Can Cody Stashak Take the Next Step?
Image courtesy of © Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsThe 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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