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  • Twins Waive Tyler Duffey After a Decade in the Organization


    Cody Christie

    The trade deadline can offer players a new opportunity, but for others, it can mean the end of their time with an organization. On Friday, the Twins waived Tyler Duffey after a decade in the Twins’ system.

    Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins drafted Tyler Duffey out of Rice University in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Throughout his collegiate career, he posted some impressive numbers (2.25 ERA, 11.6 K/9), but the team used him as a reliever. Minnesota signed him and shifted him to a starting pitcher role. Duffey slowly worked his way through the team's farm system, and his numbers seemed to improve with each promotion before earning his first call-up. 

    As a 24-year-old, Duffey made his big-league debut and made a strong impression in his first ten starts. He posted a 3.10 ERA with a 131 ERA+ and 8.2 K/9. It looked like he might fit into the team's long-term plans as the organization looked to get out of the bottom of the American League. His sophomore season saw a slump as his ERA jumped to 6.43, and he had a 1.50 WHIP. Minnesota decided to shift him to a relief role following the 2016 season, but there were some struggles with that transition as well. 

    From 2017-2018, Duffey appeared in 75 games with a 5.53 ERA and an 86-to-22 strikeout to walk ratio. Some pitchers can find more success as relievers because of increased velocity and only needing one secondary pitch. Things still weren't clicking for Duffey, but one coaching change might have made all the difference. 

    Wes Johnson's arrival to the coaching staff signaled a clear turning point for Duffey as he became one of baseball's best relievers for multiple seasons. From 2019-2021, Duffey posted a 2.69 ERA (163 ERA+) with a 1.06 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 144 innings. Minnesota was able to utilize Duffey in a fireman role as he came into challenging situations and got the team out of jams. Duffey's Win Probability Added was nearly two wins higher than any other Twins reliever during that three-year run. 

    Relievers can be fickle and signs of Duffey's decline started appearing over the last handful of seasons. His velocity has declined for three consecutive years, and the 2022 season has been his worst as a reliever. He ranks in the 15th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, xBA, hard hit %, and xSLG. Only Emilio Pagan and Jharel Cotton compiled a lower WPA among Minnesota's relievers during the 2022 campaign. Duffey saw himself move up and down the bullpen hierarchy this season, but his inconsistency eventually forced the team to waive him. 

    For now, right-handed pitching prospect Cole Sands will take the place of Duffey in the bullpen. Sands, and particularly his delivery and curveball, are reminiscent of what Duffey had in his good years. He will get a chance in the bullpen, though it's very possible the team will recall lefty Jovani Moran as soon as he reaches 10 days since his demotion. 

    Fans will likely focus on Duffey's recent struggles as he leaves the team, but that doesn't tell the entire story. He was one of baseball's best relievers throughout multiple seasons. He helped the Twins win games and impacted the organization on and off the field for the last decade. 

    What will you remember most about Duffey's time with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

     

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    I guess the best memories I have for Duffey were the 2019 season.  He was a big part of a pretty good bullpen that year.  He had stretches where he looked unhittable K'ing the side in order. He seemed fearless that year just going after hitters. I wish that was the same kind of pitcher he could have been this year.

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    Wow.

    If I recall correctly, his first ever appearance he was bludgeoned by the Blue Jays in Toronto. His last game as a Twin, mashed by the Blue Jays again.

    Most of the games in between were good, thanks for the service to the Twins, Tyler. I'm sure he'll catch on somewhere else and be in another team's uniform shortly.

    Twins need to cut Pagan as well, I see him as worse than Duffey.

    EDIT: Holy smokes the Twins are replacing Duffey with Cole Sands?!?!! Is it possible the bullpen just got worse?

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    Dud the Twins dangle Smith Pagan Cotton and Duffey during the trade deadline. Any might thrive in another environment.

    I had jokes that Duffey would improve rather than falter. Was made the Reins didn’t give him (instead of Cologne) closing chances a year ago. Because he was going to return to the team and might still have it to be the inbetween guy in what I thought would be more of a rebuild year.

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    I am beginning to wonder if there is a FO created gremlin in the Twins pitching force.

    When Happ left for the Cardinals, sudden change, similar with some others that went else where to a degree.

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    8 minutes ago, RpR said:

    I am beginning to wonder if there is a FO created gremlin in the Twins pitching force.

    When Happ left for the Cardinals, sudden change, similar with some others that went else where to a degree.

    Happ managed a 2.22 ERA with the Cardinals in August, then regressed to a 5.96 ERA in September and appears to be out of baseball. A sudden change, but a pretty short one.

    I hope Duffey can turn it around and get back to big leagues eventually, ideally in the National League. He's a lot younger than Happ.

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    I doubt his career is over, he'll pitch somewhere in the majors again. But for a 5th round pick, he's had a nice career. He's made over 7m (I also believe he signed a neat contract with under armor where he got a bunch of money v. his future value. Could be wrong on that though). And he lasted a long time. Good on him to work and good on the Twins to hit on a 5th rounder.

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    Was shocked when I checked my mail and saw an email from the Strib with this news.  Also saddened, as I have liked Duffey since he joined the organization from college.  As several mentioned above, my best to him in his future.  Although many of us will kick ourselves, I hope he catches on with another team and finds what seems to have been lost for some time.

    I see a lot of you are assuming Moran will be called up when he reaches the ten day limit.  They are going to have to be careful if they do as he cannot be optioned again.  I understand that there is a new rule this year that any player can be optioned to the minors only 4 times and if he is optioned a fifth time he in essence is released (don't know the details of how this works).  Moran has been optioned four times, so if called up again he will be here until the end of the year or gone.

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    I wouldn't count out Tyler Duffey just yet. It's possible he could get back some of his greatness by getting a cruel pilates coach and hardening his soft body into muscles of stone. 

    I remember when Duffey first came up, I dubbed him "Bender" for his curveball hooked so hard almost nobody could touch it. After a while, he started using it more and more, because his heater never was much of a challenge. After Wes Johnson tinkered with his mechanics, Duffey's heater suddenly became a weapon at 94 mph, and for a while, he seemed able to spot that pitch, making it extremely effective. Unfortunately, his old curveball became a so-so offering. 

    Today, after various adjustment and experiments, Duffey has nothing that a good hitter can't smash. Is it just the march of time, his arm and body worn out? That's what I thought about Caleb Thielbar, but look at him now. 

    Wouldn't it be a hoot if all Duffey needed to get his stuff back was to smack the ball into his glove mid- delivery, like Thielbar? 

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    Duffey had a really good run here and I wish him well. I hope he ends up in the NL though.

    I've been hoping to see Sands in the bullpen, I really like turning those borderline starters into relievers. Of course I was hoping to see him in St. Paul's bullpen first. Hope it works out, but if it doesn't I'm sure his leash will be short considering he has options.

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    38 minutes ago, jimbo92107 said:

    I wouldn't count out Tyler Duffey just yet. It's possible he could get back some of his greatness by getting a cruel pilates coach and hardening his soft body into muscles of stone. 

    Yeah, I kind of wondered about his conditioning as he looked kind of squiggie to me too.

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    I remember when he first came up in 2015 and looked like a HOPEFUL piece for the future of the rotation. Man, he looked solid and made some batters look just silly.

    After finding out he just wasn't, in fact, a ML SP, he was absolutely lights out as a FIREMAN in 2019 and '20. He got off to a poor start in 2021, but re-worked a few things, settled down, and had a really nice year after that rough start. 

    But that early 2021 and a drop in velocity and K numbers was teasing the end. I was really hoping the "not as good" but still solid Duffey of 2021 was going to return in 2022. It just didn't happen. And that's too bad. He has been an important part of some very good teams and a class act all the way. I wish him all the luck in the world going forward.

     

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    40 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    Duffey had a really good run here and I wish him well. I hope he ends up in the NL though.

    I've been hoping to see Sands in the bullpen, I really like turning those borderline starters into relievers. Of course I was hoping to see him in St. Paul's bullpen first. Hope it works out, but if it doesn't I'm sure his leash will be short considering he has options.

    Personally, I think Sands is up temporarily until they can bring Moran back up. Makes a heck of a lot more sense.

    I do believe there is a chance that Sands does, indeed, end up in the pen eventually. I don't think it will happen until next year though. While he just hasn't been the SP I was really hoping he was going to be this year, we're starting to run out of options if we have to dip down to St Paul. So I think any transition will take place next year.

    AND...while I've been optimistic a less pressure impacted, middle innings Pagan might be valuable to us...after his last appearance being so horrible I'm just starting to wonder if the squeeze is worth the juice. I don't know for sure who you'd replace him with, but maybe he needs to be gone next. Peacock maybe??

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    20 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    I thought Pagan would go first, but he is one of the FO acquisitions so I think he has a longer leash. Good luck to Duffey, it is a reminder that careers are short if you are not a star. 

    Pagan has also been showing better stuff and more ability to miss bats, even if their overall results have been pretty similar. but his leash is probably fairly short as well at this point.

    It's too bad about Duffey. It was reasonable to look at him as a guy who might have a bounceback season after being not so great last year and showing real decline, but it just didn't happen. His fastball and his curve are getting pounded, and without those two pitches, his other offerings aren't good enough to compete.

    I wish him luck, but this was a move they really had to make.

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    Thanks Duff for your years of service to the Twins organization.  The writing has been on the wall lately.  I'm hoping a national league team picks him up.  I figured he wouldn't be back next year so I thought they would hang on to him through the end of the year.  Pagan also needs to go.  You can't trust him in any role.  I believe he leads all a.l. relievers in home runs allowed this year. Rocco says he still has good spin rates and is missing bats.  He's not missing too many.  Rocco, as usual is missing the boat.  Pagan needs to be DFA' d soon.  Spin rates and missed bats mean absolutely nothing when the final result is you give up way too many homeruns.  

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    Overdue. Needed to happen earlier, but at least it is done?

    Sands? Have you seen his stats in AAA? People like to say he has "stuff". It just doesn't fool even the AAA batters much consistently. Or MLB batters in the brief times he has been given the ball in emergencies with the Twins. 

    This was something that should have been done before the trade deadline, though. Maybe even including him in a trade as a forced piece if necessary.

    Baldelli likes to keep saying, even last night after the game, that Pagan has that great stuff, and he would continue to use Pagan in high leverage situations. I wish "stuff" wasn't as important as results.

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    Sad it had to end this way, but is best for the team.  I am incredibly uncomfortable with Pagan in any situation and to a much lesser extent Jax.  Any chance Sands sticks when we can bring Moran back?

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