The defending World Series champs are in town to play some cold-weather baseball against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. How do the pitching staffs line up between the Twins and Astros? Derek Wetmore is in the 1500ESPN studios to talk baseball with Phil Mackey and Chris Long.
-How bullpens are evolving around baseball
-A sign of progress for the Twins
-Max Kepler benched in a key spot; should he have to earn his keep in the lineup?
Who’s side are you on?
Mackey: So at what point do you say, ‘Kepler, sorry, you’re just not going to face left-handed pitching, period?’
Wetmore: No, no no I’m not there yet.
Mackey: Because that’s what Paul Molitor just said.
Wetmore: No, that’s not true. If he was saying that, he wouldn’t face lefties in Pittsburgh, but he did. He gets a hit off Smoker – a key hit for the Twins in that series. I think you have to pick your spots with Max Kepler, but you cannot, in this season, prioritize development over winning if you’re the Twins, I don’t care which player you’re talking about. Byron Buxton might be a superstar. But you have to prioritize winning every single game this year, given that your postseason window is now open. You don’t have the luxury of the 2016 Twins: ‘Well, let’s just roll this guy out, let’s see what Kenny Vargas can do for 400 plate appearances.’ That’s over.
This Twins team needs to take every game seriously to win. And I think in that spot, the math says Robbie Grossman. … Optimal lineup strategy there says Robbie Grossman against whoever the next reliever that they pick, is better than lefty Max Kepler against lefty killer Marc Rzepcynski. I think there’s something to be said for, Grossman, tough spot, for sure. Pinch-hitting is never easy; pinch-hitting in 30 degrees is not easy, but that’s why Robbie Grossman is on this team: To go get a favorable matchup late in a game.