3. Trusting the Bullpen Castoffs
Wes Johnson has done some amazing things with bullpen arms in the past and the Twins entered 2021 thinking that he would be able to replicate these results with a new group of bullpen castoffs. Now it’s the beginning of June and Minnesota has rotated through Shaun Anderson, Derek Law, Juan Minaya, and Brandon Waddell. There were some big shoes to fill in the bullpen (see below), but all these new additions faced struggles.
From season’s start, almost nothing seemed to work when it came to the bullpen. It’s also tough to adequately assess relievers when they have such a small sample size of work. It also didn’t help that Randy Dobnak was pushed from the rotation and didn’t really find success in a relief role. One light at the end of the tunnel might be Luke Farrell as he is the lone bullpen castoff that has found success. However, it might be too little, too late for Minnesota this year.
2. Signing Alex Colome
Minnesota lost multiple bullpen arms during the winter and there needed to be some replacements found for Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Matt Wisler. None of these players have shined with their new teams. Clippard is on the 60-day injured list with a shoulder issue. Both Romo and Wisler have ERAs north of 5.80. May’s strikeout numbers have dropped, and he has the highest WHIP since his rookie season. Needless to say, relief pitchers can be fickle especially on the heels of a shortened 2020 campaign.
Colome looked like a savvy signing at the time as he was coming off two tremendous seasons in Chicago. In 83 1/3 innings, he had a 2.27 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and 42 saves. Overall, the results were certainly there since he moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2016. Maybe the White Sox knew a little bit more about Colome’s current situation as they let him go after two tremendous seasons.
Minnesota certainly hasn’t seen the previous version of Colome this season. He has a -2.24 win probability added (WPA), which means he’s cost the Twins over two wins so far this season. Also, he has the lowest WAR in baseball among relief pitchers. Things have gone better recently as he has posted a 3.09 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings since the start of May. During that stretch, he has still provided negative WPA and it’s not like the Twins have a lot of other bullpen options.
1. Signing Matt Shoemaker
The Matt Shoemaker experience has been a rough one and it seems likely that his time with the Twins will quickly be coming to an end. He leads the American League in losses and earned runs. Among AL starters with more than 50 innings pitched, he is the only pitcher with a negative WAR total for the year. Unfortunately, the Twins have six pitchers currently on the IL including starters like Kenta Maeda, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer so the club has to keep him around for depth.
Entering the season, he had a 3.86 career ERA, but he had been limited to 18 starts since the end of 2017. His list of injuries including multiple forearm injuries, a torn ACL, shoulder inflammation, and a fractured skull from a line drive off his head. Injuries haven’t been the issue this year as he already pitched more innings than his totals in each of the last three years.
It’s not as if a lot was expected from Shoemaker. He was signed for $2 million and was coming of a string of significant injury issues over the last several years. There were signs of hope as his fastball velocity increased last year and his sinker and splitter were improving. Obviously, those things haven’t worked out like the front office had planned.
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