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  1. Relief pitchers tend to burn bright and die out quickly as the league adjusts to their pitching tendencies. Tyler Duffey and Caleb Thielbar fit this mold, and they are following a similar path as previous Twins relievers. Every team enters the season with a bullpen pecking order, but relievers can be inconsistent, especially in small sample sizes. In recent years, Duffey and Thielbar have been vital members of the Twins bullpen, but both have struggled this season. Here’s a look back at three former relievers that burned bright before falling on hard times. Pat Neshek Twins Peak: Neshek quickly became a fan favorite with his side-arm delivery and early success. During his first two big-league seasons, he posted a 2.68 ERA with a 0.93 WHIP while striking out 127 batters in 107 1/3 innings. He’d make two appearances with the Twins in the 2006 playoffs, but he struggled to find postseason success like many Twins pitchers. During the 2007 season, Neshek was one of five AL players included on the All-Star Final Vote ballot, but he’d fall short of making the team. Neshek established himself as a reliable late-inning reliever before he faced some big-league struggles. Twins Struggles: From 2008 to 2010, Neshek was limited to fewer than 25 big-league innings, and those innings were ineffective. During the 2008 season, he made 15 appearances and allowed seven earned runs before an injury shut him down. Minnesota tried having him rehab, but his 2009 season was wiped out as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Neshek returned to the mound in 2010 and spent most of the season at Triple-A. His final 11 appearances for the Twins resulted in a 5.00 ERA with a 1.67 WHIP. Even with his Twins tenured ending, Neshek’s career was far from over as he made multiple All-Star appearances and pitched until the 2019 season. Juan Rincón Twins Peak: Rincón pitched parts of eight seasons in Minnesota, but his peak came from 2004 to 2006. He posted a 2.66 ERA during those three years with a 1.19 WHIP and 255 strikeouts across 233 1/3 innings. He was one of Ron Gardenhire’s most reliable late-inning options as the team won multiple AL Central titles. Rincón pitched in three different playoff series and posted a 5.19 ERA in 8 appearances, but four of his five earned runs were in the 2004 ALDS against the Yankees. As he entered his age-28 season, things started to go south for Rincón. Twins Struggles: During his final season and a half in Minnesota, Rincón hit a performance wall. In 2007, his ERA jumped from 2.91 to 5.13 while his strikeout rate dropped and his walk rate increased. Things went even worse during the 2008 season as his ERA was north of 6.00. Minnesota granted him his free agency at the end of June, and he signed with Cleveland two days later. After leaving the Twins, he pitched 93 more big-league innings for the Indians, Tigers, and Rockies, but he never posted an ERA lower than 4.50 with any of the teams. José Mijares Twins Peak: Mijares surprised many during the 2008 season as he made ten appearances and allowed one earned run with a 0.29 WHIP. In the 2009 season, he took on an even more prominent bullpen role. Over 61 2/3 innings, he posted a 2.34 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP with a 55-to-23 strikeout to walk ratio. Mijares, a left-handed pitcher, was particularly effective against lefties as they hit .155/.228/.252 (.481) against him in 2009. He was very successful in an era where left-handed specialists played vital bullpen roles. Twins Struggles: Some of his struggles started during the 2009 ALDS as he couldn’t make it through one full inning without allowing a run. Mijares saw his ERA rise by over an entire run for the 2010 season, and then it went up to 4.59 for the 2011 season. He was never a strikeout machine, but his K/9 dropped from 7.7 to 5.5 in his final Twins season. Mijares made three appearances during the 2010 playoffs and didn’t allow an earned run. After leaving Minnesota, he pitched parts of two seasons with the Royals and Giants while helping San Francisco win the 2012 World Series. Are you worried that Duffey and Thielbar will follow the path of these former relievers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Every team enters the season with a bullpen pecking order, but relievers can be inconsistent, especially in small sample sizes. In recent years, Duffey and Thielbar have been vital members of the Twins bullpen, but both have struggled this season. Here’s a look back at three former relievers that burned bright before falling on hard times. Pat Neshek Twins Peak: Neshek quickly became a fan favorite with his side-arm delivery and early success. During his first two big-league seasons, he posted a 2.68 ERA with a 0.93 WHIP while striking out 127 batters in 107 1/3 innings. He’d make two appearances with the Twins in the 2006 playoffs, but he struggled to find postseason success like many Twins pitchers. During the 2007 season, Neshek was one of five AL players included on the All-Star Final Vote ballot, but he’d fall short of making the team. Neshek established himself as a reliable late-inning reliever before he faced some big-league struggles. Twins Struggles: From 2008 to 2010, Neshek was limited to fewer than 25 big-league innings, and those innings were ineffective. During the 2008 season, he made 15 appearances and allowed seven earned runs before an injury shut him down. Minnesota tried having him rehab, but his 2009 season was wiped out as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Neshek returned to the mound in 2010 and spent most of the season at Triple-A. His final 11 appearances for the Twins resulted in a 5.00 ERA with a 1.67 WHIP. Even with his Twins tenured ending, Neshek’s career was far from over as he made multiple All-Star appearances and pitched until the 2019 season. Juan Rincón Twins Peak: Rincón pitched parts of eight seasons in Minnesota, but his peak came from 2004 to 2006. He posted a 2.66 ERA during those three years with a 1.19 WHIP and 255 strikeouts across 233 1/3 innings. He was one of Ron Gardenhire’s most reliable late-inning options as the team won multiple AL Central titles. Rincón pitched in three different playoff series and posted a 5.19 ERA in 8 appearances, but four of his five earned runs were in the 2004 ALDS against the Yankees. As he entered his age-28 season, things started to go south for Rincón. Twins Struggles: During his final season and a half in Minnesota, Rincón hit a performance wall. In 2007, his ERA jumped from 2.91 to 5.13 while his strikeout rate dropped and his walk rate increased. Things went even worse during the 2008 season as his ERA was north of 6.00. Minnesota granted him his free agency at the end of June, and he signed with Cleveland two days later. After leaving the Twins, he pitched 93 more big-league innings for the Indians, Tigers, and Rockies, but he never posted an ERA lower than 4.50 with any of the teams. José Mijares Twins Peak: Mijares surprised many during the 2008 season as he made ten appearances and allowed one earned run with a 0.29 WHIP. In the 2009 season, he took on an even more prominent bullpen role. Over 61 2/3 innings, he posted a 2.34 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP with a 55-to-23 strikeout to walk ratio. Mijares, a left-handed pitcher, was particularly effective against lefties as they hit .155/.228/.252 (.481) against him in 2009. He was very successful in an era where left-handed specialists played vital bullpen roles. Twins Struggles: Some of his struggles started during the 2009 ALDS as he couldn’t make it through one full inning without allowing a run. Mijares saw his ERA rise by over an entire run for the 2010 season, and then it went up to 4.59 for the 2011 season. He was never a strikeout machine, but his K/9 dropped from 7.7 to 5.5 in his final Twins season. Mijares made three appearances during the 2010 playoffs and didn’t allow an earned run. After leaving Minnesota, he pitched parts of two seasons with the Royals and Giants while helping San Francisco win the 2012 World Series. Are you worried that Duffey and Thielbar will follow the path of these former relievers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. At the turn of the last decade, one man bestrode the mound like a colossus. This is the story of Jose Mijares. Subject: Jose Mijares Why You Remember Him: Mijares was part of the Minnesota Twins bullpen from 2008-2011. A promising start (2.34 ERA with 55/23 K/BB in 2009) deteriorated to the point where he was non-tendered after the 2011 season. If you recall the Twins bullpen of that period, that wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Mijares’ continued viability. Mijares rebounded with Kansas City and San Francisco in 2012, appearing in 78 games and snagging a World Series ring with the Giants. Of course, the real reason you remember him is that he was, well, a big fella. We love the hefty relievers, don’t we folks? Terry Forster, Rich Garces, and Mijares all sort of looked like regular dudes instead of world-class athletes with 2.1% body fat who only eat protein shakes, plain chicken breasts, and broccoli. It also plays into the fiction that, hey, if these guys can do it, we could go out there and strike someone out, return a Serena Williams serve, get a bucket in an NBA game, etc. Please understand that this could never happen, not in a million billion years. The humiliation on your face as you attempted and failed to do any of these things over and over would power a large Ohio city if it could be harnessed for electricity. Let’s say Youngstown. What You Don’t Remember: He was dinged for using a banned substance (non-performance enhancing) in 2015. What You Might Remember: Some other 2011 bullpen denizens: Alex Burnett. Dusty Hughes. Eric Hacker. Chuck James. Lester Oliveros. They went 63-99 for a reason, man. What’s He Up To: There’s nothing super current out there. I don’t even think Seth knows what he’s up to, and Seth knows everything about Twins past, present, and future. Hopefully he’s somewhere eating whatever he wants and living a nice retired life. View full article
  4. Subject: Jose Mijares Why You Remember Him: Mijares was part of the Minnesota Twins bullpen from 2008-2011. A promising start (2.34 ERA with 55/23 K/BB in 2009) deteriorated to the point where he was non-tendered after the 2011 season. If you recall the Twins bullpen of that period, that wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Mijares’ continued viability. Mijares rebounded with Kansas City and San Francisco in 2012, appearing in 78 games and snagging a World Series ring with the Giants. Of course, the real reason you remember him is that he was, well, a big fella. We love the hefty relievers, don’t we folks? Terry Forster, Rich Garces, and Mijares all sort of looked like regular dudes instead of world-class athletes with 2.1% body fat who only eat protein shakes, plain chicken breasts, and broccoli. It also plays into the fiction that, hey, if these guys can do it, we could go out there and strike someone out, return a Serena Williams serve, get a bucket in an NBA game, etc. Please understand that this could never happen, not in a million billion years. The humiliation on your face as you attempted and failed to do any of these things over and over would power a large Ohio city if it could be harnessed for electricity. Let’s say Youngstown. What You Don’t Remember: He was dinged for using a banned substance (non-performance enhancing) in 2015. What You Might Remember: Some other 2011 bullpen denizens: Alex Burnett. Dusty Hughes. Eric Hacker. Chuck James. Lester Oliveros. They went 63-99 for a reason, man. What’s He Up To: There’s nothing super current out there. I don’t even think Seth knows what he’s up to, and Seth knows everything about Twins past, present, and future. Hopefully he’s somewhere eating whatever he wants and living a nice retired life.
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