Time: 7:10 Central. Vegas Line: -120 CLE / MIN +110
Weather: Perfect, Start Temp 77°
Opponent's SB Site: Link here
TV: FSN. Radio: Worthless Post-Apocalypse
PANIC!!! THE TWINS ARE DOOMED!!! FIRE GARY!!! FIRE THE POHLADS!!!
Well, though we all share these sentiments at times, it's a bit like complaining "my dog poos." Undoubtedly true, not particularly of any real interest, unless you're on a website devoted to People Who Are Upset Their Dog Goes Poo. We'll skip that, for now. Even if the Twins are doomed, ain't much gonna change before the trade deadline.
A fun discussion, if you missed it, was had yesterday in the comments on TJ's link post, about how to beat the shift. Specifically, why don't more hitters bunt against it? A consensus guess was that strong hitters (and those are the ones most likely to be shifted on) simply don't want to bunt; it feels unmanly. So they don't practice it enough to develop that skill.
I poked around a little lazily on this, and found some stuff that kinda agreed. Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs had these two separate articles a few years ago, and came to the conclusion that hitters don't bunt against the shift because bunting is actually pretty darn hard, and a slugger would rather smash a rocket into the shift than fail at a dribbly bunt. ESPN's Buster Olney (from analysis done by Sarah Langs) looked at how bunts, and other small-ball stuff, have all dropped off in this homer-happy era. His conclusion was "the play probably gets less consideration because fewer players know how to do it."
If this is correct, and defenses keep shifting, expect teams to start teaching bunting more. Baseball always goes in cycles like that. Once everybody loved the low fastball, until hitters caught onto it, then everybody loved the high fastball. (Sorry, Bert, "downward plane" ain't always the thing.) You trade prospects for veterans, until the other way 'round is the trend. And so the wheel turns.
Today's Cleveland starter is Carlos Carrasco, something of a deviation from the current preference of "fireballers! Gimme fireballers!" His fastball is around 94, and he can make it sink as well, but where he really shines is with his offspeed stuff. His changeup hasn't quite come around yet, this season -- he'll have a pretty free-swinging Twins lineup to practice it on. Digits:
THE TWINS ARE COUNTING ON YOU TO SAVE THE SEASON, BERRIOS, NO PRESSURE.
|CLEVELAND INDIANS||MINNESOTA TWINS|
|Francisco Lindor - SS||Brian Dozier - 2B|
|Michael Brantley - LF||Eddie Rosario - LF|
|Jose Ramirez - 3B||Miguel Sano - 3B|
|Edwin Encarnacion - DH||Logan Morrison - 1B|
|Yonder Alonso - 1B||Eduardo Escobar - SS|
|Melky Cabrera - RF||Max von Kepler - RF|
|Jason Kipnis - 2B||Robbie Grossman - DH|
|Yan Can Gomes - C||Ryan LaMarre - CF|
|Greg Allen - CF||Bobby Wilson - C|
|Carlos Carrasco - RHP||Jose Berrios - RHP|