins have found their ace in Kenta, which alleviates Jose who is really a 1B, and allows him to be a strong option in a game two in the playoffs. Pineda has been terrific and also capable of handling a game 3. The addition of Happ gives the Twins a number 4 that can take the mound in game 4 of a 7 game series should the Twins get to the ALCS.
  21. Wow, Judy bringing it! That’s both scorching and direct, exactly the kind of stuff that makes these fan forums unique. The team deserves some credit for allowing that question to come through. They could have very easily rejected her request, I’m sure there were many more fans waiting in the queue who didn’t have the opportunity to ask their questions. Thad Levine apologized for what transpired last season and admitted the season didn’t go the way they had hoped it would. He added this: “Our goal and our commitment to the fans is we want to put together a team that has the ability to complete year-in and year-out and have a long window for success. So we’re clearly in the building process – we’re not rebuilding, we’re building – and I think we’re building off of the successes of each of the last two seasons with the hope that we’ll take a meaningful step here in 2019.” I’m not sure how Judy from Big Lake received that, but I’m guessing any Twins fans thirsty for success weren’t exactly swept off their feet by that answer. Derek Falvey and new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli were also on the call. One of my favorite exchanges from Baldelli included this quote: “I tend to be curious and like to surround myself with curious people who like to stay open minded.” He also stressed creating a fun atmosphere and making sure the players enjoy showing up to work every day. Here are some other interesting items of note to come out of the forum: -Baldelli is going to try to get down to Georgia over the winter to visit with Byron Buxton. -Miguel Sano will continue to get every chance to play third base. -While Levine rained praise upon Willians Astudillo for both his performance and clubhouse presence, he also said “he’s going to need to earn it again,” implying he’s not being penciled into the Opening Day roster. -Falvey anticipates some changes revolving pace of play going into next year. He didn’t make any predictions as to what they may be, but he made it sound like nothing was off the table for the upcoming Winter Meetings. In his column for the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Charley Walters had some quotes from Jim Pohlad that should temper expectations for this offseason. Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.” The stove has been extremely cold so far this offseason, but since there have been so few moves, the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook remains very fresh. Just a reminder that the handbook is available as a PDF at whatever price you’re willing to pay. I’m also very happy to report that the Twins Prospect Handbook is progressing along quite nicely. There were a ton of additions to the minor league system at the trade deadline, so you’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy of this year’s edition to study up on all the new names. Speaking of prospects, Mike Berardino recorded a podcast for Baseball America in which he and Kyle Glaser reviewed his top 10 prospect list. Of course there was a lot of talk about the individual prospects on the list, but they also opened things up for a big-picture discussion on where the Twins are headed and made some good observations. Paul Sporer of FanGraphs took a look at what went wrong for Brian Dozier in 2018. I doubt a reunion with the Twins is in the cards, but Dozier does seem to be a really good buy-low option among this year’s crop of free agents. The first huge move of the offseason went down last night (no offense, Eduardo Escobar), as Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported the Yankees had a deal in place to acquire lefty starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Seattle won 89 games last season and Paxton still has two seasons of team control, though he’s projected to make $9 million through arbitration this upcoming year and obviously more than that in 2020. Still, I don’t think it’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things that a competitive team from the prior year is already apparently throwing in the towel for 2019. The Yankees gave up MLB Pipeline’s No. 31 overall prospect in baseball Justus Sheffield and two more players in Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams who both slot in as top-15 prospects in the Mariners’ system. Given Sheffield’s prospect status and the fact that he already reached the Major Leagues it’s difficult to come up with a similar package the Twins could have offered had they been interested in Paxton. MLB Trade Rumors held a reader poll on where the top 10 free agents would sign. More than 6,800 people voted and the only player the Twins had more than two percent on was J.A. Happ. Minnesota was the destination selected for him 3.1 percent of the time, which trailed the Yankees (30.9), Blue Jays (9.2), Angels (8.2), Brewers (6.5), Phillies (4.7), Astros (4.4) and Nationals (3.7). Along with all the free agents already available on the open market, several more players will be added to the pool of available talent shorty. Brandon Warne highlighted some intriguing names who could be non-tendered over at Zone Coverage. I thought he made a particularly compelling argument for current Marlin Derek Dietrich, pointing out that he’s actually been a better hitter than Marwin Gonzalez over his career and brings comparable positional flexibility. Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu has joined a division rival. He was traded from the Rays to Cleveland on Monday. Originally sent to Tampa Bay in the Kevin Jepsen trade, Hu has pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with the Rays over the past two seasons. Ballpark Digest honored the Twins with their Best Renovation award for Target Field’s switch from the Metropolitan Club to Bat & Barrel. I know that change rubbed some season-ticket holders the wrong way, understandably, but the difference in utility between the Met Club and Bat & Barrel is night and day. The Met Club was mostly a giant waste of space and the few times I visited there was very little atmosphere. It was just way too stuffy. The few times I visited Bat & Barrel this past season it was a completely different vibe, it was always buzzing in there. I also love the Adam Turman murals and all the awards on display. Here’s hoping the Twins can be a repeat winner for their renovations taking place at Gate 34.
  22. The Twins held a Fan Forum for season ticket holders last week and made the audio available on their site. The entire forum lasted more than an hour and included some really great contributions from the fans, but the final question fielded was particularly strong. At about the 59-minute mark Judy from Big Lake asked this: “First of all, I wanted to tell you what a horribly disappointing season this was for season-ticket holders; and I want to know how long do you think it’s going to be before you put a competitive team back on the field?”Wow, Judy bringing it! That’s both scorching and direct, exactly the kind of stuff that makes these fan forums unique. The team deserves some credit for allowing that question to come through. They could have very easily rejected her request, I’m sure there were many more fans waiting in the queue who didn’t have the opportunity to ask their questions. Thad Levine apologized for what transpired last season and admitted the season didn’t go the way they had hoped it would. He added this: “Our goal and our commitment to the fans is we want to put together a team that has the ability to complete year-in and year-out and have a long window for success. So we’re clearly in the building process – we’re not rebuilding, we’re building – and I think we’re building off of the successes of each of the last two seasons with the hope that we’ll take a meaningful step here in 2019.” I’m not sure how Judy from Big Lake received that, but I’m guessing any Twins fans thirsty for success weren’t exactly swept off their feet by that answer. Derek Falvey and new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli were also on the call. One of my favorite exchanges from Baldelli included this quote: “I tend to be curious and like to surround myself with curious people who like to stay open minded.” He also stressed creating a fun atmosphere and making sure the players enjoy showing up to work every day. Here are some other interesting items of note to come out of the forum: -Baldelli is going to try to get down to Georgia over the winter to visit with Byron Buxton. -Miguel Sano will continue to get every chance to play third base. -While Levine rained praise upon Willians Astudillo for both his performance and clubhouse presence, he also said “he’s going to need to earn it again,” implying he’s not being penciled into the Opening Day roster. -Falvey anticipates some changes revolving pace of play going into next year. He didn’t make any predictions as to what they may be, but he made it sound like nothing was off the table for the upcoming Winter Meetings. In his column for the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Charley Walters had some quotes from Jim Pohlad that should temper expectations for this offseason. Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.” The stove has been extremely cold so far this offseason, but since there have been so few moves, the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook remains very fresh. Just a reminder that the handbook is available as a PDF at whatever price you’re willing to pay. I’m also very happy to report that the Twins Prospect Handbook is progressing along quite nicely. There were a ton of additions to the minor league system at the trade deadline, so you’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy of this year’s edition to study up on all the new names. Speaking of prospects, Mike Berardino recorded a podcast for Baseball America in which he and Kyle Glaser reviewed his top 10 prospect list. Of course there was a lot of talk about the individual prospects on the list, but they also opened things up for a big-picture discussion on where the Twins are headed and made some good observations. Paul Sporer of FanGraphs took a look at what went wrong for Brian Dozier in 2018. I doubt a reunion with the Twins is in the cards, but Dozier does seem to be a really good buy-low option among this year’s crop of free agents. The first huge move of the offseason went down last night (no offense, Eduardo Escobar), as Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported the Yankees had a deal in place to acquire lefty starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Seattle won 89 games last season and Paxton still has two seasons of team control, though he’s projected to make $9 million through arbitration this upcoming year and obviously more than that in 2020. Still, I don’t think it’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things that a competitive team from the prior year is already apparently throwing in the towel for 2019. The Yankees gave up MLB Pipeline’s No. 31 overall prospect in baseball Justus Sheffield and two more players in Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams who both slot in as top-15 prospects in the Mariners’ system. Given Sheffield’s prospect status and the fact that he already reached the Major Leagues it’s difficult to come up with a similar package the Twins could have offered had they been interested in Paxton. MLB Trade Rumors held a reader poll on where the top 10 free agents would sign. More than 6,800 people voted and the only player the Twins had more than two percent on was J.A. Happ. Minnesota was the destination selected for him 3.1 percent of the time, which trailed the Yankees (30.9), Blue Jays (9.2), Angels (8.2), Brewers (6.5), Phillies (4.7), Astros (4.4) and Nationals (3.7). Along with all the free agents already available on the open market, several more players will be added to the pool of available talent shorty. Brandon Warne highlighted some intriguing names who could be non-tendered over at Zone Coverage. I thought he made a particularly compelling argument for current Marlin Derek Dietrich, pointing out that he’s actually been a better hitter than Marwin Gonzalez over his career and brings comparable positional flexibility. Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu has joined a division rival. He was traded from the Rays to Cleveland on Monday. Originally sent to Tampa Bay in the Kevin Jepsen trade, Hu has pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with the Rays over the past two seasons. Ballpark Digest honored the Twins with their Best Renovation award for Target Field’s switch from the Metropolitan Club to Bat & Barrel. I know that change rubbed some season-ticket holders the wrong way, understandably, but the difference in utility between the Met Club and Bat & Barrel is night and day. The Met Club was mostly a giant waste of space and the few times I visited there was very little atmosphere. It was just way too stuffy. The few times I visited Bat & Barrel this past season it was a completely different vibe, it was always buzzing in there. I also love the Adam Turman murals and all the awards on display. Here’s hoping the Twins can be a repeat winner for their renovations taking place at Gate 34. Click here to view the article
  23. What are your thoughts on J.A. Happ? https://twitter.com/jonmorosi/status/1060202187739910145 Happ has been a great starting pitcher over the past four seasons, posting a 3.48 ERA (121 ERA+) and 1.21 WHIP for the Mariners, Pirates, Blue Jays and Yankees. The problem is that means he’s good enough to command a multi-year deal, though he’s already 36-years-old. The Twins could use a left-handed starting pitcher, and Happ would also add some experience and leadership. MLB Trade Rumors had Happ has their No. 9 free agent and predicted he'll receive a three-year, $48 million deal (from the Angels) while FanGraphs had him ranked 21st and projected a two-year $28 million. There were some rumblings of a Seattle fire sale brewing, but GM Jerry Dipoto downplayed that possibility, telling MLB.com “we're not looking to rip our club down. We're just too talented to do that.” Dipoto being Dipoto, he went ahead and made a deal tonight, sending catcher Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay for outfielder Mallex Smith. This is a situation worth keeping an eye on, a the M’s have pieces on their pitching staff and infield that could represent upgrades for the Twins. High-profile agent Scott Boras name dropped the Twins, and not in a favorable manner. https://twitter.com/BNightengale/status/1060301230524653568 OK. The Twins are a lower-market payroll team and attendance isn’t booming, but of all the teams you’re gonna take a cheap shot at Minnesota? Really? Per USA Today, the Twins had the 16th-highest Opening Day payroll and per ESPN they were 20th in attendance. Maybe Scott should stick to marketing his clients instead of shooting off super lame jokes. Of course, it’s when his clients arrive when Twins fans are really gonna show up. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1060323921944178688 Earlier this week, Nick shared his offseason blueprint that envisioned the Twins as big spenders. The site has been booming with blueprints, as both the forums and the blog section have been active. Grab a copy of the Offseason Handbook for whatever price you feel is appropriate and put together your own blueprint today. Matt Eddy of Baseball America shared a list of 520 minor league free agents. One name that really jumped out to me was Dilson Herrera. He’s a 24-year-old second baseman who has some MLB time (108 games) with the Mets and Reds. Herrera has a .290/.349/.461 (.809 OPS) batting line in 1,305 plate appearances in Triple A. The Twins will certainly aim higher in their search for a second baseman, but Herrera is an interesting fallback option. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that it won’t be too long before the Twins hear final word on Joe Mauer’s future. Also over at The Athletic, Jim Bowden shared five potential landing spots for J.T. Realmuto, should the Marlins decide to deal him. Spoiler alert! Twins are not listed. Kennys Vargas signed with Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines.
  24. The Twins are reportedly interested in J.A. Happ, which may or not really mean anything at all. We can assume the Twins are interested in a lot of guys, right? Welcome to the offseason! There are some other rumblings coming out of the GM Meetings, as well as other happenings in the baseball world that are worth turning your attention to. Let’s get to it ...What are your thoughts on J.A. Happ? Earlier this week, Nick shared his offseason blueprint that envisioned the Twins as big spenders. The site has been booming with blueprints, as both the forums and the blog section have been active. Grab a copy of the Offseason Handbook for whatever price you feel is appropriate and put together your own blueprint today. Matt Eddy of Baseball America shared a list of 520 minor league free agents. One name that really jumped out to me was Dilson Herrera. He’s a 24-year-old second baseman who has some MLB time (108 games) with the Mets and Reds. Herrera has a .290/.349/.461 (.809 OPS) batting line in 1,305 plate appearances in Triple A. The Twins will certainly aim higher in their search for a second baseman, but Herrera is an interesting fallback option. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that it won’t be too long before the Twins hear final word on Joe Mauer’s future. Also over at The Athletic, Jim Bowdenshared five potential landing spots for J.T. Realmuto, should the Marlins decide to deal him. Spoiler alert! Twins are not listed. Kennys Vargas signed with Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines. Click here to view the article
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