The last time the Minnesota Twins reached the postseason was the year 2010. They had a comfortable six-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the standings and were the only team in the division to finish with over 90 wins.
This year, the Twins have started to turn their rough start to the season around as they hope to reclaim the division and head to the playoffs. To do so, they need to work on three aspects of their game: reduce runs allowed, taking advantage of RISP, and staying healthy.
Reduce Runs Allowed
With two weeks completed in the regular season, the Twins have still yet to see a record above the .500 mark. A current issue that may more than likely be the cause of that is the pitching staff. In 11 games played so far this season, the Twins have given up 61 runs, 32 of those coming in the fifth inning or later. In their last two games against the Kansas City Royals, pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ricky Nolasco were the first to pitch into the seventh inning or later, a feat that had not been accomplished in the first nine games. Additionally, Gibson and Nolasco were able to keep the Royals at one run per game, giving the Twins a comfortable win each time.
So, if the other pitchers, both starting and relieving, can jump on board and allow less runs to score in a game, the Twins will be in a great position to potentially take the division title and head to postseason.
Taking Advantage of RISP
Over the years, I have noticed how notorious the Twins have become at leaving runners on base, especially when they are in scoring position. More often than not, the Twins seem to fall short at bringing those runners home at a time in the game when they are needed the most. So far this season, the team is 28-for-101 with runners in scoring position. If the Twins hope to see game time in October, they either need to work the count in their favor and force the pitcher to draw a walk, or they need to become aggressive enough to hit the ball far enough that will allow runners to score.
On a similar note, the Twins need to capitalize on any errors made by the opposing team. The more errors they can draw out of their opponent, the more opportunities they’ll have at increasing their score as well as their chances at winning the game.
Probably the most important factor of all is for the team to stay healthy throughout the season. In this month alone, the Twins have put three players on the 15-day disabled list: Oswaldo Arcia (right wrist strain), Jason Bartlett (left ankle sprain), and Josh Willingham (bruised left wrist). None of these injuries are serious enough to be season-ending, so it is just a matter of time before they return to the lineup.
But, the longer the Twins can stay healthy and keep players off the disabled list, the more probable chance they will have at making the playoffs in October. And if they were to lose certain players to injury, particularly Jason Kubel (who is leading the Twins in batting at .405/.450/.649), Brian Dozier (who leads the team in home runs at 4), or Chris Colabello (who leads the team in RBIs at 14), then seeing postseason play may not be a likely chance.
All in all, if the Twins can stay on top of these three factors, and continue to work on perfecting their game, then many fans may see an exciting September in the AL Central Division.