by JACK KEWITSCH
Can you believe the Twins’ season is already halfway over? Neither can I, but here we are with only 30 games to play. While the Twins have been performing well and leading the American League Central, there are still things the team can do to bolster a postseason run. Namely, make a trade or two.
With the August 31 trade deadline less than a week away, the question is what do the Twins do? The offense is relatively down in comparison to 2019, but that can be said of almost every team in Major League Baseball. Instead, the likely answer is pitching, whether it comes in the form of a starting rotation piece or a bullpen arm, because the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Mitch Garver should all be ready and healthy come mid-September or October. That is all that matters.
Yet the Twins need some help on the mound. Looking solely at the stats, one may think they do not as they sport the American League’s second-best ERA (3.48), WHIP (1.15), and seven quality starts. Those can be deceiving, as we have seen a few occasions where the starter cannot go beyond four innings, or the bullpen implodes. Even with the great outcomes Randy Dobnak, Kenta Maeda, and the bullpen do provide, that does not always equate to postseason success.
With Homer Bailey moved to the 45-day injured list, Jake Odorizzi’s length of injury unknown, Jose Berrios struggling to command the zone, and Michael Pineda’s form when he returns yet to be seen, pitching is the most logical solution. But who would potentially be available — especially with this year’s postseason expanding from 10 to 16 teams?
The easy answer is Trevor Bauer. The former Cleveland Indian and now Cincinnati Red has been dominant this year, racking up over 14 strikeouts per nine innings and a major league-best 0.68 ERA in just over 25 innings. Yet while the Reds may be playing sub-.500 ball, they only need to string a few wins together to get back into the hunt. They may choose to hold onto Bauer’s elite arm just in case. There are still plenty of other options to pursue. Two such options are Los Angeles Angel Dylan Bundy and a familiar name in Texas Ranger Lance Lynn. If Bauer is not on the table, these two may be the best options for the Twins to snag. The Twins only need rotational help and not necessarily an ace.
The issue that arises with Lynn is his fastball usage, throwing it more than 58 percent of the time. That will need to change if he comes back to Minnesota as the Twins’ staff ranks 27th in fastball velocity and Lynn’s fastball averages just 94 mph. So far this year, when the Twins have seen success on the mound it has come from their off-speed pitches and framing, not from the heater. The same could be said of Bundy, although he has adjusted his pitch mix this year to emphasize his changeup and slider, much to the joy of the Twins’ analytics department. Even a move for a high-leverage reliever could benefit this team. Any arm that has a positive outlook should be able to come in and have an immediate impact.
Any of these arms would likely cost an arm and a leg, likely in the form of impact offensive players like Eddie Rosario or some of the higher-end prospects like Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach. That may sway the Twins to stay put as many of the players involved in the current trade rumors would be brought in solely for the postseason run and maybe one more season. Not the best return on value if the players traded away blossom. But if the Twins feel this is their chance to make a splash and win it all, they may pull the trigger. It is just a matter of what the Twins’ front office knows and the direction they want to take.