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Article: We Can Rebuild It: Creative Bullpen Fixes

tyler duffey brandon kintzler fernando romero phil hughes
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 09:14 PM

The Twins bullpen situation has turned catastrophic, and there's nothing to be gained by wringing hands over how we got here.

These are the facts: Minnesota is above .500 and very much in the mix as we enter June, but the Twins won't likely hang around unless they do something to address the relief corps. That "something" doesn't need to be drastic nor detrimental to the big picture.The Twins aren't in any position to make an Andrew Miller-type splash, and would be ill-advised to dangle any of their better prospects – even a Chih-Wei Hu type – for relief help (insofar as any high-impact relievers are being made available this far from the deadline).

In order to meaningfully improve their chances in the late innings, the front office might need to get creative. Sure, they can try someone like Alan Busenitz or Trevor Hildenberger, but you can't just count on green rookies with iffy scouting reports to come up and shut down the eighth inning. By the same token, newly promoted farmhands Alex Wimmers and Randy Rosario are more band aids than plugs.

The following suggestions are aimed at creating a more dramatic short-term impact, without forfeiting anything of import.

Move Phil Hughes to the Bullpen

Hughes is currently on the disabled list but there have been indications he won't stay there too terribly long. When he returns, the Twins might be wise to bring him back in a relief role. There are multiple beneficial outcomes this route could achieve.

His fastball has been humming in at the lowest velocity of his career, and getting pounded as a result. It's possible Hughes could add a few ticks in shorter stints. Of course, he's had tremendous success out of the bullpen before, serving as Mariano Rivera's top setup man when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Hughes' numbers that season: 86 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 96/28 K/BB.

He isn't likely to regain that level of superior efficacy, especially not right away, but maybe Hughes will surprise us. He has the command and poise that so many other Twins relievers are lacking, so even a slight uptick in heat – and perhaps a reduced reliance on his lesser offerings – could make a big difference.

Swap Tyler Duffey and Brandon Kintzler

This isn't so much a denouncement of what either right-hander has done in his current role – they've been the bullpen's two best weapons – as it is an assertion they may be best suited for a reversal.

Kintzler has done an admirable job in the ninth, but always struck me as a guy better equipped for the middle innings. His penchant for inducing ground balls on command would make him an excellent fireman, called upon in a tough spot with runners on base. He has also proven fairly durable, and could likely handle multiple innings on a frequent basis.

Meanwhile, Duffey is much more of a prototypical closer, with his bat-missing stuff, and has experience in the role from his collegiate days at Rice University.

Call up Fernando Romero

Minnesota's legit relief prospects can't seem to get healthy. Nick Burdi is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. JT Chargois went on the disabled list in April with an elbow impingement and still hasn't returned. Tyler Jay missed the first seven weeks with a shoulder injury, came back a week ago, made two appearances and then landed back on the DL. I'm starting to lose hope that any of these guys will be available to the Twins at any point this year.

That's a huge problem because they are THE minor-league arms that could actually bring game-changing shutdown ability to the table. If the Twins want to find that now, they may need to consider calling up Romero from Double-A. Twins Daily's No. 1 prospect has gotten on a roll in Chattanooga lately, firing 12 scoreless innings over his past two starts, and as someone who works in the mid-90s as a starter he could really dial it up in short stints.

The additional benefit is that this might help manage the 22-year-old's workload; he's already more than halfway to last season's total of 90 innings. The downside is that it would essentially remove him as a potential rotation reinforcement, unless the coaching staff wanted to stretch him out after he arrives. (Wouldn't be the first time.)

Mine for Spare Parts in Other Organizations

While we've ruled out giving up a prospect of Wilson Ramos' or even Hu's caliber, the Twins might be able to inherit a project that some other organization is ready to give up on. Maybe there is a fifth/sixth starter out there that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine view as a particularly good candidate for a role switch. Or perhaps there is a Michael Tonkin or Ryan Pressly type, with big stuff and disappointing results, who they believe they can turn around with a specific fix. The cost of such an acquisition would be negligible.

It would be a good opportunity for the new regime, especially Falvey with his reputation as an innovative pitching mind, to flex some muscle.

What are your creative fixes for Minnesota's wayward bullpen?

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#2 David HK

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 09:36 PM

I would stop trying to pretend to contend this year, especially by relying on aging retreads the way we have. I see absolutely no downside to throwing in "green rookies with iffy scouting reports" to get their feet wet, and get some MLB experience.  So they get lit up?  Who, in the current BP hasn't?  Let them get their baptism by fire, and get an idea of what they need to hone down in the A-levels.  And who knows, maybe one or two of them catches on?

 

2017 is not the Twins year.  And I will gladly eat a huge helping of crow if somehow it turns into meaningful September baseball.  But I am thoroughly discouraged with the pedestrians the FO keeps running out there, and Molly's wholesale mismanagement of even the pieces he has. The point's been made umpteen times on these threads about why in the heck they're not calling up, or even boosting up the minor league chain, anyone who can remotely be considered a prospect for the future.  

 

Get on it, guys, 'cuz this ain't workin'.

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#3 DocBauer

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 09:54 PM

Sorry...nice thoughts, but lost me on Romero.

There are some guys in the lower minors that are tantalizing. But in the upper levels, there is Gonsalvez and Romero who offer real hope for the rotation in the near future. If you are worried about Romero's IP, then he can finish his season in a milb pen.

This team is still in rebuild mode, though the end is coming near. But that doesn't mean you have to give up on this season.

Honestly, Busentiz and Hilgenberger deserve a look over Wimmers. The Rosario move is very aggressive, but I applaud it. He's very talented, on a roll, and is on the 40 man.

Clear the chaffe! Fill the 40 man with the prospects. Roll them through the 25 man, much as has been done lately, and hold auditions. In another month, Chargois, Reed and Jay may all be ready for their auditions.

Can't disagree on Hughes, but healthy, might he not be a better option than Gibson?

Right now, I like Duffey and Kintzler where they are. It works and makes sense. For now.
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#4 Otwins

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 09:59 PM

What about Sam Dyson - Texas has designated him - Levine should know his character 

Try some of the starters that are getting shelled- maybe Koehler Miami

 

This problem is disappointing because we had the worst bullpen in the majors last year and really did not do anything to address it.

 

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#5 frightwig

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 10:13 PM

Moving Hughes (or Gibson, or maybe even Mejia) to the pen is worth trying.

 

I'd rather leave Duffey and Kintzler alone for now. Having a groundball pitcher come in with runners on base can be helpful, of course, but often in those situations you'd also like a strikeout or two. The trouble with Kintzler is that he doesn't work with much margin for error. So probably the best place for him is the 9th, where he can start with a clean slate and usually has some kind of lead.

 

If Levine wants to sift through the cheap cast-offs, fine, but generally I'm with David HK on the bullpen issue. The pitching staff as a whole is pretty bad--too many problems to fix on the fly to save this season. Focus on development. It seems like that was the plan before the season, anyway.

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#6 kab21

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 11:15 PM

The Twins don't necessarily need to put rookies in the 8th inning setup role. They need a bullpen that is 5-6+ good pitchers deep. Right now they have 3 although Breslow has gotten good results thus far. And this is absolutely where Melotakis, Busenitz, Hildengarder, Rosario, Bard or possibly a few others. Get a couple of these guys up and see how they do in the 6th inning and then move from there.

 

Swapping Duffey and Kintzler does nothing. The Twins need more quality innings from the bullpen. Swapping roles doesn't increase quality innings.

 

Hughes to the bullpen might happen but he isn't remotely close to the same pitcher he was with the Yankees. I don't hold out much optimism for this as a fix.

 

Romero is a good option Aug 1st (give or take). Let him get most of a season in as a starter so he is ready next year and then bring him up to solidify the bullpen. I doubt anyone expects him to throw 150+ innings in the minors and then come up as a starter in September so this should happen. Of course the Twins declined to do this with Berrios two years ago but there is different management now.

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#7 HitInAPinch

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 01:37 AM

I've posted this before:  Hughes has a history where, after 1 good season, he gets hurt.  The Yankees always put him in the bullpen to build innings.  Twins should have done this in Spring Training.  

 

Kintzler has been successful for the Twins as a closer.  If you want to, switching in Duffey as a co-closer is cool.  

 

Waiting to see if any relief prospect is still health.

 

Waiting to see how Randy Rosario does....

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#8 Shane Wahl

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 01:52 AM

Hughes to the bullpen for sure.

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#9 jimbo92107

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 02:20 AM

Gibson and Hughes to the pen. Duffey and Kintzler stay put. Belisle and Breslow go away, replaced by Busenitz and Hildenberger. 

 

And that kid, the one with the wild hair and herky-jerk delivery. Covfefe. I want him in there, too. Where's he from, Argentina? Throws like a soccer player!

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#10 Craig Arko

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 03:45 AM

Gibson and Hughes to the pen. Duffey and Kintzler stay put. Belisle and Breslow go away, replaced by Busenitz and Hildenberger. 
 
And that kid, the one with the wild hair and herky-jerk delivery. Covfefe. I want him in there, too. Where's he from, Argentina? Throws like a soccer player!


You mean Wilson.
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#11 NDTimIrish

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:10 AM

Methinks Terry Ryan and Gardy would have loved this article. 


#12 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:14 AM

I think Wimmers went first because he's an easy DFA if he fails.Businetz and Hildenberger won't be able to be DFAd if the org wants to keep them. I wouldn't be shocked at all if Wimmers is only up for a few weeks.

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#13 Vanimal46

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:23 AM

 

I think Wimmers went first because he's an easy DFA if he fails.Businetz and Hildenberger won't be able to be DFAd if the org wants to keep them. I wouldn't be shocked at all if Wimmers is only up for a few weeks.

 

And it will more or less settle any dispute between the FO and Molly... Since Molly wanted Wimmers on the MLB team out of ST. I'm more than fine with calling up the fringe 40 man players first so they can make a final decision whether to hold them or fold them. 

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#14 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:24 AM

Im ok with a "Hu" for Neshek type of move. He is available and wouldnt cost too much. I am also for bringing up from the minors though leave Romero in a rotation. He just missed 2 years with injury. Better to not mess with him like that. Broxton and Dyson have been DFA so we can try them too. Broxton is having a Pressley like season. Ks check 96 fastball check results 7 era.

#15 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:26 AM

Hughes needs to stay in the rotation cause we need help there too. Its cheaper to aquire relievers vs starters.
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#16 Vanimal46

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:27 AM

Soooo, who takes over Hughes' spot in the rotation if he moves to the bullpen? Even though he's been smoke and mirrors so far, he's still light years better than Gibson this season.  

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#17 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:33 AM

And Kintzler is fine as closer. 14 out of 16 is around the major league average. The problem with the pen is not enough effectuve arms. Only 4 arms you can reasonably rely on but none shut down. We need an ace bullpen guy. How can we expect to win any games at all without an ace in the pen.. (being sarcastic sorry) but having a shut down reliever would help. Also perkins is getting closer what is he a month out? I wouldnt expect him to be shut down but he can help.

#18 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:33 AM

I like Hughes to the pen. He is getting by on guile right now. He's the 'crafty veteran', getting outs by using his experience and a pretty good control of his off-speed pitches. He may do well in the bullpen.

 

I don't understand why they don't leave Gibson in AAA. They kept Berrios down until he had more than proven he had no business in AAA. Send Gibson down and tell him he's not coming back until at least 6 of 9 first pitches are strikes. This working your way to a 3-2 count on every batter is killing him and the team.

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#19 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:36 AM

Finding 3 more effective but nit shut down relievers would be the Terry Ryan rotation approach. His goal was 5 starters to pitch 180 to 200 innings a year and have a good bullpen to get a better than average pitching staff

#20 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:38 AM

GIbson came back up cause Hughes went on DL and there was no one else
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