Current Relief Pitchers: Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton
Some of the team's veteran pitchers will again figure prominently into the team's bullpen. After a late-season injury, Rogers is a question-mark at the back of the Twins bullpen. It's the first time on the injured list during his big league career, and doctors believe surgery wasn't necessary. After two dominating seasons, Duffey had some minor struggles in 2021, but he still posted a 134 ERA+. After nearly retiring and joining the college coaching ranks, Thielbar has been one of the team's most valuable relievers.
Three less experienced arms have a chance to earn late-inning roles with the 2022 Twins. Last season, Alcala had a triceps injury but still made 59 appearances and finished 15 games. Moran dominated the minor's upper-levels with 109 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings on his way to being named the TD Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. His plus changeup is an elite pitch that will make him dangerous at the big-league level for years to come. Stashak missed most of 2021 with a back injury that limited him to fewer than 16 innings.
Two waiver claims have survived Minnesota's offseason roster purge and will get a long look for the Opening Day bullpen. Cotton was claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in November. Last season at Triple-A, he pitched 42 innings and posted a 57 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota hopes he can start producing those types of strikeout numbers at the big-league level. The Twins claimed Garza Jr. from Houston back in August. In 18 appearances with the Twins, he posted a 3.26 ERA with 1.03 WHIP.
40-Man Roster Options
Some of the team's top pitching prospects are considered starters, but many of them missed time during the 2021 season due to injury. There wasn't a 2020 minor league season and more missed time last year likely means these young arms will be on an innings limit. If Minnesota needs a bullpen boost in the second half, young arms can be added to get big-league experience.
Lewis Thorpe and Randy Dobnak are two other pitchers on the 40-man roster that may see time in the bullpen. Thorpe is out of minor league options but hasn't found big-league success as a starter. Dobnak started last year in the bullpen, and it ended up being his worst professional season. Right now, Thorpe and Dobnak are in the starting rotation, but the team may sign or trade for other starters.
On the Farm Options
Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's relief pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple relief pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues.
In the upper-minors, Danny Coulombe is a non-roster invite to spring training. Last season, he made 29 appearances for the Twins and posted a 3.67 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP. Minnesota claimed Trevor Megill and Argenis Angulo off waivers in November. Yennier Cano is an intriguing option as he was signed out of Cuba back in 2019. During 2021, he struck out over 11 batters per nine innings at Double- and Triple-A.
Ryan Mason has pitched in the Twins system since 2013. Last year he split time at the organization's two highest levels with a 2.67 ERA and a 63 to 28 strikeout to walk ratio. Melvi Acosta made all but one of his appearances at High-A last year, where he struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings. Zach Neff, a 31st round pick in 2018, posted a 4.78 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 31 Double-A appearances.
At Double-A, Minnesota acquired Alex Scherff in July for Hansel Robles. Last season was his first as a full-time reliever, and he had a 2.45 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. Like Scherff, Evan Sisk was acquired at the deadline, but he was part of the J.A. Happ trade. Sisk struggled in his first taste of Double-A (4.24 ERA) and allowed nine earned runs in 10 AFL innings. Zach Featherstone was knocked around (8.10 ERA) like Sisk in the AFL after posting a 2.13 ERA at High-A.
Jordan Gore, a former infielder, is transitioning to a relief role. Last season was his first as a full-time reliever, and he posted a 2.39 ERA in time split between High- and Double-A. Minnesota left him unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, so some other team may take a flyer on him. Denny Bentley, a 2018 33rd round pick, had a sub-2.80 ERA with 13.4 strikeouts per nine. His walk rate was high, with over five free passes per nine innings and a 1.42 WHIP.
Osiris German, Samuel Perez, and Steven Cruz are three names to watch in the lower minors. German and Cruz split time between Low- and High-A. German had 90 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, and Perez struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings. Perez signed with the Twins out of independent baseball and had a 1.45 ERA with the FCL Twins. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season.
Overall, Minnesota has questions in next year's bullpen, but some young arms can step up in 2022. What do you think about the organization's relief pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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