Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Racking Up Twins


Right when everyone counted them out, the Minnesota Twins embarked on a 12-game winning streak, and are now 20-15 with a handle on 2nd place and a whole new set of eyes upon them. And the weird thing is that there wasn't a lot of major developments in this stretch that spurned it on. If anything, the major development is losing Byron Buxton, which, like Royce Lewis, just keeps happening no matter how they try to prevent it.

All that's really progressed is just a solid backbone that just won't let up. This year doesn't even have an OMG start from Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan and Pablo Lopez, which is what 2023 started with. Lopez has a 4.30 ERA, Ryan's 1-2. But they have 45 and 46 Ks respectively, and they're both still capable of being dominant. One of the major pitching developments of this winning streak has been the arrival of Simeon Woods-Richardson, one of the reasons for the smaller lettering if you were to ask Fanatics. Woods-Richardson has finally found his control in the majors, and has a 1.74 ERA and 21 Ks in his first four starts. None of these starters have a WHIP below one, nobody's pulling full dominance like even Skubal or Lugo, in terms of competitors. They're just steady. 

And steadiness has been getting the job done, because without the marquee hero in Buxton, or even a standout performer other than a momentary type, this team is still winning games. You're seeing contact production from unlikely sources, guys like Jose Miranda and Willi Castro, and power production from people you weren't sure could hit for power, like Edouard Julien and his 7 homers. Ryan Jeffers is still the best hitter on the team, but we're seeing Kepler and Correa begin to heat up, and Larnach pop right back into things. I still think there's a lot of pieces that don't work, and a lot of that owes to replacements for injured players, but this team seems like it's on the same page.

Now...the thing that nobody wants to talk about regarding the streak is that all the wins were against the White Sox, Angels and Red Sox. Like the Pirates' big April run, the wins didn't come against 1st place teams, or even especially competitive teams. Even the Sox went toe to toe with them after the 12th win. There's a chance that the Twins don't have it this good again, and may level out when faced with tougher scheduling blocks. And given my concern with the lack of a central titan at the moment, that could happen. The current series against the Mariners seems somewhat evenly matched, and they scored a few runs off a Seattle starter yesterday, which seems very hard to do this season, but the Jays and Yankees are up next, and those will be the true test. Seeing as the Jays just ended the Phillies' streak, they could be trouble.

The Twins, ultimately, have shown they have more complexity and unity than previously thought, and could still get a lot done this season if this streak is to be believed. It just takes them reacting like this towards better teams as well.

Coming Tomorrow- The idea was for there to be a rotation of young, strong homegrown arms built around this guy, and thankfully that's happened. 

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