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  1. Daniel Bard’s journey back to the big leagues is an incredible one. Once a first-round pick and heralded as a top relief prospect, Bard ceased throwing strikes in 2012, and his career looked to be over by the time he was 28. Seven years later, Bard, now 37, returned to the majors two years after he announced his retirement. Bard was solid for the Rockies in the Covid season, posting a 3.65 ERA while striking out 27 in 24 2/3 innings. Bard struggled to follow up his strong year in 2021, as walk issues re-surfaced and his ERA ballooned to 5.21. This season, he’s posting the best numbers of his career outside of his breakout campaign in 2010. Bard has a sterling 2.02 ERA in 35 2/3 innings. He’s striking out nearly 30% of the batters he faces and ranks fourth among qualified relievers in opponent’s average (.143). He ranks in the 99th percentile in both expected batting average and slugging percentage. He’s an elite barrel avoider and has converted 20 of 22 saves for Colorado. Like most standout relievers, Bard works with an upper-90s fastball. It’s a turbo sinker that averages 98 mph, and he pairs it with an elite high-spin slider. Right-handed batters are hitting .113/.250/.208 (.458 OPS) against Bard, with one homer in 64 plate appearances. Lefties haven’t fared much better, hitting .167/.268/.278 in 82 plate appearances. When Bard’s not striking guys out, they’re usually grounding out. He has a top-15 groundball rate among qualified relievers (56.6%). If added to the Twins’ bullpen, they’d boast two relievers with some of the best power repertoires in baseball. Bard’s stuff is electric, but his walk issues of the past aren’t entirely gone. Bard is still walking 12% of batters, and his spotty command is one reason his FIP is 1.51 runs higher than his ERA. The other is that he has the sixth lowest BABIP of any qualified reliever (.185). He gets incredible movement on his mostly two-pitch toolbox, but he doesn’t always get the ball over the plate. Bard is a rental reliever, meaning he’ll be a free agent following this season. The Twins are much more likely to pursue a rental than a controllable reliever, given their tendency to invest less in the bullpen and more in other areas. The cost shouldn’t be exorbitant. There’s more than one intriguing reliever available on the market, but when you combine Bard’s stuff with his results in 2022, it’s easy to get excited about his potential fit. He can either set up for Duran or close himself and would probably do both as a Twin. Let’s set up a mock bullpen scenario with Bard in the picture. Joe Ryan goes six strong, allowing three runs, and leaves with a 4-3 lead. The Twins turn to Griffin Jax or Caleb Thielbar in the seventh (depending on matchups), Bard in the eighth, and Duran in the ninth. That sounds a lot better than the current situation. What do you think about Rockies' closer Daniel Bard? Comment below!
  2. The Twins’ bullpen troubles are well-documented, and if they hope to contend in the second half and into the postseason, they’ll need to add at least one high-leverage reliever. Their best option resides in Colorado. Daniel Bard’s journey back to the big leagues is an incredible one. Once a first-round pick and heralded as a top relief prospect, Bard ceased throwing strikes in 2012, and his career looked to be over by the time he was 28. Seven years later, Bard, now 37, returned to the majors two years after he announced his retirement. Bard was solid for the Rockies in the Covid season, posting a 3.65 ERA while striking out 27 in 24 2/3 innings. Bard struggled to follow up his strong year in 2021, as walk issues re-surfaced and his ERA ballooned to 5.21. This season, he’s posting the best numbers of his career outside of his breakout campaign in 2010. Bard has a sterling 2.02 ERA in 35 2/3 innings. He’s striking out nearly 30% of the batters he faces and ranks fourth among qualified relievers in opponent’s average (.143). He ranks in the 99th percentile in both expected batting average and slugging percentage. He’s an elite barrel avoider and has converted 20 of 22 saves for Colorado. Like most standout relievers, Bard works with an upper-90s fastball. It’s a turbo sinker that averages 98 mph, and he pairs it with an elite high-spin slider. Right-handed batters are hitting .113/.250/.208 (.458 OPS) against Bard, with one homer in 64 plate appearances. Lefties haven’t fared much better, hitting .167/.268/.278 in 82 plate appearances. When Bard’s not striking guys out, they’re usually grounding out. He has a top-15 groundball rate among qualified relievers (56.6%). If added to the Twins’ bullpen, they’d boast two relievers with some of the best power repertoires in baseball. Bard’s stuff is electric, but his walk issues of the past aren’t entirely gone. Bard is still walking 12% of batters, and his spotty command is one reason his FIP is 1.51 runs higher than his ERA. The other is that he has the sixth lowest BABIP of any qualified reliever (.185). He gets incredible movement on his mostly two-pitch toolbox, but he doesn’t always get the ball over the plate. Bard is a rental reliever, meaning he’ll be a free agent following this season. The Twins are much more likely to pursue a rental than a controllable reliever, given their tendency to invest less in the bullpen and more in other areas. The cost shouldn’t be exorbitant. There’s more than one intriguing reliever available on the market, but when you combine Bard’s stuff with his results in 2022, it’s easy to get excited about his potential fit. He can either set up for Duran or close himself and would probably do both as a Twin. Let’s set up a mock bullpen scenario with Bard in the picture. Joe Ryan goes six strong, allowing three runs, and leaves with a 4-3 lead. The Twins turn to Griffin Jax or Caleb Thielbar in the seventh (depending on matchups), Bard in the eighth, and Duran in the ninth. That sounds a lot better than the current situation. What do you think about Rockies' closer Daniel Bard? Comment below! View full article
  3. Looking at teams that could consider being sellers, I came up with 49 names as part of a Trade Deadline Manifesto. Any number of those players could be had, and there will be plenty of buyers looking to acquire their talents. Although Minnesota could use a bat, and now with the injury to Ryan Jeffers, some catching help, the focus should still be on the mound. Using Baseball Trade Values in an attempt to build some realistic packages, here’s a trio of options for Minnesota to consider. Working from a starter to a package and finally just bullpen help, you decide if the juice is worth the squeeze on any of these swaps. Minnesota Twins get: Frankie Montas Oakland Athletics get: Spencer Steer, Matt Canterino, Steven Hajjar, Marco Raya Arguably the most discussed name on the open market, Montas’ value is a complete question mark right now due to his health. If the shoulder isn’t serious, he’s going to be moved and Oakland should command a haul. He’s probably not quite the level of Luis Castillo, but that could help Minnesota’s chances to land him. Whatever you make of it, they are currently the betting favorite to do so per Bovada. Netting an ace like Montas, who is also under team control through 2023, isn’t going to come cheap. In this scenario, Minnesota would need to part with one of their Futures Game participants in Steer. Canterino is probably a reliever, but he could be an elite one at that. Hajjar is a former 2nd round pick, while Raya was a 4th round pick. Both have started their professional careers on a high note and the early returns look promising. It’s fair to suggest this may still not be enough and that makes the Twins give even greater. Minnesota Twins get: Jose Quintana, David Bednar Pittsburgh Pirates get: Matt Wallner, David Festa, Aaron Sabato This is a tricky swap given the amount of team control Bednar still has to his credit. He’s a reliever and is already 27-years-old, but he also has earned his first All-Star appearance and looks the part of among the best arms on the market. Quintana has thrived for the Pirates and has previously experienced success as a frontline starter. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, but could provide valuable innings down the stretch. With Ke’Bryan Hayes and O’Neil Cruz manning the left side of the infield, Pittsburgh may be more inclined to target Wallner from the Twins than Steer. Festa was a 13th round pick out of Seton Hall, but he’s posted a dominant 2.01 ERA across his first 80 2/3 professional innings. The hope for the Pirates on Sabato would be that a change of scenery could help him. He’s flopped hard as a big bat prospect that’s limited to anything beyond first base. This could be an area for additional value to be squeezed from this trade if they are able to make it work. Depending on the market for Bednar, this return could be entirely too light. Minnesota Twins get: Daniel Bard Colorado Rockies get: Kala’i Rosario, Steven Cruz This is the type of deal Minnesota should have plenty of ammunition for. They need help in the bullpen, so any amount of relievers on deals that expire this season make sense. Bard is 37-years-old and his journey back to the big leagues is well documented. The 2.02 ERA and 20 saves has him looking like one of the best closers on the market. Pairing Bard at the back of the bullpen with Jhoan Duran would be a nice come-up for Minnesota. Rosario might be a lot to give up for an aging reliever, but there’s also a ton of volatility with a hitter so young and so strikeout prone. The power is absolutely there, and that would play nicely in Colorado, but it’s hard to project if he’ll ever make enough contact for it to matter. Cruz has one of the biggest fastballs in Minnesota’s system, but command has been a problem. He’s 23-years-old and at Double-A, so there’s still time for someone to make it work. What do you think? Are you in on any of these trades? Is there a prospect that is completely hands off for you?
  4. The Minnesota Twins are just a couple of weeks from the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline. Needing to get better before that point, they’ll have to look at which pieces they’re willing to swap for new talent. Focusing on the rotation and bullpen, they have more than a few options to consider. Looking at teams that could consider being sellers, I came up with 49 names as part of a Trade Deadline Manifesto. Any number of those players could be had, and there will be plenty of buyers looking to acquire their talents. Although Minnesota could use a bat, and now with the injury to Ryan Jeffers, some catching help, the focus should still be on the mound. Using Baseball Trade Values in an attempt to build some realistic packages, here’s a trio of options for Minnesota to consider. Working from a starter to a package and finally just bullpen help, you decide if the juice is worth the squeeze on any of these swaps. Minnesota Twins get: Frankie Montas Oakland Athletics get: Spencer Steer, Matt Canterino, Steven Hajjar, Marco Raya Arguably the most discussed name on the open market, Montas’ value is a complete question mark right now due to his health. If the shoulder isn’t serious, he’s going to be moved and Oakland should command a haul. He’s probably not quite the level of Luis Castillo, but that could help Minnesota’s chances to land him. Whatever you make of it, they are currently the betting favorite to do so per Bovada. Netting an ace like Montas, who is also under team control through 2023, isn’t going to come cheap. In this scenario, Minnesota would need to part with one of their Futures Game participants in Steer. Canterino is probably a reliever, but he could be an elite one at that. Hajjar is a former 2nd round pick, while Raya was a 4th round pick. Both have started their professional careers on a high note and the early returns look promising. It’s fair to suggest this may still not be enough and that makes the Twins give even greater. Minnesota Twins get: Jose Quintana, David Bednar Pittsburgh Pirates get: Matt Wallner, David Festa, Aaron Sabato This is a tricky swap given the amount of team control Bednar still has to his credit. He’s a reliever and is already 27-years-old, but he also has earned his first All-Star appearance and looks the part of among the best arms on the market. Quintana has thrived for the Pirates and has previously experienced success as a frontline starter. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, but could provide valuable innings down the stretch. With Ke’Bryan Hayes and O’Neil Cruz manning the left side of the infield, Pittsburgh may be more inclined to target Wallner from the Twins than Steer. Festa was a 13th round pick out of Seton Hall, but he’s posted a dominant 2.01 ERA across his first 80 2/3 professional innings. The hope for the Pirates on Sabato would be that a change of scenery could help him. He’s flopped hard as a big bat prospect that’s limited to anything beyond first base. This could be an area for additional value to be squeezed from this trade if they are able to make it work. Depending on the market for Bednar, this return could be entirely too light. Minnesota Twins get: Daniel Bard Colorado Rockies get: Kala’i Rosario, Steven Cruz This is the type of deal Minnesota should have plenty of ammunition for. They need help in the bullpen, so any amount of relievers on deals that expire this season make sense. Bard is 37-years-old and his journey back to the big leagues is well documented. The 2.02 ERA and 20 saves has him looking like one of the best closers on the market. Pairing Bard at the back of the bullpen with Jhoan Duran would be a nice come-up for Minnesota. Rosario might be a lot to give up for an aging reliever, but there’s also a ton of volatility with a hitter so young and so strikeout prone. The power is absolutely there, and that would play nicely in Colorado, but it’s hard to project if he’ll ever make enough contact for it to matter. Cruz has one of the biggest fastballs in Minnesota’s system, but command has been a problem. He’s 23-years-old and at Double-A, so there’s still time for someone to make it work. What do you think? Are you in on any of these trades? Is there a prospect that is completely hands off for you? View full article
  5. Coming in as a first round pick, Luke was a highly sought-after prospect out of Georgia Tech. His brother had established himself as an elite setup man, and Minnesota hoped they found someone cut from a similar cloth. Luke’s best season in the Twins organization was unquestionably 2017 when he owned a 2.76 ERA and 13.6 K/9 at Double and Triple-A. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be given an opportunity at the big-league level that year and never debuted in Minnesota. 2018 followed with his first big league action coming for the Los Angeles Angels, and it was followed by 49 innings of solid work a year ago. As he embarks on his third Major League season, there’s plenty of excitement both for and around him this year. His brother Daniel, who last pitched in the majors seven years ago has made the Colorado Rockies Opening Day roster. Luke calls guys like Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani teammates. On his own, he’ll be looking to bolster a bullpen that has World Series aspirations in a division chasing down the Houston Astros. Catching up with him before the season starts, I wanted to pick his brain on a handful of different topics: Twins Daily: Take us back to 2012. You're drafted in 42nd overall by the Twins out of Georgia Tech, you've got a brother in the big leagues, and jumped up 15 rounds from your high school selection. What's going through your head and how much do you have to prove? Luke Bard: It really was a dream come true. I think all players coming out of college don’t realize how tough professional baseball is. The season is three times longer, strike zones are smaller, and hitters are just better. Having had a brother make it to the big leagues so quickly with immediate success maybe made me have too high of expectations on myself. Injuries certainly did not help but there is definitely a lot to prove baseball wise from the time you’re drafted to the time you are ready to be in the big leagues. I’ve learned that lesson over the years and am grateful to still be doing what I love. TD: Fast forward to 2017 and you are at Double-A Chattanooga striking out everyone. You put up great numbers and earned a promotion to Triple-A. The Twins were in contention that year, but any resentment or disappointment you didn't get to debut with your drafting organization? LB: I had always envisioned myself playing in the major leagues for the Twins, but God had other plans. After the 2017 season I felt pretty confident I could pitch in the big leagues. When I wasn’t put on the 40-man roster that offseason I was pretty disappointed but was equally as excited when the Angels gave me a chance. Having been with Los Angeles for my 3rd season now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. TD: You've now pitched in the majors for two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. What has the difference been like between the organizations, and how has your approach and game changed facing the best of the best on a nightly basis? LB: I will always be grateful to the Angels for believing in me and giving me a shot. I have really enjoyed my time here and can’t say enough good things about everyone in the organization and the culture they’ve created. The big leagues are tough though, and you can do everything right but still fail. It’s about finding ways to be consistent, durable, and competitive every outing for 162 games. It’s definitely a grind but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. TD: Speaking of the Angels, what's it like to have a front row seat to Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Are we watching the best ever, and the closest thing to a Babe Ruth comparison in today's game? LB: I probably take it for granted because I just see them as regular guys. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t awesome. Definitely something I will tell my grandkids about one day. TD: I know you're a dad and have a family so going back to the game in weird circumstances is undoubtedly tough during 2020. How did you stay sharp during the layoff, and how do you expect the 60-game sprint to change how you both prepare and contribute this season? LB: Unfortunately, I am away from my family right now with all the Covid issues. I miss them like crazy but am glad it’s just for 60 games. Thank God for FaceTime. I’m sure teams will go to the bullpen early if need be similar to playoff games. I hope the shorter season will make games even more intense and I think it could be just what baseball needs from a fan’s perspective. TD: Your brother just made the Colorado Rockies Opening Day roster after having not pitched in the big leagues since 2013 as a 28-year-old. What is that like for you as a fan of his, and how did he get back? LB: To say I’m proud would be an understatement. He’s been through hell and back baseball wise and is still here seven years later competing on the biggest stage. The determination he’s shown is unmatched and somebody needs to make a movie about it haha. TD: Let's wrap with this, what do you see as the best avenue for you to take the next step in 2020, and what are you looking forward to in a season that will be rivaled by none other? LB: I think just getting a defined role that I can settle into would help me. Other than that, just execute when called upon. At the end of the day it’s usually the guy that executes better that wins. It is easier said than done but makes for a simple way to look at it. I’m looking forward to hopefully playing playoff baseball. We’ve got a great team with some of the game’s biggest stars and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. 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