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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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    Never been a fan of Duff. If it would have been me he'd have been gone after the 2018 season. Still remember him serving up the grand slam gopher ball to Didi Gregorius of the Yankees in Game 2 of the 2019 playoffs. Seems like he was lights out those couple years except when it really counted. As Black Jack Morris would say, you gotta bring your "A" game when it matters. I think his downfall was that he couldn't or wouldn't throw 3 strikes in a row. Can't count the times he would get 2 strikes on a batter then throw junk off the plate trying to get them to swing at it instead of just attacking the hitter. Sorry, I won't miss him. 

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    11 minutes ago, sdtwins37 said:

    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?

    seems unlikely, unless they decide to DFA Pagan...but I'm just not sure they're going to do that. And I'm not sure Sands would be much of an upgrade anyways, at least not yet. But we'll see. I have more faith in Moran than either and hope they bring him back when they can. But people need to be prepared with Moran: he's got talent, but he can get wild and he might drive people batty.

    I can live with Pagan being the 8th guy in the bullpen, for now. But it's going to be rough if the offense can't get it going again, because inevitably we're going to ask guys like Pagan, Megill, and Moran to hold slim leads and get pressure outs. Lopez, Duran, Jax, and Fulmer (and Thielbar) can't pitch every game.

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    33 minutes ago, sdtwins37 said:

    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?

    Pagan is in the same boat as Duffey. He’s a/another bad outing away from being demoted as well 

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    Unless the wheels really fall off I can't see the Twins moving on from Pagan.  He is getting swinging strikes and they have to see that Colume came back to normal this year so with another year left I think they want to hang onto him even if they need to use him in lower leverage situations right now.  

    I am guessing releasing  Duffey was hard but I think several people noticed he just didn't seem to have that magic anymore.  Even though he had a successful stretch a lot of those balls were hit hard just at someone.  Like many have said I think he can have a  resurgence but this team just can't wait on him any longer and they weren't going to resign him in the offseason anyway so not much to lose other than two months of a reliever you were trying to hide in the back of the pen. I think it is best for this year and next as well.  Even if they don't get much better results from Sands or Moran they are getting valuable experience and should get better as time goes on. They also have a chance to be better than Duffey as well.

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    While Pagan has another year of team control and isn't likely to get a raise after this year's performance, Tyler Duffey was a free agent and was making twice the money as Pagan.

    Duffey will hook up with somebody on a MiLB contract, but he really needs to figure out what's going on. His curveball movement has really changed from 2019 when he was dominant. It felt like he was holding his glove a different distance from his face when throwing curves vs. fastballs this year when I was watching him. There's no doubt opponents are picking up on something, and it doesn't help that Duffey has been pounding the middle of the strike zone with the four seam.

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    1 hour ago, Richie the Rally Goat said:

    I was encouraged by Duffey’s Late June to late July… then the wheels fell off again.


    good luck Tyler. I’m sure he’ll get picked up off waivers.

    I bet he won't. Then the team would have to pay him instead of the Twins. I bet he clears waivers and selects free agency, and then signs and the signing team pays a prorated minimum salary and the Twins pay the rest.

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    Hopefully, some team picks him up and he gets another shot and a fresh start.  Unfortunately, it was past time for the Twins to make this move.  If it had not been for injuries upon injuries to are rotation and bullpen, Duffey probably would have been DFA'ed a lot sooner.

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    I remember Duffey for his comments about the vile Yankee fans following the 1-game off in NY a few years ago. He won a place in heart for that, and I hope he can re-establish something somewhere.

    As for Pagan, it seems the only times he misses bats are when hitters chase breaking balls out of the zone. His fastball has little to no movement. Crushable.

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    18 hours ago, JoeCool said:

    Sadly this needed to happen but also even more so with Pagan. 

    He had some fantastic years for the Twins, but this season we could not count on consistency with him.  

    I hope he gets picked up by someone and turns it around, 

    Agree. Duffy leaves some good memories, but clearly didn't have it this year. I hope someone else at least gives him a shot and he thrives there.

    But Pagan??? Good grief. And what is with using him so often in the sixth inning when the score is usually 2-1 Twins? But at the end of the inning the Twins are behind. Granted, Rocco doesnt have a lot of choices, but Pagan again and again????

    All Twins fans have their own ah ah S List. Players get on and then play themselves off the List. Some deserved to be on the List, some not so. Personally Sano has been on mine for years and years. Pagan cemented his position on my List on June 28 vs Cleveland. Rocco was flirting with getting on my List by leaving him in there. Working on getting on again by using him in tight situations. I'm happy for Jake Cave, one of my last years List members, having success. With how he was doing at St. Paul, I thought he should have been brought up sooner.

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    The sad fact is that the 2022 pen has blown almost 20 saves. Even Lopez joined the club, though fortunately the game went our way in extra innings. Duffey gave good weight until he didn’t. I wish him well but would like to see Pagan follow him to his next gig. 

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    21 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    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.

    The problem with Pagan missing bats is, he is also missing the strike zone. And when he doesn’t miss a bat, the ball lands 450’ away.

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    It's too bad that "step brothers" has been released.  He impressed me when he went to the bullpen and started throwing mid 90's striking people out left and right.  It's weird how bullpen guys seem to flame out so fast.  I remember Addison Reed was really good and then all of the sudden couldn't get anyone out.  I don't usually see starting pitchers just go from doing well to having absolutely nothing overnight, they usually gradually get worse over time.  I hope the "Duffman" catches on with a new team figures it out and can pitch another 4 - 5 years.  I wish him luck.


    Pagan, what is up with that?  It sure would be nice to have a couple of starters that were capable of going 7 innings then they'd be less dependent on a few of these guys night in and night out.

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