Here are three thoughts from LEN3 following the Twins loss to the White Sox:
Wait and see: Stephen Gonsalves has been one of the Twins top 10 pitching prospects for a few years. He's put up good numbers in the minors, as manager Paul Molitor noted that Gonsalves had given up only 65 hits in 100.1 innings at Rochester this season.
But excelling in the minors as a finesse lefty is one thing. Doing it on the major league level is another. And he found that out tonight in his major league debut. I'll give the Twins credit with getting him to work on his slider and curveball while at Rochester. Basically, they were warning him that he would have to pitch backwards in the majors. And he tried to do that on Monday.
But several pitches were up in the zone and there were loud hits. Yes there were bloopers, but in many cases bloopers happen on pitches that needed to be lower.
"It is something I'll never feel again," Gonsalves said of his debut. "I was very excited to get out there. That first inning, couldn't have gone any better. Then the second inning, the game kind of sped up on me, and got hit around a little bit. A couple unlucky balls found holes. Kept pitching and battled but it wasn't working out for me."
The game sped up on me. That's not the first time a young pitcher has said that.
“It’s understandable," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It’s kind of amazing when you think about how much baseball you’ve played, and played at these dimensions. The mound doesn’t change, but you get out there in a different environment, a big stadium and people, and expectations and realization of a dream. It can affect people, no matter what your demeanor or makeup is. It’s something that everyone is going to respond to a little bit differently. I’m sure he’s going to learn from it. I have a lot of confidence in that. We’ll move forward. That’s what I told him. He came in and I’m sure he was a little bit upset with himself, but that’s how you learn. That’s hopefully how you get better.”
Right now the Twins have Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves trying to slow the game down. There are going to be a lot of teaching moments over these next few weeks.
Kepler goes deep again
Max Kepler is putting himself in position for a strong finish, which would be significant for someone who was batting .216 on June 27.
In 25 games before Monday, Kepler batted .268. But 11 of his 22 hits were for extra bases and he had a .362 on base percentage during that time. Add it up, and it's an .886 OPS and that isn't too shabby.
On Monday, Kepler homered for the second straight game while going 2-for-4, the other hit being a triple. His at bats are betters and he's making loud contact.
"It was good to see," Molitor said. "I'd love to see a little bit of a run by Max. He can get hot and put some hits together, extra base hits with power.  The ball off the wall was scalded and then the homer, he doesn't go that way too often in terms of home run potential to the left side of the field, but that one was driven off a high velocity fastball so that was good to see.
Can't wait for Tuesday
Jose Berrios is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA against the White Sox. Molitor was fretting after the game about how his bullpen sets up for the next two games. Remembering Berrios' success against the White Sox, I mumbled, "whatever, Berrios is going seven tomorrow." To which Molitor replied, "I'm holding you to that."
We'll see. But what makes Tuesday's game appealing is that Michael Kopech, the super prospect the White Sox got as part of the Chris Sale deal in 2016. He's hit 103 mph on the gun before, but normally tops out at 99 as he's worked on cutting down his walk rate. His strikeout rate is a dazzling 12.1 per nine innings.
It should be treat to watch this pitching matchup. These are the games that get you through the dog days of August. 

Older Post

Gonsalves makes his major league debut for Twins

Newer Post

Cave was patient, then aggressive, and it paid off with a Twins run