By: Chris Larson
Going into this season, the Minnesota Twins were expected to do big things and even potentially beat out the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central. At the start of the season, that seemed like a fair expectation with the way the team was playing, but as of late, that is absolutely not the case.
Heading into play today, the Twins currently sit third in the American League Central with a 9-13 record or a .409 winning percentage. Over their last 10 games, Minnesota has a 2-8 record and have a -28 Run Differential on the year. When you put all of that together, it's not a good situation and makes many people wonder, should we be concerned with the way they have been performing as of late in terms of how they will finish the season?
The answer to that is not cut and dry or as simple as some would think, but simply put, if the Minnesota Twins continue to play and pitch like they have, they will end the season as a huge disappointment. For a team that had a very good offseason in terms of spreading out the money they had to spend among multiple acquisitions rather than one significant acquisition, all of the makings of a postseason team were there on paper at the start of the regular season. That means that if they were to fall short and miss the playoffs, not only would they be disappointing their fan base, they would almost be regressing to how they performed a few years back.
If you remember, in 2015, the Minnesota Twins greatly exceeded expectations and were in the running for a postseason berth up until the very end. It was almost as if they outplayed themselves and really made a statement that they were going to be legitimate for years to come. Well, come 2016, they finished with the worst record in all of baseball (59-103) and were a huge disappointment. Following that season, many people expected them to go into rebuild mode, but that wasn't the case as they finished last season once again in the postseason mix, but ended up clinching a Wild Card berth and played the Yankees in the Wild Card game where they ultimately met their demise.
So based on track record alone, it could again be one of those years where Minnesota shows us that they outplayed themselves last year only to stink it up again this year. Hopefully that's not the case as it's still April and there's plenty of baseball left to be played, but you certainly don't like the way the team has been performing from a league wide perspective. Let's take a look at some numbers.
Over the winter, Minnesota bolstered it's starting rotation by trading for, Jake Odorrizi, of the Tampa Bay Rays and signing free agent, Lance Lynn, to a one-year deal. There were mixed reports that Lynn had initially received a larger offer from the team, but later decided to back off in hopes of getting a better deal somewhere else. To date, Lynn and Odorizzi combined have a 5.38 ERA over 50.2 IP and have recorded a combined 30 earned runs over that period.
The Minnesota Twins best starter, Ervin Santana, is still out on the DL recovering from finger surgery, while their next best starter, Jose Berrios, has a 2.84 ERA over 31.2 IP on the year, but gave up 5 earned runs over 4 IP during his last start and saw his ERA rise from 1.63 to 2.84. Granted, before his last start, Berrios was phenomenal and even had a complete game during his first start of the year, but again, if the Twins want to be in the postseason mix, they need Berrios to stay healthy and continue to put up impressive numbers with every start.
Furthermore, the Twins bullpen has been an absolute mess to date, which is surprising considering that they added Zach Duke, Addison Reed, and Fernando Rodney, in free agency over this past winter in hopes of building up some much needed depth at the back end. As it stands right now, the Twins bullpen has the second worst ERA in baseball (6.26 over 83.1 IP) and the highest Opponent Batting Average Against (.297).
Every Twins reliever, not named Ryan Pressly, currently has an ERA about 2.50. Pressly has been by far their most effective reliever posting a 0.66 ERA over 13.2 IP with a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 12.51 so far. Just this last week, Fernando Rodney, suffered two blown saves, which caused many to question whether the Twins would make a move in their closer role or not, but Rodney did have a nice outing yesterday against the Reds to sort of redeem himself and keep him in the closer role for now.
From an offensive perspective, the Twins have a middle of the road offense in terms of batting average (.238 which ranks 19th in baseball) and a .315 on-base percentage, good enough for 16th place, on the list. Digging a little deeper, the Twins have the third fewest runs scored (91) over 776 at bats so far and the third fewest RBI (85). Their best hitters have been Eduardo Escobar, Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, and Brian Dozier to this point.
Another offseason acquisition, Logan Morrison, is 10-for-70 to date and has a .143 batting average along with 20 strikeouts over that span. Morrison had a career year last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, in which he hit 38 home runs, but so far this year has been a huge disappointment. It could be that he's still trying to adjust to playing with the Twins, but either way, it's a cause for concern and just another offseason acquisition that hasn't quite panned out yet for Minnesota.
While all of this might sound like bad news, it is, but the reality is it's still April and you have to hope that it's still early enough to the point where the Twins can recover and find themselves relevant come August and September. If they don't recover and continue playing the way they have, they may end up being a surprise seller at the July 31st Trade Deadline and who knows what would happen from there. As they say, you can't win every game in April, but you certainly can lose a pennant in the month of April.
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