Friday, July 10, 2009

Guerrier and the 'pen

I thought, and wrote, that the Twins were making a mistake during the offseason by keeping Matt Guerrier (right) in their bullpen plans. I compared it to their decision the year before to keep Juan Rincon and said I would rather they found a new mistake to make.

Boy, was I wrong.

Guerrier has been the most reliable non-Nathan reliever in the Twins bullpen. The stats are good enough to merit All-Star consideration — there's a very good argument to be made that he Guerrier has been the best set-up man in the league. He collected his 17th hold Friday night. He leads the AL in appearances. He has allowed less than a baserunner per inning. He's 4-0 and has blown just one lead.

This after a horrid 2008 in which he was overworked in the middle part of the season.

The middle relief crops remains a muddle for the Twins, although that may be more a matter of perception than of reality.

Jose Mijares can exasperate the manager, coaches and fans with bouts of control issues, but he has enough stuff to get away with it.

R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball was brought in to eat innings, and he's been more than that — still nobody's idea of the guy to bring in with key men on base, but a 2.83 ERA is strong enough to argue for an expanded role.

Guerrier himself is not a classic power arm.

Then there's Bobby Keppel, whose history suggests he's a Quadruple A pitcher — effective enough for Triple A, not good enough to succeed in the majors. Keppel's ERA is a flat zero through 11 1/3 innings, although he's quick to deflect any suggestion that he's that good. Nobody is, obviously.

That's four of the five non-Nathan arms currently in the Minnesota 'pen. The other is Brian Duensing, who is the current occupant of the second-lefty role held earlier by Craig Breslow and Sean Henn and not a fellow Ron Gardenhire is itching to call on in the late innings.

There are reasons to fret about all the others too. But so far, they're getting outs.

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