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If you ever see a young pitcher struggle mightily, and you become convinced that his future is hopeless as a result, please keep Berrios in your head as an antidote to that pessimism. Berrios posted an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie in 2016. He's made two All-Star teams since then and resides firmly at the top of the Twins' rotation.
Two years ago, Dobnak was pitching in the United Shore Professional Baseball League, and in his journey to the majors he was an Uber driver (4.99 rating, he boasts on his Twitter account). In a season of unlikely heroes and developments, Dobnak reaching the Twins and contributing is at or near the top of that list.
Remember when Duffey pitched like a boss as a rookie starter down the stretch in 2015, keeping the Twins in the playoff chase until the final weekend? Well, maybe that guy was stuffed in the trunk of a car from 2016-18 (cumulative ERA for the Twins: 6.05), but he's settled into a role as a dominant arm out of the bullpen this year.
He hasn't been healthy nearly enough for his or the Twins' liking since coming over at the trade deadline form San Francisco, but Dyson's 2.53 ERA in 10 appearances from mid-August to early September came at an important time as the Twins' bullpen stabilized and their lead over Cleveland expanded.
Gibson, the Twins' longest-tenured player after Joe Mauer's retirement, battled an E. coli virus early in the year and ulcerative colitis late in the year. As frustrating as that has been for Gibson and the Twins, he did tie his career-high in wins (13) by late August and was one of the Twins' most consistent pitchers in the middle of the year.
Graterol became the first Twins pitcher in a decade to hit 100 mph on the radar gun and set a team record with a 101.9 mph pitch. That sort of heat has only added fuel to the fire from Twins fans curious all year about the phenom, who just turned 21 in late August. Could he be their secret weapon?
It's been a strange year for the curveballing Harper, who was one of the Twins' most important relief pitchers early in the season and ranks among the team leaders in appearances in 2019. He had a 1.93 ERA in his first 30 appearances this season. That climbed to 5.68 in the next 30 appearances for the rookie, who is also 30 years old.
It looks like Hildenberger is throwing a Wiffle ball with his funky delivery and movement, but it's been a tough year between injury and ineffectiveness. He held opponents scoreless in his first 11 appearances this season and looked to be a key bullpen piece. By mid-May, his ERA was above 8 -- when was sent down, only to return in September.
If you would have told a Twins fan two months ago that the bullpen could be a strength in October and that Littell would be a big reason, you would have gotten off easy just to be laughed at. But as of Sept. 19, Littell had given up a run in just three appearances all season, and his beard is worthy of high-leverage situations.
His varied interests -- including intense gaming (just follow him on Twitter) -- have been well-documented, but May's pitching has made headlines this year. Since working exclusively out of the bullpen since 2016, May has averaged close to 12 strikeouts per nine innings, and this year he's become a trusted setup man.
Chances are, Odorizzi is going to pitch somewhere between 5 and 6 innings. He's probably going to allow around two runs. He's probably going to strike out six guys. That might not sound very exciting, but there's also this: there's a pretty good chance the Twins are going to win, as they did in 20 of his first 29 starts in 2019.
Perez is so much better the first time through the batting order than the second time through that maybe he should go change his uniform or put on a disguise or something -- anything -- to convince hitters he's a different guy. That said, a guy who's really good for three innings can have a lot of value when the playoffs roll around.
One of the Twins' best stories turned into one of their biggest disappointments when Pineda was handed a 60-game suspension in early September for a positive drug test. Pineda was 7-2 with a 2.96 ERA in his last 14 starts and would have factored prominently into the Twins' postseason plans before the suspension.
There was a time earlier this year when Rogers was about the only Twins reliever anyone trusted, and it would have been tempting to try to clone him. But get this: Rogers has a clone already (sort of): identical twin brother Tyler Rogers, also a pitcher, but a right-hander who has done quite well since debuting recently with the Giants.
Romero didn't give up a run in his first two Major League starts for the Twins in 2018 and had a 1.88 ERA in his first five starts. Everything since then has been a bit of a mystery, with the once highly regarded prospect failing to lock down a bullpen role in 2019 despite multiple chances to do so.
Romo is a little like a righthanded version of former Twins closer Eddie Guardado, relying on confidence, enthusiasm and well-timed breaking pitches to get batters out. But he's been a welcome addition since coming over from the Marlins, and his 27 career playoff appearances (six scoreless in the World Series) sure help.
In a season filled with feel-good stories and memorable nights, it might still be hard to top Smeltzer's debut on May 28. After a hasty callup, Smeltzer -- who survived cancer in his his childhood -- pitched six shutout innings in a win over Milwaukee. Oh, and he was acquired last year in the Brian Dozier trade.
The Twins have used 30 different pitchers this season, and Stashak is definitely one of them. Actually, he's been among the better young arms. He had zero walks and 14 strikeouts in his first 11 appearances as a rookie for the Twins in 2019, spanning 18 innings, and could be a factor in the bullpen next season.
He posted a 3.68 ERA as a Twins rookie in 2018, but that relative success didn't transfer to 2019. He's probably best suited as a starter, but time is running out for the 2013 first round pick (No. 4 overall) to prove he belongs for good on a Major League roster.
Anyone whose Baseball Reference page starts with a season with Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League is off to a good start. It helps that Thorpe has shown swing-and-miss stuff throughout his minor league career and has worked enough high-leverage spots in 2019 to think he could make the rotation in 2020.
Can we do three cards for Willians? There's not enough space to fully appreciate him here. Rest assured that a player who A) Hardly ever walks or strikes out; B) Has a nickname of La Tortuga and C) Makes at least one highlight-worthy play or expression every time he's on the field is a favorite among fans and teammates.
After being limited to just 19 games because of injury in 2018, Castro has had a nice bounceback year for the Twins in 2019. He reached double-digits in homers for the sixth time in his career and had his best overall offensive season since 2013.
If you say you predicted Garver would top 30 homers this year and be a serious candidate for team MVP, you're either a liar or a time-traveler. For a team to make the kind of leap the Twins have made this season, it takes some pleasant surprises. Garver certainly qualifies and maybe tops that list.
Adrianza's versatility and quiet effectiveness at the plate were a sneaky boon for the Twins, and both were missed when he suffered an oblique injury late in the season. He posted a career-best .765 OPS and appeared at every position except catcher and center field (yes, he even pitched once).
He's a career .331 hitter in the minor leagues, so maybe we shouldn't be shocked by everything the 22-year-old has done. But still: Who expected him to look like a cross between Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn? Arraez didn't make his debut until May 18; if he'd been here sooner, he might be a batting champ.
A thumb injury limited his effectiveness in the second half of the season, but Cron has been everything advertised and a good offseason power-hitting pickup. Maybe it's easier to replace a left-handed, high-average first baseman like all-time Twins great Joe Mauer when you're a righty who hits for power?
As far as milestones go, Polanco this year becoming the first Twins shortstop to start an All-Star Game since Roy Smalley in 1979 is a pretty cool one. And Polanco has kept up the pace all season, establishing himself as one of the Twins' most consistent hitters while delivering clutch hits.
It's a little comical now to look back at mid-May when Sano returned to the lineup amid worries from fans that he could disrupt their early-season mojo. Sano's mammoth 482-foot homer in mid-September made him the fifth Twins player to reach 30 homers this season, a new MLB record.
In a season with a lot of home runs (and a lot of big ones), Schoop certainly had one of the biggest: A two-run shot Aug. 16 against Texas to help the Twins rally for a 4-3 victory. But as much as you want his name to be pronounced like “shoop,” it’s really like “scope.”
Spent most of the season at Class AAA Rochester, but he does have Major League experience after racking up more than 600 plate appearances from 2016-18 with the Yankees. His best year came in 2017, when he hit .292 in 336 plate appearances for New York.
It’s hard to have faith that the universe is mostly good when everyone’s favorite adult son keeps getting injured. Alas, that is the story of Buxton. In a season during which he seemed to be turning a corner offensively while still wowing everyone in the field, Buxton is out for the year with a shoulder ailment. Somehow, the Twins must go on.
In addition to being the Twins player whose name sounds the most like a roadside tourist attraction, Cave has turned into a valuable spare outfielder. From Aug. 6 to Sept. 6, Cave hit .325 with a 1.004 OPS to help keep the Twins’ offense afloat.
It's Mar-win, not Mar-lose. His raw numbers aren't even close to the best on the Twins, but his versatility and clutch hitting have been a welcome addition. Gonzalez’s postseason resume includes a game-tying ninth-inning home run in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, helping the Astros win in seven games.
If you've been waiting patiently for Kepler have a breakout season, 2019 was your year. Kepler breezed past his previous high in home runs (20) and might have doubled it if not for some nagging injuries late in the season. The German-born Kepler also set the MLB single-season record for homers by a European-born player.
The Twins, desperate for outfielders in early September after several were injured, acquired LaMarre from Atlanta. Though he isn't eligible for postseason play, LaMarre has helped hold things together. Fun fact: He's married to former Edina tennis standout Whitney Taney. Both were college athletes at the University of Michigan.
After hitting a Major League-leading 15 triples as a rookie in 2015, Rosario hasn’t hit more than two in a season since then. But he’s traded three-baggers for bombas, topping 30 home runs for the first time in his career this season.
Wade has a knack for drawing walks and getting on base, as his career .389 on-base percentage in the minor leagues will attest. He can also wreak havoc on the basepaths. It sounds like a skill set more suited to the Twins' "Piranhas" of the last decade, but Wade has been a useful player since his call-up.
Arguably the team MVP even though he doesn't play the field. It becomes increasingly difficult to top your age with your home run total, but the 39-year-old Cruz has defied the odds once again this season. He ties the whole lineup together, like The Dude’s rug in “The Big Lebowski.”
Photos from Star Tribune staff photographers and The Associated Press.