Why sitting out Miguel Sano for the Wild Card is best for Minnesota Twins

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Miguel Sano
MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Miguel Sano /

Many were surprised to see the Minnesota Twins leave slugger Miguel Sano off of the Wild Card roster. Could it be for the best, though?

The Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game tonight with the opportunity to take on the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series at stake in a one-game playoff. So why would it possibly be for the best to leave the team’s most powerful hitter off of the roster?

Sano’s return

After sitting out over a month with injury, Sano returned this past weekend against the Detroit Tigers. After leaving the game in the 7th inning on August 19th, Sano returned September 29th against the Tigers with a pinch hitting at bat.

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In his plate appearances, Sano went 1/8 with no walks, striking out 3 times. He showed an ability to handle fastballs of nearly all velocity by the end of the weekend (you cannot plan for Aroldis Chapman 103 until you face it!), but he struggled mightily at the plate in a few aspects.

Now one of Sano’s issues has always been quality wipeout sliders going away from him, and he saw multiple of those in an at bat against Buck Farmer on Saturday, so a strikeout in that situation was something he possibly would have had when healthy before, even if his timing was perfect.

What was surprising was the issue Sano showed with change ups. Sano’s zone recognition wasn’t sharp, but that’s not surprising with a one-month layoff. So chasing sliders that fall out of the zone is not terribly surprising, especially since they gave him issues previously. However, Sano has not overly struggled with changes before (though he’s not great against them, more of a neutral value pitch against him), but he looked completely off in his timing on change ups over the weekend against a pitching staff that arguably was the worst in the league to finish the season.

Next: Twins Wild Card Roster

Hopefully Sano can get some reps in the cage, the Minnesota Twins can win a big game tonight, and we can all watch Sano with his timing back in place in the ALDS against the Indians!