Monday, September 2, 2019

Thoughts from the weekend

And quite the weekend it was for the Twins, who enter Labor Day with a 5.5 game lead on the Cleveland Indians. One more game in Detroit today, and then ... well, then the schedule turns a little difficult again -- Boston on the road, home for series against the Tribe and Washington, back on the road to Cleveland.

And then it's back to playing the bad teams of the division for the remainder of the month.

OK, the big stuff:

Kyle Gibson to the injured list: This move may not have been necessary. I am not, to be clear, questioning the illness or its severity. But the Twins put Gibson on the injured list after rosters expanded. That usually doesn't happen.

Two possible reasons for it: First, to publicly acknowledge Gibson's physical problem. The team has known of his intestional tract issues all season, but the fans have been kept in the dark. And Gibson is going into free agency after the season.

I want to call Gibson's season somewhat disappointing. His ERA is a slightly worse than his career mark and is almost a run higher than in 2018. But his underlying numbers are actually better than last season. Put in the context of his e. Coli infection at the start of the year and his current weight-sapping  ulcerative colitis, it has been a very solid season.

The other reasons for putting Gibson on the injured list when there is no obvious roster issue involved may be to create a paper trail. Followers of LaVelle E Neal III on Twitter know that the Star Tribune beat writer has been patiently explaining that the postseason roster rules permit the Twins to add players already in the organization but not on the 40 at the end of August if they are replacing a 40-man player not able to perform.

That may -- or may not -- be useful in the case of ...

Brusdar Graterol. The organization's top pitching prospect was added to the 40-man roster and to the active roster on Sunday and made his major league debut in the ninth inning, showing off his high-velocity arm.

As matters stand, Graterol isn't eligible for the postseason roster. It's possible the Twins won't want him on it after pitching him in September. But they very well might -- and there are avenues to make him eligible, even if Gibson is deemed ready to roll after a more intensive treatment for his colitis.

268. The Twins on Saturday blew past the existing record for home runs in a season, and did so with the month of September still to go.

Saturday's six-homer outburst was almost a parody of my oft-stated offseason concern that the Twins power-focused revamp of the lineup would result in a lot of solo homers. The Twins scored seven runs on six dingers -- and lost.

Seven runs ought to be enough to win. They didn't lose that game to the lowly Tigers for lack of runs. They lost it on sloppy starting and sloppy fielding, and those are different issues. On Sunday they didn't hit any homers, but still scored eight runs. And won.

The Twins entered September having scored more than 800 runs already. The team record is 877, set in 1996. They've already passed the previous team record for extra base hits in a season.

It really is an impressive offense.

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