Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 27, Brandon Kintzler
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are just 27 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.
Today marks 27 days until Opening Day. On this day we will take a look at a player that we may not have realized how much we liked him until he was gone. This pitcher had a unique road to the majors. Now that he has arrived, he is having success. That pitcher wore number 27 for the Twins and is Brandon Kintzler.
Before the Twins
Kintzler was drafted in the 40th round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He would never pitch for the Padres. In fact, he wouldn’t pitch in 2006 and find himself in the Independent ranks by 2007. In 2009, Kintzler had his first stay in Minnesota as a member of the St. Paul Saints. There he worked mainly as a starter going 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA for the St. Paul club.
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Kintzler’s stint with the Saints grabbed the attention of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers would sign Kintzler and send him to their Double-A affiliate that summer. It was on September 10, 2010, that Kintzler would make his major league debut as a member of the Brewers. Kintzler was a good pitcher for the Brewers until 2015 when he was limited in action while struggling with injuries. It was after 2015 that the Brewers would grant Kintzler free agency leaving him free to return to a familiar place.
Kintzler with the Twins
The Twins would sign Kintzler to a minor league deal ahead of the 2016 season. Kintzler got his opportunity with the major league team when Glen Perkins went down with an injury. He would begin his tenure with the Twins as a setup man but as Kevin Jepsen struggled he would move into the closer role. Thanks mainly to his high groundball rate, over 60% in 2016, Kintzler would have plenty of success. That first season with the Twins, Kintzler pitched 54.1 innings, a 3.15 ERA, and 17 saves.
With Perkins still recovering, Kintzler opened 2017 as the Twins closer. Kintzler’s first-half numbers of 39.1 innings, a 2.29 ERA, and 24 saves led to Kintzler’s first All-Star selection. As the rest of the league was recognizing Kintzler’s value as a reliever, the Twins also hit a skid into the trade deadline. That resulted in Kintzler’s trade to the Washington Nationals where he would finish 2017.
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Kintzler has found a home in Washington pitching with the Nationals and signed a contract this offseason to continue as a part of their bullpen. Kintzler will always have a unique link back to Minnesota on his unlikely major league journey. Best of luck this season number 27, Brandon Kintzler!