Minnesota Twins Sunday Wrap-Up: Streaky offense makes for bad Week 9

Eddie Rosario of the Minnesota Twins is congratulated by Max Kepler following his home run during the first inning. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Eddie Rosario of the Minnesota Twins is congratulated by Max Kepler following his home run during the first inning. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins headed into this week coming off of one of their best stretches of the season, but streaky bats led to a disappointing Week 9.

In the eighth week of the season, the bats finally came alive for the Minnesota Twins, and the team put up a very good 6 runs per game. They won 4 out of 6 and came into the week right on the tails of the division leader.

In this week, the Twins put up 5 runs or more three different times while being held to 3 or less runs four different times. This inability to score led to a 3-4 record this week, showing just how important runs are to winning. If the Twins score 5 or more runs, it’s extremely likely the pitching will retain that lead.

If the Twins are going to go on a deep playoff run (we all want that), the offense needs to get healthy and come together fast, as the Twins only have a five game tune-up before the playoffs. We get to all that and more in this week’s Sunday Wrap-Up.

The Minnesota Twins get streaky: Byron Buxton, Injuries, Demotions, and more

  • A 3-4 record is no way to get things done in what has suddenly become one of the toughest divisions in baseball. As the reigning division champions, you can’t expect 3.7 runs per game will beat the AL Central and NL Central division leaders. Yes they had a couple good games, but the offense NEEDS more consistency.
  • The return of Luis Arraez will help with that. Marwin Gonzalez, who has gotten most of the starts at second base with Arraez out, has been awful, hitting just .153 since Arraez went down. Arraez should return either today or Monday, offering some much ability to get on-base.
  • With Arraez out, only two Twins have been able to hit for average: Ryan Jeffers and Byron Buxton.
    • For Jeffers, he has made every argument that he deserves to be the main catcher right now. He’s hitting way better than both Alex Avila and Mitch Garver with way better stats for almost the same number of games.
    • For Buxton, his recent hot streak (.340 BA, 5 HR, 13 RBI in the Month of September) has led to him being placed in the lead-off spot. At this rate, he belongs there, and if he stays this hot into the playoffs, expect some down-ballot MVP votes.
  • Meanwhile outside of those two, things are still pretty grim:
    • Nelson Cruz (.156 BA) and Miguel Sano (.135 BA) have been horrible at the plate over the past two weeks (though both have combined for seven bombas over that span).
    • Max Kepler (.130 BA since return) and Mitch Garver (.200 BA since return) both returned from injury but still look lost at the plate, making it look like they are in no way playoff ready.
    • I don’t talk about Jorge Polanco a lot, because he usually plays well, but his offense is simply meh compared to the All-Star level it was a year ago. Polanco has worked greatly to improve his defense, and it shows, but hitting .265 and just four homers shows he’s not quite himself.
  • With the Yankees almost locked in as the playoff opponent for the first round, I feel like now is a good time to remind Twins fans (myself included) that this team is different. Kenta Maeda is the ace we haven’t had, and I think he’s good for at least one win this postseason. This year is different. We just have to believe.
  • Finally, I wrote about a projected rotation for the Twins in the playoffs, and after watching Rich Hill dominate the Cubs on Friday (despite the loss for lack of offense) and seeing Jake Odorizzi go down again, I am even more confident picking him as the fourth starter. If he gets a playoff game to pitch, he will do a good job.

Around the AL Central: Taking a Look at the Minnesota Twins Rivals

  • Chicago White Sox (34-18): The White Sox virtually clinched the division by taking 3 out of 4 from the Twins this week and are just a half game away from the No. 1 seed after a 5-2 week. This is one of the hottest teams in baseball, and I wouldn’t want to face them right off the bat.
  • Cleveland Indians (28-24): After a 2-4 week, Cleveland sits just 2 games ahead of Toronto for the No. 7 spot, but their spot in the playoffs is virtually secure. The only thing left is to see who they will play.
  • Detroit Tigers (22-29): Despite starting hot, the Detroit Tigers are now officially out of the hunt. Barring an absolute miracle, the Tigers will not catch the Blue Jays (who are four games ahead of them) in the eighth spot. This was a good season for the Tigers though, and they learned a lot about what they have.
  • Kansas City Royals (21-31): Out of the playoffs for a while now, the Royals have quietly won four of their last seven and will finish better than last year. Similar to the Tigers, this year was about growth, and the Royals have definitely seen that.

Around the MLB: Important Minnesota Twins-related news around the league

  • Lastly, we’ll finish things off with the Playoff Picture. Unless some incredible hot streak happens, this is how the American League will look:
  • The Rays (1), White Sox (2), and Athletics (3) have strong grips on their divisions and will finish as the top three seeds.
  • The white-hot Yankees (4) and Twins (5) will duel for “home-field” advantage in their series, while the Astros (6) will be the sixth seed unless the Mariners get really hot.
  • Cleveland (7) has the seven seed for now, and unless Toronto (8) makes a miracle happen, it will stay that way.
  • The Mariners are three games back of the Blue Jays and Astros, but unless they catch fire to end the year, they’ll finish outside the bracket.
  • The National League is still wide open:
  • The Dodgers (1) will be the one seed, and the Cubs (2) have their division laced up. The Braves (3) could still take that two seed, but they have to make sure the Marlins don’t catch them first.
  • The Padres (4) are set as the four seed, while the Marlins (5) and Cardinals (6) are currently holding the other secondary spots. Both the Reds and Phillies are right there, so there are no guarantees yet at 5 and 6.
  • Those same Reds (8) and Phillies (7) are currently in the seven and eight spots, but the Giants, Brewers, and Mets are all right behind them. This one will go down to the wire.

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