Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Derek Falvey Interview on 1500 ESPN

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:36 AM
Falvey discusses Sano, payroll, etc. http://www.1500espn....an-mackey-judd/
Full topic ›

Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:35 AM
According to the Star Tribune, Byron Buxton is displeased with the Twins after not being called up in September of 2018. According to Byr...
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Trying to Sustain Excellence

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:33 AM
If you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed at the close of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, I’m sure you’re not the only Minnesota Twins fan i...
Full topic ›

Article: Official Rule 5 Draft Day Thread

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 07:31 AM
The Winter Meetings in Las Vegas have been fairly quiet against in 2018. Certainly there are meetings, but there haven't been a lot of si...
Full topic ›

Non-Twins Off-season news, tidbits and transactions

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:03 PM
We had a thread for items around the baseball world that were worth sharing but not worth a thread of their own. Now that the 2018 season...
Full topic ›

Handbook Sampler: Miller on Finding a Closer

What follows is an excerpt from a feature for the 2019 Offseason Handbook, which you can order here on a name-your-price basis and receive it right away.

Phil Miller has covered the Twins for the Star Tribune since 2013, and has also covered them for the Pioneer Press. In total, he has more than four decades of experience in sports journalism, and for my money, he's the best writer on the local baseball beat.

He's also a tremendously nice guy who's always been incredibly supportive of our independent writing ventures, and was kind enough to contribute to the Handbook by breaking down a crucial topic for this winter: the search for a closer. Read an excerpt below.
Image courtesy of Troy Taormina, USA Today
By Phil Miller:

High velocity is a tremendous weapon, and a knee-locking changeup can win a lot of games. But Eddie Guardado, who knows something about relief pitching, believes the best closers possess an attribute that is more important than anything that can be measured by StatCast.

“If you’re the closer, you’ve got to have [guts],” Guardado said, though he used more vivid language to make his point. “You can’t be afraid to throw your pitches, no matter the situation. It’s hard for some guys to learn that, because it really comes from inside you.”

Guardado should know. In five seasons as a Twins’ closer, he never threw a pitch in the mid-90s, and never had a breaking ball that made a batter flinch. But by changing speeds, moving locations and directions, and especially throwing strikes no matter what, he saved 152 games for a team that won three division titles, including an AL-leading 45 in 2002. Guardado, the Twins’ bullpen coach since 2015 [editor's note: Guardado was dismissed from the gig shortly after the Handbook's release], says he frequently sees closers who don’t have the, um, physical attribute necessary for the job.

“You ever see a pitcher put guys on base in the ninth [inning], and he looks like he has no idea what to throw next? That’s how you know he’s not a closer,” Guardado scoffed. “A closer tells himself, ‘you got lucky.’ Even if he loses.”

But if it sounds like Guardado recognizes few pitchers with the cojones to preserve wins, the opposite is actually true. Too many teams limit their search for closers to pitchers who do little but throw 96-mph fastballs, the Twins Hall of Famer said. But Minnesota’s recent history illustrates that capable closers — like Everyday Eddie — sometimes come in far different packaging.

“Look at Brandon Kintzler — he was a guy who had a really good sinker, and a couple of so-so pitches. Nobody ever gave him a chance to close. He didn’t even make our team out of spring training” in 2016, Guardado said. “But when we needed someone to close games that year, he learned the mentality — slow it down, take your time, trust your stuff. He picked it right up because he wasn’t afraid,” and even made the AL All-Star team in 2017.

Kintzler is the best example of the Twins’ recent history of revolving closers. While some teams spend millions on established save leaders — Aroldis Chapman got $86 million over five seasons from the Yankees, Wade Davis was guaranteed $51 million by the Rockies, and Craig Kimbrel, finishing up a $42 million contract with the Red Sox, figures to get even more this offseason — the Twins have mostly filled the job by training non-closers to do it.

That’s a history that goes back to Joe Nathan, the best closer in Twins’ history, who was a marginally successful starter and middle reliever for the Giants until being traded to Minnesota. After elbow surgery ended Nathan’s career, the Twins turned to another former starter, Glen Perkins, and watched him become an All-Star, too. An injury also eventually derailed Perkins’ career, and the Twins appointed Kevin Jepsen their closer, then Kintzler, and then Matt Belisle.

***


Want to read the rest of this story, and 70 pages of in-depth analysis of the offseason that’s about to get underway? Claim your copy of the 2019 Offseason Handbook, at a price of your choosing, and you’ll receive it right away.


  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

8 Comments

If a pitcher doesn't know what to throw next. 

 

I'd suggest AAA to do some more learnin.:)

Photo
nicksaviking
Nov 11 2018 06:59 PM
I like the Phil Miller contribution, though not the implication that Guardado and Kintzler are how the Twins should model their closer search.

Can a closer get away with low velocity, low strikeouts and lots of base runners? Sure, but why seek outliers who need significant help from the defenses when you don’t need to? Don’t get cute, get a guy who’s going to miss a lot of bats. Get three of them in fact.

There are so many good relievers this off season, they might not get a better chance to fix the pen, spend the millions.
    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, beckmt and 3 others like this

Agree,need at least 2 from the better relievers pile to have a chance to greatly improve this season.

If there's one thing the Twins are consistently good at it's plugging in unknown players at closer successfully.

I don't think they need to specifically sign someone for the 9th inning. But they do need 2-3 guys who can handle the high leverage situations in the 7-8th innings.
    • diehardtwinsfan, Danchat and jtkoupal like this

Here's a radical idea: DON'T FIND A CLOSER!!

 

That's right. One guy doesn't need to be designated the "closer" and relegated to 9th inning action. Add several weapons you can trust and use them as appropriate. Better to have your relief ace pitch in a tight 7th inning situation against the best opposing hitters than facing the bottom of the order in a three-run game in the 9th.

    • Teflon and Danchat like this

Trevor May: former starting pitcher turned closer.

 

Worked great with Nathan and Perkins; I think he has similar potential.

    • Doctor Wu likes this

Jorge De La Rosa could probably be a closer and he would cost about two million. Even if the Twins don't have him close games, they should pick him up. He hits 93+.

    • caninatl04 likes this

I just want to re-introduce my ideas.

 

http://twinsdaily.co...loser-for-2019/