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Game Thread: Twins vs Reds 6:10pm cdt 9/26/2020 ad

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:47 PM
You know, that C the Reds use as their logo looks strangely familiar... I confess, amongst the t-shirts i remember wearing as a kid was b...
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A (pretty accurate) look at the seedings

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:18 PM
Going into the final weekend of the season, the eight-team AL field is nearly set, though no team is locked into its seed. Here's what I...
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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 04:58 PM
There haven't been many yet, but I'll start this today...   The Twins just announced that Zack Littell (hamstring) has been placed o...
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Playoff tiebreaks

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:37 AM
With three teams fighting for the division title, it seems quite possible there will be a tie for the division winner this year in the AL...
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The Robes

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:32 AM
It’s hokey, but I don’t think the fact that Donaldson gifted everyone on the team their own robes, and they have turned it into a “thing”...
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Recent Blogs


Under The Radar: Bullpen Breakouts

We went from pulling out our pitchforks at the sight of the bullpen lineup to being downright optimistic about it by the end of 2019 as Ted laid out earlier this week. We seemingly saw more pitchers take steps forward than in any year in recent memory across the organization. Some pitchers like Taylor Rogers had their trajectory pointing toward a career year in 2019. Others like Tyler Duffey emerged from a questionable past and future. It's stories like Duffey's that keep baseball fans guessing. A fringe MLB pitcher turned elite seemingly out of nowhere. It's the system he was in however that unlocked his talent, and there just might be more unlikely aces to emerge in this Twins bullpen in 2020.
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Here are three under the radar relievers that could be surprise bullpen aces in 2020.

Jorge Alcala
Alcala was acquired for Ryan Pressley in 2018 and was an unspectacular starter at the time. Inconsistent control and a questionable offspeed mix warranted a move to the bullpen midseason in 2019. He went on to put up a 0.98 ERA with 18Ks and 4 walks in 18 innings before getting called up to the majors, where we only saw two appearances from him. His approach was similar to what we’ve seen pitchers like Tyler Duffey be so successful with; Cut out everything but your best offspeed pitch and fastball, which sits mid to high 90s for Alcala. Look forward to seeing what Alcala can do with a full season in the bullpen, even if he doesn’t break camp with the major league team.

Cody Stashak
Cody’s are cool. Stashak is one of the overlooked arms that have come up through our system because he gets things done in a different way than the Alcala’s of the world. In his 25 MLB innings, he averaged just 91.7 mph on his fastball. Stashak however sports plus command, allowing only 10 walks in 78.1 innings in 2019. While that’s an unexciting skill for some, he also struck out 24.1% of batters he faced in his debut season. That pairing could be very effective, and I’d expect Stashak to only improve further as he tweaks his approach to attacking hitters. He may not reach his career highs in the minors of 30%+ K rates or 12+ K/9, but Stashak may have a ceiling we haven’t yet seen. Stashak should be headed north with the Twins to start the year, and will be getting every opportunity to move up the ladder in the pen.

Fernando Romero
By now you’ve read this name and you’re moving your mouse to the “close” button on your browser. Please don’t. Romero is essentially in the position that Duffey was last year, as this may be his last shot. We all saw what the Twins were able to unlock in Duffey however, and I’d argue Romero has an even higher ceiling with his big time fastball and still relatively young age. In 2016, his K% was around 25% for the first time since 2016 in A ball, his most successful season to date.The biggest issue for Romero in 2019 however was his walks. 40 of them in 71.2 innings isn’t going to play. It may have been a result of his mechanical tweaks however, as the coaching staff was trying to find a way to make his stuff click. If he can get the walk issue ironed out, he still has the raw stuff to dominate professional hitters as we’ve seen in flashes over the years. You may not believe in Romero at this point, but I’d encourage you to believe in the organization’s ability to find the missing piece.

We’re just beginning to see the payoff from a complete overhaul of this organization, especially on the pitching development side. While we discuss these three breakout candidates for our bullpen in 2020, there’s an argument to be made for dozens of other arms in the system who could exceed expectations this season. Expect to see plenty of young guys test their mettle at the major league level. Who’s your bet for our bullpen breakout in 2020?

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7 Comments

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Doctor Gast
Jan 26 2020 06:30 AM

Romero has the stuff. It weird that some pitchers can get batters to chase after their breaking balls & others the batters are able to lay off. Romero is one of the unfortunate ones. I don`t know if he`s telegraphing or he`s too predictable. So some how he needs to throw breaking balls for strike & mix it up a little & hopefully become the pitcher he`s capable of becoming w/us

The guy I think keeps getting overlooked is Zack Littell. He’s not talked about as a lock for the bullpen, nor is he often listed as a young guy that has a chance to play an important role. Meanwhile, all he did since the beginning of June is put up a .88 ERA over 30 innings. Behind Rogers and Duffy I can see him as being the next most effective reliever.
    • mikelink45, Sconnie, JoshDungan1 and 1 other like this

Romero is someone I really believed in a few years ago, but I felt that the coaching he got at that time actually set him back.I don't necessarily believe in him now, but I would love to see him get it together.

 

 

I am not an anti Terry Ryan person.I believe he was, and still is, a phenomenal judge of talent and a great scout who basically built the team we are now celebrating. The one huge mistake that I believe he made was the one or two year draft emphasis on college relief pitchers.who threw in the upper 90's; part of the mph infatuation that is hopefully being phased out.A real waste of a half dozen or so relatively high draft choices.I think Jake Reed is the only one left with the organization.I believe the rest are out of baseball.

The truth of the matter regarding bullpen construction is that the best relievers are failed starters.They are starters initially because that is where the best pitchers are used. Some make the transition from starter to reliever in the minors; others end up in the pen as a way of making the MLB roster. Often times the key to the transition is to eliminate pitches that are not strong points and concentrate on strengths.With that comes the apparent downside of problems the second or third time thru the order with only a two pitch mix.

The evolution of MLB staffs has seen the reduction of starters who throw 200+ innings per year and the increase in multi-inning relievers. Of those listed as break out candidates I would keep a close eye on Romero and Alcala.

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LylesCrocodiles
Jan 26 2020 09:43 AM
Romero had a 4.58 ERA in his first dozen ML starts back in 2018. He went toe to toe with Ohtani. He did struggle his last couple turns and got demoted. Yes last year was disappointing but he’s still got stuff. If he can regain his fastball command and make even a little improvement with the slider he could help the bullpen in 2020.
    • DocBauer and DannySD like this
I like your choices. While I'm not sure how "under the radar" Littell is he could take another step forward.

My pick is Sean Poppen. If he improves his command it could all come together. His FB has a lot of movement with good velocity. Excellent break on his breaking ball too.
    • birdwatcher, DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this

I like your choices. While I'm not sure how "under the radar" Littell is he could take another step forward.
My pick is Sean Poppen. If he improves his command it could all come together. His FB has a lot of movement with good velocity. Excellent break on his breaking ball too.


You beat me to Poppen! I would have replaced Stashak with him or made this a 4 man list. And when I say replace Stashak I mean he pitched enough and well enough that I'm not sure he qualifies as a breakout candidate. Kind of feel he already broke out.

Romero could/should be wicked out of the pen, but he can't continue to be so wild and walk so many. Obvious! No idea if it's a repeatabilithnissuemor a confidence one but here's hoping Johnson can fix him.
    • blindeke and MN_ExPat like this