The Twins’ Bomba Squad is Setting Records. Can the Indians Slow Them Down?
The Bomba Squad. It’s a whole thing. Search #BombaSquad on Twitter and you’ll be bombarded with a plethora of gifs and celebratory Tweets. You see, the Bomba Squad has taken Major League Baseball by storm with an extreme use of force.
For the next four days it will be up to the Cleveland Indians to find a way to stop them.
The Minnesota Twins have ridden the long ball all the way to the top of the AL Central Standings. Their 224 home runs are the most in baseball this year. This comes as a surprise to mostly everyone considering that the Twins have routinely struggled in the power department over the years.
In fact, Twins aren’t just hitting home runs at a historic pace. They’ve scored the third most runs in all of baseball, trailing only the Yankees and Red Sox. The Twins have the fourth best team batting average at .270. Their team OPS+ of 118 is sandwiched right between the Yankees and Astros for second best in baseball. They are an offensive behemoth.
|CF||Byron Buxton (10-day IL)||25||295||271||48||71||30||4||10||46||19||68||.262||.314||.513||.827||114|
|UT||Willians Astudillo (10-day IL)||27||142||133||19||35||7||0||3||13||2||5||.263||.282||.383||.665||74|
|Rank in 15 AL teams||3||3||2||2||9||1||10||5||4||4||1||1|
The Twins have made no apologies about how they are treating opposing pitching. They have five 20+ home run hitters and should easily have eight by season’s end. They could even have four to five 30+ home run hitters. Target Field has become a bandbox.
The Twins have achieved the type of lineup most teams dream about. They are deep, hit for power throughout, and are able to wear down opposing pitchers early and often by grinding out quality at bats. It’s a struggle one through nine.
What’s most surprising about the Twins are the players leading the charge. For years, it was assumed Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano would become the faces of the franchise and lead the team to greater glory. While both have had solid years, it’s been other names who have ascended to super stardom. Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, and Mitch Garver. All are home grown talents that has suddenly taken the Twins from a feel good story for 2019 and transformed them into a potential powerhouse for the next five years.
Then there is Nelson Cruz. At 38 years of age he was a nice veteran signing for a team that was in need of some veteran leadership. All he has done is turn into the second coming of Barry Bonds. Cruz has always been a prolific home run hitter and has hit 35+ home runs in 5 straight seasons. But this has been, by far, his greatest season to date. He is on pace to possibly exceed his career high in home runs for a single season and is currently enjoying a 168 OPS+. Not only that, but Cruz has also hit 16 homers since the all-star break, the most in all of baseball, and has had two three-homer games in the past two weeks. He is on fire right now.
Luckily for the Indians, they have one of the greatest equalizers in baseball – quality pitching from the top of the starting rotation tot he back end of the bullpen.
The Indians pitching staff has been the best in baseball this season. They have allowed a Major League low 448 runs. Their 3.64 team ERA is the third best in the majors. They are fourth best in WHIP, 1.189, fourth best in FIP, 4.01, and fifth in strikeouts. Their ERA+ of 129, again best in the majors, indicates they have been 29% better than the league average.
Oh, and they’ve given up the sixth fewest homers. So yeah, if there is a team and a pitching staff that could shut down the Bomba Squad, look no further than the Cleveland Indians. Did we mention this has all been done without Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco for the majority of the season? Because it has, if you needed any more help being impressed.
But of course, nothing can come easy. Not for the 2019 Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe will begin the upcoming four game series in Minnesota with the two pitchers most closely resembling aces. Mike Clevinger will go tonight against Kyle Gibson followed by Shane Bieber on Friday against Devin Smeltzer. The back half of the series is when things will get interesting.
On Saturday, the Indians will send Adam Plutko to the hill against Jake Odorizzi. He’ll be followed on Sunday by Aaron Civale, owner of two career starts, for what could be the biggest game of the year for the Indians to date. The Twins will send Cy Young candidate Jose Berrios. No pressure or anything. Go gettem, rook.
If the Indians can find a way to make it to the late stages of the game with a lead, that is when their real advantage takes hold. Nick Wittgren, Oliver Perez, and Brad Hand have all been nearly unhittable. Give them the lead and it’s virtually light’s out.
So what’s going to happen this weekend? How should I know? The Indians could roll to a four game sweep and take over the division. Clevinger and Bieber could struggle while Plutko and Civale shine. The Indians could get torn to pieces by a team that is looking to take back their once firm grip on the AL Central. No matter how it shakes out though, it should be fun. We’re in a pennant race. These are games that matter.
Let’s go stop the Bomba Squad!