Minnesota Twins: It’s too soon to throw in the towel on the 2018 season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Fans react as Eddie Rosario
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Fans react as Eddie Rosario /

The Minnesota Twins currently trail the Cleveland Indians by eight and a half games in the AL Central. However, with more than 70 games remaining in this season, there’s still time to make a push.

The non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching and the Minnesota Twins are expected to be active. Unfortunately, this season hasn’t gone well and the team isn’t expected to be adding pieces.

However, today we’ll take a look at why Minnesota should consider standing pat and riding this season out. That’s not a popular opinion around Twins Territory but I agree with Brian Dozier when he said this to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press…

"Everyone keeps talking about trade deadlines and trades and selling and all this; this game can turn in a minute. And I have a feeling it’s turning now."

I not only love the optimism here from Dozier, but I actually believe him. Dozier is a name that is connected to multiple teams on the trade market and he’s not alone. Eduardo Escobar, Fernando Rodney, and Lance Lynn are sure to be in demand as well.

These next two weeks will help determine the Twins strategy for the trade deadline. There is a very real possibility that they hit another rut and lose games in bunches. However, it’s possible Minnesota can extend their recent solid performance through the end of this season.

Here’s why…

First and foremost, we’ll begin with Dozier. The power-hitting second baseman has been known to get hot over the second half of a season. He hit .291 with 28 home runs after the All-Star break during the 2016 season. He followed that up by hitting .304 with 21 home runs down the stretch last season.

Although Dozier has struggled this season, hitting a lowly .223 with a pedestrian 14 home runs, his bat is heating up. He’s hitting .278 with three home runs and a .350 on-base percentage over his last 10 games. However, Dozier is only part of the reason for Minnesota Twins fans to be optimistic.

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Jorge Polanco has returned from his suspension and adding his bat to this lineup will have a positive impact. No disrespect to Ehire Adrianza, he played better than most people expected, but Polanco brings more with the lumber. Polanco is solid defensively and that makes it easier to keep Escobar at the hot corner while Miguel Sano works his way back into shape in the Minors.

Two bats working their way back

Speaking of Sano, his season is far from over in the Major Leagues. If Minnesota can turn things around in the second half, I suspect Sano will play a role in that. There’s no denying the impact he can have with his bat when he’s healthy.

Sano has a .203 batting average with seven home runs in only 37 games in MLB this season. Even more troubling is the fact that he has 66 strikeouts in those 37 games. However, he’s currently in Advanced-A for Minnesota working himself back into baseball shape. A return to form from Sano will propel this team to another level offensively.

Another player the Twins need to “get right” again is Byron Buxton. The speedy center fielder can change the course of a game in a multitude of ways when he’s healthy. However, like Sano and Dozier, he has struggled at the plate this season too.

The reigning Platinum Glove award winner has sorely missed in the outfield during this season. Although Max Kepler and company have done an admirable job in his absence, they can’t do half of what Buxton is capable of doing in center.

Wait, there’s more…

The starting pitching has been solid this season and Lynn has played a huge role in that lately. He has a 3.49 ERA across 49 innings pitched during his last nine starts. Lynn has a proven track record of success in MLB and he can help carry this team with a strong second half.

Fortunately, the Minnesota Twins won’t need to depend on Lynn’s continued success. This rotation also boasts Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson behind All-Star ace José Berríos. Odorizzi and Gibson have been consistently solid for Minnesota.

Berríos, on the other hand, has been nothing short of spectacular during this season. He has a 3.41 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings pitched. He has cemented his place at the top of the Twins rotation and has covered for the absence of Ervin Santana all season.

Speaking of Santana, he is currently working his way back from off-season surgery. His arrival will provide the same boost to this rotation as trading for a pitcher at the deadline. His future is cloudy so the next few months will be crucial for his future.

Minnesota has 10 games remaining against the Indians this season so they have ample opportunity to help themselves. The Twins are 6-3 against the Indians so far this season and that’s even more reason to believe that they can pull this off. Minnesota also proved they can handle this type of pressure en route to securing a Wild Card berth during last season.

Next: Looking at fits for the Twins trade candidates

It’s time for Twins fans to stop pining for trades because of where this team is in the standings. Instead, it’s time for us to believe in this team and believe in a turnaround this season.