Friday, June 12, 2015

The Twins Silver Lining

Quite possibly the most often, or even overused word to describe what may lie ahead for the Minnesota Twins in 2015 has been regression. While it's hard to assume that a three game losing streak is indicative of what's to come, there's no doubt Minnesota's offense has struggled of late. Although that may be reflective of a team that has capitalized in high leverage situations, there's something bigger at play here. The Twins offense slumping has not been combined with an all-around collapse, and pitching has been the silver lining.

On the season, the Twins team ERA sits at 3.88; a mark that's good enough for fourth in the American League and ninth in all of baseball. Putting that into context, Minnesota is still without their key free-agent acquisition, and Phil Hughes owns the worst ERA (4.81) in the rotation. On the flip side, the biggest bright spot comes in the form of Mike Pelfrey, who's 2.28 ERA ranks fourth in the American League.

Over the course of the last week, Minnesota has last games giving up 1, 4, 3, and 2 runs. In those games, the offense combined to score three total runs. Wasted quality starts have become something that has hurt the Twins in their recent slide. While the offense has been missing in action, the hurler on the mound has kept things interesting.

The Twins have done some shuffling in hopes of sparking a lineup resurgence. Kennys Vargas was brought back to DH from Triple-A Rochester, and Danny Santana was sent packing. Vargas should add some much needed punch to the lineup as he was on a tear before his initial demotion. Eduardo Escobar leaves a lot to be desired in taking over for Santana, but the Twins could turn to Jorge Polanco in the near future.

As the summer continues on, prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano should also force their way into the Twins lineup, giving them another added boost. Slumps from Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter shouldn't be expected to continue, and at the end of the day, the Twins still have their silver lining.

Riding out the recent offensive downturn, the Twins pitching has been there to lead the way. Expect Ervin Santana to be a difference maker for Minnesota when he returns in July. Top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer, also looks like he could provide some immediate value. Since transitioning to the bullpen, Meyer owns a 1.17 ERA 10/4 K/BB ratio and a .148 batting average against. Despite not being given up as a starter yet, Meyer may provide more value out of the pen in the short term.

Going into the season, and considering the recent years of struggle, it would have been hard to convince someone that it would be the pitching that kept the Twins afloat. Now as a true asset, Minnesota is in an advantageous situation as soon as they can rectify the offensive woes. That still needs to happen sooner rather than later, but for now, it looks like the men on the mound are in a good place.

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