Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twins Mix-and-Match Lineup

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The Twins are four games into the 2011 season and they have yet to field the same lineup in back-to-back games. These shifts in the batting order for the Twins can signify a few different things.

First of all the Twins have a few players that are still struggling to find their swings. Yesterday, I wrote about the "Lessons Learned from Opening Weekend." The middle of the lineup has some rust from the games that each of them missed in Spring Training. Mauer, Morneau, Young, and Cuddyer all have struggled at different points to start the year.

Secondly the Twins have a lot of good players that Gardenhire wants to get at-bats, so all of the players are staying fresh. The Twins have ten players that can be considered their regulars: Span, Nishioka, Mauer, Morneau, Young, Kubel, Cuddyer, Valencia, Casilla, and Thome. This means that the Twins are going to have one of these ten players on the bench for any given day.

These pre-season injuries and the struggles thus far have lead to Gardenhire to shake-up his lineup in every game this season. But are these differences in the batting order a good idea or will they lead to players not being able to gain a rhythm at the plate?

In the Opening Game of the Toronto series the Twins had a decent amount of hits but it only lead to three runs. The 3-4-5 hitters (Mauer, Morneau, and Young) also struggled going 2-12 in the first game. The team ended up losing by double digits so more production was definitely needed from those spots in the order.

The second game saw Kubel getting a rest and Thome taking his place. This lineup struggled mightly against the young pitcher, Kyle Drabek, as they only managed one hit and one run. Once again the heart of the order struggled to find their swings going 0-8 in the game.

Mauer was not part of the line-up for the series finale in Toronto and that meant a revamped team on the field. Some of he changes in the field were Morneau moved to DH, Cuddyer played 1B, and Kubel got the start in RF. Once again the middle of the lineup found struggles in the batter's box. Young, Morneau, and Cuddyer went 2-13 in the Twins first win of the year.

Last night's game saw the Twins turn to a very left-handed lineup to face the young right-handed pitcher, Ivan Nova. This meant that Cuddyer was the odd man out. The middle order batters for the Twins compiled three hits for the first time this year but each player had some bad at-bats that could have been difference makers in a close game.

The Twins will face a dominant lefty tonight, so there is a good chance that Gardenhire will pencil in a different look to the Twins batting order for the fifth consecutive game to start the 2011 season.

Will the Twins be able to be successful with these continual changes in the lineup?

What is the best line-up that the Twins can field on a given day?

Leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts.

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