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Article: Building A Super Bullpen

fernando rodney trevor hildenberger taylor rogers tyler jay jt chargois
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:17 AM

Bullpens have continued to evolve in recent years. Gone are the days of starters pitching eight or nine innings on a regular basis. This means bullpens are forced to pitch more often and for more innings. Late inning pitchers might be asked to pitch more than one inning. Some teams are ahead of others when it comes to the bullpen evolution.

Minnesota’s bullpen has gone through some ups and downs in recent years. If the team wants to be in contention in 2018, things might need to change at the back end of games. How could the Twins build a “super bullpen?”What Makes A Super Bullpen?

The Rockies have been aggressive with their bullpen plan this offseason. Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee have both already been added in free agency. Greg Holland served as the team’s closer in 2017 and he could still return to Colorado. Adding other names like Addison Reed and Wade Davis could make them a force in late inning situations.

In recent years, contending teams have tried their best to compile a “super bullpen.” The Yankees compiled the highest fWAR total in 2017. Their back-end was bolstered by Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Cleveland used the likes of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen on their way to over 100 wins.

Other teams, like Houston and Los Angeles, relied heavily on their bullpen on the way to the World Series. If a team is going to contend, there must be reliable bullpen options.

Planning Minnesota’s 2018 Bullpen
Minnesota has already added Fernando Rodney this off-season. He will likely serve as the team’s closer but other pieces will need to be added around him to build Minnesota’s “super bullpen.” Derek Falvey and Thad Levine obviously see something in Tyler Kinley, the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick, because they allowed the likes of Nick Burdi and Luke Bard to be selected by other organizations.
Some other young pieces also figure into the Twins plans this season. Trevor Hildenberger made his debut in 2017 and actually ended up leading the team in fWAR. Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Pressly will look to build off of positives from last season. Even with all of these players, it would be hard to call Minnesota’s bullpen a “super bullpen.”

Some other options could figure into the equation for 2018. JT Chargois spent most of 2017 recovering from different arm injuries including a stress reaction on the outside of his elbow. Tyler Jay, a former first round pick, moved from starter to relief pitcher in 2017. He could debut in 2018 and be a piece that helps Minnesota’s bullpen become closer to being considered “super.”

Wait And See Approach
Free agent relief pitchers have been faring very well so far this off-season. This is probably why the Favley-Levine team has been waiting for the market to cool a little. Bullpen arms can be found in lots of different ways. Brandon Kintzler was able to become an All-Star in Minnesota and the club never paid him more than $3 million in a season. Relief pitchers can have a breakout season at any time. It’s up to the front office to identify the players who are ready to take the next step.

Is the wait and see approach right for the front office? Who would you like to see the Twins add to the bullpen? Can they have a “super bullpen” in 2018? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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#2 Doomtints

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:33 AM

Wait And See Approach

 

Sigh.

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#3 ashburyjohn

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:44 AM

The Twins had four relievers in 2017 who had numbers showing they were able to get guys out. Busenitz, Hildenberg, Belisle, and Kintzler. The latter two have been let go (I suppose Belisle could still be brought back), Busenitz had an ultra-low BABIP of .212 suggesting he had a little good fortune in his short time, leaving Hildenberg alone as someone who might already be a shutdown guy in small doses.

 

Three other relievers, Rogers, Duffey and Pressly, had numbers saying they can have a place on a major league roster but are nothing special.

 

Curtiss and Moya maybe look ready to contribute, right away or sometime into the season.

 

Signing Fernando Rodney counts for me as just another guy who deserves a place somewhere on a major league roster.

 

I don't even want to delve into the Buddys of the present roster.

 

It seems to me that a multitude of things (FA signings, emerging prospects, steps forward by the holdovers) would have to all come together magically, during this off-season or spring training, for this team to have any kind of a super bullpen, coming out the chute for the 2018 season. I don't even see how to contemplate it at this time.

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#4 Cory Engelhardt

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:53 AM

I do think adding the analytics guys teaching pitch sequencing and how/when to use players in what role will help a ton, (similar to what Jeff Pickler did last year with the outfield defensive alignments)and some of that will be gradual changes throughout the year and ongoing. I also think getting guys healthy (like Chargois and Jay, for example) will be a huge boost to the amount of swing and miss stuff that is coming from the bullpen on a daily basis. Hopefully then, ongoing, the Twins can build a bullpen that is at least league average as far as production, all the while not spending a ton of money to bring guys in when relievers can be so volatile year to year.

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#5 old nurse

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:02 AM

Duffey, Chagois, Curtis, Busenitz, Hildenberger Moya. 6 arms right there to take a step up. Jake Reed, Melotakis, Tyler Jay and Nick Anderson all might have a shot for mid season. In the meantime a top setup/closer to go with Rogers and Rodney would be advisable.

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#6 ThejacKmp

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:21 AM

I'd like to trust the bevy of internal options and sign a high-upside guy to a one-year deal. Tons of young arms coming up.

 

I don't see (or want) the Twins to commit long-term money to the pen and outside of that, I don't see how anyone they sign is more likely to take a step than the young guys they have.

 

P.S. Long shot call you heard here first. Pressley starts out lights out and by early May is a set-up man. He takes over as closer by mid-June as Rodney falters.

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#7 Jham

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:34 AM

I would love to see analytical studies in bullpen usage. And rate of diminishing returns. Bounce back is a huge variable in determining a relievers success, yet we don't necessarily track that as a stat. Similarly, we don't really track cumulative fatigue. All bodies are not the same. All deliveries are not the same. Yet the rule remains, no more than 3 appearances in 3 days. 5 man rotations good pretty much everyone. Some arms can handle that or more. Some can't. Durability can make up for lack of electric stuff over a full season. Belisle strikes me as a guy who flourished in clean 1 inning stints. Struggled when over worked. Ditto with May and pressley. I think going forward, full usage of 40 man rosters for competitive teams will be really important. Relievers with options who can be recalled when fresh may be the next evolution of bullpen management.
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#8 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:50 AM

The forgotten man who could contribute in the pen is Phil Hughes.Just saying!!


#9 Sconnie

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:51 AM

 

I would love to see analytical studies in bullpen usage. And rate of diminishing returns. Bounce back is a huge variable in determining a relievers success, yet we don't necessarily track that as a stat. Similarly, we don't really track cumulative fatigue. All bodies are not the same. All deliveries are not the same. Yet the rule remains, no more than 3 appearances in 3 days. 5 man rotations good pretty much everyone. Some arms can handle that or more. Some can't. Durability can make up for lack of electric stuff over a full season. Belisle strikes me as a guy who flourished in clean 1 inning stints. Struggled when over worked. Ditto with May and pressley. I think going forward, full usage of 40 man rosters for competitive teams will be really important. Relievers with options who can be recalled when fresh may be the next evolution of bullpen management.

I was going to like this until I read it 3 times. ;-)

 

Belisle seemed to pitch better as the closer than he did as the fireman - I think you are on to something with the clean inning assumption.

 

Timing, frequency, number of pitches thrown, how many times did the guy get up to warm in the bullpen without throwing a pitch.... all can have an impact.

 

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#10 Vanimal46

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:00 AM

 

I'd like to trust the bevy of internal options and sign a high-upside guy to a one-year deal. Tons of young arms coming up.

 

I don't see (or want) the Twins to commit long-term money to the pen and outside of that, I don't see how anyone they sign is more likely to take a step than the young guys they have.

 

P.S. Long shot call you heard here first. Pressley starts out lights out and by early May is a set-up man. He takes over as closer by mid-June as Rodney falters.

 

So.... the same story we as fans have read and heard for the last 3 seasons. Just wait for the internal options. There isn't a single team in baseball that has a home grown bullpen. Eventually, if they want to be better, they have to pay market rates for relief help. 

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#11 RickOShea

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:09 AM

Twins need to add a power arm or two to the bullpen.We need a pitcher who has the stuff to blow a hitter or two away.Pitch to contact with runners on, pressure on, and a close game, is a recipe for failure.

Pressly sems to have the velocity, but not the movement.Perhaps a change in grip or mechanics could bring about a decent fastball with movement.

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#12 bobs

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:33 AM

Keep saying, this team has it's eye squarely on 2019.2018 is going to be about finding out which of all these bullpen arms, hyped (Chargois, Hildenberger, Jay, etc.) or not (Busenitz, Presley, Curtis, Moya, etc.) can be put together to form a playoff-caliber bullpen.Rodney is a guy who they know what they're going to get, so he gives them a solid guy while they try to compete again in 2018.But this is definitely about fashioning a 'pen for 2019.

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#13 bobs

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:34 AM

 

The forgotten man who could contribute in the pen is Phil Hughes.Just saying!!

Maybe.I'd say the forgotten guy is Trevor May, but he'll likely be healthier/better in 2019.

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#14 mikelink45

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:36 AM

Wait and see.Is this what we had in mind as we anticipated the FO changes and actions? Are we just waiting to see if we get Darvish or are we waiting for something else?  

 

We can have all the statistics possible and even make up some, but if the live arm is not good enough, if the control is lacking, if the assortment of pitches is not adequate the stats are not going to get anyone out. 


#15 bobs

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 11:37 AM

 

I'd like to trust the bevy of internal options and sign a high-upside guy to a one-year deal. Tons of young arms coming up.

 

I don't see (or want) the Twins to commit long-term money to the pen and outside of that, I don't see how anyone they sign is more likely to take a step than the young guys they have.

 

P.S. Long shot call you heard here first. Pressley starts out lights out and by early May is a set-up man. He takes over as closer by mid-June as Rodney falters.

Agree 100%on first two points.If Presley doesn't figure out how to get some movement to go with the high velocity, he'll never be better than he is.Get a 2-seamer that moves?Then he can be lights out.


#16 Respy

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:03 PM

In my opinion, a super bullpen also has a requirement that the pitchers be different.Just like players get used to a starting pitchers 2nd and 3rd time through the order, batters will start to get their timing on pitchers who are all similar.So, a bullpen of three hard-throwing right-handers with normal armslots and only sliders as an offspeed pitch, will find it hard to be dominating on a consistent basis.The Yankees had such a good combo because all the pitcher were so different.Betances is a big guy with a power fastball and slider.Robertson is a righty who throws cutters and 12-6 curveballs.Chapman is a lefty with a mega fastball. 

 

I think there's many factors against the Twins making a super bullpen, but they need more variety.Hildenberger has a different armslot, which helps, but has a similar repertoire to Rodney.The Twins don't have any good bullpen arms that can throw in the upper 90's.Ditto for lefty relievers.

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#17 Taildragger8791

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:04 PM

 

Duffey, Chagois, Curtis, Busenitz, Hildenberger Moya. 6 arms right there to take a step up. Jake Reed, Melotakis, Tyler Jay and Nick Anderson all might have a shot for mid season. In the meantime a top setup/closer to go with Rogers and Rodney would be advisable.

 

It looks good at first glance to throw a list like that out there, but a plan based around that can fall apart in a hurry.

 

Duffey was very inconsistent this year. Chargois isn't and may never be healthy. Moya is largely an unknown. Jake Reed still has control problems. Melotakis was removed from the 40 man roster for a reason. Jay is a health risk and didn't exactly light the AFL on fire. Nick Anderson is a lotto ticket. Rodney is...Rodney. The that leaves you with 4 young unestablished relievers that you're counting on all performing this year, which can quickly fall to 2-3 due to injury or non-performance. And those aren't the kinds of arms you should be taxing when your starter only went 4-5 innings for the 4th time that week.

Edited by Taildragger8791, 21 December 2017 - 12:09 PM.

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#18 Dantes929

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:09 PM

 

So.... the same story we as fans have read and heard for the last 3 seasons. Just wait for the internal options. There isn't a single team in baseball that has a home grown bullpen. Eventually, if they want to be better, they have to pay market rates for relief help. 

Twins certainly tried for the home grown bullpen with drafts and acquisitions. Arms can blow out at any time and I think we have been a little unlucky with guys like Burdi Jay and Chargois. It could easily have gone the other way.If every team loses internal guys and acquires external guys all you really have is a game of musical chairs.I'm not sure why internal cannot work. Just lack of patience?Every team has Burdi's that they let go and then go on to thrive somewhere else.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff.

#19 nicksaviking

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:10 PM

Outside of Reed and Davis, I'm not too excited about the remaining free agent relief arms. I was all for getting some strikeout monsters in free agency but that doesn't look to be in the cards. No one wants to hear the "Trust the young guys" approach, but it looks like that's the hand this team is being dealt.

 

Outside of performance issues, my biggest worry with this approach is that even if the fans are forced to watch this tactic, the team still is going to need Molitor to use it. If say Chargois and Busenitz start using their gas and are mowing guys down, what are the odds that Molitor would even run them out there in clutch situations in May or even June? I'd guess low, he likes his veterans, it's still likely to be Rodney and whoever this year's veteran spring-training invitee on a minor league deal is.

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#20 ThejacKmp

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:13 PM

 

So.... the same story we as fans have read and heard for the last 3 seasons. Just wait for the internal options. There isn't a single team in baseball that has a home grown bullpen. Eventually, if they want to be better, they have to pay market rates for relief help. 

 

The market rates are often awful though. Outside of signing the elite guys like Chapman, Jansen and co., so many of those contracts don't work out, even in the short term. Last year Mike Dunn got 3 years and $19 million and was awful in year 1 , Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa each got 2 years and a combined $28 million from the Marlins to put up ERA+ of 85 and 71 respectively. In 2016, Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo were guys lots of people on TD wanted and they have collectively flushed $23 million down the tank.

 

One year deals like the Twins have been doing are often just as successful when dealing with the pen. A bullpen is also very easy to supplement at the break - the Nats were a terrible pen team last year but made some moves to supplement that and turned it into a playoff strength - 2.16 ERA. Just because it starts out homegrown doesn't mean it ends homegrown. The Twins have enough fun young arms to throw some things at the wall, see what sticks and then supplement as needed.

 

I'd rather see the Twins spend that money elsewhere. It might even help the pen - if they signed Darvish, for instance, one or more of the long line of starters competing for that spot might move to the pen. That would boost the pen anyways. Guys like May and Mejia might excel in the pen.

 

 

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