Minnesota Twins: Four Keys for How the Twins Build a Bullpen

Taylor Rogers of the Minnesota Twins pitches during game one of the Wild Card Series between the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Taylor Rogers of the Minnesota Twins pitches during game one of the Wild Card Series between the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Matt Wisler of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Bullpen Key No. 4: Finding Hidden Gems and
Making Under the Radar Signings

Now that we’ve covered how the Minnesota Twins avoid big names and go homegrown, who do the Twins pursue? Diamonds in the rough. They pick up someone that barely anyone knows and try to turn them into a quality big-league arm.

Sergio Romo came over to the Twins from the Miami Marlins as one of the key trades during the 2019 trade deadline. While he’s a former World Series champion, he wasn’t a highly sought after arm at the time but he excelled in the Twins slider-heavy approach.

The 13-year veteran threw absolute frisbees that were unhittable for a time and provided the Twins with playoff experience and a passion that provided a spark for the team. Romo struggled during the end of his tenure here, but he still was an inexpensive get.

Caleb Thielbar is another diamond in the rough, and one that has to be the best feel-good story for the 2020 Twins. Instead of following through on his agreement to coach for Augustana after pitching for the Twins from 2013-15 and the then Independent League St. Paul Saints, Thielbar made his way back in the show with a very good year.

He started off the year with a 7th inning, blowout kind of role that progressed into a higher leverage role with the Twins as the season went on. Thielbar posted excellent bounceback numbers including an ERA of 2.25 and 22 strikeouts in 20 inning. The Twins didn’t give up on the Minnesota native, and bringing him back on a low risk deal has worked wonders for both sides.

The last player in this group, Matt Wisler is probably the poster child of the system the Twins have in place fo no-name guys. He was claimed off waivers from the Mariners after the 2019 season after bouncing around from three other teams before that. In Minnesota, Wisler transformed from just another depth guy into a high-leverage situation pitcher for the Twins in 2020.

He upped his slider usage percentage from around 70 percent up to 83 percent, allowing him to turn in his best season as a pro, setting career lows in ERA (1.07) and FIP (3.35) in over 25 innings. The Twins decided to not pay arbitration for Wisler and he eventually signed with the San Francisco Giants but there’s no denying he played at a high level in Minnesota.

The Twins tend to sign no-name guys to short term deals, while claiming other players off of waivers. The team added three more relievers in that bill this offseason, adding Hansel Robles, Ian Gibaut, and Brandon Waddell. The process doesn’t really add a lot of long term players, but the sort of renting process works out excellently.