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What the Twins need to reach the playoffs

As we enter the final month of the season, the Twins still have some holes that need to be patched in order to succeed in the playoffs.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Right before the July trade deadline, it looked like the Twins had just shot themselves in the foot. After acquiring Jaime Garcia from the Atlanta Braves, they quickly reversed course and sent Garcia to the New York Yankees. Along with trading Brandon Kintzler to the Washington Nationals, it wasn’t quite waving the white flag, but it sure appeared the Twins were admitting that they just didn’t have all the pieces to make a run at the playoffs.

Yet today we see the Twins in the thick of the Wild Card race thanks to an 18-10 record in August after Tuesday’s victory. They haven’t really missed Kintzler in the bullpen, they haven’t really needed Garcia in spite of spot starts from Tim Melville and Aaron Slegers, and the offense has reached another gear. Suddenly, we’re back to where we were a month ago, where we were wondering what the Twins have to do to be competitive in October.

Well, they could still use a righthanded hitter as they rank 18th in the league against LHP with a 92 wRC+. Howie Kendrick, Melky Cabrera, and Rajai Davis were traded so they’re out, but I still like the idea of acquiring either Wilmer Flores from the Mets or Tommy Joseph from the Phillies. While neither plays the outfield, they would replace Joe Mauer at 1st base against lefthanded pitchers or could be used in the designated hitter spot and would certainly provide some power for the lineup. However, if an outfielder is what you’d want, there’s still Steve Pearce with the Blue Jays as he’s almost exclusively played left field this year.

Then there’s the pitching staff. Ideally the Twins would improve upon Bartolo Colon, Kyle Gibson, and Dillon Gee, and there’s a couple ways to accomplish that goal. Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves would be intriguing callups, though innings limits and their respective minor league teams being in playoff races themselves would probably keep the two out of Minnesota until the middle of September. Trades are a little tougher due to players needing to clear waivers, but the Twins could always try some risky but cheap pitchers. They could roll the dice on Brett Anderson, who just made a solid debut for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. If the Rangers decide they’re out of the playoff race, Andrew Cashner is a possibility, though his secondary numbers raise many red flags in spite of his 3.44 ERA. Jhoulys Chacin has been very good for the Padres but he probably wouldn’t get to the Twins through waivers. Want the Twins to dip into the Braves’ kitty again? R.A. Dickey is available! Basically any top-tier starting pitcher probably isn’t getting acquired, but the Twins could find some small upgrades.

The same is true for the bullpen. While Trevor Hildenberger has been a godsend and Matt Belisle has been solid since taking over as the closer, the Twins still could improve upon what they have. Some reinforcements lie in the minors as well, there are also plenty of veteran relievers that could end up in Minnesota come September 1st. Even better is that they all would be relatively cheap to acquire, meaning that making a few minor tweaks to the roster shouldn’t be difficult for the stretch run.

How about this? The Twins are looking competitive going into September and with their favorable schedule, it’s entirely possible that this will continue until the rest of the season. We just have to hope that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are able to swing some deals in the next couple days to help push the team to the Wild Card game and beyond.