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  1. The Twins still haven’t acquired another starting pitcher as Opening Day nears. With only a few fringe free-agent options even available to fill the fifth rotation spot, fans have called for adding yet another rookie to the rotation when the season begins. This may be a mistake. Josh Winder gained a lot of prospect steam last season as he performed incredibly well at Double-A with a sub 2.00 ERA in 50+ innings before getting promoted to Triple-A. He may have been well on his way to his MLB debut before being shut down with shoulder issues, but he looks healthy and effective so far this spring. Winder finds himself in the conversation for a rotation spot due to what can only be described as a massive disappointment in regards to the Twins addressing their rotation this winter. They currently have four starting pitchers penciled in with Opening Day less than two weeks away. Led by Sonny Gray, the rest of the rotation consists of reclamation project Dylan Bundy and two rookies in Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, the latter of which has only five MLB starts under his belt. The fifth spot at this point is unspoken for. Candidates include Devin Smeltzer who isn't currently on the 40 man roster. Lewis Thorpe and Griffin Jax have been moved into bullpen roles but could find themselves competing due to a lack of other options. Then of course we have Josh Winder who has yet to debut. It’s fair to grab ahold of the shiny new prospect when reading that list of names. The other three, of course, have all had their opportunities and haven’t exactly flourished. It’s absolutely possible that the Twins see this decision the same way if they fail to bring in one more arm. It’s worth noting that Winder winding up in the Opening Day rotation, however, should be viewed with much more disappointment than excitement. From Minnesota to the rest of the league, rookie pitchers fail all the time (or at least most often) in their debut. It should almost be expected at this point. Some need a bit more time in the minors such as when Jose Berrios debuted with his 8+ ERA. Others just never figure it out despite being highly touted all throughout the minors such as Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero. It’s important to remember this not just to be pessimistic, but to keep expectations in check. Winder hadn’t pitched above A ball until 2021 when he posted those 54 2/3 innings in AA, and not only did he put up only 17 innings in AAA, but they weren’t all that effective. His K% fell from 31.3% to 22.4%. He allowed two home runs in those 17 innings and posted a 4.67 ERA before being shut down. Surely a small sample size, but not exactly a performance that screams “MLB ready”. The point being, if the Twins don’t add another starting pitcher to the roster and go with Winder right out of the gate, they may very well be following up an offseason failure with a decision that damages one of their top pitching prospects as well as their season. They’d likely be better off mixing and matching with arms they know everything about than a rookie pitcher who hasn’t shown he’s quite MLB ready yet. Winder would make a great Plan B for any struggling or injured arms after the season begins assuming he’s doing reasonably well in St. Paul. It’s fair to assume that he makes his debut in some way in 2022. It just shouldn’t be as the third rookie starting pitcher on an Opening Day roster that considers themselves contenders. Am I just a thief of joy, or do you agree? Leave your COMMENTS below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  2. Josh Winder gained a lot of prospect steam last season as he performed incredibly well at Double-A with a sub 2.00 ERA in 50+ innings before getting promoted to Triple-A. He may have been well on his way to his MLB debut before being shut down with shoulder issues, but he looks healthy and effective so far this spring. Winder finds himself in the conversation for a rotation spot due to what can only be described as a massive disappointment in regards to the Twins addressing their rotation this winter. They currently have four starting pitchers penciled in with Opening Day less than two weeks away. Led by Sonny Gray, the rest of the rotation consists of reclamation project Dylan Bundy and two rookies in Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, the latter of which has only five MLB starts under his belt. The fifth spot at this point is unspoken for. Candidates include Devin Smeltzer who isn't currently on the 40 man roster. Lewis Thorpe and Griffin Jax have been moved into bullpen roles but could find themselves competing due to a lack of other options. Then of course we have Josh Winder who has yet to debut. It’s fair to grab ahold of the shiny new prospect when reading that list of names. The other three, of course, have all had their opportunities and haven’t exactly flourished. It’s absolutely possible that the Twins see this decision the same way if they fail to bring in one more arm. It’s worth noting that Winder winding up in the Opening Day rotation, however, should be viewed with much more disappointment than excitement. From Minnesota to the rest of the league, rookie pitchers fail all the time (or at least most often) in their debut. It should almost be expected at this point. Some need a bit more time in the minors such as when Jose Berrios debuted with his 8+ ERA. Others just never figure it out despite being highly touted all throughout the minors such as Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero. It’s important to remember this not just to be pessimistic, but to keep expectations in check. Winder hadn’t pitched above A ball until 2021 when he posted those 54 2/3 innings in AA, and not only did he put up only 17 innings in AAA, but they weren’t all that effective. His K% fell from 31.3% to 22.4%. He allowed two home runs in those 17 innings and posted a 4.67 ERA before being shut down. Surely a small sample size, but not exactly a performance that screams “MLB ready”. The point being, if the Twins don’t add another starting pitcher to the roster and go with Winder right out of the gate, they may very well be following up an offseason failure with a decision that damages one of their top pitching prospects as well as their season. They’d likely be better off mixing and matching with arms they know everything about than a rookie pitcher who hasn’t shown he’s quite MLB ready yet. Winder would make a great Plan B for any struggling or injured arms after the season begins assuming he’s doing reasonably well in St. Paul. It’s fair to assume that he makes his debut in some way in 2022. It just shouldn’t be as the third rookie starting pitcher on an Opening Day roster that considers themselves contenders. Am I just a thief of joy, or do you agree? Leave your COMMENTS below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  3. Minnesota expected Randy Dobnak to provide rotational depth this season, but his lingering finger issues led him to the 60-day IL. What will be the roster repercussions from Dobnak’s injury? Minnesota already decided to move Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe to bullpen roles, which makes sense when looking at their pitching flaws. Last season, Jax was excellent the first time through the order, and he may be a strong candidate to serve in an opener role. Thorpe is out of minor league options, and the team needs to see if he can find success as a reliever. Either pitcher may shift to starting games as part of bullpen games in Dobnak’s absence. Signing a different back-end starting pitcher is also on the table. Rumors surrounding Johnny Cueto coming to the Twins circulated earlier in the week, and he’d be a natural Dobnak replacement. Cueto is coming off a 2021 season where he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 114 2/3 innings, but he hadn’t pitched more than 65 innings in three prior seasons. Cueto doesn’t seem to offer a ton of upside, and maybe the Twins are rethinking their back of the rotation options. Another option is to allow other young pitchers to start. Many of the team’s top pitching prospects missed time last season due to injury. Pitchers will be on an innings limit, so when and where do the Twins want those innings? If players start in the minors, those are innings that don’t help the 2022 Twins. Someone like Jhoan Duran can help bolster the team’s bullpen, but Minnesota may not be ready to shift him from starting. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster, and he pitched nearly 100 innings at Double-A last season. As a 23-year-old, would the Twins start him in the big-league rotation? Nothing stops the team from moving him up and down from Triple-A throughout the 2022 season. Other prospects on the 40-man roster include Josh Winder and Drew Strotman. Winder, like Balazovic, is projected to debut in 2022, but he dealt with a right shoulder impingement that limited him to 72 innings. Winder may be ahead of Balazovic on the depth chart because he made multiple Triple-A starts and is a couple of years older. Last summer, Strotman was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade, and scouts view him as big-league ready. This year, he will start games for the Twins, and Dobnak’s injury may push him into the team’s Opening Day plans. Veteran players like Jharel Cotton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Dereck Rodriguez have been brought in this winter to provide organizational depth. Cotton projects to be part of the bullpen, but he can bounce back in 2022, including shifting back to being a starter. Gonzalez started 18 games for the Rockies last season but posted a 6.46 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. There’s a chance that leaving Coors Field will help some of his numbers. Rodriguez also provides rotational depth as he looks to get back to the pitcher he was in 2018. After signing his extension last winter, Dobnak’s career has undoubtedly followed a challenging path. Minnesota tried him as a reliever last season, and it didn’t work. From there, his finger injury started bothering him, and he is still dealing with the issue. Over the next three seasons, he is guaranteed $7.75 million, so Minnesota wants him to solve his finger issue and get back on the field. What path do you think the Twins will follow because of Dobnak’s injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Minnesota already decided to move Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe to bullpen roles, which makes sense when looking at their pitching flaws. Last season, Jax was excellent the first time through the order, and he may be a strong candidate to serve in an opener role. Thorpe is out of minor league options, and the team needs to see if he can find success as a reliever. Either pitcher may shift to starting games as part of bullpen games in Dobnak’s absence. Signing a different back-end starting pitcher is also on the table. Rumors surrounding Johnny Cueto coming to the Twins circulated earlier in the week, and he’d be a natural Dobnak replacement. Cueto is coming off a 2021 season where he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 114 2/3 innings, but he hadn’t pitched more than 65 innings in three prior seasons. Cueto doesn’t seem to offer a ton of upside, and maybe the Twins are rethinking their back of the rotation options. Another option is to allow other young pitchers to start. Many of the team’s top pitching prospects missed time last season due to injury. Pitchers will be on an innings limit, so when and where do the Twins want those innings? If players start in the minors, those are innings that don’t help the 2022 Twins. Someone like Jhoan Duran can help bolster the team’s bullpen, but Minnesota may not be ready to shift him from starting. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster, and he pitched nearly 100 innings at Double-A last season. As a 23-year-old, would the Twins start him in the big-league rotation? Nothing stops the team from moving him up and down from Triple-A throughout the 2022 season. Other prospects on the 40-man roster include Josh Winder and Drew Strotman. Winder, like Balazovic, is projected to debut in 2022, but he dealt with a right shoulder impingement that limited him to 72 innings. Winder may be ahead of Balazovic on the depth chart because he made multiple Triple-A starts and is a couple of years older. Last summer, Strotman was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade, and scouts view him as big-league ready. This year, he will start games for the Twins, and Dobnak’s injury may push him into the team’s Opening Day plans. Veteran players like Jharel Cotton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Dereck Rodriguez have been brought in this winter to provide organizational depth. Cotton projects to be part of the bullpen, but he can bounce back in 2022, including shifting back to being a starter. Gonzalez started 18 games for the Rockies last season but posted a 6.46 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. There’s a chance that leaving Coors Field will help some of his numbers. Rodriguez also provides rotational depth as he looks to get back to the pitcher he was in 2018. After signing his extension last winter, Dobnak’s career has undoubtedly followed a challenging path. Minnesota tried him as a reliever last season, and it didn’t work. From there, his finger injury started bothering him, and he is still dealing with the issue. Over the next three seasons, he is guaranteed $7.75 million, so Minnesota wants him to solve his finger issue and get back on the field. What path do you think the Twins will follow because of Dobnak’s injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Lewis Thorpe may be a long forgotten name in the minds of Twins fans, but in 2022 he has one last chance to make things work in Minnesota. Is there any chance he can revive his Twins career? After breaking into the big leagues and filling some important innings in 2019, Lewis Thorpe looked like a future rotation piece for the Major League club. He led AAA in K/9 and while he posted a 6.18 ERA in 27 2/3 MLB innings, his underlying numbers looked like he got unlucky. Unfortunately, 2020 proved those analytics wrong, as Thorpe posted a 6.06 ERA in just over 16 innings during the COVID-shortened season with underlying numbers to match. Thorpe failed to even eat innings in his outings as his BB/9 matched his K/9 at 5.5, and he soon became passed over on the rotational depth chart. 2021 was odd in the sense that Thorpe should have been a make-or-break player out of Spring Training before MLB granted the Twins an extra year of team control (a fourth option year) due to injuries early in his career. This allowed the Twins to option him to AAA to reset and try to work his way back up. Unfortunately, Thorpe still failed to impress in his 15 MLB innings in 2021, as he had a higher BB/9 (4.1) and ERA (4.70) than K/9 (3.52). So why are we still talking about Lewis Thorpe? This spring is make-or-break for Thorpe, as he’s unable to be optioned if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. He could be on the fringes of the 40-man roster as is and could even be cut loose if the Twins make enough moves in the coming weeks. That being said, Thorpe possibly sticking around in a bullpen role should raise some eyebrows for those that remember the talent the lefty flashed early in his career. The most confusing trend of Thorpe’s downhill trajectory is his fastball velocity. During his three MLB seasons, his fastball has dipped from 91.4 mph to 89.9 mph to 89.1 mph in 2021. He’s had a few shoulder ailments along the way which would help explain this dropoff, but at no point since 2019 has he even regularly hit 90 mph. It’s fair to call this the root of Thorpe’s problems, as sub 90 mph fastballs rarely play at the MLB level and the lack of separation in velocity affects the secondary pitches as well. What we know about moves to the bullpen is it often gives pitchers a nice velocity boost. The Twins bullpen has a foundation of players who’ve seen this play out such as Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers. It’s hard to imagine Thorpe recreating himself as a flamethrower coming out of the pen, but he showed that even sitting around 91 mph as he did in his rookie season is enough to rack up strikeouts and get the best of hitters. It’s not unheard of for pitchers to find success after struggling mightily early in their careers. At 26 years old, Thorpe could still have plenty in the tank if something clicks. An immediate plan for a bullpen role may keep him fresher and healthier without a starter's workload which he’s struggled to shoulder thus far in his career. Letting his stuff play up in shorter stints may be the ticket for the Australian left-hander who averaged well over a strikeout per inning his entire minor league career as well as in his MLB debut. The fact that Thorpe has remained on the Twins 40 man roster this long suggests the team believes he may prove to be worth it. 2022 is the season we all find out. Do you believe Lewis Thorpe can once again become a contributor for the Twins? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  6. After breaking into the big leagues and filling some important innings in 2019, Lewis Thorpe looked like a future rotation piece for the Major League club. He led AAA in K/9 and while he posted a 6.18 ERA in 27 2/3 MLB innings, his underlying numbers looked like he got unlucky. Unfortunately, 2020 proved those analytics wrong, as Thorpe posted a 6.06 ERA in just over 16 innings during the COVID-shortened season with underlying numbers to match. Thorpe failed to even eat innings in his outings as his BB/9 matched his K/9 at 5.5, and he soon became passed over on the rotational depth chart. 2021 was odd in the sense that Thorpe should have been a make-or-break player out of Spring Training before MLB granted the Twins an extra year of team control (a fourth option year) due to injuries early in his career. This allowed the Twins to option him to AAA to reset and try to work his way back up. Unfortunately, Thorpe still failed to impress in his 15 MLB innings in 2021, as he had a higher BB/9 (4.1) and ERA (4.70) than K/9 (3.52). So why are we still talking about Lewis Thorpe? This spring is make-or-break for Thorpe, as he’s unable to be optioned if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. He could be on the fringes of the 40-man roster as is and could even be cut loose if the Twins make enough moves in the coming weeks. That being said, Thorpe possibly sticking around in a bullpen role should raise some eyebrows for those that remember the talent the lefty flashed early in his career. The most confusing trend of Thorpe’s downhill trajectory is his fastball velocity. During his three MLB seasons, his fastball has dipped from 91.4 mph to 89.9 mph to 89.1 mph in 2021. He’s had a few shoulder ailments along the way which would help explain this dropoff, but at no point since 2019 has he even regularly hit 90 mph. It’s fair to call this the root of Thorpe’s problems, as sub 90 mph fastballs rarely play at the MLB level and the lack of separation in velocity affects the secondary pitches as well. What we know about moves to the bullpen is it often gives pitchers a nice velocity boost. The Twins bullpen has a foundation of players who’ve seen this play out such as Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers. It’s hard to imagine Thorpe recreating himself as a flamethrower coming out of the pen, but he showed that even sitting around 91 mph as he did in his rookie season is enough to rack up strikeouts and get the best of hitters. It’s not unheard of for pitchers to find success after struggling mightily early in their careers. At 26 years old, Thorpe could still have plenty in the tank if something clicks. An immediate plan for a bullpen role may keep him fresher and healthier without a starter's workload which he’s struggled to shoulder thus far in his career. Letting his stuff play up in shorter stints may be the ticket for the Australian left-hander who averaged well over a strikeout per inning his entire minor league career as well as in his MLB debut. The fact that Thorpe has remained on the Twins 40 man roster this long suggests the team believes he may prove to be worth it. 2022 is the season we all find out. Do you believe Lewis Thorpe can once again become a contributor for the Twins? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  7. After a whirlwind weekend, the Twins roster underwent a dramatic transformation. Here’s what the Opening Day roster can look like if the team doesn’t make other moves. Catchers (2): Ryan Jeffers, Gary Sanchez The Twins are turning the starting catcher role over to Jeffers by trading Mitch Garver. On the surface, this makes sense because Jeffers is significantly younger than Garver and has more years of team control. Minnesota hopes Jeffers takes the next step offensively after a down year in 2021. It sounds like Sanchez will serve as the backup catcher and designated hitter. SABR’s SDI ranked him as the AL’s worst defensive catcher last season, so he must get minimal time behind the plate. Behind these two players, the team’s catching depth has thinned so that the team may add a veteran backup option. Infielders (6): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker, Gio Urshela It looked like Minnesota had their shortstop solution when the team acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but his Twins tenure was short-lived. Now, there is no clear shortstop option on the roster. Polanco and Urshela can fill in, but both fit better at other defensive positions. Sano is likely in a contract year, so it will be interesting to see how the Twins use him this season. He and Sanchez have a similar offensive skillset, so both will need time at DH. Arraez, Gordon, and Rooker provide different skills off the bench, but there is an apparent lack of shortstop depth. Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach Minnesota’s outfield is one of its strengths, so the team will need to rotate through the different options. Like at catcher, the team may trade from a position of strength to add to a position of need. Kirilloff will likely get time at first base since he is the team’s strongest defender at that position. Gilberto Celestino put up some strong numbers at Triple-A, so he adds some depth in the outfield if the team needs a younger option. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak Adding Gray to the top of the rotation is a huge upgrade over the initial roster projection. He immediately adds a front of the rotation starter under team control for multiple years. Minnesota has room to add at least one more veteran arm with young pitchers taking multiple rotation spots. Does a reunion with Michael Pineda make sense? Or will the team dip into the trade market again? Expectations are high for Ryan and Ober, but neither has pitched more than 125 innings in one professional season. Dobnak had a terrible 2021 season, but the Twins had faith in him last winter, so he will need to earn the fifth starter role. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton, Lewis Thorpe Minnesota’s bullpen improved in the second half last season, and the core of that group remains the same. Rogers is returning from a finger injury, so it will be critical to return to his late-inning role. Duffey struggled last season, but the Twins hope he can return to his 2019-20 form. Alcala and Thielbar will also get the opportunity to get the team out of some tricky situations. Moran has a dominant change-up that should allow him to transition to the big-league weapon with a chance to have an even more critical role in the future. Thorpe is out of options, and there doesn’t seem to be room for him in the rotation. Can he stick with the big-league club as a long-reliever? What changes will happen to the team’s roster before Opening Day? Do you feel like the Twins have improved this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  8. Catchers (2): Ryan Jeffers, Gary Sanchez The Twins are turning the starting catcher role over to Jeffers by trading Mitch Garver. On the surface, this makes sense because Jeffers is significantly younger than Garver and has more years of team control. Minnesota hopes Jeffers takes the next step offensively after a down year in 2021. It sounds like Sanchez will serve as the backup catcher and designated hitter. SABR’s SDI ranked him as the AL’s worst defensive catcher last season, so he must get minimal time behind the plate. Behind these two players, the team’s catching depth has thinned so that the team may add a veteran backup option. Infielders (6): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker, Gio Urshela It looked like Minnesota had their shortstop solution when the team acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but his Twins tenure was short-lived. Now, there is no clear shortstop option on the roster. Polanco and Urshela can fill in, but both fit better at other defensive positions. Sano is likely in a contract year, so it will be interesting to see how the Twins use him this season. He and Sanchez have a similar offensive skillset, so both will need time at DH. Arraez, Gordon, and Rooker provide different skills off the bench, but there is an apparent lack of shortstop depth. Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach Minnesota’s outfield is one of its strengths, so the team will need to rotate through the different options. Like at catcher, the team may trade from a position of strength to add to a position of need. Kirilloff will likely get time at first base since he is the team’s strongest defender at that position. Gilberto Celestino put up some strong numbers at Triple-A, so he adds some depth in the outfield if the team needs a younger option. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak Adding Gray to the top of the rotation is a huge upgrade over the initial roster projection. He immediately adds a front of the rotation starter under team control for multiple years. Minnesota has room to add at least one more veteran arm with young pitchers taking multiple rotation spots. Does a reunion with Michael Pineda make sense? Or will the team dip into the trade market again? Expectations are high for Ryan and Ober, but neither has pitched more than 125 innings in one professional season. Dobnak had a terrible 2021 season, but the Twins had faith in him last winter, so he will need to earn the fifth starter role. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton, Lewis Thorpe Minnesota’s bullpen improved in the second half last season, and the core of that group remains the same. Rogers is returning from a finger injury, so it will be critical to return to his late-inning role. Duffey struggled last season, but the Twins hope he can return to his 2019-20 form. Alcala and Thielbar will also get the opportunity to get the team out of some tricky situations. Moran has a dominant change-up that should allow him to transition to the big-league weapon with a chance to have an even more critical role in the future. Thorpe is out of options, and there doesn’t seem to be room for him in the rotation. Can he stick with the big-league club as a long-reliever? What changes will happen to the team’s roster before Opening Day? Do you feel like the Twins have improved this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  9. This lockout has officially put the nail in the coffin for a slow offseason. Never fear, your local internet stalker is still here. Say it with me, your favorite Twins don’t retreat into a Jake cave until spring training. Here are what your favorite Twins’ players have been up to recently. Randy Dobnak was thankful for beans, rice, Jesus Christ, and Byron Who? BYRON! Byron Buxton surprised us with the best early-Christmas gift No one thought the Twins could get it done. Byron Buxton will remain a Twin for a very long time with his 7-year extension. That means we’ll have some of this in our future: And definitely a little bit of this: Buxton’s athleticism is like a perfectly crafted Thanksgiving plate, with the perfect amount of turkey, stuffing, and a heaping side of taters. Josh Donaldson celebrated his 36th birthday The Bringer of Rain celebrated the big 3-6 presumably in style yesterday. The entire staff of Twins Daily celebrated his birthday by joining hands and watching one of his best moments from last season. Happy birthday Josh! Eduardo Escobar broke ground at Citi Field Despite moving on to his third team after the Twins, Eduardo Escobar remains one of the most beloved Twins of all time. We wish him nothing by the best as he moves on to the NL East. Fogo Power, baby! Miguel Sano Took No Days Off Thanksgiving, shmanksgiving. Sano said no to giving up on his quest to prepping for the year ahead. Lewis Thorpe took his horse to the Old Town Road Max Kepler Continues to Live the Good Life We have no idea where Max Kepler spends most of his days. Wherever he is, there will be no grainy photos with poor lighting for Max. Kepler continues to be, what the kids say, ~*a vibe*~ Don’t ask us what that means. Which other players would you like to hear from in the offseason? Comment below! View full article
  10. Randy Dobnak was thankful for beans, rice, Jesus Christ, and Byron Who? BYRON! Byron Buxton surprised us with the best early-Christmas gift No one thought the Twins could get it done. Byron Buxton will remain a Twin for a very long time with his 7-year extension. That means we’ll have some of this in our future: And definitely a little bit of this: Buxton’s athleticism is like a perfectly crafted Thanksgiving plate, with the perfect amount of turkey, stuffing, and a heaping side of taters. Josh Donaldson celebrated his 36th birthday The Bringer of Rain celebrated the big 3-6 presumably in style yesterday. The entire staff of Twins Daily celebrated his birthday by joining hands and watching one of his best moments from last season. Happy birthday Josh! Eduardo Escobar broke ground at Citi Field Despite moving on to his third team after the Twins, Eduardo Escobar remains one of the most beloved Twins of all time. We wish him nothing by the best as he moves on to the NL East. Fogo Power, baby! Miguel Sano Took No Days Off Thanksgiving, shmanksgiving. Sano said no to giving up on his quest to prepping for the year ahead. Lewis Thorpe took his horse to the Old Town Road Max Kepler Continues to Live the Good Life We have no idea where Max Kepler spends most of his days. Wherever he is, there will be no grainy photos with poor lighting for Max. Kepler continues to be, what the kids say, ~*a vibe*~ Don’t ask us what that means. Which other players would you like to hear from in the offseason? Comment below!
  11. Coming into 2021, the Minnesota Twins looked to have an inside track within the AL Central division, mainly due to their depth. They had plenty of options on the pitching side, and before being exposed, lots of those names seemed plenty capable. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Right now, the Minnesota Twins starting rotation is completely turned over. The group that started the 2021 season is gone, and the anchors intended for 2022 are no longer realistic options. So where does the team go from here? Derek Falvey and Thad Levine already had their work cut out for them going into the winter. The bullpen was nothing short of a disaster this season, and the starting rotation has been lackluster in plenty of different instances. Now faced with the reality that Jose Berrios is gone, and Kenta Maeda is injured, the uphill battle has grown substantially. Of course, dollars have to, and will be, spent. Before considering the options on the open market, and they are relatively plentiful, looking at who can be an option internally on Opening Day is where we should start. Unfortunately, the names are more plentiful than the logical options you’d hope to ink in. Bailey Ober If there’s a guy that’s earned a role among the five openings to kick off 2022 it’s Ober. He’s been lights out of late and now has a sub-4.00 ERA. Ober owns a 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts and he’s posted a 9.3 K/9. The home run bit him hard early, and a 1.8 HR/9 still isn’t great, but that only leaves further opportunity for heightened levels of success. He’s not an ace but pitching himself into the top half of a rotation would hardly be a shock. Joe Ryan It’s still surprising the Twins got this type of return for Nelson Cruz, but Ryan has seemed every bit as exciting as you’d hope. Across 66.0 IP at Triple-A this season Ryan owns a 3.41 ERA and has punched out 12.5 K/9. He needs to make his next turn in Minnesota, but regardless, you could do a lot worse than this type of arm as a 5th starter to open the next campaign. Randy Dobnak Dobnak has put himself in an interesting situation given the lack of effectiveness and injury issues he’s dealt with this season. Still probably a 4th starter at best, the ceiling really isn’t there in comparison to the two aforementioned arms, and the prospects behind him could close the gap quickly. He’s a great depth guy, but Minnesota can’t afford to fill the rotation with options of this caliber. Lewis Thorpe There’s probably a decent chance that Thorpe is dropped from the 40-man roster this offseason. The Twins were granted an additional year of control, but the Aussie hasn’t done anything with it. The velocity has continued to be lackluster, and nothing about the upside that was once there has reappeared. It’s been a disappointing fall through health and personal complications. Either way, this isn’t a viable option. Griffin Jax A really great story this season, and one worth keeping in the organization, Jax is a rotational depth piece in my mind. He’s shown that there’s a capable level of stuff to get big leaguers out but relying on him for 30 turns a season could expose Minnesota in a bad way. Jax doesn’t have the high end velocity or strikeout stuff to dominate, but he is a big league arm that can eat innings when necessary. Charlie Barnes Of the fringe arms to debut this season for Minnesota, Barnes has been the most underwhelming. His strikeout numbers have never really been anything to write home about and that makes the margin for error at the highest level very slight. Barnes is 25 and hasn’t ever had much in the form of prospect status, but that doesn’t negate the fact he could be a nice depth piece. That’s probably still to be determined, but it won’t be realized in an Opening Day rotation. The Prospects (Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Drew Strotman, Josh Winder) Outside of the Ober and Ryan pairing at the top, this is the group the Twins are dreaming on developing some high level arms from. Unfortunately, the majority have either been hurt or are not yet in a place where they’re kicking down the door for a big league promotion. Getting each back to health has to be the chief concern, but beyond that, they’ll need to force their way in. Assuming Minnesota wants to compete, or at the very least be respectable next season, they’ll need to sign a starter for the top of the rotation. Hoping one or more of these arms can then challenge that status sooner rather than later would be the goal. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. It was a tough battle, but the Twins came out on top to win their fourth series in a row thanks to yet another Jorge Polanco walk-off! Box Score Starter: Thorpe 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K Home Runs: Sano (20) Top 3 WPA: Duffey (0.485), Coulombe (0.485), Sano (0.299) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Lewis Thorpe Makes Return to Twins Rotation For the first time in nearly three months, Lewis Thorpe made an appearance in a Twins uniform, after getting recalled this morning from Triple-A St. Paul. Prior to today’s start, Thorpe had made just four appearances (3 starts) for the Twins in 2021, and posted a 3.86 ERA. Velocity concerns have plagued Thorpe of late, as his fastball velocity has dropped nearly two MPH since 2019, and sat at just 89.5 MPH in 2021. Those concerns became even more prevalent after today’s short outing where Thorpe had an average fastball velocity of just 87.8 MPH, per Statcast. This lack of velocity, combined with some serious control issues made for a short day from Thorpe, who was pulled with only one out in the second after walking the bases full. It was clear after today’s outing that Thorpe’s long-term future with the Twins might be in serious jeopardy if he is unable to fix the number of issues that have been ailing him. Miguel Sano Hits Twins Longest Home Run of 2021 With the Twins down by a score of 4 to 1 entering the bottom of the fourth, they needed to find some quick offense to get back into this game, and that is exactly what Miguel Sano delivered as he blasted a mammoth 475 foot home run to right-center field to cut Cleveland’s lead down to two. Cleveland Scores Single Runs in Each of the First Five Innings It was a steady barrage of one run at a time from Cleveland early on to help them build a 5-2 lead at the halfway point of the game, as they scored one run in each of the first five innings. They got their lone run in the first courtesy of a two-out home run from Jose Ramirez. In the second it was four walks from Twins pitching that resulted in Cleveland’s run, the final coming from Edgar Garcia after he replaced Lewis Thorpe who walked the bases full before being pulled. Edgar Garcia got two quick outs in the third, but after giving up a walk to Oscar Mercado, Owen Miller drilled a fly ball off the wall in right-center, bringing Mercado all the way around to score from first. The fourth inning looked almost identical to the third, but this time it was with Juan Minaya on the mound for the Twins, who like Garcia got two outs to begin the inning, but gave up a walk that was followed by a double that gave Cleveland their lone run in the fourth. With Minaya still on the mound in the fifth, Franmil Reyes responded to Miguel Sano’s mammoth home run with one of his own to stretch the Cleveland lead back out to three. Twins Use Two-Out Rally to Take the Lead in the 5th Things were not looking up for the Twins as they came to bat in the fifth back down by three runs. The inning did not appear to be a rally inning when it started, as a Max Kepler strikeout and a Jorge Polanco pop out sandwiched a Brent Rooker walk, giving the Twins a runner on first with two outs. That did not stop the Twins, however, as they strung together six straight two-out hits and left the inning with a 7-5 lead. Josh Donaldson got the two out rally started when he laced a line drive single up the middle. Luis Arraez then fought off a tough two-strike fastball and delivered a clutch RBI single to right. After a quick mound visit, it was Miguel Sano’s turn and he quickly fell behind 0-2, but he too came up clutch driving this breaking ball to the base of the wall in center for a game tying double. That was the end of the day for Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac, but that wasn’t the end of the inning for the Twins. New Cleveland pitch Alex Young did not have much time to settle in, as Nick Gordon swung at his first pitch and drilled a hard ground ball down the first base line that bounced off of Owen Miller’s glove at first and trickled away, allowing Sano to score from second. Ryan Jeffers then followed it up with a single of his own before Andrelton Simmons came through with a ground rule double down the line in left, giving the Twins the 7-5 lead. This gave Max Kepler a chance to blow the game open with runners on second and third, but that would not be the case as the inning ended the same way it started, with a Max Kepler strikeout. Alex Colome Blows Save in 9th After a rough start to the season, Alex Colome has been pitching well of late. Unfortunately, today we saw more of the April version of Alex Colome, as he blew a two-run lead to allow Cleveland to tie the game at seven. The inning started with a leadoff double from Myles Straw that landed just out of the reach of a diving Jake Cave, who came in as a defensive replacement for Brent Rooker in left. He then got Amed Rosario to fly out, before Jose Ramirez laced a line drive into center field and hustled his way to second for a double. Ramirez then advanced to third on a weak ground out from Franmil Reyes and scored the game tying run on a wild pitch in the next plate appearance. Jorge Polanco is the Walk-off Hero Yet Again For the third time in four games, Jorge Polanco comes up with a clutch walk-off to give the Twins the victory! Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 73 0 0 0 73 Gant 0 0 17 0 0 17 García 0 21 0 0 35 56 Thielbar 0 15 19 0 9 43 Garza Jr. 16 0 0 13 23 52 Duffey 0 27 0 0 14 41 Colomé 0 13 10 0 31 54 Minaya 0 0 19 0 40 59 Coulombe 10 0 0 0 7 17 Postgame Interviews What's Next? The Twins travel to New York for a four-game series with the Yankees. With the Twins out of contention, they have a chance to put a wrench in the surging Yankees postseason plans. Game one of the series is scheduled to begin Thursday at 6:05 pm CDT. View full article
  15. Box Score Starter: Thorpe 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K Home Runs: Sano (20) Top 3 WPA: Duffey (0.485), Coulombe (0.485), Sano (0.299) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Lewis Thorpe Makes Return to Twins Rotation For the first time in nearly three months, Lewis Thorpe made an appearance in a Twins uniform, after getting recalled this morning from Triple-A St. Paul. Prior to today’s start, Thorpe had made just four appearances (3 starts) for the Twins in 2021, and posted a 3.86 ERA. Velocity concerns have plagued Thorpe of late, as his fastball velocity has dropped nearly two MPH since 2019, and sat at just 89.5 MPH in 2021. Those concerns became even more prevalent after today’s short outing where Thorpe had an average fastball velocity of just 87.8 MPH, per Statcast. This lack of velocity, combined with some serious control issues made for a short day from Thorpe, who was pulled with only one out in the second after walking the bases full. It was clear after today’s outing that Thorpe’s long-term future with the Twins might be in serious jeopardy if he is unable to fix the number of issues that have been ailing him. Miguel Sano Hits Twins Longest Home Run of 2021 With the Twins down by a score of 4 to 1 entering the bottom of the fourth, they needed to find some quick offense to get back into this game, and that is exactly what Miguel Sano delivered as he blasted a mammoth 475 foot home run to right-center field to cut Cleveland’s lead down to two. Cleveland Scores Single Runs in Each of the First Five Innings It was a steady barrage of one run at a time from Cleveland early on to help them build a 5-2 lead at the halfway point of the game, as they scored one run in each of the first five innings. They got their lone run in the first courtesy of a two-out home run from Jose Ramirez. In the second it was four walks from Twins pitching that resulted in Cleveland’s run, the final coming from Edgar Garcia after he replaced Lewis Thorpe who walked the bases full before being pulled. Edgar Garcia got two quick outs in the third, but after giving up a walk to Oscar Mercado, Owen Miller drilled a fly ball off the wall in right-center, bringing Mercado all the way around to score from first. The fourth inning looked almost identical to the third, but this time it was with Juan Minaya on the mound for the Twins, who like Garcia got two outs to begin the inning, but gave up a walk that was followed by a double that gave Cleveland their lone run in the fourth. With Minaya still on the mound in the fifth, Franmil Reyes responded to Miguel Sano’s mammoth home run with one of his own to stretch the Cleveland lead back out to three. Twins Use Two-Out Rally to Take the Lead in the 5th Things were not looking up for the Twins as they came to bat in the fifth back down by three runs. The inning did not appear to be a rally inning when it started, as a Max Kepler strikeout and a Jorge Polanco pop out sandwiched a Brent Rooker walk, giving the Twins a runner on first with two outs. That did not stop the Twins, however, as they strung together six straight two-out hits and left the inning with a 7-5 lead. Josh Donaldson got the two out rally started when he laced a line drive single up the middle. Luis Arraez then fought off a tough two-strike fastball and delivered a clutch RBI single to right. After a quick mound visit, it was Miguel Sano’s turn and he quickly fell behind 0-2, but he too came up clutch driving this breaking ball to the base of the wall in center for a game tying double. That was the end of the day for Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac, but that wasn’t the end of the inning for the Twins. New Cleveland pitch Alex Young did not have much time to settle in, as Nick Gordon swung at his first pitch and drilled a hard ground ball down the first base line that bounced off of Owen Miller’s glove at first and trickled away, allowing Sano to score from second. Ryan Jeffers then followed it up with a single of his own before Andrelton Simmons came through with a ground rule double down the line in left, giving the Twins the 7-5 lead. This gave Max Kepler a chance to blow the game open with runners on second and third, but that would not be the case as the inning ended the same way it started, with a Max Kepler strikeout. Alex Colome Blows Save in 9th After a rough start to the season, Alex Colome has been pitching well of late. Unfortunately, today we saw more of the April version of Alex Colome, as he blew a two-run lead to allow Cleveland to tie the game at seven. The inning started with a leadoff double from Myles Straw that landed just out of the reach of a diving Jake Cave, who came in as a defensive replacement for Brent Rooker in left. He then got Amed Rosario to fly out, before Jose Ramirez laced a line drive into center field and hustled his way to second for a double. Ramirez then advanced to third on a weak ground out from Franmil Reyes and scored the game tying run on a wild pitch in the next plate appearance. Jorge Polanco is the Walk-off Hero Yet Again For the third time in four games, Jorge Polanco comes up with a clutch walk-off to give the Twins the victory! Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 73 0 0 0 73 Gant 0 0 17 0 0 17 García 0 21 0 0 35 56 Thielbar 0 15 19 0 9 43 Garza Jr. 16 0 0 13 23 52 Duffey 0 27 0 0 14 41 Colomé 0 13 10 0 31 54 Minaya 0 0 19 0 40 59 Coulombe 10 0 0 0 7 17 Postgame Interviews What's Next? The Twins travel to New York for a four-game series with the Yankees. With the Twins out of contention, they have a chance to put a wrench in the surging Yankees postseason plans. Game one of the series is scheduled to begin Thursday at 6:05 pm CDT.
  16. Lewis Thorpe had an encouraging performance in what was his fourth appearance since being activated off the IL. Read all about that and more in Friday night’s edition of the minor league report. TRANSACTIONS RHP Orlando Rodriguez of Fort Myers placed on the 7-day IL. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 7, Indianapolis 5 Box Score Lewis Thorpe: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-5), Tomas Telis (2-for-5, HR), Mark Contreras (2-for-5), Gilberto Celestino (2-for-5, 2B), Jimmy Kerrigan (2-for-4) HR: Kerrigan (16), Telis (7) Lewis Thorpe looked comfortable and confident tonight. He was throwing his curveball and changeup early in counts, then working in high fastballs to try to finish hitters off. He threw 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes (64.1%) and was efficient enough to record two outs in the sixth inning. This was a jump up from the 58 pitches he threw in his last outing for the Saints. The Twins are clearly viewing Thorpe as a starting pitcher at this point. It would make sense for him to make another start with the Saints, stretching out another 15-20 pitches, but with Michael Pineda exiting his start early, Thorpe may be looked upon as a potential replacement. The St. Paul lineup was patient with 36-year-old knuckleballer Steven Wright, who threw 97 pitches in four innings. Along with the five batters who had multiple hits listed above, Nick Gordon also reached twice, drawing a pair of walks, and stole a base. He played center field tonight. Yennier Cano had an eventful ninth inning, giving up a run on three hits, but locked down the save by striking out the final two batters he faced, stranding runners at second and third base. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 4, Wichita 1 Box Score Austin Schulfer: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K Multi-hit games: B.J. Boyd (2-for-4), Jermaine Palacios (2-for-3) HR: None The Surge were scheduled to play a doubleheader today but more inclimate weather resulted in the first game being postponed, leaving one seven-inning game left to be played. Neither team scored through seven, however, so this one went into “extra” innings. B.J. Boyd singled home the Wichita bonus runner in the top of the inning. The Wind Surge were an out away from victory but a ground ball got by first baseman Andrew Bechtold for a game-tying single and the next batter hit a walk-off home run. Tyler Beck was turning in an impressive Double-A debut before things fell apart with two outs in the eighth inning. He was attempting to cover the final four frames, and had struck out five of the first 15 batters he faced. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Peoria 3 Box Score Jon Olsen: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (4-for-5, 2B), Jefferson Morales (2-for-4) HR: Matt Wallner (10) Yunior Severino and Jeferson Morales have been huge boosts to the Kernels since being called up from Fort Myers. After a four-hit night, Severino is hitting .439 with a 1.147 OPS in his first 15 games with the club. Morales hasn’t been around as long, this was just his fourth game with Cedar Rapids, but he has a .563 average with a 1.463 OPS. Matt Wallner hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. It was his 10th homer of the year and 18th as a pro, just the fourth that’s come against a lefty. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 9, Bradenton 1 Box Score Casey Legumina: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Keoni Cavaco (2-for-6), Jesus Feliz (2-for-5, 2B), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4, BB) HR: Will Holland (8) Every member of the Fort Myers lineup reached base and everyone but Jesus Feliz also struck out. The team combined for 10 hits, eight walks and 14 strikeouts. Keoni Cavaco had a multi-hit game, but he also struck out four times. Here’s his two-run single in what was a big five-run inning for the Mussels. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher: Lewis Thorpe, St. Paul Hitter: Yunior Severino, Cedar Rapids PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – DNP #4 – Matt Canterino (Fort Myers) – DNP #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 3-for-5, R #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 2-for-6, 2 RBI, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 2B, RBI, R #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – DNP #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-6, RBI #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-3, HR, BB, HBP, 2 RBI, R #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – DNP #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – DNP #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 4-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – DNP #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-3 #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5 #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – DNP #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – DNP SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Fort Myers at Bradenton, 11 am CT: Bobby Milacki St. Paul at Indianapolis, 6:05 pm CT: Beau Burrows Cedar Rapids at Peoria, 6:35 pm CT: Sawyer Gipson-Long Wichita at Tulsa, 7:05 pm CT: Cole Sands View full article
  17. TRANSACTIONS RHP Orlando Rodriguez of Fort Myers placed on the 7-day IL. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 7, Indianapolis 5 Box Score Lewis Thorpe: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-5), Tomas Telis (2-for-5, HR), Mark Contreras (2-for-5), Gilberto Celestino (2-for-5, 2B), Jimmy Kerrigan (2-for-4) HR: Kerrigan (16), Telis (7) Lewis Thorpe looked comfortable and confident tonight. He was throwing his curveball and changeup early in counts, then working in high fastballs to try to finish hitters off. He threw 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes (64.1%) and was efficient enough to record two outs in the sixth inning. This was a jump up from the 58 pitches he threw in his last outing for the Saints. The Twins are clearly viewing Thorpe as a starting pitcher at this point. It would make sense for him to make another start with the Saints, stretching out another 15-20 pitches, but with Michael Pineda exiting his start early, Thorpe may be looked upon as a potential replacement. The St. Paul lineup was patient with 36-year-old knuckleballer Steven Wright, who threw 97 pitches in four innings. Along with the five batters who had multiple hits listed above, Nick Gordon also reached twice, drawing a pair of walks, and stole a base. He played center field tonight. Yennier Cano had an eventful ninth inning, giving up a run on three hits, but locked down the save by striking out the final two batters he faced, stranding runners at second and third base. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 4, Wichita 1 Box Score Austin Schulfer: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K Multi-hit games: B.J. Boyd (2-for-4), Jermaine Palacios (2-for-3) HR: None The Surge were scheduled to play a doubleheader today but more inclimate weather resulted in the first game being postponed, leaving one seven-inning game left to be played. Neither team scored through seven, however, so this one went into “extra” innings. B.J. Boyd singled home the Wichita bonus runner in the top of the inning. The Wind Surge were an out away from victory but a ground ball got by first baseman Andrew Bechtold for a game-tying single and the next batter hit a walk-off home run. Tyler Beck was turning in an impressive Double-A debut before things fell apart with two outs in the eighth inning. He was attempting to cover the final four frames, and had struck out five of the first 15 batters he faced. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Peoria 3 Box Score Jon Olsen: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (4-for-5, 2B), Jefferson Morales (2-for-4) HR: Matt Wallner (10) Yunior Severino and Jeferson Morales have been huge boosts to the Kernels since being called up from Fort Myers. After a four-hit night, Severino is hitting .439 with a 1.147 OPS in his first 15 games with the club. Morales hasn’t been around as long, this was just his fourth game with Cedar Rapids, but he has a .563 average with a 1.463 OPS. Matt Wallner hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. It was his 10th homer of the year and 18th as a pro, just the fourth that’s come against a lefty. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 9, Bradenton 1 Box Score Casey Legumina: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Keoni Cavaco (2-for-6), Jesus Feliz (2-for-5, 2B), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4, BB) HR: Will Holland (8) Every member of the Fort Myers lineup reached base and everyone but Jesus Feliz also struck out. The team combined for 10 hits, eight walks and 14 strikeouts. Keoni Cavaco had a multi-hit game, but he also struck out four times. Here’s his two-run single in what was a big five-run inning for the Mussels. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher: Lewis Thorpe, St. Paul Hitter: Yunior Severino, Cedar Rapids PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – DNP #4 – Matt Canterino (Fort Myers) – DNP #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 3-for-5, R #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 2-for-6, 2 RBI, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 2B, RBI, R #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – DNP #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-6, RBI #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-3, HR, BB, HBP, 2 RBI, R #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – DNP #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – DNP #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 4-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – DNP #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-3 #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5 #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – DNP #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – DNP SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Fort Myers at Bradenton, 11 am CT: Bobby Milacki St. Paul at Indianapolis, 6:05 pm CT: Beau Burrows Cedar Rapids at Peoria, 6:35 pm CT: Sawyer Gipson-Long Wichita at Tulsa, 7:05 pm CT: Cole Sands
  18. The Minnesota Twins find themselves doubled up in the loss column at the time of this post, at 13-26, and the biggest controversy is whether Yermin Mercedes should be able to swing 3-0 against Willians Astudillo. If that doesn't tell you how this season has gone, I'm not sure what will. I've already wrote about players that we could see traded, as well as ranked all the Twins MLB roster by trade value. I expect many of those moves to be made in July, although some could roll in earlier, especially with all of the injuries around Major League Baseball. When all of these expected moves come around, the Twins are going to have to fill these holes with players from the minor leagues, or possibly by players coming in from the trades. This series will take a look at the players the Twins front office will want to take a longer look at come late July, August, and September in order to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2022. RHP Randy Dobnak Dobnak came into the Twins organization as a feel good story, and even started a playoff game for the Twins. He also signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, which locked in financial security for the former Uber driver, and gave the Twins a cheap depth option for the foreseeable future. However, there is questions around Twins territory on whether Dobnak is an MLB starter, or more of a long man. With expected trades of JA Happ and Michael Pineda, and the likely DFA or move to the bullpen for Matt Shoemaker, the Twins will have plenty of chances to evaluate some of the AAA starters. Dobnak should, and likely will be, the first option to fill the hole. Dobnak relies on pinpoint control over his sinker, and a very good slider to pair with the sinker. In order to be an effective MLB starter, Dobnak will have to develop a reliable third pitch, with the changeup being the most likely. Even if Dobnak isn't a long term starter, he will be on the opening day roster in 2022. LHP Lewis Thorpe Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect out of Australia, but certainly hasn't met those expectations thus far. The key to Thorpe being a useful arm in the major leagues all rely on his fastball velocity. Last season we saw Thorpe's velocity fall below 90, which was not the norm for him, and unsurprisingly, he got shelled. However, there were signs of hope for the southpaw during spring training, where he said he "refocused mentally and physically" and the results backed it up. Thorpe was sitting in the low 90's during spring training, but that has suddenly disappeared. During Thorpe's two spot starts thus far, he's once again sitting 89.7 MPH on the fastball, and shared that he's going through a dead arm phase. If Thorpe snaps out of his dead arm, and regains his velo, he has a chance at a starter to pair with his very good slider. However, if the fastball velo is only sustainable in short stints, a move to the pen seems inevitable. We'll get an answer on this question during the dog days of the 2021 summer. RHP Bailey Ober As I'm writing this article, Bailey Ober is pitching the first inning of his MLB debut. Ober is a big, right handed arm who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, but doesn't have the velo that matches the body. The Twins drafted Ober in the 12th round in 2017, which is the same draft where Royce Lewis was the #1 pick. The fact that Ober has already made his MLB debut, despite being a 12th round pick, means he's outperformed expectations. Bailey was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, despite not throwing in a live game since 2019. Ober has four quality pitches, with the fastball sitting in the upper 80's, and the lower 90's on occasion. His best putaway pitch is a changeup, which moves with a lot of armside run. He also features a slider and curveball, but neither project as anything more than an average pitch. Despite the fastball not cracking 90, it has a lot of carry on it which allows him to successfully pitch in the upper part of the zone. With the next wave of top arms coming to Target Field soon in Johan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, Ober will have to perform well to stay apart of Minnesota's long term plans, as he is a starter or bust.
  19. The Twins woes with runners in scoring position did them in again tonight, as they game themselves plenty of scoring chances, but went 0-for-9 with RISP and failed to cash in on any of them and fell to the Texas Rangers by a score of 3-1.Box Score Thorpe: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Garver (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.188, Kepler -.174, Simmons -.130 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Download attachment: Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 10.20.39 PM.png Garver goes deep Mitch Garver got the scoring started with one out in the bottom of second when he blasted an 88-mph fastball into the second deck in left-center field. After hitting just two home runs in 23 games in 2020, Garver is back on his 2019 home run pace, as this was already his sixth so far this season. Twins blow great scoring chance in the 4th After giving up the lead in the top of the inning, the Twins offense was poised to take it right back in the bottom of the inning. Nelson Cruz got the inning started with a sharp ground ball single to center field and was followed by a ground-rule double off the bat of Kyle Garlick, his first of two doubles on the evening. Mitch Garver then drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. However, the Twins somehow found a way to not score any runs as Jorge Polanco struck out, followed by a force out at home off the bat of Max Kepler and a ground ball to short from Miguel Sano to get out of the inning. Even though the score was still tied, at the time it felt that was an opportunity that would haunt the Twins late in the ballgame. Lewis Thorpe makes 2nd start of the season After a rough 2020, Lewis Thorpe had to earn his way back in the Twins good graces with a strong spring training performance. As a result, Thorpe has earned the spot starter role for the Twins early in season. After giving up two runs in four innings in his first start, Thorpe gave the Twins another solid outing, as he allowed three runs over five plus. The outing had a chance to be better than it resulted, as Thorpe had given up just one run through five. However, Baldelli kept him in one inning too long as Thorpe gave up a walk and a single before getting pulled to start the sixth. Cody Stashak came in to relieve Thorpe, but failed to strand either runner, as both came around to score giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Alex Colome throws two shutout innings in reduced role It has been a very rough start to the 2021 season for newly acquired Alex Colome, who began the season as the Twins closer. In less than a month, he’s already not getting high leverage spots, but he’s filling more of a middle relief role as he was used to pitch multiple innings in a game the Twins were losing. So, it was only fitting that this was the appearance that Colome was able to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. While it was nice to keep the Twins in the ballgame, it sure would have been better to have a few more outings like this earlier in the season when he was protecting a Twins lead in the final inning, but I digress. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet). Click here to view the article
  20. Box Score Thorpe: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Garver (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.188, Kepler -.174, Simmons -.130 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Garver goes deep Mitch Garver got the scoring started with one out in the bottom of second when he blasted an 88-mph fastball into the second deck in left-center field. After hitting just two home runs in 23 games in 2020, Garver is back on his 2019 home run pace, as this was already his sixth so far this season. https://twitter.com/BallySportsNOR/status/1390103662530375686 Twins blow great scoring chance in the 4th After giving up the lead in the top of the inning, the Twins offense was poised to take it right back in the bottom of the inning. Nelson Cruz got the inning started with a sharp ground ball single to center field and was followed by a ground-rule double off the bat of Kyle Garlick, his first of two doubles on the evening. Mitch Garver then drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. However, the Twins somehow found a way to not score any runs as Jorge Polanco struck out, followed by a force out at home off the bat of Max Kepler and a ground ball to short from Miguel Sano to get out of the inning. Even though the score was still tied, at the time it felt that was an opportunity that would haunt the Twins late in the ballgame. Lewis Thorpe makes 2nd start of the season After a rough 2020, Lewis Thorpe had to earn his way back in the Twins good graces with a strong spring training performance. As a result, Thorpe has earned the spot starter role for the Twins early in season. After giving up two runs in four innings in his first start, Thorpe gave the Twins another solid outing, as he allowed three runs over five plus. The outing had a chance to be better than it resulted, as Thorpe had given up just one run through five. However, Baldelli kept him in one inning too long as Thorpe gave up a walk and a single before getting pulled to start the sixth. Cody Stashak came in to relieve Thorpe, but failed to strand either runner, as both came around to score giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Alex Colome throws two shutout innings in reduced role It has been a very rough start to the 2021 season for newly acquired Alex Colome, who began the season as the Twins closer. In less than a month, he’s already not getting high leverage spots, but he’s filling more of a middle relief role as he was used to pitch multiple innings in a game the Twins were losing. So, it was only fitting that this was the appearance that Colome was able to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. While it was nice to keep the Twins in the ballgame, it sure would have been better to have a few more outings like this earlier in the season when he was protecting a Twins lead in the final inning, but I digress. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet).
  21. When the Minnesota Twins set out to supplement their roster this offseason a couple of different areas presented themselves as needs. Starting pitching will always remain one as you can never have enough, but the organization is in rarefied air. Following his signing with the Houston Astros it’s more than fair to suggest the Twins would’ve been well-served to wait out Jake Odorizzi. He clearly over-anticipated his market however and found a landing spot only after Framber Valdez dealt a blow to Dusty Baker’s starting rotation. Instead, Minnesota went with a one-year deal to Matt Shoemaker that set the club back just $2 million. At the time, and even now, that has the makings of a pretty shrewd move. If you’re at all familiar with Shoemaker’s track record you know this, he hasn’t been available often. Across seven full Major League seasons he’s made 15 or more starts just three times, while failing to reach double digits in each of the past three. Injury issues have plagued him, but it’s worth noting that the injuries haven’t been arm related. In hoping for a regression to the fluky nature that has kept him sidelined, you have to take note of the production that has been there. Back in 2016 was the last time Shoemaker threw more than 100 innings. Across 27 starts that year he posted a 3.88 ERA backed by a 3.51 FIP and an 8.0 K/9. It was the third year in a row in which he’d tallied both 20 starts and 130+ innings pitched. In that time, he owned a 3.80 ERA with a 3.77 FIP and an 8.0 K/9. When available the veteran has been incredibly consistent. He’s good for a high-threes ERA while striking out right around eight per nine and being very stingy on the free passes. Even as a third starter that would play, and he’ll pitch out of the Minnesota five-hole. What’s maybe most important for the Twins in all of this isn’t even what Shoemaker himself brings to the table, but rather what he affords the club in regards to those around him. Randy Dobnak has started a Postseason game, Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect that has been the darling of Spring Training, and the duo of Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are close. That doesn’t even touch on Devin Smeltzer, who has Major League experience as well. None of them will factor into the rotation on Opening Day. In 2020 Rocco Baldelli had 11 different players starts a game (two of which were openers). For the Bomba Squad a year prior, 10 different players made starts (one of which was an opener). Depth is something every team must have in the rotation, and that will probably ring truer than ever coming off such a shortened schedule a season ago. Because of what this front office has done in the development department, the Twins could be more prepared now than they ever have been before. A year ago, the Twins posted the 5th best fWAR among starters in baseball. That improved upon a 7th place finish in 2019. Derek Falvey had long been considered a pitching guru for his time in Cleveland, and he’s quickly carried that acumen to a new organization. I’m not sure who will contribute what, and which starters will be there at the end, but you can bet the stable is right where the organization feels comfortable when it comes to pieces at their disposal. Maybe Matt Shoemaker only gives his new club something like ten starts in 2021. That’s still more than Rich Hill or Homer Bailey a season ago, and the flexibility he provides the Twins in terms of additional depth is a bonus that can’t be overstated. Let him be healthy because he’s been good when available. When the time comes to make a change, options will be plentiful. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  22. As a teenager, Lewis Thorpe seemed like he was on a path to being a dominant big-league starter. For multiple offseasons, he was considered a top-100 prospect and he posted some dominating numbers in the minor’s lower levels. Clearly, plenty can happen over the course of pitcher’s professional career as Thorpe missed multiple seasons and he has yet to put it all together at baseball’s highest level. Many fans are aware of what Thorpe’s situation from a season ago. He left spring training for two weeks as he dealt with some personal matters. He had an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation but missing that much time meant he was among the team’s first group sent over to the minor league side of camp. It had to be frustrating for all parties involved. As the season started, Thorpe was given a second chance, but his results on the field suffered. His fastball velocity dipped from 91.2 mph in 2019 to 89.7 mph in 2020. His Whiff % was in the 14th percentile and his K % was in the third percentile. His strikeouts per nine dropped from 10.1 in 2019 to 5.5 in 2020. There was little to get excited about. This spring something is different with Thorpe. He spent the winter working on his physical and mental health to prove he belongs in the Twins long-term plans. On the physical side, he added almost 30 pounds this off-season and nearly all of it is muscle. This has helped his fastball to tick back up to 93 mph and his head is where it needs to be. "My head wasn't clear, and this year, in the offseason, I committed myself to working out and working on my arm action and getting strength back in my legs," Thorpe said. "It's all coming along really nicely." This season is going to be a make-it or break-it year for Thorpe and there are some subtle changes he can make to improve his performance. One item he can focus on adjusting is the release point of his curveball. He throws this pitch less than his other pitches but there is a clear difference in his release point as he tends to release it 2.4 inches higher than his other pitches. He’s allowed an average exit velocity of 85.5 mph, which is over 2 mph lower than the league average. However, Thorpe has allowed 12% of his balls in play to be barrels. Leave average barrel percentage is 7%. Throughout his minor league career, Thorpe has been able to avoid barrels because of his strong strikeout totals. This spring there have already been some positive signs with his ability to strikeout batters and fans can hope this is a second change that translates to the regular season. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1368933867873316868?s=20 "Just pounded the zone, trusted my stuff and it went well," Thorpe said after this weekend’s start. "I got the swings and misses that I wanted. The offspeed was down in the zone and the fastball was up, so it worked out pretty good." If things continue to work out pretty well, the rest of the AL Central might need to be prepared for Lewis Thorpe’s arrival. He's also waiting an arbitrator's decision on if he will get a fourth option year and that could go a long way to deciding his future in Minnesota. What are your expectations for Thorpe this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. PORT CHARLOTTE - The Twins defeated the Rays 6-5 in a road game that featured a number of Twins’ players’ 2021 debuts. We saw Lewis Thorpe (and maybe as importantly, Lewis Thorpe’s velocity), Luis Arraez and Brent Rooker for the first time this spring. The results were encouraging.Lewis Thorpe Thorpe didn’t have the cleanest first inning – he walked his first batter and hit another in the head - but the pitches that we’ve heard about this spring were all on display. Most noticeably, the velocity that had deserted him last year has returned, as he was consistently throwing his fastball at least 90 mph, reaching 93 mph on occasion. Asked about the variation, he explained “Sometimes I just try to groove [the slower version] in there and if I really want to let one rip, the 93 is in the back of the tank somewhere.” His offspeed stuff was similarly impressive. He relied several times on a mid-70s curveball that he threw as a first-pitch-looking strikes to batters. His slider was a little less reliable, but good enough to strikeout the last batter he faced in an efficient second inning. He finished with two strikeouts and no runs over two innings. Tuesday the Twins will be playing the Braves on the road, and if you would like to follow along, follow @TwinsDaily on Twitter. Click here to view the article
  24. Lewis Thorpe Thorpe didn’t have the cleanest first inning – he walked his first batter and hit another in the head - but the pitches that we’ve heard about this spring were all on display. Most noticeably, the velocity that had deserted him last year has returned, as he was consistently throwing his fastball at least 90 mph, reaching 93 mph on occasion. Asked about the variation, he explained “Sometimes I just try to groove [the slower version] in there and if I really want to let one rip, the 93 is in the back of the tank somewhere.” His offspeed stuff was similarly impressive. He relied several times on a mid-70s curveball that he threw as a first-pitch-looking strikes to batters. His slider was a little less reliable, but good enough to strikeout the last batter he faced in an efficient second inning. He finished with two strikeouts and no runs over two innings. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1366455965093154818 He even made a couple of plays in the field, including tangoing with catcher Ryan Jeffers on a high pop fly that came down two feet in front of home plate. Jeffers ended up on the ground, but on his way there, he watched Thorpe catch the ball over Jeffers’ shoulder. It was another encouraging step for the Thorpe. The southpaw still has an uphill climb to the majors as a member of the rotation. He’s certainly behind the five veterans in camp, and maybe also be behind Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer. But it’s clear the team is gaining confidence in him. As is Thorpe. “It's fantastic,” he exclaimed after. “To come back with the way I'm throwing the ball right now, it's such a positive leading up to my first outing after that live BP. To be able to pound the zone and get some swings and misses, and know my stuff belongs here, it's a relief, that's for sure.” Luis Arraez Luis Arraez not only made his debut, but also hit lead off, lacing a line drive off of Rays’ starter Tyler Glasnow, he of the 97 mph fastball. That drive found a diving center fielder’s glove, but Arraez had an even more impressive at-bat in the second inning. Glasnow was clearly tiring, but the bases were loaded with two outs. Arraez fell behind in the count 0-2 on two foul balls, but worked the count back to 3-2 and three pitches later worked a walk to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. He was the last batter Glasnow faced. What was striking about the at-bat is there was never a point, even down 0-2, that it felt like Arraez was in any kind of trouble. “Luis is not intimidated by really anyone,” mused manager Rocco Baldelli after the game. Arraez also made a great running catch ranging into right field, but it left his manager holding his breath: https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1366466502476587008 Brent Rooker Rooker started in left field and batted cleanup. Last year, his season ended shortly after he was called up to the Twins last when he suffered a broken arm after being hit by a pitch. With the Twins having an abundance of left-handed hitting corner outfielders, the right-handed hitting Rooker looks like a valuable piece to have on the 26-man roster this year. He certainly didn’t show any ill effects from the injury in his first at-bat of the season. Facing Glasnow he drilled a home run to right-center field to give the Twins and early 1-0 lead. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1366456585636216839 Odd and Ends Or should I say “an odd end?” We had heard all games would be seven innings, but following the fifth inning, an announcement was made that the game would only be one more inning long. So we got a six inning game. The Rays’ stadium was practicing the same type of pandemic crowd control that Hammond Stadium did on Sunday, but the American League’s defending champs’ crowd was so light, there was little reason for concern. Seats were spread out, and I never say any line at a concession stand or for the restroom. There was plenty of distance between the fans. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1366448547743342593 Tuesday the Twins will be playing the Braves on the road, and if you would like to follow along, follow @TwinsDaily on Twitter.
  25. Recently the Minnesota Twins signed veteran starting pitcher J.A. Happ to bolster their rotation. He’d slot in as the 4th starter with where things stand currently, and Randy Dobnak would be the clubhouse favorite to round out the group. It remains to be seen whether or not another move is coming, but there’s a dark horse to eat someone’s lunch. At the risk of sounding too punny, maybe he’s a dark kangaroo. Lewis Thorpe recently turned 25-years-old and is a former top-100 prospect. He couldn’t be further from that stature right now, but talent shouldn’t be the question. After battling back from Tommy John surgery, and then an extended bout of pneumonia, he put together impressive seasons on the farm. The past two years have been anything but, however he’s worth believing in under one key condition. I liked Thorpe as a potential contributor to the big-league club when 2020 Spring Training kicked off. He was coming off a 4.76 ERA in just shy of 100 Triple-A innings, but it was largely reflective of the home run ball and his 11.1 K/9 paired with a 2.3 BB/9 was still plenty enticing. Then Florida happened. No, for Thorpe, it wasn’t the Covid-19 related shutdown. Without divulging too many specifics or risking secondary information, what is publicly known is that he took an extended leave of absence from the team. His parents flew in from Australia and he needed to undergo a mental reset. Ultimately, he didn’t appear in a Major League game until July 26 and contributed just 16.1 innings for the Twins. His 6.06 ERA was ugly and giving up a homer in roughly 25-percent of his innings pitched was not going to play. Again though, the stuff has always been there. Observing the offseason without having directly communicated with Thorpe, things appear to be trending in a different direction. The Twitter account has been dormant since his birthday in 2020, and his workouts have been shared on different forms of social media. What was at least an erratic presence a year ago has once again subdued as was the case previously. Whether by his own doing, or a helping hand from the organization, if Thorpe has recalibrated himself, he can certainly be a difference maker on the bump. I was uncertain as to his place within the organization during periods of roster trimming, and there were times that his inclusion in a trade may have even made sense. The pitcher that forced his way into the big leagues in 2019 is a force to be reckoned with however, and Rocco Baldelli can make use of that. Physically we saw Thorpe’s velocity diminish in 2020. He posted just an average of 90 mph on his fastball. It’s never that he’s been a hard thrower but losing nearly 2 mph at such a young age wasn’t a great development. It was clear that the lack of carry made a difference last season, and Wes Johnson unlocking the tank would be a great step forward for the Southpaw. The Twins ratcheted up his slider usage last season, and that trend could continue for 2021. Looking to regain the whiff and chase rates from 2019 form, tinkering will certainly be valuable as more data is collected. There’s not reason to believe an ace is in the making here, but right now it’s not Dobnak or bust when it comes to the back end of the Twins rotation. Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic may force themselves in eventually, but don’t count out the best version of Thorpe to make noise before the dust settles. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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