The Minnesota Twins have been out of the playoff chase for quite some time, especially after their most recent series vs. Oakland. But even with the front-office looking forward to next year, there are still plenty of reasons to keep watching the games taking place on the field. Let’s go over some of them:
Austin was acquired in the Lance Lynn trade, and has been raking since he joined the lineup. He’s hitting .333 with 6 home runs, in 12 games since joining the team, including an absolute moonshot against Oakland on Sunday:
Tyler Austin, Destroyer of Baseballs. pic.twitter.com/NV7gViV0VS
— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) August 26, 2018
With Joe Mauer potentially nearing the end of his Twins career (more on that later) and Logan Morrison, who likely won’t to wear a Twins’ uniform again, after being shut down for the year with a hip injury, there’s a huge void at first base that will need to be filled. Austin has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat to pair with Miguel Sano (more on him later too).
Austin looks like a player who simply needed a change of scenery and full-time opportunity. There is plenty to like about his approach at the plate:
this is a real nice swing. pic.twitter.com/glNtOXGOI7
— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) August 26, 2018
Plus, Austin’s dad seems pretty happy he has moved on from New York. FWIW: Austin wasn’t particularly pleased by his dad’s tweets…
Tyler Austin’s dad a savage for this ? pic.twitter.com/y4cYC6NJJK
— Pinstripe Dynasty (@ChaseForThe28th) August 21, 2018
Tyler Austin on his father’s tweet that “Tyler has more hits in a week with Twins than (Greg) Bird has in a month with Yankees”: “It’s embarrassing, to be honest. I called and told him to take it down right away. That’s not acceptable.” Said he’ll be contacting Bird to apologize.
— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) August 21, 2018
Gonsalves represents the next wave of pitchers who could have a major impact on this Twins roster over the next few years. The first couple of starts for Gonsalves haven’t panned out as many would have hoped, but Gonsalves’ potential is worth the price of admission. Once he learns to consistently locate, he is going to be a big contributor, as evident by his first MLB strikeout:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 20, 2018
It is fair to assume Gonsalves is dealing with heightened nerves from his first few starts in the big leagues, and once he gets the hang of things he will come back toward his minor league numbers.
More than anything, I think the locations of Stephen Gonsalves’ change-up tonight revealed how nervous/amp’d he was for his Major League debut. Watch any of his MiLB starts and he’s keep that pitch down. pic.twitter.com/ET2iR5n2Dx
— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) August 21, 2018
Pineda, who the Twins signed during the offseason while he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, has recently begun a rehab assignment in hopes of joining the Twins’ rotation sometime in September. Before the news of his knee irritation, the results of his rehab assignment looked encouraging. Unfortunately, some news over the weekend may dampen the Michael Pineda 2018 party:
Michael Pineda is coming back to Minnesota. He’s dealing with some right knee irritation that is going to result in an MRI on Monday.
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 25, 2018
Here is some video from Michael Pineda’s start for AAA-Rochester tonight. His line: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 55 pitches, 32 strikes. He will join the #MNTwins in September and is expected to be in the Opening Day 2019 rotation. pic.twitter.com/OlnrBcjf2k
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) August 22, 2018
Regardless of whether or not Pineda can join the rotation in September, he’ll be slotted in for 2019 and should factor in as a big contributor. If he’s able to shake off the knee soreness, he’ll get a chance this year to show Twins fans some of the filth he routinely threw while with the Yankees.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 10, 2017
My final reason to watch the rest of this season deals with a franchise cornerstone who may be playing his final games with the Twins. Mauer; who was the AL MVP in 2009, is working his way up the list of Twins all-time greats, in many offensive categories. It’s hard to believe that Mauer has been a fixture in the lineup since his debut in 2004. He’s been a model of consistency throughout his career. Check out this hit chart:
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) August 25, 2018
With the numbers Mauer has put up in his career, it’s fair to wonder how much better they would have been had concussions not taken their toll on him in 2013 or if the infield shift had waited another 5 years before taking over the league. The concussion symptoms forced him to switch positions, along with lingering effects that now force him to wear sunglasses while hitting during day games. At the same time, the shift has taken away his patented up-the-middle base hit, and countless others that used to make it to the outfield on the regular. As a result, we’ve seen a dip in production. Mauer hit .323 from 2004-2013 and has seen that dive to .277 ever since…JK
Despite the concussion and infield shift terrorism, Mauer has still provided many clutch moments to this day:
AS CLUTCH AS IT GETS!!!
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) August 18, 2018
One thing is for certain, if Mauer does decide to call it a career after this season, he will have a place along the other Twin greats.
One thing I love about Joe Mauer is how humble he is.
He questioned if he was really worthy of being recognized pregame with Morris, Molitor, & Winfield on the strength of St. Paul Baseball.
About 15 minutes later he led the game off with a homer & is a triple shy of the cycle. pic.twitter.com/rzgdqGMReZ
— Dustin Morse (@morsecode) August 19, 2018
So there you have it. The season may be lossed but there are still plenty of reasons to tune in. We didn’t even touch on September call-ups, which I will probably take a look at when more start to take place. But for now, just sit back and enjoy a few more games before baseball is left in a cloud of NFL dust.
In fact, the Twins are back in action tonight:
Seth Toupal @SethToups
Minnesota Sports Fan