Week 2 of the most unique MLB season in history is in the books, and the Minnesota Twins have to be happy with their results from the past week at Target Field.
The Twins scored 19 total runs, allowed just seven and had two shutout contests against the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians. Here are three takeaways from their 5-1 week against the Cards and Tribe.
Pitching by Committee
Minnesota’s pitching tactics have been less than traditional so far this season, much like the season itself. It has opened the door for more pitchers to appear in games and starters being eased into the grind of the season.
Minnesota’s veteran pitchers in Homer Bailey, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda each made starts where the Twins got a victory. Bailey pitched five innings against the Cardinals and allowed two runs while striking out four and walking two hitters. Hill had an impressive Twins debut in the second game against the Cardinals, allowing just two hits and no runs across five innings.
Maeda made his Target Field debut on Saturday and pitched the best of them all, though. He went through six innings and allowed just one hit while striking out six batters.
Since the starters have seldom gone beyond the fifth inning, the bullpen has needed to step up early on, but it hasn’t proven an issue so far. The bullpen pitching has been under control enough that closer Taylor Rogers didn’t make his season debut until Minnesota’s fifth game of the season.
Cody Stashak also has stood out as one of the Twins best relievers. Stashak has four innings of work this season with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts. In his last two appearances of one inning, he’s provided clean relief, even if he threw 17 and 15 pitches in each, respectively.
Even though Rogers got a late start to the season in the fifth game, he has been as effective as he was last season against some of the toughest Twins’ opponents this season. He has three saves in three attempts and has faced only three batters in each appearance. In his first save against Cleveland, he got three quick outs on just five pitches.
Injuries to Prominent Players
The Twins are supposed to have a dominant lineup, as well as a well-rounded pitching corps. So far, both have been true to form, but injuries have crept into both departments.
On top of starter Jake Odorizzi’s absence because of a back problem, Bailey was placed on the injured list Sunday ahead of his scheduled start. With that, it looks like Minnesota’s starting depth will be tested again in the next week where Minnesota will play the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals, before a matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers.
In addition to the pitching injuries, while Byron Buxton has made a regular return to the lineup, third baseman Josh Donaldson had to leave Friday’s game with calf tightness. There is currently no timetable to his return, but his absence creates a downgrade both offensively and defensively.
Surviving a Trying Week
St. Louis and Cleveland were predicted to be two of the toughest opponents Minnesota might have to face all season. Ending the combined six games against the two teams with one loss is a definite positive for the club heading into a stretch against teams in different circumstances with Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
Beyond the competitive aspects, a COVID-19 surge in the St. Louis locker room has postponed more games. With the Cardinals at Target Field right before that came to light, it has put another veil of doubt on the season as more teams experience this virus.