@DerekWetmore: Tough break for the Indians, did you see this? Mike Clevinger is going to miss at least 6-8 weeks (upper back strain), and it could be longer than that. Phil, what if it’s happening?
@PhilMackey: Does this mean you’re reducing your projected Indians win total from 114 to 109?
In all seriousness, I look at Indians vs. Twins as a tale-of-the-tape. Starting pitching? Check mark for the Indians. Lineup, bullpen, outfield defense? Check marks for the Twins. If the Indians lose one of their key starting pitchers, all of the sudden their major advantage over the Twins starts to dissipate. Also, I mostly just wanted to use the word dissipate in this Twins G Chat.
DW: Ah, you beat me to the punch…. But yeah I guess I just don’t think about it that way. I try to think about how teams stack up compared to the competition around the whole league — how would they do in a game? A series? A 162-game series? And for that approach it’s really hard to just check a box and say they’re better here, you’re better over here; that’s great but how much better? Coming into the season I viewed 6 months of Ramirez and Lindor + that dynamite starting staff as enough to carry the division. With all that said, I think this is a BIG loss for Cleveland (in addition to already being without Lindor). Imagine if the Twins were without Berrios for 2 months. That’s kind of what this is like.
PM: I think the question you’re getting at is this: Based on events from the first two weeks of the season, do we think the Twins have a chance to usurp the Indians in the AL Central? (And yes, I’ve now used the words ‘usurp’ and ‘dissipate’ in an attempt to sound smarter than I am.) YES, the Twins do have a good chance to win the AL Central. I particularly love the professionalism of the Twins lineup. It appears there are very few, if any, weak spots. When guys like Mitch Garver and Byron Buxton are raking, the Twins will score a lot of runs. Also worth noting: The Twins took Jacob deGrom to the wood shed last night without Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano.
DW: Top-5 offense in the American League? Could be. You’re going to hate this but I’m going to walk a fence here. The beginning of the season has been GREAT for the Twins from the perspective of their internal optimism, fans rallying around this team, and the Indians drawing a couple bad cards from the deck. I also like to spend April not overreacting to things that happen. (And no, it wasn’t an overreaction when I wrote the Twins were cooked last May 1; I was right about that one.) So here’s my fence-walking summation of all this: The Twins have legitimately improved their postseason odds through April 10, and the eye test looks really good. This is shaping up to be a fun summer race with Cleveland, which is more than I would have said on Feb. 10.
PM: And, not shockingly, I’m NOT walking a fence: I went into the season saying the Twins will punch with the Indians, and everything I’ve seen in the first two weeks (#SmallSampleSize, I know) has validated that thought. Berrios is an ace. The Twins lineup takes great at-bats and hit bombs. Byron Buxton’s light bulb is flickering on. And both Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco appear to be blossoming. IF the Twins lose five in a row between now and next week, we can burn the evidence of this paragraph.