Minnesota Twins: Recent success gives reason for hope

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 21: Managers Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers and Paul Molitor #4 of the Minnesota Twins exchange lineup cards with the umpires before the game on May 21, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 21: Managers Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers and Paul Molitor #4 of the Minnesota Twins exchange lineup cards with the umpires before the game on May 21, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins have shown signs of life during June. The recent performance gives fans reason for hope for the rest of this season.

The Minnesota Twins limped out of the gate during the early portion of this season. The team compiled a 22-30 through the month of May and failed to have a winning record in either of the seasons first two months. However, Minnesota is currently 11-9 during June and the team is trending upwards.

Let’s not forget, the Twins are still waiting for Ervin Santana to return from injury. The ace of this pitching staff hasn’t thrown a single pitch during the 2018 season. His return will help push this team to the next level. On top of that, Minnesota has received almost no production from Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton through the first two-plus months of the season.

Looking at the pitching staff

If, and when, this team returns to full strength, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Fernando Romero has emerged as a breakout star for the pitching staff and should stick in the Majors for the remainder of this season.

José Berríos, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, and Lance Lynn have all been turning in above-average starts over the last month of baseball and have this rotation headed in the right direction. Adding Santana back into the mix will create a bit of a logjam, but it’s a good problem for Minnesota to have.

The bullpen has been solid for the Twins with Trevor Hildenberger and Ryan Pressly both enjoying career years to this point. Fernando Rodney has rebounded nicely following his slow start to the season and has an outside chance at making the All-Star team.

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Although Addison Reed has been removed from the set-up role, he has been largely effective in high-leverage innings all season long. The entire pitching staff has kept this team competitive all season long and will continue to be effective over the next few months.

Looking at the lineup

The offensive output for the Minnesota Twins has been sporadic at best. Eduardo Escobar has continued his emergence from last season and is possibly the Twins most valuable position player to this point of the season. The only other player who can make a case for that distinction is Eddie Rosario. The two Eddy’s have kept this team afloat while other players have struggled.

Logan Morrison has been the biggest disappointment for the Twins. He was never expected to hit for a high average, but hitting under .200 with decreased power has been a failure. Speaking of players not hitting as expected, Brian Dozier has taken a huge step back during his final season in the Twin Cities before he reaches free agency.

Dozier was expected to anchor the top of this lineup, instead, he finds himself sliding further and further down the batting order every game. Jorge Polanco hasn’t played a single game following his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. His return will definitely help the Twins fill the void of not having their hard-hitting third baseman.

Sano currently finds himself playing in Advanced-A for the Fort Meyers Miracle. However, Sano has shown very little this season and any production the Twins receive from him will be a bonus at this point.

In the outfield, Rosario continues to elevate himself into superstar status and Minnesota needs everything they can get from him. Buxton has missed the majority of this season and was largely ineffective when he was healthy. However, this team needs Buxton in center field defensively if they’re going to make a playoff run.

Max Kepler doesn’t have numbers that will wow anybody. However, he has helped solidify the defense in center field while Buxton recovers from injury. When this team gets back to full strength they will be able to give the Cleveland Indians a run for their money.

Reason to believe

Overall, the Minnesota Twins have a 33-39 record and currently trail the Indians by seven games in the AL Central. Recent series wins against both the Indians and the Boston Red Sox have provided hope for Twins fans.

It has been a season filled with disappointment so far and now is the time to turn things around. Dozier is a notoriously slow starter and will almost certainly end this season with no less than 25 home runs. The chances of LoMo hitting less than .200 all season are slim. After struggling all season, he’s due for a hot streak any day now.

Minnesota has also played well against good teams so far this season. They’re 6-3 against the Indians and 2-1 against the Red Sox and Houston Astros. They’ve struggled to a 0-4 record against the New York Yankees, but they always struggle to beat the Bronx Bombers.

This is not where Twins fans envisioned this team would be as we near the end of June. However, Minnesota has shown signs of life in recent weeks and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and Minnesota is just now starting to find its groove.

Next: Looking at possible matches in a Brian Dozier trade

By this time next month, the direction of this team for the rest of this season will be clear. The Twins are positioned to make upgrades if they’re competitive or sell off assets if they fall out of the race. Either way, this will be an exciting three months in the Twin Cities.