Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Impending Stretch

Saying that the Twins got off to a slow start post All Star Break would be putting things lightly. It took seven straight series without a series win for the Twins to notch their first in the positive column. Now on the verge of getting things rolling though, what lies ahead for the Twins should dictate the end of their summer.

As things stand, September should be a fun month for Minnesota fans regardless. I wouldn't be surprised to see Max Kepler, a couple of young relievers, Kennys Vargas, and potentially Oswaldo Arcia get looks when the rosters expand. If the Twins want more than just a glimpse at what 2016 will bring, it's the end of August that remains most important.

Having now gotten back over .500, the Twins will head back out on the road following a weekend series with the Indians. Minnesota has an impressive 36-22 tally at Target Field, but is a putrid 21-34 on the road. They probably aren't going to catch the Blue Jays, but if they want to draw close on the Yankees or Angels, their hot streak is going to need to come now.

To close out the month of August, Minnesota has a three game set with the Yankees, a four-gamer with the Orioles, and a three-gamer with the Rays all on the road. Ending the month is a three game home tilt with the Astros. Those four teams all have equal or better records than the Twins, and taking series from them would ensure Minnesota to climb in the standings.

Heading into this season, a .500 record would have been something to be ecstatic about. Minnesota was still a year away, and putting things together ahead of time would be a great development. To this point, that has happened. The Twins have been in the Wild Card discussion, and while playing over their heads, they have continued to surprise.

Recent weeks have cooled the fire in regards to just how hot the Twins were, but finishing strong should be the goal. The emergence of current rostered players like Miguel Sano (who's batting a team leading .295), and Aaron Hicks (owns a 2.2 fWAR), shows that the youth movement is starting to take effect. Throwing in great seasons by players such as Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe is simply further icing on the cake.

No matter what happened in 2015 for the Twins, September should have been a month to look forward to. With a stacked farm system, the Twins had plenty of intriguing call-ups on the horizon. The fact that competitiveness has been achieved prior to that fun only substantiates what September can bring.

2016 was going to be a good year for Twins fans regardless, and 2015 has already been a success. If the Twins can get hot to close out August though, the narrative could end up taking on a whole different form.

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