Since the All-Star break, the Twins have baseball’s best SIERRA (a better or more comprehensive branch of FIP), and K-BB% a very good indicator of sustainably- sterling pitching, even while posting baseball’s highest zone per pitch%.
We expected Wes Johnson to initiate some velocity increases, but he’s also helped a few relievers unleash some more bite on their breaking pitches.
Velocity has risen, the sharpness of break along with the tunneling of those pitches in relation to fastball location has improved, and in turn that’s led to more strikeouts and weaker contact.
Tyler Duffey is an interesting experiment, and they’ve built a rapport with using the fastball as a catalyst to set up the wipeout slider, a new pitch he believes is just a harder thrown version of his former knucklecurve. With improved control, Trevor May has been an appealing seventh-inning guy to watch. Taylor Rogers, once was a generic LOOGY, is now perhaps the most impactful left-handed reliever in baseball excluding Felipe Vazquez. A 1.9 WAR is absolutely insane!
Do you remember the old Rogers, Duffey, and May? They all relied on softer secondary stuff to get away with the weaker fastballs they had previously. Now armed and loaded with fastball velocity, they still haven’t ventured too far (apart from May) from their old plan of attack.
What’s important to note is the current assembly of Twins pitchers is perfectly able at proving capable in the postseason.
In Extra Innings, a book by Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh advocated for relievers to be picked at the margins or be groomed through the system once failing as starting pitchers.
It’s an interesting proposal. Don’t ever buy a reliever because he'll often turn out to be a poor investment. Instead, build your bullpen with roster casualties and scuffling relievers that good teams feel they can’t wait to get better.
The Twins haven’t been the most hardcore adherents to this system of thinking. They jettisoned Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi, JT Chargois and others for guys that may or may not have been past their primes on the free-agent market. That Addison Reed, Matt Belisle, Dillon Gee and Craig Breslow were all acquired under the Falvine regime, might be the result of fan pressure than actual thorough analysis on the makings of on-the-margin acquisitions.
Guys like Tanner Rainey, Nick Anderson, Brendan Brennan, Austin Adams and Ty Buttrey were all traded in low-profile deals and turned out to be dynamic relievers.
The Twins found innovative ways to hire intuitive and introspective thinkers to take on these projects in Duffey, May, Rogers and others.
This bullpen is stacked with assorted gadgets and analytical fireman. So here’s my postseason bullpen predictions….
Multi Inning Firemen; Brusdar Graterol (RHP) / Taylor Rogers (LHP)
Set Up; Sam Dyson (RHP) / Trevor May (RHP)
Situational; Tyler Duffey (RHP) / Trevor Hildenberger (RHP) / Sergio Romo (RHP)
Swiss Army Knife; 1 OF EITHER Martin Perez (LHP) / Zack Littell (RHP)
Not included on the postseason roster: Randy Dobnak (RHP), Sean Poppen (RHP), Cody Stashak (RHP), Lewis Thorpe (LHP), Ryan Harper (RHP), Devin Smetlzer (LHP).