The Minnesota Twins made some big moves at the 2022 MLB trade deadline to solidify their roster in hopes of making a run to win the American League Central as the season makes it’s way down the homestretch. Pitchers Tyler Mahle, Michael Fulmer, and Jorge Lopez all were brought on to fill a specific role, and for the most part, they have done that so far.
That hasn’t prevented the Twins from losing their grasp a top the AL Central, and they currently sit 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Guardians in their division. They are also a half game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the final wild card spot in the AL, meaning the Twins are at risk of missing the playoffs entirely if they don’t turn things around.
The good news is that there is still time for Minnesota to make a playoff push. But in order to do that, they are going to need to make a couple of moves to ensure that they that don’t fall any further behind the Guardians in their divisional race. Here are a pair of moves the Twins need to make in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
2 moves the Minnesota Twins need to make
2. Promote Simeon Woods Richardson
The Twins farm system isn’t among the best in the MLB, which is a big reason why it’s so important they start figuring out how to make it to the playoffs. Their only prospect in the top 100 list right now is Royce Lewis, who tore his ACL for the second straight season, meaning there aren’t too many potential reinforcements in the minors for Minnesota.
Maybe their only potential call up from the minors is Simeon Woods Richardson. The Twins fourth overall prospect came over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios trade from the 2021 MLB trade deadline, and he may be nearing a promotion to the Twins major league squad.
After struggling last season at Double-A, Woods Richardson has made some serious strides forward in 2022. He’s spent the entire season with the Witchita Wind Surge, and has shown his potential all season long. Woods Richardson has a 2-3 record with a 3.02 ERA and 67 strikeouts for the Wind Surge this season, starting in all but one of his 15 appearences.
Woods Richardson profiles as a starter down the line, but he may be best served starting out in Minnesota’s bullpen this season before making the jump to the rotation in the future. Despite not having pitched at Triple-A, many evaluators believe that Woods Richardson is ready to make the leap to the majors now, and he could help a Twins pitching staff that is still short on talented arms.
1. Send Dylan Bundy to the bullpen
The Twins starting rotation had been looking for a fifth starter most of the season when Bailey Ober was forced to the injured list with a long-term injury in early June. That’s why they picked up Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, and for the most part, it has helped shore up their rotation to this point.
But there is still a pretty clear weak link in the rotation in Dylan Bundy. Bundy has easily been the Twins worst starter this season, as he sports an ugly 5.01 ERA over 19 starts. This is after the 2021 season he spent with the Los Angeles Angels in which he had a 6.06 ERA. Bundy clearly isn’t fit to be a starter in a playoff team’s starting rotation, and Minnesota cannot afford to keep sending him out every fifth day at this point in their season.
With Ober still a few weeks away from a return, it limits Minnesota’s options. They could see if the previously mentioned Woods Richardson can do any better than Bundy, or they could bring Devin Smeltzer back to the majors after he was sent to Triple-A to accomadate for the return of Chris Archer. Smeltzer has a 4.02 ERA over 12 starts this season, but he began to fall apart towards the end of his initial stint with the team, which led to his demotion.
Whatever the solution may be, it’s clear that Dylan Bundy needs to be relegated to the bullpen at some point soon. He’s been a weak spot in the Twins starting rotation all season long, and he may have value in shorter-inning outings out of the bullpen. It’s clear that Ober will be taking a spot in the rotation back once he comes off the injured list anyways, so the Twins may as well try to find a better temporary solution than Bundy while they wait for Ober to make his return from injury.