Twins fans react to Rocco Baldelli pulling Pablo Lopez after five innings on Opening Day
By Josh Hill
Well, the start of the Minnesota Twins season couldn't have gone much better than it did in Kansas City. Pablo Lopez triumphantly threw eight strikeouts in his debut with the team, Byron Buxton gave us our first truck horn of the season, and for just the second time this decade the Twins are 1-0 to start the year.
Lopez, in particular, was a bright spot and fully delivered on the high expectations set for him after the team traded away Luis Arraez to acquire him. It's just one start, but there were a lot of great thigns to take away from the win.
One of those things was how deep into his start Lopez got. A thorn in the side of fans across Twins Territory is Rocco Badelli's management of the starters, and Opening Day saw the first big Twitter tussle based on his decision.
Baldelli pulled Lopez after 5.1 innings, allowing him to pitch into the sixth inning but not by much. Do-Hyoung Park accurately predicted that Lopez might see the sixth to allow some more warmup time for Caleb Thielbar and to set up better matchups, which turned out to be the case.
Twins fans split this one of two ways: Rocco made the right call by pulling Lopez when he did, or he once again showed that he's incapable of managing starters.
Minnesota Twins fans react to Rocco Baldelli pulling Pablo Lopez
The overwhelming takeaway seemed to support Baldelli pulling Lopez, or at least understanding why the move was made and how it's different from what we saw throughout last season.
Rocco pulling Lopez when he did was the right move from a certain point of view. It's only Opening Day and Lopez had thrown 85 pitches after having not thrown more than 65 during the Spring. Adjusting for inflation, that's actually a pretty long start considering how early Baldelli was in yanking his starters last season.
Despite how much heat Rocco has gotten from fans, a majority of fans had no real problem with it. With how things went last year and the quick hook to pull starters, there's still an understandable de
That being said, the optics aren't great. Twins fans are already understandably furious over how the starters were managed last year and how little they actually pitched. By not allowing pitchers to go deep into their starts, Rocco put a potentially unnecessary strain on a bullpen that wasn't fully prepared to handle it. It also appeared to drive a wedge between Rocco and his starters, which is something fans are afraid will lead to guys not wanting to be in Minnesota.
To be fair, if things go bad this year there's a likely chance that Rocco won't be here anymore which takes care of that concern.
Whether it was justified or not, Rocco pulling Lopez after five innings didn't sit well with Twins fans.
Buckle up, because we're already having this discussion on Day 1 of 162.