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  1. Not much went right for the Twins during the 2021 campaign. Injuries and pitching issues were just some of the problems that pushed the Twins to the bottom of the AL Central. So, what went wrong with the 2021 Twins? When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Kenta Maeda is going under the knife today after a somewhat disappointing 2021 season. The extent of the injury will be known when the surgery is complete. (Editor's Update: Maeda had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.) So, two seasons after the deal, can we answer yet which team won the Kenta Maeda trade? Minnesota had many reasons to be interested in trading for Kenta Maeda before the 2020 season. He had shown positive signs during his time in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers had an influx of starting pitching. He pitched over 125 innings in each of his first four big-league seasons, but the team tended to move him to a bullpen role as the season came to a close. Injury concerns might have been one of the reasons the Dodgers tried to limit Maeda’s innings. (At least that sounds better than trying to limit how much they had to pay him.) When he initially signed from Japan, his physical exam revealed “irregularities” in his right elbow. At the time, MLB.com said, “the strong suspicion is that he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point.” This prognosis resulted in a very team-friendly eight-year contract which guaranteed Maeda a minimum of $25 million with a chance to be worth over $106 million. This gave the Dodgers some wiggle room if Maeda did go under the knife. He pitched over 600 innings for the Dodgers, and they went on multiple World Series runs, and his elbow wasn’t an issue. Team-controlled starting pitching is one of baseball’s most valuable assets, so Maeda was an easy target for the Twins. His team-friendly deal was a positive, and he hadn’t shown any injury concerns up to this point. Any team trading for a player gets access to their medical records, so there must not have been anything out of the ordinary regarding Maeda’s physical. Plus, the Twins saw their winning window was open, and Maeda helped make the team better. Maeda provided Minnesota with everything they wanted and more during his first season with the club. He finished runner-up for the Cy Young Award after a dominating season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.75 WHIP. He struck out 80 batters in 66 2/3 innings while only issuing ten walks. From the other perspective, Brusdar Graterol has pitched less than 50 innings for the Dodgers. He has posted a 3.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. Graterol makes hitting triple-digits look easy, but he has yet to develop into a dominant late-inning reliever. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2023, and he can’t reach free agency until 2026, so there is plenty of time for the 22-year-old to develop. Two minor league players and a draft pick were also part of this trade. Luke Raley went back to LA after initially being part of the Brian Dozier trade. He has 30 big-league games under his belt, and he has hit .169/.246/.237 with two extra-base hits. He has mashed with a .982 OPS at Triple-A this season, and 29 extra-base hits in 58 games. The Dodger also received a 2020 competitive balance round pick (66th overall), which they used to select Clayton Beeter. He has been used in an opener style role this season while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 13.8 K/9. Minnesota received Jair Camargo, who has hit .233/.281/.452 with 21 extra-base hits at High-A Cedar Rapids this year. Maeda’s recent injury news means there is a good chance he misses all of the 2022 season, and that might be the season Minnesota needs him the most. Also, a missed season means the next time he steps on the mound will be during his age-35 campaign. So what do you think? Which team do you think won the trade, or is it still too early to judge? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. The Minnesota Twins were looking at an opportunity to re-tool for the year ahead. However, with Jose Berrios gone and Kenta Maeda shelved, the rotation is unquestionably thin. Who takes the ball on Opening Day 2022? I have been a big proponent of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to right the ship that sunk in 2021. Unfortunately, the Maeda injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Replacing the entirety of a rotation, needing to overhaul the bullpen, and still being uncertain of what to do with Byron Buxton, this club has its hands full. It will be a busy winter but if we want the team to tackle one thing first, then starting on the bump is an excellent place to begin. Here is how I’m currently handicapping the odds for Rocco Baldelli’s starter on Opening Day this coming season. Bailey Ober 10% Ober has made 16 starts for the Twins in what has been a lost season, but he’s fully entrenched himself as a legitimate big-league arm. The sub-4.00 ERA includes a couple of rough turns, and he’s competed to the tune of a 9.3 K/9 while owning just a 2.0 BB/9 rate. The home run has been his bugaboo, and that can be something of a focus as he continues to learn the competition. I like Ober a lot. He’s got a shot to be a top-3 arm in Minnesota’s future rotation, but I don’t think this club wants to run him out as the ace after just getting his feet wet. Joe Ryan 5% He’s here, and he’s beautiful! That’s how this works, right? Ryan was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz. I’m still baffled about how Minnesota pulled that off, but either way, the Olympic hurler has been great since joining the organization. His big-league debut went fine, with not much to be drawn from a lackluster Cubs lineup. It remains to be seen how the fastball will play at the highest level, lacking velocity, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a productive member of a good rotation. Unfortunately, Ryan is someone you likely want on the back half of the unit in 2022. The Prospects 2% It would’ve been great to see someone emerge from this group in a year that didn't feature much big league positivity. Ober was an outsider who made it, but Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, and Josh Winder all spent time on the shelf. Only two of them took turns at Triple-A, and all of them remain distant from any immediate plans. You can make a case that each has seen their prospect status take a hit, and while there’s plenty of reason to believe an impact arm or two will emerge here, none of them are going to be in the equation when the season kicks off. The Suspects 3% The additional one percent afforded to this group comes from the fact that they’ve already made it. Hello to Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe. This foursome has taken turns for the Twins this year, but none of them have faired particularly well, and none of them should be considered beyond starting depth. Dobnak’s future is the clearest given his contract situation. There’s a real possibility the Australian (Thorpe) may be out of the organization in a couple of months, and while both Barnes and Jax have gotten their feet wet, it’s not fair to expect a substantial leap for either. This group isn’t producing your first starter of the season. The Field 80% Take your pick as to who the Twins will sign; they’re going to need at least three starters not presently with the club. Michael Pineda is a good bet to return, but if that’s your Opening Day starter, then you can imagine how the season will go. I’m less inclined to believe a long-term deal with Marcus Stroman or Noah Syndergaard makes sense when it could be a rebuilding year. Maybe an older veteran on a one-year deal happens depending on where the price tag lands. This winter, how Minnesota spends will hinge heavily on what happens with Buxton and the expectations for the returning core. Either way, I’d bet a reasonable sum that the man Baldelli gives the ball to on Opening Day is not currently in the organization. If you’re the manager, who is it that you’re going to? Put on your GM hat and share which arm you think gets plucked and tasked with kicking off 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. The Twins brass has continued to hold the position that the team intends to compete in 2022. Standing in their way is one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball in 2021. Competing in 2022 will take a major rebound, but what might that rebound look like? The Twins had a tall order when it came to the 2022 pitching staff even when Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda were slotted into the first two spots. Berrios has since been traded and we’ve received word that Maeda has an ominous elbow injury and will have exploratory surgery next week which could turn into Tommy John. Kenta Maeda That brings us to the number one factor in the Twins rotation rebuild in 2022: Kenta Maeda needs to be anchoring it. The Twins can’t really affect whether Maeda is healthy and at this point it appears him being relied on in 2022 is a long shot, but not having a single veteran arm returning creates a scenario in which some might call it nearly impossible to field a reliable 1-5. Even if Maeda isn’t the bona fide ace we hoped, having him at 2 or 3 in the rotation would at least give the Twins something to work with. Without Maeda, the rotation troubles likely become too much to recover from. Build From Within There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine pitching pipeline is growing ever closer to MLB ready and some of it has already arrived. Bailey Ober is likely a favorite to shore up the rotation on Opening Day after he put up an ERA around 4.00 in his first 68 innings. Griffin Jax will likely finish the season in the rotation, and Randy Dobnak should be back in the rotation before year’s end. Joe Ryan may be up in short order as well. Additionally, the Twins do have Duran and Winder at the AAA level with newly-acquired Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands and Jordan Balazovic at AA. The issue with using internal options is it largely depends on youth, much of which hasn’t even pitched in the majors yet. For as talented as many of the Twins young arms might be, there’s no telling how they’ll perform in their first taste of the big leagues. Furthermore, the Twins simply won’t let any of these young arms throw enough innings to take the ball every fifth day through season’s end even if they are effective. Duran threw over 100 innings in 2019, had 2020 off, and has thrown 16 innings this season. Winder followed a similar trend and has thrown 72 innings this season. Bailey Ober, whose fans typically express their disgust with his limited innings in starts, leads this group with 84 innings in 2021. It would be simply shocking to see any of these young arms reach even 150 innings in 2022. Some innings will be filled internally, but it will likely take some of them debuting down the stretch rather than being leaned on throughout the entire season. Outside Help The Twins are going to have a heavy offseason of trying to acquire pitching on the free agent and hopefully trade market. Even coming into this year they preferred to spend $10m on a combination of Happ and Shoemaker to take up two spots rather than spending on a higher quality arm and dedicating a rotation spot to a young arm like Dobnak. Picking up two free agent starters with three already penciled in in 2021 hints that the Twins will likely pursue three to four starting pitchers this winter at the very least. There are some high level free agent arms available this offseason, but it’s hard to see the Twins pursuing any of them. Spending $15-20m on one single pitcher would limit the Twins ability to effectively fill 3-4 other rotation spots. Instead the Twins will likely have to fill their rotation with middling arms that they can try to tweak and unlock something with. Their rotation’s success will likely have everything to do with their ability to effectively identify some under the radar arms and make the necessary tweaks. So essentially the Twins are relying on a miracle when it comes to Maeda and their effectiveness in bringing in outside options when it comes to their pitching rebound. They’ll certainly be counting on some younger pitchers contributing, but they’re almost certainly going to try to make them complementary pieces. In short, the Twins are in a difficult spot no matter how you spin it. They’re likely going to be headed into 2022 with either four or five starting pitchers in the rotation that weren’t there on Opening Day 2021. That’s an incredibly steep mountain to climb for any front office trying to compete, let alone one that missed on nearly every pitching decision they made just last winter. It’s no fun being negative, but 2022 may be a year to just sit back and enjoy whatever positives shake out with this pitching staff rather than having soaring expectations. There will be a fair share of excitement along the way, but it may be wise for Twins fans to temper expectations. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  6. I have been a big proponent of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to right the ship that sunk in 2021. Unfortunately, the Maeda injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Replacing the entirety of a rotation, needing to overhaul the bullpen, and still being uncertain of what to do with Byron Buxton, this club has its hands full. It will be a busy winter but if we want the team to tackle one thing first, then starting on the bump is an excellent place to begin. Here is how I’m currently handicapping the odds for Rocco Baldelli’s starter on Opening Day this coming season. Bailey Ober 10% Ober has made 16 starts for the Twins in what has been a lost season, but he’s fully entrenched himself as a legitimate big-league arm. The sub-4.00 ERA includes a couple of rough turns, and he’s competed to the tune of a 9.3 K/9 while owning just a 2.0 BB/9 rate. The home run has been his bugaboo, and that can be something of a focus as he continues to learn the competition. I like Ober a lot. He’s got a shot to be a top-3 arm in Minnesota’s future rotation, but I don’t think this club wants to run him out as the ace after just getting his feet wet. Joe Ryan 5% He’s here, and he’s beautiful! That’s how this works, right? Ryan was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz. I’m still baffled about how Minnesota pulled that off, but either way, the Olympic hurler has been great since joining the organization. His big-league debut went fine, with not much to be drawn from a lackluster Cubs lineup. It remains to be seen how the fastball will play at the highest level, lacking velocity, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a productive member of a good rotation. Unfortunately, Ryan is someone you likely want on the back half of the unit in 2022. The Prospects 2% It would’ve been great to see someone emerge from this group in a year that didn't feature much big league positivity. Ober was an outsider who made it, but Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, and Josh Winder all spent time on the shelf. Only two of them took turns at Triple-A, and all of them remain distant from any immediate plans. You can make a case that each has seen their prospect status take a hit, and while there’s plenty of reason to believe an impact arm or two will emerge here, none of them are going to be in the equation when the season kicks off. The Suspects 3% The additional one percent afforded to this group comes from the fact that they’ve already made it. Hello to Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe. This foursome has taken turns for the Twins this year, but none of them have faired particularly well, and none of them should be considered beyond starting depth. Dobnak’s future is the clearest given his contract situation. There’s a real possibility the Australian (Thorpe) may be out of the organization in a couple of months, and while both Barnes and Jax have gotten their feet wet, it’s not fair to expect a substantial leap for either. This group isn’t producing your first starter of the season. The Field 80% Take your pick as to who the Twins will sign; they’re going to need at least three starters not presently with the club. Michael Pineda is a good bet to return, but if that’s your Opening Day starter, then you can imagine how the season will go. I’m less inclined to believe a long-term deal with Marcus Stroman or Noah Syndergaard makes sense when it could be a rebuilding year. Maybe an older veteran on a one-year deal happens depending on where the price tag lands. This winter, how Minnesota spends will hinge heavily on what happens with Buxton and the expectations for the returning core. Either way, I’d bet a reasonable sum that the man Baldelli gives the ball to on Opening Day is not currently in the organization. If you’re the manager, who is it that you’re going to? Put on your GM hat and share which arm you think gets plucked and tasked with kicking off 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Minnesota had many reasons to be interested in trading for Kenta Maeda before the 2020 season. He had shown positive signs during his time in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers had an influx of starting pitching. He pitched over 125 innings in each of his first four big-league seasons, but the team tended to move him to a bullpen role as the season came to a close. Injury concerns might have been one of the reasons the Dodgers tried to limit Maeda’s innings. (At least that sounds better than trying to limit how much they had to pay him.) When he initially signed from Japan, his physical exam revealed “irregularities” in his right elbow. At the time, MLB.com said, “the strong suspicion is that he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point.” This prognosis resulted in a very team-friendly eight-year contract which guaranteed Maeda a minimum of $25 million with a chance to be worth over $106 million. This gave the Dodgers some wiggle room if Maeda did go under the knife. He pitched over 600 innings for the Dodgers, and they went on multiple World Series runs, and his elbow wasn’t an issue. Team-controlled starting pitching is one of baseball’s most valuable assets, so Maeda was an easy target for the Twins. His team-friendly deal was a positive, and he hadn’t shown any injury concerns up to this point. Any team trading for a player gets access to their medical records, so there must not have been anything out of the ordinary regarding Maeda’s physical. Plus, the Twins saw their winning window was open, and Maeda helped make the team better. Maeda provided Minnesota with everything they wanted and more during his first season with the club. He finished runner-up for the Cy Young Award after a dominating season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.75 WHIP. He struck out 80 batters in 66 2/3 innings while only issuing ten walks. From the other perspective, Brusdar Graterol has pitched less than 50 innings for the Dodgers. He has posted a 3.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. Graterol makes hitting triple-digits look easy, but he has yet to develop into a dominant late-inning reliever. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2023, and he can’t reach free agency until 2026, so there is plenty of time for the 22-year-old to develop. Two minor league players and a draft pick were also part of this trade. Luke Raley went back to LA after initially being part of the Brian Dozier trade. He has 30 big-league games under his belt, and he has hit .169/.246/.237 with two extra-base hits. He has mashed with a .982 OPS at Triple-A this season, and 29 extra-base hits in 58 games. The Dodger also received a 2020 competitive balance round pick (66th overall), which they used to select Clayton Beeter. He has been used in an opener style role this season while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 13.8 K/9. Minnesota received Jair Camargo, who has hit .233/.281/.452 with 21 extra-base hits at High-A Cedar Rapids this year. Maeda’s recent injury news means there is a good chance he misses all of the 2022 season, and that might be the season Minnesota needs him the most. Also, a missed season means the next time he steps on the mound will be during his age-35 campaign. So what do you think? Which team do you think won the trade, or is it still too early to judge? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. The Twins had a tall order when it came to the 2022 pitching staff even when Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda were slotted into the first two spots. Berrios has since been traded and we’ve received word that Maeda has an ominous elbow injury and will have exploratory surgery next week which could turn into Tommy John. Kenta Maeda That brings us to the number one factor in the Twins rotation rebuild in 2022: Kenta Maeda needs to be anchoring it. The Twins can’t really affect whether Maeda is healthy and at this point it appears him being relied on in 2022 is a long shot, but not having a single veteran arm returning creates a scenario in which some might call it nearly impossible to field a reliable 1-5. Even if Maeda isn’t the bona fide ace we hoped, having him at 2 or 3 in the rotation would at least give the Twins something to work with. Without Maeda, the rotation troubles likely become too much to recover from. Build From Within There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine pitching pipeline is growing ever closer to MLB ready and some of it has already arrived. Bailey Ober is likely a favorite to shore up the rotation on Opening Day after he put up an ERA around 4.00 in his first 68 innings. Griffin Jax will likely finish the season in the rotation, and Randy Dobnak should be back in the rotation before year’s end. Joe Ryan may be up in short order as well. Additionally, the Twins do have Duran and Winder at the AAA level with newly-acquired Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands and Jordan Balazovic at AA. The issue with using internal options is it largely depends on youth, much of which hasn’t even pitched in the majors yet. For as talented as many of the Twins young arms might be, there’s no telling how they’ll perform in their first taste of the big leagues. Furthermore, the Twins simply won’t let any of these young arms throw enough innings to take the ball every fifth day through season’s end even if they are effective. Duran threw over 100 innings in 2019, had 2020 off, and has thrown 16 innings this season. Winder followed a similar trend and has thrown 72 innings this season. Bailey Ober, whose fans typically express their disgust with his limited innings in starts, leads this group with 84 innings in 2021. It would be simply shocking to see any of these young arms reach even 150 innings in 2022. Some innings will be filled internally, but it will likely take some of them debuting down the stretch rather than being leaned on throughout the entire season. Outside Help The Twins are going to have a heavy offseason of trying to acquire pitching on the free agent and hopefully trade market. Even coming into this year they preferred to spend $10m on a combination of Happ and Shoemaker to take up two spots rather than spending on a higher quality arm and dedicating a rotation spot to a young arm like Dobnak. Picking up two free agent starters with three already penciled in in 2021 hints that the Twins will likely pursue three to four starting pitchers this winter at the very least. There are some high level free agent arms available this offseason, but it’s hard to see the Twins pursuing any of them. Spending $15-20m on one single pitcher would limit the Twins ability to effectively fill 3-4 other rotation spots. Instead the Twins will likely have to fill their rotation with middling arms that they can try to tweak and unlock something with. Their rotation’s success will likely have everything to do with their ability to effectively identify some under the radar arms and make the necessary tweaks. So essentially the Twins are relying on a miracle when it comes to Maeda and their effectiveness in bringing in outside options when it comes to their pitching rebound. They’ll certainly be counting on some younger pitchers contributing, but they’re almost certainly going to try to make them complementary pieces. In short, the Twins are in a difficult spot no matter how you spin it. They’re likely going to be headed into 2022 with either four or five starting pitchers in the rotation that weren’t there on Opening Day 2021. That’s an incredibly steep mountain to climb for any front office trying to compete, let alone one that missed on nearly every pitching decision they made just last winter. It’s no fun being negative, but 2022 may be a year to just sit back and enjoy whatever positives shake out with this pitching staff rather than having soaring expectations. There will be a fair share of excitement along the way, but it may be wise for Twins fans to temper expectations. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  9. Minnesota Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda was placed on the IL on Tuesday with what the team is calling right forearm tightness. MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park later reported that Maeda will seek a second opinion regarding his diagnosis and that surgery is possible. Assuming the surgery in question is the dreaded Tommy John procedure, why would Maeda and the Twins even go about seeking a second opinion? It's an easy question, but the answer is wrapped in layers of complexity. Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball. Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.) However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.) Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL. Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process. Again, theoretically. The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be. So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion? Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year. The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system. I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do. View full article
  10. Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball. Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.) However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.) Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL. Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process. Again, theoretically. The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be. So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion? Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year. The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system. I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do.
  11. The Minnesota Twins' bats were quiet and Kenta Maeda left the game with an arm injury in the Twins 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees. In other words, it was just another day in the Bronx for the Twins. Box Score Maeda: 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Bottom 3 WPA: Donaldson -.148, Polanco -.127, Garcia -.100 Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) It was a pitcher’s duel early on in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon with team aces Gerrit Cole and Kenta Maeda exchanging great performances from each dugout. The New York Yankees got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning after a hit-by-pitch by Rougned Odor kicked off a rally for the Yankees, ending with a RBI single by Tyler Wade gave the New York Yankees an early 1-0 lead. The Minnesota Twins had a great chance to get on the board themselves in the top of the 5th inning when they had the bases loaded and Josh Donaldson up to the plate, but Donaldson took a called third strike to end the Twins rally and preserve Cole’s outstanding outing. Things took a turn for the worse for Maeda and the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the 5th inning, though, when Maeda lost all control of his pitches. Maeda allowed a double and a single before hitting Anthony Rizzo, throwing a wild pitch, and walking Aaron Judge on nine consecutive balls. Following the walk to Judge and a ball to the next hitter, Maeda motioned for the trainers to come out and Maeda was promptly removed from the game with what was called right forearm tightness. Responsible for all three runs on the bases after being removed from the game, Twins reliever Edgar Garcia allowed each of the runs to score on doubles from Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit to give the Yankees a five-run inning and push their lead to 6-0. On the day, Maeda pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on four hits, one walk and two hit batters. Across the diamond, Gerrit Cole was much more effective for the New York Yankees, limiting the Twins to just five hits across scoreless innings while striking out six. While the rest of the Twins’ offense struggled to push runs across the plate, Jorge Polanco stayed on his ridiculous hot streak at the plate, blasting a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the 8th to give the Twins their first (and only) run of the game. The Yankees sure didn’t need any insurance runs, but they got another one in the bottom of the 8th inning on a solo shot from backup shortstop, Andrew Velazquez. The Twins would wind up losing to the New York Yankees 7-1, making it three losses in a row and cementing yet another series loss to the Bronx Bombers. What’s Next? The Twins will look to avoid a 4-game sweep tomorrow afternoon when they send Griffin Jax to the mound to face off against old friend Luis Gil. Editor’s note: It has since been announced that Sunday’s game has been rained out. Bullpen Usage Chart View full article
  12. Box Score Maeda: 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Bottom 3 WPA: Donaldson -.148, Polanco -.127, Garcia -.100 Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) It was a pitcher’s duel early on in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon with team aces Gerrit Cole and Kenta Maeda exchanging great performances from each dugout. The New York Yankees got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning after a hit-by-pitch by Rougned Odor kicked off a rally for the Yankees, ending with a RBI single by Tyler Wade gave the New York Yankees an early 1-0 lead. The Minnesota Twins had a great chance to get on the board themselves in the top of the 5th inning when they had the bases loaded and Josh Donaldson up to the plate, but Donaldson took a called third strike to end the Twins rally and preserve Cole’s outstanding outing. Things took a turn for the worse for Maeda and the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the 5th inning, though, when Maeda lost all control of his pitches. Maeda allowed a double and a single before hitting Anthony Rizzo, throwing a wild pitch, and walking Aaron Judge on nine consecutive balls. Following the walk to Judge and a ball to the next hitter, Maeda motioned for the trainers to come out and Maeda was promptly removed from the game with what was called right forearm tightness. Responsible for all three runs on the bases after being removed from the game, Twins reliever Edgar Garcia allowed each of the runs to score on doubles from Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit to give the Yankees a five-run inning and push their lead to 6-0. On the day, Maeda pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on four hits, one walk and two hit batters. Across the diamond, Gerrit Cole was much more effective for the New York Yankees, limiting the Twins to just five hits across scoreless innings while striking out six. While the rest of the Twins’ offense struggled to push runs across the plate, Jorge Polanco stayed on his ridiculous hot streak at the plate, blasting a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the 8th to give the Twins their first (and only) run of the game. The Yankees sure didn’t need any insurance runs, but they got another one in the bottom of the 8th inning on a solo shot from backup shortstop, Andrew Velazquez. The Twins would wind up losing to the New York Yankees 7-1, making it three losses in a row and cementing yet another series loss to the Bronx Bombers. What’s Next? The Twins will look to avoid a 4-game sweep tomorrow afternoon when they send Griffin Jax to the mound to face off against old friend Luis Gil. Editor’s note: It has since been announced that Sunday’s game has been rained out. Bullpen Usage Chart
  13. Kenta Maeda continued his hot streak and the bats provided him with plenty of run support as the Minnesota Twins topped the Tampa Bay Rays. Box Score Kenta Maeda: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (76 pitches) Home Runs: Max Kepler (15), Luis Arraez (2), Rooker (6), Ryan Jeffers (10) Top 3 WPA: Maeda .153, Luis Arraez .108, Mitch Garver .097 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Saturday's win for the Twins was one of those games where seemingly everything went according to plan, an exceedingly rare occurrence in the lost season that is Minnesota's 2021 campaign. Kenta Maeda started on the hill and gave the Twins six shutout innings more akin to his 2020 self than what he has put on display for the majority of the season. That said, Maeda has been dominant over his last eight starts, putting up All-Star caliber numbers. Minnesota's bats were hot from the jump as Max Kepler led off the charge with his 15th home run of the season on the game's second pitch. Luis Arraez, Brent Rooker, and Ryan Jeffers would later launch no-doubters of their own to add to the team's score. In all, the Twins registered an exit velocity of at least 100 mph on 12 balls that were put in play, which went for a combined 9-for-12 with four home runs and three doubles. Every member of the Twins lineup picked up at least one hit, save for Jorge Polanco — though he did reach base on a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning — and Willians Astudillo, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter. Since the trade deadline, the Twins have logged an 8-5 record against the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. While it means little in the grander scheme of the season, it's encouraging to see the Twins perform as well as they have lately against quality opponents. In some ways, this stretch puts on display what the Twins could look like in 2022 if they're able to secure quality pitching to supplement their offense during the offseason. Remembering 1991 Prior to the start of the game, the Twins held a ceremony to honor the 1991 World Series champion team. It was a moving presentation that brought back great memories for Twins fans (and probably some not so great ones for Ron Gant). Below are some videos from the ceremony courtesy Bally Sports North. Postgame Interviews Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 0 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 0 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 0 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 0 0 16 16 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 10 10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. Box Score Kenta Maeda: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (76 pitches) Home Runs: Max Kepler (15), Luis Arraez (2), Rooker (6), Ryan Jeffers (10) Top 3 WPA: Maeda .153, Luis Arraez .108, Mitch Garver .097 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Saturday's win for the Twins was one of those games where seemingly everything went according to plan, an exceedingly rare occurrence in the lost season that is Minnesota's 2021 campaign. Kenta Maeda started on the hill and gave the Twins six shutout innings more akin to his 2020 self than what he has put on display for the majority of the season. That said, Maeda has been dominant over his last eight starts, putting up All-Star caliber numbers. Minnesota's bats were hot from the jump as Max Kepler led off the charge with his 15th home run of the season on the game's second pitch. Luis Arraez, Brent Rooker, and Ryan Jeffers would later launch no-doubters of their own to add to the team's score. In all, the Twins registered an exit velocity of at least 100 mph on 12 balls that were put in play, which went for a combined 9-for-12 with four home runs and three doubles. Every member of the Twins lineup picked up at least one hit, save for Jorge Polanco — though he did reach base on a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning — and Willians Astudillo, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter. Since the trade deadline, the Twins have logged an 8-5 record against the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. While it means little in the grander scheme of the season, it's encouraging to see the Twins perform as well as they have lately against quality opponents. In some ways, this stretch puts on display what the Twins could look like in 2022 if they're able to secure quality pitching to supplement their offense during the offseason. Remembering 1991 Prior to the start of the game, the Twins held a ceremony to honor the 1991 World Series champion team. It was a moving presentation that brought back great memories for Twins fans (and probably some not so great ones for Ron Gant). Below are some videos from the ceremony courtesy Bally Sports North. Postgame Interviews Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 0 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 0 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 0 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 0 0 16 16 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 10 10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. The Twins beat the Astros and took the four game set to improve to 48-64 on the season. Twins starter, Kenta Maeda, battled through five innings and second basemen Jorge Polanco had himself a day at the plate. That and more in today's recap! Box Score Kenta Maeda: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (63-percent strikes) Homeruns: Sano (18), Polanco 2 (19, 20) Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.259), Colome (.086), Kepler (.055) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Kenta Maeda Provides Five Solid Innings At one point, it looked like Maeda was locked in and cruising to provide the Twins with some much needed innings after the bullpen was taxed on Friday night. Unfortunately, back-to-back innings of 25 plus pitches ended his day after the fifth inning in what ended up being a good not great start for the right-handed starter. Right away in the bottom of the first the Astros put a threat together with some bloop base hits and shoddy Twins defense, but Maeda struckout Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa to end the inning and limit the damage to one run. Shutting down that threat lead to the aforementioned run of Maeda retiring the next nine (tweet was wrong) Astros hitters with the help of a nice defensive play by Luis Arraez on a ball that had an xBA of .380 off the bat of Kyle Tucker. The Astros would put together threats in the fourth and fifth innings, and although he needed a total of 56 pitches to battle through, he was able to limit the damage to just one run in each inning on some unfortunate heads up..misplays…? We would have loved to see Maeda get past the fifth inning, especially considering the state of the bullpen, but his box score doesn’t give him the credit he deserves against the best offense in baseball. Out of the 23 batters faced he started 16 of them with first-pitch strikes. Moreover, he was dotting the edges of the zone with his slider which generated 12 whiffs of the 16 whiffs he forced on the day. Polanco Leads Offensive Charge with Two Home Runs The Twins Daily Hitter of the Month for July is continuing his torrid hitting streak into August as he entered today with an OPS of 901, three homeruns, and six RBI’s in 26 at-bats over six games. After Sunday’s contest, he has now hit five homeruns while getting at least one hit in all but one of seven August games. The Twins went down quietly in the first inning, but otherwise had baserunners in nearly every inning, including the 2nd when Trevor Larnach punched a two-out single to the opposite field, scoring Jake Cave. The two-runs in the fourth inning came on this absolute moonshot from Miguel Sanó, his 18th of the season, that landed on the railroad tracks. The Twins only mustered up one-run in the fifth inning thanks to a lead off homerun from Polanco, his first of the day and 19th of the year, but chased starter Lance McCuller Jr out of the game by loading the bases after a 5-pitch walk by Larnach. To nobody's surprise, Andrelton Simmons swung at two terrible pitches before lining out to left field. Polanco came back up in the sixth, this time against righty Phil Maton, but ended the at-bat with the same result from the fifth inning. In all, the Twins had five hitters with multi-hit games: Max Kepler (3), Polanco (2), Arraez (2), Sanó (2), and Larnach (2) while all of those hitters but Kepler also added a walk to their day at the plate. Of course Polanco was the player of the game, but what was more encouraging was the two singles from Larnach on inside pitches that he punched to the opposite field. The rookie is trying to recover from the month of July where he had an OPS of .518 by posting an August OPS of .900 coming into today and having really productive at-bats. Bullpen Usage Juan Minaya, who started warming in the fifth inning, came on in the sixth where he went 1-2-3 thanks to a 6-4-3 double play. Tyler Duffey came on in the seventh but was pulled mid-inning after a walk, which was erased by another 6-4-3 double play, and back-to-back doubles that lead to an Astros run. Duffey was followed by Danny Coulombe who ended the inning with a Yordan Alvarez groundout. Jorge Alcala needed 29 pitches in the eighth but ultimately was able to hold the Astros while striking out Tucker and former Twins catcher Jason Castro. Alex Colome earned the save in the 9th shutting down the Astros 1-2-3. TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Minaya 0 44 0 17 0 12 73 Gant 22 0 0 17 13 0 52 Thielbar 0 22 8 0 20 0 50 Colomé 20 0 7 17 0 18 62 Coulombe 13 0 17 14 0 7 51 Duffey 0 0 21 20 0 15 56 Alcala 0 0 14 14 0 29 57 Burrows 0 13 0 0 0 0 13 View full article
  16. Box Score Kenta Maeda: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (63-percent strikes) Homeruns: Sano (18), Polanco 2 (19, 20) Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.259), Colome (.086), Kepler (.055) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Kenta Maeda Provides Five Solid Innings At one point, it looked like Maeda was locked in and cruising to provide the Twins with some much needed innings after the bullpen was taxed on Friday night. Unfortunately, back-to-back innings of 25 plus pitches ended his day after the fifth inning in what ended up being a good not great start for the right-handed starter. Right away in the bottom of the first the Astros put a threat together with some bloop base hits and shoddy Twins defense, but Maeda struckout Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa to end the inning and limit the damage to one run. Shutting down that threat lead to the aforementioned run of Maeda retiring the next nine (tweet was wrong) Astros hitters with the help of a nice defensive play by Luis Arraez on a ball that had an xBA of .380 off the bat of Kyle Tucker. The Astros would put together threats in the fourth and fifth innings, and although he needed a total of 56 pitches to battle through, he was able to limit the damage to just one run in each inning on some unfortunate heads up..misplays…? We would have loved to see Maeda get past the fifth inning, especially considering the state of the bullpen, but his box score doesn’t give him the credit he deserves against the best offense in baseball. Out of the 23 batters faced he started 16 of them with first-pitch strikes. Moreover, he was dotting the edges of the zone with his slider which generated 12 whiffs of the 16 whiffs he forced on the day. Polanco Leads Offensive Charge with Two Home Runs The Twins Daily Hitter of the Month for July is continuing his torrid hitting streak into August as he entered today with an OPS of 901, three homeruns, and six RBI’s in 26 at-bats over six games. After Sunday’s contest, he has now hit five homeruns while getting at least one hit in all but one of seven August games. The Twins went down quietly in the first inning, but otherwise had baserunners in nearly every inning, including the 2nd when Trevor Larnach punched a two-out single to the opposite field, scoring Jake Cave. The two-runs in the fourth inning came on this absolute moonshot from Miguel Sanó, his 18th of the season, that landed on the railroad tracks. The Twins only mustered up one-run in the fifth inning thanks to a lead off homerun from Polanco, his first of the day and 19th of the year, but chased starter Lance McCuller Jr out of the game by loading the bases after a 5-pitch walk by Larnach. To nobody's surprise, Andrelton Simmons swung at two terrible pitches before lining out to left field. Polanco came back up in the sixth, this time against righty Phil Maton, but ended the at-bat with the same result from the fifth inning. In all, the Twins had five hitters with multi-hit games: Max Kepler (3), Polanco (2), Arraez (2), Sanó (2), and Larnach (2) while all of those hitters but Kepler also added a walk to their day at the plate. Of course Polanco was the player of the game, but what was more encouraging was the two singles from Larnach on inside pitches that he punched to the opposite field. The rookie is trying to recover from the month of July where he had an OPS of .518 by posting an August OPS of .900 coming into today and having really productive at-bats. Bullpen Usage Juan Minaya, who started warming in the fifth inning, came on in the sixth where he went 1-2-3 thanks to a 6-4-3 double play. Tyler Duffey came on in the seventh but was pulled mid-inning after a walk, which was erased by another 6-4-3 double play, and back-to-back doubles that lead to an Astros run. Duffey was followed by Danny Coulombe who ended the inning with a Yordan Alvarez groundout. Jorge Alcala needed 29 pitches in the eighth but ultimately was able to hold the Astros while striking out Tucker and former Twins catcher Jason Castro. Alex Colome earned the save in the 9th shutting down the Astros 1-2-3. TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Minaya 0 44 0 17 0 12 73 Gant 22 0 0 17 13 0 52 Thielbar 0 22 8 0 20 0 50 Colomé 20 0 7 17 0 18 62 Coulombe 13 0 17 14 0 7 51 Duffey 0 0 21 20 0 15 56 Alcala 0 0 14 14 0 29 57 Burrows 0 13 0 0 0 0 13
  17. The month of July featured some turnover that was long overdue with the demotion of Matt Shoemaker at the beginning of month and trading J.A. Happ at the end of the month. We saw seven different starting pitchers and seventeen pitchers get innings altogether. Here are the four I thought did the best. Do you agree? Honorable Mention #3: Bailey Ober This spot was really a toss up between a couple guys, but I went Bailey Ober because I think he faired well given the circumstances. If you had told me, or anyone, that by the end of July Bailey Ober would have 47 1/3 big league innings I would have told you something went terribly wrong. Welp...here we are. Regardless, Ober has responded well and July was no exception. Over 22 2/3 innings and five starts, Ober had a 3.97 ERA while striking out more than one batter per inning, and earning his first major league victory against the Chicago White Sox. His downfall was walks (3.18 per nine) and the long ball (1.59 per nine) which hadn’t been problems in nearly 200 minor league innings. Ober will use the rest of the 2021 season to showcase his talents for the 2022 starting rotation which currently has four open spots. Honorable Mention #2: Danny Coulombe Coulombe has quietly been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen in his short time with the Twins. He dominated the month of July in particular by striking out 10.64 batters per nine innings, boasting an ERA of 1.64, and ISSUING ZERO WALKS throughout the entire month. I would expect the walk rate to increase as that’s always been an issue for him, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out for Coulombe. Despite being 31-years-old, he still has three years of team control remaining which could be significant if he turns into a passable or better reliever for the Minnesota Twins. Honorable Mention #1: José Berríos For the third consecutive month, ‘La Makina’ is the runner up to the Pitcher of the Month and it actually was his worst month of the season. Now, when you’re having the season that Berríos is having, saying it was his worst month is hardly a knock. In the month of July he threw 32 innings over five starts with an ERA of 3.66 and a K/9 of 8.44. If it weren’t for one really bad inning against the Chicago White Sox in the nightcap of a doubleheader, Berríos's July would have been nearly on par with the rest of his season. Of course, the month of July ended the Berríos era with the Minnesota Twins when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. In his time with the Minnesota Twins, he was one of the most durable pitchers in all of baseball throwing 781 and ⅓ innings, striking out 779 batters, and a 4.08 ERA. Pitcher of the Month: Kenta Maeda It took three months, but we finally got a glimpse of the 2020 Kenta Maeda who finished 2nd in Cy Young voting. It’s been a rough go in 2021, but in July Maeda had an era of just 2.15 while striking out 11.05 batters per nine innings and walking 1.84 batters per nine innings. Despite his efforts, he only earned a decision in two of his five outings, winning one of them. On top of his effectiveness on the mound, he also scored the game winning run when he pinch ran in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers. Currently, Maeda is the only starter that is locked into the rotation for 2022 so regaining his 2020 form will be important to follow over the next two months of the season. How do you feel about these rankings? How would you rank them?
  18. As a team, the Twins pitching staff had a decent month of July occurring 2.6 fWAR which was good enough for 10th best. They lost José Berríos to a trade but was he able to knock off Taylor Rogers and win the prestigious Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Pitcher of the Month Award? Let’s find out. The month of July featured some turnover that was long overdue with the demotion of Matt Shoemaker at the beginning of month and trading J.A. Happ at the end of the month. We saw seven different starting pitchers and seventeen pitchers get innings altogether. Here are the four I thought did the best. Do you agree? Honorable Mention #3: Bailey Ober This spot was really a toss up between a couple guys, but I went Bailey Ober because I think he faired well given the circumstances. If you had told me, or anyone, that by the end of July Bailey Ober would have 47 1/3 big league innings I would have told you something went terribly wrong. Welp...here we are. Regardless, Ober has responded well and July was no exception. Over 22 2/3 innings and five starts, Ober had a 3.97 ERA while striking out more than one batter per inning, and earning his first major league victory against the Chicago White Sox. His downfall was walks (3.18 per nine) and the long ball (1.59 per nine) which hadn’t been problems in nearly 200 minor league innings. Ober will use the rest of the 2021 season to showcase his talents for the 2022 starting rotation which currently has four open spots. Honorable Mention #2: Danny Coulombe Coulombe has quietly been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen in his short time with the Twins. He dominated the month of July in particular by striking out 10.64 batters per nine innings, boasting an ERA of 1.64, and ISSUING ZERO WALKS throughout the entire month. I would expect the walk rate to increase as that’s always been an issue for him, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out for Coulombe. Despite being 31-years-old, he still has three years of team control remaining which could be significant if he turns into a passable or better reliever for the Minnesota Twins. Honorable Mention #1: José Berríos For the third consecutive month, ‘La Makina’ is the runner up to the Pitcher of the Month and it actually was his worst month of the season. Now, when you’re having the season that Berríos is having, saying it was his worst month is hardly a knock. In the month of July he threw 32 innings over five starts with an ERA of 3.66 and a K/9 of 8.44. If it weren’t for one really bad inning against the Chicago White Sox in the nightcap of a doubleheader, Berríos's July would have been nearly on par with the rest of his season. Of course, the month of July ended the Berríos era with the Minnesota Twins when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. In his time with the Minnesota Twins, he was one of the most durable pitchers in all of baseball throwing 781 and ⅓ innings, striking out 779 batters, and a 4.08 ERA. Pitcher of the Month: Kenta Maeda It took three months, but we finally got a glimpse of the 2020 Kenta Maeda who finished 2nd in Cy Young voting. It’s been a rough go in 2021, but in July Maeda had an era of just 2.15 while striking out 11.05 batters per nine innings and walking 1.84 batters per nine innings. Despite his efforts, he only earned a decision in two of his five outings, winning one of them. On top of his effectiveness on the mound, he also scored the game winning run when he pinch ran in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers. Currently, Maeda is the only starter that is locked into the rotation for 2022 so regaining his 2020 form will be important to follow over the next two months of the season. How do you feel about these rankings? How would you rank them? View full article
  19. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Maeda 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Homeruns: Garver (11), Astudillo (5) Bottom 3 WPA: Sano -.390, Robles -.376, Polanco -.258 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) One of the Twins’ best trade chips was placed on the IL Tuesday. Taylor Rogers suffered a middle finger sprain in Monday night’s walk-off win against Detroit. Rogers was replaced in the bullpen by Beau Burrows. Rogers is apparently set for a second and possibly third opinion on his finger, which will likely significantly diminish his chances of being dealt by Friday’s deadline. The Twins lined up like this for their tilt against the Tigers. Kenta Maeda appears to have turned a corner, sporting a 3.69 ERA in his last seven starts, with 44Ks in his last 39 innings (13 swings and misses tonight). Tuesday continued this trend. Maeda was effective and efficient in 6 1/3 innings against the Tigers, allowing only four hits and striking out five in his outing. Indeed, Maeda’s turnaround has been so stark, he is reported to be generating trade interest. Either way, he looks to be back on track as a consistent piece of the Twins rotation which promises to be one of their greatest question marks heading into 2022. After Maeda induced a double play to counteract Akil Baddoo’s leadoff double in the top of the first, the Twins (unusually) took the game by the scruff of the neck in the bottom of the opening frame. Tyler Alexander gave up singles to Jorge Polanco and Brent Rooker, before walking Josh Donaldson. Mitch Garver greeted the Tigers starter with this grand slam into the bullpen. Garver has not only silenced his doubters, but he has also calmed concerns over his future with the team with his return to 2019 form. He is, arguably, the most welcome and pleasant surprise of a disastrous 2021 (along with Jorge Polanco). Detroit pulled a run back in the third inning from an Akil Baddoo solo home run, his tenth of the season. This was erased in the bottom of the fourth by Willians Astudillo’s fifth home run of the season, a laser down the left-field line. Another notable Twins offensive performance came from Brent Rooker. A night after obliterating a home run into the third deck, Rooker delivered another three hits, giving him six in his last four games. Rooker’s early returns from an everyday role in the wake of the Nelson Cruz trade have been promising. Twins fans will be anxious to see if he can continue to deliver in the remaining 60 or so games of the 2021 season. Tyler Duffey and Danny Coloumbe pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings for the Twins. Hansel Robles decided that a comfortable win wouldn’t do. Robles gave up a single, double, walk, and a grand slam to Eric Haase to tie the game at 5-5, a mirror image of last night’s bullpen capitulation. Robles left the game soon after with an injury. Two nights, two ninth-inning blown leads, two injuries to relievers likely to be traded before Friday afternoon. The Twins made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, putting two men aboard before a Jorge Polanco pop-out sent the game to extra innings. Monday night’s hero Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for Minnesota. Detroit bunted Victor Reyes to third base before Thielbar struck out Baddoo looking at a beautifully painted fastball on the outside corner of the strike zone. Jorge Alcala relieved Thielbar and induced a Jonathan Scoop groundout to shortstop to end the threat. Jake Cave, who entered the game as a defensive-replacement for Brent Rooker in the late innings, batted in the bottom of the tenth with Jorge Polanco beginning the inning at second base. A first-pitch groundout moved Polanco to third. After Cisnero intentionally walked Josh Donaldson, he nailed Mitch Garver on the right wrist, loading the bases for the Twins with Max Kepler up to bat. Garver was replaced by Ryan Jeffers. Max Kepler struck out on a fastball right down broadway, leaving the Twins hopes to Miguel Sano, Sano struck out on three pitches to send the game to the eleventh. Alcala continued in he top of the eleventh. Miguel Cabrera promptly singled home a run to give the Tigers a 6-5 lead. In the bottom of the eleventh, Miguel Sano inexplicably took off for third base on a ground ball hit straight to short, getting Willians Astudillo to second, but sacrificing an out unnecessarily. Two quick outs and the Tigers comeback was complete. The Twins continue to find was to lose eminently winnable games, an all too familiar theme in 2021. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Coulombe 32 0 0 18 0 10 60 Thielbar 0 0 16 0 13 16 45 Alcala 0 0 10 24 0 11 45 Robles 0 0 0 0 13 29 42 Colomé 0 11 0 10 16 0 37 Minaya 0 20 0 0 0 0 20 Duffey 0 0 0 0 11 7 18 Burrows 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Postgame Interview Next Up The Twins send J.A. Happ to the mound on Wednesday to face Wily Peralta. First pitch is at 12:10 CT.
  20. The Twins capitulated late to lose 6-5 to the Tigers on Tuesday. Mitch Garver continued his torrid form since returning from paternity leave while Kenta Maeda produced another solid outing in his improving 2021 season. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Maeda 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Homeruns: Garver (11), Astudillo (5) Bottom 3 WPA: Sano -.390, Robles -.376, Polanco -.258 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) One of the Twins’ best trade chips was placed on the IL Tuesday. Taylor Rogers suffered a middle finger sprain in Monday night’s walk-off win against Detroit. Rogers was replaced in the bullpen by Beau Burrows. Rogers is apparently set for a second and possibly third opinion on his finger, which will likely significantly diminish his chances of being dealt by Friday’s deadline. The Twins lined up like this for their tilt against the Tigers. Kenta Maeda appears to have turned a corner, sporting a 3.69 ERA in his last seven starts, with 44Ks in his last 39 innings (13 swings and misses tonight). Tuesday continued this trend. Maeda was effective and efficient in 6 1/3 innings against the Tigers, allowing only four hits and striking out five in his outing. Indeed, Maeda’s turnaround has been so stark, he is reported to be generating trade interest. Either way, he looks to be back on track as a consistent piece of the Twins rotation which promises to be one of their greatest question marks heading into 2022. After Maeda induced a double play to counteract Akil Baddoo’s leadoff double in the top of the first, the Twins (unusually) took the game by the scruff of the neck in the bottom of the opening frame. Tyler Alexander gave up singles to Jorge Polanco and Brent Rooker, before walking Josh Donaldson. Mitch Garver greeted the Tigers starter with this grand slam into the bullpen. Garver has not only silenced his doubters, but he has also calmed concerns over his future with the team with his return to 2019 form. He is, arguably, the most welcome and pleasant surprise of a disastrous 2021 (along with Jorge Polanco). Detroit pulled a run back in the third inning from an Akil Baddoo solo home run, his tenth of the season. This was erased in the bottom of the fourth by Willians Astudillo’s fifth home run of the season, a laser down the left-field line. Another notable Twins offensive performance came from Brent Rooker. A night after obliterating a home run into the third deck, Rooker delivered another three hits, giving him six in his last four games. Rooker’s early returns from an everyday role in the wake of the Nelson Cruz trade have been promising. Twins fans will be anxious to see if he can continue to deliver in the remaining 60 or so games of the 2021 season. Tyler Duffey and Danny Coloumbe pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings for the Twins. Hansel Robles decided that a comfortable win wouldn’t do. Robles gave up a single, double, walk, and a grand slam to Eric Haase to tie the game at 5-5, a mirror image of last night’s bullpen capitulation. Robles left the game soon after with an injury. Two nights, two ninth-inning blown leads, two injuries to relievers likely to be traded before Friday afternoon. The Twins made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, putting two men aboard before a Jorge Polanco pop-out sent the game to extra innings. Monday night’s hero Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for Minnesota. Detroit bunted Victor Reyes to third base before Thielbar struck out Baddoo looking at a beautifully painted fastball on the outside corner of the strike zone. Jorge Alcala relieved Thielbar and induced a Jonathan Scoop groundout to shortstop to end the threat. Jake Cave, who entered the game as a defensive-replacement for Brent Rooker in the late innings, batted in the bottom of the tenth with Jorge Polanco beginning the inning at second base. A first-pitch groundout moved Polanco to third. After Cisnero intentionally walked Josh Donaldson, he nailed Mitch Garver on the right wrist, loading the bases for the Twins with Max Kepler up to bat. Garver was replaced by Ryan Jeffers. Max Kepler struck out on a fastball right down broadway, leaving the Twins hopes to Miguel Sano, Sano struck out on three pitches to send the game to the eleventh. Alcala continued in he top of the eleventh. Miguel Cabrera promptly singled home a run to give the Tigers a 6-5 lead. In the bottom of the eleventh, Miguel Sano inexplicably took off for third base on a ground ball hit straight to short, getting Willians Astudillo to second, but sacrificing an out unnecessarily. Two quick outs and the Tigers comeback was complete. The Twins continue to find was to lose eminently winnable games, an all too familiar theme in 2021. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Coulombe 32 0 0 18 0 10 60 Thielbar 0 0 16 0 13 16 45 Alcala 0 0 10 24 0 11 45 Robles 0 0 0 0 13 29 42 Colomé 0 11 0 10 16 0 37 Minaya 0 20 0 0 0 0 20 Duffey 0 0 0 0 11 7 18 Burrows 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Postgame Interview Next Up The Twins send J.A. Happ to the mound on Wednesday to face Wily Peralta. First pitch is at 12:10 CT. View full article
  21. Kenta Maeda threw 36 fastball yesterday. For those 36 fastball he got no whiffs and they generated his lowest fastball spin rate in the last two years. In three of his last 4 starts he has no swings and misses on his fastball. Does he need a sticky ball to be effective? Can he command his fastball without a sticky ball? Below is a chart of his spin rates comparing 2020 vs. 2021. How should the Twins proceed? If he can't command his fastball do they need to put him in the bullpen where he can limits its use? They need bullpen help and it would certainly save them several million in incentives. He may be a very valuable bullpen piece at a very reasonable cost. The incentives start adding up soon. This is a lost season. Should the Twins move him to the bullpen? He certainly can't win games as a starter if his fastball continues to be so ineffective. Data from baseball savant
  22. On Tuesday night, Twins fans that stayed up late to watch a West Coast game were treated with a real clunker. Minnesota faced off against a bad Seattle team and it escalated into an embarrassing loss. J.A. Happ allowed six earned runs in four innings to an anemic Mariners offense. Happ is only one issue with a pitching staff that might be the worst in franchise history. Out of the 15 American League teams, Minnesota ranks 13th or lower in ERA, hits, R, HR, and strikeouts, but it goes even further than that. While all those numbers show how bad the Twins have been this season, there are ways to compare the current team to former seasons. ERA- and FIP- are all statistics that allow fans to compare pitchers across different eras because it adjusts for the league and the park. For each area, 100 is league average and each point above or below 100 represents a percent above or below league average. If a team has a 90 ERA- that means they were 10 percentage points better than the league average. When it comes to ERA-, there is only one Minnesota team with a worse total than the 2021 Twins. The 1995 Twins finished the year with a 56-88 record and their starting staff was composed of a 22-year-old Brad Radke, Kevin Tapani, Mike Trombley, Frankie Rodriguez, Scott Erickson, and Jose Para. As a club, they had the ranked last or second to last in the American League when it came to ERA, HR, R, W, IP, and H. Entering play on Wednesday, the 2021 Twins (119 ERA-) were only one point behind the 1995 team (120 ERA-), so they certainly can end up in the bottom spot by season’s end. FIP is used to estimate a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the defensive performance behind the player. The 2021 Twins also have the second worse FIP- in team history, but this time the 1982 squad has the worst total. That squad finished 60-102, which was last place in the AL West. Starters on the team included Bobby Castillo, Brad Havens, Albert Williams, Frank Viola, and Jack O’Connor. Like the 1995 team, they ranked at or near the bottom of the AL in ERA, HR, ER, R, and BB. What makes it even more frustrating is how good last year’s staff was in comparison to the current team. Kenta Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young and he wasn’t the only one to find success. All four of Minnesota’s top four starters were above league average when it comes to ERA-. Minnesota’s bullpen also had many reliable arms whereas the 2021 team’s bullpen has been a train wreck. In the not-so-distant future, it seems likely for the 2021 Twins to cut ties to some of their veteran pitching options and start seeing what the team has for younger arms. Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax have been added to the staff and other prospects will be following closely behind. Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, have both showcased dominant stuff in the upper levels of the minors this season and their big-league debuts made come sooner rather than later. Do you think this is the worst pitching staff in team history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Derek Falvey was brought over from Cleveland to help the Twins build a pitching pipeline. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition as the 2021 Twins might be the worst pitching staff in team history. On Tuesday night, Twins fans that stayed up late to watch a West Coast game were treated with a real clunker. Minnesota faced off against a bad Seattle team and it escalated into an embarrassing loss. J.A. Happ allowed six earned runs in four innings to an anemic Mariners offense. Happ is only one issue with a pitching staff that might be the worst in franchise history. Out of the 15 American League teams, Minnesota ranks 13th or lower in ERA, hits, R, HR, and strikeouts, but it goes even further than that. While all those numbers show how bad the Twins have been this season, there are ways to compare the current team to former seasons. ERA- and FIP- are all statistics that allow fans to compare pitchers across different eras because it adjusts for the league and the park. For each area, 100 is league average and each point above or below 100 represents a percent above or below league average. If a team has a 90 ERA- that means they were 10 percentage points better than the league average. When it comes to ERA-, there is only one Minnesota team with a worse total than the 2021 Twins. The 1995 Twins finished the year with a 56-88 record and their starting staff was composed of a 22-year-old Brad Radke, Kevin Tapani, Mike Trombley, Frankie Rodriguez, Scott Erickson, and Jose Para. As a club, they had the ranked last or second to last in the American League when it came to ERA, HR, R, W, IP, and H. Entering play on Wednesday, the 2021 Twins (119 ERA-) were only one point behind the 1995 team (120 ERA-), so they certainly can end up in the bottom spot by season’s end. FIP is used to estimate a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the defensive performance behind the player. The 2021 Twins also have the second worse FIP- in team history, but this time the 1982 squad has the worst total. That squad finished 60-102, which was last place in the AL West. Starters on the team included Bobby Castillo, Brad Havens, Albert Williams, Frank Viola, and Jack O’Connor. Like the 1995 team, they ranked at or near the bottom of the AL in ERA, HR, ER, R, and BB. What makes it even more frustrating is how good last year’s staff was in comparison to the current team. Kenta Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young and he wasn’t the only one to find success. All four of Minnesota’s top four starters were above league average when it comes to ERA-. Minnesota’s bullpen also had many reliable arms whereas the 2021 team’s bullpen has been a train wreck. In the not-so-distant future, it seems likely for the 2021 Twins to cut ties to some of their veteran pitching options and start seeing what the team has for younger arms. Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax have been added to the staff and other prospects will be following closely behind. Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, have both showcased dominant stuff in the upper levels of the minors this season and their big-league debuts made come sooner rather than later. Do you think this is the worst pitching staff in team history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. It's clear that something hasn’t been right for Maeda throughout this season and a trip to the IL can give him time to get his body right. One of the biggest issues has been how much batters have found success against his fastball. During the 2020 season, batters hit .086 with a .114 slugging percentage when facing Maeda's fastball. This year batters have a .357 batting average with a .786 slugging percentage, his highest total on any pitch. From his pitch location chart, it’s easy to see why Maeda is being hit harder on his fastball. He is leaving it over the heart of the plate where last year he was able to use the pitcher lower in the zone. This has resulted in him ranking in the 19th percentile or lower in hard hit %, max exit velocity, xBA, and xSLG. Maeda has such a good mix of pitches, but he needs to find more success with his fastball. That success is largely tied to his breaking pitches, especially since he only throws his fastball less than 22% of the time. After joining the Twins last year, his slider usage increased by over 7% and now this year he has increased that to a 10% jump over his final season in Los Angeles. Batters have been squaring up his slider more often as well as they have posted a .297 BA and a .527 SLG in 74 at-bats. His slider is likely been getting hit harder because of the change in movement he has gotten this year. Last year, his slider had 33.9 inches of vertical drop and 4.7 inches of horizontal movement. So far in 2021, he is getting similar horizontal movement, but his vertical drop has increased to 35.7 inches. This means the pitch is ending up out of the zone more often and it is easier for batters to lay off. Maeda can improve in multiple areas, but much of it is tied back to his pitch control and location. Last year, he seemed to have pinpoint control of all his pitches, and this made him nearly unhittable. He led all of baseball with a 0.75 WHIP during the 2020 campaign and that number has jumped to 1.48 in 2021. Improvements to these areas will allow him to pitch longer into games and he will allow fewer hits. There might not be any way for Maeda to get back to the level he pitched at in 2020. Minnesota needs Maeda to be more of a force in the rotation if they plan on getting back to a .500 record. He hasn’t been the team’s lone problem, but he needs to be part of the team’s solution. Do you think Maeda can solve his control problems? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. On the heels of a tremendous 2020 season, Kenta Maeda was expected to see some regression this year. Before his recent IL trip, he had struggled mightily to repeat last year’s performance and it all might come down to control. It's clear that something hasn’t been right for Maeda throughout this season and a trip to the IL can give him time to get his body right. One of the biggest issues has been how much batters have found success against his fastball. During the 2020 season, batters hit .086 with a .114 slugging percentage when facing Maeda's fastball. This year batters have a .357 batting average with a .786 slugging percentage, his highest total on any pitch. From his pitch location chart, it’s easy to see why Maeda is being hit harder on his fastball. He is leaving it over the heart of the plate where last year he was able to use the pitcher lower in the zone. This has resulted in him ranking in the 19th percentile or lower in hard hit %, max exit velocity, xBA, and xSLG. Maeda has such a good mix of pitches, but he needs to find more success with his fastball. That success is largely tied to his breaking pitches, especially since he only throws his fastball less than 22% of the time. After joining the Twins last year, his slider usage increased by over 7% and now this year he has increased that to a 10% jump over his final season in Los Angeles. Batters have been squaring up his slider more often as well as they have posted a .297 BA and a .527 SLG in 74 at-bats. His slider is likely been getting hit harder because of the change in movement he has gotten this year. Last year, his slider had 33.9 inches of vertical drop and 4.7 inches of horizontal movement. So far in 2021, he is getting similar horizontal movement, but his vertical drop has increased to 35.7 inches. This means the pitch is ending up out of the zone more often and it is easier for batters to lay off. Maeda can improve in multiple areas, but much of it is tied back to his pitch control and location. Last year, he seemed to have pinpoint control of all his pitches, and this made him nearly unhittable. He led all of baseball with a 0.75 WHIP during the 2020 campaign and that number has jumped to 1.48 in 2021. Improvements to these areas will allow him to pitch longer into games and he will allow fewer hits. There might not be any way for Maeda to get back to the level he pitched at in 2020. Minnesota needs Maeda to be more of a force in the rotation if they plan on getting back to a .500 record. He hasn’t been the team’s lone problem, but he needs to be part of the team’s solution. Do you think Maeda can solve his control problems? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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