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Did the Twins build a shaky bullpen?


denarded
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I know it's 4 plus months into the season. Did we rely to heavily on a 'shake the dice' bullpen for too long? I feel if we brought in 2 or 3 relievers a game we might be better served than the 3-5 we trot out every game. I don't have the time time or knowledge to go to sites to serve this out, but I'm amazed how much we use our shaky bullpen out of the gate. I can't find the numbers I want to prove this theory because I'm not smart. Thoughts? Aside from I'm dumb and can't use Google properly.

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Bullpens get blown up or at least reshaped on most teams on a regular basis.  It's a product of the inconsistency so common at that position.   This year the Twins are doing it in the last half of the season and thank god.  Minaya and Gant are providing some hope for the rest of the season and more importantly they might be part of the solution.  Did we really want them to do nothing until next year? 

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I think the Twins tried to construct a bullpen similar to their 2020 one -- a pen that was reliant on breaking balls instead of fastballs.

In the off-season, they acquired established personnel that would fit that blueprint (Colome, Robles) to replace guys like Romo, Clippard and May while adding Matt Wisler-like arms that could potentially fire sliders (Derek Law, Luke Ferrell, Glenn Sparkman, Ian Hamilton) like he did. 

I don't think anyone thought Colome was going to regress this much. Maybe they were too optimistic on Jorge Alcala and Cody Stashak taking strides forward. Or that Randy Dobnak would become a strong reliever. Maybe they believed too much in their system that they could create a reliever off the waivers like they had done in the past (Shaun Anderson).  

With no reliable relievers at the beginning of the year, it's hard for me to challenge the Twins' in-game bullpen management. Whatever button Rocco pushed was set to implode. 

It will be interesting to see how the Twins handle this off-season with their bullpen. They are clearly auditioning some arms now. Do they stick to the same script and find a few established free agent arms while grabbed up an assortment of slider-throwers to see what sticks? Do they go out and try to trade for some? Do they pivot away from the breaking ball-heavy plan and try to get power arms? 

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http://It will be interesting to see how the Twins handle this off-season with their bullpen. They are clearly auditioning some arms now. Do they stick to the same script and find a few established free agent arms while grabbed up an assortment of slider-throwers to see what sticks? Do they go out and try to trade for some? Do they pivot away from the breaking ball-heavy plan and try to get power arms?

Couldn't put it more succinctly!!  A good bullpen arm, facing many on base situations has to have a wipe-out pitch to avoid the dreaded "inherited runs scored stat".  Nibblers like Colome, Thielbar, Duffy, Robles, Romo, et. al. do not.  Even their "ace" Rogers no longer seems to, as evidenced by an approx 50% inherited runs scored %.  Sox signed Hendriks, dumped Colome, and the rest is history.

Falvine have tried to introduce this power arm pitcher into the pipeline, but to date have come up with goose eggs(Alcala, maybe Duran).  You get what you pay for unless you can draft and develop such bullpen pieces.  In 4+ years, the FO is batting .000.  Even with the lost year, couldn't one expect at least one or two arms to contribute to the big league club?

I agree 100% with Parker.  The old way hasn't worked.  You can't keep throwing discards against the wall and hope something sticks.  At this point, if they really intend to bounce back in 2022, they're going to have to overpay for a couple of top FAs who can stabilize this mess.

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Major league average for saves converted is 61%, and inherited runners scoring is 35%, 5 years ago those numbers were 66% and 30%, so I think bad relief pitching is MLB wide. I think part of the problem is the three batter rule, though this years and last years numbers for those two stats are on par with 2019, the last year of the specialist. I think this rule puts pitchers in a position to fail because they are either brought in one batter too soon or left in for too long. I'm not saying this is the Twins problem, but it seems the relievers give up a big hit to the first or second batter they face then settle in, or get the first two batters out then fall apart as the manager tries to get said pitcher to finish the inning. Just my $.02 worth.

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7 minutes ago, mnfireman said:

Major league average for saves converted is 61%, and inherited runners scoring is 35%, 5 years ago those numbers were 66% and 30%, so I think bad relief pitching is MLB wide.

Blown save stats are really misleading this way, as *many* relievers are granted "blown saves" for games they would not have qualified for a save at all (eg. pitching and giving up the lead in the seventh inning by a pitcher who does not pitch more than one inning). There are can be many blown saves in a game but only one save, which leads to absurdly low "save" numbers when viewed as a percentage league-wide.

If you look at pitchers that pitch in actual save situations (aka. a "closer"), the blown save percentage is wayyyyy lower than that, usually around 15% (but I haven't checked in the past couple of years because I no longer really pay attention to save stats).

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10 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Blown save stats are really misleading this way, as *many* relievers are granted "blown saves" for games they would not have qualified for a save at all (eg. pitching and giving up the lead in the seventh inning by a pitcher who does not pitch more than one inning). There are can be many blown saves in a game but only one save, which leads to absurdly low "save" numbers when viewed as a percentage league-wide.

If you look at pitchers that pitch in actual save situations (aka. a "closer"), the blown save percentage is wayyyyy lower than that, usually around 15% (but I haven't checked in the past couple of years because I no longer really pay attention to save stats).

I understand how blown saves are "earned", I used these two stats because I think it helps point out that relievers are being put in situations they shouldn't be put in because of the three batter rule.

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@mnfireman

That's a really good point about the 3-batter rule. 

What is interesting is the reliever ERA league-wide is 4.16 -- which is down from 4.43 in 2019 -- but the inherited run scored percentage is up to 34.9 from 31.9.

You have to wonder if the increased IRA is partially a byproduct of a manager leaving a pitcher out for those extra few hitters, allowing them to reach, and then pulling that pitcher after 3 plate appearances instead of the one in prior years. 

It's weird. Relievers have a much lower batting average allowed, on-base, slugging against and home runs allowed than 2019 but more runners on base are scoring. 

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The rotation sucked coming out of spring training. Maeda couldn't pitch five innings. Dobnak was a wreck. Berrios barely got to the sixth at times. Happ and Shoemaker didn't thrill. Even in this day and age of 100 pitch counts, you better have competent enough starters to occasionally finish a sixth inning at times.

 

Otherwise, you better have a strong 2-3 inning lefty AND righty in the pen, which is totally feasible when you carry eight bullpen arms. But only if those guys actually work.

 

The Twins pen also got hit with Colome being...well, crappy. Plus the dreaded inherited runner to start the tenth (which doesn't show up in ERA).

 

Combined with the fact that Stashak sucked bigtime, Duffey imploded a bit, and Rogers IS NOT a closer. When you best pitcher is Caleb Thielbar, who is really only best facing 2-4 batters, something went wrong.

 

And now they add 35-year old Nick Vincent, after sending out Farrell (who was a minor gem), Law, Anderson, Waddell, Coulombe, Jax in relief, Thorpe couldn't get thru a batting order, a 24-year old Burrows who has age on his side for the moment, and also Gant and Garcia.

 

And it doesn't look to be better. Having names like Barnes, Ober, Balazovic, Winder - all guys who will still be on inning caps NEXT season, more or less. So you need the Gant. You need the possible Smeltzer or Thorpe.

 

They have used 20 guys as mainly relief pitchers this season already. 20! 6 are basically at 40 or more appearances (okay, Caleb has 39). 2 of those are now disabled. Another five have pitched in at least 10 games. 

 

The biggest disappoint was Colome not doing his job, or the Twins starters not doing their jobs. Eight games, if they turned out different, would put us tight with the Indians in the standings, think about that.

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On 8/8/2021 at 8:58 PM, denarded said:

I know it's 4 plus months into the season. Did we rely to heavily on a 'shake the dice' bullpen for too long? I feel if we brought in 2 or 3 relievers a game we might be better served than the 3-5 we trot out every game. I don't have the time time or knowledge to go to sites to serve this out, but I'm amazed how much we use our shaky bullpen out of the gate. I can't find the numbers I want to prove this theory because I'm not smart. Thoughts? Aside from I'm dumb and can't use Google properly.

I think the problem was:

1) bad starting pitching. Most nights, our starters couldn't get out of the 5th inning so the pen needed to pitch more than they should.

2) Bad choices on roster management. Twins have failed to recognize the decent relief arms they had. I've mentioned in other threads but they've let guys like Wells (29 games, 114 ERA+, 43ip), Curtis (40 games 125 ERA+, 43ip) and Chargois (35 games, 160 ERA+, 34ip) go. Those three are all still making league minimum and arguably out pitched Colome and Robles. Twins have had 28 pitchers this year throwing 987 innings. Only 332.67 have come from pitchers the Twins drafted or international signings and that's been worth 2.1 WAR. Free agents brought in have been worth -4.3 WAR! That's hard to do.

3) Questionable pitching philosophy. This one might be wrong but the Twins have spoken a ton on how much they don't want their pitchers to see the other teams lineup a third time. So that requires a strong bullpen. But with a weak bullpen, the pitching staff falls into this death spiral where the starters struggle, the pen is wiped out, worse pitchers come in, etc, etc.

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After watching many, many years of bullpens, I have concluded that the Front Office assembles the best arms they can find and include a few lefty's and then it is up to the Manager and pitching coaches to make them work.  This year, the pitchers were not as good as advertised.  :)

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