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  1. The Twins' pitching struggled on the mound in July. The Twins lost 12 of 22 games, closing the lead between the Twins and the rest of the central division. But today we try to find the positives, if any, for Twins pitchers in July. Let's just say... it wasn't pretty... at all! In an attempt to be transparent, Twins Daily writers did have a discussion and decided that we could not just leave this article empty. So, while it was a bad month for Twins pitchers, we are going to find the best of that group. Honorable Mention #3: Joe Ryan Ryan struck out 27 over 26 2/3 innings in July, the most on the club for the month. Even after missing time due to Covid and the loss of Wes Johnson, Ryan appeared to be composed, and his ERA was in a downward trending motion (well, until that start in San Diego). Overall, Ryan contributed to three wins for the team, recording one win and one loss for his decisions. He continues to break franchise records and his pitches are some of the nastiest I've seen from the Twins pitching staff. Ryan, is dominant on the mound and in his first 20 starts he had 3.18 ERA over 108 innings with a 103/28 K/BB ration and opponents hit just .198 off of him. Ryan's only downfall came in an uncharacteristic game against San Diego last weekend. The rookie struggled with his slider and change-up (which he has been working on), leaving meatballs for the hitters. He gave up five home runs and ten total runs in 4 2/3 innings and his ERA jumped to 3.89. Honorable Mention #2: Dylan Bundy Deciding between Dylan Bundy and Sonny Gray was not easy, but overall, Bundy was able to produce lower numbers and a better decision outcome for the team. Bundy came out of the month with two wins and no losses. He also had a lower WHIP (1.40) even if his ERA was grossly high at 6.05. Over his 19 1/3 innings, he managed to record 18 strikeouts. In three of the games Bundy started, the Twins won, and Bundy recorded two wins and one loss. There is no real downfall for Bundy, except he leaves balls hanging in the zone, giving other teams a chance to capitalize on hits and runs. Honorable Mention #1: Emilio Pagan I realize this name draws a lot of angst and controversy, but numbers don’t lie. Pagan, in 9 1/3 innings, struck out 18 batters and only allowed four runs and two walks. He registered a 1.07 WHIP and saw more innings than any of the other relievers. Pagan can be a good pitcher. He handled the strike zone well in July. He has the most strikeouts of the relievers and recorded two wins, one loss, and two holds out of ten games, four of which he finished. As much as people say Pagan loses games, technically, he only had one blown save, during which he contributed three earned runs. While his mound appearances can be frustrating, Pagan somehow still leads the Twins in saves (9). Twins Pitcher of the Month: Jharel Cotton I have been waiting for this moment since seeing Cotton in spring training. Cotton pitched 12 innings over eight games and had 12 strikeouts. He only allowed three runs in July. On July 14th against Chicago and July 27th against Milwaukee, Cotton came into some hideous situations with massive deficits on the board. Cotton has been working mostly when the games are already out of hand, but he occasionally gets an opportunity when the game is still in limbo. Of the eight July games, he only gave up three runs, none of which were a factor for a win or loss for the Twins. Cotton himself has yet to garner a decision with the Twins. Cotton has one of the nastiest sliders and change-ups in the league, when he is on. At times, he can look really good, miss some bats and get quick outs. When he's struggled with control is when he has given up runs (like any pitcher, of course). Overall, Cotton's ERA continued to trend down in July, and his control was improved. With all the struggles the Twins pitching saw in July, I know that this month's Pitcher of the Month article may ruffle feathers, but that's okay. The numbers tell the truth and the eyes tell the story. Where would you have put these pitchers? (if you can't say "on waivers.") Would you have included any of them? Do you think there is hope for the pitching in the next month after the trade deadline? View full article
  2. In an attempt to be transparent, Twins Daily writers did have a discussion and decided that we could not just leave this article empty. So, while it was a bad month for Twins pitchers, we are going to find the best of that group. Honorable Mention #3: Joe Ryan Ryan struck out 27 over 26 2/3 innings in July, the most on the club for the month. Even after missing time due to Covid and the loss of Wes Johnson, Ryan appeared to be composed, and his ERA was in a downward trending motion (well, until that start in San Diego). Overall, Ryan contributed to three wins for the team, recording one win and one loss for his decisions. He continues to break franchise records and his pitches are some of the nastiest I've seen from the Twins pitching staff. Ryan, is dominant on the mound and in his first 20 starts he had 3.18 ERA over 108 innings with a 103/28 K/BB ration and opponents hit just .198 off of him. Ryan's only downfall came in an uncharacteristic game against San Diego last weekend. The rookie struggled with his slider and change-up (which he has been working on), leaving meatballs for the hitters. He gave up five home runs and ten total runs in 4 2/3 innings and his ERA jumped to 3.89. Honorable Mention #2: Dylan Bundy Deciding between Dylan Bundy and Sonny Gray was not easy, but overall, Bundy was able to produce lower numbers and a better decision outcome for the team. Bundy came out of the month with two wins and no losses. He also had a lower WHIP (1.40) even if his ERA was grossly high at 6.05. Over his 19 1/3 innings, he managed to record 18 strikeouts. In three of the games Bundy started, the Twins won, and Bundy recorded two wins and one loss. There is no real downfall for Bundy, except he leaves balls hanging in the zone, giving other teams a chance to capitalize on hits and runs. Honorable Mention #1: Emilio Pagan I realize this name draws a lot of angst and controversy, but numbers don’t lie. Pagan, in 9 1/3 innings, struck out 18 batters and only allowed four runs and two walks. He registered a 1.07 WHIP and saw more innings than any of the other relievers. Pagan can be a good pitcher. He handled the strike zone well in July. He has the most strikeouts of the relievers and recorded two wins, one loss, and two holds out of ten games, four of which he finished. As much as people say Pagan loses games, technically, he only had one blown save, during which he contributed three earned runs. While his mound appearances can be frustrating, Pagan somehow still leads the Twins in saves (9). Twins Pitcher of the Month: Jharel Cotton I have been waiting for this moment since seeing Cotton in spring training. Cotton pitched 12 innings over eight games and had 12 strikeouts. He only allowed three runs in July. On July 14th against Chicago and July 27th against Milwaukee, Cotton came into some hideous situations with massive deficits on the board. Cotton has been working mostly when the games are already out of hand, but he occasionally gets an opportunity when the game is still in limbo. Of the eight July games, he only gave up three runs, none of which were a factor for a win or loss for the Twins. Cotton himself has yet to garner a decision with the Twins. Cotton has one of the nastiest sliders and change-ups in the league, when he is on. At times, he can look really good, miss some bats and get quick outs. When he's struggled with control is when he has given up runs (like any pitcher, of course). Overall, Cotton's ERA continued to trend down in July, and his control was improved. With all the struggles the Twins pitching saw in July, I know that this month's Pitcher of the Month article may ruffle feathers, but that's okay. The numbers tell the truth and the eyes tell the story. Where would you have put these pitchers? (if you can't say "on waivers.") Would you have included any of them? Do you think there is hope for the pitching in the next month after the trade deadline?
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. On June 30th, the year of our lord 2022, the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen blew a two-run lead with two innings left in the ballgame. It felt inevitable; the team had already melted down in four similar games against this same Cleveland team, each loss degrading from tragedy to outright comedy. The bullpen is the scapegoat, and while they deserve their share of criticism, these excruciating losses are a group effort. Frequently in baseball, we break up starters and relievers into separate, distinct groups; both types of pitchers exist in their sphere outside of the influence of the other. But such a view is myopic and inaccurate. Baseball is a team sport, after all, and the actions of one player reverberate among every player in this game and into future matches. Take it from a former soccer goalkeeper; sure, it’s the keeper's fault when they allow a goal, but why did an opposing player have the opportunity to score in the first place? What happened amongst the defense? Is it fair to blame a streaking striker on the keeper? Previous actions influenced the future. To lay this out in baseball terms, we must consider the workload the game flow demands of each party; a starter unable to collect a few extra, precious innings places more strain on the bullpen. A team can adjust for a series or even a month, but the wear-down will hit at some point; the Pied Piper always earns his due. As of Thursday, Twins starters have thrown the 11th fewest innings in MLB, while their bullpen has tossed the 4th most innings; the team is 4th overall in total innings. By itself, this isn’t necessarily a sign of an unhealthy pitching ecosystem; the Rays bullpen has thrown the most innings of any team in MLB, and they are probably okay with that given that their crew owns a 3.18 ERA. But the Rays are a unique beast; the Twins are a different animal entirely. The Rays want their relievers to pitch those innings; they have melted down titles like “starter” and “reliever” until a pitcher is merely an “out-getter” precisely until they aren’t, whether that ends with three or 12 outs. Kevin Cash mixes and matches his assorted pitchers until the team nets their allotted nine innings, and everyone goes home. The Twins perhaps had some mildly similar plan on hand when the season began, but they lacked the preparation. Chris Archer pitched four innings on Thursday, a standard fare for him these days. Knowing that Archer would not be suitable for more than five innings, the Twins decided to back him up conventionally; no pitcher after him netted more than five outs. Rocco Baldelli—a manager already working with an exhausted bullpen—called on Jovani Moran, Tyler Duffey, and Tyler Thornburg to end the game. He had no choice; he had already used five relievers the day prior. Moran and Duffey did their job, but games are not seven innings long, and suddenly a player signed earlier this month pitched the final two frames. It went as well as you expected. This situation would not have happened if the starter had pitched six innings, if they had a true multi-inning pitcher available, or if the bullpen wasn’t horribly gassed. You can blame Baldelli—he absolutely threw the game by keeping Thornburg out an extra inning—but his options were slim. You can blame Thornburg—he was the man on the mound in the situation—but he’s not supposed to be an 8th-inning reliever. The problem is that the Twins bullpen is constantly tired due to a shortage of effective arms mixed with a starting staff that has failed to pitch deep into ballgames. This shortcoming falls squarely on the front office, but luck is also at play. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine knowingly ran headfirst into the season with a pitching staff low on starters that can pitch deep into the game combined with a bullpen missing their ace reliever, Taylor Rogers. Instead—and again, they knew that pitchers like Archer, Dylan Bundy, and Bailey Ober are dead-to-right five-and-fly guys—traditional single-inning relievers who can occasionally stretch an extra out or two populated the bullpen. That plan worked fine when everyone was healthy, but injuries combined with Archer and Bundy failing to bounce back have strained the relief core to exhaustion. Of course, when the baseball gods sense weakness, they’ll painfully expose it. A team ill-prepared for an overwhelming amount of innings has been fed them like slop in the trough; their 690 2/3 innings looks monstrous compared to Cleveland’s MLB fewest 641. Perhaps, to play a little Devil’s Advocate, this is an extreme consequence of a plan gone awry; the team primed Winder for the swingman role, but his injury left a void no pitcher could fill. Devin Smeltzer could have done it, but the team needed him in the starting rotations; Cole Sands could have done it, but he lacked major league polish. Jorge Alcala, Joe Smith, Trevor Megill, Danny Coulombe, and Cody Stashak are all trustworthy arms to varying degrees; none of those relievers are currently healthy. The answer could just be to wait. The situation isn’t impossible to climb out of; the Twins will get Ober and Kenta Maeda back at some point, they’ll run into a few extra off-days soon, and the team will pick up extra arms before the trade deadline. Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax are a good 1-2 punch already; adding two more competent relievers knocks everyone down the totem pole until pitchers like Cotton and Thornburg are early-game/mop-up arms like they should be. An extra stud starter—Tyler Mahle, Frankie Montas, and the such—can move a rotation member like Bundy or Archer into the missing long relief role, making them the aid in an emergency, not the cause. Solutions to the problem do exist; we will just have to see which ones the team chooses. View full article
  6. Frequently in baseball, we break up starters and relievers into separate, distinct groups; both types of pitchers exist in their sphere outside of the influence of the other. But such a view is myopic and inaccurate. Baseball is a team sport, after all, and the actions of one player reverberate among every player in this game and into future matches. Take it from a former soccer goalkeeper; sure, it’s the keeper's fault when they allow a goal, but why did an opposing player have the opportunity to score in the first place? What happened amongst the defense? Is it fair to blame a streaking striker on the keeper? Previous actions influenced the future. To lay this out in baseball terms, we must consider the workload the game flow demands of each party; a starter unable to collect a few extra, precious innings places more strain on the bullpen. A team can adjust for a series or even a month, but the wear-down will hit at some point; the Pied Piper always earns his due. As of Thursday, Twins starters have thrown the 11th fewest innings in MLB, while their bullpen has tossed the 4th most innings; the team is 4th overall in total innings. By itself, this isn’t necessarily a sign of an unhealthy pitching ecosystem; the Rays bullpen has thrown the most innings of any team in MLB, and they are probably okay with that given that their crew owns a 3.18 ERA. But the Rays are a unique beast; the Twins are a different animal entirely. The Rays want their relievers to pitch those innings; they have melted down titles like “starter” and “reliever” until a pitcher is merely an “out-getter” precisely until they aren’t, whether that ends with three or 12 outs. Kevin Cash mixes and matches his assorted pitchers until the team nets their allotted nine innings, and everyone goes home. The Twins perhaps had some mildly similar plan on hand when the season began, but they lacked the preparation. Chris Archer pitched four innings on Thursday, a standard fare for him these days. Knowing that Archer would not be suitable for more than five innings, the Twins decided to back him up conventionally; no pitcher after him netted more than five outs. Rocco Baldelli—a manager already working with an exhausted bullpen—called on Jovani Moran, Tyler Duffey, and Tyler Thornburg to end the game. He had no choice; he had already used five relievers the day prior. Moran and Duffey did their job, but games are not seven innings long, and suddenly a player signed earlier this month pitched the final two frames. It went as well as you expected. This situation would not have happened if the starter had pitched six innings, if they had a true multi-inning pitcher available, or if the bullpen wasn’t horribly gassed. You can blame Baldelli—he absolutely threw the game by keeping Thornburg out an extra inning—but his options were slim. You can blame Thornburg—he was the man on the mound in the situation—but he’s not supposed to be an 8th-inning reliever. The problem is that the Twins bullpen is constantly tired due to a shortage of effective arms mixed with a starting staff that has failed to pitch deep into ballgames. This shortcoming falls squarely on the front office, but luck is also at play. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine knowingly ran headfirst into the season with a pitching staff low on starters that can pitch deep into the game combined with a bullpen missing their ace reliever, Taylor Rogers. Instead—and again, they knew that pitchers like Archer, Dylan Bundy, and Bailey Ober are dead-to-right five-and-fly guys—traditional single-inning relievers who can occasionally stretch an extra out or two populated the bullpen. That plan worked fine when everyone was healthy, but injuries combined with Archer and Bundy failing to bounce back have strained the relief core to exhaustion. Of course, when the baseball gods sense weakness, they’ll painfully expose it. A team ill-prepared for an overwhelming amount of innings has been fed them like slop in the trough; their 690 2/3 innings looks monstrous compared to Cleveland’s MLB fewest 641. Perhaps, to play a little Devil’s Advocate, this is an extreme consequence of a plan gone awry; the team primed Winder for the swingman role, but his injury left a void no pitcher could fill. Devin Smeltzer could have done it, but the team needed him in the starting rotations; Cole Sands could have done it, but he lacked major league polish. Jorge Alcala, Joe Smith, Trevor Megill, Danny Coulombe, and Cody Stashak are all trustworthy arms to varying degrees; none of those relievers are currently healthy. The answer could just be to wait. The situation isn’t impossible to climb out of; the Twins will get Ober and Kenta Maeda back at some point, they’ll run into a few extra off-days soon, and the team will pick up extra arms before the trade deadline. Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax are a good 1-2 punch already; adding two more competent relievers knocks everyone down the totem pole until pitchers like Cotton and Thornburg are early-game/mop-up arms like they should be. An extra stud starter—Tyler Mahle, Frankie Montas, and the such—can move a rotation member like Bundy or Archer into the missing long relief role, making them the aid in an emergency, not the cause. Solutions to the problem do exist; we will just have to see which ones the team chooses.
  7. The Twins bullpen is in need of some aid in high leverage. Help may be on the way from outside sources, though not for at least another month with the trade deadline on the horizon. Luckily, they have a few internal options that could possibly make a leap. After opening the season in near spotless fashion, the Twins bullpen has shown some significant blemishes in the form of late-blown leads in particular. Help appeared to be on the way in the form of Jorge Alcala before his rehab stint was paused due to recurring elbow pain. The pipe dream of Matt Canterino coming to save the bullpen is also on hold as he was recently placed on the IL with elbow issues. What we’re left with is Jhoan Duran appearing to be the one and only high leverage option we can trust with little internal help on the way. The Twins however have a few pitchers who could change that belief. Jharel Cotton Once a top starting pitching prospect, Cotton dealt with a plethora of injuries before taking off in the Ranger’s bullpen in 2021 only to be DFAed despite solid results. The Twins saw an opportunity and have bounced him on and off the 40 man in 2022, recently adding him back on Wednesday. Unlike his first few stints in the Twins pen, this time there’s ample opportunity for him to stick. Cotton has an unspectacular profile for a reliever with his low 90s fastball and changeup as a primary offspeed. Unlike most changeups however, Cotton’s is relatively effective against both right and left handed hitters. The pitch is good enough to carry his entire repertoire with its 44% whiff rate, and neither his fastball or changeup have allowed hitters any opportunities for success in his 10.2 innings thus far. He may not be a closer or even setup man in waiting, but Cotton came out and performed when the Twins needed it most during the Toronto series. We saw DJ LeMahieu touch him up for a homer on Thursday after a borderline call that could have ended the at bat, but Cotton looked like one of the better relievers in that game and his peripherals still look great. Caleb Thielbar Many were quick to call for Thielbar’s release after four bad outings to start the year despite his massive contributions to the Twins bullpen in seasons past. Unsurprisingly, the 35 year old appeared to be missing some feel in those appearances following a shortened Spring Training which resulted in some uncharacteristic walks. Since then, Thielbar has been incredible. Thielbar may currently hold the “lefty specialist role” to an extent due to his devastating numbers against left handed hitters (.154/.313/.154). That being said, he’s far from your typical fastball/slider lefty. He mixes in a curveball with differing speeds and an occasional changeup to help equalize right handed hitters. He doesn’t have a single pitch that’s allowed a batting average above .240 or slugging percentage above .400 despite 63% of his opposing hitters being righties. With the current state of the bullpen, Thielbar’s stuff may be too good to pigeonhole him into lefty/lefty matchups. As we saw early in Taylor Rogers’ relief career, if the opportunity and talent are there, being left handed doesn’t have to mean you need to be used as a matchup reliever. Jovani Moran Perhaps the favorite of this group, Moran could legitimately find himself shooting up the depth chart with just a few successful outings. The left hander simply dominated the minors last year with a K rate of around 40% between AA and AAA. After taking his lumps in his debut in 2021, his unbelievable stuff has been on full display in his 8 plus innings so far in 2022. Walks will always be a part of Moran’s game and he’s walked 17% of hitters so far this year. That being said he’s always limited home runs and hard contact to cancel it out. Furthermore, his 37% K rate so far shows that his raw stuff should be good enough to make this work despite the free baserunners. Regardless of the small sample, Moran has a whiff rate of over 44% on both his fastball and changeup which he uses to give opposing hitters absolute fits. He rarely uses his slider, but so far every opposing hitter who’s swung has come up empty. While such dominance simply cannot hold up to that extent, stretches like this don’t happen by accident. Jovani Moran is absolutely nasty. It’s possible the Twins have a big move in them to provide the bullpen with a huge boost. I’d argue such a move is a must. That being said, the team has a month plus worth of games to play before even considering such an addition. We’ve tried Tyler Duffey, we’ve tried Pagan, it may be time to look at some unlikely candidates to pick up some high-leverage work. Do you think any of these arms can grab the job and run with it? View full article
  8. After opening the season in near spotless fashion, the Twins bullpen has shown some significant blemishes in the form of late-blown leads in particular. Help appeared to be on the way in the form of Jorge Alcala before his rehab stint was paused due to recurring elbow pain. The pipe dream of Matt Canterino coming to save the bullpen is also on hold as he was recently placed on the IL with elbow issues. What we’re left with is Jhoan Duran appearing to be the one and only high leverage option we can trust with little internal help on the way. The Twins however have a few pitchers who could change that belief. Jharel Cotton Once a top starting pitching prospect, Cotton dealt with a plethora of injuries before taking off in the Ranger’s bullpen in 2021 only to be DFAed despite solid results. The Twins saw an opportunity and have bounced him on and off the 40 man in 2022, recently adding him back on Wednesday. Unlike his first few stints in the Twins pen, this time there’s ample opportunity for him to stick. Cotton has an unspectacular profile for a reliever with his low 90s fastball and changeup as a primary offspeed. Unlike most changeups however, Cotton’s is relatively effective against both right and left handed hitters. The pitch is good enough to carry his entire repertoire with its 44% whiff rate, and neither his fastball or changeup have allowed hitters any opportunities for success in his 10.2 innings thus far. He may not be a closer or even setup man in waiting, but Cotton came out and performed when the Twins needed it most during the Toronto series. We saw DJ LeMahieu touch him up for a homer on Thursday after a borderline call that could have ended the at bat, but Cotton looked like one of the better relievers in that game and his peripherals still look great. Caleb Thielbar Many were quick to call for Thielbar’s release after four bad outings to start the year despite his massive contributions to the Twins bullpen in seasons past. Unsurprisingly, the 35 year old appeared to be missing some feel in those appearances following a shortened Spring Training which resulted in some uncharacteristic walks. Since then, Thielbar has been incredible. Thielbar may currently hold the “lefty specialist role” to an extent due to his devastating numbers against left handed hitters (.154/.313/.154). That being said, he’s far from your typical fastball/slider lefty. He mixes in a curveball with differing speeds and an occasional changeup to help equalize right handed hitters. He doesn’t have a single pitch that’s allowed a batting average above .240 or slugging percentage above .400 despite 63% of his opposing hitters being righties. With the current state of the bullpen, Thielbar’s stuff may be too good to pigeonhole him into lefty/lefty matchups. As we saw early in Taylor Rogers’ relief career, if the opportunity and talent are there, being left handed doesn’t have to mean you need to be used as a matchup reliever. Jovani Moran Perhaps the favorite of this group, Moran could legitimately find himself shooting up the depth chart with just a few successful outings. The left hander simply dominated the minors last year with a K rate of around 40% between AA and AAA. After taking his lumps in his debut in 2021, his unbelievable stuff has been on full display in his 8 plus innings so far in 2022. Walks will always be a part of Moran’s game and he’s walked 17% of hitters so far this year. That being said he’s always limited home runs and hard contact to cancel it out. Furthermore, his 37% K rate so far shows that his raw stuff should be good enough to make this work despite the free baserunners. Regardless of the small sample, Moran has a whiff rate of over 44% on both his fastball and changeup which he uses to give opposing hitters absolute fits. He rarely uses his slider, but so far every opposing hitter who’s swung has come up empty. While such dominance simply cannot hold up to that extent, stretches like this don’t happen by accident. Jovani Moran is absolutely nasty. It’s possible the Twins have a big move in them to provide the bullpen with a huge boost. I’d argue such a move is a must. That being said, the team has a month plus worth of games to play before even considering such an addition. We’ve tried Tyler Duffey, we’ve tried Pagan, it may be time to look at some unlikely candidates to pick up some high-leverage work. Do you think any of these arms can grab the job and run with it?
  9. Tyler Duffey nearly blew a five run lead against the Blue Jays on Sunday. With the AL Central there for the taking, it's time for the Twins to move on. On Sunday, in a series against a red hot playoff contender, Tyler Duffey entered the game with a 8-3 lead, courtesy of solid pitching, some good luck, and a remarkable offensive performance by the Twins against Kevin Gausman. He left it having given up a walk, three hits, a three-run home run, and recording just two outs. Jovani Moran replaced Duffey to get the final out for the Twins and secure an unlikely series win in Toronto. I’m not usually one to advocate for reactionary moves or cut bait on long-time contributors to the team, but it’s time to move on from Tyler Duffey. Duffey By the Numbers Let’s start by putting some of Duffey’s 2022 numbers in perspective. Out of 193 qualified relievers, he ranks 172nd in ERA, 187th in xERA, and 170th in HR/9. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice to say, there are a lot of categories in which Duffey ranks in the bottom handful of relievers in the league. If we look into more advanced numbers, we see a similar story. Looking at his Statcast profile percentiles, Duffey is 6th percentile in average exit velocity, first percentile in HardHit%, first percentile is xBA. The list goes on, and it does not make for encouraging reading. Results and Process Duffey’s numbers may be poor, but perhaps a peek under the hood tells a story his numbers do not? After all, we’re talking about the same reliever who managed a 33.6 K% and 2.79 xERA in 2020, and was even better in 2019. Duffey’s command tells the story of his 2022. Here’s the location of his four seam fastball in 2022. Here’s the location of his curveball in 2022. Let’s compare the curveball to that of Jhoan Duran in 2022. There are two major takeaways here. Duffey is leaving his fastball out over the heart of the plate far too often. He has some of the poorest velocity and stuff in the Twins bullpen. Duffey’s fastball location is a non-starter. Simply put, it is not a good enough pitch to have location this poor. Opposing hitters are teeing off on it, to the tune of a .649 SLG and 64% hard hit %. Additionally, he’s throwing too many uncompetitive curveballs. There are too many breaking pitches starting off the plate and finishing way off the plate. Hitters are picking up on this and sitting on his fastball because his curveball often starts slightly too low or too far outside. Roster Crunch Duffey earns $3.2 million in 2022, hardly expensive for a reliever. Even though from a performance perspective I think he should be DFA'd, I think it’s unlikely the Twins will. He has a lengthy tenure with the team and is a strong presence in the clubhouse. The challenge becomes, who do you send down to the minors to keep Duffey on the roster? Every option I can think of has an advantage in velocity or stuff that I wouldn’t sacrifice to keep Duffey on the team. Trevor Megill? Throws 98 mph and has a 36% K% in his first 8 innings. Jharel Cotton? 3.22 xERA so far in 2022. Jovani Moran? 46% K% and a legitimately dominant left-handed changeup. Throw into the mix that Jorge Alcala will return to the team in the next week and give the bullpen a much needed boost and the Twins could have a bullpen crunch in the near future. Duffey has been an incredible servant to the Twins and burned brightly in 2019 and 2020 as a legitimately dominant reliever. But now is not a time for sentimentality. The AL Central is there for the taking. Which inning of a close game do you want Tyler Duffey pitching in September against the White Sox? View full article
  10. A flock of errors from the Jays gave the Twins early runs and the Twins survived a nail-biting ninth to win the game and the series over Toronto, Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (62 pitches, 38 strikes (61.2 strike %)) Home Runs: Trevor Larnach (4), Gary Sanchez (7) Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .186 , Luis Arraez .087, Nick Gordon .076 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Sunday was the Twins last day North of the Border potentially until October and the last day of an unusual roster. Thankfully for Twins fans, the team did not disappoint in the series final as the Twins collected eight runs on 16 hits and a few Blue Jays errors to give them the series win over Toronto. The Twins scored their first run on a wild play. Luis Arraez and Gary Sanchez had reached base both on singles. With Jorge Polanco at the plate, he hit a lazy fly ball to right field that was flat out dropped by Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez. That allowed Arraez to score. The Twins were able to score another run in the next at-bat thanks to a Gio Urshela sacrifice flyout. The Twins' weren't done in that first inning. Next, Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman faced rookie Jose Miranda. Miranda worked the count full on Gausman and landed an RBI single to center field driving in Jorge Polanco. The Blue Jays caught a break to end the inning when Gilberto Celestino singled but the Blue Jays threw out Miranda as he tried to go from first to third. Three runs in the top of the first were exactly what the Twins needed as Blue Jays centerfielder George Springer led off the bottom of the first with his 50th career lead off home run. Later in the inning, Twins starter Devin Smeltzer found himself in a jam with two runners on from two walks and Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk at the plate. Kirk hit a ground ball on an 0-1 count that ended in a diving stop by shortstop Jermaine Palacios who turned a double play. The Twins did not stop hitting as the top of the second began. The Jays outfield was shifted more to the left for Nick Gordon and that was their first mistake. Gordon pulled a Gausman changeup down the right field line and turned it into a triple to lead off the inning. Next, Palacios was able to pull an opposite field single and get his first big league run batted in to give the Twins a 4-1 lead. A few at-bats later, Polanco drove his first, (or second depending on your scorecard), run of the game on an RBI single that scored Palacios. Gausman remained in the game for the third and fourth innings but left in the fourth facing another jam with Arraez on second and Polanco on first. Reliever David Phelps came in and got his team out of the jam, ending Gausman’s day with 3 ER’s, 9 hits, and a walk in 3 ⅔ innings pitched. Smeltzer fared well for his 4 innings of work on Sunday. Many Twins fans on Twitter were displeased that Rocco Baldelli pulled Smeltzer after 4 with only 62 total pitches thrown. Smeltzer had gone 6 ⅔ innings in his last start against Detroit on May 31 on 101 pitches. Early exit aside, Smeltzer’s command was inconsistent on Sunday. Smeltzer allowed two walks in the first that led to Palacios' impressive double play, but he also allowed two home runs, first to Springer and later to Kirk in the bottom of the fourth. The Jays had two additional hits off of Smeltzer. He recorded only one strikeout all day and that was in the fourth against Santiago Espinal. The Twins bullpen was effective, but not as perfect as they were Friday, following Smeltzer’s removal from the game. Jharel Cotton pitched the fifth for the Twins and was perfect with a strikeout of Danny Jansen. Griffin Jax came in next and was again perfect with a strikeout of his own, this one against Hernandez. Before the Twins continued with another reliever, Trevor Larnach took center stage in the top of the 7th. With the score still at 5-2, Larnach gave the Twins another insurance run with his fourth home run of the year making it a 6-2 game. Then it was Joe Smith’s turn, but Matt Chapman made sure his performance wasn’t a repeat of Friday night. Chapman drilled his seventh home run of the season to center field bringing the Blue Jays back within a run with the score at 6-3. What was starting to look like a save opportunity for the Twins turned into a bigger lead for them. With two outs in the top of the eighth, Arraez collected his fourth hit of the game and reached base for the fifth time to put a runner on for Gary Sanchez. The Blue Jays switched relievers prior to Sanchez’s at-bat taking out Andrew Vasquez and putting in Jeremy Beasly. The Jays may have wanted to keep Vasquez in a little longer as Sanchez smacked his seventh home run of the season on Beasly’s very first pitch making it 8-3, Twins. For the bottom of the eighth, the Twins brought in Johan Duran who had not pitched since Thursday. After one pitch, Duran’s day was looking to be shortened as Springer lined a ball off of Duran’s leg on the first pitch. Duran recorded the out, but time was needed before Bo Bichette’s at-bat for the Twins coaching staff to make sure Duran could stay in the game. Stay in he did, as Duran struck out Bichette and got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground out to complete the eighth for the Twins on eight pitches. For precautionary reasons, the Twins took Duran out after the eighth to be sure his bruise from Springer did not worsen. Baldelli handed the ball to Tyler Duffey to close out a five-run lead for the Twins in the ninth. Duffey, oh Duffey. The concern of Duffey coming into the game from Twins fans was well granted. After retiring only one batter, Duffey walked Kirk, gave up a single to Chapman, lining up a good at-bat for Santiago Espinal who hit a three-run home run to make it a 8-6 game. The bleeding did not stop there for Duffey. He gave up another hit, this time to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Duffey was finally able to record a second out on a fielder's choice, but the throw from Polanco to try and turn a double play was too far away from Jose Miranda at first. This allowed Jansen to advance to second, but the Twins thought pinch runner Bradley Zimmer, who was out at second, had interfered to mess up Polanco’s throw. After review, the call was upheld and Duffey was replaced by Jovani Moran to get the final out against George Springer. Springer wasted no time driving a single to right that advanced Jansen to third and brought up Bichette as the winning run at the plate for his at-bat. Thankfully for the Twins, Bichette hit a ground ball straight to Gio Urshela who threw him out to end the game and give the Twins their series victory in Toronto. What’s Next? The Twins return home, have an off day tomorrow, and play Tuesday night in a three game series against the dreaded evil (and overrated) empire that is the New York Yankees. Jameson Taillion is scheduled to start for the Yankees and the Twins have yet to announce a starter as many roster moves will be announced by the Twins prior to Tuesday night’s game which starts at 6:40 p.m. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Sheet View full article
  11. On Sunday, in a series against a red hot playoff contender, Tyler Duffey entered the game with a 8-3 lead, courtesy of solid pitching, some good luck, and a remarkable offensive performance by the Twins against Kevin Gausman. He left it having given up a walk, three hits, a three-run home run, and recording just two outs. Jovani Moran replaced Duffey to get the final out for the Twins and secure an unlikely series win in Toronto. I’m not usually one to advocate for reactionary moves or cut bait on long-time contributors to the team, but it’s time to move on from Tyler Duffey. Duffey By the Numbers Let’s start by putting some of Duffey’s 2022 numbers in perspective. Out of 193 qualified relievers, he ranks 172nd in ERA, 187th in xERA, and 170th in HR/9. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice to say, there are a lot of categories in which Duffey ranks in the bottom handful of relievers in the league. If we look into more advanced numbers, we see a similar story. Looking at his Statcast profile percentiles, Duffey is 6th percentile in average exit velocity, first percentile in HardHit%, first percentile is xBA. The list goes on, and it does not make for encouraging reading. Results and Process Duffey’s numbers may be poor, but perhaps a peek under the hood tells a story his numbers do not? After all, we’re talking about the same reliever who managed a 33.6 K% and 2.79 xERA in 2020, and was even better in 2019. Duffey’s command tells the story of his 2022. Here’s the location of his four seam fastball in 2022. Here’s the location of his curveball in 2022. Let’s compare the curveball to that of Jhoan Duran in 2022. There are two major takeaways here. Duffey is leaving his fastball out over the heart of the plate far too often. He has some of the poorest velocity and stuff in the Twins bullpen. Duffey’s fastball location is a non-starter. Simply put, it is not a good enough pitch to have location this poor. Opposing hitters are teeing off on it, to the tune of a .649 SLG and 64% hard hit %. Additionally, he’s throwing too many uncompetitive curveballs. There are too many breaking pitches starting off the plate and finishing way off the plate. Hitters are picking up on this and sitting on his fastball because his curveball often starts slightly too low or too far outside. Roster Crunch Duffey earns $3.2 million in 2022, hardly expensive for a reliever. Even though from a performance perspective I think he should be DFA'd, I think it’s unlikely the Twins will. He has a lengthy tenure with the team and is a strong presence in the clubhouse. The challenge becomes, who do you send down to the minors to keep Duffey on the roster? Every option I can think of has an advantage in velocity or stuff that I wouldn’t sacrifice to keep Duffey on the team. Trevor Megill? Throws 98 mph and has a 36% K% in his first 8 innings. Jharel Cotton? 3.22 xERA so far in 2022. Jovani Moran? 46% K% and a legitimately dominant left-handed changeup. Throw into the mix that Jorge Alcala will return to the team in the next week and give the bullpen a much needed boost and the Twins could have a bullpen crunch in the near future. Duffey has been an incredible servant to the Twins and burned brightly in 2019 and 2020 as a legitimately dominant reliever. But now is not a time for sentimentality. The AL Central is there for the taking. Which inning of a close game do you want Tyler Duffey pitching in September against the White Sox?
  12. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (62 pitches, 38 strikes (61.2 strike %)) Home Runs: Trevor Larnach (4), Gary Sanchez (7) Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .186 , Luis Arraez .087, Nick Gordon .076 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Sunday was the Twins last day North of the Border potentially until October and the last day of an unusual roster. Thankfully for Twins fans, the team did not disappoint in the series final as the Twins collected eight runs on 16 hits and a few Blue Jays errors to give them the series win over Toronto. The Twins scored their first run on a wild play. Luis Arraez and Gary Sanchez had reached base both on singles. With Jorge Polanco at the plate, he hit a lazy fly ball to right field that was flat out dropped by Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez. That allowed Arraez to score. The Twins were able to score another run in the next at-bat thanks to a Gio Urshela sacrifice flyout. The Twins' weren't done in that first inning. Next, Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman faced rookie Jose Miranda. Miranda worked the count full on Gausman and landed an RBI single to center field driving in Jorge Polanco. The Blue Jays caught a break to end the inning when Gilberto Celestino singled but the Blue Jays threw out Miranda as he tried to go from first to third. Three runs in the top of the first were exactly what the Twins needed as Blue Jays centerfielder George Springer led off the bottom of the first with his 50th career lead off home run. Later in the inning, Twins starter Devin Smeltzer found himself in a jam with two runners on from two walks and Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk at the plate. Kirk hit a ground ball on an 0-1 count that ended in a diving stop by shortstop Jermaine Palacios who turned a double play. The Twins did not stop hitting as the top of the second began. The Jays outfield was shifted more to the left for Nick Gordon and that was their first mistake. Gordon pulled a Gausman changeup down the right field line and turned it into a triple to lead off the inning. Next, Palacios was able to pull an opposite field single and get his first big league run batted in to give the Twins a 4-1 lead. A few at-bats later, Polanco drove his first, (or second depending on your scorecard), run of the game on an RBI single that scored Palacios. Gausman remained in the game for the third and fourth innings but left in the fourth facing another jam with Arraez on second and Polanco on first. Reliever David Phelps came in and got his team out of the jam, ending Gausman’s day with 3 ER’s, 9 hits, and a walk in 3 ⅔ innings pitched. Smeltzer fared well for his 4 innings of work on Sunday. Many Twins fans on Twitter were displeased that Rocco Baldelli pulled Smeltzer after 4 with only 62 total pitches thrown. Smeltzer had gone 6 ⅔ innings in his last start against Detroit on May 31 on 101 pitches. Early exit aside, Smeltzer’s command was inconsistent on Sunday. Smeltzer allowed two walks in the first that led to Palacios' impressive double play, but he also allowed two home runs, first to Springer and later to Kirk in the bottom of the fourth. The Jays had two additional hits off of Smeltzer. He recorded only one strikeout all day and that was in the fourth against Santiago Espinal. The Twins bullpen was effective, but not as perfect as they were Friday, following Smeltzer’s removal from the game. Jharel Cotton pitched the fifth for the Twins and was perfect with a strikeout of Danny Jansen. Griffin Jax came in next and was again perfect with a strikeout of his own, this one against Hernandez. Before the Twins continued with another reliever, Trevor Larnach took center stage in the top of the 7th. With the score still at 5-2, Larnach gave the Twins another insurance run with his fourth home run of the year making it a 6-2 game. Then it was Joe Smith’s turn, but Matt Chapman made sure his performance wasn’t a repeat of Friday night. Chapman drilled his seventh home run of the season to center field bringing the Blue Jays back within a run with the score at 6-3. What was starting to look like a save opportunity for the Twins turned into a bigger lead for them. With two outs in the top of the eighth, Arraez collected his fourth hit of the game and reached base for the fifth time to put a runner on for Gary Sanchez. The Blue Jays switched relievers prior to Sanchez’s at-bat taking out Andrew Vasquez and putting in Jeremy Beasly. The Jays may have wanted to keep Vasquez in a little longer as Sanchez smacked his seventh home run of the season on Beasly’s very first pitch making it 8-3, Twins. For the bottom of the eighth, the Twins brought in Johan Duran who had not pitched since Thursday. After one pitch, Duran’s day was looking to be shortened as Springer lined a ball off of Duran’s leg on the first pitch. Duran recorded the out, but time was needed before Bo Bichette’s at-bat for the Twins coaching staff to make sure Duran could stay in the game. Stay in he did, as Duran struck out Bichette and got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground out to complete the eighth for the Twins on eight pitches. For precautionary reasons, the Twins took Duran out after the eighth to be sure his bruise from Springer did not worsen. Baldelli handed the ball to Tyler Duffey to close out a five-run lead for the Twins in the ninth. Duffey, oh Duffey. The concern of Duffey coming into the game from Twins fans was well granted. After retiring only one batter, Duffey walked Kirk, gave up a single to Chapman, lining up a good at-bat for Santiago Espinal who hit a three-run home run to make it a 8-6 game. The bleeding did not stop there for Duffey. He gave up another hit, this time to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Duffey was finally able to record a second out on a fielder's choice, but the throw from Polanco to try and turn a double play was too far away from Jose Miranda at first. This allowed Jansen to advance to second, but the Twins thought pinch runner Bradley Zimmer, who was out at second, had interfered to mess up Polanco’s throw. After review, the call was upheld and Duffey was replaced by Jovani Moran to get the final out against George Springer. Springer wasted no time driving a single to right that advanced Jansen to third and brought up Bichette as the winning run at the plate for his at-bat. Thankfully for the Twins, Bichette hit a ground ball straight to Gio Urshela who threw him out to end the game and give the Twins their series victory in Toronto. What’s Next? The Twins return home, have an off day tomorrow, and play Tuesday night in a three game series against the dreaded evil (and overrated) empire that is the New York Yankees. Jameson Taillion is scheduled to start for the Yankees and the Twins have yet to announce a starter as many roster moves will be announced by the Twins prior to Tuesday night’s game which starts at 6:40 p.m. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Sheet
  13. It was a tough news day on Friday when we officially heard the names of the four Twins players added to the restricted list, unable to join the team in Canada. The Twins struggling offense headed to Toronto short-handed and with a struggling offense and outpowered the mighty Blue Jays lineup on Friday night. Find out more below. Box Score SP: Chi Chi Gonzalez: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (45 pitches, 32 strikes (71.1%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick 2 (6), Jose Miranda 2 (4), Byron Buxton (12) Top 3 WPA: Kyle Garlick (.317), Jharel Cotton (.290), Jose Miranda (.273) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Friday morning, news broke that four Twins players did not travel to Toronto because of their vaccination status. They were replaced on the roster by starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez, relievers Jharel Cotton and Ian Hamilton, and outfielder Mark Contreras. Game Notes Game Recap in Video. Kyle Garlick got them going in the game. Batting third, he came to the plate with a runner on base and facing a left-hander. Yusei Kikuchi and launched a two-run homer. Chi Chi Gonzalez gave up a leadoff homer to George Springer (his sixth leadoff homer this year already), and a second first-inning run that tied the game. In the second inning, Jose Miranda came up and launched a solo home run to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.. Garlick did it again. In his second at-bat, he came to the plate and hit his second homer of the game and sixth of the season. After five innings, the Twins held a 4-3 lead. Jose Miranda came to the plate with Luis Arraez (entered game with Gio Urshela getting hurt on the base paths). The young Puerto Rican infielder got a hanger and crushed it for his second home of the game, his fourth with the Twins. In the top of the 8th inning, #OldFriday Andrew Vasquez came into the game for the Blue Jays, ideally to get left-handers out. Nick Gordon (who came into left for Garlick for defensive purposes) led off and on an 0-2 slider, he took a pitch to the back side. He was balked to second and then stole third base. Another lefty, Arraez came through with a soft line drive up the middle that glanced off of Vasquez's glove for an infield single to score Gordon. In the ninth inning, Byron Buxton launched his 12th home run of a the season, a two-run shot to give the Twins the final runs. Bullpen Phenomenal With veteran Chi Chi Gonzalez starting, the team had to know that the bullpen would be used tonight. Gonzalez finished three innings before being replaced by Jovani Moran. The lefty struck out the side in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, Moran walked the first two batters. Jharel Cotton came in and facing the middle of the order, he got the team out of the inning with allowing a run. Cotton then pitched a perfect sixth inning too. Tyler Duffey worked a scoreless seventh inning. Joe Smith pitched the eighth, and Griffin Jax closed it out in the ninth inning. Three of the four players added to the Restricted List were bullpen arms. For this group to step up was very impressive! Combined, those five pitchers worked six innings and gave up zero runs and zero hits. They walked three batters but struck out six and were terrific. A Good Reminder Unlike many sports, in baseball, the underdog always has some chance. With several players on the IL, three more on the Covid-IL, and four players unable to be with the team because they are unvaccinated, the odds of a Twins win on Friday night were not good. But again, that's baseball. They got off to a quick start. They added on. Gonzalez kept them in it for three innings, and then several unlikely bullpen arms tossed six scoreless, hitless innings against one of baseball's best offenses. Just like you hate to lose four out of five games in Detroit, games like Friday are a good reminder that anything can happen in this game. What’s Next? The Twins will take on #OldFriend Jose Berrios on Saturday in Toronto, looking to win the series. Dylan Bundy will make the start for the Twins. Game Time is 1:07 central time. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUES WEDS THURS FRI TOT Megill 34 0 20 0 RL 54 Jax 0 33 0 0 14 47 Moran 0 12 0 0 27 39 Smith 16 0 0 0 15 31 Duran 0 0 0 28 0 28 Minaya 0 26 0 0 0 26 Cotton 0 0 0 0 23 23 Duffey 0 0 0 0 20 20 Pagán 0 0 0 15 RL 15 Thielbar 0 11 0 0 RL 11 View full article
  14. The Minnesota Twins broke out of their slump against the Blue Jays Friday night in Toronto. Both Kyle Garlick and Jose Miranda hit two home runs and the bullpen provided six shutout innings. David Festa had another good outing for Cedar Rapids, Alex Kirilloff helped power the Saints and Anthony Prato had another eventful game.
  15. The Minnesota Twins broke out of their slump against the Blue Jays Friday night in Toronto. Both Kyle Garlick and Jose Miranda hit two home runs and the bullpen provided six shutout innings. David Festa had another good outing for Cedar Rapids, Alex Kirilloff helped power the Saints and Anthony Prato had another eventful game. View full video
  16. Box Score SP: Chi Chi Gonzalez: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (45 pitches, 32 strikes (71.1%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick 2 (6), Jose Miranda 2 (4), Byron Buxton (12) Top 3 WPA: Kyle Garlick (.317), Jharel Cotton (.290), Jose Miranda (.273) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Friday morning, news broke that four Twins players did not travel to Toronto because of their vaccination status. They were replaced on the roster by starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez, relievers Jharel Cotton and Ian Hamilton, and outfielder Mark Contreras. Game Notes Game Recap in Video. Kyle Garlick got them going in the game. Batting third, he came to the plate with a runner on base and facing a left-hander. Yusei Kikuchi and launched a two-run homer. Chi Chi Gonzalez gave up a leadoff homer to George Springer (his sixth leadoff homer this year already), and a second first-inning run that tied the game. In the second inning, Jose Miranda came up and launched a solo home run to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.. Garlick did it again. In his second at-bat, he came to the plate and hit his second homer of the game and sixth of the season. After five innings, the Twins held a 4-3 lead. Jose Miranda came to the plate with Luis Arraez (entered game with Gio Urshela getting hurt on the base paths). The young Puerto Rican infielder got a hanger and crushed it for his second home of the game, his fourth with the Twins. In the top of the 8th inning, #OldFriday Andrew Vasquez came into the game for the Blue Jays, ideally to get left-handers out. Nick Gordon (who came into left for Garlick for defensive purposes) led off and on an 0-2 slider, he took a pitch to the back side. He was balked to second and then stole third base. Another lefty, Arraez came through with a soft line drive up the middle that glanced off of Vasquez's glove for an infield single to score Gordon. In the ninth inning, Byron Buxton launched his 12th home run of a the season, a two-run shot to give the Twins the final runs. Bullpen Phenomenal With veteran Chi Chi Gonzalez starting, the team had to know that the bullpen would be used tonight. Gonzalez finished three innings before being replaced by Jovani Moran. The lefty struck out the side in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, Moran walked the first two batters. Jharel Cotton came in and facing the middle of the order, he got the team out of the inning with allowing a run. Cotton then pitched a perfect sixth inning too. Tyler Duffey worked a scoreless seventh inning. Joe Smith pitched the eighth, and Griffin Jax closed it out in the ninth inning. Three of the four players added to the Restricted List were bullpen arms. For this group to step up was very impressive! Combined, those five pitchers worked six innings and gave up zero runs and zero hits. They walked three batters but struck out six and were terrific. A Good Reminder Unlike many sports, in baseball, the underdog always has some chance. With several players on the IL, three more on the Covid-IL, and four players unable to be with the team because they are unvaccinated, the odds of a Twins win on Friday night were not good. But again, that's baseball. They got off to a quick start. They added on. Gonzalez kept them in it for three innings, and then several unlikely bullpen arms tossed six scoreless, hitless innings against one of baseball's best offenses. Just like you hate to lose four out of five games in Detroit, games like Friday are a good reminder that anything can happen in this game. What’s Next? The Twins will take on #OldFriend Jose Berrios on Saturday in Toronto, looking to win the series. Dylan Bundy will make the start for the Twins. Game Time is 1:07 central time. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUES WEDS THURS FRI TOT Megill 34 0 20 0 RL 54 Jax 0 33 0 0 14 47 Moran 0 12 0 0 27 39 Smith 16 0 0 0 15 31 Duran 0 0 0 28 0 28 Minaya 0 26 0 0 0 26 Cotton 0 0 0 0 23 23 Duffey 0 0 0 0 20 20 Pagán 0 0 0 15 RL 15 Thielbar 0 11 0 0 RL 11
  17. The Astros beat the Twins 5-0 on Tuesday as Justin Verlander was five outs away from a no-hitter. The loss moves the Twins to 18-12 on the season. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K Homeruns: None Bottom 3 WPA: Ryan -.209, Urshela -.069, Kepler -.068 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tuesday’s game was billed as one of the best pitching matchups of the season, as Joe Ryan took on Justin Verlander. Entering the contest, the pitchers had remarkably similar statistics on the year, while the Twins and Astros had identical 18-11 records. The Astros made Joe Ryan work in the first inning. Despite this, he pitched around a walk of Alex Bregman to manage a scoreless frame. Justin Verlander, despite Gary Sanchez's scalding a line drive to left field, managed a hitless first inning of his own. Ryan struggled in the top of the second, surrendering a leadoff hit before walking Kyle Tucker for his second free pass in as many innings. After a fly ball moved Yuli Gurriel to third, a Jeremy Pena groundout gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Verlander, meanwhile, continued to cruise, retiring the side in order to sit at just 23 pitches after two hitless innings. In the fourth inning, Ryan walked Kyle Tucker with one out. Tucker stole second and came around to score on a bloop single from Pena with two outs. Ryan struck out Martin Maldonado to end the fourth inning trailing 2-0. Ryan had poor command and did not look sharp on Tuesday. It’s perhaps a testament to him that he managed to keep the game close, despite walking four and throwing 83 pitches through four innings. Verlander sat at just 43 pitches through four hitless innings. The Twins produced poor at-bats against the future Hall-of-Famer, but he also threw 81% strikes. A Jose Altuve bloop single and Joe Ryan’s fifth walk of the game led off the fifth inning for Houston. An Alex Bregman double increased the lead to 3-0 with runners of second and third and none out and ended Ryan’s night, undoubtedly his most disappointing outing of the season. Danny Coulombe entered the game and managed to limit the damage to just one more run. The Twins entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 4-0. Verlander allowed his first base runner in the fifth inning when Jorge Polanco walked. Gio Urshela promptly grounded into a double play to immediately end any inkling of Twins resistance. In the sixth inning, Coulombe exited the game, the latest in a litany of injured players. He was replaced by Jharel Cotton. The Astros tacked on another run, pushing the score to 5-0. Gilberto Celestino took the Twins' second walk of the game in the sixth inning but he was thrown out trying to take second base on an errant pitch from Verlander, who faced the minimum through six innings. Jharel Cotton continued to pitch admirably for the Twins as he was asked to eat as many innings as possible to preserve the bullpen through the rest of the series. He pitched scoreless seventh and eight innings. Verlander finally lost his no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning. Gio Urshela punched an opposite field single to give the Twins just their third base runner of the game. The crowd sounded their appreciation, both for Urshela, and Verlander's masterful performance. Tuesday's game was the second time this season the Twins were at risk of being no-hit by a future Hall of Fame pitcher. Royce Lewis grounded into a double play to erase the runner, and get Verlander through eight one-hit innings, striking out five. The Twins managed to get two runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth, advancing a runner to second base for the first time in the game! Jose Miranda flew out to centerfield to complete the shutout for the Astros. the loss dropped the Twins to 18-12 on the season. If nothing else, the Astros effortless swatting of the Twins on Tuesday emphasized the easy ride Minnesota has had with their recent schedule. A lineup without Buxton, Arraez, and Correa looked toothless. The Astros provided the first stern test for a severely undermanned Twins team. Verlander was brilliant. The Twins failed comprehensively. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 0 0 0 58 58 Pagán 28 0 28 0 0 56 Coulombe 0 12 0 0 29 41 Stashak 0 0 34 0 0 34 Duran 0 31 0 0 0 31 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 3 23 Duffey 11 0 9 0 0 20 Jax 0 19 0 0 0 19 Smith 6 0 12 0 0 18 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Astros. Chris Archer will start for Minnesota while José Urquidy starts for Houston. The first pitch is at 6:40 CT Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon View full article
  18. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K Homeruns: None Bottom 3 WPA: Ryan -.209, Urshela -.069, Kepler -.068 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tuesday’s game was billed as one of the best pitching matchups of the season, as Joe Ryan took on Justin Verlander. Entering the contest, the pitchers had remarkably similar statistics on the year, while the Twins and Astros had identical 18-11 records. The Astros made Joe Ryan work in the first inning. Despite this, he pitched around a walk of Alex Bregman to manage a scoreless frame. Justin Verlander, despite Gary Sanchez's scalding a line drive to left field, managed a hitless first inning of his own. Ryan struggled in the top of the second, surrendering a leadoff hit before walking Kyle Tucker for his second free pass in as many innings. After a fly ball moved Yuli Gurriel to third, a Jeremy Pena groundout gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Verlander, meanwhile, continued to cruise, retiring the side in order to sit at just 23 pitches after two hitless innings. In the fourth inning, Ryan walked Kyle Tucker with one out. Tucker stole second and came around to score on a bloop single from Pena with two outs. Ryan struck out Martin Maldonado to end the fourth inning trailing 2-0. Ryan had poor command and did not look sharp on Tuesday. It’s perhaps a testament to him that he managed to keep the game close, despite walking four and throwing 83 pitches through four innings. Verlander sat at just 43 pitches through four hitless innings. The Twins produced poor at-bats against the future Hall-of-Famer, but he also threw 81% strikes. A Jose Altuve bloop single and Joe Ryan’s fifth walk of the game led off the fifth inning for Houston. An Alex Bregman double increased the lead to 3-0 with runners of second and third and none out and ended Ryan’s night, undoubtedly his most disappointing outing of the season. Danny Coulombe entered the game and managed to limit the damage to just one more run. The Twins entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 4-0. Verlander allowed his first base runner in the fifth inning when Jorge Polanco walked. Gio Urshela promptly grounded into a double play to immediately end any inkling of Twins resistance. In the sixth inning, Coulombe exited the game, the latest in a litany of injured players. He was replaced by Jharel Cotton. The Astros tacked on another run, pushing the score to 5-0. Gilberto Celestino took the Twins' second walk of the game in the sixth inning but he was thrown out trying to take second base on an errant pitch from Verlander, who faced the minimum through six innings. Jharel Cotton continued to pitch admirably for the Twins as he was asked to eat as many innings as possible to preserve the bullpen through the rest of the series. He pitched scoreless seventh and eight innings. Verlander finally lost his no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning. Gio Urshela punched an opposite field single to give the Twins just their third base runner of the game. The crowd sounded their appreciation, both for Urshela, and Verlander's masterful performance. Tuesday's game was the second time this season the Twins were at risk of being no-hit by a future Hall of Fame pitcher. Royce Lewis grounded into a double play to erase the runner, and get Verlander through eight one-hit innings, striking out five. The Twins managed to get two runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth, advancing a runner to second base for the first time in the game! Jose Miranda flew out to centerfield to complete the shutout for the Astros. the loss dropped the Twins to 18-12 on the season. If nothing else, the Astros effortless swatting of the Twins on Tuesday emphasized the easy ride Minnesota has had with their recent schedule. A lineup without Buxton, Arraez, and Correa looked toothless. The Astros provided the first stern test for a severely undermanned Twins team. Verlander was brilliant. The Twins failed comprehensively. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 0 0 0 58 58 Pagán 28 0 28 0 0 56 Coulombe 0 12 0 0 29 41 Stashak 0 0 34 0 0 34 Duran 0 31 0 0 0 31 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 3 23 Duffey 11 0 9 0 0 20 Jax 0 19 0 0 0 19 Smith 6 0 12 0 0 18 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Astros. Chris Archer will start for Minnesota while José Urquidy starts for Houston. The first pitch is at 6:40 CT Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon
  19. Jorge Alcalá is out until at least June. Jhon Romero just joined him on the injured list. Tyler Duffey's reliability is very much in question. Taylor Rogers is balling out in San Diego. It's become quickly apparent that the Twins will be needing late-inning reinforcements in short order. Let's take a look at the system to see what they might be able to call upon internally. Although your mileage may vary on the quality levels, there are a ton of different arms in the organization capable of contributing to the Twins bullpen. Some of them bring ample big-league experience, while others bring tantalizing upside. If just a few of these guys can hit, it'd make a huge difference for the Twins bullpen. Below you'll find 13 pitchers with a chance to join the fray this year, listed roughly in order of when you might expect to see them materialize in the big leagues. Jharel Cotton, RHP Cotton was of course a member of the Opening Day bullpen after being claimed off waivers from Texas during the offseason. He tossed a couple innings for the Twins before being sent down to Triple-A in a roster crunch. Coming off a 3.52 ERA in 30.1 IP for the Rangers last year, the 30-year-old is a candidate to return soon, although his removal from the 40-man roster complicates things. Devin Smeltzer, LHP The left-hander looked to be on his way to securing a roster spot this spring, allowing zero runs on five hits in 11 innings, but Smeltzer was surprisingly sent to Triple-A. There he has continued to excel with a 1.29 ERA in 14 frames. The Twins are keeping him stretched out for long relief duty – or possibly even another chance to start – and it's only a matter of time before he resurfaces in Minnesota. Juan Minaya, RHP He pitched extremely well out of the Twins bullpen last year, with a 2.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 rate in 40 innings. He's made more than 150 appearances in the majors. He currently has a 2.48 ERA and 8-to-0 K/BB ratio with the Saints. Doomed with a AAAA-player label he can't seem to shake, Minaya has to keep fighting for his chances, but like with Smeltzer, the good work should earn him another nod soon enough. Jovani Moran, LHP Compared to Cotton, Smeltzer and Minaya, Moran is much more of a prospect, and he has a leg up in that he's already on the 40-man roster. But it's the lack of polish that will force him to wait his turn. He struggled while debuting in the majors late last year, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits and seven walks in eight innings, and the control issues have persisted this year in St. Paul where he's allowed six walks in 6.1 IP. Ronny Henriquez, RHP He initially looked like a toss-in on top of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the Mitch Garver trade, but there was immediate buzz surrounding Henriquez as an arm the Twins really fancied. His first appearance at Triple-A for the Saints last week did nothing to silence the buzz – Henriquez struck out four over three hitless innings, notching 11 swinging strikes on 47 pitches. Oh, and he's on the 40-man. It wouldn't shock me to see him beat everyone else on this list to the majors, but the Twins probably want to give him some time to settle in and form a rhythm at Triple-A. Yennier Cano, RHP Signed out of Cuba for $750K back in the summer of 2019, Cano was viewed as a potential fast riser with a big heater touching the high 90s. The pandemic year slowed him down, but Cano was excellent in the minors last season with a 3.23 ERA and 11.1 K/9 rate in 69.2 IP between Double-A and Triple-A. Through five appearances at St. Paul this year, he has an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio with zero runs allowed. Cano is already 28, so there's no sense in waiting much longer to give him a look, although he's not yet on the 40-man. I think he and Henriquez are the two pitchers on this list I'm most excited about from a short-term perspective. Trevor Megill, RHP Megill is one of a handful of veteran-ish relievers signed by the Twins to minor-league contracts during the offseason. That group also includes the likes of Jake Petricka, Jake Faria, JC Ramirez, and Dereck Rodriguez (who we've already seen). They've all got their own strengths and weaknesses but are relatively similar in terms of quality and realistic upside. MLB experience is an asset for each. Drew Stotman, RHP The Nelson Cruz trade already looks like a slam-dunk win thanks to Joe Ryan. Imagine if Strotman, the second piece of the deal, develops into an impact reliever. The Twins seem to envision that path, since they kept him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason after he posted a 7.33 ERA in 12 starts for St. Paul following the trade. He has officially converted into relief duty now, and the early results at Triple-A have been meh (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). It might take a little time, but the 25-year-old former fourth-rounder has potential. Matt Canterino, RHP One of my favorite arms in the system. Canterino's off to a stellar start in the Wichita rotation, with with a 2.79 ERA and 13.0 K/9, but his innings are being managed with extreme caution (he has 9.2 IP in four starts). Moving him to relief is the only way the Twins can hope to get anything resembling a full season out of him. It wouldn't necessarily need to be a permanent pivot, and would set the stage for a fast track to the majors. Cole Sands, RHP A phenomenal 2021 season at Double-A (2.82 ERA, 10.8 K/9 in 80.1 IP) compelled the Twins to protect Sands from the Rule 5 draft, so he's on the 40-man roster. He reported to St. Paul as a starter and looked brilliant in his first couple turns, allowing one run over 10 innings with 12 strikeouts. Then he gave up 10 earned runs in 1.2 IP over his next two outings. Hopefully everything is okay physically, but either way his ascent to the majors has hit a major speed bump. Chris Vallimont, RHP Added to the 40-man alongside Sands during the offseason, Vallimont's campaign is off to a similarly ugly start, which may endanger his roster spot. He has a 10.29 ERA in three starts at Wichita. Either the Twins are going to try and switch gears with a bullpen role or they're gonna be forced to waive him, barring a drastic turnaround. Given he was already a marginal addition to the 40-man roster, there's no way the team can stay beholden to a 25-year-old who's getting blasted in a Double-A rotation. That said ... there's a reason they liked him. Louie Varland, RHP He was the organization's 2021 pitcher of the year thanks to a sterling 2.10 ERA and 12.4 K/9 across two levels of A-ball. Now Varland is getting his first taste of the upper minors at Wichita, and holding his own with a 4.11 ERA and 18-to-8 K/BB ratio in 15.1 IP. The Twins seem committed to him as a starter, in which case we probably won't see him this year, but a late-season look as a reliever is hardly out of the question. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Widely regarded as a top 100 prospect in the game a year ago, Woods Richardson came over alongside Austin Martin in the José Berríos trade. As one of the younger starting pitchers in Double-A last season, he struggled a fair amount, but this year he's off to a dazzling start at Wichita: 16.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 14 K, zero earned runs. He's only 22, and – like Varland – pretty firmly a starter. But he's got big stuff and composure, and he's also gonna be on a strict innings limit. If Woods Richardson keeps lighting it up all summer, he could be bringing gas out of the Twins bullpen in September. View full article
  20. Although your mileage may vary on the quality levels, there are a ton of different arms in the organization capable of contributing to the Twins bullpen. Some of them bring ample big-league experience, while others bring tantalizing upside. If just a few of these guys can hit, it'd make a huge difference for the Twins bullpen. Below you'll find 13 pitchers with a chance to join the fray this year, listed roughly in order of when you might expect to see them materialize in the big leagues. Jharel Cotton, RHP Cotton was of course a member of the Opening Day bullpen after being claimed off waivers from Texas during the offseason. He tossed a couple innings for the Twins before being sent down to Triple-A in a roster crunch. Coming off a 3.52 ERA in 30.1 IP for the Rangers last year, the 30-year-old is a candidate to return soon, although his removal from the 40-man roster complicates things. Devin Smeltzer, LHP The left-hander looked to be on his way to securing a roster spot this spring, allowing zero runs on five hits in 11 innings, but Smeltzer was surprisingly sent to Triple-A. There he has continued to excel with a 1.29 ERA in 14 frames. The Twins are keeping him stretched out for long relief duty – or possibly even another chance to start – and it's only a matter of time before he resurfaces in Minnesota. Juan Minaya, RHP He pitched extremely well out of the Twins bullpen last year, with a 2.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 rate in 40 innings. He's made more than 150 appearances in the majors. He currently has a 2.48 ERA and 8-to-0 K/BB ratio with the Saints. Doomed with a AAAA-player label he can't seem to shake, Minaya has to keep fighting for his chances, but like with Smeltzer, the good work should earn him another nod soon enough. Jovani Moran, LHP Compared to Cotton, Smeltzer and Minaya, Moran is much more of a prospect, and he has a leg up in that he's already on the 40-man roster. But it's the lack of polish that will force him to wait his turn. He struggled while debuting in the majors late last year, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits and seven walks in eight innings, and the control issues have persisted this year in St. Paul where he's allowed six walks in 6.1 IP. Ronny Henriquez, RHP He initially looked like a toss-in on top of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the Mitch Garver trade, but there was immediate buzz surrounding Henriquez as an arm the Twins really fancied. His first appearance at Triple-A for the Saints last week did nothing to silence the buzz – Henriquez struck out four over three hitless innings, notching 11 swinging strikes on 47 pitches. Oh, and he's on the 40-man. It wouldn't shock me to see him beat everyone else on this list to the majors, but the Twins probably want to give him some time to settle in and form a rhythm at Triple-A. Yennier Cano, RHP Signed out of Cuba for $750K back in the summer of 2019, Cano was viewed as a potential fast riser with a big heater touching the high 90s. The pandemic year slowed him down, but Cano was excellent in the minors last season with a 3.23 ERA and 11.1 K/9 rate in 69.2 IP between Double-A and Triple-A. Through five appearances at St. Paul this year, he has an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio with zero runs allowed. Cano is already 28, so there's no sense in waiting much longer to give him a look, although he's not yet on the 40-man. I think he and Henriquez are the two pitchers on this list I'm most excited about from a short-term perspective. Trevor Megill, RHP Megill is one of a handful of veteran-ish relievers signed by the Twins to minor-league contracts during the offseason. That group also includes the likes of Jake Petricka, Jake Faria, JC Ramirez, and Dereck Rodriguez (who we've already seen). They've all got their own strengths and weaknesses but are relatively similar in terms of quality and realistic upside. MLB experience is an asset for each. Drew Stotman, RHP The Nelson Cruz trade already looks like a slam-dunk win thanks to Joe Ryan. Imagine if Strotman, the second piece of the deal, develops into an impact reliever. The Twins seem to envision that path, since they kept him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason after he posted a 7.33 ERA in 12 starts for St. Paul following the trade. He has officially converted into relief duty now, and the early results at Triple-A have been meh (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). It might take a little time, but the 25-year-old former fourth-rounder has potential. Matt Canterino, RHP One of my favorite arms in the system. Canterino's off to a stellar start in the Wichita rotation, with with a 2.79 ERA and 13.0 K/9, but his innings are being managed with extreme caution (he has 9.2 IP in four starts). Moving him to relief is the only way the Twins can hope to get anything resembling a full season out of him. It wouldn't necessarily need to be a permanent pivot, and would set the stage for a fast track to the majors. Cole Sands, RHP A phenomenal 2021 season at Double-A (2.82 ERA, 10.8 K/9 in 80.1 IP) compelled the Twins to protect Sands from the Rule 5 draft, so he's on the 40-man roster. He reported to St. Paul as a starter and looked brilliant in his first couple turns, allowing one run over 10 innings with 12 strikeouts. Then he gave up 10 earned runs in 1.2 IP over his next two outings. Hopefully everything is okay physically, but either way his ascent to the majors has hit a major speed bump. Chris Vallimont, RHP Added to the 40-man alongside Sands during the offseason, Vallimont's campaign is off to a similarly ugly start, which may endanger his roster spot. He has a 10.29 ERA in three starts at Wichita. Either the Twins are going to try and switch gears with a bullpen role or they're gonna be forced to waive him, barring a drastic turnaround. Given he was already a marginal addition to the 40-man roster, there's no way the team can stay beholden to a 25-year-old who's getting blasted in a Double-A rotation. That said ... there's a reason they liked him. Louie Varland, RHP He was the organization's 2021 pitcher of the year thanks to a sterling 2.10 ERA and 12.4 K/9 across two levels of A-ball. Now Varland is getting his first taste of the upper minors at Wichita, and holding his own with a 4.11 ERA and 18-to-8 K/BB ratio in 15.1 IP. The Twins seem committed to him as a starter, in which case we probably won't see him this year, but a late-season look as a reliever is hardly out of the question. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Widely regarded as a top 100 prospect in the game a year ago, Woods Richardson came over alongside Austin Martin in the José Berríos trade. As one of the younger starting pitchers in Double-A last season, he struggled a fair amount, but this year he's off to a dazzling start at Wichita: 16.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 14 K, zero earned runs. He's only 22, and – like Varland – pretty firmly a starter. But he's got big stuff and composure, and he's also gonna be on a strict innings limit. If Woods Richardson keeps lighting it up all summer, he could be bringing gas out of the Twins bullpen in September.
  21. Spring training was scheduled to get underway this week, but MLB’s lockout has put that plan on hold. If things were on schedule, this is what Minnesota’s Opening Day roster projects to be in 2022. Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers Last season, the Twins started with Garver, Jeffers, and Astudillo on the Opening Day roster. Astudillo rarely saw time at catcher, and he is no longer in the organization. Minnesota hopes Garver and Jeffers can turn into the dynamic catching duo projected for the 2021 campaign. There is also a chance the Twins trade one of these players for starting pitching, which would mean Ben Rortvedt shifts into a backup role. Infielders (6): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker Minnesota would pivot and move Polanco back to his previous position with no clear shortstop on the roster. This would result in Arraez taking over at second base and the team’s middle infield defense suffering. Donaldson and Sano will see time as the team’s designated hitter, while Gordon becomes a full-time utility player off the bench. Rooker can be a powerful bat off the bench even though he may not offer much defensively. Jose Miranda is the wild-card here after his breakout 2021 season. Will there be enough at-bats for him to be in the big leagues for Opening Day? Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach This is another group where it will be interesting to see how the team divides up at-bats. Kirilloff might be the best defensive first baseman on the roster, and he will get time at that position. Larnach doesn’t exactly fit the traditional fourth outfielder role, so the team might leave him at Triple-A and add a more veteran player. Much like with the catchers, there is a chance Minnesota includes an outfielder in a deal for starting pitching. Gilberto Celestino is an intriguing option for a backup outfielder role, especially if Buxton is on the IL at some point in 2022. Rotation (5): Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Starting pitching is where things get rough, and a lot will depend on what the team adds in the weeks after the lockout ends. Dobnak and Thorpe can help the pitching staff next season, but forcing them into the rotation to start the year may be a recipe for disaster. Minnesota has confidence in Ryan and Ober to repeat what they accomplished in 2021, but expectations need to be tempered for both players. It’s becoming clear that the front office is high on the organization’s pitching prospects, so the team can turn to one of those arms to fill out the rotation. Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, and Jhoan Duran all project to be in the Triple-A rotation, and they should all debut in 2022. Drew Strotman, acquired with Ryan for Nelson Cruz, is 25-years-old and big-league ready. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton, Griffin Jax If the rotation looks like above, the bullpen will take on an even more critical role, and it will be critical to have a nine-man bullpen to cover innings. Rogers is one of the biggest keys to this bullpen’s success. While this core group improved last season, Rogers missed time due to a left middle finger sprain at the end of the season. Duffey struggled for the first time since switching to a bullpen role, so it will be vital to rediscover his previous form. Alcala might have finally figured it out, and he has the potential to take the next step in 2022. With the rotation’s composition, it might also be necessary to utilize an opener on a more regular basis. Cotton has a chance to bounce back next season, and there’s a chance he may shift to a starting role. Moran has a devastating changeup, and he may develop into a critical late-inning option in the years ahead. What changes do you predict to the team’s roster before Opening Day? 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
  22. Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers Last season, the Twins started with Garver, Jeffers, and Astudillo on the Opening Day roster. Astudillo rarely saw time at catcher, and he is no longer in the organization. Minnesota hopes Garver and Jeffers can turn into the dynamic catching duo projected for the 2021 campaign. There is also a chance the Twins trade one of these players for starting pitching, which would mean Ben Rortvedt shifts into a backup role. Infielders (6): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker Minnesota would pivot and move Polanco back to his previous position with no clear shortstop on the roster. This would result in Arraez taking over at second base and the team’s middle infield defense suffering. Donaldson and Sano will see time as the team’s designated hitter, while Gordon becomes a full-time utility player off the bench. Rooker can be a powerful bat off the bench even though he may not offer much defensively. Jose Miranda is the wild-card here after his breakout 2021 season. Will there be enough at-bats for him to be in the big leagues for Opening Day? Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach This is another group where it will be interesting to see how the team divides up at-bats. Kirilloff might be the best defensive first baseman on the roster, and he will get time at that position. Larnach doesn’t exactly fit the traditional fourth outfielder role, so the team might leave him at Triple-A and add a more veteran player. Much like with the catchers, there is a chance Minnesota includes an outfielder in a deal for starting pitching. Gilberto Celestino is an intriguing option for a backup outfielder role, especially if Buxton is on the IL at some point in 2022. Rotation (5): Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Starting pitching is where things get rough, and a lot will depend on what the team adds in the weeks after the lockout ends. Dobnak and Thorpe can help the pitching staff next season, but forcing them into the rotation to start the year may be a recipe for disaster. Minnesota has confidence in Ryan and Ober to repeat what they accomplished in 2021, but expectations need to be tempered for both players. It’s becoming clear that the front office is high on the organization’s pitching prospects, so the team can turn to one of those arms to fill out the rotation. Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, and Jhoan Duran all project to be in the Triple-A rotation, and they should all debut in 2022. Drew Strotman, acquired with Ryan for Nelson Cruz, is 25-years-old and big-league ready. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton, Griffin Jax If the rotation looks like above, the bullpen will take on an even more critical role, and it will be critical to have a nine-man bullpen to cover innings. Rogers is one of the biggest keys to this bullpen’s success. While this core group improved last season, Rogers missed time due to a left middle finger sprain at the end of the season. Duffey struggled for the first time since switching to a bullpen role, so it will be vital to rediscover his previous form. Alcala might have finally figured it out, and he has the potential to take the next step in 2022. With the rotation’s composition, it might also be necessary to utilize an opener on a more regular basis. Cotton has a chance to bounce back next season, and there’s a chance he may shift to a starting role. Moran has a devastating changeup, and he may develop into a critical late-inning option in the years ahead. What changes do you predict to the team’s roster before Opening Day? 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
  23. With few moves made before the MLB lockout, the Twins’ current pitching staff is not where it needs to be heading into the 2022 season. Here is one relatively unknown pitcher who could have a bigger role in 2022 than some may think. Who is Jharel Cotton? Earlier this week, Cody Christie wrote an article about Three Twins Pitchers Due to Bounce Back. Today I will dive deeper into one of those three, Jharel Cotton. Since being drafted by the Dodgers in 2012, Jharel Cotton has made his way around Major League Baseball. He spent parts of five seasons in the Dodgers minor league system before getting traded to the Oakland A’s in 2016. Cotton had a rocky tenure with Oakland, bouncing back and forth between AAA and MLB before having Tommy John surgery in 2018. He was 11-10 with a 4.95 ERA for the Athletics in his career with only 7.3 K/9. He spent a season with the Cubs before going to the Texas Rangers in 2021. In 2021, Cotton started the year in AAA-Round Rock. There, he threw 42 innings with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 57 batters and walked 17. On July 30, Cotton was called up and made his first major-league appearance in nearly four years. Cotton struggled for the first month, allowing a 5.79 ERA in 14 innings through August. He also had a very high 5.8 BB/9 in this time span. After August, Cotton hit his stride. For the last month of the season, Cotton posted a 1.62 ERA. He also lowered his BB/9 to 3.2 in September. Unique Pitch Mix Part of the reason for Cotton’s sudden improvement could have been due to changing his pitch usage. In August, Cotton threw 49 percent fastballs and only nine percent sliders. In September, he threw 42 percent fastballs and 19 percent sliders. Pairing a more diverse pitch mix with an already devastating changeup led to success. Riseball! Cotton has one of the most unique fastballs in Major League Baseball. In the day of velocity, his fastball only averaged 93 miles per hour but remained very effective. This is due to its movement. Among all Major League pitchers in 2021, Cotton had the most vertical movement vs avg on his fastball (4.3 inches more than average). This means his fastball is deceiving and the vertical movement will cause his fastball to stay on its initial plane longer instead of having the normal downward plane. This will cause hitters to swing underneath it. El Cambio Despite having a potentially effective fastball, Cotton can not throw it all the time or he becomes too predictable, like he did for his first month in the big leagues in 2021. Another unique pitch Cotton throws to complement the fastball is his changeup. Cotton has a very effective changeup. Among pitchers with at least 50 batters faced in 2021, Cotton’s changeup had the second lowest xSLG, meaning hitters did not square up the changeup well at all. Part of this could be due to the fact that Cotton’s changeup is so slow, averaging 80 miles per hour. Hitters were 9-for-50 (.180) with only three extra base hits and 17 strikeouts against his changeup in 2021. Slide-Piece In the big leagues, you can rarely get by just throwing two effective pitches. In August, when Cotton struggled, he threw either his fastball or changeup over 80 percent of the time. This made him too predictable. A 10 percent uptick in his slider usage over the last month of the season led to better results. In a limited sample in 2021, his slider had a whiff rate of 37.5 percent. His slider could still use some work but could be a serviceable third pitch, especially out of the bullpen. What role will Cotton play? With Texas, Cotton was a middle reliever. Below is his inning frequency numbers in 2021. The number of games is how many times he pitched in that certain inning. As you can see, Cotton was pretty versatile, mostly pitching in innings six through eight. With Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala as the Twins two best right-handed relievers, I see Cotton being more of a sixth or seventh inning guy to start. Closing Remarks Cotton is a promising pitcher that the Twins will only be paying $700K next year. In my opinion it is a good low-risk, high-reward situation. What are your thoughts on Jharel Cotton? Feel free to ask questions and discuss in the comment section. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  24. Who is Jharel Cotton? Earlier this week, Cody Christie wrote an article about Three Twins Pitchers Due to Bounce Back. Today I will dive deeper into one of those three, Jharel Cotton. Since being drafted by the Dodgers in 2012, Jharel Cotton has made his way around Major League Baseball. He spent parts of five seasons in the Dodgers minor league system before getting traded to the Oakland A’s in 2016. Cotton had a rocky tenure with Oakland, bouncing back and forth between AAA and MLB before having Tommy John surgery in 2018. He was 11-10 with a 4.95 ERA for the Athletics in his career with only 7.3 K/9. He spent a season with the Cubs before going to the Texas Rangers in 2021. In 2021, Cotton started the year in AAA-Round Rock. There, he threw 42 innings with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 57 batters and walked 17. On July 30, Cotton was called up and made his first major-league appearance in nearly four years. Cotton struggled for the first month, allowing a 5.79 ERA in 14 innings through August. He also had a very high 5.8 BB/9 in this time span. After August, Cotton hit his stride. For the last month of the season, Cotton posted a 1.62 ERA. He also lowered his BB/9 to 3.2 in September. Unique Pitch Mix Part of the reason for Cotton’s sudden improvement could have been due to changing his pitch usage. In August, Cotton threw 49 percent fastballs and only nine percent sliders. In September, he threw 42 percent fastballs and 19 percent sliders. Pairing a more diverse pitch mix with an already devastating changeup led to success. Riseball! Cotton has one of the most unique fastballs in Major League Baseball. In the day of velocity, his fastball only averaged 93 miles per hour but remained very effective. This is due to its movement. Among all Major League pitchers in 2021, Cotton had the most vertical movement vs avg on his fastball (4.3 inches more than average). This means his fastball is deceiving and the vertical movement will cause his fastball to stay on its initial plane longer instead of having the normal downward plane. This will cause hitters to swing underneath it. El Cambio Despite having a potentially effective fastball, Cotton can not throw it all the time or he becomes too predictable, like he did for his first month in the big leagues in 2021. Another unique pitch Cotton throws to complement the fastball is his changeup. Cotton has a very effective changeup. Among pitchers with at least 50 batters faced in 2021, Cotton’s changeup had the second lowest xSLG, meaning hitters did not square up the changeup well at all. Part of this could be due to the fact that Cotton’s changeup is so slow, averaging 80 miles per hour. Hitters were 9-for-50 (.180) with only three extra base hits and 17 strikeouts against his changeup in 2021. Slide-Piece In the big leagues, you can rarely get by just throwing two effective pitches. In August, when Cotton struggled, he threw either his fastball or changeup over 80 percent of the time. This made him too predictable. A 10 percent uptick in his slider usage over the last month of the season led to better results. In a limited sample in 2021, his slider had a whiff rate of 37.5 percent. His slider could still use some work but could be a serviceable third pitch, especially out of the bullpen. What role will Cotton play? With Texas, Cotton was a middle reliever. Below is his inning frequency numbers in 2021. The number of games is how many times he pitched in that certain inning. As you can see, Cotton was pretty versatile, mostly pitching in innings six through eight. With Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala as the Twins two best right-handed relievers, I see Cotton being more of a sixth or seventh inning guy to start. Closing Remarks Cotton is a promising pitcher that the Twins will only be paying $700K next year. In my opinion it is a good low-risk, high-reward situation. What are your thoughts on Jharel Cotton? Feel free to ask questions and discuss in the comment section. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  25. Looking at Minnesota's current pitching staff, many things are going to have to go right for the team to be competitive in 2022. Here are three names that point to bouncing back next season. Two of the names below struggled mightily last season, and the other pitcher missed multiple seasons throughout his career. All three have something to prove in 2022, which can be exciting for a team like the Twins that need big-league pitching depth. Dylan Bundy Bundy was Minnesota's lone free-agent signing before the lockout, but there might be some reasons to hope he can bounce back in 2022. Bundy surprised many during the pandemic shortened 2020 season with a resurgent year, including finishing in the top-10 for the AL Cy Young. He posted a 3.29 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. It looked like Bundy was finally reaching the ceiling many thought he had as one of baseball's top prospects. Last season, Bundy couldn't replicate his 2020 numbers, and that's one of the main reasons the Twins were able to sign him for such a relatively cheap contract. One of Bundy's most prominent issues in 2021 was his inability to strand runners. Bundy has a 70.8 LOB% for his career, but last season that number dipped to 64.0%. Another change last season was he doubled his sinker usage, and batters posted a .609 SLG against it. Minnesota likely pushes Bundy to throw more sliders and batters combined for a .494 SLG versus that pitch in 2021. Randy Dobnak Dobnak's name will be featured on multiple bounce back lists this winter because he can't be as bad as he was in 2021. Last season, Dobnak was pushed out of the rotation coming out of spring training, but it was clear that he wasn't a reliever. In 14 big-league appearances, he allowed 43 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings. At Triple-A, he made four starts and posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP. A finger injury caused him issues throughout the season, and he was eventually put on the 60-day IL. His terrible, no good, very bad season came to an end, so things can't go much worse for him in 2022. Minnesota doesn't need Dobnak to be a frontline starter, but he needs to fit into the backend of the rotation. Last season, his slider got plenty of hype during spring training as he looked like a whole new pitcher. Then during the season, his slider was his worst pitch as batters posted an .815 SLG against it. Dobnak needs to prove he is healthy, and then he can be relied on to be more than rotational depth. Fans are understandably low on him, but a healthy Dobnak will be a welcome addition to the team's rotation next year. Jharel Cotton Minnesota claimed Cotton off of waivers from Texas this winter, and he certainly offers some intrigue for a pitcher-hungry team. Previously, Cotton was a top-100 prospect in the Oakland organization, and they gave him opportunities to stick as a starter. Last season, he pitched in the big leagues for the first time since 2017 and compiled a 3.52 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP. All his appearances came as a reliever in 2021, but some believe he might provide some valuable innings for the Twins in 2022. One of the reasons for this optimism is the amount of spin Cotton has added to his fastball. According to FanGraphs, his fastball had the second-highest amount of vertical movement in baseball last year among pitchers with at least 30 innings. He also utilizes a changeup with a lot of movement that is more than 10-mph slower than his fastball. By adding in his average slider and it's easy to see how he might fit into the rotation when needed next season. Minnesota will have starting opportunities, and Cotton has a chance to prove he can be more than a reliever. Which pitcher is most likely to bounce back? 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
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