The Minnesota Twins pitching staff has performed surprisingly well in 2018. The bullpen may need some rest soon if that is to continue.
The Minnesota Twins have struggled out of the gates this season, but one area that has been surprisingly strong is their pitching. The true reason for struggle this season has been the Twins bats. One aspect of this Twins pitching staff and maybe Paul Molitor led teams, in general, is beginning to attract some attention. That is bullpen usage, or more specifically bullpen over usage.
The observation has been made over and over again that Molitor is continually leaning on the same guys time and time again. This became a reality down the stretch last season when Molitor continued to turn to Trevor Hildenberger time and time again. It became evident that Hildenberger may have begun to fatigue a bit.
The Twins bullpen already has several guys that have reached, or will soon reach, 30 relief appearances. Ryan Pressly is fourth in the major leagues with 33 appearances, Addison Reed has 30, Trevor Hildenberger 28, Zach Duke 27, and Taylor Rogers 26. Those five pitchers all land within the top 100 for relief appearances in the majors.
This pace is especially alarming for a pitcher like Pressly who has just begun to find success in the majors. On the flip side, it is less concerning for a pitcher like Reed who is used to going over 70 innings regularly through his career and has found success doing so. His 30 appearances places with it the potential for a career high in innings pitched this season. More concerning, is both Reed and Pressly have seemed to stumble a bit as of late. Both giving up key runs as recently as Friday night in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
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The Twins aren’t the only team pushing for the playoffs that are riding some of their relievers pretty hard. Those same Angels have five relievers who have already topped 30 appearances. That lands all five within the top 20 for usage among major league relievers. The Arizona Diamondbacks has three relievers topping 30 appearances. Those two teams aren’t exactly established contenders (Arizona much more than Los Angeles) so they may not be clubs we want to justify Molitor’s bullpen usage by.
Looking at some more established postseason contenders, the New York Yankees and their bullpen don’t have any relievers over 30 appearances yet. David Robertson will be there soon as he sits with 29 relief appearances currently. The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros also don’t have any relievers who top 30 appearances with Will Harris at 27 topping their bunch.
It may not be time to sound the alarm quite yet on the Twins 2018 bullpen usage. Even though this is the most success Pressly has had in a season. Even he has logged over 70 innings a couple of times in the majors. At the same time, as this bullpen by the eye test is looking tired it would be well served to try to find some rest for them soon.