Minnesota Twins: 5 Takeaways from the Team’s First 10 Games

Minnesota Twins second baseman Luis Arraez celebrates with third baseman Gio Urshela after scoring on a RBI hit by shortstop Jorge Polanco. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Twins second baseman Luis Arraez celebrates with third baseman Gio Urshela after scoring on a RBI hit by shortstop Jorge Polanco. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Minnesota Twins are now through their first ten games of the season, posting a 4-6 record after facing three teams with playoff aspirations to start the season in the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox.

While the sweep at the hands of a Dodgers team that has the best record in baseball still stings, the series splits against the other two teams offer hope for the year ahead while also providing pessimism.

We break down the Minnesota Twins’ first ten games and takeaways from the beginning of the season.

April will continue to be a tough month, with the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on the schedule (with the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers sprinkled in), but May sees the Twins get 26 games against the Royals, Tigers, Cleveland Guardians, Oakland Athletics, and Baltimore Orioles. That’s a soft month.

Before we’re too optimistic about that stretch, we’re going to break down five things we’ve seen from this team to start the year and talk about how they could potentially impact the team going forward.

Minnesota Twins Takeaway No. 1: The Rotation is Going to be Just Fine

The Twins’ biggest concern coming into the year was the starting rotation. After seeing everything fall apart last year, the team made several moves to try and improve the group. Moving to a six-man rotation and adding Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack seemed to be a lateral move to a lot of fans, but so far it’s worked. Take a look at their numbers to start the year:

  • Dylan Bundy: 2 GS, 9.1 IP, 1 ER, 8-1 K-BB
  • Joe Ryan: 2 GS, 10 IP, 3 ER, 11-4 K-BB
  • Bailey Ober: 2 GS, 11 IP, 4 ER, 7-3 K-BB
  • Sonny Gray: 2 GS, 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 5-3 K-BB
  • Chris Archer: 1 GS, 4 IP, 0 ER, 3-0 K-BB
  • Chris Paddack: 1 GS, 4 IP, 3 ER, 3-0 K-BB

Paddack and Gray have been merely okay so far, but the other four have been stellar, keeping the Twins in games that their bullpen and lineup cannot. Even with Gray now on the injured list for what hopes to be a short stay, the team and fan base should be very happy with how things have started.

It’s still very early, but they’ve exceeded expectations against top competition, offering hope that they can keep it up when the team faces easier competition. With that being said, the other side of pitching is still worrisome.

Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Emilio Pagan delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) /

Minnesota Twins Takeaway No. 2: The Bullpen needs to find its groove, but it will.

As good as the rotation has been, the bullpen has been a dumpster fire after a solid start. Outside of Joe Smith, Danny Coulombe, and the now-injured Jorge Alcala, each Twins’ relieve has given up at least one run. Considering only Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder have passed the five inning marker, that’s a cause for concern.

Here’s the thing: Duran, Tyler Duffey, Emilio Pagan, Jhon Romero, and Cody Stashak all have FIP numbers that suggest they’re pitching a whole lot better than their base numbers suggest. Thielbar is not as bad as he has been. The control needs to be a little better, but the bullpen has a lot of good relievers.

It’ll take some time for the group to find its momentum. When you move your closer, union rep, and clubhouse leader, it’s going to take some time for adjustments to be made. This group has enough talent to recover.

Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray reacts after a home run by Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Takeaway No. 3: The injury luck has helped the Twins out a lot.

When I first say this, it’s easy to doubt. So far this year, the Twins have put Alex Kirilloff, Jorge Alcala, Byron Buxton, and Sonny Gray on the injured list, so how can I say that the team has been lucky? Well for starters, all four have avoided serious new injury.

Alcala, Buck, and Gray should all be back before the end of the week, with Buxton avoiding the injury list altogether. Kirilloff is dealing with linger effects from last year’s injury. If the team can keep avoiding major injuries (something they couldn’t do last year), it’ll be a big boost to their season.

Minnesota Twins Takeaway No. 4: The Offense will be Fine

Jorge Polanco, Carlos Correa, Max Kepler, Gary Sanchez, Trevor Larnach, Miguel Sano, Ryan Jeffers, Nick Gordon, and Gilberto Celestino are all currently hitting under .250. Of that same group, only Jorge Polanco has an OPS over .750 (and his is .799). The team has some serious positive regression headed their way.

There has never been a season where Carlos Correa slashed .176/.263/.324. Outside of Buxton, Luis Arraez, and Gio Urshela, the team is not performing to their career norms. That will change, especially with the cushiony schedule on the way.

Minnesota Twins Takeaway No. 5: This team still can’t play with the big boys

There are plenty of positives that I’ve talked about, but now it’s time to talk about the big negative that we’ve seen. This team is still nowhere near contending. They’re going to be able to compete for a Wild Card and possibly even the division in the weakened American League, but they’re not ready to beat the league’s top teams.

The two games against the Dodgers were ugly, with the bullpen getting crushed and the team getting outscored over the series 14-2. The Dodgers will likely win 100 games again this year, and if the Twins can’t even make it look competitive, their stay in the playoffs won’t be a long one.

With that being said, the team has another chance to prove themselves. The Rays come to town at the end of the month. If the Twins can play them close and steal a couple, they might prove me wrong. I hope they do.

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