Joe Mauer is coming off his best season since suffering a concussion in 2013, hitting above .300 and posting an OPS over .800 for the first time since the injury. His command of the strike zone has always been his main strength (fifth highest OBP in the AL), but his ability to put the bat on the ball had become an issue. Mauer made better contact as he reduced his strikeout rate by swinging at his fewest pitches outside of the strike zone (20.5 percent per Baseball Info Solutions) since 2009, ending an alarming rise after his concussion. He also stayed healthy as a plan to give him periodic rest early in the season appears to have paid off. Mauer remains a weak fantasy option at first base given his lack of power -- he's reached double digits in homers in just two of the last four seasons. Entering the final season of his $23 million per year contract, the Twins may feel less obligated to give him everyday duty if he struggles and he could sit against left-handers.
Mauer is not in the lineup Friday for the second day in a row, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. The Twins have clinched a postseason berth and are locked into their spot, so the veteran Mauer will be rested for the second time in as many days. Kennys Vargas will make his second straight start at first base.
Mauer is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Indians, MLBpressbox.com reports. Mauer will take the afternoon game off following 19 straight starts, as manager Paul Molitor elected to grant some of the regulars a day to rest after the Twins clinched a playoff berth due to the Angels' loss Wednesday night. In his place, Kennys Vargas will pick up a start at first base.
Mauer went 3-for-3 with a double and two walks Thursday in Kansas City. Mauer failed to record a run or RBI despite getting on base five times, as Minnesota's offense was quiet until a three-run outburst in the ninth inning propelled the team to a 4-2 win. The 34-year-old veteran is having a renaissance season at the plate, as his .306/.389/.421 line is easily Mauer's best across the board since 2013.
Mauer is not in the lineup against the Rays on Wednesday, LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune reports. With manager Paul Molitor removing all left-handed hitters from the lineup against southpaw Blake Snell, Mauer will retreat to the bench for the first time since Aug. 24. Since that date, the 34-year-old is hitting .435/.480/.630 with eight extra-base hits and five RBI. Kennys Vargas gets the nod at first base in his place.
Mauer is not in the lineup Thursday against the White Sox, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Mauer has been swinging a hot bat recently, slashing .396/.429/.509 over his last 53 at-bats, but he'll get the day off after starting nine of the last 10 games. Mitch Garver will man first base in his stead, batting fifth.