Smeltzer proving worth of bigger role on Twins’ staff
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Devin Smeltzer, Twins pitcher (⬆️ UP)
Whenever the Twins’ starting staff needs a bit of relief, Smeltzer has stepped up. He did it again Sunday afternoon. With Michael Pineda on the 10-day injured list, Smeltzer got the call against the Kansas City Royals and dazzled in his third career start, allowing just two hits and no runs over six innings en route to his first MLB win. No Royals player reached second base safely while Smeltzer was on the mound. The solid start boosted his stats to a 1-1 record, 2.28 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. While the Twins aren’t ready to insert Smeltzer has a playoff starter, he’s likely carved out a role for himself as a long relief option in the postseason. He’ll get his chance to prove himself again Friday in a key matchup against Cleveland. That Brian Dozier trade at last year’s deadline is looking better and better.
Napheesa Collier, Lynx forward (⬆️ UP)
Collier is turning out to be everything the Lynx hoped she would be … and more. With the Lynx slumping in a four-game losing streak, Collier took over Tuesday night and dropped 22 points -- her second career game with 20+ points -- along with 11 rebounds and five assists while shooting a perfect 2 for 2 from deep. The sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Collier ranks second among rookies in scoring (11.8 per game) and rebounding (6.5), and she leads all first-year players in steals (1.9).
Sergio Romo, Twins reliever (⬆️ UP)
Romo’s electric personality paired with his booming start with the Twins has won over the hearts of fans in Twins Territory. Entering Wednesday’s game, he’s been nearly perfect in four appearances (4 1/3 innings), allowing just one measly hit and no runs while whiffing four batters and walking one. In the Twins’ 3-0 win over Kansas City on Sunday, Romo threw six pitches -- all strikes -- and recorded three outs for a perfect eighth inning and set up Taylor Rogers’ 17th save of the year. And if you haven’t watched oneofourinterviews with Romo, you’re missing out.
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Jonathan Schoop, Twins second baseman (⬇️ DOWN)
It appears Schoop is the odd man out on the Bomba Squad. Signed to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million in the offseason, Schoop has been riding the pine lately. Wednesday was just his second start in August, due to a combination of his own struggles at the plate and the breakout of rookie Luis Arraez, who has put together an eye-opening .348 batting average and .419 on-base percentage in 186 plate appearances. Schoop, on the other hand, batted .262/.322/.497 with 10 homers and 29 RBI over the first two months of the season, but those numbers dipped to .242/.278/.403 with six homers and 15 RBI in June and July. So, Schoop hasn’t been terrible (well, he hasn’t been good either), it’s just that Arraez’s success has forced him out of his starting role -- likely for the rest of the season.
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Jose Berrios, Twins pitcher (⬇️ DOWN)
Berrios has been the Twins’ ace of the starting rotation all season long, and this doesn’t change that. But he was absolutely shelled by Atlanta’s lethal lineup Tuesday night for nine runs, nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings of work, dropping his record to 10-6 in Minnesota’s 12-7 loss. Berrios didn’t have his best stuff from the beginning, but it all became messy in the sixth inning when the Braves pushed six runs across with two outs. Berrios’ ERA jumped from 2.80 to 3.24 after the loss.
Nelson Cruz, Twins designated hitter (⬆️ UP)
No one in baseball is trending up more than Cruz. Since July 16th, Cruz leads all big-league hitters in home runs (15), RBI (29), slugging percentage (1.041) and OPS (1.505). He’s now batting .300/.389/.662 with 32 home runs and 76 RBI in 85 games. Cruz has now hit 30+ home runs in six straight seasons.
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