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  1. Minnesota’s front office filled multiple needs at the trade deadline, but the team is hardly perfect. So, what are the team’s most significant weaknesses? Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. The trade deadline can offer players a new opportunity, but for others, it can mean the end of their time with an organization. On Friday, the Twins waived Tyler Duffey after a decade in the Twins’ system. The Twins drafted Tyler Duffey out of Rice University in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Throughout his collegiate career, he posted some impressive numbers (2.25 ERA, 11.6 K/9), but the team used him as a reliever. Minnesota signed him and shifted him to a starting pitcher role. Duffey slowly worked his way through the team's farm system, and his numbers seemed to improve with each promotion before earning his first call-up. As a 24-year-old, Duffey made his big-league debut and made a strong impression in his first ten starts. He posted a 3.10 ERA with a 131 ERA+ and 8.2 K/9. It looked like he might fit into the team's long-term plans as the organization looked to get out of the bottom of the American League. His sophomore season saw a slump as his ERA jumped to 6.43, and he had a 1.50 WHIP. Minnesota decided to shift him to a relief role following the 2016 season, but there were some struggles with that transition as well. From 2017-2018, Duffey appeared in 75 games with a 5.53 ERA and an 86-to-22 strikeout to walk ratio. Some pitchers can find more success as relievers because of increased velocity and only needing one secondary pitch. Things still weren't clicking for Duffey, but one coaching change might have made all the difference. Wes Johnson's arrival to the coaching staff signaled a clear turning point for Duffey as he became one of baseball's best relievers for multiple seasons. From 2019-2021, Duffey posted a 2.69 ERA (163 ERA+) with a 1.06 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 144 innings. Minnesota was able to utilize Duffey in a fireman role as he came into challenging situations and got the team out of jams. Duffey's Win Probability Added was nearly two wins higher than any other Twins reliever during that three-year run. Relievers can be fickle and signs of Duffey's decline started appearing over the last handful of seasons. His velocity has declined for three consecutive years, and the 2022 season has been his worst as a reliever. He ranks in the 15th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, xBA, hard hit %, and xSLG. Only Emilio Pagan and Jharel Cotton compiled a lower WPA among Minnesota's relievers during the 2022 campaign. Duffey saw himself move up and down the bullpen hierarchy this season, but his inconsistency eventually forced the team to waive him. For now, right-handed pitching prospect Cole Sands will take the place of Duffey in the bullpen. Sands, and particularly his delivery and curveball, are reminiscent of what Duffey had in his good years. He will get a chance in the bullpen, though it's very possible the team will recall lefty Jovani Moran as soon as he reaches 10 days since his demotion. Fans will likely focus on Duffey's recent struggles as he leaves the team, but that doesn't tell the entire story. He was one of baseball's best relievers throughout multiple seasons. He helped the Twins win games and impacted the organization on and off the field for the last decade. What will you remember most about Duffey's time with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. The Twins drafted Tyler Duffey out of Rice University in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Throughout his collegiate career, he posted some impressive numbers (2.25 ERA, 11.6 K/9), but the team used him as a reliever. Minnesota signed him and shifted him to a starting pitcher role. Duffey slowly worked his way through the team's farm system, and his numbers seemed to improve with each promotion before earning his first call-up. As a 24-year-old, Duffey made his big-league debut and made a strong impression in his first ten starts. He posted a 3.10 ERA with a 131 ERA+ and 8.2 K/9. It looked like he might fit into the team's long-term plans as the organization looked to get out of the bottom of the American League. His sophomore season saw a slump as his ERA jumped to 6.43, and he had a 1.50 WHIP. Minnesota decided to shift him to a relief role following the 2016 season, but there were some struggles with that transition as well. From 2017-2018, Duffey appeared in 75 games with a 5.53 ERA and an 86-to-22 strikeout to walk ratio. Some pitchers can find more success as relievers because of increased velocity and only needing one secondary pitch. Things still weren't clicking for Duffey, but one coaching change might have made all the difference. Wes Johnson's arrival to the coaching staff signaled a clear turning point for Duffey as he became one of baseball's best relievers for multiple seasons. From 2019-2021, Duffey posted a 2.69 ERA (163 ERA+) with a 1.06 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 144 innings. Minnesota was able to utilize Duffey in a fireman role as he came into challenging situations and got the team out of jams. Duffey's Win Probability Added was nearly two wins higher than any other Twins reliever during that three-year run. Relievers can be fickle and signs of Duffey's decline started appearing over the last handful of seasons. His velocity has declined for three consecutive years, and the 2022 season has been his worst as a reliever. He ranks in the 15th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, xBA, hard hit %, and xSLG. Only Emilio Pagan and Jharel Cotton compiled a lower WPA among Minnesota's relievers during the 2022 campaign. Duffey saw himself move up and down the bullpen hierarchy this season, but his inconsistency eventually forced the team to waive him. For now, right-handed pitching prospect Cole Sands will take the place of Duffey in the bullpen. Sands, and particularly his delivery and curveball, are reminiscent of what Duffey had in his good years. He will get a chance in the bullpen, though it's very possible the team will recall lefty Jovani Moran as soon as he reaches 10 days since his demotion. Fans will likely focus on Duffey's recent struggles as he leaves the team, but that doesn't tell the entire story. He was one of baseball's best relievers throughout multiple seasons. He helped the Twins win games and impacted the organization on and off the field for the last decade. What will you remember most about Duffey's time with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. The team has a solid foundation from which other additions can improve. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning. View full article
  6. Friday night's game started just like Thursday night's game, struggling pitchers, hot bats from the White Sox, and a two-run lead before the end of the first inning. The White Sox maintained the lead in both the game and the series. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (67 pitches, 40 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (-.143), Max Kepler (-.133), Carlos Correa (-.105) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer struggled with command in the first inning mirroring Sonny Gray's start last night, giving up two runs. The southpaw needed 26 pitches in the first inning but settled in, throwing 15 pitches in a scoreless second frame. The third inning wasn’t as quick as the second and Smeltzer struggled to get through the inning. He threw another 26 pitches to the five hitters. Overall, he threw 67 pitches in just three innings. Rocco Baldelli understandably pulled him after the third inning. Emilio Pagan came in for the fourth inning. Pagan, who has struggled to get out of innings, needed just 11 pitches to complete the inning. One of his pitches was in the center of the strike zone, and Tim Anderson hit the ball deep into centerfield. An eager Nick Gordon scaled the wall and just missed the catch. The home run gave the White Sox the 3-2 lead. As the Twins pitching staff took turns in the game, Tyler Duffey replaced Pagan after one inning, and he got four outs. He was replaced by Caleb Thielbar to face switch hitter Leury Garcia. Theilbar finished out the sixth inning with no runs and only three pitches. After starting the sixth inning, Theilbar left the mound after facing left-handed batter Reese Maguire and retired for the evening after no runs scored and only seven pitches thrown. The White Sox opened up the lead in the seventh inning with a three-run home run by Adam Engel, scoring Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada off of Griffin Jax, giving the White Sox a 6-2 lead. The White Sox have had the lead throughout the series and the Twins just couldn’t get the bats going after the first inning. The Twins looked like they were going to start out hot. In the bottom of the first, they wasted no time answering the White Sox with bases loaded against pitcher Michael Kopech. For the fifth straight game against the White Sox, the Twins loaded the bases in the first frame. When Alex Kirilloff came up to bat, he hit a sharp drive to right field for a double that scored Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton to tie up the game at two. The Twins bats cooled off and even though the White Sox pitching wasn’t immaculate and Kopech struggled, the Twins bats struggled more as they once again failed to manufacture runs. Joe Kelly came in to pitch in the bottom of the sixth. The last time the lineup faced Joe Kelly (7/5), the Twins took advantage of his lack of command. Kelly allowed two hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks while striking out one batter in 2/3 innings in the loss to the Twins. This time, Kelly returned to the mound not allowing a single run and had a 1-2-3 inning claiming redemption over his implosion earlier in the month. The Twins had no base runners between a Luis Arraez single in the fourth inning until the bottom of the eighth when Buxton got on base with a single. Jorge Polanco then ripped a ball into right field for another single. With one out and runners on first and second, it looked hopeful. Alex Kirilloff stepped into the box and ripped a grounder to second for a double play. The Twins are getting close to battling for their spot at the top of the division, what do you think of the series so far? Do you think Duffey or Theilbar should have been left in? What’s Next? The Twins have two day games left in the series with the White Sox and a chance to split the series. Tune in tomorrow! Pitching matchup for the rest of the series: Saturday 1:10 pm CST: Dylan Bundy (5-4, 4.68 ERA) vs RHP Lance Lynn (1-2, 6.97 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm CST: TBD (X, X ERA) vs RHP Dylan Cease (7-4, 2.45 ERA) Note - The assumption is that Chris Archer will return on Sunday to make that start. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  7. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (67 pitches, 40 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (-.143), Max Kepler (-.133), Carlos Correa (-.105) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer struggled with command in the first inning mirroring Sonny Gray's start last night, giving up two runs. The southpaw needed 26 pitches in the first inning but settled in, throwing 15 pitches in a scoreless second frame. The third inning wasn’t as quick as the second and Smeltzer struggled to get through the inning. He threw another 26 pitches to the five hitters. Overall, he threw 67 pitches in just three innings. Rocco Baldelli understandably pulled him after the third inning. Emilio Pagan came in for the fourth inning. Pagan, who has struggled to get out of innings, needed just 11 pitches to complete the inning. One of his pitches was in the center of the strike zone, and Tim Anderson hit the ball deep into centerfield. An eager Nick Gordon scaled the wall and just missed the catch. The home run gave the White Sox the 3-2 lead. As the Twins pitching staff took turns in the game, Tyler Duffey replaced Pagan after one inning, and he got four outs. He was replaced by Caleb Thielbar to face switch hitter Leury Garcia. Theilbar finished out the sixth inning with no runs and only three pitches. After starting the sixth inning, Theilbar left the mound after facing left-handed batter Reese Maguire and retired for the evening after no runs scored and only seven pitches thrown. The White Sox opened up the lead in the seventh inning with a three-run home run by Adam Engel, scoring Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada off of Griffin Jax, giving the White Sox a 6-2 lead. The White Sox have had the lead throughout the series and the Twins just couldn’t get the bats going after the first inning. The Twins looked like they were going to start out hot. In the bottom of the first, they wasted no time answering the White Sox with bases loaded against pitcher Michael Kopech. For the fifth straight game against the White Sox, the Twins loaded the bases in the first frame. When Alex Kirilloff came up to bat, he hit a sharp drive to right field for a double that scored Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton to tie up the game at two. The Twins bats cooled off and even though the White Sox pitching wasn’t immaculate and Kopech struggled, the Twins bats struggled more as they once again failed to manufacture runs. Joe Kelly came in to pitch in the bottom of the sixth. The last time the lineup faced Joe Kelly (7/5), the Twins took advantage of his lack of command. Kelly allowed two hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks while striking out one batter in 2/3 innings in the loss to the Twins. This time, Kelly returned to the mound not allowing a single run and had a 1-2-3 inning claiming redemption over his implosion earlier in the month. The Twins had no base runners between a Luis Arraez single in the fourth inning until the bottom of the eighth when Buxton got on base with a single. Jorge Polanco then ripped a ball into right field for another single. With one out and runners on first and second, it looked hopeful. Alex Kirilloff stepped into the box and ripped a grounder to second for a double play. The Twins are getting close to battling for their spot at the top of the division, what do you think of the series so far? Do you think Duffey or Theilbar should have been left in? What’s Next? The Twins have two day games left in the series with the White Sox and a chance to split the series. Tune in tomorrow! Pitching matchup for the rest of the series: Saturday 1:10 pm CST: Dylan Bundy (5-4, 4.68 ERA) vs RHP Lance Lynn (1-2, 6.97 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm CST: TBD (X, X ERA) vs RHP Dylan Cease (7-4, 2.45 ERA) Note - The assumption is that Chris Archer will return on Sunday to make that start. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  8. If you’ve paid even a second of attention to Twins fans lately, the dominant discussion point revolves around the bullpen’s lack of quality; the team needs extra, quality arms, and they need them now. This feeling is well-founded; it seems like every close loss involves a reliever screwing up late, costing the team a chance to escape the quagmire of mediocrity that plagues the rest of the AL Central. But is the team’s bullpen that bad in comparison to other teams? Relief pitchers are doomed to fail. The position naturally lends itself to magnified mistakes, and brutal momentum swings as a game’s final outs melt away at an accelerated pace. Each run allowed feels like the end of the world because, as far as a single baseball game is concerned, it is; the lack of remaining outs increases each outcome’s drama to a sometimes unbearable level. In that context, analyzing relievers requires us to remove emotion from the equation, instead choosing to coldly dissect the topic with numbers immune from hyperbole. Stats can’t complain. Overall, the picture isn’t pretty, but it’s not egregiously ugly; the relief core is 14th in MLB in ERA (3.74), 21st in FIP (4.10), 13th in xFIP (3.80), and 16th in WPA (0.19). No lipstick can spruce up this pig, but these numbers reflect a mediocre to below-average group, not one bordering on Greek Tragedy. The problem does not seem as dire with contextualized stats; the team needs to improve their bullpen, but so could just about every team in MLB. The Twins are well equipped to absorb fresh talent. What’s lost in bullpen arguments is the strategic aspect of utilizing relievers; broadly stating that the relievers stink helps no one; instead, we should imagine the role a reliever is filling and ask whether they can adequately fill it. For the Twins, their main issue is that pitchers who should not pitch in important innings are doing so because of a failure of top-end depth; it isn’t fully Jharel Cotton’s fault if he blows a game in the 9th inning because he shouldn’t be pitching in that scenario. As it stands, the team has one fully reliable reliever (Jhoan Duran), another solid reliever (Griffin Jax), and varying degrees of coin flips. With Duran rarely pitching in back-to-back games, when the game is close late—a situation a good team like the Twins frequently enters—Rocco Baldelli has little choice but to play baseball Russian Roulette and pray that Caleb Thielbar’s fastball looks extra rise-y today, or that Joe Smith’s corkscrewing magic appears even more incredible. It’s always a rock and a hard place choice. If one or two more quality relievers make their way to the team before the trade deadline, the bullpen can fall into place. Whatever scrap-heap reliever they picked up the other day could pitch earlier in the game rather than Thornburg-ing it up in a role he’s ill-equipped for. Usually worthwhile relievers like Tyler Duffey can simmer in a low-intensity role as another capable arm gives him a break he desperately needs; unproven pitchers like Jovani Moran can freely gain confidence by netting outs in the 6th inning, not the 9th. The Twins bullpen isn’t made of bad pitchers, just miscast ones. Duran is obviously an elite arm, but no other reliever commands as much trust, so the chain collapses when he can’t pitch, or the team needs an extended effort to reach his inning. Cotton is a Road to Nowhere when used beyond the 7th inning, but he has attempted to fill that role because no one else works in that spot; they don’t exist. If the team acquired a true, dominant arm to pair with Duran, the effect would reverberate around the entire bullpen; arms far higher on the totem pole of trust would fall back where they can succeed. David Robertson and/or Daniel Bard, a potentially revamped Tyler Duffey, and a healthy Joe Smith could establish order in the current chaos; the days of 8th inning man Tyler Thornburg would no longer exist. It’s hard to see, and sometimes it seems impossible, but there’s a good bullpen somewhere in the mess; it just needs some cleaning.
  9. The date was June 12 and the opponent was Tampa Bay. Tyler Duffey entered a game for the Minnesota Twins tasked with pitching the 8th inning of a 5-0 game. As he had done multiple times before, Duffey served up a dinger and it appeared as though there was no end in sight to his freefall. Maybe now he’s started to turn a corner? There’s no denying that Tyler Duffey was once among the Twins most trustworthy relievers. Across 2019 and 2022, Duffey posted a solid 2.31 ERA in 80 appearances spanning 81 2/3 innings. His 12.5 K/9 was shiny, and it was backed by a curveball that kept hitters guessing even with a fastball that didn’t light up the radar gun. He allowed just 2.2 BB/9 and posted a WHIP below 1.00. His 2.91 FIP across that span also suggested this wasn’t a mirage. Then 2021 happened. After being a primary setup man for former closer Taylor Rogers, Duffey blew up to the tune of a 3.18 ERA with a 3.49 FIP and a 4.19 xFIP. He lost roughly four strikeouts per nine innings, and double the number of free passes he was issuing. The chief concern was a velocity drop that happened in 2020 not rectifying itself. After holding around 94 mph on his fastball at his best, Duffey’s primary offering was down to just 92 mph. Without being able to throw a fastball by hitters, and the inability to locate his curveball, a recipe for disaster was realized. On June 12, when Duffey served up the dinger against the Rays, it capped off a three-appearance run in which he’d allowed a home run every time out. Duffey recorded just 3 2/3 innings during the stretch and gave up a whopping seven runs on seven hits and three walks. His ERA sat at a season-worst 6.38. This wasn’t the first bad stretch either. Duffey took a blown save against the Mariners to end the second game of the season, and then he gave up a pair of homers to blow another game against the Royals a few weeks later. At some point, the definition of insanity was going to be reached here. Everything Duffey was doing wasn’t working. Minnesota had pushed him into the lowest of leverage roles, and even when the moments were inconsequential his stuff didn’t generate outs. Having used a changeup during his days as a starter, and crediting former pitching coach Wes Johnson for urging him to go back to it, Duffey changed things up. Up until June 12, Duffey had used his changeup just 1% of the time being a two-pitch pitcher with the fastball and curveball. He generated just a 10.7% whiff rate and was getting batters to chase 31.1% of the time. Fast forward to where we are now and this is a different pitcher. Sure, the sample size is just 13 innings across 10 games, but that represents roughly one-third of his season. Duffey is still throwing his fastball 50% of the time, but he’s dropped the curveball usage and is pushing his changeup out 12.3% of the time. It’s resulted in a hard-hit rate of only 20.5% and has generated chase swings nearly 5% more often. At some point, pitchers need to reinvent how their arsenal works with one another. It’s beyond clear Duffey’s velocity has been put out to pasture, but while his curveball was no longer the pitch it once was, turning back to a changeup that helped him as a starter made sense. There’s no denying the Twins need all they can get from the bullpen, and Duffey re-establishing himself as a usable piece would be a good thing. There’s still reason for concern as Duffey has given up hits in eight of the ten appearances we’re talking about here, but keeping runs off the board is the larger point. He’s basically switched spots with Emilio Pagan in the pecking order, and the Twins righting Duffey’s bullpen-mate would be another strong step in helping to preserve leads. View full article
  10. There’s no denying that Tyler Duffey was once among the Twins most trustworthy relievers. Across 2019 and 2022, Duffey posted a solid 2.31 ERA in 80 appearances spanning 81 2/3 innings. His 12.5 K/9 was shiny, and it was backed by a curveball that kept hitters guessing even with a fastball that didn’t light up the radar gun. He allowed just 2.2 BB/9 and posted a WHIP below 1.00. His 2.91 FIP across that span also suggested this wasn’t a mirage. Then 2021 happened. After being a primary setup man for former closer Taylor Rogers, Duffey blew up to the tune of a 3.18 ERA with a 3.49 FIP and a 4.19 xFIP. He lost roughly four strikeouts per nine innings, and double the number of free passes he was issuing. The chief concern was a velocity drop that happened in 2020 not rectifying itself. After holding around 94 mph on his fastball at his best, Duffey’s primary offering was down to just 92 mph. Without being able to throw a fastball by hitters, and the inability to locate his curveball, a recipe for disaster was realized. On June 12, when Duffey served up the dinger against the Rays, it capped off a three-appearance run in which he’d allowed a home run every time out. Duffey recorded just 3 2/3 innings during the stretch and gave up a whopping seven runs on seven hits and three walks. His ERA sat at a season-worst 6.38. This wasn’t the first bad stretch either. Duffey took a blown save against the Mariners to end the second game of the season, and then he gave up a pair of homers to blow another game against the Royals a few weeks later. At some point, the definition of insanity was going to be reached here. Everything Duffey was doing wasn’t working. Minnesota had pushed him into the lowest of leverage roles, and even when the moments were inconsequential his stuff didn’t generate outs. Having used a changeup during his days as a starter, and crediting former pitching coach Wes Johnson for urging him to go back to it, Duffey changed things up. Up until June 12, Duffey had used his changeup just 1% of the time being a two-pitch pitcher with the fastball and curveball. He generated just a 10.7% whiff rate and was getting batters to chase 31.1% of the time. Fast forward to where we are now and this is a different pitcher. Sure, the sample size is just 13 innings across 10 games, but that represents roughly one-third of his season. Duffey is still throwing his fastball 50% of the time, but he’s dropped the curveball usage and is pushing his changeup out 12.3% of the time. It’s resulted in a hard-hit rate of only 20.5% and has generated chase swings nearly 5% more often. At some point, pitchers need to reinvent how their arsenal works with one another. It’s beyond clear Duffey’s velocity has been put out to pasture, but while his curveball was no longer the pitch it once was, turning back to a changeup that helped him as a starter made sense. There’s no denying the Twins need all they can get from the bullpen, and Duffey re-establishing himself as a usable piece would be a good thing. There’s still reason for concern as Duffey has given up hits in eight of the ten appearances we’re talking about here, but keeping runs off the board is the larger point. He’s basically switched spots with Emilio Pagan in the pecking order, and the Twins righting Duffey’s bullpen-mate would be another strong step in helping to preserve leads.
  11. The Twins found a way to win their last of three against the Rangers in Texas Sunday afternoon. What could have ended as a sweep and the Twins first four-game losing streak of the season turned into a win thanks to home runs, errors, and some luck. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 53 strikes (68.8 strike %) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (23), Ryan Jeffers (7) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda .197, Ryan Jeffers .111, Jorge Polanco .103 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa leading off the game for the Twins and getting out on 4 pitches combined. First-time all-star Byron Buxton came up with two outs and hit his 23rd home run of the season to put the Twins up 1-0. Max Kepler followed up Buxton with a double but Jorge Polanco could not get Kepler home to give Bundy an extra insurance run before he threw his first pitch. Bundy took advantage of the early lead with a scoreless first inning which included a strikeout and a hit surrendered to Corey Seager. In the top of the second, the Twins were able to add two more runs onto their lead thanks to lead off singles from Alex Kirilloff and Nick Gordon who were later driven in by Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers to make it 3-0 Twins. Rangers starter Dane Dunning then retired Arraez, Correa, and Buxton to get out of another jam. Bundy’s second inning of work was not as graceful as his first. He was able to get the first out with a Nate Lowe ground out, but Kole Calhoun singled to begin a rally that was followed by a Brad Miller single and Meibrys Viloria walk. All three Rangers scored after a bases-clearing double by third baseman Josh H. Smith to tie the game up 3-3. The Twins did get a run back in the top of the third with a base-loaded hit-by-pitch to Miranda which drove in Polanco. But again the Twins fell short of adding more runs to their re-secured lead making it a 4-3 game going into the bottom of the third. The top of the fourth ended with a double play hit by Kepler but the Twins bench did not agree with the call, especially considering the universally declared worst umpire in baseball, Angel Hernandez, made the call at first. After review, the out calls stood and the Twins had their first scoreless inning of the game. Bundy recovered from a bad second inning in the third and fourth. Bundy only allowed one runner in those two innings on another Miller single. Miller ended the fourth as he was caught stealing by Ryan Jeffers who threw out his second base runner of the series. The scoreless streak snapped in the fifth inning for Bundy. With one out Bundy gave up a walk to Smith which was followed by a Marcus Semien double. Smith was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Seager that tied the game at 4 even. More damage was averted as Bundy struck out Adolis Garcia to end the inning but the Twins bats had to break up another tied score to start the sixth. Only one hit would be needed to break the tie in the top of the sixth, as Ryan Jeffers drilled an opposite-field home run to right field to make it a 5-4 Twins lead. Bundy was finished after five innings as Caleb Thielbar was the first reliever out of the bullpen for the Twins Sunday. Thielbar had a scoreless sixth with one walk to keep the Twins 5-4 lead intact. Thanks to a walk to Polanco, a single by Kirilloff, and a throwing error attempting to pick off pinch-runner Gilberto Celestino by Rangers reliever Matt Bush, the Twins were able to get a blessing of an insurance run al Polanco scored on the throwing error to make it a 6-4 Twins lead in the top of the seventh. Griffin Jax then came into the game for the bottom half of the inning and gave the Twins their second 1, 2, 3 inning of the afternoon. For the second time this week, an outfielder let a ball fall out of their glove at the warning track in left field and land over the fence for a home run. The first one was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Thursday night in Seattle when the Mariners Dylan Moore hit a ball right into Gurriel Jr. 's glove that couldn’t stick in it. The second one came in the eighth inning of this game when Gilberto Celestino leaped to catch a Seager fly ball. With the ball about to leave the park, it hit Celestino's glove but when he hit the wall, the ball bounced over the fence making it a 6-5 game. The pitch came off of Jhoan Duran who was in for a second straight day of work. Following the home run, Duran was able to retire the next three batters and maintain a 6-5 lead after eight innings. The save opportunity was given to Tyler Duffey in the ninth inning. Duffey retired the first two batters with ease but Jonah Heim got a bloop single to the outfield to keep the Rangers alive for one more at-bat for the pesky Josh Smith. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Duffey retired Smith on a flyout to Kepler to give the Twins their first win since Wednesday and avoid the sweep by the Rangers. What’s Next? The Twins are off Monday and will begin a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night. Josh Winder will be on the mound for the Twins while the Brewers will send rookie Jason Alexander to the hill with the first pitch scheduled for 6:40 p.m. CT Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  12. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 53 strikes (68.8 strike %) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (23), Ryan Jeffers (7) Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Jose Miranda .197, Ryan Jeffers .111, Jorge Polanco .103 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa leading off the game for the Twins and getting out on 4 pitches combined. First-time all-star Byron Buxton came up with two outs and hit his 23rd home run of the season to put the Twins up 1-0. Max Kepler followed up Buxton with a double but Jorge Polanco could not get Kepler home to give Bundy an extra insurance run before he threw his first pitch. Bundy took advantage of the early lead with a scoreless first inning which included a strikeout and a hit surrendered to Corey Seager. In the top of the second, the Twins were able to add two more runs onto their lead thanks to lead off singles from Alex Kirilloff and Nick Gordon who were later driven in by Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers to make it 3-0 Twins. Rangers starter Dane Dunning then retired Arraez, Correa, and Buxton to get out of another jam. Bundy’s second inning of work was not as graceful as his first. He was able to get the first out with a Nate Lowe ground out, but Kole Calhoun singled to begin a rally that was followed by a Brad Miller single and Meibrys Viloria walk. All three Rangers scored after a bases-clearing double by third baseman Josh H. Smith to tie the game up 3-3. The Twins did get a run back in the top of the third with a base-loaded hit-by-pitch to Miranda which drove in Polanco. But again the Twins fell short of adding more runs to their re-secured lead making it a 4-3 game going into the bottom of the third. The top of the fourth ended with a double play hit by Kepler but the Twins bench did not agree with the call, especially considering the universally declared worst umpire in baseball, Angel Hernandez, made the call at first. After review, the out calls stood and the Twins had their first scoreless inning of the game. Bundy recovered from a bad second inning in the third and fourth. Bundy only allowed one runner in those two innings on another Miller single. Miller ended the fourth as he was caught stealing by Ryan Jeffers who threw out his second base runner of the series. The scoreless streak snapped in the fifth inning for Bundy. With one out Bundy gave up a walk to Smith which was followed by a Marcus Semien double. Smith was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Seager that tied the game at 4 even. More damage was averted as Bundy struck out Adolis Garcia to end the inning but the Twins bats had to break up another tied score to start the sixth. Only one hit would be needed to break the tie in the top of the sixth, as Ryan Jeffers drilled an opposite-field home run to right field to make it a 5-4 Twins lead. Bundy was finished after five innings as Caleb Thielbar was the first reliever out of the bullpen for the Twins Sunday. Thielbar had a scoreless sixth with one walk to keep the Twins 5-4 lead intact. Thanks to a walk to Polanco, a single by Kirilloff, and a throwing error attempting to pick off pinch-runner Gilberto Celestino by Rangers reliever Matt Bush, the Twins were able to get a blessing of an insurance run al Polanco scored on the throwing error to make it a 6-4 Twins lead in the top of the seventh. Griffin Jax then came into the game for the bottom half of the inning and gave the Twins their second 1, 2, 3 inning of the afternoon. For the second time this week, an outfielder let a ball fall out of their glove at the warning track in left field and land over the fence for a home run. The first one was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Thursday night in Seattle when the Mariners Dylan Moore hit a ball right into Gurriel Jr. 's glove that couldn’t stick in it. The second one came in the eighth inning of this game when Gilberto Celestino leaped to catch a Seager fly ball. With the ball about to leave the park, it hit Celestino's glove but when he hit the wall, the ball bounced over the fence making it a 6-5 game. The pitch came off of Jhoan Duran who was in for a second straight day of work. Following the home run, Duran was able to retire the next three batters and maintain a 6-5 lead after eight innings. The save opportunity was given to Tyler Duffey in the ninth inning. Duffey retired the first two batters with ease but Jonah Heim got a bloop single to the outfield to keep the Rangers alive for one more at-bat for the pesky Josh Smith. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Duffey retired Smith on a flyout to Kepler to give the Twins their first win since Wednesday and avoid the sweep by the Rangers. What’s Next? The Twins are off Monday and will begin a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night. Josh Winder will be on the mound for the Twins while the Brewers will send rookie Jason Alexander to the hill with the first pitch scheduled for 6:40 p.m. CT Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  13. The game went back-and-forth a few times. On Friday night, the Rangers used a six-run inning to get the win. On Saturday afternoon, the Twins had a six-run inning, but that proved to not be enough. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (81 pitches, 50 strikes (61.7%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (7), Gary Sanchez (10), Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (-.667), Jhoan Duran (-.330), Nick Gordon (-.174) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Early Slugfest If you would have been asked before the game started what kind of game you would have expected on Saturday, this is probably what you would have assumed. Two powerful lineups that hit a lot of home runs, and a couple of lefties that the other team is familiar with. After a scoreless first inning, Devin Smeltzer gave up a three-run homer to same-sider Kole Calhoun. However, in the top of the fourth frame, the Twins put together a big inning. With Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco on base, Jose Miranda launched a long, three-run shot to tie the game at three. Gio Urshela followed with a single, and Gary Sanchez gave the Twins a 5-3 lead with a big, two-run, opposite-field homer. Nick Gordon was hit by a pitch which brought a slumping Byron Buxton to the plate. Buxton launched a ball to right-center field that was thisclose to a home run. The double scored Gordon to make the lead 6-3. Given a lead, Smeltzer was unable to hold it. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he got the first batter out, but then a single from Leody Taveras and a line-shot double by Charlie Culberson put runners on second and third. Marcus Semien crushed a three-run homer to tie the game. One batter later, Corey Seager hit one out over the fencing in right-center field. That was the end of the day for Smeltzer, the Twins now behind 7-6. It wasn’t a pretty day for starting-pitcher line scores, but Perez was then able to throw two quick, scoreless innings and complete six innings without any further damage. Big, Not So Bad, Bullpen! I remember thinking it, and typing it above, when it was 7-6 after four innings. Glen Perkins said it on the Bally Sports North broadcast. To paraphrase, “I certainly don’t think that this game will end 7-6.” The assumption was that it was going to be a long game with a ton of runs scored. Instead, the Twins bullpen came on and did a very nice job. (Hey, if we’re going to bash them every time things go bad, we need to praise them on the strong days.) Griffin Jax came on and got the final two outs of the fourth inning. Tyler Duffey came on for the ninth straight time, he gave up zero runs. Over that stretch, he has worked 12 innings and given up nine hits, walked three and struck out 11 batters. The last time Duffey gave up a run was June 12th against the Rays. Trevor Megill had a quick, two-strikeout sixth inning which earned him a second inning. In the seventh frame, he got two slow ground outs before a strikeout to end the inning. Jovani Moran was warming up in the top of the eighth inning when the team was down 7-6, but when Gilberto Celestino’s ground out scored Luis Arraez to tie the game at 7-7, Jhoan Duran came in for the eighth inning. But Then… Of course, Duran has been the Twins’ best reliever pretty much all season, a guy who could hear his name called as an All Star on Sunday. But he did not have his best appearance. Light-hitting Leodys Taveras was late on two fastballs, so they threw a third straight fastball and he slapped the 0-2 pitch to left field for a single (while the Twins shifted him inexplicably to pull). After Josh Smith sacrificed him to second, Marcus Semien came to the plate. Duran hung a slider for him and Semien crushed a liner to left. What should have been a single, hit so hard it likely would not have scored a run, turned into a triple when Nick Gordon dove for the ball and it got by him. Corey Seager was intentionally walked, but #OldFriend Mitch Garver came through again. He was badly jammed by a Duran fastball but muscled a blooper into center field for an RBI single. Fortunately, Adolis Garcia grounded into a double play to end the inning. What’s Next? The Twins will finish their series in Texas with a 1:35 game against the Rangers. They are off on Monday before starting a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Brewers. Back to Sunday, the Twins will send righty Dylan Bundy to the mound. He is 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA on the season. However, over his past four starts, he is 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He’s allowed five earned runs on 17 hits and four walks in 24 innings. Those performances came against the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Guardians and White Sox. So, it will be interesting to see how he looks against the potent, powerful Ranger lineup. Texas will counter with right-hander Dane Dunning. The former Nationals first-round pick has been traded in a couple of significant deals. In 2016, about six months after the draft, he was traded to the White Sox in a deal for Adam Eaton. Then after the 2020 season, he was dealt to the Rangers in the Lance Lynn trade. This will be his league-leading 18th start of the season. He is 1-6 with a 4.15 ERA. In 93 1/3 innings, he walked 33 and struck out 82. He also leads the league with eight hit batters. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Cotton 21 0 0 42 0 63 Megill 2 22 0 0 22 46 Duffey 18 0 0 0 26 44 Pagán 0 23 0 10 0 33 Thielbar 11 8 0 13 0 32 Jax 0 17 0 0 15 32 Duran 0 9 0 0 14 23 Moran 0 8 0 0 0 8 View full article
  14. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (81 pitches, 50 strikes (61.7%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (7), Gary Sanchez (10), Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (-.667), Jhoan Duran (-.330), Nick Gordon (-.174) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Early Slugfest If you would have been asked before the game started what kind of game you would have expected on Saturday, this is probably what you would have assumed. Two powerful lineups that hit a lot of home runs, and a couple of lefties that the other team is familiar with. After a scoreless first inning, Devin Smeltzer gave up a three-run homer to same-sider Kole Calhoun. However, in the top of the fourth frame, the Twins put together a big inning. With Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco on base, Jose Miranda launched a long, three-run shot to tie the game at three. Gio Urshela followed with a single, and Gary Sanchez gave the Twins a 5-3 lead with a big, two-run, opposite-field homer. Nick Gordon was hit by a pitch which brought a slumping Byron Buxton to the plate. Buxton launched a ball to right-center field that was thisclose to a home run. The double scored Gordon to make the lead 6-3. Given a lead, Smeltzer was unable to hold it. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he got the first batter out, but then a single from Leody Taveras and a line-shot double by Charlie Culberson put runners on second and third. Marcus Semien crushed a three-run homer to tie the game. One batter later, Corey Seager hit one out over the fencing in right-center field. That was the end of the day for Smeltzer, the Twins now behind 7-6. It wasn’t a pretty day for starting-pitcher line scores, but Perez was then able to throw two quick, scoreless innings and complete six innings without any further damage. Big, Not So Bad, Bullpen! I remember thinking it, and typing it above, when it was 7-6 after four innings. Glen Perkins said it on the Bally Sports North broadcast. To paraphrase, “I certainly don’t think that this game will end 7-6.” The assumption was that it was going to be a long game with a ton of runs scored. Instead, the Twins bullpen came on and did a very nice job. (Hey, if we’re going to bash them every time things go bad, we need to praise them on the strong days.) Griffin Jax came on and got the final two outs of the fourth inning. Tyler Duffey came on for the ninth straight time, he gave up zero runs. Over that stretch, he has worked 12 innings and given up nine hits, walked three and struck out 11 batters. The last time Duffey gave up a run was June 12th against the Rays. Trevor Megill had a quick, two-strikeout sixth inning which earned him a second inning. In the seventh frame, he got two slow ground outs before a strikeout to end the inning. Jovani Moran was warming up in the top of the eighth inning when the team was down 7-6, but when Gilberto Celestino’s ground out scored Luis Arraez to tie the game at 7-7, Jhoan Duran came in for the eighth inning. But Then… Of course, Duran has been the Twins’ best reliever pretty much all season, a guy who could hear his name called as an All Star on Sunday. But he did not have his best appearance. Light-hitting Leodys Taveras was late on two fastballs, so they threw a third straight fastball and he slapped the 0-2 pitch to left field for a single (while the Twins shifted him inexplicably to pull). After Josh Smith sacrificed him to second, Marcus Semien came to the plate. Duran hung a slider for him and Semien crushed a liner to left. What should have been a single, hit so hard it likely would not have scored a run, turned into a triple when Nick Gordon dove for the ball and it got by him. Corey Seager was intentionally walked, but #OldFriend Mitch Garver came through again. He was badly jammed by a Duran fastball but muscled a blooper into center field for an RBI single. Fortunately, Adolis Garcia grounded into a double play to end the inning. What’s Next? The Twins will finish their series in Texas with a 1:35 game against the Rangers. They are off on Monday before starting a quick two-game series at Target Field against the Brewers. Back to Sunday, the Twins will send righty Dylan Bundy to the mound. He is 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA on the season. However, over his past four starts, he is 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He’s allowed five earned runs on 17 hits and four walks in 24 innings. Those performances came against the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Guardians and White Sox. So, it will be interesting to see how he looks against the potent, powerful Ranger lineup. Texas will counter with right-hander Dane Dunning. The former Nationals first-round pick has been traded in a couple of significant deals. In 2016, about six months after the draft, he was traded to the White Sox in a deal for Adam Eaton. Then after the 2020 season, he was dealt to the Rangers in the Lance Lynn trade. This will be his league-leading 18th start of the season. He is 1-6 with a 4.15 ERA. In 93 1/3 innings, he walked 33 and struck out 82. He also leads the league with eight hit batters. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Cotton 21 0 0 42 0 63 Megill 2 22 0 0 22 46 Duffey 18 0 0 0 26 44 Pagán 0 23 0 10 0 33 Thielbar 11 8 0 13 0 32 Jax 0 17 0 0 15 32 Duran 0 9 0 0 14 23 Moran 0 8 0 0 0 8
  15. Since June 13th, Tyler Duffey has been one of few reliable relief options for the Twins. Is this just 11 innings of a small sample size or can we rely on him to get big outs moving forward?
  16. Since June 13th, Tyler Duffey has been one of few reliable relief options for the Twins. Is this just 11 innings of a small sample size or can we rely on him to get big outs moving forward? View full video
  17. Despite Jose Miranda's clutch double and Tyler Duffey's reemergence, the Twins found another way to lose a game in the series finale against Cleveland on Thursday. Box Score SP: Chris Archer 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2 K (90 pitches, 45 strikes 50%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (.233), Tyler Duffey (.215), Chris Archer (0.92) Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Thornburg (-.715), Alex Kirilloff (-.114), Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino (-.89) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) If you feel like you've seen this movie before, it's because you have. The names may have changed, but a late-inning bullpen implosion occurred yet again on Thursday afternoon in Cleveland. In fact, the Twins lost three games in this five-game series, all because of late-inning bullpen implosions. What could have been a nine-game lead and a sweep is now a one-game lead. Let's jump right to it. The Twins carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. Tyler Thornburg, who had not pitched since Saturday, was finally used. The former Brewers' closer really struggled. He loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before an infield single coupled with Carlos Correa's second error of the game tied the game at three after eight innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Left with few options, Thornburg was back for the ninth frame. He walked Jose Ramirez to lead off the inning. A ground out to second advanced him to second base and brought Andrew Gimenez to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, he launched a walkoff homer for the Guardians. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== The Twins hit former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber hard in the first two innings but were unable to come away with a run. That changed in the third frame. After failing to convert with a runner in scoring position in the first inning, José Miranda delivered. Just a day after his 24th birthday, the rookie laced a two-out, bases-clearing double to the right-field gap to put the Twins on the board and give them a 3-1 lead. Miranda continues to impress after a rough start with the Twins, batting safely in all five games of the series against the Guardians. Chris Archer showed both mountains and valleys in his four-inning outing on Thursday. Despite allowing just one run and one hit, Archer walked a season-high six batters. Four of those came in the second inning. After recording the first two outs of the inning, Archer walked four consecutive batters to put the Guardians on the board. Archer allowed two more walks in the third inning but escaped the inning with no runs. The outing was uncharacteristic for Archer; the electric righty allowed just three walks in his past three starts and has only walked four-plus batters once this season prior to Thursday. And while the damage wasn't brutal, Archer sat at 90 pitches after four innings. the highest number he's thrown all year. With the Twins monitoring his pitch count adamantly given prior injuries, there was no shot that Archer could go longer. A seasoned veteran and talented arm, Thursday's outing was likely just a spur in the road for Archer. Expect the 33-year-old to make some adjustments and come back strong in his next start. LHP Jovani Moran followed Archer with a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts. After Carlos Correa booted a ground ball to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Moran struck out a batter followed by a walk, prompting Rocco Baldelli to bring in Tyler Duffey. Few players have been ridiculed as much as Duffey has in recent weeks. Yet despite the noise, Duffey prevailed in the sixth with runners on first and second, striking out Myles Straw and drawing groundout from Steven Kwan to escape the inning. It got better in the seventh. Facing the top of the Cleveland lineup, Duffey struck out the Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez, and Josh Naylor, getting ahead of the hitter in all three at-bats. Then came the eighth inning, and we already talked about that and don't want to talk about it any more. Luis Arraez recorded two on the day, bringing his batting average up to .340, just one point behind league leader Paul Goldschmidt. Correa, Max Kepler, and Gilberto Celestino also tallied singles in the game. What's Next? The Twins head home for the Fourth of July weekend against the Orioles. Despite being in the cellar of the AL East, the Orioles just posted their first winning month since 2017 and are playing competitive baseball in the league's strongest division. Coming off a win over the Rockies, RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.20 ERA) will face off against RHP Spenser Watkins (1-1, 5.14 ERA) in tomorrow night's tilt. First pitch at Target Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CST. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Pagan 22 0 22 14 0 58 Duffey 15 0 12 0 28 55 Moran 0 0 34 0 20 54 Duran 18 0 0 33 0 51 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 48 48 Theilbar 19 0 10 11 0 40 Jax 0 0 21 16 0 37 Cotton 0 24 0 8 0 32 View full article
  18. Box Score SP: Chris Archer 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2 K (90 pitches, 45 strikes 50%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (.233), Tyler Duffey (.215), Chris Archer (0.92) Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Thornburg (-.715), Alex Kirilloff (-.114), Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino (-.89) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) If you feel like you've seen this movie before, it's because you have. The names may have changed, but a late-inning bullpen implosion occurred yet again on Thursday afternoon in Cleveland. In fact, the Twins lost three games in this five-game series, all because of late-inning bullpen implosions. What could have been a nine-game lead and a sweep is now a one-game lead. Let's jump right to it. The Twins carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. Tyler Thornburg, who had not pitched since Saturday, was finally used. The former Brewers' closer really struggled. He loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before an infield single coupled with Carlos Correa's second error of the game tied the game at three after eight innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Left with few options, Thornburg was back for the ninth frame. He walked Jose Ramirez to lead off the inning. A ground out to second advanced him to second base and brought Andrew Gimenez to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, he launched a walkoff homer for the Guardians. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== The Twins hit former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber hard in the first two innings but were unable to come away with a run. That changed in the third frame. After failing to convert with a runner in scoring position in the first inning, José Miranda delivered. Just a day after his 24th birthday, the rookie laced a two-out, bases-clearing double to the right-field gap to put the Twins on the board and give them a 3-1 lead. Miranda continues to impress after a rough start with the Twins, batting safely in all five games of the series against the Guardians. Chris Archer showed both mountains and valleys in his four-inning outing on Thursday. Despite allowing just one run and one hit, Archer walked a season-high six batters. Four of those came in the second inning. After recording the first two outs of the inning, Archer walked four consecutive batters to put the Guardians on the board. Archer allowed two more walks in the third inning but escaped the inning with no runs. The outing was uncharacteristic for Archer; the electric righty allowed just three walks in his past three starts and has only walked four-plus batters once this season prior to Thursday. And while the damage wasn't brutal, Archer sat at 90 pitches after four innings. the highest number he's thrown all year. With the Twins monitoring his pitch count adamantly given prior injuries, there was no shot that Archer could go longer. A seasoned veteran and talented arm, Thursday's outing was likely just a spur in the road for Archer. Expect the 33-year-old to make some adjustments and come back strong in his next start. LHP Jovani Moran followed Archer with a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts. After Carlos Correa booted a ground ball to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Moran struck out a batter followed by a walk, prompting Rocco Baldelli to bring in Tyler Duffey. Few players have been ridiculed as much as Duffey has in recent weeks. Yet despite the noise, Duffey prevailed in the sixth with runners on first and second, striking out Myles Straw and drawing groundout from Steven Kwan to escape the inning. It got better in the seventh. Facing the top of the Cleveland lineup, Duffey struck out the Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez, and Josh Naylor, getting ahead of the hitter in all three at-bats. Then came the eighth inning, and we already talked about that and don't want to talk about it any more. Luis Arraez recorded two on the day, bringing his batting average up to .340, just one point behind league leader Paul Goldschmidt. Correa, Max Kepler, and Gilberto Celestino also tallied singles in the game. What's Next? The Twins head home for the Fourth of July weekend against the Orioles. Despite being in the cellar of the AL East, the Orioles just posted their first winning month since 2017 and are playing competitive baseball in the league's strongest division. Coming off a win over the Rockies, RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.20 ERA) will face off against RHP Spenser Watkins (1-1, 5.14 ERA) in tomorrow night's tilt. First pitch at Target Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CST. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Pagan 22 0 22 14 0 58 Duffey 15 0 12 0 28 55 Moran 0 0 34 0 20 54 Duran 18 0 0 33 0 51 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 48 48 Theilbar 19 0 10 11 0 40 Jax 0 0 21 16 0 37 Cotton 0 24 0 8 0 32
  19. Wes Johnson is heading back to the college coaching ranks, but his impact on the Twins organization will be felt long after he departs. Here are three pitchers that significantly improved during his Twins tenure. Before the 2019 season, the Twins hired Wes Johnson, which seemed like an unconventional move at the time. Few teams were looking to the college ranks for pitching coaches, and the Twins found success under Johnson’s tutelage. Since the start of the 2019 season, Minnesota pitchers rank 10th in baseball in fWAR (46.8), and that includes a disappointing 2021 campaign for many Twins pitchers. Coaching is challenging to gauge, but these three pitchers were successful during Johnson’s time in Minnesota. Tyler Duffey Entering the 2019 season, Tyler Duffey looked like he may flicker out at the big-league level after four disappointing seasons. From 2015-2018, he pitched 287 innings with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. His first two seasons were spent struggling in the rotation, but he didn’t find immediate success in the bullpen. Johnson’s arrival on the coaching staff signaled a clear turning point for Duffey as he was considered one of baseball’s best relievers for multiple seasons. Since 2019, Duffey has posted a 139 ERA+ with 201 strikeouts in 174 1/3 innings. Even as Duffey struggled this season, the coaching staff helped him to make adjustments and bring back his sinker that he hadn’t used regularly since 2018. Duffey may never be a dominant reliever again, but Johnson was able to get strong seasons from the reliever. Chris Archer When the Twins signed Archer, injury concerns were part of his big-league track record. He hadn’t made double-digit starts since the 2019 season and hadn’t compiled an ERA+ over 100 since the 2017 season. Fans have been frustrated with Archer not pitching deeper into games, but the Twins coaching staff had a plan to keep him healthy, and the results speak for themselves. In 14 starts, he has a career-high 122 ERA+, and he leads the team in games started. Over the weekend, Archer threw five shutout innings and had nothing but praise for Johnson. “Wes is one of my biggest advocates,” Archer told reporters. “We do a lot of work, mental and physical, in between starts.” Now, Archer will need to find another coach to help him prepare for games. Joe Ryan When the Twins acquired Joe Ryan, he was considered a good pitching prospect, but few imagined he would be this successful at the big-league level. Ryan dominated in the minor leagues, but many felt his pitching repertoire wouldn’t translate to the big leagues. He relied heavily on his fastball, a plus pitch, but questions surrounded his off-speed offerings. Johnson worked with Ryan to tighten up some of his secondary pitches, and the team has reaped the benefits of that work. Ryan has made 16 starts and posted a 115 ERA+ while striking out close to one batter per inning. His numbers might look even better, but he has struggled a little since returning from having COVID. Obviously, Ryan did a lot of development in the Rays organization, but Johnson helped Ryan to find success during his rookie season. What other pitchers do you feel improve the most when working with Wes Johnson? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  20. Before the 2019 season, the Twins hired Wes Johnson, which seemed like an unconventional move at the time. Few teams were looking to the college ranks for pitching coaches, and the Twins found success under Johnson’s tutelage. Since the start of the 2019 season, Minnesota pitchers rank 10th in baseball in fWAR (46.8), and that includes a disappointing 2021 campaign for many Twins pitchers. Coaching is challenging to gauge, but these three pitchers were successful during Johnson’s time in Minnesota. Tyler Duffey Entering the 2019 season, Tyler Duffey looked like he may flicker out at the big-league level after four disappointing seasons. From 2015-2018, he pitched 287 innings with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. His first two seasons were spent struggling in the rotation, but he didn’t find immediate success in the bullpen. Johnson’s arrival on the coaching staff signaled a clear turning point for Duffey as he was considered one of baseball’s best relievers for multiple seasons. Since 2019, Duffey has posted a 139 ERA+ with 201 strikeouts in 174 1/3 innings. Even as Duffey struggled this season, the coaching staff helped him to make adjustments and bring back his sinker that he hadn’t used regularly since 2018. Duffey may never be a dominant reliever again, but Johnson was able to get strong seasons from the reliever. Chris Archer When the Twins signed Archer, injury concerns were part of his big-league track record. He hadn’t made double-digit starts since the 2019 season and hadn’t compiled an ERA+ over 100 since the 2017 season. Fans have been frustrated with Archer not pitching deeper into games, but the Twins coaching staff had a plan to keep him healthy, and the results speak for themselves. In 14 starts, he has a career-high 122 ERA+, and he leads the team in games started. Over the weekend, Archer threw five shutout innings and had nothing but praise for Johnson. “Wes is one of my biggest advocates,” Archer told reporters. “We do a lot of work, mental and physical, in between starts.” Now, Archer will need to find another coach to help him prepare for games. Joe Ryan When the Twins acquired Joe Ryan, he was considered a good pitching prospect, but few imagined he would be this successful at the big-league level. Ryan dominated in the minor leagues, but many felt his pitching repertoire wouldn’t translate to the big leagues. He relied heavily on his fastball, a plus pitch, but questions surrounded his off-speed offerings. Johnson worked with Ryan to tighten up some of his secondary pitches, and the team has reaped the benefits of that work. Ryan has made 16 starts and posted a 115 ERA+ while striking out close to one batter per inning. His numbers might look even better, but he has struggled a little since returning from having COVID. Obviously, Ryan did a lot of development in the Rays organization, but Johnson helped Ryan to find success during his rookie season. What other pitchers do you feel improve the most when working with Wes Johnson? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. The Twins got another excellent start from Dylan Bundy, who pitched six innings on 60 pitches, but Colorado had an even better one from Germán Márquez. Minnesota’s offense couldn’t figure him out and the Rockies held on to a sixth-inning run to win the series opener. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 6.0 IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K (60 pitches, 42 strikes, 70.0%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (-.198), Alex Kirilloff (-.195), Max Kepler (-.164) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tonight’s starters aren’t having the most impressive of seasons thus far, but based on their recent outings, both offenses had their work cut out for them. Dylan Bundy arguably had his best start in a Twins uniform last Saturday, when he delivered eight innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. Similarly, Rockies starter German Marquez pitched very well in his last two starts away from Coors Field, allowing only five runs in 13 innings of work. Bundy and Márquez’ recent success set the tone early on tonight, as both starters completely dominated their opposing lineups. It only took Bundy 19 pitches for his first time through the order, allowing only a couple of hits in the second inning, the only time Colorado’s offense threatened him early on. Similarly, Márquez originally took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Ryan Jeffers broke his no-hit bid with a two-out double. But later in the game, they officially changed a Max Kepler reaching on a fielding error in the fourth inning into a single. Márquez wasn’t the only obstacle for Twins hitters in the early going, but also some solid defense from Colorado. Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez had a couple of hard-hit flyballs to deep left fielded by outfielder Connor Joe. Kirilloff’s flyout in the second left his bat at 98.9 MPH and had a .550 expected batting average. The pitch count looked great for Bundy, who completed five innings of shutout ball with only 41 pitches. But came the sixth inning and Colorado put together a good offensive display against him. Joe and Yonathan Daza hit back-to-back one-out singles, allowing Joe to reach third. Then Charlie Blackmon hit a ground ball to the middle of the Twins’ shift, preventing Carlos Correa from turning a double play in time and allowing Joe to score from third. Bundy would still give up a two-out walk before inducing a groundout to end the inning. Despite the low pitch count, Bundy didn’t return for the seventh. As Márquez continued to dazzle Twins hitters, Minnesota’s offense couldn’t build up any momentum. After that Jeffers double in the fifth, the Twins lineup went 0-for-8 against him with three walks. With two outs in the eighth, Correa reached on a fielding error by old friend C.J. Cron, also sending Jeffers to third. That play finished the night for Márquez, but Kepler grounded out against reliever Daniel Bard next, ending Minnesota’s potential rally. One silver lining from tonight’s disappointing loss was the good outing from the bullpen. Tyler Duffey (two) and Tyler Thornburg (one) combined for three shutout innings on 35 pitches, which could be great for morale after a tough week for Twins relievers. Potential targets for the Twins? Last week, Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl wrote a nice article on how Márquez could be a great target for the Twins at the trade deadline. Tonight, he certainly showed he can be very comfortable at Target Field. If not Márquez, Bard is another great arm from the Rockies organization whom the Twins could also target. He helped Colorado to seal the deal tonight with a four-out save. That was his 15th of the season, tied for seventh-most in the majors. His ERA is now down to 1.91. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:15 pm CDT. Minnesota will have Chris Archer (3.44 ERA) on the mound, while the Rockies will start Antonio Senzatela (4.42 ERA). Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 21 26 0 47 Duran 0 27 0 17 0 44 Pagán 0 17 24 0 0 41 Cotton 0 11 28 0 0 39 Jax 0 27 7 0 0 34 Duffey 0 0 0 0 28 28 Thielbar 0 0 15 12 0 27 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 7 7 View full article
  22. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy, 6.0 IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K (60 pitches, 42 strikes, 70.0%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela (-.198), Alex Kirilloff (-.195), Max Kepler (-.164) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tonight’s starters aren’t having the most impressive of seasons thus far, but based on their recent outings, both offenses had their work cut out for them. Dylan Bundy arguably had his best start in a Twins uniform last Saturday, when he delivered eight innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. Similarly, Rockies starter German Marquez pitched very well in his last two starts away from Coors Field, allowing only five runs in 13 innings of work. Bundy and Márquez’ recent success set the tone early on tonight, as both starters completely dominated their opposing lineups. It only took Bundy 19 pitches for his first time through the order, allowing only a couple of hits in the second inning, the only time Colorado’s offense threatened him early on. Similarly, Márquez originally took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Ryan Jeffers broke his no-hit bid with a two-out double. But later in the game, they officially changed a Max Kepler reaching on a fielding error in the fourth inning into a single. Márquez wasn’t the only obstacle for Twins hitters in the early going, but also some solid defense from Colorado. Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez had a couple of hard-hit flyballs to deep left fielded by outfielder Connor Joe. Kirilloff’s flyout in the second left his bat at 98.9 MPH and had a .550 expected batting average. The pitch count looked great for Bundy, who completed five innings of shutout ball with only 41 pitches. But came the sixth inning and Colorado put together a good offensive display against him. Joe and Yonathan Daza hit back-to-back one-out singles, allowing Joe to reach third. Then Charlie Blackmon hit a ground ball to the middle of the Twins’ shift, preventing Carlos Correa from turning a double play in time and allowing Joe to score from third. Bundy would still give up a two-out walk before inducing a groundout to end the inning. Despite the low pitch count, Bundy didn’t return for the seventh. As Márquez continued to dazzle Twins hitters, Minnesota’s offense couldn’t build up any momentum. After that Jeffers double in the fifth, the Twins lineup went 0-for-8 against him with three walks. With two outs in the eighth, Correa reached on a fielding error by old friend C.J. Cron, also sending Jeffers to third. That play finished the night for Márquez, but Kepler grounded out against reliever Daniel Bard next, ending Minnesota’s potential rally. One silver lining from tonight’s disappointing loss was the good outing from the bullpen. Tyler Duffey (two) and Tyler Thornburg (one) combined for three shutout innings on 35 pitches, which could be great for morale after a tough week for Twins relievers. Potential targets for the Twins? Last week, Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl wrote a nice article on how Márquez could be a great target for the Twins at the trade deadline. Tonight, he certainly showed he can be very comfortable at Target Field. If not Márquez, Bard is another great arm from the Rockies organization whom the Twins could also target. He helped Colorado to seal the deal tonight with a four-out save. That was his 15th of the season, tied for seventh-most in the majors. His ERA is now down to 1.91. What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:15 pm CDT. Minnesota will have Chris Archer (3.44 ERA) on the mound, while the Rockies will start Antonio Senzatela (4.42 ERA). Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Smith 0 0 21 26 0 47 Duran 0 27 0 17 0 44 Pagán 0 17 24 0 0 41 Cotton 0 11 28 0 0 39 Jax 0 27 7 0 0 34 Duffey 0 0 0 0 28 28 Thielbar 0 0 15 12 0 27 Thornburg 0 0 0 0 7 7
  23. Seven fantastic innings from Diamondbacks’ starter Merrill Kelly, combined with a bad outing by the Twins’ bullpen, resulted in a tough loss for Minnesota in the rubber game of the series. The Twins conclude their West Coast trip with three wins out of six games. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 4.0 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3 K (61 pitches, 38 strikes, 62.2%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.140), Carlos Correa (-.133), Griffin Jax (-.069) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) No team in baseball has had better productivity from the top of their order this season. Coming into this game, Minnesota’s batters one, two, and three ranked first in the majors in both OPS (.854) and wRC+ (147), according to Fangraphs. They also led the American League in runs scored, with 142. This fact became evident right out of the gate this afternoon. Very early in this game, the Twins’ A-B-C trio (Luis Arraez, Byron Buxton, and Carlos Correa ) were already threatening the Diamondbacks. Arráez fell behind in the count but managed to smack a double to left that was barely fair shortly before being sent to third by a Buxton single next. With men on the corners and no outs, Correa couldn’t get a base hit of his own, but his double play grounder was enough to bring Arráez home, scoring the game’s first run. But that hot start was met by a cold stretch. After the single by Buxton in the first, the Twins' offense went 1-for-15, entirely dominated by D-Backs starter Merrill Kelly. Jose Miranda started the sixth inning with a leadoff single, but Kelly went on to retire the next three batters to end the threat. Chris Archer, on the other hand, didn’t have a brilliant start, but it wasn’t bad at all. The Twins starter, who flew in his father to watch him pitch, tossed four innings and allowed two runs on a couple of solo home runs, both by Christian Walker, one in the second and one in the fourth. This was the first time this month Archer allowed more than one run in a game. Rocco Baldelli decided not to bring him back for the fifth inning, sticking to the club’s conservative approach with him this year. At 61 pitches, today’s start is tied for his second-shortest of the season. The Twins bullpen gets wrecked Archer’s start wasn’t long, but it kept the Twins in the game. Unfortunately for Minnesota, their bullpen wasn’t on a good day. Griffin Jax took over in the fifth and immediately allowed a leadoff home run to Pavin Smith. He retired the next three batters on ten pitches and kept this a two-run game. As the offense once again couldn’t figure out Kelly and didn’t take advantage of the leadoff single by Miranda in the sixth, the Arizona offense punished Caleb Thielbar hard. Facing batters two, three, and four to begin the inning, he loaded the bases with only one out. With Thielbar struggling to throw strikes, Buddy Kennedy swung on a 3-0 four-seamer for a grand slam, giving the D-Backs a 7-1 lead. After an excellent month of May and four solid appearances this month, Thielbar allowed more than two runs in a game for the first time since April 26. Tyler Duffey took over when Thielbar gave up his second walk of the inning, and he got the final out of the sixth, besides tossing a couple of scoreless frames afterward. He now has 5 1/3 innings in his last three appearances, allowing only one run in that span. Kelly had one more inning of dominance in him, and he tossed a scoreless seventh. He departed the game after that, keeping the Twins offense to a 3-for-23 since the Buxton single in the first inning. Sadly for the Twins, Kelly’s departure from the game didn’t make things any easier. D-Backs reliever Joe Mantiply pitched a scoreless eighth and Noe Ramirez got the first two outs in the ninth. He did give up two walks, prompting Arizona's manager Torey Lovullo to bring Ian Kennedy to get the final out and secure the win. What’s Next? After a six-game road trip to the West Coast, the Twins head back home for a six-game homestand. They take the day off tomorrow, then host the Guardians for a three-game series starting on Tuesday. Joe Ryan (2.81 ERA) is set to start in game one, while Cleveland’s starter has yet to be determined. The first pitch of the first game is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Thielbar 4 0 0 0 31 35 Duffey 0 0 9 0 25 34 Thornburg 0 0 33 0 0 33 Jax 11 0 0 0 16 27 Cotton 16 0 0 10 0 26 Smith 15 0 0 0 0 15 Duran 13 0 0 0 0 13 Pagán 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  24. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 4.0 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3 K (61 pitches, 38 strikes, 62.2%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.140), Carlos Correa (-.133), Griffin Jax (-.069) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) No team in baseball has had better productivity from the top of their order this season. Coming into this game, Minnesota’s batters one, two, and three ranked first in the majors in both OPS (.854) and wRC+ (147), according to Fangraphs. They also led the American League in runs scored, with 142. This fact became evident right out of the gate this afternoon. Very early in this game, the Twins’ A-B-C trio (Luis Arraez, Byron Buxton, and Carlos Correa ) were already threatening the Diamondbacks. Arráez fell behind in the count but managed to smack a double to left that was barely fair shortly before being sent to third by a Buxton single next. With men on the corners and no outs, Correa couldn’t get a base hit of his own, but his double play grounder was enough to bring Arráez home, scoring the game’s first run. But that hot start was met by a cold stretch. After the single by Buxton in the first, the Twins' offense went 1-for-15, entirely dominated by D-Backs starter Merrill Kelly. Jose Miranda started the sixth inning with a leadoff single, but Kelly went on to retire the next three batters to end the threat. Chris Archer, on the other hand, didn’t have a brilliant start, but it wasn’t bad at all. The Twins starter, who flew in his father to watch him pitch, tossed four innings and allowed two runs on a couple of solo home runs, both by Christian Walker, one in the second and one in the fourth. This was the first time this month Archer allowed more than one run in a game. Rocco Baldelli decided not to bring him back for the fifth inning, sticking to the club’s conservative approach with him this year. At 61 pitches, today’s start is tied for his second-shortest of the season. The Twins bullpen gets wrecked Archer’s start wasn’t long, but it kept the Twins in the game. Unfortunately for Minnesota, their bullpen wasn’t on a good day. Griffin Jax took over in the fifth and immediately allowed a leadoff home run to Pavin Smith. He retired the next three batters on ten pitches and kept this a two-run game. As the offense once again couldn’t figure out Kelly and didn’t take advantage of the leadoff single by Miranda in the sixth, the Arizona offense punished Caleb Thielbar hard. Facing batters two, three, and four to begin the inning, he loaded the bases with only one out. With Thielbar struggling to throw strikes, Buddy Kennedy swung on a 3-0 four-seamer for a grand slam, giving the D-Backs a 7-1 lead. After an excellent month of May and four solid appearances this month, Thielbar allowed more than two runs in a game for the first time since April 26. Tyler Duffey took over when Thielbar gave up his second walk of the inning, and he got the final out of the sixth, besides tossing a couple of scoreless frames afterward. He now has 5 1/3 innings in his last three appearances, allowing only one run in that span. Kelly had one more inning of dominance in him, and he tossed a scoreless seventh. He departed the game after that, keeping the Twins offense to a 3-for-23 since the Buxton single in the first inning. Sadly for the Twins, Kelly’s departure from the game didn’t make things any easier. D-Backs reliever Joe Mantiply pitched a scoreless eighth and Noe Ramirez got the first two outs in the ninth. He did give up two walks, prompting Arizona's manager Torey Lovullo to bring Ian Kennedy to get the final out and secure the win. What’s Next? After a six-game road trip to the West Coast, the Twins head back home for a six-game homestand. They take the day off tomorrow, then host the Guardians for a three-game series starting on Tuesday. Joe Ryan (2.81 ERA) is set to start in game one, while Cleveland’s starter has yet to be determined. The first pitch of the first game is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Postgame interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Thielbar 4 0 0 0 31 35 Duffey 0 0 9 0 25 34 Thornburg 0 0 33 0 0 33 Jax 11 0 0 0 16 27 Cotton 16 0 0 10 0 26 Smith 15 0 0 0 0 15 Duran 13 0 0 0 0 13 Pagán 0 0 0 0 0 0
  25. 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
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