Minnesota Twins: Why is Oliver Drake on the roster over other relievers?

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: Oliver Drake #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the eighth inning during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Angels 5-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: Oliver Drake #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the eighth inning during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Angels 5-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins claimed reliever Oliver Drake off of waivers Friday. The question looming is why does he get a roster spot over other deserving arms.

The Minnesota Twins claimed a pair of players off of waivers on Friday. Outfielder Johnny Field was claimed off of waivers from the Indians and will play at Triple-A Rochester. The other player claimed is right-handed relief pitcher Oliver Drake from the Toronto Blue Jays who will be with the major league club on Saturday.

When the news came across my phone about Drake I was initially livid. Why in the world do the Twins need to bring in another “bad” veteran reliever in a lost season? When I initially sat down to reflect on this roster addition I was fully ready to lay into the Twins front office with some anger, but then I think I began to see what five different major league teams have now seen in Drake this season.

That is right, in case you hadn’t already read it somewhere, the Twins will be the fifth team that Drake has pitched for this season. The other teams include the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels. The reason Drake keeps finding himself off of rosters is that he hasn’t pitched well at all as he carries a 7.57 ERA over 27.1 innings pitched.

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So what keeps landing him back on major league rosters? One of the first things that caught my eye is that Drake has a unique delivery. It is the type of delivery that causes you to at first pause, but then after a second look, you wonder if its unique style might just be effective against major league batters. Drake’s arm takes a funky, straight down path towards the plate which makes his 91-93 mph fastball look much more violent out of his hand than the velocity suggests.

Digging deeper into his stats, there is a discrepancy between the results Drake is getting and what his stuff should be getting. While his 7.57 ERA is awful, a 3.21 FIP and 3.70 xFIP is much more encouraging. Drake also has a 9.5 K/9 on 2018 and a 13.3% swinging strike rate.

Now Drake is far from being the next shut down arm to come out of a major league bullpen. He also 31-years-old which means he isn’t exactly someone you want to spend too much time and energy on, but it does make some sense to take a chance on Drake. The hope has to be that the Twins can unlock the barrier between performance and potential for Drake.

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If there is a time, this is the time to take a flier on a pitcher like Drake. The biggest concern with his addition is that he will further block some of the talented young pitchers who are performing well at Triple-A which fully deserve a shot in the majors but haven’t gotten one yet. Especially since the Twins already have a track record of hanging onto veteran relievers who aren’t performing well.

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