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Twins series preview: When youth movements go wrong

The 2018 season hasn’t gone as planned in Minnesota

Minnesota Twins v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

If I had told you before the season that the Royals were playing the Twins in a September series and that Minnesota was 18 games better than Kansas City, you probably wouldn’t be too surprised. The Twins were thought to be a team on the verge of championship contention, having tasted the playoffs in a Wild Card loss to the Yankees last year.

But something happened on the way to Title Town for the Twinkies, and it remains to be seen whether this year’s disappointing season is a temporary setback or the beginning of a big reveal that shows the franchise core was fool’s gold.

Many of the familiar names with the Twins have been traded away - Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn, Fernando Rodney, and Ryan Pressley were all dealt in July deadline deals. Byron Buxton and Logan Morrison sit on the disabled list both wanting to get this disappointing season over with as soon as possible.

Royal-killer Miguel Sano has missed a week with a knee injury, and his career is in the balance now after having spent much of the season in the minors with a demotion. The Twins have been led offensively by Eddie Rosario, who is nursing a quad injury. This may be the swan song for Minnesota native and longtime Twin Joe Mauer, who is eligible for free agency this winter.

Twins starting lineup

Twins lineup AVG OBA SLG PA HR SB wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Twins lineup AVG OBA SLG PA HR SB wRC+ fWAR rWAR
1B Joe Mauer (L) .274 .345 .375 477 6 0 97 0.8 1.0
SS Jorge Polanco (S) .277 .329 .404 258 4 4 99 0.7 1.1
LF Eddie Rosario (L) .287 .323 .479 576 23 2 113 3.5 3.5
DH Robbie Grossman (S) .262 .351 .369 390 4 0 99 -0.2 0.7
2B Logan Forsythe .235 .312 .299 362 2 3 72 -0.1 -0.2
CF Jake Cave (L) .261 .308 .473 242 10 2 106 0.9 1.5
C Williams Astudillo .277 .292 .511 48 3 0 113 0.0 0.1
RF Max Kepler (L) .231 .324 .420 550 18 3 101 2.5 2.7
3B Ehire Adrianza (S) .251 .304 .376 316 6 4 82 0.4 -0.1
Bench AVG OBA SLG PA HR SB wRC+ fWAR rWAR
C Mitch Garver .260 .330 .404 325 7 0 88 1.1 0.9
C Chris Gimenez .125 .222 .500 9 1 0 87 0.0 0.0
1B Tyler Austin .231 .293 .497 215 15 1 110 0.3 0.6
IF Miguel Sano .202 .285 .405 295 13 0 85 0.1 -0.4
IF Gregorio Petit .290 .371 .323 35 0 1 96 0.1 0.2
OF Johnny Field .193 .231 .330 209 6 4 51 -0.5 -0.3

You may get a chance to see young Twins catcher Willians Astudillo, who has the physique of a Bartolo Colon with the hair of a young Troy Polamalu. Behold.

Twins starters have the tenth-worst FIP in baseball, just barely better than the Royals. Kyle Gibson has a pretty good track record against the Royals and has a 3.05 ERA in nine career starts at Kauffman Stadium.

Stephen Gonsalves will make just his fifth Major League start, but he has completed four innings in a start just once so far, and he exited in the third his last time out against the Royals, having given up five runs. I could have sworn Chase De Jong was either an infielder for the Cardinals or the goalkeeper for Team Netherlands, but apparently it is a Twins pitcher. He tossed four shutout innings against the Royals last week and was recently acquired from the Mariners for reliever Zach Duke.

Royals/Twins pitching matchups

Thursday 7:15 W L ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR rWAR
Thursday 7:15 W L ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR rWAR
LHP Stephen Gonsalves 0 2 11.68 7.70 12.1 9.5 4.4 -0.2 -0.8
RHP Heath Fillmyer 2 1 4.75 5.18 60.2 5.5 4.3 0.0 0.2
Friday 7:15 W L ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR rWAR
RHP Jose Berrios 11 11 3.83 4.01 173.2 9.1 2.6 2.7 3.6
RHP Jorge Lopez 2 3 4.40 3.57 28.2 6.9 2.8 0.5 0.3
Saturday 6:15 W L ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR rWAR
RHP Chase De Jong 0 0 0.00 3.66 4.0 11.3 9.0 0.1 0.3
RHP Ian Kennedy 1 8 4.92 4.77 100.2 8.3 3.3 0.6 0.3
Sunday 1:15 W L ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR rWAR
RHP Kyle Gibson 7 13 3.67 4.16 176.2 8.3 3.7 2.4 3.2
RHP Jakob Junis 8 12 4.28 4.65 162.0 8.3 2.2 1.1 1.3

Trevor Hildenberger struggled upon getting the closer’s role in August, but has given up just one earned run in his last 11 outings for a 1.08 ERA. Taylor Rogers has been a solid setup man with 10.0 strikeouts-per-nine innings. Veteran Addison Reed (he’s only 29?) is still whipping the ball in their pen, and the rest of the relief staff is made up of cast-offs and youngsters who began the year twirling pitches in the International League.

The Twins may very well be back on schedule with their young core by next year. But they should be a cautionary tale for anyone that thinks just amassing a bunch of talented prospects will equal guaranteed success. Byron Buxton has been hurt and not good. Miguel Sano is starting to look like a bust. Jorge Polanco looks solid, but with no ability to draw walks. Jose Berrios looks good, but he can’t carry a rotation by himself. Prospects are just that, prospective. Hopefully the young players the Royals are amassing will be able to translate potential into success.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Royals sweep 4-0
    (17 votes)
  • 26%
    Royals take 3 of 4
    (43 votes)
  • 53%
    Series split 2-2
    (88 votes)
  • 7%
    Twins take 3 of 4
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Twins sweep
    (2 votes)
163 votes total Vote Now