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Minnesota Twins First Inning

Minnesota Twins First Inning
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The Twins entered the season with the hopes of taking their third consecutive American League Central title. Things haven’t gone as planned so far as they sit in fourth place at 7-11. The first 18 games represent one-ninth of the season. So this is the first part of a nine-part series that will run throughout the year. For the Minnesota Twins first inning, we will take a look at what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong.

What’s Gone Right

The Twins have been a very good hitting team over the past couple of years setting the single-season team record for home runs with 307 in 2019. This year, although they haven’t put as many over the fence (20 HRs), they have been hitting the ball well with 32 doubles and an AL third-best slugging percentage of .407. The Twins also are fourth in batting average and fourth in OBP.

Byron Buxton is putting his considerable skills on display so far in 2021. While the injury cloud always hangs over Buxton as he missed five games already, The Twins centerfielder has been incredible in the 13 games he’s played in. Buxton sports an OPS of 1.407 and 12 of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases (6 doubles, 6 HRs). This is also along with his usual Gold-Glove caliber defense.

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Along with Buxton, the ageless Nelson Cruz also continues to smack the ball around the yard. Boomstick has an OPS of 1.116 and leads the team with 14 RBI, 11 runs, and six bombs (tied with Buxton). Another contributor to the offense in the early going is Luis Arraez who is continuing his great plate discipline hitting .305 with 10 walks and just 10 strikeouts. Josh Donaldson is also raking since he’s come back from an injury suffered in his first plate appearance of the season. The Bringer of Rain is 10-for-21 with a 1.188 OPS.

The starting pitching overall has been solid. The Twins have only used six starters so far and they are 6-4 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP. Hitters are batting just .224 against that crew. Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, and J.A. Happ have been particularly good combining for a 1.96 ERA and a 57/16 K/BB rate.

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Related: Minnesota Twins Top 5 Prospects

What’s Gone Wrong

Injuries have been making the rounds of the roster. Donaldson has only been back for six games since opening day and Buxton has missed five games as well. At this point though, the Twins have defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons on the 10-day IL. He is joined by Max Kepler and Miguel Sano. Unfortunately with these injuries, Jake Cave and Jorge Polanco have been in every game this season. They have combined to slash a paltry .174/.242/.223.

The bullpen has been downright horrible. While the starters have been holding up their end, the relievers have not. The pen has a 1-7 record with a 4.91 ERA and has only saved half of their opportunities. Taylor Rogers has been the only bright spot as he hasn’t allowed a run yet. New closer Alex Colome and former Uber driver Randy Dobnak have been particularly bad. They’ve combined for a record of 1-5 with a putrid 8.31 ERA while allowing 25 hits in just 17.1 innings.

Overview

The Twins, when healthy, have a dangerous lineup and solid starters. Even with a few injuries, the depth on the field is good enough to keep them in the win column on most nights. However, the bullpen needs to be almost completely overhauled. It’s a long season and Rocco Baldelli will need to find some people other than Rogers and Tyler Duffey to trust. Heading into the second inning we should see the Twins start playing better and after 36 games they should be back to .500 baseball.

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See you next time and Go Twins.

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Follow Johnnie Black on Twitter @jball0202

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

 

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