4 Under-the-Radar Relievers Who Could Help in 2020
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA TodayHere are a few relievers who will be available on the market who would make great additions to the Twins’ bullpen:
The Giants moved Pomeranz to the bullpen after an ineffective stint as a starter in the first half of 2019 and he became death, destroyer of worlds because of it. After throwing a fastball with an average speed of ~92 MPH as a starter, his velocity jumped to the point where it was ~95 in the month of September. His curveball saw a similar boost as it went from sitting ~81 MPH as a starter to ~84 MPH when he was used fully out of the bullpen in September.
The end result was a plain cartoonish strikeout rate of 47.2% as a reliever that came with a modest walk rate of 7.6%. Pomeranz will be 31 heading into 2020 and with Taylor Rogers already firmly cemented in the bullpen, the Twins could decide to make any left-handed hitter want to crawl back into the dugout with another nasty lefty reliever in the back-end of their bullpen.
You may know Rondón as the guy who threw as many innings in Game 7 of the World Series as Gerrit Cole, but he is more than just that. Rondón signed with the Astros in 2018 after an OK year with the Cubs and surprise surprise, he did much better. 2018 saw a career high in swinging strike % for Rondón as the Astros worked their magic with him and it seemed like his career was back on the upswing.
2019 was less kind to Rondón as his K% dropped to the lowest rate since his rookie season, his swinging strike% was at a career low, and his zone% was also at a career low. His average fastball velocity dropped a hair from 97.2 MPH in 2018 to 96.7 MPH in 2019 but his stuff still seems to be all there. Rondón will be 32 to start the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me if a change of scenery sparks a bounce-back season for the flame-throwing reliever. Hopefully that scenery is the aesthetic of Target Field.
McHugh is another Astros reliever set to become a free agent this winter but why not pick up the parts dropped by the development machine that is Houston? McHugh also had a rougher 2019 than 2018 as he struggled out of the gate in a starting rotation role and missed time with some elbow problems. While a pitcher with elbow problems is a bigger red flag than someone being a Cowboys fan, I can’t help but look at McHugh’s 2018 season and imagine what a full, healthy season back in the bullpen will look like.
McHugh’s 2018 was the stuff of legends as the righty put up a 1.99 ERA and 2.72 FIP over 72 1/3 innings pitched. His swinging strike% was a career high 13.3% and nearly 1/3 (33.2%) of all batters who faced McHugh went back to the dugout with a strikeout on their ledger. Maybe McHugh just needs a fresh start somewhere else to regain his old self and Minnesota should be open to allowing McHugh to flourish.
Cingrani never threw a pitch in the majors in 2019 due to injury but had been phenomenal since being traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2017. After holding a career FIP of 4.62 with the Reds, Cingrani knocked it down all the way to 2.11 over his 42 innings with the Dodgers. His strikeout rate jumped and his walk rate plummeted which is a pretty good combo if you’re a pitcher.
You can read more here if you want to know specifically what the Dodgers changed about his game to make him more effective. In any case, Cingrani could prove to be a forgotten reliever this offseason and potentially get lost in the shuffle of other relievers with bigger names. The Twins might be wise to take a close look at this lefty looking to get healthy again in 2020.
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