Throughout any baseball season, bullpen roles and responsibilities are going to shift. Sometimes a pitcher has a great stretch and starts pitching in more high-leverage spots. Other times, a pitcher struggles, and the team attempts to find a new role for that arm. One bad outing doesn’t necessarily shift a player lower on the list, but an accumulation of bad performances impacts the team’s bullpen pecking order.
1. Jhoan Duran (2.15 Win Probability Added)
Realistically, Jhoan Duran is the lone bullpen arm that has been consistent throughout the season. His transition to the bullpen has been electric, with 46 strikeouts in 33 innings. The team is using him in the highest leverage situations, and he has responded with only four appearances where he has allowed an earned run or more. Duran has also proven he can be relied on to pitch in multiple innings as he has recorded more than three outs in nine appearances. He’s been a lifesaver for the 2022 Twins, and the team will continue to trust him in late-inning roles.
2. Griffin Jax (0.50 WPA)
Griffin Jax has been a surprise late-inning contributor to the Twins. Outside of Duran, Jax might be the most trusted name in the Twins bullpen. One of his most significant changes this season has been an increase in his slider usage. Batters have posted a slugging percentage over 175 points lower when facing his slider compared to his fastball. Jax will continue to see an increase in his WPA as he is used in higher leverage situations.
3. Caleb Thielbar (0.43 WPA)
There have been three outings where Thielbar has allowed three earned runs or more, but outside of those appearances, he has been terrific. In high leverage situations, opponents are hitting .143/.294/.179 (.473) with eight strikeouts in 38 at-bats. He’s the lone left-handed reliever on a first-place team, which is quite the switch from how bullpens have traditionally been built. For the Twins to succeed, Thielbar must continue to pitch well.
4. Emilio Pagan (0.03 WPA)
Pagan has been used in many high-leverage situations, and the results have been mixed. In his first 25 appearances, he posted a 99 ERA+ with 2.1 HR/9. His strikeouts per nine innings have jumped from under 10.0 K/9 over the last two seasons to over 12.1 K/9 in 2022. Without other options, Pagan will continue to get high leverage opportunities, especially on nights when Duran is unavailable.
5. Tyler Thornburg (0.07 WPA)
Earlier in the season, names like Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith would be included in the team’s most trusted bullpen arms. Both have struggled through different parts of the season, which has allowed players like Thornburg to take on even more critical roles. Since joining the Twins, he has yet to allow an earned run in four appearances. Nearly all of his appearances have been low leverage this season, but he has held opponents to a .254 slugging percentage without allowing a home run.
How would you rank the players above? Who are your Top 5, or even Top 9? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.