One would think that after a walk-off win on Monday, followed by some pre-game wheeling and dealing to bolster the lineup, that the Twins would emerge from the dugout inspired, a team ready to take on the New York Yankees, let alone the Detroit Tigers.
Instead, the Twins took a 2-0 lead over the Tigers and then gave it all back for a 5-3 loss. Oh, well, Tuesday, as it turned out, had little to do with who won or lost in the AL Central.
That’s because in the front office, the Twins won big. The brain trust of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, otherwise known as Falvey & Co. on this blog, did their jobs to perfection, trading for three pitchers and a backup catcher to fill some much needed holes in the rotation, the bullpen and to offset the loss of catcher Ryan Jeffers to injury.
The Twins received closer Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles, starting pitcher Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds, reliever Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers and catcher Sandy Leon from the Cleveland Guardians. And they accomplished all of this by giving up minor league prospects, but I wouldn’t exactly call them top prospects.
MLB Trade Rumors has the details.
The former second-round pick and top prospect never took off as a starting pitcher but has been outstanding since moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis late last season. Thus far in 2022, Lopez has tossed 48 innings with a 1.68 ERA, a 27.6% strikeout rate, an 8.7% walk rate and an enormous 60% ground-ball rate that ranks fifth in baseball among MLB relievers.
Since a breakout during the 2020 season, Mahle has pitched to a 3.93 ERA with a 27.4% strikeout rate and 8.9% walk rate in 332 big league innings. He’s averaged 94 mph with his heater along the way and leaned heavily on a splitter and slider that have both graded out as above-average pitches at times — more recently favoring the splitter (particularly as a means of neutralizing lefties).
Fulmer is one of the better rental relievers available on the summer market. The 29-year-old has worked to a 3.20 ERA across 39 1/3 innings, his second straight season with strong run prevention. Fulmer’s 23.1% strikeout rate and 11.5% swinging strike percentage are more solid than great, but he’s consistently done an excellent job keeping the ball in the yard.
For the season, Leon has appeared in only eight MLB games and posted a .514 OPS over 21 plate appearances. Other than an offensive outburst over 78 games with the Red Sox in 2016, Leon has been a defensive specialist for much of his career, well-regarded as a pitch-framer and for his ability to manage pitchers and call games.
I think the following graf, which is in reference to the Lopez deal, sums up nicely what the Twins accomplished on Tuesday without having to give up too much.
Still, it’s hard not to like the deal from the Twins’ vantage point, as they managed to address a dire need in the bullpen for both the current and two subsequent seasons without pillaging the top levels of their farm system. That should prove pivotal when looking to bolster the rotation and perhaps further deepen the bullpen and the bench in the final hours leading up to the deadline.
-Joe Ryan gets the ball on Wednesday. He needs a bounce back performance after he served up five home runs in a 10-1 loss to the San Diego Padres.
-On Aug. 2, 1965, the Twins’ Harmon Killebrew dislocates his elbow during a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Headlines in the next day’s Minneapolis Tribune trumpet that Killebrew will miss only two weeks of play. Instead, he misses 48 games, and finishes the season with only 25 home runs. Still, the Twins won the pennant, getting 16 or more home runs from Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Bob Allison, Don Mincher and Jimmie Hall.
Sources: MLB.com, MLB Trade Rumors, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com