There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Minnesota Twins and the 2017 season after 29 games.
The good news? The Twins are 15-14 and in second place in the American League Central Division. Fans will take that after last year’s 0-9 start that eventually led to a 103-loss disaster.
The bad news? The Twins look like they’re springing some leaks on the mound, and they’re coming off consecutive losses to the Red Sox by a combined 28-7. In each loss, one inning did them in.
But relax, Twins fans. The team looks to stay relevant for a majority of the baseball season. They may not win a division title or be a playoff team, but they should at least be entertaining to watch for most of the summer. That’s progress after a 7-17 start last year left them too far behind to play relevant baseball most of the summer.
They’ll have their ups and downs, but here are four reasons to stay with the Twins this summer.
Second In AL Central After 29 Games
The Twins are 29 games into the season, and they’re 1.5 games behind Cleveland for the lead in the AL Central. The first 19 games on the schedule were all against division opponents. The Twins have played 20 total games against division teams, with one rained out. The Twins are 10-10 within the division so far. They now hit the road for six division games split between the White Sox and Indians.
The key to any major league team being a playoff contender is having success within your division. This is a big week for the Twins as it’s the last six games of the month involving division teams. The Twins are a combined 3-6 against the White Sox and Indians, with all three wins coming against Chicago.
If not for Mike Trout, Miguel Sano likely would have been the American League Player of the Month for April. He’s played in every game and is hitting .300 with eight homers and 28 RBI, both team-highs. He’s also the only Twins player with more than one triple.
You knew he would bring power to the plate, but perhaps more encouraging is his defense at third base. It’s easy to tell he’s more comfortable playing at the hot corner and not having to worry about being moved around the field. If he’s not at third, he’s the designated hitter. In 26 starts at third base, Sano has 35 put outs and 38 assists in 76 total chances. That’s just three errors, and he’s turned two double plays. He’s slowly perfecting one of the toughest plays in baseball: Coming in on a grounder or bunt, bare-handing it and throwing a rocket to first. It changes the Twins’ defense when he can make plays like that.
Jose Berrios is Coming
The Twins have had a mostly consistent top three in their starting rotation with Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes and Hector Santiago. But Kyle Gibson has had a rough start at 0-4 with an 8.20 earned run average, and there hasn’t been a consistent No. 5 starter with the schedule and off days. Gibson was demoted to Class AAA Rochester after his latest loss.
So what’s next? At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, Jose Berrios will be in the Twins rotation. He’s once again missing bats at Rochester. In six starts, Berrios is 3-0 with a 1.13 earned run average and has 39 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. More importantly, he has just eight walks. Control has been an issue for Berrios at the major league level. The hope is that once Berrios inevitably gets called up, he stays here. He could be coming as soon as this weekend.
Brandon Kintzler Has Only 1 Blown Save
There were plenty of questions surrounding the Twins bullpen coming into the season, especially since the roster didn’t change much from last year. It didn’t help that Glen Perkins has been out with shoulder problems, and there’s no word on when he might return this season.
Enter Brandon Kintzler. He’s been mostly fantastic when his number has been called to close out the ninth inning. His only blown save of the year so far came Friday against the Red Sox, and the Twins didn’t lose. Joe Mauer ended it with a walk-off home run. In 13 games, Kintzler is 1-0 and has seven saves in eight save opportunities. He has a 2.70 earned run average with six strikeouts and five walks in 13 1/3 innings.
There will be good days and bad days with the Twins. That’s the reality of a 162-game schedule. They appear this year to at least be set up better to be competitive for a majority of the season. So we shouldn’t be afraid to invest in them, whether it’s a lazy weekend on the couch, lounging in the sun while tuning in on the radio or even going to the ballpark.
Enjoy the Twins while they are competitive, because we don’t know how long that will last.