1. After Tuesday’s action, the Twins maintained their 1-game lead on the Angels for the second Wild Card spot, although the Orioles have won six in a row to keep the pressure on and they too are only 1.5 games back. Even after Minnesota finishes with the White Sox, their schedule looks fairly gentle down the stretch, with seven games coming up against the Royals, who just snapped a 4-game stretch of being shut out. Otherwise, but for six games against the Yankees and Cleveland, they’ll be playing also-rans like the Padres, Tigers, and Blue Jays.
The Twins have been outscored by 26 runs on the season, indicating they’re playing a bit over their heads. But they’re a different team when they get good work from their starting pitchers, and Santana and Jose Berrios have both been solid, while the rest of the rotation is horrid. Given the weakness of their pitching staff, I would still consider them a potential suitor for Miguel Gonzalez’ services down the stretch–two days left!
And, after a rigorous statistical analysis, this author—a cold, dispassionate analyst—can only conclude that the world is objectively better if the Twins do not make the playoffs and, instead, lose virtually every game. It is acceptable if they beat the Royals enough to keep them out of the playoffs as well.
2. James Shields has tried fiddling around with his arm slot and pitch selection to do whatever he can to get through more than five innings an outing. On Tuesday he walked more batters than he struck out, although I suppose he has improved his DRA from 6.58 last year to 5.43 this year.
Given how badly Shields pitched for the White Sox in 2016 and how that team wound up finishing combined with the meteoric rise of Fernando Tatis, Jr. and The Shields Trade has the makings of one of the most lopsided trades of the last decade. One way Shields can help soften the blow is to continue being a mentor to the organization’s pitching prospects, as he has already been cited as someone who helped Lucas Giolito’s development during his rehab assignment in Charlotte. Somehow, Shields is still under contract for one more season.
3. In more pleasant news, Jose Abreu went 4-for-4 with a walk, raising his line to .297/.350/.534 on the year. While it doesn’t mean a lot on the field for the team this year, Abreu’s strong 2017 campaign breaks a three year trend of declining production, as he has matched last year’s WARP total with a month left to play. He turns 31 in January and serves primarily as a mentor and clubhouse leader, but even if his power is no longer elite, it’s looking more and more like he may hold onto enough hit tool to age more gracefully than might have once been expected.
4. Dane Dunning bounced back from a rare rough outing to strike out 10 against 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 ER in a 6 inning effort. With over 100 innings under his belt in High-A, one anticipates he will begin 2018 in Double-A Birmingham. Given Dunning’s profile and arsenal, the high minors will be an interesting challenge as he continues along his trajectory toward a #3/4 starter in the majors, with a potential ETA as early as September 2018.
5. Per James Fegan, the White Sox have announced this year’s Arizona Fall League participants as Dylan Covey, Matt Foster, Jace Fry, Connor Walsh, Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick, and Tito Polo. Covey pitched in the AFL last year, and as his continued durability issues resurfaced in 2017, he could use the extra work again. Zavala is a somewhat interesting catching prospect who had to share time behind the plate with Zack Collins, so the AFL should give him a chance to shore up his shaky defense. Polo profiles as a fourth outfielder, and was the third piece acquired from the Yankees in their large midsummer swap.
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