March 3, 2019

There are the Twins, and then there are those Tampa Bay Rays

Twins pitching scattered eight hits over nine innings the other day, seemingly enough quality pitching to earn any team a win. Adalberto Mejia and Fernando Romero were among those Twins pitchers who pitched scoreless baseball in that game.

Yet the Twins didn’t get the victory.

The Tampa Bay Rays, on the other hand, sent eight pitchers to the mound, including ace Blake Snell, and shut out the Twins on two hits to beat them 1-0.

It’s a loss like that makes me ask: Did the Twins do enough this offseason?

Yes, I think they did. With the arrival of Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins appear to have plenty of pop and power to at least return to their 2017 wild-card form after taking a step back last season. And if everyone stays healthy, plus Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton set new trajectories for their respective careers, I think the Twins are poised to have a breakout season.

But a loss to those Rays also has me asking: Did the Twins do enough to bolster the rotation this offseason?

That answer is not as clear. The Twins will have a core rotation of Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi, followed by some combination of Michael Pineda, Martin Perez, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Mejia and Chase De Jong. There’s also the option that some pitch in the “opener” format, which was used by the Twins with some success during the second-half of last season.

The two biggest question marks are Pineda and Perez. Pineda hasn’t pitched since 2017 and Perez, although left-handed, struggled last season with a 6.22 ERA to go along with a career ERA of 4.63. Not exactly the most encouraging set of numbers.

There is good news, however. Pineda pitched two scoreless innings of baseball on Friday against the Boston Red Sox.

Extra innings…

-Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario continue to hit well in early exhibition play. Buxton is hitting .600 and leads the team with three home runs, while Rosario is hitting .667 with eight hits in his first 12 at bats.

-Fan favorite Willians Astudillo went 2-for-2 with a home run in Saturday’s loss to the Washington Nationals.

-De Jong might be in the running for a spot on the roster, but he won’t be if he continues to pitch like he did on Sunday. Against the Red Sox, De Jong served up seven runs (all earned) in two-plus innings of work. Lefty Perez looked much better in a split-squad tie against the Philadelphia Phillies. Perez stuck out four in three innings of scoreless baseball.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.