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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Randy Dobnak Using Randy Dobnak as a reliever didn’t exactly go as planned at season’s start and he was sent to St. Paul to get stretched out as soon as the Triple-A season began. In the last couple weeks, Michael Pineda and Kenta Maeda have both ended up on the injured list so Dobnak’s spot in the rotation looks to be safe. In his first start, he pitched six shutout innings with a five to two strikeout to walk ratio. What might be the most encouraging sign is his 12 groundball outs including inducing a double play. When Dobnak is at his best, he is working quickly and using his sinker to get batters to hit the ball on the ground. Minnesota’s improved defense can certainly help Dobnak especially since he is using his sinker almost 50% of the time, which is a 6% jump from 2020. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker both have ERAs north of 5.40, so Dobnak has the opportunity to take a rotation spot and run with it. Rob Refsnyder Entering the 2020 season, Refsnyder was an afterthought that bounced around through four different organizations. He was a career .217/.205/.297 (.602) hitter with nearly twice as many strikeouts as walks. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal this winter, but injuries to Byron Buxton and Jake Cave made it necessary for Refsnyder to be added to the roster and he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity. Entering play on Monday, Refsnyder is hitting .375/.429/.542 (.970) in nine games with the Twins. Kyle Garlick has been dealing with a groin injury that may continue to hamper him and this means even more time for Refsnyder. He’s 30-years old and doesn’t exactly fit into the team’s long-term plans, but there’s hope the team can ride his hot streaks as long as possible. Maybe he can turn into the 2004 version of Lew Ford? Luke Farrell Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through most of the season and Farrell shouldn’t be seen as a savior, but he can certainly add depth. He is being used exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his career and there have been some positive signs. With St. Paul, he pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He needs to prove he can translate those strikeout numbers to the big-league level. Guess what Wes Johnson has done with Ferrell? If you said increase his slider usage, you are correct. His slider usage has been increasing each year, but he took a big jump from 41.2% in 2020 to nearly 60% in 2021. His curveball has hardly been used at all as he almost exclusively uses his fastball and slider. His walk rate has been high throughout his big-league career so that will be something to keep an eye on moving forward. Do you think these three players can help the Twins through their recent rash of injuries? 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
  6. Injuries have hit the Twins hard over the last week and now the club is entering a soft part of their schedule. All teams deal with injuries, but these three players showcase the Twins depth and will be key for the team’s success. Randy Dobnak Using Randy Dobnak as a reliever didn’t exactly go as planned at season’s start and he was sent to St. Paul to get stretched out as soon as the Triple-A season began. In the last couple weeks, Michael Pineda and Kenta Maeda have both ended up on the injured list so Dobnak’s spot in the rotation looks to be safe. In his first start, he pitched six shutout innings with a five to two strikeout to walk ratio. What might be the most encouraging sign is his 12 groundball outs including inducing a double play. When Dobnak is at his best, he is working quickly and using his sinker to get batters to hit the ball on the ground. Minnesota’s improved defense can certainly help Dobnak especially since he is using his sinker almost 50% of the time, which is a 6% jump from 2020. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker both have ERAs north of 5.40, so Dobnak has the opportunity to take a rotation spot and run with it. Rob Refsnyder Entering the 2020 season, Refsnyder was an afterthought that bounced around through four different organizations. He was a career .217/.205/.297 (.602) hitter with nearly twice as many strikeouts as walks. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal this winter, but injuries to Byron Buxton and Jake Cave made it necessary for Refsnyder to be added to the roster and he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity. Entering play on Monday, Refsnyder is hitting .375/.429/.542 (.970) in nine games with the Twins. Kyle Garlick has been dealing with a groin injury that may continue to hamper him and this means even more time for Refsnyder. He’s 30-years old and doesn’t exactly fit into the team’s long-term plans, but there’s hope the team can ride his hot streaks as long as possible. Maybe he can turn into the 2004 version of Lew Ford? Luke Farrell Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through most of the season and Farrell shouldn’t be seen as a savior, but he can certainly add depth. He is being used exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his career and there have been some positive signs. With St. Paul, he pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He needs to prove he can translate those strikeout numbers to the big-league level. Guess what Wes Johnson has done with Ferrell? If you said increase his slider usage, you are correct. His slider usage has been increasing each year, but he took a big jump from 41.2% in 2020 to nearly 60% in 2021. His curveball has hardly been used at all as he almost exclusively uses his fastball and slider. His walk rate has been high throughout his big-league career so that will be something to keep an eye on moving forward. Do you think these three players can help the Twins through their recent rash of injuries? 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
  7. Entering July 24th 2017, the Minnesota Twins were 49-48 coming off a 9-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers the night before. The Twins now stood 2.5 games back of Cleveland, and ready to make a push towards claiming the AL Central crown for the first time in 7 years. "Falvine" decided to push the button, making their first major trade during their Twins tenure, and acquire Atlanta Braves starter, Jaime García . Finally, after years of purely terrible baseball, the Twins were back, and the Front Office was willing to go for it. Now, it's July 28th 2017, the Minnesota Twins are in Oakland, and on a 4 game skid as they sit 49-51. Jaime García takes the mound for the first, and only time as a Minnesota Twin. He pitches well, but unremarkably as he leads the Twins to a 6-3 victory ending the losing streak with a decent stat line: 6.2 IP 7 K 3 BB 8 H 3 ER. Flash forward a bit further to July 30th, the Twins are 50-52, Cleveland has gone on a run, and the Twins are 7 games out. Oh, how the turn tables. Falvine decides they're no longer pushing for that first division title in 7 years, so why hold onto the rental they just acquired? So, after spending less than a week as a Twin, Jaime García packs his bags once again and heads to the Bronx to become a Yankee. As the leaves turn from green to wonderful fall colors, the Twins find out it didn't really matter if they bought or sold. Jaime García didn't pitch very well as a Yankee, and the Twins still managed to claw to a 85-77 record, going from the worst team in baseball to a wild card team in just a year. 7 years of terrible baseball. 13 years without a playoff victory, now with a chance to change that. October 3rd 2017, enter: the New York Yankees. We all know how this story goes, there's no point in reliving this one again. So, okay, the trades themselves, what exactly happened? Looking back, I think we can safely consider Jaime García's performance itself a wash and rather insignificant. But what about the prospects involved? Trade 1: The Minnesota Twins receive: SP Jaime García, C Anthony Recker, Cash Considerations. (Recker was soon released and never played for the Twins) The Atlanta Braves receive: SP Huascar Ynoa Trade 2: The Minnesota Twins receive: SP Zack Littell , SP Dietrich Enns The New York Yankees receive: SP Jaime García So essentially, the Twins gave up Ynoa, to get Littell and Enns. Neither Littell or Enns are with the Twins anymore, and only Littell had marginal success. Meanwhile, I have yet to mention the ginormous horse in the room. Huascar Ynoa has been the ace of the Atlanta Braves pitching staff thus far in 2021 pitching 44.2 Innings while garnering 1.8 bWAR. However, he could be out the rest of this year. That being said, the Braves potentially have a really good pitcher for a long time to come, and Falvine essentially gave Ynoa to them for free. Not every trade works out, many work out great, and many don't, and unfortunately this whole saga is the latter. Perhaps the best part of this whole saga for the Twins is that a day after sending Jaime packing to New York, they signed a guy from Utica with a rad mustache who was driving for Uber, fan fave Randy Dobnak. Once again, all stats are thanks to Baseball Reference, and the picture thanks to MLB.com. What trades should we revisit next?
  8. The Minnesota Twins find themselves doubled up in the loss column at the time of this post, at 13-26, and the biggest controversy is whether Yermin Mercedes should be able to swing 3-0 against Willians Astudillo. If that doesn't tell you how this season has gone, I'm not sure what will. I've already wrote about players that we could see traded, as well as ranked all the Twins MLB roster by trade value. I expect many of those moves to be made in July, although some could roll in earlier, especially with all of the injuries around Major League Baseball. When all of these expected moves come around, the Twins are going to have to fill these holes with players from the minor leagues, or possibly by players coming in from the trades. This series will take a look at the players the Twins front office will want to take a longer look at come late July, August, and September in order to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2022. RHP Randy Dobnak Dobnak came into the Twins organization as a feel good story, and even started a playoff game for the Twins. He also signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, which locked in financial security for the former Uber driver, and gave the Twins a cheap depth option for the foreseeable future. However, there is questions around Twins territory on whether Dobnak is an MLB starter, or more of a long man. With expected trades of JA Happ and Michael Pineda, and the likely DFA or move to the bullpen for Matt Shoemaker, the Twins will have plenty of chances to evaluate some of the AAA starters. Dobnak should, and likely will be, the first option to fill the hole. Dobnak relies on pinpoint control over his sinker, and a very good slider to pair with the sinker. In order to be an effective MLB starter, Dobnak will have to develop a reliable third pitch, with the changeup being the most likely. Even if Dobnak isn't a long term starter, he will be on the opening day roster in 2022. LHP Lewis Thorpe Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect out of Australia, but certainly hasn't met those expectations thus far. The key to Thorpe being a useful arm in the major leagues all rely on his fastball velocity. Last season we saw Thorpe's velocity fall below 90, which was not the norm for him, and unsurprisingly, he got shelled. However, there were signs of hope for the southpaw during spring training, where he said he "refocused mentally and physically" and the results backed it up. Thorpe was sitting in the low 90's during spring training, but that has suddenly disappeared. During Thorpe's two spot starts thus far, he's once again sitting 89.7 MPH on the fastball, and shared that he's going through a dead arm phase. If Thorpe snaps out of his dead arm, and regains his velo, he has a chance at a starter to pair with his very good slider. However, if the fastball velo is only sustainable in short stints, a move to the pen seems inevitable. We'll get an answer on this question during the dog days of the 2021 summer. RHP Bailey Ober As I'm writing this article, Bailey Ober is pitching the first inning of his MLB debut. Ober is a big, right handed arm who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, but doesn't have the velo that matches the body. The Twins drafted Ober in the 12th round in 2017, which is the same draft where Royce Lewis was the #1 pick. The fact that Ober has already made his MLB debut, despite being a 12th round pick, means he's outperformed expectations. Bailey was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, despite not throwing in a live game since 2019. Ober has four quality pitches, with the fastball sitting in the upper 80's, and the lower 90's on occasion. His best putaway pitch is a changeup, which moves with a lot of armside run. He also features a slider and curveball, but neither project as anything more than an average pitch. Despite the fastball not cracking 90, it has a lot of carry on it which allows him to successfully pitch in the upper part of the zone. With the next wave of top arms coming to Target Field soon in Johan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, Ober will have to perform well to stay apart of Minnesota's long term plans, as he is a starter or bust.
  9. Entering the offseason, it seemed likely for Dobnak to be penciled into the back end of the Twins’ starting rotation. Minnesota had three pitchers slated to begin the year as starters and Dobnak seemed to be at least guaranteed a shot at the fifth rotational spot. That plan was altered after the club signed J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker. Then the question was raised about whether Dobnak should be pitching out of the bullpen or be sent to the alternate site to continue to be stretched out as a starter. The Twins’ brass felt like Dobnak and his newly signed contract were a better fit as the bullpen’s long man, but the numbers point to this being a poor decision. Entering play on Wednesday, Dobnak had appeared in 22 big-league games with 15 coming as a starter and seven coming in relief. As a starter, he has a 3.41 ERA with a 43 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio while holding batters to a .645 OPS. His relief appearances have resulted in a 4.20 ERA with batters compiling an .870 OPS in almost 70 plate appearances. This isn’t exactly a large sample size, but his numbers as a starter are clearly better. Also, Minnesota has been using Dobnak in situations where he can continue to stay stretched out. He has been limited to just three appearances this year, because the Twins have only seen three of their games decided by more than two runs. This doesn’t exactly lend itself to naturally using a long man out of the bullpen, because Rocco Baldelli has turned to more of his high leverage arms in close and late game scenarios. https://twitter.com/MatthewTaylorMN/status/1382323416234086407?s=20 Having Dobnak stretched out will be useful since the team has 11 games over the next 10 days and the current starters won’t be able to make all of those starts. On the TV broadcast, Justin Morneau alluded to the fact that Dobnak will make a start during the next week. That being said, it’s hard to imagine him being able to pitch deep into a game since he hasn’t started since early in spring training. For Dobnak to get more relief opportunities, it might be beneficial for the Twins to separate Happ and Shoemaker in the rotation. Those two starters are the ones he is most likely going to piggyback with since neither are expected to pitch deep into games on a regular basis. Currently, they pitch on back-to-back days and that doesn’t allow Dobnak to piggyback for both of them Teams are using a variety of strategies this year to cover innings and piggybacking those two starters might be a strategy the Twins will need to start using. There’s likely going to be a time this season where Dobnak is going to be needed in the rotation. For now, his role in the bullpen needs to be altered so he can find more success. Do you think Dobnak should continue to be used as a reliver? 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
  10. Traditional Five-Man Rotation Minnesota is going with a traditional five-man pitching staff to start the 2021 season and they are expected to stick with a five-man rotation for the majority of the season. That doesn’t mean the same five pitchers will occupy the rotation as the innings start to add up. Minnesota signed Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ to add rotational depth, and this is only going to help in a season like the current one. The Twins can use multiple strategies throughout the season to keep the starting staff rested. One option is to have a player skip a start. In this situation, the team can call-up a starter from St. Paul or the team can go with a bullpen game, which has become more common in recent years. There’s also a good chance a starter will need some time on the injured list at some point, so this allows the team to utilize some of their pitching depth. Rotating Relievers After signing an extension this spring, Randy Dobnak has struggled to start the 2021 season by allowing five earned runs in three innings. Obviously, this is a very small sample size, and the Twins are confident in Dobnak finding success this season. He is the natural choice to be the team’s sixth starter if needed, but he isn’t the only reliever that will eat innings this season. Last year, only two Twins relievers threw more than 25 innings and both of those players, Matt Wisler and Tyler Clippard, are no longer with the team. Minnesota has used Alex Colomé for multiple innings this year and that might hint at some of Rocco Baldelli’s strategy this season. The team has also switched to a 14-man pitching staff with the addition of Brandon Waddell, who will help cover more innings. He can also occupy a spot that is sent back and forth between Triple-A and the big-leagues. Options Outside the 26-Man Roster Outside the names mentioned above, there is certainly other options not currently on the 26-man roster. Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer are stretched out to be starters and they can be called on to take over a starting role. Top pitching prospects like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are also expected to make their debuts in 2021. Hopefully, they aren’t needed for extended innings, but they are waiting in the wings. Other names on the 40-man roster include Shaun Anderson, Dakota Chalmers and Bailey Ober. Each of these arms can fit into the bullpen picture at some point this season. There are also other options outside the 40-man roster including this year’s Sire of Fort Myers, Derek Law. The Twins have liked to use a steady stream of players from the minors to supplement the big-league relief core in recent years and that trend will likely continue in 2021. Other Teams’ Strategies Last week, MLB.com ran through the different strategies teams will utilize in 2021. Teams like the Angels, Mariners, and Pirates are all planning on using six-man rotations, but none of these clubs are expected to be fighting for a World Series title. Some teams, like the Dodgers, Rangers, and Tigers are going to use a piggybacking strategy where some starters are used in a traditional manner and other appearances they use multiple starters that follow one another. The Rays utilize openers and bullpen games quite often and that expects to be the case again, especially with Blake Snell and Charlie Morton no longer part of the rotation. A lot of teams will be using a revolving five-man rotation which will include skipped starts and other pitchers filling into the rotation’s fifth spot. Minnesota is penciled into another large group of 10 teams that will use a traditional five-man rotation for as long as it will last, but it’s clear the team will be open to using multiple pitching strategies this year. What strategies will the Twins use to cover 1,458 innings this year? Leave 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
  11. We've learned that this Minnesota Twins front office highly values both flexibility and stability in its team-building strategy. With Randy Dobnak's newly-minted contract extension, the Twins maintain flexibility in their rotation plans while also securing some much-needed, low-risk stability for the long term.At first blush, Dobnak's new contract seems absurdly team-friendly. The Twins are locking up a proven young pitcher, with a 3.12 ERA through 75 MLB innings, to a five-year deal guaranteeing him less money than Michael Pineda or J.A. Happ will earn this year alone. That makes sense. Dobnak lacks the big-league bona fides of Kluber and Carrasco when they signed, or the top-prospect luster of Archer when he did. The implications of Dobnak's background in this decision are apparent from the outside – given where he was at a few short years ago, it's gotta be hard to pass up $9 million in guaranteed money, especially when the "worst case scenario" means you pitch really well and earn $30+ million while staying in the same place for the next eight years. The Twins, for their part, will happily take the stability in exchange for a modest financial commitment. Prior to extending Dobnak, Minnesota had no starters (sans prospects and fringe rotation options like Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer) under control beyond 2023. The graphic below show just how much his extension changes that picture. Download attachment: twinsspcontrol.png The Twins will have plenty of flexibility in building their rotation going forward. Dobnak is now firmly entrenched as a sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. At first blush, Dobnak's new contract seems absurdly team-friendly. The Twins are locking up a proven young pitcher, with a 3.12 ERA through 75 MLB innings, to a five-year deal guaranteeing him less money than Michael Pineda or J.A. Happ will earn this year alone. https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1376254481659232259 With three club option years on the back end, this deal gives Minnesota plenty of flexibility down the line. The ability to buy Dobnak's would-be free agent seasons at bargain prices will be useful if he merely stays the course as a groundball-inducing fourth starter, and extremely valuable if he takes a step forward to No. 2/3 status. (Say, if this much-ballyhooed new slider proves legit.) https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1373044556288122882 https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1375224556714127360 The value upside in Dobnak's contract is monumental. If the Twins activate all three options they'll control him for the next eight years for around $30 million, which is less than the Astros are paying Justin Verlander NOT to pitch in 2021 ($33 million). And if Dobnak's amazing ascent, from undrafted indy-ball pitcher and Uber driver to certified MLB starter, ultimately ends up being a flash in the pan? There's simply no risk. If the Twins need to cut bait at any point, the $9 million they'll pay Dobnak is trivial for them, life-changing for him. That last part helps explain why a deal like this can even come to fruition. It's certainly not the first time we've seen teams use their leverage over a young pitcher with limited service time to secure this sort of affordable long-term stability. In fact, Cleveland's front office was quite savvy in this regard while Derek Falvey was assistant GM. In 2015, Cleveland signed Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco – both a long way from free agency – to lengthy extensions with multiple team options. One year earlier, Chris Archer signed a five-year contract with Rocco Baldelli's Rays, despite having made just 27 career major-league starts. Archer's deal, like Kluber's and Carrasco's, included club options on two free agent years. Compared to those contracts, Dobnak's includes significantly less money, both in terms of guarantees and max payout. It also gives Minnesota a longer window of control than any of the other examples, with options extending through Dobnak's age-33 season in 2028. That makes sense. Dobnak lacks the big-league bona fides of Kluber and Carrasco when they signed, or the top-prospect luster of Archer when he did. The implications of Dobnak's background in this decision are apparent from the outside – given where he was at a few short years ago, it's gotta be hard to pass up $9 million in guaranteed money, especially when the "worst case scenario" means you pitch really well and earn $30+ million while staying in the same place for the next eight years. The Twins, for their part, will happily take the stability in exchange for a modest financial commitment. Prior to extending Dobnak, Minnesota had no starters (sans prospects and fringe rotation options like Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer) under control beyond 2023. The graphic below show just how much his extension changes that picture. The Twins will have plenty of flexibility in building their rotation going forward. Dobnak is now firmly entrenched as a sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Aaron and John dissect the latest Twins' news, break down the team, their concerns and hopes, and give their official predictions on the number of Twins' wins. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Now Click here to view the article
  14. Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Willians Astudillo Odd Man Out: None Garver and Jeffers have been locks to make the Opening Day roster since the 2020 season ended. Barring injury, Minnesota will rotate these two players throughout much of the season. Willians Astudillo hasn’t been on any previous version of the projected Opening Day roster, but the Twins have been hinting at him making the team. This includes signing Roberto Pena, a veteran catcher, to be a second catcher at Triple-A. Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons Odd Man Out: None Like the catching group, the infielders have been virtually set since the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons. Polanco, Arraez, and even Sano can be used at multiple defensive positions, so it’s going to be interesting to see how creative Baldelli will be with his line-up construction. Astudillo can also fit into this group as he has shown plenty of defensive versatility throughout his Twins tenure. Outfield (4): Jake Cave, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker Odd Men Out: Kyle Garlick, Alex Kirilloff The biggest Twins news of the week was that Alex Kirilloff was sent to the alternate site after he had a rough spring at the plate. This leaves the Twins with one decision to make as far as the last outfielder to make the club. In recent spring line-ups, Baldelli has been using the trio of Buxton, Kepler, and Rooker as his starting outfield. This leaves Cave as the fourth outfielder and Garlick on the outside looking in. Garlick has been impressive this spring, but he has an option left and the Twins can use him as depth at Triple-A. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz Boomstick will be bashing homers into his 40s and Twins fans are along for the ride. Rotation (5): Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Odd Man Out: Randy Dobnak Dobnak isn’t going to be in the rotation to start the season, but that might not last for long. With his new and improved slider, Dobnak might be on track to be one of the AL’s biggest sleepers this season. Berrios may have made some adjustments to his fastball and that can be a scary proposition for hitters in the AL Central. Kenta Maeda will start on Opening Day in Milwaukee as he looks to build off his runner-up finish for the AL Cy Young. Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Randy Dobnak, Derek Law Odd Men Out: Shaun Anderson, Cody Stashak, Devin Smeltzer Anderson seemed like the type of player that might be able to fill the Matt Wisler type role on the club, but he was optioned to the minor league side. Smeltzer can fill multiple roles at Triple-A before being needed at the big-league level. Stashak and Law were vying for the last spot and Law’s strikeout filled spring put him over the top. Minnesota will also have the opportunity to use 14 pitchers at different times during the season, so some of the players at the bullpen’s back end will be shuffled back and forth between CHS Field and Target Field. Who do you think makes the Opening Day roster? 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
  15. When the Minnesota Twins set out to supplement their roster this offseason a couple of different areas presented themselves as needs. Starting pitching will always remain one as you can never have enough, but the organization is in rarefied air. Following his signing with the Houston Astros it’s more than fair to suggest the Twins would’ve been well-served to wait out Jake Odorizzi. He clearly over-anticipated his market however and found a landing spot only after Framber Valdez dealt a blow to Dusty Baker’s starting rotation. Instead, Minnesota went with a one-year deal to Matt Shoemaker that set the club back just $2 million. At the time, and even now, that has the makings of a pretty shrewd move. If you’re at all familiar with Shoemaker’s track record you know this, he hasn’t been available often. Across seven full Major League seasons he’s made 15 or more starts just three times, while failing to reach double digits in each of the past three. Injury issues have plagued him, but it’s worth noting that the injuries haven’t been arm related. In hoping for a regression to the fluky nature that has kept him sidelined, you have to take note of the production that has been there. Back in 2016 was the last time Shoemaker threw more than 100 innings. Across 27 starts that year he posted a 3.88 ERA backed by a 3.51 FIP and an 8.0 K/9. It was the third year in a row in which he’d tallied both 20 starts and 130+ innings pitched. In that time, he owned a 3.80 ERA with a 3.77 FIP and an 8.0 K/9. When available the veteran has been incredibly consistent. He’s good for a high-threes ERA while striking out right around eight per nine and being very stingy on the free passes. Even as a third starter that would play, and he’ll pitch out of the Minnesota five-hole. What’s maybe most important for the Twins in all of this isn’t even what Shoemaker himself brings to the table, but rather what he affords the club in regards to those around him. Randy Dobnak has started a Postseason game, Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect that has been the darling of Spring Training, and the duo of Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are close. That doesn’t even touch on Devin Smeltzer, who has Major League experience as well. None of them will factor into the rotation on Opening Day. In 2020 Rocco Baldelli had 11 different players starts a game (two of which were openers). For the Bomba Squad a year prior, 10 different players made starts (one of which was an opener). Depth is something every team must have in the rotation, and that will probably ring truer than ever coming off such a shortened schedule a season ago. Because of what this front office has done in the development department, the Twins could be more prepared now than they ever have been before. A year ago, the Twins posted the 5th best fWAR among starters in baseball. That improved upon a 7th place finish in 2019. Derek Falvey had long been considered a pitching guru for his time in Cleveland, and he’s quickly carried that acumen to a new organization. I’m not sure who will contribute what, and which starters will be there at the end, but you can bet the stable is right where the organization feels comfortable when it comes to pieces at their disposal. Maybe Matt Shoemaker only gives his new club something like ten starts in 2021. That’s still more than Rich Hill or Homer Bailey a season ago, and the flexibility he provides the Twins in terms of additional depth is a bonus that can’t be overstated. Let him be healthy because he’s been good when available. When the time comes to make a change, options will be plentiful. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. Minnesota’s front office noticed some with Dobnak’s slider and suggest a small change. By keeping his hand in a more supinated position, he can get more break on his slider and keep hitters off balanced. Over the weekend, he threw three scoreless innings and struck out six of the 10 batters he faced. “It plays really well off my sinker, so we’re just trying to kind of get more break in between it,” Dobnak told reporters after the game. “Trying to create the tunnel and have it break apart more. But I threw it pretty well today, so I’m pretty satisfied with where I am with that.” https://twitter.com/AlexFast8/status/1370811231569899520?s=20 Dobnak had been working on the tweak for a little over a week and batters were clearly not prepared for the pitch (even against last year’s AL pennant winners). He’s used it in two games so far and he has yet to allow a run in either appearance. While he has been pitching well this spring, Minnesota’s rotation seems to be full to start the year and this leaves Dobnak’s role up in the air. The five starters slated to be in Minnesota’s Opening Day rotation are Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker, and J.A. Happ. Out of those names, Happ is a little behind the others as he missed the beginning of camp after testing positive for COVID-19. Dobnak can follow Happ in his starts at the beginning of the year as he increases his workload, but even Twins manager Rocco Baldelli doesn’t quite know what role Dobnak will fill. “[Dobnak] has established himself as a quality member of our pitching staff,” Baldelli said. “One way or the other, wherever he slots in, however he gets his innings, I’m pretty sure we are going to find a way to get him involved and let him pitch us to some wins. Exactly how that’s going to go from Opening Day on, I couldn’t tell you at this moment.” Another wrinkle in the Dobnak’s roster spot is the yet to be decided fourth option for Lewis Thorpe. If Thorpe is out of options, the team may need to keep him on the 26-man roster to avoid losing him for on waivers. Dobnak has multiple options remaining and this would allow him to continue to be stretched out as a starter if an injury were to arise in the season’s early games. In the last Twins Daily roster projection, Dobnak made the Opening Day roster and Thorpe was left off, because it had been widely reported that he would be granted a fourth option. Dobnak and Thorpe can easily swap places as the bullpen’s long man. Caleb Thielbar, who appeared in his first spring game on Monday, has also been dealing with a back injury, so there’s a chance he starts the year on the IL. If that happened, Dobnak and Thorpe can both have bullpen spots. Over the course of the 2021 campaign, Dobnak’s role will likely take on multiple forms. Shoemaker is going to have to prove he deserves to stay in the rotation, because the Twins don’t have a ton invested in him. Dobnak will relieve and start at different parts of the season, but his new slider might make it tough to keep him in the bullpen for very long. What do you think Dobnak’s role will be in 2021? 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
  17. Aaron and John talk about the return of 10,000 fans to Target Field, Randy Dobnak's new slider, Jake Odorizzi's deal with the Astros, some Tyler Duffey worries, and the latest on Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons, and J.A. Happ. YYou can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Now Click here to view the article
  18. The Twins front office has proven themselves to be masters of free agent spending efficiency. This offseason, they have spent around $37.5MM, accruing an additional 7.2 fWAR (ZiPS). Baseball is not a salary capped sport, but imagine how effective the Twins would be at managing it if it were. I respect the hell out of how the Twins get their WAR. I decided to dig in and compare the makeup of the 2021 roster with previous seasons. Not Their First Rodeo It’s worth starting before the 2018 season to understand the evolution of the Twins consistent approach to the offseason. Prior to the 2018 season with the Twins, Falvey and Levine waited out the market and signed Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn late in the day. Neither move worked out well. Morrison, coming off an exceptional 2017 season, was hampered by injuries, and Lynn looked sweaty and uninterested on his way to a 4.77 ERA. He was later traded away to the Yankees. This approach however, foreshadowed the organizational approach to free agency which has evolved and improved in each of the seasons following 2018. 40+ WAR for the Playoffs? There is a common maxim in baseball that just north of 40 WAR makes you a playoff contender. When comparing the 2021 and 2019 rosters (the Twins last full season), it’s easy to just make rote comparisons between players, without also examining how the units of infield, outfield, and pitching may function. Coming into this offseason, the Twins had a significant amount of holes to fill, with Cruz, Romo, May, Clippard, Wisler, Marwin Gonzalez, Odorizzi, and others becoming free agents. An additional constraint was a moderate (self-imposed) payroll reduction, coming off a year with decreased revenues due to a shortened season and no fans in the stands. The front office didn’t blink. In the space of 10 days the Twins signed J.A. Happ, Andrelton Simmons, re-signed Nelson Cruz, and added Alex Colome. Let’s look broadly at the cumulative impact of those moves on each aspect of the Twins roster using the Twins 2019 and 2020 counterparts for comparison. Rotation Depth J.A. Happ currently slots into the fourth rotation spot where Rich Hill pitched in 2020. Happ is projected 1.6 fWAR in 2021 making $8MM, a similar amount to Hill with his incentive laden 1 year deal in 2020. While Hill didn’t get the opportunity to pitch a full season for the Twins, this move is essentially a wash, with Happ having shown over the last 10+ years that he is a slightly above average MLB starter. This pushes Randy Dobnak into the 5th rotation spot. At 1.7 projected fWAR, he is, in fact, tied with Chris Paddack for the highest projected fWAR of any number five starter. The Twins could stand to add depth to their rotation and bullpen and while it remains to be seen if the rotation has enough ceiling to dominate in the playoffs, the pitching staff as a whole is projected to be the 6th best in baseball, per Fangraphs depth charts. Bullpen There’s a ton of flux in the bullpen for 2021, with May, Romo, Wisler, and Clippard departing. The Twins have added a stable of good velocity fastball, wipeout slider guys to compete for the 8th spot in the pen, but prior to that, made another great efficiency move. The Twins turned down a $5MM option on the soon to be 38 year old Romo for 2021, instead signing Alex Colome, former White Sox closer and five years Romo’s junior for the same price. Colome for Romo is another excellent example of the Twins efficiency leading up to the 2021 season, Colome is younger, better, and has outperformed his peripherals in each of his previous eight MLB seasons. Which back end would you rather have in 2021, Rogers, Duffey, Romo, or Rogers, Duffey, Colome? We can assume the latter, and Romo and Colome would have cost the Twins the same price in 2021. Infield Improvements The infield has seen a seismic shift, adding actual wizard Andrelton Simmons, pushing Jorge Polanco to 2B, where the Twins feel like he can be an above average fielder, and shunting Luis Arraez into a super utility role which limits his defensive shortcomings (and use of his ankles). To illustrate this impact, I compared the 2019 (last full 162 game season) and 2021 occupant of each infield position by projected fWAR in 2021 and compared their OAA averaged over the last 3 seasons at that position (if available). Essentially, I am trying to answer the question; what are the Twins looking at for infield quality in 2021, compared to what they had in 2019? I realize the shortcomings of using projections, but the comparison effectively illustrates the Twins accomplishment in improving both offensive and defensive production from their infield unit as a whole over the last 2 years. SS: Andrelton Simmons projected 2.7 fWAR (averaged 9.3 OAA) in for Jorge Polanco projected 2.7 fWAR (averaged -10.5 OAA) 2B: Jorge Polanco, projected 2.7 fWAR (no OAA data for 2B) in for Luis Arraez projected 2.9 fWAR (averaged -4.5 OAA) 3B: Josh Donaldson, projected 3.1 fWAR (averaged 4.5 OAA) in for (mostly) Miguel Sano 2.7 fWAR (averaged -3 OAA) Util: Luis Arraez, projected 2.9 fWAR (average -4.5 OAA) in for Marwin Gonzalez projected 0.9 fWAR averaged (2.3 OAA) Net projection: +2.2 fWAR, +15.4 OAA Will this is of course, an overly simplistic approach, the projections call for the Twins infield to improve by over two wins in 2021 (mostly subbing Arraez for Marwin). Additionally, they significantly increased the quality of their infield defense. It’s also worth noting that Marwin Gonzalez made a comparable salary in 2019 and 2020 to the one Andrelton Simmons will make in 2021. The Other Side of the Coin: The LA Dodgers The Dodgers mercifully ended Trevor Bauer’s free agency by signing him to a contract which will pay him $40MM in 2021 (market value-ish for his projected 4.4 fWAR). While loathe to write about Bauer, the Dodgers move is useful in illustrating the opposite of the Twins approach. The Dodgers careened through the luxury tax threshold and paid a premium for their WAR. This is a perfectly fine approach, but given that it’s not one the Twins will be taking anytime in the near future, I hope Twins fans can appreciate the nimbleness of this front office in constructing a consistently excellent, flexible roster. The Twins have likewise continued to prioritize preserving their farm system and the ability to have a sustainable winner over the next 3-5 years. What do you think of the Twins roster makeup and balance in 2021? What are areas of concern or areas you believe need strengthening to make a playoff push (or win a single game)? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Looking Back: The Glenn Williams Story — The Twins Interest in Matt Shoemaker is Intriguing — Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: 11-15
  19. Recently the Minnesota Twins signed veteran starting pitcher J.A. Happ to bolster their rotation. He’d slot in as the 4th starter with where things stand currently, and Randy Dobnak would be the clubhouse favorite to round out the group. It remains to be seen whether or not another move is coming, but there’s a dark horse to eat someone’s lunch. At the risk of sounding too punny, maybe he’s a dark kangaroo. Lewis Thorpe recently turned 25-years-old and is a former top-100 prospect. He couldn’t be further from that stature right now, but talent shouldn’t be the question. After battling back from Tommy John surgery, and then an extended bout of pneumonia, he put together impressive seasons on the farm. The past two years have been anything but, however he’s worth believing in under one key condition. I liked Thorpe as a potential contributor to the big-league club when 2020 Spring Training kicked off. He was coming off a 4.76 ERA in just shy of 100 Triple-A innings, but it was largely reflective of the home run ball and his 11.1 K/9 paired with a 2.3 BB/9 was still plenty enticing. Then Florida happened. No, for Thorpe, it wasn’t the Covid-19 related shutdown. Without divulging too many specifics or risking secondary information, what is publicly known is that he took an extended leave of absence from the team. His parents flew in from Australia and he needed to undergo a mental reset. Ultimately, he didn’t appear in a Major League game until July 26 and contributed just 16.1 innings for the Twins. His 6.06 ERA was ugly and giving up a homer in roughly 25-percent of his innings pitched was not going to play. Again though, the stuff has always been there. Observing the offseason without having directly communicated with Thorpe, things appear to be trending in a different direction. The Twitter account has been dormant since his birthday in 2020, and his workouts have been shared on different forms of social media. What was at least an erratic presence a year ago has once again subdued as was the case previously. Whether by his own doing, or a helping hand from the organization, if Thorpe has recalibrated himself, he can certainly be a difference maker on the bump. I was uncertain as to his place within the organization during periods of roster trimming, and there were times that his inclusion in a trade may have even made sense. The pitcher that forced his way into the big leagues in 2019 is a force to be reckoned with however, and Rocco Baldelli can make use of that. Physically we saw Thorpe’s velocity diminish in 2020. He posted just an average of 90 mph on his fastball. It’s never that he’s been a hard thrower but losing nearly 2 mph at such a young age wasn’t a great development. It was clear that the lack of carry made a difference last season, and Wes Johnson unlocking the tank would be a great step forward for the Southpaw. The Twins ratcheted up his slider usage last season, and that trend could continue for 2021. Looking to regain the whiff and chase rates from 2019 form, tinkering will certainly be valuable as more data is collected. There’s not reason to believe an ace is in the making here, but right now it’s not Dobnak or bust when it comes to the back end of the Twins rotation. Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic may force themselves in eventually, but don’t count out the best version of Thorpe to make noise before the dust settles. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. 1. Healthy Arraez Heading for AL Batting Title 2021 ZiPS Projection: .313/.371/.406, 32 2B, 5 HR, 3.2 WAR No. 1 Player Comp: Cecil Travis Entering the 2020 season, Luis Arraez was coming off a tremendous rookie year and expectations were even higher for his sophomore campaign. His first 10 games were rough as he hit .212/.289/.502 without a single extra-base hit. He dealt with a knee injury throughout different parts of the season, but he seemed to put it all together over his final 22 games. During that stretch, he hit .367/.398/.481 with nine doubles and 12 runs scored. Just like the 2020 projections, ZiPS pegs Arraez to lead the American League in batting average. His 3.2 WAR is also the highest on the team among position players as he finishes just ahead of Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Max Kepler. It would certainly be exciting to have a healthy Arraez fighting for a batting title, but the Twins will likely want one of the other star players to lead the team in WAR. 2. Polanco Bounces Back 2021 ZiPS Projection: .279/.333/.440, 32 2B, 17 HR, 2.8 WAR No. 1 Player Comp: Buddy Bell There has been plenty of discussion this winter about what role Polanco should serve with the 2021 Twins. Will he be the team’s everyday shortstop, or does it make sense to bring in another option and shift Polanco to a utility role? During the last two off-seasons, Polanco has been forced to undergo ankle surgery and that’s a consideration for the team when planning for the future. Last year, Polanco posted career low marks in batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage. Looking at ZiPS for Polanco and the projections clearly have him inline for a bounce back season. His projected slugging percentage would be six points higher than his career mark and his 17 home runs would only trail his 22 longballs in 2019. Also, he has accumulated 30 doubles or more in every season he’s played at least 130 games. Defensively, there were some improvements last year, but he has finished eighth among AL shortstops in SABR’s SDI in each of the last two seasons. 3. Maeda Set for Major Regression 2021 ZiPS Projection: 4.12 ERA, 135 1/3 IP, 154 K, 45 BB, 2.2 WAR No. 1 Player Comp: John Montefusco Maeda’s first season in a Twins uniform went about as well as it could possibly go. He finished runner-up in the AL Cy Young Voting after posting a 2.70 ERA, 161 ERA+ and a MLB leading 0.75 WHIP. It was everything the Twins hoped for when they traded for him and the best news is, he is under team control for the next three seasons. His season might have been the most dominant performance by a Twins starter since Johan Santana was traded away. It seems highly unlikely for Maeda to be able to replicate his 2020 numbers during the 2021 campaign. The season will include more than 60 games and his 2020 totals were far superior to any previous season in his big-league career. ZiPS has his ERA 37 points higher than his career mark. Another oddity is that ZiPS has him scheduled to make eight appearances out of the bullpen, which would be similar to his time in Los Angeles. Maeda should outperform his ZiPS projections and Twins fans better hope he isn’t needed out of the bullpen. 4. Pineda Pitches Under 100 innings 2021 ZiPS Projection: 4.58 ERA, 92 1/3 IP, 84 K, 20 BB, 1.1 WAR No. 1 Player Comp: Dave Eiland Pineda’s time in Minnesota has been marked by one season where he was recovering from Tommy John surgery and parts of two seasons where he missed time due to a suspension. Last season, he made five starts and allowed 10 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings (3.38 ERA). Since joining the Twins he has posted a 1.16 WHIP and a 115 ERA+. The 2021 season can mark his first time pitching a full season for Minnesota, but the projections aren’t exactly kind to his performance. Injuries have been part of Pineda’s professional career and that’s why ZiPS limits his projected innings pitched. In fact, there are over 10 pitchers projected to pitch more innings than Pineda for the 2021 Twins. His career ERA is 4.02 and he has only posted one season with an ERA higher than his projected 4.58. Another intriguing note is the fact Pineda can be a free agent following the 2021 season. Will he perform better in a contract year? Or will the Twins be willing to work out an extension? 5. ZiPS Loves Randy Dobnak 2021 ZiPS Projection: 4.53 ERA, 137 IP, 91 K, 37 BB, 1.6 WAR No. 1 Player Comp: Dick Drago Dobnak’s first two seasons in Minnesota have seen some ups and downs. Back in 2019, his rookie season was unbelievable as he posted a 1.59 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP across 28 1/3 innings. This culminated in the team turning to him for a Game 2 start in the ALDS. Last year, his ERA rose to 4.05 and he had a 1.35 WHIP while seeing his strikeout per walk total be cut in half. Eventually, he was optioned to the team’s alternate training site, but he was part of the team’s Wild Card roster. In an absence of a minor league season, the minor league writers at Twins Daily held a minor league draft last summer. One of the biggest takeaways from that draft was how much ZiPS loves Randy Dobnak. His projected career WAR total was the highest in the draft and it helped Steve to walk away with the best overall team. Among pitchers, Dobnak is projected to have the team’s third highest WAR as he only trails Berrios and Maeda. What other surprises were in the Twins 2021 ZiPS projections? 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
  21. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/7 through Sun, 9/13 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 30-18) Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +48) Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (1.0 GB) Bomba Counter: 74 (Pace: 93) After watching him limp around and battle through a bad knee for two months, the Twins finally moved Luis Arráez to the Injured List on Tuesday, retroactive to September 9th. There was no indication of a specific setback, so it seems as though they're just trying to give his legs a break as the playoffs approach. He's eligible to return next weekend. Brent Rooker hit his first major-league home run on Tuesday, but on Saturday suffered a forearm fracture when he was hit by a pitch, ending his season. It's a really tough break (literally) for the rookie, but he can take comfort in knowing he made a great first impression, slashing .316/.381/.579 in 21 plate appearances, and will surely be a factor in next year's plans. While they'll be without Arráez for a while, and Rooker for good, the Twins are inching closer toward being whole again. Max Kepler returned from IL on Sunday, batting leadoff and playing right field in the sweep-clinching win against Cleveland. It sounds like Mitch Garver could be activated in the coming days, and Jake Odorizzi is also on his way back after throwing an intrasquad game on Friday. With a playoff berth all but assured, Minnesota's primary goal is to be at full strength by the time the first round gets underway. Winning the division is perhaps secondary to getting and staying healthy, but it's an important priority nonetheless, and the Twins are currently in the middle of a decisive stretch toward that end. Here's a look at where their excellent past week has brought them, and where they're headed next. HIGHLIGHTS The Bomba Squad moniker felt more apropos than it has in past weeks, as the awakening Twins offense launched 18 home runs in six games against two of the league's best pitching staffs. Seventeen of 18 runs scored in the sweep over Cleveland came on long balls. Among the contributors to last week's power parade: Byron Buxton mashed three homers in his four starts, including a pair of critical two-run blasts in the Cleveland series. His aggressive swing-at-everything approach is working well as opponents continue to oblige him by serving pitches over the plate. The Twins have won 10 of the last 11 games Buxton has started, including seven straight. What a difference-maker. While Garver's return will be welcomed, Ryan Jeffers is more than taking care of business in his absence. Over the past week, Jeffers did a fine impression of the 2019 Silver Slugger, popping off for three home runs including a rocket shot off the league's best pitcher (Shane Bieber). In fact, he had two of the hardest-hit balls off Bieber all season, in within the span of a few innings. The kid can crush, and his defense behind the plate remains stellar. Even more so than Rooker, Jeffers has firmly entrenched himself in the 2021 picture with his tremendous showing as a big-league rookie. Taking a .200/.279/.281 slash line into Saturday's game, with two singles to show for his past 38 plate appearances, Marwin Gonzalez was badly in need of a slump-breaker. He found it on Saturday with a two-run homer to open the scoring, then put his team on the board with another two-run jack Sunday, later adding a sac fly. Gonzalez has as many RBIs in his past two games (5) as he did in his previous 17. Hopefully this is the start of a hot streak for him; the Twins could sure use it with Arráez out. Also delivering multiple home runs over the past week, some of the usual suspects: Nelson Cruz (3), Josh Donaldson (2), Miguel Sanó (2). When these guys are all doing their things and people are getting on base in front of them, this lineup is scary. Meanwhile, the rotation has been steady and occasionally sensational. Kenta Maeda keeps looking the part as a No. 1 starter. He was magnificent on Friday, out-dueling Bieber with seven shutout innings. Maeda is now 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA and league-leading 0.74 WHIP. He's all but guaranteed that to be Minnesota's Game 1 starter in the postseason. Jose Berríos, who figures to follow in Game 2, is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his past four starts after notching a victory over St. Louis on Tuesday. Michael Pineda has a 20-to-4 K/BB ratio in 17 ⅔ innings over three starts since rejoining the club. With that trio leading the rotation, and the offense in attack mode, you've gotta feel good about how the Twins are currently shaping up for October. We saw it all come together in a convincing weekend sweep against Cleveland, a team Minnesota could very well face in the playoffs. LOWLIGHTS Nearly every time he's taken the mound as as big-leaguer, things have gone swimmingly for Randy Dobnak. That's how you arrive at a 2.80 ERA through 68 MLB innings. Of late, however, the right-hander has encountered his first bouts of adversity. Three starts ago he was knocked around by the Tigers, who piled up six earned runs on 12 hits in 4 ⅓ innings. In his latest turn, facing the Cardinals in St. Louis on Tuesday, he coughed up an early lead and took the L, yielding five earned runs in 2 ⅔ frames. This time around, his root problem was very different – not so much being hittable (he only allowed two), but completely erratic. In the third inning he loaded the bases on a single, hit-by-pitch and walk, then allowed runs in on another HBP and walk, followed by a fielder's choice and RBI single. It was an uncharacteristic unraveling from the typically poised Dobnak, who wasn't crushed in the outing by any means. Given that he was pitching on three days' rest, I'm inclined not to weigh it too heavily, but seeing the two worst outings of his career within 11 days of one another isn't great. The fact that Dobnak's one inning of struggle was really the only noticeable low point in the entire week says a lot of about what kind of roll the Twins are on right now. TRENDING STORYLINE Aside from trying to stay healthy and take the division, charting out the pitching staff's postseason hierarchy will be the key directive for Rocco Baldelli and his staff in these final two weeks. While the top three starters are well established as we covered earlier, it's unclear who might get the nod as a fourth starter if one is needed. Dobnak didn't help his case last time but he'll get another shot in a big spot against the White Sox on Tuesday. A strong performance against the league's top offense, on the road, would make quite a statement. Presumably, the plan is for Odorizzi to take the ball opposite Lucas Giolito on Wednesday as he makes a late push for a significant role in October. And two days later it'll be Rich Hill going up against the formidable Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs. Facing frontline starters on playoff teams will be a fitting test for these hurlers, as they make their bids to do just that in a few weeks. The bullpen pecking order, too, must be sorted. Just as in the rotation, the top guys are essentially locked in, but the next tier is fluid. Will Jorge Alcala earn high-leverage looks? What about Matt Wisler and Caleb Thielbar? They've looked amazing, albeit in small samples. Can Cody Stashak prove he's sharp enough to be a factor, or will his time spent sidelined cost him a postseason roster spot? Many questions remain to be answered, and the urgency in figuring them out may be increased if the status of Trevor May – who was lifted from Sunday's game due to back cramps – is going to be in question for the playoffs. LOOKING AHEAD The fate of the 2020 regular-season Minnesota Twins could be decided in Chicago this week. First up, it's four games against the White Sox, who carry a one-game division lead into the series. Then the Twins head to the North Side for three games against another first-place team at Wrigley. After that, only five games remain. The Sox are in the driver's seat entirely because of their success against the dregs of the division – they're 18-2 against the Royals and Tigers, 12-14 against all other opponents – so this is their chance to prove it for real and put clamps down on the Central. Minnesota has won both of the first two head-to-head matchups, and if they can do it again here, they'll come out leading the division with 10 days to go. It's all on the line in Chi-town. Should be fun. MONDAY, 9/14: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Dylan Cease TUESDAY, 9/15: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Dane Dunning WEDNESDAY, 9/16: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – TBD v. RHP Lucas Giolito THURSDAY, 9/17: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Kenta Maeda v. TBD FRIDAY, 9/18: TWINS @ CUBS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Kyle Hendricks SATURDAY, 9/19: TWINS @ CUBS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Alec Mills SUNDAY, 9/20: TWINS @ CUBS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Yu Darvish Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 43 | MIN 6, DET 2: Pineda Pitches 7 Innings, Twins Take 4 of 5 Game 44 | MIN 7, STL 3 Game 45 | STL 6, MIN 4 Game 46 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Buxton, Jeffers Sting Bieber; Maeda Sails Through 7 Game 47 | MIN 8, CLE 4: Return of the Bomba Squad Game 48 | MIN 7, CLE 5: Twins Complete Sweep, Shift Focus to White Sox MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. The Minnesota Twins kept on rolling, and embarked successfully on the most critical stretch of their schedule. With just two weeks left in the regular season, the Twins are getting closer to full strength and cracking open the Sota Pop. Let's recount the bombas and break down the race for first place. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/7 through Sun, 9/13 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 30-18) Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +48) Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (1.0 GB) Bomba Counter: 74 (Pace: 93) After watching him limp around and battle through a bad knee for two months, the Twins finally moved Luis Arráez to the Injured List on Tuesday, retroactive to September 9th. There was no indication of a specific setback, so it seems as though they're just trying to give his legs a break as the playoffs approach. He's eligible to return next weekend. Brent Rooker hit his first major-league home run on Tuesday, but on Saturday suffered a forearm fracture when he was hit by a pitch, ending his season. It's a really tough break (literally) for the rookie, but he can take comfort in knowing he made a great first impression, slashing .316/.381/.579 in 21 plate appearances, and will surely be a factor in next year's plans. Jose Berríos, who figures to follow in Game 2, is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his past four starts after notching a victory over St. Louis on Tuesday. Michael Pineda has a 20-to-4 K/BB ratio in 17 ⅔ innings over three starts since rejoining the club. With that trio leading the rotation, and the offense in attack mode, you've gotta feel good about how the Twins are currently shaping up for October. We saw it all come together in a convincing weekend sweep against Cleveland, a team Minnesota could very well face in the playoffs. LOWLIGHTS Nearly every time he's taken the mound as as big-leaguer, things have gone swimmingly for Randy Dobnak. That's how you arrive at a 2.80 ERA through 68 MLB innings. Of late, however, the right-hander has encountered his first bouts of adversity. Three starts ago he was knocked around by the Tigers, who piled up six earned runs on 12 hits in 4 ⅓ innings. In his latest turn, facing the Cardinals in St. Louis on Tuesday, he coughed up an early lead and took the L, yielding five earned runs in 2 ⅔ frames. This time around, his root problem was very different – not so much being hittable (he only allowed two), but completely erratic. In the third inning he loaded the bases on a single, hit-by-pitch and walk, then allowed runs in on another HBP and walk, followed by a fielder's choice and RBI single. It was an uncharacteristic unraveling from the typically poised Dobnak, who wasn't crushed in the outing by any means. Given that he was pitching on three days' rest, I'm inclined not to weigh it too heavily, but seeing the two worst outings of his career within 11 days of one another isn't great. The fact that Dobnak's one inning of struggle was really the only noticeable low point in the entire week says a lot of about what kind of roll the Twins are on right now. TRENDING STORYLINE Aside from trying to stay healthy and take the division, charting out the pitching staff's postseason hierarchy will be the key directive for Rocco Baldelli and his staff in these final two weeks. While the top three starters are well established as we covered earlier, it's unclear who might get the nod as a fourth starter if one is needed. Dobnak didn't help his case last time but he'll get another shot in a big spot against the White Sox on Tuesday. A strong performance against the league's top offense, on the road, would make quite a statement. Presumably, the plan is for Odorizzi to take the ball opposite Lucas Giolito on Wednesday as he makes a late push for a significant role in October. And two days later it'll be Rich Hill going up against the formidable Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs. Facing frontline starters on playoff teams will be a fitting test for these hurlers, as they make their bids to do just that in a few weeks. The bullpen pecking order, too, must be sorted. Just as in the rotation, the top guys are essentially locked in, but the next tier is fluid. Will Jorge Alcala earn high-leverage looks? What about Matt Wisler and Caleb Thielbar? They've looked amazing, albeit in small samples. Can Cody Stashak prove he's sharp enough to be a factor, or will his time spent sidelined cost him a postseason roster spot? Many questions remain to be answered, and the urgency in figuring them out may be increased if the status of Trevor May – who was lifted from Sunday's game due to back cramps – is going to be in question for the playoffs. LOOKING AHEAD The fate of the 2020 regular-season Minnesota Twins could be decided in Chicago this week. First up, it's four games against the White Sox, who carry a one-game division lead into the series. Then the Twins head to the North Side for three games against another first-place team at Wrigley. After that, only five games remain. The Sox are in the driver's seat entirely because of their success against the dregs of the division – they're 18-2 against the Royals and Tigers, 12-14 against all other opponents – so this is their chance to prove it for real and put clamps down on the Central. Minnesota has won both of the first two head-to-head matchups, and if they can do it again here, they'll come out leading the division with 10 days to go. It's all on the line in Chi-town. Should be fun. MONDAY, 9/14: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Dylan Cease TUESDAY, 9/15: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Dane Dunning WEDNESDAY, 9/16: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – TBD v. RHP Lucas Giolito THURSDAY, 9/17: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Kenta Maeda v. TBD FRIDAY, 9/18: TWINS @ CUBS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Kyle Hendricks SATURDAY, 9/19: TWINS @ CUBS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Alec Mills SUNDAY, 9/20: TWINS @ CUBS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Yu Darvish Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 43 | MIN 6, DET 2: Pineda Pitches 7 Innings, Twins Take 4 of 5 Game 44 | MIN 7, STL 3 Game 45 | STL 6, MIN 4 Game 46 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Buxton, Jeffers Sting Bieber; Maeda Sails Through 7 Game 47 | MIN 8, CLE 4: Return of the Bomba Squad Game 48 | MIN 7, CLE 5: Twins Complete Sweep, Shift Focus to White Sox MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  23. The Twins will pitch Randy Dobnak against Matt Boyd today as the Twins take on the Tigers in game one of their doubleheader. Dobnak enters the season at 6-2 with his last start being an 8-2 loss (against the Tigers), giving up six runs on 12 hits. In Boyd’s last start (against the Twins), he gave up two runs on four hits, in six innings of a seven-inning game.Other than being the home team, I do not like this matchup. First off, Boyd is a lefty and Dobnak is a righty, as an ex-left-handed pitcher I am biased (sorry not sorry). I do, however, like Dobnak’s scapular load/unload. Oh, and his mustache, of course. This game sets the tone for the rest of the series. Matt Boyd has only gotten better as the season has progressed, and Dobnak has proved himself worthy as a starter. To win, the sticks will need to come alive. Even if the Twins go up big, leave Dobnak in until he reaches his pitch count of 90-100 pitches. This will save the bullpen for the rest of the five-game series. In conclusion, this game is seen as a must-win for both teams, both teams want this game badly. I don’t see a blowout in this game, whether it is 8-7 or 4-3, this will be a close one. Give the Twins the edge with home-field advantage and just winning a series against a red hot Chicago White Sox. After a day of rest, you don’t want to play the Twins at home during a day game.
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