Greetings from Target Field where it is a perfect night for baseball. Kyle Gibson (5-8, 5.17 ERA) takes the mound against lefty Carlos Rodon (5-8, 3.91 ERA) and the Chicago White Sox. The Minnesota Twins snapped a 13-game losing streak last night which dated back to Aug. 17 at Atlanta.
Asked about his expectations for Gibson, Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “Any time his name comes up in terms of his turn in the rotation, we try to get him to find a way to string together a little more consistency in his results start in and start out.”
“We want him to be aggressive with his fastball, and he’s been trying to do that more, but when you try to be aggressive with it, you still have to throw it in the right spot and throw it over,” he added. “And when you have a good sinker, sometimes it’s hard to command it, so kind of a combination of having that attack mode, but then being able to execute it.”
Buddy Boshers gets reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, but is unavailable due to his most recent Triple-A rehab outing in which he threw 36 pitches. He missed 20 games with left elbow inflammation.
“His fastball command was pretty good, some of the other stuff not as sharp as it was the first night he was out there,” said Molitor. “So not unexpected, we’ll get him back out there when he’s ready to help us again.”
In 24 appearances with the Twins this season, he is 2-0 with a 5.84 ERA (24.2 IP, 16 ER) four walks and 24 strikeouts.
Buxton showing power
Byron Buxton has homered five times in the last nine games between Minnesota and Triple-A. Asked if the 22 year old did anything mechanically to change his swing, Molitor said it’s a complicated answer.
“I don’t think he’s tried to elevate more balls. When you’re talking about more home runs in the course of 10 days or whatever, how much was it him staying on the ball a little bit longer, trusting his hands more? How much was it the mistake of the pitches he’s been hitting out?” he asked, rhetorically.
“I mean, it’s just such a small sample size that you can’t really take it too much farther than that. I think it builds confidence, if anything, that you get some mistakes and he’s been able to do some damage.
“I’m looking for consistency of contact. When the home runs come, that’s always a bonus.”
Without a doubt, however, the outfield defense improves drastically when the speedy Buxton is out there rather than Eddie Rosario, Logan Schafer, Danny Santana, etc.
“You would think your outfield would be better with Byron Buxton in it. You can look up all the defensive metrics and things, and some things they say he does really well, some things they say there’s room for improvement as far as natural ability and closing speed and throwing are,” said Molitor.
“Rosie got a chance to go out there quite a bit. We saw Schafer for a couple games, Danny a couple games. I like Rosie in left better than center, just from last year and when he’s played out there this year.”
As for Rosario, Schafer and Santana’s future with the team, Molitor said that’s up for grabs as the season winds down.
“It kinda gets back to a potential glimpse of how we might shape up with those three guys that are gonna get a lot of playing time here down the road. But there’s no locks, you kinda hope guys keep going to the next level,” he said.
“They’re far from being established. Even these guys having good month of Septembers isn’t gonna lock anything in for these guys. We gotta keep having them find ways to finish here and come back next Spring and see how it shakes out.”
Those three outfielders are not alone, however. Everyone on the team who isn’t under contract is playing for a job next season, whether it’s with the Twins or another team.
“There’s something to play for, I don’t necessarily put a lot of stock in how much you carry over,” said Molitor. “But it’s impression time, and it’s the end of the season, and you have a tendency to remember the things at the end a little bit more than maybe in the beginning as far as your offseason, and who you might at least be considering for different roles next year.”
He also brought up the specter of 100 losses, unsolicited.
“I think collectively we have a fairly different group of players that are assembled now than we were the majority of the year between the bullpen and guys getting starts and some of the position players that are playing more now,” he said.
“These guys are still learning about one another in some regard, and we’re trying to find a way to win. We all know that 100 losses is out there and all that kind of stuff, and I look at it still day-to-day rather than trying to find a way to avoid losing however many more to get to that number.”
“I always thought is 99 that much more than 100? But that’s for down the road,” he added. “I told them up in Toronto, I can’t really put a prediction on what a good finish would be, we just want to see better play and all those type of things.”