The Minnesota Twins played an important four game series over the past week and we take a look at the best and the worst from those games.
Over the last four games, the Minnesota Twins battled Cleveland in the first matchup between the last two teams to win the division. While the Indians made it tough for the Twins to win the division in 2019, it was clear it won’t be as tough this season.
The Twins took the series three games to one and outscored Cleveland 10-4 over the course of the series, with Minnesota out-dueling a rotation that is considered one of the best in baseball. We break down the winners and losers from both teams the first series between the two.
Minnesota Twins Winner No. 1: Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak
The biggest winners from a series of pitchers duels? How about the two pitchers who absolutely dominated in their starts? Here’s the stat line for the two Twins starters:
Though Dobnak’s long fifth inning forced his pitch count into the 90s, these are two more REALLY good starts from pitchers who aren’t considered top-flight starters (Kenta is close). All the Twins need is a lead to be passed to that bullpen, and thus far Maeda and Dobnak have been really good at that.
Minnesota Twins Loser No. 1: Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez
As good as Maeda and Dobnak were against Cleveland, Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez were equally bad. After a three game series against the White Sox saw Cruz be named AL Player of the Week and Arraez hitting .389 coming into today, they were disastrous against the Indians:
- Cruz: 3-13 (.230), 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, and 4 K
- Arraez: 1-12 (.083), 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 BB, and 1 K
For Cruz, those are some pretty awful numbers for your clean-up hitter, and it doesn’t help that Cruz was so good the week before. For Arraez, your top average hitter, that 1-12 is hard to look at. This isn’t a serious problem, as both hitters will bounce back, but it to see your two best average hitters produce a combined .160 batting average makes them losers.
Cleveland Winner No. 1: Shane Bieber
Shane Bieber is the best pitcher in baseball right now. And it isn’t close. Bieber currently leads the league in wins, starts, innings pitched, ERA, strikeouts, and strikeouts per nine innings. On top of that, his FIP suggests his ERA should be an astounding -0.35. He has literally pitched so well that analytics estimate .35 runs should be added to his own team’s score for his pitching. It’s easy to see why.
Bieber struck out THIRTEEN Twins on Thursday night without walking ONE. He allowed just three hits and made Twins batters look silly, completely shutting them out. He will win a Cy Young this year, mark my words, and he will be a problem for years to come.
Cleveland Loser No. 2: The Outfield
We all knew that the Cleveland outfield wouldn’t be good. We didn’t know however, that they would go an abysmal 2-36 (.055) and become completely unwatchable. Their defense was acceptable, but it didn’t come close to making up for that kind of hitting. You simply can’t strike out 11 times and be considered okay.
If the Indians have any hopes of making the playoffs, let alone winning the division, (and they should with the larger playoff bracket), Bradley Zimmer, Domingo Santana, Jordan Luplow, and Oscar Mercado must improve, and soon.
Minnesota Twins Winner No. 2: The Minnesota Twins Bullpen
I predicted that the Twins would have one of the better bullpens in the league, and I think most people agreed. I had no idea that they would be THIS dominant and the top bullpen in the league. Including the bullpen game from Sunday, here were the combined numbers over the four-game series for the bullpen:
- 20 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 BB, 20 K
Just NINE hits and TWO runs over TWENTY INNINGS??? Those are insanely good numbers, and the fact that the Twins bullpen has struck out more people than they’ve allowed on base is incredible. This bullpen has been locking down games and deserves all of their recognition.
Minnesota Twins Loser No. 2: The Lineup
I promise, that some day I will stop dragging on this lineup. At some point, they will wake up, and the Twins won’t have to desperately cling to the leads they get off of homers. They were good against the White Sox, but since then the Twins have only managed to score 19 runs (3.167 runs per game).
They have to pull themselves together and become the team we all know they can be, because otherwise this team will lose every time a starter struggles, and this especially will not fly during the playoffs.
Minnesota Twins Winner No. 3: Rocco Baldelli
One more bonus winner for the team that won the series. Baldelli was excellent in his usage of pitchers over the weekend, making sure that none of his players were left out to dry (though Dobnak was the closest)
This especially showed during the bullpen game on Sunday. Expertly moving six pitchers in and out of a game, allowing them to get their outs and not hurting their arms. Taking care of a divisional opponent has to feel good as well.