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Since Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have taken over the Minnesota Twins revamped their overall pitching ability, that’s true. In 2021 though, part of the group gives me some pause.
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I’m actually all in on the starting rotation and it’s depth. I blogged about that group recently and think you could make an argument that Cheap Minnesota Twins Jerseys the quality and depth is better than at any other point in the history of the organization. Where I become less certain is the bullpen, and that’s not a great thing given the relative uncertainty of pitcher volatility coming off a shortened season.
As things are presently constructed, I think there’s about seven locks for Opening Day. That group consists of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Hansel Robles, Jorge Alcala, Cody Stashak, and Caleb Thielbar. In a unit that will likely carry eight or nine arms, that’s a good stable to count on. It also looks better than a few days ago with the re-emergence of Duffey’s velocity, and the health of Thielbar’s back. That said, what happens beyond there?
A season ago Stashak was sent to the minor leagues despite solid numbers, and Thielbar was pitching in independent baseball. That’s not to suggest either won’t contribute effectively in 2021, but rather highlight the general unpredictability of relievers. Where things seem to get a bit dicey is on the depth from. Beyond that original Opening Day group, the next men up are tweeners that may not have a spot in the rotation. Does Lewis Thorpe really belong in the bullpen (assuming he gets a fourth option)? Is Randy Dobnak not better served staying stretched out at Triple-A? What about Devin Smeltzer?
Organizations would prefer not to have pitching prospects be destined for relief roles, but that was very much the case for Jorge Alcala. He looked the part and has performed well since entering a Major League bullpen. Short of Edwar Colina being inserted again rather than staying on a starting track, there just isn’t that type of arm ready to contribute. Beyond that, a group of veterans will look to be the next men up waiting in St. Paul. Brandon Waddell, Derek Law, Shaun Anderson, Ian Gibault, Glenn Sparkman, and Ian Hamilton all were brought in by the Twins this offseason. Many of them have similar offerings, and none of them have incredibly high ceilings. Replacing the departed Matt Wisler would seem to be their biggest value.
In any normal season I think it’s fair to suggest that pitching depth might be the thing that separates the haves from the have nots. In 2021, I think that gap could widen even more as traditional workloads are attempted to be restored. You aren’t going to have a bullpen that eight deep in stellar arms, but when there was concern regarding just two guys, the group looked plenty thin.
Arms are still available although the Twins appear to be done making pacts. Shane Greene somehow is unsigned, and Jeremy Jeffress is involved in a saga entirely perplexing on its own. I don’t know that Minnesota needs to be running to the table with offers, but it couldn’t hurt to see which other veterans don’t make their respective clubs when camps break. It’s the contingency plans that have Minnesota well supported in the rotation and all over the field, developing a few more out of the pen would be a good idea.
At the end of the day this is an organization that produced the third overall bullpen in terms of fWAR in 2020, and that represented the second straight year of doing so. After being a bottom third group prior, it’s more than clear the developmental staff and front office are aligned with the pieces and process at their disposal. Let’s just hope that it works out in their favor once again.