Time: 3:10 Central
Weather: Slighty breezy, start temp 42°, sunshine if that helps
Opponent’s SB site: Lookout Landing
TV: BS North. Radio: All Atteglavus, all the time, on the good ol’ TIBN
Today’s starting pitchers give you a good indication of each team’s Master Plan going into the current season. Joe Ryan is a rookie many Twins fans hope will resuscitate a starting rotation that drowned in injuries and bad free-agent gambles last year. Robbie Ray won the AL Cy Young with Toronto last year. The Twins, hoping for a deep playoff run, made a even deeper run to the bottom of their division; Seattle, hoping to be mediocre, won 90 games and somehow still missed the postseason.
Obviously, Ray is expected to help Seattle push Houston for the AL West’s top spot. Last year, Ray led the league in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, and WHIP. The 30-year-old lefthander relied almost exclusively on a 95-ish fastball and high-80s slider to do so. Both are listed on FanGraphs as reaching a higher average velocity than Mr. Robbie had ever achieved before. It’s hard to imagine him continuing to reach new career-bests, but even if he tapers off to merely All-Star level, the Mariners will be happy with spending $21 million on that.
Ryan, who didn’t pitch 21 games last season, came to Minnesota as part of the Nelson Cruz-to-Tampa Bay trade, and had five competent starts for the Twins in November. Never a high-velocity guy, he rose quickly in the Rays’ system on the basis of a “sneaky” fastball, which our John Foley explained here (and FanGraphs’ Jame Mailhot here, if you're a jerk who thinks Foley isn't as clever as FanGraphs). 2021 digits:
A fun thing about Ryan, besides being the Twins’ ONLY PITCHING HOPE (ok, not exactly) is this profile Do-Hyoung Park recently did about him for mlb.com. It appears that Mr. Ryan is into classic cars. And self-assembled bikes (the kind you pedal, not the kind yuppies go “vroom” on because they’re having a midlife crisis). Futhermore, there seems to be no sort of outdoor activity Ryan doesn’t enjoy, including surfing and jogging halfway up the sides of mountains. (But has he gone ice fishing with Hrbek yet?)
Hmm. Mr. Outdoors, with a thing for classic cars and DIY projects? Remind you of any other Twins pitchers in recent memory? Get Ryan into hunting and homebrewing and we’ll have another Glen Perkins on our hands.
If you’re curious about what the rules changes for this year entail, here’s the official MLB page. Basically, there’s a universal DH, some roster size & move tweaks, plus our beloved Manfredball will return in extra-innings (not, as some had hoped, starting in maybe the 12th or so).
Teams will also have the option of using these electronic gizmos for catchers to call pitches. I like the idea, in theory... still, is something that sends a wireless signal entirely unhackable? I mean, there’s a reason mobsters on the phone mention “the thing with that guy downtown, not that thing, the other thing.”
|Adam Frazier - 2B||Byron Buxton - CF|
|Ty France - 1B||Carlos Correa - SS|
|Jesse Winker - LF||Jorge Polanco - 2B|
|Mitch Haniger - RF||Gio Urshela - 3B|
|Eugenio Suarez - 3B||Miguel Sano - 1B|
|Jarred Kelenic - DH||Alex Kirilloff - LF|
|Julio Rodriguez - CF||Gary Sanchez - DH|
|J.P. Crawford - SS||Ryan Jeffers - C|
|Cal Raleigh - C||Max Kepler - RF|
|Robbie Ray - LHP||Joe Ryan - RHP|
Normally, I’d assume that the widget just lists pitchers at the end because that’s how it works, but maybe with Manfred there’s 10 hitters in the lineups, now?