Payroll-cutting, strikeout-prone Twins no match for big-spending Dodgers (2024)

The Los Angeles Dodgers demonstrated the issue between huge markets and the rest of the major league world in mid-December, spending $700 million to sign superstar Shohei Ohtani and then $325 million to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a starting pitcher who had dominated recent Japanese baseball.

This was more than $1 billion dollars for a team that was swept 3-0 in a National League Division Series by the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks last October. At the same time, the Twins, who lost in an American League Division Series by 3-1 to Houston, flinched at the idea of signing their co-star starter, Sonny Gray, who received a three-year, $75 million free-agent contract from St. Louis.

The Twins reduced payroll from their all-time high of $164 million last season to a current $126 million, a business decision that they chose to announce in advance in a spectacular marketing blunder.

The Ohtani signing came Dec. 11 and the Yamamoto signing Dec. 22. What was demonstrated Tuesday night at Target Field is what happened Dec. 16 could have as much impact on a potential Dodgers drive through October as the signings of the Japanese stars.

Tyler Glasnow, a righthanded starter with a significant injury history but "stuff'' when healthy that's close to unmatched, was sitting there waiting to get plucked away from the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Glasnow was due to make $25 million in 2024, which shouted to all teams that he was available for a trade, which only would make sense if there was also an extension to keep him out of free agency.

Here came the Dodgers — $25 million for this season, no problem, and then a four-year, $110 million extension, also no problem.

The most popular quote to be heard on Glasnow, when throwing at his best, is this: "I don't know how anyone hits him.''

Unstoppable forces met Tuesday night at Target Field, those being Glasnow's fastball, slider and curveball and the Twins' spectacular ability to strike out.

A year ago, the Twins set a major league record by committing 1,654 strikeouts. It's too early to state emphatically these Twins can challenge that record, but the work on this winless first homestand (0-4) has been impressive: 15,14 and 15 Ks, with an outlier of a mere seven in Monday night's loss to the Dodgers.

Those two strikeout displays last week vs. Cleveland were a tribute to lousy hitting. The 15 Ks on Tuesday night were based more on the fabulous, now-healthy right arm of Glasnow.

He went seven innings and had 14 strikeouts in 88 pitches. Since baseball started tracking pitches fully in 1988, that is the fewest pitches required to reach 14 strikeouts for a pitcher.

That's by any pitcher in the big leagues in 36 seasons — and maybe ever.

Glasnow was not surprised to learn that he had 14 strikeouts. "I had them all tallied up,'' he said, admitting that he keeps track in his head of the number of strikeouts as a game progresses.

The 14 tied his career high. Did he want another?

"I'm happy with 14,'' he said.

Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers struck out only once vs. Glasnow, and after he left, Jeffers hit a home off reliever Alex Vesia in the 6-3 loss. Asked about Glasnow, Jeffers said:

"We faced him last year with Tampa. It just felt different today. Whether there are some tweaks he made once he got to the Dodgers, (or) him having a good day, that's one of those days where you tip your cap and say he was better than all of us today …

"Except, Austin. Props to him.''

Rookie Austin Martin started in left field, batting ninth, and had two of the three hits off Glasnow … both doubles.

"He blended his stuff really well,'' Jeffers said. "You try to be on one pitch, and he'd slow you down with something else, or speed you up. It was a good tip-your-cap day.''

The true tip of the cap goes to the Dodgers, saying: "Yes, we're getting billion dollars' worth of Japanese talent (proven and anticipated), but Glasnow is also out there, and we'll seize him, too.''

Life ain't fair in big league baseball, and wait until you see Bobby Miller, 6-5, 220, for L.A. on Wednesday afternoon. He throws rockets.

Payroll-cutting, strikeout-prone Twins no match for big-spending Dodgers (2024)


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