Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, where there won’t be much (if any) content over the next couple weeks as I take some vacation time. Let’s get to it:
*I like to think that I’m a reasonably confident person, but I would love to live just one day of my life with the confidence that Eddie Rosario carries with him.
Because what we know for sure that he can do is this: Make a hideous error on a routine fly ball Wednesday, sending a troubled game into “worst of the season” territory while the Twins lost a third straight game for the first time all year … loaf on a ground ball in the next half inning … find himself on the bench to start a critical four-game series against Oakland … and then come in as a pinch hitter, hack away at the first ball he sees, blast it to right field for a go-ahead three-run homer and then circle the bases with swagger.
As La Velle E. Neal III points out, this is a guy who homered in his first MLB at-bat and his first postseason at-bat. This is a guy who lives for these moments. If the Twins are fortunate and good enough to make the playoffs a few times here in the next handful of years, Rosario is your best bet to provide a Kirby Puckett-esque postseason moment. He’s a heart and soul guy with more confidence than most of us can imagine.
*Taylor Rogers pitched two innings (again) in Thursday’s 6-3 win — the eighth time this year (and third time since July 6) he’s been asked to get at least six outs and the 13th time he’s gotten at least four.
This is troubling in one regard, since manager Rocco Baldelli seems to be doing the same in-game calculations as the rest of us and trying to figure out how much he can possibly ask of Rogers — the only bullpen arm who has the combination of trust and track record — in a single outing of a close game.
The Twins have 12 days to get Baldelli, Rogers and co. more bullpen help. I believe they will, but we’ll see what form it takes.
In the mean time, the only thing that makes the Twins’ desperate need to use Rogers for those long stints palatable is the efficiency of Rogers himself. He averages about 15 pitches per inning and got through his two innings last night throwing just 26 total pitches.
By way of comparison, Rogers entered Thursday having thrown just 13 more pitches than Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman but having done so in six more total innings thrown. Chapman has not had a single appearance beyond one inning this season.
Four different times this season, Rogers has pitched two innings one night and then been used the next day — largely because he needed an average of 13 pitches per inning in those longer stints.
A less efficient reliever who needed 35 or 40 pitches to get through two innings would likely be unavailable the next day. Baldelli has a rare treasure in Rogers. Imagine one or two more great arms next to him.
*Miguel Sano had four really good at-bats Thursday: a single, two walks (one in front of Rosario’s blast) and a hard fly ball to right field in his final at bat after just missing a long home run to left when it hooked foul.
Since that dismal 0-for-7 game against Tampa Bay on June 27 that had people ready to give up on him again, Sano is hitting .348 with an OPS above 1.100. He’s walked eight times and struck out 16 times in 55 plate appearances — far more acceptable numbers — to go with four home runs.
And for the season, his .870 OPS is higher than that of Jorge Polanco (.866), Max Kepler (.855) and Rosario (.845).
*It seems impossible that Luis Arraez turned 22 in April. This guy has the polish and hands of a player in his prime. If he can keep turning on inside pitches like he did Thursday — blistering a double off the wall and just missing a homer — the Twins might have a star in the making.