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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Run It Back

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:04 AM
The Twins are entering their most crucial offseason in many years. After winning 101 games and their first division title since 2010, Min...
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Front Page: Eddie Rosario's Actual Value Is an Offsea...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:27 AM
I shouldn't be surprised anymore. I really shouldn't.Baseball's award voters have overemphasized traditional baseball-card numbers like w...
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Front Page: Trading for a Young Starter: Sandy Alcantara

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:22 AM
With numerous starting rotation holes to fill and plenty of other teams eager to sign free agents, the Twins seem destined to at least te...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Spending Every Penny

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:09 AM
Jim Pohlad has had it up to here with you people. After checking his burner twitter account (@matthew_btwins) and once again seeing someo...
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2020 Blueprint: Cooking up a championship

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:22 AM
In constructing my blueprint, I tried to blend my own style with that of the current management, which seems to 1) seek out value; 2) sta...
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Let's Find a Role for Devin Smeltzer in 2020

Devin Smeltzer’s fastball averaged 89.1 mph at the major league level in 2019. It isn’t much these days, and likely one of the reasons why he has been overlooked so far in his professional career. Fortunately for Smeltzer, he also has great command and stones big enough to be on Easter Island.
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Smeltzer was able to cruise through the minor league system in 2019 and eventually make his MLB debut thanks in part to the two characteristics mentioned in the previous paragraph. The majors proved to be another challenge in itself for Smeltzer but he was able to pitch to the tune of a 3.86 ERA and 4.58 FIP over his first 49 innings.

Unfortunately for Smeltzer, however, is the fact that this upcoming offseason will likely push him out of the major leagues. The starting rotation is as barren as a bar at noon but the Twins have talked up their plans to step on the gas and acquire impact arms. Whether that happens or not will be seen in time but each starter gained will be another obstacle in the way of Smeltzer in 2020.

If the Twins decided to stay in-house for a rotation spot or two then Smeltzer finds himself in trouble yet again as his 2019 performance was behind Randy Dobnak and he doesn’t have the prospect status or strikeout potential of Lewis Thorpe. Throw on top the likely inevitable move back to a starting spot for Brusdar Graterol and well, you see the obstacles in Smeltzer’s way.

Where Smeltzer may find a niche is in the bullpen in a relief role. Now, I have always been a fan of teams getting creative with how they use relievers and I believe that Smeltzer has a unique opportunity to become a multi-inning threat out of the bullpen. What draws me to this is his splits when going through a lineup for the first time. As a starter, he had a 20.4 K-BB% when going through the lineup for the first time and as a reliever, he had a 17.1 K-BB% when going through the lineup for the first time. For context, a 20.4 K-BB% would put him above names like Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin and a 17.1 K-BB% was exactly the same number José Berríos had on the year. Granted, the starters I’m comparing him to did this over all situations, but doesn’t it sound nice to say that Smeltzer was as effective as Patrick Corbin*?

*Actual statisticians can still be damned

He’s great when going through the lineup for the first time, which is nice, are there any downsides? Yes there are, voice in my head, thank you. Smeltzer was one of those weird pitchers who actually had reverse splits at the major league level. Lefties slashed .316/.395/.474 against him with a wOBA of .373, that isn’t good. I know just about nothing as far as pitching goes but if I had to guess what the issue was, I would narrow it down to two things:

1. His sequencing to lefties needs to be adjusted

2. He possibly needs to better develop his slider which he only threw 5.6% of the time at the major league level

Either way, his ability to mow down hitters when facing them for the first time makes me believe that Smeltzer can be a powerful weapon out of the bullpen in a multi-inning “Andrew Miller” role. Rosters will expand to 26 players next season and the added man may prove to be helpful for a pitcher on the cusp like Smeltzer. If he is to be a big part of the 2020 Twins, it would not surprise me if it is in a creative role out of the bullpen. No matter what, expect some silky smooth changeups and Jack Morris to say that Smeltzer is “pitching, not throwing” ... whatever that means.

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15 Comments

He was probably our best pitcher against the Yankees.

So, he's got that going for him.

As the Twins attempt to stockpile fireballers, having a guy who throws much differently may be effective out of the bullpen.

Good luck to him.

    • Danchat and wabene like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Nov 08 2019 12:59 AM
Sure, it could make sense. Smeltzer is a 'gamer' and deserves a shot at an MLB job in 2020.
    • MN_ExPat likes this

I see Smeltzer beginning the season the same place he ended 2019.That is teaming with the likes of Thorpe, Graterol and Dobnak on the 7am flight to Minnesota from Rochester.

 

I love how the Twins handled their need for a long reliever last year.Keep one of your best three or four starters from AAA in the big league bullpen.When he gets into a game and throws 3 or 4 innings, send him down and bring up the next guy. 

 

While in Minnesota he gains big league experience, earns a big league check and is limiting his innings (important for Graterol).When back in Rochester, he is stretched out in the starting rotation.When the need arises for a starter, one of the five comes up and is ready for go for the Twins every fifth day.  

    • Twins33, brvama, beckmt and 5 others like this

 

 

The Twins should have gathered more major league data last year from Smeltzer and Dobnak instead of gathering all the data they gathered from Perez instead

 

That data would be helpful when trying to decide who pitches in the playoffs in 2019 and who gets an opening day rotation spot in 2020.

 

It's risky to hand Smeltzer or Dobnak an opening day job.

 

I'd look for 4 pitchers from outside the organization so those two can compete for next man up. 

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer, MN_ExPat and 2 others like this

There is one other role he could fill. He is better than a lot of the #4,#5 starters on bad teams, so make use of that.He could be a wonderful throw-in for a decent starter (with some better prospects) on a bad team. 

    • alphanumeric and wabene like this

He can be the next man up if you want to keep him as a starter. Eventually, if he can learn command like, say, Duffey, then he will be a solid middle relief specialist.

Berrios

FA SP

Odorizzi (*fingers crossed*)

* Resign Pineda

 

Dobnak/Smeltzer/Graterol/Thorpe compete in ST for the #4 & #5 spots. Two of them start while Pineda serves out his suspension. Once Pineda is reinstated and ready to go, one stays and the other goes back to Rochester. Having quality depth is a good thing!

 

    • birdwatcher and DocBauer like this

learn command like, say, Duffey,

"I'll take Comparisons I Did Not Expect To Hear Heading Into 2019, for $500, Alex."

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN and 4 others like this

I think smeltzer could be an effective bullpen piece, or as a 1-2 inning "opener". Which could be really useful!

 

If odorizzi is back and struggles to get out of the 6th, maybe Smeltzer becomes his partner in games: Odo does 1-5, Smeltzer does 6-7, May/Duffy/Romo (who i still kinda want back)/Rogers combo finishes off 8-9.

 

Instead of a long man that only gets used in blowouts, you've got 1-2 guys who you plan for them to go 2 innings when they get in the game, regardless of matchups. so maybe your pitching staff is set up more like this: 5 starters, 2 bridge guys, 5 for late & close. Your bridge guys never pitch on back to back days, but their expectation is that they're going to come in and give you 2 innings. maybe you still need that 13th pitcher based on your staff, but it's a bridge guy.

 

I may be a crazy person, I admit it freely.

    • birdwatcher, brvama, DocBauer and 1 other like this
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birdwatcher
Nov 08 2019 12:12 PM

 

 

It's risky to hand Smeltzer or Dobnak an opening day job.

 

I'd look for 4 pitchers from outside the organization so those two can compete for next man up. 

 

 

That's how I feel too. I'm dreaming of Berrios, a guy in the Wheeler tier, an Alex Wood-type turnaround guy, Odorizzi, AND Pineda.

 

There will be injuries. It's not just possible, but LIKELY, that a rotation arm is lost to injury for much or all of a season, and history says a team better have plans for 10 different players to make starts.

 

I want my 6-10 possibilities to be guys like Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Poppen, and Graterol. All guys with not just a taste of MLB, but a tiny taste of success.

 

With guys like Duran, Jax, Wells, Balazovic, Chalmers, Colina, Ober, and Sands turning some heads in AA and AAA.

    • brvama, Riverbrian, DocBauer and 1 other like this
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birdwatcher
Nov 08 2019 12:26 PM

Smeltzer would have to win out in competition against Littell, Stashak, and maybe Thorpe for that first out of the pen role. And if the Twins sign a high-leverage inning stud and keep Romo too, which they should do, I think, then maybe he's fighting Alcala for a spot too?

    • DocBauer likes this

Smeltzer would have to win out in competition against Littell, Stashak, and maybe Thorpe for that first out of the pen role. And if the Twins sign a high-leverage inning stud and keep Romo too, which they should do, I think, then maybe he's fighting Alcala for a spot too?


With either 7 or 8 man pen, at least a couple guys should ha e at least one option left. That means plenty of room for Romero, Alcala, Smeltzer, etc, to make contributions.

I think Smeltzer can be a key guy, whether #5 starter or middle man.
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jorgenswest
Nov 08 2019 07:49 PM

The Twins should have gathered more major league data last year from Smeltzer and Dobnak instead of gathering all the data they gathered from Perez instead
 
That data would be helpful when trying to decide who pitches in the playoffs in 2019 and who gets an opening day rotation spot in 2020.
 
It's risky to hand Smeltzer or Dobnak an opening day job.
 
I'd look for 4 pitchers from outside the organization so those two can compete for next man up.


At the time of the trade in 2018 Smeltzer was a AA reliever and finished a AA reliever. He had no innings in AAA. Isn’t it possible that every inning he threw in the minors last year was key to his development and any success in the majors? How many of the 14 starts in AAA do you suggest the Twins should have used for major league data rather than AAA development? Half of them? Would that have made a difference in whatever data they can collect in the majors that they can’t collect in the minors? What data would be collected? It is the same ball. The same machines collect all of the data on his pitches. They have a huge database to match those pitches against similar pitches in the major leagues. His pitches aren’t going to behave differently from the major league mound.

Dobnak was even further away. Development matters.

I am with you on the give a shot to a 28 year old Anderson vs. Belisle failure. Not here though. It was a failure of not acquiring a better major league starter than Perez. If anything Smeltzer and Dobnak are development successes that maybe would have benefited from more time developing in the minors last year.

 

At the time of the trade in 2018 Smeltzer was a AA reliever and finished a AA reliever. He had no innings in AAA. Isn’t it possible that every inning he threw in the minors last year was key to his development and any success in the majors? How many of the 14 starts in AAA do you suggest the Twins should have used for major league data rather than AAA development? Half of them? Would that have made a difference in whatever data they can collect in the majors that they can’t collect in the minors? What data would be collected? It is the same ball. The same machines collect all of the data on his pitches. They have a huge database to match those pitches against similar pitches in the major leagues. His pitches aren’t going to behave differently from the major league mound.

Dobnak was even further away. Development matters.

I am with you on the give a shot to a 28 year old Anderson vs. Belisle failure. Not here though. It was a failure of not acquiring a better major league starter than Perez. If anything Smeltzer and Dobnak are development successes that maybe would have benefited from more time developing in the minors last year.

 

JW: At the time of the trade in 2018 Smeltzer was a AA reliever and finished a AA reliever. He had no innings in AAA.

 

RB: It was the Twins front office... not me who called up Devin Smeltzer on May 28th after 54.2 Innings with an ERA of 1.15 as a starter in AAA. It was Devin Smeltzer who did not suck after that occured. 

 

JW: Isn’t it possible that every inning he threw in the minors last year was key to his development and any success in the majors?

 

RB: I hope so and I hope every inning he threw in the majors was key to his development as well. 

 

JW: How many of the 14 starts in AAA do you suggest the Twins should have used for major league data rather than AAA development? Half of them?

 

RB: Are you asking me for an arbitrary number? I won't provide one. It's actually a condescending question. If you have to ask a question like this... you don't respect me enough to care what I type anyway. I want Smeltzer to increase his sample size to determine if his adequate major league performance is sustainable. I want Perez to decrease his sample size because it had been determined that his major league performance was not adequate.  

 

JW: Would that have made a difference in whatever data they can collect in the majors that they can’t collect in the minors?

 

RB: YES

 

JW: What data would be collected?

 

RB: Can he sustain this performance? Is he the same pitcher after 70 innings of data? Will the league adjust to him... can he adjust to those adjustments. Is he better than Martin Perez? Is he better than Randy Dobnak or Lewis Thorpe? When I say Data... I'm talking about sample size. I don't think 16 innings are enough major league data to hand him a playoff roster spot. That's what I'm saying. I'm talking about the need to increase his sample size. I'm talking about... he has pitched well through 16 innings... maybe we should let him pitch a 17th inning. 

 

JW: It is the same ball.

 

RB: It's not the same hitters. Was this statement meant to be as condescending as it seems? 

 

JW:The same machines collect all of the data on his pitches.

 

RB: Yeah... I'm really starting to think that condescension was absolutely intended.  

 

JW: They have a huge database to match those pitches against similar pitches in the major leagues.

 

RB: The same database that didn't allow Nick Anderson a chance and the same database that kept Martin Perez in the rotation right up to the day they determined that he wouldn't get a playoff spot. 

 

JW: His pitches aren’t going to behave differently from the major league mound.

 

RB: The hitters behave differently... I assume that major league hitters are a more accurate representation of actual major league hitters than the AAA variety. Therefore more accurate information to answer the following questions

1. Is Devin Smeltzer better than Martin Perez right now.

2. Can we move Martin Perez to the bullpen? 

3. Should we give Devin Smeltzer a playoff roster spot? 

4. Do they protect Smeltzer or Gonsalves or Nick Anderson with a 40 man roster spot before the rule 5 draft. 

5. Do we have to find another free agent starting pitcher in the off season?

6. Should we find an opening day roster spot for him in 2020? 

 

JW: Dobnak was even further away. Development matters.

 

RB: From August 28th to September 14 he threw 8 innings while on the major league roster. What kind of development are we talking about here? Kyle Gibsonhad to get sick and Pineda had to get suspended to get 3 actual starts for Dobnak before getting the ball for Game Two. Perez kept his job throughout. 

 

JW: I am with you on the give a shot to a 28 year old Anderson vs. Belisle failure.

 

RB: Thank You

 

JW: Not here though. It was a failure of not acquiring a better major league starter than Perez.

 

RB: I agree... it was a failure of not acquiring a better major league starter than Perez... first and foremost. It was also a failure of assuming that the performance of Perez couldn't be bettered by almost anyone? It was a failure to give important major league development innings to players to help determine who would be placed on the playoff roster, who would be utilized heavier during the playoffs. The guy they gave the innings to... was not selected for the playoffs. It will help determine the real tough 40 man roster decisions they must make ahead of the rule 5. Additional MAJOR LEAGUE development innings increasing the major league sample size would help them determine if they should sign or trade for 4 FA starters or 3 during the off-season or can they actually consider giving either of these guys an opening day roster spot. All while, hopefully pitching better than Martin Perez did to actually improve 2019 performance. Win-Win. 

 

JW: If anything Smeltzer and Dobnak are development successes that maybe would have benefited from more time developing in the minors last year.  

 

RB: If anything... Once they didn't acquire a starter at the trade deadline, the front office was fully committed to the roster they had. This means that someone from the organization has to take over the role of being better than Martin Perez. They didn't have the time to develop more in the minor leagues once they didn't make a trade. It's now showtime... Martin Perez was bad and needed to be upgraded. Kyle Gibson was fighting E Coli which they should have been aware of? And pitchers getting injured are a regular occurrence in the majors. The very second the Twins didn't acquire Stroman or Ray or Syndergaard, was the very second they should have been searching for who will fill the role that Stroman, Ray or Syndergaard would have played from our own organization. That role was be better than Martin Perez. That role was who can we count on in the playoffs. 

    • jorgenswest likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 09 2019 02:25 PM

I have no problems opening the 5th spot up to a competition with Dobnak and Smeltzer being the front runners. I'd lean towards Dobnak in that role presently with Smeltzer starting in AAA and getting the call when someone goes down.

    • Sconnie likes this

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