Who's the Twins 2021 Fireman?
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsThe Twins have some great options that they could use in a shutdown role rather than pitting them in the ninth inning. They now have an option in Alex Colomé for the back end of games who has closing experience and will likely be counted on fairly regularly to get the final three outs. This leaves them with some interesting candidates they can deploy at any point in the game.
Rogers in 2019 is a perfect example of a successful fireman. He still notched plenty of saves, sometimes of the multi-inning variety depending on the score of the game and what part of the lineup was due up.
Rogers has the typical dominant splits against lefties that you’d expect but also has no issues getting right handed hitters out which makes him a great candidate to reclaim this role. His struggles in 2020 looked to be more of a result of a weird season rather than a skills regression. His repertoire consisting of a sinker, four-seam, curveball, and slider as well as his prior experience in this role could find him right back in it.
Robles of course had a 10+ ERA in 2020 which made him available for the low price of $2 million. The impact he could make in the bullpen shouldn’t be overlooked however. Robles is far from just a flamethrower with his upper 90s fastball, as he has what many would consider a starting pitcher’s repertoire with a four-seam, sinker, slider and changeup.
The Twins can likely put some work in on his slider which allowed a slugging % over .500 in 2020 to make him more effective against righties. Robles already uses his devastating changeup almost 40% of the time and can use it to equalize left handed hitters. If you mix those two effective pitches in with that power fastball, Robles could find himself stepping up against the heart of the order regularly this season.
Alcala had a great 2020 and could be a sleeper for this role in 2021. His 28.7% K rate was fantastic and he got by with his 8.5% BB rate. The issue with Alcala lies in his splits. For as nasty as he was with his fastball/slider combo against righties, lefties posted an OPS north of 1.000 against Alcala in 2020.
Where Alcala goes from here has a lot to do with his changeup which he periodically sprinkled in last season. His high octane stuff just isn’t enough to get lefties out as is, but one more pitch in his arsenal could make him the best arm in the Twins bullpen. He was also formerly a starter which means he’d slot into a multi inning role nicely as the opportunity arises. Keep an eye on Alcala’s changeup this spring and early in the season.
While admittedly counting on some bouncebacks, the Twins have a bullpen full of arms that could contribute in big ways. Someone will likely settle in as the “fireman” this year, who do you think it could be?
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