Twins all-in on pinch hitting this season. Results have been OK

16 July 2023

OAKLAND, Calif. — Heading into their series finale at Oakland Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, the Twins had 107 pinch-hit plate appearances, second to Detroit’s 110. Their 99 at-bats led baseball, and were just five fewer than last year’s total of 104.

Twins pinch-hitters have provided some big moments this season, but overall it’s been, by MLB standards, a middling performance.

“We’d probably like to get better results out of it, but we’re just trying to get the guys up there that match up best at certain points of the game,” manager Rocc Baldelli said. “I wouldn’t call it great, but I think it’s something that makes sense and we’re going to keep doing it.”

Joey Gallo and Edouard Julien have two of the Twins three pinch-hit home runs this season, both of them game-winners, and Julien hit a go-ahead double in Friday’s 5-4 victory over Oakland.

Julien is 2 for 8 as a pinch hitter this season but that’s six total bases and two go-ahead RBIs — not bad for a guy that had never done it before making his major league debut this season. While at Auburn and in the minors, the left-handed second baseman either started or had a day off.

“I want to be more aggressive in some opportunities, when there’s runners on base and a new pitcher, just trying to get a hit,” Julien said. “But I try to be smart and not think too much.”

Combined, Twins batters started Sunday hitting .182 in a pinch, 12th in baseball. For reference, Miami is first with a .333 batting average in 62 plate appearances, and San Diego is last (.111) with 76 PAs. Minnesota’s best hitters in a pinch — with at least eight at-bats — have been Donovan Solano (6 for 20), Alex Kirilloff (3 for 9), Nick Gordon (3 for 10) and Julien.

“You’re trying to create some sort of benefit for your team when you’re doing it, even if you know the chore itself is difficult,” Baldelli said.

Injury updates

Second baseman Jorge Polanco, limited to just 30 games this season because of two separate hamstring injuries, was slated to begin a rehab assignment by batting DH on Sunday in St. Paul. He will stay with the Saints for a six-game series at Omaha and, if all goes well, could return for a three-game series against Seattle starting July 24 at Target Field.

An MRI exam on Jose Miranda’s right shoulder revealed an impingement, Twins head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta said. He is scheduled to receive a platelet rich plasma injection in the shoulder and then be shut down “at least a week to kinda let that do its thing.”

Left-hander Caleb Thielbar (oblique) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session in St. Paul on Sunday that went “great,” Paparesta said, and is scheduled to throw live BP on Saturday when the Twins are host to the White Sox at Target Field.

Right-hander Brock Stewart, outstanding since making the team on a minor league contract this season, is still playing long toss. He’s on the 15-day IL with elbow soreness.

Jose De Leon, injured while warming up for a relief appearance June 24 at Detroit, is scheduled for season-ending Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. The Twins expect Jorge Alcala, on the 60-day injured list with a stress fracture in his right forearm, to pitch again this season. “He is continuing his throwing progression,” Paparesta said.

Need help?

If you need support, please send an email to [email protected]

Thank you.