People have been waiting all season for the Twins to finally fall apart and fade from the playoff rate. Twins brass thought the fade was happening before the trade deadline, and started selling off After they were swept in New York, it seemed as though the fade was finally happening, but in the mean time, the next closest contender, the Los Angeles Angels, were losing at a similar pace. Now, after a couple of games against the Tigers, it seems as though the fade has been allayed. The Twins’ collapse is running out of time to happen. The Twins are 3.5 games up on the Angels and Rangers with 8 games left to play. It’s not official yet, but holy crap, the Twins are probably going to the playoffs.
The nature of the postseason construction nowadays is that there is a one game playoff for the two wild card teams in each league, followed by the 3 game divisional series. There is a lot of discussion about the post season roster, particularly as it surrounds the back of the rotation, and I have even discussed it on these pages, but it doesn’t really matter if they can’t get past the Yankees in the Wild Card game. What is the best version of the Twins that can be put on the field right now?
It will come down to the offense, certainly. You can put Ervin Santana out on the mound, or Jose Berrios or the presently hot Kyle Gibson on the mound and have a reasonable shot at keeping the Yankees in check, but the Twins would need to score some runs to make the start worth it. It was the case in the first two games of the series this past week that the pitching was fine, while the offense failed.
If the Twins face Luis Severino, as should be expected, they would be able to play their lineup that has faced off against right handed starting pitchers so far this season. If Miguel Sano is able to come back for the post season, they wouldn’t need nor want to lean on him in this important game, and could rely on Joe Mauer, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler in the middle of the lineup, with Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman as other quality left handed bats to plug in the lineup, with Sano ready to step in late in a game if a right handed hitter is needed.
I feel good about this. This entire season has been improbable, and now is not the time to change things up. The Twins can worry about the rotation and their depth if they beat the Yankees. For now, let’s just get there, and appreciate how ludicrous it is, especially with regards to the expectations of the team as the season began, that we are even so sure of the postseason at this point on the calendar. The Twins could have the playoffs locked up officially as soon as Monday. Man.