October 13, 2019

For All Their Slugging, Twins-Yankees Came Down to Pitching

For All Their Slugging, Twins-Yankees Came Down to Pitching


The bullpen was no better Monday night in Game 3, permitting the final three runs in a 5-1 loss. Its E.R.A. for the series: 9.00, with 12 walks in 14 innings.

The Twins’ pitching coach, Wes Johnson, conceded that the ear-shattering whirlwind of Yankee Stadium unnerved his young relievers. “Some of these guys, it’s their first time at the big stage,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how you prepare for Yankee Stadium in that kind of environment. There’s no handbook on that one.

“Part of it is, they have to get out there. And then our job as coaches is, see how they react to that environment. And if it’s not the reaction we want or we think they can give us, then it’s our job to coach that up.”

Reliever Trevor May spoke even more frankly. “Maybe trying to be too fine with approaching the 6-7 guy who is batting in the No. 2 hole and the 6-5 guy batting in the No. 5 hole,” May said, referring to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. “They’re big guys, and they’re imposing, and it’s Yankee Stadium.”

It’s debatable whether Anderson could have made the same strides had he remained a Twin. Minnesota was one of the last major league teams to embrace pitching analytics, a priority for Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine when they were hired late in 2016. In the last year, the Twins invested in high-resolution video equipment and brought in Johnson, who is well versed in biomechanics and analytics, from the University of Arkansas. Now, Falvey said, the Twins are better positioned to develop prospects needing pitch refinement.

“As a team, we’re a lot further along than we were because of Wes,” Falvey said.

Entering this season the Twins signed the veteran Blake Parker as their closer, but otherwise focused on developing relievers in the organization. Duffey, May and the left-hander Taylor Rogers benefited from Johnson’s tutelage. Parker floundered in June and was released, leaving Rogers as the closer.

Adding Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson at the trade deadline helped, though Dyson pitched sparingly before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. The bullpen excelled over the final two months, pitching to a 3.78 E.R.A., the seventh-lowest in baseball. That gave the Twins confidence heading into the division series.



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