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Effects of the shift

Other Baseball Today, 12:14 AM
This was a discussion about the effects of defensive shifts in baseball, split from today's game thread. Feel free to join in below!...
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GAME THREAD: Twins @ Angels, 4/16/21, 8:38 PM CDT

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:38 PM
It’s always thrilling when your team snatches victory from the jaws of victory, as the Twins did yesterday afternoon at Target Field agai...
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Ex Twins in 2021: Where Are They Now?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:47 PM
One of my favorite annual threads on the site. Let’s stay updated on ex-Twins in the news... This is a start of a list, and feel free to...
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A rant

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:44 PM
I've been on about this for two years now, but Baldelli really needs to get over the idea that his best players need a game off every wee...
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Twins Minor League Report: Follow the Affiliates

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 09:20 PM
There were a lot of changes to minor league baseball this offseason, and there were changes with all four Twins minor league affiliates....
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Matt Shoemaker Lengthens Twins' Bench, as Well as Rotation

It’s not often that signing a starting pitcher can improve and lengthen a team’s offensive bench, but when the Twins signed Matt Shoemaker, they did just that.
Image courtesy of © Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
If everyone is healthy when the Twins break camp in late March, their starting rotation will include Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, and Shoemaker. It will exclude Randy Dobnak, as well as Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. All three of those pitchers could very well make starts for the 2021 Twins, but each is also capable of helping them in long relief. Most importantly, for the purposes of this conversation, they can also help the team by not being on it at certain points, because they all can be optioned to the minor leagues.

Optioning pitchers to the minors to keep a sufficient number of fresh arms on the active big-league roster will be a constant juggling act this season, even more than in the last few. All offseason, optionable pitchers have had slight premiums attached to them in the market for talent. It’s one reason why the Twins had to give up LaMonte Wade, Jr. in order to get Shaun Anderson. Wade is a better player than Anderson, but Anderson has options, and the Twins gained flexibility and security by acquiring him, in addition to getting a live-armed pitcher they hope to develop into a weapon.

With the volume Dobnak, Smeltzer, and Thorpe can provide in relief, and with the ability to send any of them to the minors if needed, the Twins can get by with an eight-man bullpen. In addition to those three and Anderson, Minnesota has the ability to option Cody Stashak, Caleb Thielbar, and Jorge Alcala when needed. They will begin the season, given full health, with Edwar Colina, Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers, Bailey Ober, and Jordan Balazovic all stashed in the minor leagues, but each is already on the 40-man roster and could be called up, then optioned. Should Glenn Sparkman, Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut, or Ian Hamilton make their way back onto the 40-man, they, too, could subsequently be optioned.

Don’t underestimate the advantage of which the Twins have assured themselves here. Every team has spent the winter trying to amass quality depth while staying flexible, and few (if any) can claim to have struck the balance as well as Minnesota has. Signing Shoemaker sealed the deal, because it converts so many potential innings from Dobnak and Smeltzer from starter to reliever work, and lessens any pressure to keep them on the roster after a long outing.

In light of that, it would be foolish for the team to forfeit their edge by carrying 14 pitchers for any meaningful period of time. They should be able to roster nine starting players (we’ll include, for now, Alex Kirilloff, as the left fielder), plus backup catcher Ryan Jeffers, utility man Luis Arraez, fourth outfielder Jake Cave, and right-handed bench bat Brent Rooker. Squeezing down to 12 available hitters, when they’ve so assiduously assembled a pitching staff that renders that unnecessary, would be wasteful. Injuries could force the issue, of course. In fact, they’re likely to do so, at some stage. Only a total catastrophe should make a 14-man staff even a semi-permanent state of affairs, though.

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5 Comments

Pretty sure teams are still capped at 13 pitchers on the 26-man roster until September 1st, unless they changed something for 2021.

Edit: Sorry, my bad, just read that they DID change that!

Fourteen pitchers just seems like madness, but with pitcher workloads thrown off last year, I’m sure we’ll see some teams doing it. You’re right, those options just became a lot more valuable.
    • rdehring likes this
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Homer Hanky
Feb 21 2021 08:57 PM

Great Work! 

Can't really see us starrting the year with 5 outfielders...actually 6 counting Arraez, since they will be getting his bat into the lineup as much as possible, including playing left field.

I think the team has proven it needs two utility players the way that Baldelli likes to manage.Arraez is number one, but I think Gordon or Blankenhorn get a shot at number two over the turtle. 

The FO manages the options game well. While I would have liked to add more quality this set up should allow them to comb through a bunch of pitchers to find the hot hand.