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Twins Pen Proving Prowess

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 09 April 2019 · 929 views

minnesota twins blake parker ryne harper taylor rogers
Going into the 2019 Major League Baseball season there were few areas on the Minnesota Twins 25-man roster that looked more questionable than the bullpen. After bringing in Blake Parker and no one else, the front office turned away from opportunities to significantly bolster their relief corps. We’re just eight games in at this point, but so far, it appears the decision to look internally may be a warranted one.

Despite Minnesota having a ridiculous amount of off days to kick off new year, Rocco Baldelli has turned to relievers for a grand total of 30.0 IP thus far. Across those innings, the new skipper’s faith has been rewarded to the tune of a 2.70 ERA, good for sixth best in baseball. From there, the secondary numbers tell a more cautionary tale, but it’s in avoiding real damage that the group has succeeded.

Coming into the game at key points following a starter’s initial work, avoiding blow ups or added opportunity is the goal of a reliever. Although the ERA of the group is a shiny tally, the strikeouts and walks are a bit concerning. Minnesota relievers have fanned just 7.8 batters per nine innings (22nd) and have allowed 5.1 walks per nine (7th worst). Dancing around the danger is a result of the ball staying in the yard. Owning the second-best HR/9 rate (0.30) in the big leagues, along with a major league best 3.0 HR/FB rate, has helped the pen to keep runners stranded.

Usually working with runners on base is a less than idea reality, but if you’re going to work around it, generating soft contact is a must. The 19.5% hard hit rate is a major league low by nearly 7%, and it’s allowed this group plenty of opportunity for outs when the ball is put in play. Over the past two seasons, the Twins have shifted more than almost any other team in baseball. By playing to the percentages, while generating suboptimal contact, you can expect a good deal of success.

Obviously as the season goes on and the sample size grows, a 5.0 BB/9 rate won’t be sustainable. Minnesota needs guys coming on that can put the ball by hitters and send them back to the dugout. Given the relative uncertainty of the group and specific pitchers, handing out free passes is also not a good plan. Those things do need to change, but there’s a pretty good skeleton to work from at this point.

Baldelli, and Wes Johnson, will be tasked with empowering their staff all season long. Parker is far from a proven closer, May is still getting settled, Mejia is new to relieving, and Harper is still more story than track record. Trust will be built up well into the summer, but it’s also been displayed early. Between letting Adalberto Mejia come back after a long outing to get pivotal outs against the Phillies or asking curveball master Ryne Harper to get out of a high leverage jam ,the Twins staff is setting forth a plan with eyes on October.

Given the relative volatility of relievers, and even more so when they are green and unexperienced, keeping regression at bay is a must. Taylor Rogers looks like a bonafide star, and Trevor Hildenberger has become a proven commodity. The rest of the group following their lead and giving Rocco a greater sense of comfort should build rapport for necessary work months from now.

The Twins relievers have been great in the results department to date, even if there’s warts under the surface. The opportunities will remain present, and the belief in these guys from the front office will be a key focus the rest of the way.

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

  • howieramone2 likes this



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MMMordabito
Apr 09 2019 01:42 PM

"Trevor Hildenberger has become a proven commodity"

 

I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with this one, especially going into just game 9.He was great as a rookie in '17 and then started to follow that up in '18 until the second half meltdown.I suppose overuse could be an excuse, but Baldelli hasn't shown that he won't fall into that same trap (especially with Rogers so far).

 

I think the tint on the rose-colored glasses needs some adjustment closer to clear.

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Channing1964
Apr 09 2019 04:24 PM
Rogers is responsible to let Rocco to know when he's needing a break. I can see Moya getting healthy and becoming a valuable second left handed option.

I love the point about the walks.That's a recipe for disaster.

 

    • howieramone2 likes this

Anxiously anticipating the rewrite.... this time with an emphasis on the "warts" (that used to be) "under the surface."

 

Those warts now include these team RP stats:

 

ERA: 5.09

xFIP: 5.40

BB/9: 6.07

WHIP: 1.65

GB/FB: 1.02

 

Not going to get it done.

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Ted Schwerzler
Apr 16 2019 09:28 PM

 

Anxiously anticipating the rewrite.... this time with an emphasis on the "warts" (that used to be) "under the surface."

 

Those warts now include these team RP stats:

 

ERA: 5.09

xFIP: 5.40

BB/9: 6.07

WHIP: 1.65

GB/FB: 1.02

 

Not going to get it done.

Have been thinking about this piece as I've tweeted my disgust the past two nights. I don't really know what the premise or point of this blog was other than highlighting that the surface numbers were ok. I touched on what lied beneath while giving the front office credit. It blew up way faster than they hoped I'd imagine though, and something needs to be done!