Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Twins didn't kneed this

As this 10th-inning play illustrates, the 2014 rule changes
have not eradicated home plate collisions. 
Kurt Suzuki is not having a good year even by his own standards. The 31-year-old backstop is below his career averages in all three of the slash categories (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), and his OPS+, which compares his production to the league average, is a mere 68.

Still, he entered Wednesday's game having hit .290 over the past four weeks, and he bopped a homer to open the scoring. And, of course, he exited the game with assistance after the above play.

There was nothing wrong with Dyson's play, and nothing Suzuki did wrong either. Blaine Boyer hung Suzuki out to dry with a sloppy throw on the comebacker.

The Twins announced before the game ended the Suzuki has a bruised knee. Paul Molitor sounded a bit wary of that diagnosis in the post-game presser, and I don't blame him. That looked like a ligament-damage play to me. We'll see what comes of it today.

Bruise, sprain or worse, it certainly seems possible that Suzuki won't be playing for a few days at the least. The Twins have an off day today, but the games will resume on Friday, and somebody's gotta catch.

About the only thing keeping Suzuki's many online critics from demanding his benching is the belief that neither Chris Herrmann nor Eric Fryer are capable replacements. My thought is that Herrmann might be a competent hitter if given a straight platoon role -- limit his exposure to left-handed pitching and play him regularly versus right-handers. What he's gotten is something else again: 104 plate appearances scattered through the season, a fourth of them against lefties. If Suzuki is, as I suspected immediately after the play, out for the season, I'm OK with a straight platoon of Herrmann and Fryer. It might be better than we anticipate, not that that's a tremendously high bar.

Two things we know aren't going to happen: Joe Mauer isn't strapping on the gear, and Josmil Pinto isn't coming up. I keep seeing those suggestions online. Really, folks. We might as well ask for Terry Steinbach to return.

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