IMO evaluating pitching is absolutely essential. Therefore profiling pitching is essential in how to use your pitchers that you have on hand. My goal here is to give my very simplified version of profiling.
1st what's the difference between a SP and a closer or set up man? And who do I put where? 1st of all, the arm strength of a SP is able to take him at least 5 innings where a RP can't, closer/ setup man normally pitches 1 inning. 2ndly SP needs to pace himself thru the 5+ innings where a closer is a 1 inning sprint, 3rdly, the mentality is different- the SP's mentality is winning the game and usually needs more time to prepare for the game while a setup man or closer's mentality isn't about winning the game it's about holding or saving a win. Although the definition is very simple, the transformation of mindset from SP to a 1 inning RP is very difficult. Almost all pitchers start out to be SPs but very few will ever become an perennial MLB SP. Twins have had many promising SP in the MiLB that couldn't make it as a starter & couldn't make that transition to RP either.
Duran has been a very promising SP prospect but his arm hasn't been able to maintain that durability over 5. So he was placed in the BP as a setup man. There is always some doubt wether any SP can make that transition or not. Duran has surpassed all expectations becoming a very reliable elite high leverage RP as a rookie. Duran has become a Twins bright & shining star, deserving consideration for ROY.
Long relief which is considered to be part of the BP, but IMO is the extention of the rotation. Why? While long relief usually doesn't pitch 5 innings, it usually pitches 3+ innings, needs extra time to prepare and shares the same mentality as the SP, to win the game. Who should be on long relief? My list is; promising rookie SPs, SPs coming back from injury, any SP that doesn't make the top 5 or any unproven SP that can be used to mop up.
The old traditional pitching game plan was the SP to complete the game or at least go 7-8 innings and finish with one of two RP you had on hand. The game has evolved to where SPs never complete their games due to demand of higher velo, spin rate etc that puts a lot of strain on the arm and a plethora of short RPs is needed to complete a game. To win a game you need a plethora of quality short RPs constantly on hand. Long relief is ignored.
My evaluation on having a successful season pitching game plan, I believe we have 3 options. #1 have 5 aces & have a couple of good short RPs. This option doesn't work because we don't have a single ace. #2 have 5 good SPs that can give you 5 quality innings with at least 4 quality short RPs available every game. This game plan doesn't work because we don't have the constant supply of quality short RPs therefore over relying on a few & burning them out & later the rotation. #3 having long relief as an extention of the rotation, for example if you have 4 aces & 1 who's not, the 1 you can supplement with 1 long RP + a couple of quality short relief. In our case 3-5 long RPs depending how many quality short RPs we have on hand.
This season is lost but next season we'll need to look into this. I'd love to have 5 aces on the rotation or having a plethora of quality short RPs on hand but unfortunately we don't have them so option #3 is our only option.
My next segment I'd like to discuss is my profiling of SPs.