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Too early? Or do the Twins have a foundation for a 2022 bullpen?


For a moment let's let the disappointment and vitriol of 2021 subside to examine 2022 and maybe even the remainder of 2021 and look to the future.

We all know the fluid and crazy nature of a ML pen and RP in general. Honestly, I'm not sure it's that different than a rotation. For most teams that are successful, you have a PRIME arm and at least one close to it. It doesn't matter these days about a "closer" and "set-up" man because even though things are similar to the past, we've also see a revolution in how the bullpen is built and used across baseball.

Rogers is only 30yo and has shown everyone that his "bad luck" in 2020 might have been real.

Duffey hasn't been what we hoped for this season, but is also only 30yo and has looked a lot like his former self as of late.

Robles was a key to the pen, IMO, when I thought the season was going to go in a different direction. He may have started a little slow, but has been QUALITY if not outstanding for some time now. He imploded recently, but was also over used for a stretch as well. Also only 30yo and still bringing high velocity and good numbers overall, does trade value actually bring more value than a re-sign?

Alcala is "growing up" before our eyes. YES, he's young, inexperienced, still developing and has been a frustrating victim to the HR ball. [All the more maddening when you see his stuff and allowing HR when he seems to be cruising]. But we can all see the development taking place.

A ML BP in today's game needs 8 guys with another 2-4 sitting at AAA to fill in to play the modern day roster game.

Just how good is Thielbar really? So far, surprisingly good but not outstanding. But solid. 

Just how good could a healthy Stashak be after what we saw in 2019-20? (Hopeful)

How about Thorpe getting healthy after all the hard work he put in to getting ready for 2021 and transitioning full time to the pen?

The Twins made some smart gambles for pen depth and help for 2021 that have simply NOT turned out. Farrell may or may not turn out to be a surprise solid middle relief option. Hamilton may or may not turn out to be a decent flier with potential. The best rotation arms in the system excluding Duran, are all in AA or lower, for the most part. But I'm focused on the pen right now.

We have some hope for a couple live arms like Cano, Moran, Neff, Mason, etc. And if Colina hadn't fallen under the "2021 curse" of injuries he would probably already be on the roster with Alcala as a top heat throwing youngster with potential. 

So no doubt the FO will have to prove their supposed smarts again and re-build the pen yet again. But if they keep Robles,  aren't they half way there already?

I'm solely looking at the pen in 2022 right now. Is there a base in place to have a quality pen moving forward?

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31 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

Just how good is Thielbar really? So far, surprisingly good but not outstanding. But solid. 

Thielbar is a good story. But he isn’t going to be able to shut down good offenses if he can’t break 90 MPH.

32 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

But if they keep Robles,  aren't they half way there already?

He would be fine, IMO, as a fourth or fifth option in the pen. His control (or lack thereof) doesn’t allow him to be a super lockdown arm.

34 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

Just how good could a healthy Stashak be after what we saw in 2019-20? (Hopeful)

I just don’t know. I’ve never been a Stashak fan. He doesn’t have enough velo on his FB (IMO) and is completely unreliable when it matters.

I don’t think we’re building up from nothing. I think we need to go shopping for BP arms and get at least two (good) ones.

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I am looking beyond 2022 and I wouldn’t count on the “only 30” crowd to maintain the same performance at 32.

For 2022 Robles is a free agent. Rogers, Duffey and Thielbar will be in arbitration. Keeping all four will be more expensive for likely some decline in overall performance. 

I would listen to offers on all four and wouldn’t need to be blown away by that offer to move them.

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I think Rogers, Duffey, Robles and Alcala are a good foundation.  What is needed is a #1 arm like a Rosenthal or Yates at the back end.  Maybe Colina could be a piece as well but can't be counted on until he proves healthy.  Jorgenswest makes a very good point about cost to keep them all, but if the Twins are able to somehow jettison the cost of Sano, Cruz, Donaldson and others the Twins can better invest that $$$ in other areas.  But I go back to still needing a big-time, proven arm at the back end like a Rosenthal or Yates.  And they may not cost as much with their injury problems but that adds to the risk.  Our roster is terribly out of balance right now and that's 100% on this FO.  Time for them to figure it out.

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This seems overly optimistic. Not only do we have a bad staff, we have an old staff. Rogers and Robles are free agents at the end of the year and the Twins should see if they have any trade value this year. Duffey is what he is, not horrible, not great. Basically an average reliever. After that, ugh. And if we keep moving toward a starting staff that can't go more than 5 innings a game, it just gets worse. 

Frankly, my main concern with the Twins pitching philosophy has been the shorter starts and handing the game to a bad bullpen. Don't' know how that doesn't happen again next year. 

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We will see what happens but I think they will likely trade Robles, and maybe even Thielbar if he continues to pitch well. There is an outside chance they trade Rogers but not sure if they can get a return they like or not.  Will be interesting to see.  They should be able to find guys like Robles or Thielbar in FA next year and their replacements could be on the roster right now.  Thorpe or Smeltzer might be Theilbars replacement. Colina could be a Robles replacement.  If they do trade Rogers they don't really have an arm of his caliber and they won't be likely find one in FA as they don't like to pay for relievers.  He is the only irreplaceable arm IMO.

We have to hope that Yenier Cano and Jovani Moran can ascend and be decent pen arms.  The Twins will have to grab a couple of arms in FA and maybe they turn one of their potential young starters into a long reliever pen arm.  I think it will be a pretty different pen next year.  I think it will be a younger pen next year.  They also might be able to get an arm they like at the trade deadline as well.  I think they are sellers and I think they will turn the pen over but we will see.

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Twins haven't had a bona fide closer since Joe Nathan. The bullpen has been their weak link for years and just when it became respectable in 2019-20, they subtracted instead of adding  the one piece they needed - a closer.

The entire staff is abysmal and their window to win a World Series with thus group has closed.

 

 

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I'd say right now they may have an OK bullpen next year, but not good or better. That said, there is hope in AAA so we'll know a lot more by the end of the year than we do now.

I don't think Thorpe, Jax, or Dobnak are part of a great bullpen......There are some nice stories there, but I don't think they have the stuff (right now) to be good to great. Ok? Yes. 

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You need a bonifide closer. Often, a starter who wasn't effective (see Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Glen Perkins). The Twins missed it on Liam Hendricks. I also wished they had kept Trevor May.

 

But you still need a closer. I wouldn't count on Duffey or Rogers for anymore than they have already given. Neither have taken the step forwards to be a closer, but both can probably add years of service time as set-up guys.

 

Thielbar is that guy you want to face few batters. But he is aging himself out of the game. Right now (or before yesterday) he may have had some value.

 

Face it. The Twins bullpen is an overall wreck. Alcala COULD be the closer of the future. Just needs command to place his fastball somewhere other than where it get hits for homers. One had hopes for Stashak, again another short reliever.

You need a hard-throwing commanding closer. You need a ground ball guy. You need a flyball pitcher. You also need additional strikeout arms with this extra-inning rule that totally changed the work-up of a bullpen. The Twins failed early in this regard, not used to having a runner start on second. Happily it didn 't count  as an earned run, otherwise Colombe would be a lot worse than his ERA shows. And because starters can't get into the sixth inning anymore, you need to play musical chairs with the minors. Good for pitchers in need of service time. But also bad for batters as there is no longer a need to work a count to see pitches. You just seldom see the same pitcher.

Robles was a good addition. Overall (hit me with a brick), the Twins have had some fine innings from Duffey, Farrell, Rogers, Alcala, Robles, Thielbar, Coluombe. The problem is you gave 79 innings o relief work to (not even counting Shoemaker) who gave us 79 innings with 76 runs scored. Offset that with a few bad outing by the above, and you are where the Twins are today.

 

I don't know who the arms are of the future, as they seem all stuck at AA or below with the Saints roster filled with minor league free agents who couldn't hold a job elsewhere. Barraclough, Hamilton, Burrows, Gilmartin, Harvey, Vincent, Garcia, Whalen, Boyd and more are not the future, but chances are we will still see EVERYONE of these names pass thru Target Field before the season ends.

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On 6/28/2021 at 10:42 PM, cHawk said:

Thielbar is a good story. But he isn’t going to be able to shut down good offenses if he can’t break 90 MPH.

When will Thielbar get the appreciation and respect he deserves?! He’s so much more than a “good story”.

 

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On 7/4/2021 at 1:13 PM, KBJ1 said:

Twins haven't had a bona fide closer since Joe Nathan. The bullpen has been their weak link for years and just when it became respectable in 2019-20, they subtracted instead of adding  the one piece they needed - a closer.

The entire staff is abysmal and their window to win a World Series with thus group has closed.

 

 

Perk was pretty good but it didn’t matter because he pitched when they were a lock for 90 losses.

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Duffey and Rogers are reliable and Alcala has the potential to be very good iny my opinion.

 

The rest of the current bullpen guys should not be on this roster next season but some likely will because you just aren't going to overturn 80% of your bullpen in all likelihood.

 

The concerning thing is the Saints bullpen is awful as well so they're going to need to find a half dozen answers from somewhere.

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Was listening to the pre-game on the way home tonight and a national writer,  Matt "something"...sorry I was driving...spoke about the quality of Rogers. After the 2018 season he wrote an article about the best RP nobody knew, Rogers of course. And the conversation continued about how this season in particular, he was one of the top RP facing high stress situations, 

The point is simple Rogers is elite, or borderline elite depending on your perspective, for some time now, But he's being used as a fireman and not as a closer. We've all seen this transition taking place for some time now, A "closer" facing the bottom of an order and getting a save is a mirage of performance. NOT that a "closer" only faces that, but it adds to the narrative that what we perceive as a traditional closer doesn't have the same value we used to assign. (Agents hate that of course).

The pen needs to be re-built. But Rogers is elite, Duffey has been good, but not great in 2021, Do you want to bet against him at this point? I don't. Everyone thinks we should trade Robles for whatever we can get. But until be was asked to pitch four straight days recently, he's been doing quite well. Don't be lazy, look at his career before 2020. Look at his numbers this season, velocity and K rate, and understand he got rode hard a week ago, and then tell me he's just an easy FA replacement in 2022. I am IN on keeping him and re-signjng him.

Unfortunately for the season, this is the perfect opportunity for Alcala to gain experience and trust. And if you've watched the games he's pitched in, you can see he is just "so close" to figuring it out. 

Building a quality BP isn't as easy as we wish it would be. Think about the Tigers a few years back when they had an amazing rotation and deadly lineup but couldn't win it all because their pen was aweful. The 2019 Twins BP was solid early with duct tape and bailing wire, Better performance and a good trade gave them a solid pen. Holdovers and development and surprises gave them one of the best pens in 2020.

Trade or FA, I want a RH arm on par with Rogers. Trade or FA, I want an arm equivalent to Duffey and Robles.

My arguement has been, and continues to be, the Twins have a 4 man base to build on for 2022. Add 2 more arms to that, you have a pen needing only depth. Matthew Lenz has pointed out Thielbar shouldn't be dismissed. I agree, But at some point, I have to wonder about age. And I laugh when I read comments about a number of 30yr old RP in the pen. Why would you expect to have a bullpen made up of 20yr olds unless you were re-building? 

Keep the 4 you trust. (My opinion). Add 2 more arms that actually have experience and production. See if Thielbar can do it for another year. See if Stashak can come back healthy and be what he has looked like early. See if Farrell is REALLY a solid middle man. Keep promoting some arms that have a chance, Moran, Neff, Moran, etc. 

But my arguement remains the same...and I'll accept if I turn out to look foolish...there is a basis for a 2022 pen if we hold strong, and just build on what we have.

*Haven't even touched on Thorpe and Smeltzer as a LH option.

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17 hours ago, Matthew Lenz said:

When will Thielbar get the appreciation and respect he deserves?! He’s so much more than a “good story”.

 

I believe his career bullpen ERA is 3.00,  not 2.78. Which is still good, but in the interests of accuracy...

 

I think you've also overstated his effectiveness. The only 2 seasons he had an ERA at or below 3 are 2013 and short season 2020.

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1 hour ago, USAFChief said:

I believe his career bullpen ERA is 3.00,  not 2.78. Which is still good, but in the interests of accuracy...

 

I think you've also overstated his effectiveness. The only 2 seasons he had an ERA at or below 3 are 2013 and short season 2020.

Yeah, the 2013 season does most of the heavy lifting for Thielbar's career ERA in that list (and his career ERA actually jumped by 0.22 in the 1 game since this tweet, which is another clue of how small his career sample still is). 2013 performance still counts of course, but it's not going to command much attention or appreciation in 2021.

Also, Thielbar has the lowest leverage usage of anyone on the list, by far. Thielbar's average game-entering leverage index is just 0.92. The role of low-leverage short reliever is a rather recent invention, and one of somewhat dubious value.

Thielbar's done some nice things and has a good story, but in terms of contributions to the Twins, the more appropriate comps are guys like Gary Wayne or Terry Leach.

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