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  • One Pitch Might Turn This Pitcher Into the Twins Future Closer

    Cody Christie

    Minnesota’s run of excellent closers stretches over much of the last two decades. From Joe Nathan to Glen Perkins and now Taylor Rogers, Twins fans have been privy to some great late inning arms. Now, one pitch might turn this pitcher into the Twins future closer.

    Image courtesy of © Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

    Many relief pitchers can be successful by relying on two to three pitches. For instance, Taylor Rogers has found a lot of success at the big-league level by throwing a two-pitch mix with his fastball and a slider. Relievers can use their best pitches, because they don’t have to worry about facing a hitter multiple times in the same game. Some pitchers are forced to adjust their repertoire if they aren’t finding success.

    Jorge Alcalá was part of one of the biggest trades under the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime. He came to the Twins along with Gilberto Celestino as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. At the time of here is what Baseball America said, “Alcalá has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcalá looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.”

    Alcalá has shown flashes on turning into a devastating bullpen option, but lefties have given him headaches during his big-league career. Entering play on Wednesday, left-handed hitters had posted a .306/.397/.629 (1.026) slash-line when facing Alcalá. Compare that to the .389 OPS righties had compiled against him and it’s easy to see that something was going to have to change if he was going to progress to being used in more high leverage situations.

    During his big-league tenure, Alcalá has focused on throwing a fastball and a slider and since that hadn’t worked against lefties, the Twins encouraged him to work on his changeup. He threw the pitch to lefties 24 times during the 2020 season and held them to a .125 BA and a .250 SLG. His changeup breaks down and in on lefties which can make it a tough pitch to square up if he is locating it.

    “(Alcalá is) making adjustments,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s going out there and figuring out that sometimes facing left-handed hitters as a whole and facing left-handers and right-handers is going to be different, and you’re going to have to have — I end up calling them tricks, sometimes, but you end up coming to have a different approach.”

    Alcalá is going to have to keep working with the pitch and he knows the importance of what it will mean for the future of his career. “What you practice is the result you get,” Alcalá told reporters through an interpreter. “If it’s working for me in the bullpen or in practice, I think it’s going to work for me during the game. That’s my mindset.

    His changeup is still a work in progress, but it is the pitch that might transform him from middle reliever into a dominant late-inning option.

    Do you think one pitch can make the difference for Alcalá? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion.

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    You left out Aggie as a converted SP who turned in to  an outstanding RP.

    I am pleased the staff is tossing Alcala out tbere in high leverage situations. I mean, really, at this point what do You have to do other than develop and get ready for next year? 

    Rogers is looking better. Duffey is looking like his "old self". Robles is either a trade candidate for a marginal prospect or someone you would bring back because of stuff and career numbers. Alcala's velocity and slider look REAL! But YES, he needs something else despite IP and experience. We forget sometimes what a "change" is. Does he need a straight '"change up" or a split pitch or a cutter or a "slurve" variation, Maybe he needs to talk with Duffey more. Maybe this is where Johnson starts to re-earn his reputation . Let's get Alcala ramped up for the future even if there are some growing pains.

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    44 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    Another pitch would make a lot of RPs more effective.  Not being able to throw another pitch is why they are RPs instead of SPs.  That said, I hope he is able to develop a change-up.

    Well said Captain Obvious!  If I lost 80 pounds, I wouldn't be fat.  If Arraez were two feet taller, he could play for the Timberwolves.

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    I believe location and changing of speed are the two most important part of pitching.  Sliders can be good mixed with a good fastball, but fastball changeup has always been a great combo.  If you can locate the changeup and have it truly look like a fastball.  I think every hitter will say change in velo is hardest to adjust to.  I think every pitcher needs to work on changeups, or at least learn to change speeds of pitches they throw. 

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    Actually you can go back to Worthington and Mike Marshall!  

    Let's hope Alcala can develop into that great RP - so far his results do not warrant it, but in a lost year an experiment is worth while since Rogers still is not the dominant reliever that he once was and neither is Robles. 

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    1 hour ago, terrydactyls said:

    Well said Captain Obvious!  If I lost 80 pounds, I wouldn't be fat.  If Arraez were two feet taller, he could play for the Timberwolves.

    Would you feel better if I had suggested it is easier said than done or it would be great if all our pitchers developed another effect pitch.  I guess I could have responded the same way to the OP but I thought it was fair to suggest developing a change-up would make Alcala a great RP just as I thought it was fair to point out this is relatively true for all pitchers.  Lighten up Francis! 

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    1 hour ago, jkcarew said:

    In ‘79, Marshall appeared in 90 games...and finished 84, while pitching 143 innings...as a reliever...with 81 K’s.

    Game hasn’t changed much, has it? 🙂

    Mike Marshall was one of my favorite players and who recently passed away. Iron Mike was a great security blanket for a pitching staff knowing he could throw 1-3 innings at any time really. His own knowledge of the human body and movement (earned a Doctor of Philosophy in exercise physiology) allowed him to develop himself into one the greatest workhorse pitchers ever. If you have never checked out his career and stats, do it, pretty amazing numbers. Can you believe he pitched 208.3 innings in relief in 1974? Makes my elbow hurt just thinking about it. And if you ever needed a brainiac to figure out the logistics of anything, Mike was your man.

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    I'm a big fan of Alcala, but he's a guy who is still learning how to pitch (not unusual, really). He's got a great fastball and the slider plays very nicely too but he's still learning how to set up hitters to get the K. He's got the stuff to get it done and I think he has the mentality as well. If he can develop the change as the off-speed offering to throw at lefties to play off his excellent fastball, then I think he'll be a terrific weapon in the late innings.

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