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Know Your Enemy: Minnesota Twins

After a dismal White Sox showing in Cleveland, this trip to Minnesota feels almost refreshing. 

2021 record: 73-89 (5th in AL Central)

Remember in the early aughts of 2021, PECOTA had the Twins being the best team in the division and heading off to their 19th straight playoffs? I sure do. It’s my north star, the moment I can point to when I say “PECOTA is trash,” because, boy howdy, the 2021 Twins were garbage.

Twins fans will blame it on anything, I’m sure:

Byron Buxton got hurt!”
“Rocco Baldelli is dumb!”
“Alex Colomé was a sleeper agent!”

The fact of the matter is, the Twins went from being an offensive powerhouse to whatever it is the Pirates usually are. Sure, it wasn’t all bad for Minnesota statistically, because there are 15 teams in an American League that also includes the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and Oakland Athletics (a team whose owner is trying to Major League them to a new city). Continuing to have Nelson Cruz on the team for part of the season allowed the Twins to be second in the AL in home runs (228) in 2021, so that’s nice for them. Pitching absolutely killed the Twins. Collectively, the pitching staff had a 4.83 ERA, the second-worst in the AL (because don’t forget, the Orioles are in the AL).

The trade deadline saw the Twins gut their team by sending off Nelson Cruz, José Berríos, J.A. Happ, and Victor Robles and adding Austin Martin, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Joe Ryan to their list of prospects.

Baldelli managed them, and had a weird manbaby tantrum about a 3-0 home run by Yermín Mercedes. Something about unwritten rules. Gotta blame whatever you can, when you’re getting annihilated.

2022: Still bad

The 2022 Twins look a lot like the 2021 Twins, only without noted pest Josh Donaldson. They’re at a 5-8 start this season, most recently taking on the Royals and losing the series. Donaldson has been replaced in the offense by noted cheater Carlos Correa. Minnesota extended Buxton, added Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela to the infield, and punished Sonny Gray and Chris Archer by adding them to the pitching staff.

The Twins should expect to be fighting with the Tigers and Guardians for AL Central runners-up at the very least, instead of the race to the bottom of last season. So far the offense is off to a glacial start, with the team slashing .202/.291/.332. While the pitching isn’t anything too amazing, White Sox fans may want to keep an eye on Jhoan Duran, who’s showing some velocity in the triple-digits along with a solid batch of secondary pitches, and looks to be tapped as the official closer.

An offense comprised of walks and home runs is not what it takes to be a contending team. As always, this can be blamed on the bad weather in Minnesota (where it snows through June) so let’s check back in in a couple of months when things warm up.

Pitching matchup: Here’s some

Friday will see Michael Kopech vs. Bailey Ober. Kopech had a decent showing against the Rays and has been on the upswing through nine innings, so he’ll be looking to continue (and maintain that 1.00 ERA).

Saturday is going to be a barnburner of Vince Velásquez vs.Dylan Bundy. I’m praying this chapter of the Velásquez Era goes better than his last outing.

Sunday will close out the series with the return of Lucas Giolito against Chris Archer. I have nothing to say other than thank god we have our ace back.

Bird App hate

Even comedian Hal Sparks hates the Twins: