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  1. Over the past few seasons there have been more than a few guys signed that have drawn a groan from Twins Territory. What the initial analysis doesn’t take into account is that the Twins have generated a juggernaut in terms of infrastructure, and it's paid dividends in recent seasons. This time around, it’s Matt Wisler looking to generate a return. Early on this winter the front office tabbed former Top 100 prospect Matt Wisler as being worthy of a major league deal. He combined to throw just over 50 innings in the majors last season, and the results generated a 5.61 ERA. Giving up nearly two homers per nine innings, the counting stats were hardly enticing. But then you take a look under the hood. Wisler posted a 4.23 FIP and an even better 3.83 xFIP. His 14.9% whiff rate and 37% chase rate were career highs, and his 11.0 K/9 wasn’t far off from doubling his career averages. The longball has been an issue for a while, but it’s certainly plausible to see what the Twins like. A season ago Wisler had his slider averaging nearly 84 mph (you guessed it, a career high) while flipping it a whopping 70% of the time. He’s abandoned the sinker, went to a four-seam, and became a two-pitch pitcher. In targeting Sergio Romo again for 2020, as well as bringing in Jhoulys Chacin, it seems pitching coach Wes Johnson is looking to tinker with slider-dominant arms. Minnesota is not some sort of a magic cure for the average pitcher, but the infrastructure now in place has produced. Ryne Harper was a 30-year-old rookie when he put up a 3.81 ERA a year ago, and he may be on the outside looking in because of the overall strength shown by the current relief corps. Matt Magill turned sporadic Show time into two consistent years of big-league run. Although he fizzled down the stretch for the Twins, Magill is now in line to be the Seattle Mariners closer after a strong finish. Things don’t always work out the way you plan. Anibal Sanchez was jettisoned after Lance Lynn was signed, and he went on to have a career year with the Atlanta Braves in 2018. Nick Anderson was never given a shot internally and now is one of the best relievers in baseball. The process being in place does not guarantee a no-fault result. What is true though, is that Minnesota can now be seen as a destination for arms to thrive. Maybe Matt Wisler will be a slider-fastball pitcher that can’t keep the pill in the yard and the next step won’t be taken. In a bullpen that should be expected to be among the better units in baseball though, it’s worth finding out if he can’t be a dominant middle relief option and venture down that path under the tutelage of Johnson. We’ve reached the point that assessment of acquisitions shouldn’t be based around what a player was before coming to the Twins organization, but instead what they will become after getting here. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Box Score Thorpe: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 67.1% strikes (47 of 70 pitches) Bullpen (Duffey, Morin, Magill) : 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nelson Cruz (16) Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Garver (.222), Magill (.073), Cruz (.042) Bottom 3 WPA: Gonzalez (-.215), Buxton (-.136), Arraez (-.115) Lewis Thorpe Debuts Who knows what the final line for Lewis Thorpe would have looked like if it wasn’t for mother nature ending his debut after five spectacular innings and only 70 pitches. All afternoon Thorpe was dotting the edge of the strike zone with his fastball and slider to the tune of a 20.0% swinging strike rate on those two pitches, which accounted for strike three on six of his seven strikeouts. https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1145398697556996096 Even on Moncada’s two-run home run he hit the spot Garver gave him, but unfortunately Moncada loves the ball low and away as a left handed hitter where he has slugged .571 in 2019, per Brooks Baseball. Other than that blip, which was really Garver’s blip, Thorpe was lights out showing a mastery of his pitches and allowing the defense to help him any time a runner reached base. Offense Sputters Against All-Star Starter Lucas Giolito, who has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, was effective and efficient against one of the most potent offenses in baseball allowing only one baserunner and striking out four over five innings. Of course it helped that the starting lineup was missing a few “non all-stars” like Eddie Rosario (IL) and Max Kepler (knee/rest) as well as Miguel Sano (though Sano did come in as a pinch hitter late in the game). Deservedly, Giolito was named an All-Star right as the game was getting back underway. Twins Hit Bullpen Hard But Cannot Overcome Deficit Many on Twitter viewed the rain delay as a good thing, as it meant the end of the road for Giolito and that proved to be true as the Twins came out hitting the ball hard. Nothing came to fruition in the top of the sixth despite three hard hits, but they were able to put three on the board in the seventh thanks to a Nelson Cruz two-run home run and a Sano pinch-hit RBI single. Unfortunately, in the bottom half of the sixth inning Tyler Duffey got roughed up allowing four consecutive singles and two earned runs before being relieved by Mike Morin who got the last two outs of the innings while stranding two runners. Magill followed Morin in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, striking out three while only allowing one hit and hitting upper-90’s on the radar gun with his fastball, which is an interesting and possibly significantly development. The Twins continued to put good wood on the ball in the eighth and ninth, but were unable to score, specifically with Garver in scoring position with only one out in the final frame. Other tidbits: -Odorizzi was named an All-Star. He will join Jorge Polanco as the only Twins representatives ... for now. -As mentioned above, Magill’s fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour multiple times today while it has an average velocity of 95.7 miles per hour. -Buxton's highlight grab in the bottom of the fourth had a xBA (expected batting average) of .670 and a catch probability of five percent.https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1145412947616784384 Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1145488620444250112]https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1145488620444250112]https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1145488620444250112]https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1145488620444250112 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.
  3. The Twins were part of yet another five-plus hour day of baseball, but this time it wasn’t because of extra innings. Despite the White Sox ace being cut short due to a three-hour rain delay the Twins couldn’t take the Sunday rubber match losing just their seventh series on the season.Box Score Thorpe: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 67.1% strikes (47 of 70 pitches) Bullpen (Duffey, Morin, Magill) : 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Nelson Cruz (16) Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Garver (.222), Magill (.073), Cruz (.042) Bottom 3 WPA: Gonzalez (-.215), Buxton (-.136), Arraez (-.115) Lewis Thorpe Debuts Who knows what the final line for Lewis Thorpe would have looked like if it wasn’t for mother nature ending his debut after five spectacular innings and only 70 pitches. All afternoon Thorpe was dotting the edge of the strike zone with his fastball and slider to the tune of a 20.0% swinging strike rate on those two pitches, which accounted for strike three on six of his seven strikeouts. Even on Moncada’s two-run home run he hit the spot Garver gave him, but unfortunately Moncada loves the ball low and away as a left handed hitter where he has slugged .571 in 2019, per Brooks Baseball. Other than that blip, which was really Garver’s blip, Thorpe was lights out showing a mastery of his pitches and allowing the defense to help him any time a runner reached base. Offense Sputters Against All-Star Starter Lucas Giolito, who has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, was effective and efficient against one of the most potent offenses in baseball allowing only one baserunner and striking out four over five innings. Of course it helped that the starting lineup was missing a few “non all-stars” like Eddie Rosario (IL) and Max Kepler (knee/rest) as well as Miguel Sano (though Sano did come in as a pinch hitter late in the game). Deservedly, Giolito was named an All-Star right as the game was getting back underway. Twins Hit Bullpen Hard But Cannot Overcome Deficit Many on Twitter viewed the rain delay as a good thing, as it meant the end of the road for Giolito and that proved to be true as the Twins came out hitting the ball hard. Nothing came to fruition in the top of the sixth despite three hard hits, but they were able to put three on the board in the seventh thanks to a Nelson Cruz two-run home run and a Sano pinch-hit RBI single. Unfortunately, in the bottom half of the sixth inning Tyler Duffey got roughed up allowing four consecutive singles and two earned runs before being relieved by Mike Morin who got the last two outs of the innings while stranding two runners. Magill followed Morin in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, striking out three while only allowing one hit and hitting upper-90’s on the radar gun with his fastball, which is an interesting and possibly significantly development. The Twins continued to put good wood on the ball in the eighth and ninth, but were unable to score, specifically with Garver in scoring position with only one out in the final frame. Other tidbits: -Odorizzi was named an All-Star. He will join Jorge Polanco as the only Twins representatives ... for now. -As mentioned above, Magill’s fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour multiple times today while it has an average velocity of 95.7 miles per hour. -Buxton's highlight grab in the bottom of the fourth had a xBA (expected batting average) of .670 and a catch probability of five percent. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/...488620444250112 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
  4. Box Score Perez: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 65.7% strikes (67 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 11 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-6, 2B, BB), Arraez (3-for-7) WPA of +0.1: Duffey .111, Rogers .144, Parker .144, Littell .144, May .144, Gibson .144, Perez .261, Morin .288, Magill .288 WPA of -0.1: Cave -.139, Kepler -.276, Sano -.288, Garver -.306, Cron -.308, Schoop -.364, Harper -.455 Bullpen Hangs Tough The bullpen had a lot of work to do in today’s game, and they were up for the test. After Martin Perez had sent down 16 straight going into the eighth inning, it was time for the bullpen to take over. Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers were given the following two innings and made it 22 straight sent down going into the 10th. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1144345279564357632 Blake Parker was given the tenth inning, and broke the streak of 22 straight batters sent down. He found himself in a pickle with bases loaded and no outs, and it was Parker’s time to settle in. He got an infield fly, strikeout, and a game-saving stop by Sano for the final out to keep the game tied. Zack Littell worked himself into a jam as well with two two-out walks, but got a flyout to end the threat in the 11th. Mike Morin, Trevor May, and Matt Magill gave five more shutout innings that included only one walk while striking out five. And then things got even weirder as Kyle Gibson came into the game in the 17th inning to pitch. He was only asked to give one inning as Ryne Harper came in for the 18th. Harper had pitched the previous two games which is probably why they waited so long to put him in. Harper found himself in a similar position as Parker was in, in the 10th, as he found himself with the bases loaded and no outs. It didn’t end the same way as Harper gave up three hits and three runs in the 18th. https://twitter.com/FOXSportsFL/status/1144388920974565376 Offense Goes Quiet The Twins’ offense got going right away in today’s game as they were able to get two runs on three hits in the first inning. They were able to jump out in front of the Rays in all three games this series. However, after the first inning, they went completely quiet. They combined for only 11 base runners off six hits and five walks through the next 17 innings, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and struck out 21 times. They also haven’t hit a home run in 28 straight innings going back to Tuesday’s game when Garver hit a home run in the eighth. The bullpen set the offense up inning after inning to finish this game, and inning after inning, the offense put up a goose egg. They hit into three double plays today, two of them coming in extra innings and ending a threat. Perez Settles Martin Perez came into this game on a very bad slump. Over his last six starts, he is only 0-2, but has an ERA of 6.83 and his ERA has risen from a season-best 2.83, to 4.15 after today’s start. The biggest issue it seemed with Perez was giving up walks. Over those six starts, 28 runs have been scored, 22 earned, on 35 hits and 15 walks! Today, his first, and only, walk came in the second inning after he was ahead in the count 0-2. That walk came back to hurt Perez after two two-out hits tied the game at two. After that second inning, it was looking like Perez was again going to have a rough outing, and maybe time for him to take a break. That inning was enough for Perez as he settled in and sent down 16 straight Rays’ batters to complete seven innings and finish his day. Perez looked very locked in today and was able to see that his fastball wasn’t working and incorporated his cutter and change-up a lot more to get the job done. All-Star Game Because of the rain delay and 18 inning game, Jorge Polanco figured out mid-game that he would be the starting shortstop for AL in this year's All-Star Game. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1144397880930660352 Bullpen Usage Click here for a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days.
  5. For the second time in nine days, the Twins were playing into the 17th inning. The bullpen kept giving the offense opportunities to take this game, Martin Perez had a stellar comeback after a rough second inning, and the Twins offense was lifeless after the first.Box Score Perez: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 65.7% strikes (67 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 11 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-6, 2B, BB), Arraez (3-for-7) WPA of +0.1: Duffey .111, Rogers .144, Parker .144, Littell .144, May .144, Gibson .144, Perez .261, Morin .288, Magill .288 WPA of -0.1: Cave -.139, Kepler -.276, Sano -.288, Garver -.306, Cron -.308, Schoop -.364, Harper -.455 Bullpen Hangs Tough The bullpen had a lot of work to do in today’s game, and they were up for the test. After Martin Perez had sent down 16 straight going into the eighth inning, it was time for the bullpen to take over. Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers were given the following two innings and made it 22 straight sent down going into the 10th. Blake Parker was given the tenth inning, and broke the streak of 22 straight batters sent down. He found himself in a pickle with bases loaded and no outs, and it was Parker’s time to settle in. He got an infield fly, strikeout, and a game-saving stop by Sano for the final out to keep the game tied. Zack Littell worked himself into a jam as well with two two-out walks, but got a flyout to end the threat in the 11th. Mike Morin, Trevor May, and Matt Magill gave five more shutout innings that included only one walk while striking out five. And then things got even weirder as Kyle Gibson came into the game in the 17th inning to pitch. He was only asked to give one inning as Ryne Harper came in for the 18th. Harper had pitched the previous two games which is probably why they waited so long to put him in. Harper found himself in a similar position as Parker was in, in the 10th, as he found himself with the bases loaded and no outs. It didn’t end the same way as Harper gave up three hits and three runs in the 18th. Offense Goes Quiet The Twins’ offense got going right away in today’s game as they were able to get two runs on three hits in the first inning. They were able to jump out in front of the Rays in all three games this series. However, after the first inning, they went completely quiet. They combined for only 11 base runners off six hits and five walks through the next 17 innings, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and struck out 21 times. They also haven’t hit a home run in 28 straight innings going back to Tuesday’s game when Garver hit a home run in the eighth. The bullpen set the offense up inning after inning to finish this game, and inning after inning, the offense put up a goose egg. They hit into three double plays today, two of them coming in extra innings and ending a threat. Perez Settles Martin Perez came into this game on a very bad slump. Over his last six starts, he is only 0-2, but has an ERA of 6.83 and his ERA has risen from a season-best 2.83, to 4.15 after today’s start. The biggest issue it seemed with Perez was giving up walks. Over those six starts, 28 runs have been scored, 22 earned, on 35 hits and 15 walks! Today, his first, and only, walk came in the second inning after he was ahead in the count 0-2. That walk came back to hurt Perez after two two-out hits tied the game at two. After that second inning, it was looking like Perez was again going to have a rough outing, and maybe time for him to take a break. That inning was enough for Perez as he settled in and sent down 16 straight Rays’ batters to complete seven innings and finish his day. Perez looked very locked in today and was able to see that his fastball wasn’t working and incorporated his cutter and change-up a lot more to get the job done. All-Star Game Because of the rain delay and 18 inning game, Jorge Polanco figured out mid-game that he would be the starting shortstop for AL in this year's All-Star Game. Bullpen Usage Click here for a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  6. Box Score Pineda: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 73.8% strikes (59 of 80 pitches) Bullpen: 11 IP, 12 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K Home Runs: Max Kepler (18) Multi-Hit Games: Cron (2-5), Kepler (3-5 HR), Rosario (4-8, 3 2B), Schoop (2-7) WPA of +0.1: Kepler .847, Littell .288, Magill .288, Duffey .288, Rosario .263, Pineda .235, Rogers .144, Parker .144 WPA of -0.1: Harper -.129, Schoop -.161, Cave -.165, Cron -.228, Garver -.240, Morin -.289, Polanco -.294, Sano -.433 (chart via FanGraphs) Clutch Kepler After not being in the starting lineup, Kepler pitch-hit for Gonzalez in the sixth inning. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then came up clutch in the eighth with a two-out single to tie the game at 2-2. In the 13th inning, with the game on the line, Kepler led off the inning with a solo shot, again to tie the game. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1141202616346505216 Who better to get the first walk-off hit for the Twins than the guy who tied the game twice earlier. With one out in the 17th inning, and bases loaded, Kepler delivered for the Twins to keep the streak going without losing three games in a row. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1141223485781377025 Bullpens Dominate Both bullpens did an excellent job following the starters’ strong starts. David Price gave the Sox five innings and Michael Pineda gave the Twins six innings, and each allowed just one run. The bullpens came into work after that were very good through 12 innings. Ultimately, one of them was going to blow this game though. The Twins’ bullpen was the first one to surrender a run, and it came off a leadoff home run in the seventh. Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Blake Parker were able to keep the game going into the 12th with six shutout innings giving up only four hits with seven strikeouts. The Sox bullpen had a little more work to do, but had the same results. They gave up the tying run in the eighth inning with a pair of walks and a two-out hit. They combined for seven innings giving up only five hits and striking out 11, but gave up four walks. Both bullpens surrendered a run in the 13th inning which kept the game going. Both runs came from a lead-off home run. For the Sox it was Mookie Betts, and for the Twins, it was Kepler. After the 14th inning, it was back to the stalemate. In the bottom of the 15th, Velazquez gave up a lead-off double, but C.J. Cron hit a hard line drive straight to first that ended in a double play when Eddie Rosario was caught drifting too far from second base. In the top of the 17th, Littell got out of a big jam with zero outs and a runner on third. Familiar Foe Pineda has faced the Red Sox 12 other times in his career and had a great outing tonight. In 12 games against the Sox, he is 5-5 and has a career 4.23 ERA and 1.2 WHIP in 66 innings. Pineda was with the Yankees for 11 of those starts and with Seattle for the other. Coming off probably his best start of the season, Pineda followed up Berrios’ gem last night with a solid outing of his own, and arguably his best outing of the season. He faced 22 batters and got 15 first-pitch strikes. He faced the minimum number of batters in the first three innings thanks to a double play in the first. He had two double plays turned behind him tonight. Unfortunately, the offenses failed to give these starters much aid and neither was able to pick up the win. Here’s a great article on how Pineda has been a huge upgrade as the Twins’ fifth starter. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1141230489732206593 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
  7. For the first time this season the Twins win on a walk-off hit from (who else?) Max Kepler. It was the longest game of the season for both teams tonight and both bullpens were lights out, but one had to blow it. Kepler also hit a game-tying single in the eighth inning and a game-tying homer in the 13th.Box Score Pineda: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 73.8% strikes (59 of 80 pitches) Bullpen: 11 IP, 12 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K Home Runs: Max Kepler (18) Multi-Hit Games: Cron (2-5), Kepler (3-5 HR), Rosario (4-8, 3 2B), Schoop (2-7) WPA of +0.1: Kepler .847, Littell .288, Magill .288, Duffey .288, Rosario .263, Pineda .235, Rogers .144, Parker .144 WPA of -0.1: Harper -.129, Schoop -.161, Cave -.165, Cron -.228, Garver -.240, Morin -.289, Polanco -.294, Sano -.433 Download attachment: Win619.png (chart via FanGraphs) Clutch Kepler After not being in the starting lineup, Kepler pitch-hit for Gonzalez in the sixth inning. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then came up clutch in the eighth with a two-out single to tie the game at 2-2. In the 13th inning, with the game on the line, Kepler led off the inning with a solo shot, again to tie the game. Who better to get the first walk-off hit for the Twins than the guy who tied the game twice earlier. With one out in the 17th inning, and bases loaded, Kepler delivered for the Twins to keep the streak going without losing three games in a row. Bullpens Dominate Both bullpens did an excellent job following the starters’ strong starts. David Price gave the Sox five innings and Michael Pineda gave the Twins six innings, and each allowed just one run. The bullpens came into work after that were very good through 12 innings. Ultimately, one of them was going to blow this game though. The Twins’ bullpen was the first one to surrender a run, and it came off a leadoff home run in the seventh. Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Blake Parker were able to keep the game going into the 12th with six shutout innings giving up only four hits with seven strikeouts. The Sox bullpen had a little more work to do, but had the same results. They gave up the tying run in the eighth inning with a pair of walks and a two-out hit. They combined for seven innings giving up only five hits and striking out 11, but gave up four walks. Both bullpens surrendered a run in the 13th inning which kept the game going. Both runs came from a lead-off home run. For the Sox it was Mookie Betts, and for the Twins, it was Kepler. After the 14th inning, it was back to the stalemate. In the bottom of the 15th, Velazquez gave up a lead-off double, but C.J. Cron hit a hard line drive straight to first that ended in a double play when Eddie Rosario was caught drifting too far from second base. In the top of the 17th, Littell got out of a big jam with zero outs and a runner on third. Familiar Foe Pineda has faced the Red Sox 12 other times in his career and had a great outing tonight. In 12 games against the Sox, he is 5-5 and has a career 4.23 ERA and 1.2 WHIP in 66 innings. Pineda was with the Yankees for 11 of those starts and with Seattle for the other. Coming off probably his best start of the season, Pineda followed up Berrios’ gem last night with a solid outing of his own, and arguably his best outing of the season. He faced 22 batters and got 15 first-pitch strikes. He faced the minimum number of batters in the first three innings thanks to a double play in the first. He had two double plays turned behind him tonight. Unfortunately, the offenses failed to give these starters much aid and neither was able to pick up the win. Here’s a great article on how Pineda has been a huge upgrade as the Twins’ fifth starter. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Pen619.png Click here to view the article
  8. Kyle Gibson struggled to finish off the Tigers in the second inning, the Twins’ lineup was uncharacteristically quiet against a Detroit staff maneuvering through a bullpen game and Matt Magill made sure there was no drama in the ninth inning. In between all that, Ryan Eades pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut.Box Score Gibson: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 67.0% strikes (63 of 94 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Cruz (10) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-3, HR, BB) WPA of +0.1: Cruz .102 WPA of -0.1: Gonzalez -.185, Gibson -.294 Download attachment: Win68.png (chart via FanGraphs) The key moment in this game came in the bottom of the second inning. Kyle Gibson retired the first two batters he faced, then got ahead of the next batter 0-2. One more strike and the good guys are back in the dugout. Gibson’s next two pitches weren’t close enough to chase, however, evening the count at 2-2. Gibson manged to get a chase the fifth pitch, but the batter managed to hit a slider down and away into left field for a single to extend the inning. Gibson lost an eight-pitch battle with the next batter, walking him on a two-seamer that was well outside the zone. He then hung a slider on the second pitch he threw to JaCoby Jones, who crushed a three-run homer. That third out has been elusive for Gibson this season. In addition to the three-run homer, Gibson also gave up a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning. Entering today, opposing hitters had a .720 OPS with no outs, .648 OPS with one out and an .809 OPS with two outs against Gibby. Of the 11 home runs Gibson has now surrendered, six have come with two down. That’s a strange trend, not only generally speaking, but also in comparison to Gibson’s career numbers. With both the 2019 league averages and Gibson’s overall career marks, OPS against shrinks the more outs there are. It’s not like Gibson didn’t have good stuff today. He struck out eight batters and got 18 swinging strikes, which is the third-most whiffs he’s gotten in 12 starts this year. Eades Debuts Gibson’s short start created a nice opportunity for the Twins to get Ryan Eades his MLB debut. We’ve been privileged to some pretty special stories so far this season. Ryne Harper finally making his debut as a 30-year-old and cancer survivor/ultimate underdog Devin Smeltzer making it are about as good as it gets. FSN managed to tug at my heartstrings pretty hard today, as they showed Eades’ wife in the stands, baby wearing their infant, crying her eyes out at seeing her husband on a major league mound for the first time. Beautiful moment to be able to witness. Eades retired the first two men he faced, then walked the next two batters. Wes Johnson came out to the mound and probably said something along the lines of “hey, we’re not paying you by the hour,” and Eades retired the next batter to end the inning. Eades came back out for the seventh and gave up a couple of hits. He was helped out by the combination of a bad send at third base and a good relay from Marwin Gonzalez to Miguel Sano to Jason Castro, but Eades ended up throwing two shutout innings. He struck out three batters and topped out at 95.5 mph. Magill Floundering Matt Magill followed Eades and struggled badly, once again. He gave up four runs on five hits. Over his last three appearances, Magill has surrendered 10 earned runs on 10 hits and three walks over just 1 2/3 innings. Bats Struggle vs. Detroit Pen The Tigers went with a bullpen game today and managed to hold the Twins to three runs on just six hits. They combined to strike out nine batters, Miguel Sano accounting for three of those punch outs. The Twins had just two extra-base hits today, Nelson Cruz’s 10th home run and Jorge Polanco’s 18th double of the season. Really, the Twins as a whole just felt like the came out a little flat in this one. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Pen68.png Next Game Sun at DET, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Carpenter) Last Game MIN 6, DET 3: Offense, Bullpen Come Through Late as Twins Take Opener More from Twins Daily Cali Connection Jumps Draft Boards: Q&A with Keoni Cavaco Minnesota Twins 2019 MLB Draft Recap Area Man to Let Bullpen Ruin His Family's Weekend Click here to view the article
  9. Box Score Gibson: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 67.0% strikes (63 of 94 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Cruz (10) Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (2-for-3, HR, BB) WPA of +0.1: Cruz .102 WPA of -0.1: Gonzalez -.185, Gibson -.294 (chart via FanGraphs) The key moment in this game came in the bottom of the second inning. Kyle Gibson retired the first two batters he faced, then got ahead of the next batter 0-2. One more strike and the good guys are back in the dugout. Gibson’s next two pitches weren’t close enough to chase, however, evening the count at 2-2. Gibson manged to get a chase the fifth pitch, but the batter managed to hit a slider down and away into left field for a single to extend the inning. Gibson lost an eight-pitch battle with the next batter, walking him on a two-seamer that was well outside the zone. He then hung a slider on the second pitch he threw to JaCoby Jones, who crushed a three-run homer. That third out has been elusive for Gibson this season. In addition to the three-run homer, Gibson also gave up a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning. Entering today, opposing hitters had a .720 OPS with no outs, .648 OPS with one out and an .809 OPS with two outs against Gibby. Of the 11 home runs Gibson has now surrendered, six have come with two down. That’s a strange trend, not only generally speaking, but also in comparison to Gibson’s career numbers. With both the 2019 league averages and Gibson’s overall career marks, OPS against shrinks the more outs there are. It’s not like Gibson didn’t have good stuff today. He struck out eight batters and got 18 swinging strikes, which is the third-most whiffs he’s gotten in 12 starts this year. Eades Debuts Gibson’s short start created a nice opportunity for the Twins to get Ryan Eades his MLB debut. We’ve been privileged to some pretty special stories so far this season. Ryne Harper finally making his debut as a 30-year-old and cancer survivor/ultimate underdog Devin Smeltzer making it are about as good as it gets. FSN managed to tug at my heartstrings pretty hard today, as they showed Eades’ wife in the stands, baby wearing their infant, crying her eyes out at seeing her husband on a major league mound for the first time. Beautiful moment to be able to witness. Eades retired the first two men he faced, then walked the next two batters. Wes Johnson came out to the mound and probably said something along the lines of “hey, we’re not paying you by the hour,” and Eades retired the next batter to end the inning. Eades came back out for the seventh and gave up a couple of hits. He was helped out by the combination of a bad send at third base and a good relay from Marwin Gonzalez to Miguel Sano to Jason Castro, but Eades ended up throwing two shutout innings. He struck out three batters and topped out at 95.5 mph. Magill Floundering Matt Magill followed Eades and struggled badly, once again. He gave up four runs on five hits. Over his last three appearances, Magill has surrendered 10 earned runs on 10 hits and three walks over just 1 2/3 innings. Bats Struggle vs. Detroit Pen The Tigers went with a bullpen game today and managed to hold the Twins to three runs on just six hits. They combined to strike out nine batters, Miguel Sano accounting for three of those punch outs. The Twins had just two extra-base hits today, Nelson Cruz’s 10th home run and Jorge Polanco’s 18th double of the season. Really, the Twins as a whole just felt like the came out a little flat in this one. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1137508466266796032 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Game Sun at DET, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Carpenter) Last Game MIN 6, DET 3: Offense, Bullpen Come Through Late as Twins Take Opener More from Twins Daily Cali Connection Jumps Draft Boards: Q&A with Keoni Cavaco Minnesota Twins 2019 MLB Draft Recap Area Man to Let Bullpen Ruin His Family's Weekend
  10. In an otherwise ideal season, the Minnesota Twins' glaring weakness remains their bullpen. And at least one man is going to let it wreck the next few days.FRIDAY Scott Andersen and his wife Molly are on a rare date night at an upscale restaurant, as Molly’s sister is in town and watching their two children. Molly: Should we get an appetizer? I’m starving, and this glass of wine is gonna hit me like a train if I don’t eat something before dinner gets here. Scott (clearly distracted): Yeah, sure. Molly: You didn’t even hear what I said, did you? Scott (looks up from his phone): Sorry. It's just the Twins bullpen. Blew a gimme against Cleveland, didn't sign Kimbrel, have no idea what they're going to do tonight if it's close. Man. Molly: This is our first night out in five months. Put your phone away. We're getting calamari. Scott (looks up from his phone): Do you want to get an appetizer? SATURDAY Scott and Molly's oldest child, Ashton, is nine. He has his last soccer game of the year today. Molly: Hey, Ashton's in the game again. Look honey. Scott (looking at phone): What's that? Molly: Ashton. Your son. He's back in the game. That's him right there. Scott (still looking at phone): Oh, good. Molly: Is something wrong? Scott: No. I mean, yes, it's just that I'm looking at all these relievers who could be on the market for the Twins but they sure as hell aren't making any moves right now. I bet the Astros wouldn't stand pat. The Red Sox would pull the trigger and get it fixed. It's so aggravating, and it's not li-- Molly (who quit listening two sentences ago): Oh my god Ashton's got a breakaway GO ASHTON! Scott: --and I just read Buster Olney saying that the Twins are willing to let the market come to them and I'm just like, what if the market doesn't develop and Matt Magill has to get the Yankees out in a high-leverage spot? I tell you what will hap-- Molly: OH MY GOD HE SCORED! HONEY HE SCORED! HIS FIRST GOAL! LOOK AT HOW HAPPY HE IS! Scott: Who scored? SUNDAY Molly's brother Sean is graduating from high school. There is a party at the local park shelter with burgers, chips, soda, beer, and other cookout staples. He's the youngest child, and the entire family is celebrating. Molly's father Art walks over to Scott, who is sitting by himself next to the sheet cake. Art: Not going to lie to you, it's going to be weird having no kids at home when Sean goes to college. How do your folks like it? Scott (clearly distracted): Yeah, I know. Art: What? Scott: Sorry, didn't catch that. It's just...it's the Twins. They knew the bullpen was going to be an issue in the offseason, and they did nothing to address it. Unless you call signing Blake Parker addressing it, which I don't! Come on! Everyone saw it coming! Man. Art (who doesn't watch sports and has never really understood his son-in-law): I'm going to get a beer. Want one? Scott (looking at his phone again): I already ate, thanks. Click here to view the article
  11. FRIDAY Scott Andersen and his wife Molly are on a rare date night at an upscale restaurant, as Molly’s sister is in town and watching their two children. Molly: Should we get an appetizer? I’m starving, and this glass of wine is gonna hit me like a train if I don’t eat something before dinner gets here. Scott (clearly distracted): Yeah, sure. Molly: You didn’t even hear what I said, did you? Scott (looks up from his phone): Sorry. It's just the Twins bullpen. Blew a gimme against Cleveland, didn't sign Kimbrel, have no idea what they're going to do tonight if it's close. Man. Molly: This is our first night out in five months. Put your phone away. We're getting calamari. Scott (looks up from his phone): Do you want to get an appetizer? SATURDAY Scott and Molly's oldest child, Ashton, is nine. He has his last soccer game of the year today. Molly: Hey, Ashton's in the game again. Look honey. Scott (looking at phone): What's that? Molly: Ashton. Your son. He's back in the game. That's him right there. Scott (still looking at phone): Oh, good. Molly: Is something wrong? Scott: No. I mean, yes, it's just that I'm looking at all these relievers who could be on the market for the Twins but they sure as hell aren't making any moves right now. I bet the Astros wouldn't stand pat. The Red Sox would pull the trigger and get it fixed. It's so aggravating, and it's not li-- Molly (who quit listening two sentences ago): Oh my god Ashton's got a breakaway GO ASHTON! Scott: --and I just read Buster Olney saying that the Twins are willing to let the market come to them and I'm just like, what if the market doesn't develop and Matt Magill has to get the Yankees out in a high-leverage spot? I tell you what will hap-- Molly: OH MY GOD HE SCORED! HONEY HE SCORED! HIS FIRST GOAL! LOOK AT HOW HAPPY HE IS! Scott: Who scored? SUNDAY Molly's brother Sean is graduating from high school. There is a party at the local park shelter with burgers, chips, soda, beer, and other cookout staples. He's the youngest child, and the entire family is celebrating. Molly's father Art walks over to Scott, who is sitting by himself next to the sheet cake. Art: Not going to lie to you, it's going to be weird having no kids at home when Sean goes to college. How do your folks like it? Scott (clearly distracted): Yeah, I know. Art: What? Scott: Sorry, didn't catch that. It's just...it's the Twins. They knew the bullpen was going to be an issue in the offseason, and they did nothing to address it. Unless you call signing Blake Parker addressing it, which I don't! Come on! Everyone saw it coming! Man. Art (who doesn't watch sports and has never really understood his son-in-law): I'm going to get a beer. Want one? Scott (looking at his phone again): I already ate, thanks.
  12. Among the many “new school” approaches of the Twins front office is an increased focus on pitch framing, wherein catchers tweak their movements to maximize the odds of the home plate umpire calling a strike. Unfortunately, Jason Castro might have needed a little more clarification.Fort Myers police say they have reason to believe that Castro is behind a wave of crimes that have led to at least a half-dozen Twins pitchers arrested for crimes they claim they didn’t commit. Police spokesperson Mitch Haley says it appears Castro misunderstood staff directions to focus on pitch framing as a directive to “plot increasingly elaborate heists, capers, even frolics” and frame his battery mates for them. “We think Castro knowingly framed various teammates for crimes they did not commit,” says Haley. “We believe he was acting on orders from Twins management. It’s a serious situation, and I cannot comment any further as the investigation is ongoing.” In one incident, a Cape Coral pet store reported that all its cockatoos had disappeared, with a note left behind on Minnesota Twins stationery saying, “You’ll never find me or your dumb talking birds, if these are the ones that talk. I think they are?” There was also a signed Matt Magill baseball card and some sunflower seeds at the scene. A clubhouse source with knowledge of the situation fills in the rest of the story. “The day before the cops showed up, (Jason) Castro gave Magill a custom T-shirt, said he liked to do it for all his pitchers. The shirt said ‘I Like Cockatoos, But I Love Not Paying For Them’. Cops show up the next day, Magill’s wearing the shirt as a laugh, and they open the empty locker next to his. 37 cockatoos fly out. It was pretty (messed) up. That's too many birds, man.” Magill is still in custody as this goes to press. He joins Tyler Duffey and Blake Parker as Twins arrested for alleged bird theft from Gold Coast pet stores. Team sources say this is not the first time an incident like this has happened. Multiple players confirm that former Twins catcher Tom Prince misread an early report about pitch framing in 2003 as pitch farming, and buried Mike Fetters alive in hopes of a bumper crop of husky veteran relievers in the spring. It is not known if he succeeded. Click here to view the article
  13. Fort Myers police say they have reason to believe that Castro is behind a wave of crimes that have led to at least a half-dozen Twins pitchers arrested for crimes they claim they didn’t commit. Police spokesperson Mitch Haley says it appears Castro misunderstood staff directions to focus on pitch framing as a directive to “plot increasingly elaborate heists, capers, even frolics” and frame his battery mates for them. “We think Castro knowingly framed various teammates for crimes they did not commit,” says Haley. “We believe he was acting on orders from Twins management. It’s a serious situation, and I cannot comment any further as the investigation is ongoing.” In one incident, a Cape Coral pet store reported that all its cockatoos had disappeared, with a note left behind on Minnesota Twins stationery saying, “You’ll never find me or your dumb talking birds, if these are the ones that talk. I think they are?” There was also a signed Matt Magill baseball card and some sunflower seeds at the scene. A clubhouse source with knowledge of the situation fills in the rest of the story. “The day before the cops showed up, (Jason) Castro gave Magill a custom T-shirt, said he liked to do it for all his pitchers. The shirt said ‘I Like Cockatoos, But I Love Not Paying For Them’. Cops show up the next day, Magill’s wearing the shirt as a laugh, and they open the empty locker next to his. 37 cockatoos fly out. It was pretty (messed) up. That's too many birds, man.” Magill is still in custody as this goes to press. He joins Tyler Duffey and Blake Parker as Twins arrested for alleged bird theft from Gold Coast pet stores. Team sources say this is not the first time an incident like this has happened. Multiple players confirm that former Twins catcher Tom Prince misread an early report about pitch framing in 2003 as pitch farming, and buried Mike Fetters alive in hopes of a bumper crop of husky veteran relievers in the spring. It is not known if he succeeded.
  14. Over the course of the winter the Minnesota Twins did a lot of good things. The front office continued bringing in top tier developmental talent. They added pop to the lineup, and Rocco Baldelli looks the part of an exciting big-league manager. What they didn’t do was address a pitching staff, and namely a bullpen, that looked like it could use some help. Now with the depth being tested, an unexpected stalwart has emerged. Can Ryne Harper be the hero no one knew they were expecting. Entering Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, Harper looked like a long shot to make the 25-man roster. Despite once having his contract selected, he’s never played in a big-league game, and has something like three days of service time accrued. The 29-year-old turned in a nice 2.54 ERA across 39 IP at Double-A last season but stumbled to the tune of a 5.19 ERA with Triple-A Rochester. The surface numbers have been mostly good for Harper, but it’s the ratios that jump off the page for me. Across 65 IP on the farm last season, he posted an 11.9 K/9 with a sparkling 1.4 BB/9. In just over 450 innings of minor league relief, Harper owns an 11.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Should that hold up at the big-league level any club would find themselves in a state of ecstasy. Having not gotten any major league time to date in his career, it’s been on the back of an exceptional Spring Training that will likely get Ryne over the hump. Working 11 innings down in Fort Myers, Harper turned in a flawless 0.00 ERA allowing just two unearned runs. He’s given up only seven hits while fanning 14 and walking none. Look at the Twitter feed of Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming and you’ll find a barrage of benders that are certainly Pitching Ninja worthy. It’s on the back of this pitch that Harper has burst onto the scene, and he’s had hitters of all abilities looking plenty foolish the past few weeks. Pairing his curveball with pinpoint command has added up to a blueprint that should translate just fine when the games start to matter later this week. He’ll likely take home the coveted Sire of Fort Myers trophy, but a big-league payday should be a nice secondary prize as well. It’s always great when an unexpected talent pops up and can make a big-league impact. It’s never going to be expected from a late blooming, career minor leaguer. Minnesota is also banking on this kind of situation with Matt Magill. Whether or not Harper and Magill can provide consistency over the course of a full season remains to be seen, however. There should be some level of fear or caution regarding how the pen fares for the Twins, but these glimmers of hope are feel-good stories in the present. Maybe Harper was a guy that the front office knew they could count on all along. Maybe Baldelli and Wes Johnson saw a moldable piece that was just waiting to be unleashed. We’ve seen the results in exhibition contents. The next piece of this puzzle is putting up numbers when it counts. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  15. The Twins will almost surely break camp with just seven relievers, or eight if you count Martin Perez, since a fifth pitcher isn’t needed until April 16th. With Perez starting in the bullpen, and with very little buzz around camp regarding “Openers” there is no good reason to carry eight other bullpen arms. Which means someone is going to get stuck because there are eight names that seem like they belong in the bullpen. Here they are, more or less in order of my evaluation of their likelihood to make the team: Addison Reed - Unless he’s hurt, he’s in there. He’s making $8M and the Twins and he are both hoping that a lower workload will rejuvenate his arm. Taylor Rogers - Was the Twins most effective remaining reliever, and left-handed, too. Another lock. Blake Parker - I suppose that whatever the concerns were which held up his official signing could convince the Twins that he’s damaged goods, but it seems unlikely their lone free agent bullpen addition wouldn’t make the team. Next we get to a triumvirate of arms that don’t have options. If the Twins give up on any of these guys, they have to place them on waivers, and if a team claims them, they lose them. As such, that all have the inside track on a roster spot. Trevor May - He should probably be above Parker on this list, but I like lumping the guys with no remaining options together. He was one of the Twins most prominent relievers late last year after returning from Tommy John surgery. Adalberto Mejia - He’s being trained as a starter, but appears to be the de facto #6 guy, on the outside looking in. The Twins will want to keep him in case other starting pitchers are hurt, and that means keeping him on the roster. Plus, he’s left-handed, and there aren’t any other southpaws in the bullpen beyond Rogers. Matt Magill - This is the name a lot of people are overlooking. When we get to the names that might not make the opening roster, I suspect a lot of fans will want to come back to this name. But Magill relieved in 40 games last year, averaged 95 mph with his fastball and good enough command. He also gave up way too many home runs, which is a kiss of death to a reliever, but I still don’t think they Twins will risk exposing him to every other team. The rest of the candidates in the bullpen have options remaining, so none of them will be lost to other teams; they’ll just be sent to Rochester. If you agree to the list above, six of the seven spots are taken, and only one spot is left. But two prominent names are left standing: Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Romero. Last year Hildenberger was supposed to be one the more promising young arms in the bullpen, but stumbled badly in the second half of last year. This year, Fernando Romero is being prepared as a reliever because Baldelli has already described him as a “weapon.”. They both were seen as potential setup men for high leverage innings. Even with math against them, it is still a good chance that both make the roster. After all, injuries happen in spring training. It wouldn’t even have to be an injury to a reliever to open a spot: an injury to a starting pitcher would likely mean Mejia moves to the rotation and then another spot is open in the bullpen. But it looks like the two young homegrown relievers about whom the fan base was most excited about the last two years will be battling it out for the last spot,
  16. Aaron and John talk about the Twins signing super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez for $21 million, how to view an offseason that's half full and half empty, what Gonzalez's arrival means for Jake Cave, Willians Astudillo, and Ehire Adrianza, the bullpen breakdown and trusting Matt Magill, Ervin Santana's return to the AL Central, and what options are left for the Twins to actually add some pitching help. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click here to view the article
  17. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/ep_413_FINAL.mp3
  18. Going into the offseason, the Minnesota Twins had plenty of opportunity to make waves. Playing in a bad AL Central division with a strong farm system on the rise, jump starting a competitive window seemingly was the obvious play for the front office. At this point, they’ve upgraded the offense while ignoring their pitching staff. In the bullpen, the most central name in all of this is none other than Matt Magill. The 29-year-old returned to the majors in 2018 after having big league stints during 2013 and 2016. He logged 56.2 IP under the tutelage of Paul Molitor, and his 3.81 ERA was plenty shiny. That’s where the luster wears off. Under the hood is an ugly 5.08 FIP, 1.7 HR/9, and a 1.429 WHIP. He did average 95 mph on his fastball last season, and the 75% contact rate was plenty workable, but in the big leagues, there needs to be more. Magill needed just 8.2 IP in Rochester prior to getting the call for Minnesota. His minor league track record has been relatively spotty though, and there’s the tale of a guy who owns middle-of-the-road numbers in just about every stop he makes. Knowing that Rocco Baldelli could use a significantly upgraded bullpen, it’s curious as to why such a smart front office would go down this path. Currently Minnesota is all but accepting the idea that Magill and Fernando Romero will round out the final two spots in relief. The former is a regression candidate waiting to happen, while the latter is a starter being pushed into this position. There’s nothing to suggest that Romero couldn’t move back to the rotation in the future, but this duo has become plan A as opposed to being the fallback for what could have been better executed. As big-league talent signs on minor league deals, and quality options remain free agents despite the Twins having an abundance of unused funds, the blueprint seems sketchy at best. Spending on relievers is hardly a winning strategy in a vacuum, but right now Minnesota has a need along with a position in which cash considerations aren’t a factor now or the future. There’s zero argument to be made against the substantial upgrade that Craig Kimbrel would provide in relief for the Twins. Baldelli is tasked with a dart throw or committee approach at present, and while saves aren’t a worthy chase, that level of reliever takes the collective whole up another notch. Shying away from relief, Dallas Keuchel would improve the rotation, and in turn allow Martin Perez to bolster the pen. Something like $20 million per year for either of these guys does nothing to the Twins bottom line and would undoubtedly be a more realistic process to drive results. At the end of the day, Minnesota isn’t doing anything with the bullpen or the rotation. Matt Magill and his shiny ERA are somewhat of a defining principle for how this offseason has been handled. Sure, there’s plenty of reason to look for more, but why not see what regression we can hope to stave off? In relief, the Twins start with a low bar, and they’ll need to bet on the bottom not falling out. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  19. Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Gonsalves: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 56.6% strikes (43 of 76 pitches) Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (3-for-5, 2B), Austin (2-for-4, 2 2B), Astudillo (2-for-4, 2B) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Austin .250, Astudillo .189, Magill .129 WPA of -0.1 or lower: None The Twins currently have a better record since the trade deadline (25-27, .481 WP) than they did before they sent away all their “good pieces,” as Ervin Santana put it (49-57, 476 WP). Along with Astudillo, Tyler Austin — another guy who’s provided some post-deadline intrigue — also had it going tonight. He was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Gabriel Moya served as the opener tonight and gave up a run on two hits. Stephen Gonsalves came in for the second inning and walked the first two batters he faced. Both those runners eventually came around to score. The Twins strung together a five-run rally in the third inning, as Joe Mauer hit an RBI double, Austin had a two-run double and Astudillo drove in two on a single. Despite gaining the lead, Gonsalves didn’t last long. He continued to struggle to hit his spots, walking a total of four batters, and threw only 56.6 percent of his pitches for strikes. From there, the bullpen was great. Matt Magill wiggled out of Gonsalves’ jam and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Alan Busenitz was perfect in the seventh, Zack Littell pitched a scoreless eighth and John Curtiss followed suit in the ninth. Postgame With Astudillo https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1045522102944595968 Next Three Games Fri vs. CHW, 1:10 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Reynaldo Lopez Fri vs. CHW, 7:10 pm CT: Chase De Jong vs. Lucas Giolito Sat vs. CHW, 6:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Carlos Rodon Last Three Games MIN 11, DET 4: Bats Bust Out, Bullpen Shuts Out Detroit DET 4, MIN 2: Mauer Reaches Milestone, Hildenberger Flops MIN 5, OAK 1: Gibby’s Arm, Cave’s Bat and Adrianza’s Glove Lift Twins to Victory
  20. Willians Astudillo has been a brilliant ray of sunshine. In what was expected to be a gloomy final two months of baseball for the Twins, he’s not only provided plenty of light-hearted moments, but he’s also been a pretty damn good player, too. La Tortuga was at it again tonight, going 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. He's now hitting .357 with an .896 OPS.Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Gonsalves: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 56.6% strikes (43 of 76 pitches) Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (3-for-5, 2B), Austin (2-for-4, 2 2B), Astudillo (2-for-4, 2B) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Austin .250, Astudillo .189, Magill .129 WPA of -0.1 or lower: None Download attachment: WinChart927.png The Twins currently have a better record since the trade deadline (25-27, .481 WP) than they did before they sent away all their “good pieces,” as Ervin Santana put it (49-57, 476 WP). Along with Astudillo, Tyler Austin — another guy who’s provided some post-deadline intrigue — also had it going tonight. He was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Gabriel Moya served as the opener tonight and gave up a run on two hits. Stephen Gonsalves came in for the second inning and walked the first two batters he faced. Both those runners eventually came around to score. The Twins strung together a five-run rally in the third inning, as Joe Mauer hit an RBI double, Austin had a two-run double and Astudillo drove in two on a single. Despite gaining the lead, Gonsalves didn’t last long. He continued to struggle to hit his spots, walking a total of four batters, and threw only 56.6 percent of his pitches for strikes. From there, the bullpen was great. Matt Magill wiggled out of Gonsalves’ jam and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Alan Busenitz was perfect in the seventh, Zack Littell pitched a scoreless eighth and John Curtiss followed suit in the ninth. Postgame With Astudillo Next Three Games Fri vs. CHW, 1:10 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Reynaldo Lopez Fri vs. CHW, 7:10 pm CT: Chase De Jong vs. Lucas Giolito Sat vs. CHW, 6:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Carlos Rodon Last Three Games MIN 11, DET 4: Bats Bust Out, Bullpen Shuts Out Detroit DET 4, MIN 2: Mauer Reaches Milestone, Hildenberger Flops MIN 5, OAK 1: Gibby’s Arm, Cave’s Bat and Adrianza’s Glove Lift Twins to Victory Click here to view the article
  21. Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Odorizzi: 68 Game Score, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 66.7% strikes (56 of 84 pitches Home Runs: Gimenez (2) Multi-Hit Games: Mauer (2-for-5), Polanco (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Austin (2-for-4, 2B), Gimenez (2-for-4, HR) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Odorizzi .240, Magill .151 WPA of -0.1 or lower: Sano -.118 Odorizzi was aggressive tonight, needing just 84 pitches to go 6 1/3 innings. He only walked one batter and struck out six. It’s nice to see him finishing strong. Matt Magill took over for Odorizzi with one out and a runner on third in the seventh. He struck out the next two batters, getting swinging strikes on six of the nine pitches he threw that inning. He followed that up with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Tyler Austin was back in the lineup after taking a game off to give his back a break after he tumbled over a railing in Kansas City. His presence was much appreciated, as Austin had an RBI single and a two-run double. Miguel Sano also returned to the lineup, playing for the first time since injuring himself on a slide Sept. 4. During the telecast, Dick Bremer noted that Sano hadn’t attempted a slide since the injury. Huh? You’d think it’d be a good idea to have the guy take some practice slides to make sure everything feels OK before throwing him into a game. Nick wrote a piece last night that touched on some of the questionable choices made by the Twins in concern to how they’ve handled injuries. Add this one to the list. Anyway, Sano looked terrible at the plate, striking out in all four of his at-bats. Trevor Hildenberger gave up a run on two hits in the ninth. He’s having a tough go of things of late, giving up seven earned runs in his last 2 1/3 innings. Postgame With Gimenez https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1042238658571452416 Next Three Games Wed at DET, 12:10 pm CT: TBD vs. Spencer Turnbull Thu: Off Fri at OAK, 9:05 pm CT: TBD Sat at OAK, 8:05 pm CT: TBD Last Three Games MIN 6, DET 1: Stewart Impresses, Rosario Exits Due to Injury MIN 9, KC 6: Twins Swat Four Homers, Avoid Sweep KC 10, MIN 3: It’s a Hard Road
  22. Jake Odorizzi followed up a one-hit effort against the Yankees by holding the Tigers to one hit through six innings before Detroit tacked on a few more hits and a pair of runs in the seventh. This was the first time all season Odorizzi delivered a quality start in back-to-back outings. He’s shaved his season ERA from 4.57 to 4.35 over these past two outings.Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Odorizzi: 68 Game Score, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 66.7% strikes (56 of 84 pitches Home Runs: Gimenez (2) Multi-Hit Games: Mauer (2-for-5), Polanco (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Austin (2-for-4, 2B), Gimenez (2-for-4, HR) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Odorizzi .240, Magill .151 WPA of -0.1 or lower: Sano -.118 Download attachment: WinChart918.png Odorizzi was aggressive tonight, needing just 84 pitches to go 6 1/3 innings. He only walked one batter and struck out six. It’s nice to see him finishing strong. Matt Magill took over for Odorizzi with one out and a runner on third in the seventh. He struck out the next two batters, getting swinging strikes on six of the nine pitches he threw that inning. He followed that up with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Tyler Austin was back in the lineup after taking a game off to give his back a break after he tumbled over a railing in Kansas City. His presence was much appreciated, as Austin had an RBI single and a two-run double. Miguel Sano also returned to the lineup, playing for the first time since injuring himself on a slide Sept. 4. During the telecast, Dick Bremer noted that Sano hadn’t attempted a slide since the injury. Huh? You’d think it’d be a good idea to have the guy take some practice slides to make sure everything feels OK before throwing him into a game. Nick wrote a piece last night that touched on some of the questionable choices made by the Twins in concern to how they’ve handled injuries. Add this one to the list. Anyway, Sano looked terrible at the plate, striking out in all four of his at-bats. Trevor Hildenberger gave up a run on two hits in the ninth. He’s having a tough go of things of late, giving up seven earned runs in his last 2 1/3 innings. Postgame With Gimenez Next Three Games Wed at DET, 12:10 pm CT: TBD vs. Spencer Turnbull Thu: Off Fri at OAK, 9:05 pm CT: TBD Sat at OAK, 8:05 pm CT: TBD Last Three Games MIN 6, DET 1: Stewart Impresses, Rosario Exits Due to Injury MIN 9, KC 6: Twins Swat Four Homers, Avoid Sweep KC 10, MIN 3: It’s a Hard Road Click here to view the article
  23. During the offseason, the Twins were quite active in the free agent market. They signed Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Addison Reed, Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to major league deals. In addition, they signed the likes of Ryan LaMarre, Gregorio Petit, Bobby Wilson, Jordan Pacheco, Myles Jaye, Nick Buss and Erick Aybar to minor league contracts with spring training invitations. And then they also signed several minor leaguers to minor league contracts without an official MLB spring training invitation. That group included LHP Casey Crosby, RHPs Omar Bencomo and Ryne Harper, OF James Ramsey, IF Jermaine Curtis, and catcher Wynston Sawyer (who was later given an official invite). Such is the nature of free agency, and as you can see, it is impossible to guarantee which move will be deemed successful as the season progresses. As you can assume from the first paragraphs and this article’s title, we’ll spend a little time talking about another free agent the Twins signed this past offseason, RHP Matt Magill. Matt Magill was drafted out of high school in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In late April of 2013, Magill made his MLB debut for the Dodgers and recorded a quality start. He made six starts for Los Angeles and went 0-2 with a 6.51 ERA before being sent to the minor leagues. He made a return to the big leagues for five games in 2016 with the Cincinnati Reds. He spent the entire 2017 season in the San Diego Padres minor leagues. Magill was again a free agent, and he decided that signing with the Twins was the right thing for him to do. When Magill was asked about what went into the decision for him to sign with the Twins, he provided a couple of good reasons before acknowledging the biggest reason. “I knew that they had a good foundation intact, and I knew they really liked bringing guys up from within their organization. They really like to bring those guys up. I felt like they were going to be contending this year for sure too, and honestly, this was my only option this year too.” Magill continued, “This offseason, they were the only team that called me. So this was my option. That was the main reason. It made it more easy going into the situation knowing that they were contending for a playoff spot going into it. Also, I’ve heard only good things about this organization.” Magill is a great example of a lot of journeymen players who love the game and want to play until the uniform gets ripped off of their back, or until all options have been exhausted. Magill notes, “Honestly, they offered me the minor league spring training. I told them I would love to go just because I wanted a job. I wanted to pitch. I wanted to play. So when they gave me that opportunity, I was just excited. I wasn’t really worried about getting a big league camp invite. I just wanted to pitch. I wanted to play baseball, wherever that meant I was going to go play. They told me I would have some opportunities to go over and pitch on the big league side, so I was very excited for that. I just tried to make the most of the opportunity I was given.” The Twins kept their word. He pitched five innings over six games for the Twins in spring training. He gave up just one earned run. Most of his spring work came on the back fields of the Twins spring facilities. However, he was impressive, flashing a big fastball to go with a sharp slider. He began the 2018 season in Rochester, but he quickly impressed. Reports indicated that he was consistently hitting 96 and touched 98 at times. As we all recall, the Twins bullpen struggled early this season and with weather affecting so many games, the Twins had to make several moves. After just five outings (and 8 2/3 innings) in Rochester, Matt Magill was added to the 40-man roster and called up to the Twins in late April. Even he admits to being surprised. “I was very, very, very surprised. Honestly. Knowing that I wasn’t on the roster, I kind of came out of nowhere. I knew that it was going to be hard for me to get up to the big leagues. I would have to do everything I could. Not saying I don’t believe in my ability, but I know the business side of baseball sometimes prevents some guys who are really good at playing baseball to get to the big leagues.” In addition, he looked around during spring training and it added to his thoughts that it would be difficult for him to get a shot in the big leagues. “When I went to spring training, I saw the arms we had in our bullpen in Rochester. I thought it was going to be triple as hard because we have so many talented guys down there still. The future of the Twins, I just, it’s only going to look up because the arms they have down there are unbelievable.” Tyler Duffey, Alan Busenitz, Gabriel Moya, and John Curtiss have had some time in the big leagues this year. Nick Anderson and Jake Reed still have not had a big league opportunity (but should after Labor Day). Through the majority of his career, Magill has been a starter. He feels that experience has helped him in his time in the bullpen. “It helped me when I was doing the long role. It helped me set up hitters and feel like I could go length. I was very comfortable throwing multiple innings. I also was very comfortable coming in early in the game. That made it easier for me. I think it also helped me appreciate both sides of the game and both sides of the pitching aspect of it.” However, he has become much more comfortable coming out of the bullpen and gained confidence along the way. “Out of the bullpen is nice. You just go in and attack hitters. There is game plan, but you’re going in to get that one guy out at a time. Starting is a whole different mindset for me. I thought it was trying to build up to getting as many innings as you can for your team. (In the bullpen), it’s just about getting outs.” And for the most part, Matt Magill has done a real nice job of getting outs for the Twins. (Again, I’m accepting the blame for Sunday!) The Twins will certainly continue to evaluate Magill, along with those Rochester pitchers, over the final month to see determine potential roles for 2019 But when you consider that Magill didn’t have offers from other organizations and didn’t even get an invitation to big league camp, it has been a great story. And not just a feel-good story, but a story about a journeyman who throws 95-97 mph and has helped the Twins bullpen. Still just 28, he has a chance to stick around for a while.
  24. Coming into the Twins afternoon game on Sunday, relief pitcher Matt Magill had been pitching well out of the Twins bullpen. He had an ERA of 3.55 and had earned more opportunities in higher-leverage situations. In 45 2/3 innings, he had allowed just seven homers. On Sunday, he worked an inning against the A’s and gave up three homeruns in one inning of work. Baseball guys are superstitious, right? I'll blame myself. Before the game, I spent some time talking with the 28-year-old reliever about his decision to sign with the Twins during the offseason, transitioning to the bullpen and more. It's really been quite the story that Magill has written for himself in 2018.During the offseason, the Twins were quite active in the free agent market. They signed Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Addison Reed, Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to major league deals. In addition, they signed the likes of Ryan LaMarre, Gregorio Petit, Bobby Wilson, Jordan Pacheco, Myles Jaye, Nick Buss and Erick Aybar to minor league contracts with spring training invitations. And then they also signed several minor leaguers to minor league contracts without an official MLB spring training invitation. That group included LHP Casey Crosby, RHPs Omar Bencomo and Ryne Harper, OF James Ramsey, IF Jermaine Curtis, and catcher Wynston Sawyer (who was later given an official invite). Such is the nature of free agency, and as you can see, it is impossible to guarantee which move will be deemed successful as the season progresses. As you can assume from the first paragraphs and this article’s title, we’ll spend a little time talking about another free agent the Twins signed this past offseason, RHP Matt Magill. Matt Magill was drafted out of high school in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In late April of 2013, Magill made his MLB debut for the Dodgers and recorded a quality start. He made six starts for Los Angeles and went 0-2 with a 6.51 ERA before being sent to the minor leagues. He made a return to the big leagues for five games in 2016 with the Cincinnati Reds. He spent the entire 2017 season in the San Diego Padres minor leagues. Magill was again a free agent, and he decided that signing with the Twins was the right thing for him to do. When Magill was asked about what went into the decision for him to sign with the Twins, he provided a couple of good reasons before acknowledging the biggest reason. “I knew that they had a good foundation intact, and I knew they really liked bringing guys up from within their organization. They really like to bring those guys up. I felt like they were going to be contending this year for sure too, and honestly, this was my only option this year too.” Magill continued, “This offseason, they were the only team that called me. So this was my option. That was the main reason. It made it more easy going into the situation knowing that they were contending for a playoff spot going into it. Also, I’ve heard only good things about this organization.” Magill is a great example of a lot of journeymen players who love the game and want to play until the uniform gets ripped off of their back, or until all options have been exhausted. Magill notes, “Honestly, they offered me the minor league spring training. I told them I would love to go just because I wanted a job. I wanted to pitch. I wanted to play. So when they gave me that opportunity, I was just excited. I wasn’t really worried about getting a big league camp invite. I just wanted to pitch. I wanted to play baseball, wherever that meant I was going to go play. They told me I would have some opportunities to go over and pitch on the big league side, so I was very excited for that. I just tried to make the most of the opportunity I was given.” The Twins kept their word. He pitched five innings over six games for the Twins in spring training. He gave up just one earned run. Most of his spring work came on the back fields of the Twins spring facilities. However, he was impressive, flashing a big fastball to go with a sharp slider. He began the 2018 season in Rochester, but he quickly impressed. Reports indicated that he was consistently hitting 96 and touched 98 at times. As we all recall, the Twins bullpen struggled early this season and with weather affecting so many games, the Twins had to make several moves. After just five outings (and 8 2/3 innings) in Rochester, Matt Magill was added to the 40-man roster and called up to the Twins in late April. Even he admits to being surprised. “I was very, very, very surprised. Honestly. Knowing that I wasn’t on the roster, I kind of came out of nowhere. I knew that it was going to be hard for me to get up to the big leagues. I would have to do everything I could. Not saying I don’t believe in my ability, but I know the business side of baseball sometimes prevents some guys who are really good at playing baseball to get to the big leagues.” In addition, he looked around during spring training and it added to his thoughts that it would be difficult for him to get a shot in the big leagues. “When I went to spring training, I saw the arms we had in our bullpen in Rochester. I thought it was going to be triple as hard because we have so many talented guys down there still. The future of the Twins, I just, it’s only going to look up because the arms they have down there are unbelievable.” Tyler Duffey, Alan Busenitz, Gabriel Moya, and John Curtiss have had some time in the big leagues this year. Nick Anderson and Jake Reed still have not had a big league opportunity (but should after Labor Day). Through the majority of his career, Magill has been a starter. He feels that experience has helped him in his time in the bullpen. “It helped me when I was doing the long role. It helped me set up hitters and feel like I could go length. I was very comfortable throwing multiple innings. I also was very comfortable coming in early in the game. That made it easier for me. I think it also helped me appreciate both sides of the game and both sides of the pitching aspect of it.” However, he has become much more comfortable coming out of the bullpen and gained confidence along the way. “Out of the bullpen is nice. You just go in and attack hitters. There is game plan, but you’re going in to get that one guy out at a time. Starting is a whole different mindset for me. I thought it was trying to build up to getting as many innings as you can for your team. (In the bullpen), it’s just about getting outs.” And for the most part, Matt Magill has done a real nice job of getting outs for the Twins. (Again, I’m accepting the blame for Sunday!) The Twins will certainly continue to evaluate Magill, along with those Rochester pitchers, over the final month to see determine potential roles for 2019 But when you consider that Magill didn’t have offers from other organizations and didn’t even get an invitation to big league camp, it has been a great story. And not just a feel-good story, but a story about a journeyman who throws 95-97 mph and has helped the Twins bullpen. Still just 28, he has a chance to stick around for a while. Click here to view the article
  25. Pressly and Rodney are gone. Reed's turned into a disaster. Hildenberger has been a mess for weeks (7.45 ERA and .620 opponents' SLG since July 1st). Magill started his Twins career by allowing one run in his first eight appearances, but has since by allowed 16 in 30 2/3 innings (4.70 ERA) and an .833 OPS. Suddenly, there is a great deal of uncertainty plaguing next year's bullpen – at least, one critical element of it. The left-handed contingent is far less worrisome. Taylor Rogers has enjoyed a spectacular year, and currently looks to be the club's best reliever. Gabriel Moya can be written in with ink. Lewis Thorpe or Adalberto Mejia could potentially join the fray. And even if the Twins feel short on internal options, it's never too hard to go out and find a free agent like Zach Duke who can get it done as a secondary southpaw. But there is far less assurance when it comes to bullpen right-handers (and, one might conclude, closer candidates). Unfortunately, the Twins have deprived themselves of opportunities to more thoroughly evaluate several of them this season. In any case, let's break down each key figure and where he stands as we roll toward the end of the 2018 campaign. Trevor Hildenberger When I ranked the top 20 Twins assets last offseason, I had Hildenberger as the highest reliever, and 11th overall. "The 27-year-old bears every attribute of a closer or high-leverage fireman for years to come, and is controllable through 2022." Hildenberger was only reinforcing his value through the first three months of this season, continuing to excel as one of the league's steadiest setup men, but things took a turn one sweltering day in Chicago at the end of June. In his 37th appearance, he coughed up five earned runs on four hits and four walks, while recording one out. It was not only the worst outing of his career, but one of the worst you're likely to see from any relief pitcher. Since then, things just haven't been the same. Before that game, the sidearmer had registered a 2.06 ERA and held opponents to a .197 average. Since then, he has a 7.45 ERA and opponents have hit .329. Hildy was nearly spotless throughout the minors, and during his first calendar year in the majors, so these extended struggles are unprecedented for him. The good news is that his peripherals aren't nearly so startling. Hildenberger's swinging strike rate has remained static, his walks have stayed in check, and his velocity hasn't dropped to an alarming degree (though it has dipped from where it was in the middle of the summer). There have been plenty of theories as to what's causing this dramatic drop-off in results — overuse, tipping pitches, maybe something so simple as MLB hitters catching on to his quirky delivery. Whatever the case, I'm not overly concerned, and still view him as a key long-term piece in this unit. But, it'd sure be reassuring to see the interim (?) closer string together a nice stretch over the final weeks. Addison Reed For the entirety of his tenure as Twins GM, Terry Ryan consistently opted against investing significantly in free agent relievers. Never once during his run did the team sign an outside bullpen piece to a multi-year deal. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine broke that pattern during their first full offseason at the helm, signing Addison Reed to a two-year, $16.25 million deal in January. Now? That contract has very quickly become a banner example of why Ryan's regime fiercely avoided such commitments. Relief pitchers are notoriously volatile, which was the primary thinking behind Minnesota's steadfast avoidance, but many fans (including myself) longed for the club to step up and pay the price for an established name. While not a top-tier talent, per se, Reed was certainly a more bold investment than we've ever seen from the Twins before on this front: A consistent performer. A successful closer. A hired bullpen ace, on one of the larger deals handed out to a reliever during the winter. Now, Reed is Exhibit A of the position's volatility. Following some solid initial returns, he has broken down, and can't be relied upon in any capacity. Frankly, it's impossible to believe at this point his arm is sound. Reed's velocity is as low as it's ever been. No one's swinging and missing at any of his pitches; he has induced a total of two whiffs on 71 pitches since coming off the DL. Two! What to do at this point? Shut him down? Take a closer look at that elbow? All I know is that sending him out to the mound is doing little good, and Reed is destined to enter 2018 as a complete question mark at best. Somewhere, Terry Ryan is nodding knowingly. Trevor May Enough with the bad news. While several of his peers have nosedived in the second half, May has been busy reintroducing himself – with authority. The 28-year-old rejoined Minnesota at the end of July, and has been fantastic. Yeah, he had a little hiccup on Thursday night when he entered and walked two with the bases loaded, but May was otherwise spotless over two frames, and throwing strikes hasn't exactly been a problem for him despite the long layoff. Those walks are the only he's issued in 6 2/3 innings, during which he has registered a 21% swinging strike rate. To say May is dominating at an elite level would be an understatement; Josh Hader leads all qualified MLB relievers with a 19.5% whiff rate, and might be the best reliever in baseball. May is the best bet to fulfill Pressly's vacancy as a high-octane late-inning weapon. He's got closer stuff but is more alluring as a situational fireman. I'm beyond giddy to have this guy back in the mix, and am more optimistic about him than any other player listed here going forward. Matt Magill He was a nice story for a while. Plenty of failed starters have gone on to establish themselves as quality MLB relievers, and Magill had a chance to be join those ranks. He still might. But the 28-year-old journeyman has given Minnesota little reason to maintain intrigue. Even when Magill was experiencing a surprising early run of success, Molitor was reluctant to use him in any kind of meaningful situation. Perhaps he sensed what was coming. Magill hasn't been a disaster by any means, but he also hasn't been anything special, and given his circumstances it's tough to see him edging enough others on this list to stay in the picture. Working against him is a sudden decline in control – after walking four batters in 17 appearances through the end of June, he's walked six in nine appearances since. Tyler Duffey Duffey deserved better. It's befuddling that Magill slid ahead of him in line, and utterly baffling that Matt Belisle did. Why are these random pickups being prioritized over a homegrown talent with proven ability? Duffey was never meant to a be a starter, and unfortunately much time was wasted on that failed experiment, but the former college closer has shown plenty since moving back to relief duty. He pitched far better than his 4.94 ERA in the Twins bullpen showed last year, with a 67-to-18 K/BB ratio in 71 innings. He's got a hammer curve that works beautifully in short stints. He's been shutting down Triple-A hitters all year. And yet it took Duffey until August to get another real shot with Minnesota. I guess that speaks to the front office's opinion of him. I can't say I understand it, personally. Duffey's fine work since rejoining the Twins bullpen (zero hits allowed in 3 1/3 innings) speaks to what he can do. But now he's in the tough position of trying to make an overwhelming impression in the final weeks, and next spring, because he's out of options in 2019. Given their ambiguity with bullpen righties going forward, the Twins' refusal to take an extended look at Duffey this summer strikes me as one of their biggest follies. We'll see what happens. Alan Busenitz In many ways, Busenitz falls in the same category as Duffey. He's been brilliant in Triple-A all year and has major-league experience, but has repeatedly been passed up by less deserving candidates. Operating with mid-90s heat and a solid curveball, Busenitz has turned in a 2.48 ERA and 45-to-8 K/BB ratio in 40 innings at Triple-A. Meanwhile, he's gotten only 13 innings in the majors. I will say that I'm not quite as miffed with the team's handling of Busenitz as Duffey. On merit, he absolutely has deserved more of a chance, but to me there are ominous harbingers in Booze's profile. As I noted in spring training when he was competing for a roster spot, fly ball pitchers who don't miss a ton of bats don't tend to fare well in the majors. Busenitz still has an option left, which surely will work against him. Based on his treatment this year it's hard to see him being legitimately in the running for a bullpen spot next spring. Oliver Drake He's one of the ostensible journeymen who's gotten a look ahead of Duffey and Busenitz, but Drake isn't as bothersome as others. Yes, he's 31. Yes, he's pitched with four other teams this season. But there is actually a lot to like about him. He's been a monster in Triple-A (1.80 ERA, 12.7 K/9 in 110 IP). He has also averaged 9.9 K/9 in the majors, where his 3.47 FIP clashes with a 4.82 ERA. And since joining the Twins, the waiver pickup has looked great, striking out six while allowing one hit and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. He's got a funky delivery and some eye-catching breaking balls. If he throws it over the plate, Drake can be a real factor. I'm actually quite interested in watching him over these finals weeks, and would love to see a few higher-leverage chances. To me Drake is exactly the kind of player a team like the Twins should be auditioning in their current position. John Curtiss Inadequate control can be the bane of so many otherwise capable pitchers. Perhaps that'll prove to be the case with Curtiss, whose dazzling strikeout rates through the minors have raised eyebrows. As he's moved up and hitters have become more selective, the 25-year-old's strike-throwing issues have been magnified. He's averaged 4.4 BB/9 in 71 innings at Triple-A, and has barely gotten a chance in the majors. His extremely brief stint with the Twins this year was nightmarish, and included two run-scoring wild pitches in a single inning. With an option left for 2019, he will stay on hand as depth, but Curtiss needs to make serious strides with his command to have any chance of breaking into Minnesota's bullpen for good. Luke Bard It was frustrating to see Bard swooped away in December's Rule 5 draft, when the Twins left room on their roster to select Tyler Kinley (remember him?). But the Angels didn't stick with Bard and his elite spin rate for long, returning him to the Twins in late April. Since rejoining the organization, the former first-round pick has remained in Triple-A, where his season's been a mixed bag. The strikeouts have been there for Bard (43 K in 38.2 IP) but he's been oddly hittable, allowing a 4.89 ERA and .807 opponents' OPS. He turns 28 this offseason so his prospect luster is diminishing, but Bard isn't without hope. *** Beyond the above list, there are several others who could be right-handed bullpen factors in 2019, including Nick Anderson, Jake Reed and (if they'll just give him a dang chance in relief) Kohl Stewart. But right now the nine players listed above look like the main contenders. Are you comfortable with this depth amidst some clear uncertainty at the highest ranks?
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