Minnesota Twins: Who Gets Through The Bullpen Logjam?

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The Minnesota Twins have been relatively active this offseason. In bringing back fan favorite, as well as signing a solid starting pitcher in Ervin Santana, Minnesota has shown they are not at all afriad to spend money. Couple that with the extension of Phil Hughes, as well as the smaller minor league deals, and the Twins appear poised for a turnaround year in their first under new manager Paul Molitor. Looking at the 25 man roster breakdown however, it appears there may not be enough pitching spots to go around. That begs the question, who gets left out?

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While just a projection, our 25 man roster looks relatively solid. Although it is likely not going to be 100% correct, I think it’s fair to assume that the totals for positional players and pitchers are accurate. With that in mind, there should be seven bullpen spots open, and there are more arms than that competing for those spots.

Obviously that leaves a handful of guys as the odd man out, the question is, who are they? Let’s take a look…

The Locks:

Each of these three guys is essentially guaranteed a spot in the 2015 bullpen for the Twins to start out the year. Perkins remains the closer, and despite a down end to 2014, bouncing back from injury should make Glen a prime candidate for a return to dominance in the new year. Casey Fien has established himself as an electric setup man, and has provided stability in the 8th inning as a bridge pitcher to the eventual incoming of Perkins. Finally, Duensing was tendered a contract this offseason, in which the Twins all but said he was a part of their immediate plans. As a lefty, he provides added bullpen value as well.

Looking at the three names above, I find little reason to believe that any of them could be on the outside looking in as the Twins break from Fort Myers. Let’s move on to some more on the edge options…

Up In the Air:

This grouping of guys may be the trickiest to figure out. I think Thielbar is probably closer to a lock than he is up in the air at this point. However, as relievers are relatively easy to generate, he could find himself in a fluid situation. Graham comes to the Twins through the Rule 5 Draft from the Braves. He must remain on the 25 man roster all season unless the Twins want to offer something back to Atlanta, or have Graham given back to the Braves.

Pelfrey makes this grouping for me because of the monetary commitment he carries. This season he is owed $5.5 million in the last of a two-year deal. He is no longer reliable as a starter, but he could be a Wade Davis type out of the bullpen if there is enough left in the tank. Finally, coming to Stauffer, the Twins grabbed the former Padres pitcher for a reason. Despite saying they would give him a chance to win a starting spot, I don’t see that happening. If Stauffer is going to make the Twins roster, it will be through the bullpen.

Now we find ourselves with seven spots already claimed, and we have some glaring names missing. Let’s take a look at those on the outside looking in…

Outside Looking In:

First off, note that this list could probably include even a couple more names, but the fact that it has five and no spots remain on the roster speaks volumes for the Twins pitching situation. For the first time in a while, Minnesota has plenty of options.

Looking at “starters” first, both Meyer and May seem to be odd fits for the bullpen. It appears the Twins will commit the 5th spot in the rotation to Tommy Milone out of the gate, leaving Meyer out in the cold. Molitor has said he could start the year in the bullpen with starting being the long-term plan, but I have a tough time seeing who he would overtake. Rochester is obviously going to need starters too, and while it appears May is destined for Triple-A to start the year, it would be disheartening to see him joined by Meyer.

Just yesterday, the Twins signed Boyer, another former Padre, to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Boyer has the opportunity to force himself onto the 25 man roster and into the pen, but he will have to outproduce a handful of other guys to do so.

Duffey, as well as Jose Berrios, have been given non-roster invites to spring training by the Twins. Both are starters and will remain as such. If for some reason Duffey is forced into action out of spring training, it would likely be through the bullpen. I don’t see that happening, and he should start the year with the Red Wings.

Finally, the Twins return for dealing Kendrys Morales to the Mariners, Pryor. A reliever for all of his career, he could be stretched into a longer relief role if need be. I think he probably is destined for Triple-A as well, but he could force himself into action for the Twins with a strong start to the year on the farm.

No matter who fills out the likely seven spots for the Twins bullpen, it is exciting as a Twins Territorian to see that for the first time in a while, the options are plenty, and quality appears to be there. Look for spring training to decide many of these final roster battles.

Next: Projecting Your Minnesota Twins 2015 Opening Day Lineup

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