After Jorge Polanco & Jose Miranda tag-teamed the walk-off win over the Orioles this past Saturday, the Twins found themselves halfway home on the 2022 season. With a 45-36 record, they have been just good/exciting enough to get fans’ hopes up, while always just inconsistent/maddening enough to wonder if it will all matter in early fall.
Here are three midseason musings from each camp. As the old saying goes, let’s start with the bad news...
- Broken-record bullpen: I have an uncle who, if former Twins reliever/pariah Ron Davis is mentioned within earshot, will do an RD impersonation—full windup followed by immediate look back over the shoulder. That mimicry might as well be describing the entire 2022 MN bullpen at the moment. Have you ever heard of a team making an October run with a legitimately bad relief corps.? Me neither.
- The mysterious case of the disappearing offense: No, that isn’t the title of an old Hardy Boys pulp mystery. Despite being a pretty formidable offense overall, the bats have 24-48 hour stretches where they go ice cold—just no production whatsoever. I’m concerned that if this corresponds with the new 3-game first round playoff format, it could be another early-October exit should the Twins hang onto the Central and get in the tournament.
- Fundamental flaws: As a big believer in the power of fundamentals, I’m often infuriated by this team’s seeming lack of them. Poor throws, un-gloved pop flys, base running gaffes, and catcher futility (Sanchez is a butcher back there & Jeffers can’t slow down an opposing running game, much less stop it) have turned losses into wins and wins into nail-biters. Perhaps The Falvine (TM) can hire Danny Glover for his motivational abilities in this arena?
Fortunately, it isn’t all doom-and-gloom. Here are some reasons for optimism as the dog days of summer commence...
- A-B-C @ 1-2-3: The more times Rocco Baldelli can fill out his lineup card with Arraez-Buxton-Correa in the top slots, the longer this team will sit atop the division. It may be as simple as that. All three of those guys can—in their own ways—radically change the outcome off any game with a single at-bat.
- AK-19 firing on all cylinders: There was a time not too long ago when I thought Alex Kirilloff’s Twins career was permanently untracked due to a troublesome wrist. Whether via physical improvement or Kirilloff learning to manage it I am unsure, but he is again showing the left-handed pop that prompted his MLB call-up to be the 2020 Astros playoff series.
- Don’t let the Muggles get you down: Don’t let the vast difference in overall record between 2022 & 2021 (33-48) at the halfway mark fool you—this year’s team has faced just as many debilitating losses. The difference? Whereas the ‘21 bunch seemed to pack it in after a horrific April, this ‘22 bunch continues to fight back. Get swept by Houston and look like a second-rate ball club? Follow it up with a 9-2 stretch. Drop multiple late-inning, soul-crushing contests to Cleveland in the span of a week? Immediately walk off Baltimore twice. There’s a little fight in the current Twins vintage.
It seems a little crazy to think that after all that has transpired thus far, there is exactly that much more to come! I guess that’s why the MLB season is known as “the grind”. After the pandemic-shortened ‘20 and the “still-a-little-off” ‘21, this summer has been a great reminder of how grueling (for players) and fun (for fans) 162 games can truly be.