The Twins didn't do as aggressive a bullpen overhaul this winter as I might have preferred, but they did cut ties with a pair of veteran relievers who combined for 123 appearances last season in Blaine Boyer and Brian Duensing.
Boyer wound up signing a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, this after putting up a 2.49 ERA for the Twins. Duensing hasn't even gotten a minor league deal anywhere, and camps are about to open.
Duensing, about to turn 33, is left-handed and breathing, so if the cliche were true, somebody would have signed him by now. He's not the only veteran lefty looking for a job -- Neal Cotts, his colleague in the Minnesota bullpen late last season, is also jobless, as are some others -- but Duensing is of particular interest to me because he has been a fixture on the Twins roster for seven seasons.
Why so little interest in Duensing? Perhaps because his strikeout rate has been in steady decline. In 2013 -- his first season as a full-time reliever -- he struck out 8.3 men per nine innings. In 2014, his K rate was down to 5.5; last season, a paltry 4.4. For that matter, Boyer's strikeout rate was just 4.6.
Eleven pitchers relieved in more than 20 games for the Twins last year. Nine of them are back (one, Aaron Thompson, on a minor league contract). The two who are gone are the two with the lowest strikeout rates. I doubt that's a coincidence.