Minnesota’s dreams of postseason glory were cut brutally short on Monday night. Target Field was poised to exploded at the first sign of life from the Twins, but that moment would never come. Instead, fans saw the Twins set many dubious records. Minnesota became the first 100-win team to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs and the club has lost an MLB record 16-straight postseason games.
As the dust starts to settle, where should the blame be placed? Fans begin to move from the postseason to a time of second-guessing choices made by the coaching staff and the front office.
After watching Jake Odorizzi on Monday night, plenty of fans were questioning the decision to hold him off until game three. As the series started, Minnesota’s logic was to use Odorizzi, a fly-ball pitcher, at Target Field, which is a less-prone fly-ball park than Yankee Stadium. Randy Dobnak had been a good story for the Twins, but he was a rookie with few MLB appearances.
Odorizzi had been named an All-Star and he might have been Minnesota’s best pitcher down the stretch. While Jose Berrios struggled in the second half (4.64 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), Odorizzi posted a 2.86 ERA in August and a 3.27 ERA in September. In a shorter five-game series, Odorizzi might have been the better choice in the second game of the series.
Minnesota, like a lot of teams, deal with injuries down the stretch. Luis Arraez suffered what looked like a season-ending injury in the Twins’ last series of the year as he had to be carted off the field. He came back to hit 5-for-11 against the Yankees and he became the first to record to record four doubles in an ALDS. Max Kepler also missed time at the end of the year, but he didn’t fare nearly as well against New York.
Kepler did not record a hit in 13 plate appearances and he officially finished the postseason going 0-for-10 with three strikeouts and three walks. Some might question if Kepler was healthy enough to play in the post-season, but the second guessing could come in the team’s decision not to play him in the season’s final series against Kansas City. It’s hard to know if Kepler was healthy enough to play. However, standing in for at-bats against the Royals might have helped him to get some of his timing back after being injured.
Taylor Rogers didn’t pitch until the third game of the ALDS and Trevor May was limited to one pitch in the entire series. Some might question whether Kyle Gibson should have even been on the roster. In Game 1, Minnesota turned to Zack Littell after only four innings out of Jose Berrios. From there the Twins turned to the likes of Cody Stashak and the aforementioned Gibson. This wasn’t exactly the power bullpen Minnesota had used the final weeks of the season.
The results from Game 2 weren’t much better as Dobnak recorded six outs before Duffey struggled in his 2/3 of an inning. By the middle of the second game of the series, Duffey was the lone key relief option to make multiple appearances and the team’s two best relievers (Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers) had yet to appear. Rocco Baldelli made plenty of good decisions throughout the season, but his bullpen usage in October is something to be questioned.
This story originally appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared as part of a collaboration between Bring Me The News and Twins Daily.