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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 09:08 AM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
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Nelson Cruz wants 2 years

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:12 AM
https://www.mlbtrade...-year-deal.html
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MLB.com report on instructional league prospects

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 07:30 AM
In case you haven't seen it, mlb.com has published an article on the prospects at instructional league camp and their progress.   ht...
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MLB Sees Local TV And Streaming Viewership Up Over 4% For...

Other Baseball Yesterday, 09:08 PM
Twins local viewership up 9%.   Link to the article at Forbes:   https://www.forbes.c...0/#36bd03b33dac
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Re-Load vs. Re-Tool vs. Re-Build for 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:14 AM
The Twins certainly have options this winter now that the core has been here long enough to make some tough calls. Which is the best rout...
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Astros-Twins ALDS Preview: Which Bullpen Has the Edge?

All season the Minnesota Twins reaped success from a bullpen chock-full of depth and high end talent alike. As the Twins head into the Wild Card round of the MLB playoffs, how does their bullpen compare to the relief corps out of the Houston Astros?
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins

Attached Image: twins bullpen.png

What has made the Minnesota Twins bullpen so formidable in this 2020 season has been their mix of dominant, high-end talent at the top of the bullpen, with exceptional depth throughout the back of their bullpen. No matter the occasion, the Twins are always able to throw out a quality arm who can get guys out at the plate.

Coming into 2020, the high end reliever for the Twins was supposed to be left hander, Taylor Rogers. That hasn’t exactly panned out as Rogers has struggled with consistency, and he has played himself into more of a matchup-type role rather than the no-doubt closer for the Minnesota Twins. Filling his role as the ace of the bullpen has been Tyler Duffey. Duffey has pitched like one of the best relievers in baseball over the last 14 months thanks to his outstanding command and ridiculous curveball that generates a whiff % of 41.3. The other carryovers from last year’s bullpen have been Sergio Romo and Trevor May. Sergio Romo still kills right handers, and while Trevor May struggled for much of this season, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 8 appearances.

The new additions to the bullpen in 2020 have been what has really pushed this group over the top. That has started with Matt Wisler. Wisler was acquired off of waivers this offseason and has posted ridiculous numbers as his 1.07 ERA is third best among all American League pitchers with at least 20 IP. Tyler Clippard was acquired via free agency this offseason and has used reverse splits for much of the year to shut down left handed hitters. Finally there’s Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcalá at the back of the bullpen who have been surprise contributors for the Twins in 2020. Though they are at the back of the bullpen, don’t be surprised to see them get work this postseason.

Houston Astros

Attached Image: astros bullpen.png

Coming off of an excellent 2019 season in which the Astros bullpen finished with the 2nd best ERA in all of baseball, Houston’s bullpen hasn’t quite been as dominant in 2020. One key reason for this has been that their star closer, Roberto Osuna, only pitched in 4 games this season before being shelved with elbow problems. As a result, Houston was forced to shift everyone up in their bullpen and count on guys that weren’t originally in their plans.

The ace of the Astros bullpen is a name that Minnesota Twins fans should all know extremely well, Ryan Pressly. Pressly pitched with the Minnesota Twins for 5 and a half years before being traded away to the Astros in 2018 for Jorge Alcalá and Gilberto Celestino. Pressly hasn’t been quite as dominant this season as he was last year, but his 2.81 FIP indicates that he has been better than his numbers might suggest. After Ryan Pressly the Astros will trot out some unfamiliar names in Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Brooks Raley, and Andre Scrubb. None of these pitchers have experience on the playoff stage before.

The Astros have a tendency of moving starting pitchers into the bullpen in the playoffs. In 2017, Houston shifted Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton to the bullpen and found success. They figure to do the same this year by moving starting pitchers Josh James and Cristian Javier to the bullpen along with José Urquidy (figuring Framber Valdez starts game 2).

This group isn’t the dominant group of Roberto Osuna, Collin McHugh, Will Harris and Héctor Rondón from last season, but their mix of solid relievers with their starting pitchers should form a formidable group for the Wild Card round.

Who Has the Edge?

Attached Image: matchup.png

Above are the combined statistics of the expected relievers for each team in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. These numbers are different than the bullpen statistics for each team, but are a better indicator of the actual group that will be appearing over the next three days. As shown above, the Minnesota Twins group of relievers has a clear edge in terms of 2020 production. Twins relievers are striking out more batters while allowing less runs and less baserunners. At the top of the respective bullpens, Tyler Duffey has been performing better than Ryan Pressly, and down the list the Twins have better performers towards the bottom of their bullpen in Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcalá than do the Houston Astros.

While the Twins have the clear numbers advantage in terms of bullpen performance, the wild card will come from how well the Astros converted bullpen arms perform out of the bullpen. Many times we see converted bullpen arms put up better numbers in limited innings out of the bullpen than they do over 6 innings as the starting pitcher. In Josh James, Cristian Javier and José Urquidy, you could see stellar performances out of the bullpen that we might not be expecting or the numbers might not suggest based on how they’ve pitched as starting pitchers.

The other advantage for the Minnesota Twins comes from the fact that the Houston Astros are light on left handed bullpen arms. The Twins have struggled all season against left handed pitching, especially left handed relievers. The Astros best reliever, Ryan Pressly, is right handed and 6 of their 8 expected relievers will be right handed.

Do you think the Minnesota Twins edge the Houston Astros in relief pitching? Which reliever will be the biggest X-Factor for the Minnesota Twins in this series? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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1 Comments

I don't think the Astros are necessarily a BAD baseball team despite limping in to the expanded playoffs. And I see a strong similarity in them and Cleveland in that via trade and development, they always seem to find pitching. This is an area where I think/hope/expect the Twins organization is becoming. But at some point, there has to be acknowledgment that the Twins staff is pretty darn good from top to bottom right now.

I know Rogers hasn't been his past/normal self. And I don't want to get in to another debate about numbers and peripherals and how he may be better in 2020 than some of his results have been, etc. He still has experience and a big arm capable of some really good things. And especially now come playoff time, I believe Rocco will play matchup ball, meaning Rogers doesn't have to be the closer.

I don't have season numbers in front of me, and not going to go digging for them, but it seems to me Romo has had another fine season with a couple bad outings recently to inflate his final numbers. And let us not forget the volatility of a RP numbers. All of our pen pitchers have roughly 1/3 of a season. (Same for everyone else I get it)! If this WERE a full season, Rogers and Romo both could look outstanding for their "second half plus". Do you really want to get against Romo, and all his experience, plus the job he did most of this year vs a couple hiccups lately?

Even with bullpen games, nobody on this staff has been over used. Depth has provided everyone to succeed without being abused, IMO. But 162 numbers will always look different than 60 game numbers.

A point that Gleeman brought up in the recent podcast I hadn't thought about, when so many games are played against the same opponent, sometimes in almost back to back series, does this affect pitching performance? Something to at least consider.

But the game is still played on the field, 60 or 162 games. And it's playoff time. This pen has helped the Twins to one of the best records in the AL and all of MLB. Time and again, with little exception, they have done the job. They may blow up. I'd like to think they will continue to perform well going forward.

I give the advantage here to the Twins, though it may not be a big advantage.

Dark horse? May. He was outstanding before a slump tbat seemed predicated by HR balls. He seems to have found himself lately.

Surprise? Thielbar. I have no clue what the future holds for him beyond this year, but to be accurate as well as corny, and to borrow from Jedi mythology: "this is not the Thielbar you know".