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  1. He was the only player the Twins acquired at the trade deadline that was effective. He's also still a free agent, but he is not without red flags. Image courtesy of © Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports The Minnesota Twins bullpen is filling out nicely, projected as a top-five unit by some systems. They have arguably the best relief pitcher in all of baseball in Jhoan Duran and a strong supporting cast behind him, but there is plenty of noise that the Twins add one more right-handed reliever to fill out the bullpen. A popular candidate to re-sign for that last spot is one of their 2022 trade acquisitions, Michael Fulmer. Fulmer was solid for the Twins in the back half of the season, claiming a 3.70 ERA, 4.14 FIP, with a 20.6% K% and 7.5% BB% for Minnesota post-deadline. There has been little noteworthy reporting on a potential landing spot for Fulmer this offseason. Would a reunion in MN make sense for the right-hander? Fulmer sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, but his calling card is his slider. Throwing it more than 60% of the time and averaging over 90 MPH, the pitch laid waste to right-handed hitters, as Fulmer held them to a .188/.287/.257 slash line in 2022. However, as devastating as he is to right-handers, he was quite the opposite versus left-handed hitters. Allowing a .337/.404/.526 slash line, this extreme platoon split limits Fulmer’s value, as he is only useful against one side of the plate. Fulmer toes a very fine line of success. His strikeout rate is just under league average (45th percentile), and he does a good job of limiting hard contact (61st percentile HardHit%), but walks were a problem for Fulmer in 2022. His 10.1% BB% was the 20th percentile, and while you can be an excellent reliever with a high walk rate, it is difficult to do so while missing bats at a below-league-average level. I believe Fulmer allows too many free passes to consistently rely on the variance of balls in play to be a sustainably reliable relief pitcher in the future. In addition to his struggles commanding the strike zone, Fulmer is starting to see deterioration in his pitch arsenal. Fulmer saw his pitch velocities decline by more than a mile per hour for all four of his pitches. The thing that concerns me the most is what happened to his slider. In addition to losing velocity, it started to lose movement. According to Baseball Savant, from 2021 to 2022, his slider lost more than an inch of horizontal break and an inch of vertical break. Given how often he throws this pitch and how critical it is for his success, declining speed and movement on his slider is extremely concerning moving forward. For a pitcher that is going to rely on soft contact for outs while also not throwing a lot of strikes, seeing their best pitch starting to slip is a red flag. I’m not opposed to re-signing Fulmer, but it would be a risky bet, and it would have to be a low-cost signing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins decided to fill that final bullpen spot with one of their relief prospects instead of Fulmer. Whether it’s Cole Sands, Ronny Henriquez, Trevor Megill, or another option, it’s not an unreasonable bet that the Twins can generate Fulmer’s value as a righty specialist elsewhere View full article
  2. The Minnesota Twins bullpen is filling out nicely, projected as a top-five unit by some systems. They have arguably the best relief pitcher in all of baseball in Jhoan Duran and a strong supporting cast behind him, but there is plenty of noise that the Twins add one more right-handed reliever to fill out the bullpen. A popular candidate to re-sign for that last spot is one of their 2022 trade acquisitions, Michael Fulmer. Fulmer was solid for the Twins in the back half of the season, claiming a 3.70 ERA, 4.14 FIP, with a 20.6% K% and 7.5% BB% for Minnesota post-deadline. There has been little noteworthy reporting on a potential landing spot for Fulmer this offseason. Would a reunion in MN make sense for the right-hander? Fulmer sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, but his calling card is his slider. Throwing it more than 60% of the time and averaging over 90 MPH, the pitch laid waste to right-handed hitters, as Fulmer held them to a .188/.287/.257 slash line in 2022. However, as devastating as he is to right-handers, he was quite the opposite versus left-handed hitters. Allowing a .337/.404/.526 slash line, this extreme platoon split limits Fulmer’s value, as he is only useful against one side of the plate. Fulmer toes a very fine line of success. His strikeout rate is just under league average (45th percentile), and he does a good job of limiting hard contact (61st percentile HardHit%), but walks were a problem for Fulmer in 2022. His 10.1% BB% was the 20th percentile, and while you can be an excellent reliever with a high walk rate, it is difficult to do so while missing bats at a below-league-average level. I believe Fulmer allows too many free passes to consistently rely on the variance of balls in play to be a sustainably reliable relief pitcher in the future. In addition to his struggles commanding the strike zone, Fulmer is starting to see deterioration in his pitch arsenal. Fulmer saw his pitch velocities decline by more than a mile per hour for all four of his pitches. The thing that concerns me the most is what happened to his slider. In addition to losing velocity, it started to lose movement. According to Baseball Savant, from 2021 to 2022, his slider lost more than an inch of horizontal break and an inch of vertical break. Given how often he throws this pitch and how critical it is for his success, declining speed and movement on his slider is extremely concerning moving forward. For a pitcher that is going to rely on soft contact for outs while also not throwing a lot of strikes, seeing their best pitch starting to slip is a red flag. I’m not opposed to re-signing Fulmer, but it would be a risky bet, and it would have to be a low-cost signing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins decided to fill that final bullpen spot with one of their relief prospects instead of Fulmer. Whether it’s Cole Sands, Ronny Henriquez, Trevor Megill, or another option, it’s not an unreasonable bet that the Twins can generate Fulmer’s value as a righty specialist elsewhere
  3. To this point, the Minnesota Twins’ off-season has not gone as some had hoped, leading fans to chalk it up as a major dud. I, on the other hand, view it simply as incomplete. The current makeup of the roster is bursting at the seams with potential, and there are still enough moves the Twins can make to transform this promising roster into a contender in the AL Central. Here are a few moves I could see the Twins plausibly acting on to achieve that goal. Sign a Right-Handed Outfielder It seems as though the Twins currently possess every left-handed outfielder that has ever played the game. With Gallo, Kepler, Larnach, Kirilloff, and Wallner all taking their cuts from the left side of the plate, the Twins could use a little pop from the right side. Trey Mancini is one right handed option that fits the Twins’ current roster very well. Mancini is only 30 years old and has five seasons of solid production at the plate. He went through a tough time at the plate after being traded to the Astros last year, but I choose to look at the whole body of work rather than the final 51 games he played in Houston. Mancini’s bat is the appeal here, but he has experience playing outfield as well as first base, a position where the Twins don’t currently have a permanent solution. The Twins have money to spend, and signing Mancini would give them a guy they can plug into a corner outfield spot, first base, or DH to add a plus bat to the lineup. There are other options on the free agent market that would fill this need, but Mancini is the one I like best. Bolster the Rotation If you thought signing Gallo was the beginning of the end for Max Kepler in Minnesota, signing Mancini would surely be the straw that broke the camel’s back. In a scenario where the Twins do sign Mancini, they now have too many cooks in the outfield, and unfortunately, Kepler is the odd man out. As noted in my last blog post, I am very high on Pablo Lopez as a potential target for the Twins, and the Marlins are reportedly looking for MLB-ready bats, particularly outfielders. Kepler isn’t enough to get Lopez on his own, but they could package him with either a top 5 prospect or Luis Arraez. Another way they could try to complete a deal would be to take on Jorge Soler’s contract. This method would dip into their spending over the next few years but would allow them to hang onto their top prospects and Luis Arraez. The two teams have been reported to be in ongoing trade talks, so it remains to be seen how this plays out, but Pablo Lopez would be a massive addition to a frequently injured rotation. If the Twins elect not to trade for a front of the rotation guy, they must sign a back of the rotation insurance piece. Four of the five rotation pieces penciled in either struggled to stay healthy last year or didn't play at all due to injury. Adding a guy like Michael Wacha would prevent the Twins from having to rush young prospects the way they did last year with Josh Winder and Louie Varland. Both Varland and Winder showed promise in their big league debuts, but both guys could use a bit more time in the minors before being rotational MLB pitchers. Sure Up the Bullpen 2022 was a year of highs and lows for the Minnesota Twins bullpen. The emergence of Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran as dominant pieces at the back end of the bullpen was riveting, while Emilio Pagan and Jorge Lopez left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. The Twins should see the return of Jorge Alcala in 2023. Although there is no guarantee Alcala will return to the form he was when he was the favorite to win the closer job after the Taylor Rogers trade, he should still be a viable piece for the Twins to use. Jorge Lopez walks too many batters, but I still believe in the elite stuff, and his dominant first half of 2022 with the Orioles is impossible to ignore. There may even be hope that Pagan can be a decent middle reliever if he continues to develop his splitter. As a unit, the group is solid, but with the rotation’s inability to pitch deep into games, they could use one more reliable arm. Michael Fulmer would be a familiar name the Twins could bring back for a modest price. Another name I like if the Twins are in the market for a lefty reliever is Andrew Chafin, who had a 3.06 FIP and fanned 67 batters over 57.1 IP last season with the Detroit Tigers. Chafin is left-handed compared to Fulmer’s right-handedness, so it would be up to the Twins to decide which is a bigger need and what would be a better fit. At this point in the off-season, even though things may seem all doom and gloom, there are still moves left for the Twins to make. They have a young, promising roster, money to spend, and bats they should be willing to trade to upgrade the team as a whole. The three potential moves highlighted above could put a nice touch on an otherwise uneventful off-season and, in my opinion, would make the Twins contenders in the AL Central. What are your thoughts? What’s a move you want the Twins to make before Spring Training? Let me know! As always, Go, Twins!
  4. The Twins primary goal of the offseason was to bring back Carlos Correa. Having failed on step one and having missed the opportunity on many other top free agents, the answer could be to pivot to the reliever market. Image courtesy of Bill Vilona/Special to News Journal, Pensacola News Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC In 2022, as has been the case several recent seasons, the Twins’ patchwork bullpen was an unmitigated disaster for much of the first half of the season. While their 3.68 bullpen ERA through the end of May looks fine and grades as middle of the pack, the 0.2 fWAR accumulated in that time was dead last in the entire MLB, and the team had blown six of their 13 save opportunities to that point. It was such an embarrassment that the front office was taking questions in every interview about reliever trades on the horizon despite the deadline being months away. We’ve seen this cycle for two years now where the team insists they can build a bullpen with little investment. In both 2021 and 2022, they made one single somewhat notable relief addition that they saw as a value in Alex Colomé and Emilio Pagán, and in both cases it can be argued that there wasn’t another player as destructive to the team’s success as these two in their respective seasons. In both cases, by season’s end, the Twins had a respectable bullpen. In 2021 it was far too late as the Twins were out of contention. In 2022, the Twins were able to hang around despite countless crippling losses along the way. In 2023, the Twins have a perfect set of circumstances to come to the conclusion that this cannot happen for a third year in a row. Having lost Carlos Correa and Gio Urshela, the Twins will be without two of their top four hitters in wRC+ from 2022. Some fans continue to cite better health and breakouts from young players to make up this gap, but every projection strongly disagrees. Also consider that while the Twins waited on Correa, just about every other impact free agent found a home elsewhere. The Twins are now left with $20-30m left to spend to get to 2022 levels and no everyday players to spend it on. The goal now should be straightforward: Improve whatever areas of weakness you can. With a returning bullpen of Duran, Jax, Lopez, Thielbar etc. the Twins should be in better shape in this regard than prior seasons. Still, filler arms such as Trevor Megill have a place, and it’s hard to know what to expect from Jorge Alcala who missed all of 2022 with elbow issues. There are also several intriguing arms remaining on the free agent market. In true Twins fashion, they could take a flier on a bounceback candidate like Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel blew 5 saves in 2022 and was left off of the Dodgers postseason roster, but his “down” season still consisted of a 3.75 ERA, well over a strikeout per inning, .60 HR/9, and a mid to high 90s fastball. The Twins don’t need Kimbrel to come in and close despite his preference to do so. He may wind up having to take whatever deal he can to reestablish his value, and the Twins could use some upside in case someone like Duran stumbles or misses time. They could also still use a second left-handed reliever to pair with Thielbar. They could gamble on longtime great Zack Britton who’s thrown just 19 innings the last two seasons but has always been death on lefties. They could also bet on 2022 breakout Matt Moore whose 1.95 ERA in 74 innings was simply dominant. There are several other situational or high upside arms remaining such as a reunion with Michael Fulmer to match up against right handed heavy lineups. They could throw money at once lockdown relievers Trevor Rosenthal, Corey Knebel, or Alex Reyes. They should reasonably have 1-2 spots in the bullpen pecking order to take a chance or two like this to try to avoid the early season meltdowns we’ve seen so many times. While none of these arms are sure fire bullpen aces, one thing is for certain: the Twins have a lot of money to spend to get to 2022 levels which should absolutely be reached again. They also have little to spend it on for the rotation or position player side. Given how big of a problem the bullpen has been in recent years, that money would be better spent trying to avoid the yearly early catastrophe’s we’ve grown accustomed to. With how much they’ve lost from the lineup, they may not be able to afford it this year. View full article
  5. In 2022, as has been the case several recent seasons, the Twins’ patchwork bullpen was an unmitigated disaster for much of the first half of the season. While their 3.68 bullpen ERA through the end of May looks fine and grades as middle of the pack, the 0.2 fWAR accumulated in that time was dead last in the entire MLB, and the team had blown six of their 13 save opportunities to that point. It was such an embarrassment that the front office was taking questions in every interview about reliever trades on the horizon despite the deadline being months away. We’ve seen this cycle for two years now where the team insists they can build a bullpen with little investment. In both 2021 and 2022, they made one single somewhat notable relief addition that they saw as a value in Alex Colomé and Emilio Pagán, and in both cases it can be argued that there wasn’t another player as destructive to the team’s success as these two in their respective seasons. In both cases, by season’s end, the Twins had a respectable bullpen. In 2021 it was far too late as the Twins were out of contention. In 2022, the Twins were able to hang around despite countless crippling losses along the way. In 2023, the Twins have a perfect set of circumstances to come to the conclusion that this cannot happen for a third year in a row. Having lost Carlos Correa and Gio Urshela, the Twins will be without two of their top four hitters in wRC+ from 2022. Some fans continue to cite better health and breakouts from young players to make up this gap, but every projection strongly disagrees. Also consider that while the Twins waited on Correa, just about every other impact free agent found a home elsewhere. The Twins are now left with $20-30m left to spend to get to 2022 levels and no everyday players to spend it on. The goal now should be straightforward: Improve whatever areas of weakness you can. With a returning bullpen of Duran, Jax, Lopez, Thielbar etc. the Twins should be in better shape in this regard than prior seasons. Still, filler arms such as Trevor Megill have a place, and it’s hard to know what to expect from Jorge Alcala who missed all of 2022 with elbow issues. There are also several intriguing arms remaining on the free agent market. In true Twins fashion, they could take a flier on a bounceback candidate like Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel blew 5 saves in 2022 and was left off of the Dodgers postseason roster, but his “down” season still consisted of a 3.75 ERA, well over a strikeout per inning, .60 HR/9, and a mid to high 90s fastball. The Twins don’t need Kimbrel to come in and close despite his preference to do so. He may wind up having to take whatever deal he can to reestablish his value, and the Twins could use some upside in case someone like Duran stumbles or misses time. They could also still use a second left-handed reliever to pair with Thielbar. They could gamble on longtime great Zack Britton who’s thrown just 19 innings the last two seasons but has always been death on lefties. They could also bet on 2022 breakout Matt Moore whose 1.95 ERA in 74 innings was simply dominant. There are several other situational or high upside arms remaining such as a reunion with Michael Fulmer to match up against right handed heavy lineups. They could throw money at once lockdown relievers Trevor Rosenthal, Corey Knebel, or Alex Reyes. They should reasonably have 1-2 spots in the bullpen pecking order to take a chance or two like this to try to avoid the early season meltdowns we’ve seen so many times. While none of these arms are sure fire bullpen aces, one thing is for certain: the Twins have a lot of money to spend to get to 2022 levels which should absolutely be reached again. They also have little to spend it on for the rotation or position player side. Given how big of a problem the bullpen has been in recent years, that money would be better spent trying to avoid the yearly early catastrophe’s we’ve grown accustomed to. With how much they’ve lost from the lineup, they may not be able to afford it this year.
  6. The Twins parted ways with free agents, cleared space on the 40-man roster, and set the stage for an offseason primed with ample flexibility and a wide range of possibilities. Here's where things stand as we get started. Eight Twins Players Become Free Agents The end of the World Series triggered the official commencement of the offseason, meaning that the following players automatically entered the free agent market: Michael Fulmer, RHP Gary Sánchez, C Sandy León, C Billy Hamilton, OF Aaron Sanchez, RHP Aside from Fulmer, a solid deadline pickup for the bullpen, and Sánchez, who ended up being the team's primary catcher, these are all random midseason veteran pickups who played roles for the team out of sheer desperation. No big losses, although Fulmer will be an interesting target to pursue. Elsewhere, Carlos Correa opted out of his contract as expected. He'll hit free agency once again in search of a monster deal eclipsing $300 million. I wrote about what it will take to re-sign him as part of a three-part "Future of Shortstop" chapter of the Offseason Handbook. Anyone with a Twins Daily account can download that chapter for free. Finally, there were three players whose team options the club elected to decline, all as expected: Miguel Sanó, 1B ($2.75M buyout) Dylan Bundy, RHP ($1M buyout) Chris Archer, RHP ($750K buyout) Bundy and Archer were underwhelming bargain-bin free agent signings for the back of the rotation. Sanó's legacy with the Twins is, of course, much more lengthy and complicated. Probably worthy of a deeper examination in time. But for now, what matters for now is the way it ended: with the Twins paying $2.75 million to be done with him. Twins Pick Up Sonny Gray's Option There was one team option that the Twins were more than happy to pick up: Gray will be back next year at a $12.7 million salary. This was a no-brainer and a big part of the reason Minnesota was willing to give up Chase Petty for the veteran right-hander. Gray currently projects as the standalone #1 starter on the 2023 staff. Improving upon that situation should be a top priority for the front office this winter. Will they make an offseason addition who surpasses the Sonny Gray Threshold? We explored free agents and trade targets who could provide a legitimate top-of-rotation upgrade in the Starting Pitchers chapter of the Offseason Handbook, available to Caretakers. 40-Man Roster Shuffling Clears Room In addition to letting several players loose into free agency, the Twins also cleared up some 40-man roster room through waivers and outrights. Here's a quick rundown to catch you up: LHP Danny Coulombe was outrighted from the 40-man roster and assigned to the Saints. So were LHP Devin Smeltzer and RHP Jhon Romero. C Caleb Hamilton was claimed off waivers by Boston. SS Jermaine Palacios was claimed off waivers by Detroit. OF Jake Cave was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. All of these many removals from the 40-man were offset by a litany of players being removed from the injured list at year's end, so the Twins end up with 37 players currently rostered as illustrated in the grid below. Highlighted in red are eight clear candidates for removal, via non-tender or waiving, so the Twins will have no trouble finding room for new additions. The deadline to make contract tender decisions on arbitration-eligible players falls on November 18th – next Thursday. On that date we'll learn whether we can lock in or remove a few of those red-shaded names above, including Gio Urshela, Kyle Garlick, Emilio Pagan and Cody Stashak. Internal Promotions Impact MLB Coaching Staff As a result of a series of internal personnel shifts announced by the team this past week, a new member has been added to the major-league coaching staff for 2023: Derek Shohon, who served as the hitting coach for Class-AA Wichita last year – overseeing the breakouts of prospects Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien, among others – will join the Twins as an assistant hitting coach alongside incumbents David Popkins and Rudy Hernandez. Some other moves of note: Drew MacPhail, son of former Twins GM Andy MacPhail, takes over as farm director. Alex Hassan, previously in that role, is now vice president of hitting development and procurement. Former run creation coordinator Frankie Padulo transitions into the assistant director of player development role formerly held by MacPhail. Brian Maloney was promoted to director of minor league and high performance operations, and Amanda Daley was promoted to director of player education. Roster and Payroll Projection: v1 Here's an overview of where the projected roster and payroll currently stand, under the assumption that Urshela and Garlick are tendered, and Pagan is not. (Far from guaranteed on any count.) The biggest existential priorities, as you can see, are finding a starting shortstop (and his backup), filling the catcher vacancy, and adding impact arms. They've got nearly $50 million to spend merely to get back to the 2022 payroll level, so needless to say there's a world of possibilities ahead. As a reminder, you can explore options at these key positions of need by downloading available chapters of the Offseason Handbook, and you can use our roster-building tool to forge your own Twins blueprint. View full article
  7. Going into the 2023 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins once again will need to address their bullpen. This past offseason the only acquisition of note was veteran Joe Smith and it took 34 games for them to cut bait. Maybe it makes sense to re-up with the lone free agent they acquired at the trade deadline. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins needed to turn things around on the mound. Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson, and Pete Maki were cycling through arms left and right. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a substantial foot placed forward for them to do so in 2022. While Sonny Gray was acquired to bolster the rotation, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were always going to tax the group. Adding only a 38-year-old veteran in Joe Smith wasn’t good enough. At the deadline, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine addressed the situation by bringing in Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. Although Jhoan Duran had developed into a late-inning threat, it was clear he needed help. Unfortunately, the former Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer regressed a bit and wasn’t the asset Minnesota needed him to be. Under contract through 2024, there’s plenty of time for him to change that tune. Fulmer was the lone impending free agent the Twins acquired at the deadline and he was basically as expected. The ERA rose to 3.70 and his FIP suggested room for more regression as well. Although he struck out roughly the same amount of batters and walked fewer in his time with Minnesota, Fulmer got hit a bit harder both in and out of the park. The former first-round pick and Rookie of the Year award winner transitioned to relief pitching full-time just one season ago. The 2.97 ERA in 2021 was sparkling, and while his FIP number sat at 3.46, he showed well working as the Detroit Tigers closer. Gregory Soto took over that role this season for Detroit, but Fulmer showed an ability to be mixed in throughout the game, and provide a high-leverage arm whenever called upon. After seeing a slight velocity jump during the 2021 season, Fulmer was back averaging 94 mph this year. His 63.5% slider usage was higher than it had ever been, but that was also because of how effective the pitch has become for him. Minnesota has shown an affinity for arms with good sliders in recent seasons, and Fulmer coming back with that in mind makes a decent amount of sense. Having made just shy of $5 million last season, it’ll be interesting to see what the market looks like. Fulmer probably could’ve cashed in on a bigger payday had he been a free agent prior to 2022, but his performance this year doesn’t drag him down a ton either. He will be 30 years old in 2023, and there’s plenty of reason to believe in his durability, especially as a reliever. How much the Twins liked Fulmer in their mix down the stretch likely factors heavily into any conversation about a reunion, but it’s hard to call his ability anything but a boost to the pen in 2023. Would you welcome Fulmer back as an addition to the Twins bullpen next season? At what price do you feel comfortable doing a deal? View full article
  8. Eight Twins Players Become Free Agents The end of the World Series triggered the official commencement of the offseason, meaning that the following players automatically entered the free agent market: Michael Fulmer, RHP Gary Sánchez, C Sandy León, C Billy Hamilton, OF Aaron Sanchez, RHP Aside from Fulmer, a solid deadline pickup for the bullpen, and Sánchez, who ended up being the team's primary catcher, these are all random midseason veteran pickups who played roles for the team out of sheer desperation. No big losses, although Fulmer will be an interesting target to pursue. Elsewhere, Carlos Correa opted out of his contract as expected. He'll hit free agency once again in search of a monster deal eclipsing $300 million. I wrote about what it will take to re-sign him as part of a three-part "Future of Shortstop" chapter of the Offseason Handbook. Anyone with a Twins Daily account can download that chapter for free. Finally, there were three players whose team options the club elected to decline, all as expected: Miguel Sanó, 1B ($2.75M buyout) Dylan Bundy, RHP ($1M buyout) Chris Archer, RHP ($750K buyout) Bundy and Archer were underwhelming bargain-bin free agent signings for the back of the rotation. Sanó's legacy with the Twins is, of course, much more lengthy and complicated. Probably worthy of a deeper examination in time. But for now, what matters for now is the way it ended: with the Twins paying $2.75 million to be done with him. Twins Pick Up Sonny Gray's Option There was one team option that the Twins were more than happy to pick up: Gray will be back next year at a $12.7 million salary. This was a no-brainer and a big part of the reason Minnesota was willing to give up Chase Petty for the veteran right-hander. Gray currently projects as the standalone #1 starter on the 2023 staff. Improving upon that situation should be a top priority for the front office this winter. Will they make an offseason addition who surpasses the Sonny Gray Threshold? We explored free agents and trade targets who could provide a legitimate top-of-rotation upgrade in the Starting Pitchers chapter of the Offseason Handbook, available to Caretakers. 40-Man Roster Shuffling Clears Room In addition to letting several players loose into free agency, the Twins also cleared up some 40-man roster room through waivers and outrights. Here's a quick rundown to catch you up: LHP Danny Coulombe was outrighted from the 40-man roster and assigned to the Saints. So were LHP Devin Smeltzer and RHP Jhon Romero. C Caleb Hamilton was claimed off waivers by Boston. SS Jermaine Palacios was claimed off waivers by Detroit. OF Jake Cave was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. All of these many removals from the 40-man were offset by a litany of players being removed from the injured list at year's end, so the Twins end up with 37 players currently rostered as illustrated in the grid below. Highlighted in red are eight clear candidates for removal, via non-tender or waiving, so the Twins will have no trouble finding room for new additions. The deadline to make contract tender decisions on arbitration-eligible players falls on November 18th – next Thursday. On that date we'll learn whether we can lock in or remove a few of those red-shaded names above, including Gio Urshela, Kyle Garlick, Emilio Pagan and Cody Stashak. Internal Promotions Impact MLB Coaching Staff As a result of a series of internal personnel shifts announced by the team this past week, a new member has been added to the major-league coaching staff for 2023: Derek Shohon, who served as the hitting coach for Class-AA Wichita last year – overseeing the breakouts of prospects Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien, among others – will join the Twins as an assistant hitting coach alongside incumbents David Popkins and Rudy Hernandez. Some other moves of note: Drew MacPhail, son of former Twins GM Andy MacPhail, takes over as farm director. Alex Hassan, previously in that role, is now vice president of hitting development and procurement. Former run creation coordinator Frankie Padulo transitions into the assistant director of player development role formerly held by MacPhail. Brian Maloney was promoted to director of minor league and high performance operations, and Amanda Daley was promoted to director of player education. Roster and Payroll Projection: v1 Here's an overview of where the projected roster and payroll currently stand, under the assumption that Urshela and Garlick are tendered, and Pagan is not. (Far from guaranteed on any count.) The biggest existential priorities, as you can see, are finding a starting shortstop (and his backup), filling the catcher vacancy, and adding impact arms. They've got nearly $50 million to spend merely to get back to the 2022 payroll level, so needless to say there's a world of possibilities ahead. As a reminder, you can explore options at these key positions of need by downloading available chapters of the Offseason Handbook, and you can use our roster-building tool to forge your own Twins blueprint.
  9. After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins needed to turn things around on the mound. Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson, and Pete Maki were cycling through arms left and right. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a substantial foot placed forward for them to do so in 2022. While Sonny Gray was acquired to bolster the rotation, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were always going to tax the group. Adding only a 38-year-old veteran in Joe Smith wasn’t good enough. At the deadline, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine addressed the situation by bringing in Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. Although Jhoan Duran had developed into a late-inning threat, it was clear he needed help. Unfortunately, the former Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer regressed a bit and wasn’t the asset Minnesota needed him to be. Under contract through 2024, there’s plenty of time for him to change that tune. Fulmer was the lone impending free agent the Twins acquired at the deadline and he was basically as expected. The ERA rose to 3.70 and his FIP suggested room for more regression as well. Although he struck out roughly the same amount of batters and walked fewer in his time with Minnesota, Fulmer got hit a bit harder both in and out of the park. The former first-round pick and Rookie of the Year award winner transitioned to relief pitching full-time just one season ago. The 2.97 ERA in 2021 was sparkling, and while his FIP number sat at 3.46, he showed well working as the Detroit Tigers closer. Gregory Soto took over that role this season for Detroit, but Fulmer showed an ability to be mixed in throughout the game, and provide a high-leverage arm whenever called upon. After seeing a slight velocity jump during the 2021 season, Fulmer was back averaging 94 mph this year. His 63.5% slider usage was higher than it had ever been, but that was also because of how effective the pitch has become for him. Minnesota has shown an affinity for arms with good sliders in recent seasons, and Fulmer coming back with that in mind makes a decent amount of sense. Having made just shy of $5 million last season, it’ll be interesting to see what the market looks like. Fulmer probably could’ve cashed in on a bigger payday had he been a free agent prior to 2022, but his performance this year doesn’t drag him down a ton either. He will be 30 years old in 2023, and there’s plenty of reason to believe in his durability, especially as a reliever. How much the Twins liked Fulmer in their mix down the stretch likely factors heavily into any conversation about a reunion, but it’s hard to call his ability anything but a boost to the pen in 2023. Would you welcome Fulmer back as an addition to the Twins bullpen next season? At what price do you feel comfortable doing a deal?
  10. When the Twins have looked outside for late-inning relief help, it hasn't generally gone so well. (See: Emilio Pagán, Alex Colomé, Addison Reed.) This year's free agent market presents some opportunities to reconnect with a few former Twins who represent some of the brightest moments for bullpens of years past. Image courtesy of Thomas Shea and David Berding-USA TODAY Sports In our latest chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Scouring Free Agency for Late-Inning Relief Help," we zoomed in on a dozen different options from this year's class who could help relieve Jhoan Durán's burden in crunch time. Among them are three former Twins relievers who will be available on the open market, and could be strong fits at the right price. Caretakers can read about all 12 targets in the full chapter – now available along with our previously released Handbook installments – but here are the blurbs on three familiar names: Michael Fulmer, RHP Age: 29 (DOB: 3/15/93) Former Team: Twins Career fWAR: 10.1 An appealing target for several reasons, beginning with the fact that he pitched (well) for the Twins in the second half and has some familiarity here. Fulmer was the most low-profile of Minnesota's three deadline pitcher acquisitions, but the only one that panned out. While not at the dominance level of the above pitchers, he's been consistently good since transitioning from starter to reliever, and as a 29-year-old coming off his first full-time relief campaign, he still might have room for growth. I'd consider him a worthy top bullpen pickup. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million Taylor Rogers, LHP Age: 31 (DOB: 12/17/90) Former Team: Brewers Career fWAR: 8.1 Now here's an interesting case. It's essentially an opportunity to reverse the trade from last spring, swapping Rogers back in for Emilio Pagán. That might not sound terribly enticing given that Rogers actually had a worse ERA (4.76) than Pagán (4.43) in 2022, but Rogers' secondary numbers painted a much brighter picture: 11.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 3.32 FIP. Granted, Twins fans have heard that story before, but the lefty's finger seems fine and his down year could create the opportunity to bring him back at a bargain. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $12 million Trevor May, RHP Age: 33 (DOB: 9/23/89) Former Team: Mets Career fWAR: 5.5 May's two-year, $15 million deal with the Mets yielded 87.2 IP, a 4.00 ERA, and 14 home runs allowed. Not too impressive. It also yielded a 3.78 FIP and 11.6 K/9 rate as he continued to pump gas in the upper 90s. Injuries ravaged his 2022 campaign – a familiar story, as Twins fans know – so he might be had at a bargain. May's absence in Minnesota's bullpen the past two years has been noticeable; they miss his fire, his energy, his premium stuff. If he's open to returning, the hard-throwing righty would offer some nice López insurance. Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Which of these reunions appeals most to you? Share your thoughts, and make sure to grab the full Handbook chapter and research all of the best available options. From there, you can build your own offseason blueprint. View full article
  11. In our latest chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Scouring Free Agency for Late-Inning Relief Help," we zoomed in on a dozen different options from this year's class who could help relieve Jhoan Durán's burden in crunch time. Among them are three former Twins relievers who will be available on the open market, and could be strong fits at the right price. Caretakers can read about all 12 targets in the full chapter – now available along with our previously released Handbook installments – but here are the blurbs on three familiar names: Michael Fulmer, RHP Age: 29 (DOB: 3/15/93) Former Team: Twins Career fWAR: 10.1 An appealing target for several reasons, beginning with the fact that he pitched (well) for the Twins in the second half and has some familiarity here. Fulmer was the most low-profile of Minnesota's three deadline pitcher acquisitions, but the only one that panned out. While not at the dominance level of the above pitchers, he's been consistently good since transitioning from starter to reliever, and as a 29-year-old coming off his first full-time relief campaign, he still might have room for growth. I'd consider him a worthy top bullpen pickup. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million Taylor Rogers, LHP Age: 31 (DOB: 12/17/90) Former Team: Brewers Career fWAR: 8.1 Now here's an interesting case. It's essentially an opportunity to reverse the trade from last spring, swapping Rogers back in for Emilio Pagán. That might not sound terribly enticing given that Rogers actually had a worse ERA (4.76) than Pagán (4.43) in 2022, but Rogers' secondary numbers painted a much brighter picture: 11.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 3.32 FIP. Granted, Twins fans have heard that story before, but the lefty's finger seems fine and his down year could create the opportunity to bring him back at a bargain. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $12 million Trevor May, RHP Age: 33 (DOB: 9/23/89) Former Team: Mets Career fWAR: 5.5 May's two-year, $15 million deal with the Mets yielded 87.2 IP, a 4.00 ERA, and 14 home runs allowed. Not too impressive. It also yielded a 3.78 FIP and 11.6 K/9 rate as he continued to pump gas in the upper 90s. Injuries ravaged his 2022 campaign – a familiar story, as Twins fans know – so he might be had at a bargain. May's absence in Minnesota's bullpen the past two years has been noticeable; they miss his fire, his energy, his premium stuff. If he's open to returning, the hard-throwing righty would offer some nice López insurance. Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Which of these reunions appeals most to you? Share your thoughts, and make sure to grab the full Handbook chapter and research all of the best available options. From there, you can build your own offseason blueprint.
  12. Minnesota's strong start to the season changed expectations for the 2022 campaign. However, the club might have just taken the long route to return to being a .500 team. Image courtesy of Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports Baseball's grueling 162-game season is something that sets it apart from the other major sports leagues. A team can play well for a short period, but flaws become evident as a team deals with the up-and-down nature of a long season. Minnesota's flaws showed themselves in the season's second half, but the team might end up where they were supposed to be from the beginning. Entering the 2022 season, many projection systems had the Twins pegged to finish around the .500 mark. FanGraphs projected the Twins to finish 82-80, which translated to a second-place finish in the AL Central behind the White Sox. After finishing in last place in 2021, this was quite the jump for a team that didn't make significant upgrades in the offseason. Carlos Correa's signing changed the vibe surrounding the team, but one player can't push a team to playoff contention. The Twins early season success changed many fans' expectations for where the team was heading in 2022. Minnesota finished the season's first two months with a 30-21 record (.588 W-L%) as they looked like one of baseball's best teams. Byron Buxton was off to an MVP start, and Luis Arraez seemed to be able to put any ball in play. All the right buttons were being pushed, and it looked like the Twins could walk to the AL Central title. June and July didn't go as smoothly for the Twins as the team posted a sub .500 record in both months. Minnesota's bullpen issues became apparent, and injuries started to mount with all parts of the roster. With the trade deadline approaching, the front office had a clear shopping list, with the team needing multiple relievers and a frontline starting pitcher. Luckily, the team could cross all these needs off their list, but not all the moves have panned out as planned. Tyler Mahle was the team's biggest tradeline acquisition, and a shoulder injury has limited him to four starts with the Twins. Since being acquired, he has spent more time on the injured list than on the active roster. Jorge Lopez was the best reliever acquired at the deadline as the tea immediately gave him the closer role. In his Twins tenure, he has posted a negative WPA, and Minnesota has moved him to a lower-leverage role. Michael Fulmer has performed the best out of trade deadline acquisitions with a 3.24 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. Minnesota's front office used prospect capital to keep the team in the AL Central race, and mounting injuries have hindered that progress. Every team deals with injuries, but few teams have faced the number of injuries the Twins have accrued in 2022. Minnesota has put more players on the injured list than any other American League team. In fact, the Twins can create a competitive roster with the players currently on the injured list. When Minnesota was playing well, the team could hide injuries with solid performances from other players. Now, injuries will be the team's theme for the 2022 season, and those concerns will follow the club throughout the offseason. There have been exciting moments for the 2022 Twins with early surprises and some strong performances. However, this team looks more likely to finish the season around .500 with double-digit players on the injured list. In the offseason, there will be time to reevaluate the club's future direction, but for now, the team has taken the long road back to mediocrity. Do you think the Twins will finish the season with a .500 record? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  13. Baseball's grueling 162-game season is something that sets it apart from the other major sports leagues. A team can play well for a short period, but flaws become evident as a team deals with the up-and-down nature of a long season. Minnesota's flaws showed themselves in the season's second half, but the team might end up where they were supposed to be from the beginning. Entering the 2022 season, many projection systems had the Twins pegged to finish around the .500 mark. FanGraphs projected the Twins to finish 82-80, which translated to a second-place finish in the AL Central behind the White Sox. After finishing in last place in 2021, this was quite the jump for a team that didn't make significant upgrades in the offseason. Carlos Correa's signing changed the vibe surrounding the team, but one player can't push a team to playoff contention. The Twins early season success changed many fans' expectations for where the team was heading in 2022. Minnesota finished the season's first two months with a 30-21 record (.588 W-L%) as they looked like one of baseball's best teams. Byron Buxton was off to an MVP start, and Luis Arraez seemed to be able to put any ball in play. All the right buttons were being pushed, and it looked like the Twins could walk to the AL Central title. June and July didn't go as smoothly for the Twins as the team posted a sub .500 record in both months. Minnesota's bullpen issues became apparent, and injuries started to mount with all parts of the roster. With the trade deadline approaching, the front office had a clear shopping list, with the team needing multiple relievers and a frontline starting pitcher. Luckily, the team could cross all these needs off their list, but not all the moves have panned out as planned. Tyler Mahle was the team's biggest tradeline acquisition, and a shoulder injury has limited him to four starts with the Twins. Since being acquired, he has spent more time on the injured list than on the active roster. Jorge Lopez was the best reliever acquired at the deadline as the tea immediately gave him the closer role. In his Twins tenure, he has posted a negative WPA, and Minnesota has moved him to a lower-leverage role. Michael Fulmer has performed the best out of trade deadline acquisitions with a 3.24 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. Minnesota's front office used prospect capital to keep the team in the AL Central race, and mounting injuries have hindered that progress. Every team deals with injuries, but few teams have faced the number of injuries the Twins have accrued in 2022. Minnesota has put more players on the injured list than any other American League team. In fact, the Twins can create a competitive roster with the players currently on the injured list. When Minnesota was playing well, the team could hide injuries with solid performances from other players. Now, injuries will be the team's theme for the 2022 season, and those concerns will follow the club throughout the offseason. There have been exciting moments for the 2022 Twins with early surprises and some strong performances. However, this team looks more likely to finish the season around .500 with double-digit players on the injured list. In the offseason, there will be time to reevaluate the club's future direction, but for now, the team has taken the long road back to mediocrity. Do you think the Twins will finish the season with a .500 record? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. We’re now roughly one month out from the 2022 Major League Baseball trade deadline. The Minnesota Twins front office had one of the most impactful series of additions in franchise history, and it certainly appears they got it right. Derek Falvey knew that a team employing Carlos Correa and leading the American League Central division couldn’t sit idle when given an opportunity to improve. Sure, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Kyle Garlick were all missing from the lineup. Byron Buxton was playing as a member of the walking wounded, and Ryan Jeffers may not return. Still though, it was the pitching staff, and has always been the pitching staff, that needed the most help. Rather than allowing Rocco Baldelli to continue rolling the dice on a near-nightly basis, he needed to supplement the relief corps. Jhoan Duran couldn’t continue to shoulder such a massive load as a rookie, and despite the emergence of Griffin Jax, inexperience was going to reign supreme. Sonny Gray has established himself as the ace of the staff, and while Joe Ryan looks the part, they needed help with a group also including Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. Coming to Minnesota as an All-Star, Jorge Lopez has been as advertised. Yes, he scuffled early, but he quickly righted that ship. With a neat entrance to the Target Field mound, the former Baltimore Orioles closer owns a 2.45 ERA across 11 innings and 11 appearances. He’s given up more hits, less strikeouts, and a few more walks, but he’s kept the ball in the yard. Lopez will continue to settle in as time goes on, and he pairs nicely at the back end of the unit. Asking Michael Fulmer to walk across the diamond from the visiting Detroit Tigers clubhouse was probably as good as it gets for the veteran. No longer playing for nothing, he’s now in a divisional race and pitching innings that actually matter. In 11 appearances for the Twins, Fulmer owns a 3.86 ERA with an 13/3 K/BB. He’s given up twice as many dingers (2) in 11 2/3 innings with Minnesota than he did in 39 1/3 with Detroit, so you can imagine he’ll further put the clamps down on his output. Arguably the best of the bunch, Tyler Mahle is Minnesota’s second big starter from the Cincinnati Reds. Rejoining former teammate Sonny Gray, Mahle has tallied a 2.51 ERA in three starts. Yes he’s now shelved with a shoulder issue, similar to what he experienced earlier this summer, but the expectation is he’ll be back when immediately able and continue to be a driving force towards a Postseason berth. Mahle’s numbers are a bit skewed after a lackluster debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, but Minnesota won the game and he’s battled nicely. There’s no denying it was a blow to Minnesota when pitching coach Wes Johnson abruptly left earlier this season. The group as a whole was reeling, but they’ve answered the call since being infused with new veteran talent. By fWAR, the Twins have had the 9th best pitching staff in Major League Baseball since the trade deadline. Their starters check in 18th while the relievers are 6th. Given the state of the bullpen a month ago, that’s a massive shift. Having to use spot arms like Aaron Sanchez along the way, starting talents such as Josh Winder and Bailey Ober returning could only help to push this envelope further. Give it to Falvey and Thad Levine. The front office saw what this team needed and did everything they could to give them the pieces. From that point onwards, it became entirely on the players in the clubhouse to answer the call. View full article
  15. Derek Falvey knew that a team employing Carlos Correa and leading the American League Central division couldn’t sit idle when given an opportunity to improve. Sure, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Kyle Garlick were all missing from the lineup. Byron Buxton was playing as a member of the walking wounded, and Ryan Jeffers may not return. Still though, it was the pitching staff, and has always been the pitching staff, that needed the most help. Rather than allowing Rocco Baldelli to continue rolling the dice on a near-nightly basis, he needed to supplement the relief corps. Jhoan Duran couldn’t continue to shoulder such a massive load as a rookie, and despite the emergence of Griffin Jax, inexperience was going to reign supreme. Sonny Gray has established himself as the ace of the staff, and while Joe Ryan looks the part, they needed help with a group also including Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. Coming to Minnesota as an All-Star, Jorge Lopez has been as advertised. Yes, he scuffled early, but he quickly righted that ship. With a neat entrance to the Target Field mound, the former Baltimore Orioles closer owns a 2.45 ERA across 11 innings and 11 appearances. He’s given up more hits, less strikeouts, and a few more walks, but he’s kept the ball in the yard. Lopez will continue to settle in as time goes on, and he pairs nicely at the back end of the unit. Asking Michael Fulmer to walk across the diamond from the visiting Detroit Tigers clubhouse was probably as good as it gets for the veteran. No longer playing for nothing, he’s now in a divisional race and pitching innings that actually matter. In 11 appearances for the Twins, Fulmer owns a 3.86 ERA with an 13/3 K/BB. He’s given up twice as many dingers (2) in 11 2/3 innings with Minnesota than he did in 39 1/3 with Detroit, so you can imagine he’ll further put the clamps down on his output. Arguably the best of the bunch, Tyler Mahle is Minnesota’s second big starter from the Cincinnati Reds. Rejoining former teammate Sonny Gray, Mahle has tallied a 2.51 ERA in three starts. Yes he’s now shelved with a shoulder issue, similar to what he experienced earlier this summer, but the expectation is he’ll be back when immediately able and continue to be a driving force towards a Postseason berth. Mahle’s numbers are a bit skewed after a lackluster debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, but Minnesota won the game and he’s battled nicely. There’s no denying it was a blow to Minnesota when pitching coach Wes Johnson abruptly left earlier this season. The group as a whole was reeling, but they’ve answered the call since being infused with new veteran talent. By fWAR, the Twins have had the 9th best pitching staff in Major League Baseball since the trade deadline. Their starters check in 18th while the relievers are 6th. Given the state of the bullpen a month ago, that’s a massive shift. Having to use spot arms like Aaron Sanchez along the way, starting talents such as Josh Winder and Bailey Ober returning could only help to push this envelope further. Give it to Falvey and Thad Levine. The front office saw what this team needed and did everything they could to give them the pieces. From that point onwards, it became entirely on the players in the clubhouse to answer the call.
  16. Facing the Astros’ juggernaut pitching staff, the Twins’ offense was once again dominated, despite a late rally bringing the tying run to the plate. Dylan Bundy was solid through five, but a rough sixth inning cost Minnesota the game. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 5 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 0K (66 pitches, 44 strikes, 66.6%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Max Kepler (-.301), Michael Fulmer (-.200), José Miranda (-.088) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Bundy tosses five solid innings, gives Twins a chance Right out of the gate, this game seemed doomed for the Twins. Houston starter Framber Valdez had a 1-2-3 first inning that took him only 14 pitches. Then, when Dylan Bundy took the mound for the bottom half, José Altuve took him deep on his very first pitch, putting the Astros on the board right away. Fortunately, Bundy settled in and retired six of the next seven batters faced, only giving up a walk. Meanwhile, the offense attempted to put something together and managed to get two men on base during the second inning after a walk by Luis Arráez followed by a Gilberto Celestino single. They kept pushing until they manufactured the tying run in the next inning. Sandy León led off the third with a walk, and, suddenly, Minnesota had two men in scoring position after a Jorge Polanco double. Former Astro Carlos Correa hit a liner to left, and León tagged and scored. Martín Maldonado broke Bundy’s hot streak with a leadoff double to start the bottom of the third. He was eventually brought home by an Altuve single and a Yuli Gurriel sac fly, regaining the lead for Houston. Once again, Bundy didn’t lose control: by retiring Alex Bregman on a lineout to conclude the third, he began a streak of seven consecutive batters retired, keeping this a one-run game into the sixth. With tonight’s start, Bundy has completed five consecutive starts in which he gives up three earned runs or less. Houston breaks it open against Fulmer Bundy departed the game after two trips through the order, despite having thrown only 66 total pitches. Should he have been kept in the game, given his pitch count? His 8.53 season ERA in the third time through the order sure isn’t very encouraging, so Rocco Baldelli decided to activate the bullpen, bringing Michael Fulmer to pitch the sixth. Houston added a run after Yordan Álvarez stretched a single into a double after a defensive miscue by the Twins’ outfield. He also moved up to third on a wild pitch, which allowed him to score on a Bregman sac fly. Fulmer couldn’t stop the bleeding, giving up another double, this time to Kyle Tucker with two outs. Then, Trey Mancini blasted a two-run shot to right field, making it 5-1 Astros. With Valdez completing seven innings, the Twins’ struggling offense was once again severely uninspired to spark a rally. Devin Smeltzer came in to eat up the final two innings and did a fine job at it, tossing two scoreless frames. After reliever Bryan Abreu pitched a scoreless eighth, Rafael Montero came in to try to close out the game, Montero failed to retire the first four batters he faced, and the Twins scored a couple of runs: Arráez doubled Gio Urshela home after he had hit a leadoff single; then, Arráez himself was brought home from second on a Jake Cave fielder’s choice (a ball that was bobbled by Altuve). But when Max Kepler grounded into a double play, Montero had no trouble retiring Gary Sanchez for the game’s final out. Postgame interview What’s Next? On Thursday, these two teams play the final game of the series, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT. To try and avoid the sweep, the Twins turn to Chris Archer (4.02 ERA), who will be facing Luis Garcia (4.09 ERA). After the game, the Twins head back to Minnesota for a six-game homestand. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Smeltzer 45 0 0 0 27 72 Pagán 0 39 0 14 0 53 Fulmer 0 0 12 0 23 35 Jax 11 0 14 0 0 25 Megill 0 15 0 8 0 23 Thielbar 11 0 12 0 0 23 López 9 0 0 0 0 9 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  17. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 5 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 0K (66 pitches, 44 strikes, 66.6%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Max Kepler (-.301), Michael Fulmer (-.200), José Miranda (-.088) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Bundy tosses five solid innings, gives Twins a chance Right out of the gate, this game seemed doomed for the Twins. Houston starter Framber Valdez had a 1-2-3 first inning that took him only 14 pitches. Then, when Dylan Bundy took the mound for the bottom half, José Altuve took him deep on his very first pitch, putting the Astros on the board right away. Fortunately, Bundy settled in and retired six of the next seven batters faced, only giving up a walk. Meanwhile, the offense attempted to put something together and managed to get two men on base during the second inning after a walk by Luis Arráez followed by a Gilberto Celestino single. They kept pushing until they manufactured the tying run in the next inning. Sandy León led off the third with a walk, and, suddenly, Minnesota had two men in scoring position after a Jorge Polanco double. Former Astro Carlos Correa hit a liner to left, and León tagged and scored. Martín Maldonado broke Bundy’s hot streak with a leadoff double to start the bottom of the third. He was eventually brought home by an Altuve single and a Yuli Gurriel sac fly, regaining the lead for Houston. Once again, Bundy didn’t lose control: by retiring Alex Bregman on a lineout to conclude the third, he began a streak of seven consecutive batters retired, keeping this a one-run game into the sixth. With tonight’s start, Bundy has completed five consecutive starts in which he gives up three earned runs or less. Houston breaks it open against Fulmer Bundy departed the game after two trips through the order, despite having thrown only 66 total pitches. Should he have been kept in the game, given his pitch count? His 8.53 season ERA in the third time through the order sure isn’t very encouraging, so Rocco Baldelli decided to activate the bullpen, bringing Michael Fulmer to pitch the sixth. Houston added a run after Yordan Álvarez stretched a single into a double after a defensive miscue by the Twins’ outfield. He also moved up to third on a wild pitch, which allowed him to score on a Bregman sac fly. Fulmer couldn’t stop the bleeding, giving up another double, this time to Kyle Tucker with two outs. Then, Trey Mancini blasted a two-run shot to right field, making it 5-1 Astros. With Valdez completing seven innings, the Twins’ struggling offense was once again severely uninspired to spark a rally. Devin Smeltzer came in to eat up the final two innings and did a fine job at it, tossing two scoreless frames. After reliever Bryan Abreu pitched a scoreless eighth, Rafael Montero came in to try to close out the game, Montero failed to retire the first four batters he faced, and the Twins scored a couple of runs: Arráez doubled Gio Urshela home after he had hit a leadoff single; then, Arráez himself was brought home from second on a Jake Cave fielder’s choice (a ball that was bobbled by Altuve). But when Max Kepler grounded into a double play, Montero had no trouble retiring Gary Sanchez for the game’s final out. Postgame interview What’s Next? On Thursday, these two teams play the final game of the series, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT. To try and avoid the sweep, the Twins turn to Chris Archer (4.02 ERA), who will be facing Luis Garcia (4.09 ERA). After the game, the Twins head back to Minnesota for a six-game homestand. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Smeltzer 45 0 0 0 27 72 Pagán 0 39 0 14 0 53 Fulmer 0 0 12 0 23 35 Jax 11 0 14 0 0 25 Megill 0 15 0 8 0 23 Thielbar 11 0 12 0 0 23 López 9 0 0 0 0 9 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  18. The graph above plots the platoon splits for each member of the Twins bullpen. OPS against vs. right-handed batters is on the x-axis, so points further to the left are successful against right-handed batters. OPS against vs. left-handed batters is on the y-axis, so points further toward the bottom are successful against left-handed batters. Points closest to the diagonal line are equally effective (or ineffective) against both types of batters. A few takeaways: Caleb Thielbar is on fire. Among relievers, he is at the 88th percentile for strikeout rate 98th percentile for exit velocity. Does that call for a promotion to a bigger role where he faces more right-handed batters? Perhaps. Right-handed batters own an OPS below 0.700 against Thielbar. In fact, his OPS against opposite-sided batters is better than that of Jorge López, who allows a 0.711 OPS to left-handed hitters. And nobody would call López a specialist against right-handed batters. The Twins deadline acquisitions, López and Fulmer, are death to righties allowing a 0.471 and 0.438 OPS respectively. Fulmer, however, is an absolute liability against lefties, allowing an 0.830 OPS to opposite-sided hitters. He meets the definition of a specialist. Emilio Pagan has insane reverse splits, with righties boasting a debilitating 1.075 OPS against. Pagán has never had significant reverse splits in prior seasons, so that may be an anomaly. But with the way things are going for Pagán, who's to say? Jhoan Duran, Trevor Megill, and Griffin Jax all appear to be matchup independent. And Megill's splits so closely mirroring Duran's suggest he deserves to keep getting chances
  19. Creating favorable matchups is the key to successful bullpen management. Can we get our best southpaw lined up against their left-handed hitters? Which pitchers can be trusted to face both left- and right-handed hitters? Analyzing the platoon splits of each of the bullpen arms will help answer those questions. The graph above plots the platoon splits for each member of the Twins bullpen. OPS against vs. right-handed batters is on the x-axis, so points further to the left are successful against right-handed batters. OPS against vs. left-handed batters is on the y-axis, so points further toward the bottom are successful against left-handed batters. Points closest to the diagonal line are equally effective (or ineffective) against both types of batters. A few takeaways: Caleb Thielbar is on fire. Among relievers, he is at the 88th percentile for strikeout rate 98th percentile for exit velocity. Does that call for a promotion to a bigger role where he faces more right-handed batters? Perhaps. Right-handed batters own an OPS below 0.700 against Thielbar. In fact, his OPS against opposite-sided batters is better than that of Jorge López, who allows a 0.711 OPS to left-handed hitters. And nobody would call López a specialist against right-handed batters. The Twins deadline acquisitions, López and Fulmer, are death to righties allowing a 0.471 and 0.438 OPS respectively. Fulmer, however, is an absolute liability against lefties, allowing an 0.830 OPS to opposite-sided hitters. He meets the definition of a specialist. Emilio Pagan has insane reverse splits, with righties boasting a debilitating 1.075 OPS against. Pagán has never had significant reverse splits in prior seasons, so that may be an anomaly. But with the way things are going for Pagán, who's to say? Jhoan Duran, Trevor Megill, and Griffin Jax all appear to be matchup independent. And Megill's splits so closely mirroring Duran's suggest he deserves to keep getting chances View full article
  20. Well, that was pleasant. Box Score Tyler Mahle: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Home Runs: Gilberto Celestino (1), Gio Urshela (11) Top 3 WPA: Tyler Mahle (.332), Gilberto Celestino (.196), Gio Urshela (.096) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) When the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle at the deadline, they likely envisioned him in a situation like this: working as the stopper in a crucial game down the stretch. He did not disappoint. The freshly-minted Twin commanded the ball with precision, striking out six batters over six shutout innings, with a handful of baserunners scattered around. Unlike his outing against Toronto, when the Blue Jays jumped on him late, Mahle fought back against the third-time-through-the-order frenzy and walked off the mound with a spotless ERA. Sure, maybe throwing six scoreless innings against an Angels lineup missing the golden boy isn’t as impressive as when John F. Kennedy negotiated the Russians out of world destruction, but it does have to count for something. There are few guarantees in baseball; the sport thrives on chaotic, slimly un-random outcomes that provide the game intrigue—in what other sporting event can Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit three homers in a game? But there are some laws. Patrick Sandoval does not give up homers, and Gilberto Celestino does not hit them. Sandoval—the one of the lesser panda variety—had allowed just four balls to leave the park in 95 innings this season. Celestino—rumored to be incapable of pulling the ball with any authority—has yet to hit one this season. The outfielder owns two career homers—this author observed one in person—but power is not his forte. It is an impossibility that Celestino could hit a home run off Sandoval. Anyways, the scoring started when Celestino hit a homer off Sandoval. The game trudged on; the Twins occasionally threatened to score more, placing runners in ideal positions before failing to knock them in. A guy would walk; another one would leave him stranded on the bases, and the cycle repeated with dull consistency as the offense sputtered and whined. Sandy León found an occupied glove when steaming home. Gio Urshela broke through the stalemate with a solo homer in the 6th inning. Urshela’s bat proved to be sorely needed, as his hits directly led to three of the Twins’ runs on Friday. It wasn’t the only active run engine, however; Jose Miranda doubled to right-center field in the 8th inning and trotted home after Luis Arraez poked a single beyond Jared Walsh’s grasp. The new Twins bullpen triumvirate demonstrated their power; Michael Fulmer pitched a clean, scoreless 7th inning, carrying the shutout for at least one more frame. Jhoan Duran—still as hilariously dominant as always—melted a few faces for a clean 8th inning, setting the stage for the grand finale: Jorge López. López allowed a hit but found the time to catch Jo Adell window-shopping; Walsh grounded out to end the game. What’s Next? The Twins will play the Angels in another late-night matchup; Dylan Bundy will face off against Reid Detmers. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  21. Box Score Tyler Mahle: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Home Runs: Gilberto Celestino (1), Gio Urshela (11) Top 3 WPA: Tyler Mahle (.332), Gilberto Celestino (.196), Gio Urshela (.096) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) When the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle at the deadline, they likely envisioned him in a situation like this: working as the stopper in a crucial game down the stretch. He did not disappoint. The freshly-minted Twin commanded the ball with precision, striking out six batters over six shutout innings, with a handful of baserunners scattered around. Unlike his outing against Toronto, when the Blue Jays jumped on him late, Mahle fought back against the third-time-through-the-order frenzy and walked off the mound with a spotless ERA. Sure, maybe throwing six scoreless innings against an Angels lineup missing the golden boy isn’t as impressive as when John F. Kennedy negotiated the Russians out of world destruction, but it does have to count for something. There are few guarantees in baseball; the sport thrives on chaotic, slimly un-random outcomes that provide the game intrigue—in what other sporting event can Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit three homers in a game? But there are some laws. Patrick Sandoval does not give up homers, and Gilberto Celestino does not hit them. Sandoval—the one of the lesser panda variety—had allowed just four balls to leave the park in 95 innings this season. Celestino—rumored to be incapable of pulling the ball with any authority—has yet to hit one this season. The outfielder owns two career homers—this author observed one in person—but power is not his forte. It is an impossibility that Celestino could hit a home run off Sandoval. Anyways, the scoring started when Celestino hit a homer off Sandoval. The game trudged on; the Twins occasionally threatened to score more, placing runners in ideal positions before failing to knock them in. A guy would walk; another one would leave him stranded on the bases, and the cycle repeated with dull consistency as the offense sputtered and whined. Sandy León found an occupied glove when steaming home. Gio Urshela broke through the stalemate with a solo homer in the 6th inning. Urshela’s bat proved to be sorely needed, as his hits directly led to three of the Twins’ runs on Friday. It wasn’t the only active run engine, however; Jose Miranda doubled to right-center field in the 8th inning and trotted home after Luis Arraez poked a single beyond Jared Walsh’s grasp. The new Twins bullpen triumvirate demonstrated their power; Michael Fulmer pitched a clean, scoreless 7th inning, carrying the shutout for at least one more frame. Jhoan Duran—still as hilariously dominant as always—melted a few faces for a clean 8th inning, setting the stage for the grand finale: Jorge López. López allowed a hit but found the time to catch Jo Adell window-shopping; Walsh grounded out to end the game. What’s Next? The Twins will play the Angels in another late-night matchup; Dylan Bundy will face off against Reid Detmers. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  22. The Twins added Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer to a bullpen that has struggled for most of the 2022 campaign. Jhoan Duran has been unbelievable during his rookie campaign, and Griffin Jax has emerged as a late-inning weapon. How do these pieces fit into the new bullpen hierarchy? The Closer: Jorge López Baseball has gotten away from a traditional closer role, and the Twins have followed this trend under Rocco Baldelli. So far in 2022, seven different relievers have earned a save, with Emilio Pagan (9 saves) and Jhoan Duran (6 saves) leading the team. In his first full season as a reliever, López became an All-Star, and now he finds himself in the middle of the pennant race. It seems likely for him to get the majority of the save situations down the stretch. The Fireman: Jhoan Duran Adding López allows the Twins to use Duran in each game's most important moments. For instance, the team can use him when the middle of the line-up is scheduled to bat in the sixth inning or if the starter runs into trouble in a tight game. Duran has also shown the ability to pitch more than one inning as he has recorded more than three outs in 11 of his 38 appearances. Duran will still get some save opportunities, but now Baldelli has more flexibility regarding when to use him. The Set-Up Men: Michael Fulmer, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar Minnesota relied on Jax and Thielbar in roles they weren't expected to fill at the season's start. Thielbar has more appearances than anyone on the team, and Jax has been the team's most successful reliever outside of Duran. According to fWAR, Thielbar and Jax only trail Duran among Twins relievers. Since June 22, Thielbar has an ERA under 2.00 while holding opponents to a .539 OPS. Jax has a 53-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio in 49 innings while holding batters to a .363 SLG. Fulmer's addition allows Thielbar and Jax to be pushed down the bullpen hierarchy in roles they were expected to occupy earlier in the season. First Out of the Pen: Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, Jovani Moran, Cole Sands The Twins used Pagán, Megill and Tyler Duffey in Thursday's loss, where they combined to allow nine runs (eight earned). Pagán hasn't been a good reliever since 2019, and he continues to be dreadful for the Twins. Duffey saw his velocity drop for the third consecutive season and the team waived him on Friday. According to Win Probability Added, Pagán and Duffey have been worth -2.12 wins for the Twins in 2022. Megill has only allowed multiple earned runs in three of his 20 appearances, and he wasn't expected to fit a high leverage role. Moran has struggled with control at the big-league level, but his change-up can be a bullpen weapon. Sands struggled with the Twins but he has done so in a small sample size of just over 16 innings. Minnesota's bullpen significantly improves with the addition of López and Fulmer. Moving other players down the bullpen hierarchy will hopefully be able to find more success in less high leverage situations. The Twins have led the AL Central for most of the season, and the bullpen will be essential if the team wants to win their third division title in the last four years. How would you organize the new bullpen hierarchy if you were the manager? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. Minnesota's bullpen received an influx of talent at the trade deadline. How will Rocco Baldelli organize the Twins' new bullpen hierarchy? The Twins added Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer to a bullpen that has struggled for most of the 2022 campaign. Jhoan Duran has been unbelievable during his rookie campaign, and Griffin Jax has emerged as a late-inning weapon. How do these pieces fit into the new bullpen hierarchy? The Closer: Jorge López Baseball has gotten away from a traditional closer role, and the Twins have followed this trend under Rocco Baldelli. So far in 2022, seven different relievers have earned a save, with Emilio Pagan (9 saves) and Jhoan Duran (6 saves) leading the team. In his first full season as a reliever, López became an All-Star, and now he finds himself in the middle of the pennant race. It seems likely for him to get the majority of the save situations down the stretch. The Fireman: Jhoan Duran Adding López allows the Twins to use Duran in each game's most important moments. For instance, the team can use him when the middle of the line-up is scheduled to bat in the sixth inning or if the starter runs into trouble in a tight game. Duran has also shown the ability to pitch more than one inning as he has recorded more than three outs in 11 of his 38 appearances. Duran will still get some save opportunities, but now Baldelli has more flexibility regarding when to use him. The Set-Up Men: Michael Fulmer, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar Minnesota relied on Jax and Thielbar in roles they weren't expected to fill at the season's start. Thielbar has more appearances than anyone on the team, and Jax has been the team's most successful reliever outside of Duran. According to fWAR, Thielbar and Jax only trail Duran among Twins relievers. Since June 22, Thielbar has an ERA under 2.00 while holding opponents to a .539 OPS. Jax has a 53-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio in 49 innings while holding batters to a .363 SLG. Fulmer's addition allows Thielbar and Jax to be pushed down the bullpen hierarchy in roles they were expected to occupy earlier in the season. First Out of the Pen: Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill, Jovani Moran, Cole Sands The Twins used Pagán, Megill and Tyler Duffey in Thursday's loss, where they combined to allow nine runs (eight earned). Pagán hasn't been a good reliever since 2019, and he continues to be dreadful for the Twins. Duffey saw his velocity drop for the third consecutive season and the team waived him on Friday. According to Win Probability Added, Pagán and Duffey have been worth -2.12 wins for the Twins in 2022. Megill has only allowed multiple earned runs in three of his 20 appearances, and he wasn't expected to fit a high leverage role. Moran has struggled with control at the big-league level, but his change-up can be a bullpen weapon. Sands struggled with the Twins but he has done so in a small sample size of just over 16 innings. Minnesota's bullpen significantly improves with the addition of López and Fulmer. Moving other players down the bullpen hierarchy will hopefully be able to find more success in less high leverage situations. The Twins have led the AL Central for most of the season, and the bullpen will be essential if the team wants to win their third division title in the last four years. How would you organize the new bullpen hierarchy if you were the manager? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. The Minnesota Twins have an exciting matchup in Game 2 as they'll face their former teammate in RHP José Berríos while also seeing their brand new pitcher they acquired on Tuesday in RHP Tyler Mahle. They both have similar numbers so it should be fun to see how this game plays out. José Berríos has been struggling this season but the last time he faced his former team, he looked like his old stellar self - 7IP 3H 2R/ER 2BB 13K 1HR & his 4th win of the season in a 12-3 shallacking in Toronto. That was the beginning of June. Since then, he's gone 4-2 with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP with 11 walks and 57 strikeouts in 10 starts and 57.2 innings. The Minnesota Twins will also want to rebound from last night's 9-3 loss. Twinsactions (Twins Transactions) The Minnesota Twins made a couple more moves today and one of them is somewhat shocking, more for who it is than for why, though. RHP Tyler Duffey was Designated For Assignment (DFA) or Release today after spending the last 10 years in the organization and exactly 7 years with the big club when he made his Major League Debut on August 5th, 2012. 7 Years to the Day from his Major League Debut It makes sense but it’s still a difficult move since he had turned himself into a very effective reliever since the beginning of the 2019 season. Unfortunately, he’s been far from that this season. He’s lost velocity on his fastball and the control of his nasty curveball hasn’t been there for the majority of the season so hitters were able to sit on that fastball and his curveball was popping up too much so it was likely easy to recognize right away out of his hand. He messed around with a changeup in July but only threw 33 of them even though it really seemed to help keep hitters off their timing. We would assume the Twins would like to see him clear waivers so he could get to St. Paul and be able to get some work in down there to see if he can get back to being a reliable option out of the bullpen. Rookie RHP Cole Sands was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to take Duffey’s place on the 26-man roster. It was also reported that reliever RHP Jharel Cotton and starter RHP Aaron Sanchez cleared waivers and reported to Triple-A St. Paul. Here’s how both teams lined up: Minnesota Twins Lineup: Toronto Blue Jays Lineup: Game Recap Twins fans didn’t have to wait long to see their newest starting pitcher as it took just 4 pitches for RHP Tyler Mahle to strike out CF Whit Merrifield swinging for his 1st out for his new team. 1B Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. grounded out to short and DH Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. flew out to left field. Former Twins starting pitcher RHP José Berríos was making his 2nd start at Target Field as an opponent and he started it by setting the Twins down 1-2-3 on 7 pitches as the Twins were looking for that early fastball. RF Teoscar Hernández led off the 2nd inning with a line drive to right center field for a single, at least. He tried to extend it to a double but CF Mark Contreras was on his horse knowing he might have to try to keep this hit to a single. He got to it, turned and fired a strike to 2nd for the first outfield assist of his MLB career* and Hernández had to settle for a single and a seat on the bench in the dugout. SS Bo Bichette struck out swinging and 3B Matt Chapman flew out to CF to end the top of the 2nd. Teoscar Hernández singles on a sharp line drive to CF Mark Contreras... The Twins got a 1-out single from LF Nick Gordon but it was quickly taken care of by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Blue Jays C Danny Jansen walked to lead off the 3rd inning but LF Raimel Tapia grounded into a 5-4-3 double play quickly cleared the bases and Tyler Mahle then struck out 2B Santiago Espinal on a foul tip to end the top of the 3rd inning. 1B Tim Beckham grounded out to 3rd to begin the bottom of the 3rd then CF Mark Contreras, fresh off a great defensive play in the previous half inning, put the Twins in front with his 2nd home run of the season to the bullpen in left center field. Marko Oppo! Mark Contreras is making you remember his name tonight! C Sandy León struck out looking and 2B Luis Arraez flew out to left field to end the 3rd. 1-0 Twins Mahle set the Blue Jays down 1-2-3 via groundout, strikeout and flyout. The Twins then got a leadoff double from SS Carlos Correa followed by a walk from Jorge Polanco and an RBI-single to center from 3B Jose Miranda (DYKM?) on the very next pitch. A mound visit was then followed by Nick Gordon sending a loud blast to right field for a 3-run shot and his 5th home run of the season on the 1st pitch he saw. Nick Gordon takes José Berríos deep with a 3-run HR (5) to put the Twins up 5-0 Cave flew out to CF, Beckham singled to deep short for an infield hit, Contreras lined out to CF, León walked and that was it for José Berríos as the Blue Jays made a pitching change to RHP Trevor Richards. Luis Arraez flew out to left field again to end the 4th inning but what an inning… 5-0 Twins A 2-out blast off the bat of Matt Chapman (21) reminded most fans that this game was far from over. The Twins got a 2-out walk but that’s all in the 5th. 5-1 Twins The comeback got 1 run closer with a 1-out HR from Santiago Espinal (7). A Whit Merrifield single followed and that brought up Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and he fouled off the 2nd & 4th pitches, both of them fastballs then he crushed a slider over the center field wall to bring the Jays within 1. Vlad the Impaler chopped the lead down to 1 run! Mahle struck out Gurriel, Jr. swinging then got Hernández to line out to center to keep the Minnesota Twins in the lead. 5-4 Twins Zach Pop replaced Trevor Richards and Jake Cave greeted him with a base hit to left field but Tim Beckham grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to take all the good feelings away. Contreras then popped out to 3rd to end the 6th. RHP Griffin Jax replaced Tyler Mahle to pitch the 7th for the Twins. RHP Tyler Mahle’s Final Line 6IP 5H 4R/ER 1BB 5K 3HR - 86 pitches (61 strikes) In Line for the Win Tyler Mahle went 6 innings but allowed 3 HRs, all on sliders too high in the zone. Those balls are gone now! Jax used his slider to strike out the side in the 7th getting Bichette swinging, Chapman looking and Jansen swinging on just 11 pitches. Mow ‘em Down, Griff! I’ll call that Air Force because that sounds good! SLIIIIIDER! Hey, how ‘bout a stretch between the top & bottom of the 7th inning, huh? Sandy León then led off the bottom of the 7th with his 2nd double of the season in his 2nd game as a Twin. The Blue Jays replaced Zach Pop with RHP Adam Cimber, a submariner pitcher and Luis Arraez lined out to center. Carlos Correa singled but Sandy León could only advance to 3rd on a slow ground ball through the right side. Jorge Polanco struck out, leaving it up to Jose Miranda to pick him up to help the Twins get an insurance run… but he flew out to center field to end the 7th. Still 5-4 Twins RHP Jhoan Duran replaced Jax to pitch the 8th for Minnesota and he got Tapia to ground out to short for the 1st out. Toronto pinch-hit Alexandro Kirk for Santiago Espinal. The at-bat started with two straight high heaters at 101 mph. Duran got strike one with another 101 that was taken then he threw a perfect pitch that hit the high outside corner of the zone but was called a ball. Man, that’s frustrating. 3-1 is a whole lot different than 2-2, blue! COME ON! Another heater, this one in the zone at 102.1 mph, was fouled off to make it a full count and Jhoan reared back and threw the next pitch 102.8 mph that was swung through for the 2nd out. Whit Merrifield took the 1st pitch, also the first non-fastball, for strike 1 then he hit the 2nd one to right field for a single. Guerrero, Jr. came to the plate and singled to right field as well but Duran got Gurriel, Jr. to ground out to 3rd to end the top of the 8th and.. Still 5-4 Twins Whit Merrifield moved to 2nd base and Bradley Zimmer replaced Alexandro Kirk, batting 9th and playing center field. RHP David Phelps replaced Adam Cimber. Nick Gordon led off the bottom of the 8th with a ground rule double (15) on the first pitch. Jake Cave flew out to center field and Gordon just bluffed an attempt to advance to 3rd. Tim Beckham struck out swinging on a check swing and Contreras also struck out swinging to send it to the 9th and new closer Jorge López to face Teoscar Hernández, Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman. Hernández grounded out softly back to the pitcher. Bichette singled through the left side. Chapman flew out to 2nd. Danny Jansen singled to right field on a sharp ground ball. Bichette advanced to 2nd. Down 0-2 in the count, Raimel Tapia fought off an inside sinker to get it to land in short center field to tie the game. Raimel Tapia ties the game in the 9th! Cavan Biggio pinch-hit for Zimmer then flew out to left field but… The Game is Tied at 5! Whit Merrifield moved back to center field, Cavan Biggio took over at 2nd base and RHP Yimi Garcia replaced David Phelps and Gio Urshela, pinch-hitting for Sandy León, singled to right field and was pinch-run for with Gilberto Celestino. Luis Arraez grounded out to 2nd. Celestino advanced to 2nd but he had to make sure the ball didn’t hit him and it ended up bouncing through his legs. Correa reached on a fielding error by Biggio and Celestino advanced to 3rd. Polanco was intentionally walked. Miranda struck out swinging and Nick Gordon flew out to left field so we have… FREE BASEBALL!!! Even if we didn’t want it! DOH! RHP Michael Fulmer replaced Jorge López to pitch the 10th for the Twins. Biggio started the inning at 2nd base. Whit Merrifield struck out swinging for the 1st out. Guerrero, Jr. got the unintentional intentional walk. Gurriel, Jr. singled to center. Biggio advanced to 3rd because he had to hold up as the hit went over Arraez’s head and he wouldn’t want to get doubled up so the bases were loaded with 1 out. Hernández struck out swinging so it was up to Bichette and… HE STRUCK OUT LOOKING!!! RHP Jordan Romano replaced Yimi Garcia to try to keep the game tied against Jake Cave, Tim Beckham and Mark Contreras. Nick Gordon began the inning at 2nd base. Cave was taxed with trying to bunt Gordon over to 3rd. He missed the first pitch. He pulled back on the 2nd & 3rd pitches to make it 1-2. He fouled off the 4th pitch to even the count and he took the 5th pitch to fill the count. He swung through the payoff pitch but it wasn’t caught so Cave took off for 1st base…and Blue Jays C Danny Jansen tried to tag him but he wasn’t close enough so he had to try a lob throw to 1st because he was in foul territory and Cave was between him and Guerrero at 1st base. Up to the plate came Tim Beckham. He took the first pitch for a ball. Cave took 2nd base but it’s fielder’s indifference since his run didn't matter. On the 2nd pitch, Beckham hit a grounder to 3rd but the contact play was on so Nick Gordon took off for home. Matt Chapman fielded the ball and threw home but the ball hit the ground in front of Jansen making it hard to catch and Nick Gordon slid into home. It looked like he was out but Jansen never had the ball so… THAT IS A WALK OFF WIN!!! Tim Beckham put the ball in play & the contact play was on... Condensed Game Game Highlights (8;51 Run Time) ––––– TT ––––– Final Score Toronto Blue Jays 5 | 6 Minnesota Twins W-Fulmer(4-4-) L-Romano(3-3) Pitching Starters MN: RHP Tyler Mahle: 6IP 5H 4R/ER 1BB 5K 3HR - No Decision TOR: RHP José Berríos: 3.2IP 6H 5R/ER 2BB 1K 2HR - No Decision Bullpen MN: RHP Griffin Jax: 1IP 3K- 11th Hold RHP Jhoan Duran: 1IP 2H 1K - 12th Hold RHP Jorge López: 1IP 3H 1R/ER - 5th Blown Save RHP Michael Fulmer: 1IP 1H 1BB 3K - 4th Win TOR: RHP Trevor Richards: 1.1IP 1BB RHP Zach Pop: 1IP 2H RHP Adam Cimber: 1IP 1H 1K RHP David Phelps: 1IP 1H 2K RHP Yimi Garcia: 1IP 1H 1BB 1K RHP Jordan Romano: 0IP 1R 1K Hitting Home Runs MN: Mark Contreras(2), Nick Gordon(5) TOR: Matt Chapman(21), Santiago Espinal(7), Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.(23) Doubles MN: Carlos Correa(15), Sandy León(2), Gordon(15) TOR: None 2-Out RBI: MN (Inning): None TOR (Inning): Matt Chapman, Raimel Tapia Outfield Assist: MN: Mark Contreras(1) (2nd Inning) Team RISP MN: 3-for-15 TOR: 2-for-7 Team LOB (Left On Base) MN: 11 TOR: 7 ––––– TT ––––– We made our Game Notes section a separate article ––––– TT ––––– Next Up Game 3 at 6:10pm on Bally Sports North: Minnesota Twins RHP Dylan Bundy (6-5, 5.04 ERA, 1.29 WHIP*) vs Toronto Blue Jays RHP Mitch White (1-2, 3.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) *ERA=Earned Run Average, WHIP=Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched ––––– TT ––––– Thank You for reading our TwinsTakes! 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  25. Minnesota shored up its rotation and battered bullpen in front of the 2022 MLB trade deadline to near-universal acclaim from local and national media. With the team’s obvious needs met at the cost of a handful of good prospects, local fans are left wondering what happened. “That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works,” said Bruce Johnstone, a retired teacher from Alexandria. “You need to be like (former Vikings GM) Rick Spielman and draft quarterbacks who can’t throw or just forget to sign offensive linemen. Then you keep the job for 15 years. There are rules.” The Twins acquired frontline starter Tyler Mahle from the Reds, closer Jorge Lopez from the Orioles, and setup man Michael Fulmer from the Tigers. The troubling display of attention to roster shortcomings makes Johnstone wonder when the next shoe will drop. “When you’re the Twins, you sign the deflated shell of Bret Boone or pretend Matt Shoemaker just needs a few adjustments,” said the 66-year-old. “Getting the right people at a manageable cost feels like a thing that the Yankees or Red Sox do while we trade for Sidney Ponson. Something isn’t right. I want some answers.” Brenda Perkins, a diehard Twins and Minnesota Wild fan, agrees. “If you’re a GM, the thing you do is sign veterans to these giant [REDACTED] millstone contracts,” said the 35-year-old Plymouth native. “Put them on the payroll until they’re 58, watch their skills degrade in real-time, and destroy your salary cap for a couple decades. Reasonable moves made to help bolster a pennant run without mortgaging the future? What are we even doing here?” It’s not just fans. Aaron Gleeman, Twins beat writer for The Athletic and celebrity spokesperson for Scribe’s Choice Neck Fan Solutions, LLC, says he is as surprised as anyone. “This is out of the ordinary, to say the least,” said Gleeman. “It’s usually tweaks or sell-offs. I think a lot of us are using code SURPRISE to get 30% off a 1-year subscription to The Athletic. It’s remarkable.” For his part, Johnstone is keeping it all in perspective. “Two of those guys will need Tommy John before Labor Day. A piano will fall on Byron Buxton. Spencer Steer is the next Mike Trout. The alternative is too bizarre to contemplate: a Minnesota team made a series of shrewd acquisitions to improve their playoff chances. Yeah, right.”
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