Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Once a Glaring Weakness, Twins' Bullpen Is Now a Clear Strength


Nash Walker
 Share

The Twins’ bullpen has leaked runs and caused headaches all year long, motivating the front office to improve it at the deadline. They filled the holes with a bang, and now the arm barn looks like a real strength. 

 

Despite all the issues and the 19 crippling blown saves, the Twins had one advantage in their bullpen: a young, terrific weapon in Jhoan Durán, who’s carried the late-innings all year. Griffin Jax, another first-year reliever, has been more than serviceable with a 3.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. It’s Durán, though, who made fixing the bullpen woes at the deadline easier than it appeared. 

Durán is tied with Guardians’ generational closer Emmanuel Clase for the most Win Probability Added among relievers in the American League (2.80). He owns a sterling 2.15 ERA in 46 innings, striking out 58 and walking only 10. Durán’s emergence is a primary reason why the Twins are in first place. It’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him. 

Durán’s excellence allowed the Twins to flip the bullpen picture completely. They already had one outstanding right-handed reliever and then traded for another. Jorge Lopez, who now has a 1.64 ERA in nearly 50 innings, completes one of the more overwhelming duos in baseball. López and Durán have combined for a 1.87 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 96 ⅓ innings. While Durán wows with one of the hardest four-seam fastballs in baseball, López induces chopper after chopper with a turbo sinker at 98-100 mph. It’s a deadly combo for opposing hitters. 

The late innings will primarily belong to the two flamethrowers, but Michael Fulmer is an under-the-radar pickup for the Twins. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 batting average and zero homers in 102 plate appearances. 

Fulmer has given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season, a double from his new teammate Gio Urshela on July 24th. No righty has barreled Fulmer this season. In a division and league loaded with right-handed talent, he should continue to thrive in those matchups. Fulmer and Jax both have elite sliders, holding opponents to a combined .170 batting average. 

Depth is as important as the stars, and Trevor Megill has filled in wonderfully. Megill has a sub-2 ERA in 19 outings, regularly reaching 100 with his fastball while showing good command. Megill, Durán, and López all average over 97 mph with their primary fastballs. When’s the last time the Twins had three high-velocity arms in their bullpen?

Caleb Thielbar hasn’t shined in the ERA department, but his 3.09 Fielding Independent Pitching shows he’s been unlucky. Thielbar has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and a 2.90 ERA over his last 34 outings. He’s a reliable lefty and has held left-handed hitters to a .180/.281/.260 line. 

Even Emilio Pagán, who the Twins demoted to a lower-leverage role, has a 3.18 ERA and 2.23 FIP with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 outings. This bullpen picture gets even brighter if he can fill a vital sixth-inning role. Pagán could redeem some of his value with a solid final two months. 

It’s impossible to ignore the bullpen’s issues up to this point. Pagán and Tyler Duffey have allowed 40 earned runs in 79 ⅓ innings. Joe Smith, while excellent early, was so poor that the Twins DFA’ed him despite being the largest bullpen acquisition of the offseason. 

Even with the much-improved outlook, there’s still hope and depth outside the 26-man roster. If Jorge Alcalá can return, he’d provide Rocco Baldelli with another high-octane option for the late innings. Alcalá posted a 0.82 ERA with 27 strikeouts over his final 22 innings of 2021.

Jovani Moran, who the Twins optioned Wednesday, has a 1.93 ERA in 20 outings with the Twins this year. Kenta Maeda, a relief ace for the Dodgers in the past, is working to return for the stretch run in the Twins’ bullpen. 

They still have to play the games and stay healthy, but this group looks excellent. The Twins have seldom had this many reliable relievers in one bullpen, and they’ve never had a duo with the weaponry of Durán and López. If the Twins win the division and make a run into October, the bullpen will be a crucial reason why. 

What do you think of the Twins’ revamped bullpen? Comment below!

 


View full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

19 blown saves is pretty telling comment.  Imagine if you save half of the blown ones, your divisional lead is in the 8-9 game neighborhood.  Now if we were in that position, our trade deadline would have looked different for sure.  Not sure FO makes the moves to improve the pen.  One outing and I like it.  Biggest payoff is yet to be seen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO Duran is the prime example if you have a guy with a filthy arm he doesn't need to toil in the minors trying to become a starter for years, bring them up put them in the pen and work on the secondary stuff with the major league coaches. I will assume he could throw 100 the whole time in the minors and had a pretty good curve, but not the others pitches to succeed as a starter?  If he proves he can develop that third and fourth pitch stretch him out and give him a chance as a starter later on.

I agree with this article the pen looks real good, I hated pagen in the 8th and 9th but as a 5th, 6th or even 7th inning pitcher he is awesome, along with the rest, now Rocco just don't burn them out 😜

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not ready to call the bullpen a "clear strength," but adding Lopez and Fullmer clearly improved the backend.

Doc mentioned it in another thread, but I'd like to see the FO have the courage to jettison Duffey and go with Moran. 

I give the front office a lot of credit for the deadline deals. I hope they pay more attention to their bullpen in future offseasons. Critical. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bullpen has been a glaring weakness for some time  ,,, I wouldn't go as far as saying it it a strength yet but it is improved , Lopez has had a great season in his first year being a reliever  ( converted starter  )  , Fulmer  should be reliable  ,,,, mahler  could thrive away from Cincinnati  hitter friendly park  ,,, Leon had couple of good years with Boston offensively  and defensively  , I look forward to him blocking more pitches and keep runners  from scoring from third base  on a wild pitch  ....

Go twins , yes they are better it seems but we still have to play good fundamental games and not beat ourselves  ....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duffy and Pagan get the 6th.

Thielbar and Megill in the 7th.

Fulmer and Duran for the 8th.

Lopez for the save.

Twins can go two full games without needing to use the same guy, except maybe Lopez.

I would pair Maeda on Archer's starts and get a good 7 innings. 

Rocco's bacon has been saved by giving him an actual bullpen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Old Twins Cap said:

Duffy and Pagan get the 6th.

Thielbar and Megill in the 7th.

Fulmer and Duran for the 8th.

Lopez for the save.

Twins can go two full games without needing to use the same guy, except maybe Lopez.

I would pair Maeda on Archer's starts and get a good 7 innings. 

Rocco's bacon has been saved by giving him an actual bullpen.

And Jax?  I'd use Jax/Duran/Lopez, not necessarily in that order, to cover the 7th, 8th and 9th innings. Everybody else covers the 5th, 6th and maybe 7th innings according to match-ups. They could even cover the 4th if the starter really chokes and/or Rocco goes nuts on bullpen usage.

Edited by Dave The Dastardly
missing words
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, umterp23 said:

19 blown saves is pretty telling comment.  Imagine if you save half of the blown ones, your divisional lead is in the 8-9 game neighborhood.  Now if we were in that position, our trade deadline would have looked different for sure.  Not sure FO makes the moves to improve the pen.  One outing and I like it.  Biggest payoff is yet to be seen

Not necessarily. A pitcher can get a blown save and have the team come back and win. There can even be two or more blown saves in a game that a team wins, if the team takes back the lead after the first blown save.

I didn't go through everyone to see where all the blown saves are, but the Twins are 2-2 in Duffey's and Smith's blown saves, for example. 

(This isn't disputing that the bullpen has cost them -- just clarifying how blown saves work/don't work as a stat. As further note on the limitation of "blown save" as a stat, Smith's "blown saves" came in the sixth and seventh, games in which it was very unlikely he would actually get the save.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Twins seem to be the only team in the division to not care that much about the pen.  The White Sox are always trying to make their pen as strong as possible as a strong pen coupled with decent starting pitching leads to lot's of wins.  If you have a pen that more often than not can hold one run leads that helps a lot.  Detroit has a good pen.  The Indians have a good pen.  I think KC has a good pen can't remember.  It seems like the Twins were the only team with hardly any high octane arms and lots of smoke and mirrors guys.  I think what they did should help but they need to keep up with the competition when it comes to bullpen arms.

I will echo USA Chief in that I think Moran (a Lefty) is a better choice ( makes the pen stronger)  than Duffy.  I can understand the reluctance as Duffy has been better recently but he still is the weakest link IMO.

I hope the Twins find harder throwing bat missing guys for the pen as they are going to need them to keep up with a division that knows the value a lock down pen has.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's game, but I'm glad to hear that we won a game that wasn't a nail biter at the back end.

Concur with Chief, I hope the FO prioritizes the pen like this in the future, as to avoid all of the frustrating losses & lost late game leads.

This will hopefully be a better bullpen than the one we had in 2020. Now Polanco (or someone else) needs to not **** up in a big moment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, Old Twins Cap said:

Duffy and Pagan get the 6th.

Thielbar and Megill in the 7th.

Fulmer and Duran for the 8th.

Lopez for the save.

Twins can go two full games without needing to use the same guy, except maybe Lopez.

I would pair Maeda on Archer's starts and get a good 7 innings. 

Rocco's bacon has been saved by giving him an actual bullpen.

No Jax??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

Not ready to call the bullpen a "clear strength," but adding Lopez and Fullmer clearly improved the backend.

Doc mentioned it in another thread, but I'd like to see the FO have the courage to jettison Duffey and go with Moran. 

I give the front office a lot of credit for the deadline deals. I hope they pay more attention to their bullpen in future offseasons. Critical. 

Will they need to pay more attention in the foreseeable future? Maybe not. They have Duran for five more years, Jax for... five?  And Lopez for two more seasons after 2022.

Provided none of those guys fall off a cliff - a possibility with all relievers - the Twins shouldn't have to go shopping for relievers for awhile. They also have guys like Alcala and Maeda coming back and some of their upper minors prospects are sure to flame out of starting games.

The Twins bullpen is looking really nice for the next couple of years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, cHawk said:

They could just solve that by DFA'ing Duffey & Pagan

867517774964195348.webp?size=240&quality

If you DFA Pagan he would be picked up in a second. (Duffey not so much), but I believe there are not too many teams that have somebody has good as Pagan as their 5th/6th best relief pitcher (Lopez, Duran, Jax, Fulmer, Theilbar).

The guy has 55 K's in 37 innings, Now I wouldn't trust him in a late pressure situation but in the 5th and 6th, I would rather have him than most anybody else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

If you DFA Pagan he would be picked up in a second. (Duffey not so much), but I believe there are not too many teams that have somebody has good as Pagan as their 5th/6th best relief pitcher (Lopez, Duran, Jax, Fulmer, Theilbar).

The guy has 55 K's in 37 innings, Now I wouldn't trust him in a late pressure situation but in the 5th and 6th, I would rather have him than most anybody else.

Pagan's never had an issue with walks until this year, and that issue has been subsiding recently. I agree, he looks on track to recover.

But not for close games in the late innings. He doesn't seem to be that kind of pitcher. A high strikeout guy in the mid innings is going to be a big benefit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Using pitchers in a set inning is too rigid of usage. Fulmer is nearly unhittable facing RH batters - spot him in the lineup when there are no tough lefties. There are times when certain relievers will match up particularly well with certain batters. It was a blast watching Pagan get Luke Voit out with seven straight splitters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

If you DFA Pagan he would be picked up in a second. (Duffey not so much), but I believe there are not too many teams that have somebody has good as Pagan as their 5th/6th best relief pitcher (Lopez, Duran, Jax, Fulmer, Theilbar).

The guy has 55 K's in 37 innings, Now I wouldn't trust him in a late pressure situation but in the 5th and 6th, I would rather have him than most anybody else.

That was more of a joke rather than a serious take.

I wouldn't DFA Pagan, he's been better as of late. Duffey, keep him for mop up duty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, Linus said:

Yep after they find two guys that are better……

To be honest, Pagan & Duffey as the 7th & 8th men in the pen isn't bad. There are now 6 guys in the Twins' pen that are better than them

Lopez
Duran
Fulmer
Jax
Megill
Thielbar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say that the bullpen is a strength, but I'm certainly less concerned about it than I was.  They're going to have to show me more than once that they can lock down a game.  And preferably against stronger competition than Detroit.

That said, I like the additions that were made.  It was great to watch a game that I wasn't just waiting for the impending implosion for once.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Will they need to pay more attention in the foreseeable future? Maybe not. They have Duran for five more years, Jax for... five?  And Lopez for two more seasons after 2022.

Provided none of those guys fall off a cliff - a possibility with all relievers - the Twins shouldn't have to go shopping for relievers for awhile. They also have guys like Alcala and Maeda coming back and some of their upper minors prospects are sure to flame out of starting games.

The Twins bullpen is looking really nice for the next couple of years.

Coming into the season the FO had not prioritized the bullpen even knowing the starting pitching staff was going to be closely managed innings, they still traded Rogers for Paddack (another closely managed short start pitcher). Making the bullpen thinner yet.

yes the bullpen looks nice for a couple years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to improve further.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any time you can get a guy to be at the top of the leverage index, you strengthen the entire bullpen. I'm still not wild about Fulmer, but I'm hoping to be wrong and he got the job done out the gate, so we'll see. As a 7th inning option he seems reasonable?

I'm still not a fan of the "designated closer" because I want my best relievers facing the other team's best hitters in the late innings, rather than save the best pitcher to throw the 9th. I'd rather have Duran or Lopez lock down the other team's 3-4-5 hitters in the 7th or 8th with the score tight than hold them back for a 9th inning "save" situation...that might not materialize. I want my best pitchers pitching.

But I do think that there's better depth and potential for the bullpen to return to being a strength instead of a glaring weakness. It's fair to question whether it can stay good if the starters are all in a "5 and Fly" for the rest of the season, but outside of Archer, I have to believe that we can get more 6 inning starts from the rotation especially with Mahle, Ryan, and Gray.

Duffey is probably the weakest link right now (he just doesn't have the stuff any longer and is getting by on guts...and always at-risk to get blown up). Pagan (much like the dreaded Colome) seems to be doing much better in a lower leverage role. He's got better stuff and can get outs. Thielbar is the designated lefty.

pecking order feels like: Lopez, Duran, Jax, Fulmer, Thielbar, Megill, Pagan, Duffey. I think I'd rather have Moran than Duffey at this point, but it's fair to be scared of Moran's control too. the back end is much much stronger now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, IndianaTwin said:

Not necessarily. A pitcher can get a blown save and have the team come back and win. There can even be two or more blown saves in a game that a team wins, if the team takes back the lead after the first blown save.

I didn't go through everyone to see where all the blown saves are, but the Twins are 2-2 in Duffey's and Smith's blown saves, for example. 

(This isn't disputing that the bullpen has cost them -- just clarifying how blown saves work/don't work as a stat. As further note on the limitation of "blown save" as a stat, Smith's "blown saves" came in the sixth and seventh, games in which it was very unlikely he would actually get the save.)

Very true. Jax and Megill both had blown saves in that game where the White Sox kept coming back and finally won. Still, 19 blown saves is a terrible sign, even though it thankfully doesn't mean 19 losses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bullpen as it is could be real strength if used properly. I fear Rocco won't use them properly. 8 guys to cover 4 innings per game, and sometimes more. I would say that this pen would be really good to great if we had a couple of our starters go 6 or 7 innings per start on a fairly regular basis. I know 3 times thru a lineup, blah blah blah. IMO they have to give guys a chance . Gray and now Mahle are good pitchers so give them a little confidence and let them go!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...