Greetings from Target Field, where it is overcast and thunderstorms are in the forecast until 10:00 pm tonight.
[UPDATE: The game has been postponed. It will be a split doubleheader tomorrow: 12:10 pm and 6:10 pm.]
Ervin Santana will start Game 1, while Jose Berrios will start Game 2. Twins will need a starter for Saturday, and for Monday.
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) May 18, 2017
Drew Rucinski will be recalled as 26th man for night game Thursday.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 18, 2017
Twins manager Paul Molitor would like to get the game in today, rather than do a doubleheader, however, so they’ll try to wait it out if they can.
“We’re holding out a little bit of hope,” he said. “It’s one of those afternoons where you consider all options, including an early cancellation.”
Tomorrow’s game has a noon start time, and the Twins travel to Kansas City [CORRECTION: the Twins host KC, h/t Bill Sexson] while the Rockies are headed to Cincinnati, so a doubleheader could reasonably be played. This is the only time the Twins and Rockies will play this season, so it would be hard to squeeze in a random game later in the season.
“I might be different than some people: If it’s within reason, if you have a chance to play the whole game, that a 12 o’clock start is a little bit secondary to having a chance to play tonight,” said Molitor. “But it’s a little different than it would be if it was a night game tomorrow.”
If the game is played, it’s Ervin Santana (R, 6-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. German Marquez (R, 1-2, 4.88). Although Molitor wants to get the game in, he doesn’t want to have to pull Santana early due to rain.
“I don’t know how much of that gets into the mix. Obviously you don’t ever want to start a game, regardless of who’s pitching, if you think that you’re not gonna get at least five innings in,” he said.
“Just the way things are, it would create some tough circumstances if you were to lose tonight’s starter and have go move into a doubleheader situation tomorrow and don’t have access to one extra player for one game.”
Joe Mauer and Max Kepler are back in the lineup today:
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) May 17, 2017
The Rockies counter with a similar lineup as last night:
— Patrick Saunders (@psaundersdp) May 17, 2017
Player development vs. winning now
I’m not sure if this is a consensus opinion, but Twins Daily’s minor league guru Seth Stohs offered this on Twitter yesterday:
That Molitor is giving Mauer strategic days off vs some LHP.
That Molitor is already giving Kepler days off vs LHP.
— Seth Stohs (@SethTweets) May 17, 2017
Molitor addressed this today. Regarding Kepler he said: “We’ve talked about that, guys that you’d hope to be everyday players that aren’t getting a shake to play against these guys all the time.
“It’s worked out moreso than I thought so far with [Eddie] Rosario getting more playing time against lefties than Kepler. Some of it’s defense-related, as far as how it makes our outfield look on a given day, and where we think the ball might go and all those type of things.”
Part of the balance Molitor has to strike is trying to win in order to remain on top, or near the top, of the Central, while also developing his young players.
“What you always hear about is taking your lumps and letting guys get the experience. I think that I have been part of that in some ways the last couple years, and I will continue to try and be open to doing that when it makes sense,” he said.
“But you keep the whole room in mind, and you keep winning in mind. Part of development is winning. Part of winning is development, so it’s just kinda walking that line.”
Mauer’s defense at first
As for Mauer, he’s a big fan of his defense, but as our Brandon Warne pointed out earlier this year, less is more for the Twins first baseman. When he was healthy last year, Mauer had success when he got days off against the best lefties in the league.
Molitor is a fan of Mauer’s defense at first, however, and even went as far to credit him for the general success Minnesota has had on defense this year.
“[Jorge] Polanco and Miguel [Sano] have what, four, combined errors?” he said. Polanco and Sano have been the team’s mainstays at shortstop and third base, and you’ll recall that there was some concern about the left side of the infield defensively to start the year.
“I don’t know how many he’s saved them,” Molitor added. “You’re supposed to be able to pick the ball out of the dirt, but I don’t know if he’s missed one. The odds keep going up that something’s gonna skip by, and even some ones that have been really tough, and they throw a side-spin, and they hit the cut of the grass, and they skim low, they skim high, and he just seems to be able to corral those throws.
“I don’t know if he’s playing significantly better than he has in the past. We all saw an evolvement of Joe’s defense at first, once he had to make that transition.
“Part of it’s been balls that have come his way, and plays that have come his way in terms of throws from across the diamond, which has kinda made it jump out more. But he’s always had incredibly soft hands as an infielder, and his range is partly due to his length. He seems to be able to get to that line, even when he’s not playing on it, and cover that fairly well. We’ve seen him make plays coming off the base or in the 3-hole.”
A lot was made of Adalberto Mejia being pulled early from his start in Rochester yesterday — and for good reason. While Molitor would not say if he would be Saturday’s starter, he is being considered.
“He’s in the mix. Going forward we have to keep as many options [as possible]. We may have a double-header tomorrow, potentially, and then not only do we have to think about Saturday, but we have to think about next Monday, because we’ll lose … if Ervin has to pitch tomorrow, we would lose him on Monday,” said Molitor.
“It’s just one of those things where you’re trying to give yourself options. For Mejia to go out and pitch a full game last night, and potentially have to pitch as early as Saturday, as a possibility, and to do it on three-days’ rest, we had to consider that.”
Adam Wilk is also being considered.
“He’s here, and he’s got starter’s lengthability,” he said. “Again, [it’s] how this doubleheader shakes out and all those type of things.”