Bagels and Locks: Twins Wild Card Preview

If you are a Minnesota Twins fan, then you are probably celebrating from their postseason clinch, but we have to remember that the real challenge hasn’t even begun. The Twins will likely face the New York Yankees in the wild card game for a chance to advance to the ALDS. The Twins current roster has 34 players on it. So we will break down who they should bring and who they should leave back in Minnesota. I’ll start off by saying that the roster can be changed after the wild card game meaning the Twins don’t need to bring all the pitchers that they will use in the postseason, but just the ones they might use in this game. For example, Kyle Gibson will likely be left off the wild card game roster despite him being one of the three best starters on the team. Now that that’s settled, Jacob and I have compiled a list of locks, and then we each have our own separate list of remaining players to be added despite their holes (Bagels, get it? Like bagels and… nevermind.)

Here is our list of locks:

Catchers: Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez

Infielders: Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar, Ehire Adrianza

Outfield: Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman

Pitchers: Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, Alan Busenitz, Trevor Hildenberger, Matt Belisle, Taylor Rogers

(Note: Yes, Jose Berrios is a starter, but this is a must-win game and he has the best stuff on the Twins roster. If they need to win might need to use him).

Now who should the remaining 8 be? Let’s break down every player.

Zane’s list:

Miguel Sano

Sano has been battling a stress reaction in his left shin. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since August 21st. So why should he be considered? The past few days the Twins have been working with him on his swing and he seems to be getting better albeit slowly. Another thing that people forget is that he was the Twins best hitter in the first half of the season and it’s hard to think he can’t be a great option at least as a pinch hitter. If he is not ready to go, then look for the another hitter to take his place because the Twins don’t need that many pitchers on the roster. If he is ready, then add him to a Twins team that has been ripping the cover off the ball lately. That would be a scary thought for the yanks.

Mitch Garver

Garver has seen little playing time as a member of the Twins and has been fairly mediocre in his tryout. On one hand, the walks are there, he clearly has power and hitting ability, and he can be a third catcher which would be a great luxury for the wild card game. On the other hand, do you want to throw someone who hasn’t quite gotten a real taste of the bigs into a situation like this? Would he be a pinch hitter against lefties or would he just serve as insurance if Castro and Gimenez leave the game? Either way he has at least some value, so the Twins will surely consider adding him.

Kennys Vargas

Vargas has been up and down this year, in the literal sense and in that his game has been streaky, but there is obviously something to like there. He would almost undoubtedly serve as a pinch hitter and maybe a backup in case Mauer suffers an injury. The question is, do the Twins like his bat enough to roster him just for a possible pinch hit? As a left handed hitter, Vargas has seen success with a slash line of .280/.326/.497 along with 10 of his 11 home runs in 175 at bats. This means that Vargas seems to be a great pinch hitter to bring in against a right handed pitcher.

Zack Granite

Granite has shown improvement lately with the bat even though his slugging doesn’t show it. I think the Twins will add because of his speed alone which can be deadly when put on base or in the field. If a hard throwing lefty (Hm do the Yankees have anyone like that?) gets put in to face Kepler it would be a severe mismatch. Granite, who has always hit lefties about as well as righties, can be an asset in these situations. He’s got quick hands and a great eye that can surely help against any wild flamethrowers on New York. Jokes aside, Granite might be a perfect pinch hit for a Kepler against Chapman scenario, and if not he can always pinch run and be valuable there anyway.

Buddy Boshers

Okay so I’m not a big Buddy Boshers fan, and I don’t want to see him put into this game, but there is no denying that he’s been effective against lefties this year. Joe Girardi places lefties strategically in his lineup so that you have to ignore a couple splits at least. This is where Boshers comes in to take care of a lefty or two and then be yanked right out. For example, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are coming up soon but you have to get pesky Brett Gardner out first. Boshers poses a good matchup in this situation for a one and done out.

Ryan Pressly

This is where it starts to get tricky as there is a lot of similar type arms left. Pressly though clearly has the best stuff of them all. A high 90s heater and a sharp breaking ball make him a scary guy to face. For whatever reason he hasn’t looked great this year despite not having walk issues either. Pressly though will challenge a hitter and he won’t give up free passes. He has a high strikeout rate which is also great to have. He won’t be first on the list to use but don't be surprised if he gets some key outs.

Dillon Gee

Nothing about Gee will blow you away, but he might be needed in this game. If Santana exits early for whatever reason, it would be hard to trust our bullpen to go that long without having someone for long relief. Enter Dillon Gee. Gee has pitched well for the Twins out of the bullpen and has amassed a 3.28 ERA, which includes three spot starts. He uses good command and a lot of fastball movement to freeze hitters. He is a lot like Bartolo but he has a bit more velocity.

Gabriel Moya

This was a real tough one as it came down to him or Mejia for me. But ultimately, Moya’s ability to throw strikes more consistently was why I went here. Yeah, I know I picked someone who has pitched under 5 innings in the big leagues, but Moya looks like he’s ready to face any challenge when he’s on the mound, and the quirky way comes into the set position can throw off timing. He is another lefty which is super valuable to have especially in one game.

Notable people left off:
Adalberto Mejia- Too inconsistent with his strike throwing
Tyler Duffey- Has been really struggling lately and got hit hard in Yankee stadium recently
Bartolo Colon- Has looked very hittable lately
Niko Goodrum- Very versatile but the hitting looks set where it is. Will take Sano’s place on my list if he is not ready

The Others:
Aaron Slegers, John Curtiss, Glen Perkins, Michael Tonkin, Nik Turley

Jacob’s list:

Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas, Mitch Garver, Zach Granite, Ryan Pressly, Dillon Gee, Aaron Slegers, and Buddy Boshers.

Disclaimer: My list of players needs far less explanation because of the nature of how it was chosen. With the exception of one player, which I will explain later, my selections were purely on the basis of numbers. For that reason, I’d like to spend some time going over how I made my decisions. To begin, I compiled a list of all the players Zane and I determined to be “bagels”. I then used my own metrics to rank every single remaining player by type (Pitchers and Hitters). For the most part, I chose the top available players from each category. There were two situations where I had to analyze the numbers a little more than the others. These debates included Miguel Sano and Tyler Duffey/Aaron Slegers.

Miguel Sano

The injury that Sano continues to recover from is the sole reason that this is even a debate. He is the single best producer on a per/plate appearance basis in the entire Twins organization, adding about .015 Runs Above Average/PA. I am not the first person to bring up this point, nor will I be the last, but this whole situation has an aura of Kirk Gibson surrounding it. Even if he is not ready for the physicality of a full game, his monstrous power and subsequent ability to change the momentum in a game is something no team ever wants to have to face. In the case of Miguel Sano, the game-changing power he possesses is worth the roster spot despite injuries.

Tyler Duffey

The main reason for leaving Duffey off my list is the congestion of pitchers beyond our locks. The difference between about 5 pitchers surrounding Duffey in my rankings is so small it is nearly immeasurable. For this reason, I felt that I was looking at players so statistically similar that choosing one over the other was a ridiculous task. Instead, I opted for the less experienced Aaron Slegers. It may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out. With such a small sample size, his stats aren’t the greatest representation of what may happen a few days from now. The variability involved in predicting his stats are actually very appealing. Seeing as how he is hovering around a low to middle average player, there is far more room for upward improvement than there is for a decrease in efficiency. A similar growth in Duffey’s production is far less likely because his larger sample size cements pretty much exactly what we can expect from him.

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