Friday Files (5.22.21): Sputtering Twins, Alexander Colome, Prospects + More
Welcome back to a weekly edition at Access Twins called “Monday’s Mail.” Except now, it’s going to be “Friday Files” until the end of the regular season. Then, we’ll do Flashback Friday and move the mail back Monday.
If you’d like to be involved, there are a few ways you can do so:
Tweet @brandon_warne or @accesstwins with the hashtag #askBW
if Twitter isn’t your thing, send an email to email@example.com with the subject “Monday Mailbag/Friday Files”
Watch for sporadic Facebook posts asking for questions
Should be pretty easy, right? Let’s talk to it:
I think we’re going to go with Friday Files but open to interpretation. As always, we appreciate the feedback and interaction!
A lot. The Twins are only going to go as far as the top-four relievers in their bullpen will allow — Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Taylor Rogers and Colome — and that also means they’ll hang onto those guys for as long as possible to make something good happen there.
And failing that, they’ll hold on for hope that Colome will bring back something in a trade come July.
Colome’s struggles to start the season are just so uncharacteristic for the veteran righty who is in his age-32 season. He’s never posted an ERA above 4.00 in any single season of his eight-year MLB career coming into 2021, and he’s always carried fairly solid rates since converting to a full-time reliever with the Rays in 2016.
All of this is to say that he’s probably going to get a lot of chances to prove something isn’t completely amiss with such a long track record. Beyond that, he was pitching pretty well in May before Manfred-ball bit him on Saturday.
Good question. I’m not sure, but I bet the guys on the “Block Us Podcast” will have the answers this week. Check them out here.
Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of nuance in play here.
First, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are already both up and helping the team. Jhoan Duran was throwing fastballs in excess of 100 mph on Bally Sports North on Saturday evening, so he shouldn’t be too far off either.
But the question for Duran is will it be as a starter or a reliever? If it’s as a reliever, it could be to add a little depth to a unit that could need it in the next, say, 4-to-6 weeks.
That would require a massive U-turn on the season, though.
And if that doesn’t happen, it’s more likely that Duran takes a rotation spot after one or both of J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker are sent….elsewhere.
More on that in a bit.
Beyond that, though, I don’t know that I see a whole ton of movement. Jordan Balazovic could have an outside or making an appearance this season or maybe, maybe Matt Canterino out of the bullpen. Most of the rest of the team’s prospects are a little further off, and will need a little more care after a completely lost 2020 minor-league season.
I’ll probably write about it this week, but I think it’ll be a soft reset. Nelson Cruz and Andrelton Simmons may be as good as gone. Happ and Shoemaker almost certainly won’t finish the season with the Twins unless something changes and soon.
I don’t really get the sense that the Twins are itching to move anyone else, so if things continue down the path they’re on now, the rest of the season will be evaluation mode. Can Mitch Garver and/or Ryan Jeffers shoulder a full load behind the plate? Can the team get, and then stay, healthy? What does the future look like for some of the younger guys who are veterans on this team, like Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and/or Miguel Sano?
It feels like Nick Gordon might force the Twins to give him a longer look, and between Polanco’s ankle acting up and Luis Arraez dealing with a shoulder he appeared to jam in Cleveland on Saturday, maybe it could even be relatively soon?
Gordon looked like he brought some excitement in his MLB debut, and he’s off to a pretty strong start with St. Paul, slashing .360/.429/.560 through seven games heading into Saturday’s action.
Deeper down the list, a guy I’m keeping an eye on is Yennier Cano. He’s at Double-A Wichita right now and he’s 27, but he’s struck out 17 of the first 37 batters he’s faced after signing with the team as a minor-league free agent in 2019.
Fangraphs has Cano throwing a 50 fastball, 55 slider and 50 splitter with 45 command if everything comes together for him. His fastball is in the healthy 92-95 mph range and will touch 97. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs notes that Cano works with a low three-quarters delivery and it’s better for inducing grounders than strikeouts.
True to form, Cano’s groundball rate is 62.5 percent through 8.2 innings with Wichita.
It’s not at all unreasonable to suggest Shoemaker could be in danger of losing his rotation spot, if not outright roster spot, in the very near future. His first two starts were pretty good, but since then he’s been absolutely annihilated to the tune of a 6.83 ERA, .890 OPS and more walks (15) than strikeouts (13).
He’s slated to start Monday at home against the Orioles, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe he could be DFA’d if he gets lit up again.
Happ will hang around a while yet. He’s making $8 million this year and has shown a few more flashes than Shoemaker has — and the hope is still likely that he can bring something back in July if he isn’t going to be eating innings down the stretch for a team that’s still trying to stay in the race.
But the reality is that neither of these guys will finish 2021 with the Twins. Even if the Twins somehow recover and make the playoffs, Happ isn’t the kind of guy who is making a postseason roster unless it’s as a long guy — and they have enough of those types already.
It wasn’t as true earlier in the year, but now the Twins have seen pretty good production at one time or another from virtually everyone on their offense.
But none of them have been able to coordinate that with staying healthy with lining that all up with other players.
If the Twins can get their lineup healthy, this team can win enough to convince the front office to go out and grab another starting pitcher. They’re going to need another one, even if Randy Dobnak can work his way back into a rotation spot and build on his terrific Friday night outing in Cleveland.
But if they don’t stay healthy above all — and get their bullpen foundation squared away — none of it will matter at all.
I don’t see any trading to bring in bullpen arms unless it’s late July and two or three teams are in the mix in the Central — all separated by just a few games.
But again, if the Twins’ core four in their bullpen don’t get it working, none of it will matter. No Mychal Givens-type acquisition in late July will change anything if Colome can’t get anyone out or Robles can’t throw enough strikes.
If they turn around and sell at the deadline, Robles and/or Colome are likely as good as gone. Robles is a free agent at season’s end and Colome has a $5.5 million mutual option that appears to have about a 5 percent chance of being exercised at this point.
Don’t sleep on the team trading Rogers, though. If he’s still pitching well and can bring back a nice return, he’ll definitely be on the block, I think. There were certainly questions if the Twins would non-tender him after a shaky 2020 — especially in light of how Cleveland handled Brad Hand — and any acquiring team would still have a year of control with the flamethrowing lefty.
Same as above. If the core four don’t figure it out, it’s over.
Not yet! That light bulb is flickering but I’m not out on this season. Not yet. I still believe this team has talent, the White Sox are managed by a man the game has passed by and Cleveland’s offense isn’t very good.
I’m also not convinced an outfield of Andrew Vaughn, Billy Hamilton, Leury Garcia, Adam Eaton and friends can keep doing what it’s doing.
I’m still holding out hope for 89 wins. Faint hope, but it’s still there.