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Front Page: Surging Twins Bullpen Boasts Enviable Depth, Additional Reinforcements on the Way

taylor rogers trevor may tyler duffey brusdar graterol wes johnson
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#1 Sabir Aden

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 12:15 PM

The Twins bullpen has been among the best in the entire league. Still, many Twins fans don’t seem to like the team’s chances against the American League’s powerhouses in the postseason. With the inevitable arrival of the most-hyped Twins pitching prospect in the last decade, however, there’s an argument to be made that the depth of the Twins bullpen matches up with anybody.Since the All-Star break, the Twins have baseball’s best SIERRA (a better or more comprehensive branch of FIP), and K-BB% a very good indicator of sustainably- sterling pitching, even while posting baseball’s highest zone per pitch%.

We expected Wes Johnson to initiate some velocity increases, but he’s also helped a few relievers unleash some more bite on their breaking pitches.

Download attachment: RogersDuffeyMay.png

Velocity has risen, the sharpness of break along with the tunneling of those pitches in relation to fastball location has improved, and in turn that’s led to more strikeouts and weaker contact.

Tyler Duffey is an interesting experiment, and they’ve built a rapport with using the fastball as a catalyst to set up the wipeout slider, a new pitch he believes is just a harder thrown version of his former knucklecurve. With improved control, Trevor May has been an appealing seventh-inning guy to watch. Taylor Rogers, once was a generic LOOGY, is now perhaps the most impactful left-handed reliever in baseball excluding Felipe Vazquez. A 1.9 WAR is absolutely insane!

Do you remember the old Rogers, Duffey, and May? They all relied on softer secondary stuff to get away with the weaker fastballs they had previously. Now armed and loaded with fastball velocity, they still haven’t ventured too far (apart from May) from their old plan of attack.

What’s important to note is the current assembly of Twins pitchers is perfectly able at proving capable in the postseason.

In Extra Innings, a book by Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh advocated for relievers to be picked at the margins or be groomed through the system once failing as starting pitchers.

It’s an interesting proposal. Don’t ever buy a reliever because he'll often turn out to be a poor investment. Instead, build your bullpen with roster casualties and scuffling relievers that good teams feel they can’t wait to get better.

Download attachment: FA contract WAR.png

The Twins haven’t been the most hardcore adherents to this system of thinking. They jettisoned Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi, JT Chargois and others for guys that may or may not have been past their primes on the free-agent market. That Addison Reed, Matt Belisle, Dillon Gee and Craig Breslow were all acquired under the Falvine regime, might be the result of fan pressure than actual thorough analysis on the makings of on-the-margin acquisitions.

Guys like Tanner Rainey, Nick Anderson, Brendan Brennan, Austin Adams and Ty Buttrey were all traded in low-profile deals and turned out to be dynamic relievers.

The Twins found innovative ways to hire intuitive and introspective thinkers to take on these projects in Duffey, May, Rogers and others.

This bullpen is stacked with assorted gadgets and analytical fireman. So here’s my postseason bullpen predictions….

Multi Inning Firemen; Brusdar Graterol (RHP) / Taylor Rogers (LHP)
Set Up; Sam Dyson (RHP) / Trevor May (RHP)

Situational; Tyler Duffey (RHP) / Trevor Hildenberger (RHP) / Sergio Romo (RHP)

Swiss Army Knife; 1 OF EITHER Martin Perez (LHP) / Zack Littell (RHP)

Not included on the postseason roster: Randy Dobnak (RHP), Sean Poppen (RHP), Cody Stashak (RHP), Lewis Thorpe (LHP), Ryan Harper (RHP), Devin Smetlzer (LHP).

Click here to view the article
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#2 Post-Concussive Blues

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 01:53 PM

That seems about right. I don’t know if Hildenberger will have enough time to regain his spot—he didn’t get called back up yet—so I’d sub him for Thorpe so we have another lefty. Romo is a RHP.
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#3 Patrick Wozniak

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 07:04 PM

Good stuff! I'm a big fan of what Ben Lindbergh advocates as free agent relievers seem to be such a terrible return on investment and so many young/failed starters can be converted into assets as relievers.

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#4 Crackedfungo

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 08:50 PM

This analysis is consistent with what some of us have thought all along.Going for the high-end (expensive in $ and prospects) relievers is STUPID and rarely works out.It is better to scout your internal options or high ceiling options that are cheap and other teams don't have time/patience to develop due to scuffling and an inability to hit their peak (but something you can tweak).

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#5 twinsfaninsaudi

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 05:51 AM

Hildenberger is not gonna be on the postseason roster. Smeltzer will be. I hope this uptrend is for real.
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#6 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 07:12 AM

 

The Twins bullpen has been among the best in the entire league. Still, many Twins fans don’t seem to like the team’s chances against the American League’s powerhouses in the postseason. With the inevitable arrival of the most-hyped Twins pitching prospect in the last decade, however, there’s an argument to be made that the depth of the Twins bullpen matches up with anybody.Since the All-Star break, the Twins have baseball’s best SIERRA (a better or more comprehensive branch of FIP), and K-BB% a very good indicator of sustainably- sterling pitching, even while posting baseball’s highest zone per pitch%.

We expected Wes Johnson to initiate some velocity increases, but he’s also helped a few relievers unleash some more bite on their breaking pitches.

Download attachment: RogersDuffeyMay.png

Velocity has risen, the sharpness of break along with the tunneling of those pitches in relation to fastball location has improved, and in turn that’s led to more strikeouts and weaker contact.

Tyler Duffey is an interesting experiment, and they’ve built a rapport with using the fastball as a catalyst to set up the wipeout slider, a new pitch he believes is just a harder thrown version of his former knucklecurve. With improved control, Trevor May has been an appealing seventh-inning guy to watch. Taylor Rogers, once was a generic LOOGY, is now perhaps the most impactful left-handed reliever in baseball excluding Felipe Vazquez. A 1.9 WAR is absolutely insane!

Do you remember the old Rogers, Duffey, and May? They all relied on softer secondary stuff to get away with the weaker fastballs they had previously. Now armed and loaded with fastball velocity, they still haven’t ventured too far (apart from May) from their old plan of attack.

What’s important to note is the current assembly of Twins pitchers is perfectly able at proving capable in the postseason.

In Extra Innings, a book by Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh advocated for relievers to be picked at the margins or be groomed through the system once failing as starting pitchers.

It’s an interesting proposal. Don’t ever buy a reliever because he'll often turn out to be a poor investment. Instead, build your bullpen with roster casualties and scuffling relievers that good teams feel they can’t wait to get better.

Download attachment: FA contract WAR.png

The Twins haven’t been the most hardcore adherents to this system of thinking. They jettisoned Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi, JT Chargois and others for guys that may or may not have been past their primes on the free-agent market. That Addison Reed, Matt Belisle, Dillon Gee and Craig Breslow were all acquired under the Falvine regime, might be the result of fan pressure than actual thorough analysis on the makings of on-the-margin acquisitions.

Guys like Tanner Rainey, Nick Anderson, Brendan Brennan, Austin Adams and Ty Buttrey were all traded in low-profile deals and turned out to be dynamic relievers.

The Twins found innovative ways to hire intuitive and introspective thinkers to take on these projects in Duffey, May, Rogers and others.

This bullpen is stacked with assorted gadgets and analytical fireman. So here’s my postseason bullpen predictions….

Multi Inning Firemen; Brusdar Graterol (RHP) / Taylor Rogers (LHP)
Set Up; Sam Dyson (RHP) / Trevor May (RHP)

Situational; Tyler Duffey (RHP) / Trevor Hildenberger (RHP) / Sergio Romo (RHP)

Swiss Army Knife; 1 OF EITHER Martin Perez (LHP) / Zack Littell (RHP)

Not included on the postseason roster: Randy Dobnak (RHP), Sean Poppen (RHP), Cody Stashak (RHP), Lewis Thorpe (LHP), Ryan Harper (RHP), Devin Smetlzer (LHP).

Click here to view the article

 

Sabir,

 

You have my attention. I'll be looking for more of your articles. 

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#7 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 11:44 AM

I like your bullpen less Hildenberger with Littel definitely part of it. Littel was one of our better relievers when he got sent down not because of poor performance but because he was the kind with options. He's now back. I think he is the classic guy that proves your thesis; a good arm that failed as a starter and it's now becoming a quality reliever. He's also only 23 so he could be an impact part of the bullpen going forward.
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#8 twinssporto

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 02:58 PM

The pieces to this bullpen are coming together better than I expected and the timing couldn't be more perfect. I like the assortment of arms we have available for the playoff push.  More than enough quality for shorter series during the playoffs.

 

Nicely written article.  Thank you Sabir.

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#9 DocBauer

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 02:59 PM

While a big baseball fan, I am poorly read when it comes to many here at TD. And I confess to not knowing Ben Lindbergh, but I ABSOLUTELY agree with his premise on RP.

That being saidm there is nothing inherently wrong with signing a FA RP you need, like and believe in. To say never would be a gross generalization and a generally wrong approach. FA has shown us over the years to bring good and bad, at ALL positions, and remains a useful tool to build a team. But recent history, including this last off season, has shown us the volatility of signing said BP options, from a position that tends to be volatile regardless.

Reflecting just on the history of the Twins in their "new era"...and to me that is since the Pohlad's bought the team...they have won 2 WS titles and had numerous winning/contending teams by building bullpens, good bullpens, in a number of different ways. (This is NOT about coming up short some years, just a reflection). The Twins traded for Reardon, Aguillera and Nathan. ONE was a proven closer, one a solid SP who had a few injuries and disappointments, and the third was a position player turned RP who was traded for as an up and coming set-up man. Just to name a FEW of the guys who provided depth in those pens you would have guys like Berenguer, Atherton, Willis, Trombley, Gurrier, Guardado and many, many others. Just a smattering of a few names. Some were low level FA signings, some converted starters from other organizations, and some converted starters from within the Twins organization. Some went on to be closers themselves while one, not even listed, was a famous Rule V pick who ended up being a multi Cy Young SP.

I say again there is nothing wrong with making a major FA signing for a team's bullpen if you feel good about it. Nor do I feel it is wrong, or a waste, to draft a strong armed college RP or two for the purpose of keeping him and developing him as such. (I think we can all agree that the mad experiment of making a college RP a SP is just that, mad).

I think the FO has built...is building...the Twins bullpen the right way currently. I was disappointed, vocally so, that they didn't add anyone but Parker despite an obvious need. Reflection has shown they were right. While Parker didnt work out, initially he wasnt bad. In fact, he was no worse, and better than some, in regard to the FA class available.

The FO, and new coaching staff, cobbled things together after a few "hopes" didn't turn out and still had a "decent" pen for the first half. They also worked with May, with Duffey, and were aggressive with auditions to guys like Littell and others. They cut bait when the time seemed right and brought in a pair of proven, experienced arms to deepen the bullpen to its current situation.

As has been stated previously in different posts it seems most/all fans/teams are unhappy with their bullpen. Such is the nature of the game today, I suppose. And yet, despite being a spot that needed to be upgraded for the long haul AND post season, augmented by a surprisingly healthy and strong rotation, the numbers indicate the Twins bullpen has been largely effective all season. And yet, said bullpen has indeed changed.

Rogers, Dyson, Romo, Duffey, May form a pen now that is very different from when the season started. And while I would not be so optimistically blind to state this new pen is "lights out", to deny the performance and production would be equally blind. ALl but Romo will be back next season. Honestly, would anyone object or be surprised if Romo was brought back next season on a 1yr deal?

Brian has made comments in various commentaries about going "all in", or at least going deeper in to building pitching depth. I concur. And while I feel this team absolutely has need for another quality LH for the pen...Perez, Thorpe and Smeltzer could help in the short term, there remains a definitive need for that one arm. And no matter what he may do in September, or the post season, Graterol is a rotation piece to build on. So are at least 2 of the LH I just mentioned. But when I look at those 5 listed, and see the development of Littel, the hope for Alcala, the hope still for Romero possibly, the early returns on guys like Poppen and Stashak, I can't help but feel optimistic they are building the pen the right way.
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#10 howieramone2

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 09:48 AM

For some time now, free agency has become the market of last resort, as far as pitching goes. This was further amplified the past 2 off-seasons. If we never sign another free agent pitcher, you'll never see me yielding a pitchfork. As far as bullpen arms go, we have clearly won the numbers game going forward. Still need to accumulate additional starting pitching prospects.

 

In the not too distant future, we will be forced to deal current stars we can't or won't extend. This will most likely enable us to win the starting pitchers numbers game.




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