As the Minnesota Twins battle for a postseason berth they have started September slow, losing 4 of the first 5 games. Is it time for the team to panic?
The Minnesota Twins had an awesome month of August. As a team, they went 20-10 and solidified themselves as true Wild Card contenders. Eddie Rosario had a ridiculous stretch of games where he had a batting average of nearly .400. We also saw Jorge Polanco take off after being nearly non-existent in the previous two months of baseball.
As we all turned our calendar to September the mood almost seemed to change. The Twins are 1-4 this month losing three, 1-run games. In there was the exciting 17-0 win over the Kansas City Royals which provided something positive for fans. Overall, that record makes it seem as though the Twins dreaded September like many children who have headed back to school this week all over the state of Minnesota.
Does a 1-4 start to September mean it is time to panic? We usually look at 5 games in a 162 game season and would say no. There is much more that needs to be looked at. Then again, these 5 games may have something to say based on the information we have from the other 133 games the Twins have played this season.
Through this 5 game stretch, Joe Mauer has continued to hit. In fact, he has batted .450 in these games with 3 doubles and 4 RBI’s. Mauer is also currently riding a 14 game hit streak. Polanco isn’t quite as electric as he was through stretches of August but has still hit .278 with a double, home run, and 5 RBIs.
What is also encouraging, the young trio of bullpen arms continues to have good performances. Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger continue to look like good setup men. Even Alan Busenitz has pitched well outside of the run (and inherited run) he gave up during Sunday’s game against the Royals.
Rosario has cooled off considerably, only batting .111 through these 5 games. Games where his bat was clearly needed at times. While a cooling bat in a lineup already missing Miguel Sano is of concern. The real concern may not be in the offense. The concern remains where it has all season, starting pitching.
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Outside of another good outing from Kyle Gibson, of all places, the starting pitching performances have not helped the Twins during this losing stretch. Dillon Gee didn’t make it out of the third inning and allowed 5 earned runs. Ervin Santana pitched well enough to where the Twins could win but still was credited with 4 earned runs. Jose Berrios appeared to have good stuff going in his outing and struck out 7 batters, but also allowed 5 earned runs. Bartolo Colon turned in a decent outing with only 2 earned runs, but when Jake Odorizzi was on his way to a no-hitter, 2 runs proved to be all the Tampa Bay Rays needed.
The feeling with the 2017 Twins for most of the season has been that they continued to succeed in spite of their poor starting pitching. It seems in this 5 game stretch that has reared its ugly head once more. So if there is a concern it has to be that the Twins’ starting pitchers just don’t have enough for the team to contend.
On the other hand, most of the outings weren’t so ugly that the Twins weren’t still in striking distance of each game. This is an unfortunate time to hit a bit of a skid, but let us keep that panic button out of arm’s reach for the moment.