Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Do you really like the DH?

Other Baseball Today, 06:50 PM
We've resisted in the NL for 47 years now and with a 26th player added it may be delayed even longer. When offense is slacking they talk...
Full topic ›

Forget adding SP, let's talk about keeping what we have

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:25 PM
Let's stop talking about adding more SP for a moment and recognize what we have and keeping it. There have been various discussions about...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Buzz on Baseball's Worst Scandal in Decades

Other Baseball Today, 04:38 PM
In early November Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers shocked the baseball world by revealing that his former team had been cheating. Th...
Full topic ›

Post-Donaldson Trade - Status of Top Prospects

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:20 PM
Lewis and Kirilloff are blocked by Donaldson, Polanco, Arraez and Sano. Without a trade or an injury, I don’t see an opening for our top...
Full topic ›

Twins Pass at a Discount

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:16 PM
I did the Twins Pass last season, and if you go a lot and don't necessarily need a seat, I think it's a good value.It isn't for everyone,...
Full topic ›

Bullpen Calculus

After yesterday’s crazy day at Fort Myers, today was considerably more serene. It also served as a deep breath before the last big push for several roster spots. Twins Manager Paul Molitor says he would like to get the roster set by this weekend, so the pressure to perform (or at least not mess up) is high. “It always is in spring training,” said Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. “Especially when you get to the last ten games or so.”
Image courtesy of Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve written a lot about the other spring training battles but have stayed away from the bullpen, partly because Nick Nelson covered it this weekend and partly because there were just so many options. But with recent demotions, the bullpen battles are becoming a little more clear – but not a lot more clear. There are just so many factors, and the biggest ones might not be the individual relievers' performance. It might be the performance of the guys trying out for the fifth starter job or whether or not the Twins can make a trade for a Rule 5 pick.

Here’s the breakdown:

There are seven spots. Four of them are essentially spoken for:
1. Glen Perkins has overcome his oblique strain, so he’s in.
2. Casey Fien is in and seems to have overcome whatever ailed him last September.
3. Brian Duensing was hit by a comebacker yesterday just over the knee on his thigh, but while he won’t pitch for a couple of days, he should have no problem being back for opening day.
4. Tim Stauffer has a major league contract, and while Terry Ryan stopped short of calling him an “absolute lock” in his pregame press conference, he did say he’ll be getting the “benefit of the doubt.” So he’s in.

That leaves three spots and they are largely dependent on what happens in the fifth spot in the rotation. At least one, and possibly, two, are spoken for. Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone and Trevor May are all competing for that last spot. Ryan confirmed that “is a fair assumption” that Pelfrey and Milone would end up in the bullpen if they don’t win the job, and oddly enough would not say that Trevor May would be sent to Rochester if he didn’t with the job, leaving the option open that he could be in the bullpen, too. However, that chance seems very remote.

Your guess is as good as mine regarding the fifth starter job. Everyone seems to be playing their cards very close to their vest. Prior to the postgame conference, I would have handicapped it like this:

Pelfrey 1:1
Milone 2:1
May 5:1

But I talked to at least one veteran sportswriter who thought Milone was still in the lead, and it also seemed like there was some confusion whether Pelfrey would get another start with the big league club. Whether that means he’s out of the running or they just don’t need to see any more is unknown. So again, take those odds with much more than a grain of salt. Like, maybe a shaker of salt.

Back to the bullpen. Whoever wins could have a major effect on the makeup of the bullpen. Let’s look at the scenarios.

What If Pelfrey Wins The Fifth Starter Spot?
5. Tommy Milone becomes the second (or third if you count Perkins) lefty in the bullpen.

That leaves two spots in the bullpen. My best guess is they are taken by the right-handers:
6. Blaine Boyer and
7. J.R. Graham

Missing out:
RHP Mark Hamburger
LHP Caleb Thielbar, Aaron Thompson

Boyer and Graham are mostly a guess, though they have had great camps. But so have all the guys that are still in camp, so either one could be replaced by Hamburger. It’s also possible that the Twins could decide to still take another left-hander, and Terry Ryan praised both Thielbar and Thompson’s spring earlier today. Ryan also said a few days ago he doesn’t feel strongly about how many left-handers or right-handers are in the bullpen.

What If Milone Wins The Fifth Starter Spot?
5. Mike Pelfrey becomes the third right-hander in the bullpen.

That leaves two spots in the bullpen. My best guess is they would want a right-hander and a left-hander, so let’s go with:
6. Caleb Thielbar and
7. J.R. Graham

Missing out:
RHP Mark Hamburger
LHP Blaine Boyer, Aaron Thompson

I’m in the minority in thinking that the Twins would choose Graham over Boyer. But since Graham is a Rule 5 pick and since Boyer isn’t on the 40-man roster, that’s the way I’m going. I should emphasize – Boyer has really impressed people.

If the Twins decide to keep Boyer and send Graham down in this scenario, they would either need to return him to the Braves or make a deal. In the past, the Twins have had some luck making deals with the Braves; that’s how they secured Scott Diamond. That happened very late in spring training that year, on the 28th of March. I’m optimistic that this could happen again.

As for the lefties, I don’t know if Thielbar is really in front of Thompson. I think Thielbar will get the benefit of the doubt given his time on the team the last few years. Then today, Thompson pitched before Thielbar did today and Thielbar did struggle a bit, giving up two hits and the winning run (though I think it should have been unearned).

However, Molitor emphasized that he didn’t mean to give them a “head-to-head” matchup; he just wasn’t able to use Thompson in the game yesterday, so he made sure he got him in the game today.

What If May Wins The Fifth Starter Spot?
5. Mike Pelfrey becomes the third right-hander in the bullpen.
6. Tommy Milone becomes the second lefty in the bullpen.

That leaves just one spot in the bullpen. My best guess is they would want a right-hander, so let’s go with:
7. Blaine Boyer

Missing out:
RHP Mark Hamburger, J.R. Graham
LHP Caleb Thielbar, Aaron Thompson

Looking at this, it seems that Trevor May is going to need to overcome even more than having an option to send him down and a limited spring training resume due to the flu. Putting him in the fifth spot also squeezes the bullpen that much more. (Oh, and the forecast for his start on Friday has a 90% chance of rain. What’s next? Locusts?)

If you want to distill things a little further, it feels like there will likely be two spots in the bullpen and three pitchers essentially competing for it: Boyer, Graham and Thielbar. The key factor might be if they can work a trade for Graham. If so, and May doesn’t win the fifth job, the logjam could be cleared.

  • Penthang likes this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

85 Comments

Photo
Kirby_waved_at_me
Mar 27 2015 07:29 AM

Could Nuñez or possibly *ahem* Aaron Hicks be dealt for more piching?

 

http://www.mlbtrader...f-pitching.html

 

http://www.startribu.../297735661.html

 

Other guys that could be moved-

Herrmann or Fryer ? Milone or Pelfrey?

 

Could Nuñez or possibly *ahem* Aaron Hicks be dealt for more piching?

 

http://www.mlbtrader...f-pitching.html

 

http://www.startribu.../297735661.html

 

Other guys that could be moved-

Herrmann or Fryer ? Milone or Pelfrey?

Suppose some other team offered their version of Fryer to you. Which Twins prospect would you dangle to obtain him? :) Or Milone, or Pelfrey, or ...

Photo
Kirby_waved_at_me
Mar 27 2015 07:39 AM

Well, if the goal is to acquire a relief pitcher that is better than Tim Stauffer, I think Fryer is not an unreasonable starting point.

 

If they want someone especially good.... Yes, they might have to trade away someone like Escobar, which to me would be a mistake.

 

"Moved" includes being put on waivers in my mind. As in, the Twins could claim a pitcher that someone else discarded and then waive Aaron Thompson, or Fryer, or whomever... Still improving the bullpen, without really giving up much in the deal.

 

Fryer isn't on the 40-man so waiving isn't part of the process. Thompson is, and simply moving him off with no compensation isn't the end of the world if it's to keep someone they like better on the 25-man, such as Hamburger. If something can be obtained in trade, so much the better.

 

The Twins now have what, six pitchers age 25 or older slated for AAA (Oliveros, Tonkin, Hamburger, Achter, Pressly, Meyer) - seven if May is optioned?

With all except Hamburger on the 40-man roster too.

 

If we expand the list, we have recent hard thrower Pryor, plus possibly Thompson & Thielbar, and Darnell the starter too.  All 25 or above, all currently on the 40-man roster.

 

Admittedly a couple should be dropped from the roster in the next week, but if the goal was to sort through them at spring training before thinning the herd and establishing a good depth chart, it should be noted that the youngest and probably highest upside of this group were also the first to be optioned out of big league camp.  Hamburger, Thompson, and Thielbar, all age 28 with past MLB experience, are the only three in this group to even last into the last two weeks of spring training (excepting May who's starting, of course).

The Twins don't need to trade for a mediocre relief pitcher. If the "veterans" Ryan bought are unacceptable, then start using the options on the minor leaguers. A platoon of RPs were drafted recently, (plus those already on hand) use these guys. Each has a total of three years of options--use them!

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

With all except Hamburger on the 40-man roster too.

 

If we expand the list, we have recent hard thrower Pryor, plus possibly Thompson & Thielbar, and Darnell the starter too.  All 25 or above, all currently on the 40-man roster.

 

Admittedly a couple should be dropped from the roster in the next week, but if the goal was to sort through them at spring training before thinning the herd and establishing a good depth chart, it should be noted that the youngest and probably highest upside of this group were also the first to be optioned out of big league camp.  Hamburger, Thompson, and Thielbar, all age 28 with past MLB experience, are the only three in this group to even last into the last two weeks of spring training (excepting May who's starting, of course).

 

Not exactly the traditional rebuild process......

    • Shane Wahl likes this

Small sample size in spring leads Twins astray again.

 

I hope that this isn't an appropriate headline, but I am afraid it might be. And thus Mike Pelfrey and Blaine Boyer make the roster. No offense to the latter, and maybe this has just been a little showcase and buildup for other teams to claim him. 

 

I would really prefer May in the rotation and Oliveros in the bullpen to add strikeouts and a modicum of intimidation for batters.

Photo
Hosken Bombo Disco
Mar 27 2015 08:49 AM
Another question is:

which of Hughes, Nolasco, Santana, or Gibson moves to the bullpen when Meyer is promoted into the rotation?

Calculus, indeed.

 

I was damn good at math through 10th grade. Then some higher algebra came along and I was like "what?" Then senior year A.P. Calculus *destroyed my brain* even with the top notch teachers at old BHS (that's Bemidji, not other poser B-towns in Minnesota).

 

Through about "10th grade" in the Gardenhire era, the Twins had successful bullpens and always the promise of able guys to overfill the bullpen. By now, however, my brain can't deal with this current mess. I really don't like moving any of these 5th starters to the bullpen. May would be wasted as a long man and would get out of whack in a MR role. Pelfrey may only be successful in an MR role. Milone is going to get shelled either way.

 

And then there is this race for mediocrity between Boyer, Thielbar, Thompson, Hamburger, and Graham. Four spots between these eight guys? And that's after Duensing, and Stauffer. Why? How? 

Luckily, there are guys like Oliveros and Tonkin there, and there are those recently drafted hard-throwers in AA and A+. So maybe the headache will end within a year.

 

It would be how I then went to BSU and didn't have to take a math class in their honors program and could take Symbolic Logic (a Philosophy course, sorta) instead.

 


Similar Articles


by Matt Johnson , 27 Jan 2018
Photo


by Ben Szeremeta , 09 Aug 2017
Photo


by Ben Szeremeta , 02 Aug 2017
Photo


by Ben Szeremeta , 09 Jul 2017
Photo


by Ben Szeremeta , 22 Jun 2017
Photo