Minnesota Twins: 3 Reasons why Jorge Alcala could be in for a big 2021

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 25: Jorge Alcala #66 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning at Progressive Field on August 25, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 25: Jorge Alcala #66 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning at Progressive Field on August 25, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Twins
Jorge Alcala of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Kansas City Royals. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 2 for Jorge Alcala’s Minnesota Twins Breakout Year: Opportunity Arises

As previously mentioned, the Twins will enter the 2021 season missing several key contributors from their 2020 bullpen. Trevor May had an ERA of 3.18 across the last 2 seasons, with 117 strikeouts in just 87 & 2/3 innings and is now out the door. Matt Wisler is gone as well, following a year where he allowed just 3 earned runs in 25 and 1/3 innings.

They aren’t the only key bullpen members to hit free agency. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard combined to record a 3.32 ERA during the 2020 campaign. While a reunion isn’t completely out of the question, it doesn’t seem likely that their innings need to be replaced somewhere.

While the Twins did sign Alex Colomé on Wednesday night and Hansel Robles earlier in the offseason, the new vacancies open up roles for young pitchers like Alcala to step up, because he fits in this bullpen well.

The team has a few options for closer, with Taylor Rogers serving as closer for a majority of 2020, but he was unable to replicate his success from 2019. The addition of Colomé makes it likely he and Rogers will split closing duties in 2021 while Tyler Duffey will continue to serve as a primary late-inning setup option.

Where does this leave Alcala? Well, it depends on a few things. If the Twins bring in another established veteran (like Clippard) he will likely take precedence over Alcala in terms of the bullpen hierarchy.

Another factor is Robles. The Dominican-born right-hander struggled mightily in 2020, but was extremely reliable for the Angels from 2018-2019 (2.64 ERA, 25 saves in 30 opportunities). If Robles can bounce back as well, then Alcala will suddenly find himself a bit lower on the bullpen totem pole. That doesn’t mean he will lack opportunities though.

Out of Alcala’s 16 appearances last year, 6 of them were in the 6th inning or earlier. In addition, many of his late-inning appearances came in low-leverage situations, with Minnesota either ahead or behind by a decent amount. This could be mean that he will not see as many innings as other relievers, but that simply isn’t the case.

Wisler and Clippard were the only Twins relievers who threw more innings than Alcala last season, as both Alcala and Tyler Duffey tied for third most on the team, with each throwing 24 innings in 2020.

One of the main reasons for this is Alcala’s ability to throw multiple innings. He went more than one inning in 9 of his 16 appearances, and figures to be a reliable longer relief option for the time being.

This may be best for Alcala’s development, as well. The Twins won’t be forced to throw a relatively inexperienced pitcher into a lot of high-leverage situations, but will still be able to find him reliable work in the mid-to-late stages of games. Alcala will still have plenty of opportunities in 2021. But how does he take the next step forward?

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