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Minnesota Twins series preview: Disappointing their parents

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SLOW. START.

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners
Rook
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

If the Minnesota Twins had bothered to perform at levels commensurate to what they did last year, they would probably have jumped out to a lead in the division. Instead, they’ve been an utter disappointment, stumbling out to a 21-27 start, trailing the Cleveland baseball team by 3.5 games. When you were a playoff team and find yourselves tied with the Detroit Tigers, who were supposed to be awful, things haven’t broken your way.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, May 28 - 6:15 PM - Lance Lynn versus Jakob Junis
  • Tuesday, May 29 - 7:15 PM - Kyle Gibson versus Danny Duffy (L)
  • Wednesday, May 30 - 7:15 PM - Fernando Romero versus Brad Keller

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference

Twins at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Game 1
Lance Lynn 9 44.0 45 21.8 30 14.6 6.34 4.95 4.35 4.79 -0.1 -0.5
Jakob Junis 10 61.1 55 21.8 13 5.2 3.52 4.43 4.07 3.84 0.5 1.5
Game 2
Kyle Gibson 10 56.0 58 24.3 27 11.3 4.02 3.75 4.03 4.20 1.1 0.7
Danny Duffy (L) 11 58.2 50 18.7 27 10.1 6.14 5.94 5.15 4.89 -0.4 -0.4
Game 3
Fernando Romero 5 28.2 29 25.0 13 11.2 1.88 3.21 3.89 3.98 0.7 1.0
Brad Keller 21 22.1 13 14.6 7 7.9 2.01 3.47 3.97 3.81 0.2 0.9

Wednesday, Brad Keller will make his first start in the majors, though starting is what the groundball machine did almost exclusively through his minor-league career. Keller’s 62.3 GB% is the ninth-highest mark of any pitcher with at least 10 innings pitched this year, so expect more of that.

Moving on to the Twins, Lance Lynn is inducing more grounders (52.3 GB%) than he has since his rookie campaign in 2011. Unfortunately for Lynn, his hard-hit percentage has spiked. His 40.8 Hard% is the 15th-worst mark in the game (minimum 40 IP), and his 18.8 HR/FB% is the 11th-worst mark (same minimum IP). His strikeouts have leapt back up to his early career rates, but his walk rate is abysmal (14.6 BB%, fourth-worst, minimum 40 IP). His four-seamer has been awful, and his sinker has been worth negative runs, so it looks both of his fastballs are not working right now, despite gaining around a MPH on both offerings.

At 30, Kyle Gibson is putting together what is easily his best season. Owning a career 16.6 K%, the former first-round draft pick out of Mizzou is suddenly striking out 24.3% of batters he’s facing. His K-BB% sits at 13.0% this year compared to a career mark of 8.2%. Other that appearing to have an improved slider and trading a few changeups for fastballs, it’s hard to see exactly how he’s changed what he’s throwing. He is throwing strikes less than he ever has before.

Rookie Fernando Romero made the jump to the majors after just 21.0 innings at the AAA-level. So far, he doesn’t look to have been rushed. One look at his xFIP and HR rates would suggest that he’s due for some serious regression in the long-ball department, as he’s ceded just one dong in his first five starts, but in his entire minor-league career he yielded just seven in 324.1 IP. He might just be a freak. He’s a sinker/four-seam/slider/change guy, relying primarily upon the first three offerings with the change being more of a necessary change of pace pitch and less a reliable pitch for him. Regardless, it looks those pitch-to-contact Twins who tried to cling fast to an archaic model are dead and buried, and Romero is just the next in a coming line of strikeout guys that the new Twins front office is developing.

Minnesota Twins position players

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Eddie Rosario (L) LF 195 9 30 29 4 .298 .320 .527 .359 125 1.3 1.8
Eduardo Escobar (S) SS/3B 190 7 25 23 1 .270 .321 .494 .343 115 1.0 0.3
Max Kepler (L) RF 191 7 22 23 0 .254 .335 .479 .348 118 0.8 1.0
Brian Dozier 2B 218 7 27 19 2 .234 .303 .401 .307 90 0.4 0.9
Mitch Garver C 89 2 7 6 0 .220 .281 .341 .271 65 0.2 0.2
Gregorio Petit IF 27 0 2 2 1 .333 .407 .333 .338 111 0.1 0.2
Ryan LaMarre OF 39 0 2 3 0 .314 .385 .314 .320 99 0.1 0.2
Miguel Sanó 3B 102 5 12 14 0 .200 .284 .422 .305 89 0.0 -0.1
Logan Morrison (L) 1B 174 5 17 18 0 .200 .310 .347 .296 83 -0.1 0.0
Ehire Adrianza (S) SS 109 0 11 5 2 .214 .278 .286 .249 51 -0.2 0.1
Bobby Wilson C 32 1 1 7 0 .143 .188 .321 .213 26 -0.3 -0.2
Byron Buxton CF 87 0 8 4 5 .157 .186 .205 .175 0 -0.4 -0.1
Robbie Grossman (S) DH 122 1 5 14 0 .217 .295 .321 .274 67 -0.6 -0.4

The Twins are without the services of catcher Jason Castro, as he went down with a right knee injury that will cost him the rest of 2018. Joe Mauer is currently on the disabled list as well, with a neck strain and a concussion, though it looks like he’ll be taking part in on-field drills shortly and could conceivably be back for the last game of the series. They are also without the services of Jorge Polanco while he serves the remainder of an 80-game suspension.

As a unit, the Twins’ position players have been worth just 2.7 fWAR (1.1 WAR fewer than the Royals), making them the sixth-worst outfit in the bigs. Their 87 wRC+ and .304 wOBA are the seventh- and sixth-worst marks in baseball, respectively. They are slashing .236/.307/.389, all worse marks than the Royals. A reminder: the Royals are not good.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Royals sweep
    (12 votes)
  • 52%
    Royals take two of three
    (44 votes)
  • 25%
    Twins take two of three
    (21 votes)
  • 8%
    Twins sweep, children cry
    (7 votes)
84 votes total Vote Now