Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, where it’s a crime if you don’t get outside for a while today. Let’s get to it:
*I only have a couple hundred words worth of thoughts on the “what-if” involving the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater — compared to a little more than 5,000 about Brett Favre — but this feels like an apt time for a quick check-in on Teddy and the Vikings’ QB situation in general.
It’s been nearly three years since that fateful day in the preseason when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury. Exactly three years ago, before the injury happened, if you would have told me that Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins were going to take the vast majority of snaps at QB for the Vikings in consecutive years from 2016-18, I would have thought you were crazy.
(Conversely, if you would have told me that in 2019, the only one outside of Cousins that was likely to be an opening day starter was Keenum, while Bradford is unemployed, that would have been equally stunning).
Bridgewater, though, is the focus here. He’s only thrown 25 regular-season passes in the last three years. While he’s made remarkable progress just to get back on the field and seems to have a good thing going with the Saints, Bridgewater had a disappointing preseason showing against the Chargers this weekend while Taysom Hill shined.
It was enough for ESPN’s Mike Triplett to write this: Sunday’s game made you wonder a bit whether Bridgewater or Taysom Hill is a better bet to become Drew Brees’ long-term successor. Hill had 136 passing yards, two passing TDs and 53 rushing yards while rallying the Saints to a come-from-behind win. CBS’ announcers revealed that Sean Payton compared Hill’s potential to Steve Young.
Bridgewater was much better the previous week against the Vikings, going 14 of 19 for 134 yards and a TD. He’s an easy guy for whom to root, and it would be a shame if he never got back to reclaiming a starting role at some point.
*One of the most fascinating things about this Twins season is how much their key contributors in the lineup and bullpen have changed.
The year started with Blake Parker basically sharing a late-inning role with Taylor Rogers, while Trevor Hildenberger was also working a lot of high-leverage situations as arguably the No. 3 bullpen option. Then Hildenberger’s ERA bloated over 8 in mid-May, and he hasn’t pitched for the Twins since then. Parker was great for two months, but things got rocky enough that he was designated for assignment in late July (and later grabbed by the Phillies, where he has been decent) after a particularly ugly outing vs. the Yankees.
The bullpen pecking order now is essentially Rogers, Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson — with two of the three having arrived near the trading deadline.
Three of the Twins’ most productive hitters of late, by the way, are Miguel Sano (1.023 OPS since June 28), Marwin Gonzalez (hitting .515 in his last eight games) and Luis Arraez (.342 average).
Sano didn’t play until mid-May because of an injury, which is around the same time Arraez arrived from the minors. Gonzalez struggled mightily for the first month of the season before finding his groove. None were really factors in the Twins jumping out to a hot start this season, but they’re sure helping carry the offense now.