Supplementing the Twins: Filling the Pen
Image courtesy of © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsIdeally, the Twins must address their bullpen this offseason. The reality is that relief pitchers either need to be incredibly good with their breaking pitches, or they need the ability to shove into the upper 90’s and blow the ball by hitters. Save for Ryan Pressly, Minnesota doesn’t have much in the form of flamethrowers. There are some options on the way, but bringing in a bullpen arm or two hardly sounds like a bad idea.
So, if the Twins are starting with a guy who could make a splash, Bryan Shaw may be a good place to turn. Forget that he’s a former Cleveland Indian, and has a level of rapport with Derek Falvey. The reality is that he’s a very good pitcher, and one who could potentially close out games for the Twins.
For the second straight year, Shaw saw an increase in his velocity, averaging around 95mph on his fastball. His 3.52 ERA wasn’t a career best this year, but the 2.96 FIP was. He’s been consistently around 8.0 K/0 or better, and has thrown at least 60 innings in every season since 2012. At 30 years old, there’s probably plenty of life left in his arm, and a multi-year deal would hardly be over-extending.
Option number two comes in the former of sometimes closer Addison Reed. 29 during the 2018 season, Reed owns a 3.40 career ERA. Outside of a relatively abysmal time in Arizona, he’s actually been really good over the course of his seven-year big league career. A 9.5 K/9 would be more than welcome in the Twins pen, even with a velocity that sits a bit lower (around 92mph).
Reed has plenty of experience under his belt, and worked as a solid late inning option for the Red Sox down the stretch in 2017. He has accumulated 125 career saves, and would give Minnesota another good option in relief regardless of whether he’s closing out games. Reed has posted 70 innings pitched in back to back seasons, while never throwing less than 55 in a year. Health and ability are there, and Reed seems another decent candidate for a multi-year option.
Looking at a lefty addition, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine could look to a guy that just fell short in the World Series. Former Pirates closer Tony Watson was dealt to the Dodgers midway through 2017, and he’s been among the most consistent relievers in baseball for years. At 33 in 2018, he’ll have a bit of age creeping in against him, but the 2.75 ERA over the past three seasons is hardly a negative.
Watson isn’t a big strikeout guy, at just 7.4 K/9. He does control counts however, with just a 2.5 BB/9 over the course of his career. Home runs have plagued him a bit more recently, and his FIP numbers don’t exactly jump off the page. At the right dollar amount though, he’s a substantial upgrade over some of the Twins current southpaw options, and he also has solid late inning experience.
Rounding out the four-bagger of options is the first former starter of the group. Mike Minor dealt with injuries that sidelined him during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. After solely pitching in the National League, he resurfaced with the Royals for 2017. Making 65 appearances over 77.2 IP, he was a revelation. The 2.55 ERA was backed by a glowing 2.62 FIP and his 10.2 K/9 would be welcomed anywhere.
Throwing around 91mph as a starter, Minor ramped things up to a 95mph average on his fastball this season in relief. Not only was he a horse out of the pen, but he was really, really good when called upon. The key with Minor is sustainability, and whether or not this was a one-year outlier. If there’s belief in the stuff going forward however, he’ll be just 30 next year, and could be the next out-of-nowhere stud in the pen.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are going to need to determine what internal options they believe in, either currently penciled in or coming through the system. It’s hardly a bad proposition though to bring in some strong options from outside to elevate the group as a whole. The Twins can’t be mediocre in starting roles and relief if they want to take the next step forward, and I’d imagine everyone involved is aware of that.
- BigSkyTwinsFan, Cory Engelhardt, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this