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  1. The Twins Injured List continues to grow as the season rolls on as they’re now missing several important contributors who hopefully haven’t made their last marks on this 2022 Twins team. Some absences however weigh a bit heavier than others. It seems like there’s a new player added to the Injured List every other day as the Twins have found themselves filling out the daily lineup card with players we never imagined they’d be relying on. Outfield, catcher, pitchers of all roles, there’s nowhere the Twins haven’t felt the sting of injury. For them to get back on the right track, I’ve ranked the top 3 players in order of importance to how the Twins may wind up finishing their season. 3. Alex Kirilloff Number three is close between Max Kepler and Kirilloff, although Kepler seems like much more of a certainty return given his ailment being a straightforward broken toe. Unlike Kepler, Kirilloff has consistently shown off an impact-level bat when healthy. While his outfield defense isn’t exactly a plus skill, his presence keeps players such as Mark Contreras out of the lineup. His ability to switch over to first base and his possession of a DH-worthy bat also makes the lineup not only better, but more flexible when Alex Kirilloff is healthy. As for the odds of his return, they remain to be seen. His wrist is now a consistent issue, as it’s been a problem more often than not this season. At this point we have to worry not only about his impact on the 2022 Twins, but about his entire career. He recently received another cortisone injection, and if we cross our fingers perhaps he’s available before the end of the season again. 2. Ryan Jeffers Many complained about Jeffers’ bat, myself included for much of the season. While he hasn’t lit the world on fire, it’s hard to deny that Jeffers has a superior glove to Gary Sanchez who’s played nearly daily since Jeffers went down. Gary Sanchez, a bat-first catcher, has given us a newfound appreciation for Jeffers’ modest offensive skills since he’s become the everyday catcher. Gary was 24% below the league average hitter in June, and a Drew Butera-esque 59% below in July. Not only is his defense not up to Jeffers’ standards, but the Twins have basically been giving away 3-4 free outs per game to their opponents from the catcher’s spot for over a month. It’s possible Sandy Leon begins significantly eating into Gary’s playing time as he can at least provide stellar work behind the plate, but the Twins certainly would benefit from Jeffers return sooner rather than later. The floor of his framing work behind the plate and occasional hot streak sounds far superior to the current setup behind the plate. It’s hopeful Jeffers returns towards the end of August and certainly for the stretch run in September. 1. Bailey Ober The Twins had a fantastic trade deadline, there’s no disputing that. They had a significant amount of needs and addressed the most important ones in a market that many teams called difficult. Had they made one more move, another filler starting pitcher likely would have been the best play. The Twins are in an interesting spot with the rotation. Joe Ryan has begun to surpass previous career highs in innings pitched. It’s hard to expect more than four innings pitched from Bundy and Archer every time out, and there’s little to no help on the way in the minors aside from Devin Smeltzer. A lot will hinge not only on the rotation staying healthy, but on the duo of Bundy and Archer occasionally providing starts that give the Twins a chance to win, which is no sure thing. Having Ober back even under the premise that he’s a solid #4 starter would be a game changer for a Twins rotation that lacks any kind of depth. It’s unclear what Ober’s timeline is, but we’ve been told we can expect him back this season still at this point. Hopefully, good news starts to emerge sooner rather than later, as the Twins could sure use one of their lone bright spots from the 2021 rotation. Admittedly this list is plenty interchangeable ad there are several options not even listed here. Let's be honest, we have plenty of injured players to choose from! Do you agree with the order of the list? Do you think someone not listed here deserves to be at the top? Let us know below. View full article
  2. It seems like there’s a new player added to the Injured List every other day as the Twins have found themselves filling out the daily lineup card with players we never imagined they’d be relying on. Outfield, catcher, pitchers of all roles, there’s nowhere the Twins haven’t felt the sting of injury. For them to get back on the right track, I’ve ranked the top 3 players in order of importance to how the Twins may wind up finishing their season. 3. Alex Kirilloff Number three is close between Max Kepler and Kirilloff, although Kepler seems like much more of a certainty return given his ailment being a straightforward broken toe. Unlike Kepler, Kirilloff has consistently shown off an impact-level bat when healthy. While his outfield defense isn’t exactly a plus skill, his presence keeps players such as Mark Contreras out of the lineup. His ability to switch over to first base and his possession of a DH-worthy bat also makes the lineup not only better, but more flexible when Alex Kirilloff is healthy. As for the odds of his return, they remain to be seen. His wrist is now a consistent issue, as it’s been a problem more often than not this season. At this point we have to worry not only about his impact on the 2022 Twins, but about his entire career. He recently received another cortisone injection, and if we cross our fingers perhaps he’s available before the end of the season again. 2. Ryan Jeffers Many complained about Jeffers’ bat, myself included for much of the season. While he hasn’t lit the world on fire, it’s hard to deny that Jeffers has a superior glove to Gary Sanchez who’s played nearly daily since Jeffers went down. Gary Sanchez, a bat-first catcher, has given us a newfound appreciation for Jeffers’ modest offensive skills since he’s become the everyday catcher. Gary was 24% below the league average hitter in June, and a Drew Butera-esque 59% below in July. Not only is his defense not up to Jeffers’ standards, but the Twins have basically been giving away 3-4 free outs per game to their opponents from the catcher’s spot for over a month. It’s possible Sandy Leon begins significantly eating into Gary’s playing time as he can at least provide stellar work behind the plate, but the Twins certainly would benefit from Jeffers return sooner rather than later. The floor of his framing work behind the plate and occasional hot streak sounds far superior to the current setup behind the plate. It’s hopeful Jeffers returns towards the end of August and certainly for the stretch run in September. 1. Bailey Ober The Twins had a fantastic trade deadline, there’s no disputing that. They had a significant amount of needs and addressed the most important ones in a market that many teams called difficult. Had they made one more move, another filler starting pitcher likely would have been the best play. The Twins are in an interesting spot with the rotation. Joe Ryan has begun to surpass previous career highs in innings pitched. It’s hard to expect more than four innings pitched from Bundy and Archer every time out, and there’s little to no help on the way in the minors aside from Devin Smeltzer. A lot will hinge not only on the rotation staying healthy, but on the duo of Bundy and Archer occasionally providing starts that give the Twins a chance to win, which is no sure thing. Having Ober back even under the premise that he’s a solid #4 starter would be a game changer for a Twins rotation that lacks any kind of depth. It’s unclear what Ober’s timeline is, but we’ve been told we can expect him back this season still at this point. Hopefully, good news starts to emerge sooner rather than later, as the Twins could sure use one of their lone bright spots from the 2021 rotation. Admittedly this list is plenty interchangeable ad there are several options not even listed here. Let's be honest, we have plenty of injured players to choose from! Do you agree with the order of the list? Do you think someone not listed here deserves to be at the top? Let us know below.
  3. As we move in August, which Twins hitters are heating up and solidifying their place in the every day lineup? Which are cooling off and casting doubt as to their role going forward? Let's take a look at the trends to determine which stocks to buy and which to sell. The above graph shows rolling OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) over the past 30 days for each hitter with a sufficient number of plate appearances in the last month. For example, the height of the line at 7/1 indicates the hitter's OPS in the month of June. Hitters are sorted by their current OPS in the last month from left to right and then top to bottom. The dashed line indicates the MLB-average OPS of 0.708. Some takeaways: Jose Miranda is the hottest hitter in the Twins lineup with a 1.054 OPS in the last 30 days, capping off a meteoric rise. On May 15, his rolling OPS was a paltry 0.322. Stock way up. Jorge Polanco is similarly on fire. His rolling OPS has been above 0.900 for almost the entire month of July. Ryan Jeffers' injury is a shame. He had really started to heat up. At the same time, Gary Sánchez has been in a steady decline since June began. The consistent performance of Luis Arraez is remarkable. He has yet to have a 30-day stretch with a below-average OPS. By contrast, Byron Buxton is the most volatile hitter in the lineup with 30-day stretches of both 1.360 and 0.532 OPS. An underreported part of the Twins' forgettable July has been the cooling of Buxton (0.643 OPS in the last 30 days) and Carlos Correa (0.702). Miranda and Polanco were a band-aid over a struggling top of the lineup. It was past time for Gilberto Celestino to return to Triple-A. He owns a 0.488 OPS in the last 30 days and had been trending in that direction for some time. What else can we take away from the hitting trends that might help the Twins construct a winning lineup down the stretch? View full article
  4. The above graph shows rolling OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) over the past 30 days for each hitter with a sufficient number of plate appearances in the last month. For example, the height of the line at 7/1 indicates the hitter's OPS in the month of June. Hitters are sorted by their current OPS in the last month from left to right and then top to bottom. The dashed line indicates the MLB-average OPS of 0.708. Some takeaways: Jose Miranda is the hottest hitter in the Twins lineup with a 1.054 OPS in the last 30 days, capping off a meteoric rise. On May 15, his rolling OPS was a paltry 0.322. Stock way up. Jorge Polanco is similarly on fire. His rolling OPS has been above 0.900 for almost the entire month of July. Ryan Jeffers' injury is a shame. He had really started to heat up. At the same time, Gary Sánchez has been in a steady decline since June began. The consistent performance of Luis Arraez is remarkable. He has yet to have a 30-day stretch with a below-average OPS. By contrast, Byron Buxton is the most volatile hitter in the lineup with 30-day stretches of both 1.360 and 0.532 OPS. An underreported part of the Twins' forgettable July has been the cooling of Buxton (0.643 OPS in the last 30 days) and Carlos Correa (0.702). Miranda and Polanco were a band-aid over a struggling top of the lineup. It was past time for Gilberto Celestino to return to Triple-A. He owns a 0.488 OPS in the last 30 days and had been trending in that direction for some time. What else can we take away from the hitting trends that might help the Twins construct a winning lineup down the stretch?
  5. Coming into this season, it was clear there was a changing of the guard behind the plate for the Minnesota Twins. Mitch Garver was sent to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Gary Sanchez was acquired from the New York Yankees. Now halfway into the year, it’s the one position where offensive production is lacking. Ryan Jeffers was seen as a bat-first player when the Twins drafted him, and there were questions as to whether he’d ever stick behind the plate. Fast forward to where we are now, and Jeffers has turned himself into one of the better receivers across the league. Unfortunately, the bat that played over 26 games in 2021 has been nonexistent the past two seasons. Garver and Jeffers split time last season, with the latter getting in 85 games. Across 293 plate appearances for the Twins last season, Jeffers put up a .670 OPS which translated to an 84 OPS+. In 206 plate appearances thus far this season he owns a lesser .666 OPS but given offensive decline as a whole, that translates to a better 92 OPS+. That means Jeffers has failed to be a league-average hitter for either of the past two seasons. The Twins Trade Manifesto: 49 Possible Deadline Targets Maybe that works as his framing plays, but it’s not as though Jeffers is a stalwart in all areas with the glove. Jeffers has already allowed five passed balls in 230 less innings than he recorded six last season. Although the Twins receiving style doesn’t necessarily put emphasis on catching base stealers, Jeffers has thrown out just six of 35 base runners. That 17% falls well below the 24% league average, a mark that Jeffers was within one percent of last season. Then there’s Gary Sanchez. It’s been peaks and valleys with the former Yankees backstop. Sanchez owns a better .702 OPS and has basically been league average with his bat the past two seasons. Offensively he’s not the complete non-factor he was in 2018 or 2020, but at league-average, his approach leaves plenty to be desired. Through 67 games, Sanchez has hit 10 homers, a bit behind his pace from last season that resulted in 23 longballs. His on-base production has dipped significantly however, in that he owns an ugly 73/17 K/BB. Last season, despite a .204 average, he posted a .307 OBP. This season there’s just a 60 point split between the two, and his .281 OBP has resulted in a power-or-nothing approach. Defensively Sanchez has fewer passed balls than his teammate, and throwing out seven of 23 would-be-base-stealers has him above league average at 30%. He’s not as good of a receiver, but has made notable strides that Minnesota no doubt appreciates. These two players combined could probably provide something of more use, but on their own each is coming up just short. That leaves the front office with a question as to whether this is a position to address before the trade deadline flies by. One of the biggest names available from a hitting standpoint is veteran catcher Willson Contreras. The Chicago Cubs backstop is all but certain to be moved as he’s a free agent following this season. His .867 OPS is otherworldly at a position not typically ripe with offense production. He’s also solid behind the dish defensively, and would give Minnesota an option to upgrade their worst position. How a catcher factors in for the Twins remains intriguing. Jeffers, Sanchez, and a third player would not all fit on the active roster. Someone would almost have to be moved in any deal that acquires the position, but that could send ripple effects through the clubhouse. There’s also the reality that Minnesota’s 40-man roster is incredibly thin behind the plate after the two included on the 26-man roster, and having options for the future needs to be a focus. I still think it’s unlikely the Twins trade for a bat, especially in needing so much pitching help, but if they do, adding to a position of need and swinging for one of the best in the game at it would hardly be unwelcomed. What do you think? Should the Twins add a catcher at the deadline? Is someone like Contreras going to cost too much? View full article
  6. Ryan Jeffers was seen as a bat-first player when the Twins drafted him, and there were questions as to whether he’d ever stick behind the plate. Fast forward to where we are now, and Jeffers has turned himself into one of the better receivers across the league. Unfortunately, the bat that played over 26 games in 2021 has been nonexistent the past two seasons. Garver and Jeffers split time last season, with the latter getting in 85 games. Across 293 plate appearances for the Twins last season, Jeffers put up a .670 OPS which translated to an 84 OPS+. In 206 plate appearances thus far this season he owns a lesser .666 OPS but given offensive decline as a whole, that translates to a better 92 OPS+. That means Jeffers has failed to be a league-average hitter for either of the past two seasons. The Twins Trade Manifesto: 49 Possible Deadline Targets Maybe that works as his framing plays, but it’s not as though Jeffers is a stalwart in all areas with the glove. Jeffers has already allowed five passed balls in 230 less innings than he recorded six last season. Although the Twins receiving style doesn’t necessarily put emphasis on catching base stealers, Jeffers has thrown out just six of 35 base runners. That 17% falls well below the 24% league average, a mark that Jeffers was within one percent of last season. Then there’s Gary Sanchez. It’s been peaks and valleys with the former Yankees backstop. Sanchez owns a better .702 OPS and has basically been league average with his bat the past two seasons. Offensively he’s not the complete non-factor he was in 2018 or 2020, but at league-average, his approach leaves plenty to be desired. Through 67 games, Sanchez has hit 10 homers, a bit behind his pace from last season that resulted in 23 longballs. His on-base production has dipped significantly however, in that he owns an ugly 73/17 K/BB. Last season, despite a .204 average, he posted a .307 OBP. This season there’s just a 60 point split between the two, and his .281 OBP has resulted in a power-or-nothing approach. Defensively Sanchez has fewer passed balls than his teammate, and throwing out seven of 23 would-be-base-stealers has him above league average at 30%. He’s not as good of a receiver, but has made notable strides that Minnesota no doubt appreciates. These two players combined could probably provide something of more use, but on their own each is coming up just short. That leaves the front office with a question as to whether this is a position to address before the trade deadline flies by. One of the biggest names available from a hitting standpoint is veteran catcher Willson Contreras. The Chicago Cubs backstop is all but certain to be moved as he’s a free agent following this season. His .867 OPS is otherworldly at a position not typically ripe with offense production. He’s also solid behind the dish defensively, and would give Minnesota an option to upgrade their worst position. How a catcher factors in for the Twins remains intriguing. Jeffers, Sanchez, and a third player would not all fit on the active roster. Someone would almost have to be moved in any deal that acquires the position, but that could send ripple effects through the clubhouse. There’s also the reality that Minnesota’s 40-man roster is incredibly thin behind the plate after the two included on the 26-man roster, and having options for the future needs to be a focus. I still think it’s unlikely the Twins trade for a bat, especially in needing so much pitching help, but if they do, adding to a position of need and swinging for one of the best in the game at it would hardly be unwelcomed. What do you think? Should the Twins add a catcher at the deadline? Is someone like Contreras going to cost too much?
  7. The Twins found a way to win their last of three against the Rangers in Texas Sunday afternoon. What could have ended as a sweep and the Twins first four-game losing streak of the season turned into a win thanks to home runs, errors, and some luck. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 53 strikes (68.8 strike %) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (23), Ryan Jeffers (7) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda .197, Ryan Jeffers .111, Jorge Polanco .103 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa leading off the game for the Twins and getting out on 4 pitches combined. First-time all-star Byron Buxton came up with two outs and hit his 23rd home run of the season to put the Twins up 1-0. Max Kepler followed up Buxton with a double but Jorge Polanco could not get Kepler home to give Bundy an extra insurance run before he threw his first pitch. Bundy took advantage of the early lead with a scoreless first inning which included a strikeout and a hit surrendered to Corey Seager. In the top of the second, the Twins were able to add two more runs onto their lead thanks to lead off singles from Alex Kirilloff and Nick Gordon who were later driven in by Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers to make it 3-0 Twins. Rangers starter Dane Dunning then retired Arraez, Correa, and Buxton to get out of another jam. Bundy’s second inning of work was not as graceful as his first. He was able to get the first out with a Nate Lowe ground out, but Kole Calhoun singled to begin a rally that was followed by a Brad Miller single and Meibrys Viloria walk. All three Rangers scored after a bases-clearing double by third baseman Josh H. Smith to tie the game up 3-3. The Twins did get a run back in the top of the third with a base-loaded hit-by-pitch to Miranda which drove in Polanco. But again the Twins fell short of adding more runs to their re-secured lead making it a 4-3 game going into the bottom of the third. The top of the fourth ended with a double play hit by Kepler but the Twins bench did not agree with the call, especially considering the universally declared worst umpire in baseball, Angel Hernandez, made the call at first. After review, the out calls stood and the Twins had their first scoreless inning of the game. Bundy recovered from a bad second inning in the third and fourth. Bundy only allowed one runner in those two innings on another Miller single. Miller ended the fourth as he was caught stealing by Ryan Jeffers who threw out his second base runner of the series. The scoreless streak snapped in the fifth inning for Bundy. With one out Bundy gave up a walk to Smith which was followed by a Marcus Semien double. Smith was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Seager that tied the game at 4 even. More damage was averted as Bundy struck out Adolis Garcia to end the inning but the Twins bats had to break up another tied score to start the sixth. Only one hit would be needed to break the tie in the top of the sixth, as Ryan Jeffers drilled an opposite-field home run to right field to make it a 5-4 Twins lead. Bundy was finished after five innings as Caleb Thielbar was the first reliever out of the bullpen for the Twins Sunday. Thielbar had a scoreless sixth with one walk to keep the Twins 5-4 lead intact. Thanks to a walk to Polanco, a single by Kirilloff, and a throwing error attempting to pick off pinch-runner Gilberto Celestino by Rangers reliever Matt Bush, the Twins were able to get a blessing of an insurance run al Polanco scored on the throwing error to make it a 6-4 Twins lead in the top of the seventh. Griffin Jax then came into the game for the bottom half of the inning and gave the Twins their second 1, 2, 3 inning of the afternoon. For the second time this week, an outfielder let a ball fall out of their glove at the warning track in left field and land over the fence for a home run. The first one was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Thursday night in Seattle when the Mariners Dylan Moore hit a ball right into Gurriel Jr. 's glove that couldn’t stick in it. The second one came in the eighth inning of this game when Gilberto Celestino leaped to catch a Seager fly ball. With the ball about to leave the park, it hit Celestino's glove but when he hit the wall, the ball bounced over the fence making it a 6-5 game. The pitch came off of Jhoan Duran who was in for a second straight day of work. Following the home run, Duran was able to retire the next three batters and maintain a 6-5 lead after eight innings. The save opportunity was given to Tyler Duffey in the ninth inning. Duffey retired the first two batters with ease but Jonah Heim got a bloop single to the outfield to keep the Rangers alive for one more at-bat for the pesky Josh Smith. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Duffey retired Smith on a flyout to Kepler to give the Twins their first win since Wednesday and avoid the sweep by the Rangers. What’s Next? The Twins are off Monday and will begin a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night. Josh Winder will be on the mound for the Twins while the Brewers will send rookie Jason Alexander to the hill with the first pitch scheduled for 6:40 p.m. CT Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  8. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 53 strikes (68.8 strike %) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (23), Ryan Jeffers (7) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda .197, Ryan Jeffers .111, Jorge Polanco .103 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa leading off the game for the Twins and getting out on 4 pitches combined. First-time all-star Byron Buxton came up with two outs and hit his 23rd home run of the season to put the Twins up 1-0. Max Kepler followed up Buxton with a double but Jorge Polanco could not get Kepler home to give Bundy an extra insurance run before he threw his first pitch. Bundy took advantage of the early lead with a scoreless first inning which included a strikeout and a hit surrendered to Corey Seager. In the top of the second, the Twins were able to add two more runs onto their lead thanks to lead off singles from Alex Kirilloff and Nick Gordon who were later driven in by Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers to make it 3-0 Twins. Rangers starter Dane Dunning then retired Arraez, Correa, and Buxton to get out of another jam. Bundy’s second inning of work was not as graceful as his first. He was able to get the first out with a Nate Lowe ground out, but Kole Calhoun singled to begin a rally that was followed by a Brad Miller single and Meibrys Viloria walk. All three Rangers scored after a bases-clearing double by third baseman Josh H. Smith to tie the game up 3-3. The Twins did get a run back in the top of the third with a base-loaded hit-by-pitch to Miranda which drove in Polanco. But again the Twins fell short of adding more runs to their re-secured lead making it a 4-3 game going into the bottom of the third. The top of the fourth ended with a double play hit by Kepler but the Twins bench did not agree with the call, especially considering the universally declared worst umpire in baseball, Angel Hernandez, made the call at first. After review, the out calls stood and the Twins had their first scoreless inning of the game. Bundy recovered from a bad second inning in the third and fourth. Bundy only allowed one runner in those two innings on another Miller single. Miller ended the fourth as he was caught stealing by Ryan Jeffers who threw out his second base runner of the series. The scoreless streak snapped in the fifth inning for Bundy. With one out Bundy gave up a walk to Smith which was followed by a Marcus Semien double. Smith was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Seager that tied the game at 4 even. More damage was averted as Bundy struck out Adolis Garcia to end the inning but the Twins bats had to break up another tied score to start the sixth. Only one hit would be needed to break the tie in the top of the sixth, as Ryan Jeffers drilled an opposite-field home run to right field to make it a 5-4 Twins lead. Bundy was finished after five innings as Caleb Thielbar was the first reliever out of the bullpen for the Twins Sunday. Thielbar had a scoreless sixth with one walk to keep the Twins 5-4 lead intact. Thanks to a walk to Polanco, a single by Kirilloff, and a throwing error attempting to pick off pinch-runner Gilberto Celestino by Rangers reliever Matt Bush, the Twins were able to get a blessing of an insurance run al Polanco scored on the throwing error to make it a 6-4 Twins lead in the top of the seventh. Griffin Jax then came into the game for the bottom half of the inning and gave the Twins their second 1, 2, 3 inning of the afternoon. For the second time this week, an outfielder let a ball fall out of their glove at the warning track in left field and land over the fence for a home run. The first one was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Thursday night in Seattle when the Mariners Dylan Moore hit a ball right into Gurriel Jr. 's glove that couldn’t stick in it. The second one came in the eighth inning of this game when Gilberto Celestino leaped to catch a Seager fly ball. With the ball about to leave the park, it hit Celestino's glove but when he hit the wall, the ball bounced over the fence making it a 6-5 game. The pitch came off of Jhoan Duran who was in for a second straight day of work. Following the home run, Duran was able to retire the next three batters and maintain a 6-5 lead after eight innings. The save opportunity was given to Tyler Duffey in the ninth inning. Duffey retired the first two batters with ease but Jonah Heim got a bloop single to the outfield to keep the Rangers alive for one more at-bat for the pesky Josh Smith. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Duffey retired Smith on a flyout to Kepler to give the Twins their first win since Wednesday and avoid the sweep by the Rangers. What’s Next? The Twins are off Monday and will begin a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night. Josh Winder will be on the mound for the Twins while the Brewers will send rookie Jason Alexander to the hill with the first pitch scheduled for 6:40 p.m. CT Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  9. The Twins had a promising start to the series opener against the Rangers, especially on defense, but a Sonny Gray meltdown in the fifth inning was enough for Texas to secure a come-from-behind win. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4 2/3 IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K (82 pitches, 47 strikes, 57.3%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (10), Ryan Jeffers (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.320), Sonny Gray (-.192), Gio Urshela (-.139) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Texas’ defensive miscues help Minnesota’s offense Some early offensive productivity led to two quick runs for Minnesota – but also to a few stranded runners. Luis Arráez reached on a fielding error to lead off the game, and exactly three pitches into Carlos Correa’s at-bat, he hit a two-run home run to give the Twins the lead. They also had a promising start to the second inning, with Nick Gordon hitting a leadoff double and Arráez drawing a two-out walk, but Correa couldn’t come through this time. As Sonny Gray faced the minimum through two thanks to some sharp defense behind him, the Twins took advantage of some more poor fielding from Texas to add on. Byron Buxton led off the third inning by reaching on a fielding error by Corey Seager, who couldn’t glove a routine ground ball. Then, catcher Jonah Heim made a throwing mistake trying to pick off Buxton, who ended up reaching third. Buxton dove head first into third and apparently had his hand spiked by third baseman Josh Smith, but he remained in the game. Max Kepler then hit a slow ground ball that found the gap, allowing Buxton to score easily from third. The Rangers weren’t done making errors, as Kepler advanced to second on a Jon Gray wild pitch, but the Rangers starter managed to retire the net three batters to end the inning. Twins defense put on a highlight reel topped by a Buxton gem The Rangers couldn’t figure things out on defense, allowing the Twins to build an important early lead. The Twins, on the other hand, played some superb defense in support of Sonny Gray. Jorge Polanco and Correa, with his cannon of an arm, turned in a vital double play to put on the breaks to a potential Ranger rally. Polanco made an outstanding off-balance throw to Arráez to avoid a leadoff single by Kole Calhoun in the third, helping keep Sonny Gray’s pitch count as low as 33 after three. But no play (maybe in history) was more impressive than Buxton’s diving catch against the center-field track, behind a leaping Gordon, stealing a sure extra-base hit from Marcus Semien. That might’ve been the most impressive defensive play of his career so far. Sonny Gray struggles badly in the 5th; Rangers score six runs Sonny Gray was incredibly solid for the first four innings of the game. He completed said innings on 50 pitches, throwing 72.0% strikes, and allowing only a hit and a walk. But things completely fell apart during the fifth inning, and the Rangers exploded for six total runs. Failing to throw strikes, Sonny Gray loaded the bases with no outs with back-to-back singles and a walk. Then, he hit former Twin Mitch Garver, putting Texas on the board. Texas would score two more runs on a Leody Taveras sacrifice fly and a Josh Smith, tying the game. Sonny Gray got the second out before he departed the game, leaving two runners on for Caleb Thielbar. Thielbar couldn’t prevent the Rangers from scoring: Corey Seager hit a three-run home run, giving the Rangers their first lead of the night, 6-3. Sonny Gray finished the night with five runs, all earned. He threw 32 pitches in the fifth with an awful 34.4% strikes. What might have happened with him? Garver will have surgery, but wanted to play against the Twins During the game, Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning Star posted on Twitter that he had confirmed that Mitch Garver will have season-ending surgery on his right flexor tendon. Mid-game, the Rangers broadcasters talked about Garver and said that the team had given him the option of going on the IL or playing this series against his old team, and Garver wanted to play. Garver DHd and batted eighth for the Rangers. He went 0-for-2, walked, and was hit by a pitch to drive in a run. Garver was certainly a professional with the Twins, and earned his stripes from "Senior Sign" to "Silver Slugger" all while treating Twins Daily and the fans tremendously. Obviously, we at Twins Daily wish Garver well with the surgery and look forward to the Sauce returning healthy in 2023. Twins get within one on a Jeffers home run, but it's not enough If Minnesota had hopes to rally back they probably should strike back soon – and that’s precisely what they did. Gordon led off the sixth inning with his second double of the night and after Gio Urshela quickly flew out, Ryan Jeffers crushed a 412-feet bomb to the bullpen area, a home run that left his bat at 102.8 MPH. The offense produced some more baserunners in the following two innings, but couldn’t capitalize. The Twins bullpen kept Minnesota’s chances alive, but the rally fell short in the ninth. Things could’ve been different if a Buxton fair ball down the third-base line hadn’t been called a foul ball by Angel Hernandez. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:05 pm CDT, and it’s likely to be a low-scoring one: the Twins bring Devin Smeltzer (3.04 ERA) to the mound, who’s coming off three consecutive quality starts, while Texas will have old friend Martín Pérez (2.34 ERA) start the game for them, having the best season of his career so far. Postgame interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 21 0 0 42 63 Pagán 18 0 23 0 10 51 Jax 26 0 17 0 0 43 Thielbar 0 11 8 0 13 32 Duffey 13 18 0 0 0 31 Duran 20 0 9 0 0 29 Megill 0 2 22 0 0 24 Moran 0 0 8 0 0 8 View full article
  10. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4 2/3 IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K (82 pitches, 47 strikes, 57.3%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa (10), Ryan Jeffers (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.320), Sonny Gray (-.192), Gio Urshela (-.139) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Texas’ defensive miscues help Minnesota’s offense Some early offensive productivity led to two quick runs for Minnesota – but also to a few stranded runners. Luis Arráez reached on a fielding error to lead off the game, and exactly three pitches into Carlos Correa’s at-bat, he hit a two-run home run to give the Twins the lead. They also had a promising start to the second inning, with Nick Gordon hitting a leadoff double and Arráez drawing a two-out walk, but Correa couldn’t come through this time. As Sonny Gray faced the minimum through two thanks to some sharp defense behind him, the Twins took advantage of some more poor fielding from Texas to add on. Byron Buxton led off the third inning by reaching on a fielding error by Corey Seager, who couldn’t glove a routine ground ball. Then, catcher Jonah Heim made a throwing mistake trying to pick off Buxton, who ended up reaching third. Buxton dove head first into third and apparently had his hand spiked by third baseman Josh Smith, but he remained in the game. Max Kepler then hit a slow ground ball that found the gap, allowing Buxton to score easily from third. The Rangers weren’t done making errors, as Kepler advanced to second on a Jon Gray wild pitch, but the Rangers starter managed to retire the net three batters to end the inning. Twins defense put on a highlight reel topped by a Buxton gem The Rangers couldn’t figure things out on defense, allowing the Twins to build an important early lead. The Twins, on the other hand, played some superb defense in support of Sonny Gray. Jorge Polanco and Correa, with his cannon of an arm, turned in a vital double play to put on the breaks to a potential Ranger rally. Polanco made an outstanding off-balance throw to Arráez to avoid a leadoff single by Kole Calhoun in the third, helping keep Sonny Gray’s pitch count as low as 33 after three. But no play (maybe in history) was more impressive than Buxton’s diving catch against the center-field track, behind a leaping Gordon, stealing a sure extra-base hit from Marcus Semien. That might’ve been the most impressive defensive play of his career so far. Sonny Gray struggles badly in the 5th; Rangers score six runs Sonny Gray was incredibly solid for the first four innings of the game. He completed said innings on 50 pitches, throwing 72.0% strikes, and allowing only a hit and a walk. But things completely fell apart during the fifth inning, and the Rangers exploded for six total runs. Failing to throw strikes, Sonny Gray loaded the bases with no outs with back-to-back singles and a walk. Then, he hit former Twin Mitch Garver, putting Texas on the board. Texas would score two more runs on a Leody Taveras sacrifice fly and a Josh Smith, tying the game. Sonny Gray got the second out before he departed the game, leaving two runners on for Caleb Thielbar. Thielbar couldn’t prevent the Rangers from scoring: Corey Seager hit a three-run home run, giving the Rangers their first lead of the night, 6-3. Sonny Gray finished the night with five runs, all earned. He threw 32 pitches in the fifth with an awful 34.4% strikes. What might have happened with him? Garver will have surgery, but wanted to play against the Twins During the game, Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning Star posted on Twitter that he had confirmed that Mitch Garver will have season-ending surgery on his right flexor tendon. Mid-game, the Rangers broadcasters talked about Garver and said that the team had given him the option of going on the IL or playing this series against his old team, and Garver wanted to play. Garver DHd and batted eighth for the Rangers. He went 0-for-2, walked, and was hit by a pitch to drive in a run. Garver was certainly a professional with the Twins, and earned his stripes from "Senior Sign" to "Silver Slugger" all while treating Twins Daily and the fans tremendously. Obviously, we at Twins Daily wish Garver well with the surgery and look forward to the Sauce returning healthy in 2023. Twins get within one on a Jeffers home run, but it's not enough If Minnesota had hopes to rally back they probably should strike back soon – and that’s precisely what they did. Gordon led off the sixth inning with his second double of the night and after Gio Urshela quickly flew out, Ryan Jeffers crushed a 412-feet bomb to the bullpen area, a home run that left his bat at 102.8 MPH. The offense produced some more baserunners in the following two innings, but couldn’t capitalize. The Twins bullpen kept Minnesota’s chances alive, but the rally fell short in the ninth. Things could’ve been different if a Buxton fair ball down the third-base line hadn’t been called a foul ball by Angel Hernandez. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:05 pm CDT, and it’s likely to be a low-scoring one: the Twins bring Devin Smeltzer (3.04 ERA) to the mound, who’s coming off three consecutive quality starts, while Texas will have old friend Martín Pérez (2.34 ERA) start the game for them, having the best season of his career so far. Postgame interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 21 0 0 42 63 Pagán 18 0 23 0 10 51 Jax 26 0 17 0 0 43 Thielbar 0 11 8 0 13 32 Duffey 13 18 0 0 0 31 Duran 20 0 9 0 0 29 Megill 0 2 22 0 0 24 Moran 0 0 8 0 0 8
  11. The Twins rebounded to take game two of their doubleheader and increase their divisional lead to three games. A strong start from Josh Winder was backed up by home runs from Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda, and Byron Buxton. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO (81 pitches, 59 strikes) Homeruns: Jorge Polanco (8), Jose Miranda (5), Byron Buxton (20) Top 3 WPA: Josh Winder .251, Jorge Polanco .222, Luis Arraez .146 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday evening, after a frustrating afternoon loss, the Twins concluded their double header against the Guardians. Here’s how they lined up for game two. Early in the game, shadows were creeping across the mount, making for tricky sight lines for hitters on both sides. Josh Winder, acting as the Twins 27th player for the double-header, struggled a little in the early going. In the first inning, Winder worked around a walk and a single. In the second, a leadoff double. In each case, Winder really clamped down after allowing baserunners, gaining increasing command of his fastball and slider. The Twins offense, meanwhile, began to assert control in the third inning against Konnor Pilkington. Luis Arraez tripled home Carlos Correa, who comically waited to be helped up from his slide at home plate after a long run. Jorge Polanco followed this with a 409-foot home run to left field, increasing the Twins lead to 3-0 after three innings. After the second inning, Winder began to impress. In the next four innings, the only base runners he allowed were two doubles and a hit batter. He worked through six scoreless innings, and despite only striking out one, had Cleveland’s hitters off balance. Winder, when healthy, continues to look like a legitimately high ceiling starting pitcher, with a mid-90s fastball, an excellent slider, and a BB% of just 7.4% entering today’s start. In the top of the fourth inning, back to back base running blunders cost the Twins the opportunity to increase their lead. Ryan Jeffers smoked a fly ball to right field, but was slow out of the box and was thrown out at second base on a perfect relay from the Guardians defense. Jose Miranda followed this up by being caught off third base on an attempted squeeze play, keeping the score 3-0. The Twins added a run in the fifth on a Jorge Polanco groundout that was ruled a double play on the field. The Twins successfully challenged and increased the lead to 4-0. In the top of the sixth, Miranda made up for his base running blunder by crushing a long home run to left field, increasing the lead to 5-0. The Twins turned it over to their bullpen in the seventh inning, which was in good shape after back-to-back strong starts from Twins starting pitchers. Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless seventh inning, giving up a single and striking out a batter. Jovani Moran worked the eighth inning, taking care of the Guardians second, third, and fourth hitters in order. In the top of the ninth, the Twins added on. Byron Buxton crushed a 427 foot home run to straight away center field, his 20th of the season, a career high, on June 28th. Moran returned in the ninth inning, again retiring the side in order. The Twins moved to 5-4 in their season series against the Guardians, and restored their three game lead in the AL Central heading into game four of the series on Wednesday night. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Duffey 28 0 15 0 12 55 Cotton 0 25 0 24 0 49 Pagan 0 0 22 0 22 44 Thornburg 7 35 0 0 0 42 Moran 0 0 0 0 34 34 Jax 0 12 0 0 21 33 Theilbar 0 0 19 0 10 29 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against Cleveland. Dylan Bundy goes for the Twins, against Cal Quantrill for the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO (81 pitches, 59 strikes) Homeruns: Jorge Polanco (8), Jose Miranda (5), Byron Buxton (20) Top 3 WPA: Josh Winder .251, Jorge Polanco .222, Luis Arraez .146 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday evening, after a frustrating afternoon loss, the Twins concluded their double header against the Guardians. Here’s how they lined up for game two. Early in the game, shadows were creeping across the mount, making for tricky sight lines for hitters on both sides. Josh Winder, acting as the Twins 27th player for the double-header, struggled a little in the early going. In the first inning, Winder worked around a walk and a single. In the second, a leadoff double. In each case, Winder really clamped down after allowing baserunners, gaining increasing command of his fastball and slider. The Twins offense, meanwhile, began to assert control in the third inning against Konnor Pilkington. Luis Arraez tripled home Carlos Correa, who comically waited to be helped up from his slide at home plate after a long run. Jorge Polanco followed this with a 409-foot home run to left field, increasing the Twins lead to 3-0 after three innings. After the second inning, Winder began to impress. In the next four innings, the only base runners he allowed were two doubles and a hit batter. He worked through six scoreless innings, and despite only striking out one, had Cleveland’s hitters off balance. Winder, when healthy, continues to look like a legitimately high ceiling starting pitcher, with a mid-90s fastball, an excellent slider, and a BB% of just 7.4% entering today’s start. In the top of the fourth inning, back to back base running blunders cost the Twins the opportunity to increase their lead. Ryan Jeffers smoked a fly ball to right field, but was slow out of the box and was thrown out at second base on a perfect relay from the Guardians defense. Jose Miranda followed this up by being caught off third base on an attempted squeeze play, keeping the score 3-0. The Twins added a run in the fifth on a Jorge Polanco groundout that was ruled a double play on the field. The Twins successfully challenged and increased the lead to 4-0. In the top of the sixth, Miranda made up for his base running blunder by crushing a long home run to left field, increasing the lead to 5-0. The Twins turned it over to their bullpen in the seventh inning, which was in good shape after back-to-back strong starts from Twins starting pitchers. Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless seventh inning, giving up a single and striking out a batter. Jovani Moran worked the eighth inning, taking care of the Guardians second, third, and fourth hitters in order. In the top of the ninth, the Twins added on. Byron Buxton crushed a 427 foot home run to straight away center field, his 20th of the season, a career high, on June 28th. Moran returned in the ninth inning, again retiring the side in order. The Twins moved to 5-4 in their season series against the Guardians, and restored their three game lead in the AL Central heading into game four of the series on Wednesday night. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Duffey 28 0 15 0 12 55 Cotton 0 25 0 24 0 49 Pagan 0 0 22 0 22 44 Thornburg 7 35 0 0 0 42 Moran 0 0 0 0 34 34 Jax 0 12 0 0 21 33 Theilbar 0 0 19 0 10 29 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against Cleveland. Dylan Bundy goes for the Twins, against Cal Quantrill for the Guardians. First pitch is at 6:10 CT. Postgame Interviews
  13. The Twins got another excellent start from Dylan Bundy, who pitched six innings on 60 pitches, but Colorado had an even better one from Germán Márquez. Minnesota’s offense couldn’t figure him out and the Rockies held on to a sixth-inning run to win the series opener. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 6.0 IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K (60 pitches, 42 strikes, 70.0%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (-.198), Alex Kirilloff (-.195), Max Kepler (-.164) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tonight’s starters aren’t having the most impressive of seasons thus far, but based on their recent outings, both offenses had their work cut out for them. Dylan Bundy arguably had his best start in a Twins uniform last Saturday, when he delivered eight innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. Similarly, Rockies starter German Marquez pitched very well in his last two starts away from Coors Field, allowing only five runs in 13 innings of work. Bundy and Márquez’ recent success set the tone early on tonight, as both starters completely dominated their opposing lineups. It only took Bundy 19 pitches for his first time through the order, allowing only a couple of hits in the second inning, the only time Colorado’s offense threatened him early on. Similarly, Márquez originally took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Ryan Jeffers broke his no-hit bid with a two-out double. But later in the game, they officially changed a Max Kepler reaching on a fielding error in the fourth inning into a single. Márquez wasn’t the only obstacle for Twins hitters in the early going, but also some solid defense from Colorado. Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez had a couple of hard-hit flyballs to deep left fielded by outfielder Connor Joe. Kirilloff’s flyout in the second left his bat at 98.9 MPH and had a .550 expected batting average. The pitch count looked great for Bundy, who completed five innings of shutout ball with only 41 pitches. But came the sixth inning and Colorado put together a good offensive display against him. Joe and Yonathan Daza hit back-to-back one-out singles, allowing Joe to reach third. Then Charlie Blackmon hit a ground ball to the middle of the Twins’ shift, preventing Carlos Correa from turning a double play in time and allowing Joe to score from third. Bundy would still give up a two-out walk before inducing a groundout to end the inning. Despite the low pitch count, Bundy didn’t return for the seventh. As Márquez continued to dazzle Twins hitters, Minnesota’s offense couldn’t build up any momentum. After that Jeffers double in the fifth, the Twins lineup went 0-for-8 against him with three walks. With two outs in the eighth, Correa reached on a fielding error by old friend C.J. Cron, also sending Jeffers to third. That play finished the night for Márquez, but Kepler grounded out against reliever Daniel Bard next, ending Minnesota’s potential rally. One silver lining from tonight’s disappointing loss was the good outing from the bullpen. Tyler Duffey (two) and Tyler Thornburg (one) combined for three shutout innings on 35 pitches, which could be great for morale after a tough week for Twins relievers. Potential targets for the Twins? Last week, Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl wrote a nice article on how Márquez could be a great target for the Twins at the trade deadline. Tonight, he certainly showed he can be very comfortable at Target Field. If not Márquez, Bard is another great arm from the Rockies organization whom the Twins could also target. He helped Colorado to seal the deal tonight with a four-out save. That was his 15th of the season, tied for seventh-most in the majors. His ERA is now down to 1.91. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:15 pm CDT. Minnesota will have Chris Archer (3.44 ERA) on the mound, while the Rockies will start Antonio Senzatela (4.42 ERA). Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 21 26 0 47 Duran 0 27 0 17 0 44 Pagán 0 17 24 0 0 41 Cotton 0 11 28 0 0 39 Jax 0 27 7 0 0 34 Duffey 0 0 0 0 28 28 Thielbar 0 0 15 12 0 27 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 7 7 View full article
  14. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 6.0 IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K (60 pitches, 42 strikes, 70.0%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (-.198), Alex Kirilloff (-.195), Max Kepler (-.164) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tonight’s starters aren’t having the most impressive of seasons thus far, but based on their recent outings, both offenses had their work cut out for them. Dylan Bundy arguably had his best start in a Twins uniform last Saturday, when he delivered eight innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. Similarly, Rockies starter German Marquez pitched very well in his last two starts away from Coors Field, allowing only five runs in 13 innings of work. Bundy and Márquez’ recent success set the tone early on tonight, as both starters completely dominated their opposing lineups. It only took Bundy 19 pitches for his first time through the order, allowing only a couple of hits in the second inning, the only time Colorado’s offense threatened him early on. Similarly, Márquez originally took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Ryan Jeffers broke his no-hit bid with a two-out double. But later in the game, they officially changed a Max Kepler reaching on a fielding error in the fourth inning into a single. Márquez wasn’t the only obstacle for Twins hitters in the early going, but also some solid defense from Colorado. Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez had a couple of hard-hit flyballs to deep left fielded by outfielder Connor Joe. Kirilloff’s flyout in the second left his bat at 98.9 MPH and had a .550 expected batting average. The pitch count looked great for Bundy, who completed five innings of shutout ball with only 41 pitches. But came the sixth inning and Colorado put together a good offensive display against him. Joe and Yonathan Daza hit back-to-back one-out singles, allowing Joe to reach third. Then Charlie Blackmon hit a ground ball to the middle of the Twins’ shift, preventing Carlos Correa from turning a double play in time and allowing Joe to score from third. Bundy would still give up a two-out walk before inducing a groundout to end the inning. Despite the low pitch count, Bundy didn’t return for the seventh. As Márquez continued to dazzle Twins hitters, Minnesota’s offense couldn’t build up any momentum. After that Jeffers double in the fifth, the Twins lineup went 0-for-8 against him with three walks. With two outs in the eighth, Correa reached on a fielding error by old friend C.J. Cron, also sending Jeffers to third. That play finished the night for Márquez, but Kepler grounded out against reliever Daniel Bard next, ending Minnesota’s potential rally. One silver lining from tonight’s disappointing loss was the good outing from the bullpen. Tyler Duffey (two) and Tyler Thornburg (one) combined for three shutout innings on 35 pitches, which could be great for morale after a tough week for Twins relievers. Potential targets for the Twins? Last week, Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl wrote a nice article on how Márquez could be a great target for the Twins at the trade deadline. Tonight, he certainly showed he can be very comfortable at Target Field. If not Márquez, Bard is another great arm from the Rockies organization whom the Twins could also target. He helped Colorado to seal the deal tonight with a four-out save. That was his 15th of the season, tied for seventh-most in the majors. His ERA is now down to 1.91. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:15 pm CDT. Minnesota will have Chris Archer (3.44 ERA) on the mound, while the Rockies will start Antonio Senzatela (4.42 ERA). Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 21 26 0 47 Duran 0 27 0 17 0 44 Pagán 0 17 24 0 0 41 Cotton 0 11 28 0 0 39 Jax 0 27 7 0 0 34 Duffey 0 0 0 0 28 28 Thielbar 0 0 15 12 0 27 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 7 7
  15. Minnesota's second draft with the current front office involved a more strategic approach since the team was coming off an improved 2019 season. So, how have the top picks from 2018 fared to this point in their careers? Major League Baseball's 2022 Draft is scheduled to start on July 17, 2022. Each team prepares for the draft with a specific plan, and sometimes those plans play out better than others. To prepare fans for the upcoming draft, here is a look at some of the most important drafts in recent Twins history. The 2017 regular season was a resurgent time in Twins Territory. Minnesota finished second in the AL Central after losing 103 games in 2016. Unfortunately, the Twins faced the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, but the team seemed headed in the right direction. With an improved record, Minnesota had a pick in the second half of the first round with multiple options at their disposal. Minnesota selected Trevor Larnach with their first pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Larnach was coming off an outstanding junior season at Oregon State University as he helped his team win the College World Series. His college experience meant he quickly moved through the team's farm system compared to other younger prospects in his draft class. Only six hitters from the 2018 draft have accumulated more than 400 at-bats in the big leagues. Among those players, Larnach has the third-highest WAR total (2.0 WAR) so far in his career. In every draft, some players perform well even though they fell to picks later in the round. Tampa Bay's Shane McClanahan (4.1 WAR) and Chicago's Nico Hoerner (3.7 WAR) have accumulated the most WAR among 2018 first-round picks, and they were both selected after Larnach. Both players came from the college ranks, as only four high schoolers from this draft have made their debuts. Larnach is on a path to being an everyday player, but the Twins also needed to find value in the draft's other rounds. Minnesota's second-round pick has proven to be nearly as valuable as Larnach. Ryan Jeffers was seen as a bat-first catcher as he had little defensive coaching out of college. Since joining the Twins, Jeffers has developed into one of the game's best pitch framers. He has also accumulated more WAR than any other second-round pick from this draft. His offensive approach has failed to live up to his tremendous 2020 season, but there is still time for him to make adjustments. The Twins also found some value in the fifth round and later of the 2018 draft. Minnesota selected Cole Sands with their fifth-round pick (154th overall) and Josh Winder with their seventh-round pick (214th overall). Sands has struggled in his five big-league appearances, but he is considered one of the team's top-20 prospects. Winder rebuilt his pitching repertoire during the non-existent 2020 minor league season and established himself as one of the team's top pitching prospects. The Twins thought highly enough of him to include him on the team's Opening Day roster, and he started the season strongly (104 ERA+) before a shoulder injury moved him to the IL. Minnesota lost their third-round pick by signing Lance Lynn and that didn't turn out great for the club. In the fourth round, the team added DaShawn Keirsey, a college outfielder. He is hitting .233/.308/.352 (.660) in 53 games at Double-A this season. In the sixth round, the Twins took Charles Mack, a high school shortstop, but the organization has moved him to catcher. As a 22-year-old, he has posted a .604 OPS at High-A this season, where he is slightly younger than the average age of the competition. OTHERS REMAINING IN TWINS ORGANIZATION FROM 2018 DRAFT: - 8th Round - C Chris Williams, Wichita (showing power with an .839 OPS) - 9th Round - RHP Regi Grace, Ft. Myers (big arm, moved to bullpen in 2022, over 11.0 K/9) - 10th Round - OF Willie Joe Garry, Cedar Rapids (speedy OF was getting hot for the Kernels when he broke his hand) - 11th Round - IF/OF Michael Helman, Saint Paul (recently promoted to St. Paul where he has an .856 OPS) - 12th Round - RHP Jon Olsen, Wichita (rehabbing with the FCL Twins after right elbow UCL reconstruction) - 15th Round - LHP Kody Funderburk, Wichita (Pitched in last year’s AFL and has a 2.41 ERA at Double-A) -19th Round - RHP Austin Schulfer, St. Paul (promoted to Triple-A after dominating out of the Wind Surge bullpen) -25th Round - LaRon Smith, 1B/C, Fort Myers (limited to five games this season, posted a .769 OPS in the FCL last year) -31st Round - LHP Zach Neff, Wichita (currently on the 60-day IL, had a 4.78 ERA last season) -33rd Round - LHP Denny Bentley, Wichita (Solid bullpen arm that has posted nearly 13.0 K/9 this season) Other late-round picks may develop and surprise from this draft, but both of the team's top two picks have developed into big-league regulars. There is also hope that Sands and Winder can impact the pitching staff in the years ahead. What do you remember about this draft? What is Larnach's ceiling? What can Sands and Winder mean for the pitching pipeline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2012 MLB Draft Retrospective -2014 MLB Draft Retrospective -2016 MLB Draft Retrospective View full article
  16. Major League Baseball's 2022 Draft is scheduled to start on July 17, 2022. Each team prepares for the draft with a specific plan, and sometimes those plans play out better than others. To prepare fans for the upcoming draft, here is a look at some of the most important drafts in recent Twins history. The 2017 regular season was a resurgent time in Twins Territory. Minnesota finished second in the AL Central after losing 103 games in 2016. Unfortunately, the Twins faced the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, but the team seemed headed in the right direction. With an improved record, Minnesota had a pick in the second half of the first round with multiple options at their disposal. Minnesota selected Trevor Larnach with their first pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Larnach was coming off an outstanding junior season at Oregon State University as he helped his team win the College World Series. His college experience meant he quickly moved through the team's farm system compared to other younger prospects in his draft class. Only six hitters from the 2018 draft have accumulated more than 400 at-bats in the big leagues. Among those players, Larnach has the third-highest WAR total (2.0 WAR) so far in his career. In every draft, some players perform well even though they fell to picks later in the round. Tampa Bay's Shane McClanahan (4.1 WAR) and Chicago's Nico Hoerner (3.7 WAR) have accumulated the most WAR among 2018 first-round picks, and they were both selected after Larnach. Both players came from the college ranks, as only four high schoolers from this draft have made their debuts. Larnach is on a path to being an everyday player, but the Twins also needed to find value in the draft's other rounds. Minnesota's second-round pick has proven to be nearly as valuable as Larnach. Ryan Jeffers was seen as a bat-first catcher as he had little defensive coaching out of college. Since joining the Twins, Jeffers has developed into one of the game's best pitch framers. He has also accumulated more WAR than any other second-round pick from this draft. His offensive approach has failed to live up to his tremendous 2020 season, but there is still time for him to make adjustments. The Twins also found some value in the fifth round and later of the 2018 draft. Minnesota selected Cole Sands with their fifth-round pick (154th overall) and Josh Winder with their seventh-round pick (214th overall). Sands has struggled in his five big-league appearances, but he is considered one of the team's top-20 prospects. Winder rebuilt his pitching repertoire during the non-existent 2020 minor league season and established himself as one of the team's top pitching prospects. The Twins thought highly enough of him to include him on the team's Opening Day roster, and he started the season strongly (104 ERA+) before a shoulder injury moved him to the IL. Minnesota lost their third-round pick by signing Lance Lynn and that didn't turn out great for the club. In the fourth round, the team added DaShawn Keirsey, a college outfielder. He is hitting .233/.308/.352 (.660) in 53 games at Double-A this season. In the sixth round, the Twins took Charles Mack, a high school shortstop, but the organization has moved him to catcher. As a 22-year-old, he has posted a .604 OPS at High-A this season, where he is slightly younger than the average age of the competition. OTHERS REMAINING IN TWINS ORGANIZATION FROM 2018 DRAFT: - 8th Round - C Chris Williams, Wichita (showing power with an .839 OPS) - 9th Round - RHP Regi Grace, Ft. Myers (big arm, moved to bullpen in 2022, over 11.0 K/9) - 10th Round - OF Willie Joe Garry, Cedar Rapids (speedy OF was getting hot for the Kernels when he broke his hand) - 11th Round - IF/OF Michael Helman, Saint Paul (recently promoted to St. Paul where he has an .856 OPS) - 12th Round - RHP Jon Olsen, Wichita (rehabbing with the FCL Twins after right elbow UCL reconstruction) - 15th Round - LHP Kody Funderburk, Wichita (Pitched in last year’s AFL and has a 2.41 ERA at Double-A) -19th Round - RHP Austin Schulfer, St. Paul (promoted to Triple-A after dominating out of the Wind Surge bullpen) -25th Round - LaRon Smith, 1B/C, Fort Myers (limited to five games this season, posted a .769 OPS in the FCL last year) -31st Round - LHP Zach Neff, Wichita (currently on the 60-day IL, had a 4.78 ERA last season) -33rd Round - LHP Denny Bentley, Wichita (Solid bullpen arm that has posted nearly 13.0 K/9 this season) Other late-round picks may develop and surprise from this draft, but both of the team's top two picks have developed into big-league regulars. There is also hope that Sands and Winder can impact the pitching staff in the years ahead. What do you remember about this draft? What is Larnach's ceiling? What can Sands and Winder mean for the pitching pipeline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2012 MLB Draft Retrospective -2014 MLB Draft Retrospective -2016 MLB Draft Retrospective
  17. Ryan Jeffers has become something of a punching bag amongst Twins fans. In a lineup full of boppers, his numbers stand out like a child’s doodle placed next to the Mona Lisa. His lack of production led Aaron Gleeman to write about his “frustrating” offensive development, and some have speculated whether a demotion to AAA would aid Jeffers in finding his groove again. I think this consternation is misplaced, and some under-the-hood stats reveal a hitter performing better than his results indicate. My colleague Nick Nelson recently wrote an article about Ryan Jeffers, outwardly wondering if the team mistakenly bestowed principal catching duties onto the former UNC Wilmington standout. While he never explicitly says it, and I would never want to speak for someone else, I walked away from the piece believing that he thinks that the Twins should not assume Jeffers to be a consistent, everyday starter for them unless he undergoes a serious evolution. Without a doubt, Jeffers’ initial hitting numbers are dreadful, mimicking Tim Laudnerian batting prowess instead of the league-average flirtation we expected from him. His career .202/.280/.378 slash line is dragged down by an even poorer .181/.271/.312 2022 season so far. The Manfred Mushball can’t explain that away. Jeffers’s initial 2020 offensive promise seems to be a mirage; he has failed to sniff even league-average production since that year. However, there are under-the-hood stats that tell a different story. Dan Syzmborski’s recent Fangraphs article detailing under and over-performers based on his secret “z” stats caught my eye. Scrolling down a little to his “zSLUG Underachievers” list will procure a list of names, including our subject for today: Ryan Jeffers. ZIPS believes that Jeffers should be slugging .441—a number in the ballpark of Matt Olson's (.440) and Freddie Freeman's (.441) production levels, not the Adam Frazier (.309) plateau he currently sits at. Syzmborski’s projection system is his creation, so how it reaches that conclusion is hidden from us regulars, but it’s a good sign nonetheless. There are other numbers as well. His Baseball Savant page doesn’t reflect un-impeachable elite performance like one sees from an Aaron Judge or a Mike Trout, but it does tell a tale of an unlucky slugger. Jeffers’ xwOBA is .339—right above league average for all hitters. Digging deeper, his barrel rate of 9.0%—a stat that indicates specific instances of a player hitting the crap out of the ball—puts him in elite territory; 26th amongst all qualified batters in MLB. Barrels aren’t an end-all stat—a player like Luis Arraez can be great because of other characteristics—but it is indicative of extra-base damage, and Jeffers’ current production does not reflect how much impact his bat has. There are other, more subtle numbers as well. Jeffers has tightened his command of the strike zone; his O-Swing % is down to 28.5, while his overall swinging strike rate has plummeted to 9.6%. Believe it or not, he swings at pitches outside the zone at the same rate as Luis Arraez (28.5%), and he whiffs at about the same rate as Paul Goldschmidt (9.5%). His total contact has also vastly improved (72.0% career vs. 78.5% in 2022, around Francisco Lindor territory (78.7%)). Those discipline numbers aren’t elite by any means, but they are average if not above-average in some cases, and average production would be a tremendous improvement for Jeffers. Jeffers’ walk rate reflects these changes (10.9%, up from 8.6%), while his strikeouts have dipped slightly, but probably less than one would expect (30.1%, down from 34.1%). I believe those punchouts will drop even further, given his improved plate control. Ryan Jeffers hits the ball hard at an elite level, has improved his plate discipline numbers across the board, and has worse surface-level hitting stats than before. That should change soon. The often-maligned 25-year-old has a good process in place; he has not found the final crucial step in unlocking his potential: luck. Once fortune turns in his direction, Jeffers will find himself as one of the better catchers in the game. View full article
  18. During Saturday night’s contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers stole a strike against Christian Walker to get Dylan Bundy a pivotal punch out. That instance sparked conversation regarding everything from robo umps to poor play. When it comes to framing, similarly to analytics, the word is used as a blanket and largely misrepresented. Ryan Jeffers has been lost at the plate for most of the season. As Matt Braun recently pointed out for Twins Daily, he’s starting to find it, but one thing that has never wavered is his defense. Minnesota has placed an emphasis on receiving for some time, and to the degree that runners largely run wild on the pitching and catching tandems. It’s of the belief by the organization that generating additional strikes over the course of a game is more impactful than nabbing the occasional base stealer. This implementation of focus has been observed in the way Jeffers himself has developed but also is noteworthy in steps forward made by otherwise poor defensive catchers such as Gary Sanchez or Mitch Garver before him. That’s why a play like the one that happened against Walker on Saturday night was such a beautiful sight. Immediately after Tripp Gibson rung up Walker I jumped over to Baseball Savant. The electronic strike zone on the screen indicated the slider was off the plate, and so to did Statcast’s official measurement. From there, Bally Sports North did an amazing job highlighting what had just taken place. In a slow motion replay, it was evident that Jeffers had perfectly received a baseball in an effort to frame it positively for the umpire. It’s in this type of movement that the belief as to what framing is and the accurate understanding of the principle are inconsistent. Jeffers doesn’t move the ball or manipulate his glove at all after the point of contact. What he does is generate motion prior to making connection with the baseball in a way that draws perception back to the strike zone. He is receiving the baseball in a way that he attacks the incoming object, and then presents it within an accepted frame of reference. This instance is a perfect representation of how to play the catcher position at an elite level. Framing a pitch is not about manipulating the landing spot following a point of contact. It’s about presenting a reference point that positively impacts the pitcher and does so without looking at anything but intended to the umpire. Saturday night’s example was evident if you were paying attention to the exact moment, but it’s hardly an outlier for someone like Jeffers. Per Statcast, Jeffers has generated the 8th most catcher framing runs in baseball. His 48.6% strike rate is also 15th among catchers, considered strong in that category as well. For a guy who isn’t going to throw out many runners, he’s caught just three of 27 this season, excelling in an area of focus for the organization is a worthy consolation. Minnesota has to be proud of a backstop so perfectly exhibiting what they’re intending, and until there’s an electronic strike zone, it’s something the best catchers will look to hone in on. Sometimes advancements in baseball are viewed too much through the lens of a definition and not enough from the practicality of implementation. Numbers or quantitative data are less about removing a human element than they are trying to advance how impactful those humans can be. View full article
  19. Ryan Jeffers has been lost at the plate for most of the season. As Matt Braun recently pointed out for Twins Daily, he’s starting to find it, but one thing that has never wavered is his defense. Minnesota has placed an emphasis on receiving for some time, and to the degree that runners largely run wild on the pitching and catching tandems. It’s of the belief by the organization that generating additional strikes over the course of a game is more impactful than nabbing the occasional base stealer. This implementation of focus has been observed in the way Jeffers himself has developed but also is noteworthy in steps forward made by otherwise poor defensive catchers such as Gary Sanchez or Mitch Garver before him. That’s why a play like the one that happened against Walker on Saturday night was such a beautiful sight. Immediately after Tripp Gibson rung up Walker I jumped over to Baseball Savant. The electronic strike zone on the screen indicated the slider was off the plate, and so to did Statcast’s official measurement. From there, Bally Sports North did an amazing job highlighting what had just taken place. In a slow motion replay, it was evident that Jeffers had perfectly received a baseball in an effort to frame it positively for the umpire. It’s in this type of movement that the belief as to what framing is and the accurate understanding of the principle are inconsistent. Jeffers doesn’t move the ball or manipulate his glove at all after the point of contact. What he does is generate motion prior to making connection with the baseball in a way that draws perception back to the strike zone. He is receiving the baseball in a way that he attacks the incoming object, and then presents it within an accepted frame of reference. This instance is a perfect representation of how to play the catcher position at an elite level. Framing a pitch is not about manipulating the landing spot following a point of contact. It’s about presenting a reference point that positively impacts the pitcher and does so without looking at anything but intended to the umpire. Saturday night’s example was evident if you were paying attention to the exact moment, but it’s hardly an outlier for someone like Jeffers. Per Statcast, Jeffers has generated the 8th most catcher framing runs in baseball. His 48.6% strike rate is also 15th among catchers, considered strong in that category as well. For a guy who isn’t going to throw out many runners, he’s caught just three of 27 this season, excelling in an area of focus for the organization is a worthy consolation. Minnesota has to be proud of a backstop so perfectly exhibiting what they’re intending, and until there’s an electronic strike zone, it’s something the best catchers will look to hone in on. Sometimes advancements in baseball are viewed too much through the lens of a definition and not enough from the practicality of implementation. Numbers or quantitative data are less about removing a human element than they are trying to advance how impactful those humans can be.
  20. Dylan Bundy and the Twins seemed to gather themselves for the Saturday game, getting ahead of Arizona in the third inning and keeping the momentum going throughout the game. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (107 pitches, 74 strikes (69%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (8), Ryan Jeffers (5) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.137), Luis Arraez (.108), Alex Kiriloff (.106) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game started out a little slow, a battle of the pitching in which Bundy was very solid for eight innings. Nick Gordon and Luis Arraez got on base to start the third inning followed by an RBI Single when Carlos Correa poked a ball into right field,. Max Kepler, who was 0-for-1 to start the night, followed Correa to the plate and hit the ball into the gap, scoring Arraez on an RBI double. The third inning was exciting to say the least as the players continued to carry the momentum, Alex Kirilloff worked a 3-2 count and ripped a ball into right field scoring both Correa and Kepler on a beautiful double. Gary Sanchez joined in on the fun as he hit his eighth home run, giving the Twins a 6-0 lead as pitcher Luke Weaver struggled throwing 52 pitches in the first three innings, most of those in the third. Bundy looked the best he has all season with finding the strike zone, keeping the pitch count low, and moving quickly through each inning with three-up three-down until the fourth when Alek Thomas got on first base, breaking up Bundy's no-hitter. Bundy struggled to get through the end of the inning but managed to get out of it without anyone coming home. Bundy only allowed one run in his eight innings. His impressive mound appearance allowed the Twins to capitalize on offensive opportunities. Bundy going eight innings shows that Manager Rocco Baldelli certainly wants to see his pitching staff go as long as they can, and that Wes Johnson is getting them there. Bundy had outstanding command and control. The Twins have a long two weeks against division rivals Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox, so preserving the bullpen can prove very important. Bundy left the game with his fourth win of the season, his best outing of the season, and his 50th career win. He truly looked great. The Diamondbacks left Weaver in to start the fourth inning and the Twins lineup for the third time. The Twins took advantage of every ball over the plate and blew open the lead 9-0 before Weaver was pulled from the game and replaced by Arizona’s Joe Smith. With the exception of Sanchez and Jeffers home runs, the rest of the Twins hits were all singles and doubles. The Twins three seasons ago were known for hitting “bombas” all over the parks and small ball was not even a thought. This season, there seems to be almost a focus on getting the bat on the ball and putting it into play and it’s worked out for them more than it hasn’t. Their dominant offense tonight allowed Gilbert Celestino to replace Arraez in the fifth inning, giving the All-Star a chance to rest. The Twins were up 9-0 and there was no need to leave Arraez in against a lefty when Celestino could get some at-bats in and improve. Gordon moved up to cover second base and Celestino took over in centerfield. Trevor Larnach broke up his small slump of going 0-for-17 in his last few appearances and the best feelings of the night: Ryan Jeffers, who has been struggling at the plate, hit a fantastic home run into left field to start out the seventh inning. Jeffers was the only Twin tonight in the starting lineup without a hit before his two-run homer. Even if Jeffers is struggling at the plate, he is certainly not struggling behind it. Dick Bremer mentioned during the broadcast that this is the 21st game for the Twins where they have had two or fewer runs and of those 21, Jeffers caught 15 of those games. The Twins offense and defense were both on fire. They kept the same energy all the way through the ninth inning for reliever Jharel Cotton. Correa showed off his defensive moves as Alek Thomas hit a line drive to the shortstop, who spun his body around with a solid throw to first base getting the out, A fly ball to Larnach ended the game. The energy of the team was constant all night long, ending in a Twins win. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Arizona and the west coast tour. Pitching matchups for the series finale: Sunday 1:05: Chris Archer (1-2, 3.35 ERA) vs RHP Merrill Kelly (5-4, 3.68 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  21. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (107 pitches, 74 strikes (69%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (8), Ryan Jeffers (5) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.137), Luis Arraez (.108), Alex Kiriloff (.106) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game started out a little slow, a battle of the pitching in which Bundy was very solid for eight innings. Nick Gordon and Luis Arraez got on base to start the third inning followed by an RBI Single when Carlos Correa poked a ball into right field,. Max Kepler, who was 0-for-1 to start the night, followed Correa to the plate and hit the ball into the gap, scoring Arraez on an RBI double. The third inning was exciting to say the least as the players continued to carry the momentum, Alex Kirilloff worked a 3-2 count and ripped a ball into right field scoring both Correa and Kepler on a beautiful double. Gary Sanchez joined in on the fun as he hit his eighth home run, giving the Twins a 6-0 lead as pitcher Luke Weaver struggled throwing 52 pitches in the first three innings, most of those in the third. Bundy looked the best he has all season with finding the strike zone, keeping the pitch count low, and moving quickly through each inning with three-up three-down until the fourth when Alek Thomas got on first base, breaking up Bundy's no-hitter. Bundy struggled to get through the end of the inning but managed to get out of it without anyone coming home. Bundy only allowed one run in his eight innings. His impressive mound appearance allowed the Twins to capitalize on offensive opportunities. Bundy going eight innings shows that Manager Rocco Baldelli certainly wants to see his pitching staff go as long as they can, and that Wes Johnson is getting them there. Bundy had outstanding command and control. The Twins have a long two weeks against division rivals Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox, so preserving the bullpen can prove very important. Bundy left the game with his fourth win of the season, his best outing of the season, and his 50th career win. He truly looked great. The Diamondbacks left Weaver in to start the fourth inning and the Twins lineup for the third time. The Twins took advantage of every ball over the plate and blew open the lead 9-0 before Weaver was pulled from the game and replaced by Arizona’s Joe Smith. With the exception of Sanchez and Jeffers home runs, the rest of the Twins hits were all singles and doubles. The Twins three seasons ago were known for hitting “bombas” all over the parks and small ball was not even a thought. This season, there seems to be almost a focus on getting the bat on the ball and putting it into play and it’s worked out for them more than it hasn’t. Their dominant offense tonight allowed Gilbert Celestino to replace Arraez in the fifth inning, giving the All-Star a chance to rest. The Twins were up 9-0 and there was no need to leave Arraez in against a lefty when Celestino could get some at-bats in and improve. Gordon moved up to cover second base and Celestino took over in centerfield. Trevor Larnach broke up his small slump of going 0-for-17 in his last few appearances and the best feelings of the night: Ryan Jeffers, who has been struggling at the plate, hit a fantastic home run into left field to start out the seventh inning. Jeffers was the only Twin tonight in the starting lineup without a hit before his two-run homer. Even if Jeffers is struggling at the plate, he is certainly not struggling behind it. Dick Bremer mentioned during the broadcast that this is the 21st game for the Twins where they have had two or fewer runs and of those 21, Jeffers caught 15 of those games. The Twins offense and defense were both on fire. They kept the same energy all the way through the ninth inning for reliever Jharel Cotton. Correa showed off his defensive moves as Alek Thomas hit a line drive to the shortstop, who spun his body around with a solid throw to first base getting the out, A fly ball to Larnach ended the game. The energy of the team was constant all night long, ending in a Twins win. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Arizona and the west coast tour. Pitching matchups for the series finale: Sunday 1:05: Chris Archer (1-2, 3.35 ERA) vs RHP Merrill Kelly (5-4, 3.68 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  22. My colleague Nick Nelson recently wrote an article about Ryan Jeffers, outwardly wondering if the team mistakenly bestowed principal catching duties onto the former UNC Wilmington standout. While he never explicitly says it, and I would never want to speak for someone else, I walked away from the piece believing that he thinks that the Twins should not assume Jeffers to be a consistent, everyday starter for them unless he undergoes a serious evolution. Without a doubt, Jeffers’ initial hitting numbers are dreadful, mimicking Tim Laudnerian batting prowess instead of the league-average flirtation we expected from him. His career .202/.280/.378 slash line is dragged down by an even poorer .181/.271/.312 2022 season so far. The Manfred Mushball can’t explain that away. Jeffers’s initial 2020 offensive promise seems to be a mirage; he has failed to sniff even league-average production since that year. However, there are under-the-hood stats that tell a different story. Dan Syzmborski’s recent Fangraphs article detailing under and over-performers based on his secret “z” stats caught my eye. Scrolling down a little to his “zSLUG Underachievers” list will procure a list of names, including our subject for today: Ryan Jeffers. ZIPS believes that Jeffers should be slugging .441—a number in the ballpark of Matt Olson's (.440) and Freddie Freeman's (.441) production levels, not the Adam Frazier (.309) plateau he currently sits at. Syzmborski’s projection system is his creation, so how it reaches that conclusion is hidden from us regulars, but it’s a good sign nonetheless. There are other numbers as well. His Baseball Savant page doesn’t reflect un-impeachable elite performance like one sees from an Aaron Judge or a Mike Trout, but it does tell a tale of an unlucky slugger. Jeffers’ xwOBA is .339—right above league average for all hitters. Digging deeper, his barrel rate of 9.0%—a stat that indicates specific instances of a player hitting the crap out of the ball—puts him in elite territory; 26th amongst all qualified batters in MLB. Barrels aren’t an end-all stat—a player like Luis Arraez can be great because of other characteristics—but it is indicative of extra-base damage, and Jeffers’ current production does not reflect how much impact his bat has. There are other, more subtle numbers as well. Jeffers has tightened his command of the strike zone; his O-Swing % is down to 28.5, while his overall swinging strike rate has plummeted to 9.6%. Believe it or not, he swings at pitches outside the zone at the same rate as Luis Arraez (28.5%), and he whiffs at about the same rate as Paul Goldschmidt (9.5%). His total contact has also vastly improved (72.0% career vs. 78.5% in 2022, around Francisco Lindor territory (78.7%)). Those discipline numbers aren’t elite by any means, but they are average if not above-average in some cases, and average production would be a tremendous improvement for Jeffers. Jeffers’ walk rate reflects these changes (10.9%, up from 8.6%), while his strikeouts have dipped slightly, but probably less than one would expect (30.1%, down from 34.1%). I believe those punchouts will drop even further, given his improved plate control. Ryan Jeffers hits the ball hard at an elite level, has improved his plate discipline numbers across the board, and has worse surface-level hitting stats than before. That should change soon. The often-maligned 25-year-old has a good process in place; he has not found the final crucial step in unlocking his potential: luck. Once fortune turns in his direction, Jeffers will find himself as one of the better catchers in the game.
  23. It was mostly a quiet afternoon from both offenses, but a few clutch hits late were enough for the Twins to win the rubber game against the Mariners. Minnesota wins the first series of the West Coast trip. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (65 pitches, 41 strikes, 63.0%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (.263), Ryan Jeffers (.224), Caleb Thielbar (.131) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) A pitcher’s duel took place early in this game, as both starting pitchers dominated the opposing offenses with brilliance. Coming off the Injured List, Sonny Gray was making his first start for the Twins since May 29, and he looked superb for the first portion of the game. Gray retired six of the first seven batters faced, and that took him only 23 pitches. Come the third inning, he encountered his first speed bump of the afternoon, giving up a leadoff double to Taylor Trammell. To make it worse, Max Kepler made a throwing error on that play, allowing the Mariners right-fielder to reach third. Despite going back to the top of the Seattle order, Gray managed to retire the side and strand the runner on third. After dealing with the threat in the third, Gray continued to dazzle Mariner hitters and tossed a couple more shutout innings. He pitched exactly twice through the order allowing only three hits and no walks, with a total of only 65 pitches. Apparently, he picked up right where he left off before his latest trip to the IL. Pitching wasn’t the problem for Minnesota, but the bats were once again having a hard time. Southpaw Marco Gonzales was fiercely dominant against the Twins lineup, allowing only two hits and a walk for his first six innings of work. Minnesota’s first hit only came in the fourth. But things changed in the seventh inning. Gonzalez retired the leadoff man for his fifth consecutive Minnesota batter put away. Then the Twins started to manufacture their first run when Gary Sánchez hit a bloop single and Luis Arraez drew a walk after him. Jose Miranda sent Sánchez to third on a hustle play, avoiding a double play at first. Gonzalez was pulled right there, and Ryan Jeffers faced reliever Paul Sewald. On the second pitch he saw, he smacked a hard single to deep center, deep enough for Sánchez to score easily and put the Twins on the board. After Gray departed the game, Griffin Jax took over to pitch the sixth, and with a killer slider, he breezed through the three batters he faced, striking out two in the process. But once he departed, the Twins bullpen pitched themselves into a jam. Joe Smith allowed the first two batters he saw to reach in the seventh, on a leadoff single to Eugenio Suárez and a five-pitch walk to Jesse Winker. Fortunately for him, Dylan Moore popped out on a bunt next for the first out. Then, Gio Urshela made a fantastic defensive play for the second out. Smith departed the game after that, and Caleb Thielbar got the final out with four pitches. Such a clutch performance by the bullpen needed to be rewarded, and the offense came through in the top of the eighth. Gilberto Celestino hit a leadoff single against reliever Penn Murfee, and he scored a couple of at-bats later on a Carlos Correa double to left, making it 2-0 Twins. Minnesota wasn’t done. After Urshela grounded out for the second out of the inning, Sánchez drew a walk. It was up to Arráez to break the game open, and he came through. Following a wild pitch, Arráez pushed both runners across with a sharp ground ball thru an infield hole on the left side, doubling the Twins lead. It was his first hit of the day, driving his batting average back up to .354. Seattle’s bullpen found trouble again in the top of the ninth, although this time, they were able to limit the damage. Jeffers drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Kepler single. Reliever Roenis Elias got Celestino to ground out next, allowing Jeffers to score from third, making it 5-0 for Minnesota. Jharel Cotton came in to finish the game and, despite allowing two runners to reach, managed to put this one away with a strikeout and a couple of ground ball outs. What’s Next? Minnesota gets a day off tomorrow as their West Coast trip continues on Friday. The Twins pay a visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game set. Devin Smeltzer (2.38 ERA) duels Madison Bumgarner (3.50 ERA) in game one, with first pitch scheduled for 8:40 pm CDT. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Cotton 26 0 18 0 16 60 Duran 16 0 13 0 13 42 Pagán 21 0 18 0 0 39 Duffey 0 33 0 0 0 33 Thielbar 19 0 8 0 4 31 Megill 16 0 0 14 0 30 Thornburg 0 26 0 0 0 26 Jax 0 0 12 0 11 23 Smith 0 0 1 0 15 16 View full article
  24. Every step of the way, this Minnesota Twins front office has believed in Ryan Jeffers more than basically anyone outside of it. At times, their faith has been rewarded. But with Jeffers sinking into quicksand during his third major-league season, it's valid to question whether their extreme confidence is misplaced, and what that would mean for the franchise. Jeffers was widely considered a reach when the Twins selected him 59th overall in 2018 – the second draft overseen by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Per Puckett's Pond, Baseball America's big board had Jeffers ranked 295th among draft prospects and MLB.com's 200-player list didn't have him ranked. Although the North Carolina native had posted monster numbers during his collegiate career at UNC, he had a rep as a bat-first catcher without the receiving chops to stick behind the plate, negating his defensive premium. The Twins saw it differently. They overdrafted Jeffers to ensure he wouldn't escape their grasp. They moved him aggressively through the minors, even as he failed to post truly extraordinary numbers. In the COVID season, Minnesota called Jeffers up from the alternate site, despite his having played only 24 total games above Double-A to that point. To his credit, Jeffers seized the opportunity and made a great impression. While filling in the very big shoes of an injured Mitch Garver, the 23-year-old delivered a positive impact on both sides, posting a 119 OPS+ while flashing his vaunted framing skills on the big stage. Twins Daily named him Twins rookie of the year. The 2021 season was much more of a struggle for Jeffers. Pitchers began to exploit his lack of discipline at the plate. He batted .199 with a .270 OBP, and five times as many strikeouts as walks. Base runners increasingly exploited his inability to control the run game, stealing 46 bases on 59 attempts. Despite his sluggish sophomore campaign, the front office doubled down on Jeffers during the offseason, trading away two years of Mitch Garver and replacing him with Gary Sánchez in a walk year. The message was clear: Jeffers is our future behind the plate. Sure enough, the Twins ran Jeffers hard early on. He started every game in the opening series, catching the first two and playing DH in the third. In fact, Jeffers got three starts at designated hitter in the team's first dozen games, even with Minnesota carrying only two catchers. It's clear they expected Jeffers to hit. He hasn't. Jeffers opened the season in a brutal 4-for-27 skid, with zero extra-base hits. He then had a brief surge where he launched three home runs and four doubles in an eight-game span. Since then: 11-for-78 (.151) with one double, one home run, and 25 strikeouts in 26 games. Overall, Jeffers is slashing .174/.264/.303 – only six qualified big-leaguers have a worse OPS. He's consistently been an automatic out, cratering rallies and sapping an otherwise productive lineup. And what's more: Jeffers isn't exactly tearing it up on the defensive side to offset his hitting woes. He still rates well as a pitch framer, and it's clear he is stealing pitchers an extra strike here and there. (Although I'll note: notorious butcher backstop Gary Sánchez is also checking in above-average this year.) But Jeffers is being exposed for his throwing inadequacies like never before. For the season, Jeffers has successfully stopped only three of 28 aspiring base stealers. On Sunday, the Rays went borderline Matthew LeCroy on the bit, running at will as the Twins catcher helplessly cast tardy throws to second and third. Granted, Jeffers has often not gotten help from pitchers when it comes to stopping runners – Cole Sands on Sunday being a prime example – but it's a pretty clear weakness in his game. And again: it's not an unexpected one. His deficiencies in quickness and footwork have been noted in scouting reports over the years. They're part of why draft analysts doubted his future behind the plate. For Twins fans, it's now impossible not to doubt Jeffers' future behind the plate for the Twins. Framing skills aside, he's a 25-year-old with more than 500 plate appearances in the big leagues and a .655 OPS to show for it. The requisite signs of improvement aren't there. Jeffers looks lost and it's not inconceivable he could find himself ticketed for a Triple-A reset, should this trend persist. If Jeffers can't change course and resuscitate his wayward game, what does that mean for the future of the team at catcher? Garver is gone, as is Ben Rortvedt. The system is sparse on catching talent, which was noted in our preseason prospect rankings even before that depth was wiped out. This front office might be confident to the point some would describe as hubris, but they're not overly sentimental. At some point, they'll come to terms with the reality of Jeffers if it becomes undeniable. What happens then? In short, the Twins will either need to find a free agent (the upcoming market is ... not great) or a trade partner. OR ... they'll need to convince Gary Sánchez to stick around. It's not the most exciting proposition given his track record, and even in his resurgent rebound this year he's been pretty average. Still probably good enough to have some leverage in a weak catching market this offseason. So far, the team's unwavering faith in Jeffers has not paid off. But there's still time for him to prove them right. They could sure use it. View full article
  25. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (65 pitches, 41 strikes, 63.0%) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (.263), Ryan Jeffers (.224), Caleb Thielbar (.131) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) A pitcher’s duel took place early in this game, as both starting pitchers dominated the opposing offenses with brilliance. Coming off the Injured List, Sonny Gray was making his first start for the Twins since May 29, and he looked superb for the first portion of the game. Gray retired six of the first seven batters faced, and that took him only 23 pitches. Come the third inning, he encountered his first speed bump of the afternoon, giving up a leadoff double to Taylor Trammell. To make it worse, Max Kepler made a throwing error on that play, allowing the Mariners right-fielder to reach third. Despite going back to the top of the Seattle order, Gray managed to retire the side and strand the runner on third. After dealing with the threat in the third, Gray continued to dazzle Mariner hitters and tossed a couple more shutout innings. He pitched exactly twice through the order allowing only three hits and no walks, with a total of only 65 pitches. Apparently, he picked up right where he left off before his latest trip to the IL. Pitching wasn’t the problem for Minnesota, but the bats were once again having a hard time. Southpaw Marco Gonzales was fiercely dominant against the Twins lineup, allowing only two hits and a walk for his first six innings of work. Minnesota’s first hit only came in the fourth. But things changed in the seventh inning. Gonzalez retired the leadoff man for his fifth consecutive Minnesota batter put away. Then the Twins started to manufacture their first run when Gary Sánchez hit a bloop single and Luis Arraez drew a walk after him. Jose Miranda sent Sánchez to third on a hustle play, avoiding a double play at first. Gonzalez was pulled right there, and Ryan Jeffers faced reliever Paul Sewald. On the second pitch he saw, he smacked a hard single to deep center, deep enough for Sánchez to score easily and put the Twins on the board. After Gray departed the game, Griffin Jax took over to pitch the sixth, and with a killer slider, he breezed through the three batters he faced, striking out two in the process. But once he departed, the Twins bullpen pitched themselves into a jam. Joe Smith allowed the first two batters he saw to reach in the seventh, on a leadoff single to Eugenio Suárez and a five-pitch walk to Jesse Winker. Fortunately for him, Dylan Moore popped out on a bunt next for the first out. Then, Gio Urshela made a fantastic defensive play for the second out. Smith departed the game after that, and Caleb Thielbar got the final out with four pitches. Such a clutch performance by the bullpen needed to be rewarded, and the offense came through in the top of the eighth. Gilberto Celestino hit a leadoff single against reliever Penn Murfee, and he scored a couple of at-bats later on a Carlos Correa double to left, making it 2-0 Twins. Minnesota wasn’t done. After Urshela grounded out for the second out of the inning, Sánchez drew a walk. It was up to Arráez to break the game open, and he came through. Following a wild pitch, Arráez pushed both runners across with a sharp ground ball thru an infield hole on the left side, doubling the Twins lead. It was his first hit of the day, driving his batting average back up to .354. Seattle’s bullpen found trouble again in the top of the ninth, although this time, they were able to limit the damage. Jeffers drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Kepler single. Reliever Roenis Elias got Celestino to ground out next, allowing Jeffers to score from third, making it 5-0 for Minnesota. Jharel Cotton came in to finish the game and, despite allowing two runners to reach, managed to put this one away with a strikeout and a couple of ground ball outs. What’s Next? Minnesota gets a day off tomorrow as their West Coast trip continues on Friday. The Twins pay a visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game set. Devin Smeltzer (2.38 ERA) duels Madison Bumgarner (3.50 ERA) in game one, with first pitch scheduled for 8:40 pm CDT. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Cotton 26 0 18 0 16 60 Duran 16 0 13 0 13 42 Pagán 21 0 18 0 0 39 Duffey 0 33 0 0 0 33 Thielbar 19 0 8 0 4 31 Megill 16 0 0 14 0 30 Thornburg 0 26 0 0 0 26 Jax 0 0 12 0 11 23 Smith 0 0 1 0 15 16
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