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  1. The Perez experiment is considered a failure in the eyes of many fans, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. I was as skeptical as anyone of the value-driven acquisition at first, until I got down to spring training and saw the lefty with my own two eyes. All the talk about a mid-90s fastball and newly weaponized cutter... it was legit. He looked fantastic. That carried over into the regular season. Through his first handful of turns in the rotation, Perez looked almost unhittable. The fastball/cutter combo was playing exactly to plan, and it appeared Minnesota's front office had unearthed an absolute gem. Things turned ugly from there, but Perez still wasn't a crippling liability; the Twins went 11-10 in his starts after June 1st, even as he posted a 5.93 ERA. He did what he needed as a fifth starter on a phenomenal offensive team. (And his appeal didn't totally wear off, since Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox quickly snatched him up for almost twice what Minnesota paid a year ago.) But obviously, the Twins needed to aim higher with his replacement in efforts to upgrade the rotation. The similarities with Bailey aren't hard to see. Both were former top prospects who'd shown only flashes of excellence in the majors. Both went on intriguing late runs to finish the prior season – Perez showing gas out of the Rangers bullpen in late 2018, and Bailey looking brilliant down the stretch for Oakland in 2019. And in both cases, the Twins saw specific things they felt they could activate or tweak to improve results. The quotes from Derek Falvey after both signings ring quite similar. https://twitter.com/SKORNorth/status/1100844737102299137 https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1212109208012951552 The key distinction, however, is that Bailey has already actualized his revival to some degree, riding his adjustments to a 2.25 ERA and 48-to-7 K/BB ratio in his final eight starts with the A's. The splitter he began unleashing with devastating efficacy is surely at the heart of Minnesota's assessment. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1212124592732622854 https://twitter.com/AlexFast8/status/1212060314180739072 Perez's upside was always theoretical, founded on a brief bullpen stint and a lot of projection, unlike Bailey's fairly convincing stretch run which included impressive showings against the Yankees (twice) and Astros. Plus, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson now has a year of experience under his belt, whereas last year he was finding his way as a first-time MLB coach straight out of college. So there's more palpable reason for enthusiasm in Bailey's case. Still, one thing I can't get past is the lack of demand for either player on the open market. It wasn't terribly surprising that Perez got only one year and $3.5 million guaranteed, given his ugly 2018 season and the leap of faith being taken by Minnesota's front office in his case. But Bailey's late-season dominance in 2019 was on display for all to see. That splitter is no secret. He still couldn't get more than $7 million guaranteed, at a time where the hunger for quality starting pitching is ravenous? That's conspicuous. It doesn't mean the Twins are wrong to believe in Bailey, but clearly they're bigger believers than others – including the Athletics, who saw his prowess first-hand and didn't seemingly push too hard to retain him. After seeing Minnesota's ostensible "bargain" deals for Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison in 2018 prove to be anything but, there's a warranted wariness that comes along with these low-dollar one-year pacts. That sort of drives back to a general frustration with the team's continued lack of spending to address needs. It's not the money that matters, but what it represents: a willingness to aggressively pursue assets that are generating market demand. The signing announced in tandem with Bailey – Rich Hill for $3 million plus incentives – falls into the exact same basket. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Bailey turns into a quality mid-rotation starter for Minnesota, joining the stable that is already in place. He's likely to be an upgrade over Perez, but right now, that isn't the guy he's replacing. It's Kyle Gibson, who signed with Texas for $30 million, for three years, early in the offseason. (Market demand.) It's Gibson's spot the Twins should now be seeking to upgrade, and hopefully in a very significant way. As enticing a proposition for late-season impact as Hill might be, the 40-year-old shouldn't be viewed as more than a wild-card factor. There's still work left to do, and if the flexibility preserved by these budget-friendly signings is put to good use, the Bailey and Hill moves will look all the better in hindsight. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. For a few glorious weeks, it appeared the Twins had struck gold with Martin Perez, an under-the-radar free agent signing that initially seemed to validate the front office's questionable rotation gamble. Then, it all fell apart. Newly signed right-hander Homer Bailey is a similar specimen in many ways. Can he sustain as a success story for Minnesota?The Perez experiment is considered a failure in the eyes of many fans, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. I was as skeptical as anyone of the value-driven acquisition at first, until I got down to spring training and saw the lefty with my own two eyes. All the talk about a mid-90s fastball and newly weaponized cutter... it was legit. He looked fantastic. That carried over into the regular season. Through his first handful of turns in the rotation, Perez looked almost unhittable. The fastball/cutter combo was playing exactly to plan, and it appeared Minnesota's front office had unearthed an absolute gem. Things turned ugly from there, but Perez still wasn't a crippling liability; the Twins went 11-10 in his starts after June 1st, even as he posted a 5.93 ERA. He did what he needed as a fifth starter on a phenomenal offensive team. (And his appeal didn't totally wear off, since Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox quickly snatched him up for almost twice what Minnesota paid a year ago.) But obviously, the Twins needed to aim higher with his replacement in efforts to upgrade the rotation. The similarities with Bailey aren't hard to see. Both were former top prospects who'd shown only flashes of excellence in the majors. Both went on intriguing late runs to finish the prior season – Perez showing gas out of the Rangers bullpen in late 2018, and Bailey looking brilliant down the stretch for Oakland in 2019. And in both cases, the Twins saw specific things they felt they could activate or tweak to improve results. The quotes from Derek Falvey after both signings ring quite similar. Perez's upside was always theoretical, founded on a brief bullpen stint and a lot of projection, unlike Bailey's fairly convincing stretch run which included impressive showings against the Yankees (twice) and Astros. Plus, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson now has a year of experience under his belt, whereas last year he was finding his way as a first-time MLB coach straight out of college. So there's more palpable reason for enthusiasm in Bailey's case. Still, one thing I can't get past is the lack of demand for either player on the open market. It wasn't terribly surprising that Perez got only one year and $3.5 million guaranteed, given his ugly 2018 season and the leap of faith being taken by Minnesota's front office in his case. But Bailey's late-season dominance in 2019 was on display for all to see. That splitter is no secret. He still couldn't get more than $7 million guaranteed, at a time where the hunger for quality starting pitching is ravenous? That's conspicuous. It doesn't mean the Twins are wrong to believe in Bailey, but clearly they're bigger believers than others – including the Athletics, who saw his prowess first-hand and didn't seemingly push too hard to retain him. After seeing Minnesota's ostensible "bargain" deals for Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison in 2018 prove to be anything but, there's a warranted wariness that comes along with these low-dollar one-year pacts. That sort of drives back to a general frustration with the team's continued lack of spending to address needs. It's not the money that matters, but what it represents: a willingness to aggressively pursue assets that are generating market demand. The signing announced in tandem with Bailey – Rich Hill for $3 million plus incentives – falls into the exact same basket. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Bailey turns into a quality mid-rotation starter for Minnesota, joining the stable that is already in place. He's likely to be an upgrade over Perez, but right now, that isn't the guy he's replacing. It's Kyle Gibson, who signed with Texas for $30 million, for three years, early in the offseason. (Market demand.) It's Gibson's spot the Twins should now be seeking to upgrade, and hopefully in a very significant way. As enticing a proposition for late-season impact as Hill might be, the 40-year-old shouldn't be viewed as more than a wild-card factor. There's still work left to do, and if the flexibility preserved by these budget-friendly signings is put to good use, the Bailey and Hill moves will look all the better in hindsight. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  3. NELSON CRUZ 2020 OPTION ACTIVATED This barely qualifies as news. Activating the ultra-reasonable $12 million club option on Cruz was a total no-brainer, and the club's intention had already been announced via media reports. Nevertheless, it's now official: Boomstick is back. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1191478991129055234 MARTIN PEREZ 2020 OPTION DECLINED Around the middle of May, the decision to activate Perez's team option in 2020 looked about as obvious Cruz's does now. Through his first eight starts he put up a 2.17 ERA, pairing a standout cutter with eye-catching fastball velocity, but it was all downhill from there. He posted a 6.17 ERA the rest of the way and was left off the ALDS roster. The Twins are exercising a $500,000 buyout on the southpaw's $7.5 million option for next year, so he'll enter free agency. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Perez coming back on a one-year deal as a reliever (lefty batters hit just .228/.291/.294 against him this year), but the Twins clearly need to aim higher for the rotation. QUALIFYING OFFER EXTENDED TO JAKE ODORIZZI Coming off a breakthrough season, Odorizzi is poised to hit the open market, but the Twins now have an inside track on retaining him. By making him one of 10 free agents to receive a qualifying offer, the Twins have placed the ball in Odorizzi's court – he can either accept a one-year deal worth $17.8 million, or reject it and negotiate with other teams. Should he sign elsewhere, Minnesota will receive valuable draft pick compensation. Should he find the market underwhelming with this stipulation, the Twins gain leverage as the only team that won't lose a pick by signing him. Carl Pavano's 2010-11 offseason exemplifies such a scenario. It really could go either way with Odorizzi. On the one hand, $17.8 million is a lot of money (especially for a guy who's made around $20 million total in his MLB career), and accepting the QO would enable him to hit free agency unencumbered next winter. On the other hand, he's coming off an All-Star season, and he's still under 30. This might be his best chance to shop himself and score a career-making payday. If his market isn't hot, I assume the Twins would be amenable to a longer deal that makes sense for both sides (we suggested three years, $36 million in the Offseason Handbook). Either outcome puts the team in a favorable position. Odorizzi has 10 days to decide. Michael Pineda was not extended a qualifying offer, so he'll head to free agency with no hindrance other than the 39-game ban carrying over from this year. STEPHEN GONSALVES CLAIMED BY METS Minnesota tried to sneak the lanky left-handed pitching prospect through waivers, but weren't so lucky. Though his entire 2019 season was basically washed out by elbow issues, Gonsalves – Twins Daily's No. 4 prospect as recently as spring of 2018 – has a 2.50 ERA and 9.6 K/9 rate in the minors. He showed some intriguing signs during an altogether inconspicuous MLB debut last year. It's a bummer to lose him for nothing. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1191477486204456960 But it's also not a shocking or controversial call by the front office. The elbow issues are concerning and likely to linger. Even beyond that, there have always been questions about the viability of his middling fastball against big-league hitters. Turning 26 next season, he isn't young by prospect standards. There's certainly a chance the Twins could live to regret this, but they can mitigate that risk by aggressively pursuing high-caliber arms to replace Gonsalves and his enduring promise. KOHL STEWART OUTRIGHTED, ELECTS FREE AGENCY And there goes one of the most painful busts in franchise history. Drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in 2013, at a time where the Twins desperately needed a transcendent pitcher to reverse their sagging fortunes, Stewart never developed into anything more than a mediocre sinkerballer, incapable of missing bats or consistently throwing strikes anywhere above rookie ball. He departs Minnesota with a 4.79 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 62 big-league innings. Stewart isn't totally hopeless. He's still only 25 and a very good athlete. His outstanding ability to induce grounders is a building-block skill. Maybe a change of scenery will turn him around but the Twins could no longer justify giving him a 40-man spot. CATCHING COORDINATOR POACHED BY YANKEES Amidst this flurry of roster maneuvering, it was a non-player personnel move that hit me hardest today. Per Zone Coverage's Brandon Warne, Twins catching coordinator Tanner Swanson is leaving the club to join the Yankees (UGH) as Major League Catching and Quality Control Coach. https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1191447014439043073 I've always heard good things about Swanson. My appreciation for him grew upon reading Parker's excellent spring training feature on his efforts to refine Mitch Garver's receiving technique, only to be crystallized as I saw those efforts pay off magnificently during the summer. Swanson is the real deal, and another tough loss in a young offseason that has already seen Minnesota lose hitting coach James Rowson and minor-league hitting coordinator Pete Fatse. If there's any silver lining to be found in this scavenging by rivals, it's that having baseball powerhouses like Boston and New York hiring out of your ranks says a lot about your eye for talent. The Twins' newly reassembled baseball ops unit is becoming a hotbed, and that's about the highest praise you could give Derek Falvey as he enters his third year on the job. (Speaking of which, let's us all just breathe a sigh of relief that Minnesota has evidently missed the biggest potential bullet: I wondered openly if the Red Sox would come calling on Falvey to replace fired GM Dave Dombrowski – turns out they did, and he said no.) How are you feeling about this smattering of moves to kick off Twins' offseason? Anything you'd have done differently? Sound off in the comments. And now an odd request from the Twins Daily community: if you found this page via Facebook, can you please add a comment telling us from which Facebook Page you followed it? It's getting quite a bit of traffic, and we would love to know who is sharing it. Thanks.
  4. The Minnesota Twins' offseason officially kicked off on Monday, with the club announcing several significant roster moves. Nelson Cruz will be back, Martin Perez will not (at least not on the same contract), and Jake Odorizzi faces a tough decision. Meanwhile, another key instructor was extracted by another (dreaded) team, and a pair of former top pitching prospects exited the organization. Read on for more detail on each of these developments as the Hot Stove begins to spark.NELSON CRUZ 2020 OPTION ACTIVATED This barely qualifies as news. Activating the ultra-reasonable $12 million club option on Cruz was a total no-brainer, and the club's intention had already been announced via media reports. Nevertheless, it's now official: Boomstick is back. I've always heard good things about Swanson. My appreciation for him grew upon reading Parker's excellent spring training feature on his efforts to refine Mitch Garver's receiving technique, only to be crystallized as I saw those efforts pay off magnificently during the summer. Swanson is the real deal, and another tough loss in a young offseason that has already seen Minnesota lose hitting coach James Rowson and minor-league hitting coordinator Pete Fatse. If there's any silver lining to be found in this scavenging by rivals, it's that having baseball powerhouses like Boston and New York hiring out of your ranks says a lot about your eye for talent. The Twins' newly reassembled baseball ops unit is becoming a hotbed, and that's about the highest praise you could give Derek Falvey as he enters his third year on the job. (Speaking of which, let's us all just breathe a sigh of relief that Minnesota has evidently missed the biggest potential bullet: I wondered openly if the Red Sox would come calling on Falvey to replace fired GM Dave Dombrowski – turns out they did, and he said no.) How are you feeling about this smattering of moves to kick off Twins' offseason? Anything you'd have done differently? Sound off in the comments. And now an odd request from the Twins Daily community: if you found this page via Facebook, can you please add a comment telling us from which Facebook Page you followed it? It's getting quite a bit of traffic, and we would love to know who is sharing it. Thanks. Click here to view the article
  5. Jake Odorizzi has been one of the Twins best starting pitchers this season, and will definitely have a huge role in these upcoming playoffs. Rocco Baldelli has said he has a rotation basically set, but is not releasing it yet so I took a look at when Jake should be pitching to maximize his potential for success. Here is the good and the bad for him pitching game one, two, or three.Game One The good: Jake Odorizzi has simply been the Twins best starting pitcher since the beginning of August. If you want the hot hand going in to pitch game one without considering other statistics like his stats in New York, then Jake is probably your guy. Here is each starter since August. Jake Odorizzi (50.1 IP) 3.04 ERA 2.16 FIP 4.06 K/BB Jose Berrios (58.2 IP) 5.83 ERA 4.44 FIP 2.95 K/BB Randy Dobnak (19.1 IP) 1.86 ERA 2.80 FIP 3.20 K/BB Martin Perez (54.1 IP) 6.63 ERA 5.61 FIP 1.81 K/BB Odorizzi has also accumulated 2.1 WAR since the start of August and that is good for sixth in baseball during that time period. He has definitely been the Twins best starter of late and maybe that will get him the game one start. The bad: Over his career (2012-2019), Jake Odorizzi has not been good in Yankee Stadium. In 46.2 innings in New York, Odorizzi has a 5.40 ERA, 5.82 FIP, and a 2.3 HR/9. The worst HR/9 from anyone in baseball this season is 1.9 from Matthew Boyd so a 0.4 jump from Odorizzi in New York is definitely not good. Plus you may not have noticed but the Yankees hit the second most home runs of all time this season so the matchup with Odorizzi isn’t exactly appealing for the Twins. Game Two The good: There isn’t much reasoning to starting him in game two, but at least this would mean you get your top two pitchers in the first two games despite the stadium statistics. To counter the statistics on the road or at home against the Yankees, he actually reversed the curve this season. When he faced the Yankees at home this year he went four innings, giving up nine hits and 10 earned runs and when he pitched in New York he went six shutout innings. Maybe he exorcised some New York City demons this year, and deserves a start there. The bad: If the Twins plan on letting him get a start in one of the first two games, it should be in game one so he can at least pitch again in game five if need be. For me personally, if he isn’t going to be the game one pitcher and the Twins want to go with Jose Berrios, then push Odorizzi to game three at home. It may all depend on the results of game one, but I doubt that is how Baldelli will set up his rotation. Let Dobnak take game two. Game Three The good: Odorizzi has been slightly better at home this season with a 3.42 ERA compared to a 3.62 road ERA. Also, when he has faced the Yankees away from New York he has 52.2 IP, a 4.10 ERA, 4.23 FIP, and 1.4 HR/9 in his career which is a full home run lower than when he is in New York (stupid right field porch). Jake Odorizzi is a fly ball pitcher who allowed the sixth most fly balls (44.3%) in baseball this season so Target Field suits him better than the little league stadium in New York. The bad: If you wait until game three to pitch Odorizzi, then you will definitely only get him for one game in the series and you risk being down 2-0 in the series because you waited on pitching one of your better pitchers. Personally I would take that risk and wait for game three where you can maximize his potential for a good game. Hoping for Berrios or Dobnak to pitch well enough to take a game in New York shouldn’t be too much to ask. What do you think? What should the rotation look like? Leave a comment below and discuss. Click here to view the article
  6. Game One The good: Jake Odorizzi has simply been the Twins best starting pitcher since the beginning of August. If you want the hot hand going in to pitch game one without considering other statistics like his stats in New York, then Jake is probably your guy. Here is each starter since August. Jake Odorizzi (50.1 IP) 3.04 ERA 2.16 FIP 4.06 K/BB Jose Berrios (58.2 IP) 5.83 ERA 4.44 FIP 2.95 K/BB Randy Dobnak (19.1 IP) 1.86 ERA 2.80 FIP 3.20 K/BB Martin Perez (54.1 IP) 6.63 ERA 5.61 FIP 1.81 K/BB Odorizzi has also accumulated 2.1 WAR since the start of August and that is good for sixth in baseball during that time period. He has definitely been the Twins best starter of late and maybe that will get him the game one start. The bad: Over his career (2012-2019), Jake Odorizzi has not been good in Yankee Stadium. In 46.2 innings in New York, Odorizzi has a 5.40 ERA, 5.82 FIP, and a 2.3 HR/9. The worst HR/9 from anyone in baseball this season is 1.9 from Matthew Boyd so a 0.4 jump from Odorizzi in New York is definitely not good. Plus you may not have noticed but the Yankees hit the second most home runs of all time this season so the matchup with Odorizzi isn’t exactly appealing for the Twins. Game Two The good: There isn’t much reasoning to starting him in game two, but at least this would mean you get your top two pitchers in the first two games despite the stadium statistics. To counter the statistics on the road or at home against the Yankees, he actually reversed the curve this season. When he faced the Yankees at home this year he went four innings, giving up nine hits and 10 earned runs and when he pitched in New York he went six shutout innings. Maybe he exorcised some New York City demons this year, and deserves a start there. The bad: If the Twins plan on letting him get a start in one of the first two games, it should be in game one so he can at least pitch again in game five if need be. For me personally, if he isn’t going to be the game one pitcher and the Twins want to go with Jose Berrios, then push Odorizzi to game three at home. It may all depend on the results of game one, but I doubt that is how Baldelli will set up his rotation. Let Dobnak take game two. Game Three The good: Odorizzi has been slightly better at home this season with a 3.42 ERA compared to a 3.62 road ERA. Also, when he has faced the Yankees away from New York he has 52.2 IP, a 4.10 ERA, 4.23 FIP, and 1.4 HR/9 in his career which is a full home run lower than when he is in New York (stupid right field porch). Jake Odorizzi is a fly ball pitcher who allowed the sixth most fly balls (44.3%) in baseball this season so Target Field suits him better than the little league stadium in New York. The bad: If you wait until game three to pitch Odorizzi, then you will definitely only get him for one game in the series and you risk being down 2-0 in the series because you waited on pitching one of your better pitchers. Personally I would take that risk and wait for game three where you can maximize his potential for a good game. Hoping for Berrios or Dobnak to pitch well enough to take a game in New York shouldn’t be too much to ask. What do you think? What should the rotation look like? Leave a comment below and discuss.
  7. The final game of the regular season came right down to the end, but unfortunately the Royals won it by a score of 5-4 on a walk off sacrifice fly. After 162 regular season games, the Twins finished with a 101-61 record and an AL Central title. Oh by the way, THE HOME RUN RECORD BELONGS TO THE TWINS. The Yankees hit one, but the Twins hit three and now the all time record belongs to the team in Minnesota.Box Score Perez: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 62% strikes (63 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cron (25), Cave (8), Castro (13) Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Brusdar Graterol (-.358), Lewis Thorpe (-.340), Jonathan Schoop (-.117) Ehire Adrianza (manager) knows how to make a home run lineup. Rookie manager Ehire Adrianza put together the final lineup of the regular season and they got off to a hot start. The game started with the Twins trailing New York by one in the home run race, but the Twins had something to say about that. The first inning had a pulled home run from C.J. Cron at 115.6 MPH (22nd hardest hit ball in the majors) and then Cave hit an opposite field home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Martin Perez shows some encouraging signs for the playoffs. The playoffs begin on Friday and I think Perez should make the team (don’t ask @Matthew_bTwins on Twitter if Perez should make it). He is excellent against left handed hitters (.233/.292/.301) and the playoffs will be a good time for him to come in and get a few lefties out. He did not have that bad of a start today, going nearly six innings and allowing three runs. Kyle Gibson came on in relief in the middle of an inning thanks to a smart pitching change from rookie manager Arraez. He came in and struck out the lone batter he faced in what was his final audition for a playoff spot. He and Martin Perez will be two of the most interesting decisions made this week. Kohl Stewart took over in the seventh inning. He will not make the playoff roster. Despite that, he pitched an excellent seventh inning that took a total of four pitches to finish off with a 4-3 lead. Royals take the lead and win in the final innings In a game loaded with playoff auditions, Lewis Thorpe did not have an excellent outing. The eighth inning started with a leadoff triple from Hunter Dozier which was followed by an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn. Thorpe would go on to strike out the next hitter but was then pulled for Fernando Romero. It started to seem like Adrianza’s job was on the line unless he could pull out a win. Luckily for Ehire, Fernando Romero got the next two guys to keep the game tied but the managerial job definitely wasn’t safe at this point. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brusdar Graterol gave up a double and a single which eventually led to a game-ending walk-off sacrifice fly to cap off the 2019 regular season. I’m hearing rumors that Adrianza is being removed as manager The home run record belongs to the Minnesota Twins The Twins were able to barely pull out the home run title in the final game, hitting 307 total bombas while the Yankees finished with 306. Who would have thought Jason Castro would be the guy to set the record? That means Garver (catcher) broke the original record and now Castro (also catcher) broke the final record. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  8. Box Score Perez: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 62% strikes (63 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cron (25), Cave (8), Castro (13) Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Brusdar Graterol (-.358), Lewis Thorpe (-.340), Jonathan Schoop (-.117) Ehire Adrianza (manager) knows how to make a home run lineup. Rookie manager Ehire Adrianza put together the final lineup of the regular season and they got off to a hot start. The game started with the Twins trailing New York by one in the home run race, but the Twins had something to say about that. The first inning had a pulled home run from C.J. Cron at 115.6 MPH (22nd hardest hit ball in the majors) and then Cave hit an opposite field home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Martin Perez shows some encouraging signs for the playoffs. The playoffs begin on Friday and I think Perez should make the team (don’t ask @Matthew_bTwins on Twitter if Perez should make it). He is excellent against left handed hitters (.233/.292/.301) and the playoffs will be a good time for him to come in and get a few lefties out. He did not have that bad of a start today, going nearly six innings and allowing three runs. Kyle Gibson came on in relief in the middle of an inning thanks to a smart pitching change from rookie manager Arraez. He came in and struck out the lone batter he faced in what was his final audition for a playoff spot. He and Martin Perez will be two of the most interesting decisions made this week. Kohl Stewart took over in the seventh inning. He will not make the playoff roster. Despite that, he pitched an excellent seventh inning that took a total of four pitches to finish off with a 4-3 lead. Royals take the lead and win in the final innings In a game loaded with playoff auditions, Lewis Thorpe did not have an excellent outing. The eighth inning started with a leadoff triple from Hunter Dozier which was followed by an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn. Thorpe would go on to strike out the next hitter but was then pulled for Fernando Romero. It started to seem like Adrianza’s job was on the line unless he could pull out a win. Luckily for Ehire, Fernando Romero got the next two guys to keep the game tied but the managerial job definitely wasn’t safe at this point. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brusdar Graterol gave up a double and a single which eventually led to a game-ending walk-off sacrifice fly to cap off the 2019 regular season. I’m hearing rumors that Adrianza is being removed as manager The home run record belongs to the Minnesota Twins The Twins were able to barely pull out the home run title in the final game, hitting 307 total bombas while the Yankees finished with 306. Who would have thought Jason Castro would be the guy to set the record? That means Garver (catcher) broke the original record and now Castro (also catcher) broke the final record. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1178436363315601408 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  9. The magic number is three! In a game where more questions about the strating pitching were surfaced rather than answered, the Twins were still able to pull out the win to go along with a series win. The bullpen was excellent once again despite having to go nearly seven innings, Miguel Sano hit two bombs, and Nelson Cruz joined an exclusive home run club.Box Score Perez: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 73% strikes (38 of 52 pitches) Bullpen: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 14 K Home Runs: Cruz (40), Sano (33, 34) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-3), Rosario (3-for-4), Gonzalez (2-for-4), Sano (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Miguel Sano (0.25), Eddie Rosario (0.24), Nelson Cruz (0.14) Bottom 3 WPA: Martin Perez (-0.26), Mitch Garver (-0.09), Jason Castro (-0.03) Both starting pitchers have abysmal starts. Martin Perez vs Jorge Lopez was never advertised as a pitching duel and somehow it was still about as disappointing as it could have possibly been. The Twins scored six runs (touchdown) in the first inning but couldn’t get the seventh run across (something Vikings fans know all about). Three straight hits from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario drove in the first run, then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI single drove in another to bring Miguel Sano to the plate. He crushed a ball 133.8 MPH to left field and the Twins were up 5-0. The Twins would go on to score one more thanks to a Jake Cave RBI single, and Martin Perez was given an early 6-0 lead to work with. It did not go well. He gave up two runs in the next inning from a Nick Dini home run but things really got messy in the third. Four hits in the next five batters from Lopez, Soler, Dozier, and Cuthbert cut the lead to 6-5 and Perez was pulled for Zack Littell who came in and shut the door. Twins bullpen shuts the door as the offense slowly pads the lead Luckily for Martin Perez, the Twins have an elite bullpen and a historic offense to pick up the slack. Zack Littell came in for 1 1/3 innings, followed by another great inning where Tyler Duffey struck out the side. May and Stashak each covered an inning after that and both once again looked good. Not surprisingly, Tyler Duffey ranks seventh in AL swinging strike percentage since the All-Star break and Stashak also is in the top ten at number eight. The offense didn’t stop after their six-run first inning, erupting for double digits in this one. Miguel Sano hit his second bomb of the night in the third inning. Since the All-Star break, Miguel Sano has the third most home runs (20), trailing only Jorge Soler (22) and teammate Nelson Cruz (23). Nelson Cruz actually added to his lead in that category in the fourth inning when he hit his 40th home run of the season! It’s not easy to out-homer your age when you are 39 but he did it nonetheless. He also joined just 57 previous players by hitting his 400th home run in his career. The Twins continued to add on with two runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh inning. RBIs from Eddie Rosario, Marwin Gonzalez came in both of those two innings. Rosario had two RBI doubles and Marwin had an RBI single and a bases- loaded walk. Graterol and Romo close it out to cut the magic number to three games. Brusdar Graterol came in for the eighth inning and continued to audition for a playoff role by striking out the side. He actually threw more sliders (7) than fastballs (3) this outing which is something we have not seen from him. If he is throwing 100 MPH heat with a working slider then nobody is hitting him. Fernando Romero came in for the ninth but was lifted after issuing three walks in a six-run game. He was replaced by Sergio Romo who was able to finish the game after walking in two runs. The Royals brought the tying run to the plate with like 34 walks in the final inning, but the Twins have cut the magic number to three! Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  10. Box Score Perez: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 73% strikes (38 of 52 pitches) Bullpen: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 14 K Home Runs: Cruz (40), Sano (33, 34) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-3), Rosario (3-for-4), Gonzalez (2-for-4), Sano (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Miguel Sano (0.25), Eddie Rosario (0.24), Nelson Cruz (0.14) Bottom 3 WPA: Martin Perez (-0.26), Mitch Garver (-0.09), Jason Castro (-0.03) Both starting pitchers have abysmal starts. Martin Perez vs Jorge Lopez was never advertised as a pitching duel and somehow it was still about as disappointing as it could have possibly been. The Twins scored six runs (touchdown) in the first inning but couldn’t get the seventh run across (something Vikings fans know all about). Three straight hits from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario drove in the first run, then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI single drove in another to bring Miguel Sano to the plate. He crushed a ball 133.8 MPH to left field and the Twins were up 5-0. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1175845330329489409?s=20 The Twins would go on to score one more thanks to a Jake Cave RBI single, and Martin Perez was given an early 6-0 lead to work with. It did not go well. He gave up two runs in the next inning from a Nick Dini home run but things really got messy in the third. Four hits in the next five batters from Lopez, Soler, Dozier, and Cuthbert cut the lead to 6-5 and Perez was pulled for Zack Littell who came in and shut the door. Twins bullpen shuts the door as the offense slowly pads the lead Luckily for Martin Perez, the Twins have an elite bullpen and a historic offense to pick up the slack. Zack Littell came in for 1 1/3 innings, followed by another great inning where Tyler Duffey struck out the side. May and Stashak each covered an inning after that and both once again looked good. Not surprisingly, Tyler Duffey ranks seventh in AL swinging strike percentage since the All-Star break and Stashak also is in the top ten at number eight. The offense didn’t stop after their six-run first inning, erupting for double digits in this one. Miguel Sano hit his second bomb of the night in the third inning. Since the All-Star break, Miguel Sano has the third most home runs (20), trailing only Jorge Soler (22) and teammate Nelson Cruz (23). Nelson Cruz actually added to his lead in that category in the fourth inning when he hit his 40th home run of the season! It’s not easy to out-homer your age when you are 39 but he did it nonetheless. He also joined just 57 previous players by hitting his 400th home run in his career. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1175871469580095489?s=20 The Twins continued to add on with two runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh inning. RBIs from Eddie Rosario, Marwin Gonzalez came in both of those two innings. Rosario had two RBI doubles and Marwin had an RBI single and a bases- loaded walk. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1175879329970102273?s=20 Graterol and Romo close it out to cut the magic number to three games. Brusdar Graterol came in for the eighth inning and continued to audition for a playoff role by striking out the side. He actually threw more sliders (7) than fastballs (3) this outing which is something we have not seen from him. If he is throwing 100 MPH heat with a working slider then nobody is hitting him. Fernando Romero came in for the ninth but was lifted after issuing three walks in a six-run game. He was replaced by Sergio Romo who was able to finish the game after walking in two runs. The Royals brought the tying run to the plate with like 34 walks in the final inning, but the Twins have cut the magic number to three! Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  11. Kyle Gibson W-L 13-7, 4.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 151 K, 50 BB, 155.0 IP Minnesota used Kyle Gibson as a reliever on Sunday and things didn’t go exactly to plan. He entered the game after Fernando Romero had already put multiple runners on base and then Gibson surrendered a three-run home run. Only one of the earned runs was charged to Gibson, but the big hit came when he was pitching. One of the bigger issues for Gibson are the health issues he has been battling for most of the season. In spring training, he was also diagnosed with E. coli that he contracted while doing mission work during the off-season. He entered camp around 200 pounds, which is down about 15 pounds from his desired weight. Recently, he returned from the 10-day IL after missing time because of ulcerative colitis. Gibson struggles when batters get repeated looks at him in the same game, especially for the third time. His first time through the batting order he has held batters to a .248/.315/.376 (.691) slash line with a 63 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio. His third time through the line-up results in batters hitting .333/.386/.558 (.944) with eight of his 22 homers allowed coming in this situation. Martin Perez W-L 10-7, 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 125 K, 64 BB, 152.2 IP Perez didn’t even start the year in Minnesota’s rotation, but he was a breath of fresh air when he was added to the rotation in mid-April. From April 15-May 23, he looked like one of the best pitchers in the league as he posted a 2.17 ERA and held batters to a .644 OPS. His cut fastball was a revelation and it helped him to strike out 44 batters in eight games. He looked like a candidate for the All-Star Game and it certainly seemed like Minnesota had made something out of nothing. In his 18 starts since May 23, Perez has not looked like the same pitcher. His cut fastball, that had been his bread and butter during his hot start, has not looked the same. He has allowed more than a hit per inning and he’s only managed 69 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings. With 16 home runs allowed, he has surrendered nearly a home run per appearance. Right-handed batters have compiled an .817 OPS against him throughout the year. This isn’t good news for the Twins that will be facing the Yankees or the Astros in the ALDS and both clubs are very right-hand heavy. Only New York and Houston have higher OPS totals than Minnesota this year so there doesn’t seem like a scenario where Perez would be asked to see their line-up multiple times in the same game. Bullpen Game After Friday night’s botched rainout, the Twins were left no available starting pitchers for Saturday’s doubleheader. This left the team with a unique strategic situation and a full September roster of bullpen arms. In Game 1, the Twins were able to shut out the Indians behind three innings from Devin Smeltzer and more than one inning from Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers. During Game 2, Lewis Thorpe was the lone pitcher to surrender any runs as he struggled with command throughout his appearance. Cody Stashak and Trevor May joined the shutout crew from Game 1, but the most impressive appearance was from 21-year old Brusdar Graterol. Over two innings, he was regularly sitting in triple-digits with his fastball and this pitch had more movement than any of his other big-league appearances. Add in a strong slider and he looked lights out. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1173231000123559939?s=20 During last year’s playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers used a bold strategy as they used Wade Miley as the starter and he only pitched to one batter. Manager Craig Counsell was hoping the Dodgers would load their line-up with left-handed hitters and then the Brewers quickly switched to a left-handed pitcher. Teams are likely more aware of this type of strategy, but it is something a team could try during October, especially one like the Twins with few starting pitching options. What strategy do you think the Twins would use in Game 3 of the ALDS? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  12. On a night when the offense couldn’t catch a break the Twins were, somewhat surprisingly, carried by Martin Perez and the Polanco-less defense. Perez outshines Eovaldi, the defense saves the day, and the Twins win the rubber match 2-1 over the Red Sox.Box Score Perez: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 70.0% strikes (49 of 70 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Perez (.242), Rogers (.226), Duffey (.151) Bottom 3 WPA: Cruz (-.172), Cron (-.161), Kepler (-.152) Martin Perez starts strong in September, Bullpen holds the lead Hopefully tonight was a sign of things to come for Perez. Through four innings Perez had a strike percentage of 82 percent and had induced just three hard hits as defined by Baseball Savant. If it wasn’t for a fluke home run by Mookie Betts, which had an xBA of .250, he would have pitched four perfect innings using fewer than than 40 pitches. Things started to unravel a bit in sixth inning when Perez lost control of the strike zone, allowed a rocket double to Betts off the Green Monster, followed by a Bogaerts walk and an errant pick-off attempt before escaping the inning without giving up a run. After just 70 pitches and six innings from Perez, the bullpen took over. As has been the case since the All-Star break, the bullpen was dominant, sending May and Duffey to shut down the seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Romo and Rogers teaming up to close out the ninth. Despite good contact, offense does just enough to reward Perez Throughout the evening the Twins expected batting average was hovering right around the .300 mark, per Baseball Savant, but ultimately ended the night batting .077. That should tell you how well they actually hit the ball tonight but were just the victims of some bad luck. Loading the bases twice resulted in just two runs and they hit into four double plays, their seventh in the last two games, despite Cron’s batted balls having an xBA of .550 and .480. Per BaseballReference, this was the fourth time in Twins history and 11th time in franchise history they won a game with only two hits and zero homeruns. Defense picks up offense, for a change It’s no secret that the defense has been struggling for a while after looking great at the beginning of the year. Outside of the errant throw from Perez, which did not lead to a run, the Twins defense shined in a game the offense needed the “pick me up”. In the second and third innings, Sano made two plays at third base that could have easily been hits. Cron made a nice diving play on a ball that was awkwardly hit just short of first base and barely in foul territory. Jake Cave robbed an extra-base hit from Chirstian Vazquez in the seventh which had a catch probability of 25 percent, per the FSN broadcast. Everything was capped off on the final play of the game when Eddie Rosario threw out Rafael Devers, the tying run, after Martinez hit a ball high off the Green Monster. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  13. Box Score Perez: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 70.0% strikes (49 of 70 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Perez (.242), Rogers (.226), Duffey (.151) Bottom 3 WPA: Cruz (-.172), Cron (-.161), Kepler (-.152) Martin Perez starts strong in September, Bullpen holds the lead Hopefully tonight was a sign of things to come for Perez. Through four innings Perez had a strike percentage of 82 percent and had induced just three hard hits as defined by Baseball Savant. If it wasn’t for a fluke home run by Mookie Betts, which had an xBA of .250, he would have pitched four perfect innings using fewer than than 40 pitches. Things started to unravel a bit in sixth inning when Perez lost control of the strike zone, allowed a rocket double to Betts off the Green Monster, followed by a Bogaerts walk and an errant pick-off attempt before escaping the inning without giving up a run. After just 70 pitches and six innings from Perez, the bullpen took over. As has been the case since the All-Star break, the bullpen was dominant, sending May and Duffey to shut down the seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Romo and Rogers teaming up to close out the ninth. Despite good contact, offense does just enough to reward Perez Throughout the evening the Twins expected batting average was hovering right around the .300 mark, per Baseball Savant, but ultimately ended the night batting .077. That should tell you how well they actually hit the ball tonight but were just the victims of some bad luck. Loading the bases twice resulted in just two runs and they hit into four double plays, their seventh in the last two games, despite Cron’s batted balls having an xBA of .550 and .480. Per BaseballReference, this was the fourth time in Twins history and 11th time in franchise history they won a game with only two hits and zero homeruns. Defense picks up offense, for a change It’s no secret that the defense has been struggling for a while after looking great at the beginning of the year. Outside of the errant throw from Perez, which did not lead to a run, the Twins defense shined in a game the offense needed the “pick me up”. In the second and third innings, Sano made two plays at third base that could have easily been hits. Cron made a nice diving play on a ball that was awkwardly hit just short of first base and barely in foul territory. Jake Cave robbed an extra-base hit from Chirstian Vazquez in the seventh which had a catch probability of 25 percent, per the FSN broadcast. Everything was capped off on the final play of the game when Eddie Rosario threw out Rafael Devers, the tying run, after Martinez hit a ball high off the Green Monster. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1169794843779973122 Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  14. Box Score Perez: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) Bullpen: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (26), Kepler (36), Polanco (20), Cron (24), Cruz (34) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB), Polanco (2-for-4, HR, BB), Cruz (2-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-3, HR, BB) Bottom 3 WPA: Perez -.519, Sano -.079, Rosario -.056 Martin Perez came into this start with some positive momentum. He’d pitched to a 2.12 ERA in his previous three outings, though he had also walked nine batters in 17 innings. Still, a matchup against Detroit seemed to be the perfect opportunity to keep that positive momentum rolling. It did not end up going that direction. In fact, Perez had his worst start as a Twin. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while recording just eight outs. Again, this is by far the worst hitting team in baseball the Twins were facing tonight. Detroit scored seven runs in the third inning, the most the Twins have surrendered in any single frame all season. Ehire Adrianza played some disgusting defense out in right field that contributed to that inning. Still … worst hitting team in baseball. Ah, but there were bombas. Those sweet, sweet bombas that allowed the Twins media staff to completely ignore the results of the game and gush about all the records that fell. The Twins hit six home runs tonight; two from Mitch Garver one each from Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz. They set the MLB single-season home run record with 268 bombas. Polanco’s tater gave the Twins eight players with 20 or more homers, a new record. Garver’s blasts gave the Twins 39 homers from their catchers this year, also a new record. It would have been a lot more fun if all those milestones were reached in a victory. It’s been a fun journey leading up to all those accomplishments, of course, but losing to the worst team in baseball leaves a terrible aftertaste on what should have been a delicious evening. At least Cleveland lost. In celebration of the Twins breaking the home run record, Cooper shared the 10 biggest Twins home runs this season as ranked by WPA. Make sure to go check that out for some fun reminiscing on what’s been a fantastic season. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. One More Thing ... "Up yours Anthony." -Bert Blyleven https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1167978806537310209
  15. What was that? The Detroit Tigers have averaged an MLB-low 3.59 runs per game. They scored a total of three runs in their most recent series against Cleveland. A lineup that had zero hitters carrying an OPS above league average managed to beat the Twins, the greatest home run hitting team of all time, 10-7 Saturday.Box Score Perez: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) Bullpen: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (26), Kepler (36), Polanco (20), Cron (24), Cruz (34) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB), Polanco (2-for-4, HR, BB), Cruz (2-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-3, HR, BB) Bottom 3 WPA: Perez -.519, Sano -.079, Rosario -.056 Martin Perez came into this start with some positive momentum. He’d pitched to a 2.12 ERA in his previous three outings, though he had also walked nine batters in 17 innings. Still, a matchup against Detroit seemed to be the perfect opportunity to keep that positive momentum rolling. It did not end up going that direction. In fact, Perez had his worst start as a Twin. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while recording just eight outs. Again, this is by far the worst hitting team in baseball the Twins were facing tonight. Detroit scored seven runs in the third inning, the most the Twins have surrendered in any single frame all season. Ehire Adrianza played some disgusting defense out in right field that contributed to that inning. Still … worst hitting team in baseball. Ah, but there were bombas. Those sweet, sweet bombas that allowed the Twins media staff to completely ignore the results of the game and gush about all the records that fell. The Twins hit six home runs tonight; two from Mitch Garver one each from Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz. They set the MLB single-season home run record with 268 bombas. Polanco’s tater gave the Twins eight players with 20 or more homers, a new record. Garver’s blasts gave the Twins 39 homers from their catchers this year, also a new record. It would have been a lot more fun if all those milestones were reached in a victory. It’s been a fun journey leading up to all those accomplishments, of course, but losing to the worst team in baseball leaves a terrible aftertaste on what should have been a delicious evening. At least Cleveland lost. In celebration of the Twins breaking the home run record, Cooper shared the 10 biggest Twins home runs this season as ranked by WPA. Make sure to go check that out for some fun reminiscing on what’s been a fantastic season. Postgame With Baldelli Click here to view the article
  16. Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3SdwRv9Gy1NmD60122nGAP?context=spotify%3Ashow%3A6i0VQTvQS0kuDFRW5rjWRH&si=NX49etnRSruflqFUmNCIfw Time stamps: 1:40 Reviewing this successful week 9:20 Discussing the division lead 23:00 Rotation struggling 29:30 Wait...the bullpen is good? 34:45 injury news (Gibson/Buxton) 37:20 Fan questions! Which Sept call ups make postseason? How does your playoff rotation look? Predict the 2020 rotation Which Twins player would you spend a day at the fair with? 58:50 Did Martin Perez do his job? 69:00 Minor League awards but Matt gets mad at me for having fun 74:00 Looking ahead 80:00 Most fun thing to write about this year In this link you can find the Spotify audio of the podcast. https://open.spotify.com/episode/3SdwRv9Gy1NmD60122nGAP?context=spotify%3Ashow%3A6i0VQTvQS0kuDFRW5rjWRH&si=NX49etnRSruflqFUmNCIfw Please be sure to let us know what you think, whether it’s a question, you disagree with us, or anything else by commenting on this post or heading over to our Twitter accounts below Cooper: Carlson_MnTwins Matt: Matthew_bTwins
  17. Matt and Cooper discuss how the playoff race is shaping up for the Twins, the impact of the recent September call-ups, and answer fan questions while still remaining the most sarcastic duo known to man.Podcast: https://open.spotify...RSruflqFUmNCIfw Time stamps: 1:40 Reviewing this successful week 9:20 Discussing the division lead 23:00 Rotation struggling 29:30 Wait...the bullpen is good? 34:45 injury news (Gibson/Buxton) 37:20 Fan questions! Which Sept call ups make postseason?How does your playoff rotation look?Predict the 2020 rotationWhich Twins player would you spend a day at the fair with?58:50 Did Martin Perez do his job? 69:00 Minor League awards but Matt gets mad at me for having fun 74:00 Looking ahead 80:00 Most fun thing to write about this year In this link you can find the Spotify audio of the podcast. https://open.spotify...RSruflqFUmNCIfw Please be sure to let us know what you think, whether it’s a question, you disagree with us, or anything else by commenting on this post or heading over to our Twitter accounts below Cooper: Carlson_MnTwins Matt: Matthew_bTwins Click here to view the article
  18. Box Score Pérez: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 68% strikes (68 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K Home Runs: C.J. Cron (21), J.Schoop (18) Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Pérez .214, Garver .154, Schoop .101 Martín Pérez returned to Target Field after a very successful road trip in which he allowed just two runs in 11 innings. The bullpen and bats restricted Pérez to no decisions in both starts. The Twins allowed 8-of-9 leadoff batters to reach base in last night’s victory. On Sunday, Pérez surrendered just one. C.J. Cron assisted Pérez to his first win since before the All-Star break with a three-run blast in the fourth inning. Pérez twirled six strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Pérez has walked 3.8 batters-per-nine this year, but gave a free pass to just one hitter on Sunday. His cutter was extremely effective to right-handed batters, which is an important development after the pitch was dominant during the first half of the season, but not so during the middle part of the schedule. Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for Detroit and allowed seven runs in six innings. Jonathan Schoop had one of the four Twins’ hits, as he laced a two-run homer down the left field line in the sixth. The Twins lead the league in OPS against left-handed pitching (.885). Catcher Mitch Garver doubled off the wall in the third to improve his torrid numbers against lefties. Boyd walked five and struck Max Kepler with a pitch in the fourth. The Twins figure to see Boyd at least once more, as they have seven more head-to-head matchups with Detroit. They have scored 10 runs off him in two starts. Cody Stashak continued to be a reliable low-leverage arm out of the bullpen, pitching two innings of one-hit ball with a strikeout. He was helped out by an outstanding catch in left field by Jake Cave. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1165726211298848768 Lewis Thorpe entered in the ninth with less luck, surrendering three hits and two runs. Thorpe escaped the jam and finished the job. Stashak and Thorpe saved the arms of Rogers, Dyson and Romo. All of which will receive two days of much-needed rest. The Twins will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before facing Chicago for a three-game series against Lucas Giolito and the White Sox. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1165739378594828288 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  19. The Twins recovered after a poor performance on Friday to take the series from Detroit and finish the homestand with a 3-3 record. The 7-4 win increases their lead in the AL Central to 3 1/2 games, as Cleveland fell to Kansas City 9-8.Box Score Pérez: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 68% strikes (68 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K Home Runs: C.J. Cron (21), J.Schoop (18) Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Pérez .214, Garver .154, Schoop .101 Martín Pérez returned to Target Field after a very successful road trip in which he allowed just two runs in 11 innings. The bullpen and bats restricted Pérez to no decisions in both starts. The Twins allowed 8-of-9 leadoff batters to reach base in last night’s victory. On Sunday, Pérez surrendered just one. C.J. Cron assisted Pérez to his first win since before the All-Star break with a three-run blast in the fourth inning. Pérez twirled six strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Pérez has walked 3.8 batters-per-nine this year, but gave a free pass to just one hitter on Sunday. His cutter was extremely effective to right-handed batters, which is an important development after the pitch was dominant during the first half of the season, but not so during the middle part of the schedule. Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for Detroit and allowed seven runs in six innings. Jonathan Schoop had one of the four Twins’ hits, as he laced a two-run homer down the left field line in the sixth. The Twins lead the league in OPS against left-handed pitching (.885). Catcher Mitch Garver doubled off the wall in the third to improve his torrid numbers against lefties. Boyd walked five and struck Max Kepler with a pitch in the fourth. The Twins figure to see Boyd at least once more, as they have seven more head-to-head matchups with Detroit. They have scored 10 runs off him in two starts. Cody Stashak continued to be a reliable low-leverage arm out of the bullpen, pitching two innings of one-hit ball with a strikeout. He was helped out by an outstanding catch in left field by Jake Cave. Lewis Thorpe entered in the ninth with less luck, surrendering three hits and two runs. Thorpe escaped the jam and finished the job. Stashak and Thorpe saved the arms of Rogers, Dyson and Romo. All of which will receive two days of much-needed rest. The Twins will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before facing Chicago for a three-game series against Lucas Giolito and the White Sox. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  20. The Twins stayed as hot as the scorching weather today as they completed the sweep over the Texas Rangers. Martin Perez made his second straight good start and a huge triple from Jorge Polanco led the Twins to the 6-3 win. The division lead remains at 2.5 games and the Twins will host Chicago next.Box Score Perez: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 65% strikes (65 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Polanco .426, Castro .162, Gonzalez .130 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -172, Rosario -.134, Cave -.131 Lance Lynn does Lance Lynn things as Twins take early lead This game started with the narrative of Lance Lynn pitching against the Twins and Twins fans everywhere wanted to score 30 runs on this guy but he just reminded us of his tenure in Minnesota. The first two innings took him fifty seven pitches to get through and the laboring was caused by rough fielding all around from Texas. The Twins scored on him immediately on a Kepler walk, Sano single and then an RBI double from Marwin Gonzalez on a ball that had an expected batting average of .120 off the bat. A poorly played ball in left led to an early two-run lead for the Twins. Marwin continued his insane tear against Texas with this RBI double Martin Perez has his second straight solid start For the second straight start, Martin Perez was able to prove he can stay in that fifth spot in the rotation for now. He didn’t have his best control throughout the game, walking four guys and striking out just two while leaving seven on base, but he ultimately got the job done. He left his long-time home ballpark in line for the win and was noticeably ecstatic while leaving the mound for his last two innings. This will almost certainly be the last game he pitches in this stadium so it was good to see him pitching well. Texas comes back but Polanco gets the bit hit In the bottom of the seventh inning, Shin Soo Choo led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game at three and it wasn’t looking great for the Twins. In case you missed it, or you weren’t sure if it was a home run, this Indians announcer has you covered. The Twins bounced back in a huge way the next innings. After a single, double and walk to load the bases, Jorge Polanco came up huge with a bases-clearing triple to give the Twins a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. I decided to continue the new score keeping method on Twitter. Oh, here is the clutch triple. Romo and Rogers close out the sweep The Twins high-leverage relievers once again got the job done. Sergio Romo came in for the eighth, allowed a base runner, but ultimately walked off the mound with the lead and pumped up as always. Taylor Rogers came in for the ninth inning, gave up a couple of hits but ultimately got the save. The Twins completed the sweep over Texas and held on to their 2.5 game lead in the division. They will welcome the White Sox to Target Field for the next series. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  21. Box Score Perez: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 65% strikes (65 of 100 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Polanco .426, Castro .162, Gonzalez .130 Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -172, Rosario -.134, Cave -.131 Lance Lynn does Lance Lynn things as Twins take early lead This game started with the narrative of Lance Lynn pitching against the Twins and Twins fans everywhere wanted to score 30 runs on this guy but he just reminded us of his tenure in Minnesota. The first two innings took him fifty seven pitches to get through and the laboring was caused by rough fielding all around from Texas. The Twins scored on him immediately on a Kepler walk, Sano single and then an RBI double from Marwin Gonzalez on a ball that had an expected batting average of .120 off the bat. A poorly played ball in left led to an early two-run lead for the Twins. Marwin continued his insane tear against Texas with this RBI double https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1163170800901300224?s=21 Martin Perez has his second straight solid start For the second straight start, Martin Perez was able to prove he can stay in that fifth spot in the rotation for now. He didn’t have his best control throughout the game, walking four guys and striking out just two while leaving seven on base, but he ultimately got the job done. He left his long-time home ballpark in line for the win and was noticeably ecstatic while leaving the mound for his last two innings. This will almost certainly be the last game he pitches in this stadium so it was good to see him pitching well. Texas comes back but Polanco gets the bit hit In the bottom of the seventh inning, Shin Soo Choo led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game at three and it wasn’t looking great for the Twins. In case you missed it, or you weren’t sure if it was a home run, this Indians announcer has you covered. https://twitter.com/jlewfifty/status/1163206484139945984?s=21 The Twins bounced back in a huge way the next innings. After a single, double and walk to load the bases, Jorge Polanco came up huge with a bases-clearing triple to give the Twins a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. I decided to continue the new score keeping method on Twitter. https://twitter.com/carlson_mntwins/status/1163215469614120966?s=21 Oh, here is the clutch triple. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1163213212311068674?s=21 Romo and Rogers close out the sweep The Twins high-leverage relievers once again got the job done. Sergio Romo came in for the eighth, allowed a base runner, but ultimately walked off the mound with the lead and pumped up as always. Taylor Rogers came in for the ninth inning, gave up a couple of hits but ultimately got the save. The Twins completed the sweep over Texas and held on to their 2.5 game lead in the division. They will welcome the White Sox to Target Field for the next series. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  22. Earlier this month, the Twins had a few key players land on the IL, the most notable being Byron Buxton. Losing him definitely hurts more than anyone else on the team. But a key member of the rotation also went down around the same time but has since returned. How good has that pitcher been recently? Do the Twins have the depth to take the blow of him going down? How much can he do to help win the division? Keep reading to find out.In case you haven’t noticed, the Twins starting rotation has been a huge area of concern since August began. Jose Berrios has dropped off a bit, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson struggle with consistency and then the number five spot is a fight between Martin Perez and Devin Smeltzer with neither of them doing enough to secure a job. The most consistent and reliable starter recently is Michael Pineda, but he hit the IL as August began and since then the Twins rotation holds a 5.55 ERA, 5.16 FIP, 1.61 HR/9, and 3.94 BB/9. Ironically, the Twins lost a key starting pitcher just a couple days after they did not add a starting pitcher at the deadline. That was controversial to some, but that is for a different day. So the Twins came into August fighting for a division, needing all hands on deck, and a few key players, including Pineda, landed on the IL at the worst time. People seem to forget this, but Big Mike began the season with four excellent starts before he started to slow down in his first season back from TJ surgery. There was talk about a long term extension before fans wanted to DFA him during his bad period of starts. He was eventually placed on the IL for the first time as a sort of break/precaution to get him some rest. Since his return he had been lights out, holding a 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 4.4 K/BB, and .662 OPS against. The funny thing is that nobody really started talking about how good he has been until the start before the most recent, his second, IL stint. Michael Pineda had quietly been putting up ace numbers since the start of June. A lot of this success has come from his ability to limit walks. He is fourth in the American League with just a 4.4 BB% so keeping guys off the bases has been key for his success. This BB% isn’t even a career high, so maybe he can get even better in that area, which would certainly be impressive. With Cleveland steamrolling through every opponent they face at like a .900 winning percentage, the Twins will need Pineda to return from his stint on the IL and get back into the role he had. It seems as if he stabilizes the rotation every fifth day with a guaranteed quality start. He actually has the second most quality starts on the Twins, trailing only Berrios, so he is definitely reliable. If the playoffs began today, Pineda would likely be the number two starter for the Twins, taking on Gerrit Cole of the Astros ... that’s scary, but it’s the truth. A playoff rotation of Berrios/Pineda/Odorizzi isn’t flashy but hopefully it could get the job done. Overall, the weight on this entire starting staff has only gotten much heavier with the Indians catching the team and no help for the starting staff being added at the deadline. The front office showed they have confidence in this group to get it done in big games this year so let’s see Big Mike step in and prove the Twins are here to stay. The Indians didn’t have to face him in the most recent series, but if they really want to take the division from the Twins then they have to beat the healthy version of the Twins. After this season Pineda will become a free agent and you should not be surprised if he returns to the Twins on a short two-year deal. He has become a solid pitcher and with the Twins having only Berrios and Perez under control, expect the team to make a noticeable effort to keep Pineda around. Before Pineda was put on the IL the second time, it seemed as if he was getting better with every start. It will be crucial for the Twins division chances if he can come back on that same wave he had been riding. On that note, I wonder what he would look like surfing... back to baseball. Keep in mind this is still his first season after TJ surgery so his innings could be limited. The Twins definitely seem to have a plan in place to keep him around for the long haul this season with scheduled breaks or IL stints for him to rest his arm so hopefully fatigue or major injury do not become concerns. He should be returning to this rotation this week so hopefully he can make the group a whole lot more reliable than they have been lately. All five starters will need to contribute if the Twins want to take the division for the first time since 2010, and I expect Michael Pineda to be leading the rotation. Click here to view the article
  23. In case you haven’t noticed, the Twins starting rotation has been a huge area of concern since August began. Jose Berrios has dropped off a bit, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson struggle with consistency and then the number five spot is a fight between Martin Perez and Devin Smeltzer with neither of them doing enough to secure a job. The most consistent and reliable starter recently is Michael Pineda, but he hit the IL as August began and since then the Twins rotation holds a 5.55 ERA, 5.16 FIP, 1.61 HR/9, and 3.94 BB/9. Ironically, the Twins lost a key starting pitcher just a couple days after they did not add a starting pitcher at the deadline. That was controversial to some, but that is for a different day. So the Twins came into August fighting for a division, needing all hands on deck, and a few key players, including Pineda, landed on the IL at the worst time. People seem to forget this, but Big Mike began the season with four excellent starts before he started to slow down in his first season back from TJ surgery. There was talk about a long term extension before fans wanted to DFA him during his bad period of starts. He was eventually placed on the IL for the first time as a sort of break/precaution to get him some rest. Since his return he had been lights out, holding a 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 4.4 K/BB, and .662 OPS against. The funny thing is that nobody really started talking about how good he has been until the start before the most recent, his second, IL stint. Michael Pineda had quietly been putting up ace numbers since the start of June. A lot of this success has come from his ability to limit walks. He is fourth in the American League with just a 4.4 BB% so keeping guys off the bases has been key for his success. This BB% isn’t even a career high, so maybe he can get even better in that area, which would certainly be impressive. With Cleveland steamrolling through every opponent they face at like a .900 winning percentage, the Twins will need Pineda to return from his stint on the IL and get back into the role he had. It seems as if he stabilizes the rotation every fifth day with a guaranteed quality start. He actually has the second most quality starts on the Twins, trailing only Berrios, so he is definitely reliable. If the playoffs began today, Pineda would likely be the number two starter for the Twins, taking on Gerrit Cole of the Astros ... that’s scary, but it’s the truth. A playoff rotation of Berrios/Pineda/Odorizzi isn’t flashy but hopefully it could get the job done. Overall, the weight on this entire starting staff has only gotten much heavier with the Indians catching the team and no help for the starting staff being added at the deadline. The front office showed they have confidence in this group to get it done in big games this year so let’s see Big Mike step in and prove the Twins are here to stay. The Indians didn’t have to face him in the most recent series, but if they really want to take the division from the Twins then they have to beat the healthy version of the Twins. After this season Pineda will become a free agent and you should not be surprised if he returns to the Twins on a short two-year deal. He has become a solid pitcher and with the Twins having only Berrios and Perez under control, expect the team to make a noticeable effort to keep Pineda around. Before Pineda was put on the IL the second time, it seemed as if he was getting better with every start. It will be crucial for the Twins division chances if he can come back on that same wave he had been riding. On that note, I wonder what he would look like surfing... back to baseball. Keep in mind this is still his first season after TJ surgery so his innings could be limited. The Twins definitely seem to have a plan in place to keep him around for the long haul this season with scheduled breaks or IL stints for him to rest his arm so hopefully fatigue or major injury do not become concerns. He should be returning to this rotation this week so hopefully he can make the group a whole lot more reliable than they have been lately. All five starters will need to contribute if the Twins want to take the division for the first time since 2010, and I expect Michael Pineda to be leading the rotation.
  24. When the Twins first signed Martin Perez, I was one of the people that was on board with this being a good signing, and during the first two months of his Twins tenure, he looked like an excellent addition to the starting rotation. However, in light of how Perez has pitched over the past two months, and given the sense of urgency the Twins are suddenly under, it might be best for them to find a new role for Perez, outside of the starting rotation. This could be a hard move for the Twins front office to make, as it would removing the one addition they made to the starting rotation this past winter, and that’s okay, but now is not the time for pride, now is the time to put the team in the best position to succeed for the stretch run. So, the question still remains, should the Twins take Perez out of the starting rotation? To answer that question, first we should take a look at what has caused Perez to fall off the map after his great start to the season. We will start by looking at the usually obvious culprit, velocity, specifically with his fastball. Perez is a fastball-heavy pitcher, who uses three fastball variations, a cutter, a sinker, and a four-seamer, which make up 73.1 percent of the pitches he has thrown this year. This makes Perez’s velocity an especially important part of his ability to pitch well. Below are a couple of charts, courtesy of Baseball Savant, featuring the month to month average velocity of Perez’s three different fastballs. The chart on the left conveys the decline in velocity that Perez has experienced in both his sinker and four-seamer, while the chart on the right illustrates the increase in velocity Perez has experienced with his cutter as the season has progressed. Now let’s compare those charts to the how hitters have hit each of those pitches this season, again on a month to month bases. Again, the chart on the left features Perez’s sinker and four-seamer, while the chart on the right features Perez’s cutter. This time, these charts show the wOBA Perez has allowed with each of these pitches on a month to month basis in 2019. By comparing these charts, we can gather some valuable information. First, the changes in velocity don’t seem to be having a great effect on Perez’s performance, at least not on his sinker and cutter, which make up just over 75 percent of the fastballs that he throws. Despite the decrease in sinker velocity, Perez’s sinker has actually seen gradual improvement as the season has progressed (except for his two starts so far in August). On the same theme, Perez hasn’t had nearly the same success with his newly introduced cutter as the season has progressed, despite the slight uptick in velocity on that pitch. How can we explain that? The answer to that question might be two-fold. The first, and perhaps most obvious answer is that during the first two months of the season opposing hitters were caught off guard by Martin Perez’s cutter, as it was a new pitch that he had never thrown before. However, after a couple months of success with this new pitch, opposing teams started to adjust by accounting for this pitch in Perez’s repertoire. Another explanation, which coincides with opposing teams adjusting to Perez’s cutter has been the decline of spin rate on the pitch. Here is yet another graph, courtesy of Baseball Savant, that shows the spin rate of Perez’s cutter on a month to month basis in 2019. The combination of these two changes has hindered Martin Perez’s effectiveness with the pitch that gave him his newfound success early on in the season. This is also evident in Perez’s swing and miss rate with his cutter, which has been cut in half over the last few months from where it was during April and May. Now that we see there is clear evidence that Martin Perez is no longer the same pitcher that he was at the beginning of the season, and his performance isn’t just some regression to the mean, it is evident that Perez is no longer pitching at the level that belongs to be in the starting rotation of a team that is in a neck and neck race for a division title. So, what are some of the other options the Twins have for not only Perez, but also the now-open spot in the rotation. First, we will start with how to fill Martin Perez’s current spot in the rotation. The two most likely candidates to fill that role are rookie lefties Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. Smeltzer is currently filling in a spot in the rotation for Michael Pineda, who is in the Injured List. However, once Pineda returns from injury Smeltzer could easily transition over to Perez's spot in the rotation. Smeltzer has done an adequate job filling in when the Twins have needed him, but I don’t think he would be my first choice for the job. The pitcher I would turn to would be Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe has been one of the Twins top prospects for a couple of years now, and I think has much more upside potential than Smeltzer does. In five career seasons at the minor league level, Thorpe has a 3.50 ERA while striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.9 batter per nine innings. So far, in four appearances at the MLB level, Thorpe has shown that he has the stuff to compete at this level. Here are some thoughts from Tom Froemming had on the subject a few nights ago. The next thing to figure out would be what to do with Martin Perez. While he has definitely struggled as a starting pitcher, I don’t think it would be the appropriate move to just cut bait by designating him for assignment. Instead, a better option would be to find a place for Perez to pitch out of the bullpen. With the right-handed heavy starting rotation, my ideal option would be to move him back to the role he served to start the year, which is as more of a dual starter to match up with someone in the rotation. For me, that choice would be Kyle Gibson. Gibson has had his fair share of struggles of late, and matching Perez with him could help boost both of their performances down the stretch. If Gibson knows he only needs to work through the lineup a couple times before handing the ball over to Perez, he could be more aggressive by showing his best stuff right from the get-go. Then, after Gibson gives them two turns through the lineup, go to Perez who will give the opposing hitters a completely different look from the mound, right as they are starting to adjust to Gibson. Will this solution guarantee success? No, probably not. However, this could be a better alternative than just throwing Perez out to the wolves every fifth day. Even if this change in strategy is ineffective in getting better results from Perez, at bare minimum, it limits the amount of impact that Perez’s poor performance has on the Twins over the final two months of the season. Given the Twins limited options to improve their pitching staff, post trade deadline, it is worth exploring all of their options internally to make improvements.
  25. To say it has been a rough go lately for Martin Perez would be putting it lightly. After posting a 2.95 ERA in 58 innings through May 23rd, the wheels have completely fallen off the wagon. In 12 starts since then, Perez has a 6.47 ERA in 64 innings pitched. Remarkably, the Twins are still 5-7 in those games, but if it weren’t for their great offense, things would be much worse for Perez and the Twins. That is why I fear that leaving Perez in the starting rotation is only tempting fate, and it might be a good time for the Twins to find a different role for him.When the Twins first signed Martin Perez, I was one of the people that was on board with this being a good signing, and during the first two months of his Twins tenure, he looked like an excellent addition to the starting rotation. However, in light of how Perez has pitched over the past two months, and given the sense of urgency the Twins are suddenly under, it might be best for them to find a new role for Perez, outside of the starting rotation. This could be a hard move for the Twins front office to make, as it would removing the one addition they made to the starting rotation this past winter, and that’s okay, but now is not the time for pride, now is the time to put the team in the best position to succeed for the stretch run. So, the question still remains, should the Twins take Perez out of the starting rotation? To answer that question, first we should take a look at what has caused Perez to fall off the map after his great start to the season. We will start by looking at the usually obvious culprit, velocity, specifically with his fastball. Perez is a fastball-heavy pitcher, who uses three fastball variations, a cutter, a sinker, and a four-seamer, which make up 73.1 percent of the pitches he has thrown this year. This makes Perez’s velocity an especially important part of his ability to pitch well. Below are a couple of charts, courtesy of Baseball Savant, featuring the month to month average velocity of Perez’s three different fastballs. Download attachment: Martin Perez Velo Drop.PNG The chart on the left conveys the decline in velocity that Perez has experienced in both his sinker and four-seamer, while the chart on the right illustrates the increase in velocity Perez has experienced with his cutter as the season has progressed. Now let’s compare those charts to the how hitters have hit each of those pitches this season, again on a month to month bases. Download attachment: Martin Perez wOBA Allowed.PNG Again, the chart on the left features Perez’s sinker and four-seamer, while the chart on the right features Perez’s cutter. This time, these charts show the wOBA Perez has allowed with each of these pitches on a month to month basis in 2019. By comparing these charts, we can gather some valuable information. First, the changes in velocity don’t seem to be having a great effect on Perez’s performance, at least not on his sinker and cutter, which make up just over 75 percent of the fastballs that he throws. Despite the decrease in sinker velocity, Perez’s sinker has actually seen gradual improvement as the season has progressed (except for his two starts so far in August). On the same theme, Perez hasn’t had nearly the same success with his newly introduced cutter as the season has progressed, despite the slight uptick in velocity on that pitch. How can we explain that? The answer to that question might be two-fold. The first, and perhaps most obvious answer is that during the first two months of the season opposing hitters were caught off guard by Martin Perez’s cutter, as it was a new pitch that he had never thrown before. However, after a couple months of success with this new pitch, opposing teams started to adjust by accounting for this pitch in Perez’s repertoire. Another explanation, which coincides with opposing teams adjusting to Perez’s cutter has been the decline of spin rate on the pitch. Here is yet another graph, courtesy of Baseball Savant, that shows the spin rate of Perez’s cutter on a month to month basis in 2019. Download attachment: Martin Perez Spin Rate.PNG The combination of these two changes has hindered Martin Perez’s effectiveness with the pitch that gave him his newfound success early on in the season. This is also evident in Perez’s swing and miss rate with his cutter, which has been cut in half over the last few months from where it was during April and May. Now that we see there is clear evidence that Martin Perez is no longer the same pitcher that he was at the beginning of the season, and his performance isn’t just some regression to the mean, it is evident that Perez is no longer pitching at the level that belongs to be in the starting rotation of a team that is in a neck and neck race for a division title. So, what are some of the other options the Twins have for not only Perez, but also the now-open spot in the rotation. First, we will start with how to fill Martin Perez’s current spot in the rotation. The two most likely candidates to fill that role are rookie lefties Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. Smeltzer is currently filling in a spot in the rotation for Michael Pineda, who is in the Injured List. However, once Pineda returns from injury Smeltzer could easily transition over to Perez's spot in the rotation. Smeltzer has done an adequate job filling in when the Twins have needed him, but I don’t think he would be my first choice for the job. The pitcher I would turn to would be Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe has been one of the Twins top prospects for a couple of years now, and I think has much more upside potential than Smeltzer does. In five career seasons at the minor league level, Thorpe has a 3.50 ERA while striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.9 batter per nine innings. So far, in four appearances at the MLB level, Thorpe has shown that he has the stuff to compete at this level. Here are some thoughts from Tom Froemming had on the subject a few nights ago. The next thing to figure out would be what to do with Martin Perez. While he has definitely struggled as a starting pitcher, I don’t think it would be the appropriate move to just cut bait by designating him for assignment. Instead, a better option would be to find a place for Perez to pitch out of the bullpen. With the right-handed heavy starting rotation, my ideal option would be to move him back to the role he served to start the year, which is as more of a dual starter to match up with someone in the rotation. For me, that choice would be Kyle Gibson. Gibson has had his fair share of struggles of late, and matching Perez with him could help boost both of their performances down the stretch. If Gibson knows he only needs to work through the lineup a couple times before handing the ball over to Perez, he could be more aggressive by showing his best stuff right from the get-go. Then, after Gibson gives them two turns through the lineup, go to Perez who will give the opposing hitters a completely different look from the mound, right as they are starting to adjust to Gibson. Will this solution guarantee success? No, probably not. However, this could be a better alternative than just throwing Perez out to the wolves every fifth day. Even if this change in strategy is ineffective in getting better results from Perez, at bare minimum, it limits the amount of impact that Perez’s poor performance has on the Twins over the final two months of the season. Given the Twins limited options to improve their pitching staff, post trade deadline, it is worth exploring all of their options internally to make improvements. Click here to view the article
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