The Twins have certainly had a rough start to their 2021 campaign. They are 6 games below .500, attributable in large part to an offense that has been lackluster, and a bullpen that seemed to fall apart at the worst times.
Nobody likes to make excuses, especially at this level, but we would be remiss if we didn’t also mention the rampant injuries and absences the team has had to start the year. Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson each had, or in Sano’s case, still has some time on the IL, but the biggest group of absences came with a mini COVID outbreak.
Andrelton Simmons, Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick, JT Riddle, and Caleb Thielbar missed time after testing positive, or for contact tracing after a close exposure. Before Simmons, the first positive, went on the restricted list, the team was 5-5. and went 3-10 until Kepler and Garlick came back. It’s hard not to say the roster turmoil didn’t play a part in the early season trouble.
One has to worry about the interruption for players trying to get timing and consistency at the beginning of the season, so it seems possible, perhaps even probable, that there will be lingering effects for Simmons, Kepler, Garlick or Thielbar (Riddle was designated for assignment) for the next few weeks, but there is automatic relief on defense, not only because Kepler and Simmons in particular are good fielders, but also because it provides stability for the rest of the roster, and keeps Luis Arraez out of left field.
Even better news is that this roster is too good and experienced for panic to set in. We are barely 1/8th of the way into the season, and are reaching the heat of summer. Players will sort out their early season demons, and the offense will wake up, and with vaccinations for most of the roster, there shouldn’t be any more outbreaks. Things are looking up.