Minnesota Twins’ Fernando Abad: Bullpen Stalwart
Minnesota Twins’ Fernando Abad putting up great numbers in a bad bullpen
The Minnesota Twins’ bullpen has the 3rd worst ERA mark in the majors, the 4th worst WAR and the 2nd most blown saves. It’s been nothing short of a disaster so far. No lead has seemed safe.
One reliever in that ‘pen hasn’t been contributing to the awful overall performance. Fernando Abad has posted sparkling numbers so far and has been nearly the only reliever to instill confidence when he comes jogging in.
In Minnesota’s topsy-turvy bizarro season it makes sense that their best reliever so far was brought in on a minor league deal and no one was really sure what they’d get out of him.
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We profiled Abad in depth when he was signed back on December 17. Abad deserved a major league deal but in spite of the bloated reliever deals being handed out, wasn’t able to find one. The Twins did well to secure his services at such a low price.
Abad had been in the majors for 6 seasons prior to 2016 and had seen his ups and downs. 2015 was a down year for him but we predicted that he’d enjoy positive regression this year. We further predicted that if Abad made some pitch selection changes that the regression would be even greater.
The changes we suggested were to eliminate his cutter and slider and he has. According to Fangraphs’ Pitchf/x data, he hasn’t thrown any of either. He’s been relying on his better pitches and he’s been reaping the benefits. He’s been seeing many more ground balls and has walked fewer hitters.
His 2016 numbers have been sterling: 0.51 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 0.91 WHIP 8.66 K/9, 2.55 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9 and 0.9 WAR through 17.2 innings. Abad hasn’t allowed an extra base hit.
Abad has continued to display a large split. This year righties have hit .275 avg/.341 OBP off of him whereas no lefties have a hit against him (just one walk). A big difference this season is that although righties have been getting on base, they aren’t hitting for any power and he’s been striking them out frequently.
There is, of course, a long way to go in the season and things could change but Abad is off to an excellent start. If things do continue like this for him, or even close, the All-Star game would be a distinct possibility.