The 2018 season has started about as poorly as a season can start for the Minnesota Twins. Fortunately, we’ve only played a little more than a month’s worth of games and Minnesota has plenty of time to right the ship.
Pitching has been the Minnesota Twins Achilles heel to start this season. At the forefront of the issue has been closer Fernando Rodney. The Twins bullpen as a whole has been bad, ranked 22nd in MLB for bullpen ERA, and Rodney has proven that he can no longer be relied upon to get high-leverage outs.
Rodney has already blown three saves this season and has surrendered seven runs, five of them earned. Walks have been an issue for Rodney as well, however, he is giving up far too many hits to be successful. He has a 12.1 H/9 and a 1.862 WHIP and shows no signs of improvement through his 9 1/3 innings pitched.
This is an area that the Minnesota Twins will need to address soon and they have some options on-hand to help. Not everyone in the bullpen is off to a rough start. The most likely option for the Twins will be the first player we take a look at.
Best suited for the role
Experience will help Addison Reed be the most likely choice. Reed has 125 saves during his eight-year career. However, prior to saving 19 games for the Mets last season, he hasn’t saved more than four games since the 2014 season.
The Minnesota Twins have been fortunate to have Reed in the bullpen during the team’s current rough stretch. He has a 3.24 ERA and has appeared in 15 games so far this season. Reed has 17 strikeouts, giving him a 9.2 K/9, to go along with a more respectable 1.140 WHIP. The pressure intensifies during a one-run game in the ninth inning and it only makes sense that Reed should have the first crack at the job.
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Not a bad option
Ryan Pressly has been the beacon of hope in the bullpen this season. Amidst all of the runs being coughed up by the pen this season, Pressly has surrendered only two earned runs across 17 1/3 innings pitched.
Pressly has shown flashes of high upside throughout his Twins career. So far this season, it looks like Pressly has put it all together. He has a 1.04 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only four walks through his first 15 appearances. However, he has only one career save so Paul Molitor would need to be sure he can handle the pressure.
A very dark horse candidate
I know, John Curtiss has a 40.50 ERA through his first two appearances, however, let’s remember he has only 9 1/3 career innings pitched. Curtiss has pitched only 2/3 innings during the 2018 season and it has been disastrous. Curtiss has shown nothing in his brief opportunities and it’s obvious he is not quite ready for this opportunity.
It’s hard to predict when everything will click for a young pitcher, but it WILL click for Curtiss soon. Curtiss has the makeup of a possible stud reliever and has a bright future in MLB. For now, Curtiss will have to earn another chance while pitching with Triple-A Rochester. He had 19 saves with a 1.28 ERA through 49 1/3 innings pitched across two levels of the Minors during the 2017 season. His time may not be now, however, you never know.
One way or another something has to change in the backend of the bullpen. Rodney can barely be trusted to pitch with a six-run lead, let alone pitching with a one-run lead in the ninth. Minnesota will not make a playoff run as long as Rodney remains the closer.