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Must-win in May? Nah

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk in Twins-centric circles lately about the importance of the next two weeks. The Twins have a series against the division-leading White Sox, the AL-West leading Oakland As, the White Sox again, a quick flight back to the west coast to make up the Covid-delayed games against the Angels, and then another flight to Cleveland before the relative breather of hosting the Orioles. Their next day off is the 27th, and they play 17 games in 16 days, in three different time zones—and fly over a fourth time zone a few times for that matter. No matter how you slice it, this will be a tough stretch for the team on the field, and for their bodies as well.

Still, this is not a must-win series. The Twins do need to turn the ship around before its too late, but there is still time to do so. The Twins have played 32 games, less than most teams due to various postponements. With 130 games left, that means they aren’t even 20% of the way through their schedule. Saying the Twins are doomed now is like calling the NFL season over at halftime of week four. As a Vikings fan, I understand the urge to do exactly that, but its also a silly sentiment. There is a lot of season left. And even moreso in baseball, where its rare for a team to finish over .600, and a record below .550 often wins the division. With multiple wild card berths up for grabs, the playoffs are attainable for even the Tigers—the worst team in baseball (with whom the Twins just split two games in a rain-shortened series.)

The Twins have a Pythagorean (or in other words, expected) record of 16-16. Their run differential is essentially even. We’ve stated ad-nauseam that luck has played a factor in the Twins’ start. If-and-when they get a couple weeks of breaks shaking their way, they could just as easily be 8 games above their expected record. If 90 wins takes the division, or at least a playoff spot, then the Twins need to win 78 more, out of 130. That means they have to go .600 from here out. Not easy, but certainly not impossible.

There are 22 games left in May. At the end of the month, that means a total of 54 Twins games, at most, will have passed, while 108 remain. It will be the exact 13 mark of the season. Simply going .500 over the next two weeks keeps the Twins competitive. More than that will start to close the gap between the team we have seen and the team we know they are. If they go .500 between now and the end of the month, that puts them at 23-31. One long hot streak, which every team has, easily gets this team back above .500, and two puts them back into the thick of the division race.

If the Twins continue their current pace (.375) through the next 22 games, the end of May, they finish the month at 20 or 21 wins. 70 more to go, if we still assume that 90 is your mark. 70 wins in 108 games would be very, very tough. That is certainly true, but its not impossible. Its also very possible that only 84 wins takes the division this year.

The Twins have been banged up, and missing key players, but the White Sox have had it worse. They are counting on a lot of young and inexperienced players (so are we, but to a lesser extent) and the dog days of summer wear on guys like that. No one else in the division is a credible contender, despite the Royals’ torrid start. It is way, way too early to write off the Twins. Its way too early to call anything a must-win. Lets keep watching and see the turn-around, its almost impossible for the Twins to not start winning more games. Their current pace is 61 wins, and their true talent level says that won’t happen. Only a handful of teams in modern times have been that bad, and the Twins aren’t. No need to panic yet, Twins fans.