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Can Cody Stashak Take the Next Step?

Cody Stashak has settled into a middle relief role since his 2019 debut and has done a great job with it. After so many departures from 2020 however, 2021 may be a chance to see if there’s another rung in Stashak’s ladder.
Image courtesy of © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Twins effectively used a rotation of relievers in high leverage spots in 2020. Of the six regular “high leverage guys”, Trevor May, Matt Wisler, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard have all departed (although the latter two are still free agents). The Twins currently sit with Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey atop the bullpen pecking order. Young fireballer Jorge Alcala could slot into that tier of reliever, as could a rebound from newly signed Hansel Robles or another late addition to the bullpen. The bullpen however has its fair share of question marks.

Cody Stashak has not been a question mark since his debut. While admittedly not overly battle tested so far due to the bullpen depth, Stashak has largely done whatever job that’s been asked of him. In his two seasons he’s compiled a 3.15 ERA and 3.11 FIP. His fastball which hovers around 92 MPH doesn’t catch a lot of eyes, which may be why he’s had such an underrated first two seasons in the MLB.



His 9.45 K/9 is impressive, but it’s also worth noting he already took a step forward from his rookie season and upped this rate to 10.20/9 in 2020. Where Stashak really excels is preventing walks however. His 0.90 BB/9 in his career so far is downright outrageous, and something he’s always taken great pride in.



Aside from a few homers in the playoffs these last few years, Stashak has mostly avoided the long ball so far in his career. A 1.13 HR/9 mark is more than acceptable for a reliever with such good command.

Stashak made some kind of improvement between 2019 and 2020 to up that strikeout rate and it’s fair to say that the Twins pitching coaches will look to continue to make some tweaks. He has the great floor because of his command when it comes to his fastball and slider, but maybe adding another pitch is next on his to do list. He’s peppered in a changeup periodically that hasn’t gotten hit hard but also hasn’t induced a single swing and miss in 2020. In any case, Stashak has been making forward progress as an effective reliever at the MLB level since his debut. I’d expect it to continue.

The obvious request in Twins territory is to sign a high end reliever to help soften the blow the bullpen has taken this winter. While I share that sentiment, Stashak taking another step forward helps the Twins regardless of how the rest of the winter shakes out. The Twins love using guys in multiple roles and Stashak could find himself in some more high leverage ones in 2021. He’s earned a shot.

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10 Comments

Too SSS to suggest he has a career path of anything close to dominance in any way. BUT, in that SSS, he has also shown tremendous control and fortitude. So far, be has done everything he could possibly do to show he could have a great career as a middle reliever. And that is a good thing! IF he did find a decent 3rd pitch, it could move him forward to a role as part of a late inning option.

I've seen enough of him thus far to pen him in as part of the 2021 bullpen. He is not Alcala or the potential of Corina at this point, both of whom I think the Twins have faith in, but he doesn't have to be. I've seen, thus far, all I have to see that he can be a quality middle relief option who gets the job done. I think Rocco and the FO feels the same.

Now, some sort of change via a cutter or something else developed, he could take a step forward.
    • Dman, rdehring, Melissa and 1 other like this
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specialiststeve
Jan 16 2021 09:35 PM

Nice cheap reliever... as stated an addition of a cutter may be good for him... 

I love developing players from within

 

    • rdehring and GNess like this
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tony&rodney
Jan 17 2021 07:17 AM

Stashak is fun to watch because he throws strikes and keeps hitters off balance just enough. Right now I would say he is our third most reliable/best relief pitcher.

    • rdehring likes this

Stashak is an interesting bullpen option. I'd say his viability as a higher-leverage guy depends on his ability to not give up hits at this point. He can get Ks, he doesn't give up too many BBs, he keeps the ball in the park at a very reasonable ratio. If he can keep the H/9 down around the levels he did in the minors (and did in 2020) then he's going to be a guy you can count on, not just to come in and get you through the 6th inning, but to come in and get you out of a jam too with runners on base.

 

I'll be watching to see where his WHIP goes this season, especially his h/9. If he's giving up better than a hit per inning, then he's a middle reliever who comes in to get you an inning or so, best served coming in at the start of an inning with a clean sheet. You worry less about relievers giving up more on the BB side than giving up hits as part of WHIP when they also have high K rates because they're keeping the ball out of play when runners are on base. But if you're a guy that gives up too many cheap singles consistently...then the value in higher leverage situations declines.

 

Stashak's ability to get Ks, keep the ball in the park and not hand out too many walks gives him real value as a reliever. His ability to ascend in the bullpen rankings will depend on how well he keeps guys from getting hits. He's useful regardless, but how much versatility he can give will be interesting to watch.

 

I definitely think he should be a contender to pick up some of those innings from May & Romo.

    • DocBauer, wabene and Melissa like this
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puckstopper1
Jan 17 2021 10:53 AM

 

Stashak is an interesting bullpen option. I'd say his viability as a higher-leverage guy depends on his ability to not give up hits at this point. He can get Ks, he doesn't give up too many BBs, he keeps the ball in the park at a very reasonable ratio. If he can keep the H/9 down around the levels he did in the minors (and did in 2020) then he's going to be a guy you can count on, not just to come in and get you through the 6th inning, but to come in and get you out of a jam too with runners on base.

 

I'll be watching to see where his WHIP goes this season, especially his h/9. If he's giving up better than a hit per inning, then he's a middle reliever who comes in to get you an inning or so, best served coming in at the start of an inning with a clean sheet. You worry less about relievers giving up more on the BB side than giving up hits as part of WHIP when they also have high K rates because they're keeping the ball out of play when runners are on base. But if you're a guy that gives up too many cheap singles consistently...then the value in higher leverage situations declines.

 

Stashak's ability to get Ks, keep the ball in the park and not hand out too many walks gives him real value as a reliever. His ability to ascend in the bullpen rankings will depend on how well he keeps guys from getting hits. He's useful regardless, but how much versatility he can give will be interesting to watch.

 

I definitely think he should be a contender to pick up some of those innings from May & Romo.

 

I totally agree JLease. 

 

K's are great, but if he comes in and gives up hits in key situations, that does the Twins no good. 

 

I believe Stashak will be given opportunities in higher leverage situations early in the season and how he performs during those opportunities will determine how many more he gets.

    • JLease likes this

Interesting, Cody writing about Cody!

 

Regarding the pitcher, I look for him to be a solid part of the Twins bullpen over the coming years. With that said, I still want one more experienced, dominant arm in 2021.

    • DocBauer likes this

He's 27 with 40 ML innings. Playoff teams shouldn't rely on him to make the difference. He could be an average bullpen arm. He might have a Matt Gurrier type career - less innings, obviously, but better k-rate. Solid set-up guy is probably his ceiling but it's probably closer to low-leverage bullpen arm.

 

He's 27 with 40 ML innings. Playoff teams shouldn't rely on him to make the difference. He could be an average bullpen arm. He might have a Matt Gurrier type career - less innings, obviously, but better k-rate. Solid set-up guy is probably his ceiling but it's probably closer to low-leverage bullpen arm.

 

So because he didn't get a chance early enough in his career, you want to write-off his upside? He doesn't have the 98mph fastball, so ignore his results and bury him.

 

What a waste.

 

(also, Guerrier had an 11 year MLB career.)

 

So because he didn't get a chance early enough in his career, you want to write-off his upside? He doesn't have the 98mph fastball, so ignore his results and bury him.

 

What a waste.

 

(also, Guerrier had an 11 year MLB career.)

Yeah, Guerrier would be a wonderful outcome. Just not a realistic one.