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  1. Earlier this week, Josh Donaldson ordered customized robes for his fellow Minnesota Twins. The positive impact on clubhouse morale was immediate and they soon became a social and traditional media sensation. The follow-up is markedly less successful and leaves the team in dire straits entering the season’s final weekend. Sources close to the squad say that over a dozen Twins are headed to the 10-day injured list due to issues stemming from custom embroidered powder blue bikini briefs with red lettering they received after Wednesday’s 7-6 victory over Detroit. “The players got back to their lockers and found this custom underwear waiting for them,” said a clubhouse source. “Number in front, name in back. Lotta guys threw ‘em on after showering before heading back to the hotel. The problems became apparent shortly thereafter.” The issues derived from two main sources: Stitching described as “razor-like” and the blue and red dyes seeping into the skin upon contact. They are the main ingredients in what a team official described as “a perfect machine of groin havoc.” “The seams of the underwear basically acted like an emery board made out of slivers on the bikini area,” said the official. “Once the dye chemicals soaked into the abrasions, it became a disaster.” “It looks like Chernobyl down there,” said one unnamed Twin. “My god. My god.” “Everything is wrong,” said another. “The EMT said it looked like I gave birth to an angry Muppet.” The team is not naming the players until all their families can be notified, nor are they revealing who provided the controversial briefs. Multiple media reports say that the logo for Windel Qual International, a Berlin-based company that manufactures chocolates, stainless steel cutlery, and adult novelties, could be seen on the underwear, turning attention to Germany's own Max Kepler. The outfielder could not be reached for comment. Unconfirmed reports say he might be out of action the longest. “He had a special thong-style one,” said a veteran Twins pitcher who asked not to be identified. “His (expletive) hinder looks like a (expletive) abattoir.”
  2. After dropping a pivotal four game set with the Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins pack up their bags and journey across town. Facing the Cubs at Wrigley, they’ll look to end 2020’s regular season road slate on a high not. Facing the NL Central leaders will make that tough, but it’s a momentum building opportunity.Yesteday's Game Recap CHW 4, MIN 3: Donaldson Ejection Steals the Show, White Sox Take Series TODAY Twins (31-21) @ Cubs (30-20), 7:15 pm CDT Twins Starter: Rich Hill, LHP (2-1, 3.81 ERA) Drafted by the Cubs in the 4th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft, there has to be a sense of home for Mr. Mountain. Despite pitching over 300 innings with Chicago, he’s faced them for a grand total of 13. Six starts in 2020 have generated just a total of 26.0 IP, and while the 3.81 ERA isn’t disastrous by any means, Hill would certainly like more. Coming off the surgery this offseason, Hill’s productivity was always going to be a question mark. He’s not at all a stranger to the operating table, but now he’s returning having hit 40 years old. The walks are up, strikeouts are down, and the command looks just a bit off. Download attachment: Hill.PNG Efficiency is going to need a bit of tweaking if Hill wants to find his way as the veteran option on Minnesota’s Postseason staff. He’s been doing the same type of thing for a long time, and flipping the big bender is an worthy process when all things are clicking. Cubs Starter: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (5-4, 3.29 ERA) If there’s a right-handed clone of Hill, it’s Hendricks. Another soft tosser built on great offspeed stuff, the Cubs righty has been giving the opposition fits for years. Hendricks did not start the year needing to fend of injury concern and he came out of the gates firing. With a complete game shutout against the Brewers, it would be hard to top that debut performance. Download attachment: Hendricks.PNG When looking to solve Hendricks the Twins should be keyed in on his two outings against the Cincinnati Reds. Having kept all other opponents to three runs or less, both times the Reds faced him they were able to get the right for five-plus. This will be the third start Hendricks makes in 2020 against the American League Central division. He has faced both the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, winning both of those games while being virtually on cruise control. Twins Starting Lineup: TBA What to Watch for: At the end of yesterday’s game Rocco Baldelli lifted the strong hitting rookie Ryan Jeffers in place of Willians Astudillo. Lineup construction has been a point on contention down the stretch and seeing who contributes, along with how it’s managed through, will be interesting.Byron Buxton is a man on fire. He has six homers in his last 6 starts and has four in his last three games. Had MLB not wiped out his first inside-the-park tally that would go up another digit.The Twins needed to cover three innings of work out of the bullpen yesterday. Sergio Romo blew his first save and scuffled, but Taylor Rogers should be available for Minnesota this evening.Around the AL CentralChicago White Sox 33-17 (+80 run differential) Minnesota Twins 31-21 (+45) Cleveland Indians 27-23 (+36) Detroit Tigers 21-28 (-63) Kansas City Royals 21-29 (-23) Click here to view the article
  3. Yesteday's Game Recap CHW 4, MIN 3: Donaldson Ejection Steals the Show, White Sox Take Series TODAY Twins (31-21) @ Cubs (30-20), 7:15 pm CDT Twins Starter: Rich Hill, LHP (2-1, 3.81 ERA) Drafted by the Cubs in the 4th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft, there has to be a sense of home for Mr. Mountain. Despite pitching over 300 innings with Chicago, he’s faced them for a grand total of 13. Six starts in 2020 have generated just a total of 26.0 IP, and while the 3.81 ERA isn’t disastrous by any means, Hill would certainly like more. Coming off the surgery this offseason, Hill’s productivity was always going to be a question mark. He’s not at all a stranger to the operating table, but now he’s returning having hit 40 years old. The walks are up, strikeouts are down, and the command looks just a bit off. Efficiency is going to need a bit of tweaking if Hill wants to find his way as the veteran option on Minnesota’s Postseason staff. He’s been doing the same type of thing for a long time, and flipping the big bender is an worthy process when all things are clicking. Cubs Starter: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (5-4, 3.29 ERA) If there’s a right-handed clone of Hill, it’s Hendricks. Another soft tosser built on great offspeed stuff, the Cubs righty has been giving the opposition fits for years. Hendricks did not start the year needing to fend of injury concern and he came out of the gates firing. With a complete game shutout against the Brewers, it would be hard to top that debut performance. When looking to solve Hendricks the Twins should be keyed in on his two outings against the Cincinnati Reds. Having kept all other opponents to three runs or less, both times the Reds faced him they were able to get the right for five-plus. This will be the third start Hendricks makes in 2020 against the American League Central division. He has faced both the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, winning both of those games while being virtually on cruise control. Twins Starting Lineup: TBA What to Watch for: At the end of yesterday’s game Rocco Baldelli lifted the strong hitting rookie Ryan Jeffers in place of Willians Astudillo. Lineup construction has been a point on contention down the stretch and seeing who contributes, along with how it’s managed through, will be interesting. Byron Buxton is a man on fire. He has six homers in his last 6 starts and has four in his last three games. Had MLB not wiped out his first inside-the-park tally that would go up another digit. The Twins needed to cover three innings of work out of the bullpen yesterday. Sergio Romo blew his first save and scuffled, but Taylor Rogers should be available for Minnesota this evening. Around the AL Central Chicago White Sox 33-17 (+80 run differential) Minnesota Twins 31-21 (+45) Cleveland Indians 27-23 (+36) Detroit Tigers 21-28 (-63) Kansas City Royals 21-29 (-23)
  4. The Last Time Fans Saw Him Pineda was back last season after missing all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. As with most pitchers returning from this procedure, it took him awhile to get back to his old self. In the first half, he posted a 4.56 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP as batters hit .261/.296/.455 (.751) against him. He locked in from there by lowering his ERA to 3.04 and he struck out 56 batters over his final 53 1/3 innings. Pineda might have been Minnesota’s most consistent starter down the stretch. One of the biggest changes for Pineda was an increase use in his four-seamer and a decrease use in his slider. In his last season prior to surgery, he used his four-seamer 47.7% of the time and his slider 37.8% of the time. Last season with the Twins, his slider usage dropped to a career low usage of 29.5% and his four-seamer was used over 54% of the time. Some of this change might have been from his return from surgery and trying to find his feel for pitching again. Reports from St. Paul In a normal season, Pineda would have been able to go and pitch in minor league games to get himself prepared to be back on a big-league mound. For 2020, things look a little different as Pineda has been pitching at the Twins secondary site at St. Paul’s CHS Field. Luckily, Josh Donaldson is also rehabbing at that site and this gives both veteran players a chance to be a little better prepared for their return. As far as reports from St. Paul, it sounds like Pineda has been able to hit 94 mph with his fastball. Last season, his four-seamer averaged 92.5 mph, but he averaged 93.9 mph prior to his surgery. He is also stretched out enough to pitch at least five innings. Minnesota has been regularly using a bullpen game, so adding Pineda could mean the team can have a fresher bullpen for the remainder of the season. Now What? Pineda steps into a Twins rotation that already includes Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak and Rich Hill. Having a complete five-man rotation is something the Twins have been missing for much of the season. The team also has three off-days over the next two weeks, which means the team doesn’t need to use a fifth starter or they can give all their starters extra days of rest. What kind of impact will Pineda be able to have in one month of the season? He has the chance to make around five starts and then everything is going to come down to a three-game series in the first round of the new expanded playoffs. If Pineda looks good, he could slide into starting one of those three games. Starting pitching depth is never a bad thing, especially with the rash of injuries across baseball this year. Pineda can provide a boost at a time when the Twins have been struggling on the field. What are your expectations for Pineda? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Damien Holsapple has four words for new Twins starting pitcher Rich Hill. “[expletive] thanks, Mr. Hill!” Holsapple, who begins second grade at Jeffers Pond Elementary School this fall, has watched every Twins game this year, including both of Hill’s starts. The veteran starter’s colorful language, easy to pick up without any fans in attendance, has made quite the impact on the precocious youngster. “That son of a [expletive] said a lot of cool [expletive],” said Holsapple. “I can’t wait to tell my [expletive] teacher, that dumb [expletive]!” Holsapple’s mother says she’s concerned but is rolling with it. “Damien’s very bright and picks up on things super quickly,” said Heather Stamey. “I didn’t know that the microphones were going to capture all the chatter in quite that detail and I let him know those words were not OK. Going forward I told him he should just watch with the volume down, like his father does when (Bert) Blyleven is on the broadcast.” For his part, Damien is just happy to discover new frontiers in language and personal expression. “[Religious expletive] tapdancing [religious expletive], this summer was pretty [expletive] lame until baseball happened,” said Holsapple. “[Expletive], I don’t even know what the [expletive] tapdancing is, but the way Mr. Hill says it makes it sound [expletive] awesome.” Damien says he’s also been sharing some of the new words with his younger sister, Alice, who recently turned four. “When Mom told her it was time for bed last night, Alice said ‘Kiss my [expletive] [expletive] you [expletive] Irish [expletive], that was a [expletive] strike,’” said Damien. “Mom got pretty mad but I saw Dad laughing really [expletive] hard behind her. I told Alice to put a [expletive] baseball glove over her mouth next time she wants to use the fun words like Mr. Hill does when he doesn’t want those [expletive] humps in blue to hear him.”
  6. Tonight, Rich Hill will take the ball for the Minnesota Twins and he’s being activated off the Injured List to do so. It will be his second start for Minnesota, and the first since July 29. He landed on the Injured List due to shoulder fatigue, and a night after Kenta Maeda was three outs from a no-hitter, Hill will look to provide an encore.YESTERDAY’S GAME RECAP MIN 4, MIL 3: Kenta Maeda Carries No-No Into 9th Inning; Twins Win In Extras Today: Milwaukee @ Minnesota, 7:10 PM CT Betting Lines: Minnesota -160, O/U 9.5 Twins Starter: Rich Hill, LHP 1-0 (0.00 ERA) In his lone start of 2020 Hill was nothing short of spectacular. He cruised through five innings of work against a good St. Louis Cardinals squad. Throwing 68 pitches, he recorded two strikeouts while walking one and allowing just two hits. Coincidentally that would be the final game for the Cardinals until just a few days ago, and Hill himself is just making a return to the mound tonight. Despite having a bottom of the barrel velocity on his fastball, Hill does everything else at an elite level. Because of his ability to spin the bender, Hill has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for quite some time. Yes, he’s 40 years old, and yes, he’s often injured, but when a team has had him on the bump, they can feel pretty confident about their chances. Download attachment: Hill.PNG Shoulder injuries are certainly tricky for pitchers, and while fatigue isn’t something requiring a procedure, it will be interesting to see what kind of runway Wes Johnson and Rocco Baldelli give him tonight. Minnesota’s bullpen was relatively taxed with the extra-innings affair last night, so getting at least five should be a must. Brewers Starter: Brett Anderson, LHP (0-2, 4.91 ERA) Much like his fellow starter, Anderson finds himself shelved quite often. Before pitching 176 innings for the Athletics in 2019, the Brewers left last topped 80 innings during a season back in 2015. Unlike Hill, Anderson’s results haven’t been nearly as good when he’s out there. At his best Anderson is a control guy that keeps the ball within the strike zone and within the yard. When he gets burned, it’s because the lack of strikeout stuff combined with the propensity for multi-hit games turns into deficits too stark to overcome. Download attachment: Anderson.PNG Anderson has yet to pitch more the one out into the fifth this season for Milwaukee, and he’s given up two earned runs in each of his three starts. He’s given up a single homer in each of the last two outings, and opponents have generated at least four hits off of him in each of his three turns. Lineup: Here's how the bullpen is looking heading into tonight's game: Download attachment: bullpen.png Other Notes: Barring any negative, last-minute, developments, today is the first day since July 26 (Opening Weekend) that Major League Baseball will not be dealing with a COVID-19 related postponement.Pretty exciting prospect matchup between the White Sox and Tigers tonight as Dane Dunning and Casey Mize will both be making their MLB Debuts.Around the AL Central:CLE 6, PIT 3 (F/10) CWS 10, DET 4 MIN 16-8 (+39 run differential) CLE 14-9 (+23) CWS 13-11 (+8) DET 9-12 (-23) KCR 9-14 (-10) Click here to view the article
  7. YESTERDAY’S GAME RECAP MIN 4, MIL 3: Kenta Maeda Carries No-No Into 9th Inning; Twins Win In Extras Today: Milwaukee @ Minnesota, 7:10 PM CT Betting Lines: Minnesota -160, O/U 9.5 Twins Starter: Rich Hill, LHP 1-0 (0.00 ERA) In his lone start of 2020 Hill was nothing short of spectacular. He cruised through five innings of work against a good St. Louis Cardinals squad. Throwing 68 pitches, he recorded two strikeouts while walking one and allowing just two hits. Coincidentally that would be the final game for the Cardinals until just a few days ago, and Hill himself is just making a return to the mound tonight. Despite having a bottom of the barrel velocity on his fastball, Hill does everything else at an elite level. Because of his ability to spin the bender, Hill has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for quite some time. Yes, he’s 40 years old, and yes, he’s often injured, but when a team has had him on the bump, they can feel pretty confident about their chances. Shoulder injuries are certainly tricky for pitchers, and while fatigue isn’t something requiring a procedure, it will be interesting to see what kind of runway Wes Johnson and Rocco Baldelli give him tonight. Minnesota’s bullpen was relatively taxed with the extra-innings affair last night, so getting at least five should be a must. Brewers Starter: Brett Anderson, LHP (0-2, 4.91 ERA) Much like his fellow starter, Anderson finds himself shelved quite often. Before pitching 176 innings for the Athletics in 2019, the Brewers left last topped 80 innings during a season back in 2015. Unlike Hill, Anderson’s results haven’t been nearly as good when he’s out there. At his best Anderson is a control guy that keeps the ball within the strike zone and within the yard. When he gets burned, it’s because the lack of strikeout stuff combined with the propensity for multi-hit games turns into deficits too stark to overcome. Anderson has yet to pitch more the one out into the fifth this season for Milwaukee, and he’s given up two earned runs in each of his three starts. He’s given up a single homer in each of the last two outings, and opponents have generated at least four hits off of him in each of his three turns. Lineup: https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1296216917187985409?s=21 https://twitter.com/Brewers/status/1296193966136856576 Here's how the bullpen is looking heading into tonight's game: Other Notes: Barring any negative, last-minute, developments, today is the first day since July 26 (Opening Weekend) that Major League Baseball will not be dealing with a COVID-19 related postponement. Pretty exciting prospect matchup between the White Sox and Tigers tonight as Dane Dunning and Casey Mize will both be making their MLB Debuts. Around the AL Central: CLE 6, PIT 3 (F/10) CWS 10, DET 4 MIN 16-8 (+39 run differential) CLE 14-9 (+23) CWS 13-11 (+8) DET 9-12 (-23) KCR 9-14 (-10)
  8. Jose Berrios Berrios started the second game of the doubleheader over the weekend and his continued struggles have been well documented at this site. His velocity is up this season with his fastball averaging 94.5 mph in 2020 compared to 93.1 mph last year. But even with the increase in velocity, batters are posting a .414 BA and a .931 OPS when seeing his fastball. Over his last 71 1/3 innings dating back one year ago, Berrios has a 5.30 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. This isn’t exactly what you want from a number one pitcher. He certainly has the make-up to be a top-tier starter, but the results haven’t been there. Kenta Maeda Since joining the Twins, Maeda has been a breath of fresh air for the starting staff. One of the biggest changes he has made is relying on his off-speed offerings more heavily. Last season, he used his fastball 33.7% of the time and this year he is only using it 19.3% of the time. Batters have only posted a .196 WOBA against him and that ranks in the top-10% in the league. He doesn’t overpower batters, but his off-speed offerings make it tough to make hard contact as his hard hit % ranks in the 81st percentile among MLB pitchers. Every time he pitches, he puts the Twins in position to win and that’s what you want at the top of a team’s rotation. Randy Dobnak Dobnak has been more than a feel-good story for the Twins over the last year and the results are getting hard to ignore. He doesn’t rank highly in any Statcast metric, but he goes out there and makes the other team get themselves in trouble. https://twitter.com/CoopCarlson/status/1295007700221337601?s=20 His strategy is simple. Throw sinkers early in the count to get groundballs and his coaxed grounders in 2/3rds of his at-bats this season. Dobnak doesn’t have the characteristics of a typical ace. He doesn’t get strikeouts, he was never a top prospect, and he had to fight to make the team’s rotation. Now it’s hard to imagine where the Twins would be without him over the last two seasons. Jake Odorizzi Minnesota got off to a terrific start last season and Odorizzi’s performance went a long way in helping the team to their early success. He posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 inning as he was selected for his first All-Star team. He’ll hit the free agent market at season’s end, so it will be imperative for him to show his value in his remaining starts. Following a year with little revenue, teams aren’t going to be throwing around large contracts. Odorizzi still has something to pitch for this season and maybe that’s enough to get an ace level performance from him. Rich Hill Hill came to Minnesota because he believes this team can win a World Series. Even as a 40-year old, Hill might be the team’s best starter and his playoff experience certainly helps to push that narrative forward. The Twins have a little over a month to keep Hill as healthy as possible so he can help the team for however long they are in the postseason. Like many of the names on this list, Hill doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an ace pitcher, but he still might be the arm the Twins turn to in Game 1 of the playoffs. Who do you think is the Twins’ ace? Who would you have start Game 1 of the playoffs? 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
  9. Aaron and John talk about Jose Berrios' struggles and the Twins' in-flux rotation, the strategy behind a surprising safety squeeze, how the Twins dramatically improved their defense, what to make of slow starts by Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver, and whether or not John Bonnes is a heartthrob. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Click here to view the article
  10. The Twins are nearly guaranteed a playoff in MLB’s restructured playoff format. It would take a massive collapse over the rest of the season for the Twins to finish out of the playoff picture. That being said, Minnesota needs to get healthy and be playing well over the course of the next month. Here’s how the Twins rank in relation to their current injury concerns: 5. Homer Bailey, RHP Injury: Biceps Bailey hasn’t pitched over 200 innings since the 2013 campaign as he has dealt with a multitude of injuries. He rebounded last year to post a 4.57 ERA and a 149 to 53 strike out to walk ratio in 163 1/3 innings. As of this weekend, Rocco Baldelli told reporters that Bailey hadn’t resumed throwing. Even with these concerns, Bailey was always going to be penciled in near the back of the Twins rotation. Luckily, Randy Dobnak’s continued success has made it easier to handle Bailey’s absence from the rotation. 4. Jake Odorizzi, RHP Injury: Back Strain Odorizzi made his first start of the season over the weekend and he allowed two earned runs on four hits over three innings. Back injuries can be tricky and it’s certainly easy for them to flare up with little to no notice. Odorizzi will be a free agent at season’s end so he is going to want to prove his value on the field this season. He has already missed multiple starts this season and it will be tough for him to prove his value if his back flares up. 3. Rich Hill, LHP Injury: Shoulder Hill hasn’t been a workhorse in his career as he has only pitch more than 140 innings once in his career. However, he has been one of baseball’s best pitchers when he has been able to be on the mound and he has made 12 postseason starts. Even if he misses multiple starts, Hill might be able to come back and be a strong pitcher down the stretch and help the Twins to win in October. He turned 40 back in March and any injury at his age is a concern. 2. Luis Arraez, 2B Injury: Knee So far this season, Arraez clearly hasn’t been himself at the plate as he is hitting .233/.320/.256 (.576) with one extra-base hit. He left one of the team’s intersquad when his knee was bothering him. He missed two games at the end of last week, but he was back in the line-up over the weekend. Arraez and others talked about the possibility of him hitting .400 this season, but the Twins would likely be happy with him getting closer to where he was hitting in his rookie season. This seems like an injury that could be nagging throughout the season even if he continues to play. 1. Josh Donaldson, 3B Injury: Calf Dondaldson has a history of calf injuries and this might have been one of the reasons more teams weren’t interested in his services on the free agent market. Minnesota was well aware of his previous injury history when they signed him, but that’s the risk a team takes when signing a player his age to a multi-year contract. Donaldson knows his body well and his routines include preparing his calves to be ready for the riggers of the season. The Twins need him ready for the end of September and the team’s possible postseason run. Which injury concerns you the most? 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
  11. The Twins are taking care of business and looking like a force to be reckoned with. But each day there are new developments threatening this precarious 2020 MLB season, casting a constant cloud of uncertainty. Minnesota narrowly missed being impacted in the past week, but were able to play all their games and went 5-1 to claim sole possession of first place in the AL Central. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/27 through Sun, 8/2 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 7-2) Run Differential Last Week: +12 (Overall: +22) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 16 (Pace: 107) The Twins got a scare when news of multiple positive COVID tests for St. Louis players surfaced, shortly after the Cardinals were swept out of Minnesota. Thursday's series opener against Cleveland was in doubt as personnel went through rapid testing all afternoon, but ultimately the Twins were able to avoid postponement all week. And they made hay. A 5-1 week against quality teams at home puts the Twins in excellent position moving forward. They won both games against the reigning NL Central champs, and then took three of four from their top challengers in the AL Central. We'll dive into the highlights and lowlights shortly, but first, a quick look at some roster moves made over the weekend: Before Saturday's game, Zack Littell was placed on the Injured List with a left hamstring strain, and replaced on the active roster by right-hander Jorge Alcala. The injury might help explain why Littell looked so rough in early action (3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 1 K) following his stellar 2019 campaign.After Saturday's game, we learned that Homer Bailey's scheduled start for Sunday was being pushed back, and on Sunday, Bailey went on IL due to right biceps tendinitis. Righty Sean Poppen took his place and the Twins ran a bullpen game on Sunday, with Tyler Clippard stepping in as the opener. Unlike Littell, there was no evidence of anything being physically wrong with Bailey.HIGHLIGHTS Last year, as a largely unknown rookie named Randy Dobnak tore through his first tour of the big leagues, finishing with a 1.59 ERA in 28 innings and earning himself a Game 2 ALDS start, we all wondered: Is this for real? Early on in this 2020 season, he's backing up the initial success, and then some. In a relatively big spot on Friday night, with Minnesota looking to bounce back from a series-opening loss against Cleveland, Dobnak spun five scoreless frames against the team's top division rival. He allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out four. This comes on the heels of a strong season debut, where Dobnak held the White Sox to one run over four innings in Chicago. Through 37 1/3 total MLB innings, the undrafted 25-year-old owns a 1.45 ERA with just one home run allowed. His sinker continues to be a tremendous asset, and he's mixing it with his curve and change in the lower regions of the zone to lethal effect. Dobnak has induced a 68% grounder rate this year – only Milwaukee's Brandon Woodruff (72%) is higher. Dobnak is an out-of-nowhere sensation who's beginning to really make his name on the major-league scene. On the other end of the spectrum we have Rich Hill, the 40-year-old ageless wonder who is well known in the game, but taking us by surprise nonetheless. Maybe we shouldn't have been caught off guard by Hill's brilliance against St. Louis on Wednesday night, when he stymied the Cards over five shutout innings, allowing just two singles and a walk. Business as usual I suppose for a guy who's gone 41-20 with a 2.91 ERA in 86 starts since 2016, but still it's pretty remarkable to see from someone his age coming off experimental elbow surgery. Hill said after the game that his repaired elbow "feels like it's 18 again." Wes Johnson has been working some wizardry with this group and so far every offseason move made by the front office – trading for Maeda, gambling on Hill and Bailey, signing Clippard, re-signing Sergio Romo, claiming Matt Wisler off waivers – is paying off handsomely. Those six collectively have a 1.31 ERA through 34 1/3 innings. LOWLIGHTS Not every offseason acquisition has been an immediate hit. There were troubling signs from the get-go for Josh Donaldson. He's been struggling at the plate, slashing just .182/.296/.318 through his first 27 plate appearances while missing on some very crushable pitches. During the opening series in Chicago, he conspicuously failed to leg out a grounder to short, when it turned out he easily could've reached on an error. In other words, it's been an inauspicious start for the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history. The former MVP has come out totally flat and on Friday we might've gotten a hint why. Donaldson exited midway through the win over Cleveland due to "right calf tightness." This is concerning given his lengthy history with calf issues, which more or less wiped out his 2018 season, but the team insists it's a minor setback and has not (as of yet) placed him on IL. Hopefully a bit of time off will help him find a groove. As you can see from his Statcast metrics compared to last year, Donaldson's still been hitting the ball fairly hard, but not at the elite level we've come to expect. Other measures are sagging badly. Download attachment: donaldsonstatcast.png The good news is the Twins have proven they can win without getting much from Donaldson. And in fact, they proved over the past week they can win without getting much from their vaunted offense at all. Minnesota averaged just 3.2 runs per game and still went 5-1. That would seem to bode well. They've gotten through one of the three scariest stretches on their 2020 schedule with a 7-2 record, even though their offense hasn't clicked since the opening weekend. TRENDING STORYLINE It's encouraging to see the Twins exercise a great deal of caution with their starting pitchers, given the proliferation of arm injuries around the league. They gave Hill a few extra days before making his first start of the season, seemingly for no other reason than to play it extra safe. They've been taking things very slowly with Jake Odorizzi and his minor back injury. They opted to put Bailey on IL rather than simply push his start back with what also appears to be a fairly minor injury. I think this is the right approach. Given the expanded playoff format, regular-season games are lessened in importance, and the Twins have given themselves a solid early buffer anyway. The top priority is ensuring their best arms are available to them down the stretch and into the postseason. But, it does give Rocco Baldelli some extra spinning plates to juggle here in the early going. At this moment he's down two starters, with Bailey and Odorizzi both on the shelf. Who will fill the extra slots? On Monday it'll be Lewis Thorpe. Who else might be called upon? Devin Smeltzer? More bullpen games? One thing to keep in mind is that MLB rosters must be trimmed down from 30 to 28 this coming Thursday, so Baldelli figures to lose a bit of his abundant pitching depth. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins now coast into a soft patch in the schedule, with all seven games in the week ahead coming against low-grade opponents. First, they wrap up the homestand with two games against the Pirates, who finished last in the NL Central last year with 93 losses, and are in all-out rebuilding mode. Then, it's off to Pittsburgh for the second half of an interleague home-and-home, which reunites Baldelli and his former bench coach Derek Shelton, now leading the Bucs. From there, the Twins head to Kauffman Stadium for three games against Kansas City. The Royals are of course another rebuilding team and one the Twins should theoretically be able to further fatten up on. MONDAY, 8/3: PIRATES @ TWINS TUESDAY, 8/4: PIRATES @ TWINS WEDNESDAY, 8/5: TWINS @ PIRATES THURSDAY, 8/6: TWINS @ PIRATES FRIDAY, 8/7: TWINS @ ROYALS SATURDAY, 8/8: TWINS @ ROYALS SUNDAY, 8/9: TWINS @ ROYALS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 4 | MIN 6, STL 3: Donaldson Breaks Out, Early Offense Leads to Another Twins WinGame 5 | MIN 3, STL 0: Hill Pitches 5 Shutout Innings in Twins DebutGame 6 | CLE 2, MIN 0: Shane Bieber is a Cheat CodeGame 7 | MIN 4, CLE 1: Dobnak Delivers 5 Shutout InningsGame 8 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Miguel Sanó Hits Pair of Bombas, Kenta Maeda Pitches 6 Shutout InningsGame 9 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Bullpen Dominates as Twins Take SeriesMORE 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. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/27 through Sun, 8/2 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 7-2) Run Differential Last Week: +12 (Overall: +22) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 16 (Pace: 107) The Twins got a scare when news of multiple positive COVID tests for St. Louis players surfaced, shortly after the Cardinals were swept out of Minnesota. Thursday's series opener against Cleveland was in doubt as personnel went through rapid testing all afternoon, but ultimately the Twins were able to avoid postponement all week. And they made hay. A 5-1 week against quality teams at home puts the Twins in excellent position moving forward. They won both games against the reigning NL Central champs, and then took three of four from their top challengers in the AL Central. We'll dive into the highlights and lowlights shortly, but first, a quick look at some roster moves made over the weekend: Before Saturday's game, Zack Littell was placed on the Injured List with a left hamstring strain, and replaced on the active roster by right-hander Jorge Alcala. The injury might help explain why Littell looked so rough in early action (3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 1 K) following his stellar 2019 campaign. After Saturday's game, we learned that Homer Bailey's scheduled start for Sunday was being pushed back, and on Sunday, Bailey went on IL due to right biceps tendinitis. Righty Sean Poppen took his place and the Twins ran a bullpen game on Sunday, with Tyler Clippard stepping in as the opener. Unlike Littell, there was no evidence of anything being physically wrong with Bailey. HIGHLIGHTS Last year, as a largely unknown rookie named Randy Dobnak tore through his first tour of the big leagues, finishing with a 1.59 ERA in 28 innings and earning himself a Game 2 ALDS start, we all wondered: Is this for real? Early on in this 2020 season, he's backing up the initial success, and then some. In a relatively big spot on Friday night, with Minnesota looking to bounce back from a series-opening loss against Cleveland, Dobnak spun five scoreless frames against the team's top division rival. He allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out four. This comes on the heels of a strong season debut, where Dobnak held the White Sox to one run over four innings in Chicago. Through 37 1/3 total MLB innings, the undrafted 25-year-old owns a 1.45 ERA with just one home run allowed. His sinker continues to be a tremendous asset, and he's mixing it with his curve and change in the lower regions of the zone to lethal effect. Dobnak has induced a 68% grounder rate this year – only Milwaukee's Brandon Woodruff (72%) is higher. Dobnak is an out-of-nowhere sensation who's beginning to really make his name on the major-league scene. On the other end of the spectrum we have Rich Hill, the 40-year-old ageless wonder who is well known in the game, but taking us by surprise nonetheless. Maybe we shouldn't have been caught off guard by Hill's brilliance against St. Louis on Wednesday night, when he stymied the Cards over five shutout innings, allowing just two singles and a walk. Business as usual I suppose for a guy who's gone 41-20 with a 2.91 ERA in 86 starts since 2016, but still it's pretty remarkable to see from someone his age coming off experimental elbow surgery. Hill said after the game that his repaired elbow "feels like it's 18 again." https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1288690774750769152 Hey, speaking of 18, the Twins also received a gem on Saturday from No. 18 in their rotation. Newcomer Kenta Maeda managed to top both Dobnak and Hill by delivering the best performance yet from a Twins starter: 6 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 6 K. In this impressive outing, Maeda was everything the Twins hoped for when they acquired him from Los Angeles to bolster their rotation. He attacked the zone relentlessly with a heavy dose of sliders and changeups, mixing in the fastball and – less frequently – the curve and sinker. It all kept Cleveland's lineup completely off-balance, as they managed just one infield single (on a debatable close call, at that) while inducing 15 whiffs on 83 pitches (18%). Not to be left out, Bailey and Jose Berríos both turned in quality efforts of their own, with each allowing two runs over five innings of work. There were a few hitters who enjoyed nice weeks – Eddie Rosario launching his first two home runs and driving in four; Miguel Sanó breaking out with a pair of bombs on Saturday; Marwin Gonzalez looking tremendously sharp at the plate and in the field – but pitching was the star of the show for Minnesota over the past week – and really, all season so far. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1289725066490462210 If we add Clippard's perfect two-inning "opener" appearance on Sunday to the sample above, that's now seven earned runs allowed over 47 innings for Twins starters since the season's second game – a 1.34 ERA. Meanwhile, the bullpen has been lights-out: Over the past six games, Twins relievers (sans Clippard) allowed three earned runs over 26 innings (1.04 ERA). I won't even bother to name names because literally every relief pitcher was outstanding. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1290026725842145284 Wes Johnson has been working some wizardry with this group and so far every offseason move made by the front office – trading for Maeda, gambling on Hill and Bailey, signing Clippard, re-signing Sergio Romo, claiming Matt Wisler off waivers – is paying off handsomely. Those six collectively have a 1.31 ERA through 34 1/3 innings. LOWLIGHTS Not every offseason acquisition has been an immediate hit. There were troubling signs from the get-go for Josh Donaldson. He's been struggling at the plate, slashing just .182/.296/.318 through his first 27 plate appearances while missing on some very crushable pitches. During the opening series in Chicago, he conspicuously failed to leg out a grounder to short, when it turned out he easily could've reached on an error. In other words, it's been an inauspicious start for the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history. The former MVP has come out totally flat and on Friday we might've gotten a hint why. Donaldson exited midway through the win over Cleveland due to "right calf tightness." This is concerning given his lengthy history with calf issues, which more or less wiped out his 2018 season, but the team insists it's a minor setback and has not (as of yet) placed him on IL. Hopefully a bit of time off will help him find a groove. As you can see from his Statcast metrics compared to last year, Donaldson's still been hitting the ball fairly hard, but not at the elite level we've come to expect. Other measures are sagging badly. The good news is the Twins have proven they can win without getting much from Donaldson. And in fact, they proved over the past week they can win without getting much from their vaunted offense at all. Minnesota averaged just 3.2 runs per game and still went 5-1. That would seem to bode well. They've gotten through one of the three scariest stretches on their 2020 schedule with a 7-2 record, even though their offense hasn't clicked since the opening weekend. TRENDING STORYLINE It's encouraging to see the Twins exercise a great deal of caution with their starting pitchers, given the proliferation of arm injuries around the league. They gave Hill a few extra days before making his first start of the season, seemingly for no other reason than to play it extra safe. They've been taking things very slowly with Jake Odorizzi and his minor back injury. They opted to put Bailey on IL rather than simply push his start back with what also appears to be a fairly minor injury. I think this is the right approach. Given the expanded playoff format, regular-season games are lessened in importance, and the Twins have given themselves a solid early buffer anyway. The top priority is ensuring their best arms are available to them down the stretch and into the postseason. But, it does give Rocco Baldelli some extra spinning plates to juggle here in the early going. At this moment he's down two starters, with Bailey and Odorizzi both on the shelf. Who will fill the extra slots? On Monday it'll be Lewis Thorpe. Who else might be called upon? Devin Smeltzer? More bullpen games? One thing to keep in mind is that MLB rosters must be trimmed down from 30 to 28 this coming Thursday, so Baldelli figures to lose a bit of his abundant pitching depth. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins now coast into a soft patch in the schedule, with all seven games in the week ahead coming against low-grade opponents. First, they wrap up the homestand with two games against the Pirates, who finished last in the NL Central last year with 93 losses, and are in all-out rebuilding mode. Then, it's off to Pittsburgh for the second half of an interleague home-and-home, which reunites Baldelli and his former bench coach Derek Shelton, now leading the Bucs. From there, the Twins head to Kauffman Stadium for three games against Kansas City. The Royals are of course another rebuilding team and one the Twins should theoretically be able to further fatten up on. MONDAY, 8/3: PIRATES @ TWINS TUESDAY, 8/4: PIRATES @ TWINS WEDNESDAY, 8/5: TWINS @ PIRATES THURSDAY, 8/6: TWINS @ PIRATES FRIDAY, 8/7: TWINS @ ROYALS SATURDAY, 8/8: TWINS @ ROYALS SUNDAY, 8/9: TWINS @ ROYALS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 4 | MIN 6, STL 3: Donaldson Breaks Out, Early Offense Leads to Another Twins Win Game 5 | MIN 3, STL 0: Hill Pitches 5 Shutout Innings in Twins Debut Game 6 | CLE 2, MIN 0: Shane Bieber is a Cheat Code Game 7 | MIN 4, CLE 1: Dobnak Delivers 5 Shutout Innings Game 8 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Miguel Sanó Hits Pair of Bombas, Kenta Maeda Pitches 6 Shutout Innings Game 9 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Bullpen Dominates as Twins Take Series 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. Over the winter Twins fans clamored for starting pitching. After losing to the Yankees in the Postseason again, a constant bugaboo was deemed the source of weakness. Needing an ace, the Twins sought out some arms. Swinging a deal for Kenta Maeda was nice, but it may be Rich Hill that represents the haul. Sure, he’s 40 years old but try telling Nelson Cruz that’s a milestone anyone should care about. The reality is that Hill has both been often hurt and often good. Good probably isn’t even a fair assessment, he’s been downright great. His 3.00 ERA dating back to 2016 is the 6th best mark in Major League Baseball. He’s coming off a season in which he posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA across 13 starts for the Dodgers, and he hasn’t had a year with less than double-digit strikeouts per nine innings since 2012. In a world where velocity is king, Hill laughs at the notion. He flips his fastball up there at an average of 90.6 mph, and that’s not much of a decline considering the peak was 92.9 mph in 2012 with the Red Sox. He’s learned to live with what he has, and there’s very little surprise in how he’ll attack you. Last season Hill utilized just two pitches. His four seem fastball was chosen 52% of the time while his big breaker was utilized at a 45.8% clip. The velo change on that curveball is staggering, dropping 15 mph all the way down to an average of 74.5. It’s not that those two types of pitches are anything special, but it is that when they derive from Hill’s hand, they’re nothing short of majestic. Hill’s fastball spin ranks in the 91st percentile, but it’s the bender that gets the love here. The curveball has an average spin rate of 2919 RPM, or 4th best among pitchers that threw at least 300 of them a season ago. It’s in the 95th percentile across the league, and it’s why Hill’s hard-hit rate is an elite 98 percentile tally. That curveball is a thing of beauty in and of itself. With a combined 12 inches of vertical and horizontal movement above league average, barreling it remains one of the league’s toughest tasks. It’s why a hitter can step in and know they have just two pitches to look for, but still be frozen on a meaty fastball right down the gut. You might argue there’s nothing flashy about what Hill does on the mound, and that’s probably a fair assessment. There is a level of intrigue or a mystique feeling about how he competes, however. The stuff may lull you to sleep but being that dominant by going virtually against the grain is something we don’t see in baseball anymore. Minnesota brought Hill in to bolster a rotation down the stretch. Now he’ll work right from the jump and could end up being the heart of it. When the dust settles, he’ll look to add onto his 53 Postseason innings, and those that add onto the 15 he’s pitched in the World Series could certainly culminate with a ring. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Ethan Miller wasn’t sure how he’d react. “You look at how the virus is very much not under control in many parts of the country. The testing shortages and delays are back for pretty much everyone except athletes. No one really knows what the best way forward is with schools. “But man, did you see Rich Hill last night? That was awesome.” Miller, a St. Peter-based financial adviser, has watched every Twins game along with a handful of others since the season started. He says that a solid background in enjoying things he maybe shouldn’t helped him deal with watching baseball during a pandemic. “My favorite singer growing up, bar none, was Michael Jackson,” said the 46-year-old father of three. “I just heard ‘Billie Jean’ on the oldies station and turned it up. This was the same day I re-watched (Roman Polanski’s) Chinatown for like the 50th time. So, yeah.” Miller says his ability to compartmentalize goes beyond his entertainment preferences. “My doctor said I really need to watch my cholesterol, especially given my family’s history of heart disease,” said Miller. “Yesterday, after horfing down my Chipotle order with extra sour cream and chasing it with a large fountain Coke, I definitely thought of that.” While the MLB outbreak appears to be limited to the Miami Marlins so far, Miller is prepared to deal with any further incidents on a case-by-case basis. “Yeah, if it’s just a random guy or two here and there, I think I can deal with my conscience pretty easy,” Miller said, tugging at the collar of his Adrian Peterson jersey. “But if I wake up and see that half the Rangers have it, it could take me a good hour or two of nagging self-doubt before getting back to normal.” Image license here.
  15. Rich Hill capped a nice string of Twins pitching debuts by delivering five innings of shutout ball, surrendering just a pair of hits in the process. The new-look Twins rotation is off to a strong start, as Hill, Homer Bailey and Kenta Maeda each earned a victory the past three games.Box Score Hill: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Rosario (1) Top 3 WPA: Hill .281, Cruz .123, Rosario .064 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Download attachment: Winchart.png Rich Hill finally made his first start in a Twins uniform, after being scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday. For Twins fans who didn’t know what they could expect from the 40-year-old Hill, they should take nothing but positives from this start. Hill pitched five scoreless innings with two strikeouts, all while allowing just two hits and one walk. Hill barely had to work up a sweat, throwing just 68 pitches before Rocco Baldelli decided that was a job well done, and turn the game over to the bullpen. His catcher on Wednesday was fellow veteran Alex Avila who said, "With him (Hill), it's not too difficult to call a game. Two pitches. Knowing when to go in, stay away, go up, stay down." He later added, "He was great. I barely broke a sweat." Hill noted, "It felt great to get back out there." Hill tipped his cap to the doctors that completed his surgery, then noted the work put in to come back. "There were a lot of days at home, throwing by myself at a field with a net to throw my bullpens." Luis Arraez got his first start in the leadoff spot this season and played the role to perfection, drawing a leadoff walk in the first. However, he was still stranded at first with two-outs when Nelson Cruz came up and drove him in with a double into the right-field gap, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. A big part of this at-bat was Cruz working the count full, after falling behind 1-2. This allowed Arraez to leave early from first and scored easily on the Cruz double. The Twins added to their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the 4th. They got their first run of the inning on Eddie Rosario’s first home run of the season. Rosario said after the game, "In the last couple of games, I wanted to select good pitches to hit, but I felt a little late on strikes. So today I wanted to be a little more aggressive tonight." The bottom of the order was then able to put together a two-out rally, as Jake Cave and Marwin Gonzalez reached on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, respectively, before Alex Avila picked up his first RBI with the Twins on a soft single to left, scoring Cave from second. Tyler Duffey looked very impressive in his inning of work, sitting down the top of the Cardinals’ lineup 1-2-3, all three coming on strikeouts. Dick Bremer and Roy Smalley mentioned on the broadcast how confident Duffey looks when he is out there pitching, and it is hard not to be with the success he has had since the beginning of the 2019 season. At this point, an argument can be made that Duffey is the second-best reliever, behind Taylor Rogers, in what is a very deep Twins bullpen. After Duffey worked the 6th, Baldelli called on Sergio Romo in the 7th for his second consecutive night of work, and like Duffey, Romo set the Cardinals hitters down 1-2-3. The second and third outs of the inning came on flyballs to newly inserted centerfielder Aaron Whitefield, who replaced Miguel Sano in the lineup, and moved Jake Cave over right and Marwin Gonzalez in to first. Regarding the move, Baldelli said it was all planned out, "Everything is great with Miggy. There's a few reasons why we make that move. While we have a 30-man roster, we're able to take advantage of some real strengths of our guys. Today's a day where - we weren't going to talk about it before the game - but a day we were going to try to keep Buck off of his feet. A day were were going to keep Kep off his feet. What were were able to do is bring in a really fast, really good outfielder and play him out there for a couple of innings, in Whitefield and he went out there and did a really nice job. In order to do that, we have to make a move during the game. You look at our lineup, and you really don't want to take any of our guys out of the game, but today it was going to be Miggy. I'm sure we'll see him back in there very soon. He's doing fine." In the bottom of the inning the Twins had an excellent chance to add onto their lead, after getting 1st and 3rd with only one out, after singles from Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez. However, the Twins were unable to get a run across, as Josh Donaldson grounded into a fielder’s choice, getting Gonzalez out in a rundown between home and third, before Jorge Polanco fly out to end the inning. Tyler Clippard got the call in the 8th inning and gave the Twins a bit of a scare to start the inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler, Clippard fell behind Matt Carpenter 3-0 before coming back to strike Carpenter out. He then got the pinch-hitter Matt Wieters to pop out to Luis Arraez, who doubled-up a stealing Fowler at first to end the inning. In the 9th, Taylor Rogers came in for his first appearance of the season, picking up the save in what was an easy inning of work for the Twins closer. The brass of the Twins bullpen, which includes Rogers, along with Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Tyler Clippard and Cody Stashak have been very impressive to start the season. So far, they have combined to pitch 13 innings, while allowing just one run and striking out 19 batters. Baldelli acknowledged after the game, "Our guys are really good baseball players. They know that we're not going to come out and put up five or ten runs every single game. That's not how it works. Especially when you play good teams." Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Download attachment: Bullpen.png Postgame Pint After the game, Nick Nelson, Matthew Braun, Lucas Seehafer and John Bonnes discussed the game, looked forward to the Cleveland series and answered questions from a live virtual audience. You can download the podcast or watch the video below: Seth Stohs contributed the post-game player and manager quotes to this article. Click here to view the article
  16. Box Score Hill: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Rosario (1) Top 3 WPA: Hill .281, Cruz .123, Rosario .064 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Rich Hill finally made his first start in a Twins uniform, after being scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday. For Twins fans who didn’t know what they could expect from the 40-year-old Hill, they should take nothing but positives from this start. Hill pitched five scoreless innings with two strikeouts, all while allowing just two hits and one walk. Hill barely had to work up a sweat, throwing just 68 pitches before Rocco Baldelli decided that was a job well done, and turn the game over to the bullpen. His catcher on Wednesday was fellow veteran Alex Avila who said, "With him (Hill), it's not too difficult to call a game. Two pitches. Knowing when to go in, stay away, go up, stay down." He later added, "He was great. I barely broke a sweat." Hill noted, "It felt great to get back out there." Hill tipped his cap to the doctors that completed his surgery, then noted the work put in to come back. "There were a lot of days at home, throwing by myself at a field with a net to throw my bullpens." Luis Arraez got his first start in the leadoff spot this season and played the role to perfection, drawing a leadoff walk in the first. However, he was still stranded at first with two-outs when Nelson Cruz came up and drove him in with a double into the right-field gap, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. A big part of this at-bat was Cruz working the count full, after falling behind 1-2. This allowed Arraez to leave early from first and scored easily on the Cruz double. The Twins added to their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the 4th. They got their first run of the inning on Eddie Rosario’s first home run of the season. Rosario said after the game, "In the last couple of games, I wanted to select good pitches to hit, but I felt a little late on strikes. So today I wanted to be a little more aggressive tonight." The bottom of the order was then able to put together a two-out rally, as Jake Cave and Marwin Gonzalez reached on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, respectively, before Alex Avila picked up his first RBI with the Twins on a soft single to left, scoring Cave from second. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1288647773366231047 Tyler Duffey looked very impressive in his inning of work, sitting down the top of the Cardinals’ lineup 1-2-3, all three coming on strikeouts. Dick Bremer and Roy Smalley mentioned on the broadcast how confident Duffey looks when he is out there pitching, and it is hard not to be with the success he has had since the beginning of the 2019 season. At this point, an argument can be made that Duffey is the second-best reliever, behind Taylor Rogers, in what is a very deep Twins bullpen. After Duffey worked the 6th, Baldelli called on Sergio Romo in the 7th for his second consecutive night of work, and like Duffey, Romo set the Cardinals hitters down 1-2-3. The second and third outs of the inning came on flyballs to newly inserted centerfielder Aaron Whitefield, who replaced Miguel Sano in the lineup, and moved Jake Cave over right and Marwin Gonzalez in to first. Regarding the move, Baldelli said it was all planned out, "Everything is great with Miggy. There's a few reasons why we make that move. While we have a 30-man roster, we're able to take advantage of some real strengths of our guys. Today's a day where - we weren't going to talk about it before the game - but a day we were going to try to keep Buck off of his feet. A day were were going to keep Kep off his feet. What were were able to do is bring in a really fast, really good outfielder and play him out there for a couple of innings, in Whitefield and he went out there and did a really nice job. In order to do that, we have to make a move during the game. You look at our lineup, and you really don't want to take any of our guys out of the game, but today it was going to be Miggy. I'm sure we'll see him back in there very soon. He's doing fine." In the bottom of the inning the Twins had an excellent chance to add onto their lead, after getting 1st and 3rd with only one out, after singles from Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez. However, the Twins were unable to get a run across, as Josh Donaldson grounded into a fielder’s choice, getting Gonzalez out in a rundown between home and third, before Jorge Polanco fly out to end the inning. Tyler Clippard got the call in the 8th inning and gave the Twins a bit of a scare to start the inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler, Clippard fell behind Matt Carpenter 3-0 before coming back to strike Carpenter out. He then got the pinch-hitter Matt Wieters to pop out to Luis Arraez, who doubled-up a stealing Fowler at first to end the inning. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1288668937094406146 In the 9th, Taylor Rogers came in for his first appearance of the season, picking up the save in what was an easy inning of work for the Twins closer. The brass of the Twins bullpen, which includes Rogers, along with Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Tyler Clippard and Cody Stashak have been very impressive to start the season. So far, they have combined to pitch 13 innings, while allowing just one run and striking out 19 batters. Baldelli acknowledged after the game, "Our guys are really good baseball players. They know that we're not going to come out and put up five or ten runs every single game. That's not how it works. Especially when you play good teams." Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Postgame Pint After the game, Nick Nelson, Matthew Braun, Lucas Seehafer and John Bonnes discussed the game, looked forward to the Cleveland series and answered questions from a live virtual audience. You can download the podcast or watch the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-oXUViOhI4&feature=youtu.be Seth Stohs contributed the post-game player and manager quotes to this article.
  17. On the heels of the home opener Rich Hill will take his talents to the mound for the first time this season. Originally slated to miss the beginning of the year, a global pandemic allowed him ample opportunity to be on the mound from the get-go.LAST GAME RECAP MIN 6, STL 3: Donaldson Breaks Out, Early Offense Leads to Another Twins Win QUESTION OF THE DAY What has been your favorite Player’s Weekend nickname? TODAY Cardinals at Twins, 7:10 pm CT Betting Lines: MIN -1.5, -185, 10.0 O/U Twins: Rich Hill, LHP (info below via Baseball Savant) Download attachment: Rich Hill.PNG As you can see from the data provided by Baseball Savant, there’s a lot of things Rich Hill does at an elite level and really only one where he comes up short. This is a guy that hasn’t averaged over 90 mph on his fastball in a season since 2016. He doesn’t use velocity to blow it by you, and his bender gets tossed roughly 45% of the time. Hill’s bugaboo has always been health, but he’s made at least 12 starts in each season dating back to 2015. He’s with the Twins in hopes of winning a World Series, and with over 50 innings of Postseason work under his belt the experience is absolutely there. Although velocity has become king in recent years Hill lulls batters to sleep with his off-speed stuff. He doesn’t generate a ton of whiffs, but the soft contact keeps him ahead and last season he posted a career best 49% ground ball rate. Keeping the opposition off balance allows him to slip an 89-mph fastball by, and it’s more than apparent this is a veteran who knows his stuff and how to get the most from it. Cardinals: Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP (info below via Baseball Savant) Download attachment: DPL.PNG Thrust into the rotation Ponce de Leon will make his first Start since September 1 of last season. He's worked in a hybrid role for the Cardinals each of the past two seasons both starting and relieving, but has posted just 48 and 33 innings respectively. Without a ton of velocity, Ponce de Leon does generate his fair share of strikeouts. His bugaboo since debuting in the majors has the inability to avoid free passes and last year that resulted in a 4.8 BB/9. He's also susceptible to the longball, and that obviously is more problematic against power hitting lineups. LINEUP NEWS & NOTES — More positive tests came down the pipeline for the Marlins. They have now had 17 positive tests, or more than half of their 30-man roster. They were already trying to find ways to supplement their active players and now will be facing an even larger uphill battle. — A ton of schedule shuffling took place today as the Marlins were put on a suspended timetable as they await a cleaner bill of health. No other teams found new tests, and Major League Baseball will push on for now. — We’re already dealing with a season of unprecedented proportions and changing on the fly is something MLB did on Opening Day with the Postseason. Buster Olney brought forward a strong suggestion recently in regards to organization of record credibility. There’s going to be games cancelled and postponed. With a shortened timeframe to actually get them in, trying to make them all up is probably a losing proposition. — Today's scheduled starter for the Cardinals goes on the shelf needing surgery on his right elbow. St. Louis is apparently looking at external options to fill their rotation as well. AROUND THE AL CENTRAL CLE 4, CWS 3 (Gm 1) CLE 5, CWS 3 (Gm 2) DET 4, KC 3 Standings 1. CLE 4-1 2. MIN 3-1 3. DET 3-2 4. KCR 2-3 5. CHW 1-4 SEE ALSO 9 Thoughts from 9 Innings of a Home-Opening Win Paving a Path, Women in Baseball: Kate Townley 5 Reasons Nelson Cruz is a Good Bet to Win the AL MVP Click here to view the article
  18. LAST GAME RECAP MIN 6, STL 3: Donaldson Breaks Out, Early Offense Leads to Another Twins Win QUESTION OF THE DAY What has been your favorite Player’s Weekend nickname? TODAY Cardinals at Twins, 7:10 pm CT Betting Lines: MIN -1.5, -185, 10.0 O/U Twins: Rich Hill, LHP (info below via Baseball Savant) As you can see from the data provided by Baseball Savant, there’s a lot of things Rich Hill does at an elite level and really only one where he comes up short. This is a guy that hasn’t averaged over 90 mph on his fastball in a season since 2016. He doesn’t use velocity to blow it by you, and his bender gets tossed roughly 45% of the time. Hill’s bugaboo has always been health, but he’s made at least 12 starts in each season dating back to 2015. He’s with the Twins in hopes of winning a World Series, and with over 50 innings of Postseason work under his belt the experience is absolutely there. Although velocity has become king in recent years Hill lulls batters to sleep with his off-speed stuff. He doesn’t generate a ton of whiffs, but the soft contact keeps him ahead and last season he posted a career best 49% ground ball rate. Keeping the opposition off balance allows him to slip an 89-mph fastball by, and it’s more than apparent this is a veteran who knows his stuff and how to get the most from it. Cardinals: Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP (info below via Baseball Savant) Thrust into the rotation Ponce de Leon will make his first Start since September 1 of last season. He's worked in a hybrid role for the Cardinals each of the past two seasons both starting and relieving, but has posted just 48 and 33 innings respectively. Without a ton of velocity, Ponce de Leon does generate his fair share of strikeouts. His bugaboo since debuting in the majors has the inability to avoid free passes and last year that resulted in a 4.8 BB/9. He's also susceptible to the longball, and that obviously is more problematic against power hitting lineups. LINEUP NEWS & NOTES — More positive tests came down the pipeline for the Marlins. They have now had 17 positive tests, or more than half of their 30-man roster. They were already trying to find ways to supplement their active players and now will be facing an even larger uphill battle. https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1288113129889517578 — A ton of schedule shuffling took place today as the Marlins were put on a suspended timetable as they await a cleaner bill of health. No other teams found new tests, and Major League Baseball will push on for now. https://twitter.com/Joelsherman1/status/1288181979985436673 — We’re already dealing with a season of unprecedented proportions and changing on the fly is something MLB did on Opening Day with the Postseason. Buster Olney brought forward a strong suggestion recently in regards to organization of record credibility. There’s going to be games cancelled and postponed. With a shortened timeframe to actually get them in, trying to make them all up is probably a losing proposition. https://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/1287811048381321217 — Today's scheduled starter for the Cardinals goes on the shelf needing surgery on his right elbow. St. Louis is apparently looking at external options to fill their rotation as well. https://twitter.com/markasaxon/status/1288229814281932800 AROUND THE AL CENTRAL CLE 4, CWS 3 (Gm 1) CLE 5, CWS 3 (Gm 2) DET 4, KC 3 Standings 1. CLE 4-1 2. MIN 3-1 3. DET 3-2 4. KCR 2-3 5. CHW 1-4 SEE ALSO 9 Thoughts from 9 Innings of a Home-Opening Win Paving a Path, Women in Baseball: Kate Townley 5 Reasons Nelson Cruz is a Good Bet to Win the AL MVP
  19. Like many managers, Rocco Baldelli isn’t always forthcoming with specific information in relation to the strategies his team is employing. However, a picture of Minnesota’s rotational strategy seems to be emerging from the information available. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1282477071038648321?s=20 Starters won’t likely be able to pitch late into games when the season starts, so pairing pitchers makes strategical sense. Let’s examine the team’s potential pitcher pairings. RHP Jose Berrios/RHP Randy Dobnak Jose Berrios had already been named the team’s Opening Day starter back in spring training, so it makes sense for him to get that opportunity when the shortened season commences. Randy Dobnak was fighting for a rotation spot in the spring, but his pairing with Berrios is intriguing. He surprised a lot of people last season as he pitched at three different minor league levels before making his debut. Berrios and Dobnak were two of the team’s starters during last season’s playoff series with New York and they could help the team get off to a strong start. RHP Jake Odorizzi/LHP Lewis Thorpe Jake Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer this winter and now he has fewer games to prove he is worth a potential long-term deal. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lewis Thorpe back in spring training, but he left to deal with some personal matters and was eventually sent to minor league camp. With those issues behind him, he has a good chance to be back on the pitching staff. Odorizzi, a right-handed pitcher, and Thorpe, a left-handed pitcher, could make it tougher for opposing teams to create an optimal batting order. RHP Kenta Maeda/LHP Devin Smeltzer Kenta Maeda, Minnesota’s big off-season trade acquisition, has something to prove as a starter after being used as a starter and reliever with the Dodgers. Like Maeda, Devin Smeltzer started his professional career in the Dodgers organization. Smeltzer found success last season even though his pitching repertoire would hardly be called overpowering. He relies on a fastball that ranks in the 6th percentile for velocity and in the 86th percentile for spin. As with Odorizzi and Thorpe, this pairing gives the Twins another righty-lefty pitching combo. LHP Rich Hill/RHP Homer Bailey Following off-season surgery, Rich Hill wasn’t scheduled to be available to start the season. However, the delayed start means he’s ready to join the rotation. A shortened season might be just what the doctor ordered for Hill. He turned 40-years old in March and he’s averaged less than 110 innings pitched over the last four seasons. Over that stretch, he has a 3.00 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 10.6 SO/9. Homer Bailey is coming off a bounce-back season where he had a 4.57 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP over 163 1/3 innings. Together, they would comprise the team’s third right- and left-handed duo. RHP Jhoulys Chacin/RHP Sean Poppen Both Jhoulys Chacin and Sean Poppen were on the outskirts of the team’s original rotation plans, but expanded rosters to start the season allow for alterations. Chacin struggled last season in Milwaukee and Boston by posting an ERA north of 6.00. From 2015-2018, he posted a 3.97 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP, so he could be a good candidate to bounce-back in 2020. Poppen was the Twins 19th round pick back in 2016. Last season he made his big-league debut, but most of his innings came at Double- and Triple-A. Across 20 minor league appearances, he had a 4.01 ERA with a 10.7 K/9. Minnesota’s two-starter strategy could be key for the team getting off to a good start going into a shortened season where the Twins already have a great chance to win their first championship since 1991, according to the World Series odds we found at SBD. What do you think about this potential strategy? 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
  20. Baseball is certainly going to look different in 2020 and this will force managers to be creative in how they approach in-game strategy. From pitching changes to line-up construction, managers are facing an unprecedented 60-game schedule where decisions will be scrutinized at every turn. In this unique season, the Twins seem to be lining up a two-starter system as Opening Day approaches.Like many managers, Rocco Baldelli isn’t always forthcoming with specific information in relation to the strategies his team is employing. However, a picture of Minnesota’s rotational strategy seems to be emerging from the information available. Starters won’t likely be able to pitch late into games when the season starts, so pairing pitchers makes strategical sense. Let’s examine the team’s potential pitcher pairings. RHP Jose Berrios/RHP Randy Dobnak Jose Berrios had already been named the team’s Opening Day starter back in spring training, so it makes sense for him to get that opportunity when the shortened season commences. Randy Dobnak was fighting for a rotation spot in the spring, but his pairing with Berrios is intriguing. He surprised a lot of people last season as he pitched at three different minor league levels before making his debut. Berrios and Dobnak were two of the team’s starters during last season’s playoff series with New York and they could help the team get off to a strong start. RHP Jake Odorizzi/LHP Lewis Thorpe Jake Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer this winter and now he has fewer games to prove he is worth a potential long-term deal. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lewis Thorpe back in spring training, but he left to deal with some personal matters and was eventually sent to minor league camp. With those issues behind him, he has a good chance to be back on the pitching staff. Odorizzi, a right-handed pitcher, and Thorpe, a left-handed pitcher, could make it tougher for opposing teams to create an optimal batting order. RHP Kenta Maeda/LHP Devin Smeltzer Kenta Maeda, Minnesota’s big off-season trade acquisition, has something to prove as a starter after being used as a starter and reliever with the Dodgers. Like Maeda, Devin Smeltzer started his professional career in the Dodgers organization. Smeltzer found success last season even though his pitching repertoire would hardly be called overpowering. He relies on a fastball that ranks in the 6th percentile for velocity and in the 86th percentile for spin. As with Odorizzi and Thorpe, this pairing gives the Twins another righty-lefty pitching combo. LHP Rich Hill/RHP Homer Bailey Following off-season surgery, Rich Hill wasn’t scheduled to be available to start the season. However, the delayed start means he’s ready to join the rotation. A shortened season might be just what the doctor ordered for Hill. He turned 40-years old in March and he’s averaged less than 110 innings pitched over the last four seasons. Over that stretch, he has a 3.00 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 10.6 SO/9. Homer Bailey is coming off a bounce-back season where he had a 4.57 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP over 163 1/3 innings. Together, they would comprise the team’s third right- and left-handed duo. RHP Jhoulys Chacin/RHP Sean Poppen Both Jhoulys Chacin and Sean Poppen were on the outskirts of the team’s original rotation plans, but expanded rosters to start the season allow for alterations. Chacin struggled last season in Milwaukee and Boston by posting an ERA north of 6.00. From 2015-2018, he posted a 3.97 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP, so he could be a good candidate to bounce-back in 2020. Poppen was the Twins 19th round pick back in 2016. Last season he made his big-league debut, but most of his innings came at Double- and Triple-A. Across 20 minor league appearances, he had a 4.01 ERA with a 10.7 K/9. Minnesota’s two-starter strategy could be key for the team getting off to a good start going into a shortened season where the Twins already have a great chance to win their first championship since 1991, according to the World Series odds we found at SBD. What do you think about this potential strategy? 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 Click here to view the article
  21. Aaron and John talk about the Twins' advantages with the 60-game schedule, Rich Hill grunting his way into the rotation, hitters and pitchers both hating the robot ump, the surreal experience of games in an empty ballpark, Nelson Cruz's leadership skills, and returning to KFAN for another season. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Now Click here to view the article
  22. The only constant we have been given in 2020 is change. There’s no level of expected consistency, and we can ultimately bank on a new set of perceived norms on what feels like an hourly basis. While that all is true relative to the world around us, the Minnesota Twins have dealt with a vast amount of change as well. https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1281258884502638598 Once the dust settled on the ugly public labor negotiations, and teams reconvened at their home ballparks 9 days ago, we began barreling towards a 2020 Major League Baseball season. There are new rules (universal DH, international rules for extra innings), an adjusted calendar, and an all-out sprint to the finish. Specifically, for Rocco Baldelli’s club though, what has changed? Maybe most importantly is that the Twins will have Rich Hill on the mound to begin the season. Rehabbing from offseason surgery, he was not slated to be back until early July. With the season having yet to get underway, Hill will be in the rotation at the outset. That likely eliminates someone such as Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or Jhoulys Chacin from that opportunity, but make no mistake, Hill is elite. Although it’s velocity that often draws the focus in today’s game, Hill works around that being his lone deficiency. When healthy, he’s been among the most dominant starters in the game. He came to the Twins wanting to win a World Series, and now he’ll have opportunity to contribute out of the gate. He’s made at least 12 starts in every season since 2015, and that’s about the runway he’ll have leading up to the Postseason. Over the winter Derek Falvey and Thad Levine landed a big fish in signing Josh Donaldson. With him on the roster Minnesota’s plan was to move Miguel Sano across the diamond to first base. That remains the goal but may not be the reality for Opening Day. Despite being asymptomatic, Sano has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently on the IL awaiting two negatives tests before being eligible to return to action. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1279469376513728512 Sano looks primed for a huge year, and a slugger with his power could make a lot of hay in a shortened sprint of a season. Unfortunately, with just 14 days left until Opening Day it’s becoming increasingly less likely he’ll be in the lineup. Minnesota could turn to Marwin Gonzalez or even give Brent Rooker a look out of the gate. When the Spring Training festivities were shut down there remained question as to whether or not Byron Buxton would be ready to go. He was slow playing a rehab process and looking to get back to 100% health. Now multiple months removed, he’s as healthy as he’s even been, a 2nd time father, and ready to rock. As Nick Nelson recently outlined Buxton’s elite athleticism and tools could be a massive source of excitement in a nightly sprint of a season. Health has always been the bugaboo for the Twins talented outfielder, but his bat has begun to come around, and he should be expected to contribute in a big way for 2020. There was a decent expectation that Minnesota would make a move at the trade deadline. That now falls on August 31 and will provide a bit more clarity for the front office prior to a move. Michael Pineda ha 36 games left on his suspension giving him 24 games to contribute. With Hill being in the mix from the get-go, and Kenta Maeda helping to bolster the quality of the group as a whole, what kind of an arm the Twins covet could be up in the air. Obviously, all of this comes with the uncertainty that we have no idea what health or production will look like, but the additional evaluation process certainly can’t hurt the Twins. There’s going to be little opportunity to run away with a division in this type of season structure but making sure you’re ready to fire your best bullet each night of the Postseason is a must. Falvey and Levine have built a winner here but adding a key piece that could put them over the top would be a nice venture. Should we get to Opening Day and should the season commence, it will all boil down to baseball as usual. There won’t be fans, and there’s going to be an extreme amount of oddities surrounding the year as a whole, but the Minnesota Twins are well positioned to defend their 2019 Division Championship just as they were in March before everything went sideways. Lots has changed, but that certainly remains the same. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Baseball's latest plan to return features a number of alterations designed to accommodate a shortened schedule and circumstances that are beyond unusual. Part of this reshaped framework (per CBS Sports): 30-man active rosters with a 20-man taxi squad for reinforcements. What might an expanded short-season roster look like for the Minnesota Twins?Once we swim through the mountains of logistical hurdles involving health, safety, and finances, this is one of the practical matters I find most intriguing: Which players will be part of the 2020 season, either from the start or as readily available fill-ins? We'll start with the obvious: the projected 26-man roster (per my final offseason status update, which was published approximately seven years ago). Position Players: Mitch Garver, Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Jake Cave, Alex Avila Pitchers: José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacín, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak. Little has changed that would affect any of the above players' chances of making the team. But one new player might now be in the mix: Rich Hill, whose recovery from elbow surgery would've delayed a normal start. A season starting in July would line up with his expected return, and Hill believes he'll be ready to go. Luckily, he doesn't need to supplant anyone else, since the Twins will have four extra active roster spots to work with. So presumably Hill gets one. As for the others, I would guess we'll see a couple more arms and one other position player. Something like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Willians Astudillo. The taxi squad is where things get interesting. First, with no minor-league seasons taking place, I'm wondering how these players stay sharp and ready for action. Regular scrimmages and sim games? Regardless, the makeup of such a player group will also be fascinating. My initial thought was that the Twins start by carrying every spare piece on the 40-man roster. But that doesn't necessarily make sense. Are they really gonna want to dedicate spots to raw talents like Gilberto Celestino and Dakota Chalmers, who aren't especially close to getting big-league shots? I would guess, at least, that these MLB-experienced or nearly-ready players from the 40-man will on the taxi squad: Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Sean Poppen, Fernando Romero, Lewis Thorpe, Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade Jr.. That's eight. Next, it is probably most instructive to look at the list of non-roster spring training invites from February. That list includes pitchers Charlie Barnes, Chacín (already in, per our projection), Sam Clay, Edwar Colina, Danny Coulombe, Ryan Garton, Blaine Hardy (out for season), Griffin Jax, Jake Reed and Caleb Thielbar; and position players Juan Graterol, Ryan Jeffers, Ben Rortvedt, Tomás Telis, Royce Lewis, Jack Reinheimer, Wilfredo Tovar, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker. The Twins will surely want at least a couple of extra catchers available, given the position's heightened injury risk and intensive physical toll. And of course they'll probably want to load up on pitchers to the extent they're able – especially with the likelihood of increased doubleheaders and decreased off days. At this point it becomes very much a guessing game, but I'll wager the Twins want to lean mostly on experience and reliability at these positions, while mixing in a bit of prospect upside, so I'll go with... Catchers: Juan Graterol, Tomas Telís, Ryan Jeffers Pitchers: Danny Coloumbe, Edwar Colina, Ryan Garton, Jake Reed, Caleb Thielbar So now we're at 16 members of the 20-man taxi squad. Who fills those last four spots? Given that the Twins now have all their bases covered with multiple contingencies at every position, they might want to make a few of their very best prospects available as potential wild-cards for an all-in sprint. Then again, maybe not? This is where I really get stuck. Do these prospects need to be added to the 40-man roster (or some expanded version) in order to feature on this taxi squad, thus starting their service clocks? If so, is it worth doing so just to keep them on hand as longshot possibilities to contribute? Is it even wise to push these crucial future talents into such an odd situation, as opposed to just letting them work out on their own and come back strong in 2021? But if that happens, do they not get paid at all? Is it a slap in the face? There's also the matter of Michael Pineda. It seems he'll still be on suspension for the first part of the year. Does he require a "roster spot" on the taxi squad? Are those really even considered roster spots under any traditional definition? He's still occupying space and consuming the resources of any other player. (He's also not supposed to get paid during the suspension, so what happens with that? I assume he's not just gonna throw himself in harm's way for free.) The litany of questions that begin to sprout up as you ponder these consequential factors is flat-out overwhelming, which is also true of MLB's daunting health-and-safety protocol at large. We'll need a lot more clarity before we can give serious credence to the very idea of a season happening, let alone how the Twins' roster will shake out. But the specificity around roster sizes at least gives us the ability to speculate a little, which is more than welcome after weeks of being completely in the dark. Given our limited information, I'm gonna guess the Twins choose to preserve their three best prospects – Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach – but carry Rooker, along with the minor-league vets Tovar and Reinheimer. I'll also assume Pineda gets a taxi spot. So here it is, my shot-in-the-dark guess at what a Twins 2020 roster and taxi squad might look like under the altered format. Feel free to air your quibbles and make your own guesses in the comments. (Active-roster players in bold.) CATCHERS: Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo, Juan Graterol, Tomas Telís, Ryan Jeffers INFIELDERS: Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon, Wilfredo Tovar, Jack Reinheimer OUTFIELDERS: Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr., Brent Rooker PITCHERS: José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacín, Rich Hill, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Michael Pineda, Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Fernando Romero, Sean Poppen, Lewis Thorpe, Danny Coloumbe, Edwar Colina, Ryan Garton, Jake Reed, Caleb Thielbar 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
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