Musical Chairs In The Bullpen
Image courtesy of © Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY SportsThe Twins will almost surely break camp with just seven relievers, or eight if you count Martin Perez, since a fifth pitcher isn’t needed until April 16th. With Perez starting in the bullpen, and with very little buzz around camp regarding “Openers” there is no good reason to carry eight other bullpen arms.
Which means someone is going to get stuck because there are eight names that seem like they belong in the bullpen. Here they are, more or less in order of my evaluation of their likelihood to make the team:
- Addison Reed - Unless he’s hurt, he’s in there. He’s making $8M and the Twins and he are both hoping that a lower workload will rejuvenate his arm.
- Taylor Rogers - Was the Twins most effective remaining reliever, and left-handed, too. Another lock.
- Blake Parker - I suppose that whatever the concerns were which held up his official signing could convince the Twins that he’s damaged goods, but it seems unlikely their lone free agent bullpen addition wouldn’t make the team.
- Trevor May - He should probably be above Parker on this list, but I like lumping the guys with no remaining options together. He was one of the Twins most prominent relievers late last year after returning from Tommy John surgery.
- Adalberto Mejia - He’s being trained as a starter, but appears to be the de facto #6 guy, on the outside looking in. The Twins will want to keep him in case other starting pitchers are hurt, and that means keeping him on the roster. Plus, he’s left-handed, and there aren’t any other southpaws in the bullpen beyond Rogers.
- Matt Magill - This is the name a lot of people are overlooking. When we get to the names that might not make the opening roster, I suspect a lot of fans will want to come back to this name. But Magill relieved in 40 games last year, averaged 95 mph with his fastball and good enough command. He also gave up way too many home runs, which is a kiss of death to a reliever, but I still don’t think they Twins will risk exposing him to every other team.
Last year Hildenberger was supposed to be one the more promising young arms in the bullpen, but stumbled badly in the second half of last year. This year, Fernando Romero is being prepared as a reliever because Baldelli has already described him as a “weapon.”. They both were seen as potential setup men for high leverage innings.
Even with math against them, it is still a good chance that both make the roster. After all, injuries happen in spring training. It wouldn’t even have to be an injury to a reliever to open a spot: an injury to a starting pitcher would likely mean Mejia moves to the rotation and then another spot is open in the bullpen. But it looks like the two young homegrown relievers about whom the fan base was most excited about the last two years will be battling it out for the last spot,
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