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  1. The Minnesota Twins needed to acquire starting pitching this offseason and largely overlooked the free agent market. In making a deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota landed a guy in Sonny Gray that they hoped would be an ace. So far it’s looked like a perfect fit. How do they keep him moving forward? Pitching this season at 32, Sonny Gray is putting up among the best seasons of his 10-year big league career. Gray is in the final year of a four-year deal but carries a team option for 2023 at $12 million. Given his abilities and relative health, that should be a no-brainer to exercise for Minnesota. Gray has spent a couple of stints on the injured list this season, but he’s still made nine starts to the tune of a 2.53 ERA with a 9.7 K/9. Gray has never had a lower walk rate during his career, and this is as infrequent as he’s ever been allowing the longball. Having pitched recently in parks like Cincinnati and New York, finding a better fit in Minnesota has to have felt wonderful. On the process side of things, it appears Gray is learning to use somewhat of a different repertoire with the Twins. His fastball velocity is down to 92.1 mph, a career low, but he’s upped his slider usage and paired both with a solid curveball. Gray is experiencing a career best chase rate and he’s largely worked around damage. Nine games is far too small of a sample size to suggest Gray is going to continue this output for the rest of the season, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for a longer term marriage with the Twins if he wants to explore that. Looking at 34 following the team option, Gray’s likelihood for a long-term deal on the open market decreases substantially. Should he choose to lock something up now, a four year deal with Minnesota, tacking on an additional three, would potentially take him through the end of his career. Right now Gray is slated to make $12 million from Minnesota in 2023 if they so choose. Over the course of his current deal Gray has averaged $9.5 million annually. A season ago this Twins front office paid a 38-year-old J.A. Happ $8 million to top out their free agent pitching, and this season Dylan Bundy was given $5 million coming off a 6.06 ERA in 2021. I don’t know if the Twins need to go to $12 million annually on an extension, but that hardly seems egregious either. A 29-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez was paid $15.4 million over five years by the Detroit Tigers this offseason, and a 30-year-old Jon Gray got $14 million over four years from the Texas Rangers. Gray is arguably the better pitcher among that group, but he’s also roughly three years their senior. Both Steven Matz and Yusei Kikuchi got multi-year deals at $11 and $12 million annually respectively, but they too are roughly two years younger than that of Gray. Tyler Anderson is 32 years old and got $8 million from the Dodgers, but only on a one-year pact. There are plenty of guys in that age range that saw similar paydays with no guarantee of longevity. I think for Minnesota, and Gray, the duration may be a worthwhile tradeoff. For Minnesota, I think landing somewhere between Kikuchi and Matz over four years (starting in 2023) would be a worthwhile premise. That’d put Gray at between $11-12 million annually and $44-48 million over the course of his contract. Paying him that sum through age 36 seems to avoid much of the risk as he surpasses that age as well. As a guy who’s not velocity reliant and is very meticulous about his training regimen, there should be an ample amount of belief that he ages gracefully. Maybe the Twins ultimately don’t want to commit to Gray for the long term and they’re happy with him just being around in 2023. If not, these parameters seem like a good place to start. What do you think, are you paying $44-48 million for four more years of Sonny Gray? View full article
  2. The Twins opened up with the first of five games in four days Monday night against the Guardians. Sonny Gray made his ninth start of the season dominating through seven innings as the Twins bats awoke for the first of five straight games in Cleveland. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (97 pitches, 64 strikes (66 strike %)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (9), Nick Gordon (3), Carlos Correa (8) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez .199, Sonny Gray .198, Gio Urshela .167 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The first inning was a quiet affair at the plate for both teams. That changed in the top of the second as Alex Kirilloff and Gio Urshela reached base on a hit-by-pitch and double, respectively. Then Gary Sanchez came to the plate and on a 1-0 count saw a fastball right down the middle of the plate from Triston McKenzie and took it to deep left field for a three-run homer giving the Twins the first lead of the game. As the Twins moved into the bottom halves of the second and third, Sonny Gray kept the game scoreless allowing only one base runner on a single by Josh Naylor. Come time for the top of the fourth, the Twins were back at it again with the hits. Kirilloff reached base once again, this time on a single, and Urshela continued to be a doubles machine in his second at-bat getting an RBI double that scored Kirllioff to make it a 4-0 Twins lead. The following at-bat by Gary Sanchez brought another run home with Urshela scoring on an RBI single to make it 5-0 Twins over Cleveland. In the bottom of the fourth, Gray once again allowed the leadoff man Amed Rosario to reach, making it three of four innings where the leadoff man reached on a single off Gray. Still Gray escaped the hiccup retiring the next three batters and keeping the score at 5-0. Both McKenzie and Gray retired the minimum in the fifth inning keeping the game score at 5-0. Kirilloff kept up the hitting game again in the top of the sixth with a leadoff single. He wanted to extend that hit into a double but slid in too late and was thrown out by Steven Kwan from left field. Sanchez followed up Kirilloff two at-bats later by being the other Twin to reach base at least three times in the game. The next pitch was the first for Nick Gordon’s third at-bat and Nick Gordon pulled it to right field for a two-run home run to make the Twins lead 7-0. Gray continued his domination in the bottom of the sixth retiring the minimum for the third time in the game. Even more impressive was Gray’s total pitch count being only at 77 through six in his third start since returning from the IL. The offense gave Gray even more run support in the top of the seventh inning as Luis Arraez led off, drawing his second walk of the game. Two at-bats later, Carlos Correa delivered more runs on another two-run shot to put the Twins up further 9-0. Kirilloff got another chance to make up for his running game in his next at-bat in the top of the seventh. This time, Kwan had trouble reading the ball landing in left field from Kirilloff and he reached second safely to give himself a three-hit game and reached base in every plate appearance of the game to that point. The bottom of the seventh started off with a ten-pitch at-bat by Jose Ramirez against Gray that ended in a walk. The following at-bat made up for the walk as the Twins recorded a 3-5-1 double play against Naylor. Gray retired the final batter of the inning and Spongbob fan Oscar Gonzalez on a live drive to Correa, marking the end of Gray’s stellar start with seven innings of shutout baseball on 97 pitches. The eighth inning did not have much going for either team and as the game entered the top of the ninth inning, the Guardians forfeited their designated hitter by putting in Ernie Clement in the game for Jose Ramirez. Clement was on the mound in the ninth and the Guardians starting designated hitter, Owen Miller, was moved over to third. The top of the ninth did bring another first of the season as Mark Contreras came off the bench in place of Correa, hit against the shift and earned his first major league hit. Kirilloff was retired in the top of the ninth but got a sacrifice that scored Gilberto Celestino changing the score to 10-0. The next at-bat saw Urshela get his third hit and third RBI of the game scoring Contreras for his first big league run scored and making it an 11-0. Sanchez ended the inning on a double play, but the Twins walked away happy with a couple more insurance runs. Jharel Cotton, who had already pitched in the eighth, continued for the Twins in the ninth to close out the game. Cotton struggled with the first two batters giving up a single and a walk. He retired the next two batters but a wild pitch to Naylor allowed Myles Straw to score, but Cotton fixed that error by retiring Naylor on the very next pitch. What’s Next? The Twins have their second double header of the season on Tuesday with the first game against the Guardians starting at 12:10 p.m. CT and the second 6:10 p.m. CT. Game one will be started by Devin Smeltzer against Zach Plesac and game two Josh Winder will face off against Konnor Pilkington for the Guardians. Postgame Interview Coming soon. Bullpen Usage View full article
  3. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (97 pitches, 64 strikes (66 strike %)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (9), Nick Gordon (3), Carlos Correa (8) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez .199, Sonny Gray .198, Gio Urshela .167 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The first inning was a quiet affair at the plate for both teams. That changed in the top of the second as Alex Kirilloff and Gio Urshela reached base on a hit-by-pitch and double, respectively. Then Gary Sanchez came to the plate and on a 1-0 count saw a fastball right down the middle of the plate from Triston McKenzie and took it to deep left field for a three-run homer giving the Twins the first lead of the game. As the Twins moved into the bottom halves of the second and third, Sonny Gray kept the game scoreless allowing only one base runner on a single by Josh Naylor. Come time for the top of the fourth, the Twins were back at it again with the hits. Kirilloff reached base once again, this time on a single, and Urshela continued to be a doubles machine in his second at-bat getting an RBI double that scored Kirllioff to make it a 4-0 Twins lead. The following at-bat by Gary Sanchez brought another run home with Urshela scoring on an RBI single to make it 5-0 Twins over Cleveland. In the bottom of the fourth, Gray once again allowed the leadoff man Amed Rosario to reach, making it three of four innings where the leadoff man reached on a single off Gray. Still Gray escaped the hiccup retiring the next three batters and keeping the score at 5-0. Both McKenzie and Gray retired the minimum in the fifth inning keeping the game score at 5-0. Kirilloff kept up the hitting game again in the top of the sixth with a leadoff single. He wanted to extend that hit into a double but slid in too late and was thrown out by Steven Kwan from left field. Sanchez followed up Kirilloff two at-bats later by being the other Twin to reach base at least three times in the game. The next pitch was the first for Nick Gordon’s third at-bat and Nick Gordon pulled it to right field for a two-run home run to make the Twins lead 7-0. Gray continued his domination in the bottom of the sixth retiring the minimum for the third time in the game. Even more impressive was Gray’s total pitch count being only at 77 through six in his third start since returning from the IL. The offense gave Gray even more run support in the top of the seventh inning as Luis Arraez led off, drawing his second walk of the game. Two at-bats later, Carlos Correa delivered more runs on another two-run shot to put the Twins up further 9-0. Kirilloff got another chance to make up for his running game in his next at-bat in the top of the seventh. This time, Kwan had trouble reading the ball landing in left field from Kirilloff and he reached second safely to give himself a three-hit game and reached base in every plate appearance of the game to that point. The bottom of the seventh started off with a ten-pitch at-bat by Jose Ramirez against Gray that ended in a walk. The following at-bat made up for the walk as the Twins recorded a 3-5-1 double play against Naylor. Gray retired the final batter of the inning and Spongbob fan Oscar Gonzalez on a live drive to Correa, marking the end of Gray’s stellar start with seven innings of shutout baseball on 97 pitches. The eighth inning did not have much going for either team and as the game entered the top of the ninth inning, the Guardians forfeited their designated hitter by putting in Ernie Clement in the game for Jose Ramirez. Clement was on the mound in the ninth and the Guardians starting designated hitter, Owen Miller, was moved over to third. The top of the ninth did bring another first of the season as Mark Contreras came off the bench in place of Correa, hit against the shift and earned his first major league hit. Kirilloff was retired in the top of the ninth but got a sacrifice that scored Gilberto Celestino changing the score to 10-0. The next at-bat saw Urshela get his third hit and third RBI of the game scoring Contreras for his first big league run scored and making it an 11-0. Sanchez ended the inning on a double play, but the Twins walked away happy with a couple more insurance runs. Jharel Cotton, who had already pitched in the eighth, continued for the Twins in the ninth to close out the game. Cotton struggled with the first two batters giving up a single and a walk. He retired the next two batters but a wild pitch to Naylor allowed Myles Straw to score, but Cotton fixed that error by retiring Naylor on the very next pitch. What’s Next? The Twins have their second double header of the season on Tuesday with the first game against the Guardians starting at 12:10 p.m. CT and the second 6:10 p.m. CT. Game one will be started by Devin Smeltzer against Zach Plesac and game two Josh Winder will face off against Konnor Pilkington for the Guardians. Postgame Interview Coming soon. Bullpen Usage
  4. Pitching this season at 32, Sonny Gray is putting up among the best seasons of his 10-year big league career. Gray is in the final year of a four-year deal but carries a team option for 2023 at $12 million. Given his abilities and relative health, that should be a no-brainer to exercise for Minnesota. Gray has spent a couple of stints on the injured list this season, but he’s still made nine starts to the tune of a 2.53 ERA with a 9.7 K/9. Gray has never had a lower walk rate during his career, and this is as infrequent as he’s ever been allowing the longball. Having pitched recently in parks like Cincinnati and New York, finding a better fit in Minnesota has to have felt wonderful. On the process side of things, it appears Gray is learning to use somewhat of a different repertoire with the Twins. His fastball velocity is down to 92.1 mph, a career low, but he’s upped his slider usage and paired both with a solid curveball. Gray is experiencing a career best chase rate and he’s largely worked around damage. Nine games is far too small of a sample size to suggest Gray is going to continue this output for the rest of the season, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for a longer term marriage with the Twins if he wants to explore that. Looking at 34 following the team option, Gray’s likelihood for a long-term deal on the open market decreases substantially. Should he choose to lock something up now, a four year deal with Minnesota, tacking on an additional three, would potentially take him through the end of his career. Right now Gray is slated to make $12 million from Minnesota in 2023 if they so choose. Over the course of his current deal Gray has averaged $9.5 million annually. A season ago this Twins front office paid a 38-year-old J.A. Happ $8 million to top out their free agent pitching, and this season Dylan Bundy was given $5 million coming off a 6.06 ERA in 2021. I don’t know if the Twins need to go to $12 million annually on an extension, but that hardly seems egregious either. A 29-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez was paid $15.4 million over five years by the Detroit Tigers this offseason, and a 30-year-old Jon Gray got $14 million over four years from the Texas Rangers. Gray is arguably the better pitcher among that group, but he’s also roughly three years their senior. Both Steven Matz and Yusei Kikuchi got multi-year deals at $11 and $12 million annually respectively, but they too are roughly two years younger than that of Gray. Tyler Anderson is 32 years old and got $8 million from the Dodgers, but only on a one-year pact. There are plenty of guys in that age range that saw similar paydays with no guarantee of longevity. I think for Minnesota, and Gray, the duration may be a worthwhile tradeoff. For Minnesota, I think landing somewhere between Kikuchi and Matz over four years (starting in 2023) would be a worthwhile premise. That’d put Gray at between $11-12 million annually and $44-48 million over the course of his contract. Paying him that sum through age 36 seems to avoid much of the risk as he surpasses that age as well. As a guy who’s not velocity reliant and is very meticulous about his training regimen, there should be an ample amount of belief that he ages gracefully. Maybe the Twins ultimately don’t want to commit to Gray for the long term and they’re happy with him just being around in 2023. If not, these parameters seem like a good place to start. What do you think, are you paying $44-48 million for four more years of Sonny Gray?
  5. In a wild back-and-forth battle, the Twins hit four home runs and scored ten runs, but that wasn’t enough. It was a tough evening for Minnesota on the mound, as Cleveland homered three times and rallied for four runs in the ninth to take the series victory. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.0 IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K (85 pitches, 59 strikes, 69.4%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa, 2 (7), Max Kepler (7), Gio Urshela (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Jharel Cotton (-.476), Griffin Jax (-.453), Emilio Pagan (-.285) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With four combined runs scored by both teams in the first three innings, this game was off to a busy start. The Twins offense went off very early, with Carlos Correa hitting a solo home run in the game’s second at-bat. Then, in the second inning, Minnesota added another run after Gio Urshela and Trevor Larnach hit back-to-back singles, allowing Ryan Jeffers to push Urshela across the plate with a double on a liner to deep left. Cleveland nearly gained some momentum at the top of the third. Sonny Gray had retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, including a stretch of six consecutive. But Myles Straw hit a one-out double shortly before Steven Kwan hit an RBI triple to bring him home, cut the Twins’ lead in half, and still pose a threat at third base. Despite the two extra-base hits, Gray was able to cool down and retire the next two batters to end the inning. The Twins' response was quick, as Correa saw three pitches to lead off the bottom of the third and crushed his second dinger of the night, making it 3-1 for Minnesota. This was Correa’s first multi-home run game of the season, the 11th in his career. Following the home run, Max Kepler drew a walk, but the Twins couldn’t take advantage and settled for the one run. Twins extend the lead to four, but Gray can’t hold on to it Minnesota was able to extend their lead a bit more in the bottom of the fourth inning after Gray delivered another scoreless frame. Urshela led off the inning with a hustle triple that Straw couldn’t field. Jeffers followed him with a pretty RBI bunt that Guardians starter Triston McKenzie couldn’t glove, scoring Minnesota’s fourth run. Jeffers himself got to third base on a Nick Gordon single. Batting next, Luis Arraez, a career 0-for-9 against McKenzie, couldn’t get his first hit against the Cleveland starter, but he hit a sac-fly deep enough to bring Jeffers home, making it 5-1 for Minnesota. After four solid innings from Gray, the Cleveland offense started a rally in the fifth and jumped right back in this game. Austin Hedges hit a leadoff home run to cut the lead down to three. Then, Straw, Kwan, and Amed Rosario hit three consecutive singles off Gray, adding another run and ending his start. Gray departed the game leaving two runners on and no outs for Caleb Thielbar. Kwan scored from third on a one-out balk from Thielbar, making it a one-run game, but the Twins’ reliever managed to strike out the next two batters to brilliantly get out of an inherited jam and put an end to the Cleveland (first) rally. Cleveland rallies again, snatches the lead for the first time The long ball continued to work for the Twins, as they hit their third home run of the night. Kepler punished McKenzie’s second pitch of the fifth inning to hit a leadoff dong that gave Minnesota some breathing room. Thielbar and Joe Smith combined to pitch a scoreless sixth, but it wasn’t without a fight from the Guardians, who managed to produce a couple of baserunners before Smith could get the final two outs. For the first time in the game, in the bottom of the sixth, the offense didn’t score a run and that would prove costly later on. Jharel Cotton took the mound in the seventh and after three consecutive scoreless appearances (including one last night), he was ambushed, allowing Cleveland to take the lead for the first time in the game. Rosario hit a leadoff home run to cut the Twins' lead down to one, then, shortly after José Ramírez was hit by a pitch, Oscar González hit a two-run bomb to left, making it 7-6 for Cleveland. Twins rally back for four runs in the seventh, but the bullpen blows the lead in the ninth The Twins offense didn’t score in the sixth when Minnesota had a two-run lead, but they did when it mattered the most. Relievers Anthony Gose and Anthony Castro needed only six pitches to get the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Minnesota’s bats weren’t done. Kepler drew his second walk of the night, then moved to third on a Gary Sanchez single. A mound visit didn’t help Castro, as he gave up a game-tying RBI single to Alex Kirilloff, who ended up on second after Sánchez hustled to third, nearly getting tagged by Ramírez. With a tied ballgame, Urshela gave the Twins some much-needed insurance by hitting a three-run bomb to center. Emilio Pagan was trying to redeem himself from the rough outing he had the night before when he blew the lead by giving up a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth. Tonight, he flawlessly struck out the side in the eighth, protecting the Twins’ lead. However, as he was brought back for the ninth, things got ugly for him. Rosario, Ramírez, and Josh Naylor got three consecutive hits against him to open the inning – the latter an RBI double to make it 10-8 Minnesota. Rocco Baldelli removed Pagán from the game immediately, bringing Griffin Jax into the game. With no outs and with runners on second and third, Jax got ahead in the count against González, but a bloop single to center was enough to score both runners. González advanced to third on a sac bunt and scored right after that on an Owen Miller sac-fly that gave the Guardians the lead, 11-10. A 1-2-3 effort by reliever Emmanuel Clase secured the win for the Guardians at the bottom of the ninth. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 12:10 pm CDT these two teams get back on the field with Minnesota trying to prevent a series sweep. The Twins turn to Devin Smeltzer (3.52 ERA) to start the game, while Cleveland brings Zach Plesac (4.41 ERA) to the mound. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Jax 0 16 0 27 7 50 Cotton 10 0 0 11 28 49 Thielbar 0 31 0 0 15 46 Pagán 0 0 0 17 24 41 Duran 0 0 0 27 0 27 Duffey 0 25 0 0 0 25 Smith 0 0 0 0 21 21 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  6. Every big-league roster has players that provide irreplaceable value, but some players are even more critical to their team. Here are the top-five most irreplaceable players on the 2022 Twins. Earlier this week, FanGraphs posted about the American League's most irreplaceable players for the remainder of the 2022 season. For author and ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski, this isn't a list of the top players in the league. His premise is to eliminate teams out of contention and remove players on teams with significant division leads. He "ran the updated ZiPS projected standings after Tuesday's games and then re-ran the entire simulation with the assumption that each relevant player missed the rest of the season due to injury." Multiple AL Central players appear on Szymborski's rankings, including Byron Buxton in the eighth overall spot. For Twins fans, an argument can be made for each of the names below as the team's most irreplaceable player. 5. Joe Ryan, SP Starting pitching is so important for the Twins that it seems like nearly every starter is irreplaceable at this point. However, starters will be limited in the amount of value they can provide, with less than 60% of the schedule remaining. Joe Ryan dominated early in the season to put himself in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. A trip to the COVID IL was the only thing able to slow him down. Minnesota has already survived part of the schedule without Ryan, which is another reason why he ranks fifth. 4. Sonny Gray, SP Sonny Gray has been the ace-level pitcher Twins fans have pined for in recent years, but he has yet to make ten starts due to a pectoral strain. Gray was the clear selection as the TD Pitcher of the Month for May, but the team needs him healthy for the season's second half. He was an All-Star the last time he pitched over 175 innings in a season. Like Ryan, his value for the season's remaining games is limited because he will appear in fewer games than the position players named below. 3. Luis Arraez, UTL An argument can be made that Luis Arraez has been the team's MVP so far in 2022. He leads baseball in batting average and on-base percentage. Baseball-Reference ranks Arraez as having accumulated the team's highest WAR total, which puts him a full win ahead of Carlos Correa. Last season, Arraez played in a career-high 121 games, and Minnesota needs him to surpass that mark in 2022. The Twins have infield depth, so even if Arraez is injured, his replacement(s) would recover some of his value. 2. Carlos Correa, SS Carlos Correa's slow start might have been tough for some fans to watch, but his track record pointed to him being able to turn it around. Since May 1, Correa is hitting .321/.382/.509 (.891) with 13 extra-base hits in 27 games. According to Szymborski, "Correa ranks a bit lower than Buxton, even with as good a projection, mainly because Minnesota has reasonable depth in the infield." It's been well documented that Correa can opt out of his contract, so he has every incentive to continue playing well. 1. Byron Buxton, CF Even with the team managing his playing time, Buxton's living up to his contract extension from this winter. He's on pace to set career highs in nearly every offensive category, and FanGraphs already puts his season value north of $18 million. On FanGraphs' list, Buxton doesn't rank as high as other players because ZiPS already projects him to miss time due to injury. Szymborski wrote, "Assuming that Buxton would have perfect health, he would jump into the [AL's] top five." The Twins are at their best with Buxton in the line-up, making him the team's most irreplaceable player. How would you rank the team's most irreplaceable players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  7. Earlier this week, FanGraphs posted about the American League's most irreplaceable players for the remainder of the 2022 season. For author and ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski, this isn't a list of the top players in the league. His premise is to eliminate teams out of contention and remove players on teams with significant division leads. He "ran the updated ZiPS projected standings after Tuesday's games and then re-ran the entire simulation with the assumption that each relevant player missed the rest of the season due to injury." Multiple AL Central players appear on Szymborski's rankings, including Byron Buxton in the eighth overall spot. For Twins fans, an argument can be made for each of the names below as the team's most irreplaceable player. 5. Joe Ryan, SP Starting pitching is so important for the Twins that it seems like nearly every starter is irreplaceable at this point. However, starters will be limited in the amount of value they can provide, with less than 60% of the schedule remaining. Joe Ryan dominated early in the season to put himself in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. A trip to the COVID IL was the only thing able to slow him down. Minnesota has already survived part of the schedule without Ryan, which is another reason why he ranks fifth. 4. Sonny Gray, SP Sonny Gray has been the ace-level pitcher Twins fans have pined for in recent years, but he has yet to make ten starts due to a pectoral strain. Gray was the clear selection as the TD Pitcher of the Month for May, but the team needs him healthy for the season's second half. He was an All-Star the last time he pitched over 175 innings in a season. Like Ryan, his value for the season's remaining games is limited because he will appear in fewer games than the position players named below. 3. Luis Arraez, UTL An argument can be made that Luis Arraez has been the team's MVP so far in 2022. He leads baseball in batting average and on-base percentage. Baseball-Reference ranks Arraez as having accumulated the team's highest WAR total, which puts him a full win ahead of Carlos Correa. Last season, Arraez played in a career-high 121 games, and Minnesota needs him to surpass that mark in 2022. The Twins have infield depth, so even if Arraez is injured, his replacement(s) would recover some of his value. 2. Carlos Correa, SS Carlos Correa's slow start might have been tough for some fans to watch, but his track record pointed to him being able to turn it around. Since May 1, Correa is hitting .321/.382/.509 (.891) with 13 extra-base hits in 27 games. According to Szymborski, "Correa ranks a bit lower than Buxton, even with as good a projection, mainly because Minnesota has reasonable depth in the infield." It's been well documented that Correa can opt out of his contract, so he has every incentive to continue playing well. 1. Byron Buxton, CF Even with the team managing his playing time, Buxton's living up to his contract extension from this winter. He's on pace to set career highs in nearly every offensive category, and FanGraphs already puts his season value north of $18 million. On FanGraphs' list, Buxton doesn't rank as high as other players because ZiPS already projects him to miss time due to injury. Szymborski wrote, "Assuming that Buxton would have perfect health, he would jump into the [AL's] top five." The Twins are at their best with Buxton in the line-up, making him the team's most irreplaceable player. How would you rank the team's most irreplaceable players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.0 IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K (85 pitches, 59 strikes, 69.4%) Home Runs: Carlos Correa, 2 (7), Max Kepler (7), Gio Urshela (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Jharel Cotton (-.476), Griffin Jax (-.453), Emilio Pagan (-.285) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With four combined runs scored by both teams in the first three innings, this game was off to a busy start. The Twins offense went off very early, with Carlos Correa hitting a solo home run in the game’s second at-bat. Then, in the second inning, Minnesota added another run after Gio Urshela and Trevor Larnach hit back-to-back singles, allowing Ryan Jeffers to push Urshela across the plate with a double on a liner to deep left. Cleveland nearly gained some momentum at the top of the third. Sonny Gray had retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, including a stretch of six consecutive. But Myles Straw hit a one-out double shortly before Steven Kwan hit an RBI triple to bring him home, cut the Twins’ lead in half, and still pose a threat at third base. Despite the two extra-base hits, Gray was able to cool down and retire the next two batters to end the inning. The Twins' response was quick, as Correa saw three pitches to lead off the bottom of the third and crushed his second dinger of the night, making it 3-1 for Minnesota. This was Correa’s first multi-home run game of the season, the 11th in his career. Following the home run, Max Kepler drew a walk, but the Twins couldn’t take advantage and settled for the one run. Twins extend the lead to four, but Gray can’t hold on to it Minnesota was able to extend their lead a bit more in the bottom of the fourth inning after Gray delivered another scoreless frame. Urshela led off the inning with a hustle triple that Straw couldn’t field. Jeffers followed him with a pretty RBI bunt that Guardians starter Triston McKenzie couldn’t glove, scoring Minnesota’s fourth run. Jeffers himself got to third base on a Nick Gordon single. Batting next, Luis Arraez, a career 0-for-9 against McKenzie, couldn’t get his first hit against the Cleveland starter, but he hit a sac-fly deep enough to bring Jeffers home, making it 5-1 for Minnesota. After four solid innings from Gray, the Cleveland offense started a rally in the fifth and jumped right back in this game. Austin Hedges hit a leadoff home run to cut the lead down to three. Then, Straw, Kwan, and Amed Rosario hit three consecutive singles off Gray, adding another run and ending his start. Gray departed the game leaving two runners on and no outs for Caleb Thielbar. Kwan scored from third on a one-out balk from Thielbar, making it a one-run game, but the Twins’ reliever managed to strike out the next two batters to brilliantly get out of an inherited jam and put an end to the Cleveland (first) rally. Cleveland rallies again, snatches the lead for the first time The long ball continued to work for the Twins, as they hit their third home run of the night. Kepler punished McKenzie’s second pitch of the fifth inning to hit a leadoff dong that gave Minnesota some breathing room. Thielbar and Joe Smith combined to pitch a scoreless sixth, but it wasn’t without a fight from the Guardians, who managed to produce a couple of baserunners before Smith could get the final two outs. For the first time in the game, in the bottom of the sixth, the offense didn’t score a run and that would prove costly later on. Jharel Cotton took the mound in the seventh and after three consecutive scoreless appearances (including one last night), he was ambushed, allowing Cleveland to take the lead for the first time in the game. Rosario hit a leadoff home run to cut the Twins' lead down to one, then, shortly after José Ramírez was hit by a pitch, Oscar González hit a two-run bomb to left, making it 7-6 for Cleveland. Twins rally back for four runs in the seventh, but the bullpen blows the lead in the ninth The Twins offense didn’t score in the sixth when Minnesota had a two-run lead, but they did when it mattered the most. Relievers Anthony Gose and Anthony Castro needed only six pitches to get the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Minnesota’s bats weren’t done. Kepler drew his second walk of the night, then moved to third on a Gary Sanchez single. A mound visit didn’t help Castro, as he gave up a game-tying RBI single to Alex Kirilloff, who ended up on second after Sánchez hustled to third, nearly getting tagged by Ramírez. With a tied ballgame, Urshela gave the Twins some much-needed insurance by hitting a three-run bomb to center. Emilio Pagan was trying to redeem himself from the rough outing he had the night before when he blew the lead by giving up a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth. Tonight, he flawlessly struck out the side in the eighth, protecting the Twins’ lead. However, as he was brought back for the ninth, things got ugly for him. Rosario, Ramírez, and Josh Naylor got three consecutive hits against him to open the inning – the latter an RBI double to make it 10-8 Minnesota. Rocco Baldelli removed Pagán from the game immediately, bringing Griffin Jax into the game. With no outs and with runners on second and third, Jax got ahead in the count against González, but a bloop single to center was enough to score both runners. González advanced to third on a sac bunt and scored right after that on an Owen Miller sac-fly that gave the Guardians the lead, 11-10. A 1-2-3 effort by reliever Emmanuel Clase secured the win for the Guardians at the bottom of the ninth. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 12:10 pm CDT these two teams get back on the field with Minnesota trying to prevent a series sweep. The Twins turn to Devin Smeltzer (3.52 ERA) to start the game, while Cleveland brings Zach Plesac (4.41 ERA) to the mound. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Jax 0 16 0 27 7 50 Cotton 10 0 0 11 28 49 Thielbar 0 31 0 0 15 46 Pagán 0 0 0 17 24 41 Duran 0 0 0 27 0 27 Duffey 0 25 0 0 0 25 Smith 0 0 0 0 21 21 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 0 0
  9. Despite a pair of stellar pitching outings and hits-a-plenty, the Twins managed just three wins on the wild west road trip this past week. The talent is there, yet there seemed to be a piece missing from the puzzle too many times. Last Week's Game Results: Game 63 | MIN 3, SEA 2: Buxton's Early Bomb Proves Decisive Game 64 | SEA 5, MIN 0: Ryan Rocked in Return, Bats Blanked Game 65 | MIN 5, SEA 0: Offense Surges Late to Clinch Series Game 66 | AZ 7, MIN 2: Twins Drop Series Opener to Diamondbacks Game 67 | MIN 11, AZ 1: Dylan Bundy Shines, Offense Explodes as Twins Win Game 68 | AZ 7, MIN 1: Punished by Long Ball, Drop Rubber Game Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/13 through Sun, 6/19 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 38-30) Run Differential Last Week: Even (Overall: +25) Standing: First Place in AL Central (1 GA) NEWS & NOTES For the first time this season the Twins headed west for a week in Seattle and Phoenix against two sub-par teams. Sitting in fourth and dead last in their respective divisions, the past week provided an opportunity to create some distance between the Twins and streaking Guardians. At the end of the day, that didn't happen. The Twins squeaked out a series win against the Mariners but fell in a disappointing series to the Diamondbacks that included two blowout losses. For the first time in his career, Jorge Polanco was placed on the Injured List for lower back tightness on Thursday. Off to an adequate start, Polanco was slashing .245/.340/.729 with ten doubles and 33 RBI prior to the announcement. Placed on the 10-day IL, Jorge's presence as a core member of the middle part of the lineup was noticed. On the flipside, the Polanco move opened the door for Alex Kirilloff to make his way back to Target Field, a move that many in the Twins community were calling for. You can't blame the people. After a lackluster first stint with the Twins this year, Kirilloff tore the cover off the ball at Triple-A St. Paul over the past month and made as solid a case as there is that he belongs at Target Field. Perhaps the most notable news of the week came from the return of starting pitchers Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray. Arguably the top two pitchers in the rotation, Ryan and Gray's return adds depth to a pitching rotation with a tank that was close to empty. Returning from the extended Covid List, Ryan made his first start since May 21 on Tuesday night against the Mariners while Gray returned on Wednesday night following a stint on the 15-day IL with a pectoral strain. Given the return of Ryan and Gray, the Twins DFA'd RHP Chi Chi González this past Sunday. González was scooped up by the Milwaukee Brewers just two days later. Signed to a minor league contract prior to the start of the season, González made two starts for the Twins, giving up six runs on 12 hits in seven combined innings. HIGHLIGHTS Despite the .500 result on the week, there was a flurry of excellent endeavors for the Minnesota Twins this past week. Coming off an extended stint on the IL is never easy, especially for a starting pitcher. Sonny Gray kicked that norm to the curb on Wednesday night with arguably his best start of the year in a shutout win over the Mariners. Through five scoreless innings, Gray allowed just three hits and no runs while striking out three in one hell of a comeback campaign. Anticipated by many to be the club's ace upon his signing, Gray's numbers are trending in the right direction. Gray has given up just three runs in his last four starts and opposing hitters batted a meager .182 against Gray in May (versus .208) in June. Obviously, it's a small sample size, but the numbers are looking great and Gray's experience will continue to prove valuable for a rotation this continues to be fluid. Ace or not, Sonny Gray will be a valuable asset for the Twins as the season grows deep. Speaking of consistency, Luis Arraez has continued his monstrous hitting campaign and currently sits at a lead-leading .361 batting average. Arraez holds a healthy lead over Paul Goldschmidt (.344 AVG) and has sat atop the leader board for over a week. Batting .386 in the month of June, Arraez hit safely in five of six games this week, including three multi-hit games. It's no secret that Arraez deserves to be an MLB All-Star, yet his greatest strength is certainly his versatility at the plate. Well-known as a contact hitter, Arraez has shown his potential for power throughout the season while maintaining his incredible consistency for putting the ball in play. Here's Rocco speaking about his stellar hitting approach. Perhaps the finest pitching outing of the week took place on Saturday night when Dylan Bundy mowed down the Diamondbacks through eight full innings. Coming off of a rough start against the Yankees, Bundy allowed just one run on no hits and struck out seven in his clear-cut best start of the year. Unlike Arraez, Bundy has lacked consistency this year but Saturday's masterpiece against the Diamondbacks was a true display of how high Bundy's ceiling can be. Hopefully, it instills confidence in the veteran and leads to more quality starts when it matters most. Carlos Correa has continued to trend in the directions that Twins fans hoped he would. Traditionally a slow starter, Correa is now statistically playing the best June baseball of his career and is batting .341 so far this month. Corea's season-long average of .293 ranks second amongst everyday starters (only behind Arraez) and is sure to climb even higher. Correa did go hitless in two of three games against the Diamondbacks but did knock in an RBI in the middle game along with hitting safely in each game in Seattle. And on top of those, Alex Kirilloff's return to Major League play on Saturday night was excellent. With the game still competitive, Kirilloff crushed a third-inning two-out RBI two-run double to open up the flood gates for the rest of the crew. LOWLIGHTS A club that should win a majority of games (and certainly series) against bottom-feeder teams, this week's 50-50 split came as a result of dry bats, and rocky pitching...sometimes at the same time. Sunday's loss to Arizona was a prime example. Through four innings, Chris Archer allowed two runs (both homers) on three total hits while striking out three; not a great outing, but certainly not a game-ruiner. While not his finest rodeo, Griffin Jax kept the game within reach, allowing just one run (on another homer) in the fifth inning. The floodgates unfortunately opened in the sixth, with Caleb Thielbar allowing four runs on three hits (one homer) and a walk in just 2/3 of an inning. The blunder was uncharacteristic for Thielbar, who had previously allowed just one run in the month of June. Thielbar touted an impressive 2.08 ERA through 13 innings in May and will hopefully get past this road bump. Yet through the misfires on the bump, the Twins' offense wasn't able to get much going minus a Luis Arraez run in the first. The Twins managed just five hits in the series finale against the D-Backs, a large contrast from 14 the night before and 10 on Friday. Just a few days earlier, the team tallied just four hits in their series-opening loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. The highs and lows of this team's hitting will eventually land somewhere on a plateau alongside the mountain. Ryan Jeffers looks to be escaping from his hitting slump and young talent Jose Miranda seems to have found a groove. There aren't necessarily sole names at fault for the occasional offensive lapses, the problem seems to just be a team-wide consistency gap in occasional 'should-win games.' After finally hitting his stride, LHP Devin Smeltzer suffered his first poor outing of the season in the series opener against Arizona. Smeltzer allowed seven runs on nine hits through 4 1/3 against the Diamondbacks, the most runs and hits he's given up through seven starts this year. The crafty lefty gave up two homers in his outing and has given up seven in June after giving up none through three starts in May. That's certainly not a good trend, but Smeltzer has proven he can limit damage and keep opposing hitters' numbers low. While there is surely uncertainty given his fairly young track record, hopefully, Friday's shelling was just a rare bad day at the office. And finally, Joe Ryan's highly anticipated return to the bump on Tuesday night in Seattle didn't exactly go as planned. After three stellar innings, Ryan left just a few pitches up which led to the Mariners scoring two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. All in all the outing was horrific, it just wasn't "Joe-Cool-esque." Not shockingly, Ryan's velocity was down quite a bit from prior to landing on the Covid list. Ryan's bland start shouldn't provide a huge concern for worry, as the star rookie has proven his consistency throughout the course of the season. This week's start against Cleveland should prove as a true test for the club's ace. TRENDING STORYLINE The Twins did not meet or exceed their own expectations this past week. While there were certainly moments of brilliance the club lacked consistency against two very sweep-able ball clubs. Contending teams find ways to take care of business against clubs that they're clearly better than and the Twins simply played down to the level Mariners and Diamondbacks too many times. Are the Twins still contenders? Absolutely. It would be foolish to foster deep concern following a .500 week at this point in the season, especially with key players returning to health. Yet the Twins do need to find consistency both at the plate and from the bump...and they need it to coincide. Losing Jorge Polanco is certainly a blow, but unlikely heroes like Jose Miranda are beginning to get hot, and veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez have shown the ability to be major contributors. The 'A-B-C' crew of Arraez, Buxton, and Correa continue to anchor this offense and all signs are pointing toward them all trending in the right direction. Despite a trio of over-par starts, the Twins bullpen is in a decent place with Gray and Ryan back on the mound. Given Dylan Bundy's electric start in Arizona along with 'not-normal' outings from Smeltzer and Archer, the Twins truly control their destiny for the near future. The reality of that begins on Tuesday. With red-hot Cleveland (8-2 in last ten games) coming to town, Minnesota will have the chance to beat a solid team that they're still probably better than. Following Sunday's loss, the Guardians are just one game behind the Twins for first place in the AL Central and are one of the most surprising stories of the year (along with the Twins). Joe Ryan will have a chance to redeem himself on the bump and all signs are pointing towards an electric series at Target Field. LOOKING AHEAD With some toasty weather and first place in the division on the line, Target Field will be the place to be this week as Cleveland comes to town. Following that the Twins will have a chance to sweep the struggling Rockies over the weekend. TUESDAY, 6/21: GUARDIANS @ TWINS - RHP Joe Ryan v. TBD WEDNESDAY, 6/22: GUARDIANS @ TWINS- RHP Sonny Gray vs. RHP Triston McKenzie THURSDAY, 6/23: GUARDIANS @ TWINS- LHP Devin Smeltzer vs. RHP Zac Plesac FRIDAY, 6/24: ROCKIES @ TWINS- TBD v. TBD SATURDAY, 6/25: ROCKIES @ TWINS TBD v. TBD SUNDAY, 6/26: ROCKIES @ TWINS TBD v. TBD View full article
  10. Last Week's Game Results: Game 63 | MIN 3, SEA 2: Buxton's Early Bomb Proves Decisive Game 64 | SEA 5, MIN 0: Ryan Rocked in Return, Bats Blanked Game 65 | MIN 5, SEA 0: Offense Surges Late to Clinch Series Game 66 | AZ 7, MIN 2: Twins Drop Series Opener to Diamondbacks Game 67 | MIN 11, AZ 1: Dylan Bundy Shines, Offense Explodes as Twins Win Game 68 | AZ 7, MIN 1: Punished by Long Ball, Drop Rubber Game Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/13 through Sun, 6/19 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 38-30) Run Differential Last Week: Even (Overall: +25) Standing: First Place in AL Central (1 GA) NEWS & NOTES For the first time this season the Twins headed west for a week in Seattle and Phoenix against two sub-par teams. Sitting in fourth and dead last in their respective divisions, the past week provided an opportunity to create some distance between the Twins and streaking Guardians. At the end of the day, that didn't happen. The Twins squeaked out a series win against the Mariners but fell in a disappointing series to the Diamondbacks that included two blowout losses. For the first time in his career, Jorge Polanco was placed on the Injured List for lower back tightness on Thursday. Off to an adequate start, Polanco was slashing .245/.340/.729 with ten doubles and 33 RBI prior to the announcement. Placed on the 10-day IL, Jorge's presence as a core member of the middle part of the lineup was noticed. On the flipside, the Polanco move opened the door for Alex Kirilloff to make his way back to Target Field, a move that many in the Twins community were calling for. You can't blame the people. After a lackluster first stint with the Twins this year, Kirilloff tore the cover off the ball at Triple-A St. Paul over the past month and made as solid a case as there is that he belongs at Target Field. Perhaps the most notable news of the week came from the return of starting pitchers Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray. Arguably the top two pitchers in the rotation, Ryan and Gray's return adds depth to a pitching rotation with a tank that was close to empty. Returning from the extended Covid List, Ryan made his first start since May 21 on Tuesday night against the Mariners while Gray returned on Wednesday night following a stint on the 15-day IL with a pectoral strain. Given the return of Ryan and Gray, the Twins DFA'd RHP Chi Chi González this past Sunday. González was scooped up by the Milwaukee Brewers just two days later. Signed to a minor league contract prior to the start of the season, González made two starts for the Twins, giving up six runs on 12 hits in seven combined innings. HIGHLIGHTS Despite the .500 result on the week, there was a flurry of excellent endeavors for the Minnesota Twins this past week. Coming off an extended stint on the IL is never easy, especially for a starting pitcher. Sonny Gray kicked that norm to the curb on Wednesday night with arguably his best start of the year in a shutout win over the Mariners. Through five scoreless innings, Gray allowed just three hits and no runs while striking out three in one hell of a comeback campaign. Anticipated by many to be the club's ace upon his signing, Gray's numbers are trending in the right direction. Gray has given up just three runs in his last four starts and opposing hitters batted a meager .182 against Gray in May (versus .208) in June. Obviously, it's a small sample size, but the numbers are looking great and Gray's experience will continue to prove valuable for a rotation this continues to be fluid. Ace or not, Sonny Gray will be a valuable asset for the Twins as the season grows deep. Speaking of consistency, Luis Arraez has continued his monstrous hitting campaign and currently sits at a lead-leading .361 batting average. Arraez holds a healthy lead over Paul Goldschmidt (.344 AVG) and has sat atop the leader board for over a week. Batting .386 in the month of June, Arraez hit safely in five of six games this week, including three multi-hit games. It's no secret that Arraez deserves to be an MLB All-Star, yet his greatest strength is certainly his versatility at the plate. Well-known as a contact hitter, Arraez has shown his potential for power throughout the season while maintaining his incredible consistency for putting the ball in play. Here's Rocco speaking about his stellar hitting approach. Perhaps the finest pitching outing of the week took place on Saturday night when Dylan Bundy mowed down the Diamondbacks through eight full innings. Coming off of a rough start against the Yankees, Bundy allowed just one run on no hits and struck out seven in his clear-cut best start of the year. Unlike Arraez, Bundy has lacked consistency this year but Saturday's masterpiece against the Diamondbacks was a true display of how high Bundy's ceiling can be. Hopefully, it instills confidence in the veteran and leads to more quality starts when it matters most. Carlos Correa has continued to trend in the directions that Twins fans hoped he would. Traditionally a slow starter, Correa is now statistically playing the best June baseball of his career and is batting .341 so far this month. Corea's season-long average of .293 ranks second amongst everyday starters (only behind Arraez) and is sure to climb even higher. Correa did go hitless in two of three games against the Diamondbacks but did knock in an RBI in the middle game along with hitting safely in each game in Seattle. And on top of those, Alex Kirilloff's return to Major League play on Saturday night was excellent. With the game still competitive, Kirilloff crushed a third-inning two-out RBI two-run double to open up the flood gates for the rest of the crew. LOWLIGHTS A club that should win a majority of games (and certainly series) against bottom-feeder teams, this week's 50-50 split came as a result of dry bats, and rocky pitching...sometimes at the same time. Sunday's loss to Arizona was a prime example. Through four innings, Chris Archer allowed two runs (both homers) on three total hits while striking out three; not a great outing, but certainly not a game-ruiner. While not his finest rodeo, Griffin Jax kept the game within reach, allowing just one run (on another homer) in the fifth inning. The floodgates unfortunately opened in the sixth, with Caleb Thielbar allowing four runs on three hits (one homer) and a walk in just 2/3 of an inning. The blunder was uncharacteristic for Thielbar, who had previously allowed just one run in the month of June. Thielbar touted an impressive 2.08 ERA through 13 innings in May and will hopefully get past this road bump. Yet through the misfires on the bump, the Twins' offense wasn't able to get much going minus a Luis Arraez run in the first. The Twins managed just five hits in the series finale against the D-Backs, a large contrast from 14 the night before and 10 on Friday. Just a few days earlier, the team tallied just four hits in their series-opening loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. The highs and lows of this team's hitting will eventually land somewhere on a plateau alongside the mountain. Ryan Jeffers looks to be escaping from his hitting slump and young talent Jose Miranda seems to have found a groove. There aren't necessarily sole names at fault for the occasional offensive lapses, the problem seems to just be a team-wide consistency gap in occasional 'should-win games.' After finally hitting his stride, LHP Devin Smeltzer suffered his first poor outing of the season in the series opener against Arizona. Smeltzer allowed seven runs on nine hits through 4 1/3 against the Diamondbacks, the most runs and hits he's given up through seven starts this year. The crafty lefty gave up two homers in his outing and has given up seven in June after giving up none through three starts in May. That's certainly not a good trend, but Smeltzer has proven he can limit damage and keep opposing hitters' numbers low. While there is surely uncertainty given his fairly young track record, hopefully, Friday's shelling was just a rare bad day at the office. And finally, Joe Ryan's highly anticipated return to the bump on Tuesday night in Seattle didn't exactly go as planned. After three stellar innings, Ryan left just a few pitches up which led to the Mariners scoring two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. All in all the outing was horrific, it just wasn't "Joe-Cool-esque." Not shockingly, Ryan's velocity was down quite a bit from prior to landing on the Covid list. Ryan's bland start shouldn't provide a huge concern for worry, as the star rookie has proven his consistency throughout the course of the season. This week's start against Cleveland should prove as a true test for the club's ace. TRENDING STORYLINE The Twins did not meet or exceed their own expectations this past week. While there were certainly moments of brilliance the club lacked consistency against two very sweep-able ball clubs. Contending teams find ways to take care of business against clubs that they're clearly better than and the Twins simply played down to the level Mariners and Diamondbacks too many times. Are the Twins still contenders? Absolutely. It would be foolish to foster deep concern following a .500 week at this point in the season, especially with key players returning to health. Yet the Twins do need to find consistency both at the plate and from the bump...and they need it to coincide. Losing Jorge Polanco is certainly a blow, but unlikely heroes like Jose Miranda are beginning to get hot, and veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez have shown the ability to be major contributors. The 'A-B-C' crew of Arraez, Buxton, and Correa continue to anchor this offense and all signs are pointing toward them all trending in the right direction. Despite a trio of over-par starts, the Twins bullpen is in a decent place with Gray and Ryan back on the mound. Given Dylan Bundy's electric start in Arizona along with 'not-normal' outings from Smeltzer and Archer, the Twins truly control their destiny for the near future. The reality of that begins on Tuesday. With red-hot Cleveland (8-2 in last ten games) coming to town, Minnesota will have the chance to beat a solid team that they're still probably better than. Following Sunday's loss, the Guardians are just one game behind the Twins for first place in the AL Central and are one of the most surprising stories of the year (along with the Twins). Joe Ryan will have a chance to redeem himself on the bump and all signs are pointing towards an electric series at Target Field. LOOKING AHEAD With some toasty weather and first place in the division on the line, Target Field will be the place to be this week as Cleveland comes to town. Following that the Twins will have a chance to sweep the struggling Rockies over the weekend. TUESDAY, 6/21: GUARDIANS @ TWINS - RHP Joe Ryan v. TBD WEDNESDAY, 6/22: GUARDIANS @ TWINS- RHP Sonny Gray vs. RHP Triston McKenzie THURSDAY, 6/23: GUARDIANS @ TWINS- LHP Devin Smeltzer vs. RHP Zac Plesac FRIDAY, 6/24: ROCKIES @ TWINS- TBD v. TBD SATURDAY, 6/25: ROCKIES @ TWINS TBD v. TBD SUNDAY, 6/26: ROCKIES @ TWINS TBD v. TBD
  11. Minnesota has made it through the AL East swing that was arguably their toughest stretch of the year. Despite winning two straight series, the Twins are now hotly contested by the Guardians who are clearly the Central’s second-best team. Chicago has had another week of turmoil and the bottom remains unchanged. The Standings: Minnesota 37-28 Cleveland 32-27 Chicago 30-31 Detroit 24-39 Kansas City 21-41 Although the Twins are still holding down first place in the AL Central, the lead has dwindled to just two games. Cleveland is among the best teams in baseball right now, and they’re making a hard charge towards the top. Minnesota and Cleveland get together for three games this week and a total of eight times before the end of the month. Some movement is coming when those two match up. The Stories: Health has begun to return for Minnesota. Welcoming back Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray while in Seattle was a massive boost to the starting rotation. Jorge Polanco is dealing with a nagging back issue, but both Josh Winder and Kyle Garlick could return to the active roster this week as well. It remains worth watching as to when the Twins will deem young slugger Alex Kirilloff fit for what they hope is a final promotion to the big leagues. Lance Lynn made his 2022 debut for the White Sox, and it wasn’t good. Being hit around some, the veteran wasn’t sharp but did enough to get Chicago the win. Not long after the White Sox did lose reliever Kyle Crick to right elbow inflammation. He’s been good out of the pen and that would be a disappointing loss should it become long term. Crick’s placement on the injured list came just a day after star closer Liam Hendriks suffered the same fate due to a forearm strain. It’s estimated that Hendriks will be down for three weeks. Tony La Russa’s club did reinforcements with Vince Velasquez rejoining the rotation and Joe Kelly being re-inserted into the bullpen. When things are going your way, they really go your way. Cleveland was in a tough spot against the Rockies this week and Steven Kwan made nothing short of a miraculous catch to preserve the lead. Rolling over their past ten, it’s been big spots like that where the Guardians have risen to the occasion. Slugger Franmil Reyes appears to be nearing a big league return. He’s currently rehabbing with Triple-A Columbus, but could be activated as early as Monday. A.J. Hinch isn’t used to losing, but the Detroit Tigers have done a ton of that this season. Expected to take a step forward, the club held a closed door meeting on Wednesday. Javier Baez was brought in as a flashy free agent signing, and a handful of young contributors were expected to step up. So far that hasn’t happened. This meeting followed a 13-0 drubbing by the Chicago White Sox, but at least Roger Clemens’ son Kody Clemens made an appearance on the bump for Detroit. The Royals have seen Rookie of the Year candidate Bobby Witt Jr. start to turn it on. He’s now got a 108 OPS+ on the season after starting incredibly slow. Andrew Benintendi has cooled some at the plate but his average remains a strong .301. Right now, and most of the season, not much is going right for Kansas City but there are small glimmers of hope for the future. The Week Ahead: Before heading home to welcome the Guardians and Rockies, Minnesota takes a quick trip out west to face the Diamondbacks for three games. That series is sandwiched in between off days. Before getting the bottom-feeding Orioles at home a week from now, Chicago will travel to Houston and then return home for a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cleveland can’t afford to look ahead as they’ll face the Dodgers in Los Angeles before coming to Minnesota. The goal would be to keep the deficit close in the Central so the series at Target Field has heightened intrigue. Needing to turn things around, Detroit gets a series against the Rangers at home. They’ll then travel to Boston on Monday, and picking up wins against Texas should be a much more likely opportunity. The Red Sox are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Royals continue their west coast trip as they spend the weekend across the bay in Oakland before heading to Los Angeles for a series against the Angels. What are you looking forward to this week? Can the Twins grab some distance ahead of Cleveland? View full article
  12. The Standings: Minnesota 37-28 Cleveland 32-27 Chicago 30-31 Detroit 24-39 Kansas City 21-41 Although the Twins are still holding down first place in the AL Central, the lead has dwindled to just two games. Cleveland is among the best teams in baseball right now, and they’re making a hard charge towards the top. Minnesota and Cleveland get together for three games this week and a total of eight times before the end of the month. Some movement is coming when those two match up. The Stories: Health has begun to return for Minnesota. Welcoming back Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray while in Seattle was a massive boost to the starting rotation. Jorge Polanco is dealing with a nagging back issue, but both Josh Winder and Kyle Garlick could return to the active roster this week as well. It remains worth watching as to when the Twins will deem young slugger Alex Kirilloff fit for what they hope is a final promotion to the big leagues. Lance Lynn made his 2022 debut for the White Sox, and it wasn’t good. Being hit around some, the veteran wasn’t sharp but did enough to get Chicago the win. Not long after the White Sox did lose reliever Kyle Crick to right elbow inflammation. He’s been good out of the pen and that would be a disappointing loss should it become long term. Crick’s placement on the injured list came just a day after star closer Liam Hendriks suffered the same fate due to a forearm strain. It’s estimated that Hendriks will be down for three weeks. Tony La Russa’s club did reinforcements with Vince Velasquez rejoining the rotation and Joe Kelly being re-inserted into the bullpen. When things are going your way, they really go your way. Cleveland was in a tough spot against the Rockies this week and Steven Kwan made nothing short of a miraculous catch to preserve the lead. Rolling over their past ten, it’s been big spots like that where the Guardians have risen to the occasion. Slugger Franmil Reyes appears to be nearing a big league return. He’s currently rehabbing with Triple-A Columbus, but could be activated as early as Monday. A.J. Hinch isn’t used to losing, but the Detroit Tigers have done a ton of that this season. Expected to take a step forward, the club held a closed door meeting on Wednesday. Javier Baez was brought in as a flashy free agent signing, and a handful of young contributors were expected to step up. So far that hasn’t happened. This meeting followed a 13-0 drubbing by the Chicago White Sox, but at least Roger Clemens’ son Kody Clemens made an appearance on the bump for Detroit. The Royals have seen Rookie of the Year candidate Bobby Witt Jr. start to turn it on. He’s now got a 108 OPS+ on the season after starting incredibly slow. Andrew Benintendi has cooled some at the plate but his average remains a strong .301. Right now, and most of the season, not much is going right for Kansas City but there are small glimmers of hope for the future. The Week Ahead: Before heading home to welcome the Guardians and Rockies, Minnesota takes a quick trip out west to face the Diamondbacks for three games. That series is sandwiched in between off days. Before getting the bottom-feeding Orioles at home a week from now, Chicago will travel to Houston and then return home for a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cleveland can’t afford to look ahead as they’ll face the Dodgers in Los Angeles before coming to Minnesota. The goal would be to keep the deficit close in the Central so the series at Target Field has heightened intrigue. Needing to turn things around, Detroit gets a series against the Rangers at home. They’ll then travel to Boston on Monday, and picking up wins against Texas should be a much more likely opportunity. The Red Sox are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Royals continue their west coast trip as they spend the weekend across the bay in Oakland before heading to Los Angeles for a series against the Angels. What are you looking forward to this week? Can the Twins grab some distance ahead of Cleveland?
  13. 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
  14. The Twins have led the AL Central all season. They are in pole position to secure a playoff spot. This begs the question; is the roster set up for postseason success? Save your comments about the Twins inexorable run of postseason trauma. Everyone knows about the streak. I’m not here to talk about the streak. What I’m interested in is, are this season’s Minnesota Twins set up favorably (from a roster construction standpoint) to make a run in October? I think the answer is no. Here’s three reasons why. A Lack of High Leverage Relief Arms Watching the Yankees come back to win the final game of their series with the Twins was painfully familiar. The Yankees slowly eroded a 7-3 Twins lead, behind an incredible effort from their bullpen. While the Yankees are an extreme comparison (they have the best bullpen in baseball), they are relevant for a few reasons. One, they are the type of team you are going to have to beat to make a meaningful October run. Two, think about how October games are won. Short starts, lots of relief innings. I know I’m not the only Twins fan who wonders, after a solid four innings from Chris Archer, how Rocco Baldelli will navigate the bullpen gauntlet with the limited weapons he has at his disposal. Here are a few of the Yankees best relievers by FIP: Banuelos 1.57, Holmes 1.65, King 1.91, Peralta 2.78. Let’s go through a similar exercise for the Twins: Jhoan Duran 2.96, Caleb Thielbar 3.05, Griffin Jax 3.27, Smith 4.52. While the Twins bullpen has generally been successful, they are not set up for October success. They lack enough high-leverage arms, and overall quality depth. This must be addressed ahead of the trade deadline if the Twins are serious about winning in October. Not Enough High-Caliber Starting Pitching While watching the Twins repeatedly hit the ball hard on Tuesday against Logan Gilbert in a game where the offense put up a higher xBA (.244) than the Mariners (.241), I asked myself if the Twins have a starting pitcher better than Gilbert? You can make a case that Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan are better, ultimately, they’re a similar caliber of starter to Gilbert. Outside of Gray and Ryan, there is no one on the Twins roster I would feel confident in going into an October matchup. Simply put, if the Twins are serious about winning in the playoffs, not just making them, they need to add another starting pitcher who can compete effectively in a playoff game. A Feast or Famine Offense I’ll end with the most modest concern. After losing to the Mariners on Tuesday night, the Twins has been shut out 9 times, most in MLB. While the offense is top ten in most major offensive categories (5th in wRC+, 7th in wOBA), they also have more peaks and valleys than other offenses. After recording 72 hits in 6 games against the likes of Gerrit Cole, Kevin Gausman, and Nestor Cortes, they proceeded to score 3 runs in their next 27 innings, against the Rays bullpen, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert. While the offense is the strength of the team, the caliber of pitching, particularly relief pitching, will make putting up crooked numbers in October difficult. Put simply, this Twins team is a jack of all-trades, and a master of none. Their offense is good, not exceptional. Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan are the only starting pitchers who have any business starting a playoff game. There are few to no trusted high leverage relief arms outside Jhoan Duran. If the Twins are to subvert the incredibly tiresome postseason narrative, the front office will have to do something they have yet to do with regards to roster construction; go all in. View full article
  15. Sonny Gray returned to the Minnesota Twins Wednesday and delivered five shutout innings to help lift the team to a series-clinching victory in Seattle. Luis Arraez provided a couple of insurance runs late, capping a great at-bat with a two-run single. Down in the minors, Yunior Severino belted a pair of impressive home runs in Cedar Rapids while reliever Evan Sisk had an impressive Triple-A debut for the Saints. View full video
  16. Sonny Gray returned to the Minnesota Twins Wednesday and delivered five shutout innings to help lift the team to a series-clinching victory in Seattle. Luis Arraez provided a couple of insurance runs late, capping a great at-bat with a two-run single. Down in the minors, Yunior Severino belted a pair of impressive home runs in Cedar Rapids while reliever Evan Sisk had an impressive Triple-A debut for the Saints.
  17. Save your comments about the Twins inexorable run of postseason trauma. Everyone knows about the streak. I’m not here to talk about the streak. What I’m interested in is, are this season’s Minnesota Twins set up favorably (from a roster construction standpoint) to make a run in October? I think the answer is no. Here’s three reasons why. A Lack of High Leverage Relief Arms Watching the Yankees come back to win the final game of their series with the Twins was painfully familiar. The Yankees slowly eroded a 7-3 Twins lead, behind an incredible effort from their bullpen. While the Yankees are an extreme comparison (they have the best bullpen in baseball), they are relevant for a few reasons. One, they are the type of team you are going to have to beat to make a meaningful October run. Two, think about how October games are won. Short starts, lots of relief innings. I know I’m not the only Twins fan who wonders, after a solid four innings from Chris Archer, how Rocco Baldelli will navigate the bullpen gauntlet with the limited weapons he has at his disposal. Here are a few of the Yankees best relievers by FIP: Banuelos 1.57, Holmes 1.65, King 1.91, Peralta 2.78. Let’s go through a similar exercise for the Twins: Jhoan Duran 2.96, Caleb Thielbar 3.05, Griffin Jax 3.27, Smith 4.52. While the Twins bullpen has generally been successful, they are not set up for October success. They lack enough high-leverage arms, and overall quality depth. This must be addressed ahead of the trade deadline if the Twins are serious about winning in October. Not Enough High-Caliber Starting Pitching While watching the Twins repeatedly hit the ball hard on Tuesday against Logan Gilbert in a game where the offense put up a higher xBA (.244) than the Mariners (.241), I asked myself if the Twins have a starting pitcher better than Gilbert? You can make a case that Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan are better, ultimately, they’re a similar caliber of starter to Gilbert. Outside of Gray and Ryan, there is no one on the Twins roster I would feel confident in going into an October matchup. Simply put, if the Twins are serious about winning in the playoffs, not just making them, they need to add another starting pitcher who can compete effectively in a playoff game. A Feast or Famine Offense I’ll end with the most modest concern. After losing to the Mariners on Tuesday night, the Twins has been shut out 9 times, most in MLB. While the offense is top ten in most major offensive categories (5th in wRC+, 7th in wOBA), they also have more peaks and valleys than other offenses. After recording 72 hits in 6 games against the likes of Gerrit Cole, Kevin Gausman, and Nestor Cortes, they proceeded to score 3 runs in their next 27 innings, against the Rays bullpen, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert. While the offense is the strength of the team, the caliber of pitching, particularly relief pitching, will make putting up crooked numbers in October difficult. Put simply, this Twins team is a jack of all-trades, and a master of none. Their offense is good, not exceptional. Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan are the only starting pitchers who have any business starting a playoff game. There are few to no trusted high leverage relief arms outside Jhoan Duran. If the Twins are to subvert the incredibly tiresome postseason narrative, the front office will have to do something they have yet to do with regards to roster construction; go all in.
  18. 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
  19. Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is a little over a month away, but voting has already started. Who should be the Twins' representative in the Mid-Summer Classic? Earlier this week, voting opened for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game that will take place July 19th at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Voting for the starting line-ups is broken into two phases. Phase 1 started on Wednesday, June 8th, and runs through Thursday, June 30th at 1 PM CT. Phase 2 will include the two vote-getters at each position and the top six outfielders in each league. Before Phase 2 starts, the top vote-getter from each league will get an automatic place in their team's starting line-up. Voting for this phase runs from 11 AM CT on July 5th and ends on July 8th at 2 PM CT. The Twins also announced multiple incentives for fans to vote, including an opportunity to purchase $1 tickets to future games this season. The Twins have candidates on both sides of the ball, including some players in the running to be starters. Here's a look at Minnesota's top-five candidates and their chances to head to LA. 5. Sonny Gray, SP Plenty of Twins have compiled decent numbers in recent weeks, and those players may have an outside shot at making the All-Star team. According to Baseball-Reference, Trevor Larnach is leading the team in WAR, but he's played fewer than 40 games. Pitchers also figure into the final league rosters, with the players and the commissioner's office voting for who makes the team. Sonny Gray has been outstanding during his first season with the Twins, including a 155 ERA+ and 10.4 K/9. His All-Star chances are tied to how quickly he can return from a recent trip to the injured list with a right pectoral strain. 4. Joe Ryan, SP While Gray has been good, Joe Ryan has arguably been Minnesota's best starting pitcher. He has posted a 163 ERA+ with a 0.99 WHIP and a 42-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio. Like Gray, Ryan has missed time recently as he is close to returning from the COVID restricted list. He is scheduled to make a rehab start at Triple-A this weekend before the team reevaluates how close he is to returning. Ryan will likely only have a handful of remaining starts to fortify his All-Star candidacy before rosters are announced next month. 3. Byron Buxton, OF Byron Buxton's tremendous start to the season has him in the running to be one of the six outfield finalists. According to FanGraphs, he ranks seventh in WAR among AL outfielders, and his 13 home runs rank in the top four. He has played fewer games than some of the other top candidates, so this can be a strike against him. Luckily, he seems to have broken out of his recent 0-for-30 slump, but he will need to continue to add to some of the counting stats that casual fans look at when voting. 2. Luis Arraez, 1B MLB.com picked one player on each team that deserves an All-Star vote, and Luis Arraez was that player for the Twins. Obviously, he doesn't fit the mold of a typical All-Star first baseman, as he only has six extra-base hits on the season. However, he is leading all of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage. It also helps that there isn't a strong candidate at first base. Seattle's Ty France leads AL first basemen in fWAR, while Arraez currently sits in fourth place. Arraez's production so far in 2022 is one of the main reasons the Twins sit in first place. 1. Jhoan Duran, RP All-Star Games are meant to be exciting showcases of baseball's top players. No Twins player has been more exciting to watch this season than Jhoan Duran. His pitching outings are must-watch TV, and his dominant pitch mix makes him an ideal candidate for a one-inning showcase. Duran easily leads the Twins in Win Probability Added, and he has accumulated more WAR than multiple positions players that play nearly every day. His biggest challenge may be getting the support he needs from players around the league and/or the commissioner's office. How would you rank these players? Do you think someone else should make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  20. Earlier this week, voting opened for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game that will take place July 19th at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Voting for the starting line-ups is broken into two phases. Phase 1 started on Wednesday, June 8th, and runs through Thursday, June 30th at 1 PM CT. Phase 2 will include the two vote-getters at each position and the top six outfielders in each league. Before Phase 2 starts, the top vote-getter from each league will get an automatic place in their team's starting line-up. Voting for this phase runs from 11 AM CT on July 5th and ends on July 8th at 2 PM CT. The Twins also announced multiple incentives for fans to vote, including an opportunity to purchase $1 tickets to future games this season. The Twins have candidates on both sides of the ball, including some players in the running to be starters. Here's a look at Minnesota's top-five candidates and their chances to head to LA. 5. Sonny Gray, SP Plenty of Twins have compiled decent numbers in recent weeks, and those players may have an outside shot at making the All-Star team. According to Baseball-Reference, Trevor Larnach is leading the team in WAR, but he's played fewer than 40 games. Pitchers also figure into the final league rosters, with the players and the commissioner's office voting for who makes the team. Sonny Gray has been outstanding during his first season with the Twins, including a 155 ERA+ and 10.4 K/9. His All-Star chances are tied to how quickly he can return from a recent trip to the injured list with a right pectoral strain. 4. Joe Ryan, SP While Gray has been good, Joe Ryan has arguably been Minnesota's best starting pitcher. He has posted a 163 ERA+ with a 0.99 WHIP and a 42-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio. Like Gray, Ryan has missed time recently as he is close to returning from the COVID restricted list. He is scheduled to make a rehab start at Triple-A this weekend before the team reevaluates how close he is to returning. Ryan will likely only have a handful of remaining starts to fortify his All-Star candidacy before rosters are announced next month. 3. Byron Buxton, OF Byron Buxton's tremendous start to the season has him in the running to be one of the six outfield finalists. According to FanGraphs, he ranks seventh in WAR among AL outfielders, and his 13 home runs rank in the top four. He has played fewer games than some of the other top candidates, so this can be a strike against him. Luckily, he seems to have broken out of his recent 0-for-30 slump, but he will need to continue to add to some of the counting stats that casual fans look at when voting. 2. Luis Arraez, 1B MLB.com picked one player on each team that deserves an All-Star vote, and Luis Arraez was that player for the Twins. Obviously, he doesn't fit the mold of a typical All-Star first baseman, as he only has six extra-base hits on the season. However, he is leading all of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage. It also helps that there isn't a strong candidate at first base. Seattle's Ty France leads AL first basemen in fWAR, while Arraez currently sits in fourth place. Arraez's production so far in 2022 is one of the main reasons the Twins sit in first place. 1. Jhoan Duran, RP All-Star Games are meant to be exciting showcases of baseball's top players. No Twins player has been more exciting to watch this season than Jhoan Duran. His pitching outings are must-watch TV, and his dominant pitch mix makes him an ideal candidate for a one-inning showcase. Duran easily leads the Twins in Win Probability Added, and he has accumulated more WAR than multiple positions players that play nearly every day. His biggest challenge may be getting the support he needs from players around the league and/or the commissioner's office. How would you rank these players? Do you think someone else should make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. The esteemed Matthew brother, the one with the surname “Taylor,” decided to write about why people should not be worried about the Twins. In Fairness (™), we at Twinsdaily thought it would be fun to pull a Richard Nixon; reaping the benefits of reactionary negativity by presenting a counter-article proclaiming that we should, indeed, be worried about these Twins. The Twins are currently 4.5 games up on the Cleveland Guardians; the White Sox are stinky, and the Tigers and Royals remembered that they are, in fact, the Tigers and Royals. Every other team in the Twins' division is dreadfully below .500 and has little recourse for their sins. Given the AL Comedy Central context, what could the Twins possibly worry about? A few things! Actually. Let’s talk about the bullpen, that terrible bullpen. Twins relievers moonlighted as an adequate group for a handful of games, perhaps fooling some into believing that Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and their Merry Group of Men could hold their own at least until the trade deadline. That came down in a crashing, painful fashion. Cody Stashak is injured, Smith is now mortal, Tyler Duffey forgot that he’s supposed to be good, Caleb Thielbar is walking a small village, and Emilio Pagán… let’s just leave that name undescribed. If not for Duran and his magical right arm, the bullpen would require an NC-17 rating every time Rocco Baldelli called for “support.” Stretching back to when Houston systematically crushed the Twins starting on May 10th, the unit has put up the 6th worst FIP in MLB (4.45). There is little in the form of inspirational reinforcements as well. Yennier Cano has excellent stuff but wrestles with bouts of lost command; Trevor Megill also has great stuff, but, and you’ll be shocked to read this, he too struggles with command at times. Maybe Ian Hamilton or Austin Schulfer could provide a jolt, but it would be foolish to bet on that happening. One could snarkily mention Taylor Rogers, but the Brewers jumped all over him on Thursday, so that punchline is no longer as funny. How about the starting rotation, now. Outside of the one time a week Joe Ryan descends from above to bless us with a great start (or at least when that used to happen before he got COVID), the rotation is more inconsistent than Florida in an election year. Sonny Gray is great but has now suffered multiple injuries; Chris Archer finally hit the five-inning threshold in a start the other day (it’s June), Dylan Bundy is Dylan Bundy-ing, and, honestly, who knows after that. Chris Paddack was a joy to watch until he tore his UCL again, and Josh Winder flashed potential… until he aggravated his right shoulder… again. The rotation is now Bailey Ober and whatever magic Devin Smeltzer has left in his stirrups. Chi Chi González is now starting. The case rests. “But the team is severely injured,” you might say. The Twins these days are indeed the baseball equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, but there’s no promise that the injuries will let up, and what matters is what the team does on the field, not what the team could be doing on the field. There are no awards for potential. To combat an article full of negativity, Ryan and Carlos Correa will return from COVID soon, as will Gilberto Celestino. This very well could be just one of those streaks in a baseball season, the kind that scares everyone into claiming the sky is falling before laughing off the notion after a month of great play; the team did win 18 games in May. Perhaps none of this matters—the Al Central is currently a handful of teams that look more like fronts for tax fraud than actual baseball franchises—but this team is not in great shape. The two-month slog until the trade deadline will be crucial; key pieces need to get healthy and stay healthy for this team to have hope against the better squads in the AL. The house of cards was wobbly to begin with, and they may be slipping with each day. View full article
  22. There is a lot of concern in Minnesota Twins Territory after the Twins four of five games against the Detroit Tigers this week. Don’t sound the alarms, though, there are plenty of reasons not to worry. 1. Reinforcements are on the way A big reason why the Minnesota Twins have struggled over the last couple weeks have been because of the sheer number of players that they have been missing in these games. Just to list the name of players that have hit the injured list over the past two weeks illustrates how dire it has been: Carlos Correa (COVID-19), Joe Ryan (COVID-19), Gilberto Celestino (COVID-19), Josh Winder (Shoulder), Sonny Gray (Pectoral), Royce Lewis (Knee), Danny Coulombe (Hip). The good news for the Twins, though, is that many of these players figure to be back shortly. It’s been just about one week since Ryan, Celestino and Correa hit the COVID-19 list and they figure to be back in the fold in just a few short days. Additionally, Jorge Alcala has already begun his rehab assignment as he reaches the end of his time on the 60-day injured list, and all reports point to his arm looking strong. The return timelines of Josh Winder, Sonny Gray and Royce Lewis are less clear, but all three of these vital players appear to have avoided major injuries and figure to be healthy in turn for the late summer home stretch of the season. Finally, the Twins are close to getting Alex Kirilloff added back onto the squad as well. Kirilloff struggled mightily during his time with the Twins, but since getting sent back down to AAA, Kirilloff has found his groove to the tune of a .863 OPS. Getting Kirilloff back to his expected form would be a big time addition. 2. White Sox Look Terrible For as bad as the Minnesota Twins have looked lately, the Chicago White Sox have looked even worse. The team that everyone expected to run away with the American League Central has not at all looked the part all season. After falling prey to a sweep from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon, the White Sox now find themselves at 23-26 with a negative-55 run differential, the second-worst run differential in the American League. While true that the schedule is about to get tough for the Twins, the White Sox face an equally tough slate with their next six games coming against the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s hard to envision the Guardians, Tigers, or Royals making any sort of run at the American League Central, and with the White Sox looking as bad as they have looked, there’s still plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the Twins’ chances of making the playoffs. 3. Third Wild Card Spot If the White Sox do figure things out and start playing much better than they have over the first third of the season, the Twins still have a great shot at making the playoffs via the Wildcard. As a part of the new CBA agreement, there are now three Wildcard teams that make the American League playoffs. In an American League where nine teams currently have a record under .500, it shouldn’t take any more than 85 wins to make the playoffs. To put that in perspective, the Twins would just need to play .500 baseball over the balance of the season to lock down a playoff spot. Additionally, all Wildcard teams are now guaranteed an extended playoff series, rather than a one-game playoff. There is certainly reason to be frustrated with how the Minnesota Twins have been playing lately. However, with the reinforcements on the way, along with the way the White Sox have been playing and the fact that three Wild Card teams from the American League will make the playoffs, the Minnesota Twins still find themselves in a good spot to reach the postseason, where anything can happen (even if you’re the Minnesota Twins). Are you worried about the Minnesota Twins? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! View full article
  23. The Twins are currently 4.5 games up on the Cleveland Guardians; the White Sox are stinky, and the Tigers and Royals remembered that they are, in fact, the Tigers and Royals. Every other team in the Twins' division is dreadfully below .500 and has little recourse for their sins. Given the AL Comedy Central context, what could the Twins possibly worry about? A few things! Actually. Let’s talk about the bullpen, that terrible bullpen. Twins relievers moonlighted as an adequate group for a handful of games, perhaps fooling some into believing that Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and their Merry Group of Men could hold their own at least until the trade deadline. That came down in a crashing, painful fashion. Cody Stashak is injured, Smith is now mortal, Tyler Duffey forgot that he’s supposed to be good, Caleb Thielbar is walking a small village, and Emilio Pagán… let’s just leave that name undescribed. If not for Duran and his magical right arm, the bullpen would require an NC-17 rating every time Rocco Baldelli called for “support.” Stretching back to when Houston systematically crushed the Twins starting on May 10th, the unit has put up the 6th worst FIP in MLB (4.45). There is little in the form of inspirational reinforcements as well. Yennier Cano has excellent stuff but wrestles with bouts of lost command; Trevor Megill also has great stuff, but, and you’ll be shocked to read this, he too struggles with command at times. Maybe Ian Hamilton or Austin Schulfer could provide a jolt, but it would be foolish to bet on that happening. One could snarkily mention Taylor Rogers, but the Brewers jumped all over him on Thursday, so that punchline is no longer as funny. How about the starting rotation, now. Outside of the one time a week Joe Ryan descends from above to bless us with a great start (or at least when that used to happen before he got COVID), the rotation is more inconsistent than Florida in an election year. Sonny Gray is great but has now suffered multiple injuries; Chris Archer finally hit the five-inning threshold in a start the other day (it’s June), Dylan Bundy is Dylan Bundy-ing, and, honestly, who knows after that. Chris Paddack was a joy to watch until he tore his UCL again, and Josh Winder flashed potential… until he aggravated his right shoulder… again. The rotation is now Bailey Ober and whatever magic Devin Smeltzer has left in his stirrups. Chi Chi González is now starting. The case rests. “But the team is severely injured,” you might say. The Twins these days are indeed the baseball equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, but there’s no promise that the injuries will let up, and what matters is what the team does on the field, not what the team could be doing on the field. There are no awards for potential. To combat an article full of negativity, Ryan and Carlos Correa will return from COVID soon, as will Gilberto Celestino. This very well could be just one of those streaks in a baseball season, the kind that scares everyone into claiming the sky is falling before laughing off the notion after a month of great play; the team did win 18 games in May. Perhaps none of this matters—the Al Central is currently a handful of teams that look more like fronts for tax fraud than actual baseball franchises—but this team is not in great shape. The two-month slog until the trade deadline will be crucial; key pieces need to get healthy and stay healthy for this team to have hope against the better squads in the AL. The house of cards was wobbly to begin with, and they may be slipping with each day.
  24. 1. Reinforcements are on the way A big reason why the Minnesota Twins have struggled over the last couple weeks have been because of the sheer number of players that they have been missing in these games. Just to list the name of players that have hit the injured list over the past two weeks illustrates how dire it has been: Carlos Correa (COVID-19), Joe Ryan (COVID-19), Gilberto Celestino (COVID-19), Josh Winder (Shoulder), Sonny Gray (Pectoral), Royce Lewis (Knee), Danny Coulombe (Hip). The good news for the Twins, though, is that many of these players figure to be back shortly. It’s been just about one week since Ryan, Celestino and Correa hit the COVID-19 list and they figure to be back in the fold in just a few short days. Additionally, Jorge Alcala has already begun his rehab assignment as he reaches the end of his time on the 60-day injured list, and all reports point to his arm looking strong. The return timelines of Josh Winder, Sonny Gray and Royce Lewis are less clear, but all three of these vital players appear to have avoided major injuries and figure to be healthy in turn for the late summer home stretch of the season. Finally, the Twins are close to getting Alex Kirilloff added back onto the squad as well. Kirilloff struggled mightily during his time with the Twins, but since getting sent back down to AAA, Kirilloff has found his groove to the tune of a .863 OPS. Getting Kirilloff back to his expected form would be a big time addition. 2. White Sox Look Terrible For as bad as the Minnesota Twins have looked lately, the Chicago White Sox have looked even worse. The team that everyone expected to run away with the American League Central has not at all looked the part all season. After falling prey to a sweep from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon, the White Sox now find themselves at 23-26 with a negative-55 run differential, the second-worst run differential in the American League. While true that the schedule is about to get tough for the Twins, the White Sox face an equally tough slate with their next six games coming against the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s hard to envision the Guardians, Tigers, or Royals making any sort of run at the American League Central, and with the White Sox looking as bad as they have looked, there’s still plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the Twins’ chances of making the playoffs. 3. Third Wild Card Spot If the White Sox do figure things out and start playing much better than they have over the first third of the season, the Twins still have a great shot at making the playoffs via the Wildcard. As a part of the new CBA agreement, there are now three Wildcard teams that make the American League playoffs. In an American League where nine teams currently have a record under .500, it shouldn’t take any more than 85 wins to make the playoffs. To put that in perspective, the Twins would just need to play .500 baseball over the balance of the season to lock down a playoff spot. Additionally, all Wildcard teams are now guaranteed an extended playoff series, rather than a one-game playoff. There is certainly reason to be frustrated with how the Minnesota Twins have been playing lately. However, with the reinforcements on the way, along with the way the White Sox have been playing and the fact that three Wild Card teams from the American League will make the playoffs, the Minnesota Twins still find themselves in a good spot to reach the postseason, where anything can happen (even if you’re the Minnesota Twins). Are you worried about the Minnesota Twins? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  25. One month ago, the Twins were the lone AL Central team with a record above .500. Minnesota has stretched its division lead over the last month, and the pitchers below played a role in the team's success. At the season's start, questions swirled about whether or not the Twins starting rotation had enough to compete in the AL Central. Minnesota sits atop the division two months into the season thanks to multiple pitchers producing at a higher level than anticipated. As the calendar turns to June, here are the pitchers that provided the most value to the team over the last month. Honorable Mention #3: Jhoan Duran Minnesota’s bullpen struggled through different parts of May, but Jhoan Duran continues to be a bright spot. In 10 appearances during May, he posted a 1.59 ERA with a 11.1 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. He leads all Twins pitchers in Win Probability Added for the month as his 0.87 WPA is 13 points higher than the next closest pitcher. It’s amazing to think about what condition the Twins bullpen would be in if not for Duran’s dominance. He is transitioning from starter to reliever and he is doing it for a first-place team that desperately needs him. Honorable Mention #2: Devin Smeltzer Last month, Devin Smeltzer wasn't a candidate for this honor because he was pitching in the Saints rotation. In fact, the team outrighted Smeltzer off the 40-man roster in November, so he had to earn his way back to the big leagues. He pitched well enough in spring training for the team to consider him for the bullpen, but he went to Triple-A and posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Since being recalled, Smeltzer has been a shot in the arm for the Twins rotation. He's made four starts and pitched into the fifth inning or later in every appearance. On May 26th against Kansas City, Smeltzer was masterful as he pitched seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and only two hits allowed. He ended the month with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP, proving the team should continue giving him a more extended look. Honorable Mention #1: Joe Ryan Joe Ryan was named the TD April Pitcher of the Month, so he has been near the top of this list for the entire year. Ryan made four starts in May and posted a 3.54 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. For the month, his strikeout numbers decreased, and his walks increased, but his overall performance still puts him among the team's best. He pitched into the fifth inning in all four starts, and he has pitched into the sixth inning in five of his eight starts this season. His lone poor start this month came at the hands of the potent Astro's line-up. He surrendered four earned runs on four hits in that outing and allowed a career-high five walks. Out of Twins players, Baseball-Reference still has him valued at a 1.4 WAR for the season, which is over half of a win higher than any other pitcher. Pitcher of the Month: Sonny Gray Sonny Gray has been everything the Twins hoped he could be when they dealt Chase Petty for him this spring. He led the team in nearly every pitching category during April, including innings pitched, wins, games started, and WAR. In five starts (27 1/3 IP), he posted a 1.65 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and a 34-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. His 11.2 K/9 for the month is 2.5 strikeouts higher than his career mark. In four of his five starts, he pitched into the fifth inning or longer, with the lone exception being his first start back off the injured list. Over his final three starts, he averaged over six innings per appearance, and he didn't allow more than two earned runs in any May outing. Among qualified starters, he had the AL's fourth-lowest ERA and the fourth-best K/9. Not only was he the Twins' best pitcher over the last month, but he was also one of the best pitchers in the entire league. Do you agree with the rankings? Should someone else have been an honorable mention? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
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