Monday, August 31, 2015

More bullpen thoughts

The Monday print column praised the midseason revamping of the Twins bullpen. But in a multi-tweet rant this weekend, LaVelle Neal made this point about why the revamping was necessary:

Which, yeah, I was surprised, and not pleased, that the Twins went into the season with Casey Fien and Brian Duensing as the primary setup men to Glen Perkins.

The Twins during the offseason discarded recent mainstays Jared Burton and Anthony Swarzak. Neither is currently in organized ball. The Twins replaced them with Blaine Boyer and J.R. Graham. They supplanted second LOOGY Caleb Thielbar with  Aaron Thompson. (Thielbar was later lost to the Padres on waivers; San Diego last week designated Thielbar for assignment.)

It was an opening bullpen to make a would-be contender uncomfortable. But in fairness: I don't think the Twins seriously thought they were going to contend with that bullpen, I think they expected to remake the bullpen.

But they expected to remake it from within. They expected some of the young power arms in the minors to emerge by midseason. They actually tried Alex Meyer briefly, and the transplanted starter's control wilted so drastically that they abandoned that after just two appearances. Nick Burdi, J.T. Chargois, Zach Jones, Jake Reed -- none of them advanced beyond Double A, and some of them had to be demoted from where they opened the season. I fully expected at least one of them to push his way to the big leagues. That didn't happen.

And the young guys who've been on the roster before -- Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin -- didn't grab key roles either. Tonkin has been yo-yo'd all season between Minneapolis and Rochester. Pressly, despite a good ERA, never really muscled past Boyer and Fien the way that Trevor May did when he was put in the bullpen.

The opening bullpen was never intended to be the final bullpen. But going outside the organization for the remake wasn't the idea either.


  1. Do you think May will ever make another start for the Twins?

  2. Ever is a long time. but (a) they certainly have plenty of other starting possibilities, (b) May has been very effective in the bullpen and (c) Neal says he is enjoying it.