Reed Is All In On The Super Bullpen Strategy
Image courtesy of © Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY SportsThis offseason, one of the main goals for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine was to reshape the guys Paul Molitor and Garvin Alston have at their disposal. After using a record 36 pitchers a year ago, Minnesota needed more quality to reduce the quantity of arms they’ve have to rely upon. In relief, they accomplished that feat by inking Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke to one-year deals. Coming off a very strong season with the Mets and Red Sox, Reed was able to land himself a two year pact from the Twins.
Minnesota didn’t have to look far in 2017 to find a relief corps of envy. Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians had one of the best groups in all of baseball. Having names like Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller will all pose a significant threat to the success of opposing hitters. While Allen is the closer, it’s guys like Shaw and Miller who may find themselves in even higher leverage situations. Really, Miller may be the guy who began to pioneer this movement. Understanding that the save is simply a microcosm of a need to classify the last few outs, he’s become one of the best relief arms in baseball by allowing himself to be deployed when the team needs him most.
Having saved 125 games over the course of his career, Reed entered the Twins mix after Rodney had already been signed and promised the closer role. There was some thought that his signing could shift Minnesota’s plans on the back end. In talking with Reed though, he seems to be much more from the Andrew Miller school of thought. “I haven’t cared about saves….I’ll tell you this, I’m glad I got some saves before arbitration. I’ve always said a save can be in the first or second inning, a lot of these games are one or two run games. I’ve always thought the save statistic was overhyped.”
Now back in the division, Reed sees the Twins as laying a blueprint along the same lines as the Indians or Yankees. “I told them when we had the one on one innings, hopefully it never happens but I’ll throw the second inning if I have to. I don’t care when I pitch, I’m here to win.” High leverage is something Reed has excelled in across his career, and slamming the door on opposing teams' potential run scoring innings is an opportunity he definitely craves. With a 9.8 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 over the past two seasons, there’s no denying what an asset he can be whenever deployed during a game.
When entering free agency this offseason, it was a winning mindset that rose above all else. Despite having worked as a closer and picking up the money- making save opportunities, Reed targeted a place he could be effective and make a difference. While noting that his goal was to stay in the Midwest, he also didn’t want to be in a situation where the check was a bigger draw than the result in the box score. “They (the Twins) shocked a lot of people last year. We aren’t going to shock anyone this year, I can tell you that. I saw they were serious about winning….we only added pieces. I wasn’t after the money; minimum wage in baseball is more than anywhere else. I think a ring on my finger would look much nicer than a check.”
The Twins relievers posted the 22nd best fWAR a season ago, they were also 22nd in ERA, and they were 29th in K/9. Adding arms like Rodney, Duke and Reed should drastically improve that situation. Being able to have the pitcher who is arguably the best of that trio available to get outs at whatever point the game dictates it most also won’t hurt. Paul Molitor will have to display an ability to effectively manage his pen within the constructs of each game and will need to move away from a more traditional and rigid thought process. Whether or not that takes some time for the Twins skipper to accomplish or not, he’ll have plenty of setup quality arms available throughout the course of any given game.
Trying to advance on their Wild Card berth a season ago, Minnesota will look to take another step forward in 2018. As a newcomer, Reed sees it as a real possibility, and has his sights set even higher. “I’ve been fortunate to play long enough to be comfortable with where I’m at. Right now I want a ring, maybe a couple of rings.” With that, he smirked, and it was apparent that the Twins newest arm is ready to go.