I’ll save most of the dorky details and nerdy numbers for my Twins-focused blog, but Minnesota has started to dig out of its huge early hole by recovering from an MLB-worst 17-36 start through May 31 to go 14-3 so far in June.
Run prevention has been the biggest key, as none of the six pitchers to start a game for the Twins this month has an ERA above 3.00 and the bullpen has combined for a 1.81 ERA and .195 opponents’ batting average. Overall the Twins have allowed just 2.5 runs per game in June after finishing May with the worst ERA in the league.
And they’re scoring more runs too, as the lineup has produced a respectable 4.5 runs per game this month after ranking dead last in the league with 3.5 runs per game through two months. Add it all up and you get a team winning 14 of 17 games after winning just 17 of their first 53 games, as Minnesota has cut Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central from 16.5 games to 8.0 games in a little more than two weeks.
They’re still eight games below .500 with the league’s second-worst record, but the Twins are breathing again.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.