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  1. The 2010s were a rough decade for the Minnesota Twins overall, though they have some fair seasons and a couple of playoff appearances. The final season of the decade was a 102-win season that gives fans hope for the coming decade of baseball. Pitching continued to be a huge question mark for the Twins throughout the decade. However, they did draft and develop Jose Berrios who, at 25, has already pitched in two All-Star Games. With Derek Falvey in charge, the hope is that he will help the organization develop pitching the same way he did in Cleveland. For now, take a look at the choices for five starting pitchers and five relief pitchers of the Twins decade. SP - Ervin Santana (2015-2018) 85 games, 85 starts, 30-25 with 0 saves and a 3.68 ERA in 525 1/3 innings. 414 K. 159 BB. The Twins signed Santana in December 2014 after ten MLB seasons, eight with the Angels. He got a four year, $55 million deal. However, before the 2015 season, he was suspended for 80 games. He pitched the second half of that season and made 30 starts in 2016. Though he went just 7-11, his 3.38 ERA was 25% better than league average. He got off to a great start in 2017 and earned his second career All- Star appearance. Overall, he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA (35% better than league average). He led the league with five complete games and three shutouts. He hurt a finger late in the season and it just didn’t heal in 2018. He tried to come back but it didn’t work. SP - Kyle Gibson (2013-2019) 193 games, 188 starts, 67-68 with 0 saves and a 4.52 ERA in 1,087 innings. 845 K. 392 BB. Gibson was the Twins first-round pick in 2009 out of Missouri. In 2010, he pitched at Ft. Myers, New Britain and Rochester. He was on his way to debuting in 2010, but his elbow didn’t agree. He had Tommy John and returned late in 2012. He made his debut in June 2013 and spent the rest of the decade in a Twins uniform. Gibson remained mostly healthy and provided over 1000 innings. He fit into a category of “generally kept his team in the game” and because of that, he finished with a record right around .500. He won 10 or more games in five of his six full seasons, winning 13 games in 2014 and 2019. His best season was in 2018 when he went just 10-13 but had a 3.62 ERA, 18% better than league average. He fought with ulcerative colitis in 2019, but he took the mound whenever asked. After a dozen years in the Twins organization, Gibson signed a three-year deal with the Rangers in the offseason. SP - Jose Berrios (2016-2019) 104 games, 103 starts, 43-34 with 0 saves and a 4.21 ERA in 596 2/3 innings. 585 K. 195 BB. Berrios was the 32nd-overall pick in the 2012, draft out of Puerto Rico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. At just 21, he made his MLB debut in April 2016. He really struggled in his rookie season, posting an ERA over 8 in 14 starts. In 2017, he went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2018 when he went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA in 32 starts. Last season, he returned to the All-Star Game. In 32 starts, he went 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA. He reached 200 innings for the first time in his career. He was set to be the Twins Opening Day starting pitcher again in 2020. SP - Phil Hughes (2014-2018) 92 games, 79 starts, 32-29 with 0 saves and a 4.43 ERA in 489 2/3 innings. 360 K. 63 BB. Hughes was the 23rd overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft. After parts of seven seasons with the Yankees, he signed a three-year deal with the Twins about a week before they signed Santana. He put together an incredible 2014 season. He went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA. In 209 2/3 innings, he walked just 16 batters. His 0.7 BB/9 and 11.63 K/BB led the league. The latter was an MLB record. Just one out from reaching 210 innings, and a big incentive, his final start ended when there was a rain delay. The Twins ripped up his three-year deal and made it a five-year deal. He went 11-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games in 2015. After that, he struggled with his shoulder and had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He was unable to pitch consistently from 2016 until he was traded to the Padres early in the 2018 season. SP - Scott Baker (2010-11) 52 games, 50 starts, 20-15 with 0 saves and a 3.90 ERA in 305 innings. 271 K. 75 BB. While Baker’s best season was in 2009, he was still quite productive the first two years of the next decade. In 2010, he went 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts. In 2011, he went 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 21 starts before his season came to an end. He ended up needing Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. Between 2013 and 2015, he pitched for the Cubs, Rangers and Dodgers. RP - Glen Perkins (2010-2017) 342 games, 1 start, 17-14 with 120 saves and a 3.18 ERA in 342 2/3 innings. 359 K. 84 BB. The Twins drafted Gopher great Glen Perkins with the 22nd overall pick of the 2004 draft. He came up through the minor league system as a starter and debuted late in 2006. He was a starter (and went 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA) in 2008. By 2010, he made the move to the bullpen. He took off in 2011. He posted ERAs of 2.48, 2.56 and 2.30 over the next three years, becoming one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. He became the closer midway through the 2012 season. He was an All-Star in 2013, 2014, and 2015, compiling 102 of his 120 saves in those three seasons. RP - Taylor Rogers (2016-2019) 258 games, 0 starts, 13-10 with 32 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 254 1/3 innings. 278 K. 64 BB. Rogers was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. He climbed the Twins ladder as a starting pitcher. However, early in 2016, Glen Perkins was hurt and Rogers was called up to work out of the bullpen. He’s been there since, and he has continued to get better as his role has gained leverage. In 2017, he posted a 3.07 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. In 2018, he had a 2.63 ERA anda 0.95 WHIP. Last season, he had a 2.61 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. His strikeout rate over the last three seasons has gone from 7.5 K/9 to 9.9 K/9 to 11.7 K/9 in 2019. He began the 2019 season being used in any late-inning, high-leverage situation. As other options struggled, he began getting more opportunities in the closer’s role. He often worked multiple-innings to record saves. He was also named an all-pro after the season. RP - Brian Duensing (2010-2015) 330 games, 52 starts, 36-35 with 2 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 565 1/3 innings. 375 K. 177 BB. Duensing was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Nebraska. He made his MLB debut in 2009. In 2010, he went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 53 games and 130 2/3 innings. He moved into the starting rotation for the 2011 season, and struggled. By mid-2012, he moved to the bullpen full time and became a reliable left-handed option for the next three seasons. He was called upon to get one out, pitch an inning or even pitch a couple of innings at a time. He left after the 2015 season and pitched one season with the Orioles before pitching in the Cubs bullpen in 2017 and 2018. RP - Ryan Pressly (2013-2018) 281 games, 0 starts, 17-16 with 1 save and a 3.75 ERA in 317 innings. 282 K. 108 BB. Pressly was a starting pitching prospect with the Red Sox when the Twins picked him with their Rule 5 selection in December of 2012. He impressed in spring training 2013 and made the team. He had a 3.87 ERA in 49 games that season. He was able to be sent to Rochester the next year and split the season between AAA and the big leagues. By 2016, he was an oft-used reliever in the Twins bullpen. He continued to show great stuff so as he worked more, he became a high strikeout pitcher. He was traded to the Astros at the July deadline in 2018 and became even more dominant. Before the trade, he had 69 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. He was an All-Star in 2019. RP - Casey Fien (2012-2016) 257 games, 0 starts, 17-15 with 1 save and a 4.21 ERA in 237 1/3 innings. 209 K. 42 BB. Fien pitched in 11 games for the Tigers between 2009 and 2010. He spent 2011 in the minor leagues. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal before the 2012 season. He began in Rochester, but something clicked for him midway through the season, and he took off and earned a call to the Twins where he finished the season posting a 2.06 ERA in 35 games. He spent three seasons as a reliable reliever for the Twins. He struggled early in 2016 and was claimed by the Dodgers. He pitched for Seattle and Philadelphia in 2018. For more from this series, see below. Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team, the '10s (The Hitters)
  2. We come to the end of our review of the history of the Minnesota Twins by looking at All-Decade teams today by posting the Pitchers of the 2010s. It was a tough decade for the Twins overall, but there were still really strong pitching performances as well.The 2010s were a rough decade for the Minnesota Twins overall, though they have some fair seasons and a couple of playoff appearances. The final season of the decade was a 102-win season that gives fans hope for the coming decade of baseball. Pitching continued to be a huge question mark for the Twins throughout the decade. However, they did draft and develop Jose Berrios who, at 25, has already pitched in two All-Star Games. With Derek Falvey in charge, the hope is that he will help the organization develop pitching the same way he did in Cleveland. For now, take a look at the choices for five starting pitchers and five relief pitchers of the Twins decade. SP - Ervin Santana (2015-2018) 85 games, 85 starts, 30-25 with 0 saves and a 3.68 ERA in 525 1/3 innings. 414 K. 159 BB. The Twins signed Santana in December 2014 after ten MLB seasons, eight with the Angels. He got a four year, $55 million deal. However, before the 2015 season, he was suspended for 80 games. He pitched the second half of that season and made 30 starts in 2016. Though he went just 7-11, his 3.38 ERA was 25% better than league average. He got off to a great start in 2017 and earned his second career All- Star appearance. Overall, he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA (35% better than league average). He led the league with five complete games and three shutouts. He hurt a finger late in the season and it just didn’t heal in 2018. He tried to come back but it didn’t work. SP - Kyle Gibson (2013-2019) 193 games, 188 starts, 67-68 with 0 saves and a 4.52 ERA in 1,087 innings. 845 K. 392 BB. Gibson was the Twins first-round pick in 2009 out of Missouri. In 2010, he pitched at Ft. Myers, New Britain and Rochester. He was on his way to debuting in 2010, but his elbow didn’t agree. He had Tommy John and returned late in 2012. He made his debut in June 2013 and spent the rest of the decade in a Twins uniform. Gibson remained mostly healthy and provided over 1000 innings. He fit into a category of “generally kept his team in the game” and because of that, he finished with a record right around .500. He won 10 or more games in five of his six full seasons, winning 13 games in 2014 and 2019. His best season was in 2018 when he went just 10-13 but had a 3.62 ERA, 18% better than league average. He fought with ulcerative colitis in 2019, but he took the mound whenever asked. After a dozen years in the Twins organization, Gibson signed a three-year deal with the Rangers in the offseason. SP - Jose Berrios (2016-2019) 104 games, 103 starts, 43-34 with 0 saves and a 4.21 ERA in 596 2/3 innings. 585 K. 195 BB. Berrios was the 32nd-overall pick in the 2012, draft out of Puerto Rico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. At just 21, he made his MLB debut in April 2016. He really struggled in his rookie season, posting an ERA over 8 in 14 starts. In 2017, he went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2018 when he went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA in 32 starts. Last season, he returned to the All-Star Game. In 32 starts, he went 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA. He reached 200 innings for the first time in his career. He was set to be the Twins Opening Day starting pitcher again in 2020. SP - Phil Hughes (2014-2018) 92 games, 79 starts, 32-29 with 0 saves and a 4.43 ERA in 489 2/3 innings. 360 K. 63 BB. Hughes was the 23rd overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft. After parts of seven seasons with the Yankees, he signed a three-year deal with the Twins about a week before they signed Santana. He put together an incredible 2014 season. He went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA. In 209 2/3 innings, he walked just 16 batters. His 0.7 BB/9 and 11.63 K/BB led the league. The latter was an MLB record. Just one out from reaching 210 innings, and a big incentive, his final start ended when there was a rain delay. The Twins ripped up his three-year deal and made it a five-year deal. He went 11-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games in 2015. After that, he struggled with his shoulder and had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He was unable to pitch consistently from 2016 until he was traded to the Padres early in the 2018 season. SP - Scott Baker (2010-11) 52 games, 50 starts, 20-15 with 0 saves and a 3.90 ERA in 305 innings. 271 K. 75 BB. While Baker’s best season was in 2009, he was still quite productive the first two years of the next decade. In 2010, he went 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts. In 2011, he went 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 21 starts before his season came to an end. He ended up needing Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. Between 2013 and 2015, he pitched for the Cubs, Rangers and Dodgers. RP - Glen Perkins (2010-2017) 342 games, 1 start, 17-14 with 120 saves and a 3.18 ERA in 342 2/3 innings. 359 K. 84 BB. The Twins drafted Gopher great Glen Perkins with the 22nd overall pick of the 2004 draft. He came up through the minor league system as a starter and debuted late in 2006. He was a starter (and went 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA) in 2008. By 2010, he made the move to the bullpen. He took off in 2011. He posted ERAs of 2.48, 2.56 and 2.30 over the next three years, becoming one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. He became the closer midway through the 2012 season. He was an All-Star in 2013, 2014, and 2015, compiling 102 of his 120 saves in those three seasons. RP - Taylor Rogers (2016-2019) 258 games, 0 starts, 13-10 with 32 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 254 1/3 innings. 278 K. 64 BB. Rogers was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. He climbed the Twins ladder as a starting pitcher. However, early in 2016, Glen Perkins was hurt and Rogers was called up to work out of the bullpen. He’s been there since, and he has continued to get better as his role has gained leverage. In 2017, he posted a 3.07 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. In 2018, he had a 2.63 ERA anda 0.95 WHIP. Last season, he had a 2.61 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. His strikeout rate over the last three seasons has gone from 7.5 K/9 to 9.9 K/9 to 11.7 K/9 in 2019. He began the 2019 season being used in any late-inning, high-leverage situation. As other options struggled, he began getting more opportunities in the closer’s role. He often worked multiple-innings to record saves. He was also named an all-pro after the season. RP - Brian Duensing (2010-2015) 330 games, 52 starts, 36-35 with 2 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 565 1/3 innings. 375 K. 177 BB. Duensing was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Nebraska. He made his MLB debut in 2009. In 2010, he went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 53 games and 130 2/3 innings. He moved into the starting rotation for the 2011 season, and struggled. By mid-2012, he moved to the bullpen full time and became a reliable left-handed option for the next three seasons. He was called upon to get one out, pitch an inning or even pitch a couple of innings at a time. He left after the 2015 season and pitched one season with the Orioles before pitching in the Cubs bullpen in 2017 and 2018. RP - Ryan Pressly (2013-2018) 281 games, 0 starts, 17-16 with 1 save and a 3.75 ERA in 317 innings. 282 K. 108 BB. Pressly was a starting pitching prospect with the Red Sox when the Twins picked him with their Rule 5 selection in December of 2012. He impressed in spring training 2013 and made the team. He had a 3.87 ERA in 49 games that season. He was able to be sent to Rochester the next year and split the season between AAA and the big leagues. By 2016, he was an oft-used reliever in the Twins bullpen. He continued to show great stuff so as he worked more, he became a high strikeout pitcher. He was traded to the Astros at the July deadline in 2018 and became even more dominant. Before the trade, he had 69 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. He was an All-Star in 2019. RP - Casey Fien (2012-2016) 257 games, 0 starts, 17-15 with 1 save and a 4.21 ERA in 237 1/3 innings. 209 K. 42 BB. Fien pitched in 11 games for the Tigers between 2009 and 2010. He spent 2011 in the minor leagues. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal before the 2012 season. He began in Rochester, but something clicked for him midway through the season, and he took off and earned a call to the Twins where he finished the season posting a 2.06 ERA in 35 games. He spent three seasons as a reliable reliever for the Twins. He struggled early in 2016 and was claimed by the Dodgers. He pitched for Seattle and Philadelphia in 2018. For more from this series, see below. Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team, the '10s (The Hitters) Click here to view the article
  3. The Narrative: The former Twins front office leadership was slow to push pitchers up the ladder, especially in their first full professional season. The 2019 Case: In 2019, Twins right-handed pitcher Cole Sands made his professional debut. He had been the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2018 out of Florida State. After being drafted, he was shut down. He began the 2019 season in Cedar Rapids. He went 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA. After eight starts and just 41 1/3 innings with the Kernels, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he made nine starts and went 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 52 innings. He ended the season with one start at Double-A Pensacola in which he gave up two runs in four innings. He threw a total of 97 1/3 innings in his first full season. I have seen it written or spoken about in a few places over the last couple of years that under the previous regime, the Twins would likely not have pushed a college pitcher like Sands quite as quickly. Is that true? Is that a fair critique? Obviously there is no perfect way to analyze this. Pitcher development (like hitter development) is very much dependent upon the individual. However, I wanted to go back several seasons and find out if the previous Twins regime had any (or many, or lots, or no) cases that fit the model that we saw in 2019 with Cole Sands. What are those qualifications to meet? So I went back through all of the Twins drafts from 2001 through 2019. I looked for these two things from each pitcher drafted out of college. If, in his first full professional season, the pitcher did one or both of them, I included him. Did the pitcher reach AA (or AAA)? Sands made one start at AA, or Did the pitcher pitch at three or more levels? Sands pitched at Low-A, High-A and AA. With that, let’s take a look at the Twins history this century. CURRENT REGIME (2017-2019) Cole Sands (5th round, 2019) - Pitched at three levels. Reached AA in 2020. PREVIOUS REGIME Tyler Jay (1st round, 2015) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2016.. Nick Burdi (supp 1st, 2014) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2015. Jake Reed (5th round, 2014) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2015. DJ Baxendale (10th round, 2012) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2013. Pat Dean (3rd round, 2010) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2011. Logan Darnell (6th round, 2010) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2011. Kyle Gibson (1st round, 2009) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2010. Billy Bullock (2nd round, 2009) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2010. Carlos Gutierrez (supp 1st, 2008) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2009. Matt Garza (1st round, 2005) - Pitched at four levels, High-A, AA, AAA and MLB in 2006. Kevin Slowey (2nd round, 2005) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2006. Brian Duensing (3rd round, 2005) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2006. Glen Perkins (1st round, 2004) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2005. Scott Baker (2nd round, 2003) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2004. Jesse Crain (2nd round, 2002) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2003. Adam Johnson (1st round, 2000) - Pitched at three levels, AA, AAA and MLB. CONCLUSIONS While this doesn’t dispute the studies done five years or so ago stating that the Twins were among the slowest, if not the slowest, to promote pitchers to the big leagues, this does show that the previous Twins regime was not afraid of pushing college pitchers quickly through the lower levels of the minor leagues. In fact, it happened most years. This isn’t a scientific study. I have done nothing more than a quick search of Twins draft picks in Baseball-Reference, so it’s possible that I am missing something. Please feel free to let me know.
  4. Sometimes narratives, baseball or other, get into circulation, and once they do, it seems that they are hard to get rid of. I have probably (unfortunately) started some, and I am sure that I have passed along some without doing any research. Of course, I think we all agree that a little data to either support or disprove any narrative should help. Today I am going to address one of those narratives and let you decide.The Narrative: The former Twins front office leadership was slow to push pitchers up the ladder, especially in their first full professional season. The 2019 Case: In 2019, Twins right-handed pitcher Cole Sands made his professional debut. He had been the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2018 out of Florida State. After being drafted, he was shut down. He began the 2019 season in Cedar Rapids. He went 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA. After eight starts and just 41 1/3 innings with the Kernels, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he made nine starts and went 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 52 innings. He ended the season with one start at Double-A Pensacola in which he gave up two runs in four innings. He threw a total of 97 1/3 innings in his first full season. I have seen it written or spoken about in a few places over the last couple of years that under the previous regime, the Twins would likely not have pushed a college pitcher like Sands quite as quickly. Is that true? Is that a fair critique? Obviously there is no perfect way to analyze this. Pitcher development (like hitter development) is very much dependent upon the individual. However, I wanted to go back several seasons and find out if the previous Twins regime had any (or many, or lots, or no) cases that fit the model that we saw in 2019 with Cole Sands. What are those qualifications to meet? So I went back through all of the Twins drafts from 2001 through 2019. I looked for these two things from each pitcher drafted out of college. If, in his first full professional season, the pitcher did one or both of them, I included him. Did the pitcher reach AA (or AAA)? Sands made one start at AA, orDid the pitcher pitch at three or more levels? Sands pitched at Low-A, High-A and AA.With that, let’s take a look at the Twins history this century. CURRENT REGIME (2017-2019) Cole Sands (5th round, 2019) - Pitched at three levels. Reached AA in 2020.PREVIOUS REGIME Tyler Jay (1st round, 2015) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2016..Nick Burdi (supp 1st, 2014) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2015.Jake Reed (5th round, 2014) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2015.DJ Baxendale (10th round, 2012) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2013.Pat Dean (3rd round, 2010) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2011.Logan Darnell (6th round, 2010) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2011.Kyle Gibson (1st round, 2009) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2010.Billy Bullock (2nd round, 2009) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2010.Carlos Gutierrez (supp 1st, 2008) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2009.Matt Garza (1st round, 2005) - Pitched at four levels, High-A, AA, AAA and MLB in 2006.Kevin Slowey (2nd round, 2005) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2006.Brian Duensing (3rd round, 2005) - Pitched at three levels, Low-A, High-A and AA in 2006.Glen Perkins (1st round, 2004) - Pitched at two levels, High-A and AA in 2005.Scott Baker (2nd round, 2003) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2004.Jesse Crain (2nd round, 2002) - Pitched at three levels, High-A, AA and AAA in 2003.Adam Johnson (1st round, 2000) - Pitched at three levels, AA, AAA and MLB.CONCLUSIONSWhile this doesn’t dispute the studies done five years or so ago stating that the Twins were among the slowest, if not the slowest, to promote pitchers to the big leagues, this does show that the previous Twins regime was not afraid of pushing college pitchers quickly through the lower levels of the minor leagues. In fact, it happened most years. This isn’t a scientific study. I have done nothing more than a quick search of Twins draft picks in Baseball-Reference, so it’s possible that I am missing something. Please feel free to let me know. Click here to view the article
  5. There have been plenty of roster projections and free agent discussions from all corners of Twins Territory this winter. Although Gibson has been somewhat of a polarizing pitcher over his tenure with the Twins, he’d have been a solid fit at the back end of a rotation. Dealing with health issues for much of the season he contributed a significant slide last year following the step forward in 2018. Ultimately the Texas Rangers saw the projectable upside and handed him a nice three-year contract. There’s some risk involved for a guy who has pitched more than 160 innings just once since 2015, but the 2018 version was a considerable asset. Gibson came off the board early, and while Minnesota was more focused on the likes of Zack Wheeler, a pivot was forced when the “impact” arms they sought signed elsewhere. Rich Hill was grabbed earlier this week, and is reflective of that definition when healthy, but it’s the other guy who draws all the parallels. Homer Bailey isn’t a sexy name at all, and I’m not yet sure how I feel about it, but I can understand where the Twins saw an opportunity to upgrade on Gibson. Bailey is two years older than the former Twins first-round pick, and he’s pitched nearly double the number of big-league seasons. Even still, the longtime Reds pitcher owns a career 4.57 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. It’s almost scary how close that is to Gibby’s career 4.52 ERA 7.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 numbers. So, if the thought was that Kyle could work at the back of Minnesota’s rotation, and he should be in line for a bounce back with a clean bill of health, why turn here... right? Again, Gibson was off the board early, and Bailey represents Minnesota responding to the situation more than anything. However, he was had on just a one-year $7 million deal and has already shown signs of improvement. For 12 years the Reds miscast Bailey as their ace. He routinely struggled with injury, and 2019 was the first season he topped 145 innings since 2013. After being serviceable in 18 starts for the Kansas City Royals, it was in 13 outings for the Oakland Athletics that things may have clicked. The 4.30 ERA isn’t glowing by any means, but he posted a 3.65 FIP, 8.3 K/9 and a career best 1.8 BB/9. The 2.9 fWAR was a high-water mark since 2013, and it appears that the time in the bay area might have been a turning point. Never a real hard thrower, Bailey has held a 93-mph average velocity since 2015. What he did with the Athletics however was to elevate the use of his splitter. After using it just 12.9% of the time over the course of his career, he more than doubled that mark last season. Batters couldn’t hit it, generating just a .182 average on the pitch, and he had a whiff rate that nearly reached 40%. So, while Gibson’s allure is rooted in the premise of a health-related rebound, Bailey presents the opportunity to expand on something that has already worked. Minnesota, through the eyes of Wes Johnson and other adept coaches in the system, has become significantly more associated with pitching development. Should Bailey be provided even more usable information from within the Twins clubhouse, taking another step forward is hardly out of the question. I’d be hesitant to expect a near-34-year-old to drastically shift from career norms, but a nice uptick isn’t abnormal either. This same think tank may have seen the breakout of Anibal Sanchez coming, and this is an opportunity for them to execute fully on a similar scenario. Much like Kyle Gibson would have been, the acquisition of Bailey wasn’t a well-received one. Although he doesn’t have the upper-echelon name recognition, he draws parallels to the guy he could replace, and has already shown why the gamble is a worthy one. This story will unfold throughout the season, but Rocco Baldelli’s staff is better today because Homer Bailey is in it.
  6. As of Wednesday, the latter is in flux. Gibson signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Texas Rangers after spending his entire career with the Twins organization. Your dad’s opinion on the matter was hard to gauge in a brief pre-Thanksgiving phone call. “He was more upset about the city plowing in his driveway after he just got done shoveling,” you told your spouse, who nodded disinterestedly as she watched a Hallmark Christmas movie with Candace Cameron Bure. “I don’t think he’s quite processed what happened.” Gibson’s signing takes one more option off the table for his former team, as the Twins look to build a rotation that can complement a playoff-ready lineup. It also means your dad’s perennial Spring Training opinion may change or go away entirely. “I don’t know where his head is at. These are uncharted waters,” you said to your teenage daughter, who nodded disinterestedly as she browsed TikTok videos. “I don’t think he’s ever said word one about the Rangers, but maybe he’s genuinely invested in Kyle Gibson and his career.” Prior to Gibson’s arrival in 2013, your dad’s most commonly expressed preseason thoughts were wishing Justin Morneau could get healthy and that Phil Cuzzi should be tried in The Hague. “Maybe once they sign somebody, or if they make (Brusdar) Graterol a starter again, that’ll get him focused on 2020,” you said to your dog, who nodded disinterestedly before unleashing another volcanic fart due to the turkey and ham your brother kept feeding him at dinner. “I don’t know where this goes from here. I don’t know if he does either.” Your dad was unavailable for comment on the matter, but he did characterize the potential of another winter storm this weekend as “bullcrap.”
  7. Aaron and John talk about Kyle Gibson's unexpectedly big contract with the Rangers, how the C.J. Cron decision is much bigger than it looks, Derek Shelton and Jeremy Hefner becoming the latest ex-Twins coaches, and giving thanks for a great 2019 on and off the field. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click here to view the article
  8. Over the weekend, MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman reported that as many as 10 teams were interested in Gibson. He reported that the Cleveland Clinic is treating his colitis and there are no lingering effects. This could certainly alter the Gibson market and his value could rise with increased interest. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1194062750244229120?s=20 Taking out last year’s injury-ridden season, Gibson pitched to a 4.31 ERA from 2015 through 2018. During that stretch, he posted a 549 to 259 strikeout to walk ratio while closing in on 700 innings. He’s never been what a person would deem an “ace,” but he has put together some respectable numbers while pitching for some very bad teams. During the 2018 campaign, Gibson put himself in elite territory as his ERA, games started, innings pitched, hits, runs and base on balls all ranked in the top-20. Even while dealing with health issues this season, he ranked in the top-20 in wins, hits, runs and earned runs. He will be entering his age-32 season and there might be something left to coax out of Gibson’s right-arm. Gibson’s groundball percentage is one thing that might be attractive to other organizations. A team with the right defensive infield could feast off the groundballs produced by Gibson. Minnesota projects to have Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, and C.J. Cron in the infield and that’s not exactly a top-notch defensive line-up. Gibson could be better served by finding a better defensive line-up. At this point in his career, there’s little that points to him being a front-line starter. With that being said, not every team is looking for a pitcher to lead their rotation. Gibson has served the Twins organization well and he deserves his chance at testing the free agent waters. From there, he might be able to find a team that meets his style, while paying him the salary he has earned. Gibson is getting noticed even in a market that includes multiple top-notch pitchers. He will make some money in the weeks ahead, but the question remains if Minnesota will be offering a contract. He could find greener pastures in another organization. However, Minnesota needs starting pitching and Gibson offers a familiar face with some potential up-side in the years to come. Do you think the Twins should resign Kyle Gibson? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion.
  9. When he joined the organization as a first-round draft pick, Gibson looked a fast-track type pitching prospect, especially while rocketing through three levels of the minors in his first full season. While the Twins were making a playoff run in the first season at Target Field in 2010, a 22-year-old Gibson was rapidly climbing through the minors, coasting through Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A with outstanding numbers at each stop. He entered the 2011 season as Baseball America's No. 34 prospect, imminently ready to step in as Minnesota's next rotation centerpiece. But just as he was seemingly knocking on the door around the summer's midpoint, his numbers at Triple-A took a dive. A torn UCL was discovered he went for Tommy John surgery. Gibson's meteoric ascent came to a crashing halt. He spent most of 2012 rehabbing, and came back strong. Gibson reached the majors in 2013 and struggled, as many rookies do. In 2014, he – somewhat surprisingly – made the big-league rotation out of camp, and put together a respectable first full season, with a 4.47 ERA and 3.80 FIP in 180 innings. Gibson took another step forward in 2015, posting a 3.84 ERA and 3,96 FIP in 194 innings, albeit with modest strikeout and swing-and-miss rates. At 27, it looked like he had arrived as a quality mid-rotation piece whose raw stuff might never reach its pre-surgery potential. Then, in 2016, things went south for Gibson, as they did for most of the team. His velocity sagged to career lows and hittability became a major issue. Though his surgically repaired elbow was holding up, Gibson was now afflicted by nagging back and shoulder soreness. He admitted later that he didn't make a start all year without anti-inflammatory medication. In the ensuing offseason, Gibson decided to take radical action with hopes of relieving the pain and turning around his career. He visited the Florida Baseball Ranch, where he embarked on a program designed to develop – in the words of Star Tribune's Phil Miller – "an entirely new way of delivering the baseball, about as fundamental a change as a pitcher can make." The new exercises and drills, Miller wrote, were "meant to retrain Gibson and alter his throwing motion, so he holds the ball more upright, at an angle of less than 90 degrees, which enables him to reach his release point more directly. That, combined with a de-emphasis on extending his arm after releasing the ball, has dramatically reduced the amount of stress on his pitching shoulder." The overhaul did not pay immediate performance dividends, as Gibson scuffled through the first half of 2017 and finished June with a 6.11 ERA. But in the latter half of the year, he began to find it. The velocity was ticking up. The breaking balls gained sharpness. His strikeout rate rose. Posting a 3.55 ERA in August and September, and propelling the Twins to a 9-2 record in his starts, Gibson was a key factor in Minnesota's unlikely post-deadline charge to the wild-card. In 2018 he kept it rolling. With the highest strikeout rate of his career (8.2 K/9), the right-hander turned in a 3.62 ERA over 197 innings, ranked second among Twins pitchers in WAR (2.6), and put his vastly improved arsenal on display with an 11.5% swinging strike rate that shattered his previous watermark. Heading into his final year before free agency, Gibson had come full circle. His path was hardly straight or smooth, but finally the former first-round pick was a valued staple in the rotation, boasting legitimate standout stuff and worthy results. And then – of course – calamity struck again. On a mission trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic last winter, Gibson contracted E. coli. The illness took a physical toll on him, causing him to drop a ton of weight from an already somewhat slender frame. He showed up to spring training looking gaunt, and by his own admission wasn't quite back to full strength by the start of the season. Nevertheless, he shook off a few bad early starts and pretty much resumed where he left off. As recently as early August, Gibson's ERA sat at 4.02 and he looked like a playoff starter. But in the late stages of this 2019 campaign, the righty has unraveled completely, amidst the revelation he's been dealing with ulcerative colitis and its ravaging effects since spring. At this point, the 31-year-old is a mere shell of what he was even two months ago. His stamina has tanked. His command is gone. His outings have grown increasingly poor, with Thursday night's total meltdown (1.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB with 25 of 52 pitches for strikes against the hapless Royals) setting a new low. It would be surprising – and, frankly, upsetting – to see him pitch in a Twins uniform again this year. A role in the playoffs is essentially out the window. It sucks. For him most of all, I assure you. So many fans, for whatever reason, hold a scornful disdain for Gibson. They lament his every misstep, they accuse him of "nibbling," and they dismiss whatever success he's experienced as flukey and fleeting. But let's be clear: Gibson was no flash in the pan. From August 1st, 2017, through July 31st, 2019 – a full two-year span – he logged a 3.75 ERA (to go along with a 4.03 FIP and 3.78 xFIP) over 376 innings, compiling the 22nd-highest WAR among MLB starters. He emerged as a legitimate second-tier pitcher and he did it through a willingness to do whatever it took. “It wasn’t easy at first, because there’s a lot of modern thinking about the throwing motion and I’m more of a traditional baseball guy,” Gibson said in 2017 of his trip to the Florida Baseball Ranch, and his adoption of its unconventional methods. “I had to open up a little bit to accept new ways of thinking. And I’m glad I did.” It paid off until he was completely derailed by circumstances that go beyond baseball. The Twins will face an interesting decision this offseason, as a free agent exodus opens up several vacancies in the rotation. The decline of Gibson obviously comes with bad timing for him, but could create an intriguing opportunity for whatever team is willing to take a chance on him. He's shown when healthy that he can be a force. Even this year, with all the embattlement, his swinging strike rate is tied with Yu Darvish for 13th-best in the majors. Gibson could very well be a bargain for someone. Perhaps familiarity and cost-efficiency will lead to the Twins being that team. Or, perhaps Minnesota's front office will look elsewhere for a fresh start with a more known commodity. If so, this is a somber end to Gibson's time with the organization that drafted him a decade ago. In some eyes, I'm sure his legacy will be viewed poorly, but I think that's really unfortunate. The fairer narrative portrays a very talented pitcher who repeatedly got dealt bad blows, and went above and beyond to overcome them – including a total mechanical overhaul in his late 20s. Through it all, he's been a good organizational soldier, an appreciated teammate, a forthcoming favorite for media interviews, and a generous contributor to the community. The story of Gibson as a Twin (if this is the end) is an inspiring and admirable one. I hope fans won't let the fact that it's ending the same way it began – defined by injury and disappointment – cloud the general traits of resilience and reinvention he has embodied, all the way up until the bitter end.
  10. From the very beginning, Kyle Gibson's career was defined by injury and disappointment. Coming out of the University of Missouri in 2009, he was widely viewed as a likely Top 10 draft selection, but a stress fracture in his forearm caused him to drop to Minnesota at 22nd overall. This would sadly prove to be a harbinger for Gibson's tenure as a Twin, during which the pitcher's tenacity and determination have been overshadowed by a constant plague of misfortune that continues to follow him.When he joined the organization as a first-round draft pick, Gibson looked a fast-track type pitching prospect, especially while rocketing through three levels of the minors in his first full season. While the Twins were making a playoff run in the first season at Target Field in 2010, a 22-year-old Gibson was rapidly climbing through the minors, coasting through Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A with outstanding numbers at each stop. He entered the 2011 season as Baseball America's No. 34 prospect, imminently ready to step in as Minnesota's next rotation centerpiece. But just as he was seemingly knocking on the door around the summer's midpoint, his numbers at Triple-A took a dive. A torn UCL was discovered he went for Tommy John surgery. Gibson's meteoric ascent came to a crashing halt. He spent most of 2012 rehabbing, and came back strong. Gibson reached the majors in 2013 and struggled, as many rookies do. In 2014, he – somewhat surprisingly – made the big-league rotation out of camp, and put together a respectable first full season, with a 4.47 ERA and 3.80 FIP in 180 innings. Gibson took another step forward in 2015, posting a 3.84 ERA and 3,96 FIP in 194 innings, albeit with modest strikeout and swing-and-miss rates. At 27, it looked like he had arrived as a quality mid-rotation piece whose raw stuff might never reach its pre-surgery potential. Then, in 2016, things went south for Gibson, as they did for most of the team. His velocity sagged to career lows and hittability became a major issue. Though his surgically repaired elbow was holding up, Gibson was now afflicted by nagging back and shoulder soreness. He admitted later that he didn't make a start all year without anti-inflammatory medication. In the ensuing offseason, Gibson decided to take radical action with hopes of relieving the pain and turning around his career. He visited the Florida Baseball Ranch, where he embarked on a program designed to develop – in the words of Star Tribune's Phil Miller – "an entirely new way of delivering the baseball, about as fundamental a change as a pitcher can make." The new exercises and drills, Miller wrote, were "meant to retrain Gibson and alter his throwing motion, so he holds the ball more upright, at an angle of less than 90 degrees, which enables him to reach his release point more directly. That, combined with a de-emphasis on extending his arm after releasing the ball, has dramatically reduced the amount of stress on his pitching shoulder." The overhaul did not pay immediate performance dividends, as Gibson scuffled through the first half of 2017 and finished June with a 6.11 ERA. But in the latter half of the year, he began to find it. The velocity was ticking up. The breaking balls gained sharpness. His strikeout rate rose. Posting a 3.55 ERA in August and September, and propelling the Twins to a 9-2 record in his starts, Gibson was a key factor in Minnesota's unlikely post-deadline charge to the wild-card. In 2018 he kept it rolling. With the highest strikeout rate of his career (8.2 K/9), the right-hander turned in a 3.62 ERA over 197 innings, ranked second among Twins pitchers in WAR (2.6), and put his vastly improved arsenal on display with an 11.5% swinging strike rate that shattered his previous watermark. Heading into his final year before free agency, Gibson had come full circle. His path was hardly straight or smooth, but finally the former first-round pick was a valued staple in the rotation, boasting legitimate standout stuff and worthy results. And then – of course – calamity struck again. On a mission trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic last winter, Gibson contracted E. coli. The illness took a physical toll on him, causing him to drop a ton of weight from an already somewhat slender frame. He showed up to spring training looking gaunt, and by his own admission wasn't quite back to full strength by the start of the season. Nevertheless, he shook off a few bad early starts and pretty much resumed where he left off. As recently as early August, Gibson's ERA sat at 4.02 and he looked like a playoff starter. But in the late stages of this 2019 campaign, the righty has unraveled completely, amidst the revelation he's been dealing with ulcerative colitis and its ravaging effects since spring. At this point, the 31-year-old is a mere shell of what he was even two months ago. His stamina has tanked. His command is gone. His outings have grown increasingly poor, with Thursday night's total meltdown (1.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB with 25 of 52 pitches for strikes against the hapless Royals) setting a new low. It would be surprising – and, frankly, upsetting – to see him pitch in a Twins uniform again this year. A role in the playoffs is essentially out the window. It sucks. For him most of all, I assure you. So many fans, for whatever reason, hold a scornful disdain for Gibson. They lament his every misstep, they accuse him of "nibbling," and they dismiss whatever success he's experienced as flukey and fleeting. But let's be clear: Gibson was no flash in the pan. From August 1st, 2017, through July 31st, 2019 – a full two-year span – he logged a 3.75 ERA (to go along with a 4.03 FIP and 3.78 xFIP) over 376 innings, compiling the 22nd-highest WAR among MLB starters. He emerged as a legitimate second-tier pitcher and he did it through a willingness to do whatever it took. “It wasn’t easy at first, because there’s a lot of modern thinking about the throwing motion and I’m more of a traditional baseball guy,” Gibson said in 2017 of his trip to the Florida Baseball Ranch, and his adoption of its unconventional methods. “I had to open up a little bit to accept new ways of thinking. And I’m glad I did.” It paid off until he was completely derailed by circumstances that go beyond baseball. The Twins will face an interesting decision this offseason, as a free agent exodus opens up several vacancies in the rotation. The decline of Gibson obviously comes with bad timing for him, but could create an intriguing opportunity for whatever team is willing to take a chance on him. He's shown when healthy that he can be a force. Even this year, with all the embattlement, his swinging strike rate is tied with Yu Darvish for 13th-best in the majors. Gibson could very well be a bargain for someone. Perhaps familiarity and cost-efficiency will lead to the Twins being that team. Or, perhaps Minnesota's front office will look elsewhere for a fresh start with a more known commodity. If so, this is a somber end to Gibson's time with the organization that drafted him a decade ago. In some eyes, I'm sure his legacy will be viewed poorly, but I think that's really unfortunate. The fairer narrative portrays a very talented pitcher who repeatedly got dealt bad blows, and went above and beyond to overcome them – including a total mechanical overhaul in his late 20s. Through it all, he's been a good organizational soldier, an appreciated teammate, a forthcoming favorite for media interviews, and a generous contributor to the community. The story of Gibson as a Twin (if this is the end) is an inspiring and admirable one. I hope fans won't let the fact that it's ending the same way it began – defined by injury and disappointment – cloud the general traits of resilience and reinvention he has embodied, all the way up until the bitter end. Click here to view the article
  11. The 2019 Major League Baseball season officially comes to an end tonight as the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros wrap up game seven of the World Series. As the league calendar switches over to 2020 there will be significant roster shuffling. For the Minnesota Twins that already began yesterday, but the front office isn’t close to done when it comes to a 40-man overhaul. After getting run with the big-league club in September the Twins outrighted a trio of talent off the 40 man yesterday. Outfielders Ian Miller and Ryan LaMarre were jettisoned, and they were joined by utility infielder Ronald Torreyes. With both Byron Buxton and Sean Poppen still on the 60-day IL and needing cleared spots, the Twins effectively have 39 of 40 holes filled. Add in the claiming of Matt Wisler and you’ve got a full boat. There’s a crop of free agents that will be moving on from Minnesota, and then there’s a handful of arbitration and pre-arbitration guys that decisions will need to be made on. Here’s how they could all turn out: Free Agents: Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Sergio Romo, Jason Castro, Jonathan Schoop The only name missing from this group is Michael Pineda, who is also set to become a free agent. With his suspension however, he was immediately removed from the 40 man, and would not count against it for any acquiring team until he is reinstated. Gibson is obviously the longest tenured of this group, and it’ll be weird for both the organization and the player to part after a decade together. Despite how it ended, there were some significant high points, and no one could have represented Twins Territory better. Castro split time with Mitch Garver under Rocco Baldelli this season, and if his body will hold up, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be looking for a starting gig somewhere. Both Schoop and Romo made quick cameos for the Twins. The former was acquired at the trade deadline while the latter was had on a one-year deal. Romo has certain appeal to return as both a good pitcher and strong clubhouse presence, while Schoop would seem to be redundant after the emergence of Luis Arraez. I'd certainly like to see Minnesota hand Odorizzi a qualifying offer and look to work out a two-year deal. If he's the second or third starting rotation piece they add this offseason, then you'd have to feel pretty good about the group as a whole. Non-Tender: Sam Dyson, C.J. Cron Of these two one is a guarantee while the other is far from it. Minnesota dealt for the best reliever at the deadline in Dyson, and instead of a shutdown arm, they got a guy who hid injury (or his former team did) and sapped an asset for nothing. Dyson has one more year of arbitration, and while it would have been great to feel his impact, the only thing Minnesota felt is the bomb he dropped on them after coming here. What happens to C.J. Cron is largely dependent on how the Twins view Miguel Sano. The former Rays and Angels first basemen had a fine year, and especially so considering the sapped power from his thumb injury. If Sano is moving across the diamond or a better third basemen is a target, then there’s no need to tender Cron at something near $8 million. If he comes back, there’s also nothing wrong with going that route, and assuming the thumb is back to 100%, he’s a good bet to put up even better numbers in 2020. Decline Option: Martin Perez There was a time in 2019 when Perez’s option for 2020 looked certain to be picked up, then May 30th happened. Going into that start against the Rays Perez owned a 2.95 ERA and appeared to be the poster child for a Twins influenced fix. He was shelled for six runs in 2.2 IP and owned a 6.29 ERA over his final 21 starts. Left off the Postseason roster the Twins will almost certainly pay the $500k buyout as opposed to the $7.5 million salary next season. Outright: Trevor Hildenberger, Kohl Stewart When outrighting a player off the 40-man you’re considering a certain level of opportunity cost. Neither Hildenberger nor Stewart need to go anywhere, but there’s a pretty compelling argument that they both should. Once a pen stalwart for Paul Molitor, Hildy seemed to be ridden into the ground and then left for dead. He came back from Triple-A last year but was every bit as ineffective and has now posted a 6.35 ERA in his last 89.1 major league innings. For a sidearmer that isn’t fooling anyone, it’s simply not going to cut it. Last season the Twins parted ways with former first round pick Tyler Jay. He never made it to the big leagues, and while Stewart has, this appears to be his time. There’s plenty of better internal options, and Minnesota’s focus this offseason is going to be on pitching. Stewart continued down a path his minor league numbers suggested in that he simply can’t strike anyone out, and the stuff wasn’t good enough to play at the highest level. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. With the band-aid now being ripped off and the offseason underway for the Minnesota Twins, no time will be wasted when considering how to reload for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Rocco Baldelli’s club isn’t going to be an underdog going into the new year, and they should have plenty of momentum built towards a second straight AL Central Division title. When considering who may be on the way out, Derek Falvey has more than a handful of decisions to make. There’s a very strong group of players that lay the foundation for the Twins core, but we’ve seen where deficiencies may lie, and opportunities exist. With a handful of guys set to take their talents elsewhere, but choice or designation, it will be on the collective decisions made by Minnesota to best position the roster for success. Not every guy with the ability to return should, and it will be in those difficult discussions that the skeleton of the roster is constructed. Looking at each situation individually, here is what I’d both suggest and think that the Twins will do. Nelson Cruz: $12MM option in 2020 This picked up today (October 9) and I’d imagine the front office couldn’t have ever been more excited to spend such a sum. Jake Odorizz: Free Agent After coaching him to a career season and a debut in the All-Star game, it would make plenty of sense for the Twins to retain his services. A qualifying offer somewhere around $18.5MM could be doled out, but that tends to lean more on draft pick compensation should the player decide to leave. Instead I’d think that Minnesota should make him a long-term part of their rotation and offer him something like $45MM over the next three years. Kyle Gibson: Free Agent The former 2009 1st round draft pick will very likely be in another organization for the first time in his career. At 32-years-old it’s the end of an era and will be very different for all parties involved. Dealing with health issues all season didn’t do any favors to Gibson’s performance although he did set a new career best strikeout rate. Unfortunately, a rotation that needs to improve substantially just won’t have room. Jason Castro- Free Agent Wrapping up the three year deal he signed with the Twins, Castro’s free agency hits at the same time Mitch Garver has emerged. Jason Caught a career low 79 games in a split opportunity situation this year, but he posted his highest OPS since 2013. Garver should see something closer to 80% of the starts in 2020, but a veteran backup makes a ton of sense. The Twins could ask Jason what his thoughts are on a part time spot, or they could find someone or a similar ilk on the open market. My hunch is that his time here is done. Jonathan Schoop- Free Agent A one-year deal following a down season gave Schoop the opportunity to bounce back. He did that even while leaving some to be desired. His .777 OPS was nearly .100 points higher than 2018 but Luis Arraez emerged and took over his starting role. At 28 Schoop should still have a decent market at a down position, and even if his bat isn’t what it was in 2017, his arm keeps him significantly above average at the position. Good find for someone, but not going to be back in Minnesota. C.J. Cron- Final Year Arbitration After making just south of $5MM in 2019 Cron is looking at an increase near $6-8MM in 2020. He certainly didn’t finish the year the way he started, but a mangled thumb gave him issues since July. Cron will be only 30 years old and looked the part of a very strong contributor. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to move Miguel Sano to 1B and taking over as a primary DH for Nelson Cruz down the line seems a more logical step anyways. The market isn’t flush with options, and Cron can be had in his final arbitration year as he paves the way for Brent Rooker or Alex Kirilloff to take over. It’s not a guarantee, but I’d expect him back. Martin Perez- $7.5MM Team Option There’s no way the Twins are paying Perez nearly double what he made for them this season. Despite a strong start he was a disaster down the stretch and that led to more rotation questions than they hoped to handle. It would make some sense to bring him back at a lesser figure on a one-year pact that can be supplanted by developing arms on the farm. I don’t think the Twins will (or should) prioritize Perez, but he could be a factor depending on how the rest of the starting rotation is addressed. Sam Dyson- Final Year Arbitration At the deadline Minnesota added the best arm that was moved in the Giants Dyson. Unfortunately, he came with unannounced red flags and provided less than zero value in his time here. Now having undergone shoulder surgery, Minnesota will likely want no part of his 2020 situation. It’s too bad for the Twins, and at worst a bad look for Dyson. The Giants claim they didn’t know about an injury, and Sam suggests he’d been pitching through it for years. Good riddance to this one, and hopefully some compensation can be recouped through the league. Sergio Romo- Free Agent Entering his age 37 season Romo is no longer a spring chicken. Despite his weird knee tendencies, he’s also been a pretty strong beacon of health. Effective once again this season, the Twins should covet his presence in the clubhouse next year. Romo has a great personality and brought a level of excitement to the mound. There’s significant strikeout stuff on the back of a sweeping slider, and fortifying the relief corps a bit further this winter would be ideal. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. March Madness is upon us. I’m nothing close to a college basketball specialist, but it seems to me that not even the most optimistic Minnesotan believes the Golden Gophers will go far in the Big Ten Tournament -- but, who knows? Either way, with or without the presence of the Gophers, many people will hop on the Bracketology train and go crazy during the month of March. Motivated by the school spirit brought by this event, I decided to look at how some Minnesota Twins did while they were playing in college.I came across a lot of interesting facts and numbers from the time that these now major leaguers were just a bunch of hopeful kids attending classes everyday. Here’s a list that I’ve put together, with a personal experience shared at the end. Kyle Gibson was a vital part of the Twins rotation last year, after struggling for some years in the majors. That story is a bit similar to how his college career went down. He was off to a slow start, coming out of the bullpen during his freshman year for the Missouri Tigers, in 2007. But then, when he started being used as a starter in 2008, he turned the corner and pitched at a good level in the following two seasons. In his last year in college, when he posted a 3.21 ERA and 11.05 K/9. Gibby and the Tigers played the NCAA Regionals in all of the three years he was there. Kyle Gibson (Missouri, 2007-09) 3.66 ERA 63 games (29 starts) 259.0 IP 304 K (10.48 K/9) 0 HR 61 BB (2.10 BB/9) 1.16 WHIP 9 SV Tyler Duffey was drafted by the Twins in 2012 out of his hometown college, Rice University, in Houston. He spent three full seasons playing for the Owls between 2010 and 2012, helping the school claim its fourth conference championship in 2011. Curiously enough, do you know who was elected the conference MVP that year? That’s right...Duffey. He helped the Owls to finish the regular season in first place (16-8 conference record), with the highest number of wins (42-21 overall record) and to be the No. 24 program in the nation. He shared closing duties with former Twin J.T. Chargois. Tyler Duffey (Rice, 2010-2012) 3.06 ERA 92 games (1 start) 13 SV 152.1 IP 189 K (11.12 K/9) 14 HR (0.82 HR/9) 55 BB (3.24 BB/9) 1.21 WHIP Trevor Hildenberger also spent three seasons in college ball, but his overall numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as Duffey’s nor his stellar minor league totals. Coming out of high school, he pitched for the University of California, Berkeley starting in 2010, but he was redshirted during the 2011 season. His best season was his senior year, in which he posted a 2.83 ERA and tied the school record of 10 single-season saves. On May 10, 2014 he pitched three innings to earn a save, striking out six batters, his career high. Trevor Hildenberger (California, 2010-2014) 4.28 ERA 56 games (5 starts) 11 SV 106.0 IP 95 K (7.97 K/9) 3 HR (0.25 HR/9) 33 BB (2.77 BB/9) 1.34 WHIP Veteran relief pitcher Blake Parker wasn’t always a pitcher. During his three seasons playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, from 2004 to 2006, Parker played third base. Drafted in 2006, forgoing his senior year, he had a very slow start as a position player on rookie and A-ball and started his transition to the mound in 2007, to never turn back. As a batter in college, his best season was during his sophomore year when he had an .865 OPS and was an extra-base maniac, with a 54.55 XBH%. After maintaining a 2.85 ERA in ten years pitching in the minors, he knew he made the right call for his career. Blake Parker (Arkansas, 2004-06) .266/.344/.417 (.761 OPS) 129 games 504 AB 15 HR 79 RBI 16 SB 51 BB (8.79 BB%) 118 K (20.34 K%) Taylor Rogers is a superstar in the making right now, but his college career was nowhere near an indication of that. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009, he decided not to sign with them and to attend the University of Kentucky. He was a starting pitcher for the Wildcats for three seasons and his performance comes as a shock for those of us who have been seeing him thriving at the major league level nowadays. Look at what his Wikipedia page has to say about his college career: “In 2010, he tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in losses (7) and runs allowed (68), as he went 4-7 with a 6.40 ERA. In 2011, he tied for second in the Southeastern Conference in losses (7), and was third-highest in runs allowed (56). In 2012, he was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in runs allowed (45)”. Can you believe this? Taylor Rogers (Kentucky, 2010-12) 5.34 ERA 45 games (42 starts) 249.0 IP 172 K (6.21 K/9) 25 HR (0.90 HR/9) 55 BB (1.99 BB/9) 1.46 WHIP Addison Reed's MLB career is pretty respectable. His college career? It was monstrous. In three seasons pitching for the Aztecs, Reed was one of the best pitchers in the country. During his sophomore year, in 2009, he led the nation with 20 saves in 20 save opportunities, striking out 38 batters in 27.2 IP (12.36 K/9) and finishing with a 0.65 ERA. He was named the 2009 National Stopper of the Year by the NCBWA. Addison Reed (San Diego State, 2008-10) 2.16 ERA 60 games (11 starts) 24 SV 132.0 IP 154 K (10.40 K/9) 10 HR (0.68 HR/9) 31 BB (2.09 BB/9) 1.05 WHIP Another player who had an astonishing college career was C.J. Cron. In three years playing for the Utah Utes, between 2009 and 2011, Cron was acknowledged as one of the best first basemen in the nation. Not only did he have extraordinary individual numbers, but he also helped the Utes reach the regional finals in 2009, his freshman year. During his junior year, he was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, NCBWA, ABCA, Perfect Game, ESPN and the Collegiate Baseball newspaper (Louisville Slugger). He slashed .434/.517/.803 (1.320 OPS) that season. C.J. Cron (Utah, 2009-11) .396/.459/.713 (1.172 OPS) 157 games 641 AB 46 HR 198 RBI 62 BB (8.46 BB%) 75 K (10.23 K%) When the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year, $24,5 million contract in 2017, they did it for his defensive skills. As a major leaguer he hasn’t lived up to his minor league numbers and certainly not for his college numbers. Castro played very well offensively for Stanford, especially during his junior year. Not only did he lead the Cardinal in batting average (.376), hits (105), doubles (18) and RBI (73), he also earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, second-team All-America accolades from Rivals.com and third-team All-America recognition by Baseball America, ABCA/Rawlings and Ping!Baseball. He was also a finalist for the Johnny Bench award honoring college baseball's top catcher. With Stanford reaching the College World Series that year, Castro was named to the All-College World Series team after hitting 6-for-18 (.333) during the event. Jason Castro (Stanford, 2006-08) .309/.381/.476 (.857 OPS) 162 games 540 AB 18 HR 106 RBI 62 BB (9.94 BB%) 83 K (13.30 K%) 11 SB Last, but not least (especially not for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute), there’s Mitch Garver, who played for four years for the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque. Garver was one of the best catchers in the nation. In his senior year, he slashed .390/.458/.589 (1.047 OPS) and led the team in multiple stats. But not only did he succeed individually, but he’s also led UNM to two of its three Mountain West Conference titles (2011 and 2012), including the very first in school history, making him one of the best Lobos of all time. Garver also takes much pride in his state’s roots. I don’t know if may of you will remember, but during Players Weekend last year, the catcher used a New Mexico flag bat. Mitch Garver (New Mexico, 2010-13) .351/.421/.527 (.948 OPS) 211 games 809 AB 18 HR 167 RBI 88 BB (9.51 BB%) 104 K (11.24 K%) 21 SB .384 BABIP What makes Garver’s college career so special to me? In 2013 I was granted a scholarship from my university in Brazil and I managed to spend six months in the U.S., studying at UNM. At the time, basketball was my main passion and I took every opportunity I had to go watch the Lobos basketball team, which was pretty good at that year (until a tragedy at March Madness…). But I took one chance to go to the Isotopes' park, home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and attend the very first (and only) baseball game of my life. Download attachment: MitchGarverLobos.jpg Back then, I didn’t follow baseball nearly as much as I do today. So I had no idea who any of those players were. It only occurred to me last year, when Garver started to get his first Major League chances, that he was very likely there, behind the plate, during that particular game. I checked, and, yes. He was at that game (check the picture above, which I took on that day). The Lobos trailed 4-2 on that February evening, the ballpark was empty before the game was finished and the pitcher I actually went there to watch, because we took one class together, didn’t even play (I think). But, in retrospect, I can see how meaningful that day was to me, and Garver was a part of that. Click here to view the article
  14. I came across a lot of interesting facts and numbers from the time that these now major leaguers were just a bunch of hopeful kids attending classes everyday. Here’s a list that I’ve put together, with a personal experience shared at the end. Kyle Gibson was a vital part of the Twins rotation last year, after struggling for some years in the majors. That story is a bit similar to how his college career went down. He was off to a slow start, coming out of the bullpen during his freshman year for the Missouri Tigers, in 2007. But then, when he started being used as a starter in 2008, he turned the corner and pitched at a good level in the following two seasons. In his last year in college, when he posted a 3.21 ERA and 11.05 K/9. Gibby and the Tigers played the NCAA Regionals in all of the three years he was there. Kyle Gibson (Missouri, 2007-09) 3.66 ERA 63 games (29 starts) 259.0 IP 304 K (10.48 K/9) 0 HR 61 BB (2.10 BB/9) 1.16 WHIP 9 SV Tyler Duffey was drafted by the Twins in 2012 out of his hometown college, Rice University, in Houston. He spent three full seasons playing for the Owls between 2010 and 2012, helping the school claim its fourth conference championship in 2011. Curiously enough, do you know who was elected the conference MVP that year? That’s right...Duffey. He helped the Owls to finish the regular season in first place (16-8 conference record), with the highest number of wins (42-21 overall record) and to be the No. 24 program in the nation. He shared closing duties with former Twin J.T. Chargois. Tyler Duffey (Rice, 2010-2012) 3.06 ERA 92 games (1 start) 13 SV 152.1 IP 189 K (11.12 K/9) 14 HR (0.82 HR/9) 55 BB (3.24 BB/9) 1.21 WHIP Trevor Hildenberger also spent three seasons in college ball, but his overall numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as Duffey’s nor his stellar minor league totals. Coming out of high school, he pitched for the University of California, Berkeley starting in 2010, but he was redshirted during the 2011 season. His best season was his senior year, in which he posted a 2.83 ERA and tied the school record of 10 single-season saves. On May 10, 2014 he pitched three innings to earn a save, striking out six batters, his career high. Trevor Hildenberger (California, 2010-2014) 4.28 ERA 56 games (5 starts) 11 SV 106.0 IP 95 K (7.97 K/9) 3 HR (0.25 HR/9) 33 BB (2.77 BB/9) 1.34 WHIP Veteran relief pitcher Blake Parker wasn’t always a pitcher. During his three seasons playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, from 2004 to 2006, Parker played third base. Drafted in 2006, forgoing his senior year, he had a very slow start as a position player on rookie and A-ball and started his transition to the mound in 2007, to never turn back. As a batter in college, his best season was during his sophomore year when he had an .865 OPS and was an extra-base maniac, with a 54.55 XBH%. After maintaining a 2.85 ERA in ten years pitching in the minors, he knew he made the right call for his career. Blake Parker (Arkansas, 2004-06) .266/.344/.417 (.761 OPS) 129 games 504 AB 15 HR 79 RBI 16 SB 51 BB (8.79 BB%) 118 K (20.34 K%) Taylor Rogers is a superstar in the making right now, but his college career was nowhere near an indication of that. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009, he decided not to sign with them and to attend the University of Kentucky. He was a starting pitcher for the Wildcats for three seasons and his performance comes as a shock for those of us who have been seeing him thriving at the major league level nowadays. Look at what his Wikipedia page has to say about his college career: “In 2010, he tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in losses (7) and runs allowed (68), as he went 4-7 with a 6.40 ERA. In 2011, he tied for second in the Southeastern Conference in losses (7), and was third-highest in runs allowed (56). In 2012, he was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in runs allowed (45)”. Can you believe this? Taylor Rogers (Kentucky, 2010-12) 5.34 ERA 45 games (42 starts) 249.0 IP 172 K (6.21 K/9) 25 HR (0.90 HR/9) 55 BB (1.99 BB/9) 1.46 WHIP Addison Reed's MLB career is pretty respectable. His college career? It was monstrous. In three seasons pitching for the Aztecs, Reed was one of the best pitchers in the country. During his sophomore year, in 2009, he led the nation with 20 saves in 20 save opportunities, striking out 38 batters in 27.2 IP (12.36 K/9) and finishing with a 0.65 ERA. He was named the 2009 National Stopper of the Year by the NCBWA. Addison Reed (San Diego State, 2008-10) 2.16 ERA 60 games (11 starts) 24 SV 132.0 IP 154 K (10.40 K/9) 10 HR (0.68 HR/9) 31 BB (2.09 BB/9) 1.05 WHIP Another player who had an astonishing college career was C.J. Cron. In three years playing for the Utah Utes, between 2009 and 2011, Cron was acknowledged as one of the best first basemen in the nation. Not only did he have extraordinary individual numbers, but he also helped the Utes reach the regional finals in 2009, his freshman year. During his junior year, he was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, NCBWA, ABCA, Perfect Game, ESPN and the Collegiate Baseball newspaper (Louisville Slugger). He slashed .434/.517/.803 (1.320 OPS) that season. C.J. Cron (Utah, 2009-11) .396/.459/.713 (1.172 OPS) 157 games 641 AB 46 HR 198 RBI 62 BB (8.46 BB%) 75 K (10.23 K%) When the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year, $24,5 million contract in 2017, they did it for his defensive skills. As a major leaguer he hasn’t lived up to his minor league numbers and certainly not for his college numbers. Castro played very well offensively for Stanford, especially during his junior year. Not only did he lead the Cardinal in batting average (.376), hits (105), doubles (18) and RBI (73), he also earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, second-team All-America accolades from Rivals.com and third-team All-America recognition by Baseball America, ABCA/Rawlings and Ping!Baseball. He was also a finalist for the Johnny Bench award honoring college baseball's top catcher. With Stanford reaching the College World Series that year, Castro was named to the All-College World Series team after hitting 6-for-18 (.333) during the event. Jason Castro (Stanford, 2006-08) .309/.381/.476 (.857 OPS) 162 games 540 AB 18 HR 106 RBI 62 BB (9.94 BB%) 83 K (13.30 K%) 11 SB Last, but not least (especially not for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute), there’s Mitch Garver, who played for four years for the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque. Garver was one of the best catchers in the nation. In his senior year, he slashed .390/.458/.589 (1.047 OPS) and led the team in multiple stats. But not only did he succeed individually, but he’s also led UNM to two of its three Mountain West Conference titles (2011 and 2012), including the very first in school history, making him one of the best Lobos of all time. Garver also takes much pride in his state’s roots. I don’t know if may of you will remember, but during Players Weekend last year, the catcher used a New Mexico flag bat. Mitch Garver (New Mexico, 2010-13) .351/.421/.527 (.948 OPS) 211 games 809 AB 18 HR 167 RBI 88 BB (9.51 BB%) 104 K (11.24 K%) 21 SB .384 BABIP What makes Garver’s college career so special to me? In 2013 I was granted a scholarship from my university in Brazil and I managed to spend six months in the U.S., studying at UNM. At the time, basketball was my main passion and I took every opportunity I had to go watch the Lobos basketball team, which was pretty good at that year (until a tragedy at March Madness…). But I took one chance to go to the Isotopes' park, home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and attend the very first (and only) baseball game of my life. Back then, I didn’t follow baseball nearly as much as I do today. So I had no idea who any of those players were. It only occurred to me last year, when Garver started to get his first Major League chances, that he was very likely there, behind the plate, during that particular game. I checked, and, yes. He was at that game (check the picture above, which I took on that day). The Lobos trailed 4-2 on that February evening, the ballpark was empty before the game was finished and the pitcher I actually went there to watch, because we took one class together, didn’t even play (I think). But, in retrospect, I can see how meaningful that day was to me, and Garver was a part of that.
  15. Box Score Stashak (Opener): 2IP, 2H, 1ER, 2K, 79.17% strikes (19 of 24 pitches) Bullpen: 7IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BB, 11K Home Runs: Cruz (41) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-4, HR, 2B), Garver (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB), Austudillo (2-for-4), Schoop (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Cruz (.243), Rogers (.209), Austudillo (.166) Arraez Hurt In an essentially meaningless game at the tail end of the year, the last thing Minnesota needed was for a key cog in the lineup to be injured, but that is exactly what happened. Rookie sensation Luis Arraez collided with Austudillo while the two converged to catch an infield fly off the bat of Hunter Dozier for the last out of the seventh. Arraez’s right leg appeared to buckle while he was coming down off the mound and he was down for several minutes. A cart was brought out but Arraez was able to walk off with help. Obviously, losing Arraez for the postseason would be a huge detriment to the Twins. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1178048143344189440 Garver and Austudillo Bring the Bats and Cruz Hits a Huge Bomba Mitch Garver certainly helped ease any concerns Twins fans may have harbored about his recent hip injury. He drilled two doubles and drew a walk. After both doubles he would come home on two Willians Austudillo RBI singles. The Twins finally got a home run off of the bat of Nelson Cruz in the eighth inning, his 41st of the year. It couldn’t have come at a bigger time as Tyler Duffey had just allowed Kansas City to tie the game at three with Jorge Soler’s second home run on the day, a two-run shot. Cruz put the Twins up 4-3. The Bullpen Gets the Job Done Cody Staschak got the opportunity to audition as the opener today and outside of allowing a bomb to Jorge Soler he pitched pretty well. Shashak allowed two hits and struck out two Kansas City batters in two innings of work. Next up was Kyle Gibson. Gibson managed to escape his one inning without any damage but he labored heavily. It took Gibson over 30 pitches to end the third and he loaded the bases with a single and two walks. Gibson did strike out two batters including the final out of the inning to keep the game tied, but he didn’t exactly bolster his case for inclusion on the postseason roster. After Gibson, the bullpen shined through the middle innings. Zack Littell, Lewis Thorpe, and Trevor May combined for five strikeouts in three scoreless innings. Tyler Duffey was the next man up and the inning started well, but with two outs Whit Merrifield singled on weak ground ball and Soler followed with his league-leading 47th dinger. After Cruz gave the lead back to Minnesota, Sergio Romo came in and pitched a clean eighth inning. Taylor Rogers would come in to protect the one-run lead, picking up his 30th save on the year and giving the Twins win number 101. Going for 102 Tomorrow’s season finale will give Minnesota a chance to tie the franchise record for wins set in 1965. 2019 has been a truly remarkable year for the Twins and losing tomorrow will take nothing away from that, but it would be nice to see this team get Rocco Baldelli a share of the record in his first season as a manager. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1178066050316849154 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  16. With the AL Central clinched and the 100-win total already eclipsed, the Twins have very little left to play for in Kansas City. They did come into today’s game with a two-home run deficit to the New York Yankees for the single-season record and a chance to get one win closer to tying the team record of 102 wins. Cody Shashak auditioned as opener and Minnesota’s bullpen got the job done, as the Twins topped the Royals 4-3 with a late home run from Nelson Cruz, but it came at a potentially huge cost with Luis Arraez being helped off of the fieldBox Score Stashak (Opener): 2IP, 2H, 1ER, 2K, 79.17% strikes (19 of 24 pitches) Bullpen: 7IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BB, 11K Home Runs: Cruz (41) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-4, HR, 2B), Garver (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB), Austudillo (2-for-4), Schoop (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Cruz (.243), Rogers (.209), Austudillo (.166) Arraez Hurt In an essentially meaningless game at the tail end of the year, the last thing Minnesota needed was for a key cog in the lineup to be injured, but that is exactly what happened. Rookie sensation Luis Arraez collided with Austudillo while the two converged to catch an infield fly off the bat of Hunter Dozier for the last out of the seventh. Arraez’s right leg appeared to buckle while he was coming down off the mound and he was down for several minutes. A cart was brought out but Arraez was able to walk off with help. Obviously, losing Arraez for the postseason would be a huge detriment to the Twins. Garver and Austudillo Bring the Bats and Cruz Hits a Huge Bomba Mitch Garver certainly helped ease any concerns Twins fans may have harbored about his recent hip injury. He drilled two doubles and drew a walk. After both doubles he would come home on two Willians Austudillo RBI singles. The Twins finally got a home run off of the bat of Nelson Cruz in the eighth inning, his 41st of the year. It couldn’t have come at a bigger time as Tyler Duffey had just allowed Kansas City to tie the game at three with Jorge Soler’s second home run on the day, a two-run shot. Cruz put the Twins up 4-3. The Bullpen Gets the Job Done Cody Staschak got the opportunity to audition as the opener today and outside of allowing a bomb to Jorge Soler he pitched pretty well. Shashak allowed two hits and struck out two Kansas City batters in two innings of work. Next up was Kyle Gibson. Gibson managed to escape his one inning without any damage but he labored heavily. It took Gibson over 30 pitches to end the third and he loaded the bases with a single and two walks. Gibson did strike out two batters including the final out of the inning to keep the game tied, but he didn’t exactly bolster his case for inclusion on the postseason roster. After Gibson, the bullpen shined through the middle innings. Zack Littell, Lewis Thorpe, and Trevor May combined for five strikeouts in three scoreless innings. Tyler Duffey was the next man up and the inning started well, but with two outs Whit Merrifield singled on weak ground ball and Soler followed with his league-leading 47th dinger. After Cruz gave the lead back to Minnesota, Sergio Romo came in and pitched a clean eighth inning. Taylor Rogers would come in to protect the one-run lead, picking up his 30th save on the year and giving the Twins win number 101. Going for 102 Tomorrow’s season finale will give Minnesota a chance to tie the franchise record for wins set in 1965. 2019 has been a truly remarkable year for the Twins and losing tomorrow will take nothing away from that, but it would be nice to see this team get Rocco Baldelli a share of the record in his first season as a manager. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  17. Kyle Gibson has had some of the worst luck of anyone in baseball this season. After a great 2018 season in which he posted a 3.62 ERA, Gibby has unfortunately been dealing with ulcerative colitis for much of the season. It seems as if the Twins would like him to be on the 25-man postseason roster, but being used in different roles than he has been in before, including coming out of the bullpen. Does he still have a role for the playoffs? I examined three different ways he could contribute.The postseason roster for the Twins will likely be carrying twelve or thirteen pitchers, so Kyle Gibson will have a good shot to make it. There are eight locks to make it in (Rogers, Romo, Duffey, Littell, May, Berrios, Odorizzi, Dobnak). Stashak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Perez, Graterol and of course Gibson are all hoping to make it in. One or two of those guys will not be on the roster. There are a few different roles the Twins could use Gibson for in the playoffs, including traditional starting pitcher, opener, or bullpen arm. I’ll be exploring each one and attempting to point out which one would best suit him to help make sure the Twins are not going home any time soon. Starting pitcher This role seems unlikely with the Twins having success in games with an opener/bullpen games especially recently. It also looks like the Twins will enter the playoffs with a Jose Berrios, Randy Dobnak, Jake Odorizzi and a bullpen-game type of rotation and that seems to maximize their potential to move on. Kyle Gibson does not appear to be going into October as a starting pitcher, especially with his bullpen roles lately and his struggles in the second half. Since the All-Star break, Kyle Gibson has a 6.05 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, and .852 OPS when he starts a game with more than a full MPH drop in fastball velocity down to 92.8 MPH. He just isn’t healthy enough to get you five quality innings. Opener or primary pitcher This is where I would expect the Twins to be able to maximize the outcome for Gibson in the playoffs. It looks like there will be at least one game per series where the Twins have to go with a bullpen game and Kyle Gibson might be the ideal guy to start that game. Let him go out and get through the order one time before you go to your next pitcher. You have the opportunity to pull him as soon as he starts to run into trouble and not have to think twice about it. There are some stats to back up the idea of letting Gibson start a game for just a couple innings. He has seen success when pitching the first time through the order with a .647 OPS in 2018 and a .698 this season. It gets ugly after that, but it won’t matter what he does the second time through because he shouldn’t see that in October. Relief pitcher The role the Twins have been exploring recently is having Gibson come out of the bullpen in the sixth/seventh inning and let him get as many outs as he can. The results have been a mix of success with some discouraging signs. In two relief appearances against Cleveland and Detroit, he has gone three innings while giving up six hits and three runs. The upside is he hasn’t allowed solid contact and he struck out four in his second appearance. On paper, Kyle Gibson to the bullpen would look good with his quality sinker/slider combo and the ability to hit 96 MPH on the fastball, but it is still a huge adjustment for someone who has spent his entire career in the rotation to switch over to the bullpen in the final weeks of a playoff race. He is definitely willing to do whatever it takes. According to an article at MLB.com, Gibson approached manager Rocco Baldelli and told him “Listen, I haven’t played here for 6 1/2 years to get this close to winning some playoff games to cause a fuss based on when I pitch and where I pitch and stuff like that.” He will likely have to beat out two of the guys from a list of Cody Stashak, Brusdar Graterol, Devin Smeltzer, Martin Perez, and Lewis Thorpe so that is certainly something to watch in the final four games. He will likely have two more appearances out of the bullpen before the season ends. Do you think he makes it? If he does, how do you want to see him be utilized? Click here to view the article
  18. The postseason roster for the Twins will likely be carrying twelve or thirteen pitchers, so Kyle Gibson will have a good shot to make it. There are eight locks to make it in (Rogers, Romo, Duffey, Littell, May, Berrios, Odorizzi, Dobnak). Stashak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Perez, Graterol and of course Gibson are all hoping to make it in. One or two of those guys will not be on the roster. There are a few different roles the Twins could use Gibson for in the playoffs, including traditional starting pitcher, opener, or bullpen arm. I’ll be exploring each one and attempting to point out which one would best suit him to help make sure the Twins are not going home any time soon. Starting pitcher This role seems unlikely with the Twins having success in games with an opener/bullpen games especially recently. It also looks like the Twins will enter the playoffs with a Jose Berrios, Randy Dobnak, Jake Odorizzi and a bullpen-game type of rotation and that seems to maximize their potential to move on. Kyle Gibson does not appear to be going into October as a starting pitcher, especially with his bullpen roles lately and his struggles in the second half. Since the All-Star break, Kyle Gibson has a 6.05 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, and .852 OPS when he starts a game with more than a full MPH drop in fastball velocity down to 92.8 MPH. He just isn’t healthy enough to get you five quality innings. Opener or primary pitcher This is where I would expect the Twins to be able to maximize the outcome for Gibson in the playoffs. It looks like there will be at least one game per series where the Twins have to go with a bullpen game and Kyle Gibson might be the ideal guy to start that game. Let him go out and get through the order one time before you go to your next pitcher. You have the opportunity to pull him as soon as he starts to run into trouble and not have to think twice about it. There are some stats to back up the idea of letting Gibson start a game for just a couple innings. He has seen success when pitching the first time through the order with a .647 OPS in 2018 and a .698 this season. It gets ugly after that, but it won’t matter what he does the second time through because he shouldn’t see that in October. Relief pitcher The role the Twins have been exploring recently is having Gibson come out of the bullpen in the sixth/seventh inning and let him get as many outs as he can. The results have been a mix of success with some discouraging signs. In two relief appearances against Cleveland and Detroit, he has gone three innings while giving up six hits and three runs. The upside is he hasn’t allowed solid contact and he struck out four in his second appearance. On paper, Kyle Gibson to the bullpen would look good with his quality sinker/slider combo and the ability to hit 96 MPH on the fastball, but it is still a huge adjustment for someone who has spent his entire career in the rotation to switch over to the bullpen in the final weeks of a playoff race. He is definitely willing to do whatever it takes. According to an article at MLB.com, Gibson approached manager Rocco Baldelli and told him “Listen, I haven’t played here for 6 1/2 years to get this close to winning some playoff games to cause a fuss based on when I pitch and where I pitch and stuff like that.” He will likely have to beat out two of the guys from a list of Cody Stashak, Brusdar Graterol, Devin Smeltzer, Martin Perez, and Lewis Thorpe so that is certainly something to watch in the final four games. He will likely have two more appearances out of the bullpen before the season ends. Do you think he makes it? If he does, how do you want to see him be utilized?
  19. Box Score Gibson: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 48.1% strikes (25 of 52 pitches) Bullpen: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K Home Runs: Cruz 2 (39), Sano (31), Garver (31) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-4, 2 HR), Sano (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB), Garver (2-for-3, HR, 2 BB), Rosario (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Cruz .313, Sano .245, Garver .183 Bottom 3 WPA: Gibson -.237, Gonzalez -.080, Schoop -.080 The Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in this game (more on that in a moment) but the Twins bomba’d their way back in it. Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot to the opposite field in the third inning to tie the game. https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1174850108468412416 Later that frame, Miguel Sano hit a majestic blast into the upper deck. The Royals fought back, but the bombas kept being blasted. Mitch Garver crushed one to center in the fifth inning that tied the game at 5-5. Cruz added a two-run homer in the seventh inning. The lineup, which was still missing Max Kepler and C.J. Cron, combined for eight runs on 10 hits and five walks. It was nice to see them making some serious noise at Target Field again. What Even is Kyle Gibson Right Now? From the 2017 All-Star break through the first half of this season, a stretch of 368 innings, Kyle Gibson pitched to a 3.77 ERA. In his 62 innings since, Gibson has limped to a 6.10 ERA. What awful timing. This 2019 club is by far the best Gibson’s ever been a part of. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is also slated to become a free agent for the first time this winter. His weight is down due to his ulcerative colitis, and it’s showing on the mound. Gibson was the Twins starter tonight, but recorded just five outs and was removed from the game after surrendering three runs on three hits and four walks. He threw 52 pitches, just 25 of them for strikes. And it could have been worse. Luis Arraez threw a runner out at home plate. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1174838161995948032 Gibson has been reduced to a complete question mark in his current condition. Could he be helpful as simply an opener? A long reliever? I don’t know, but it appears unlikely he’ll be dependable in a traditional starting pitcher’s role. For more on Gibson’s legacy as Twin, check out this piece Nick wrote earlier tonight. Thor(pe)’s Hammer After Zack Littell got a big out to strand the bases loaded in the second inning, Lewis Thorpe took over. He gave up a pair of runs on six hits over his four innings of work, but also flashed some encouraging signs. Thorpe induced 12 swinging strikes on his 72 pitches and struck out four batters. He managed to throw his curveball, which averaged 73.3 mph, for strikes 14 of the 19 times he went to that offering. The bullpen A-team took over from there, as Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers combined to throw three shutout innings of one-hit ball, striking out four while issuing one walk. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  20. That’s more like it. The Twins averaged nearly six runs a game through August, but entered Thursday averaging just 4.4 runs per game so far in September. Instead of bombas, they were registering mere blips. They busted out tonight, however, beating Kansas City 8-5.Box Score Gibson: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 48.1% strikes (25 of 52 pitches) Bullpen: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K Home Runs: Cruz 2 (39), Sano (31), Garver (31) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-4, 2 HR), Sano (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB), Garver (2-for-3, HR, 2 BB), Rosario (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Cruz .313, Sano .245, Garver .183 Bottom 3 WPA: Gibson -.237, Gonzalez -.080, Schoop -.080 The Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in this game (more on that in a moment) but the Twins bomba’d their way back in it. Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot to the opposite field in the third inning to tie the game. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  21. Kyle Gibson W-L 13-7, 4.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 151 K, 50 BB, 155.0 IP Minnesota used Kyle Gibson as a reliever on Sunday and things didn’t go exactly to plan. He entered the game after Fernando Romero had already put multiple runners on base and then Gibson surrendered a three-run home run. Only one of the earned runs was charged to Gibson, but the big hit came when he was pitching. One of the bigger issues for Gibson are the health issues he has been battling for most of the season. In spring training, he was also diagnosed with E. coli that he contracted while doing mission work during the off-season. He entered camp around 200 pounds, which is down about 15 pounds from his desired weight. Recently, he returned from the 10-day IL after missing time because of ulcerative colitis. Gibson struggles when batters get repeated looks at him in the same game, especially for the third time. His first time through the batting order he has held batters to a .248/.315/.376 (.691) slash line with a 63 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio. His third time through the line-up results in batters hitting .333/.386/.558 (.944) with eight of his 22 homers allowed coming in this situation. Martin Perez W-L 10-7, 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 125 K, 64 BB, 152.2 IP Perez didn’t even start the year in Minnesota’s rotation, but he was a breath of fresh air when he was added to the rotation in mid-April. From April 15-May 23, he looked like one of the best pitchers in the league as he posted a 2.17 ERA and held batters to a .644 OPS. His cut fastball was a revelation and it helped him to strike out 44 batters in eight games. He looked like a candidate for the All-Star Game and it certainly seemed like Minnesota had made something out of nothing. In his 18 starts since May 23, Perez has not looked like the same pitcher. His cut fastball, that had been his bread and butter during his hot start, has not looked the same. He has allowed more than a hit per inning and he’s only managed 69 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings. With 16 home runs allowed, he has surrendered nearly a home run per appearance. Right-handed batters have compiled an .817 OPS against him throughout the year. This isn’t good news for the Twins that will be facing the Yankees or the Astros in the ALDS and both clubs are very right-hand heavy. Only New York and Houston have higher OPS totals than Minnesota this year so there doesn’t seem like a scenario where Perez would be asked to see their line-up multiple times in the same game. Bullpen Game After Friday night’s botched rainout, the Twins were left no available starting pitchers for Saturday’s doubleheader. This left the team with a unique strategic situation and a full September roster of bullpen arms. In Game 1, the Twins were able to shut out the Indians behind three innings from Devin Smeltzer and more than one inning from Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers. During Game 2, Lewis Thorpe was the lone pitcher to surrender any runs as he struggled with command throughout his appearance. Cody Stashak and Trevor May joined the shutout crew from Game 1, but the most impressive appearance was from 21-year old Brusdar Graterol. Over two innings, he was regularly sitting in triple-digits with his fastball and this pitch had more movement than any of his other big-league appearances. Add in a strong slider and he looked lights out. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1173231000123559939?s=20 During last year’s playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers used a bold strategy as they used Wade Miley as the starter and he only pitched to one batter. Manager Craig Counsell was hoping the Dodgers would load their line-up with left-handed hitters and then the Brewers quickly switched to a left-handed pitcher. Teams are likely more aware of this type of strategy, but it is something a team could try during October, especially one like the Twins with few starting pitching options. What strategy do you think the Twins would use in Game 3 of the ALDS? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  22. The Minnesota Twins battled through a severely shorthanded series against Washington, then dealt with a decidedly inconvenient rainout on Friday night in Cleveland that left them leaning hard on their bullpen for a critical Saturday doubleheader. Rather than back down in these tough circumstances, the Twins stepped up in a big way to essentially put the AL Central on ice with two weeks left to go. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/9 through Sun, 9/15 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 91-58) Run Differential Last Week: -1 (Overall: +167) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (5.5 GA) Magic Number: 9 Willians Watch: 3-for-17 with three singles It's all hands on deck. When the Twins got news over the weekend that Sam Dyson is likely done for the year, they called up Jorge Alcala to join Brusdar Graterol as inexperienced but high-upside young fireballers in the bullpen. Marcus Diplan was DFA'ed to make room for Alcala. Other roster moves from the past week: Byron Buxton was placed on the 60-day IL, officially ending his season. He underwent shoulder labrum surgery, with a 5-6 month recovery timeline that will push right up against 2020 spring training.Ronald Torreyes was added to the 40-man roster in Buxton's stead, and joined the team to replace Ehire Adrianza, who suffered an oblique injury on Thursday that likely ends his season.Kyle Gibson was activated from IL after missing one start, and took the mound on both Thursday and Sunday. You'll find a rundown of his appearances in the Lowlights section below.HIGHLIGHTS Miguel Sano delivered the decisive blow of the season on Saturday night, launching a tie-breaking grand slam that caused all of Cleveland to (either literally or figuratively) mimic the reaction of Indians reliever Nick Goody: Sano added another home run on Sunday – No. 29 on the ledger despite starting his season on May 16th. The slugger appears to be fully past the back soreness that sidelined him early in the week, which is very good news. Plenty of other offensive mainstays came through for the Twins in this pivotal week: Jorge Polanco, who had a two-run homer wiped away on Friday night, followed up with another one against Mike Clevinger in the Saturday matinee, a blast which proved decisive in a 2-0 win. For the week, Polanco was 7-for-19 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.Mitch Garver launched his 30th home run on Tuesday night, and the two-run jack was key to a late-rallying victory. He finished 3-for-10 with just one strikeout in his three starts for the week.There's been no real fade from Luis Arraez, who just keeps churning out hits in bunches. Last week he was 9-for-23 with three doubles, pushing his August batting average to .400. Overall, his .344 average leads the major leagues among players with 300+ plate appearances.Eddie Rosario shook off a lengthy slump (.156 average and .418 OPS through the first 11 games of August) and saw his bat come alive over the weekend as he launched three homers in the final two games of the Cleveland series. Getting Eddie hot again as the regular season gives way to the playoffs would be an enormous game-changer, so let's hope he can keep it up.Seeing Max Kepler and Jake Cave return to the fold, on Friday and Sunday respectively, was also a very welcome development. As nice as the offensive highlights were, none of them matched the Jose Berrios performance on Tuesday night in terms of magnitude. Desperately needing a strong showing to get back on track, Berrios came through with just that, firing seven scoreless innings against a good offense. In his best start since the end of July, Berrios pounded the zone with efficiency, issuing only one walk with two hits allowed on minimal hard contact. As a negative, the righty didn't quite seem to have his most dominant stuff, getting only four strikeouts while tying a season-low with four swinging strikes. But obviously he'll take those results as something to build upon. As I noted last week, Berrios shook off a late-season slump and finished strong in his final four starts of 2018. Was Tuesday the start of a repeat down the stretch here in 2019? We'll learn more when he takes the mound on Monday night against the White Sox. Rising above all the aforementioned highlights last week was the Twins bullpen, which put forth an exquisite effort in Saturday's doubleheader, as nine pitchers combined to hold Cleveland to five total runs. If you count Devin Smeltzer (3 IP, 0 ER in the day game) and Lewis Thorpe (3.1 IP, 5 ER in the nightcap) as starters, the relief corps combined for 11 2/3 shutout innings against Cleveland on Saturday, with 14 strikeouts and zero walks. Flat-out amazing work. For the week, the bullpen allowed only 10 earned runs over 24 2/3 frames (3.65 ERA) with nearly all the damage coming in what amounts to garbage time (nine of the ER came against low-rung relievers in losses on Thursday and Sunday). Among the standouts were Taylor Rogers (five strikeouts in 2 2/3 scoreless innings), Brusdar Graterol (four strikeouts in three perfect frames), Trevor May (2 IP, 0 R), Tyler Duffey (2.1 IP, 0 ER), and Zack Littell (3 IP, 0 R). The top pieces in this pen are all clicking at the right time. Even with Dyson unavailable, the Twins may well have a bullpen depth advantage over anyone they face in the playoffs, which would prove vital given the shortcomings in the rotation. LOWLIGHTS Tuesday night gem's from Berrios was a lone bright spot for the rotation. Jake Odorizzi allowed two runs in two innings on Friday night before having the game (and his stats) washed out. Martin Perez looked terrible against Washington on Wednesday, coughing up five runs over five innings in a loss. And Gibson... ohhh, Gibby. The Twins are doing whatever tinkering they can to coax their ailing right-hander into some level of effectiveness. They skipped one of his starts before having him take the hill Thursday, hoping extra rest might prove beneficial. Then they called on him out of the bullpen on Sunday, perhaps auditioning him for an altered postseason role. Neither experiment paid any dividends. Gibson looked as bad as ever in his start against Washington, yielding eight runs and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Execution was incredibly inconsistent for the righty, who misfired constantly and gave up two home runs for – surprisingly – the first time in three months. Interestingly, the Twins tried bringing Gibson back in relief on Sunday, with just two days rest, and he looked much the same, allowing two hits and a walk while needing 31 pitches to get three outs. Shortly after coming in, the righty gave up a no-doubt two-run blast against Roberto Perez that turned a manageable one-run deficit into an intimidating three runs. This is all very distressing. With Michael Pineda out, it's awfully tough to envision a scenario where Gibson isn't counted on for the playoffs in some fairly significant way. While the capability to shut down a good lineup does reside within him, he's offering no glimmers of optimism that he's physically up to realizing it at this time. TRENDING STORYLINE With the magic number down to single digits, focus turns to securing the division officially and gearing up for the ALDS along the way. Expect ample rest for banged-up offensive regulars as the Twins try to nurse their lineup back to health. Fielding a relatively full-strength group will be critical to matching the firepower of a Houston or New York. The pitching staff is more of a fluid situation. Here there are actually assessments and evaluations to be made. Presumably Berrios is your Game 1 starter and Odorizzi lines up for Game 2, but then what? Gibson and Perez are pitching with much on the line (not the least of which being their impending free agencies). Unfortunately, the Twins will have no further opportunities to see these hurlers compete against high-quality lineups, so it's gonna be tough to draw any strong conclusions from what happens in the final two weeks. Meanwhile, the bullpen hierarchy must become solidified for October. Rocco Baldelli is fortunate to have a lot of good options to work with right now. Who will be left out when the team needs to shave down? DOWN ON THE FARM With all the minor-league seasons having reached an end, Twins Daily handed out its 2019 awards last week. You can read about the winners below: Minor League Short-Season Pitcher of the Year Cody Laweryson, RHPMinor League Short-Season Hitter of the Year: Matt Wallner, OFMinor League Starting Pitcher of the Year: Randy Dobnak, RHPMinor League Relief Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Vizcaya, RHPMinor League Hitter of the Year: Trevor Larnach, OFLOOKING AHEAD It's a downhill ride from here on out. Coming off the triumph in Cleveland, Minnesota returns to Target Field for seven games against the White Sox and Royals. Now, I will say: Chicago showed last time around they can't be taken for granted, especially with Lucas Giolito taking the hill on Tuesday. But the Twins should absolutely be able to chip away at that magic number total in the next seven days. Cleveland opens with three contests at home against a Detroit team they've gone 15-1 against, then they welcome an eliminated Philadelphia team, so the Twins can't count on getting much help. MONDAY, 9/16: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Jose Berrios TUESDAY, 9/17: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Martin Perez WEDNESDAY, 9/18: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Covey v. RHP Jake Odorizzi THURSDAY: 9/19: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Montgomery v. TBD FRIDAY, 9/20: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jakob Junis v. LHP Devin Smeltzer SATURDAY, 9/21: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Glenn Sparkman v. RHP Jose Berrios SUNDAY, 9/22: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jorge Lopez v. LHP Martin Perez Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 144 | MIN 5, WAS 0: Berrios Bounces Back in Twins WinGame 145 | WAS 6, MIN 2: Depleted Twins Fail to Match Up With Strasburg and NationalsGame 146 | WAS 12, MIN 6: Twins Drop Series to Nationals, Cleveland 3.5 BackGame 147 | MIN 2, CLE 0: Bullpen, Polanco Move the Needle in WinGame 148 | MIN 9, CLE 5: Sano Grand Slam Overcomes Rocky Start for WinGame 149 | CLE 7, MIN 5: Bad Defense Costs Twins in Series Finale Click here to view the article
  23. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/9 through Sun, 9/15 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 91-58) Run Differential Last Week: -1 (Overall: +167) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (5.5 GA) Magic Number: 9 Willians Watch: 3-for-17 with three singles It's all hands on deck. When the Twins got news over the weekend that Sam Dyson is likely done for the year, they called up Jorge Alcala to join Brusdar Graterol as inexperienced but high-upside young fireballers in the bullpen. Marcus Diplan was DFA'ed to make room for Alcala. Other roster moves from the past week: Byron Buxton was placed on the 60-day IL, officially ending his season. He underwent shoulder labrum surgery, with a 5-6 month recovery timeline that will push right up against 2020 spring training. Ronald Torreyes was added to the 40-man roster in Buxton's stead, and joined the team to replace Ehire Adrianza, who suffered an oblique injury on Thursday that likely ends his season. Kyle Gibson was activated from IL after missing one start, and took the mound on both Thursday and Sunday. You'll find a rundown of his appearances in the Lowlights section below. HIGHLIGHTS Miguel Sano delivered the decisive blow of the season on Saturday night, launching a tie-breaking grand slam that caused all of Cleveland to (either literally or figuratively) mimic the reaction of Indians reliever Nick Goody: https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1173235019806105601 Sano added another home run on Sunday – No. 29 on the ledger despite starting his season on May 16th. The slugger appears to be fully past the back soreness that sidelined him early in the week, which is very good news. Plenty of other offensive mainstays came through for the Twins in this pivotal week: Jorge Polanco, who had a two-run homer wiped away on Friday night, followed up with another one against Mike Clevinger in the Saturday matinee, a blast which proved decisive in a 2-0 win. For the week, Polanco was 7-for-19 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Mitch Garver launched his 30th home run on Tuesday night, and the two-run jack was key to a late-rallying victory. He finished 3-for-10 with just one strikeout in his three starts for the week. There's been no real fade from Luis Arraez, who just keeps churning out hits in bunches. Last week he was 9-for-23 with three doubles, pushing his August batting average to .400. Overall, his .344 average leads the major leagues among players with 300+ plate appearances. Eddie Rosario shook off a lengthy slump (.156 average and .418 OPS through the first 11 games of August) and saw his bat come alive over the weekend as he launched three homers in the final two games of the Cleveland series. Getting Eddie hot again as the regular season gives way to the playoffs would be an enormous game-changer, so let's hope he can keep it up. Seeing Max Kepler and Jake Cave return to the fold, on Friday and Sunday respectively, was also a very welcome development. As nice as the offensive highlights were, none of them matched the Jose Berrios performance on Tuesday night in terms of magnitude. Desperately needing a strong showing to get back on track, Berrios came through with just that, firing seven scoreless innings against a good offense. In his best start since the end of July, Berrios pounded the zone with efficiency, issuing only one walk with two hits allowed on minimal hard contact. As a negative, the righty didn't quite seem to have his most dominant stuff, getting only four strikeouts while tying a season-low with four swinging strikes. But obviously he'll take those results as something to build upon. As I noted last week, Berrios shook off a late-season slump and finished strong in his final four starts of 2018. Was Tuesday the start of a repeat down the stretch here in 2019? We'll learn more when he takes the mound on Monday night against the White Sox. Rising above all the aforementioned highlights last week was the Twins bullpen, which put forth an exquisite effort in Saturday's doubleheader, as nine pitchers combined to hold Cleveland to five total runs. If you count Devin Smeltzer (3 IP, 0 ER in the day game) and Lewis Thorpe (3.1 IP, 5 ER in the nightcap) as starters, the relief corps combined for 11 2/3 shutout innings against Cleveland on Saturday, with 14 strikeouts and zero walks. Flat-out amazing work. For the week, the bullpen allowed only 10 earned runs over 24 2/3 frames (3.65 ERA) with nearly all the damage coming in what amounts to garbage time (nine of the ER came against low-rung relievers in losses on Thursday and Sunday). Among the standouts were Taylor Rogers (five strikeouts in 2 2/3 scoreless innings), Brusdar Graterol (four strikeouts in three perfect frames), Trevor May (2 IP, 0 R), Tyler Duffey (2.1 IP, 0 ER), and Zack Littell (3 IP, 0 R). The top pieces in this pen are all clicking at the right time. Even with Dyson unavailable, the Twins may well have a bullpen depth advantage over anyone they face in the playoffs, which would prove vital given the shortcomings in the rotation. LOWLIGHTS Tuesday night gem's from Berrios was a lone bright spot for the rotation. Jake Odorizzi allowed two runs in two innings on Friday night before having the game (and his stats) washed out. Martin Perez looked terrible against Washington on Wednesday, coughing up five runs over five innings in a loss. And Gibson... ohhh, Gibby. The Twins are doing whatever tinkering they can to coax their ailing right-hander into some level of effectiveness. They skipped one of his starts before having him take the hill Thursday, hoping extra rest might prove beneficial. Then they called on him out of the bullpen on Sunday, perhaps auditioning him for an altered postseason role. Neither experiment paid any dividends. Gibson looked as bad as ever in his start against Washington, yielding eight runs and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Execution was incredibly inconsistent for the righty, who misfired constantly and gave up two home runs for – surprisingly – the first time in three months. Interestingly, the Twins tried bringing Gibson back in relief on Sunday, with just two days rest, and he looked much the same, allowing two hits and a walk while needing 31 pitches to get three outs. Shortly after coming in, the righty gave up a no-doubt two-run blast against Roberto Perez that turned a manageable one-run deficit into an intimidating three runs. This is all very distressing. With Michael Pineda out, it's awfully tough to envision a scenario where Gibson isn't counted on for the playoffs in some fairly significant way. While the capability to shut down a good lineup does reside within him, he's offering no glimmers of optimism that he's physically up to realizing it at this time. TRENDING STORYLINE With the magic number down to single digits, focus turns to securing the division officially and gearing up for the ALDS along the way. Expect ample rest for banged-up offensive regulars as the Twins try to nurse their lineup back to health. Fielding a relatively full-strength group will be critical to matching the firepower of a Houston or New York. The pitching staff is more of a fluid situation. Here there are actually assessments and evaluations to be made. Presumably Berrios is your Game 1 starter and Odorizzi lines up for Game 2, but then what? Gibson and Perez are pitching with much on the line (not the least of which being their impending free agencies). Unfortunately, the Twins will have no further opportunities to see these hurlers compete against high-quality lineups, so it's gonna be tough to draw any strong conclusions from what happens in the final two weeks. Meanwhile, the bullpen hierarchy must become solidified for October. Rocco Baldelli is fortunate to have a lot of good options to work with right now. Who will be left out when the team needs to shave down? DOWN ON THE FARM With all the minor-league seasons having reached an end, Twins Daily handed out its 2019 awards last week. You can read about the winners below: Minor League Short-Season Pitcher of the Year Cody Laweryson, RHP Minor League Short-Season Hitter of the Year: Matt Wallner, OF Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year: Randy Dobnak, RHP Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Vizcaya, RHP Minor League Hitter of the Year: Trevor Larnach, OF LOOKING AHEAD It's a downhill ride from here on out. Coming off the triumph in Cleveland, Minnesota returns to Target Field for seven games against the White Sox and Royals. Now, I will say: Chicago showed last time around they can't be taken for granted, especially with Lucas Giolito taking the hill on Tuesday. But the Twins should absolutely be able to chip away at that magic number total in the next seven days. Cleveland opens with three contests at home against a Detroit team they've gone 15-1 against, then they welcome an eliminated Philadelphia team, so the Twins can't count on getting much help. MONDAY, 9/16: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Jose Berrios TUESDAY, 9/17: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Martin Perez WEDNESDAY, 9/18: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Covey v. RHP Jake Odorizzi THURSDAY: 9/19: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Montgomery v. TBD FRIDAY, 9/20: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jakob Junis v. LHP Devin Smeltzer SATURDAY, 9/21: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Glenn Sparkman v. RHP Jose Berrios SUNDAY, 9/22: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jorge Lopez v. LHP Martin Perez Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 144 | MIN 5, WAS 0: Berrios Bounces Back in Twins Win Game 145 | WAS 6, MIN 2: Depleted Twins Fail to Match Up With Strasburg and Nationals Game 146 | WAS 12, MIN 6: Twins Drop Series to Nationals, Cleveland 3.5 Back Game 147 | MIN 2, CLE 0: Bullpen, Polanco Move the Needle in Win Game 148 | MIN 9, CLE 5: Sano Grand Slam Overcomes Rocky Start for Win Game 149 | CLE 7, MIN 5: Bad Defense Costs Twins in Series Finale
  24. The Twins drop the rubber match to the Washington Nationals as they were outhit 14-12 and outscored 12-6. Kyle Gibson was hit hard but showed some positive signs while most of the offense scuffled against left-hander Patrick Corbin.Box Score Gibson: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER (6 R), 4 BB, 5 K, 6.13% strikes (57 of 93 pitches) Bullpen: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Cruz (36), Schoop (22) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-5), Schoop (3-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Schoop (.092), Castro (.071), Cruz (.061) Bottom 3 WPA: Gibson (-.302), Stewart (-.120), Stashak (-.47) Gibson Hit Hard in Return to Mound but It Wasn’t All Bad After missing two starts Gibby returned to the mound with the tough task of facing the Washington Nationals who were going for the series win. The Nationals are a top 10 team in all of baseball when it comes to facing right-handed pitching as well as being one of the best teams in baseball since June 1. Throughout the evening Washington was hovering around .380 in xBA, per Statcast, which means Gibson was getting hit hard which was mostly due to not hitting his spots. For example, Adam Eaton’s home run to lead off the fifth inning was left middle/middle, and this was a recurring issue through the night for Gibson. It also didn’t help that he walked four hitters. That said, there were some positive things to note. Gibson’s fastball velocity was actually a tick or two above his average in the first inning before settling in at about 94 mph, which is where he normally sits. A good sign considering the symptoms of ulcerative colitis include weight loss and fatigue. What might have been the most impressive thing from his start tonight was the movement of his off-speed pitches which induced a 21 percent swinging strike rate against a team who Fangraphs has ranked as third in all of baseball in contact percentage. In all, it wasn’t a terrible start and may be somewhat expected considering his recent illness coupled with the line-up he was facing but there were still some positive takeaways. Cruz, Schoop, Garver Hit Well, Rest of Line up Squanders Opportunities As the Nationals were smoking the ball from the top of the order to the bottom, the Twins struggled to make hard contact against the soft-throwing lefty Patrick Corbin. Through the evening the Twins xBA was in right around .275 give or take 10 points or so before plummeting in the later innings to the low .200’s. Rosario responded to a Rendon homer in the top of the first with a RBI single to right scoring Luis Arraez who had doubled on a ball that had an xBA of .020 (yes, the “2” is in the right spot). Cruz blasted his 36th home run in the bottom of the third while Mitch Garver was about two feet away from hitting his 31st home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth. Other than Schoop, who hit his 22nd home run in the eighth as well as a 109 mph line drive at an umpire, the rest of the offense was pretty stagnant. This was a little surprising as this was the best lineup the Twins had in the three game series with the Nationals. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
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