Minnesota Twins: Bullpen Implosion May Be Sign of Things to Come
The Minnesota Twins bullpen entered the 6th inning of a tie game last night, and left the game in a blow out after giving up 12 runs in four innings.
After coming off 103 losses in 2016, and losing over 90 games in five out of the last six seasons, the Minnesota Twins bullpen was one of the main areas to address this off-season. They ranked dead last in the American League in bullpen ERA.
How did the Twins address this need in the winter? By signing veterans Matt Belisle and Craig Breslow, and by picking up Justin Haley in the Rule 5 draft.
To make matters worse, former All-Star closer Glen Perkins does not appear likely to make it back on the mound soon, as he is still on the 60 day DL. Also, don’t forget their best bullpen arm last season, Trevor May, is out for the year due to Tommy John.
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The Twins are off to a strong start to the 2017 season, partly due to contributions from their bullpen. This is despite the lack of strong Free Agent acquisitions. Tyler Duffey has been a great addition being converted as a starter. Taylor Rogers has been solid despite his poor inning last evening. Also, Brandon Kintzler has yet to give up a run.
However, if 2016 is any indicator of the future, this trend will likely turn into a mirage. Eight of thirteen pitchers in the bullpen currently have ERA’s over 4, most significantly so.
If this was the teams most pressing need in 2017, why didn’t the Twins do more in Free Agency?
This wasn’t a particularly strong free agent class according to MLB hot stove, but it did contain names that could help the Twins. Of course the team wasn’t going to sign elite closers like Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, especially with more teams focused on their bullpen.
However, the Minnesota Twins did not sign anyone on the top 15 free agent list. Names like Brad Ziegler or Greg Holland were available at moderate prices. Both signed for eight and seven million dollars respectively. By the way, both have ERA’s under 2.00 currently.
We will need some help from our youngsters.
For years now we have been hearing how loaded our farm system has become. Not just with talent like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, but with talent like Jake Reed, Nick Burdi and J.T. Chargois. These prospects were supposed to become high end relievers. All three can throw heat in the high 90’s, and have high strike out rates.
Tyler Jay just transitioned into the bullpen for good, which makes his path to the big league a bit easier. A number one draft pick because of his big arm and closing experience is something this team could use.
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The only question now is, will the bullpen implode like it has in previous seasons or will our young guns finally develop to save the day?