On paper, this team makes a lot of sense and looks like a winner. In reality, the 2018 Minnesota Twins are a work in progress.
After splitting a two-game series with the Cleveland Indians in Puerto Rico, the team flew to Tampa to take on the lowly Rays, who were 5-13 at the time and seemingly ripe for the picking. Two games later and it’s the Twins who are looking to get out of Tampa after they lost in extra innings Friday night and were blown out Saturday, 10-1. The team is now a game over .500 at 8-7 and will look to salvage the series on Sunday.
So, what’s not working? My first inclination was to point the finger at the bullpen, especially after they gave up six runs late in Saturday’s game. There are some concerns: Closer Fernando Rodney already has two blown saves in seven appearances and reliever Zach Duke has an ERA of 7.94. And yet Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly have pitched well. Reed has an ERA of 0.90 while Pressly has yet to surrender an earned run.
I think the bigger issue might be the team’s run-scoring production or the lack thereof. The Twins rank 13th out of 15 American League teams in runs and are dead last in the league in hits. To underscore that point, the Twins were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Saturday’s game. Once again, Byron Buxton is off to a slow start and so is Miguel Sano, who, despite his four home runs, is hitting .203.
-Designated hitter Logan Morrison has also gotten off to a slow start, but suddenly things are looking up. He hit his first home run in Friday’s game.
-In the early going, the Twins have been able to get by with a four-man rotation, likely because of the weather-related postponements, but Phil Hughes will get the ball Sunday.
-The Twins really need a win Sunday because after they leave Florida, they will fly up the coast for their first meeting with the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees, in case you hadn’t noticed, are loaded with talent. And it’s a four-game series. Ugh.
-Old friend Denard Span, who spent five seasons with the Twins, had a good game on Saturday. He went 2-for-5 and knocked in three runs.