Twins Have to Do Something About the Bullpen
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsHere’s hoping anyone who ends up converting takes quickly to the role. They won’t exactly be joining the most experienced bullpen out there. Take a look at the 40-man roster, there’s an alarming lack of arms with prior MLB experience pitching out of the bullpen. Here’s the entire list of pitchers with 10 or more career relief appearances in the majors:
Addison Reed (465 games in relief)
Blake Parker (229)
Taylor Rogers (198)
Trevor Hildenberger (110)
Trevor May (100)
Tyler Duffey (74)
Matt Magill (45)
Gabriel Moya (36)
Also, bullpen coach Jeremy Hefner is in his first season. As is pitching coach Wes Johnson. And manager Rocco Baldelli too.
What could go wrong?
I’m not saying this current bullpen is completely doomed, but the floor is very low. If guys like Reed and Hildy can bounce back, as John wrote about earlier today, and Romero can take to his new role, this could be a pretty strong unit. On the other hand, just imagine the impact a Taylor Rogers injury would have. You can’t expect everything to go your way.
If there was ever a team where some Fernando Rodney or Zach Duke types made sense, this would be it. There was a time when giving some fresh faces looks in relief would have made sense, but that seems like a poor plan to open a season in which you hope to compete.
The perfect opportunity for guys to get their feet wet would have been at the end of last season. Andrew Vasquez got in there for a whopping five innings, that was nice, but this was also a team that dumped 23 2/3 innings into Matt Belisle. But here we are, it is what it is.
That lack of established relievers also means even the bullpen reinforcements appear to be guys who are going to have to adjust to a new role. Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves or even Lewis Thorpe represent the next in line, but some of those guys will need to stay stretched out in order to serve as rotation depth. Of course, they can always make changes to the 40-man roster, but the guys next in line either have never pitched in the majors (Jake Reed, Ryan Eades) or haven’t been effective for some time (Tim Collins, Mike Morin).
Just a quick note on the opener, I don’t think we see the Twins do much with it in 2019 unless things go very poorly. Even if it’s something they implement on a regular basis, you still need a lot of traditional relievers in your bullpen anyway.
I take a look at the current construction of this pitching staff and see far from an ideal situation to expect a rookie coaching staff to successfully navigate. My original intention of this article was going to try to make sense of what the front office is thinking in terms of the bullpen, similar to the article I wrote about their additions to the lineup, but I can't do it. There’s no way we’re looking at the final picture. No way.
I don’t have any inside information, this is all just a hunch, but I cannot imagine the Twins enter the regular season with the bullpen as it’s currently constructed. Among the top free agents still available (STILL!?!?!?) are Craig Kimbrel, Bud Norris, Ryan Madson, Adam Warren and Nick Vincent. Kimbrel is obviously the marquee name of that bunch, but I believe any one of those five guys could help serve as a stabilizing influence for this Twins pen.
There are also always trades. The Twins have the prospects to give up, but I’m not sure if most non-contending teams would be motivated to make a move now or rather hold on until the trade deadline. I’ve been drooling over the idea of the Twins nabbing Mychal Givens from the hapless Orioles, though I’m not sure if there’d be any interest from either side.
But the Twins will do something. I mean, they have to ... right?
- Danchat, Minny505 and caninatl04 like this