A Twins fan would certainly have to think, certainly hope, with the quality of the starting pitching would carry over to the postseason.
That goes double when accounting for the anxiety the bullpen has given fans all season long.
Brock Stewart’s return and the feel good comeback of Chris Paddack has added some much needed depth for Rocco to lean on, which helps quell some fears. As such it allows Jhoan Duran, Emillo Pagan, Caleb Thielbar and newly converted Louie Varland to be locked and loaded for playoffs and perhaps be used in more ideal situations than simply putting them out as a necessity. That’s been hat it’s felt like at times this year, but we can an chalk it up to Rocco feeling things out for this sort of situation.
Minnesota failed — or refused — to make a trade at the deadline to add relief pitching. The counter to the criticism that drew was that guys like Stewart and Paddack were going to get healthy and be free additions, which they turned out to be. The Twins made their bed at the deadline, and while it looks much more comfortable than it once did, key players in the bullpen will have to shine.
Hitting with runners in scoring position
Among the many frustations fans had with the Twins offense, the lack of ability to capitalize with runners in scoring position is near the top of the list.
Things have gotten decidedly better, though, and the upward trend needs to continue in October. Simply put, if the Twins offense starts to look even a little bit like it did in the middle of the season, it’s going to be another quick exit from the postseason.
Some good news is that the Twins have a .751 OPS and .324 OBP, which ranks them in the Top 6 of AL team leaders. But while getting on base has been a strength, the Twins lead all MLB teams in strikeouts. Factoring this in, getting the clutch hits will loom large for Twins success. For key players like Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Carlos Correra, it's time for the veterans to step up and be the leaders in the playoff run.
While it may seem straight forward, the fundamentals of quality pitching and clutch hitting always stand tall. Do the Twins have enough in the three phases of the game to make a run — or end the streak that has haunted fans since 2004? Historically fans are being set up for a letdown, but if finally feels like Minnesota has a team that, if they play to the level of talent we know they can, is capable of doing damage in October.