It’s drizzly and a little on the chilly side as the Twins prepare to hopefully get in game two of this three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. The Twins are 0-7 against the Tigers at Target Field this year, and have lost their last four games as well. If things don’t straighten up, there’s a non-zero chance the Twins could not only lose 100 games, but do so before the end of the homestand.
Of course, that would require losing four of the final five games left on it. That’s not a tough proposition if they lose this came, considering Justin Verlander looms for the on Thursday night. Even with Ervin Santana on the mound, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
This game — assuming the weather allows it to happen — pits right-hander Jose Berrios against right-hander Buck Farmer. More on that in a bit.
Manager Paul Molitor said that he thought Miguel Sano would probably be able to pinch-hit if needed on Thursday night, with potential to get back into the lineup Thursday — though that’d be a tough test against Verlander. Molitor gave a wry smile and said “Hey, righties hit Verlander better, they say!” when he brought that up. Molitor said his early reports on Sano from Wednesday were that he might be a little stiff from increasing activity on Tuesday — he said Sano was more “bodily aware” of the work he’d done the previous day — but he didn’t feel it was any sort of issue relating to the initial back trouble.
Molitor also has penciled No. 7 back in the lineup, as Joe Mauer will bat third and DH against the Tigers. “Joe is playing through this thing the best he can,” Molitor said. “We all know it’s not critical for him to play every day, but I think part of his desire is to try finish the season. When he can play, he’s trying to play. I’m not sure if you go through that clubhouse, how many of those guys can see that and respect that and maybe begin to understand those are some things that maybe you consider about how you go about your job. It’s always good to put his name down, and I’m glad I got to put him back out there tonight.”
Molitor meets with Antony
Molitor’s media availability was pushed back a little over a half hour, as he and his staff met with interim general manager Rob Antony. “Fairly typical end-of-year roster discussion with the coaches,” Molitor said of the meeting. “Rob kind of was looking for input on people. We talk about things, 40-man considerations when the season in completed….people we’ll have to consider adding. But we went through each player on the 40-man in addition to people we’re considering adding going forward.”
Here’s how the Twins line up today:
Berrios is working with Juan Centeno again. Astute observers, and even some who aren’t too astute, might realize that’s been a pretty common occurrence of late. Molitor had some prolonged thoughts on how he decides who works with who, especially down the stretch with three catchers in the clubhouse at this time:
“With our catching situation here, some of it is trying to make sure that you mix it up to some degree. So people don’t get locked into one guy. You do take note when there seems to be good combinations that work. I talk to pitchers as well as my coaches about if there’s more comfortability with certain people at certain times. But, I don’t think we’re really in a position to feel like we have to matchup the same catchers with the same pitchers all the time. I think it’s important — especially where we’re at — to go ahead and try mix it up and see how things work out.”
Could there be anything to the fact that Berrios and Centeno speak the same native tongue? A little bit, but not a lot, Molitor said. “I think maybe a little bit,” Molitor said about if that might be a factor. “I get what that would mean. I think both being young guys, and language and whatever else you want to look at…they have a pretty good thing going, those two guys. But that wouldn’t be the primary reason.”
Molitor said Berrios is lined up for “at least one more start” the rest of the way, but he and the staff haven’t mapped out the rotation over the final week — at least not in ink. “We haven’t filled in the last week completely,” Molitor said. “Some of it, in terms of monitoring somewhat what Seattle and Kansas City is doing…I would imagine (Berrios is) going to get at least one more. I guess it’s feasible it could be more than one.” Pitching well Wednesday night would go a long way toward making that a reality. Multiple people across all platforms have suggested Berrios may have an issue with tipping his changeup; that makes sense, considering he’s allowed nearly a 1.400 OPS on it. But he’s up over .800 for OPS against on all of his pitches, and over .900 on everything but his curve. Everything is getting tattooed.
Ultimately, Molitor said if Berrios doesn’t get his fastball in where it’s supposed to be, that’s where he gets into trouble, and fairly quickly. We’ll see if that changes Wednesday.
Farmer was selected to make the start for the Tigers after some consideration. Other options included Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez, but ultimately the Twins are going to get a look at the young righty. The Twins saw Farmer in long relief last year in mid-July, and twice in his rookie season when they crushed him in his second MLB start (1.1 innings, seven earned runs on Aug. 23, 2014), and again to close out a blowout win for the Twins a month later at Target Field.
They’ve also seen him twice this season, as he threw a clean ninth inning on April 29 at Target Field to close out a blowout win, and then in his most recent appearance, when he entered after the Twins crushed Pelfrey at Detroit. He held the Twins offense in check for 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits but also three walks with five strikeouts.
Farmer throws pretty hard (93-94 mph average with his four-seamer) and will mix it with a sinker, change, cutter and slider. He’ll throw all five pitches an appreciable amount (5 percent or higher on each), but he has relied heavily on the four-seamer (52.4 percent) and the change (23.5 percent) this year. With just over 20 innings in the big leagues this year, it can be hard to get a grasp on his repertoire, but from the looks of it, his changeup has been a pretty sturdy pitch for him (18.6 percent whiff rate). He’s been able to get strikeouts this year (9.3 K/9), but has walked way, way too many batters as well (6.0). That’s not too different from Berrios, frankly.
Notes & Quotes
- Twins players were filling out ballots to vote for Sporting News Awards in the clubhouse on Wednesday. On Tuesday, they were voting for Player’s Choice awards.
- Brian Dozier needs one more run scored to join Chuck Knoblauch as the only two Twins to score 100 or more runs in three straight seasons. Knoblauch did it from 1995-97.
- The Twins are just 4-13 against the Tigers this year.
- The Twins are 50-41 when they score four or more runs this year, and 5-54 otherwise.
- The Twins are 9-3 in games that end in a walk-off this year, but just 2-8 in shutouts.
- Thirty-four of the Twins’ 55 wins are of the come-from-behind variety.
- This is the 102nd right-handed starter the Twins have faced this year; they’re just 37-74 against righties, but 18-22 against lefties.
- The Twins are 13-27 in one-run games, and just 6-9 in games that go into extra innings this season.
- Molitor on Berrios: “We’ve had pretty much the same conversations the last handful of times he’s taken the ball. Even with the start down at Triple-A mixed in. He’s a very talented young kid who is trying to find ways to get people out here a little bit more consistently. He’s got a power arm, his breaking stuff is good enough and his change is in the mix. But as we saw last Friday in New York, when he can’t quite get that fastball where he wants to, he can get in trouble in a hurry. We tweaked that wind up a little bit to try to get him a little bit more compact and consistent. This will be his second go-round of trying to see how that plays. We’re just looking for progress and baby steps that kind of get him headed in the right direction to finish the season on a good note.”