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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Five questions as soon as the twins reach the second half

The Twins reached the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon on a skid that saw them lose seven of their last 10 games, including three of four at the Chicago White Sox. But despite their recent slide, they are still two games ahead of the Cleveland Guardians and three ahead of the White Sox, the top favorite in the division more than halfway through the season.

After finishing fifth in the American League Central Division last season, the first-placed Twins are 50–44 and the first half of the season had a lot going for the Twins and their fans. There is still much work to be done.

Here are five questions as the Twins kick off the second half of their season on Saturday with a two-game set in Detroit.

Can Byron Buxton escape the injured list?

When Byron Buxton is in the lineup, the Twins are a better team. Even when Buxton is on the field, his impact is immeasurable. Getting to this point was not easy, but Buxton, an All-Star for the first time, reached the break without even going through the injury list once.

Buxton has been battling tendinitis in his right knee since the start of the season, and the twins are building on rest days for him, both proactively and reactively, as they constantly assess how he is feeling.

The 28-year-old center fielder has played more than 100 games in a season just once in his career (140 games in 2017) but is on 73 and on pace to play around 125 games. How healthy and productive the Twins’ best player is will go a long way in determining what the second half of the season will be like for the Twins.

What will the twins do on the business deadline?

The pitching rotation needs help. The bullpen needs even more help.

The twins have just a few weeks left to address those issues externally. This year’s trading deadline falls on August 2 and a pair of back-end relievers will go a long way toward stabilizing their bullpen.

The Twins’ reliever scored the third-highest innings total of any major league team throughout the year, but the Twins sometimes find it difficult to bridge the gap for rookie Joan Duran, who emerged early in the season as the team’s most trusted reliever. . Griffin Jacques has been reliable even in his first season in the bullpen, but the contributions the Twins have received from some of their experienced weapons have been less consistent.

With the expansion of the playoffs this year from five teams in each league to six, more teams may consider themselves potential contenders, leading to fewer vendors and a developing market later. But the Twins should be among buyers looking to pitch in as they head into the final few months of the regular season.

Can injured players make a comeback?

It’s possible the Twins could add a reliever, most recently a Cy Young Award runner-up two years ago, without swinging a trade.

It’s still not certain whether Kenta Maeda will return this season—she had Tommy John surgery last year—but if they do, it’s likely to be as a reliever during the final months of a season , a role Maida is familiar with. Time with the Dodgers.

Catcher Ryan Jeffers was heating up in the past month, hitting .300 with .887 Ops between June 14 and July 14, his last game before landing on the injured list with a fracture in his thumb. He is likely to return sometime in September to help ease the stretch.

Outfielder Trevor Larnach, who had a bilateral surgical repair to treat a core muscle injury, could potentially return in August at the end of last month, and start pitcher Bailey Ober, who Has missed most of the season with a groin injury, and relief pitcher Jorge Alcala, with elbow swelling most of the year, is among those who could potentially affect the team later in the season.

How will the rotation fare?

In the early parts of the season, the start of the Twins’ pitching rotation got the team excited. But things have been more turbulent of late, and the staff got a shakeup with the sudden departure to coach Wes Johnson, pitching coach at Louisiana State University.

Sonny Grey, in particular, has hit a bad patch earlier this month, conceding 14 runs in three. Veteran Dylan Bundy enters the break with an earned average closer to 5.00 – 4.71 to be exact. It can be easy to forget sometimes, but 26-year-old Joe Ryan hasn’t played a full season in the Majors yet. And the Twins are closely managing Chris Archer’s workload – he has not bowled more than five innings in one start – in response to his injury history. Archer came off IL just before the break after dealing with a stiffness in a hip that he had previously repaired surgically.

Devin Smeltzer and Josh Winder have spent time in the rotation, although the Twins recently opted for both Triple-A for the time being. How far the twins can go this season will largely depend on the group.

Can Luis Arrez win the batting title?

A side plot for the second half, aside from the team’s goals, would mark the All-Star chase for the first time in history.

Luis Arrez entered the break hitting a league-leading .338. The next closest American League hitter was Raphael Devers, at .324. And behind him, Andrew Benintendi was at .317. At the break, Arrez was eighth in the Majors with 104 hits played in 84 games.

Should he stay healthy, losing is his batting title. And if he wins it, he will fulfill Guardian manager Terry Francona’s prediction – one Francona made just months after Arrez broke into the big leagues in 2019.

Arrez isn’t just leading the AL hitters. He entered the break leading the Major, checking in at .330, the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt finished second. Arrays’ .411 on-base percentage also tops AL and ranks second among majors behind Goldschmidt.

World Nation News Desk
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