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FanGraphs: Mauer (and Utley) are Hall of Fame Worthy

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Article: Believe in Byron Buxton

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I'm Bored of the Offseason

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Twins Daily Roundtable: Closing Time

Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

The Fernando Rodney Experience has moved out of the Twin Cities and this means the Twins are looking for a new ninth inning man. With no specific “closer in waiting,” the Twins could be using a variety of players in the final frame for the rest of the season. All of these players might be auditioning for a more important role on the 2019 squad.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “Who should serve as the Twins closer for the rest of the season?”
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Christie
Closers have started to become a thing of the past in the world of baseball. Organizations and managers are becoming more acutely aware of utilizing their best relievers in high pressure situations. It might not be the best use of a team’s best relief pitcher if the other team’s seven, eight, and nine hitters are due up in the bottom of the ninth inning.

That being said, I think Minnesota’s bullpen will get quite the overhaul before the start of next year. This means guys like Trevor Hildenberger, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, and Oliver Drake need to show they can handle some late inning responsibilities over the season’s final months.

If I am picking a closer off the current roster, I would give the May the bulk of the save situations. He’s got a fresh arm since he didn’t pitch in the first half of the season. Hildenberger has been the team’s best relief pitcher at times this season but he might be tipping his pitches. So for me, it’s gonna be May!

Jeremy Nygaard
I've been anti-closer for very long time. And, hopefully, since the Twins traded their "closer" they are heading towards the anti-closer belief too. The correct answer to this question isn't about who the back of the bullpen guy is, it's a different answer that finally sees the club use their relief pitchers to a) their advantage and :cool: to the best of their ability.

Alan Busenitz has the highest leverage index of any players who has relieved multiple games and is still in the organization. "So, uh... hey, we have the most confidence in you... but we also don't have enough confidence in you to be on our active roster." What? Tyler Duffey has the lowest leverage index except for Oliver Drake. Both Busenitz and Duffey have FIPs that are really bad.

Here's how I'm running the bullpen. The first time I need to face a tough lefthander (with one exception), I'm calling in Taylor Rogers. He's destroyed lefties to the tune of a .408 OPS. The exception is if the tough lefty is followed by a tougher righty. In that case, I'm using Gabriel Moya, who isn't considerably better against lefties than righties, both have a sub-.700 OPS. If I need to face a tough right-handed batter, I'm bringing in Addison Reed. He's not been great lately, but he's getting destroyed by left-handed hitters (OPS over 1.000) this season, so he's not facing those guys. Oliver Drake would be my next choice to face righties and not lefties. The other guys I'd use against batters on either side of the plate at any time. Trevor May and Matt Magill are the two I'd use first. Right now, Hildenberger has seemed to hit a wall, so he (along with Tyler Duffey) would be relegated to lower-leverage situations. The great thing is, these roles are changing as guys have more or less success.

If you have a starting pitcher make it through eight innings, but decide he can't pitch the ninth... I'm looking at my opponent’s lineup card before deciding who to warm up. Maybe it's Moya; maybe it's Rogers; maybe it's May... really, it could be anyone.

Ted Schwerzler
The Twins not having a true closer puts them in a very good situation for the rest of the year. Minnesota needs to figure out what pieces are realistically going to be usable in 2019. If Paul Molitor can work Rogers, Hildenberger, May and Duffey into high leverage, that'd be a great start. Arms like Busenitz, Reed, Curtiss, and Anderson should also see time in the Twins pen over the next month or so.

The front office is again going to be in a position to supplement the pen, but giving some consistent run to internal options is a must. Forget who racks up the saves, just make sure to push every arm you have.

Steve Lein
For once lately, I'm going to agree with the manager’s line of thinking here. There is a "proven closer" option with Addison Reed, but he's been dreadful since returning from the disabled list. Thus, I would go with the matchups in a committee approach and get some experience under multiple pitchers' belts.

The options for this include: Trevor Hildenberger, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, and Gabriel Moya.

Those names include three righties and two lefties so counteracting any lineup combination in the ninth should be easy on any given night.

If I had to pick one guy, however, I'd be putting Trevor May in that spot. He's got the power pitcher profile inherently familiar to closers, and very quickly has appeared to rebound in his recovery from TJS in the majors. He hasn't walked anybody since returning and has picked up some big strikeouts. I also like his fire and mentality on the mound in that role.

So closer by committee for now in a lost season, but I'd be giving an inside track to May.

If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Prospect Promotions
Hall of Fame Impact
Baseball in 2028
Floundered
Second Half Star

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25 Comments

I’m with Jeremy on this one, the “closer” role needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.
    • Thrylos and slash129 like this

Some of the best closers were made by failed starters. Aguilera, Eckersley and Nathan come to mind (Smoltz too, but he was not a failed starter, just lost endurance after surgery).

 

We kinda know that the Twins do not have anyone in the pen who marginally flashes dominance (May excluded.)Same with AAA.

 

So, what I would do, would be to see what Odorizzi can do as a closer just with the fastball and slider (both have scored pretty well) while dropping the "thing" and the curve that suck.He is under contract for another season and clearly the Twins have better options in the minors (and majors) than him for 2019.See if changing the role might change his effectiveness.

 

Alternate version of that:Kohl Stewart.Might even make more sense at this point, since his FB has ticked a tad higher than Odorizzi's.

 

 

 

    • Steve Lein, James, DocBauer and 4 others like this
IF I had a closer it would be May, no contest.

I just watched Hildy close the last game. Guess what he did...he kept the ball in his glove a little longer! Not only did he hide the ball better, it kept his package tighter, so he was delivering with a little more snap. Better zap on the heat, better deception on the change. He could close just like that.

 

Trevor May has the stuff to close, and I've suggested it before. If not May, I'd try Busenitz. He's got classic closer stuff - down plane heat, hard slider. If Booze can learn to spot corners, he be the man. Same with May. 

    • blindeke and MN_ExPat like this

I like some of these ideas, the problem is we have a manager who subscribes to the theory that there must be a designated closer on the team and they must pitch in a save situation every single time. 

 

Some of the best closers were made by failed starters. Aguilera, Eckersley and Nathan come to mind (Smoltz too, but he was not a failed starter, just lost endurance after surgery).

 

We kinda know that the Twins do not have anyone in the pen who marginally flashes dominance (May excluded.)Same with AAA.

 

So, what I would do, would be to see what Odorizzi can do as a closer just with the fastball and slider (both have scored pretty well) while dropping the "thing" and the curve that suck.He is under contract for another season and clearly the Twins have better options in the minors (and majors) than him for 2019.See if changing the role might change his effectiveness.

 

Alternate version of that:Kohl Stewart.Might even make more sense at this point, since his FB has ticked a tad higher than Odorizzi's.

I like the idea... Odorizzi could be a very good reliever and he's got the stuff to get a lot of K's in the 9th. At the moment I can see the team trying that out, though.

    • blindeke, David HK and MN_ExPat like this

IF I had a closer it would be May, no contest.


I don't disagree. The thing to consider is his contract status.

I believe he's entering year 2 of arbitration eligibility, and that system awards players with saves on their stat sheet. Since he missed a majority of the year he won't get a significant raise... Though that could change if he finishes the year with 10 saves.

For the rest of this season, I'd rather them choose someone who has an established contract (Reed) or someone who doesn't really factor into next year's plans (Magill? Drake?)
    • Minny505 likes this
Gotta go Belisle with a three year extension.
    • Mike Sixel, adorduan, blindeke and 4 others like this

I'm getting really, really good at forgetting to respond to Cody. Oops!

 

Anyway, my answer to who should be the Twins closer... "Whoever."

 

It doesn't matter to me. I'm good with Hildenberger getting the first shot. Now that he's had saves in back-to-back games, if there is another save opportunity on Thursday, maybe I'd go with May, or Duffey, or Rogers... or Magill. Or, whoever. Later in September, could be Busenitz or Curtiss or Anderson or Reed... Or, whoever. It's good for all of them to get high-leverage spots at this point. 

    • 70charger, Minny505, caninatl04 and 1 other like this
Trevor May checks all of my boxes to be the closer, except, I doubt he currently is in a position to pitch two, or sometimes 3, days in a row. Busenitz is my second option.
To me, Pressly was the ideal candidate. Start an inning, blow people away, blow one every once in a while, but it happens. But he's gone now, unfortunately, and I get why.

Yes, the pen has changed, to some degree, in regard to high leverage situations vs the actual end of a game. But I don't believe the game has changed as much as some make it out to be. We talk about "cheap saves" when you have a couple run lead and maybe face the bottom of the order. But how can anyone predict that your closer will actually have a couple run lead, much less face the bottom of the order, or have to face a quality hitter, or two, off the bench?

I like Hildenberger a lot! So he's hit a rough patch of late. He's shown what he can do! A couple rough games or two can distort perspective and numbers for a RP, we all know that. But I like him better in the 7th or 8th because he brings such a different dynamic to what is presented.

I have argued in the past that a healthy May should absolutely be allowed to stretch himself out and build on what he showed previously before his pen move, and his ST in 2017 before TJ. I have changed my tune. Partially because of his stuff and potential, but also because May himself told the organization earlier this season that he felt more comfortable, while recovering, in the pen. And he excelled at Rochester and has done so in his SSS thus far back up. Long term, is he a closer or a top set-up man? I'm not certain.

Reed confounds the issue. Is he healthy? How come we suddenly get the low velocity, inconsistent Reed after having such a great career and track record before this season?

Sorry, hope I'm proven wrong, but I've lost faith in Duffey. Decent FB and killer curve who could maybe mix in another pitch here and there, but seems the curve inconsistency has left him. Busentiz, Reed and Curtiss need to be up ASAP! Hildenberger would be toiling still in AAA without opportunity. So let's let opportunity reside in the ML the next month or so and then make some off season decisions. Bullpen by committee to close things out, pun intended. Is it really so hard?

*Have to admit, NEVER saw Odorizzi as a closer option! Ever! But Danchat got me thinking...lower than ideal IP, but decent stuff and SO ability...especially since he "gets" the idea of the high strike with so many low ball, launch angle hitters today, might not be so crazy.
    • Minny505, caninatl04 and Doctor Wu like this

I'm getting really, really good at forgetting to respond to Cody. Oops!
 
Anyway, my answer to who should be the Twins closer... "Whoever."
 
It doesn't matter to me. I'm good with Hildenberger getting the first shot. Now that he's had saves in back-to-back games, if there is another save opportunity on Thursday, maybe I'd go with May, or Duffey, or Rogers... or Magill. Or, whoever. Later in September, could be Busenitz or Curtiss or Anderson or Reed... Or, whoever. It's good for all of them to get high-leverage spots at this point.

I would concur with the the idea of giving other pitchers a shot at the job, regardless of whether a Hildenberger had two games back to back or not. But does anyone really think the reigning MOY would do that? He is still in 7th game of the WS mode, managing for wins, not development.
    • David HK, gman and Minny505 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 16 2018 06:25 AM

The one thing I wouldn't do is save my best reliever for closer. If May's ultimate place is in the pen (and I don't think it should be), then closer is not what I'd tap him for. I do think that a rotation between Hildy, Busenitz, Moya, and Duffy would be smart.

    • Mike Sixel and Minny505 like this
I have never understood all the love for May. Yes he has good stuff no he has not blossomed in the major leagues yet. I know it's injury that has held him back but I want to see him longer before making a decision. I also really want to see some of the minor league relief pitchers get an opportunity. And I don't mean just one day up and then get sent back down.
    • caninatl04 likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 16 2018 07:36 AM

 

I have never understood all the love for May. Yes he has good stuff no he has not blossomed in the major leagues yet. I know it's injury that has held him back but I want to see him longer before making a decision. I also really want to see some of the minor league relief pitchers get an opportunity. And I don't mean just one day up and then get sent back down.

well, he profiled as a workhorse major league starter who could be an above average pitcher... and when he got demoted to the pen, it wasn't due to performance, it was due to Pelfrey coming back... so I think some of us want to see what he can do. 

 

I'm not against him ending up in the pen, I just think he could be a better starter.

    • Steve Lein, Platoon and Minny505 like this

 

I’m with Jeremy on this one, the “closer” role needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

 

I see a lot of people are in May's corner for said role.With his mix of pitches, I could see him being the extinguisher type that then goes on to pitch 1-2 more innings.I hope Molitor can open up his mind on bullpen use.Perhaps an offseason exercise of watching Milwaukee games would be of benefit.

    • Ben Noble, David HK, Minny505 and 1 other like this

 

Some of the best closers were made by failed starters. Aguilera, Eckersley and Nathan come to mind (Smoltz too, but he was not a failed starter, just lost endurance after surgery).

 

We kinda know that the Twins do not have anyone in the pen who marginally flashes dominance (May excluded.)Same with AAA.

 

So, what I would do, would be to see what Odorizzi can do as a closer just with the fastball and slider (both have scored pretty well) while dropping the "thing" and the curve that suck.He is under contract for another season and clearly the Twins have better options in the minors (and majors) than him for 2019.See if changing the role might change his effectiveness.

 

Alternate version of that:Kohl Stewart.Might even make more sense at this point, since his FB has ticked a tad higher than Odorizzi's.

 

 

I see a lot of people are in May's corner for said role.With his mix of pitches, I could see him being the extinguisher type that then goes on to pitch 1-2 more innings.I hope Molitor can open up his mind on bullpen use.Perhaps an offseason exercise of watching Milwaukee games would be of benefit.

 

Both of these. I'd like to see May in that fireman/stopper role, and I want the pitcher in that role to be able to go more than three outs.

 

Ideally, I also want my closer (or/and setup man) able to go more than three outs depending on matchups, and I think Odorizzi could work well in that role...although I have no idea how he'd pitch coming in with men on base.

 

Mejia might be an option for one of these roles, too, but I'd keep him as a starter until either he or a starter in the minors forces the issue. Still, would be nice to have three pitchers that could step into one of those roles so that no one gets overused in May, Odorizzi and Mejia.

 

Even if you moved Odorizzi and Mejia to the pen, and didn't make any trades or FA signings, you could still open 2019 with a rotation of:

 

Gibson

Berrios

Pineda

Romero

everyone else

 

I'd go hard after a #1 this offseason, but that's a different topic.

 

So to the topic at hand, I want my closer able to go more than an inning and want to see May, Odorizzi and possibly Mejia (when healthy) in high-leverage outings of more than three outs the remainder of the season to get an idea of how they'll slot into my pen next year, or who I might need to go after from outside the org over the offseason to fill those roles if the internal candidates aren't up to snuff.

    • David HK likes this
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Kelly Vance
Aug 16 2018 09:21 AM

I think a closer has to be the guy that has the mentality that he is going to "shut it down."  A great closer can shorten the game. Mariano Rivera came in and it was game over. So I don't believe a closer is "whomever."But guys like him are rare. 

 

I think the vote might come down to ....who is most likely to strike out the side in the 9th.  We don't have one of those guys on this roster. So it is like a rotation thing.... Ok, but we still need to look for that guy. 

 

I'd like to see some of the young guys come up... like Jake Reed. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

Many bullpen players for the Twins in the past, during successful seasons, have noted the importance of knowing their role and know which situations or innings they'll be called for. This gives them every chance to be physically and mentally prepared for their outing. I think next year it is important to get back to this model, and I'd expect the Twins to hire a free agent closer for next season. In the meantime, closer by committee is fine to try out different guys in the late-inning roles.

 

That being said, I don't think it should always be a cut-and-dry 7th-inning guy, 8th-inning guy, and closer for every team. Teams without a clear closer should go by committee and leverage situations. Teams with bad offenses might be inclined to use their best pitcher earlier in the game to keep the game close. Etc.

Molitor: Who's this Trevor May you keep talking about?

 

for me.....if May is healthy and good, I'd use him as a high leverage guy in inning 7 or 8....I'd even consider making him a real 2 inning, 2x a week pitcher, and have him ready whenever Mejia or X are pitching (X being whomever else can't go 6 innings)....

 

For closer? McGill until he shows he can't be trusted with it.

    • Kelly Vance likes this
I’m in the whoever camp. The guys who come in with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 6th, 7th and 8th inning are more important than the guy who starts a clean 9th. I simply prefer a bullpen full of guys who the manager trusts in any situation.
    • adorduan likes this

There are a lot of interesting ideas posted here.
For example, I'm far from the only one startled, but intrigued by the thought of Odor being turned into a reliever.
But--- nearly all of those intriguing options depend on having a Mgr who's open to trying these things- and that is NOT the guy in the Twinks' dugout. In the absence of Belisle (thank heaven), it already looks like he's settled on Hildy, and is just going to keep on keepin' on shoving the same pegs into the same holes til this woeful season ends- with no evidence generated about future pitching stocks for next year and beyond.
None, repeat, none of the above ideas are likely to happen with MoY in the dugout.

    • Mike Sixel, Ben Noble and Platoon like this

 

There are a lot of interesting ideas posted here.
For example, I'm far from the only one startled, but intrigued by the thought of Odor being turned into a reliever.
But--- nearly all of those intriguing options depend on having a Mgr who's open to trying these things- and that is NOT the guy in the Twinks' dugout. In the absence of Belisle (thank heaven), it already looks like he's settled on Hildy, and is just going to keep on keepin' on shoving the same pegs into the same holes til this woeful season ends- with no evidence generated about future pitching stocks for next year and beyond.
None, repeat, none of the above ideas are likely to happen with MoY in the dugout.

 

I feel you on this. And it's frustrating. So frustrating.

 

Use of 'openers' in the minors does give me some hope that changes in pen usage could, maybe, possibly be coming at the MLB level. If those changes ever do happen, though, they'll undoubtedly come as directives from the FO, not from Molitor.

    • Platoon and David HK like this

Fernando Romero for the month of September.It might be a good way to get is "feet wet".And it will keep his innings pitched down.

The point isn't really if May can go out there two or three days yet, time will do that. The question is can he mentally handle the closer role. And there is something to that concern for any pitcher. The closer role may become passe, but there is a different stigma to giving up a walk off win in the ninth, than giving up the lead in the seventh or eighth. And some guys can't handle that. You dont have to pitch 3 days in a row to find that out.

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