Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Twins Still Have Room For Pitching

    The major priority of the Minnesota Twins' General Manager, Terry Ryan, has been to re-build a starting rotation that has been at the bottom of the major leagues in pretty much every statistical category in 2013. There is general agreement that the rotation was pretty much a mess in 2013 and needed fixing. There is also the general impression that the Twins' pen was the strength of the team and it is better left alone. However, in 2013 the Twins' pen ranked:

    17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as ERA goes
    17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as FIP goes
    17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as SIERA goes
    8th out of 30 MLB teams as far as WHIP goes
    19th out of 30 MLB teams as far as K% goes

    In other words, the Twins' pen which, compared to the Twins' rotation, seemed great, when compared to the rest of the major league pens is average in a lot of ways.

    Busted myth number one: The Twins' pen was not great in 2013 and, while it might have been a bright point in 2013 compared to the rest of the team, it does not cut the mustard compared to the rest of league.

    There is a lot of room for improvement and I suspect Terry Ryan will address it before spring training, likely helping the Twins be competitive in 2014.

    Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch

    After the recent additions of new and returning starting pitchers there have been arguments that the Twins have too many starting pitchers and there is a logjam of pitchers on the Twins' roster.

    I thought it might be a good time to take a breath and look at what the Twins have on their 40-man roster as far as pitching goes and see whether this argument is true or not.

    Here is the Twins' forty man roster broken down in to, groups alphabetically (players in bold are out of options):

    Group A: Starting pitchers with no options signed to sizeable contracts the last two seasons.

    Kevin Correia (RHSP)
    Phil Hughes (RHSP)
    Rick Nolasco (RHSP)
    Mike Pelfrey (RHSP)



    Group B: Relief pitchers with no options signed to sizeable contracts the last two seasons or offered arbitration.

    Jared Burton (RHRP)
    Brian Duensing (LHSP/RP)
    Glen Perkins (LHRP)
    Anthony Swarzak (RHSP/RP)



    Group C: Starting pitchers with no options and small contracts who have played in the majors for more than three seasons.

    Sam Deduno (RHSP)
    Scott Diamond (LHSP)
    Vance Worley (RHSP)


    Group D: Starting and relief pitchers with options and small contracts who have played in the majors for at least one season.

    Andrew Albers (LHSP)
    Casey Fien (RHRP)
    Kyle Gibson (RHSP)
    Kris Johnson (LHSP)
    Ryan Pressly (RHRP)
    Caleb Thielbar (LHRP)
    Michael Tonkin (RHRP)


    Group E: Starting and relief pitchers with options and small contracts who have never played in the majors.

    Logan Darnell (LHSP)
    Edgar Ibarra (LHRP)
    Trevor May (RHSP)


    Broken down this way, the perceived logjam of Twins' staring pitchers becomes less of a logjam:

    The Twins usually have a 12 man pitching staff. They currently have 4 starters and 4 relievers (groups A and B) who are pretty much guaranteed a job. This opens 4 more positions, one in the rotation and three in the pen. If you assume the Twins value all pitchers in Group C who are out of options, they have the space to find them all a major league job, as well as allow another pitcher, likely from Group D or potentially outside the organization, to gain a rotation or bullpen position. The others will provide depth in AAA and be available in case of emergency or potentially be offered in trades to fill additional Twins' needs, like position players.

    Busted myth number two: There is no pitching logjam on the Twins' roster.

    In other words, the Twins do have a lot of pitching depth in their 40-man roster, but they are not in a logjam situation where they cannot accommodate all their pitchers without options on the 25 man roster. And this assumes Samuel Deduno who is recuperating from double (labrum and rotation cuff) shoulder surgery is available to start the season.

    While it is too early to name names to complete the rotation and the pen, this early assessment shows the Twins do not have any sort of a pitching logjam and also have plenty of options.


    This article was originally published in blog: By the numbers: a body count of the Twins' pitching depth for 2014 and myth busting started by Thrylos
    Comments 44 Comments
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Agreed. A number of pitchers on the Twins 40 man roster are AAA filler. This will hopefully be remedied by the end of 2014. I will consider it a better roster when the likes of Diamond, Albers, Darnell, Kris Johnson and others of this type do not have to be on the roster. One of these might work out, but it remains to be seen. Relief pitchers will be rotated out, but did not see and pitchers that stood out as should not be on the roster.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Pitchers with options but likely to be on the 25-man roster:

      Casey Fien (RHRP)
      Caleb Thielbar (LHRP)


      Pitchers with options but with a good shot to make the 25-man roster:

      Kyle Gibson (RHSP)


      Now we're up to 14 from which to select 12 (and likely expose 1 or 2 to waivers.) I guess if Deduno starts on the DL and Gibson starts in AAA, then we're down to 12 pretty easily.

      Are there any guys who might make the 25-man that are not on the 40-man right now?
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Of the 8 pitchers in group A and B, there are 4 that have little upside for the long term.

      Pelfrey, Correia, Duensing and Swarzak should not be blocking the Twins from developing and investing innings into starters under team control. These starters will be critical to the long term health of the staff.

      The Twins stepped up and spent some money. They also need to be willing to eat that money when a short term player is performing at a mediocre level.

      The log jam moves from myth to reality when mediocre pitchers are chosen for the short term over giving consistent innings to a younger (likely to be struggling) starter of the future.
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Don't forget the pen was overworked because of bad starts by the starters.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Great acticle, Thrylos, especially myth #2. Way to go, Mythbuster! I expect a lot of this apparent "logjam" will wash out and untangle as the tides rise during Spring Training. It'll play itself out on the field.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by drock2190 View Post
      Don't forget the pen was overworked because of bad starts by the starters.
      I answered a similar question in the original blog. People say that the pen was "overworked" because it logged the most innings in the majors (by a hair btw). However this is deceptive. Here is why:

      Actually the correct measurement for overworking a pen is not total innings, but IP/appearance because if a pen has used 10 different pitchers to pitch 400 innings would result to more tired pitchers than if used 15 different pitchers to pitch 420 innings, correct?

      As far as IP/Appearance goes, if you round down to one decimal (more decimals does not make sense), you will see that pretty much the whole league is at the same place:

      Astros 1.2
      Pirates 1.2
      Athletics 1.1
      Blue Jays 1.1
      Mariners 1.1
      Marlins 1.1
      Nationals 1.1
      Padres 1.1
      Rockies 1.1
      Royals 1.1
      Twins 1.1
      Yankees 1.1
      Angels 1.0
      Braves 1.0
      Brewers 1.0
      Cardinals 1.0
      Cubs 1.0
      Diamondbacks 1.0
      Dodgers 1.0
      Giants 1.0
      Indians 1.0
      Mets 1.0
      Philies 1.0
      Rangers 1.0
      Rays 1.0
      Reds 1.0
      Tigers 1.0
      White Sox 1.0

      I think that the difference of 0.2 innings in spread (less than a batter faced) is insignificant for the amount of innings pitched...

      There goes another myth about "tired pens..."
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      It will play itself out on the field. But I wouldn't want to ad more pitching at this point, unless it is a huge bargain for a clear upgrade.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      It will play itself out on the field. But I wouldn't want to ad more pitching at this point, unless it is a huge bargain for a clear upgrade.
      I'd agree with one letter change:

      I wouldn't want to ad more pitching at this point, unless it is a huge bargain or a clear upgrade.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I'd agree with one letter change:

      I wouldn't want to ad more pitching at this point, unless it is a huge bargain or a clear upgrade.
      Agreed.

      Johan, Garza, Tanaka, Bailey are the only ones I am truly interested in at this point.

      No thanks to the Arroyos of the world.
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I answered a similar question in the original blog. People say that the pen was "overworked" because it logged the most innings in the majors (by a hair btw). However this is deceptive. Here is why:

      Actually the correct measurement for overworking a pen is not total innings, but IP/appearance because if a pen has used 10 different pitchers to pitch 400 innings would result to more tired pitchers than if used 15 different pitchers to pitch 420 innings, correct?

      As far as IP/Appearance goes, if you round down to one decimal (more decimals does not make sense), you will see that pretty much the whole league is at the same place:
      Isn't this slightly deceptive, too, because it doesn't factor in how many rest days relief pitchers are afforded? I have no idea how often Twins relief pitchers were called upon to pitch two or three days in a row--maybe it was league average or so, too--but I would think that has to factor into the equation for a "tired bullpen."
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wookiee of the Year View Post
      Isn't this slightly deceptive, too, because it doesn't factor in how many rest days relief pitchers are afforded? I have no idea how often Twins relief pitchers were called upon to pitch two or three days in a row--maybe it was league average or so, too--but I would think that has to factor into the equation for a "tired bullpen."

      Agreed, it's not as simple as the IP/appearance. Maybe it should go on, how many innings each reliever pitched in comparison to the league (probably have to include minors). As well as how many innings our starters averaged. The bullpen consisted of 8 core contributors, Perkins, Burton, Fien, Swarzak, Pressly, Roenicke, Duensing, and Thielbar. Then there was about 20 innings or so spread out among other pitchers. I'm not going to do the math but that's a lot of work on just 8 guys for the most part.

      I think Thyrlos makes a good point that our pen wasn't great but rather average. I was surprised by his numbers up there. Some of it sure is probably due to being somewhat overworked. Just watching them compared to other years, it seemed like they were pitching a lot more. I'm not going to do the legwork to back my point up because I honestly don't care. Thyrlos points still stands, there's room for improvement in the bullpen as well and we dont' have quite the massive logjam some of us including myself had thought.

      I think we can in addition to the points he made expect that 2 of these guys end up on the DL to begin the year making more room. Deduno already sounds like he's unlikely to start the year out healthy and it's pretty safe to assume either performance or injury will land someone else there by the end of spring training.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I'm not sure having three starters in the bullpen constitutes a way around the logjam....didn't you just shift it to the pen in that scenario? I doubt all of these guys are going to shift well into being an effective short inning pitcher.

      Not to mention, I worry about when we transition these starters into short inning roles. Are they just going to go from failed ST starter to bullpen guy in a week? From Liriano to Slowey we haven't seen that always go well.

      If we're going to add more, I'm with Bonnes and his phrasing.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      I think that total innings is not the most accurate way to determine a "tired pen," but innings per appearance isn't the most accurate either.

      Example: If the Tigers starters go 7 innings at least 5 (out of 6) games per week. Three of those games only the setup and closer pitch as they were save situations (1.0). The other two two other relievers split the last two innings as well (1.0 IP/app). The last game the starter only went 4 innings and 5 relievers split the last 5 inning of mop up duty. 5 relievers at 1 IP each still equals 1.0 IP/app. 15 innings split by 12-13 relievers. Total # of appearences is low and results in a pretty well-rested bullpen. Having good starting pitchers (even innings eaters) will help a bullpen be more rested.

      Conversely, the Twins starters average over 6 games in a normal week is 5 innings per game, but three times the starter didn't make it out of or thru the fourth. That leaves roughly 5 innings per day that the bullpen had to pick up. So let's say that's 15 innings for 9 guys to cover (minus the setup guys and Perkins) in these mop-up ballgames. The other three games the Twins starters may go 7, like the Tigers, and only use a setup guy and Perkins each game (1.0). This week the Twins used 19 innings by the bullpen that was split between 12-13 pitchers, it may not seem like a lot of extra taxing on the arms if you break it down, but the overall appearances and daily use adds up.

      These are to extreme examples, but total innings is important, as are individual appearances. Look at the total number of innings that Swarzak had to eat this year due to starters not being able to go very deep. Swarzak was very valuable to our bullpen. Warming up consistently because you MIGHT have to go in everyday isn't getting put in the IP category, but due to the starters inconsistency our bullpen sure had to "warm up" a lot.
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      This is a very good point. Extremely short starts (4 innings or less) not only tires more the bullpen, but also exposes the worst part of it. Either the designated long man is overworked, or the worse pitchers in the bullpen have to eat more innings, even in situations where the game is still "close".
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      The many short starts caused the bullpen to expand from 6 to 8. Those two roster spots come at the expense of position players. This pretty much eliminates the possibility of platooning players and makes pitch-hitting/running quite iffy. Add to this mess the "need" for three catchers and we find that catchers have to play other position(s)--generally not to MLB standards for that position.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      The Twins wouldn't keep 13 pitchers unless they absolutely had to. They kept 13 pitchers for almost the entire second half last year. They also kept a third catcher for much of that time, because 200 pitches a game is not just hard on the pitching staff. Catchers suffer as well. That leaves a two-man bench for actual hitters. Pathetic.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      because 200 pitches a game is not just hard on the pitching staff.
      In fairness, in such a game only about 150 ever make it to the catcher.
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      I'm in agreement here that IP/Appearance doesn't get you what you need. For every LOOGY getting one out or Perkins getting a cheap save, its canceling out every Swarzak 4IP type outing. It would make more sense to compare bullpens by straight up IP, or even total pitch count.

      EDIT: Here is a link to the reliever IP and pitch count on Fangraphs

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.asp...rs=0&sort=12,d

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.asp...rs=0&sort=13,d
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I answered a similar question in the original blog. People say that the pen was "overworked" because it logged the most innings in the majors (by a hair btw). However this is deceptive. Here is why:

      Actually the correct measurement for overworking a pen is not total innings, but IP/appearance because if a pen has used 10 different pitchers to pitch 400 innings would result to more tired pitchers than if used 15 different pitchers to pitch 420 innings, correct?

      As far as IP/Appearance goes, if you round down to one decimal (more decimals does not make sense), you will see that pretty much the whole league is at the same place:

      Astros 1.2
      Pirates 1.2
      Athletics 1.1
      Blue Jays 1.1
      Mariners 1.1
      Marlins 1.1
      Nationals 1.1
      Padres 1.1
      Rockies 1.1
      Royals 1.1
      Twins 1.1
      Yankees 1.1
      Angels 1.0
      Braves 1.0
      Brewers 1.0
      Cardinals 1.0
      Cubs 1.0
      Diamondbacks 1.0
      Dodgers 1.0
      Giants 1.0
      Indians 1.0
      Mets 1.0
      Philies 1.0
      Rangers 1.0
      Rays 1.0
      Reds 1.0
      Tigers 1.0
      White Sox 1.0

      I think that the difference of 0.2 innings in spread (less than a batter faced) is insignificant for the amount of innings pitched...

      There goes another myth about "tired pens..."
      It's not about a tired pen, it's about how if you continually find yourself digging into the minors for a seventh or eighth reliever, you're not going to be calling up your best bullpen arms. In fact, a lot of the time you'll be calling up pure crap (Jeff Gray logged how many innings for the Twins?).

      In Burton, Fein, Perkins, Swarzak, Thielbar, and Duensing, the Twins have a solid bullpen core. That's six guys. Add in a guy like Pressley or Tonkin and you're probably looking at a pretty good pen if the starters aren't awful, forcing the Twins to reach back and call up pitchers who either aren't very good or aren't ready.
    1. IronMike's Avatar
      IronMike -
      When I check ERA for Twins on MLB.com I come up with an ERA of 3.50 which is 14 of 30. That also places them 5 of 15 in the AL. WHIP 1.22 which shows 6 of 30 (3 of 15 in AL). I think when you finish in the top 3rd of the AL you have a pretty decent bullpen.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.