American League Preview and Free Pick: Tigers vs Twins

American League Preview and Free Pick 

Here we are at the crossroads in Major League Baseball. The final five days of the regular season. At a point when neither team is as focused ad five days into the season but much more comfortable in their job and just as important for 95-plus percent of big leaguers, there is some normal in the headlights/ American League Preview and Free Pick: Tigers vs Twins

It is the final Monday, the final week of work, before taking some much need time away from the daily grind of life as a professional baseball player.

Minnesota’s situation is a bit different than that of Detroit but they too are comfortable knowing they are postseason bound and without the pressure of a nine-inning play-in scenario. These two American League Central foes experienced much different types of seasons in 2019. The one thing both have in common is that on Sunday the regular slate of the MLB campaign will come to a close.  After eight months of traveling and nearly 120 days of living out of a hotel room and sleeping in a strange bed, the Tigers players receive a much-deserved vacation.

The Twins regular season ends Sunday, as well, but the group of Minnesota pitchers and position players would like to keep play catch for a bit longer.

American League Preview and Free Pick: Tigers vs Twins
 Gameday Vitals

(965) Minnesota Twins at (966) Detroit Tigers
Starting Pitchers: Dobnak vs Norris

Line: Twins (Dobnak) -195, 9.5
Venue: Comerica Park, Detroit Michigan
Weather/Wind: 10-15 mph winds blowing from the leftfield corner to the rightield corner”
Scheduled home plate umpire. Ramon De Jesus (pitcher-friendly)

Minnesota Twins

Dobnak is an after school special. He is a short story, a 30-30 type narrative that I would enjoy writing about but I will fight the urge. I will give you a brief synopsis of the undrafted right-hander. Dobnak received one DI scholarship and a pair of DII. He took the DII and went unnoticed as a middling college pitcher that is equal to Low-A ball.

A kid that can throw a baseball in the mid-90s’ isn’t as rare as it used to be. With technology and the understanding of rotation,, Nolan Ryan velocity-type guys are much more prevalent.

A kid that can throw a baseball in the mid-’90s, a one-seamer, without above-average spin rate, and throw that 93-95 mph single seam sinker for strikes which induce ground balls is not common. Toss in the mental variable of what it takes, really (repeat this like a kid does when attempting to be descriptive with his tale — as in… when my youngest son was a young teenager was inviting me into his orbit, the only way he knew too, and that was being passionate while selling his story, feelings if you will. “Dad, it is really really really really cool, you and I have to go and see it.”

Most, and I use the word “most” loosely, 18-year olds are excited to be playing minor league ball. They understand that it is essentially their four-years of college before either moving on to an MLB professorship or into real life. What it takes for an 18-year old to manage life as a minor leaguer isn’t nearly as difficult as it is for a 22-years and/or older adult/kid. The 18-year old is getting paid to play.

Life on the Farm

The 22-year old that is essentially a senior in college falls into one of three categories. A blooming prospect that may well have already had a cup of coffee with the mothership and is waiting his turn. A 22-year old that has for the last four years traveled in a bus, spent a third of his life in a Motel-8 and his closest relationships are with his peers, the other franchise employees, that irritate the shit out of him, each other, for the better part of 9 months of the year. But these guys are desperately want to know what it feels like to have the skill set to reach into the sky, grab the corner of a cloud, and really really really really have that warm sensation of having achieved all the while enjoying view from above.

Yes, all of the cliche’s could have followed that last paragraph. There is something to be said and felt, of having achieved, and enjoying the view (which isn’t just a term used for the sense of sight) and all that comes along with it.

It is — if treated with respect — Good to be King

There is also the largest contingent of kids that don’t have the skill set or the ability to self-sacrifice and want a life that is everything a minor league baseball player isn’t. The definition of normal, of course, is another discussion, one that you surely don’t want me to attempt to pen. This group chooses to leave the playground and enter the daily grind of life of being a soldier for an over-the-top capitalist and the politically corrupted.

From the Farm to Fire

Dobnak has developed into a Major League pitcher. This, in, the true sense of the word. His swing and miss ratio was never at a level that allowed him the success that many of his teammates were able to reach. He developed, both in mind and in-body (muscle memory) and developed a sinker that allows him to mitigate his lack of that “it”, the stuff an elite pitcher possesses in his arm and his grip.

Dobnak , not two-seamer, but one seamer, is a sinker that checks in in the neighborhood of 92-93 mph. He can, if he so chooses, reach 96 or 97 mph, but with that violent delivery, he loses a percentage of command that is… make no mistake about this… mission-critical in being successful against professional hitters.

Dobnak has arrived at the Mothership after starting the year in High-A, but quickly moved to Double-A, and made it to Triple-A, in a matter of three months. Overall across the three levels, he has a 1.99 ERA, 1.093 WHIP. His K-rate of 22.2% is league average. His walk ratio of 5.6% better than most.



Twins Scout and Teach at a high level

The Twins, of course, are now known as one of the most progressive organizations in baseball in terms of developing pitching. Derek Falvey earned his reputation as a pitching guru through his work in Cleveland’s organization, where he played a key role in developing pitchers like Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Kohl Stewart, Martin Perez, and others have talked positively about the impact the Twins’ player development and field staff has had on their success. Dobnak may be another example.

As pedestrian as the current Twins pitching staff is, as a whole, the organization has a terrific team of scouts and teachers/coaches, who know a diamond in the rough when they see it. And if that coal can be converted, the Twins are a staff of savvy scouts and teacher-coaches that can.

And if you are wondering how an average big league pitcher, e.g. Odorizzi, can have a career year it is because the Twins have a team that put their player personnel in a positin to have an edge before they toe the rubber. A pitcher for the Twins is well versed. He goes to class every day between starts. He knows a hitter’s hot zones, cold zones, whether they’ll swing at a backdoor breaking ball, fastball up, etc. Having access to this can be the difference in a player being one of the zombies that have left the playground to join corporate American or a guy making 3 million a year as an MLV back of the rotation starter.

Can a sinkerball pitcher survive the current MLB environment?

Dobnak isn’t going to win a Cy. He isn’t going to be featured on ESPN every fifth day. He is, however, in line to be a back of the rotation starter at the Big League level, earning a great, not good, deal of money with the responsibility of… [drum roll please] hanging out on the playground playing catch.

“Personally, I think I’m close, but you never really know,” he said. “I can’t control any of that besides just doing what I can for myself, and if they were to give me a shot, I’m all for it. I can see it happening, which is crazy to think about when two years ago I was undrafted and going to Indy ball. I’m just enjoying the ride.”

Dobnak was stretched out in his last two starts. He was successful in those ventures versus Cleveland on Sept. 15 and Kansas City last week. The 24-year-old is also getting married this Saturday. Yes, the final weekend of the big league season. Let’s give him a pass on this decision that only a mental midget would make. When scheduling the wedding hs minor league season would have been completed. And where he is now is not where he believed he would be today. Again, this kid was pithing High-A ball just a handful of months ago.

Detroit Tigers

Norris is pitching the lead in the team’s “opener” role tonight. He has been removed after three innings in each of the last eight appearances. This for the purpose of limiting his workload. As a result, his winless streak has increased to nine appearances/starts.

The oddsmakers are not to be underestimated. They are not to be looked at or spoken of in a negative fashion. As soon as you believe you know more than they – is the day regression begins eating away at your sportsbook bankroll.  You will suffer from the regression of Kharma. A virus that is oh-so-hard to get well from.

The scheduled home plate umpire tonight is Ramon De Jesus. In his last 15 responsibilities of calling balls and strikes, grading pitchers pitches.. the UNDER has cashed at a 12-3-1 clip.

De Jesus’ K-Zone gets bigger as the game continues. I classify De Jesus as pitcher-friendly with his K-Zone having over 5 percent more balls — that called strikes — than that of the average MLB umpire… one that has a 2.65 K:BB ratio.

A strong wind at Comerica tonight is blowing from left to right field, a crosswind, making left-handed hitters warning track or deeper fly balls, cans of corn.

Free Pick

Free Pick is a play UNDER the TOTAL of 9.5 runs


American League Preview and Free Pick: Tigers vs Twins


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American League Preview and Free Pick: Tigers vs Twins