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  1. Joe Ryan made the Friday night start for the Twins. Ryan struggled in his previous start, allowing a season-high five walks. Whether he was squeezed or just had a rough game, the rookie pitcher showed resilience and bounced back in this appearance. He and the offense left a fun mark on the night. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 51 strikes (64.5%)) Home Runs: 0 Top 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (.203), Joe Ryan (.139), Max Kepler (.110) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minimal Pitchers, Maximum Impact It’s true the pitching staff has been a little beat up, mainly due to a shortened spring training, but one pitcher has been a constant since the season started. Tonight, the Twins won the game only using four pitchers. With all the crazy moves that the pitchers have been experiencing with injuries, Ryan has been a bright spot in the pitching rotation. Ryan has made each of his scheduled starts and continued to work. Right now, Joe Ryan is among five pitchers who have a low Opponent Batting Average so far this season. With 35 innings pitched, he has a .179 Opp BA with Michael Kopech having .137 at number one. The hitters do have a hard time against the rookie. Ryan has given up only 24 hits and 10 runs in his 37 2/3 innings this season, keeping the scoring of the other team at a minimum. His numbers continue to impress. During a mound visit at the bottom of the sixth inning, Wes Johnson appeared to give Ryan an atta-boy, pep talk to get him through the remaining part of the inning. Ryan could not close out the inning giving two of the night's walks to load the bases, but he did leave the game with only one run and the Twins ahead and subsequently lowering his ERA. With bases loaded and two outs, Caleb Thielbar came on to get out of the sixth inning with no damage with a pop-fly caught by Gilberto Celestino. Thielbar managed damage control in the sixth with the bases loaded but gave up a solo home run on a knuckleball on his sixth pitch of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Thielbar had two outs before walking Benintendi, causing Rocco Baldelli to bring in Joe Smith. Smith worked his magic to keep the hitters at bay during the seventh and eighth inning. The Twins kept Smith out longer than normal, putting him in a small bind at the bottom of the eighth inning. He ended the inning with a breaking ball and another scoreless inning for the sidewinder. A Little Help from Our Friends The Twins offense has been hard at work attempting to win games with more than a run or two cushion. After some well-placed insurance runs from Jose Miranda Thursday night, game two is stacked with another round of powerhouses to continue what started last night. Two of the surprises in the line-up have been unexpected, but truly appreciated and officially have been accepted as a Minnesota Twin by the fan base. Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela both came from the Yankees before the season started and have officially earned a place in our hearts and on the field. Both players played a huge part in tonight’s win against the Royals. Sanchez amassed a lot of negativities from the Yankees community while there and initially from Twins fans as well when the trade happened. Sanchez was known for passed balls while catching and an inconsistent hitter at the plate. Since coming to the Twins, Sanchez has been a little slow getting settled, but in his past four games, Sanchez has been responsible for five of the RBI which also included two home runs and three doubles. His batting average may be showing .229, but what doesn’t show is his ability to come through lately in a clutch situation. Urshela has struggled at the plate. Whether out of comfort, change, or just a slump, the third baseman has had a hard time finding his stride at the plate. What Urshela lacked at the plate until recently, he has certainly made up for at defense lately making some insane plays to get players out, including one from the seat of his pants. Urshela’s confidence has certainly increased while making clutch plays at third base has seemed to transfer to his confidence at the plate. As of May 20, versus Kansas City, Urshela has been hitting .238 with five hits, two home runs, and five RBI. Urshela seems comfortable in the five or six spots in the line-up, as opposed to the early part of the line-up. Thanks to a sac bunt tonight from Celestino, Urshela who took a walk at his second plate appearance, made an advance to third base and was the first player to score tonight on a sacrifice from Buxton. Certainly, things are looking up for him on this squad. Certainly, the acquisitions from the Yankees have been fantastic, but the lineup as a whole has been wicked over the past six games. Tonight, Byron Buxton started out by draining ten pitches out of Brad Keller, the starting pitcher for Kansas City, but remained hitless tonight, but he was walked in the ninth contributing to the night of fun and runs he and his teammates had. Another Night of Fun and Runs Twins' fans have been loving the small ball the club has been playing the past two nights. No home runs and a few bunts made a contribution to the excitement of the "small ball" feel. With the exception of Ryan Jeffers, Luis Arraez, Jeffers, and Urshela, the bats stayed relatively quiet after the third inning where both teams got on the board until Brad Keller seemed to lose control of the zone in the sixth even more so than the inning prior and walked Arraez. That walk was just the beginning of the insanity that was the remaining part of the game for the club. With Keller walking Arraez, Polanco grounded out to first, and allowed Arraez to get into scoring position. Kepler followed up quickly with a single scoring Arraez, quickly followed by Sanchez who hit yet another double scoring Kepler, giving the Twins a three-run cushion. There was certainly no sense of urgency from the offense tonight, but they were able to move through the night with minimal hits and nothing from the powerhouses, it was quiet until Arraez ran home and slid headfirst superman style on a wild pitch from Speier after he initially walked (again) to start the inning. Arraez who walked twice tonight, also scored twice for the club. The Twins loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth with only one out left and once again, Arraez comes through for the club hitting a ball to right field bringing home Urshela but keeping the bases loaded for Correa who broke open the game even further with a solid hit to right field scoring two more runs. By the time the ninth inning was over for the Twins, they had another three runs bringing the score to 9-2, a safe cushion as Cody Stashak came out to finish the game for the Twins. The Twins have scored 29 runs in three games, with no homeruns and a three-game winning streak! is this real life!? Do you think the Twins can sweep the Royals? Tune in tomorrow to find out and welcome back Bailey Ober from the IL! What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with the Royals Sunday at 1:10 pm before returning home to an eleven-game homestand including Detroit and another series with Kansas City. Pitching matchup tomorrow: Sunday 1:10 pm CST: Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.75 ERA) vs RHP Brady Singer (1-0, 2.84 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet - TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Duran 0 23 0 16 0 39 Thielbar 16 0 0 0 18 34 Stashak 0 13 0 0 18 31 Smith 0 0 0 0 21 21 Cano 0 19 0 0 0 19 Pagán 0 0 0 19 0 19 Jax 0 0 0 18 0 18 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 18 Megill 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  2. Joe Ryan helped pitch the Minnesota Twins to victory Saturday, their sixth win in their last eight games. The lineup was rolling, as well, with nine runs being scored despite not hitting a homer. The bullpen was also strong, with Joe Smith turning in yet another scoreless outing. Also featured in tonight's system recap are Jake Cave's grand slam, Royce Lewis in left field, Matt Wallner's incredible catch and much more.
  3. Joe Ryan helped pitch the Minnesota Twins to victory Saturday, their sixth win in their last eight games. The lineup was rolling, as well, with nine runs being scored despite not hitting a homer. The bullpen was also strong, with Joe Smith turning in yet another scoreless outing. Also featured in tonight's system recap are Jake Cave's grand slam, Royce Lewis in left field, Matt Wallner's incredible catch and much more. View full video
  4. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 51 strikes (64.5%)) Home Runs: 0 Top 3 WPA: Luis Arraez (.203), Joe Ryan (.139), Max Kepler (.110) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minimal Pitchers, Maximum Impact It’s true the pitching staff has been a little beat up, mainly due to a shortened spring training, but one pitcher has been a constant since the season started. Tonight, the Twins won the game only using four pitchers. With all the crazy moves that the pitchers have been experiencing with injuries, Ryan has been a bright spot in the pitching rotation. Ryan has made each of his scheduled starts and continued to work. Right now, Joe Ryan is among five pitchers who have a low Opponent Batting Average so far this season. With 35 innings pitched, he has a .179 Opp BA with Michael Kopech having .137 at number one. The hitters do have a hard time against the rookie. Ryan has given up only 24 hits and 10 runs in his 37 2/3 innings this season, keeping the scoring of the other team at a minimum. His numbers continue to impress. During a mound visit at the bottom of the sixth inning, Wes Johnson appeared to give Ryan an atta-boy, pep talk to get him through the remaining part of the inning. Ryan could not close out the inning giving two of the night's walks to load the bases, but he did leave the game with only one run and the Twins ahead and subsequently lowering his ERA. With bases loaded and two outs, Caleb Thielbar came on to get out of the sixth inning with no damage with a pop-fly caught by Gilberto Celestino. Thielbar managed damage control in the sixth with the bases loaded but gave up a solo home run on a knuckleball on his sixth pitch of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Thielbar had two outs before walking Benintendi, causing Rocco Baldelli to bring in Joe Smith. Smith worked his magic to keep the hitters at bay during the seventh and eighth inning. The Twins kept Smith out longer than normal, putting him in a small bind at the bottom of the eighth inning. He ended the inning with a breaking ball and another scoreless inning for the sidewinder. A Little Help from Our Friends The Twins offense has been hard at work attempting to win games with more than a run or two cushion. After some well-placed insurance runs from Jose Miranda Thursday night, game two is stacked with another round of powerhouses to continue what started last night. Two of the surprises in the line-up have been unexpected, but truly appreciated and officially have been accepted as a Minnesota Twin by the fan base. Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela both came from the Yankees before the season started and have officially earned a place in our hearts and on the field. Both players played a huge part in tonight’s win against the Royals. Sanchez amassed a lot of negativities from the Yankees community while there and initially from Twins fans as well when the trade happened. Sanchez was known for passed balls while catching and an inconsistent hitter at the plate. Since coming to the Twins, Sanchez has been a little slow getting settled, but in his past four games, Sanchez has been responsible for five of the RBI which also included two home runs and three doubles. His batting average may be showing .229, but what doesn’t show is his ability to come through lately in a clutch situation. Urshela has struggled at the plate. Whether out of comfort, change, or just a slump, the third baseman has had a hard time finding his stride at the plate. What Urshela lacked at the plate until recently, he has certainly made up for at defense lately making some insane plays to get players out, including one from the seat of his pants. Urshela’s confidence has certainly increased while making clutch plays at third base has seemed to transfer to his confidence at the plate. As of May 20, versus Kansas City, Urshela has been hitting .238 with five hits, two home runs, and five RBI. Urshela seems comfortable in the five or six spots in the line-up, as opposed to the early part of the line-up. Thanks to a sac bunt tonight from Celestino, Urshela who took a walk at his second plate appearance, made an advance to third base and was the first player to score tonight on a sacrifice from Buxton. Certainly, things are looking up for him on this squad. Certainly, the acquisitions from the Yankees have been fantastic, but the lineup as a whole has been wicked over the past six games. Tonight, Byron Buxton started out by draining ten pitches out of Brad Keller, the starting pitcher for Kansas City, but remained hitless tonight, but he was walked in the ninth contributing to the night of fun and runs he and his teammates had. Another Night of Fun and Runs Twins' fans have been loving the small ball the club has been playing the past two nights. No home runs and a few bunts made a contribution to the excitement of the "small ball" feel. With the exception of Ryan Jeffers, Luis Arraez, Jeffers, and Urshela, the bats stayed relatively quiet after the third inning where both teams got on the board until Brad Keller seemed to lose control of the zone in the sixth even more so than the inning prior and walked Arraez. That walk was just the beginning of the insanity that was the remaining part of the game for the club. With Keller walking Arraez, Polanco grounded out to first, and allowed Arraez to get into scoring position. Kepler followed up quickly with a single scoring Arraez, quickly followed by Sanchez who hit yet another double scoring Kepler, giving the Twins a three-run cushion. There was certainly no sense of urgency from the offense tonight, but they were able to move through the night with minimal hits and nothing from the powerhouses, it was quiet until Arraez ran home and slid headfirst superman style on a wild pitch from Speier after he initially walked (again) to start the inning. Arraez who walked twice tonight, also scored twice for the club. The Twins loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth with only one out left and once again, Arraez comes through for the club hitting a ball to right field bringing home Urshela but keeping the bases loaded for Correa who broke open the game even further with a solid hit to right field scoring two more runs. By the time the ninth inning was over for the Twins, they had another three runs bringing the score to 9-2, a safe cushion as Cody Stashak came out to finish the game for the Twins. The Twins have scored 29 runs in three games, with no homeruns and a three-game winning streak! is this real life!? Do you think the Twins can sweep the Royals? Tune in tomorrow to find out and welcome back Bailey Ober from the IL! What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with the Royals Sunday at 1:10 pm before returning home to an eleven-game homestand including Detroit and another series with Kansas City. Pitching matchup tomorrow: Sunday 1:10 pm CST: Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.75 ERA) vs RHP Brady Singer (1-0, 2.84 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet - TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Duran 0 23 0 16 0 39 Thielbar 16 0 0 0 18 34 Stashak 0 13 0 0 18 31 Smith 0 0 0 0 21 21 Cano 0 19 0 0 0 19 Pagán 0 0 0 19 0 19 Jax 0 0 0 18 0 18 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 18 Megill 0 0 0 0 0 0
  5. After getting swept by the Houston Astros in frustrating fashion last week, it was imperative that the Twins answer back by rattling off a few wins against their division rival the Cleveland Guardians. The weekend series had it all; grand slams, manager ejections, electric Target Field crowds, the 1000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field, and two separate fan proposals. Ultimately, the Twins emerged from the series with a three-game lead in the division over both the Guardians and the Chicago White Sox. Here are my five takeaways from this series. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below. View full article
  6. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  7. Jhoan Duran has melted faces, Emilio Pagán has given everyone heart attacks, and Joe Smith has rumbled on, continuing his excellence with a fastball that wouldn’t get pulled over on most highways. Yet, Griffin Jax has quietly emerged as a reliable stud in the bullpen, giving the team desperately needed bridge-outs in the middle innings with relative ease. Let’s talk about Jax, the relief ace. Griffin Jax had a poor 2021 season by just about any stat you prefer. He struck out just 18.1% of batters, walked them at an 8.1% clip, and gave up 23 home runs in 82 innings, a total high enough to make Bert Blyleven blush. Unsurprisingly, his ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line looked more like the price of gas these days, as it went 6.37/6.47/5.75. Outside of a surprise, 10 strikeout game against the White Sox on August 10th, outings of upside were few and far between. Jax always had a trick up his sleeve: his slider. The pitch was a bright spot in an otherwise bland repertoire, running a .275 xWOBA with characteristics favorable in Eno Sarris' pitch data collection. Ironically, his popular slide piece only recently joined his repertoire. You can read Jax himself describe the pitch to David Laurila in possibly the greatest baseball information series known to mankind. According to Jax, the pitch came as a fluke; “I was toying around in catch-play, right before I was about to go on the mound, and was like, ‘What if I just turned my curveball a little bit?’ That’s how I got the slider I have now.” Coaches immediately caught on to the pitch and encouraged him to continue using it. In its horizontal break, the pitch perfectly fits with the sweeper revolution in baseball, and it has buoyed Jax’s 2022 season so far. With his two-pitch (basically one-pitch) mix, Jax became a reliever. His velocity has bumped up two ticks to 94.7 MPH, and he has thrown his slider a Matt Wisler-like 52.7% of the time. While the fastball remains hittable, the breaker is anything but. He owns a .195 xWOBA with it, while hitters are whiffing 47.3% of the time they swing at it. That’s good. In fact, that’s good for 11th best amongst all pitchers in MLB who have faced 25 hitters in 2022. The total numbers are inspiring; an ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 1.35/2.43/2.83 that looks great in any era, dead ball or not. The only two criticisms are ‘it’s early’ and ‘it’s not sustainable.’ The first point is fair, but the second one may not be true in the age of breakers. Matt Wisler, Amir Garrett, Andrés Muñoz, Diego Castillo, and the Rogers twins are all quality relievers throwing sliders more often this season than Jax. And, well, just look at the pitch! Hitters may eventually key in on the pitch, but its movement combined with Jax’s command makes it a safe bet that he’ll continue to succeed in the majors. Like we talked about with Danny Coulombe, where a pitch ends up matters as much, if not more than any movement profile. Jax knows how to put his slider juuuuuuuust in the precise place to fool hitters. Yeah, that’ll work. Griffin Jax has become a revelation, finding his proper place in the bullpen where he can unleash as many sliders as humanly possible. It has only been a handful of innings, but Jax has wholly changed course from 2021; his performance is much improved, and his stuff suggests that this will be a permanent change. View full article
  8. After a slow start, the Twins offense exploded in the fifth inning and put the game out of reach. Minnesota scored more runs in this game than they did in their last six games and they snap a three-game losing streak. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task? But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around? Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on. Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support. After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat. The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach. First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done. With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota. It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP. Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings. Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6. Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year. In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58 Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50 Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46 Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26 Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10 Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4 View full article
  9. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task? But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around? Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on. Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support. After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat. The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach. First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done. With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota. It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP. Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings. Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6. Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year. In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58 Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50 Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46 Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26 Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10 Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4
  10. Griffin Jax had a poor 2021 season by just about any stat you prefer. He struck out just 18.1% of batters, walked them at an 8.1% clip, and gave up 23 home runs in 82 innings, a total high enough to make Bert Blyleven blush. Unsurprisingly, his ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line looked more like the price of gas these days, as it went 6.37/6.47/5.75. Outside of a surprise, 10 strikeout game against the White Sox on August 10th, outings of upside were few and far between. Jax always had a trick up his sleeve: his slider. The pitch was a bright spot in an otherwise bland repertoire, running a .275 xWOBA with characteristics favorable in Eno Sarris' pitch data collection. Ironically, his popular slide piece only recently joined his repertoire. You can read Jax himself describe the pitch to David Laurila in possibly the greatest baseball information series known to mankind. According to Jax, the pitch came as a fluke; “I was toying around in catch-play, right before I was about to go on the mound, and was like, ‘What if I just turned my curveball a little bit?’ That’s how I got the slider I have now.” Coaches immediately caught on to the pitch and encouraged him to continue using it. In its horizontal break, the pitch perfectly fits with the sweeper revolution in baseball, and it has buoyed Jax’s 2022 season so far. With his two-pitch (basically one-pitch) mix, Jax became a reliever. His velocity has bumped up two ticks to 94.7 MPH, and he has thrown his slider a Matt Wisler-like 52.7% of the time. While the fastball remains hittable, the breaker is anything but. He owns a .195 xWOBA with it, while hitters are whiffing 47.3% of the time they swing at it. That’s good. In fact, that’s good for 11th best amongst all pitchers in MLB who have faced 25 hitters in 2022. The total numbers are inspiring; an ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 1.35/2.43/2.83 that looks great in any era, dead ball or not. The only two criticisms are ‘it’s early’ and ‘it’s not sustainable.’ The first point is fair, but the second one may not be true in the age of breakers. Matt Wisler, Amir Garrett, Andrés Muñoz, Diego Castillo, and the Rogers twins are all quality relievers throwing sliders more often this season than Jax. And, well, just look at the pitch! Hitters may eventually key in on the pitch, but its movement combined with Jax’s command makes it a safe bet that he’ll continue to succeed in the majors. Like we talked about with Danny Coulombe, where a pitch ends up matters as much, if not more than any movement profile. Jax knows how to put his slider juuuuuuuust in the precise place to fool hitters. Yeah, that’ll work. Griffin Jax has become a revelation, finding his proper place in the bullpen where he can unleash as many sliders as humanly possible. It has only been a handful of innings, but Jax has wholly changed course from 2021; his performance is much improved, and his stuff suggests that this will be a permanent change.
  11. Joe Smith has appeared in over 840 big-league games, which gives him a tremendous body of work. However, there are three ways he is better than advertised during his Twins' tenure. One of Minnesota's most significant needs this winter was bullpen depth, but the team's biggest free-agent acquisition was a veteran pitcher with 14-years of big-league experience. Like many relievers, Joe Smith has gone through some volatility, but there are some signs that his 2022 performance is sustainable. Limiting Runners At the end of 2021, Smith posted some impressive numbers with Seattle as he posted a 2.00 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP. While those numbers are great, he has improved on them to start the 2022 campaign. His WHIP has dropped to 0.68, and he has yet to allow an earned run in 12 appearances. Smith also has a .155 WOBA, which ranks in the top 2% of the league. He has surrendered two walks, and one of them was intentional. Batters haven't been able to make consistent contact against him. Right-handed batters have gone 2-for-23 (.087 BA) with a 5-to-0 strikeout to walk ratio and a .130 SLG. Lefties have hit 3-for-12 (.250 BA) without allowing an extra-base hit. Both walks he has allowed have come against southpaws, and he only has one strikeout versus lefties. Obviously, these numbers are likely not sustainable throughout an entire season, but some other signs indicate him having more success in 2022. Chase Rate Smith doesn't have the velocity many associate with chasing pitches, but he is among baseball's best at inducing swings at these pitches. So far in 2022, he has a chase rate that ranks in the 94th percentile. If batters are chasing pitches out of the zone, it is unlikely for them to make consistent contact, which is tied to his pitch usage (see below). While this is a great outcome, he has struggled to get swings and misses on pitches in the zone. Smith is not getting strikeouts, which can be problematic for a reliever. His K% is 7% lower than his career mark, and his Whiff% is in the 28th percentile. Over his last three seasons, he has averaged 8.3 K/9, but that total has dropped to 5.2 K/9. However, his slider and sinker have resulted in a 25 Whiff%, which is an increase over 2021. Change in Pitch Usage Minnesota has done an excellent job with relievers and helping them identify the best pitch mix to maximize their value. Smith continues to use his sinker nearly 40% of the time, which matches his recent track record. However, he has flipped how much he is using his slider and his fastball. Last season, he used his slider nearly 35% of the time, but he is using it 22% this season. His fastball usage jumped from 23.4% last year to 38.1% in 2022. Both his sinker and four-seamer have produced a .125 SLG, while his slider was responsible for the only extra-base hit he has allowed. Overall, his velocity has dropped on all of his pitches, but he has increased the active spin% to keep hitters off-balanced. His fastball and slider have declined by 1.8 mph, and his slider has declined by 0.5 MPH. Smith has been able to use his change in pitch mix to coax hitters into making poor contact. They have posted a 48.3 topped %, which is 10% higher than what he produced in 2021. Some of these topped pitches may find holes, but the results have been successful so far this season. Do you think Smith will be able to continue these trends? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  12. One of Minnesota's most significant needs this winter was bullpen depth, but the team's biggest free-agent acquisition was a veteran pitcher with 14-years of big-league experience. Like many relievers, Joe Smith has gone through some volatility, but there are some signs that his 2022 performance is sustainable. Limiting Runners At the end of 2021, Smith posted some impressive numbers with Seattle as he posted a 2.00 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP. While those numbers are great, he has improved on them to start the 2022 campaign. His WHIP has dropped to 0.68, and he has yet to allow an earned run in 12 appearances. Smith also has a .155 WOBA, which ranks in the top 2% of the league. He has surrendered two walks, and one of them was intentional. Batters haven't been able to make consistent contact against him. Right-handed batters have gone 2-for-23 (.087 BA) with a 5-to-0 strikeout to walk ratio and a .130 SLG. Lefties have hit 3-for-12 (.250 BA) without allowing an extra-base hit. Both walks he has allowed have come against southpaws, and he only has one strikeout versus lefties. Obviously, these numbers are likely not sustainable throughout an entire season, but some other signs indicate him having more success in 2022. Chase Rate Smith doesn't have the velocity many associate with chasing pitches, but he is among baseball's best at inducing swings at these pitches. So far in 2022, he has a chase rate that ranks in the 94th percentile. If batters are chasing pitches out of the zone, it is unlikely for them to make consistent contact, which is tied to his pitch usage (see below). While this is a great outcome, he has struggled to get swings and misses on pitches in the zone. Smith is not getting strikeouts, which can be problematic for a reliever. His K% is 7% lower than his career mark, and his Whiff% is in the 28th percentile. Over his last three seasons, he has averaged 8.3 K/9, but that total has dropped to 5.2 K/9. However, his slider and sinker have resulted in a 25 Whiff%, which is an increase over 2021. Change in Pitch Usage Minnesota has done an excellent job with relievers and helping them identify the best pitch mix to maximize their value. Smith continues to use his sinker nearly 40% of the time, which matches his recent track record. However, he has flipped how much he is using his slider and his fastball. Last season, he used his slider nearly 35% of the time, but he is using it 22% this season. His fastball usage jumped from 23.4% last year to 38.1% in 2022. Both his sinker and four-seamer have produced a .125 SLG, while his slider was responsible for the only extra-base hit he has allowed. Overall, his velocity has dropped on all of his pitches, but he has increased the active spin% to keep hitters off-balanced. His fastball and slider have declined by 1.8 mph, and his slider has declined by 0.5 MPH. Smith has been able to use his change in pitch mix to coax hitters into making poor contact. They have posted a 48.3 topped %, which is 10% higher than what he produced in 2021. Some of these topped pitches may find holes, but the results have been successful so far this season. Do you think Smith will be able to continue these trends? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  13. On a night when the Minnesota Twins offense only scored two runs. The Twins starter, Chris Paddack, and the bullpen carried the team to victory after combining to allow only one run. Box Score SP Chris Paddack: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (81 pitches, 53 strikes (65.4%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Joe Smith (.208), Johan Duran (.191), Emilio Pagan (.137) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The storylines existed for this game before the teams even took the field for warm-ups. It all begins with the Baltimore starter and old friend, Tyler Wells, a Twins 15th-round draft pick from 2016. Wells was selected by the Orioles last offseason in the Rule V draft and has been starting for the Orioles this season, coming into the game with a 5.54 ERA over four starts, and 13.0 innings pitched. The other leading storyline for Monday night's game was that Twins prospect Jose Miranda got his call up to the majors. The Twins number three prospect in Twins Daily’s prospect rankings started at third base while batting sixth in the Twins lineup. While playing at AAA St. Paul Miranda hit .256/.295/.442 with a .737 OPS, two home runs, ten doubles, and twelve RBIs. Twins Bats Scuffle Early Against Former Twins Prospect Tyler Wells Early on, the game came easy for the former Twins farmhand. Wells worked quickly through the first two innings and put up a perfect first three innings. In those first three innings, Wells was able to create several harmless pop-ups and collect two strikeouts. Wells was spotting his pitches well for strikes, and it was apparent even from the television camera angle that he was getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Finally, Luis Arraez found good contact on a Wells’ pitch to break through for the Twins first hit of the night in the fourth inning. Paddack Up for the Challenge With Wells off to the perfect start, Chris Paddack gave the Twins 5.1 innings of a competitive start. There were plenty of long and loud outs throughout his start Monday night, but the key was most of them resulted in outs. Rougned Odor did get to Paddack for a triple which led to an Orioles run after Ramon Urias drove him home. Urias’ single led to the only earned run allowed by Paddack. The Twins right-hander did get into a bit of trouble in the fifth before Joe Smith came on to induce a ground ball double play and keep the Twins in front. Paddack collected eight swings and misses before leaving the game with the Twins leading the Orioles 2-1. Correa Continues to Deliver As Carlos Correa has been heating up over the past week, he continued to deliver for the Twins on Monday evening. This time it was in the form of an RBI single. Correa dropped the ball in the outfield grass with Byron Buxton standing on second base. This sixth inning scoring sequence feels like the situation envisioned when Correa was added to this lineup already featuring Buxton. Correa also flashed his glove again at a critical moment. Jorge Mateo drilled a line drive in the eighth inning with one on and no outs. Correa was there and able to snag the line drive out of the air for the first out and help Emilio Pagan complete the inning without allowing any runs. What’s Next? The Twins will look to pick up another win as they send Joe Ryan to the mound. Their hitters will hope to have better success against Bruce Zimmerman who is the scheduled starter for the Orioles. The Orioles lefty has been tough this year in 19 1/3 innings carrying a 0.93 ERA and 9.8 K/9 Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Jax 46 0 0 0 15 61 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 35 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 32 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 27 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 25 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  14. Box Score SP Chris Paddack: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (81 pitches, 53 strikes (65.4%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Joe Smith (.208), Johan Duran (.191), Emilio Pagan (.137) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The storylines existed for this game before the teams even took the field for warm-ups. It all begins with the Baltimore starter and old friend, Tyler Wells, a Twins 15th-round draft pick from 2016. Wells was selected by the Orioles last offseason in the Rule V draft and has been starting for the Orioles this season, coming into the game with a 5.54 ERA over four starts, and 13.0 innings pitched. The other leading storyline for Monday night's game was that Twins prospect Jose Miranda got his call up to the majors. The Twins number three prospect in Twins Daily’s prospect rankings started at third base while batting sixth in the Twins lineup. While playing at AAA St. Paul Miranda hit .256/.295/.442 with a .737 OPS, two home runs, ten doubles, and twelve RBIs. Twins Bats Scuffle Early Against Former Twins Prospect Tyler Wells Early on, the game came easy for the former Twins farmhand. Wells worked quickly through the first two innings and put up a perfect first three innings. In those first three innings, Wells was able to create several harmless pop-ups and collect two strikeouts. Wells was spotting his pitches well for strikes, and it was apparent even from the television camera angle that he was getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Finally, Luis Arraez found good contact on a Wells’ pitch to break through for the Twins first hit of the night in the fourth inning. Paddack Up for the Challenge With Wells off to the perfect start, Chris Paddack gave the Twins 5.1 innings of a competitive start. There were plenty of long and loud outs throughout his start Monday night, but the key was most of them resulted in outs. Rougned Odor did get to Paddack for a triple which led to an Orioles run after Ramon Urias drove him home. Urias’ single led to the only earned run allowed by Paddack. The Twins right-hander did get into a bit of trouble in the fifth before Joe Smith came on to induce a ground ball double play and keep the Twins in front. Paddack collected eight swings and misses before leaving the game with the Twins leading the Orioles 2-1. Correa Continues to Deliver As Carlos Correa has been heating up over the past week, he continued to deliver for the Twins on Monday evening. This time it was in the form of an RBI single. Correa dropped the ball in the outfield grass with Byron Buxton standing on second base. This sixth inning scoring sequence feels like the situation envisioned when Correa was added to this lineup already featuring Buxton. Correa also flashed his glove again at a critical moment. Jorge Mateo drilled a line drive in the eighth inning with one on and no outs. Correa was there and able to snag the line drive out of the air for the first out and help Emilio Pagan complete the inning without allowing any runs. What’s Next? The Twins will look to pick up another win as they send Joe Ryan to the mound. Their hitters will hope to have better success against Bruce Zimmerman who is the scheduled starter for the Orioles. The Orioles lefty has been tough this year in 19 1/3 innings carrying a 0.93 ERA and 9.8 K/9 Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Jax 46 0 0 0 15 61 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 35 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 32 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 27 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 25 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  15. The Twins pitching staff as a whole had a solid first month of the season, but the starting rotation really shined. Check out who the Twins Daily writers voted as the Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month. Every starter, aside from maybe Sonny Gray, had some question marks heading into the season. Could Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan at least maintain, if not build off, their successful campaigns in 2021? Can Dylan Bundy return to his 2020 form, or was that just the exception to his otherwise Mediocre career? What will we get out of Chris Archer, and who will get innings when he inevitably misses time? We don't have the answer to all of those questions, but we can start to get the answers to some of them, which is reflected in the voting. And all those questions existed before the Twins traded for Chris Paddack the day before the season started, which opened up questions about the bullpen. We undoubtedly need more time to answer all of those questions, but all that considered, I think we can be happy about the first month of the season. Without further ado, let's see how Twins Daily writers voted. Honorable Mention #2: Joe Smith Joe Smith had quietly been a great addition to the Twins bullpen. Raise your hand if you knew that Smith had a 0.00 ERA over 7 2/3 innings across nine outings. [Embarrassingly keeps hands at his side]... yeah, either did I. The bullpen took its lumps early, but the elder statesmen has been the model of consistency for the first month of the season, and his veteran presence could prove to benefit some of the younger arms in the bullpen. The 38-year-old knows what a playoff team looks like when he sees one. He's pitched in the postseason over five different seasons, including 2017-2019 with the Indians and Astros, where he appeared in the ALCS (2018) and World Series (2019). That experience can be invaluable to a pitching staff that lacks a postseason resume. Honorable Mention #1: Dylan Bundy Are we getting the 2020 version of Dylan Bundy? Of course, It's too early to say for sure, and he was roughed up in his final start of the month but otherwise was brilliant for the Twins in April. The key for him, well, really any pitcher but especially Bundy, will be to limit the free bases and home runs. He did just that in April with a 1.27 BB/9 and 0.84 HR/9 supplemented with an 8.02 K/9, and his 2.95 ERA ended up being 0.68 runs higher than his xERA. The early results are promising, but we need a more significant simple to see if the bing, the bang, and the boom are here to stay. Pitcher of the Month: Joe Ryan Can Joe Ryan build off his cup of coffee from 2021? Uh, yeah. The rookie right-hander fooled hitters all month to the tune of a 25:6 K: BB ratio and a 1.17 ERA over 23 innings across four starts. His 2.65 xERA suggests that regression is likely, but that's not surprising, and I think he would still be the winner if that were his actual ERA for April. But that’s not just a great month for a rookie; that's a great month for any starting pitcher, no matter how long they've been doing it. He accrued 0.6 fWAR, which was good enough for 19th in all of baseball among starters. It's been a fantastic start to the 25-year-olds Major League Baseball career. He’ll look to continue improving in the month of May, starting with an outing against the lowly Baltimore Orioles. If you were to rank your top 3 for the month of April, are these the three you would have ranked? In the same order? View full article
  16. Every starter, aside from maybe Sonny Gray, had some question marks heading into the season. Could Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan at least maintain, if not build off, their successful campaigns in 2021? Can Dylan Bundy return to his 2020 form, or was that just the exception to his otherwise Mediocre career? What will we get out of Chris Archer, and who will get innings when he inevitably misses time? We don't have the answer to all of those questions, but we can start to get the answers to some of them, which is reflected in the voting. And all those questions existed before the Twins traded for Chris Paddack the day before the season started, which opened up questions about the bullpen. We undoubtedly need more time to answer all of those questions, but all that considered, I think we can be happy about the first month of the season. Without further ado, let's see how Twins Daily writers voted. Honorable Mention #2: Joe Smith Joe Smith had quietly been a great addition to the Twins bullpen. Raise your hand if you knew that Smith had a 0.00 ERA over 7 2/3 innings across nine outings. [Embarrassingly keeps hands at his side]... yeah, either did I. The bullpen took its lumps early, but the elder statesmen has been the model of consistency for the first month of the season, and his veteran presence could prove to benefit some of the younger arms in the bullpen. The 38-year-old knows what a playoff team looks like when he sees one. He's pitched in the postseason over five different seasons, including 2017-2019 with the Indians and Astros, where he appeared in the ALCS (2018) and World Series (2019). That experience can be invaluable to a pitching staff that lacks a postseason resume. Honorable Mention #1: Dylan Bundy Are we getting the 2020 version of Dylan Bundy? Of course, It's too early to say for sure, and he was roughed up in his final start of the month but otherwise was brilliant for the Twins in April. The key for him, well, really any pitcher but especially Bundy, will be to limit the free bases and home runs. He did just that in April with a 1.27 BB/9 and 0.84 HR/9 supplemented with an 8.02 K/9, and his 2.95 ERA ended up being 0.68 runs higher than his xERA. The early results are promising, but we need a more significant simple to see if the bing, the bang, and the boom are here to stay. Pitcher of the Month: Joe Ryan Can Joe Ryan build off his cup of coffee from 2021? Uh, yeah. The rookie right-hander fooled hitters all month to the tune of a 25:6 K: BB ratio and a 1.17 ERA over 23 innings across four starts. His 2.65 xERA suggests that regression is likely, but that's not surprising, and I think he would still be the winner if that were his actual ERA for April. But that’s not just a great month for a rookie; that's a great month for any starting pitcher, no matter how long they've been doing it. He accrued 0.6 fWAR, which was good enough for 19th in all of baseball among starters. It's been a fantastic start to the 25-year-olds Major League Baseball career. He’ll look to continue improving in the month of May, starting with an outing against the lowly Baltimore Orioles. If you were to rank your top 3 for the month of April, are these the three you would have ranked? In the same order?
  17. The third Monday in April every year is a day that is very pro-Boston. A Kyle Garlick two run home run and four RBIs from Polanco led the Twins as they stole some of the joy of Patriots Day away from the Red Sox. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (71 pitches, 51 strikes (71.8%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick (1), Jorge Polanco (2) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.162), Kyle Garlick (.160), Jorge Polanco (.126) Game Score: Twins 8, Red Sox 3 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The city of Boston was buzzing with excitement on Monday, also known as Patriots Day. It was the first Patriots Day to feel normal since COVID-19 entered our vocabulary. Just outside of Fenway Park was the running of the Boston Marathon. While Bostonians were looking for a good day, it did not start that way for Red Sox fans as COVID would rear its ugly head. Before game time, Kevin Plawecki was spotted leaving the stadium in street clothes. Later it would be reported that he and two other Red Sox staffers had tested positive for COVID. It will certainly be a development we, as Twins fans, will want to keep an eye on as it could have a ripple effect if any Twins players or staff would also end up testing positive. A Cleanup Spot Garlick Tater Monday morning, as the starting lineup was posted on Twitter, there was plenty of angst surrounding the selection of Kyle Garlick to hit cleanup. Garlick proved his doubters wrong with Carlos Correa on base by placing a Rich Hill pitch right on top of the Green Monster in left field. At first look, there is reason to be initially frustrated that an offensively struggling Twins team would bat a player who wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster cleanup. Garlick also flexed one of the big reasons the Twins front office preferred him over the recently traded Brent Rooker. Garlick rakes against lefties. Entering the day, Garlick, over his career, had slashed .258/.298/.567 with a .865 OPS against southpaws. Bundy Finally Gives Up a Run Even though his velocity seemed to be down, Dylan Bundy pitched very well and was nearly flawless through four innings. That included a stretch in which Bundy sent down ten batters in a row. Bundy ran into trouble in the fifth inning, allowing his first run as a Twin. When the Twins tried to stretch Bundy into the sixth and save the bullpen another inning, everything really went south for Bundy. After getting Hernandez out to start the inning on a strikeout, the next two hits were struck hard and resulted in runners on second and third base with one out. If the Twins did not have a three-run lead, Baldelli might have gone to his bullpen right away to begin the inning. It seemed like a measured gamble worth taking with the lead and how efficient Bundy had been. While the results may have been very similar to Bundy’s first Twins start last Monday, there is one thing to keep an eye on. Last week Bundy kept hard-hit balls to a minimum. Monday morning, the hard-hit rate was up considerably. He gave up ten hard hits and boasted a hard hit % of 66.7%. Where Smith Big in Relief Joe Smith was tasked with cleaning up the mess that was left after Bundy was pulled from the game. He was able to get Martinez to hit an infield grounder that Sano fielded and froze Devers leading to an eventually tag placed on the Red Sox third baseman. Then after an intentional walk to Verdugo, Smith got Arroyo to hit a loud F8 to end the inning. The sixth inning could have turned into an ugly inning, but the veteran Smith was able to come in and save the Twins three-run lead. Polanco Comes Up Big While Garlick got things going on the offensive side of the ball, Jorge Polanco put a big exclamation point on the morning and afternoon. Polanco followed up Garlick’s two-run home run over the Green Monster with one of his own with Gilberto Celestino on base. Then in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, Polanco came through with a two-RBI single. Polanco’s eight-inning single gave the Twins second baseman a 2-for-5 day and four RBIs, which helped give his team some much-appreciated breathing room. Polanco’s single was part of an excellent eighth inning for the Twins. An inning where they scored four runs on only one hit! Griffin Jax even pitched a scoreless eighth, helping the Twins get past an inning that has not been friendly to them this season. What’s Next? The Twins will move on to Kansas City for their first look at the fellow AL central Royals. Tuesday's game will feature Chris Archer's second start of the season. While the Royals look to send Carlos Hernandez to the mound. Because of the Wild and Wolves, the Twins game will be on the CW. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Winder 28 0 66 0 0 94 Jax 0 22 0 0 47 69 Duran 0 34 0 0 23 57 Romero 34 0 11 0 0 45 Thielbar 18 0 0 17 0 35 Pagán 20 11 0 0 0 31 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 18 Stashak 0 0 0 17 0 17 Coulombe 14 0 0 0 0 14 Smith 3 0 0 0 6 9 View full article
  18. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (71 pitches, 51 strikes (71.8%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick (1), Jorge Polanco (2) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.162), Kyle Garlick (.160), Jorge Polanco (.126) Game Score: Twins 8, Red Sox 3 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The city of Boston was buzzing with excitement on Monday, also known as Patriots Day. It was the first Patriots Day to feel normal since COVID-19 entered our vocabulary. Just outside of Fenway Park was the running of the Boston Marathon. While Bostonians were looking for a good day, it did not start that way for Red Sox fans as COVID would rear its ugly head. Before game time, Kevin Plawecki was spotted leaving the stadium in street clothes. Later it would be reported that he and two other Red Sox staffers had tested positive for COVID. It will certainly be a development we, as Twins fans, will want to keep an eye on as it could have a ripple effect if any Twins players or staff would also end up testing positive. A Cleanup Spot Garlick Tater Monday morning, as the starting lineup was posted on Twitter, there was plenty of angst surrounding the selection of Kyle Garlick to hit cleanup. Garlick proved his doubters wrong with Carlos Correa on base by placing a Rich Hill pitch right on top of the Green Monster in left field. At first look, there is reason to be initially frustrated that an offensively struggling Twins team would bat a player who wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster cleanup. Garlick also flexed one of the big reasons the Twins front office preferred him over the recently traded Brent Rooker. Garlick rakes against lefties. Entering the day, Garlick, over his career, had slashed .258/.298/.567 with a .865 OPS against southpaws. Bundy Finally Gives Up a Run Even though his velocity seemed to be down, Dylan Bundy pitched very well and was nearly flawless through four innings. That included a stretch in which Bundy sent down ten batters in a row. Bundy ran into trouble in the fifth inning, allowing his first run as a Twin. When the Twins tried to stretch Bundy into the sixth and save the bullpen another inning, everything really went south for Bundy. After getting Hernandez out to start the inning on a strikeout, the next two hits were struck hard and resulted in runners on second and third base with one out. If the Twins did not have a three-run lead, Baldelli might have gone to his bullpen right away to begin the inning. It seemed like a measured gamble worth taking with the lead and how efficient Bundy had been. While the results may have been very similar to Bundy’s first Twins start last Monday, there is one thing to keep an eye on. Last week Bundy kept hard-hit balls to a minimum. Monday morning, the hard-hit rate was up considerably. He gave up ten hard hits and boasted a hard hit % of 66.7%. Where Smith Big in Relief Joe Smith was tasked with cleaning up the mess that was left after Bundy was pulled from the game. He was able to get Martinez to hit an infield grounder that Sano fielded and froze Devers leading to an eventually tag placed on the Red Sox third baseman. Then after an intentional walk to Verdugo, Smith got Arroyo to hit a loud F8 to end the inning. The sixth inning could have turned into an ugly inning, but the veteran Smith was able to come in and save the Twins three-run lead. Polanco Comes Up Big While Garlick got things going on the offensive side of the ball, Jorge Polanco put a big exclamation point on the morning and afternoon. Polanco followed up Garlick’s two-run home run over the Green Monster with one of his own with Gilberto Celestino on base. Then in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, Polanco came through with a two-RBI single. Polanco’s eight-inning single gave the Twins second baseman a 2-for-5 day and four RBIs, which helped give his team some much-appreciated breathing room. Polanco’s single was part of an excellent eighth inning for the Twins. An inning where they scored four runs on only one hit! Griffin Jax even pitched a scoreless eighth, helping the Twins get past an inning that has not been friendly to them this season. What’s Next? The Twins will move on to Kansas City for their first look at the fellow AL central Royals. Tuesday's game will feature Chris Archer's second start of the season. While the Royals look to send Carlos Hernandez to the mound. Because of the Wild and Wolves, the Twins game will be on the CW. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Winder 28 0 66 0 0 94 Jax 0 22 0 0 47 69 Duran 0 34 0 0 23 57 Romero 34 0 11 0 0 45 Thielbar 18 0 0 17 0 35 Pagán 20 11 0 0 0 31 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 18 Stashak 0 0 0 17 0 17 Coulombe 14 0 0 0 0 14 Smith 3 0 0 0 6 9
  19. With 31 hours until their first game, the Twins traded away their closer, Taylor Rogers. With the season starting very soon, the Twins now have a few big question marks in their bullpen. Who will they rely on to get big outs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings? What roles will each reliever play in the bullpen? How confident are we in each arm? Here are confidence rankings in the Twins bullpen. Minnesota has made a plethora of moves in the offseason in hopes of going from worst to first in the AL Central. The most recent of these moves was trading away Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker to the San Diego Padres for right-handed pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán. The Twins added some starting pitching depth with Paddack but downgraded their bullpen when they went from one of the better closers in the game in Rogers to a reliever looking to get back to his 2019 self, Pagán. With the Twins figuring to start the year with a six-man rotation, they will have ten bullpen arms. Here are my confidence rankings of the ten. 10. Jhon Romero Romero was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals on March 21, and he will serve primarily to eat innings in Minnesota. Romero throws in the mid-90s with a ton of vertical break on his fastball, so he may need to develop a plus-offspeed pitch, but he is a promising reliever for the Twins. Romero made five appearances for the Nationals in 2021, giving up two earned runs and striking out three batters in four innings of work. He will need to earn the trust of the Twins and the Twins fan base before they can gain confidence in him pitching in big spots. 9. Danny Coulombe A pleasant surprise in 2021, the left-handed Coulombe threw 34.1 innings for the Twins with a 3.67 ERA and a 3.75 FIP. The 32-year-old journeyman is an offspeed pitcher, throwing 66 percent of his pitches as either sliders or curveballs in 2021. Coulombe was also very good at controlling free passes, as he only walked five percent of opposing batters. In 2022, I see the Twins using Coulombe against left-handed batters, as he and Caleb Thielbar are now the only left-handers in their bullpen. Coulombe still needs to prove that he can sustain this level of success, but he could quickly jump up these rankings. 8. Josh Winder Along with teammate Jhoan Duran, Winder displayed some of the best stuff in big league spring training out of all pitchers in 2022. Injuries shortened Winder's 2021 season, but he still managed to go 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA between AA and AAA. He had a sub-1 WHIP, and the hard-throwing righty limits walks and strikes guys out, leading me to believe that he will have no problem transferring his game to the big league level. Winder will be a long reliever, and he will probably make some spot starts in 2022. 7. Jharel Cotton A pitcher nobody is talking about, Jharel Cotton could be the most underrated pitcher in the Twins bullpen. Cotton has the most vertical break on his fastball out of any pitcher in MLB and a highly effective changeup to pair with it. He had a 3.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2021. Cotton will be used in primarily lower leverage situations to start, and his workload could see an uptick with good performance. 6. Caleb Thielbar Despite not having an overwhelming fastball, Caleb Thielbar has done one thing very well over the past two seasons with the Twins. And that is preventing runs. Thielbar only averages 91 miles per hour on his fastball, but it pairs well with his loopy 72 mile per hour curveball. Since 2020, Thielbar has had a 3.00 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 84 innings. Although he was used in low leverage situations in 2020, with the subtraction of Taylor Rogers, the Twins will turn to Thielbar to get crucial outs against left-handed hitters, who batted .214 against him in 2021. 5. Joe Smith An under-the-radar signing for the Twins this offseason, the Twins signed former Astro Joe Smith to a one-year deal. Despite his unorthodox delivery, the 38-year-old has always had major league-level success. His 4.99 ERA in 2021 was misleading, as poor batted-ball luck inflated his ERA. His xERA was 3.55, and he has a 3.08 career ERA. Smith should slot nicely into a middle relief role, especially against righties, against whom he has allowed a .607 OPS in his career. 4. Jhoan Duran As pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, the Twins' only fireballer on the staff in 2021 was Jorge Alcalá. Until now. Jhoan Duran made the Twins opening day roster, and when he debuts, he will be electric. The centerpiece of the Eduardo Escobar trade in 2018, Duran sits in the upper 90s with his fastball, topping at 101 miles per hour in spring training. Duran had the highest STUFF+ ratings in spring training despite a small sample size. For years to come, Duran's nasty stuff could lead to him being a weapon at the back of the Twins bullpen. 3. Emilio Pagán One of the more intriguing pitchers on Minnesota's roster, Pagán will look to return to his Tampa Bay form. In 2019, Pagán was one of the best relievers in baseball as he struck out 96 batters in 70 innings with the Rays. He also had a 2.31 ERA and recorded 20 saves. He struck out 36 percent of batters and only walked 4.9 percent. When he got to San Diego, he took a step back. In 2021, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 63 innings. He gave up 16 home runs in those 63 innings, and he ranked in the seventh percentile of all pitchers in xSLG. Pagán, like the next pitcher on this list, will look to get back to his former self. Pagán will most likely start the year as the Twins' closer. 2. Tyler Duffey After being one of the best relievers in baseball in 2019 and 2020, Duffey took a significant step back in 2021 and will need to rediscover his success for the Twins to have a shutdown bullpen in 2022. In 2019-20, Duffey was in the 93rd percentile of pitchers in strikeout percentage and the 92nd percentile in xERA. He also had a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. In 2021, Duffey was in the 54th percentile in strikeout percentage and the 66th percentile in xERA. He had a 3.18 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 innings. While Duffey was by no means terrible in 2021, he was a different pitcher than he was in 2019 and 2020. Duffey will be a significant part of the Twins bullpen in 2022, especially if he can regain his old form. 1. Jorge Alcalá Alcalá has always been a high octane arm who has shown flashes of dominance, and he offered three signs he was on the verge of breaking out in 2021. Alcalá has a 3.48 ERA in 85 career innings, and his stuff plays very well, as he is in the 96th percentile of all MLB pitchers in fastball velocity and chase rate. This combination could be due to him using his fastball less and his changeup more. He was also in the 86th percentile of pitchers in walk percentage in 2021. This combination of good stuff and low walk rates could lead to Alcalá being a force in the back of the Twins bullpen in 2022. With Taylor Rogers gone, I look for Alcalá to take over the closer role in 2022. Who are your top three relievers for the Twins in 2022? What would you change about these rankings? Are there any guys currently in the minors who you think will majorly impact the bullpen? Let me know in the comments and start a discussion. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  20. Minnesota has made a plethora of moves in the offseason in hopes of going from worst to first in the AL Central. The most recent of these moves was trading away Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker to the San Diego Padres for right-handed pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán. The Twins added some starting pitching depth with Paddack but downgraded their bullpen when they went from one of the better closers in the game in Rogers to a reliever looking to get back to his 2019 self, Pagán. With the Twins figuring to start the year with a six-man rotation, they will have ten bullpen arms. Here are my confidence rankings of the ten. 10. Jhon Romero Romero was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals on March 21, and he will serve primarily to eat innings in Minnesota. Romero throws in the mid-90s with a ton of vertical break on his fastball, so he may need to develop a plus-offspeed pitch, but he is a promising reliever for the Twins. Romero made five appearances for the Nationals in 2021, giving up two earned runs and striking out three batters in four innings of work. He will need to earn the trust of the Twins and the Twins fan base before they can gain confidence in him pitching in big spots. 9. Danny Coulombe A pleasant surprise in 2021, the left-handed Coulombe threw 34.1 innings for the Twins with a 3.67 ERA and a 3.75 FIP. The 32-year-old journeyman is an offspeed pitcher, throwing 66 percent of his pitches as either sliders or curveballs in 2021. Coulombe was also very good at controlling free passes, as he only walked five percent of opposing batters. In 2022, I see the Twins using Coulombe against left-handed batters, as he and Caleb Thielbar are now the only left-handers in their bullpen. Coulombe still needs to prove that he can sustain this level of success, but he could quickly jump up these rankings. 8. Josh Winder Along with teammate Jhoan Duran, Winder displayed some of the best stuff in big league spring training out of all pitchers in 2022. Injuries shortened Winder's 2021 season, but he still managed to go 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA between AA and AAA. He had a sub-1 WHIP, and the hard-throwing righty limits walks and strikes guys out, leading me to believe that he will have no problem transferring his game to the big league level. Winder will be a long reliever, and he will probably make some spot starts in 2022. 7. Jharel Cotton A pitcher nobody is talking about, Jharel Cotton could be the most underrated pitcher in the Twins bullpen. Cotton has the most vertical break on his fastball out of any pitcher in MLB and a highly effective changeup to pair with it. He had a 3.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2021. Cotton will be used in primarily lower leverage situations to start, and his workload could see an uptick with good performance. 6. Caleb Thielbar Despite not having an overwhelming fastball, Caleb Thielbar has done one thing very well over the past two seasons with the Twins. And that is preventing runs. Thielbar only averages 91 miles per hour on his fastball, but it pairs well with his loopy 72 mile per hour curveball. Since 2020, Thielbar has had a 3.00 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 84 innings. Although he was used in low leverage situations in 2020, with the subtraction of Taylor Rogers, the Twins will turn to Thielbar to get crucial outs against left-handed hitters, who batted .214 against him in 2021. 5. Joe Smith An under-the-radar signing for the Twins this offseason, the Twins signed former Astro Joe Smith to a one-year deal. Despite his unorthodox delivery, the 38-year-old has always had major league-level success. His 4.99 ERA in 2021 was misleading, as poor batted-ball luck inflated his ERA. His xERA was 3.55, and he has a 3.08 career ERA. Smith should slot nicely into a middle relief role, especially against righties, against whom he has allowed a .607 OPS in his career. 4. Jhoan Duran As pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, the Twins' only fireballer on the staff in 2021 was Jorge Alcalá. Until now. Jhoan Duran made the Twins opening day roster, and when he debuts, he will be electric. The centerpiece of the Eduardo Escobar trade in 2018, Duran sits in the upper 90s with his fastball, topping at 101 miles per hour in spring training. Duran had the highest STUFF+ ratings in spring training despite a small sample size. For years to come, Duran's nasty stuff could lead to him being a weapon at the back of the Twins bullpen. 3. Emilio Pagán One of the more intriguing pitchers on Minnesota's roster, Pagán will look to return to his Tampa Bay form. In 2019, Pagán was one of the best relievers in baseball as he struck out 96 batters in 70 innings with the Rays. He also had a 2.31 ERA and recorded 20 saves. He struck out 36 percent of batters and only walked 4.9 percent. When he got to San Diego, he took a step back. In 2021, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 63 innings. He gave up 16 home runs in those 63 innings, and he ranked in the seventh percentile of all pitchers in xSLG. Pagán, like the next pitcher on this list, will look to get back to his former self. Pagán will most likely start the year as the Twins' closer. 2. Tyler Duffey After being one of the best relievers in baseball in 2019 and 2020, Duffey took a significant step back in 2021 and will need to rediscover his success for the Twins to have a shutdown bullpen in 2022. In 2019-20, Duffey was in the 93rd percentile of pitchers in strikeout percentage and the 92nd percentile in xERA. He also had a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. In 2021, Duffey was in the 54th percentile in strikeout percentage and the 66th percentile in xERA. He had a 3.18 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 innings. While Duffey was by no means terrible in 2021, he was a different pitcher than he was in 2019 and 2020. Duffey will be a significant part of the Twins bullpen in 2022, especially if he can regain his old form. 1. Jorge Alcalá Alcalá has always been a high octane arm who has shown flashes of dominance, and he offered three signs he was on the verge of breaking out in 2021. Alcalá has a 3.48 ERA in 85 career innings, and his stuff plays very well, as he is in the 96th percentile of all MLB pitchers in fastball velocity and chase rate. This combination could be due to him using his fastball less and his changeup more. He was also in the 86th percentile of pitchers in walk percentage in 2021. This combination of good stuff and low walk rates could lead to Alcalá being a force in the back of the Twins bullpen in 2022. With Taylor Rogers gone, I look for Alcalá to take over the closer role in 2022. Who are your top three relievers for the Twins in 2022? What would you change about these rankings? Are there any guys currently in the minors who you think will majorly impact the bullpen? Let me know in the comments and start a discussion. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  21. The Twins have not shown a propensity to invest heavily in their bullpen. Instead, their preferred approach is to gather a wealth of interesting, flexible options and sort through them during the season. It can work, but as they learned last year, sometimes the learning experience can be very costly. Projected Bullpen: Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcalá, Jharel Cotton, Joe Smith, Jhoan Duran, Danny Coulombe Depth/Prospects: Griffin Jax, Jhon Romero, Jovani Moran, Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Jake Faria, Yennier Cano, Drew Strotman, Lewis Thorpe, Trevor Megill, Ronny Henriquez THE GOOD During the first three months of the 2021 season, Twins relievers ranked 26th in the majors in the fWAR, 27th in FIP, and 25th in WPA. During the last three months, they ranked 13th, 15th and 4th in those respective categories. You might not have noticed it, due to the team's total irrelevance after May or so, but the bullpen improved dramatically from the first to second half. It was night and day. And it's not the first time we've seen this pattern play out. Back in 2019, Twins relievers ranked 10th in the majors in fWAR and 12th in FIP over the first three months, then led all of baseball in both categories the rest of the way. The front office and coaching staff have shown they can make this work: creating depth, then sorting through it until you find the right mix you can trust. Meanwhile, when looking at how poorly this regime's biggest bullpen splashes have panned in Alex Colomé and Addison Reed, who both looked like relatively safe plays, it's easy to understand why they'd opt against pouring investments into established commodities. There's a lot to like here. Taylor Rogers has consistently been one of the league's most effective late-inning relievers since 2018, and his sterling performance this spring helps alleviate concerns around any lingering effects from last year's finger injury. Tyler Duffey and Caleb Thielbar have proven to be rock-solid setup men. Jorge Alcalá offered real signs of optimism with his 2.88 ERA and .195 BAA last year after the All-Star break, playing a huge role in the bullpen's second-half turnaround. Joe Smith and Jharel Cotton were nice veteran pickups for the middle innings. There are also a some wild cards in the mix adding another level of intrigue. Chief among them is Jhoan Duran, who has been dazzling people with his incredible stuff this spring. He appears to be healthy and throwing at his best while the Twins are transitioning him into a full-on relief role. It's a perfect storm. He looms as a monster difference-maker in this pen. I've written about Griffin Jax as a guy whose stock could skyrocket in a relief role, and like Duran, the team is poised to tap that potential in short order. Jovani Moran has flashed good stuff from the left side. And any of the club's various pitching prospects – many of whom were discussed in our SP analysis – have a chance to impact the bullpen, especially with the likelihood that Minnesota will be looking for length and multi-inning options. THE BAD Last year we learned about the downside of sorting out a bullpen during the season: those early lesson through failure can be extremely costly. By the time Colomé pulled it together and the Twins moved on from some laggards, the relief unit had already played a huge role in tanking their season. This is the nature of the bullpen: it is a fickle beast, and yet so dramatically influential to the outcome of a season. Great bullpens carry teams into the playoffs and beyond. Bad bullpens can put an otherwise decent squad out of the running by June. This year's unit for the Twins really feels like it could go either way. That's always somewhat true, given the volatility of relief pitching, but the variability feels especially high right now. Rogers was at his best before going down last year, but we need to see him keep on cooking. At 31, his age is becoming as much of a regression factor as his injury. Duffey's performance last year included a bunch of ominous signs – most notably a drop in velocity and a HUGE drop in whiff rate. Alcalá has had his moments but feels hard to trust given the inconsistency. And let's keep in mind, this represents their first line of defense. Once you get past these established contributors, you're looking at mostly unproven prospects and minor-league signings. I'm not going to wring my hands over the lack of spending at this position (where the sum total of salaries will barely surpass that of White Sox closer Liam Hendriks alone), because relief free agency becomes such a hazardous game of darts, as we've seen. If the Twins can identify the right guys, implement the right tweaks, and pull the right strings, they'll be in good shape. Unfortunately, last year was not a great confidence-builder in their ability to do so. At least not until too late. THE BOTTOM LINE Lots of talent. Lots of question marks. The Twins have shown in the past they can handle a bullpen – they methodically developed the league's best in 2019, and it carried over to 2020 where they tied Tampa for the AL lead in bullpen fWAR – but last year's unraveling dimmed their shine. It's a big "prove it" year for Wes Johnson, Pete Maki, and the entire Twins pitching braintrust. Was 2021 a blip or a breakdown? Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field Position Analysis: Right Field Position Analysis: Designated Hitter Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher View full article
  22. Projected Bullpen: Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcalá, Jharel Cotton, Joe Smith, Jhoan Duran, Danny Coulombe Depth/Prospects: Griffin Jax, Jhon Romero, Jovani Moran, Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Jake Faria, Yennier Cano, Drew Strotman, Lewis Thorpe, Trevor Megill, Ronny Henriquez THE GOOD During the first three months of the 2021 season, Twins relievers ranked 26th in the majors in the fWAR, 27th in FIP, and 25th in WPA. During the last three months, they ranked 13th, 15th and 4th in those respective categories. You might not have noticed it, due to the team's total irrelevance after May or so, but the bullpen improved dramatically from the first to second half. It was night and day. And it's not the first time we've seen this pattern play out. Back in 2019, Twins relievers ranked 10th in the majors in fWAR and 12th in FIP over the first three months, then led all of baseball in both categories the rest of the way. The front office and coaching staff have shown they can make this work: creating depth, then sorting through it until you find the right mix you can trust. Meanwhile, when looking at how poorly this regime's biggest bullpen splashes have panned in Alex Colomé and Addison Reed, who both looked like relatively safe plays, it's easy to understand why they'd opt against pouring investments into established commodities. There's a lot to like here. Taylor Rogers has consistently been one of the league's most effective late-inning relievers since 2018, and his sterling performance this spring helps alleviate concerns around any lingering effects from last year's finger injury. Tyler Duffey and Caleb Thielbar have proven to be rock-solid setup men. Jorge Alcalá offered real signs of optimism with his 2.88 ERA and .195 BAA last year after the All-Star break, playing a huge role in the bullpen's second-half turnaround. Joe Smith and Jharel Cotton were nice veteran pickups for the middle innings. There are also a some wild cards in the mix adding another level of intrigue. Chief among them is Jhoan Duran, who has been dazzling people with his incredible stuff this spring. He appears to be healthy and throwing at his best while the Twins are transitioning him into a full-on relief role. It's a perfect storm. He looms as a monster difference-maker in this pen. I've written about Griffin Jax as a guy whose stock could skyrocket in a relief role, and like Duran, the team is poised to tap that potential in short order. Jovani Moran has flashed good stuff from the left side. And any of the club's various pitching prospects – many of whom were discussed in our SP analysis – have a chance to impact the bullpen, especially with the likelihood that Minnesota will be looking for length and multi-inning options. THE BAD Last year we learned about the downside of sorting out a bullpen during the season: those early lesson through failure can be extremely costly. By the time Colomé pulled it together and the Twins moved on from some laggards, the relief unit had already played a huge role in tanking their season. This is the nature of the bullpen: it is a fickle beast, and yet so dramatically influential to the outcome of a season. Great bullpens carry teams into the playoffs and beyond. Bad bullpens can put an otherwise decent squad out of the running by June. This year's unit for the Twins really feels like it could go either way. That's always somewhat true, given the volatility of relief pitching, but the variability feels especially high right now. Rogers was at his best before going down last year, but we need to see him keep on cooking. At 31, his age is becoming as much of a regression factor as his injury. Duffey's performance last year included a bunch of ominous signs – most notably a drop in velocity and a HUGE drop in whiff rate. Alcalá has had his moments but feels hard to trust given the inconsistency. And let's keep in mind, this represents their first line of defense. Once you get past these established contributors, you're looking at mostly unproven prospects and minor-league signings. I'm not going to wring my hands over the lack of spending at this position (where the sum total of salaries will barely surpass that of White Sox closer Liam Hendriks alone), because relief free agency becomes such a hazardous game of darts, as we've seen. If the Twins can identify the right guys, implement the right tweaks, and pull the right strings, they'll be in good shape. Unfortunately, last year was not a great confidence-builder in their ability to do so. At least not until too late. THE BOTTOM LINE Lots of talent. Lots of question marks. The Twins have shown in the past they can handle a bullpen – they methodically developed the league's best in 2019, and it carried over to 2020 where they tied Tampa for the AL lead in bullpen fWAR – but last year's unraveling dimmed their shine. It's a big "prove it" year for Wes Johnson, Pete Maki, and the entire Twins pitching braintrust. Was 2021 a blip or a breakdown? Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field Position Analysis: Right Field Position Analysis: Designated Hitter Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher
  23. On March 19th, the Twins officially announced the signing of reliever Joe Smith to a one-year deal. It was the quintessential Derek Falvey acquisition. The team ignored declining velocity, instead choosing to bank on Smith’s historic consistency—a consistency that stems from his unique traits that fly in the face of the modern velocity obsession—to carry him for one more season. It may be only one move, but the signing, on top of a handful of other moves by the front office, signals a divergence away from the general baseball consensus and may define the team’s future. In the fanfare and celebration of signing Carlos Correa, you'd be forgiven if you missed the Twins inking 38-year-old Joe Smith to a one-year pact. Smith, an MLB pitcher since the Bush administration, is precisely the style of reliever favored by Falvey and company. His average fastball hasn’t tickled 90 MPH in years, and much of his effectiveness is rooted in “funkiness,” a pitching trait in the Potter Stewart philosophy of “I know it when I see it.” In the case of Smith, his unique, low arm slot is his special calling card. Smith now joins the likes of Matt Belisle, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard as an “unusual Twins reliever” acquired during the Falvey regime. That is to say, these bullpeners are (or were) atypical in their archetype—age or poor fastball velocity lowered the industry opinion of them, whether fair or not. But the Twins, perhaps believing in a philosophical blind spot, decided to trust in their past effectiveness and were rewarded with mixed but generally positive results. Belisle caught fire in the second half of 2017 to help lead the team to their first playoff appearance in seven years, Rodney and Duke both performed just well enough to net prospects in 2018, Romo was crucial in cementing a shaky Twins bullpen in 2019, and Clippard was a quality reliever for the Twins during the truncated 2020 season. Of course, the Twins haven’t solely focused on cast-offs from the island of misfit toys; they have signed or acquired more prototypical relievers like Addison Reed, Sam Dyson, and Alex Colomé on top of their usual assortment of unique funkmasters. Funny enough, it seems like they have had better fortune with odd relievers than with your more standard ones, but that isn’t quite the point of this article. Why ignore velocity? The Twins, as pointed out by Tom Froemming, had a velocity problem in May 2021 and had not fixed that issue by October 2021. It is March 2022, and the symptoms still persist. None of the four assumed starters possess an average fastball velocity that tops 93 MPH—a fact entirely at odds with the front office’s implications that velocity would be a top priority when they took over command of decision-making in 2016. Both newly-acquired starters, Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, are more masters of breaking balls than fireballers. Taylor Rogers and Jorge Alcala are the only true flamethrowers established in the bullpen. When diagnosing the malady, we must remember that there is nuance in team building; teams like the Twins count all their chips to the last penny as their room for error is smaller than other franchises. The team could quickly cash in and deal their top prospects for high-octane arms or sign the fastest-tossing relievers with little care for the long-term implications of those decisions. Still, such moves would not only likely hurt the franchise, but it would also open them up to being dunked on by randoms on Twitter years in the future, and that’s a risk no one wants to take. Why ignore velocity? Velocity is expensive, perhaps too much so. Corey Knebel (96.5 MPH) signed for $10 million, Joe Kelly (98.1 MPH) signed for $17 million over two years, and Kendall Graveman (96.5 MPH), signed for $24 million over three years. With no disrespect, none of those three players have been particularly consistent in their performance (or with health), but teams see their “stuff” and can’t help but imagine a perfect world where it all comes together for such a player. Trading for velocity can also be expensive. The White Sox parted with two young, talented players in Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to acquire Craig Kimbrel, the Padres gave up their 9th best prospect, Mason Thompson, for half a season of Daniel Hudson, and the fact that the Twins received anyone for Hansel Robles showed that teams are willing to ignore performance in favor of the allure of stuff. The same can be said for prospects. Arms that can sit in the high-90s are valued highly because the upside of that player is tantalizing. We’ve seen the natural sheen of “stuff” blind teams into ignoring risk because they see the next Roger Clemens in an arm that will likely flame out in high-A. The Twins have recognized this and seem to tap their higher-velo arms in deals; Huascar Ynoa, Luis Gil, Brusdar Graterol, and Chase Petty all own big fastballs, but now pitch for other organizations. The guess is that the team is leveraging industry opinions on fastball velocity to acquire major-league talent they otherwise could not have if the pitcher were your average 93-95 MPH Joe. Or, to simplify, they think other teams over-value fastballs and are trying to find value in overlooked arms. Consider the Smith signing; $2.5 million for Joe Smith’s consistency is a bargain if you choose to look at his performance absent velocity implications. The Gray trade looks exquisite as well. Acquiring a great starting pitcher for a pitcher four or so years away from debuting is a masterclass in fleecing. Has it worked? The results are iffy. Twins pitching was undeniably elite in 2019 and 2020 when their team average fastball velocity sat in the bottom five of the league but fell off entirely in 2021. We shall see how 2022 plays out, but the prospects so far do not look good. Shoot, 43-year-old Johan Santana might be an upgrade to the starting rotation. That isn’t to say the team is completely ignoring velocity. Jordan Balazovic is capable of sitting 94-95, Jhoan Duran hits 100 daily, Josh Winder can sit in the mid-90s, and Matt Canterino can do the same. The team is still focusing on velocity, but more on developing said heat, not paying for it upfront. If a pitching prospect can throw hard, great, but their velocity isn’t as prioritized as other aspects of their game. If another team overvalues a prospect’s velocity? Ship him off and receive a more bountiful return than expected. Again, it is unclear if the plan has been successful or not, but the Twins unquestionably believe in their process. View full article
  24. In the fanfare and celebration of signing Carlos Correa, you'd be forgiven if you missed the Twins inking 38-year-old Joe Smith to a one-year pact. Smith, an MLB pitcher since the Bush administration, is precisely the style of reliever favored by Falvey and company. His average fastball hasn’t tickled 90 MPH in years, and much of his effectiveness is rooted in “funkiness,” a pitching trait in the Potter Stewart philosophy of “I know it when I see it.” In the case of Smith, his unique, low arm slot is his special calling card. Smith now joins the likes of Matt Belisle, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard as an “unusual Twins reliever” acquired during the Falvey regime. That is to say, these bullpeners are (or were) atypical in their archetype—age or poor fastball velocity lowered the industry opinion of them, whether fair or not. But the Twins, perhaps believing in a philosophical blind spot, decided to trust in their past effectiveness and were rewarded with mixed but generally positive results. Belisle caught fire in the second half of 2017 to help lead the team to their first playoff appearance in seven years, Rodney and Duke both performed just well enough to net prospects in 2018, Romo was crucial in cementing a shaky Twins bullpen in 2019, and Clippard was a quality reliever for the Twins during the truncated 2020 season. Of course, the Twins haven’t solely focused on cast-offs from the island of misfit toys; they have signed or acquired more prototypical relievers like Addison Reed, Sam Dyson, and Alex Colomé on top of their usual assortment of unique funkmasters. Funny enough, it seems like they have had better fortune with odd relievers than with your more standard ones, but that isn’t quite the point of this article. Why ignore velocity? The Twins, as pointed out by Tom Froemming, had a velocity problem in May 2021 and had not fixed that issue by October 2021. It is March 2022, and the symptoms still persist. None of the four assumed starters possess an average fastball velocity that tops 93 MPH—a fact entirely at odds with the front office’s implications that velocity would be a top priority when they took over command of decision-making in 2016. Both newly-acquired starters, Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, are more masters of breaking balls than fireballers. Taylor Rogers and Jorge Alcala are the only true flamethrowers established in the bullpen. When diagnosing the malady, we must remember that there is nuance in team building; teams like the Twins count all their chips to the last penny as their room for error is smaller than other franchises. The team could quickly cash in and deal their top prospects for high-octane arms or sign the fastest-tossing relievers with little care for the long-term implications of those decisions. Still, such moves would not only likely hurt the franchise, but it would also open them up to being dunked on by randoms on Twitter years in the future, and that’s a risk no one wants to take. Why ignore velocity? Velocity is expensive, perhaps too much so. Corey Knebel (96.5 MPH) signed for $10 million, Joe Kelly (98.1 MPH) signed for $17 million over two years, and Kendall Graveman (96.5 MPH), signed for $24 million over three years. With no disrespect, none of those three players have been particularly consistent in their performance (or with health), but teams see their “stuff” and can’t help but imagine a perfect world where it all comes together for such a player. Trading for velocity can also be expensive. The White Sox parted with two young, talented players in Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to acquire Craig Kimbrel, the Padres gave up their 9th best prospect, Mason Thompson, for half a season of Daniel Hudson, and the fact that the Twins received anyone for Hansel Robles showed that teams are willing to ignore performance in favor of the allure of stuff. The same can be said for prospects. Arms that can sit in the high-90s are valued highly because the upside of that player is tantalizing. We’ve seen the natural sheen of “stuff” blind teams into ignoring risk because they see the next Roger Clemens in an arm that will likely flame out in high-A. The Twins have recognized this and seem to tap their higher-velo arms in deals; Huascar Ynoa, Luis Gil, Brusdar Graterol, and Chase Petty all own big fastballs, but now pitch for other organizations. The guess is that the team is leveraging industry opinions on fastball velocity to acquire major-league talent they otherwise could not have if the pitcher were your average 93-95 MPH Joe. Or, to simplify, they think other teams over-value fastballs and are trying to find value in overlooked arms. Consider the Smith signing; $2.5 million for Joe Smith’s consistency is a bargain if you choose to look at his performance absent velocity implications. The Gray trade looks exquisite as well. Acquiring a great starting pitcher for a pitcher four or so years away from debuting is a masterclass in fleecing. Has it worked? The results are iffy. Twins pitching was undeniably elite in 2019 and 2020 when their team average fastball velocity sat in the bottom five of the league but fell off entirely in 2021. We shall see how 2022 plays out, but the prospects so far do not look good. Shoot, 43-year-old Johan Santana might be an upgrade to the starting rotation. That isn’t to say the team is completely ignoring velocity. Jordan Balazovic is capable of sitting 94-95, Jhoan Duran hits 100 daily, Josh Winder can sit in the mid-90s, and Matt Canterino can do the same. The team is still focusing on velocity, but more on developing said heat, not paying for it upfront. If a pitching prospect can throw hard, great, but their velocity isn’t as prioritized as other aspects of their game. If another team overvalues a prospect’s velocity? Ship him off and receive a more bountiful return than expected. Again, it is unclear if the plan has been successful or not, but the Twins unquestionably believe in their process.
  25. With one stunning and historic move, the Minnesota Twins completely flipped the script on an underwhelming offseason, acquiring a superstar in his prime with an unprecedented free agency splash. Let's get up to speed on where things stand and what's still ahead. Spring training is fully underway but that doesn't mean Hot Stove SZN is over. The Twins made a huge addition over the weekend and seemingly have at least one more on tap. Pressure is building to check off the final boxes ahead of the season opener in just 18 days. What does the front office still need to accomplish and what are their options? Donaldson Trade Clears the Books I posted the last of these offseason status updates last Sunday night, figuring that at 9:22 PM I could safely assume the news cycle had settled, and the whirlwind weekend's moves were finished. But if there's been one lesson from the past week, it's that the news cycle never sleeps. Literally minutes after clicking publish on an article reviewing the Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Sonny Gray trades, I learned of another blockbuster going down: the Twins dealt Josh Donaldson, along with Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt, to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and a bunch of salary relief. With that, Minnesota's short-lived and unfulfilling engagement with Donaldson came to an end. It was a signing that ultimately illustrated the hazards of spending big on aging veteran talent. The Twins can consider themselves lucky to get out of the last two years, even though they had to actively worsen their roster to do it. In the wake of this shakeup, many unknowns were in play. But among the few things we DID know: "The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move." What would it be? Twins Shock the World with Correa Signing For five days, we all sat mired in uncertainty, wondering how the Twins planned to flex their newfound financial clout. As reports emerged of Trevor Story leaning toward other destinations, anxiety started to rise. Had the front office boxed itself into a corner? Nah. They went out and signed the No. 1 free agent on the entire market, landing Carlos Correa in an absolute game-changing stunner. The three-year, $105.3 million contract makes Correa the highest-paid infielder in the game, and addresses the club's need at shortstop decisively. (For now.) In all likelihood, it'll end up being a one-year deal, as Correa has the ability to opt out following either the 2022 or 2023 season. His aim is clearly to put together a good year, return to a less-crowded FA shortstop market next year, and score the $300+ million payday he desired. But that's okay. Getting an MVP-caliber player at age 27 on a one-year pact is a win, even if the framework of the deal creates a bit of team risk. On Sunday, Story signed with the Red Sox for six years and $140 million, prioritizing length of the deal over AAV. Meanwhile, the Yankees were basically left out in the cold. You hate to see it. Still in Need of a Starter Perhaps New York can still claim a victory in all of this late offseason action. They are reportedly among the teams in on Oakland's Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. With so much steam around the two front-line starters and their availability, that situation feels like the last big domino yet to fall. The Twins have also been repeatedly connected to the Athletics in rumors, which only makes sense because they let every free agent starter come off the board while failing to adequately address their starting pitching needs. Even fallback mid-tier options like Michael Pineda and Tyler Anderson are now gone, and Minnesota has a glaring hole after (or ahead of?) Gray atop their rotation. Chi Chi Gonzalez might add some welcome veteran depth on a minors deal, but he's not moving the MLB needle in any way. The Twins almost HAVE to make a trade in order to put the finishing touches on a complete offseason. Are they willing to meet the extraordinary price that extracting Montas will surely require? Or will they opt instead for Manaea, who has only one year of team control left but will command a lesser return? Could they acquire ... both? Given how the Twins have operated this offseason – conditioning us to expect the unexpected – something tells me the most likely outcome is none of the above. They'll find a way to surprise us by zagging while everyone anticipates the zig. Stay tuned. Bullpen Gets a Veteran Boost With all the attention being paid to starting pitchers and shortstops, the team's bullpen needs have been more or less on the backburner. Outside of grabbing Jharel Cotton before the lockout, and bringing back the likes of Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe on minors deals, the Twins hadn't taken much action to offset their various question marks in relief. On Saturday they did something about that, signing veteran right-hander Joe Smith to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. I would describe this as a low-wattage signing; the sidearmer, who turns 38 on Tuesday, hasn't put together a complete quality season since 2017. But he's been a pretty reliable righty specialist throughout his career and that was a need. We'll see if the front office has anything else in store for the bullpen. Remaining options are limited. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see them lean primarily on internal arms in rounding out this unit. Griffin Jax looked really good in his first spring appearance and is one to watch. Lewis Thorpe is out of options. Roster & Payroll Projection Accounting for all of this wheeling and dealing, here's an updated look at the Twins' projected roster and spending commitments for this season. The payroll currently stands at about $122.5M, which is $7.5M short of their baseline target. With the news that Randy Dobnak is still bothered by his finger and unlikely for Opening Day, I've moved him out of the bullpen picture and added his (meager) guaranteed salary to the "Dead Money" section." I still see opportunities to add a fourth outfielder and one or two bullpen arms, though each of those needs could reasonably be filled with existing options. The remaining hole in the rotation, however, needs an external fix. For what it's worth, Montas is expected to earn around $5.5M via arbitration this year, and Manaea $10.2M. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Become a Twins Daily caretaker View full article
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