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Molitor, does he actually "get it"?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:53 AM
This game was as poorly managed as I have ever seen, guy hasn't improved at all. Baring a playoff berth he better be gone at seasons end.
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Benching Sano two days in a row

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:06 AM
Seriously? Good lord, every time Molitor takes a step forward he takes 3 steps back. Benching your best player back to back games bc of a...
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Game Thread: Twins v Rays, 5/28 @ 1:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:03 PM
My ten years as a stringer – a freelance sportswriter for The Associated Press – spanned two distinct baseball eras. During the first, 19...
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Gimenez vs Garver

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Personally, IMHO, part of the overall success and quality play of our beloved Twins this season has been the addition of Castro and Gimin...
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Duffey Presents Pleasant Dilemma For Twins

If someone who didn't watch Monday's game happened to glance at the box score, scanning only numbers without the corresponding names, he might have assumed this pitching line belonged to Cleveland's bullpen ace Andrew Miller: 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, one hit allowed, no walks, four strikeouts.

But no, that was Tyler Duffey. No one will confuse him with Miller anytime soon, but the right-hander is making his case as Minnesota's own bullpen ace.

Or is he making his case to reclaim a starting job?
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
For some time, many fans have wondered just what Duffey might be capable of in the bullpen. I count myself among them. There were a number of factors suggesting he could be a strong fit in the late innings – namely his collegiate experience there and his two-pitch mix. The 26-year-old's struggles as a starter last year further supported the need for a switch.

Nevertheless, the Twins maintained an outward stance heading into spring that he'd be competing for a rotation spot. It appeared he was very much in that race up until the end of March, at which point the team announced Adalberto Mejia was going to be the fifth starter while Duffey would come north in a swingman-type capacity.

As it turns out, he's been the most reliable man in the bullpen through two-plus weeks. Duffey's stellar outing on Monday extended a season-opening scoreless streak to 8.2 innings, and during that span he's allowed only five hits (all singles) and one walk while striking out seven.

If this continues, the Twins will face a decision: consider giving him another shot at starting, or stick with what's working and allow Duffey to thrive in relief?

In a sense, it feels silly to even consider messing with the good thing he has going. Duffey's signature breaking ball has been straight-up nasty and has left batters shaking their heads. But of course, that's not really anything new.

The theoretical benefit behind using him in short relief stints was that it might play up his fastball, which was coming in like a beachball last summer and routinely got crushed. That might be occurring to some extent, but it's not like Duffey is suddenly whipping 96 MPH heaters in there. In fact, from early readings, his fastball is only up by about one MPH compared to his 2016 average. And it's not like he's consistently being leveraged in the kinds of quick-hit stints that would be conducive to max effort. He has thrown multiple innings in three of his four appearances, and racked up 32 pitches in his latest.

Maybe Duffey looks so good because he's more comfortable or adept in the bullpen. It could well be the case that his arsenal is gaining efficacy when he enters as a change-of-pace, replacing a starter or another reliever. Maybe that two-pitch combo simply works better when he's not trying to get through a lineup three times.

Or, there could be other elements at play. Maybe his decision to move to the other side of the rubber against righties is paying dividends. Maybe he has made other adjustments to improve his fastball command. Or maybe he's just plain healthier and feeling better.

If his success is being driven by things of that nature, then Duffey could certainly keep it going in the rotation. While his ugly 2016 is fresh in our minds, it bears remembering that he was excellent as a starter for the Twins in 2015 and throughout the minors.

As things stand, he is in limbo to a degree. He has pitched only three times in the past 13 days. Unless and until there is a definitive commitment to him as a top setup option, his usage as a reliever figures to remain sporadic.

The manager, for his part, doesn't seem inclined to make this switch permanent. "For now," Paul Molitor said Tuesday in reference to Duffey's present assignment in the bullpen.

Personally, I'm not sure moving him back to the rotation is the right choice, particularly since Minnesota has five healthy and functional starters for the time being, plus a guy in Jose Berrios at Triple-A who is proving his readiness to step in.

But one way or another the Twins should decide on a defined role and leave it be.

What would you like to see happen with Duffey?

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68 Comments

Two inning reliever, as goose gossage used to be
    • PseudoSABR, bluechipper, nytwinsfan and 4 others like this
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Taildragger8791
Apr 18 2017 10:50 PM

I'd much rather have a dominant reliever that can go 2/3 innings than a #4 starter, and I'd guess Duffey would prefer to be one of the best relievers in baseball over being a middling starter. Everyone likes to have an important role that they can execute well and the key bullpen pitchers are heralded more than the back end rotation guys these days. It's not a step down by any means.

 

Find someone else to fill those back-end spots and let's see if Duffey can really carve out an anchor spot in the bullpen. The impact of having a reliever that can salvage short (but not yet hopeless) starts without burning half the bullpen is pretty huge in the modern game.

    • PseudoSABR, kab21, bluechipper and 5 others like this

With a really savvy catcher, Tyler Duffey could be an excellent starting pitcher. First, Duffey should embrace his unique gift of a mind-bending curve ball. Expand on its use, throw it at many different speeds, using the fastball mainly to surprise hitters that are clearly waiting for the curve. 

 

Meanwhile, the guy that should hit the pen is Kyle Gibson. Mr. Nibbles needs to learn to just throw the dang ball for strikes, and nothing teaches that like being a relief pitcher. I'd swap Gibson and Duffey before I called up Berrios. 

    • brvama likes this
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HitInAPinch
Apr 19 2017 01:35 AM

With only 2 pitches, Duffey is a reliever.  And at this point, I think that's where he belongs.  Oh, there will be a couple SP positions opening some time this year.  

Longterm:  Santana

Looking good:  Santiago, Mejía (hopefully)

 

I don't have much confidence in either Gibson or Hughes.  Gibson's salary is small enough that I'd be tempted  to just release him, if necessary.  Hughes still has THAT contract.  With yesterday's start, I'd think seriously about sending him to the bullpen.

 

Callup:  Berrios and Gonsalves.  I think the latter needs to be added to the 40 man, right?

    • Vanimal46 and wsnydes like this

Callup:  Berrios and Gonsalves.  I think the latter needs to be added to the 40 man, right?

 

Gonsalves has that shoulder issue that they just took a look at, and tests came back negative. He's not ready for this jump yet, anyway.Berrios still needs a couple more starts, and I think they'll give Gibson and Hughes at least two more months to figure things out.One of the five is bound to get injured in the next few weeks, which will allow them to slot a hungry and more proven Berrios into the rotation.

    • nytwinsfan, CUtomorrownight and Original Whizzinator like this
Leave it to Molitor to want to mess with what's working. Keep him in the pen and give Berrios the chance if it comes to it. A two pitch mix is not going to work in the rotation. That's already been proven.
    • Jerr, nytwinsfan, hybridbear and 1 other like this

Lets not mess with another pitcher like we did May and go back and forth with tantalizing suggestions that he could be a starter but is a reliever now.  He was a reliever and he is doing well - don't mess with success.  Right now Haley, Breslow, Tonkin, Belisle look like replacement level at best  pitchers.  I do not trust Pressly to be consistent and Rogers and Kintzler look good.  If you take Duffey out of this mix it looks really bad for the long run.  

 

http://www.espn.com/...minnesota-twins

On the other hand Mejia and Santiago (to my shock) have looked decent in the rotation behind Santana who is off the charts in the small sample size while Hughes and Gibson look like what they have been the last two years - not much.  I would love to see Berrios again, but putting Duffey in the rotation limits his use and impacts the pen while doing only minimum to upgrade the rotation.  

 

At this point Duffey is a starter only if we run out of starters.  So if we think of rotations needing 7 - 8 starters to make it through the season and Berrios is currently number 6 and Gonsalves is an injury risk, who are numbers 7 and 8?

    • Jerr, bluechipper and spanman2 like this

I'm bought in on Duffey being the bullpen "fireman"... He's been doing really well out of the pen, and there are other starters in the organization that can pitch 5-6 innings when the need arises. 

Pen and don't think twice. But higher leverage spots.
    • bdodge22, bluechipper, nytwinsfan and 4 others like this
IMO this isn't even a question. Was, is, and will be effective as a reliever, doesn't have the tools to be an effective starter.

Increase his leverage, and leave well enough alone.
    • Thrylos, Jerr, Mike Sixel and 11 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Apr 19 2017 07:40 AM

Guess I'm more on the lines of letting him be in relief for now, but given the org's depth at SP, I'd want him to try it again at some point. If this turns into a lost season so to speak, I think stretching him back out in AAA for a couple weeks and then trying him again at starter with all of these changes is a smart decision. If he fails, then we know he's a reliever for good...

    • howieramone2 likes this

There is some really good stuff here about how to best use RPs.....ignoring the snark (which I love) and if WPA or this are a better stat....lots of good stuff. This convinces me that Duffey should have the old time fireman role.

 

https://fivethirtyei...elief-pitchers/

 

    • USAFChief, Sssuperdave, nytwinsfan and 1 other like this

 

Guess I'm more on the lines of letting him be in relief for now, but given the org's depth at SP, I'd want him to try it again at some point. If this turns into a lost season so to speak, I think stretching him back out in AAA for a couple weeks and then trying him again at starter with all of these changes is a smart decision. If he fails, then we know he's a reliever for good...

 

when? he's not young, and going back and forth means you don't get to develop as a SP. 

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Homer Hanky
Apr 19 2017 07:44 AM

put him near the back of the pen... 

 

release hughes and or breslow

 

call up berrios

 

my tots

    • nytwinsfan likes this

Dilemma? Not sure I see it:

 

Duffey sucked as a starter. Duffey has been good in the pen.

 

So:Do they keep him in the pen (where he's been good) or start him again (where he has neither the pitches nor the stamina to succeed)?

 

It is like saying that the Twins had a dilemma after the first year of Perkins' appearances in the pen.Similar situation.

    • USAFChief, nytwinsfan, hybridbear and 2 others like this

Guess I'm more on the lines of letting him be in relief for now, but given the org's depth at SP, I'd want him to try it again at some point. If this turns into a lost season so to speak, I think stretching him back out in AAA for a couple weeks and then trying him again at starter with all of these changes is a smart decision. If he fails, then we know he's a reliever for good...


Me, I'm pretty tired of the Twins "trying" players.

I want them to start "playing" players. Good players. Players capable of winning.

I don't want to wait around endlessly for Danny Santana to try to get good at baseball. I don't want to waste more years thinking Gibson is going to develop skills he doesn't have.

And I don't want to take a guy successful at one thing and waste a year or two trying to for something else. Find succesful starters. That's how you fill out the rotation.
    • Mike Sixel, bluechipper, mikelink45 and 5 others like this

I thought the Twins would send him to AAA and let him have one more shot at starting but they took him north.  So, that's his role.  I agree with Mike that he should be used in a Goosage like manner.  

 

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Me, I'm pretty tired of the Twins "trying" players.

I want them to start "playing" players. Good players. Players capable of winning.

I don't want to wait around endlessly for Danny Santana to try to get good at baseball. I don't want to waste more years thinking Gibson is going to develop skills he doesn't have.

And I don't want to take a guy successful at one thing and waste a year or two trying to for something else. Find succesful starters. That's how you fill out the rotation.

Amen and Concur!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Joe A. Preusser
Apr 19 2017 08:09 AM
Duffy most certainly did not suck as a starter. His rookie year he was nothing short of awesome. Last year he lacked fine fastball control and maybe lost a half tick of velocity. This is the extremely fine line he walks, and I wonder why it's worth skirting that pencil thin threshhold. He is clearly comfortable and successful in the pen. That 1 mph FB increase the article alluded to could be huge for a pitcher with Duffy's repertoire. It's easier to maintain fastball control in shorter stints. All signs point to letting him stay in the pen. Let him excell and pay him like an elite RP. Everybody wins.

They were shaking their heads at his curve ball in 2015 because it was a better curve ball in bite, variety and plane than in 2016.  It was more effective because his command of his fastball was so much better in 2015 than he was in 2016, IMO.  The results were that he pitched like Blyleven in 2015 and not in 2016. If he had the same command and quality of pitches this year as he had last year he would not be succeeding in the pen either Comparisons with May are not apt because May has had back issues that came into play.  There are pitchers in the past that have switched roles effectively but I don't care to see Duffey flip flopping either.  I like the idea of a high leverage two or three inning guy. I wish there were more of those.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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howieramone2
Apr 19 2017 08:19 AM

On Inside Twins, they said the move to the pen is not permanent. He is still working on a change up.  On another note, at this point in time Gonsalves only has 2 dependable pitches.

Frankly, I don't think there is enough evidence to say that he is any different from the guy from last year. Maybe he should be put into a higher-leverage role. But he is succeeding right now because he hasn't given up a home run yet and has a .208 BABIP against. Both of those things are going to change. He has only faced 33 batters. His K% and BB% are "better", but we are only talking about a difference of 1 SO and 1 BB from what his rates from last year would predict. He isn't getting significantly more swinging strikes than last year, and his swinging strike rate of 10% would barely put him in the top-100 relievers from last year. His velocity is only up a little bit, and he has never been a high velocity guy. Even in college he was 88-92 out of the bullpen. There aren't many elite relievers that average <93 MPH. I think it is just too early to conclude anything about Duffey right now. Let's see how he is doing around Memorial Day.

    • Dantes929 likes this

Is and always has been a reliever for me. Let him start climbing the pecking order in the bullpen, or you know, do it already...

 

This is Glen Perkins all over again. Don't overthink it.

    • USAFChief, James, bluechipper and 1 other like this

When you put a player in the right position for him good things happen. Who woulda thought?

 

 

    • USAFChief likes this
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Tom Froemming
Apr 19 2017 08:32 AM

Looks like I'm in the minority, but I'm of the mind that you keep a player in the spot where he could provide the most value until you're convinced he will be unusable in that role. Maybe Duffey as a starter was a lost cause, but if we're gonna give Kyle Gibson 101 starts, I would've been fine giving Duffey more than 36.

 

Yes, he was bad last year, but maybe with the new evaluation team and Castro/Gimenez able to help we would have seen something extra from Tyler. That's a great tidbit about his change in positioning on he rubber, you never know how little stuff like that can make big differences.

 

I would have put him in the No. 5 spot, but if it turns out he's a great reliever I'm not gonna get too worked up about it.

 

But, you're never going to convince me a pitcher can provide more value throwing 70 innings instead of 200. Yes, high-leverage innings are the most important, but if your starters get blown out it's pretty tough to get use out of a great pen.

 

The first inning is the highest-leverage inning of the entire game in my eyes.

    • gunnarthor, diehardtwinsfan, markos and 3 others like this

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