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  1. Going into the 2023 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins once again will need to address their bullpen. This past offseason the only acquisition of note was veteran Joe Smith and it took 34 games for them to cut bait. Maybe it makes sense to re-up with the lone free agent they acquired at the trade deadline. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins needed to turn things around on the mound. Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson, and Pete Maki were cycling through arms left and right. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a substantial foot placed forward for them to do so in 2022. While Sonny Gray was acquired to bolster the rotation, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were always going to tax the group. Adding only a 38-year-old veteran in Joe Smith wasn’t good enough. At the deadline, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine addressed the situation by bringing in Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. Although Jhoan Duran had developed into a late-inning threat, it was clear he needed help. Unfortunately, the former Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer regressed a bit and wasn’t the asset Minnesota needed him to be. Under contract through 2024, there’s plenty of time for him to change that tune. Fulmer was the lone impending free agent the Twins acquired at the deadline and he was basically as expected. The ERA rose to 3.70 and his FIP suggested room for more regression as well. Although he struck out roughly the same amount of batters and walked fewer in his time with Minnesota, Fulmer got hit a bit harder both in and out of the park. The former first-round pick and Rookie of the Year award winner transitioned to relief pitching full-time just one season ago. The 2.97 ERA in 2021 was sparkling, and while his FIP number sat at 3.46, he showed well working as the Detroit Tigers closer. Gregory Soto took over that role this season for Detroit, but Fulmer showed an ability to be mixed in throughout the game, and provide a high-leverage arm whenever called upon. After seeing a slight velocity jump during the 2021 season, Fulmer was back averaging 94 mph this year. His 63.5% slider usage was higher than it had ever been, but that was also because of how effective the pitch has become for him. Minnesota has shown an affinity for arms with good sliders in recent seasons, and Fulmer coming back with that in mind makes a decent amount of sense. Having made just shy of $5 million last season, it’ll be interesting to see what the market looks like. Fulmer probably could’ve cashed in on a bigger payday had he been a free agent prior to 2022, but his performance this year doesn’t drag him down a ton either. He will be 30 years old in 2023, and there’s plenty of reason to believe in his durability, especially as a reliever. How much the Twins liked Fulmer in their mix down the stretch likely factors heavily into any conversation about a reunion, but it’s hard to call his ability anything but a boost to the pen in 2023. Would you welcome Fulmer back as an addition to the Twins bullpen next season? At what price do you feel comfortable doing a deal? View full article
  2. After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins needed to turn things around on the mound. Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson, and Pete Maki were cycling through arms left and right. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a substantial foot placed forward for them to do so in 2022. While Sonny Gray was acquired to bolster the rotation, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were always going to tax the group. Adding only a 38-year-old veteran in Joe Smith wasn’t good enough. At the deadline, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine addressed the situation by bringing in Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. Although Jhoan Duran had developed into a late-inning threat, it was clear he needed help. Unfortunately, the former Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer regressed a bit and wasn’t the asset Minnesota needed him to be. Under contract through 2024, there’s plenty of time for him to change that tune. Fulmer was the lone impending free agent the Twins acquired at the deadline and he was basically as expected. The ERA rose to 3.70 and his FIP suggested room for more regression as well. Although he struck out roughly the same amount of batters and walked fewer in his time with Minnesota, Fulmer got hit a bit harder both in and out of the park. The former first-round pick and Rookie of the Year award winner transitioned to relief pitching full-time just one season ago. The 2.97 ERA in 2021 was sparkling, and while his FIP number sat at 3.46, he showed well working as the Detroit Tigers closer. Gregory Soto took over that role this season for Detroit, but Fulmer showed an ability to be mixed in throughout the game, and provide a high-leverage arm whenever called upon. After seeing a slight velocity jump during the 2021 season, Fulmer was back averaging 94 mph this year. His 63.5% slider usage was higher than it had ever been, but that was also because of how effective the pitch has become for him. Minnesota has shown an affinity for arms with good sliders in recent seasons, and Fulmer coming back with that in mind makes a decent amount of sense. Having made just shy of $5 million last season, it’ll be interesting to see what the market looks like. Fulmer probably could’ve cashed in on a bigger payday had he been a free agent prior to 2022, but his performance this year doesn’t drag him down a ton either. He will be 30 years old in 2023, and there’s plenty of reason to believe in his durability, especially as a reliever. How much the Twins liked Fulmer in their mix down the stretch likely factors heavily into any conversation about a reunion, but it’s hard to call his ability anything but a boost to the pen in 2023. Would you welcome Fulmer back as an addition to the Twins bullpen next season? At what price do you feel comfortable doing a deal?
  3. Coming off a 2021 Major League Baseball season that the Minnesota Twins would like to forget, there’s no denying that this version of the club has been much better. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that didn’t expect more of this club, and while injuries have caused problems, there’s been performances leaving much to be desired. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports Plenty of blame has been placed on Rocco Baldelli and the combination of Derek Flavey and Thad Levine. Some of that may be warranted, but the production, or lack thereof, falls on the shoulders of players. Whether through injury or ineffectiveness, Minnesota was certainly hoping to get more than they did this season from several different talents. There have been a few guys that could find themselves contending for the least valuable player to the Twins this season, but these five are the ones that stick out to me. Joe Smith Over the offseason there was only one bullpen addition made to a team that needed a turnaround in relief. Smith came in as a 38-year-old with shaky peripherals from last season. He’s a slider pitcher with a funk delivery that relies on deception to carry him. At no point was anyone deceived and the modest strikeout totals he used to generate never were present. Smith gave up homers in bunches and the largest issue here was probably that the front office held on too long. Jorge Alcala Disappointing not for performance, but lack thereof, Alcala was expected to be a key contributor in this bullpen. He was arguably the guy expected to step up as Jhoan Duran has, but ultimately contributed just three innings this season. Alcala suffered an arm injury and then setback after setback before his continually delayed timeline was updated to be through the end of the season. He’d be a big boost for the 2023 squad, but it’s hard to count on what he may be at that point. Alex Kirilloff Another injury-riddled season, Kirilloff underwent season-ending wrist surgery a year ago. Then he shut down his offseason routine because it didn’t entirely heal. He played through it for a while with muted results, went to St. Paul figured out how to make it work, then saw it flare up to the point of being unusable. Kirilloff was expected to be the first baseman and play plenty for Minnesota. Instead he underwent an even more significant procedure and now is a massive question mark coming into 2023. Still young, he can be an integral part of this club’s future, but his health must get right first. Gary Sanchez Acquired to be a rotational catcher with Ryan Jeffers, Sanchez was billed as being a potential solution given a fresh chance. Despite leaving New York, he’s been the same bad catcher we’ve seen for years, and without the occasional longball, there’d be no highlights to touch on at all. Ryan Jeffers going down for a significant period of time has only highlighted how little Sanchez can be relied upon on a daily basis. Emilio Pagan Acquired the day before the season began, Minnesota saw an opportunity to acquire value in the form of Chris Paddack. Taylor Rogers didn’t work out for the Padres and was ultimately shipped to Milwaukee, but Pagan could single-handedly be blamed as the reason Minnesota would wind up losing the division. He’s been given opportunity because of his raw stuff, but with little ability to execute, he’s proven to be the same pitcher Tampa Bay gave up on a handful of years ago. View full article
  4. Plenty of blame has been placed on Rocco Baldelli and the combination of Derek Flavey and Thad Levine. Some of that may be warranted, but the production, or lack thereof, falls on the shoulders of players. Whether through injury or ineffectiveness, Minnesota was certainly hoping to get more than they did this season from several different talents. There have been a few guys that could find themselves contending for the least valuable player to the Twins this season, but these five are the ones that stick out to me. Joe Smith Over the offseason there was only one bullpen addition made to a team that needed a turnaround in relief. Smith came in as a 38-year-old with shaky peripherals from last season. He’s a slider pitcher with a funk delivery that relies on deception to carry him. At no point was anyone deceived and the modest strikeout totals he used to generate never were present. Smith gave up homers in bunches and the largest issue here was probably that the front office held on too long. Jorge Alcala Disappointing not for performance, but lack thereof, Alcala was expected to be a key contributor in this bullpen. He was arguably the guy expected to step up as Jhoan Duran has, but ultimately contributed just three innings this season. Alcala suffered an arm injury and then setback after setback before his continually delayed timeline was updated to be through the end of the season. He’d be a big boost for the 2023 squad, but it’s hard to count on what he may be at that point. Alex Kirilloff Another injury-riddled season, Kirilloff underwent season-ending wrist surgery a year ago. Then he shut down his offseason routine because it didn’t entirely heal. He played through it for a while with muted results, went to St. Paul figured out how to make it work, then saw it flare up to the point of being unusable. Kirilloff was expected to be the first baseman and play plenty for Minnesota. Instead he underwent an even more significant procedure and now is a massive question mark coming into 2023. Still young, he can be an integral part of this club’s future, but his health must get right first. Gary Sanchez Acquired to be a rotational catcher with Ryan Jeffers, Sanchez was billed as being a potential solution given a fresh chance. Despite leaving New York, he’s been the same bad catcher we’ve seen for years, and without the occasional longball, there’d be no highlights to touch on at all. Ryan Jeffers going down for a significant period of time has only highlighted how little Sanchez can be relied upon on a daily basis. Emilio Pagan Acquired the day before the season began, Minnesota saw an opportunity to acquire value in the form of Chris Paddack. Taylor Rogers didn’t work out for the Padres and was ultimately shipped to Milwaukee, but Pagan could single-handedly be blamed as the reason Minnesota would wind up losing the division. He’s been given opportunity because of his raw stuff, but with little ability to execute, he’s proven to be the same pitcher Tampa Bay gave up on a handful of years ago.
  5. A handful of relievers have taken the blame for Minnesota's relief issues this season, but deeper issues compound the problem. Can the Twins solve their bullpen problems before the season's end? Fans focus on relief pitcher performance because of when those pitchers come into a game. In high leverage situations, each pitch has magnified importance on the game's outcome. Relievers also pitch a small number of innings per season, and a small sample size magnifies their flaws. Here are three bullpen issues that have transpired over the last handful of seasons. Strike 1: Sticking with Struggling Veterans During the 2021 season, the Twins signed Alex Colome as a veteran pitcher with a strong track record as a late-inning reliever. Minnesota gave him the bulk of the save opportunities in April, and he proceeded to have one of the worst months of any pitcher in Twins history. He blew three saves while posting an 8.31 ERA and allowing a .952 OPS to opposing batters. The Twins were out of the division race, and Colome's performance was one of the biggest reasons for the team's struggles. It could have been easy for the Twins to cut Colome, but it no longer mattered what he did on a team heading for a last-place finish. After trading Taylor Rogers, Minnesota expected to get crucial innings from veterans like Emilio Pagan, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith. Duffey and Smith struggled significantly, but the team was forced to keep them on the roster until players were acquired at the trade deadline. Pagan continues to get opportunities because he has strong strikeout numbers. However, he has been one of baseball's worst relievers in recent years, and the team has hung on to him for too long. Strike 2: Short Starts Mean More Bullpen Innings Minnesota acquired two veteran pitchers to add to the back of the rotation this season, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. They are tied for the team lead in games started because the Twins have continued to manage their workload. Archer has averaged just over four innings per start, and he has yet to pitch into the sixth inning. Bundy has averaged 4.91 innings per appearance with four starts of six innings or more. This strategy has kept both players on the field but also puts added pressure on the bullpen. Baseball's evolving usage of starters will continue to have long-term effects on how bullpens are structured. Few teams want their starters to face a line-up for the third time, which results in relievers entering the game in the fifth or sixth inning. When this happens, three or four relievers are asked to finish the game. That scenario can work in a team's favor for one game, but the next day there is a domino effect as the bullpen's backend will need to be exposed even if it is a close game. Strike 3: Not Addressing the Bullpen in the Offseason Looking at the Twins' current front office, it is clear that they don't prioritize bullpen acquisitions in the offseason. In 2022, the Twins made Joe Smith their lone free agent addition to the bullpen while also swapping Rogers for Pagan before Opening Day. Last season, Alex Colome and Hansel Robles were acquired on cheap one-year deals, and neither was particularly effective. Luckily, Jhoan Duran emerged as a dominant late-inning option this season, or the team might be in an even more precarious position. Signing free agent relievers is not an exact science. Some top free agent relievers have become strong contributors recently, while others have faded away. Minnesota's front office hasn't prioritized bullpen acquisitions, so the team was forced to address the relief core at the trade deadline. In the long run, the Twins need to adjust their relief pitcher philosophy, or these issues will continue to follow the team in the years ahead. Do you think there are any other problems with the team's bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Fans focus on relief pitcher performance because of when those pitchers come into a game. In high leverage situations, each pitch has magnified importance on the game's outcome. Relievers also pitch a small number of innings per season, and a small sample size magnifies their flaws. Here are three bullpen issues that have transpired over the last handful of seasons. Strike 1: Sticking with Struggling Veterans During the 2021 season, the Twins signed Alex Colome as a veteran pitcher with a strong track record as a late-inning reliever. Minnesota gave him the bulk of the save opportunities in April, and he proceeded to have one of the worst months of any pitcher in Twins history. He blew three saves while posting an 8.31 ERA and allowing a .952 OPS to opposing batters. The Twins were out of the division race, and Colome's performance was one of the biggest reasons for the team's struggles. It could have been easy for the Twins to cut Colome, but it no longer mattered what he did on a team heading for a last-place finish. After trading Taylor Rogers, Minnesota expected to get crucial innings from veterans like Emilio Pagan, Tyler Duffey, and Joe Smith. Duffey and Smith struggled significantly, but the team was forced to keep them on the roster until players were acquired at the trade deadline. Pagan continues to get opportunities because he has strong strikeout numbers. However, he has been one of baseball's worst relievers in recent years, and the team has hung on to him for too long. Strike 2: Short Starts Mean More Bullpen Innings Minnesota acquired two veteran pitchers to add to the back of the rotation this season, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. They are tied for the team lead in games started because the Twins have continued to manage their workload. Archer has averaged just over four innings per start, and he has yet to pitch into the sixth inning. Bundy has averaged 4.91 innings per appearance with four starts of six innings or more. This strategy has kept both players on the field but also puts added pressure on the bullpen. Baseball's evolving usage of starters will continue to have long-term effects on how bullpens are structured. Few teams want their starters to face a line-up for the third time, which results in relievers entering the game in the fifth or sixth inning. When this happens, three or four relievers are asked to finish the game. That scenario can work in a team's favor for one game, but the next day there is a domino effect as the bullpen's backend will need to be exposed even if it is a close game. Strike 3: Not Addressing the Bullpen in the Offseason Looking at the Twins' current front office, it is clear that they don't prioritize bullpen acquisitions in the offseason. In 2022, the Twins made Joe Smith their lone free agent addition to the bullpen while also swapping Rogers for Pagan before Opening Day. Last season, Alex Colome and Hansel Robles were acquired on cheap one-year deals, and neither was particularly effective. Luckily, Jhoan Duran emerged as a dominant late-inning option this season, or the team might be in an even more precarious position. Signing free agent relievers is not an exact science. Some top free agent relievers have become strong contributors recently, while others have faded away. Minnesota's front office hasn't prioritized bullpen acquisitions, so the team was forced to address the relief core at the trade deadline. In the long run, the Twins need to adjust their relief pitcher philosophy, or these issues will continue to follow the team in the years ahead. Do you think there are any other problems with the team's bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Minnesota’s front office filled multiple needs at the trade deadline, but the team is hardly perfect. So, what are the team’s most significant weaknesses? Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  8. Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. Entering the trade deadline period, Minnesota needed to address pitching in both the starting rotation and the bullpen. They also found themselves in the market for catching help, although that was more by circumstance rather than a reflection of their own decisions. No matter what way you look at it, the 26-man roster needed something like four or five additions to truly be considered supplemented. How does that reflect what took place this winter? Every team in baseball has an ample amount of opportunity to spend money. While some organizations are better off than others due to desirability or revenues, no front office bill will ever scratch the surface of what an ownership group can truly afford. On that end, I was told by a front office source during this season that the desire to hit $150 million from a payroll perspective is something that will not likely be touched. That could change as economic standards adjust, but in the foreseeable future, Minnesota will not reach that threshold for an Opening Day roster. Per Spotrac, Minnesota’s current payroll sits at $138 million for the season, or roughly $10 million below what is seen as a non-starting amount. In getting there, they paid handsomely for Carlos Correa ($35.1 million) and brought in Gary Sanchez to replace Mitch Garver. Sonny Gray commands $10.6 million and was acquired for a prospect that the Twins handed a $2.5 million bonus just a year prior. Up against where ownership has given the front office somewhat of a line, that meant value plays had to pan out. The front office gambled on a bullpen largely reflective of their own development. Even without considering the Taylor Rogers trade, that meant big innings would be needed from Jhoan Duran (who was not seen as a lock going into Spring Training), Tyler Duffey, and Caleb Thielbar. The only addition to the relief corps was Joe Smith, a 38-year-old veteran with no velocity making just $2.5 million. On the starting front, behind Gray, it was all bargain bin additions. Dylan Bundy was a bounce-back candidate at $4 million, and Chris Archer was inked to an incentive-laden deal that starts at just $2.75 million. In and of themselves, neither pitcher has been the issue, while both have provided plenty of issues for Rocco Baldelli as a whole. Smartly, the skipper has tried to avoid having any of his back-three pitchers in the rotation see a lineup for the third time. Archer and Bundy have both been bludgeoned as games have gone on, and that’s made for significant bullpen workloads. On the flip side, a taxed relief unit that has largely underperformed has given a constant chicken-or-the-egg situation to navigate through. This all goes back to the situation Minnesota now finds themselves in, and if the plan originally dictated by ownership, was worth it. The front office has to play within the parameters of the budget given to them. That’s always going to present a value proposition scenario in which you attempt to acquire the most amount of return for the least amount of money. Bundy and Archer are a perfect representation of that; so too is Joe Smith. The significant surplus was applied to Correa, but then it was deemed that the well had been tapped. Say the Twins' front office could’ve been given another $10 million during the winter, does that change the level of starting arms they target looking to take work off the plate of the bullpen? Could they have added another reliever or two and passed on Smith being the only reinforcement? Adding at the deadline is a tricky scenario in that you’re likely bringing on more money anyways, and vying with multiple suitors all attempting to acquire the same available talent. I certainly don’t think there’s an argument to be made that the Twins front office failed to plan this year. They didn’t want the slew of injuries, but no one does. If they failed to plan, it was in that the constraints presented by ownership, and maybe not pushed back on by the front office, left them a couple of pieces short to start, and even more when the season drew on. There’s probably never an amount that represents enough spending in the eyes of fans, and that’s really not a fair place to operate a budget from. Considering the actual acquisitions, however, squeezing value from all but the big one clearly didn’t provide enough of an opportunity to withstand the rigors of a long season.
  10. Sometimes you fail to plan, which is not what the Minnesota Twins did this offseason. Sometimes you plan to fail, which certainly could be what the Minnesota Twins did this offseason. Entering the trade deadline period, Minnesota needed to address pitching in both the starting rotation and the bullpen. They also found themselves in the market for catching help, although that was more by circumstance rather than a reflection of their own decisions. No matter what way you look at it, the 26-man roster needed something like four or five additions to truly be considered supplemented. How does that reflect what took place this winter? Every team in baseball has an ample amount of opportunity to spend money. While some organizations are better off than others due to desirability or revenues, no front office bill will ever scratch the surface of what an ownership group can truly afford. On that end, I was told by a front office source during this season that the desire to hit $150 million from a payroll perspective is something that will not likely be touched. That could change as economic standards adjust, but in the foreseeable future, Minnesota will not reach that threshold for an Opening Day roster. Per Spotrac, Minnesota’s current payroll sits at $138 million for the season, or roughly $10 million below what is seen as a non-starting amount. In getting there, they paid handsomely for Carlos Correa ($35.1 million) and brought in Gary Sanchez to replace Mitch Garver. Sonny Gray commands $10.6 million and was acquired for a prospect that the Twins handed a $2.5 million bonus just a year prior. Up against where ownership has given the front office somewhat of a line, that meant value plays had to pan out. The front office gambled on a bullpen largely reflective of their own development. Even without considering the Taylor Rogers trade, that meant big innings would be needed from Jhoan Duran (who was not seen as a lock going into Spring Training), Tyler Duffey, and Caleb Thielbar. The only addition to the relief corps was Joe Smith, a 38-year-old veteran with no velocity making just $2.5 million. On the starting front, behind Gray, it was all bargain bin additions. Dylan Bundy was a bounce-back candidate at $4 million, and Chris Archer was inked to an incentive-laden deal that starts at just $2.75 million. In and of themselves, neither pitcher has been the issue, while both have provided plenty of issues for Rocco Baldelli as a whole. Smartly, the skipper has tried to avoid having any of his back-three pitchers in the rotation see a lineup for the third time. Archer and Bundy have both been bludgeoned as games have gone on, and that’s made for significant bullpen workloads. On the flip side, a taxed relief unit that has largely underperformed has given a constant chicken-or-the-egg situation to navigate through. This all goes back to the situation Minnesota now finds themselves in, and if the plan originally dictated by ownership, was worth it. The front office has to play within the parameters of the budget given to them. That’s always going to present a value proposition scenario in which you attempt to acquire the most amount of return for the least amount of money. Bundy and Archer are a perfect representation of that; so too is Joe Smith. The significant surplus was applied to Correa, but then it was deemed that the well had been tapped. Say the Twins' front office could’ve been given another $10 million during the winter, does that change the level of starting arms they target looking to take work off the plate of the bullpen? Could they have added another reliever or two and passed on Smith being the only reinforcement? Adding at the deadline is a tricky scenario in that you’re likely bringing on more money anyways, and vying with multiple suitors all attempting to acquire the same available talent. I certainly don’t think there’s an argument to be made that the Twins front office failed to plan this year. They didn’t want the slew of injuries, but no one does. If they failed to plan, it was in that the constraints presented by ownership, and maybe not pushed back on by the front office, left them a couple of pieces short to start, and even more when the season drew on. There’s probably never an amount that represents enough spending in the eyes of fans, and that’s really not a fair place to operate a budget from. Considering the actual acquisitions, however, squeezing value from all but the big one clearly didn’t provide enough of an opportunity to withstand the rigors of a long season. View full article
  11. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Bundy 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR (77 pitches, 50 strikes) Homeruns: Buxton (24), Urshela (9) Bottom 3 WPA: Duffey -.360, Bundy -.327, Kirilloff -.155 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After an easy two-game sweep of the Tigers, Byron Buxton was looking to keep things moving in the right direction for the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, just one week away from the trade deadline. Buxton crushed a fastball 112 mph, 449 feet for a home run in the first at-bat of the inning. The Twins didn’t manage to add on, despite a Carlos Correa double and Kyle Garlick being gifted two bases by an errant infield throw. The end of the first inning and the bottom of the second were the perfect amalgam of the 2022 Twins weaknesses, rolled into a painfully predictable 10-minute sequence. In the bottom of the second Dylan Bundy gave up two soft singles, before surrendering a blistering, three-run home run to left field off the bat Hunter Renfroe. The Brewers added another run, increasing the lead to 4-1. It was the useful reminder no Twins fans needed, that Bundy is simply not an effective major league caliber starting pitcher. The margin of error, when topping out at 90 mph, is just too small. Jose Miranda laced a two-run double to left field in the top of the third inning to score Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco, cutting the lead to 4-3. Bundy immediately returned the favor in the bottom of the third, surrendering another long home run to Luis Urias to make the lead 5-3. In the top of the fifth, the Twins took their second lead of the night. A Jose Miranda single and a walk from Jorge Polanco set the stage for an impressive three-run home run from Gio Urshela, who has made a habit of big moments in his first season in Minnesota. Joe Smith relieved Dylan Bundy. It went about as expected. Smith got through an inning, but gave up the game-tying run, a solo home run from Kolton Wong. Emilio Pagan followed in sixth and worked a scoreless inning, but the pitching order of Bundy, Smith, and Pagan was an obvious reminder of the Twins lack of high-end pitching depth against a fellow division leader. The Twins could have taken the lead in the top of the seventh. Jorge Polanco walked and Jose Miranda followed up with his third hit of the night, an infield single. A Gio Urshela fly ball looked as if it would drop but for a shoe-string intervention from Brewers centerfielder Jonathan Davis. Griffin Jax pitched a scoreless, efficient inning for the Twins in the seventh, taking the game into the eighth inning tied 6-6. Devin Williams pitched a scoreless eighth for the Brewers, making Twins hitters not named Luis Arraez look silly in the process. Jhoan Duran took over for the Twins in the bottom of the inning and struggled. After beginning the inning with a strikeout, the Brewers got a runner on first via a Luis Urias single. Two walks followed and Duran had loaded the bases (and walked two hitters for the first time in his career) with Willy Adames at the plate. After throwing nothin but triple digit fastballs, Duran peeled off a bowel-locking curveball that froze Adames to end the threat. Hader pitched a clean and much too easy ninth inning, getting Buxton, Correa, and Polanco on just nine pitches. Tyler Duffey relieved Duran, who had thrown 32 pitches in the eighth. After a quick out, Duffey surrendered a single and two walks to load the bases with one out. Luis Urias won the game for the Brewers on a sacrifice fly to right field. In a battle of the bullpens, the vastly superior bullpen will usually win. Outside of Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran the Twins pitching staff looks like an Escher painting of question marks at a critical juncture of their season. The Twins continue to teeter in the AL Central, seemingly the least flawed team in an ugly division, but, as currently constructed, so obviously falling short of the type of roster that could legitimately threaten in October. With the trade deadline imminent, the next week promises to be extremely interesting in Twins Territory. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Duran 0 11 0 0 32 43 Duffey 0 11 0 0 25 36 Smith 0 0 16 0 17 33 Moran 0 28 0 0 0 28 Jax 0 0 13 0 12 25 Pagan 0 2 0 0 20 22 Cotton 0 0 11 0 0 11 Megill 0 7 0 0 0 7 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series in Milwaukee. Chris Archer takes the mound for the Twins, against Corbin Burnes of the Brewers. First pitch is 1:10 CT Postgame Interviews
  12. The Twins lost 7-6 to the Brewers on Tuesday. Despite an excellent fightback and a solid overall offensive performance, the Twins couldn't overcome a poor start from Dylan Bundy, and ran out of effective relivers at the end of the game. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Bundy 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR (77 pitches, 50 strikes) Homeruns: Buxton (24), Urshela (9) Bottom 3 WPA: Duffey -.360, Bundy -.327, Kirilloff -.155 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After an easy two-game sweep of the Tigers, Byron Buxton was looking to keep things moving in the right direction for the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, just one week away from the trade deadline. Buxton crushed a fastball 112 mph, 449 feet for a home run in the first at-bat of the inning. The Twins didn’t manage to add on, despite a Carlos Correa double and Kyle Garlick being gifted two bases by an errant infield throw. The end of the first inning and the bottom of the second were the perfect amalgam of the 2022 Twins weaknesses, rolled into a painfully predictable 10-minute sequence. In the bottom of the second Dylan Bundy gave up two soft singles, before surrendering a blistering, three-run home run to left field off the bat Hunter Renfroe. The Brewers added another run, increasing the lead to 4-1. It was the useful reminder no Twins fans needed, that Bundy is simply not an effective major league caliber starting pitcher. The margin of error, when topping out at 90 mph, is just too small. Jose Miranda laced a two-run double to left field in the top of the third inning to score Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco, cutting the lead to 4-3. Bundy immediately returned the favor in the bottom of the third, surrendering another long home run to Luis Urias to make the lead 5-3. In the top of the fifth, the Twins took their second lead of the night. A Jose Miranda single and a walk from Jorge Polanco set the stage for an impressive three-run home run from Gio Urshela, who has made a habit of big moments in his first season in Minnesota. Joe Smith relieved Dylan Bundy. It went about as expected. Smith got through an inning, but gave up the game-tying run, a solo home run from Kolton Wong. Emilio Pagan followed in sixth and worked a scoreless inning, but the pitching order of Bundy, Smith, and Pagan was an obvious reminder of the Twins lack of high-end pitching depth against a fellow division leader. The Twins could have taken the lead in the top of the seventh. Jorge Polanco walked and Jose Miranda followed up with his third hit of the night, an infield single. A Gio Urshela fly ball looked as if it would drop but for a shoe-string intervention from Brewers centerfielder Jonathan Davis. Griffin Jax pitched a scoreless, efficient inning for the Twins in the seventh, taking the game into the eighth inning tied 6-6. Devin Williams pitched a scoreless eighth for the Brewers, making Twins hitters not named Luis Arraez look silly in the process. Jhoan Duran took over for the Twins in the bottom of the inning and struggled. After beginning the inning with a strikeout, the Brewers got a runner on first via a Luis Urias single. Two walks followed and Duran had loaded the bases (and walked two hitters for the first time in his career) with Willy Adames at the plate. After throwing nothin but triple digit fastballs, Duran peeled off a bowel-locking curveball that froze Adames to end the threat. Hader pitched a clean and much too easy ninth inning, getting Buxton, Correa, and Polanco on just nine pitches. Tyler Duffey relieved Duran, who had thrown 32 pitches in the eighth. After a quick out, Duffey surrendered a single and two walks to load the bases with one out. Luis Urias won the game for the Brewers on a sacrifice fly to right field. In a battle of the bullpens, the vastly superior bullpen will usually win. Outside of Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran the Twins pitching staff looks like an Escher painting of question marks at a critical juncture of their season. The Twins continue to teeter in the AL Central, seemingly the least flawed team in an ugly division, but, as currently constructed, so obviously falling short of the type of roster that could legitimately threaten in October. With the trade deadline imminent, the next week promises to be extremely interesting in Twins Territory. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Duran 0 11 0 0 32 43 Duffey 0 11 0 0 25 36 Smith 0 0 16 0 17 33 Moran 0 28 0 0 0 28 Jax 0 0 13 0 12 25 Pagan 0 2 0 0 20 22 Cotton 0 0 11 0 0 11 Megill 0 7 0 0 0 7 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series in Milwaukee. Chris Archer takes the mound for the Twins, against Corbin Burnes of the Brewers. First pitch is 1:10 CT Postgame Interviews View full article
  13. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning.
  14. The team has a solid foundation from which other additions can improve. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning. View full article
  15. You all thought there were going to lose, didn't you? Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nick Gordon (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.359), Jhoan Duran (.188), Joe Smith (.094) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer faced off against seatbelt-enthusiast Zach Plesac in the final game of the series against the Cleveland Guardians. It was a beautiful day game; people around the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, while Twins fans looked to celebrate a victory after pulling defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday and Tuesday. The first few innings breezed by before Nick Gordon blasted a hanging curveball deep into center field for his second homer of the season. The opportunity for Gordon to play centerfield and start in the lineup existed in the vacuum left by Byron Buxton’s mysterious, nagging injury. The team’s caution is Gordon’s advantage; the extra playing time has allowed him and Gilberto Celestino to flex their usefulness until Buxton returns. Smeltzer was the story on Thursday. The often-leaned on lefty came up clutch again, firing off 6 shutout innings with three strikeouts to stymy Cleveland’s bats. The Guardians were confounded all day, sending balls directly toward defenders without recourse; their BABIP against Smeltzer was a paltry .167. No one knows how he continues to do this, but few will dare be anything but grateful for the boost Smeltzer has given to the starting rotation in the absence of multiple starters. But this is a Twins game in 2022, and we know better than to get our hopes up after a great start; the bullpen must do their job, after all. Joe Smith started the 7th inning, and while he loaded the bases before netting out, he somehow wriggled out of the situation, and the team walked away unscathed. Jhoan Duran had the 8th inning and was considerably less noisy in his work. He “hit” Amed Rosario in the hand with a fastball—Rosario’s hands would no longer exist if that were true—but had an otherwise clean inning. Duran then entered the 9th inning, looking to end the game possibly. He obliterated Franmil Reyes before Rocco Baldelli halted the game and began a slow walk to the mound. It’s unclear what Baldelli said—us mere regulars don’t earn the privilege of knowing—but Caleb Thielbar then came bounding out of the bullpen to the sounds of exhausted boos anticipating the future. Andrés Giménez plopped a double into left field, of course, before Ernie Clement dribbled a ball 50 feet; Thielbar threw him out at 1st. Steven Kwan, the nuisance of the series, stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit. Thielbar peppered him with fastballs around the perimeter, daring the rookie to trust his strike zone instincts before blowing a fastball by him for strike three. After two barn-burners, Thursday's game was a tame palate cleanser. Both teams collected just five hits⁠—Carlos Correa had three of them for the Twins⁠—and pitchers issued just three walks on the day. If there was ever a dictionary definition of a getaway day-game, this would be it. Outside of Gordon's homer, the only extra-base hit for the Twins belonged to Gio Urshela, who earned credit for a "double" that Reyes brutally fumbled. Apparently the official scorer felt lenient on Thursday. What’s Next? The Twins will remain in Minnesota and host the Colorado Rockies on Friday, the first time Colorado has played at Target Field since 2017. Dylan Bundy is set to face off against Germán Márquez. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  16. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nick Gordon (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.359), Jhoan Duran (.188), Joe Smith (.094) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer faced off against seatbelt-enthusiast Zach Plesac in the final game of the series against the Cleveland Guardians. It was a beautiful day game; people around the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, while Twins fans looked to celebrate a victory after pulling defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday and Tuesday. The first few innings breezed by before Nick Gordon blasted a hanging curveball deep into center field for his second homer of the season. The opportunity for Gordon to play centerfield and start in the lineup existed in the vacuum left by Byron Buxton’s mysterious, nagging injury. The team’s caution is Gordon’s advantage; the extra playing time has allowed him and Gilberto Celestino to flex their usefulness until Buxton returns. Smeltzer was the story on Thursday. The often-leaned on lefty came up clutch again, firing off 6 shutout innings with three strikeouts to stymy Cleveland’s bats. The Guardians were confounded all day, sending balls directly toward defenders without recourse; their BABIP against Smeltzer was a paltry .167. No one knows how he continues to do this, but few will dare be anything but grateful for the boost Smeltzer has given to the starting rotation in the absence of multiple starters. But this is a Twins game in 2022, and we know better than to get our hopes up after a great start; the bullpen must do their job, after all. Joe Smith started the 7th inning, and while he loaded the bases before netting out, he somehow wriggled out of the situation, and the team walked away unscathed. Jhoan Duran had the 8th inning and was considerably less noisy in his work. He “hit” Amed Rosario in the hand with a fastball—Rosario’s hands would no longer exist if that were true—but had an otherwise clean inning. Duran then entered the 9th inning, looking to end the game possibly. He obliterated Franmil Reyes before Rocco Baldelli halted the game and began a slow walk to the mound. It’s unclear what Baldelli said—us mere regulars don’t earn the privilege of knowing—but Caleb Thielbar then came bounding out of the bullpen to the sounds of exhausted boos anticipating the future. Andrés Giménez plopped a double into left field, of course, before Ernie Clement dribbled a ball 50 feet; Thielbar threw him out at 1st. Steven Kwan, the nuisance of the series, stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit. Thielbar peppered him with fastballs around the perimeter, daring the rookie to trust his strike zone instincts before blowing a fastball by him for strike three. After two barn-burners, Thursday's game was a tame palate cleanser. Both teams collected just five hits⁠—Carlos Correa had three of them for the Twins⁠—and pitchers issued just three walks on the day. If there was ever a dictionary definition of a getaway day-game, this would be it. Outside of Gordon's homer, the only extra-base hit for the Twins belonged to Gio Urshela, who earned credit for a "double" that Reyes brutally fumbled. Apparently the official scorer felt lenient on Thursday. What’s Next? The Twins will remain in Minnesota and host the Colorado Rockies on Friday, the first time Colorado has played at Target Field since 2017. Dylan Bundy is set to face off against Germán Márquez. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  17. In yet another inspired night by the offense, who had Byron Buxton homer twice, the Twins got a convincing win against the Rays to start the series. Devin Smeltzer had a quality start, despite not finishing it the way he wanted. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 61 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton, 2 (17), Carlos Correa (5) Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.198), Devin Smeltzer (.110), Jorge Polanco (.082) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Over the last seven days, the Twins offense has experienced a spike in productivity. Coming into this game, they had baseball’s second-best OPS in that span, at .945. The bats continued to impress at the beginning of this game. Despite capitalizing on only one run, five of the first eleven Minnesota batters reached safely. They quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead with a second-decker from Byron Buxton five pitches into the game. According to Aaron Gleeman, that home run raised Buxton’s SLG to .702 since May 26, when he snapped a 0-for-30 slump. It was Byron’s fifth homer in the past six games – only his second of the season as a designated hitter. Despite having several batters reach base, the Twins failed to bring them home. Through four innings, Minnesota went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Fortunately for them, Devin Smeltzer put together another lovely outing. The Rays tied the game in the top of the second on an Isaac Paredes long solo home run. Smeltzer gave up a leadoff walk to start the third but then followed that up brilliantly: he retired nine consecutive batters on only 35 pitches. He completed five innings of one-run ball with only 70 pitches. All he needed at that moment was some run support. Twins explode for six runs in the fifth Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen kept the Twins scoring on a leash during the first four innings, but his start was wrecked in the fifth inning. Minnesota crushed him scoring four runs on six hits, four of them for extra bases – not to mention a walk drawn by Trevor Larnach. Buxton led the way hitting his second solo home run of the night, smashing a low-hanging slider for a line drive that barely cleared the centerfield wall into the Twins bullpen. With that dinger, Buxton became only the fourth player in Twins history with back-to-back multi-homer games, joining Don Mincher, Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Rosario. Two more runs came in the following three at-bats when Carlos Correa hit a double to left, then was pushed across by Max Kepler, thanks to a fielding error. Kepler himself scored next, with Jorge Polanco hitting a double to left, making it 4-1 Minnesota. A mound visit didn’t help Rasmussen, as he gave up a walk to Trevor Larnach. Gary Sánchez then hit a grounder to left that third baseman Yandy Díaz couldn’t glove, allowing Polanco to score the fifth run and Larnach to go to third. That was the end of the night for Rasmussen, but not the end of the Twins' scoring spree. Now facing old friend Ralph Garza Jr., Nick Gordon got a two-out single off the end of the bat to bring home Sánchez. At this point, Luis Arráez was the only Twin not to reach base on the night. That, of course, would change as he followed Gordon’s RBI single with one of his own. He hit a liner to right that scored Gio Urshela from second, making 7-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the seventh, departs after being roughed up After five brilliant innings, Smeltzer pitched yet another scoreless frame in the sixth inning. His streak of consecutive retired batters reached eleven before he gave up a two-out single to Harold Ramírez. He struck out Díaz to end the inning with a healthy 84-pitch count, which made the decision to bring him back for the seventh a no-brainer. Unfortunately for him, his almost impeccable start was stained, and he had to leave the game before he could record a single out in the inning. Randy Arozarena hit a long flyball to deep center that could’ve been gloved, but Gordon failed to. It took Kepler too long to get to the ball that bounced off the centerfield wall, which allowed Arozarena to score an inside-the-park home run. On the very next pitch, Vidal Bruján hit a bullet to deep left, out of Larnach’s reach, for another home run. Even after a mound visit, Smeltzer seemed a bit off, and after an eight-pitch at-bat, he gave up a walk to Paredes, prompting Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and, with three strikeouts, made sure the Rays didn’t score anymore. The Twins bullpen needed some damage control after Thursday’s meltdown against the Yankees. Jax striking out the side and preventing a Rays rally in the seventh was a good start. Then, in the eighth, Baldelli made the odd choice of bringing Joe Smith into the game (he tossed 26 pitches the night before). He had a blown save on Thursday night, giving up a game-tying two-run home run. Maybe one way to reason for bringing Smith into this game is that he could regain some confidence. Coming into tonight’s game, he had an awful 8.44 ERA in his previous seven appearances. He could use a good outing here. But he wasn’t off to a good start, giving up back-to-back singles to Manuel Margot and Ramírez. Margot would end up scoring on an Arozarena groundout, but Smith managed to keep the damage to the one run. Correa adds on some insurance Garza Jr. settled down and finished his outing by retiring seven out of eight batters, keeping the Twins offense scoreless in the sixth and the seventh innings. But once he departed the game, the Twins bats were back at scoring some more runs. Arráez hit a leadoff single to open the eighth and, a couple of at-bats later, Correa took reliever Calvin Faucher deep for his fifth home run of the year, breaking the game open once again. Then, it was up to Emilio Pagán, who had no trouble closing out the game with a perfect ninth, making it his fourth scoreless appearance in the last five games. What’s Next? Both teams are back on the field tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. No starter has been officially determined by the Twins yet, while the Rays will turn to rookie righty Shane Baz, who will be making his season debut. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 0 26 24 50 Cano 0 33 0 13 0 46 Jax 0 0 27 0 14 41 Megill 0 38 0 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 36 0 36 Pagán 0 0 15 0 15 30 Duffey 0 19 0 0 0 19 Duran 0 0 0 15 0 15 Thielbar 0 0 14 0 0 14 Cotton 0 0 0 13 0 13 View full article
  18. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 61 strikes, 63.5%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton, 2 (17), Carlos Correa (5) Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.198), Devin Smeltzer (.110), Jorge Polanco (.082) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Over the last seven days, the Twins offense has experienced a spike in productivity. Coming into this game, they had baseball’s second-best OPS in that span, at .945. The bats continued to impress at the beginning of this game. Despite capitalizing on only one run, five of the first eleven Minnesota batters reached safely. They quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead with a second-decker from Byron Buxton five pitches into the game. According to Aaron Gleeman, that home run raised Buxton’s SLG to .702 since May 26, when he snapped a 0-for-30 slump. It was Byron’s fifth homer in the past six games – only his second of the season as a designated hitter. Despite having several batters reach base, the Twins failed to bring them home. Through four innings, Minnesota went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Fortunately for them, Devin Smeltzer put together another lovely outing. The Rays tied the game in the top of the second on an Isaac Paredes long solo home run. Smeltzer gave up a leadoff walk to start the third but then followed that up brilliantly: he retired nine consecutive batters on only 35 pitches. He completed five innings of one-run ball with only 70 pitches. All he needed at that moment was some run support. Twins explode for six runs in the fifth Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen kept the Twins scoring on a leash during the first four innings, but his start was wrecked in the fifth inning. Minnesota crushed him scoring four runs on six hits, four of them for extra bases – not to mention a walk drawn by Trevor Larnach. Buxton led the way hitting his second solo home run of the night, smashing a low-hanging slider for a line drive that barely cleared the centerfield wall into the Twins bullpen. With that dinger, Buxton became only the fourth player in Twins history with back-to-back multi-homer games, joining Don Mincher, Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Rosario. Two more runs came in the following three at-bats when Carlos Correa hit a double to left, then was pushed across by Max Kepler, thanks to a fielding error. Kepler himself scored next, with Jorge Polanco hitting a double to left, making it 4-1 Minnesota. A mound visit didn’t help Rasmussen, as he gave up a walk to Trevor Larnach. Gary Sánchez then hit a grounder to left that third baseman Yandy Díaz couldn’t glove, allowing Polanco to score the fifth run and Larnach to go to third. That was the end of the night for Rasmussen, but not the end of the Twins' scoring spree. Now facing old friend Ralph Garza Jr., Nick Gordon got a two-out single off the end of the bat to bring home Sánchez. At this point, Luis Arráez was the only Twin not to reach base on the night. That, of course, would change as he followed Gordon’s RBI single with one of his own. He hit a liner to right that scored Gio Urshela from second, making 7-1 Twins. Smeltzer pitches into the seventh, departs after being roughed up After five brilliant innings, Smeltzer pitched yet another scoreless frame in the sixth inning. His streak of consecutive retired batters reached eleven before he gave up a two-out single to Harold Ramírez. He struck out Díaz to end the inning with a healthy 84-pitch count, which made the decision to bring him back for the seventh a no-brainer. Unfortunately for him, his almost impeccable start was stained, and he had to leave the game before he could record a single out in the inning. Randy Arozarena hit a long flyball to deep center that could’ve been gloved, but Gordon failed to. It took Kepler too long to get to the ball that bounced off the centerfield wall, which allowed Arozarena to score an inside-the-park home run. On the very next pitch, Vidal Bruján hit a bullet to deep left, out of Larnach’s reach, for another home run. Even after a mound visit, Smeltzer seemed a bit off, and after an eight-pitch at-bat, he gave up a walk to Paredes, prompting Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and, with three strikeouts, made sure the Rays didn’t score anymore. The Twins bullpen needed some damage control after Thursday’s meltdown against the Yankees. Jax striking out the side and preventing a Rays rally in the seventh was a good start. Then, in the eighth, Baldelli made the odd choice of bringing Joe Smith into the game (he tossed 26 pitches the night before). He had a blown save on Thursday night, giving up a game-tying two-run home run. Maybe one way to reason for bringing Smith into this game is that he could regain some confidence. Coming into tonight’s game, he had an awful 8.44 ERA in his previous seven appearances. He could use a good outing here. But he wasn’t off to a good start, giving up back-to-back singles to Manuel Margot and Ramírez. Margot would end up scoring on an Arozarena groundout, but Smith managed to keep the damage to the one run. Correa adds on some insurance Garza Jr. settled down and finished his outing by retiring seven out of eight batters, keeping the Twins offense scoreless in the sixth and the seventh innings. But once he departed the game, the Twins bats were back at scoring some more runs. Arráez hit a leadoff single to open the eighth and, a couple of at-bats later, Correa took reliever Calvin Faucher deep for his fifth home run of the year, breaking the game open once again. Then, it was up to Emilio Pagán, who had no trouble closing out the game with a perfect ninth, making it his fourth scoreless appearance in the last five games. What’s Next? Both teams are back on the field tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT. No starter has been officially determined by the Twins yet, while the Rays will turn to rookie righty Shane Baz, who will be making his season debut. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 0 26 24 50 Cano 0 33 0 13 0 46 Jax 0 0 27 0 14 41 Megill 0 38 0 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 36 0 36 Pagán 0 0 15 0 15 30 Duffey 0 19 0 0 0 19 Duran 0 0 0 15 0 15 Thielbar 0 0 14 0 0 14 Cotton 0 0 0 13 0 13
  19. The Twins are currently 4.5 games up on the Cleveland Guardians; the White Sox are stinky, and the Tigers and Royals remembered that they are, in fact, the Tigers and Royals. Every other team in the Twins' division is dreadfully below .500 and has little recourse for their sins. Given the AL Comedy Central context, what could the Twins possibly worry about? A few things! Actually. Let’s talk about the bullpen, that terrible bullpen. Twins relievers moonlighted as an adequate group for a handful of games, perhaps fooling some into believing that Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and their Merry Group of Men could hold their own at least until the trade deadline. That came down in a crashing, painful fashion. Cody Stashak is injured, Smith is now mortal, Tyler Duffey forgot that he’s supposed to be good, Caleb Thielbar is walking a small village, and Emilio Pagán… let’s just leave that name undescribed. If not for Duran and his magical right arm, the bullpen would require an NC-17 rating every time Rocco Baldelli called for “support.” Stretching back to when Houston systematically crushed the Twins starting on May 10th, the unit has put up the 6th worst FIP in MLB (4.45). There is little in the form of inspirational reinforcements as well. Yennier Cano has excellent stuff but wrestles with bouts of lost command; Trevor Megill also has great stuff, but, and you’ll be shocked to read this, he too struggles with command at times. Maybe Ian Hamilton or Austin Schulfer could provide a jolt, but it would be foolish to bet on that happening. One could snarkily mention Taylor Rogers, but the Brewers jumped all over him on Thursday, so that punchline is no longer as funny. How about the starting rotation, now. Outside of the one time a week Joe Ryan descends from above to bless us with a great start (or at least when that used to happen before he got COVID), the rotation is more inconsistent than Florida in an election year. Sonny Gray is great but has now suffered multiple injuries; Chris Archer finally hit the five-inning threshold in a start the other day (it’s June), Dylan Bundy is Dylan Bundy-ing, and, honestly, who knows after that. Chris Paddack was a joy to watch until he tore his UCL again, and Josh Winder flashed potential… until he aggravated his right shoulder… again. The rotation is now Bailey Ober and whatever magic Devin Smeltzer has left in his stirrups. Chi Chi González is now starting. The case rests. “But the team is severely injured,” you might say. The Twins these days are indeed the baseball equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, but there’s no promise that the injuries will let up, and what matters is what the team does on the field, not what the team could be doing on the field. There are no awards for potential. To combat an article full of negativity, Ryan and Carlos Correa will return from COVID soon, as will Gilberto Celestino. This very well could be just one of those streaks in a baseball season, the kind that scares everyone into claiming the sky is falling before laughing off the notion after a month of great play; the team did win 18 games in May. Perhaps none of this matters—the Al Central is currently a handful of teams that look more like fronts for tax fraud than actual baseball franchises—but this team is not in great shape. The two-month slog until the trade deadline will be crucial; key pieces need to get healthy and stay healthy for this team to have hope against the better squads in the AL. The house of cards was wobbly to begin with, and they may be slipping with each day.
  20. The esteemed Matthew brother, the one with the surname “Taylor,” decided to write about why people should not be worried about the Twins. In Fairness (™), we at Twinsdaily thought it would be fun to pull a Richard Nixon; reaping the benefits of reactionary negativity by presenting a counter-article proclaiming that we should, indeed, be worried about these Twins. The Twins are currently 4.5 games up on the Cleveland Guardians; the White Sox are stinky, and the Tigers and Royals remembered that they are, in fact, the Tigers and Royals. Every other team in the Twins' division is dreadfully below .500 and has little recourse for their sins. Given the AL Comedy Central context, what could the Twins possibly worry about? A few things! Actually. Let’s talk about the bullpen, that terrible bullpen. Twins relievers moonlighted as an adequate group for a handful of games, perhaps fooling some into believing that Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and their Merry Group of Men could hold their own at least until the trade deadline. That came down in a crashing, painful fashion. Cody Stashak is injured, Smith is now mortal, Tyler Duffey forgot that he’s supposed to be good, Caleb Thielbar is walking a small village, and Emilio Pagán… let’s just leave that name undescribed. If not for Duran and his magical right arm, the bullpen would require an NC-17 rating every time Rocco Baldelli called for “support.” Stretching back to when Houston systematically crushed the Twins starting on May 10th, the unit has put up the 6th worst FIP in MLB (4.45). There is little in the form of inspirational reinforcements as well. Yennier Cano has excellent stuff but wrestles with bouts of lost command; Trevor Megill also has great stuff, but, and you’ll be shocked to read this, he too struggles with command at times. Maybe Ian Hamilton or Austin Schulfer could provide a jolt, but it would be foolish to bet on that happening. One could snarkily mention Taylor Rogers, but the Brewers jumped all over him on Thursday, so that punchline is no longer as funny. How about the starting rotation, now. Outside of the one time a week Joe Ryan descends from above to bless us with a great start (or at least when that used to happen before he got COVID), the rotation is more inconsistent than Florida in an election year. Sonny Gray is great but has now suffered multiple injuries; Chris Archer finally hit the five-inning threshold in a start the other day (it’s June), Dylan Bundy is Dylan Bundy-ing, and, honestly, who knows after that. Chris Paddack was a joy to watch until he tore his UCL again, and Josh Winder flashed potential… until he aggravated his right shoulder… again. The rotation is now Bailey Ober and whatever magic Devin Smeltzer has left in his stirrups. Chi Chi González is now starting. The case rests. “But the team is severely injured,” you might say. The Twins these days are indeed the baseball equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, but there’s no promise that the injuries will let up, and what matters is what the team does on the field, not what the team could be doing on the field. There are no awards for potential. To combat an article full of negativity, Ryan and Carlos Correa will return from COVID soon, as will Gilberto Celestino. This very well could be just one of those streaks in a baseball season, the kind that scares everyone into claiming the sky is falling before laughing off the notion after a month of great play; the team did win 18 games in May. Perhaps none of this matters—the Al Central is currently a handful of teams that look more like fronts for tax fraud than actual baseball franchises—but this team is not in great shape. The two-month slog until the trade deadline will be crucial; key pieces need to get healthy and stay healthy for this team to have hope against the better squads in the AL. The house of cards was wobbly to begin with, and they may be slipping with each day. View full article
  21. In terms of impact on winning ballgames, the Minnesota Twins' bullpen has been one of the best in the league this year, playing a key role in propelling the team to first place by a healthy margin through 48 games. But a deeper look reveals alarming signs. Monday's game against the Tigers offered ominous signs of potential things to come. Joe Smith, who allowed zero runs in his first 16 appearances of the season, has now allowed four runs in his past four. He couldn't dance his way out of a leadoff triple in the seventh at Detroit, letting two runs in on three hits and taking the loss. The regression he's experiencing may be a harbinger for the relief corps as a whole. According to Win Probability Added, which quantifies the percent change in a team's chances of winning from one event to the next, Minnesota's bullpen entered play Monday as the fourth-best in baseball, adding more than two victories to the ledger through clutch performances in tight situations. With the Twins possessing a 9-5 record in one-run games, that sounds about right. However, according to Wins Above Replacement, which seeks to paint a more process-driven picture of value, Twins relievers have been the second-WORST in all of baseball – dead last in the American League. FanGraphs pegs this group as sub-replacement level on whole. That is the case despite breakout star Jhoan Duran pitching incredibly well at the back end. In fact, his status as a crux point in this Twins bullpen might be the scariest thing of all. Without him around, the unit would look dramatically worse and less imposing. In order to avoid turning too often to guys like Tyler Duffey and Emilio Pagán, who are hard to trust, the Twins will need to lean hard on Duran. But we're talking about a guy who threw 16 total innings the past two years, and who dealt with a serious elbow strain for almost all of 2021. There's a huge risk in overusing him. From a big-picture perspective, they should probably err toward underusing him. Reinforcements will be needed as we get into the heart of the summer. Yennier Canó unfortunately did not make a strong impression during his first turn with the big-league club. Danny Coulombe will be out for a while after aggravating his hip injury. Jorge Alcala's return is not imminent. Right now, there's a lot of pressure on the likes of Juan Minaya, Jovani Moran, and Trevor Megill to establish themselves as viable options in leverage, which is not a great place for the Twins to be. (This is where I must obligatorily point out that – as Chris Paddack embarks on the long road back from Tommy John surgery – Taylor Rogers has a 1.17 ERA for the Padres and leads the world in saves, although he did cough up a game to Pittsburgh the other night by allowing three runs.) Minnesota's bullpen has outperformed expectations and underlying metrics like no other in the game. As the season progresses, that balancing act becomes trickier and trickier. So far Rocco Baldelli has mostly been putting relievers in a position to succeed and relievers have mostly been getting it done. How much longer will that sustain? Unless a few guys other than Duran can step up, I fear Monday's slip-up was only the beginning. View full article
  22. Monday's game against the Tigers offered ominous signs of potential things to come. Joe Smith, who allowed zero runs in his first 16 appearances of the season, has now allowed four runs in his past four. He couldn't dance his way out of a leadoff triple in the seventh at Detroit, letting two runs in on three hits and taking the loss. The regression he's experiencing may be a harbinger for the relief corps as a whole. According to Win Probability Added, which quantifies the percent change in a team's chances of winning from one event to the next, Minnesota's bullpen entered play Monday as the fourth-best in baseball, adding more than two victories to the ledger through clutch performances in tight situations. With the Twins possessing a 9-5 record in one-run games, that sounds about right. However, according to Wins Above Replacement, which seeks to paint a more process-driven picture of value, Twins relievers have been the second-WORST in all of baseball – dead last in the American League. FanGraphs pegs this group as sub-replacement level on whole. That is the case despite breakout star Jhoan Duran pitching incredibly well at the back end. In fact, his status as a crux point in this Twins bullpen might be the scariest thing of all. Without him around, the unit would look dramatically worse and less imposing. In order to avoid turning too often to guys like Tyler Duffey and Emilio Pagán, who are hard to trust, the Twins will need to lean hard on Duran. But we're talking about a guy who threw 16 total innings the past two years, and who dealt with a serious elbow strain for almost all of 2021. There's a huge risk in overusing him. From a big-picture perspective, they should probably err toward underusing him. Reinforcements will be needed as we get into the heart of the summer. Yennier Canó unfortunately did not make a strong impression during his first turn with the big-league club. Danny Coulombe will be out for a while after aggravating his hip injury. Jorge Alcala's return is not imminent. Right now, there's a lot of pressure on the likes of Juan Minaya, Jovani Moran, and Trevor Megill to establish themselves as viable options in leverage, which is not a great place for the Twins to be. (This is where I must obligatorily point out that – as Chris Paddack embarks on the long road back from Tommy John surgery – Taylor Rogers has a 1.17 ERA for the Padres and leads the world in saves, although he did cough up a game to Pittsburgh the other night by allowing three runs.) Minnesota's bullpen has outperformed expectations and underlying metrics like no other in the game. As the season progresses, that balancing act becomes trickier and trickier. So far Rocco Baldelli has mostly been putting relievers in a position to succeed and relievers have mostly been getting it done. How much longer will that sustain? Unless a few guys other than Duran can step up, I fear Monday's slip-up was only the beginning.
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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