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The Hypothetical 2020 Twins Season, Part 12: Rotational Gems

We are all going a little crazy without baseball. Especially Twins baseball. That is why Banter Lads has decided to have Jack Kewitsch take over the team as both the manager and general manager through Out of the Park (OOTP).

While it wasn’t the way we anticipated the week to go, last week provided some insight into how we can build off losses and start inching closer to overtaking the Indians atop the AL Central.


All-Star Update:

Two weeks down in voting and we have some changes to address with our favorite players.

PositionNamePlaceVotesVotes Back
CatcherMitch Garver1st529,109
First BaseMiguel Sano2nd407,105~111,000
Second BaseLuis Arraez1st429,362
Third BaseJosh Donaldson2nd559,405~8,000
ShortstopJorge Polanco3rd403,253~107,000
Center FieldByron Buxton3rd389,654~260,000
Right FieldMax Kepler2nd410,599~6,000
Designated HitterNelson Cruz1st524,204
RelieverZach Littell2nd201,391~12,000
RelieverTaylor Rogers4th189,177~24,000

There is still plenty of time for our guys to get hot, the biggest discernable factor to voting, and place in first. But some gaps may be too much to overcome, such as Buxton’s who must go up against the ever popular and consistent Mike Trout.


Game 61: Minnesota Twins (36-24) vs.
Tampa Bay Rays (32-29)

Cruz-ing Along

With Tampa trotting out lefthander Brendan McKay to pitch, I decided to bench the inconsistent Eddie Rosario for switch-hitting Ehire Adrianza who has been hot as of late (.294/.333/.541 with five homeruns and 14 RBI).

It was an easy choice too as he would end up going two for four with a run scored. 

As for the rest of the game, Kenta Maeda came in as the winningest pitcher on the club this season with a 6-3 record and he continued to prove to be the best in the rotation this early in the season.

Over the course of six innings, he would strikeout seven while only allowing one walk and five hits and a sweet zero in the run column. This helped him drop his ERA to 3.81 on the year and gives him 84 Ks in 75.2 IP. It didn’t hurt that Byron Buxton continued to make highlight reel catches in center. Snaring two on diving plays to ensure the Rays were held at bay.

On the offensive side of the ball, the team was solid but took a couple of innings to heat up. 

In the third, Josh Donaldson would draw a leadoff walk and Nelson Cruz would continue mashing as he clubbed his 19th homerun of the season to give the team a 2-0 lead. We’d also add a third in the inning when Miguel Sano walked, Kepler doubled him to third, and he scored when the left fielded muffed a flyball.

Sacrifice flies from Arraez and Garver in the sixth and eighth along with a Cruz double would push the lead to 6-0.

The bullpen did their job too, allowing only a single hit and walk shared between Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, and Framber Valdez.

Exactly the way we wanted to start the week.

Final Score: Twins 6 – Rays 0

Twins Record:  37-24

Bomba Counter: 100 (2nd)


Game 62: Minnesota Twins (37-24) vs.
Tampa Bay Rays (32-30)

Masterclass

Things just seem to be clicking early this week for the Bomba Squad as the team put together an even better performance against the Rays than the night before. This time with a heavy dose of warning sirens wailing throughout Target Field.

With Dobnak on the bump, I was curious to see how the rookie would perform after his las two outings where he went 2-0 with 11 strikeouts and only giving up two runs and four walks over 14 innings. 

Needless to say, this outing was easily the best of the three. 

He absolutely cruised through seven innings. Mowing over nearly every Tampa batter he faced while racking up 10 strikeouts and giving up no runs and a walk to drop his ERA to 3.84. The only knock is that he gave up three hits. But with them all being softly hit singles, that is just getting picky as he received an amazing game score of 80 out of a possible 100 and most starters will typically fall between 40 and 70.

This was a performance to remember for the young arm.

Throw in five homeruns from the likes of Cruz, Donaldson, Astudillo (!!!), Rosario, and Sano and everyone but Kepler and Adrianza picking up hits and it was a comfortable day to watch baseball in the Twin Cities.

Final Score: Twins 10 – Rays 2

Twins Record: 38-24

Buxton Steal Count: 58 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 105 (tied 1st)


Game 63: Minnesota Twins (38-24) vs
Tampa Bay Rays (32-31)

Walks will haunt

Samardzija was given the ball to start this potential series sweep, yet it was going to take a lot for him to go deep as he was still slightly gassed from his last outing. It showed.

In the first inning, he gave up a two-run homerun to Hunter Renfroe only to hear my cussing from my perch in the dugout. He wasn’t happy.

Yet we were able to get back, and then some, through the following innings off homeruns by Cruz, Donaldson, and Sano. Throw in some fun scoring singles and doubles by a collection of the starting lineup and it looked like it was going to be another blowout victory against the Rays.

Then we went cold and the Rays finally brought the heat up from Florida. 

Up 8-4 in the seventh, Matt Wisler was on the mound for some long relief. But after surrendering back-to-back walks and a single to load the bases, I needed to get him out of there. Romo didn’t too much to help the cause as he issued a walk of his own to bring in a run and a sac fly to make it 8-6.

But I still had Rogers in my back pocket to get the save and get us home happy…right?

Wrong. 

Two singles, a double, and a walk later and we were looking at a tie ballgame and Rogers’ third blown save of the year. Makes sense why he has been slipping in All-Star voting.

It looked bleak in the 11th as Brandon Lowe would reach on a single and Ji-man Choi would triple to bring him in to take their first lead of the night. The groans from the home faithful were like nails on a chalkboard. 

Down 9-8 and with three outs to come back, I still had a shred of optimism that we could get it done with the club we have assembled.

Arraez would draw a leadoff walk and Donaldson would single to get him to second. 

With one out, Kepler came through with the biggest hit of the night when he singled to drive in Arraez and get us even. But we wouldn’t need a 12th inning as Garver drew another walk to load the bases and, as always, walks will haunt, as Rosario drew one of his own and we had a walk-off walk. 

One of the most anti-climactic ways to win a ball game, but we will take it every time. 

Final Score: Twins 10 – Rays 9

Twins Record: 39-24

Bomba Counter: 108 (tied 1st)


First Year Player Draft:

A nice break in the action this week as we get to draft the future of the organization! With the 13th and 27th pick in the first round, we could make some waves with potential starters right off the bat. I will try to highlight selections that are intriguing but with so many rounds I doubt I will cover each player individually. 

13th Pick (1st Round) – Alex Boychuk

There wasn’t a lot of high-end prospects to select from even in the first half of the first round. But that doesn’t mean Boychuck, a high school catcher, doesn’t have the potential to one day take over behind the plate. With high-end power and discipline, he could one day be a top-end performer at the position.

27th Pick (1st Round) – Mick Abel

My Scouting Director wanted me to select another catcher in the first round, this time Jose Gutierrez, but I would rather hedge my bets than load up on one position. While Gutierrez has good potential (55/80) and had a good year in high school with a 2.5 WAR and .437/.492/.731 slash in 27 games, I had to go with the best pitching prospect available.

Abel, a high schooler, went 9-0 with a 7.9 WAR and an ERA of 0.48. Crazy even for a high schooler while averaging 17.8 K/9. The kid has potential and we need starting rotation help without dolling out too much cash. 

65th Pick (2nd Round) – Jose Gutierrez

Would you look at that. Just as I expected. Gutierrez would still be there come our next pick. Welcome to the system, kid.

95th Pick (3rd Round) – Jared Jones

Another pitcher I had my eyes on was Jones. With high position ratings and high potential ratings for his pitches and stuff, I was sold. It can practically be splitting hairs at this point with draftees. 

Here are the other draftees. Let’s see if we can sign these gentlemen!


Game 64: Minnesota Twins (39-24) vs.
Los Angeles Angels (39-22)

Odo’s Time to Shine

After that back and forth affair to end the series against the Rays, we needed Odorizzi to pitch his brains out to get us deep into the game without relying on the bullpen.

Needless to say, he delivered and then some.

While the offense put together a solid seven-run performance off a leadoff homerun by Buxton to start the game and Cruz driving in two. It was up to Odorizzi to keep us in the driver’s seat.

He pitched even better than Dobnak did earlier this week. Racking up a game score of 84 while allowing only two hits and a run in a complete game. It was absolutely what we needed.

Final Score: Twins 7 – Angels 1

Twins Record: 40-24

Buxton Steal Count: 59 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 109 (2nd)


Game 65: Minnesota Twins (40-24) vs.
Los Angeles Angels (39-23)

Shutout Central

Another game, another gem. This time is was Berrios’ turn to flaunt his stuff, and he did just that.

While Adrianza, Sano, and Kepler provided the offense, with the first two hitting homeruns, Berrios was a steady hand at the helm. Going eight innings and striking out eight while only allowing three hits, he started to show signs of what we have come to expect of our ace pitcher after a rocky beginning to the year.

Keep it rolling!

Final Score: Twins 5 – Angels 0

Twins Record: 41-24

Buxton Steal Count: 61 (1st
Bomba Counter: 111 (2nd)


Game 66: Minnesota Twins (41-24) vs.
Los Angeles Angels (39-24)

Gems All Around

Ok, maybe this one wasn’t so much a gem as just a complete game for Maeda. Either way, this has been a hell of a week for the club, especially our starting rotation.

It was a scoreless affair through the first two and a half innings, but the bats of Adrianza and Garver came alive in the bottom of the third by each hitting a homerun with Garver’s being for two runs.

Los Angeles would make it interesting for Maeda in the sixth by drawing within one, but Garver would once again go yard to push the lead to two.

While Kenta did strike out 11 and allowed only five hits and two earned runs and one walk, I still cannot explain why I left him in there. The bullpen was nearly completely rested after their crazy game against Tampa, but there was an inkling inside me that knew he could go the distance even without mass run support.

Final Score: Twins 4 – Angels 3

Twins Record: 42-24

Bomba Counter: 114 (2nd)


Game 67: Minnesota Twins (42-24) vs.
Los Angeles Angels (39-25)

Weekending Walkoff

The hope was for another Dobnak performance we could be proud of, and we were! Through seven innings, he held Los Angeles scoreless while punching out six. It wasn’t the performance he put together earlier in the week, but seven scoreless innings are not something I brush off. 

We held a one-run lead going into the eighth after an Arraez groundout brought Adrianza home.

But then Trevor Rosenthal blew the lead by giving up a homerun to Jared Walsh to tie the game. 

As we headed to extras, the bats had gone ice cold. Not something you like to see in June. But we received solid outings out of the pen in extras from Tyler Duffey, Chris Martin, and Zach Littell. And that was all we needed as Buxton singled in the bottom of the 13th and Arraez walked it off with a single of his own.

Final Score: Twins 2 – Angels 1

Twins Record: 43-24

Buxton Steal Count: 62 (1st)


Week Review and Lookahead:

What a week! I seriously did not see this coming. 7-0 and four masterpieces from the pitching staff? These are the moments that stick in your memory for life…you know if this was the real world and the Twins actually accomplished this.

Nonetheless, I am taking it. We now sit a half game back of Cleveland and have a commanding seven game lead over Oakland for the home-field wild card spot. 

We can absolutely continue this streak we are on in the coming week as we face off against the Orioles (23-42) in Baltimore and the Royals (27-39) in Kansas City. The perfect opportunity to regain the Central and bolster some All-Star resumes!

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