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  1. Coming into 2021, the Minnesota Twins looked to have an inside track within the AL Central division, mainly due to their depth. They had plenty of options on the pitching side, and before being exposed, lots of those names seemed plenty capable. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Yesterday, I looked at some of the arms from the bullpen that could survive an impending roster shakeup and, knowing there will be turnover, guys that the front office should want to keep. When looking more at the rotation, a handful of arms were expected to elevate the club in 2021 that suffered injuries or setbacks and now have a murkier future. When considering both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, where do these guys fit? Randy Dobnak Signed to an extension this offseason, Dobnak watched 2021 go about as poorly as it possibly could. He owned a 7.64 ERA and was optioned back to Triple-A at one point. Getting in just over 50 innings due to a finger injury was nothing short of a disaster. Under team control through 2025, his deal was more about being earned as a self-made big-leaguer rather than necessary to lock down a future cornerstone. Still, if he returns with a clean bill of health, his status as a 5th or 6th starter with swingman abilities should remain intact. Lewis Thorpe Arguably the most disappointing arm from 2021, considering what the expectations may have been, was Thorpe. His velocity was reported to have ticked up all spring, but that never carried over to games that count. He pitched just 15 innings at the big league level and showed no ability to strike batters out. After being a former high-ceiling prospect, he appears to have been deterred by Tommy John, time missed, and his own personal setbacks. With just shy of 60 innings since debuting in 2019, I’d be far from shocked if Thorpe isn’t jettisoned from the 40-man this offseason. Devin Smeltzer The last injury update on Smeltzer came back in July. He was transferred to the 60-day Injured List with left elbow inflammation. Pitching in just one game for the Twins this season, his year was over before it ever got started. Minnesota has been quiet as to what is next for Smeltzer, but elbow injuries are always scary. He’s certainly not an option for the Opening Day rotation in 2022, and at best, would be rotational depth. Smeltzer gave the 2019 Bomba Squad some really good innings but has largely been an afterthought since. Cody Stashak Each of the past two seasons, Stashak had been one of the Twins more dominant relievers. Although utilized in scarce innings, he racked up strikeouts and limited walks. That wasn’t so much the case in 2021. While the strikeouts saw a nice jump, he allowed ten free passes in 15 2/3 innings. Hitting the Injured List with a back issue, Stashak was transferred to the 60-day IL at the end of June. Ideally, he’d be a factor for Minnesota’s revamped bullpen next season. He’ll be just 28-years-old and has looked the part of a quality arm when healthy. Griffin Jax The first of two fringe arms discussed here, Jax wasn’t injured and has gotten run for Minnesota in the season's second half. He earned a promotion with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul this year. In 72 innings for the Twins, he owns a 6.75 ERA but has a near-identical strikeout and walk rate compared to his minor league numbers. Jax’s bugaboo has been the longball, and 21 of them burn him far too often. However, there have been instances where he looks like the stuff can play, so keeping him on the 40-man as rotational depth makes a good deal of sense. Charlie Barnes Another one of St. Paul’s strong starting arms this year, Barnes earned his call with a 3.88 ERA across 15 turns in the Triple-A rotation. Results haven’t followed at the big league level to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He’s struggling by being too hittable with a H/9 north of 10, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 7.3 at Triple-A to 4.3 in the big leagues. Being able to miss bats is a must at the highest level, and the crafty lefty will need to go back to the drawing board this offseason. The former 4th round pick will be 26 next year and should remain in the organization as rotational depth. John Gant Netting Gant for what J.A. Happ was to the Twins remains a coup. I don’t know that I have a preference for where the former Cardinals arm finds his future in Minnesota, but under team control for another year, he’ll be on the roster. His 4.73 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but the 3.46 FIP suggests there’s more to be had here. Gant is striking out 10.8 per nine with the Twins and has worked in a starting and bullpen role. He’ll be cheap and just 29-years-old, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t keep him around for a second year. The Twins won’t be able to go into 2022, thinking their depth can produce as this year's case. It should be expected to help bolster what the frontline guys are capable of, but between injuries and ineffectiveness, there’s so much volatility once you get beyond that top tier. A learning year for the front office and the manager, working out who fits where in the year ahead is a must. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Every season in baseball history, some players have underperformed. Most of the Minnesota Twins' roster fits into this category in 2021, but who are the top candidates to bounce back? Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. On Wednesday the Twins confirmed what was already expected: Kenta Maeda required Tommy John surgery, and will miss most of the 2022 season, if not all of it. With zero veteran starters under control, and prospect injuries suppressing the internal pitching pipeline, is it realistically possible for Minnesota to field a contending rotation next year? Let's see. Below I will outline a plausible path to a good Twins rotation in 2022. Not an elite rotation – that's probably a bridge too far at this point – but a good one with five solid-or-better starters, capable of competing for a postseason spot and maybe more. There is inherently some optimistic thinking involved here, but I don't think any of these scenarios are out of question. 1. Bailey Ober proves to be the real deal Among starting pitchers currently controlled by the Twins, Ober is the only stable fixture looking ahead to 2022. But he's establishing himself as a pretty viable building block. How did the big right-hander go from relative unknown to indispensable rotation cornerstone in one year's time? By adding 3-4 MPH to his fastball and shedding his label as a "soft-tosser." A few extra ticks of velocity have made a world of difference for the rookie, who is now sneaking heaters past MLB hitters and playing up his lesser offspeed stuff. Toss in excellent command, and you've got a good recipe for success. As we've seen. Ober's overall numbers with the Twins this year are good – 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77-to-17 K/BB ratio in 74 ⅔ innings – but even better when you break them down to parse out his progression. His K/BB ratio in the latter sample is legitimately elite (only two qualified MLB starters are averaging more than six strikeouts per walk, and they are Cy Young candidates Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole). When you're missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the hits in check, you're in line for good outcomes. Ober has shown the ability to do all these things, and he's only getting better at each of them. Home runs will be something to monitor, and could sidetrack him if they re-emerge as a weakness, but at this point there's no reason to think a healthy Ober won't be at least a quality #3 or 4 starter in 2022. 2. Twins sign a #2/3 starter in free agency No, they're not going to sign Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. Probably not Noah Syndergaard either. Even someone like Marcus Stroman or Justin Verlander may be a tad too ambitious. But with ample flexibility (should they choose to keep payroll steady or raise it slightly), there are several names in the next tier that should be within range, and it's not that hard to see one of them settling in as a mid-rotation caliber starter or better. Names in this category include Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and others. 3. Acquire a #2/3 starter via trade Last year, the Twins acquired Maeda and watched him blossom into a Cy Young caliber performer. This year, their division rivals have done the same with Lance Lynn. We don't need to set our sights that high, though it'd be nice. Jameson Taillon is a less idealistic example. He wasn't a star for Pittsburgh, and the Yankees didn't have to part with top-tier prospect talent to acquire him. But he has served as a very solid mid-rotation arm for New York, at a low price and with multiple years of control remaining. The Twins didn't trade away any of their system's depth last winter, and have only added to it this year by selling at the deadline. Additionally, they have a few semi-redundant pieces at the major-league level that could have value to other clubs (Max Kepler, Mitch Garver ... Luis Arraez?) The front office will have assets to deal for pitching if they are so inclined. 4. Re-sign Michael Pineda The door definitely seems wide open for a reunion, as each side has openly expressed affinity for the other, and with Pineda's challenges this year, he should be pretty affordable – maybe $4-5 million. Given those challenges, I'm sure most Twins fans aren't enthused about the idea of bringing back Pineda. But let's look at the big picture here: the 32-year-old has posted a 3.98 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 during his time with the Twins. That includes his recent struggles, which can likely be attributed somewhat to health. In his first 36 starts with Minnesota, the team went 24-12. His circumstances, and a theoretical desire to return here, could enable the Twins to score Pineda at the cost of a back-end starter, while hoping an offseason of rest and strengthening returns him to his previous state or close to it. 5. Get Randy Dobnak back on track As with Pineda, it's easy to get caught up in Dobnak's recent struggles while losing sight of his previous success. In fact, it's a lot easier, because Dobnak does not have nearly the track record of Pineda. But through the first 14 outings of his MLB career, the Dobber was simply phenomenal, posting a 1.69 ERA with four home runs allowed over 58 ⅔ innings. This after a tremendous minor-league career that saw him perform well at every level. Dobnak's effectiveness was no accident – the bottom simply fell out on his pitches, making them excruciatingly difficult to lift, and he consistently threw them in the zone. Things went south late in the 2020 season, but Dobnak rebounded with a dominant spring that compelled the Twins to invest with a modest long-term contract. And then the bottom fell out on Dobnak. We all know this season has been a complete and total disaster for the right-hander, but it's unclear to what it extent that owes to injury issues. When you're a slider-reliant sinkerballer who goes from allowing four homers in your first two seasons to allowing 11 in your third, before going on IL for multiple months with a strain in the middle finger that is so crucial in creating that sink ... Well, it points to a natural explanation. There's no guarantee that time off will correct this issue, but we'll at least start to get an idea when Dobnak returns to the rotation on Friday. Regardless of how things go for the rest of this season, he'll most likely get a crack at the 2022 rotation given that he's under guaranteed contract. If he gets back on track and is anywhere close to the version we saw early on in his big-league career, well that's a hell of a good fifth starter. 6. The minors provide depth and jolts Above, we've accounted for all five season-opening rotation spots. And we haven't yet tapped into the impressive minor-league pipeline this front office has built up. Between Joe Ryan, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino and Josh Winder, you have a bevy of high-upside arms that are all verging on MLB-ready, if not already there. Granted, it's tough to depend on any of these prospects short-term, given that none have yet appeared in the majors (save Ryan, who debuted impressively on Wednesday) and the group is riddled with significant injury concerns. But that's why I'm not penciling them into any of the top five spots. We can account for those otherwise and keep these exciting arms in reserve, while knowing that just about any one of them has the potential to be a game-changing force for the Twins pitching staff if things break right. Look, I get that it's hard to envision multiple positive scenarios playing out in this fashion, especially with the way faith has been understandably eroded in the this front office over the past year. But one thing I find myself frequently reminding others – and myself – is that things change fast in this game. In 2016 and 2018, nobody was foreseeing good things on the near horizon. The Twins made some mistakes last offseason, but have also been the victims of absolutely horrible luck. This front office and coaching staff have proven their mettle in the past. If they can learn from those mistakes and the pendulum of fortune swings in the other direction, it's not all that difficult to envision a pitching staff capable of supporting what could be a very strong offense to push Minnesota back into contender status. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. After signing an extension this winter, things couldn’t have gone much worse for Randy Dobnak. What can he prove in his remaining starts this season? Randy Dobnak had to be feeling pretty good about himself entering spring training this year. The Twins had given him some financial certainty by signing him to a five-year extension worth a guaranteed $9.25 million and a chance to earn close to $30 million if the team picks up his three option years. His spring performance also stood out as he unveiled a new pitch. Minnesota’s front office worked with Dobnak in the spring to adjust his slider. By moving his hand position, he can get more break on his pitch to allow it to dip out of the zone. The results were tremendous as he posted a 0.57 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP while striking out 19 batters in 15 2/3 innings. Dobnak seemed poised for a breakout season. The Twins had signed two veteran pitchers, JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker, to fill out the rotation, and this meant Dobnak moved to the bullpen for Opening Day. Unfortunately, this is where his trouble began. He made eight appearances as a reliever and posted a 10.47 ERA and 1.71 WHIP with 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. It was pretty that Dobnak wasn’t a reliever, and by early May, he was headed to St. Paul to be stretched out as a starter. Dobnak returned to the big leagues a couple of weeks later and had his most impressive start of the year. Over six shutout innings, he scattered three hits and struck out five Cleveland batters. In his next five appearances (23 1/3 innings), he allowed 25 earned runs, including seven home runs with a 9 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. He pitched with a fake fingernail against the Yankees, and they tagged him for eight earned runs. Dobnak tried to pitch through a finger injury by the middle of June, but he ended up on the IL. At the time, it was listed as a right middle finger strain. In early July, there were reports of a setback in his rehab as he felt discomfort while attempting to throw. He slowly ramped it back up and made a couple of rehab starts before returning to the Twins in September. Remember that new and improved slider from spring training? Opponents have posted a .333 BA and a .815 SLG when facing that pitch. He has thrown the pitch over a third of the time, posting a healthy 37.3 Whiff%. However, he has given up 11 extra-base hits, including seven home runs in 54 at-bats using his slider. The magic he showed this spring just hasn’t materialized with the pitch. Dobnak has been a feel-good story over the last two years with the Twins. He took an unconventional route to the big leagues, and the Twins rewarded his performance with a long-term contract. Minnesota needs as much rotation help as possible for 2022, so the Twins can hope Dobnak helps the cause next season. For now, Dobnak can hope his last few starts show a glimmer of hope. That way, he can end his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season on a high note. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. Randy Dobnak had to be feeling pretty good about himself entering spring training this year. The Twins had given him some financial certainty by signing him to a five-year extension worth a guaranteed $9.25 million and a chance to earn close to $30 million if the team picks up his three option years. His spring performance also stood out as he unveiled a new pitch. Minnesota’s front office worked with Dobnak in the spring to adjust his slider. By moving his hand position, he can get more break on his pitch to allow it to dip out of the zone. The results were tremendous as he posted a 0.57 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP while striking out 19 batters in 15 2/3 innings. Dobnak seemed poised for a breakout season. The Twins had signed two veteran pitchers, JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker, to fill out the rotation, and this meant Dobnak moved to the bullpen for Opening Day. Unfortunately, this is where his trouble began. He made eight appearances as a reliever and posted a 10.47 ERA and 1.71 WHIP with 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. It was pretty that Dobnak wasn’t a reliever, and by early May, he was headed to St. Paul to be stretched out as a starter. Dobnak returned to the big leagues a couple of weeks later and had his most impressive start of the year. Over six shutout innings, he scattered three hits and struck out five Cleveland batters. In his next five appearances (23 1/3 innings), he allowed 25 earned runs, including seven home runs with a 9 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. He pitched with a fake fingernail against the Yankees, and they tagged him for eight earned runs. Dobnak tried to pitch through a finger injury by the middle of June, but he ended up on the IL. At the time, it was listed as a right middle finger strain. In early July, there were reports of a setback in his rehab as he felt discomfort while attempting to throw. He slowly ramped it back up and made a couple of rehab starts before returning to the Twins in September. Remember that new and improved slider from spring training? Opponents have posted a .333 BA and a .815 SLG when facing that pitch. He has thrown the pitch over a third of the time, posting a healthy 37.3 Whiff%. However, he has given up 11 extra-base hits, including seven home runs in 54 at-bats using his slider. The magic he showed this spring just hasn’t materialized with the pitch. Dobnak has been a feel-good story over the last two years with the Twins. He took an unconventional route to the big leagues, and the Twins rewarded his performance with a long-term contract. Minnesota needs as much rotation help as possible for 2022, so the Twins can hope Dobnak helps the cause next season. For now, Dobnak can hope his last few starts show a glimmer of hope. That way, he can end his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season on a high note. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. One-run victories bookended a four-game losing streak, in a week where the Twins bats were mostly quiet but the rotation continued to offer promising signs – including from a pair of new additions who could significantly impact the 2022 picture. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/30 thru Sun, 9/5 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 59-77) Run Differential Last Week: -12 (Overall: -111) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (20.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 131 | MIN 3, DET 2: Twins Take Makeup Game Behind Ober Game 132 | CHC 3, MIN 1: Offense Comes Up Short in Key Spots Game 133 | CHC 3, MIN 0: Ryan Bitten by 3-R HR, Lack of Run Support in Debut Game 134 | TB 5, MIN 3: Dobnak Digs Deep Early Hole in Return to Rotation Game 135 | TB 11, MIN 4: Rays Annihilate Albers, Blow Out Twins Game 136 | MIN 6, TB 5: Offense Snaps Slump with 13 Hits NEWS & NOTES When rosters expanded on September 1st, the Twins called up two starters from the minors – one a new face in pitching prospect Joe Ryan, who came over in the Nelson Cruz deal, and one a familiar face in Randy Dobnak, who had wrapped up a rehab stint in St. Paul. Both pitchers joined the rotation right away, and you can read about their performances below. To make room on the 40-man roster for the new additions, Edgar García was outrighted and Kenta Maeda – who underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday – was moved to the 60-day IL. In a bit of an odd and surprising trade, the Twins dealt minor-league reliever Andrew Vasquez to the Dodgers for minor-league catcher Stevie Berman. Vasquez was called up immediately by Los Angeles, and appeared in Friday's game against the Giants. We've seen Vasquez in brief stints for the Twins before, in 2019 and 2018, and they did not go well. He is what he is – a lefty specialist who has been incredibly effective in that capacity in the minors but also struggles to throw strikes. People around here weren't exactly clamoring for him to promoted, and I'll admit he hasn't been on my radar lately. Still, for a team like the Twins that is desperate for any kind of pitching help – now and going forward – to never even take a look at a pitcher who was deemed immediately valuable by the reigning champs, vying for a ninth straight division title? I dunno. Strikes me as weird. In other news, Trevor Larnach was placed on the IL at Triple-A with a hand contusion, and it sounds like Michael Pineda's return is imminent. The big righty's oblique has healed quickly and he's set to rejoin the Twins rotation this week without a rehab assignment. On Sunday, Luke Farrell was activated from IL, supplanting Andrew Albers, who was utterly clobbered by Tampa on Saturday night. Derek Law was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man. HIGHLIGHTS With Maeda out of the picture, can the Twins realistically build a rotation capable of contending in 2022? I made the case for it here a few days ago, while acknowledging that such an outcome would require multiple savvy offseason moves from the front office, and for things to break right with a few returning arms that are – at best – uncertainties right now. The past week brought much-needed encouraging signs for a few of those arms. Things opened up with yet another excellent outing from Bailey Ober, who delivered six innings of two-run ball in a makeup game at Detroit on Monday. The right-hander struck out five and walked none while allowing five hits in his second big-league win. One thing that I think gets lost in Ober's performance – due to the Twins carefully managing his pitch counts and workload – is that he's showing the potential to provide length once the team loosens up his restrictions a bit. In five August starts, Ober completed at least five innings each time, and got through six twice, despite never throwing more than 82 pitches. If he can continue to pitch this way in 2022, Ober looks like a guy who could give you six or seven innings on a pretty regular basis. We haven't had quite as much time to get a read on Ryan, who made his major-league debut against the Cubs on Wednesday night, but our first glimpse was a promising one. After spending a few months carving Triple-A hitters to shreds, Ryan took his game to Target Field and delivered a pretty good approximation, striking out five over five frames with 14 swinging strikes on 60 pitches (23%). He allowed only three hits and one walk, but his otherwise strong outing was marred by a three-run homer. (Ober can relate on this one.) As for Dobnak ... I don't think a start where the pitcher gives up five earned runs could be described as "good," but there was certainly some optimism to be drawn from his outing on Friday. All of the damage came early against Dobnak, who was likely shaking off some rust after a two-month absence from the rotation. He gave up three straight hits – including back-to-back RBI singles – to open the third, and then settled in to retire 15 straight batters. The last seven all came on groundouts and in total, Dobnak induced 17 grounders over his seven innings of work. He became the first Minnesota starter to complete seven innings since José Berríos in his last Twins start, all the way back on July 24th. Even some of the peripheral arms on the staff had solid showings. John Gant looked about as good as we've seen him in his start against the Cubs on Tuesday, tossing five innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks. He was spinning the ball around the lower regions of the zone and inducing some fairly ugly swings. Like Griffin Jax, there's evidence Gant could be a useful swingman or long reliever on the 2022 staff. Also deserving of note is Ralph Garza Jr., who tossed three scoreless and hitless innings. The 27-year-old has fared out much better as a Twin than García, claimed off waivers around the same time. Garza Jr. now has a 1.46 ERA with just six hits allowed in 12 ⅓ innings since being acquired. LOWLIGHTS While the pitching staff (sans Albers) held its own, the offense provided little support. Since scoring nine runs in consecutive games in Boston a couple weeks ago, the bats have gone into hibernation, batting just .214 with 29 runs scored in their past 10 games. Conspicuously, the slump in production coincides closely with Byron Buxton's return, which has thus far had the opposite of its intended impact. The center fielder has been playing daily since being activated from IL, but can't find much rhythm at the plate. Last week he went 4-for-21, and overall he's 4-for-35 (.114) with 10 strikeouts and two walks since coming back. I don't think Buxton's struggles are super concerning – ample rust is to be expected following his prolonged absence, and he's not striking out an inordinate amount or anything – but they're definitely threatening the narrative of a breakout season. Is Buxton truly a bona fide MVP-caliber hitter, like we saw back an April and in frequent bursts over the past few years, or is he more of a great but streaky offensive player? The final month should offer a bit more clarity, and could heavily impact the dynamics of any offseason extension talks as Buxton heads into his walk year. Hopefully Sunday's two-hit game is a sign that the 27-year-old is ready to get rolling again. Other players contributing to the lineup's run-scoring scarcity: Luis Arraez is finding the hits uncharacteristically difficult to come by of late. In six games (five starts) last week, Arraez went just 5-for-22, and in fact he's got only five hits in his past 10 games. I'm not sure this qualifies as anything more than regression to the mean for a player who'd previously been hitting nearly .400 since the All-Star break, but it does go to show how much the offense relies on his contributions to spark rallies. Miguel Sanó probably fell into some regression of his own. After posting a 1.005 OPS in his previous 10 games, Sanó went just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts and two walks. Coming into the week, the first baseman had struck out 3+ times in a game just once in the previous month (a notable feat for him) but he did so twice last week. Sanó got a day off on Sunday; we'll see if this is a mere hiccup or the start of another mega-slump. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons' season has basically been one long mega-slump. While continuing to draw almost everyday starts due to a lack of compelling alternatives, Simmons was customarily awful at the plate, going 2-for-12 with zero extra-base hits, zero RBIs, and zero runs scored. He now sports a .216 slugging percentage and .468 OPS since the All-Star break. Simmons' consistently meager contact produces almost no chance for successful results, and the 32-year-old (as of Saturday) really does look cooked as a big-league hitter. Alas, the Twins appear committed to running out the string. TRENDING STORYLINE All eyes are on the rotation right now. It'd be nice to see the offense pick up its pace again, but there are no deep concerns about the state of the lineup going forward. Meanwhile, everyone currently slotted into the rotation – Ober, Dobnak, Jax, Ryan, and even the returning Pineda – is making their case for a role on the 2022 staff. Presently I'd say Ober is the only one who could safely be viewed as having a spot carved out, but matters could change over the final four weeks. No storyline looms larger, in my eyes. LOOKING AHEAD A full week of match-ups against fellow AL Central also-rans lies ahead, with the Twins set to play four games in Cleveland followed by three against the Royals at Target Field. Minnesota is amidst a run of 13 straight days of games with no break. Who will start on Friday against the Royals, with Albers now out of the equation? That is the question. Charlie Barnes would seem to be the most likely option at present, if not a bullpen game. The Twins will be operating for a short while without their manager, as Rocco Baldelli departed the team on Sunday for the birth of his first child. (Congrats Rocco and Allie!!) Bill Evers, who announced he'll be retiring at season's end, will take over as interim skipper. MONDAY, 9/6: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Bailey Ober v. LHP Sam Hentges TUESDAY, 9/7: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP John Gant v. RHP Triston McKenzie WEDNESDAY, 9/8: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Cal Quantrill THURSDAY, 9/9: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Eli Morgan FRIDAY, 9/10: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Daniel Lynch v. TBD SATURDAY, 9/11: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brady Singer v. RHP Griffin Jax SUNDAY, 9/12: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jackson Kowar v. RHP Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  9. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/30 thru Sun, 9/5 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 59-77) Run Differential Last Week: -12 (Overall: -111) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (20.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 131 | MIN 3, DET 2: Twins Take Makeup Game Behind Ober Game 132 | CHC 3, MIN 1: Offense Comes Up Short in Key Spots Game 133 | CHC 3, MIN 0: Ryan Bitten by 3-R HR, Lack of Run Support in Debut Game 134 | TB 5, MIN 3: Dobnak Digs Deep Early Hole in Return to Rotation Game 135 | TB 11, MIN 4: Rays Annihilate Albers, Blow Out Twins Game 136 | MIN 6, TB 5: Offense Snaps Slump with 13 Hits NEWS & NOTES When rosters expanded on September 1st, the Twins called up two starters from the minors – one a new face in pitching prospect Joe Ryan, who came over in the Nelson Cruz deal, and one a familiar face in Randy Dobnak, who had wrapped up a rehab stint in St. Paul. Both pitchers joined the rotation right away, and you can read about their performances below. To make room on the 40-man roster for the new additions, Edgar García was outrighted and Kenta Maeda – who underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday – was moved to the 60-day IL. In a bit of an odd and surprising trade, the Twins dealt minor-league reliever Andrew Vasquez to the Dodgers for minor-league catcher Stevie Berman. Vasquez was called up immediately by Los Angeles, and appeared in Friday's game against the Giants. We've seen Vasquez in brief stints for the Twins before, in 2019 and 2018, and they did not go well. He is what he is – a lefty specialist who has been incredibly effective in that capacity in the minors but also struggles to throw strikes. People around here weren't exactly clamoring for him to promoted, and I'll admit he hasn't been on my radar lately. Still, for a team like the Twins that is desperate for any kind of pitching help – now and going forward – to never even take a look at a pitcher who was deemed immediately valuable by the reigning champs, vying for a ninth straight division title? I dunno. Strikes me as weird. In other news, Trevor Larnach was placed on the IL at Triple-A with a hand contusion, and it sounds like Michael Pineda's return is imminent. The big righty's oblique has healed quickly and he's set to rejoin the Twins rotation this week without a rehab assignment. On Sunday, Luke Farrell was activated from IL, supplanting Andrew Albers, who was utterly clobbered by Tampa on Saturday night. Derek Law was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man. HIGHLIGHTS With Maeda out of the picture, can the Twins realistically build a rotation capable of contending in 2022? I made the case for it here a few days ago, while acknowledging that such an outcome would require multiple savvy offseason moves from the front office, and for things to break right with a few returning arms that are – at best – uncertainties right now. The past week brought much-needed encouraging signs for a few of those arms. Things opened up with yet another excellent outing from Bailey Ober, who delivered six innings of two-run ball in a makeup game at Detroit on Monday. The right-hander struck out five and walked none while allowing five hits in his second big-league win. One thing that I think gets lost in Ober's performance – due to the Twins carefully managing his pitch counts and workload – is that he's showing the potential to provide length once the team loosens up his restrictions a bit. In five August starts, Ober completed at least five innings each time, and got through six twice, despite never throwing more than 82 pitches. If he can continue to pitch this way in 2022, Ober looks like a guy who could give you six or seven innings on a pretty regular basis. We haven't had quite as much time to get a read on Ryan, who made his major-league debut against the Cubs on Wednesday night, but our first glimpse was a promising one. After spending a few months carving Triple-A hitters to shreds, Ryan took his game to Target Field and delivered a pretty good approximation, striking out five over five frames with 14 swinging strikes on 60 pitches (23%). He allowed only three hits and one walk, but his otherwise strong outing was marred by a three-run homer. (Ober can relate on this one.) As for Dobnak ... I don't think a start where the pitcher gives up five earned runs could be described as "good," but there was certainly some optimism to be drawn from his outing on Friday. All of the damage came early against Dobnak, who was likely shaking off some rust after a two-month absence from the rotation. He gave up three straight hits – including back-to-back RBI singles – to open the third, and then settled in to retire 15 straight batters. The last seven all came on groundouts and in total, Dobnak induced 17 grounders over his seven innings of work. He became the first Minnesota starter to complete seven innings since José Berríos in his last Twins start, all the way back on July 24th. Even some of the peripheral arms on the staff had solid showings. John Gant looked about as good as we've seen him in his start against the Cubs on Tuesday, tossing five innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks. He was spinning the ball around the lower regions of the zone and inducing some fairly ugly swings. Like Griffin Jax, there's evidence Gant could be a useful swingman or long reliever on the 2022 staff. Also deserving of note is Ralph Garza Jr., who tossed three scoreless and hitless innings. The 27-year-old has fared out much better as a Twin than García, claimed off waivers around the same time. Garza Jr. now has a 1.46 ERA with just six hits allowed in 12 ⅓ innings since being acquired. LOWLIGHTS While the pitching staff (sans Albers) held its own, the offense provided little support. Since scoring nine runs in consecutive games in Boston a couple weeks ago, the bats have gone into hibernation, batting just .214 with 29 runs scored in their past 10 games. Conspicuously, the slump in production coincides closely with Byron Buxton's return, which has thus far had the opposite of its intended impact. The center fielder has been playing daily since being activated from IL, but can't find much rhythm at the plate. Last week he went 4-for-21, and overall he's 4-for-35 (.114) with 10 strikeouts and two walks since coming back. I don't think Buxton's struggles are super concerning – ample rust is to be expected following his prolonged absence, and he's not striking out an inordinate amount or anything – but they're definitely threatening the narrative of a breakout season. Is Buxton truly a bona fide MVP-caliber hitter, like we saw back an April and in frequent bursts over the past few years, or is he more of a great but streaky offensive player? The final month should offer a bit more clarity, and could heavily impact the dynamics of any offseason extension talks as Buxton heads into his walk year. Hopefully Sunday's two-hit game is a sign that the 27-year-old is ready to get rolling again. Other players contributing to the lineup's run-scoring scarcity: Luis Arraez is finding the hits uncharacteristically difficult to come by of late. In six games (five starts) last week, Arraez went just 5-for-22, and in fact he's got only five hits in his past 10 games. I'm not sure this qualifies as anything more than regression to the mean for a player who'd previously been hitting nearly .400 since the All-Star break, but it does go to show how much the offense relies on his contributions to spark rallies. Miguel Sanó probably fell into some regression of his own. After posting a 1.005 OPS in his previous 10 games, Sanó went just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts and two walks. Coming into the week, the first baseman had struck out 3+ times in a game just once in the previous month (a notable feat for him) but he did so twice last week. Sanó got a day off on Sunday; we'll see if this is a mere hiccup or the start of another mega-slump. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons' season has basically been one long mega-slump. While continuing to draw almost everyday starts due to a lack of compelling alternatives, Simmons was customarily awful at the plate, going 2-for-12 with zero extra-base hits, zero RBIs, and zero runs scored. He now sports a .216 slugging percentage and .468 OPS since the All-Star break. Simmons' consistently meager contact produces almost no chance for successful results, and the 32-year-old (as of Saturday) really does look cooked as a big-league hitter. Alas, the Twins appear committed to running out the string. TRENDING STORYLINE All eyes are on the rotation right now. It'd be nice to see the offense pick up its pace again, but there are no deep concerns about the state of the lineup going forward. Meanwhile, everyone currently slotted into the rotation – Ober, Dobnak, Jax, Ryan, and even the returning Pineda – is making their case for a role on the 2022 staff. Presently I'd say Ober is the only one who could safely be viewed as having a spot carved out, but matters could change over the final four weeks. No storyline looms larger, in my eyes. LOOKING AHEAD A full week of match-ups against fellow AL Central also-rans lies ahead, with the Twins set to play four games in Cleveland followed by three against the Royals at Target Field. Minnesota is amidst a run of 13 straight days of games with no break. Who will start on Friday against the Royals, with Albers now out of the equation? That is the question. Charlie Barnes would seem to be the most likely option at present, if not a bullpen game. The Twins will be operating for a short while without their manager, as Rocco Baldelli departed the team on Sunday for the birth of his first child. (Congrats Rocco and Allie!!) Bill Evers, who announced he'll be retiring at season's end, will take over as interim skipper. MONDAY, 9/6: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Bailey Ober v. LHP Sam Hentges TUESDAY, 9/7: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP John Gant v. RHP Triston McKenzie WEDNESDAY, 9/8: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Cal Quantrill THURSDAY, 9/9: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Eli Morgan FRIDAY, 9/10: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Daniel Lynch v. TBD SATURDAY, 9/11: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brady Singer v. RHP Griffin Jax SUNDAY, 9/12: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jackson Kowar v. RHP Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Right now, the Minnesota Twins starting rotation is completely turned over. The group that started the 2021 season is gone, and the anchors intended for 2022 are no longer realistic options. So where does the team go from here? Derek Falvey and Thad Levine already had their work cut out for them going into the winter. The bullpen was nothing short of a disaster this season, and the starting rotation has been lackluster in plenty of different instances. Now faced with the reality that Jose Berrios is gone, and Kenta Maeda is injured, the uphill battle has grown substantially. Of course, dollars have to, and will be, spent. Before considering the options on the open market, and they are relatively plentiful, looking at who can be an option internally on Opening Day is where we should start. Unfortunately, the names are more plentiful than the logical options you’d hope to ink in. Bailey Ober If there’s a guy that’s earned a role among the five openings to kick off 2022 it’s Ober. He’s been lights out of late and now has a sub-4.00 ERA. Ober owns a 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts and he’s posted a 9.3 K/9. The home run bit him hard early, and a 1.8 HR/9 still isn’t great, but that only leaves further opportunity for heightened levels of success. He’s not an ace but pitching himself into the top half of a rotation would hardly be a shock. Joe Ryan It’s still surprising the Twins got this type of return for Nelson Cruz, but Ryan has seemed every bit as exciting as you’d hope. Across 66.0 IP at Triple-A this season Ryan owns a 3.41 ERA and has punched out 12.5 K/9. He needs to make his next turn in Minnesota, but regardless, you could do a lot worse than this type of arm as a 5th starter to open the next campaign. Randy Dobnak Dobnak has put himself in an interesting situation given the lack of effectiveness and injury issues he’s dealt with this season. Still probably a 4th starter at best, the ceiling really isn’t there in comparison to the two aforementioned arms, and the prospects behind him could close the gap quickly. He’s a great depth guy, but Minnesota can’t afford to fill the rotation with options of this caliber. Lewis Thorpe There’s probably a decent chance that Thorpe is dropped from the 40-man roster this offseason. The Twins were granted an additional year of control, but the Aussie hasn’t done anything with it. The velocity has continued to be lackluster, and nothing about the upside that was once there has reappeared. It’s been a disappointing fall through health and personal complications. Either way, this isn’t a viable option. Griffin Jax A really great story this season, and one worth keeping in the organization, Jax is a rotational depth piece in my mind. He’s shown that there’s a capable level of stuff to get big leaguers out but relying on him for 30 turns a season could expose Minnesota in a bad way. Jax doesn’t have the high end velocity or strikeout stuff to dominate, but he is a big league arm that can eat innings when necessary. Charlie Barnes Of the fringe arms to debut this season for Minnesota, Barnes has been the most underwhelming. His strikeout numbers have never really been anything to write home about and that makes the margin for error at the highest level very slight. Barnes is 25 and hasn’t ever had much in the form of prospect status, but that doesn’t negate the fact he could be a nice depth piece. That’s probably still to be determined, but it won’t be realized in an Opening Day rotation. The Prospects (Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Drew Strotman, Josh Winder) Outside of the Ober and Ryan pairing at the top, this is the group the Twins are dreaming on developing some high level arms from. Unfortunately, the majority have either been hurt or are not yet in a place where they’re kicking down the door for a big league promotion. Getting each back to health has to be the chief concern, but beyond that, they’ll need to force their way in. Assuming Minnesota wants to compete, or at the very least be respectable next season, they’ll need to sign a starter for the top of the rotation. Hoping one or more of these arms can then challenge that status sooner rather than later would be the goal. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  11. Randy Dobnak returned to the mound for the Twins for the first time in 2 1/2 months on Friday night. He gave the Twins seven innings, but early defensive miscues and another game with little offensive production and the Twins fell to the Rays in Tampa. Box Score SP: Randy Dobnak: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (88 pitches, 53 strikes (60.2%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (25), Ryan Jeffers (12) Bottom 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (-0.287), Josh Donaldson (-0.084), Byron Buxton (-0.067) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Hip... Hip... Jorge Polanco gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 25th home run of the season. Polanco cut the Twins deficit to just two runs (5-3) with a two-out bloop double that scored Luis Arraez in the 8th inning. In between, Ryan Jeffers launched his 12th homer with the Twins this season. The Fu Manchu Returns For the first time since June 19th, Randy Dobnak took the mound for the Twins. While it may be impossible to make a start in which one gives up five runs a good start, Dobnak did figure things out and provided the Twins with seven innings. Yes, he gave up five runs before recording the first out of the third inning. However, he retired the next 15 batters he faced. He got weak contact. He induced ground balls. He recorded 17 of his 21 outs on ground balls. He worked efficiently, and gave the bullpen a second straight day off... well, except for the eight-pitch outing from Ralph Garza. It's hard not to wonder if things might have been different that Miguel Sano simply recorded the out at first bases on the Randy Arozarena broken-bat grounder to first. Obviously it's impossible to know, but Arozarena wouldn't have scored on Kevin Keirmeier's double that followed. Maybe that means one less run. Maybe two? Who knows, but the tone of the game sure changed at that point. Here are some of Dobnak's postgame thoughts: Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 23 0 0 0 0 23 Thielbar 0 26 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 24 11 0 0 35 Alcalá 25 0 0 0 0 25 Gibaut 0 0 24 0 0 24 Garza Jr. 0 17 0 0 8 25 Duffey 0 16 0 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10 View full article
  12. Box Score SP: Randy Dobnak: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (88 pitches, 53 strikes (60.2%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (25), Ryan Jeffers (12) Bottom 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (-0.287), Josh Donaldson (-0.084), Byron Buxton (-0.067) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Hip... Hip... Jorge Polanco gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 25th home run of the season. Polanco cut the Twins deficit to just two runs (5-3) with a two-out bloop double that scored Luis Arraez in the 8th inning. In between, Ryan Jeffers launched his 12th homer with the Twins this season. The Fu Manchu Returns For the first time since June 19th, Randy Dobnak took the mound for the Twins. While it may be impossible to make a start in which one gives up five runs a good start, Dobnak did figure things out and provided the Twins with seven innings. Yes, he gave up five runs before recording the first out of the third inning. However, he retired the next 15 batters he faced. He got weak contact. He induced ground balls. He recorded 17 of his 21 outs on ground balls. He worked efficiently, and gave the bullpen a second straight day off... well, except for the eight-pitch outing from Ralph Garza. It's hard not to wonder if things might have been different that Miguel Sano simply recorded the out at first bases on the Randy Arozarena broken-bat grounder to first. Obviously it's impossible to know, but Arozarena wouldn't have scored on Kevin Keirmeier's double that followed. Maybe that means one less run. Maybe two? Who knows, but the tone of the game sure changed at that point. Here are some of Dobnak's postgame thoughts: Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 23 0 0 0 0 23 Thielbar 0 26 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 24 11 0 0 35 Alcalá 25 0 0 0 0 25 Gibaut 0 0 24 0 0 24 Garza Jr. 0 17 0 0 8 25 Duffey 0 16 0 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10
  13. The Minnesota Twins were looking at an opportunity to re-tool for the year ahead. However, with Jose Berrios gone and Kenta Maeda shelved, the rotation is unquestionably thin. Who takes the ball on Opening Day 2022? I have been a big proponent of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to right the ship that sunk in 2021. Unfortunately, the Maeda injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Replacing the entirety of a rotation, needing to overhaul the bullpen, and still being uncertain of what to do with Byron Buxton, this club has its hands full. It will be a busy winter but if we want the team to tackle one thing first, then starting on the bump is an excellent place to begin. Here is how I’m currently handicapping the odds for Rocco Baldelli’s starter on Opening Day this coming season. Bailey Ober 10% Ober has made 16 starts for the Twins in what has been a lost season, but he’s fully entrenched himself as a legitimate big-league arm. The sub-4.00 ERA includes a couple of rough turns, and he’s competed to the tune of a 9.3 K/9 while owning just a 2.0 BB/9 rate. The home run has been his bugaboo, and that can be something of a focus as he continues to learn the competition. I like Ober a lot. He’s got a shot to be a top-3 arm in Minnesota’s future rotation, but I don’t think this club wants to run him out as the ace after just getting his feet wet. Joe Ryan 5% He’s here, and he’s beautiful! That’s how this works, right? Ryan was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz. I’m still baffled about how Minnesota pulled that off, but either way, the Olympic hurler has been great since joining the organization. His big-league debut went fine, with not much to be drawn from a lackluster Cubs lineup. It remains to be seen how the fastball will play at the highest level, lacking velocity, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a productive member of a good rotation. Unfortunately, Ryan is someone you likely want on the back half of the unit in 2022. The Prospects 2% It would’ve been great to see someone emerge from this group in a year that didn't feature much big league positivity. Ober was an outsider who made it, but Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, and Josh Winder all spent time on the shelf. Only two of them took turns at Triple-A, and all of them remain distant from any immediate plans. You can make a case that each has seen their prospect status take a hit, and while there’s plenty of reason to believe an impact arm or two will emerge here, none of them are going to be in the equation when the season kicks off. The Suspects 3% The additional one percent afforded to this group comes from the fact that they’ve already made it. Hello to Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe. This foursome has taken turns for the Twins this year, but none of them have faired particularly well, and none of them should be considered beyond starting depth. Dobnak’s future is the clearest given his contract situation. There’s a real possibility the Australian (Thorpe) may be out of the organization in a couple of months, and while both Barnes and Jax have gotten their feet wet, it’s not fair to expect a substantial leap for either. This group isn’t producing your first starter of the season. The Field 80% Take your pick as to who the Twins will sign; they’re going to need at least three starters not presently with the club. Michael Pineda is a good bet to return, but if that’s your Opening Day starter, then you can imagine how the season will go. I’m less inclined to believe a long-term deal with Marcus Stroman or Noah Syndergaard makes sense when it could be a rebuilding year. Maybe an older veteran on a one-year deal happens depending on where the price tag lands. This winter, how Minnesota spends will hinge heavily on what happens with Buxton and the expectations for the returning core. Either way, I’d bet a reasonable sum that the man Baldelli gives the ball to on Opening Day is not currently in the organization. If you’re the manager, who is it that you’re going to? Put on your GM hat and share which arm you think gets plucked and tasked with kicking off 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. Below I will outline a plausible path to a good Twins rotation in 2022. Not an elite rotation – that's probably a bridge too far at this point – but a good one with five solid-or-better starters, capable of competing for a postseason spot and maybe more. There is inherently some optimistic thinking involved here, but I don't think any of these scenarios are out of question. 1. Bailey Ober proves to be the real deal Among starting pitchers currently controlled by the Twins, Ober is the only stable fixture looking ahead to 2022. But he's establishing himself as a pretty viable building block. How did the big right-hander go from relative unknown to indispensable rotation cornerstone in one year's time? By adding 3-4 MPH to his fastball and shedding his label as a "soft-tosser." A few extra ticks of velocity have made a world of difference for the rookie, who is now sneaking heaters past MLB hitters and playing up his lesser offspeed stuff. Toss in excellent command, and you've got a good recipe for success. As we've seen. Ober's overall numbers with the Twins this year are good – 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77-to-17 K/BB ratio in 74 ⅔ innings – but even better when you break them down to parse out his progression. His K/BB ratio in the latter sample is legitimately elite (only two qualified MLB starters are averaging more than six strikeouts per walk, and they are Cy Young candidates Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole). When you're missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the hits in check, you're in line for good outcomes. Ober has shown the ability to do all these things, and he's only getting better at each of them. Home runs will be something to monitor, and could sidetrack him if they re-emerge as a weakness, but at this point there's no reason to think a healthy Ober won't be at least a quality #3 or 4 starter in 2022. 2. Twins sign a #2/3 starter in free agency No, they're not going to sign Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. Probably not Noah Syndergaard either. Even someone like Marcus Stroman or Justin Verlander may be a tad too ambitious. But with ample flexibility (should they choose to keep payroll steady or raise it slightly), there are several names in the next tier that should be within range, and it's not that hard to see one of them settling in as a mid-rotation caliber starter or better. Names in this category include Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and others. 3. Acquire a #2/3 starter via trade Last year, the Twins acquired Maeda and watched him blossom into a Cy Young caliber performer. This year, their division rivals have done the same with Lance Lynn. We don't need to set our sights that high, though it'd be nice. Jameson Taillon is a less idealistic example. He wasn't a star for Pittsburgh, and the Yankees didn't have to part with top-tier prospect talent to acquire him. But he has served as a very solid mid-rotation arm for New York, at a low price and with multiple years of control remaining. The Twins didn't trade away any of their system's depth last winter, and have only added to it this year by selling at the deadline. Additionally, they have a few semi-redundant pieces at the major-league level that could have value to other clubs (Max Kepler, Mitch Garver ... Luis Arraez?) The front office will have assets to deal for pitching if they are so inclined. 4. Re-sign Michael Pineda The door definitely seems wide open for a reunion, as each side has openly expressed affinity for the other, and with Pineda's challenges this year, he should be pretty affordable – maybe $4-5 million. Given those challenges, I'm sure most Twins fans aren't enthused about the idea of bringing back Pineda. But let's look at the big picture here: the 32-year-old has posted a 3.98 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 during his time with the Twins. That includes his recent struggles, which can likely be attributed somewhat to health. In his first 36 starts with Minnesota, the team went 24-12. His circumstances, and a theoretical desire to return here, could enable the Twins to score Pineda at the cost of a back-end starter, while hoping an offseason of rest and strengthening returns him to his previous state or close to it. 5. Get Randy Dobnak back on track As with Pineda, it's easy to get caught up in Dobnak's recent struggles while losing sight of his previous success. In fact, it's a lot easier, because Dobnak does not have nearly the track record of Pineda. But through the first 14 outings of his MLB career, the Dobber was simply phenomenal, posting a 1.69 ERA with four home runs allowed over 58 ⅔ innings. This after a tremendous minor-league career that saw him perform well at every level. Dobnak's effectiveness was no accident – the bottom simply fell out on his pitches, making them excruciatingly difficult to lift, and he consistently threw them in the zone. Things went south late in the 2020 season, but Dobnak rebounded with a dominant spring that compelled the Twins to invest with a modest long-term contract. And then the bottom fell out on Dobnak. We all know this season has been a complete and total disaster for the right-hander, but it's unclear to what it extent that owes to injury issues. When you're a slider-reliant sinkerballer who goes from allowing four homers in your first two seasons to allowing 11 in your third, before going on IL for multiple months with a strain in the middle finger that is so crucial in creating that sink ... Well, it points to a natural explanation. There's no guarantee that time off will correct this issue, but we'll at least start to get an idea when Dobnak returns to the rotation on Friday. Regardless of how things go for the rest of this season, he'll most likely get a crack at the 2022 rotation given that he's under guaranteed contract. If he gets back on track and is anywhere close to the version we saw early on in his big-league career, well that's a hell of a good fifth starter. 6. The minors provide depth and jolts Above, we've accounted for all five season-opening rotation spots. And we haven't yet tapped into the impressive minor-league pipeline this front office has built up. Between Joe Ryan, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino and Josh Winder, you have a bevy of high-upside arms that are all verging on MLB-ready, if not already there. Granted, it's tough to depend on any of these prospects short-term, given that none have yet appeared in the majors (save Ryan, who debuted impressively on Wednesday) and the group is riddled with significant injury concerns. But that's why I'm not penciling them into any of the top five spots. We can account for those otherwise and keep these exciting arms in reserve, while knowing that just about any one of them has the potential to be a game-changing force for the Twins pitching staff if things break right. Look, I get that it's hard to envision multiple positive scenarios playing out in this fashion, especially with the way faith has been understandably eroded in the this front office over the past year. But one thing I find myself frequently reminding others – and myself – is that things change fast in this game. In 2016 and 2018, nobody was foreseeing good things on the near horizon. The Twins made some mistakes last offseason, but have also been the victims of absolutely horrible luck. This front office and coaching staff have proven their mettle in the past. If they can learn from those mistakes and the pendulum of fortune swings in the other direction, it's not all that difficult to envision a pitching staff capable of supporting what could be a very strong offense to push Minnesota back into contender status. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. I have been a big proponent of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to right the ship that sunk in 2021. Unfortunately, the Maeda injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Replacing the entirety of a rotation, needing to overhaul the bullpen, and still being uncertain of what to do with Byron Buxton, this club has its hands full. It will be a busy winter but if we want the team to tackle one thing first, then starting on the bump is an excellent place to begin. Here is how I’m currently handicapping the odds for Rocco Baldelli’s starter on Opening Day this coming season. Bailey Ober 10% Ober has made 16 starts for the Twins in what has been a lost season, but he’s fully entrenched himself as a legitimate big-league arm. The sub-4.00 ERA includes a couple of rough turns, and he’s competed to the tune of a 9.3 K/9 while owning just a 2.0 BB/9 rate. The home run has been his bugaboo, and that can be something of a focus as he continues to learn the competition. I like Ober a lot. He’s got a shot to be a top-3 arm in Minnesota’s future rotation, but I don’t think this club wants to run him out as the ace after just getting his feet wet. Joe Ryan 5% He’s here, and he’s beautiful! That’s how this works, right? Ryan was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz. I’m still baffled about how Minnesota pulled that off, but either way, the Olympic hurler has been great since joining the organization. His big-league debut went fine, with not much to be drawn from a lackluster Cubs lineup. It remains to be seen how the fastball will play at the highest level, lacking velocity, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a productive member of a good rotation. Unfortunately, Ryan is someone you likely want on the back half of the unit in 2022. The Prospects 2% It would’ve been great to see someone emerge from this group in a year that didn't feature much big league positivity. Ober was an outsider who made it, but Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, and Josh Winder all spent time on the shelf. Only two of them took turns at Triple-A, and all of them remain distant from any immediate plans. You can make a case that each has seen their prospect status take a hit, and while there’s plenty of reason to believe an impact arm or two will emerge here, none of them are going to be in the equation when the season kicks off. The Suspects 3% The additional one percent afforded to this group comes from the fact that they’ve already made it. Hello to Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe. This foursome has taken turns for the Twins this year, but none of them have faired particularly well, and none of them should be considered beyond starting depth. Dobnak’s future is the clearest given his contract situation. There’s a real possibility the Australian (Thorpe) may be out of the organization in a couple of months, and while both Barnes and Jax have gotten their feet wet, it’s not fair to expect a substantial leap for either. This group isn’t producing your first starter of the season. The Field 80% Take your pick as to who the Twins will sign; they’re going to need at least three starters not presently with the club. Michael Pineda is a good bet to return, but if that’s your Opening Day starter, then you can imagine how the season will go. I’m less inclined to believe a long-term deal with Marcus Stroman or Noah Syndergaard makes sense when it could be a rebuilding year. Maybe an older veteran on a one-year deal happens depending on where the price tag lands. This winter, how Minnesota spends will hinge heavily on what happens with Buxton and the expectations for the returning core. Either way, I’d bet a reasonable sum that the man Baldelli gives the ball to on Opening Day is not currently in the organization. If you’re the manager, who is it that you’re going to? Put on your GM hat and share which arm you think gets plucked and tasked with kicking off 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Thursday night had a little bit of everything across the Twins' farm. Read up on all the action! TRANSACTIONS RHP Hector Lujan was activated from the Wichita IL. 1B Gabe Snyder assigned to Wichita Wind Surge from Cedar Rapids Kernels SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 9, St. Paul 8 (11 innings) Box Score Despite a solid rehab outing from Randy Dobnak and a total team performance from the St. Paul offense, the Saints dropped a tightly contested game in the Buckeye State on Thursday night. After giving up an early run in the third inning the Saints pounced back with a three runs in the fourth frame. Gilberto Celestino punched a double to right that scored Mark Contreras to put St. Paul on the board. Sherman Johnson followed suit with a single that scored Celestino from second. The most impressive hit of the inning and arguably the game came when Dreg Maggi crushed a triple to centerfield that scored Johnson all the way from first to put the Saints up 3-1. St. Paul punched two more runs in the fifth inning when Jimmy Kerrigan smacked a two-out single to score Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach. Larnach tallied an RBI single of his own in the sixth inning that drove in JT Riddle. On his rehab journey back to the Twins, Randy Dobnak was solid on the bump against the Mud Hens. Dobnak pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball while giving up five hits, four walks, and striking out two. The start marked Dobnak's second rehab start. The fan-favorite struck out five batters over three perfect frames at Low-A Fort Myers this past weekend. It's only a matter of time before he is back with the parent club! After Dobnak left the game, Ian Hamilton gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Yet when it looked like Toledo would mount a comeback, Ryan Mason stepped in and shut down the Mud Hens, tossing 1 2/3 innings of one-hit scoreless baseball. Chandler Shepherd followed that with a perfect inning on the mound to put the Saints in a position to hold a 6-4 lead in the ninth. That didn't happen, as Toledo plated two runs in the inning to tie the game despite a valiant effort from reliver Nick Vincent. The Saints and Kernels played a game of cat and mouse in the 10th and 11th innings, with both teams scoring runs thanks to the extra-innings rule that puts a runner at second to start the inning. Unfortunately for St. Paul, Toledo managed to squeak out two runs in the 11th to secure the win. Despite the loss, every single player in the Saints starting lineup tallied a hit. Drew Maggi, Tomas Telis, and Gilberto Celestino all tallied two-hit games. Sherman Johnson had an impressive three-hit game with a run and RBI for the Saints. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 4, Wichita 2 Box Score A late-inning power display wasn't enough for the Wind Surge to push past a dominant pitching performance from Tulsa on Thursday at Riverfront Stadium. A team known for their offense, Wichita was only able to manage four hits on the night. Wichita failed to put any runs on the board until the bottom of the ninth inning. The dynamic duo of Trey Cabbage and Spencer Steer mounted a final-inning comeback attempt for the Surge. After Steer drew a walk, Cabbage launched his 16th homer with the Wind Surge (25th overall) over the wall to bring Wichita within two runs. Jordan Balazovic didn't have his strongest night of the year, giving up four runs on nine hits over six innings. However, the Wichita bullpen tandem of Mitchell Osnowitz and Adam Lau were rock-solid, tossing a combined three innings of scoreless ball. The two didn't give up any runs and surrendered only one walk while striking out three batters. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Beloit 0 Box Score The Cedar Rapids Kernels have had moments of brilliance on both sides of the ball so far this season. Tonight, they combined all five tools of the game for a dominant 8-0 win over regional rival Beloit. The Kernels punched their first five runs thanks to the long ball. After Yunior Severino led off the inning with a single Wander Javier launched a home run (12) over the left field wall to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead. Two innings later the Kernels found themselves with runners on base thanks to a walk from Seth Gray and a single from Javier. Michael Helman followed with a three-run shot over the left field wall to break the game open for Cedar Rapids. Helman continued his stellar night in the seventh inning by leading off with a triple to the right field gap. He later scored thanks to an RBI single from Edouard Julien. That wasn't the final run of the inning. Following a Matt Wallner single and a pair of walks, Julien scored lucky number seven for Cedar Rapids. The offensive performance was one of the most dominant on the season for Cedar Rapids, who now have a +52 run differential overall. Cedar Rapids starter Sawyer Gipson-Long was absolutely brilliant in this one, posting arguably his best outing of the year. Gipson-Long (W, 2-1) tossed six scoreless innings while giving up six hits and striking out nine batters. It was the third time that the Lithia Springs, GA, native's has hit nine strikeouts this season, second to his season-best 11 K's on July 21. And while Gipson-Long's performance was incredible, reliever Tyler Palm was just as effective. Palm tossed two innings of one-hit ball while striking out three batters. The appearance was a well-needed cleanser for Palm, who gave up two runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings on last week against Wisconsin. Osiris German sealed the deal for the Kernels with a scoreless ninth inning to secure an important win for Cedar Rapids in the playoff race. The Kernels are now 55-44 are sit a full 2.5 games ahead of Great Lakes for second place in the High-A Central League. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Bradenton 2 Box Score Despite an early deficit, the Mighty Mussels used dominant pitching and timely hitting to grind out a close game in the Sunshine State. After Bradenton scored two runs in the third inning, the Mussels responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. After walking and stealing a base Jake Rucker scored courtesy of a Willie Joe Garry Jr. single. Rucker's momentum carried into the fourth inning. With runners on first and second, Rucker laced an RBI triple to right field to give Fort Myers a 3-2 lead. That lead would expand 4-2 when Rucker scored during the next at-bat thanks to a wild pitch. Fort Myers starter Sean Mooney was absolutely outstanding on the evening. Mooney tossed 4 2/3 innings of 10-strikeout ball, only surrendering a pair of runs on three hits and two walks. RHP Logan Campbell was just as dominant in his Mussels debut, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and one hit. Zaquiel Puentes sealed the deal with his first save of the year, tossing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Pirates Black 6, FCL Twins 3 Box Score A multi-hit game from Kala'i Rosario wasn't enough to push the FCL Twins to a victory against the Pirates on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates jumped on Twins' starter Giovahniey German early, plating four runs in the first three innings. German (L, 2-2) pitched three innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, and a walk while striking out five. Rosario's first hit was a single in the second inning. He followed that with a leadoff double in the sixth inning and was later driven in on an RBI single from Argenis Jimenez. 2021 Competitive Balance round pick and Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Noah Miller knocked an RBI double (2) in the third inning to score the Twins' first run. Miller and Rosario are both having excellent seasons at the plate. Miller touts a .269 batting average and Rosario has a .290 average. After reliever Jordan Carr gave up three runs, LHP Elpidio Perez was excellent. Perez pitched three scoreless innings for the FCL Twins, giving up only one hit and two walks while striking out four. Despite the loss, the Twins' pitching staff managed to strike out 15 batters on the day. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY YOU decide! PROSPECT SUMMARY Our most recent (post deadline and draft) prospect rankings are up! Check them out here. #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-4, 2 K #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 5 K #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-6, R, 3 K #7 - Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-for-4, 4 K #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (shoulder) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, 3 K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B R, RBI, BB, K #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 1-for-5, 2B, RBI, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, 2 BB, K #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, BB FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) – LHP Bryan Sammons (0-1, 5.32 ERA) Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Chris Vallimont (5-5, 6.08 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35PM CST) – RHP Cody Lawyerson (1-4, 5.15 ERA) Bradenton @ Fort Myers Game One: (3:30PM CST) – RHP John Stankiewicz (0-0, 3.86 ERA) Game Two: (30 minutes after game one) - LHP Zarion Sharpe (4-2, 3.59 ERA) View full article
  17. Willians Astudillo hit a home run off the top of a billboard on the Green Monster and pitched tonight, so you can guess how things went for the Minnesota Twins. Also included in tonight's recap is discussion on all four minor league starting pitchers -- Randy Dobnak, Jordan Balazovic, Sawyer Gipson-Long and Sean Mooney -- as well as the blistering hot Michael Helman, who hit his sixth homer in his last 10 games for Cedar Rapids.
  18. Willians Astudillo hit a home run off the top of a billboard on the Green Monster and pitched tonight, so you can guess how things went for the Minnesota Twins. Also included in tonight's recap is discussion on all four minor league starting pitchers -- Randy Dobnak, Jordan Balazovic, Sawyer Gipson-Long and Sean Mooney -- as well as the blistering hot Michael Helman, who hit his sixth homer in his last 10 games for Cedar Rapids. View full video
  19. TRANSACTIONS RHP Hector Lujan was activated from the Wichita IL. 1B Gabe Snyder assigned to Wichita Wind Surge from Cedar Rapids Kernels SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 9, St. Paul 8 (11 innings) Box Score Despite a solid rehab outing from Randy Dobnak and a total team performance from the St. Paul offense, the Saints dropped a tightly contested game in the Buckeye State on Thursday night. After giving up an early run in the third inning the Saints pounced back with a three runs in the fourth frame. Gilberto Celestino punched a double to right that scored Mark Contreras to put St. Paul on the board. Sherman Johnson followed suit with a single that scored Celestino from second. The most impressive hit of the inning and arguably the game came when Dreg Maggi crushed a triple to centerfield that scored Johnson all the way from first to put the Saints up 3-1. St. Paul punched two more runs in the fifth inning when Jimmy Kerrigan smacked a two-out single to score Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach. Larnach tallied an RBI single of his own in the sixth inning that drove in JT Riddle. On his rehab journey back to the Twins, Randy Dobnak was solid on the bump against the Mud Hens. Dobnak pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball while giving up five hits, four walks, and striking out two. The start marked Dobnak's second rehab start. The fan-favorite struck out five batters over three perfect frames at Low-A Fort Myers this past weekend. It's only a matter of time before he is back with the parent club! After Dobnak left the game, Ian Hamilton gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Yet when it looked like Toledo would mount a comeback, Ryan Mason stepped in and shut down the Mud Hens, tossing 1 2/3 innings of one-hit scoreless baseball. Chandler Shepherd followed that with a perfect inning on the mound to put the Saints in a position to hold a 6-4 lead in the ninth. That didn't happen, as Toledo plated two runs in the inning to tie the game despite a valiant effort from reliver Nick Vincent. The Saints and Kernels played a game of cat and mouse in the 10th and 11th innings, with both teams scoring runs thanks to the extra-innings rule that puts a runner at second to start the inning. Unfortunately for St. Paul, Toledo managed to squeak out two runs in the 11th to secure the win. Despite the loss, every single player in the Saints starting lineup tallied a hit. Drew Maggi, Tomas Telis, and Gilberto Celestino all tallied two-hit games. Sherman Johnson had an impressive three-hit game with a run and RBI for the Saints. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 4, Wichita 2 Box Score A late-inning power display wasn't enough for the Wind Surge to push past a dominant pitching performance from Tulsa on Thursday at Riverfront Stadium. A team known for their offense, Wichita was only able to manage four hits on the night. Wichita failed to put any runs on the board until the bottom of the ninth inning. The dynamic duo of Trey Cabbage and Spencer Steer mounted a final-inning comeback attempt for the Surge. After Steer drew a walk, Cabbage launched his 16th homer with the Wind Surge (25th overall) over the wall to bring Wichita within two runs. Jordan Balazovic didn't have his strongest night of the year, giving up four runs on nine hits over six innings. However, the Wichita bullpen tandem of Mitchell Osnowitz and Adam Lau were rock-solid, tossing a combined three innings of scoreless ball. The two didn't give up any runs and surrendered only one walk while striking out three batters. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Beloit 0 Box Score The Cedar Rapids Kernels have had moments of brilliance on both sides of the ball so far this season. Tonight, they combined all five tools of the game for a dominant 8-0 win over regional rival Beloit. The Kernels punched their first five runs thanks to the long ball. After Yunior Severino led off the inning with a single Wander Javier launched a home run (12) over the left field wall to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead. Two innings later the Kernels found themselves with runners on base thanks to a walk from Seth Gray and a single from Javier. Michael Helman followed with a three-run shot over the left field wall to break the game open for Cedar Rapids. Helman continued his stellar night in the seventh inning by leading off with a triple to the right field gap. He later scored thanks to an RBI single from Edouard Julien. That wasn't the final run of the inning. Following a Matt Wallner single and a pair of walks, Julien scored lucky number seven for Cedar Rapids. The offensive performance was one of the most dominant on the season for Cedar Rapids, who now have a +52 run differential overall. Cedar Rapids starter Sawyer Gipson-Long was absolutely brilliant in this one, posting arguably his best outing of the year. Gipson-Long (W, 2-1) tossed six scoreless innings while giving up six hits and striking out nine batters. It was the third time that the Lithia Springs, GA, native's has hit nine strikeouts this season, second to his season-best 11 K's on July 21. And while Gipson-Long's performance was incredible, reliever Tyler Palm was just as effective. Palm tossed two innings of one-hit ball while striking out three batters. The appearance was a well-needed cleanser for Palm, who gave up two runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings on last week against Wisconsin. Osiris German sealed the deal for the Kernels with a scoreless ninth inning to secure an important win for Cedar Rapids in the playoff race. The Kernels are now 55-44 are sit a full 2.5 games ahead of Great Lakes for second place in the High-A Central League. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Bradenton 2 Box Score Despite an early deficit, the Mighty Mussels used dominant pitching and timely hitting to grind out a close game in the Sunshine State. After Bradenton scored two runs in the third inning, the Mussels responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. After walking and stealing a base Jake Rucker scored courtesy of a Willie Joe Garry Jr. single. Rucker's momentum carried into the fourth inning. With runners on first and second, Rucker laced an RBI triple to right field to give Fort Myers a 3-2 lead. That lead would expand 4-2 when Rucker scored during the next at-bat thanks to a wild pitch. Fort Myers starter Sean Mooney was absolutely outstanding on the evening. Mooney tossed 4 2/3 innings of 10-strikeout ball, only surrendering a pair of runs on three hits and two walks. RHP Logan Campbell was just as dominant in his Mussels debut, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and one hit. Zaquiel Puentes sealed the deal with his first save of the year, tossing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Pirates Black 6, FCL Twins 3 Box Score A multi-hit game from Kala'i Rosario wasn't enough to push the FCL Twins to a victory against the Pirates on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates jumped on Twins' starter Giovahniey German early, plating four runs in the first three innings. German (L, 2-2) pitched three innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, and a walk while striking out five. Rosario's first hit was a single in the second inning. He followed that with a leadoff double in the sixth inning and was later driven in on an RBI single from Argenis Jimenez. 2021 Competitive Balance round pick and Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Noah Miller knocked an RBI double (2) in the third inning to score the Twins' first run. Miller and Rosario are both having excellent seasons at the plate. Miller touts a .269 batting average and Rosario has a .290 average. After reliever Jordan Carr gave up three runs, LHP Elpidio Perez was excellent. Perez pitched three scoreless innings for the FCL Twins, giving up only one hit and two walks while striking out four. Despite the loss, the Twins' pitching staff managed to strike out 15 batters on the day. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY YOU decide! PROSPECT SUMMARY Our most recent (post deadline and draft) prospect rankings are up! Check them out here. #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-4, 2 K #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 5 K #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-6, R, 3 K #7 - Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-for-4, 4 K #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (shoulder) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, 3 K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B R, RBI, BB, K #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 1-for-5, 2B, RBI, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, 2 BB, K #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, BB FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) – LHP Bryan Sammons (0-1, 5.32 ERA) Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Chris Vallimont (5-5, 6.08 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35PM CST) – RHP Cody Lawyerson (1-4, 5.15 ERA) Bradenton @ Fort Myers Game One: (3:30PM CST) – RHP John Stankiewicz (0-0, 3.86 ERA) Game Two: (30 minutes after game one) - LHP Zarion Sharpe (4-2, 3.59 ERA)
  20. The Twins might have a bit of a 40 man roster crunch in 2022. The Rule 5 eligible players are one consideration, but the six players on the 60 day IL are another. Not all of these players should necessarily be back. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  21. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  22. If the Twins trade away veterans on expiring contract, they are going to need replacements until season’s end. Here is some of the roster shuffle that will occur as veterans are dealt. Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month. DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position. SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans. SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see. RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles. Can these play better than the players they are replacing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  23. Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month. DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position. SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans. SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see. RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles. Can these play better than the players they are replacing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/7 through Sun, 6/13 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 26-39) Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -50) Standing: T-4th Place in AL Central (15.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 60 | NYY 8, MIN 4: New York Pulls Away Late, Wins Series Opener Game 61 | NYY 9, MIN 6: Yankees Tee Off on Dobnak in Victory Game 62 | MIN 7, NYY 5: Donaldson, Cruz Power Dramatic Comeback vs. Chapman Game 63 | HOU 6, MIN 4: Shoemaker's Late Lapse Leads to Loss Game 64 | MIN 5, HOU 2: Twins Win Behind Strong Effort from Berríos Game 65 | HOU 14, MIN 3: Astros Destroy Twins Pitching in Blowout NEWS & NOTES Relatively speaking, it was a pretty quiet week in terms of roster moves and injury updates. Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, Luis Arraez, and Max Kepler all embarked on rehab assignments in St. Paul, so the Twins figure to get back these important fixtures in the near future. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A, then quickly recalled, as Kyle Garlick went on the shelf with a sports hernia. Rob Refsnyder is back. (He started in right field and batted cleanup on Sunday, which says a lot about the state of this roster.) HIGHLIGHTS The biggest highlight of the week, and the season, came in the ninth inning of Thursday's series finale against the Yankees. With the Twins trailing by two runs and facing a sweep, Aroldis Chapman came to the mound, carrying a 0.39 ERA, 4-0 record, and 12-for-13 save conversion rate. He'd been lights-out, and was going up against a Twins team that has constantly shrunk in big spots. All of which made the ensuing sequence of events astonishingly improbable. If you turned away from the TV, you might've missed one of the most exhilarating comeback wins in recent franchise history. It all happened so quickly. Jorge Polanco led off with a single. In stepped Josh Donaldson, who took ball one and then launched a mammoth game-tying home run to left-center. Willians Astudillo, pinch-hitting for Nick Gordon, followed with a first-pitch single of his own. And then came Nelson Cruz, who basically replicated what Donaldson did two ABs earlier by drilling a 1-0 pitch deep to center for the walk-off winner. Within a span of nine pitches, the Twins grasped victory from the jaws of defeat. For Twins fans, the feeling was bittersweet, because it was hard not to think about how much more epic and energizing that win would've been if the Twins hadn't cast themselves hopelessly out of contention. In anticipation of this season, we dreamed about Cruz and Donaldson coming through with game-changing jolts like this all year long, but instead, such marquee moments have been far and few between, which is part of the reason the team finds itself buried in last place. With that said, Cruz's bat has been showing some life at the plate again lately and that's good to see now matter how you slice it. He went 6-for-16 with three home runs and six RBIs on the week, equaling his totals in those categories from the entire month of May. He might not find himself leading the Twins on a pennant chase in August and September, but maybe he can do it for someone else, and score Minnesota a prospect or two in the process. Donaldson's clutch bomb was also part of a power-hitting rejuvenation, as he followed the next day by going deep twice against Houston – his second two-homer game in an eight-day span. His slugging percentage, which had sagged to .408 by the end of the Baltimore series in early June, is back up to .475. As I noted last week, Donaldson's been remarkably healthy and durable since his season-opening IL sint, leading the team in games played and plate appearances since returning. He's also been doing some very nice work with the glove. Polanco, whose single set up the dramatic finish against New York, has generally stayed hot at the plate. He went 6-for-21 with three homers and six RBIs last week. His left-handed swing is actually doing damage again and that's huge. Other standout offensive performances included Miguel Sanó (8-for-24 with two homers and four RBIs) and Alex Kirilloff (5-for-13 with just one strikeout in five games). There weren't many positives on the pitching side, but José Berríos certainly qualifies. He was masterful against the Astros on Saturday night, spinning seven innings of two-run ball. The righty allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Berríos has won five straight decisions and the Twins are 7-1 in his last seven starts dating back to the beginning of May. The other noteworthy pitching bright spot was a strong showing from Bailey Ober on Friday night, when he made a spot start in place of Matt Shoemaker. Going against an elite Houston offense, Ober tossed five innings and allowed just two runs, striking out seven with one walk. He continues to pump 92-93 MPH with his four-seamer, which is immensely encouraging. Ober looks like he could be a legitimate factor on a pitching staff that desperately needs help, both now and moving forward. LOWLIGHTS Even after being bumped from the rotation, Shoemaker continues to cost the Twins with his staggeringly poor play. He appeared in relief on Friday night against the Astros and took the loss, giving up two runs in the ninth to break a tie. (The decision by Rocco Baldelli to use him in this situation was ... questionable to say the least.) He came out of the bullpen again on Sunday and looked customarily awful, coughing up three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings of work. Shoemaker has the worst ERA in the league, he's been tagged with eight losses in 13 appearances, and seems to look worse every time he takes the mound. It's past time for the Twins to move on. Roster crunches and depth issues be damned: you can't justify continuing to run a guy like this out in major-league games. The same can also be said for Alex Colomé, whose brief stretch of effectiveness in May is now a distant memory. He gave up two runs on three hits in his one inning of work on Sunday, and has a 5.48 ERA on the season to go along with his league-worst (by a mile) negative-2.34 Win Probability Added. Colomé's departure is probably less imminent than Shoemaker's, because they're paying him three times as much and are so direly short-handed in the bullpen, but in both cases it's only a matter of time. These guys were complete free agent busts and wherever the Twins go from here, they aren't going to be part of it. The situation with Randy Dobnak is a bit more complicated. He's looked every bit as bad as Shoemaker, with his ERA inflating to 8.38 after allowing 14 earned runs in 6 ⅔ innings over the past week. Dobnak gave up five home runs in two appearances, with four coming against his reinvented slider which has changed from a powerful asset to a glaring weakness for him. That begs the question why he or the Twins thought it would be a good idea to tinker with that pitch in the first place. It's not pleasant to watch Dobnak pitch right now, but the solution isn't as simple as cutting bait like it is with Shoemaker. The Twins just signed Dobnak to a five-year contract extension on the heels of an outstanding spring training, and while the monetary commitment isn't huge, they are invested in him for better or worse. It behooves them to help him work through his issues because he's currently one of their few figments of long-term stability in the rotation picture. Fixing the pitching staff has become a primary crux for the Twins and their future outlook. The work is cut out for them here. Michael Pineda looks to be headed for the Injured List. Shoemaker is unusable and J.A. Happ hasn't been much better. Berríos is under contract for one more year after this and Maeda two more. It's tough to have much confidence in the front office filling tons of holes and constructing a quality unit from scratch during the offseason given how poorly all of their moves this year fared. As such, you can see why it's critically important for Ober to build on his early success and for Dobnak to get straightened out. The Twins need some things to break right with young pitchers or they simply won't be equipped to contend next year, in which case, why not just trade Berríos at the upcoming deadline? TRENDING STORYLINE For what it's worth, the Twins are about to get a lot closer to full strength. Maeda, Buxton, and Arraez have completed their rehab stints and will be traveling to Seattle for the upcoming road trip. Maeda is scheduled to start against the Mariners on Monday, and the other two will presumably be activated for that game as well. Kepler is be a bit further behind, given that he played his first rehab game in St. Paul on Sunday (and was the DH), but we could see him up before week's end. Those are some pretty key cogs the Twins have been playing without. We'll see if their returns, along with a softening of the schedule, can help this team get on a bit of a winning run here in the back half of June. So far, sustained hot streaks have eluded them. LOOKING AHEAD Get ready for some late-night baseball as the Twins head to Seattle for a showdown against the Mariners in Pacific Time. Then, following an off day, Minnesota heads down to Texas for a weekend series against the last-place Rangers. MONDAY, 6/13: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Marco Gonzales TUESDAY, 6/14: TWINS @ MARINERS – LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP Chris Flexen WEDNESDAY, 6/15: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Justus Sheffield FRIDAY, 6/17: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Mike Foltynewicz SATURDAY, 6/18: TWINS @ RANGERS – TBD v. LHP Kolby Allard SUNDAY, 6/19: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Dane Dunning
  25. The Minnesota Twins are a bad baseball team. This was made painfully clear during another losing week in which they were thoroughly outplayed by two plainly superior contending clubs. Where do we go from here? Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/7 through Sun, 6/13 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 26-39) Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -50) Standing: T-4th Place in AL Central (15.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 60 | NYY 8, MIN 4: New York Pulls Away Late, Wins Series Opener Game 61 | NYY 9, MIN 6: Yankees Tee Off on Dobnak in Victory Game 62 | MIN 7, NYY 5: Donaldson, Cruz Power Dramatic Comeback vs. Chapman Game 63 | HOU 6, MIN 4: Shoemaker's Late Lapse Leads to Loss Game 64 | MIN 5, HOU 2: Twins Win Behind Strong Effort from Berríos Game 65 | HOU 14, MIN 3: Astros Destroy Twins Pitching in Blowout NEWS & NOTES Relatively speaking, it was a pretty quiet week in terms of roster moves and injury updates. Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, Luis Arraez, and Max Kepler all embarked on rehab assignments in St. Paul, so the Twins figure to get back these important fixtures in the near future. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A, then quickly recalled, as Kyle Garlick went on the shelf with a sports hernia. Rob Refsnyder is back. (He started in right field and batted cleanup on Sunday, which says a lot about the state of this roster.) HIGHLIGHTS The biggest highlight of the week, and the season, came in the ninth inning of Thursday's series finale against the Yankees. With the Twins trailing by two runs and facing a sweep, Aroldis Chapman came to the mound, carrying a 0.39 ERA, 4-0 record, and 12-for-13 save conversion rate. He'd been lights-out, and was going up against a Twins team that has constantly shrunk in big spots. All of which made the ensuing sequence of events astonishingly improbable. If you turned away from the TV, you might've missed one of the most exhilarating comeback wins in recent franchise history. It all happened so quickly. Jorge Polanco led off with a single. In stepped Josh Donaldson, who took ball one and then launched a mammoth game-tying home run to left-center. Willians Astudillo, pinch-hitting for Nick Gordon, followed with a first-pitch single of his own. And then came Nelson Cruz, who basically replicated what Donaldson did two ABs earlier by drilling a 1-0 pitch deep to center for the walk-off winner. Within a span of nine pitches, the Twins grasped victory from the jaws of defeat. For Twins fans, the feeling was bittersweet, because it was hard not to think about how much more epic and energizing that win would've been if the Twins hadn't cast themselves hopelessly out of contention. In anticipation of this season, we dreamed about Cruz and Donaldson coming through with game-changing jolts like this all year long, but instead, such marquee moments have been far and few between, which is part of the reason the team finds itself buried in last place. With that said, Cruz's bat has been showing some life at the plate again lately and that's good to see now matter how you slice it. He went 6-for-16 with three home runs and six RBIs on the week, equaling his totals in those categories from the entire month of May. He might not find himself leading the Twins on a pennant chase in August and September, but maybe he can do it for someone else, and score Minnesota a prospect or two in the process. Donaldson's clutch bomb was also part of a power-hitting rejuvenation, as he followed the next day by going deep twice against Houston – his second two-homer game in an eight-day span. His slugging percentage, which had sagged to .408 by the end of the Baltimore series in early June, is back up to .475. As I noted last week, Donaldson's been remarkably healthy and durable since his season-opening IL sint, leading the team in games played and plate appearances since returning. He's also been doing some very nice work with the glove. Polanco, whose single set up the dramatic finish against New York, has generally stayed hot at the plate. He went 6-for-21 with three homers and six RBIs last week. His left-handed swing is actually doing damage again and that's huge. Other standout offensive performances included Miguel Sanó (8-for-24 with two homers and four RBIs) and Alex Kirilloff (5-for-13 with just one strikeout in five games). There weren't many positives on the pitching side, but José Berríos certainly qualifies. He was masterful against the Astros on Saturday night, spinning seven innings of two-run ball. The righty allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Berríos has won five straight decisions and the Twins are 7-1 in his last seven starts dating back to the beginning of May. The other noteworthy pitching bright spot was a strong showing from Bailey Ober on Friday night, when he made a spot start in place of Matt Shoemaker. Going against an elite Houston offense, Ober tossed five innings and allowed just two runs, striking out seven with one walk. He continues to pump 92-93 MPH with his four-seamer, which is immensely encouraging. Ober looks like he could be a legitimate factor on a pitching staff that desperately needs help, both now and moving forward. LOWLIGHTS Even after being bumped from the rotation, Shoemaker continues to cost the Twins with his staggeringly poor play. He appeared in relief on Friday night against the Astros and took the loss, giving up two runs in the ninth to break a tie. (The decision by Rocco Baldelli to use him in this situation was ... questionable to say the least.) He came out of the bullpen again on Sunday and looked customarily awful, coughing up three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings of work. Shoemaker has the worst ERA in the league, he's been tagged with eight losses in 13 appearances, and seems to look worse every time he takes the mound. It's past time for the Twins to move on. Roster crunches and depth issues be damned: you can't justify continuing to run a guy like this out in major-league games. The same can also be said for Alex Colomé, whose brief stretch of effectiveness in May is now a distant memory. He gave up two runs on three hits in his one inning of work on Sunday, and has a 5.48 ERA on the season to go along with his league-worst (by a mile) negative-2.34 Win Probability Added. Colomé's departure is probably less imminent than Shoemaker's, because they're paying him three times as much and are so direly short-handed in the bullpen, but in both cases it's only a matter of time. These guys were complete free agent busts and wherever the Twins go from here, they aren't going to be part of it. The situation with Randy Dobnak is a bit more complicated. He's looked every bit as bad as Shoemaker, with his ERA inflating to 8.38 after allowing 14 earned runs in 6 ⅔ innings over the past week. Dobnak gave up five home runs in two appearances, with four coming against his reinvented slider which has changed from a powerful asset to a glaring weakness for him. That begs the question why he or the Twins thought it would be a good idea to tinker with that pitch in the first place. It's not pleasant to watch Dobnak pitch right now, but the solution isn't as simple as cutting bait like it is with Shoemaker. The Twins just signed Dobnak to a five-year contract extension on the heels of an outstanding spring training, and while the monetary commitment isn't huge, they are invested in him for better or worse. It behooves them to help him work through his issues because he's currently one of their few figments of long-term stability in the rotation picture. Fixing the pitching staff has become a primary crux for the Twins and their future outlook. The work is cut out for them here. Michael Pineda looks to be headed for the Injured List. Shoemaker is unusable and J.A. Happ hasn't been much better. Berríos is under contract for one more year after this and Maeda two more. It's tough to have much confidence in the front office filling tons of holes and constructing a quality unit from scratch during the offseason given how poorly all of their moves this year fared. As such, you can see why it's critically important for Ober to build on his early success and for Dobnak to get straightened out. The Twins need some things to break right with young pitchers or they simply won't be equipped to contend next year, in which case, why not just trade Berríos at the upcoming deadline? TRENDING STORYLINE For what it's worth, the Twins are about to get a lot closer to full strength. Maeda, Buxton, and Arraez have completed their rehab stints and will be traveling to Seattle for the upcoming road trip. Maeda is scheduled to start against the Mariners on Monday, and the other two will presumably be activated for that game as well. Kepler is be a bit further behind, given that he played his first rehab game in St. Paul on Sunday (and was the DH), but we could see him up before week's end. Those are some pretty key cogs the Twins have been playing without. We'll see if their returns, along with a softening of the schedule, can help this team get on a bit of a winning run here in the back half of June. So far, sustained hot streaks have eluded them. LOOKING AHEAD Get ready for some late-night baseball as the Twins head to Seattle for a showdown against the Mariners in Pacific Time. Then, following an off day, Minnesota heads down to Texas for a weekend series against the last-place Rangers. MONDAY, 6/13: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Marco Gonzales TUESDAY, 6/14: TWINS @ MARINERS – LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP Chris Flexen WEDNESDAY, 6/15: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Justus Sheffield FRIDAY, 6/17: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Mike Foltynewicz SATURDAY, 6/18: TWINS @ RANGERS – TBD v. LHP Kolby Allard SUNDAY, 6/19: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Dane Dunning View full article
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