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Game 47: Royals at Twins

Chris Archer takes the ball for Game 3 of this four-game set

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

First Pitch: 1:10 p.m. Central

Weather: Morning thunderstorms are expected to give way to partly cloudy, mid-80s, afternoon baseball.

Know Thine Enemy: Royals Review

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: Treasure Island Baseball Network

After dropping back-to-back low-scoring bummers to finish out the series with Detroit and start this series with Kansas City, the Twins bats came to life last night in a 10-7 victory that bumped their seasonal record to 28-18 and their AL Central lead to 5.0 games. The offense picked up a short start from Bailey Ober and rough relief outings from Danny Coulombe, Joe Smith, and Yennier Cano. Trevor Megill was excellent over 2.2 innings in middle relief of Coulombe, escaping a 4th-inning jam with a one-pitch double play and then restoring order through the 6th-inning while the Twins offense got back to work.

Today, Chris Archer squares off with right-hander Brady Singer with this series tied a game apiece. The Twins will need some uncharacteristic length from Archer as the bullpen has been used heavily the past three days. On that point, Cano was optioned back to St. Paul and Coulombe was placed back on the injured list after the game last night. Familiar faces LHP Jovani Moran and RHP Juan Minaya were added to the Twins roster to bring some fresh depth to Rocco’s arm barn.

For his part, Singer was excellent against Minnesota his last time out, working 7 scoreless innings and leaving with a 6-0 lead that would be ignominiously blown last Sunday. Here’s how today’s pitchers match up:

Starting Pitcher Matchup

Category Archer Singer
Category Archer Singer
IP 30.1 19.2
ERA 3.86 1.83
FIP 5.55 2.73
K% 20.9% 23.7%
BB% 11.9% 5.3%
CSW% 23.8% 32.3%
Tempo - Empty 19.5 14.7
Tempo - Runners On 24.6 21.0
Data from FanGraphs & Statcast

Both of these right-handers are primarily fastball-slider pitchers, though Archer prefers a four-seamer to Singer’s sinker. Changeups, when thrown, will be exclusive to left-handed batters and are usually few and far between.

I included each pitcher’s median tempo — that is, the amount of time they take between pitches in seconds — in the table above. Among the Twins starting pitchers this season, Archer is the slowest worker. Singer is one of the Royals’ fastest workers, especially with the bases empty. Baseball Savant has a fun leaderboard that you can use to compare and contrast different pitchers (and also batters).

The leadership of MLB has, for years, been trying to curb the expanding amount of time it takes to play nine innings. Their efforts against that challenge have given us all kinds of poorly constructed and thought-out innovations intended to speed up the game, like the Manfred Man and the three-batter minimum for pitchers, among others.

This season, the average length of a nine-inning game is about five minutes shorter (3 hours, 5 minutes) than it was last season (3:10), according to Baseball-Reference’s logs. Whether that sticks as we get into the summer months remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely that any of the currently in place adjustments to try to speed up the game are deserving of any credit for games being slightly quicker so far in 2022. (Both the Twins and Royals are squarely middle-of-the-pack in average game time, at 3:07).

The real root of the problem with game length is not what happens on the field. It’s what does not. Deadtime between pitches, which MLB has mostly ignored at the big league level to this point, is the single biggest contributor to longer games.

MLB’s unwillingness to tackle that issue may be about to change thanks to some very compelling evidence from the minor leagues where umpires have been enforcing the pitch clock rules that already exist. Starting in April, stricter enforcement of pitch clocks (14 seconds with bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on base) and rules that require hitters to remain in the batter’s box began and the results after about a month have been dramatic:

If you’ve attended a Major League game in person in the last couple of seasons, you might have noticed that the clocks are already in place around the stadium, counting down between pitches and innings. My family and I watched the Twins and Athletics play on Mother’s Day at Target Field and I was amazed at how many times that clock hit zero with the action still more than five seconds away from beginning.

It’s debatable if 14 seconds and 18 seconds are the right thresholds, but it’s undeniable that the most impactful thing the league can do to speed up the game does not even have to involve them messing with the in-game product. They just need to cut out the deadtime between in-game events. Let’s do that before we start regulating defensive shifts, please.

Last night’s contest took 3:40 and was the 4th-longest game the Twins have played this season. Here’s how the two clubs will line up this afternoon in their bid to beat one another in a more expedient fashion.

For the Royals, Salvador Perez has been activated from the injured list and Whit Merrifield is slated to continue his iron-man streak and play in his 514th consecutive game:

The Twins will roll out their near-A lineup for this matinee:

Enjoy the game!