With each Twins loss in a 12-23 start that is as disappointing as it was unexpected, the math gets harder to reconcile.
At this point, the Twins would have to play at a .543 clip the rest of the way — an 88-win pace over a full season — just to finish .500 for the season.
And that sort of finish almost certainly wouldn't be good enough to make the playoffs, which is the first step in a stated 2021 goal of competing for a World Series.
I talked about the freshest losses — a three-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox that left the Twins 10 games back in the division race — with Twins beat writer Megan Ryan on Friday's Daily Delivery podcast.
While the season is just 35 games old, with 127 left to play, a number from Stathead shows just how dire things are already: Only one team in the Wild Card era, which encompasses 26 seasons from 1995-2020, has rallied to make the postseason after losing at least 23 of its first 35 games.
That team was the 2005 Astros, who rallied not just to make the playoffs as a Wild Card but also to reach the World Series (where they lost to the White Sox). That Astros team, however, stacked up Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte at the top of its rotation, a recipe for several long winning streaks even after Houston sunk to a 15-30 record through 45 games.
No offense to Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda, but they are not of the same caliber as the other trio. When you examine how the Twins have lost 23 of 35 games, with a combination of starting pitching woes, bullpen meltdowns and offensive silence — all of which contributed to losses in Chicago — it's just hard to picture a dramatic turnaround.
As such, the question is this: How long should the Twins wait to try to turn their season around before fielding meaningful trade offers?
During the sweep in Chicago, Twins GM Thad Levine indicated the Twins aren't at the point of selling yet — nor should they be.
But look: They have six home games starting Friday against the division-leading A's and White Sox. If things go poorly enough during this stretch, it might be time to reconsider that stance.
Pineda, J.A. Happ and Nelson Cruz are veterans on expiring contracts who could at least fetch mid-level prospects in return. Moving someone like Berrios, with whom the Twins have failed to negotiate a long-term contract, would indicate a larger-scale retooling of the roster but could bring in a more significant haul.
That we are talking about such things so early in the season is obviously an indication of just how poorly things have gone.
But even if Levine is correct in being patient while waiting for underperforming players to return to previous levels, it's hard to see a clear path to .500 let alone the postseason.