Current Minnesota Twins closer Brandon Kintzler just turned 32 but is in the middle of a breakout season as he has proven to be a legitimate shutdown pitcher in the ninth inning.
Currently, he has accumulated 10 saves in 11 opportunities while putting up a 0.98 WHIP and 1.98 ERA.
Those are great numbers coming from a guy who had posted an ERA under 3.00 just once before.
With that said, Kintzler was in the middle of trade rumors before the deadline and still finds his name coming up as a waiver deal candidate.
Regardless of if he stays or gets sent packing, it has been a strong season for Kintzler. Personally, I would like to see the Minnesota Twins hold onto him in case Glen Perkins runs into more injury issues in 2017.
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Perkins appeared in only two games this season before going on the Disabled List and enduring season-ending shoulder surgery.
This actually brings up a very interesting predicament for the Twins next season; one that is actually very similar to what they ran into this past Spring.
So who should close out games, the veteran All-Star Perkins or the replacement that stepped in and performed effectively in Kintzler?
Granted, this past season it was a competition between Kevin Jepsen and Perkins but the situation remains very similar.
If the Minnesota Twins hold onto Kintzler, I believe there will be a very wide open race for the closer role.
Perkins has not been fully healthy in years and – despite posting 32 saves last season – saw a significant second-half drop off, posting just four saves with a 7.32 ERA before succumbing to injuries.
Kintzler is just about as old as Perkins and saw his best year in 2013 when he had a 2.69 ERA. He’s always floated pretty consistently around the 3.00 ERA mark but struggled in 2015.
Since signing with the Minnesota Twins, Kintzler has been a strong part of the bullpen.
But does that justify him being a candidate to close in 2017?
Perhaps, but as it stands if Perkins is healthy, I foresee the Twins going with their long-time closer.
Perkins has earned that right to be considered the favorite and is signed through 2017 with a team option for 2018.
However, he may be on a shorter leash than he’s used to as any sign of struggle or health issues may cause manager Paul Molitor to make a change sooner rather than later.
With no guarantee Kintzler will even be around with the Minnesota Twins, this may all become a moot point anyway but it’s a still a conversation worth having and something that will be interesting moving forward.