Twins Bullpen: Addition By Subtraction

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Last season, the Minnesota Twins bullpen saw some serious regression. Guys like Glen Perkins and Caleb Thielbar took some significant steps backwards, despite pitching well in recent history. It was pretty obvious that the Twins bullpen had issues in 2014, but the biggest problem was the guys that started each game.

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While the moniker that baseball begins and ends with starting pitching may be played out, no one experienced that more than the 2014 Twins. Although Phil Hughes was exceptional the greater whole that was the starting rotation just wasn’t any good. From having to run players like Yohan Pino to the mound, and watching Ricky Nolasco pitch injured, the Twins were facing an uphill battle. With the innings failing to be eaten by the starters, the Twins bullpen was one of the most overworked units in all of baseball.

Having to average more than three innings of work on a nightly basis, the relievers for the Twins rarely found themselves getting adequate rest. With starters putting up so many short outings, virtually every Twins relief pitcher found themselves donning the title of long reliever at one point or another. In 2015, the plan should be addition by subtraction.

The improvement that the 2015 Twins bullpen will see should once again start with starting pitching. In 2014, only Hughes threw over 200 innings (209.2), with Kyle Gibson coming in second throwing 179.1. This upcoming season, the Twins could very conceivably have four pitchers eclipse that mark. It should be almost guaranteed that Hughes and new addition Ervin Santana will throw over 200 innings, with a rebounding Nolasco a prime candidate as well. Throw in Gibson having his best season as a pro, and you have four guys eating innings. This is a great thing.

If the Twins want to turn around pitching problems that have plagued them over the past four years, they will have to get production they haven’t gotten. Looking at the current construction of the starting rotation, the additional innings pitched by each starter should subtract from the bullpen stress, and in turn create a better result as a whole.

You can believe that the Twins were aware of the deficiencies felt by their bullpen in 2014. Addressing the concerns through rotational help this offseason was the right move, and now the club stands to take strides forward because of it.

Next: Who Gets Through The Bullpen Logjam?

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