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Relief Rallying out of Nowhere

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 25 March 2019 · 1,010 views

minnesota twins ryne harper matt magill
Over the course of the winter the Minnesota Twins did a lot of good things. The front office continued bringing in top tier developmental talent. They added pop to the lineup, and Rocco Baldelli looks the part of an exciting big-league manager. What they didn’t do was address a pitching staff, and namely a bullpen, that looked like it could use some help. Now with the depth being tested, an unexpected stalwart has emerged. Can Ryne Harper be the hero no one knew they were expecting.

Entering Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, Harper looked like a long shot to make the 25-man roster. Despite once having his contract selected, he’s never played in a big-league game, and has something like three days of service time accrued. The 29-year-old turned in a nice 2.54 ERA across 39 IP at Double-A last season but stumbled to the tune of a 5.19 ERA with Triple-A Rochester.

The surface numbers have been mostly good for Harper, but it’s the ratios that jump off the page for me. Across 65 IP on the farm last season, he posted an 11.9 K/9 with a sparkling 1.4 BB/9. In just over 450 innings of minor league relief, Harper owns an 11.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Should that hold up at the big-league level any club would find themselves in a state of ecstasy.

Having not gotten any major league time to date in his career, it’s been on the back of an exceptional Spring Training that will likely get Ryne over the hump. Working 11 innings down in Fort Myers, Harper turned in a flawless 0.00 ERA allowing just two unearned runs. He’s given up only seven hits while fanning 14 and walking none.

Look at the Twitter feed of Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming and you’ll find a barrage of benders that are certainly Pitching Ninja worthy. It’s on the back of this pitch that Harper has burst onto the scene, and he’s had hitters of all abilities looking plenty foolish the past few weeks. Pairing his curveball with pinpoint command has added up to a blueprint that should translate just fine when the games start to matter later this week. He’ll likely take home the coveted Sire of Fort Myers trophy, but a big-league payday should be a nice secondary prize as well.

It’s always great when an unexpected talent pops up and can make a big-league impact. It’s never going to be expected from a late blooming, career minor leaguer. Minnesota is also banking on this kind of situation with Matt Magill. Whether or not Harper and Magill can provide consistency over the course of a full season remains to be seen, however. There should be some level of fear or caution regarding how the pen fares for the Twins, but these glimmers of hope are feel-good stories in the present.

Maybe Harper was a guy that the front office knew they could count on all along. Maybe Baldelli and Wes Johnson saw a moldable piece that was just waiting to be unleashed. We’ve seen the results in exhibition contents. The next piece of this puzzle is putting up numbers when it counts.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • h2oface, DocBauer, nclahammer and 1 other like this



11 innings and sss is thrown out the window for Harper for the sake of a feel good story. Ignore what he did in Rochester. He is the silly Sire of Fort Myers anoitee, apparently. It probably won't cost us that many games before the inevitable happens. I hope. But all games count, no matter when they happen during the season. 

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killertwinfan
Mar 26 2019 05:43 AM

 

11 innings and sss is thrown out the window for Harper for the sake of a feel good story. Ignore what he did in Rochester. He is the silly Sire of Fort Myers anoitee, apparently. It probably won't cost us that many games before the inevitable happens. I hope. But all games count, no matter when they happen during the season. 

Actually thanks for this comment. I was going to pass by this story without comment but you have given me cover. Let's call a spade a spade. The front office gambled on some players and a few have paid off.Harper is a great story, good for him and I hope he does well. But, way to early to think he will be effective in the bigs.Reed, a waiver claim was parlayed into a prospect (maybe).Cron looks great so far and hoping he can bring in some pop to offset Mauers OBP.As for the rest, we'll see.Schoop looks OK but I think by May we'll be missing Doziers range and glove, if you can imagine that. Gonzalez is in a slump. Sano is hurt. Buxton is pissed.And we have no idea how our rotation will be.Thanks for being positive but, lets also be real.As a realistic fan, my scale has tipped. I am more concerned than optimistic and we left money on the table.

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howieramone2
Mar 26 2019 09:07 AM

Last I looked payroll was at 124M or about 5M under last season. I would guess we will makes moves at the trade line which should take us into the highest ever territory for the second year in a row.

    • Wizard11 likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Mar 26 2019 09:10 AM

 

Last I looked payroll was at 124M or about 5M under last season. I would guess we will makes moves at the trade line which should take us into the highest ever territory for the second year in a row.

Right now they're at $119, which is about $10MM under. It's also Opening Day payroll that was a record last year. It'd be great if the Twins are in a position to add as the season goes on, but it's starting out committed that's more impressive to me.

    • Wizard11 likes this