Tuesday night's ugly loss felt like a replay of the same episode with a slightly different script. Alex Colomé, the team's 1A closer coming into the season, had been so inconceivably bad in his first 10 appearances that he was deemed off-limits despite being the most well-rested pitcher in the bullpen. And so, when the Twins reached the ninth inning with a two-run lead, it was closer 1B getting the ball.
Naturally, Taylor Rogers gave up two runs, allowing the last-place Rangers to tie the game and force extra innings. Rogers has been the team's best reliever this year but has now given up monster homers while protecting slim leads in back-to-back games. Just the latest in an endless barrage of bullpen misfortunes.
These woes of course continued in the 10th, when Brandon Waddell was clobbered for a second straight night to drop the Twins to 0-6 in extra innings. One can quibble with Rocco Baldelli's choice to go with Waddell in that spot, and indeed he was a bad option, but the bottom line is this: they were all bad options. Jorge Alcala has been horrendous against lefties and the team – for whatever reason – doesn't trust him in leverage. Colomé, the bullpen's marquee free agent addition during the offseason, is unusable, but occupying an active roster spot and handcuffing Baldelli.
This bullpen is in a dire, dire state.
The relief corps is not showing any signs of turning around – quite the contrary. And frankly it's hard to feel like Shaun Anderson or Ian Hamilton or Derek Law or whatever other fringy pickup they made last winter is going to make any significant difference.
The Twins have already erased most of their margin for error by banking nonstop losses in the early weeks. They need to take bold action on this bullpen before it's too late.
This could mean one (or both) of two things:
A: Sign a free agent. Shane Greene is the big remaining name. He inexplicably went unsigned during the offseason, despite posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 90 innings in the past two seasons. Greene has a rep as a righty silencer, which the Twins could very much use. Jon Heyman reported on Sunday that Greene "is having ongoing discussions with multiple teams."
It's an option with its share of appeal. But the 32-year-old Greene isn't an overwhelmingly dominant arm, and bringing him in at this point in the season, hoping he just picks up the ball and quickly assume his top form ... that's a gamble in its own right. The better bet?
B: Trade for a bad team's best reliever. It's unusual for trades to happen this early in the season. Buyers almost always opt to wait until the deadline is closer, and asking prices come down. The Twins don't have that luxury. They need to spend what it takes in prospect capital to bring in a difference-maker.
The good news is that they've retained almost all of said prospect capital, by passing up any major trades during the winter. It's time for the front office to set aside its value-seeking philosophy and put some of that built-up talent equity to use by making a splash.
Waiting until the deadline would be akin to saving your closer until the ninth inning for a save opportunity that may never materialize. At this rate the Twins will be dead in the water by late July.
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