The Twins presently have a magic number of 3, meaning they need a combination of wins and Cleveland losses to equal 3 games in order to claim the AL Central Crown. They have a reasonable chance at winning 100 games this season. They also have a historic string of playoff losses. There are three primary concerns that Twins fans have of their team that are further amplified by the ineffectiveness of the Twins in the postseason this century.
Let’s address the three big sticky spots and try to remain calm.
1) Injuries – The last month has seen a rotating series of lineups and starting pitchers that haven’t been around for the majority of the season. This is partly because of necessity – the team has endured several serious injuries, like the one to Byron Buxton – and partly by design – the team is being very cautious with some of their stars, like Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano, who have all missed time this month.
The fact is, the Twins have the division locked up, and they simply haven’t needed to be at full strength. Part of what is going on is saving players for the post season, so they can have players at 100% for the ALDS. Baseball players are at work non stop from when pitchers and catchers report to the end of the season. While you or I get, on average, 70 days off during that time, including weekends and holidays, baseball players get a handful. Think of these days as their weekends. A much needed break ahead of the crucial offseason.
And don’t forget, without injuries and IL placements, we might not have ever seen Luis Arraez, Zach Littell or Randy Dobnak come in and contribute to the point that they will all likely be on the post season roster. Not only should the organization get credit for resting players, but also for having the depth to field a strong team when doing so.
2) Pitching – While it may seem like the pitching has gotten significantly worse in the last couple of months, it really hasn’t. The bullpen was very bad to start the year, and now, the bullpen is pretty good. The rotation has moved in the other direction. What hasn’t changed is the fact that the Twins have been winning all season in spite of their pitching.
The historically efficient offense has covered for the rotation all season. I’m not saying that the pitching isn’t a problem, I’m saying that it’s a problem the Twins have been overcoming all season. Why would the post season be any different? The Twins will live and die by their ability to score runs. It’s not about changing things, it’s just the acceptance of the way things are.
3) Eddie Rosario – The fan base, it seems, is turning on Rosario. After he has failed to leg out some ground balls, people are being reminded of what a bizarre player he is, and questioning the real value he brings to the organization. He’s always been a wildly free swinger. He often seems to get bored in games that don’t matter.
He also seems to have an infectious personality, and appears to be popular in the clubhouse. His hot start to 2018 energized the team, and a rapid beginning to 2019 seemed to be key to synthesizing the team early in the year. Anecdotally, he seems to be at the center of the teams more viral moments, and seems to have a good on field rapport with his teammates.
What I guess I’m driving at is that to accept Eddie Rosario at his best, you need to accept him at his worst. Undoubtedly, this is his worst year since his rookie year. Much of it is because of a return to the lazy defense, but also, he seems swept up in the Bomba craze with a return to his free swinging ways. He still brings something to the table, from the ephemeral “glue guy” phrasing to the equally ethereal “potential” he has.
Of course, there is weight to the potential, as it was only last year that he was nearly a 4 Win player. If that guy is in the post season, then his rough second have to 2019 is easily forgotten.
Many of the problems the Twins are having… or more accurately, that Twins fans are having as the season winds down are less consequential, I believe, than fans think. The Twins are going to the playoffs, despite issues that have been there all season.