During Sunday’s contest between the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles, former Twin and current radio personality Dan Gladden brought made an interesting comment. He suggested that Paul Molitor had mentioned wanting a seven man bullpen, that featured two left-handed throwers. Should this come to fruition, the Twins would likely have a roster shuffling scenario to consider.
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While it’s fair that Gladden sometimes offers some interesting points on air, like any time he over values the weight of wins as a statistic to determine a pitcher’s ability, the bullpen construction is a good talking point regardless. Whether or not the Twins do end up going with a seven man bullpen, featuring two lefties, or not remains to be seen. A seven man bullpen would imply that Molitor would be choosing to head north with 13 bats at his disposal.
On top of understanding that seven bullpen spots would be open, we can effectively cross a few of them off of the list. First and foremost, both Glen Perkins and Casey Fien can be considered locks at the back-end of games, this takes our list to five. From there, one left already penciled into the pen would be Brian Duensing. After signing a tender with the Twins, he is expected to once again provide a strong left-handed presence in relief.
From there is where things get tricky.
There are now just four spots remaining in the Twins bullpen, and if Molitor prefers one of them to be left-handed, only three would remain for the righties. On the 40 man roster, only Caleb Thielbar, Logan Darnell, Jason Wheeler, and Aaron Thompson represent left-handed bullpen options. Of those, Theilbar is probably viewed as the most ideal fit. Leaving just three openings, with free agent Tim Stauffer likely to command one, the Twins have some tough decisions to make.
Mike Pelfrey, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, J.R. Graham, Michael Tonkin, and Ryan Pressly represent the most likely candidates for the final two roles. Adding in names like Stephen Pryor and Lester Oliveros could further complicate things. Even removing both Meyer and May, assuming they start down in Triple-A Rochester’s rotation, would still leave a slew of players competing for just two roles.
No matter what happens with the Twins bullpen, I think it’s probably safe to say that of all the competitions on the roster, this one has the most suitors. Unfortunately for competing pitchers, Spring Training stats probably matter to a higher extent, and whomever can distance themselves from the pack likely ends up laying claim to relief innings at Target Field.
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