Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sorting out the bullpen candidates

The Twins used Tuesday's split-squad games to showcase seven bullpen candidates. If anything, the performances made it all the tougher to boil down the competitors.

Of particular note was Michael Tonkin, who had not fared well this spring. He fired two hitless innings against the Baltimore Orioles. I had about written him off already, but he's still in camp, still on the 40-man roster, still out of options and still coming off an impressive 2015 Triple A season (1.10 ERA in 41 innings).

Roughing out the bullpen roles:

Closer: Glen Perkins
Setup 1: Kevin Jepsen
Setup 2: Trevor May
MR 1: Casey Fien
LOOGY 1: Open
MR 2: Open
Long man: Ricky Nolasco?

Candidates for those two or three open jobs still in camp (* means left-handed)

Fernando Abad*, Buddy Boshers*, Logan Darnell*, J.R. Graham, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan O'Rourke*, Ryan Pressley, Taylor Rogers*, Dan Runzler*, Michael Tonkin,

Nolasco remains a complication. I'd still love to see the veteran traded, but that will require a leap of faith on the part of some other club. He hasn't outperformed Tommy Milone or Tyler Duffey for a rotation berth, but his agent has already indicated that Nolasco won't take a bullpen assignment well, and I will be shocked if the Twins eat the $24 million owed him.

But moving Nolasco out of the way would make it easier to fit an extra lefty in the pen, or to keep Tonkin around.

One way or another, we may see some moves today to pare down the candidates.

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