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  • Three-Bagger: Pelfrey's Progress, Plouffe's Paradox & Rebounds

    * Last week I wrote that Mike Pelfrey's struggles had a reached a point where he should be removed from the rotation until he demonstrated legitimate signs of progress. In his next start, which came Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, that progress was plenty evident. Go figure.

    Sure enough, Pelfrey delivered his best start of the season, by far, with six innings of one-run ball. His fastball flashed a couple ticks higher on the gun than we ever saw in April, and the added velocity (along with noticeably improved command) paid clear dividends.

    For the first time this year, hitters seemed to struggle at times to catch up to his heater, increasing the effectiveness of his off-speed offerings. After striking out only seven hitters in his first five starts for an MLB-worst 6.5 percent K-rate, Pelfrey notched seven strikeouts Sunday, with a few coming at crucial moments. He induced a season-high 13 swings and misses.

    Whether it's the warmer weather, or the kinks being worked out after a month's work, or some combination, Pelfrey looked like a different guy on Sunday. And it was an opportune time, because on the same day, three hurlers with eyes on his job – Samuel Deduno, Alex Meyer and Cole De Vries – were all pitching for minor-league affiliates.

    * Trevor Plouffe displayed again in Sunday's game why he might be the team's most intriguing yet frustrating player.

    His two-run homer in the second gave the Twins an early lead that stuck. The dinger was Plouffe's fourth this season, placing him second on the team behind Josh Willingham.


    But in the field there was yet another lapse. In the fourth inning Asdrubal Cabrera attempted to steal third base and Joe Mauer's throw had him beat handily. Plouffe went down to apply the tag but, rather than holding his glove down, he made a quick swipe maneuver. Cabrera took advantage, stopping short with one hand and reaching around Plouffe with his other arm to touch the base safely.

    It's these kinds of little things that drive Ron Gardenhire crazy. Plouffe has shown again and again that he's capable of making all the plays at third, but his flashiness and inattention to detail will do him no favors with a manager who lives and breathes fundamentals.

    We've already seen Plouffe benched multiple times this season for offenses of a similar nature. Gardy's patience appears to be running thin. But at the same time the Twins can't afford to take the slugger's potent bat out of the lineup. The manager will just have to find it within himself to live with the miscues, because sliding Plouffe to the outfield no longer looks like a feasible option.

    * With Sunday's win, the Twins were able to fend off the brooms in Cleveland, marking the third straight series in which they fell behind 0-2 and rebounded to avoid a sweep. To date, the Twins have only come away winless in one series – an early-April set in Kansas City. By this point last year, they'd already been swept four times.

    Granted, winning one game per series is hardly ideal if it becomes an ongoing trend, but the Twins are showing some resilience, and in the process they're avoiding extended losing streaks.
    This article was originally published in blog: Three-Bagger: Pelfrey's Progress, Plouffe's Paradox & Rebounds started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. jun's Avatar
      jun -
      Lost to the NY Mets twice and the 3rd game postphoned. Winless there as well. Trying hard not to be swept is nothing to be proud of.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      The velocity sure helps, but the bigger thing was location. When you throw sinkers down, they sink. When you throw them up, they flatten out. He got on top of ball well and finished his pitches better in this start than he had in previous starts. He basically did everything Parker told him to do. Go figure.

      I saw the replay of the tag. He definitely tagged him on the hand. The tag was obscured by dirt. But in those situations, the ump will give the play to the defensive team 9 out of 10 times. He could have held the tag longer, but the bigger issue was with the ump on that call.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      You're making way too much of the missed tag, Nick, if it was missed. It was the kind of play infielders make all the time, umpires rarely call, and definitely not "flashiness and inattention to detail." I doubt Gardenhire is concerned about a play like that.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      You're making way too much of the missed tag, Nick, if it was missed. It was the kind of play infielders make all the time, umpires rarely call, and definitely not "flashiness and inattention to detail." I doubt Gardenhire is concerned about a play like that.
      By itself, I would agree with you. But at this point it's a pattern. I doubt this is the straw that breaks the camel's back, but I imagine that it's starting to pile up for Gardy.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post

      I saw the replay of the tag. He definitely tagged him on the hand. The tag was obscured by dirt. But in those situations, the ump will give the play to the defensive team 9 out of 10 times. He could have held the tag longer, but the bigger issue was with the ump on that call.
      This is true. They got it wrong. I understand why: it's a hard thing to see and I have the benefit of replay, but he got that tag on him.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Pelfrey was actually really good in his previous start (if I recall, it was five 0 or 1 innings) before giving up the long home run to Fielder, which happens. Definitely saw signs in that previous start that he was getting there. The Sunday start was very impressive and hopefully can now be continued and consistent.

      As for the Plouffe tag at third, I thought that he tagged him too, on the way up, but as someone said, the dirt hid it. It's definitely a play that goes to the defense most of the time, and Plouffe did exactly what he could do on the play. That is certainly not a play that will make Gardenhire more upset at Plouffe's defense. As was said, that type of play happens frequently, but generally the ump just goes with the out.
    1. Jeff A's Avatar
      Jeff A -
      Quote Originally Posted by jun View Post
      Lost to the NY Mets twice and the 3rd game postphoned. Winless there as well. Trying hard not to be swept is nothing to be proud of.
      Well, it's better than NOT trying hard not to be swept.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I don't really agree with you guys on the tag. Even if the umpire missed the call, there's no chance it happens if Plouffe holds his glove down until it makes solid contact with the runner (which it clearly did not, it might have glanced his fingers). What is the benefit to the quick swipe? It's not a fundamentally sound play.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      > The dinger was Plouffe's fourth this season, placing him second on the team behind Josh Willingham.

      There are other ways to express the futility one month into what was supposed to be a pretty good offense this season, but this is about as good as any.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      "But at the same time the Twins can't afford to take the slugger's potent bat out of the lineup."

      Did you really call him a slugger with a potent bat? I'd like your definition of both slugger and potent bat.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      "But at the same time the Twins can't afford to take the slugger's potent bat out of the lineup."

      Did you really call him a slugger with a potent bat? I'd like your definition of both slugger and potent bat.
      He hit 24 homers in 120 games last year and he's currently slugging .463. I'd like to hear how that description does not fit him, particularly relative to the rest of this team.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      He hit 24 homers in 120 games last year and he's currently slugging .463. I'd like to hear how that description does not fit him, particularly relative to the rest of this team.
      FanGraph has him rated 15 out or 22 rated 3b. His RISP, .150/.217/.300 he's had 50 runners on base and driven in 3, maybe not so potent. Relative to the team he may be a potent slugger but not sure about league overall.
      However they likely have little or no other better options.


      I'll take the "not" as a scolding.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      FanGraph has him rated 15 out or 22 rated 3b. His RISP, .150/.217/.300 he's had 50 runners on base and driven in 3, maybe not so potent. Relative to the team he may be a potent slugger but not sure about league overall.
      However they likely have little or no other better options.


      I'll take the "not" as a scolding.
      Ugh. RISP stats in early May.

      Sooner or later, the law of averages will factor in and Plouffe will begin to start getting those hits with runners on base. History has shown it to be the case nearly 100% of the time.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      FanGraph has him rated 15 out or 22 rated 3b. His RISP, .150/.217/.300 he's had 50 runners on base and driven in 3, maybe not so potent. Relative to the team he may be a potent slugger but not sure about league overall.
      However they likely have little or no other better options.


      I'll take the "not" as a scolding.
      Jamey Carroll with RISP in 2013:
      .429 .556 .429 .984

      Thus, he should be the starting third baseman.

      What's that you say? He's only had 9 plate appearances with runners in scoring position? So?
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      50 runners and 3 driven in? Put all the lipstick on it you want that isn't good! Did I miss the part where I said Carroll should be the 3b?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      50 runners and 3 driven in? Put all the lipstick on it you want that isn't good!
      More importantly, it doesn't matter one bit going forward.

      What matters is if Plouffe is hitting the ball or not. And he has been doing that recently.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      FanGraph has him rated 15 out or 22 rated 3b. His RISP, .150/.217/.300 he's had 50 runners on base and driven in 3, maybe not so potent. Relative to the team he may be a potent slugger but not sure about league overall.
      However they likely have little or no other better options.
      Unless the rest of the league's third basemen are available for Gardenhire to write into his lineup on a nightly basis, I fail to see the relevance. We're talking about Plouffe's value to the Twins, and he's clearly one of the most potent sluggers on the team.

      Your final sentence is accurate, and makes me wonder what exactly is your point of contention here.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      The 'Ole RISP argument. This **** never gets old. FML.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Willingham's defense makes Plouffe look like a gold glover. If there are concerns voiced about Plouffe's defense, there should be about Willingham's as well. Plouffe is not the worst fielding player in this team.

      And if Gardenhire has issues with Plouffe's defense at third, remember who was he Twins' manager when they were trotting Brian Buscher there, in a competing team nevertheless, and whether Butcher was thrown under the bus by him as much as Plouffe has been.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Willingham's defense makes Plouffe look like a gold glover. If there are concerns voiced about Plouffe's defense, there should be about Willingham's as well. Plouffe is not the worst fielding player in this team.
      A fair assessment, though Plouffe has far more opportunities to bungle plays on a nightly basis than Willingham, whose nights often consist of "field ball rolling to me" or "catch ball falling at me" three or four times a game.
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