Usually, I like to compose my posts here around a theme or central idea. One-third of the way through a Twins season like no other, however, that’s a difficult feat to accomplish. Stability has not exactly been a strong suit of 2020. As such, here are some stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the ‘20 ballclub as the season shifts into its second trimester...
- Besides the eye-popping raw numbers, Randy Dobnak (4-1, 1.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 305 ERA+) is proving why the Twins trusted him in the 2019 postseason when Michael Pineda was unexpectedly suspended. When the Twins lost that ALDS, the narrative was largely “the Uber driver should never have been starting at Yankee Stadium”. Maybe true, but said former ride-share expert is doing his best to not be remembered for that one scenario.
- Jorge Polanco continues to amaze me (and remain my favorite player on this club). It’s pretty simple with him: when he’s healthy, he hits. His average always seems to hover around .300, and one could make the case that he isn’t even fully locked-in yet this year (.733 OPS). An underrated Bomba Squad member, to be sure.
- On more of a down note, I’ve really had to re-calibrate expectations for Miguel Sano and Jose Berrios. Though trying not to make too many snap decisions during the strangest baseball season in 100 years, the play of those two has been disappointing. Sano continues to pile up strikeouts at a rate unsustainable even in this power era (33 whiffs in just 69 PA). Fortunately, he’s been better than expected at first base, so not a total disaster. Berrios (1-3, 5.92 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) is more puzzling, what with velocity (his normal bugaboo) being fine but command utterly absent. As much as I hate to say it, my hopes for him as a Johan Santana-like ace are pretty much extinguished at this point. The good news? He certainly won’t be this bad all season, and his compatriots have largely been picking up the slack.
- Thanks to their 15-8 start, Minnesota now has the luxury of playing the “long game” in a short season. They can make sure Josh Donaldson is 100% ready before putting him back at the hot corner, and take a cautious approach with hurlers like Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill who are coming off various ailments. Obviously the Twins want to win the AL Central and get home-field advantage in the new wild card round, but having bullets in all the chambers is the ultimate goal come October.
- Finally, in the midst of a global pandemic, it must be noted that this team hasn’t had a Covid-19 case on the big league roster since Summer Camp. I know a lot of luck is involved in this, but some credit has to go to the trainers, coaches, and players for discipline both on and off the field. No guarantees things will stay that way, of course, but thus far the only health scares on this team have been the ones of the usual baseball variety.
As the season shifts into its second trimester, the Twins will see a lot more of the White Sox & Indians, their closest division competitors. On the flip side, all 10 games against a now free-falling Tigers club also lie ahead. To be honest, it will simply be nice to see an opposing team without the initials KC or MIL on the schedule.