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Twinkie Town Roundtable: What are you most excited to watch if/when baseball restarts this year?

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Our writers weigh in

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

We’re starting something new here, a weekly roundtable. I’ll be posing a question to our writers, and they’ll answer it as a short paragraph. Here is the first week. The question is in the title: What are you most excited to watch if/when baseball restarts this year?

Kyle Edelbrock

As a prospect guy it’ll be interesting to see how the minor league season ends up. Most reports I’ve read so far have the minor league season being canceled completely... so what are the 40 man roster guys going to be doing? And what happens if there is an injury on the big league squad? Whatever solution they end up with for that problem will be the one I’ll be most interested in.

★ ★ ★

Joseph7823

I am, without a doubt, most excited to watch Josh Donaldson and how his addition affects how the team operates. Ever since we nabbed him in free agency, I’ve been dying to see him play, and the virus has delayed his first game as a Twin. There are so many things to monitor and keep track of regarding his season (i.e. how Sanó does at first, team chemistry, etc.), and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. So, even in a shortened season, Donaldson’s addition will definitely be an exciting one.

★ ★ ★

Ben Beecken

Well, the Twins, obviously. But I’m mostly excited to have something to look forward to watching almost every day. Something that’s live...and something that’s sports. Really, live sports. And also, spring without baseball has been weird. Imagine going an entire summer without baseball. Or, don’t. Because it’s awful.

I’m excited for the Twins to have a full, legitimate starting five. Kenta Maeda and a healthy Rich Hill should round out an improved rotation. Add in a healthy Byron Buxton, a resurgent Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson and this team is suddenly sounding even better to me than they did two months ago...

★ ★ ★

TeamCrazyMatt

By far, I’m most excited to watch the Bomba Squad, Second Edition, Revised and Updated. An ascendant Max Kepler and Mitch Garver providing a power core alongside veterans Nelson Cruz and still-can-hardly-believe-the-Twins-signed Josh Donaldson? Why wouldn’t I drop everything to watch?

Outside Minnesota, I’m looking forward to seeing last year’s rising rookies (Fernando Tatis Jr., Pete Alonso), and if they’re able to continue carving out a standing among the elite of the sport, as long as they do so against the other 29 teams in the league.

What I’m looking forward most to reading: Monday Morning Minnesota.

★ ★ ★

imakesandwichesforaliving

Baseball. Twins baseball. I know that’s probably a general answer, but it’s the middle of May and there’s no baseball anywhere around me. I definitely understand the circumstances and agree with the decision that the baseball season be delayed. However, the lack of baseball has left a void in my life (and probably yours, too). It certainly was a sweet release from work. I’m just pining for the very first baseball game where I can turn on the radio and go for a walk and listen to Provus and Gladden again. If I had to choose something specific that I’m excited for: bombas. I think there will be less this year (in percentage, of course), but still some monster bombas coming from the Bomba Squad.

★ ★ ★

Marea

f/when baseball starts this year, I am most excited to see how the delay ended up either helping or hurting teams. For example, how will the Twins deal with the remaining 39 games of Michael Pineda’s 60 game suspension if they only play 80-ish games? The suspension was only supposed to impact maybe 5-6 weeks (roughly 1/6) of the 2020 season, but now that the season has been cut in half, the missed time could mean a much harsher punishment of about 1/2 of the season. On the flip side, the plan to use guys like Homer Bailey and the injured Rich Hill to fill the gap until Pineda returned originally seemed questionable with Hill healing from an injury that would have brought him back sometime in June. So does Pineda’s suspension even hurt the Twins anymore? Along those same lines, the extra time will definitely help some of the Twins’ foes. The Yankees would have started the season without any of their megastars in the outfield, putting them at a deep disadvantage. But now they all might have had enough time to heal, and their season can start with their fully staffed and fully dangerous lineup. The Red Sox have had time to put together some sort of plan that un-screws them from things like losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, trading Mookie Betts for a pack of magic beans and Alex Verdugo (who wound up with a stress fracture and now had time to heal), and losing manager Alex Cora to the cheating scandal. Which leads to the Dodgers only ending up with Betts for half of a season - will it be enough? Gimme all the popcorn, this season could end up becoming more interesting in 80 games than any full season could be.

★ ★ ★

Jonathan Gamble

I‘m most excited to watch the continued development of Max Kepler if/when baseball resumes this year. Still a young player, Kepler has a real chance to become a star in the league if he keeps improving like he did last year. With just a slight tweak to his batted ball profile, Kepler could really take off.

★ ★ ★

JohnFoley

Byron Buxton. He was hurt on August 1st last season when he crashed into the outfield wall while making a catch (again?) and missed the remainder of the season. Before his injury he was quietly having a very solid season. He had posted career best offensive numbers across the board largely driven by significant improvements in strikeout rate (23.1%) and hard-hit percentage (35.4%). Altogether, Buxton had accumulated 2.7 fWAR in only 87 games. Healthy again heading into his sixth big league season, Byron has been left out of the Twins’ early career contract extension club, and 2021 could be setting up as a “now or never” breakout campaign for him. I’m excited to watch how he responds. Beyond all that, there just isn’t anything else in baseball like seeing him leg out a triple or get to a ball in the gap that no one else on Earth could.

★ ★ ★

MarkCollins2

I’m most excited to see what happens with the Twins pitching staff this season. Picking the encore of the Bomba Squad felt too easy, and the pitching staff made big strides in 2019. Wes Johnson seamlessly made the jump from college to MLB and unlocked new levels for many Twins pitchers. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi both put together All-Star campaigns under Johnson’s tutelage. Michael Pineda was really starting to put it all together for the first time since his Tommy John surgery before his season-ending suspension. From June to September, he lowered his ERA by more than a full point and only allowed more than three runs in one start over that stretch. But I think Johnson’s biggest impact came on that oft-beleaguered bullpen. It’s no secret that the bullpen has been less than stellar recently, but Johnson helped turn that unit into a formidable group. Taylor Rogers had a breakout season and turned into one of the best closers in the game. Trevor May finally put it all together and Tyler Duffey quietly put together one of the better seasons of all major league relievers. I’m extremely excited to see what Wes Johnson can do with this group moving forward, especially with a couple exciting new pieces in Homer Bailey, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. We can all hope that the layoff won’t hinder this group too much, but I think Johnson has this group heading in the right direction for 2020 and beyond.

★ ★ ★

Brandon Brooks

“There are countless individual performances and storylines to look forward to in any given season, and this one is no exception. Still, I think what I’m most excited to see is stuff that reminds me of the novelty of this game. I’m talking about west coast games that go thirteen innings and have everybody in Minnesota staying up until two in the morning. Stuff like that is the reason I follow baseball exponentially more than any other sport - you just don’t get stuff like that in other leagues. Baseball is already a game of the little things, and I think we’ll all appreciate them even more this year.”

★ ★ ★

James Fillmore

I look at baseball like an unscripted soap opera, so I tend not to focus on any particular thing that may/may not happen. But if the season does happen, I’m looking forward to ballpark food. Alas, not food served at an actual ballgame; even if that weren’t impossible for everyone right now, it’s been impractical for me since 2016. A series of unfortunate events put my income level/ticket price ratio at No. But I still make baseball food at home, once a week, during baseball season while I listen to the game.

A good bratwurst (veg or beef) dressed Chicago style, with mustard, pickle, relish, and hot peppers. Or a Cubano sandwich on homemade bread (you’d best believe we never run out of breadmaking ingredients in this house). Stuff I would enjoy anytime, but that just tastes better when I save it for baseball. Like how homemade popcorn tastes better when you’re watching a movie.

★ ★ ★

TJ Gorsegner

I saved myself for last because I’m lazy and didn’t write my reply down—but I’m most excited to see the new pitchers. We all know what Josh Donaldson does to baseballs, and it makes the baseball’s mothers cry. Homer Bailey is a bit of a wild card though. He’s shown potential in the past and had a good 2019, can Wes Johnson help him find something? Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin both have question marks, but could be good. More than anything though, I’m ready to see Kenta Maeda. After all the trade drama, all the hype, all the writing about him that I did, I want to see him throw damnit.